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Donna Boyd - Devoncroix Dynasty 02 - The Promise

Donna Boyd - Devoncroix Dynasty 02 - The Promise

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Published by Michelle Morse

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Published by: Michelle Morse on Jun 21, 2012
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02/01/2013

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THE PROMISE
DONNA BOYD
Prologue
And so, human, we meet again. I have begun a tale that left you curious, uneasy in the way of one who has suddenly been given reason to question all he holds true and to recoil a little, indread and distaste, at the answers. You look over your shoulder more now, don’t you? Youstare long and hard at patrician faces behind bulletproof glass in dark-colored cars, and whenby chance the occupants of those cars turn their gazes to you, you look quickly away, heartpounding, knowing.You see me now, watching you from the shadows, and it thrills you and terrifies you to knowI am there. I have always been there, of course, the gleam of my eyes in the darkness alert andpredatory, the set of my mouth amused. And you have always known it, in that deep visceralpart of you that once stalked the savannah, hunter and hunted, that burrowed into the bloodyskins of its prey for warmth and shook its sticks at the face of evil. But until now theknowledge was an easy thing to ignore. Until now you never saw the eyes.Who am I, then? What power have I over you? I am the tall fellow with the striking featuresand the long hair who strides before the cameras to accept the Academy Award. I am thedesigner with the Italian flair who changes the face of fashion. I am the voice you hear on theradio whose pounding rhythms and twisting melodies have the power to control the beat of the human heart. And those, my dears, are just my hobbies.I am the face glimpsed behind a tall window backlit with the glow of computer monitors andnothing else. I am the silent bidder in the back of the room, the voice on the phone that closesthe stock market for the day. I am the reason your flight was delayed two hours while myprivate plane was restocked, and it should not surprise you to learn I am also the owner of theairline whose name you cursed while you sat waiting on the runway. My apologies. Morepressing matters called at the time.You have seen my photograph, blurred and hazy, on the front pages of newspapers around theworld. I was the one in the background at the summit conference, turning away from thecamera at the site of the airport bombing, bent over the computer keyboard when the Marsprobe landed. I am your investment banker, your communications expert, your jeweler, yourengineer. I am all this, and more. You know this, and instinctively you shrink from theknowing even as your curiosity—ah, that lovely curiosity which is the curse and the boon weboth share!—draws you forward. Poor human. The worst is yet to come.We’ve kept our distance, you and I, all these years, and, through a mutual history that’semblazoned with blood and glory, we’ve come to an uneasy peace. In your memory, we areonly shadows in the dark. But in ours, you are much, much more. I have come now to restorethe balance.So come with me now, human, to a place before time, where a creature moves low and silentalong the edge of the forest. His eyes are narrow, slits of yellow light and his breath trailsfresh steam on the cold damp night. For days he has stalked his prey, drawn by a scent, aheartbeat, a sound upon the night that struck his curiosity and raised his head from the hunt.
 
