Emily’s beautiful life is upended as she is turned into a vampire. Betrayed, she is thrown into a world of the supernatural where vampires, werewolves and witches exist in a fragile peace.
Emily must navigate this confusing new world, her tempestuous relationship with her creators who are bound to protect her, as she herself embarks on a mission to avenge all that has been taken from her, by her makers.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 years above as the book has sex, drugs, violence and gore in it. Not recommended for the squeamish.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always loved the vampire genre but disliked the way many women were portrayed. I decided to write Vampire Emily to reflect the more modern woman that we see in today's society.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I love how vampires mythology can be found in every culture around the world, I wanted to have creatures that reflected that. As a horror fan, I wanted to move beyond vampires suck blood and kill people. I wanted the reader to feel Emily's transformation both mentally and physically as everything she loved is torn away. I love characters that have many dimensions and so I hope that the readers understand this.
"Has your birthmark shrunk?" Emily asked as she watched Heather let her hair out. Today was Heather’s wedding and Emily was keeping her company as she changed for the evening ceremony. Heather had opted to have her hair up for the first part of the day, but now she let it down for the reception as the evening guests arrived. She rarely wore it up because she was self-conscious of a heart-shaped birthmark on the side of her neck.
Absentmindedly Heather touched her neck. "Why would you say that? It's always been this size." The beautician was annoyed and slapped her hand away.
"It was one of the first things I noticed about you when you turned up to school." Emily had been quite ill when she was younger, missing a lot of time at school. This meant that she didn't have many friends in her class, and so she had been determined to make Heather, who'd been transferred, her friend. At the time, Emily had thought that the birthmark was huge. Now, it was the size of a pound coin and looked more like a deliberate tattoo. "Now that you're married, do you feel better?"
The first part of the wedding had been beautiful. It started in a small chapel that was close to the Sussex Manor that was being used as the reception venue and hotel for most of the guests. Emily as maid of honour had given a reading during the ceremony, followed by the best man. It was then a short walk back to the manor where close family and friends had attended for the day. Heather's formal Herrera dress had been designed to fit her slim frame beautifully but didn't allow for much movement, so she changed into a less traditional Vera Wang wedding dress for the first dance. Whilst the other bridesmaid looked after the guests, Emily was in the bridal suite helping Heather with the transition.
"If you're talking about last night, I was wasted." After the rehearsal dinner, the bridesmaids had gone to the bridal suite where drunk Heather had confessed that she'd had a feeling of foreboding about the wedding day. She was scared of what would come, but now in the light of day, Emily saw her worries had dissipated.
Emily looked through her makeup bag. "You and Alex look so handsome. I can't believe how much I've cried today!" After retouching her own makeup, she picked up the Carolina Herrera dress from the bed and carefully hung it up in its bag. "Does that mean we aren't going to run away to an island paradise and spend the rest of our lives drinking cocktails by the sea?" The two best friends had always used this idea as a backup plan in case they completely messed up their lives.
Much to the annoyance of the beautician who was putting individual eyelashes on, Heather giggled her response. "There's still a chance that Alex and I divorce and then I'm gonna have to hold you to that! What about Oscar? He is so much more suited to you than any of your past relationships. Remember Ryan and Julie?"
Emily had gone out with Ryan for four years. After their split, she had sworn off men so went out with Julie who had cheated on her with Ryan. "To be honest, they were terrible! With Oscar, it's just so easy."
"I'm not sure that he's the one though, I know how much you love him Emilou," Emily rolled her eyes at the nickname that only Heather was allowed to call her, "but I really think that there could be someone better for you out there!"
The words stung, this was the first time in a year of being with Oscar Emily's best friend had ever questioned her relationship with Oscar. "Why would you say that? Don't transfer last night's pre-wedding jitters to me!"
The night before, Heather had told Emily that most relationships were due to fail as everything died in the end.
"I'm sorry," Heather back-pedalled. "The day is a bit overwhelming. Pretend I didn't say that. I love you so much." She reached out her hand which Emily squeezed.
