FORBIDDEN BITE Michael & Dory Morris

FORBIDDEN BITE BY MICHAEL MORRIS & DORY MORRIS

Prologue Ardan was a young vampire caught up in many land disputes throughout his days, leaving him trailing through the four provinces of Ireland. He dealt with both witches and humans alike, but as he had been taught, he did not associate with the other types - unless he was to kill them. However, that changed in Province Laighin when he came across a particular lady, a witch, as he was returning home from a long battle. When their eyes met the immediate hatred they should have felt was absent. "Good evening, my lady," he greeted as he brought his horse to a halt several feet in front of her. She was alone, standing at the corner of a small house adjacent to a small mudded alley. Having spent the day in several shops around town, she was spending her afternoon enjoying the fresh air and watching the townspeople go by. When she saw Arden, she was immediately entrapped in his glare. "Good evening, sir." Arden smiled and the lady looked around for a moment. She motioned for him to follow when she noticed the street was vacant. With a jerk of her head, she scurried through the small alley. Ardan dismounted and promptly followed her to a heavily shadowed trail leading through a dense forest. The thought of a witch and a vampire being seen together was strictly forbidden, so he stayed several feet behind her and deep in the

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shadows of the looming trees. She came to the end of the small trail, looked off in both directions, and suddenly landed her glare on one particular house. Arden arrived at her side a moment later and noticed he was flanked by several small houses. Before he could gather his wits and take in the surroundings, she grabbed his hand and ran. She pulled him into the back door of the house she had been staring at. The house was small with wooden planks lining the walls and a thick thatched roof overhead. "This home belonged to a friend of my family's. I do not know where they have gone, but we have not seen or heard from them for several years. We are safe here for the night." They wandered through the home to a bedroom near the rear of the house and talked for several hours. Eventually, he learned her name was Cara and that she had one sibling remaining in her family. "My brother has not spoken to me in years. After the war, he disappeared. We know he is still alive, but he does not want anything to do with his family." "How about your parents? Did your father survive?" Arden asked. "My father did not make it to Ireland-" "I am sorry to hear that." She nodded. "My mother and brother arrived safely with me. My mother is still around these parts." "Do you live near here?"

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"This family was close friends of ours because we lived two houses over. That is where I live now, with my mother." "Your mother is two doors down!" Arden gasped. "Will she see me?" Cara chuckled. "She is not of your concern. She barely remembers my name. She has been ill. Not something I fancy discussing." Her face distorted into an awkward discomfort. The room fell silent for a few minutes before Cara made a quirky remark that sent them into laughter which turned into playful banter. The remainder of the night was spent making love and, much to his surprise, his fangs only exposed themselves once. Although the one instance startled Cara, they were able to laugh it off and continue until they were asleep in each other's arms. The following morning, she asked, "Can you stay for another day?" "I would be delighted, my love." Another day became several years and the forbidden life which they led was uninterrupted. They never stayed in one place for long, but they were in love and inseparable. Both of them felt that they could not live a happier life and without the other there would be no life. They protected one another from any harm and they hid themselves well. Cara returned home to check on her mother from time to time, but was never gone for longer than a few hours.

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One evening, as they lay beside one another undressed, Cara's eyes began to water. Her smile shifted into a distinct frown. "Arden, I am mortal. There can never be forever." Those words changed his life forever. "I can change that, my love," he said. "I can provide something no witch or human can. Immortality." Cara's depression shifted again to a nervous excitement. As Ardan let out his fangs, she closed her eyes and took shallow breaths, bracing herself. The puncture of his teeth protruded through her neck and sent a chill down her spine. His body filled with extreme warmth as her blood rushed to every extremity. His chest pounded in agony after a few gulps of the witch's blood. Unable to handle the pain, he quickly pulled away leaving her bleeding from the two small holes in her neck. She began to convulse and, although his pain was too great to see what was happening, he could feel the bed violently shaking. He heard heaving sounds as she became ill...then the world went dark and completely still. His eyes finally opened to the bright sun flooding into the room. He could not recall where he was or what day it was. He looked around in a panic, trying to find something familiar. On his right side he saw Cara lying beside him, motionless and pale, and an extreme calmness overtook him.

