So many people emailed us that we couldn’t keep up with the first chapter requests for Van Alen Legacy. So in the spirit of making everything easy for everyone…I’m releasing the first chapter of the Van Alen Legacy here now, instead of in August.
The Van Alen Legacy
By Melissa de la Cruz
“The murdered do haunt their murderers.”
-Emily Bronte, “Wuthering Heights”
“I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems, got to open my eyes to everythingâ€¦”
-Evanescence, “Bring me to Life”
“It is said that Allegra’s daughter will defeat the Silver Bloods. I believe Schuyler will bring us the salvation we seek. She is almost as powerful as her mother. And one day she will be even more powerful.”
“Schuyler Van Alenâ€¦the half-blood? Are you certain she is the one?” Charles asked.
“Because Allegra had two daughters,” Charles said, in a light, almost playful tone. “Surely you have not forgotten that.”
The elder Van Alen’s tone turned cold. “Of course not. But it is beneath you to make sport of such a serious matter as Allegra’s firstborn.”
Charles dismissed Lawrence’s rebuke with a wave. “My apologies. I meant no offense to the dead.”
“Her blood is on our hands,” Lawrence sighed. The events of the day were tiring him, as were the memories of the past. “Only, I wonderâ€¦”
“As I’ve wondered all these years, Charles, if such a one could ever be truly destroyed.”
New York Times
Lawrence Van Alen, 105, Philanthropist and Philosopher, Dies
Lawrence Winslow Van Alen, a professor of history and linguistics at the University of Venice, died last night in his home on Riverside Drive in Manhattan. He was 105. His death was confirmed by Dr. Patricia Hazard, his attending physician. The cause of death was listed as advanced age.
Professor Van Alen was a descendant of William Henry Van Alen, known as the Commodore, an American icon and one of the richest men of the Gilded Age, whose wealth came from steamships, railroads and private investment and brokerage businesses. The Van Alens founded the New York Central Railroad Line and what is now Grand Central Terminal. The family’s charitable trust, the Van Alen Foundation, was a cornerstone in the development of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the New York Blood Bank.
Lawrence Van Alen is survived by his daughter, Allegra Van Alen Chase, a coma patient since 1992, and one granddaughter.
There had been little time to mourn. Upon returning to New York after Lawrence’s murder in Rio (covered up by the Committee with a proper obituary in the Times), Schuyler Van Alen had been on the run. No rest. No respite. A year of constant motion, barely one step ahead of the venators hunting her. A flight to Buenos Aires followed by one to Dubai. A sleepless night in a youth hostel in Amsterdam followed by another in a bunk-bed in an auditorium in Bruges.
She had marked her sixteenth birthday aboard the trans-Siberian railway—celebrating with a cup of watery Nescafe coffee and several crumbly Russian tea cookies. Somehow, her best friend Oliver Hazard-Perry had found a candle to light in one of the suharkies. He took his job as human conduit pretty seriously. It was thanks to Oliver’s careful accounting that they had been able to stretch their money so far. The Conclave had frozen his access to the well-funded Hazard-Perry accounts as soon as they had left New York.
Now it was August in Paris, and hot. They had arrived to find the city mostly a ghost town: bakeries, boutiques, and bistros shuttered while their proprietors absconded to three-week vacations in the beaches up north. The only people around were American and Japanese tourists who mobbed every museum gallery, every garden in every public square, inescapable and ubiquitous in their white sneakers and baseball caps. But Schuyler welcomed their presence. She hoped the slow-moving crowds would make it easier to spot their pursuers.
Schuyler had been able to disguise herself by changing her physical features, but performing the mutatio was taking a toll on her. She didn’t say anything to Oliver, but lately she couldn’t even do as much as change the color of her eyes.
And now, after almost a year of hiding, they were coming out into the open. It was a gamble, but they were desperate. Living without the protection and wisdom of the secret society of vampires and their select group of trusted humans had taken its toll. And while neither of them would ever admit it, they were both tired of running.
So for now, Schuyler was seated in the back of a bus, wearing a pressed white shirt buttoned to the neck over slim black pants and flat black shoes with rubber soles. Her dark hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail and except for a hint of lipgloss she wore no make-up. She meant to look identical in every way with the rest of the catering staff who had been hired for the evening.
