Undead and Unappreciated Chapter 10

I picked up the wing chair from beside the fireplace carefully... the thing was probably ten times older than me) and jammed it under the doorknob. It wasn't likely anyone was going to come looking for me-Tina and Sinclair were avoiding me entirely, and Marc and Jessica were probably asleep-but I wasn't taking any chances.

I was pretty damned sick of, "Oh, did I forget to tell you? That was in the Book of the Dead, too." I was going to sit down with the awful fucking thing and read it cover to cover. No more surprises. No more worrying about Sinclair holding out on me.

No having to go to Sinclair to get the whole story. I picked the thing up off the stand, already grossed out.

It was bound in human skin, how perfectly yuck-o, and felt warm to the touch, though that was probably because it was only a few feet away from the fireplace.

The Book. If the Bible was the Good Book, then this thing was the Terrible Bad Book. It supposedly had all sorts of vampire factoids within its nasty binding, and Sinclair had rescued it from his blazing mansion and stuck it in my house. We all avoided it like nobody's business. At least, I used to think so. But apparently Sinclair had been coming in the library and reading bits of it now and then. And keeping the good parts to himself, the treacherous prick.

I sat down, looking at the cover for a moment. Tabla Morto. The Book of the Extremely Creepy. Was that Latin? I didn't know from Latin. I peeked in the back... Was there an index? Could I look up "Betsy's sister" and save a lot of time? Nope, just a bunch of really disturbing pictographs back there. Never mind; I wasn't here to save time, I was here to save aggravation.

Chapter one, page one. here I come.

I wasn't scared. It was just a book. It couldn't hurt me. Nothing could hurt me. Except stupid Sinclair. No, that wasn't true. I was mad because he was keeping secrets, that was all. My king shouldn't keep secrets. The king shouldn't keep secrets, is what I meant.

The king. Sure. Some king. Fat lot of help he was to me, or anybody. Okay, there was that whole fighting for my crown and almost dying incident, but he wanted power, not me. He knew stuff, private stuff about me, but instead of sitting down for a helpful chin-wag with me, he kept secrets and was all, "Don't read the Book too long in one sitting or you'll go insane." If that didn't work when I was a freshman in bio, it wasn't going to work now.

"Shalt be Vampyres and shalt be a Queen and King of Vampyres. But first the Vampyres will have no rule and shalt be chaos for twelve and a thousand yeares."

Right, right, I was following. That was Nostro and all the other little tin-pot dictators making Fiends and generally being disgusting. There really weren't any bosses until Sinclair and I came along. Which was weird, if you sat down and thought about it. Human beings had always had bosses... kings, queens, presidents, loan officers. Vampires managed to avoid them, by accident or design, until I came along.

See, what happened was, one vampire would intimidate and torture a bunch of others until he or she was ostensibly in charge, until another, jerkier one came along, and the whole thing started all over again.

Maybe they weren't so different from humans after all.

"After chaos shalt be the Pretender, destined to dust. A Queen shall ryse, who has powyer beyond that of the vampyre. The thyrst shall not consume her, and the cross never will harm her, and the beasts will befryend her, and she will rule the dead. The Pretender shalt overstep and the Queen will overcome."

Hmm, how bout that? I shallll overrrrrcommme...

"And the first who shall noe the Queen as a husband noes his Wyfe shall be the Queen's Consort and shall rule at her side for a thousand yeares.

"And the Queen shall noe the dead, all the dead, and neither shall they hide from her nor keep secrets from her."

Yeah, yeah, I knew all this. Tina and Sinclair had told me this around the time Nostro bit true dust. And what they didn't tell me I found out on my own-apparently I could see ghosts. Unlike Haley Joel Osment's claims, they did know they were dead.

As for keeping secrets, the Book of the Yukky was wrong, wrong, wrong. That's all the dead did these days.

"The Queen's sister shalt be Belov'd of the Morning Star, and shalt take the Worlde."

Beloved of the morning star? I figured that was fancy talk for the devil. Take the world? Take it where? Take it over? Ack! So not only did I have a secret evil sister, but she was fated to take over the world, just like I was fated to rule the vampires with Sinclair?

Damn. Quite the family tree. What was up with my dad's genetics?

And what was the big deal? Why not tell me? Okay, it sounded bad when you just blurted it out: "You're the queen; if you have sex with me, I'm the king; your sister is the devil's daughter and might or might not take over the world. Cream and sugar?" But was that really so fucking hard to say?

I was starting to get a headache, which wasn't uncommon since I had been reading for... what? I looked at my watch. Jesus, I'd been locked in here for three hours! And I'd read maybe ten pages. I didn't have this much trouble With an Umberto Eco novel.

It was the text. It was almost impossible to read this archaic crap which, I might add, had never been spell checked.

And the headache. How could I concentrate when my head was throbbing like a fucking rotten tooth? But you don't get headaches anymore.

