My parents started this library and filled it with millions of dollars of books. Three floors. Open in the middle—same as our house—overlooking the main floor. When I wasn’t in school or training to be a Keeper, I was here, losing myself in books. I think I always knew I wanted to be a librarian, but it just took a while to work up the courage to tell my family. Of course, when I did, they acted like I’d told them I wanted to be a porn star or bank robber.
To this day, I don’t regret my choice, but I do regret how my parents were murdered before I could convince them that choosing another path in life didn’t mean I hated them. They died thinking the worst of me, and for that, I don’t think I’ll ever feel closure.
I pull into the parking lot to the side of my library and immediately go for my crossbow. The big one this time. Bertha.
There are four black SUVs in the lot and two parked out front on the busy street at the meters. I know it isn’t Nice, which is why I grab the chocolate-tipped arrow. I make them myself with pure cocoa powder and a flour paste so the tip hardens just enough to penetrate the skin. Vampire skin.
Chocolate is a narcotic for us. Give us enough, and it’ll kill, whereas a small dose has the same effect as alcohol. I’ve yet to sample any since being turned because I’ve been alone with Stella and must be on my guard. Mommy can’t get a chocolate chip cookie buzz until she finds a ninja sitter.
I take my crossbow and exit my Hummer. I might be a librarian, but when it comes to defending my child, I’m a one-woman army. Ready to kick fangs or asses. The ill-fitting, disheveled clothes I wear—below-the-knee skirts, moth-eaten sweaters, and granny glasses—are merely a disguise. Today I have on a wrinkled white blouse, plain tan pants, and a black cardigan that’s all stretched out. People see me and think I couldn’t harm a fly or fight my way out of a paper bag. All part of my Keeper upbringing. Unfortunately, my natural clumsiness is genuine, and so is my lack of love for violence. I can fight, and fight well. It’s just not something that comes naturally or that I enjoy. Even when I was Nice’s prisoner, fear always held me back. And he knew just how to use it to keep me tethered to his side, reading bad poetry, helping him shop online for ruffled shirts, telling him how much I admired his wiry body and long black locks.
The man is a monster.
At least I wasn’t mistreated sexually. Mr. Nice has a rule about not sleeping with humans (apparently they’re too fragile for his bedroom games), but he kept Stella from me. Those are years lost with my daughter, and I’ll never get them back. For that, he’ll pay.
MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF is a New York Times bestselling author who’s sold over one million books around the world. Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the romance closet and follow your dreams.
Mimi lives with her Latin lover hubby, two pirates-in-training (their boys), and their three spunky dragons (really, just very tiny dogs with big attitudes) Snowy, Mini, and Mack, in the vampire-unfriendly state of Arizona.
She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men.