If it had been anyone else Emily wouldn't have paid attention, but Heather had been her best friend for so long. They'd held each other's hair as teenage drunkards spewing up, grown up together, and always cared for one another's well-being. Choosing to ignore it for the time being Emily re-joined the wedding party.
Emily stood at the top of the steps at the entrance of the ballroom with its tables now arranged around the chequered dance floor. On each table was a tall glass centrepiece with a mixture of white flowers and ostrich feathers that towered over the people who were sitting around it. This was where the first dance would be with enough space to accommodate the extra two hundred people invited to the reception.
After nodding to the wedding planner to let her know that Heather was nearly ready to make her entrance, Emily scanned the room until she spotted Oscar in the crowd. Being taller and broader than the other people around him with his athletic rugby-player physique, he was quite impossible to miss, despite the large crowd that was in attendance for the night's ceremony. He had his back to her, talking to her parents. She always felt a fluttering in her stomach whenever she saw him. Not wanting to interrupt the conversation she quietly slipped her hand into his. A smile spread across his face as he instinctively stroked her hand with his thumb. Emily noticed her mum's nod of approval.
"Will Alex be changing as well?" her mum asked as the people shuffled in wait of the grand entrance.
"No, although Heather did try to get him to. How long will you two be staying?" Emily asked.
Her dad looked at his watch. "We want to see the first dance. Afterwards, we have to go so as not to get home too late."
Emily's mum said practically, "Well, I suppose you two have to take your place for your own dance – shall we say bye now?" They hugged their goodbyes before Emily and Oscar went to the edge of the dance floor.
Looking into Oscar's big brown eyes, with a gold speckle in the left one, in his well-fitting suit, Emily couldn't believe her luck. As he kissed her, his aftershave enveloped her further and she relaxed into him, comforted by the familiarity.
"I've missed you so much!" he whispered in her ear teasingly, "How are you? I'm surprised you're not crying now."
"I was only gone for an hour! Everything is utterly beautiful, although I think for our wedding I'm going to have at least three dresses!"
"Do you remember your routine?" she quickly changed the subject.
"We've spent months practising, it's not that hard Ems."
Wrapping his arms around her, they watched as Heather and Alex descended the steps into the ballroom to cheers. 'Por Una Cabeza' started playing when the bride and groom reached the centre of the floor. They smoothly whirled around the room dancing the tango, it was almost as if they were floating. The music shifted from the tango to a waltz, and those in the groom and bridal party joined in.
"One, two, three, one, two, three," Oscar kept repeating under his breath, concentrating hard not to trip up. A dancer he was not, and Emily was trying very hard not to laugh at him. Luckily this would be the only formal dance they'd have to do for the remainder of the wedding. Dancing with the man she loved at her best friend's wedding, Emily couldn't have been more content.
Once completed, the band changed the mood, going through a strict list of musical genres that they were allowed to play. The DJ who played in another room had more freedom, and since they had the whole country estate to themselves guests were free to dance, eat, or roam the beautiful gardens that were now lit up with fairy lights, lanterns, and candles.
Just before the fireworks began Emily spotted Alex talking to his family so she took that moment to find Heather. She wanted to congratulate her for such a wonderful day and see if there was anything on Earth that she could possibly need that hadn't already been provided. Unable to shake off what Heather had said to her about Oscar, she wanted a few minutes of alone time just to understand if there was a deeper meaning.
Emily found her by the rose garden adjacent to the main building. The sweet floral scent filled the warm spring night air.
Heather was sneaking a cigarette, away from other people whilst talking to an extremely handsome and well-built man, with broad shoulders and blond hair that looked like it was naturally highlighted as if he spent all his time outside yachting. Next to him stood a lady in a long slinky dress that hugged her athletic frame so exquisitely that it accentuated her elegance. They were a model-looking pair, the yin and yang of each other Emily thought as she approached them.
The man's eyes sparkled and twinkled when he saw her approach. The lanterns shouldn't have provided such illumination, but somehow, they made these three stand out. The woman's ebony skin radiated, her afro hair was tied up with a headscarf that matched her dress, and although Emily could only see her from the side, she looked extremely entertained at whatever they were discussing.