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"Immortality, my lady! You will spend eternity in my arms." His voice was weak. With his arm draped over her waist and his eyes closed, he endured the immense pain of his beating heart. However, his eyes showed a gleam of extreme blissfulness holding onto the love of his life.

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Chapter One Duke Brian Amherst of Province Laighin had held onto the title for several decades, but in 1492 he was stricken with influenza. His 68-year-old body fought hard against the ailment, however, his condition only worsened as the hours past. His only son, twenty-year-old Ewan, sat at his side in tears watching his father and mentor deteriorate while the daunting task of filling his seat weighed heavily on his mind. After the death and funeral ceremonies for Brian Amherst, Duke Ewan took control of Province Laighin. From an early age, Ewan practiced his craft as a witch under the mentorship of his father who pushed his limits endlessly. The skill, power, and strength he had obtained during his childhood allowed him to take control of their province in a manner that would not have disappointed his beloved teacher and father. Although the first few years were tough for Ewan, still mourning the death of Brian, by 1490 he sought a new life and happened to come upon it at a noble gathering in Province Ulaidh. Ulaidh was under the Corrigan noble family's rule and the gathering, hosted by Duke Eoin Corrigan, took place in the great room of his castle. Ewan arrived alone, but was soon introduced to one of Eoin's distant relatives, Aileen Corrigan who, unbeknownst to him, was particularly fond of his rugged appearance and piercing blue eyes. 7

"Would you care to join me for a walk this evening, my lady?" Ewan asked looking deeply into her emerald eyes. "I would be delighted," she replied without hesitation. That evening stroll was when Ewan realized that Aileen Corrigan was the missing piece in his life. She was a strikingly beautiful woman with dark auburn hair flowing to her middle back contrasting against her vibrant eyes. After that night, they met again many times before they decided to wed in 1492 inside the walls of the Amherst castle cathedral. The beautiful ceremony led them into an exciting life with one another leaving Ewan's mourning of his father far in the back of his mind, but never forgotten. Within the next eight years, they had three daughters, all of which were taught and mentored as Ewan had been, leaving them as the strongest witching family in the country. Although, through their childhood, the three children had attended many of the noble balls and gatherings, they would spend most of their time with each other, unaware of who was around them. However, in 1525 Rionach Amherst, the oldest daughter, began to notice those who were in attendance. She met, greeted, and conversed with the Corrigans; briefly spoke with the O'Rourke family (nobles of County Mumhain); and met the Gilchrist family who interested her very much. Perhaps it was the seductive embrace that a stare of a vampire can do to its victims that enthralled her, but she could not stop staring upon the Gilchrist's table. A family, which vampires strived to be, humans feared to cross, and witches would merely respect. The father, Duke Duncan Gilchrist, held the reigns over Province Connachta and at his side sat Duchess Kyla Gilchrist. Duke Duncan's strong six-foot build was rather intimidating at first glance and his pale skin looked deathly and ill, but that was not a distraction to Rionach. Across from Duncan was her biggest distraction. Lachlan Gilchrist, a towering six and a half foot man with emerald green eyes, chiseled features, and dark blonde hair making him incredibly 8

handsome. From the moment he made eye contact with her, although only for a second, she could not stop staring. Next to Lachlan, was his soft, sinewy little sister, Ainsley, who took note of Rionach's incessant staring with a chuckle. This disrupted her stare for the better portion of the evening, but did not distract her mind from wondering more about him. Shortly after dinner had been served and eaten, many of the neighboring nobles roamed the great room, greeting and introducing themselves to other families. Lachlan was one to be making rounds, stopping at the Corrigan's table first for a short, yet disgusted, "Good evening." He proceeded around the room, occasionally glancing at the head table where Rionach sat with her two sisters and parents to assure they were not busy. When he noticed they were not with another, he continued on his way to greet Duke Ewan with a handshake. "Greetings Duke Amherst, it is an honor to join you this evening." "Likewise, Sir Lachlan," Ewan replied, "I hope you enjoy the evening's festivities." Rionach's stare shot in his direction as her father talked to him momentarily then introduced him to Duchess Aileen. After a short, jovial discussion with her, he continued to Rionach, who was frozen with blushed cheeks staring at his green eyes. He gently picked up her hand from the table, kissed the back, and looked into her deep blue eyes that were outlined by her jet-black hair. "You are a beautiful young lady," he said, "much like your mother." Her blushed cheeks turned redder and with a coy smile, she looked at him and replied, "Thank you, sir." Still holding her hand by the tips of her fingers, he asked, "Would you like to join me for a dance later this evening?" Inside her head a thousand thoughts raced back and forth, but on the outside a simple, "That would be fine," came out.

