Today is the day I post a short story on the theme of “First snow” selected by me as part of the Featured Writer day. My choice was “A Promise” by RJ_City. She is a paranormal writer on Wattpad who has written the “Antoinette Drake, Vampire Hunter” trilogy.
Before we delve deep into the story that’s related to her series, I would like to allow you all to get to know her through a short interview we have conducted. So, grab a cup of hot tea or coffee or whiskey, and let’s get on this this.
Interview with RJ_City
Q1. You’re writing a series of books called “Antoinette Drake, Vampire Hunter”. Would you be able to tell me and the readers a little bit about it?
RJ: The series – Antoinette Drake, Vampire Hunter – is a trilogy that takes place in the heart of New York City. The title character, Antoinette “Toni” Drake, is a vampire hunter who has a knack for pissing off several supernatural species on a daily basis. Not that it’s her fault, of course! Toni’s life-threatening career spawned from an attack on her home by an unknown vampire, one who killed her parents while sparing Toni and her little sister, Liz.
The series basically revolves around Toni trying to juggle her hunting life with the fact she might be falling for a vampire, her sworn enemy. I swear, it might end up looking like a Japanese harem when Toni’s love life becomes more complicated after another vampire, a werewolf, and a few humans enter the picture.
May: A Japanese harem? Well that’s something I’m sure quite a few people will look forward to!
Q2. What inspired you to write the books?
RJ: Oh, I love this question! The issue here is that, well, there wasn’t much of a starting point. I just began writing in the spur of the moment, which isn’t a bad thing at all, really. What reinforced my need to continue the story (since I can proudly mark the Antoinette Drake, Vampire Hunter trilogy as the only series I’ve completely written out – at least the main trilogy) was actually the work of a dream that involved a nightclub. I won’t get too much into it, but that’s really how the idea began.
May: I cam honestly say that vivid dreams are quite a lot of fun. I’m glad they urged you to write a series that many teen readers have enjoyed.
Q3. I love abstract questions, so here’s one: Out of all the male characters in your books, which one would you take on a romantic date? Why him?
RJ: Know what I said earlier about Toni having multiple love interests throughout the trilogy? That makes this question all the more difficult. Still, Henri Sinclair is and will always be my #1. If I have to explain why, it’s because he’s different from the other male characters, I think. Ethan is the great guy friend I’d easily fall for, but he’s sometimes too stubborn. Micah’s a bit on the clingy side, and the others in question…meh. Henri, I feel, is more complex – and complicated – so he’d be my choice. The only next question would be, what would be for dinner? ME?!
May: Ah ,we all love old vampires that make us warm on the inside with their mysterious air, gorgeous faces, and bodies to die for *clears throat*. Obviously, anyone would get warm while drinking tea.
Q4. Cake or cupcake?
RJ: Hmm… CUPCAKE! Reason: it’s portable; I can take it anywhere!
May: This is where we differ. I would carry a slice of cake everywhere if I could.
Q5. Are you currently working on any projects that you would like to tell the readers about?
RJ: The prequel for the trilogy is my main focus these days, and I also have a spin-off novel as well (that takes place 10 years in the future). Also, there’s a short story collection in the works, as I have most – if not all – of the backstories I want to include are planned out, not much written, though.
May: I know what you mean about backstories and side stories. I have so many queued up with my own series that I may indeed finish them when I’m old and wrinkly.
Now that we have gotten to know the lovely writer of the series, let’s jump into the short story she has graced us with. I’m sure you will all enjoy it.
RJ City (Rachel Cieplinski)
The cold couldn’t touch me.
The frigid air couldn’t pierce my armor of skin, even when the threat of snowfall crunched underfoot. My raven black hair was already spotted with white, and I shook my head to dislodge the frost. With only a few more days until Christmas, the signs were evident as I trudged down the icy sidewalk. It was bleary and cold outside, but I wasn’t deterred from doing what I had set out to do. I had to see her again, if only to tell her to stay away from me before it was too late.
Bracing myself as the house came into view, I mentally prepared for the confrontation. She wanted to see me, too… but why? Christina was a full-fledged hunter; she’d been one for many years now. She no doubt had a family, one that didn’t know of my existence, much less my relationship with Christina Harper. She probably didn’t own up to that surname now, but I didn’t mind.
Finally, I reached the doorstep, carefully shielded from the eminent snow, the invading whiteness that was soon to fall upon Manhattan. The doorbell sounded, and I casually waited there on the stoop. The silence went on, and I briefly wondered if she wasn’t home. She could be out…
A waste of time, I deduced hastily, just as the front door suddenly swung open. I halted in my tracks. The frost had finally gotten to me. I couldn’t back away, nor could I will myself over the threshold to embrace the youthful woman before me. Clearing her throat, she cautiously met my shocked gaze. “Henri?” I shivered, an odd sensation to say the least. “Henri Sinclair?”
Hearing my name nearly tore me in two. I took in Christina’s features; she was somewhat older now – unlike me, who’d never changed at all. Her chestnut hair fell in waves that looked so soft, I desired to stroke it. Her high cheekbones were still prominent, and those glittering green eyes held mine with such warmth… I melted into her presence. Without meaning to, of course.
I finally managed a greeting, my hands buried in the depths of the black trench coat I wore. “Hello, Christina. It’s been awhile.”
“Yes, it has,” she agreed with a small nod. “You usually don’t visit unless you have something to warn me about.”