Nearing the little group, she heard Heather speaking. "Not now, I'm not ready, you said I had at least another year." It was more of a plea. As Emily approached the lady turned and smiled.
"Hello, I'm Zenobia." she introduced herself, "We've heard so much about you my dear. This here is Leighton." With the mention of his name the man gave Emily a smile, as his blue eyes caught hers, it felt as though he was looking deep into her soul. She knew that in this light she shouldn't be able to see his features so clearly, she put it down to drinking throughout the day.
"What have you heard, all good I hope?" Emily took the cigarette from Heather to take a drag of it before handing it back. "How do you know each other?"
Zenobia linked her arm with Emily, walking her away slowly, back toward the main party. "I heard that you did a splendid job as maid of honour! I believe you two have been friends since childhood- is that right?"
Emily looked over her shoulder whilst being led away, relieved that Heather and Leighton were following. "Yes, that's right. So how-"
"And what's life in London like, surely you must miss being by the sea?" Zenobia interrupted.
"Well of course part of me misses my friends and family, but I'm sure I'll move back one day. When did you meet Heather?"
"I suppose you're right. One should always have an adventure anyway. That's what life's about, I'm told." They had now reached the main garden where people were milling about, waiting for the fireworks that would signal the end of the wedding ceremony. "Well, lovely to meet you, Emily, until next time!" Zenobia kissed her on the cheek and flounced away, disappearing into the crowd leaving Emily bewildered by their encounter.
Heather reached Emily who was waiting for her to catch up. They could see their partners joking with each other. "Sorry about that Emilou. Are you OK or were you just looking to pinch a fag?"
"Just wanted to check on you." Emily didn't feel that now was the right time to bring up their earlier conversation. "Zenobia. She doesn't answer a single question, how do you know her?"
"She's been acquainted with my family for as long as I can remember. Anyway- look how handsome my husband is. I'm freaking married!" she squealed in excitement pulling them towards their men. "I can't quite believe it! Come!"
Warmth filled Emily's core as she happily watched the firework display, wrapped up in her lover's protective arms with Heather and Alex to her right. Drunk and over-emotional, it was only when Oscar wiped her face gently with his hand that she realised she was crying for what felt like the hundredth time that day. As soon as the fireworks were over, the married couple said goodbye to their guests and left for the honeymoon suite.
"Are you tired, Oscar?"
"Do I want to go to bed with you? Yes." He pulled her in closer, tenderly kissing her neck whilst smelling her hair. "Have you and Heather been smoking again? I'm going to tell on you!" he jested. "It's a good thing your parents have already left."
Emily lightly bit his arm that was around her shoulders. "If you do, I'm going to tell your parents about the drugs you do!" Laughing they stayed a while longer, both staring into the starry night. "I thought we could go by the lake and just enjoy being outside. It's such a beautiful and warm night."
There was a full moon that illuminated the grounds. Living in London, they rarely got to experience the night sky. "Of course, that’s a great idea." He turned her around, bent down and they kissed tenderly. Emily's skin tingled, her heart beat faster, and desire crept throughout her body. She had learnt to restrain herself and so she pulled away before it could go further.
Taking off her heels to carry them in her hands, she pivoted and ran as fast as she could toward the lake. "See you there, sucker!" she cried as she sprinted. He was the faster runner, but she figured that starting first and catching him by surprise, she might be able to get there before him. A smattering of trees surrounded the lake on the manor side to provide near-complete isolation at night from the view of the building. It was there that Emily stood, leaning against a tree with her arms crossed waiting for him.
"Before you sulk at me for not being right behind you, I have some goodies." Instead of following, Oscar had run to the bar as they were closing to get a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses. Emily might not have been cold then, but he knew that sooner or later, she would be. Oscar knew her well enough to also grab a couple of the blankets left on the chairs outside, before joining her by the lake. He handed her the blankets then opened the wine and poured it into the glasses.
