The only thing stronger than an eight-hundred year old vampire is the pain and regret he carries with him. Follow Jack Rossi as he realizes that one cannot outrun the past and when it catches up to you, there will be hell to pay.

Chapter 1: Winds of Change

Something ominous lingers in the air tonight, Jack thought, as if everything has just gone silent for no reason. Something or someone, it seemed, had muted nature. There were no owls calling, katydids singing, or crickets chirping - just dead silence. Jack stood peering into the darkness, looking for any movement or anything out of place, something that just didn’t fit. There was an oddly familiar scent on the air, but he couldn’t seem to place it while digging through his memories.

“What’s got you on edge?” asked Lana.

She had just as quietly watched Jack, as Jack had watched the night sky. Nothing gets to Jack like this, she thought. The deafening silence outside rang louder in Jack’s ears than the concern in Lana’s voice.

Lana knew Jack was one of the oldest of his kind, if not the oldest of them all. He was the longest-lived vampire she had ever met, and she had been with him for almost five hundred years. She also knew he had been around close to three hundred years before meeting her. Nothing and no one had ever shaken him, but tonight, was different.

Jack turned his attention from the distance and away from that mysterious yet oddly familiar scent on the breeze. He had been searching through the vast expanse of his memories for the answer to the riddle the scent had set before him but now found himself hanging on the worry in Lana’s voice. He turned slowly from the open window, and his eyes met Lana’s.

He smiled slightly and replied, “Just got a little case of déjà vu.”

Jack stepped slowly towards her, reached out, and softly took her hands in his own. He was one of those that had held onto his past, revealing only glimpses of it to Lana since her turning. She owed Jack her entire existence, and therefore she never asked him to reveal anything from before their time together. She knew what he had said to her before her turning was just a fraction of the pain he had suffered, possibly more painful than the circumstances that had brought her to this very room, thousands of miles away to a different land and different time. She felt his silence on the matter was payment enough for all he had done for her. He was her maker, her teacher, and the only love she had ever known.

Jack, still holding her hands, looked lovingly into her eyes and spoke softly. “Tonight, my love, you will know all that I know, from my first thoughts to those present in my mind. Take of my blood and know what I know.” With that Jack tilted his head and exposed his neck.

Lana stood there silent, knowing that to offer oneself as a vampire to another was to make them equals. Blood is so much more than just a life essence. To drink the blood of another vampire is to join their life force with yours. Whether a vampire’s own blood is offered freely or gained by force, consuming another vampire’s blood allows you to acquire their entire past, as well as the pasts of all those they have taken. Allowing all your knowledge and skills to be given to another vampire could mean life or death to yourself. It allows others to know you as you know yourself, exposing strengths and weaknesses. And… you have to trust them to release their bite eventually. To be able to know Jack in this way was a great honor, one that Lana would never betray.

Why now, she wondered? Did this have something to do with the way he had been acting? She knew there would probably be experiences she would not want to see, the tragedies of his past, and she feared seeing them may lead to the truth about why he was acting unusually tense.

“Are you sure? Why now?” she questioned.

Jack’s gaze met Lana’s. She had never been able to resist his stare. When their eyes met, it was as if words no longer mattered, as if they transcended mere conversation, and communication became an open channel of flowing emotions, thoughts, desire, and passion where spoken words were useless. Lana read in his stare, that he wanted her to know him in the deepest sense of the word, and in taking his blood, she would see him as no one ever had.

Her fangs emerged slowly from their withdrawn state, and as she lost herself in Jack’s eyes, his right hand softly caressed the side of her cheek, ran back through her hair, and gently pulled her head to his neck.

As her fangs pierced his skin with ease, Jack’s blood erupted into her mouth. Within seconds so did his memories and all that made him who and what he was. Her knees buckled.

At first, awe and amazement overwhelmed her, and then tears, so many tears. Jack’s life had been one of loneliness and pain, coupled with brief moments of passion and love. The grief of loss within his memories burned her to the core. At times, enough that she tried to pull away, and had it not been for Jack’s hand holding her there, she would have stopped short of absorbing all there was to know.

Her tears mixed with Jack’s blood and sped the flow from around her mouth. The excess blood, now diluted, ran down from his neck to his chest and dripped to the floor. Her fangs drew back, but her tears failed to cease. She held him as tightly as he held her, now sobbing against his shoulder. He continued to stroke her hair as she kissed the wound she had made, and Jack’s skin closed, staunching the flow of blood.

Jack slid his left hand gently down her side, as his right hand lifted her chin so that her still wet eyes met his again. He had hidden his pain well, but being fresh in her mind, she had no hope of pretending it wasn’t there. Jack bent slightly, pressing his lips to hers, cleaning the excess blood from her lips, his tongue lapped up one last trickle of blood left clinging to her mouth. As he withdrew his tongue, it scraped across his upper teeth, staining them pink. “You and I are now one. I am you and you are me,” Jack softly whispered.