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Lachlan gave a slight chuckle and proceeded along to the middle sister, Norah Amherst, who was gorgeous as well, but not as captivating as the stare of Rionach. He kissed the back of her hand and greeted, "Good evening, my lady. It is an honor to be in your presence this evening." Norah nodded with a smirk and paid no attention to Lachlan continuing down the table to Brianna, the youngest of the three. Brianna was Rionach's favorite of her sister's and, apparently, Lachlan's favorite of the two as well. When he saw her blue eyes, and wavy auburn hair, he gave her a seductive stare similar to what Rionach had seen. Once again, he gently held her hand to his lips and greeted her. However, much to Rionach's pleasure, he did not invite her to a dance later that evening and said no more than his usual, "Good evening, my lady." After the ball, they did not speak for several years, during which time Rionach worked with her father to improve and strengthen her abilities. Ewan had been her mentor since she was born and had always been able to help her better than anyone else Rionach spoke with. However, as he became older and she matured, his power was no longer enough to control her. She took what knowledge she could get from him, but once he could no longer keep up, she began to teach herself new and better skills. Limited, she sought help from outside of the family and county. Nevertheless, Rionach never forgot about Lachlan through the many years and now she wanted to find him again, despite the ethical disobedience. She deeply desired to unveil her curiosity and was not going to be the same until she did. There was only one person Rionach could truly trust, during these ventures to find Lachlan, her servant, Sibeal. Sibeal was a witch of minimal power with a bland, slim, flat build with wiry, dark hair, and asymmetrical features highlighted by blemishes. Her mother once served for Ewan's sister before her death, which is when Sibeal was introduced and assigned to Lady Rionach. As a servant, she was of little significance and her insipid appearance allowed her the ability to blend in other provinces. 10

Sibeal had traveled to Province Connachta many times in the past to fetch goods from a shop or to deliver an urgent message to the Gilchrist castle, as the dukes often communicated through writings under certain circumstances. She had crossed into the human land for similar reasons, never harmed or questioned and never a part of any dispute. When Rionach asked her to deliver a message to Sir Lachlan at the Gilchrist castle, she showed no reluctance. The long journey took her through thick forests, small towns, and wet marshes, but it was what she was ordered to do, despite the inconveniences. Due to the contents of the letter, Sibeal was never told what she was transporting. Had she known, she would have questioned the favor being asked of her, merely to protect herself, her mistress, and her job. Over the multiple days it took to deliver the message, Rionach kept busy with daily chores and activities to subdue her anxiety. These communications secretly continued, never allowing Duke Ewan or Duke Duncan to get a hold of the correspondences. In the beginning, the letters merely talked about their daily lives and checking on one another, but, as the relationship grew more potent, they became more personable. The letters were often scribbled as they worked to finish them without interruption. "I want to see you again," Rionach scrawled onto stationary. "Where can we meet?" "Province Mumhain would be safest," Lachlan insisted in his reply. Rionach was reluctant to agree to meeting in Province Mumhain for many of her fellow witches had crossed into the province and humans assured their failure to return. "I am not comfortable with humans," she retorted. "I have lost many friends to them." Lachlan knew of these losses and was a witness to many throughout the years of battling, but he knew certain people that held a higher respect for him. "I can protect you there," he reassured.

