For Anya Chase, finding out the identities of her real parents has never mattered. Her “real” mom is the woman who found her when she was a baby and loves her as if she were her own. She couldn’t have asked for a better life, so the day she leaves for college is heartbreaking… Until she meets a strange man on a plane who declares her to be a vampire—and a powerful one at that! Now she has to decide whether to lie to her mother or admit she’s a vampire queen!
Age Rating: 18+
“Tell me again. How did he say it?”
My mother, Petunia, giggled like a schoolgirl, pushing back her frizzy orange hair that, despite being in pigtails, stubbornly kept falling over her shoulders as she prepared tea for us. It was a chilly night, though my mom still claimed the night she found me was the coldest one she had ever endured in New York.
The fact that she found me did technically make Petunia my adoptive mother; not that I really saw much of a difference, considering she raised me the moment she pulled me out of a dumpster. Something most people wouldn’t do.
She was petite, with a crooked nose, the start of fine wrinkles around her eyes and mouth with two mismatched eyes of brown and blue.
Everything about her looked peculiar, and an acquaintance once compared her to a leprechaun from some of the patches she liked to put on our second-hand clothing. As she liked to say, one person’s trash was another person’s treasure.
Which wasn’t just in the case of clothing.
“Okay, so I put the pancakes down in front of him. He had his badge on, and I asked if there was anything else I could get for him. And…” Her cheeks were aflame as she grabbed the honey, half fanning herself with the other hand.
“And?” I prompted, trying to coax an answer out of her, practically out of my chair and leaning forward over the counter.
My mom giggled, swaying her hips a bit. “I think I still need your number, ma’am,” she purred in a deep tone, looking over her shoulder and batting her lashes slowly, making us both burst out in a fit of giggles.
Once she had set my tea in front of me, and I had finally dabbed the tears from my eyes, “So, does that mean he’s going to call you?”
“Well, he kind of stayed after my shift, so we sat and talked for a while…” She trailed off, feeling embarrassed somehow by whatever they had talked about.
“So that’s why you weren’t home before I was in bed!” I gasped, setting my mug down and covering my mouth for added effect. She had been out late, but not unusually late, so I knew I was just going to embarrass her with the comment I was about to make.
“Mom, you didn’t go home with that man, did you?”
This was an oddly normal conversation for us, which is probably far from the atypical relationship most girls had with their moms when it came to men and sex.
I was a little bit of a late bloomer in the department only due to how picky I was with guys. None of them really measured up to the dating sims I grew up with or the teen and adult romance novels I had picked up once puberty hit.
I was also well versed in sex and the consequences of unsafe sex thanks to my mother’s sex ed compared to the school’s lack of.
As far as my experience went, I could unfortunately count them on one hand. This last one fell short of the last finger before I went to Oregon.
Not that I was exactly counting bodies, but I really had hoped for more experience before I went off to college since I was from New York.
I didn’t want to end up falling in love with a complete jerk just because I’m entranced by what they can bring me briefly—and overall, it possibly messes up my studies.
Something my mom and I hadn’t exactly discussed, though it had been on the tip of my tongue for weeks.
I was not about to ask my mom for dating advice.
My last so-called boyfriend, I had been intimate with, had ended up screwing his neighbor three days before graduation. Something I got to walk in on because I wanted to surprise him with one more hotel night after prom. It was only slightly devastating.
Until I realized how much of a clean break it had been for me. While he continued to try and call or text, I was about to fly across the country. For possibly years before I came back.
While here, I had to be a bit of a shut-in. Things could change. I had a whole future ahead of me, a whole life that could be different than the one I had been raised in.
My mom nearly had tea shoot out of her nose as she sputtered, not expecting me to take it that far so quickly. “No! No, I didn’t go home with him! We just talked, and now I have a date tomorrow night.”
I was shy like her, so I understood how proud she was of herself not only talking to a guy but also landing a date with him. She was literally my idol when it came to the best romance novels on a shelf, dating advice, nutrition advice, and basically anything else in life.
Even though our tastes were certainly different, for example, I personally was more into fantasy novels while my mother preferred historical fiction.
“Tomorrow night? As in, I get to order takeout and pig out without you judging me as I eat my noodles this time?” I asked, tapping my chin with a satisfied smirk.
“You mean stuff your face like some sort of monster?” my mom asked blandly, giving me the stink eye.