It was so fucking hard to concentrate.

You haven't had a headache since you became a vampire.

The light in here was bad, too. In fact, the light was fucking terrible.

A Vampyre.

Queen this and Vampyre that and secret sisters; it was all such a payn in the ass.

The Queen of the Vampyres.

Well, back to it. This nice warm book-at least my hands weren't cold for a change-wasn't going to memorize itself.

"... and the Morning Star shalt appear before her own chylde, shalt help with the taking of the World, and shalt appear before the Queen in all the raiments of the dark."

But it is nothing to worry about. In fact, you need not worry about a thing. Not one thing. The devil won't be as bad as you think; mostly that whole Lord of Lies thing is all hype.

And your sister might be a problem, but nothing you can't handle. What you should really handle is Eric Sinclair, because while he's a pain in the ass, he's also going to come in pretty handy, so you should stay on his good side.

Also, why are you wasting your time with all the sheep? For crying out loud. This is your damn house, and the sooner the lice crawling around on top of it figure it out, the better.

Hmm. For an evil book written by an insane vampire who could see the future...

How did I know that?

... written in blood and bound in human skin, this thing was making a lot of sense.

So just do your job... be the boss, run things your way, and rip the throat out of anyone who forgets who's in charge. You know, I had been letting things slide a little. I couldn't believe I'd been worried about reading the Book of Good Sense! Finally, I was seeing things clearly. It was all so obvious. The first thing I had to do was go down to Scratch and tell Slight Overbite that he'd been 100 percent right about the best way to run a vampire watering hole. Then I'd-

"Betsy! Are you in there? What are you doing?" Wham Wham Wham! "There's something wrong with the door!"

-clean up my house. That was so fucking typical. Nothing going on in this room was any of Jessica's damned business, but she was nosing around banging on doors and demanding answers. I'd been putting up with it for too long, and I was done now.

I got up from the small couch, slapped the book closed, laid it tenderly on the stand, and walked over to the door.

"Bets! What's going on? Are you okay? You're not doing anything weird and vampirey in there, are you?"

I grabbed the chair blocking the door and tossed it so hard it crashed into the far side of the room. I noticed I'd yanked it so roughly it had bent the knob. Oh well. Plenty more where those came from.

I jerked the door open.

"Is everything-" Her eyes widened. "Are you okay?"

"Fine," I said, then slapped her so hard her head banged against the doorframe and bounced off. She staggered and almost lost her feet, grabbed for my shoulder to steady herself, thought better of it, and leaned against the door. One hand flew to her cheek, and the other flew to the side of her head. I smelled the blood before I saw it start to trickle through her fingers.

"Betsy, wh-why-wh-"

"Don't bother me when I'm working again, or you'll get another one."


"And I wouldn't advithe interrupting me, either," I told her sweetly. Her eyes were so big, her fear was so big. It was awesome. And ohhhhh, the blood. Just going to waste running through those annoying veins. I smacked her again, and it was kind of funny to see she couldn't dodge it in time, didn't even know my hand had moved until her other cheek started to throb. "I have to thay, I thould have done thith yearth ago."

"Betsy, what's wrong?" she cried, and I decided not to kill her. She was irritating, and I'd probably get her money when I pulled her head off-she didn't have any family-but even though she was scared shitless, she was wondering what was wrong with me. What is wrong with you?

I decided I would keep her around; it'd be good to have sheep who worried about my well-being no matter what I did to her.

And ohhhh, the blood. Did I mention the blood just going to waste?

"Nothing'th wrong," I told her, almost laughing at her terrified expression. "Not one thingle thing." Then I seized her shoulders, jerked her toward me, and took a big yummy chomp out of the side of her neck.

She screamed, and her hands came up, too late-way too late. It almost took the fun out of it; she was so slow. Her hands beat against me while I drank, but I didn't even feel it; instead I was thinking, Blood taken by force tastes better. It was weird, but there it was. I didn't make the rules.

I let her go when I was done, and she hit the carpet so hard she raised a cloud of dust. She crawled away from me, sobbing, and curled up under one of the end tables. I licked her blood from my fangs and felt them retract... one of these days I was going to get the hang of this, by God. Sinclair could make his come and go whenever he wanted.

Ummm... Sinclair.

"So, let's recap," I told her, bending down so I could see her under the table. "Don't interrupt me when I'm working, don't cut me off... really, just leave me alone unless I need you. In fact, it's probably better not to speak until spoken to. I'm glad we had this little chat," I finished cheerfully. It was good to get the new ground rules out into the open. "I'll see you later. Oh, and I'll need a check for three thousand dollars. There's a sale at Marshall Field's."

I left, carefully shutting the library door behind me. Oh, goody, the doorknob worked, even if it was bent on the inside. I should reward myself for not wrecking it.

Make it four thousand dollars.

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