It was enough just to be together, comfortable in the silence as they watched the stars over the lake, facing away from the house. Wrapped up in blankets, sipping wine with fingers intertwined, Emily rejoiced in her love who understood that after a long day, a few moments were needed to recalibrate.
"Do you smell smoke?" Oscar mumbled quizzically.
"I only had a drag of Heather's fag. I can't smell that much of smoke, and that was ages ago."
"No, it's not that. It's proper burning."
"Don't be so silly, it's probably the residue of the fireworks. They're being carried downwind. More wine?"
"Are you trying to get me drunk?"
"I want my way with you of course. I figured this would be the easiest way to take advantage of you." Turning, she straddled him to make it easier to kiss passionately.
As she was about to unzip his flies, she stopped and pushed herself to sit upright. "I can smell smoke."
He groaned pulling her in, back to their embrace. "No, you don't. I think you were right. Firework residue or something."
"No, it's definitely something more than that. We should check it out." Untangling herself, Emily stood up and looked toward the manor. The house remained unseen through the trees. Pulling down her dress she gave her other hand to help Oscar to stand up. "We might as well go to our room anyway, probably for the best."
Collecting all they came with, they slowly and drunkenly stumbled uphill, hand in hand. Emily rubbed her eyes as they cleared the woods. She couldn't quite believe her eyes. As they got closer to the crest of the hill, she stopped, her heart pounding in her chest in panic. Her eyes were scanning the manor back and forth as her brain tried to make sense of what was in front of them.
"Err you see that right? It's not just me being tired and drunk?"
They saw that smoke was billowing out from the manor.
"Fuck Emily, it's an actual fire."
"Call the fire brigade! I haven't got my phone or anything, it's all in the room!" She shouted to him before sprinting as fast as she could toward the house. Worry had taken over and she needed to make sure her friends were safe.
Oscar ran beside her, still on the phone to emergency services, breathlessly giving them the address. He cut off his phone just as they reached the main entrance together. Instinctively, he pulled her back as the doorway collapsed in on itself. The surrounding walls which were not load-bearing also fell; thicker toxic smoke billowed, the painful heat of it forcing them backward.
They ran around to the side entrances, but the fire was out of control and engulfed these too. Emily paced backwards and forwards, shouting out her friends’ names: "Heather!" "Alex!" "Kerry!" "Charlotte!" until her voice was hoarse. There was nothing that could be done until the fire brigade arrived.
Standing in the driveway, watching the fire engulf the manor house Emily now cried hysterically into Oscar's arms who watched the morbid spectacle. The crackling of the old building burning was interrupted every so often as another wall became too weak and collapsed. Every now and then they heard a cry for help, a shout from inside the manor house that was now a death trap for those stuck inside. Emily stood immobile; her tears slowed with the shock as she realised that they were unable to save their trapped friends. When the wind would change direction, blowing the smoke over her, she couldn't even summon the energy to cover her face. Fourteen souls lost.
After the fire brigade had extinguished the flames and aired the rooms that were left standing, the firefighters went in search of the people who had been staying, the main wedding party.
No one had survived. One by one they pulled the dead bodies they'd found and laid them on the grass by the driveway, covering each of them with a white sheet.
Other than a few of the staff who had stayed there to deliver breakfast, only Oscar and Emily survived. With no one else able to identify the guests, they had to stay until the police allowed them to leave.
"I've just spoken to some of the staff. We've gone through the guestbook. Can you tell me where you were when the fire started?" enquired DI Jones. She looked at the distraught faces of Oscar and Emily. There was the issue of two unaccounted guests.
"W- we- we were by the um- the lake watching the stars," Oscar stammered. Emily nodded in agreement unable to speak. Images of the burning building, the undulating thick grey smoke against the night. Dawn had now broken, the morning sun highlighting the horror of the night, ash still rained down on them. It was easier to see the ruin now, but for Emily, her mind was locked by the initial images. The first collapse of the doorway that took down the front walls with it.
"And who else was with you?" DI Jones queried.