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Although humans did not accept vampires, the vampires would often fight the witches off the land while greedily taking the humans. Lachlan had saved several men from the witches, never killing, but successfully chasing the witches back to their own land. Eventually, Lachlan was held in the ranks of a champion to several families, not just his own. Despite their disinclination to approach him, they were overly grateful for their lives and land, which Lachlan had helped to secure. Rionach had heard rumors of Lachlan's immense strength, so his vow to protect her was an enticing promise. Despite the problems she had been through, the quiet life was what she wanted, but she knew that with Lachlan this was not feasible, as she would be breaking the witch's highest law. Therefore, she took time to consider what she needed to sacrifice and if he was the one she wanted to fight for. In these months, the communications ceased and Rionach continued her life spending evenings with Brianna and afternoons near her father completing her routine responsibilities. This time was not wasted as she learned new skills and improved many of her powers. As she continued learning, she was beginning to question her desire to risk her life for Lachlan. The relationship was too risky, too much sacrifice was involved, and the effort and pain it would cause was incomprehensible. She was contented learning new powers, alone, in a safe and controlled environment. She and Brianna would talk and laugh together daily, often as they were preparing for the night's sleep and the friendship was something she did not want to lose. However, when a young gentleman named Brady Corrigan came into the Amherst castle a couple months later, Rionach lost a lot of the time she loved so much with her sister. Brady came from a family of powerful, noble witches, son of Duke Eoin and Duchess Nessa. He was an innocent, young man with dull, round grey eyes, and shoulder length dusty, blonde hair from a small family who had only held the royal seat for a couple of decades. Duchess Aileen Amherst was a distant relative of the Corrigan family and grew up learning her craft from 12

many of Brady's ancestors and elders. Thus, it was good news to Ewan and Aileen when Brady ambled into the Amherst castle to approach them. "Duke Amherst," Brady began nervously adjusting his sleeves, "I would like to request your permission to take Lady Brianna to the ball in County Tyrone." Aileen chirped, "We would be honored to see our daughter at the hand of a Corrigan." "Thank you, Lady Aileen," he replied then peered back over to Ewan. "I assume this suits you as well?" "Master Brady, you are of family to us and to see my daughter in your hands would fill me with nothing but happiness." "Thank you Duke and Duchess Amherst." Aileen had not spoken with the Corrigan's since the death of her grandfather nearly 30 years ago. Her curiosity ran rampant as a Corrigan stood in front of her. "How are Eoin and Nessa?" "Things have been a struggle. Father has been ill with the influenza," Brady started, "but mother is well and taking good care of him." "I am sorry to hear of your father. I hope he gets well," Aileen replied. She inquired about many other long lost relatives of theirs, some Brady did not know, some he heard the names of, and some he had watched die. He answered her with the best answers he could give, but not always in enough detail to soothe Aileen's curiosity. The conversation continued for quite some time, allowing Brady to get comfortable in the chair nearby. Brady stood from his seat. "I shall be off. We are running out of daylight." His departure was stalled when he caught a glimpse of Lady Brianna approaching the foot of the stairwell. She was draped in a long sleeve, navy blue, velvet gown wrapped perfectly around her subtle, voluptuous curves, only exposing her shoulders, lightly flowing behind her, gently 13

pressing the ground at her feet. He paused for a moment and greeted, "Good evening Lady Brianna, you look stunning." She felt her cheeks turn red while she fumbled her way to the great room. "Sir Brady, I was not expecting you." She glanced over at Aileen's coy smirk and Ewan's overly proud smile. "What brings you here this evening?" "I asked Duke Ewan a favor," Brady replied. Ewan's smile stained his face as Brady strolled out of the castle and to the stable where his horse awaited his arrival. Brianna was puzzled, but had a much more pressing matter to attend to. Several weeks crept by and Brianna kept herself busy, writing to Brady, meeting him in town, and preparing for the next day's activities with Brady. Throughout these weeks, Rionach was left to herself. The little amounts that Brianna was around she talked about Brady. How great he was, what they had done, what they planned to do, where they went, whom they met, and what he bought. The topic never died and Rionach was quite sick of hearing about it. Rionach was lonely, hoping for a simple, quiet relationship and being tormented by Brianna forced her to finally write back to Lachlan. She had determined she did want to move ahead, taking the risks involved, in the relationship. Brianna was out with Brady, Nora was busy in her quarters keeping to herself (as she often did), and Ewan and Aileen were busy in the great room with a correspondence from a neighboring county. Rionach, however, locked herself in her quarters, sat down at her desk to the dancing candlelight, and began to scribble a letter. Sir Lachlan, It has been some time since my last correspondence and for that I apologize. I needed the time for myself to ponder some of the issues at hand. Although it has been nearly two months, I have decided I 14