“It’s not like I’m concerned about my figure. I’m planning on game design. That means I will be a hermit in a basement, and I will need to learn to live off of noodles,” I protested with a brief, satisfied grin. She knew I was just being silly at this point.
As much as I enjoyed game design, we were total health nuts except for the rare takeout. My mom did extra work for the store downstairs just to make sure we had organic produce all the time, and the only kind of tea we had was loose.
Overall, I wasn’t horrible looking; I had more volume from lack of exercise and my overall figure, considering I ran a size sixteen and I was five-eight.
My skin needed a bit more sun. My hair was a dull soda brown that always had a hint of frizz. My eyes were blueish gray—and not the very interesting kind.
Sometimes, I wondered what life would have been like at better-funded schools or wide-open territory. Fortunately for me, I was dumped in New York’s overcrowded craziness with a woman who should have just left me with the adoption agency.
Though I was eternally grateful she hadn’t.
My mom sighed, rolling her eyes. “Fine, order in; do what you want with your summer money. Blow it on your video games for all I care, but don’t whine to me when you need more money for food while you’re at college.”
Oregon City wasn’t exactly big, so the likelihood of spending everything I had earned over the years was low, at least in my mind. Plus, I was more than capable of earning more while also going to school.
I was what you called naturally gifted when it came to technology. All it would take was advertising my services for free a few times and talking myself up to an older person in the neighborhood.
There were also always odd jobs you could make, flipping signs or delivering food, though I was short one car still.
“You wouldn’t let me starve,” I replied, knowing I would probably not ask her for money unless I was literally a step away from eating from the trash if I hadn’t already. “So, do I have to call him ‘dad’ if you bring him over? Or ‘officer’?”
“You’re incorrigible! Go get your own love life.”
“I did. Didn’t go so well,” I replied, trying not to be mopey, but my tone told her all she needed to know.
“Is Aaron still messaging you?”
I nodded, frowning. “He keeps saying how sorry he is and wants to have coffee before I leave.”
“Starbucks or Andwellas?” my mom grilled me, her eyes full of suspicion that I would crumble and give in.
“Starbucks.” I rolled my eyes again. Andwellas was a favorite coffee shop of mine that also had fresh teas. It was probably as expensive as Starbucks, but Aaron thought it was weird.
“Clearly, he’s not that sorry then,” she pointed out before finishing her mug. “Do you think you’re going to get involved with anyone while you’re at college?”
“Sure,” I replied, shrugging before rolling my eyes and smiling.
“Maybe. I don’t know. It would be nice. You keep telling me that sometimes men in the books are actually like that in bed, and it sounds like you’re making it up.”
“Ok, can we not talk about how spicy the books are? We’re talking about you actually interacting with someone you want to spend time with other than your online friends, who I doubt will even notice you have ceased to exist, considering they also come and go with their own lives.”
I sighed, shaking my head and smiling.
I didn’t know what I was going to do without her once I was in the dorms. Already, I knew I’d be one of those girls who called their mom every night. Honestly, I didn’t care if it made me lame. I loved my mom.
“I’ll get my own life, and I’ll even try to go to all those social events. I’ll probably be soooo busy I’ll forget to even call you.”
“Oh, haha, you forgot to call your mother. Don’t even joke about that.” She demanded, pointing her spoon at me. “Just make sure that if you go get your Changs, do it before dark. As in before sunset.”
“I’m an adult now, mom. I can handle walking a few blocks and back.”
“Not at night and not in the city.” Her voice was stern, and the chill behind it prickling the hairs on my neck.
My mom wasn’t overly superstitious. Sure, she was one of those people who threw salt over her shoulder when she split it, but she thought sage smelled disgusting and that voodoo dolls were for psychopaths.
Overall, though, she didn’t believe in things like vampires, witches, and ghosts.
However, she was a strong believer that something dark was out there, wanting me harm the day she rescued me.
As if she hadn’t come at that moment, something would have taken me forever, so much so that the feeling was so strong. The thought of me being in the dark still made her uncomfortable. I was nineteen with a nightlight.
“OK, OK. You’re going to have to relax when I’m in Oregon, though. I heard they have lake parties and bonfires.”
She frowned, not answering my response. I knew her feelings about the subject- but I couldn’t stay indoors at night forever. It’s not like a boogeyman was coming to snatch me up.