"No one, it was just us."
"Why were you there?"
"It was a beautiful night. We wanted some time by ourselves." Oscar held tighter onto an unresponsive Emily. They were both shivering and all he wanted to do was go back home to London. To where it was safe.
"What time did the fire start?"
"I don't know ma'am."
"Do you know what could have set it off?"
"Do you smoke? Perhaps you had a cigarette, didn't put it out properly before you went on your walk?" DI Jones inspected them closely. Perhaps trying to see if there was any guilt? Emily tried to keep her face impassive but the shock had her frozen with terror anyway.
"No, we don't smoke." Oscar sighed heavily. Emily looked at him to see his eyes lidded, shoulders tight. He was exhausted. It'd been a very long day. He was feeling uncomfortable being questioned when he clearly didn't have any answers.
A manic Emily, in a barely audible but incredulous tone, asked, "Do you suspect that we did something, we're somehow responsible?"
"I'm just covering all angles," the detective said carefully. "I'm sorry this happened. Can you tell me who might be missing? We have two other people unaccounted for. Do you know if anyone went home?"
Oscar responded with exasperation. "No, look we don't know anything. There's nothing more we can add. The fire brigade has our details, you have our details, we're exhausted and need to rest. We're going to go home now."
DI Jones took a few seconds to respond. There really wasn't anything else she could get from them. "Ok, you can go. But we will need to get in touch with you soon. We need to find who the missing people are. You are dismissed for the time being."
"Do you want to stay at mine Emily?" Oscar asked in a concerned and gentle tone.
"No thanks, I just need to curl up in my bed please- is that ok?"
The drive back to London was fairly quick as the Sunday morning traffic had yet to begin, most sensible people were asleep. While Emily gazed out of the window, Oscar called Sophie, her flatmate, to let her know that they were coming back and that there'd been a terrible accident.
Unable to sleep, to eat, Emily sat on her bed in shock. 'Heather is dead, Alex is dead, the whole wedding party, all dead. All wiped off the face of the Earth on what should have been a weekend of celebration,' thought Emily. She couldn't believe it, she wanted to call them to discuss what had happened, but most of her friends from Brighton were now dead. She went chronologically through the people she had known well at the wedding for it was all she could think of. Their listless, burnt bodies laid on the side of the driveway.
Oscar had suggested taking her home to her parents, but panic had overcome Emily at the thought of being in the one place that would have every memory of her dead friends. He had also suggested going back to his flat. In the end, he had driven her back to her flat in London.
'Heather is dead. My friends are dead.' Emily kept thinking of how she would never see them again. Perhaps it had been arson or was it an accident, maybe from smoking as the police had suggested? 'Alex is dead!' The tears kept on rolling. She was in mourning. For a few days, she couldn't bring herself to leave the bed, the tears just kept coming at having lost so much within such a short day. A beautiful day had been followed by the worst day of her life.
Oscar stayed at her side for the first couple of days. He somehow instinctively knew how to handle her, not needing to talk about it when she would catch herself staring at the wall for endless hours, her thoughts in a tumble over how much she lost. He did have to go back to work on Wednesday, but he returned after work and ensured that Emily ate at least twice a day; before he left in the mornings and when he got back. He spoke to Waterstons and McKay, Emily's accounting firm, who agreed to give two weeks compassionate leave.
In the mornings Emily would get up when Sophie and Oscar needed her to dress, wash and eat. When they would leave, she would stay in the same spot for the rest of the day- on the couch staring endlessly at the wall. She could not escape the fact that she had lost so many of her friends. She didn't know how to cope with that, and it was made worse because whenever she'd had any problems in life, she had spoken to friends back home, particularly Heather.
The days passed in a haze and when the two weeks leave were up, Emily was glad to have a distraction from the endless nightmares that plagued her. She could get lost in the numbers, realising that work was the only time when she didn't have to remember. If it had not been for work, she would not have had any respite from the anxiety. Oscar tried to comfort her, and as much as she loved him there were times when she would be angry at him. If they hadn't gone to the lake, if they hadn't been distracted, she told herself. It was irrational, but on those days, she couldn't bear for him to be near, to touch her, or even be in sight. Yet, if he didn't stay with her, she became a wreck, her imagination getting the better of her, thinking that he too would be dead by the time she awoke. She could not let apprehensions go until she saw him again.
