Prologue:
A Few Days Before

She never knew what woke her up. She opened her eyes, slowly, groggily, reached her hands up and touched bare wood.

She made it. She didn’t know how many days had past, but despite everyone’s worries, she’d pulled through. She thought of Prince Sevrin’s concerned face, how he’d feed her extra blood. They had buried her here early, hoping that the vampire virus would transform her, remake her, and send the human disease into the very nothingness it had promised her. It was dark, inside the coffin, but she thought she could almost just see the outline of her fingers pressed against the raw wood. No satin for these coffins…they were made to be taken apart easy and abandoned. She took in a thin breath. Vampires barely needed oxygen, and the air whose lack of substance had caused her to suffocate, allowing the vampire blood to begin the final transformation, now supported her fine…for now. It even smelled good, laced with the lavender and cedar that filled the thin mattress that was her only luxury. Even it wasn’t comfortable. When she had first lain down upon it, she winced, causing Sevrin to chided her gently, saying, “You’re not supposed to be comfortable. You’re supposed to transform and come home as soon as possible, so we can celebrate our happiness at your return.”

Sevrin. Now there was a hottie. She wondered if he would look at her with interest, now that she was no longer a human child. Probably not for a few years yet. She wasn’t even out of High School. Darn it.

There was a thunk of something hitting the dirt over her. It sounded sort of like the sound of the shovels she had heard when they buried her, except, well, in reverse. She still felt loggy, and she thought she could feel warmth, distant and filtered, through the wood. It was probably daylight, still. What were they doing?

Had it taken her longer, since she was still a few years off the usual time for a vampire to be transformed? Did they think this dark butterfly wasn’t going to rise from her cocoon, and so they needed to get rid of the evidence? Sevrin had said not, he had said disturbing the grave of those who never woke up was sacrilege.

She felt fear, for the first time, a small frisson that chilled her newly reformed heart. It’ll be ok, she soothed herself. Whoever it was would hit the box soon, and realize they’d made a mistake. They’d go get the police. By the time they got back, it’d be twilight, at least, and she’d be gone. Burned, a little, yes, but she’d hide somewhere, she’d get home, and they’d take care of her. Vampires always took care of their own kind.

She thought of languishing prettily on a couch, Sevrin carefully daubing aloe on her rosy…but not ickily…pink burns, and telling her that he thought she was the bravest vampire ever.

OK. Everything’s going to be fine. She crossed her arms across her chest. Yes. All’s well.

And then she heard the singing.

“Happy birthday to you.”

The shovel hit the wood.

“Happy birthday to you…”

Don’t. Please…please don’t, she whispered as the lid was ripped open. The sun dazzled her, and hurt worse than she expected.

“Happy birthday, oh Vampire girl…”

“No!” She screamed, raising her hands, trying to block the sun. She could see a silhouette, raising an axe over his shoulder. It landed heavily, the pain cutting off any other thoughts.

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