would like to meet with you on the human's land and proceed with this venture. I hope you will accept this offer and reply with the time and location. Thank you, Lady Rionach Rionach folded the parchment letter, sealed it with the family's wax seal, and handed it to Sibeal for delivery the following day. As always, Sibeal was completely unaware of the contents inside the letter and followed the orders she was given. She had suspicions of something unusual since it had been so long since the last correspondence, but she did not question what was not of her business. Typically the Gilchrist's would see several visitors per day, multiple correspondences would arrive daily, and Duncan would bark orders incessantly. Lachlan needed to get away. He was one to always join a fight to help another, and never one to refuse someone protection, but for the many years he and his family had dealt with many disputes, he was ready for something different. Sibeal's arrival was blurred into the sea of servants the day Rionach's last letter arrived. Lachlan, eager to move forward with the relationship, wrote back that they could meet up in two weeks at a particular house on the south end of the human's Limerick County. "I will pick you up at your castle," he said in the letter. "Wait in the courtyard for me to arrive." Lady Norah Amherst often kept to herself in her quarters doing mysterious work behind closed doors. She always stayed occupied, never allowing time for her sisters to sit down to a long conversation. She was powerful like Brianna, but would rarely make use of or improve her powers. She had always said, "We have these special powers and strengths, I dare not waste them." Norah was the shortest of the three daughters, standing at five foot nine, and although breathtaking, her 15

beauty did not compare. Like her mother, she had dark, curly auburn hair, yet striking blue eyes similar to Rionach's. As a soft spoken, obedient young woman, she attained many friends outside of the castle walls. After many years of close teaching and mentorship with her mother, Norah became very attached to Aileen showing a similar brilliance in many studies. Aileen always enjoyed Norah's temperament and rarely found it necessary to scold her for her actions. Norah's perfect build, strong features, piercing eyes, and long, thick hair would always stand out amongst the crowds. Most people would gaze in beguilement and awe too intimidated to approach her. However, the occasional gentleman would shyly approach with a short, "Hello Norah," but would not stay around long enough to get to know her, terrified of who she was. She was soft-spoken, but not withdrawn. She would try to reach out to new people, talk amongst her friends, and kept herself very approachable. There was one gentleman though, who was not intimidated by her striking looks; he was intrigued. As fearful as many were, humans coveted for the powers and youthfulness of a witch This gentleman, Sir Sean O'Rourke II, first approached her with his mousy, shoulder length brown hair sloppily pushed back behind his ears. She was in Dublin's main town with a small group of witches looking through various shops. As he was strolling through the town, his lifeless brown eyes caught sight of her emerald green gown which wrapped her body from the shoulders down, accentuating her every curve. The first moment he got, he approached her with a cheesy grin plastered across his face. "Good afternoon! I am Sir Sean O'Rourke the Second, I am so pleased to meet you young lady." His voice was deep and raspy. "I have been having such a wonderful time here in Dublin, would you like to join me for a walk?" Norah, although unimpressed with his bland features, found his broad strong build attractive. She found his loud, gruff voice to be adorable, albeit a bit annoying. 16

"I would love to, Sir Sean," Norah replied. "Tell me more about yourself." They meandered haphazardly throughout the town while Ryanne followed several feet away and her friends wandered off in the other direction. "I am an O'Rourke, which, as you surely know, means I am in the noble O'Rourke family down in Mumhain," Sean explained. "I am the only child of my quickly dying father, so I will be the Duke in no time." "I am terribly sorry to hear about your father." Norah looked at him with a sorrowful expression, but quickly noticed his lack of sorrow. She paid attention to where they walked and allowed Sean to continue. "He led a long life as Duke and is ready to hand it over to me. My mother tells me how great I will be in the seat. I have spent some years fighting in the battles down in Province Mumhain. Notice I am still alive, the hero, I might add." "That is impressive," Norah replied. "So you are from the Province Mumhain?" "Yes ma'am! Born there, raised there, and fought there. How 'bout you?"

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