Haunted by imagined visions of her friends' deaths, she heard their screams as the fire would melt their bodies into an unrecognisable mess. At bedtime, she found herself constantly checking everything in the flat at least five times before she would even get into bed. She had fire alarms fitted in each room, including the toilet. ‘Why hadn't the fire alarms gone off at the wedding venue?’ She brought roll-up ladders with hooks- the kind that you find on boats to place under every window so that they had some way of escaping a fire should one break out. She became hysterical when someone used the cooker as the fire brought images of how they had died.
The police had been unable to identify all the bodies in the hotel and so had guessed at who was who by the records left at first until they were able to retrieve dental records. The worst part was that they hadn't been able to properly identify Heather or Alex's body.
‘Heather had always been there for me’. Emily kept thinking of her fear, the strange premonition that she had had. She berated herself for not having paid attention more closely, for Heather had always been right when it had mattered. Why hadn't she insisted that the wedding happen another time when she was ready, why hadn't she picked up on her feelings and trusted her intuition that night? She had been filled with foreboding. Emily knew it was irrational but part of her blamed herself, 'I should have done something, Heather is dead, and it shouldn't have happened.'
After the first month, she was prescribed sleeping tablets and anti-depressants to help with the anxiety. The doctor also tried to get Emily to talk to a psychologist, thinking that talking about the situation would help, but all she wanted to do was stop obsessing about the night. That damned Saturday when her whole world changed for the worst and she lost too much.
It was in the second month when she realised that everyone expected her to act normally that she had to start pretending. She would come home from work and talk to Sophie about her day. All the while she still counted the number of her friends who were gone. Heather dead, Alex gone, Kerry's beautiful smile never to be seen again, Charlotte’s crazy laugh never to entertain. She would never get the chance to tell them that they had made her life so much better. These were Emily's thoughts as she discussed the weather, as she whispered I love you to Oscar when he cancelled another night out with his friends for fear of her reaction. She was surrounded by ghosts, memories of dead friends, barely living her own life amidst the sorrow.
By the third month, Emily found she was getting good at hiding most of her anxieties from everyone. She would only check the rooms once a night, and every week or so she would remember to ignore the checks, knowing how much joy it gave everyone in the flat. They would smile at her the next morning, encouragingly, as one would do to a small child. It made her happy to see Oscar relax more around her. He even started hanging out with his friends again in the evenings, after making her go out to the pub with her own friends. She was reluctant to see them as she feared more than anything losing them as well, and she also hated the sympathetic looks they gave as they treated her with kid gloves.
Instead, she'd pretend that she had been social when she had actually gone to the park, crying for the end of so many wonderful lives. When the sorrow would ebb into numbness from the sobbing, Emily would go to the off-license, buy a can of lager and rinse her mouth out with it. She had no wish to drink but knew it was expected. Because Oscar wanted her to be better, she pretended she was getting better, and because it gave him joy, she was content to pretend for the rest of her life. Work gave an escape to the melancholy.
Sophie wanted a big celebration for her birthday and so it was decided that after a decadent dinner they would all go to Atom, a new club that had opened in town. Emily was now so used to pretending that she was ok that she even mustered up excitement at the prospect of going out with lots of people. She bought a new dress, had a new haircut, and made herself as attractive as possible.
Oscar had to work late, but once he joined them at the club, Emily was surprised to find lusting love shining in his eyes. Since the wedding, he had only looked at her with concern.
"You look really good," he said to her, giving her a chaste kiss in greeting.
For the first time in what seemed like a lifetime she knew that everything would be ok, 'as long as he always looks at me that way,' she thought. After a few drinks and dancing Emily realised that it wasn't pretend, that she was actually feeling good.
"I really love you Oscar- thank you so much for
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