His hands slid slowly to her waist, and as they reached her hips, crept softly back up her spine. Lana’s back tightened and arched within his touch. Jack knew just how to touch her, and the growl of passion and desire in her next exhale proved that point. As his hands reached her shoulders, his fingers curled over and softly scratched her back as they slid back down her spine.

Lana’s look changed from one of deep sadness to that of painful desire. The new revelation of Jack’s past left her wanting him more than ever. Like an addict craves another high, Lana hungered for another touch of his hand upon her skin. Every inch that he touched inflamed her with passion, leaving what was untouched begging to be next.

She moved within his hands like a cobra bound to the song of the snake charmer’s flute, swaying to every change in melody. She gave herself willfully to that bondage, choosing to follow his touch wherever he chose to lead. Her back arched once more over his arms which were now in the small of her back, as she moaned, longing to be kissed. Jack heeded the call, as Lana dropped her neck to allow him free roam of her breasts, which were partially exposed above her laced, black leather top. She begged him with her eyes to continue into the bedroom.

He refused for a moment, watching how Lana’s skin rippled under his breath. Every touch led her in a direction she was more than happy to follow, and now at the bedroom door, her hands gripped the casing so tightly that she ripped it from the walls on both sides of the opening.

With a sudden sweep of her leg, Jack found himself on his back, Lana straddling his waist. She slid her nails down the surface of his chiseled chest, taking time to admire his olive-hued skin and the thin layer of dark curly hair that trailed down his stomach. He was perfectly toned, built like an ideal predator, made for both battle and love.

Jack’s hands lifted Lana’s jet-black hair from her shoulders so that it cascaded like a silken tapestry surrounding her magnetic eyes, the windows to her soul. Tonight, they were wide open looking back into his. The two of them communicated on a level unknown to most people, not because of what they were, but more because of what they felt for each other.

Jack watched as a bead of sweat rose on Lana’s forehead and then flowed down a tendril of her hair until it passed from his sight. A moment later, he felt it roll down his own cheek.

Jack lay there, simply admiring her. She was as beautiful as the day he had turned her. Her eyes were as dark as the night sky and just as easy to get lost in. Her skin was smooth and darkly tanned like others of Mayan descent. She who once was offered to him as a living sacrifice was now a Mayan goddess, immortal, and to him, the most beautiful creature alive.

“I can never stop looking at you. I’m still mesmerized by your beauty. For a moment, it was if I was staring at a masterpiece in the finest of galleries, but…”

Lana remained absolutely still, willing him to continue with her stare.

“But then I realized no painter, no sculptor could ever create a piece of art equal to your beauty. I remain awed at how lucky I am to have spent a day with you, much less five centuries. After all that time, I still see you as if it were the first time.”

“So, you never regret turning me?”

“Are you saying I should have just consumed you and cast your body aside?”

“No, it’s just ‘her’…”

“She was what she was to me, but she died long before I even met you.”

“But you carry so much grief, so much pain…”

“Guilt is the word you’re looking for Lana, and yes I still carry it with me as if it happened yesterday. She was, at that time, my everything, and as you know now, I killed her.”

“Her death was not your fault! Akari's blind rage and desire killed Kyomi, not you. Hell Jack, I decimated an entire Mayan village. They deserved their fate for trying to feed me to you, but still, I did it, and I might even have kept going if you hadn’t stopped me. I almost killed my entire family.”

“To me, that initial blood lust was of no consequence. I could have let Kyomi live or possibly stopped Akari, had I even tried. I had already proven my point by the time I reached her.”

“You say that now, looking back, but in those moments, there were other forces working against you. You know as well as I do, that the craving to feed is undeniable, just as Akari's addiction to you and hatred of Kyomi were certain. It’s not your fault, and like me, there was vengeance involved. Rage and more rage are a dangerous mix.”

A breeze from the open window blew across the two of them, carrying the vaguely familiar scent. Nature’s sudden interruption left the two of them uneasy. Lana rose cautiously to her feet, and slowly stepped towards the window.

“That scent in the air, it’s so oddly familiar now.” Lana cautiously mumbled, while stepping towards the open window. “It’s one of your earliest memories, I think from before your turning. I’m just trying to place the exact moment.”

Suddenly, the recollection struck Jack like a rattlesnake. He leapt for his sword, leaning in the corner of the room opposite the window. He grabbed the scabbard and unsheathed the blade in one fluid motion. Lana paused, seeing the look in Jack’s eyes. The memory crashed down on her like Vesuvius on Pompeii. She spun around, knowing what was coming was much older and much more lethal than she was.

“Get away from the window! That scent, it’s…”

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