I nodded firmly, smile gone. “You’re right. Christina…” I let out a sharp exhale. “I don’t think you should invite me to your house anymore. It could be danger-”
“Oh, Henri, you haven’t changed a bit,” Christina exclaimed with that bright smile of hers. “You’re so protective of me. I never understood why.” Suddenly, her face grew thoughtful, and she stepped back. “Aren’t you cold? Won’t you come-”
“You know I can’t do that,” I interjected, coming off a bit harsh. It was for her own good. If I entered her house…
“Henri, I’m not afraid of you,” the human reassured me. “Please, come inside.” I couldn’t resist her invitation. Call it instinct, but I still hesitated as I crossed the threshold. The home itself was warm, as I’d assumed. The air was filled with the faint scent of gingerbread and peppermint. Sure, those smells would never appeal to me but…
“I can’t stay long,” I focused on Christina. “Aren’t you married?”
She beamed a second time and flashed the ring at me. “Happily so.”
“Where is he, then?” I asked, looking around the living room. “Isn’t he home for Christmas?”
“He’s out on a mission,” Christina explained, her smile fleeting. She reached the couch and was about to sit down when she focused on my face. “We can still talk-”
“Do you enjoy the life of a hunter?” I asked honestly. The human lost her smile completely, and dropped my gaze. “It’s not easy. The constant threat of the supernatural species isn’t healthy for this family, I know that.” Family? Did that mean that Christina and her husband had… children?
Before I could ask for more, Christina had straightened, were wide eyes gentle as she came to stare at me. “Oh, Henri…” I didn’t move; I didn’t pull away as she took my hand and put them on her waist. The temperature of the room changed, and I tensed. It was finally snowing outside; the first snow of the year. Very soon, Manhattan would become a shimmering wonderland of ice and frost.
Christina pulled me against her tightly, until there was nothing between us. The hug was intimate, but I could tell by her breathing and heartbeat that it wasn’t romantic. She was relieved to see me. I sunk into her embrace, relishing the heat radiating from her person. It’d been so long since-
Both Christina and I tensed at the sound of a new voice. The human looked down, and I soon followed, shocked to find a little girl at Christina’s feet. She was a spitting image of the woman in my arms; dark brown hair, deep blue eyes that must’ve belong to her father. The child couldn’t have been more than 4. I felt my throat tighten at the presence of the young girl. I wasn’t too surprised to see Christina with children, but the resemblance still caught me off guard.
“Oh, sweetie, I didn’t hear you come in,” Christina murmured, kneeling down with a kind smile for her daughter. The girl squirmed as she was lifted up. “I thought I told you to look after your sister.” She giggled then, and I swallowed. Christina had two children? The human shot me a smile, then gestured to the girl in her arms. “Henri, this is Antoinette Drake.” She held the child closer. “Antoinette, this is Henri Sinclair. He may look mean, but he’s really a decent person.” My frown twisted upward at that. “Christina-”
“It’s true. He just wants everyone to be afraid of him, but all the danger he gives off is a lie. He saved me once, you know.” Her green eyes took me in again. “Right, Henri?”
Antoinette kept squirming in her mother’s grip, and Christina laughed at her actions. “This will be the first Christmas where she’ll get to see the snow.” She leaned down to tell her daughter something I couldn’t catch. Suddenly, the child ran over to the window at the front of the house.
The snow… Momentarily, I glanced at the window. The white was filling the spaces there, completely obscuring the road.
“Snow,” Christina murmured, gazing lovingly at her daughter. “That’s snow, honey.”
“Pretty!” the girl exclaimed. I couldn’t help but smile at that. I watched as the young girl marveled at the sight before her.
“I understand why you can’t see me all the time,” she admitted softly, dropping her gaze to the girl by the window. “It isn’t safe for me, and it certainly isn’t safe for my family.” Suddenly, her eyes met mine again, aggressively. “Promise me, Henri.”
The smells of the home overflowed into me as I watched Christina’s smile light the living room. She took my hand in her own. “Promise.”
“Anything,” I pressed gently, feeling suddenly uncomfortable. “What is it?”
Christina hung her head; her grip on my hand tightening. “I know my life is dangerous, and I would never wish this on my children.” Quietly, I allowed Christina touch my pale cheek. “When I die…”
“Christina,” I practically growled. “Don’t say things like that-”
“It’ll happen sooner or later, and you know it,” she reminded me with a sad smile, dim as a flickering flame. “When I die, Henri, I want you to protect them. Protect my children. Please.” Leaning closer, she rested her head against my hollow chest.
I heard a crash, and Christina jerked her head from the position, shining eyes shifting to the front window. Her daughter had fallen into the small table beneath the window. She started to cry.
That’s when it hit me. Beneath the cloying scent of the home lurked the promise of blood.
Gritting my teeth in effort to control myself, I made sure to meet Christina’s shocked eyes. “I’ll protect them. Don’t worry.”
The woman must’ve sensed the change in my posture and mood because she went to take Antoinette into the other room, possibly where they could take care of her injury. That girl’s blood… It practically called to me… I swallowed hard, feeling my fangs drop down. The bloodlust was surfacing faster than usual.
“Damn it,” I hissed softly.
Christina couldn’t see me anymore. Not like this. I backed up and headed toward the front door. Christina and I never said our goodbyes; it was too late. I escaped into the snowfall swiftly, a shape of black against a sea of white. Christina’s request still rang in my mind.
I would keep the promise I made, no matter what.
As I’m sure you have enjoyed the entry and are eager to find out what happens next to Antoinette and Henri, check out Rachel’s works by clicking on the links below.