But surely someone would notice. Surely someone would hear how hard her heart was beating, would remark on how her breathing was shallow and quick. She had to calm down. She had to clear her mind and become the blasÃ© contract caterer she was pretending to be. For so long Schuyler was used to being invisible. But this time her life depended on it.
The bus was taking them to the Hotel Lambert in the Ile-St-Louis. The most beautiful house in the most beautiful city in the world. At least, she had always thought so. Although “house” was putting it mildly. “Castle” was more like it, something out of a fairytale, its massive river walls and grey mansard roofs rising from the surrounding mist. As a child she had played hide-and-seek in its formal gardens, where the conical-sculpted trees reminded her of figures on a chessboard. She remembered staging imaginary productions inside the grand courtyard and throwing breadcrumbs to the geese from the terrace overlooking the Seine.
How she had taken that life for granted. Tonight she would not enter its exclusive, exalted domain as an invited guest, but rather as a humble servant. Like a mouse creeping into a hole. Schuyler was anxious by nature, and it took a tremendous amount of self-control to keep it together. At any moment, she feared she might scream—she was already so nervous she couldn’t stop her hands from trembling. They vibrated, fluttering in her lap, like trapped birds.
Next to her, Oliver was wearing a bartender’s uniform, handsome in a tuxedo with a black silk bowtie and silver shirt studs. But he was pale underneath his butterfly collar, his shoulders tense underneath a jacket that was a little too big. His clear hazel eyes were clouded, looking more grey than green. Oliver’s face did not display the same blank, bored look as the others. He was alert, ready for a fight or flight. Anyone could see it if they looked at him long enough.
We shouldn’t be here, Schuyler thought. What were we thinking? The risk is too great. They’re going to find us and separate usâ€¦and thenâ€¦well the rest was too horrible to contemplate.
She was sweating under her starched shirt. The air-conditioning wasn’t working and the bus was packed. She leaned her head against the windowpane. Lawrence had been dead for over a year now. Four-hundred forty-five days. Schuyler kept count, thinking that maybe once she hit a magical number it would stop hurting.
This was no game, although sometimes it felt like a horrid surreal version of cat and mouse. Oliver put a hand on top of hers, to try and stop her hands from shaking. The tremors had begun a few months ago, just a slight twitching whenever she did something with her hands, and later she realized she had to concentrate whenever she did something as simple as pick up her fork, or open an envelope. Anxiety made it worse, and nothing seemed to help.
She knew what it was. Dr. Pat had told her the first time she visited her office: she was the only one of her kind, Dimidium Cognato, the first half-blood, and there was no saying how her human body would react to the transformation into immortal, there would be side-effects, obstacles particular to her case.
Still, she felt better once Oliver held her hand in his. He always knew what to do. She depended on him for so much, and her love for him had only deepened in the year they had spent together. She squeezed his hand, intertwined her fingers around his. It was his blood that ran through her veins, his quick thinking that had secured her freedom.
As for everyone and everything they had left behind in New York, Schuyler did not dwell on it anymore. All that was safely in the past. She had made her choice and was at peace with it. She had accepted her life for what it was. Once in a while she missed her friend Bliss Llewellyn very keenly, and more than once wanted to get in touch with her. But that was out of the question. No one could know where they were. No one. Not even Bliss.
Maybe they would be lucky tonight. Their luck had held so far. Oh there were a few close calls here and there—that one evening in Cologne when she’d run abruptly from a woman who had asked for directions to the cathedral. Illuminata had given the agent away. Schuyler just caught that soft imperceptible glow in the twilight before booking it the other way. Disguises only went so far. At some point, your true nature revealed itself.
Wasn’t that what the Inquisitor had argued during the official investigation into the events in Rio? That maybe Schuyler wasn’t who she was supposed to be?
Outlaw. Fugitive. That’s who she was now. Certainly not Lawrence Van Alen’s grieving granddaughter.
According to the Conclave, she was his killer.
It is out October 6, 2009!
More sneak peeks to come!