When he began the journey his belly was full and he walked upright, climbing high trees tosnatch birds from the nest and drain fresh eggs, using hands and long fingers to build shelterfor himself and his mate. But then he caught the scent, and the heartbeat, and it resonatedsomething familiar inside him, and he followed his curiosity.Now he travels on all fours with a tail for balance, and his body is covered with thick coarsefur that protects him from the cold, and he can no longer remember the reason he began the journey in that other form. He has crossed mountains and swum rivers. He has fought off predators and outrun those he could not. Now his belly is empty and tight, his muscles screamfor nourishment, and every heartbeat pounds out hunger, hunger, hunger… Hunger. It is aninstinct stronger even than curiosity.The smell of smoke has led him to its source, and now he sees them, the sparsely furredcreatures with no tails, squatting on their haunches around the fire. He crouches low, blendinginto the forest, watching, his jowls dripping. The other predators have been driven back, deepinto the shadows, by the smell of smoke and the fear of the fire. But he is not afraid. He hasmade fire himself, in that other form, that other life. He knows its warmth and its comfort. Heis puzzled, in a part of his brain that is distant and separate from the hunger, that thesecreatures should know it too.He is puzzled by something else. The shape of their forelimbs, the four long digits on eachand the shorter, manipulable fifth. Their longer, heavily muscled hind limbs and they waythey sit upright, grunting into the fire. The noises they make, the features on their faces, theway they move… how like him they are. And yet how completely different. Their smell israncid and sharp, which must explain why they have not yet caught his scent. Their eyes aresmall and round and must be half blind, because they have not yet found him in the bushes.Their ears, though much like his own in his other form, are apparently defective, for not oneof them turns to follow the sound of his heartbeat, or the breath of the stranger who has comeso close to their fire.The predator decides that the creatures, though they have assumed a form similar to his, arean inferior species and cannot pose a threat. They are prey. And yet they have fire, and he iscurious. He leaves the cover of the shadows and creeps toward them.And just as individual destinies are so often decided in a fraction of a second, by the spin of awheel upon random chance, so too is the history of the world, or the fates of species. Thecreature who crept from the shadows had the body of a wolf, but the reasoning to questionwhy. He had the hunger of a beast and a soul that reached higher. The hominids who huddledaround the fire might have looked at him and seen themselves. Instead, they looked up andsaw monster.The creatures around the fire see him when it is almost too late. They begin to screech interror, trampling one another in their haste to flee. A female snatches up an infant and runs. Ayouth pauses to show his teeth and fling a handful of stones, then begins to scream again andrun. The scent of their terror is intoxicating; the excitement of the hunt, the allure of thechallenge, the rich life-charged odor of prey in its last, most intense moments. He is thehunter, and instinct commands he give chase.He allows the young and the agile to escape, but springs upon a lame one who has fallenbehind, and brings him down in a single leap. Ah, the rush of hot blood into his mouth. Ah,the crunch of bone and sinew beneath his teeth. Ah, the raging beast of hunger within him thatbursts free and tears at flesh, gulps soft tissues, buries itself muzzle-deep in the steaming
 
corpse and gorges until it can hold no more. He is the predator, and his nature has beenfulfilled.But later, sated and drowsy, he curls himself into a ball before the dying embers of the fire,and he dreams the dreams no other beast of the forest dreams. He remembers a shape, a form,a face, a hand with five digits, a covering of smooth skin, the absence of a tail. He remembershimself. And he remembers the creatures, so familiar and so strange, whose scents had luredhim here. He looks into their fire, and he is sorry they are gone.That, then, so the legend goes, is how it began between us all those centuries ago. Predatorand prey, a choice and a decision. And that is the way it might have stayed between us, exceptthat something happened over the centuries, to both of us. And that’s the story you have cometo hear, isn’t it? Because today we face another choice, another decision. And the action wetake today, just as it did on that long-ago night before the fire, will determine the course of allthe rest of the world.Come with me, then, to a city called New York, in a place called America, where a youngwerewolf mourns the end of an era. In his hands he holds the key to a dynasty, and in his heada secret that could change your destiny forever, and mine. Hear his howl of sorrowreverberate around the earth, feel his loss chill your blood. Watch now as he rises, and movesto the window, and stares out unseeing at a cold gray morn. He thinks the worst is over.He is wrong.The drama that began all those hundreds of thousands of years ago is approaching the finalact, and the curtain rises here, in this room, on this night. When it drops closed again, neitheryou nor I, nor any other of our kind, will ever be the same. So draw closer to the fire, human,and make yourself comfortable.I have a story to tell you.
PART ONE
Born to run and born to prey we live and die in Nature’s way:Killers all until we say,“I shall not kill today, my friend…I shall not kill today.“—FROM A CHILD’S JUMPING-SONG TRADITIONAL WEREWOLF
One
13:43
 
Greenwich Mean Time November 23, 1998
 In London, the Westminster chimes began to toll out of synch and out of tune for the firsttime in the one-hundred-forty-year history of the most famous clock in the world. A computer

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