SEOUL DEMON

Minnie Kim Vampire Girl #3

With a wannabe dragon nagging her and a deadly enemy stalking her, Minnie might not even survive her summer in Seoul.

Minnie Kim's leaving Philo for the summer to vacation in Seoul, Korea with her parents. It’s the perfect opportunity to prove to them, especially her appa, that she’s the same girl she was before she became vampire—just with better stamina and faster reflexes.

Little does she know her dad has a plan of his own. His brother’s family is being haunted by the ghosts of their ancestors and he thinks perhaps Minnie, being mostly dead herself, can help put their ancestors to rest.

But of course nothing is ever as easy as it sounds and her restless ancestors are the least of Minnie’s problems. There’s an imugi greedily hoarding a pearl of power in her family’s garden and the pearl has attracted the unwanted attention of all kinds of nasties—including one enemy who would stop at nothing to destroy Minnie and everyone she loves.

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Excerpt

Philo leaned in to give me a kiss goodbye, but my parents were watching. I gave him a wry smile and a handshake. Yeah, that’s the way to keep a much more experienced boyfriend interested while you take off for a couple months. I was so not gonna survive this summer vacation.

Philo adjusted smoothly to my redirect and traced his thumb over my pulse, which jumped beneath his touch. Beyond him, Manuela dabbed at her eyes with a red handkerchief—which was a good thing because the last thing my parents needed to see was blood spewing from her eyes. This . . . understanding . . . between my parents and me was relatively new and based mostly on my normalcy. My goal was to never let them see me, or my vampire family, doing anything even remotely vamp-like.

I stepped back from Philo and turned. I wish my family would stop saying goodbye and wishing me well and telling me to write and text and call, because they were gonna make me cry if they didn’t. You’d think I was gonna be gone forever the way they were carrying on.

“Bye!” I called again as I climbed into the backseat where someone had already put my backpack. “Bye!”

Everyone stood on the porch, waving and calling goodbyes—everyone except for Philo who stood with his hands in his pockets, his eyes lost in the shadow of his dark hair. He looked like a little storm cloud standing there between Fearghus and Siobhan who were waving like maniacs trying to outdo each other. Even Mrs. Hamburg waved a white handkerchief in my direction.

It might have made another girl think Philo didn’t care, but not me. I smiled as I kept my gaze glued to his. I knew he saw my eyes, just as clearly as I saw his. I knew he knew I was really saying goodbye just to him.

Eventually though, Dad drove around the circular drive and I had no choice but to look forward toward what was probably the scariest experience of my life: a family vacation with my parents.

I was still a little unclear about just how much “vacation” this was going to be. Other than the fact that it was happening during summer break, and I was traveling to a place I’d never been before, not one thing had been said about anything resembling fun.

Dad had talked about his family and honor and I might have even heard him murmuring about how having a gangshi for a daughter ought to be good for something. While Mom had talked about helping and being good and not making my father regret this. This being me, I figured.

Because up until just a few months ago, Dad hadn’t accepted that a terrible monster like a vampire—a gangshi as he called them—could also be the same little girl he once loved. He’d sat down to dinner with me a few times. He’d had a couple conversations with me. But he hadn’t looked me in the eyes even once. He’d never been one for physical affection, but I couldn’t remember if he’d even touched me since I’d been reMade. I didn’t think he had. He was probably doing his best, but I was getting tired of pretending it didn’t hurt.

It might not be much of a vacation, but at least I’d get to see Seoul, where my parents were from. I’d get to meet my extended family and most of all, I’d have three whole months to prove to my dad that being a vampire didn’t make me a monster. At least, not figuratively. It didn’t mean I was all bad, just because I was undead. He could still love me, if he wanted. Because despite the way he’d been treating me, I still loved him.

I sent Philo, then Stacey, a text before checking my backpack for the essentials. And I’m not talking about headphones and books and lip balm—though I had those, too. No, it was absolutely imperative that I had snacks and that I had the contact number for the local vampire council. I had their number on my phone and David had written it into the new journal he gave me, plus on a separate piece of paper tucked inside my backpack.

I needed all the contingencies I could get because I could not allow myself to get hungry while surrounded by hundreds of people on a plane for the next twenty-three hours. I had enough snacks to get me through, but I’d need to resupply pretty much as soon as we landed. I still hadn’t figured out how I was going to manage getting my deliveries without causing my family too much stress. Yes, they knew I was a vampire, but if my uncle and his family were anything like my dad, it wouldn’t be good to flaunt my blood supply in their face.

I’d already made arrangements to have a little fridge delivered along with my first supply so no one had to see the blood in the fridge. And I’d brought along a couple large travel mugs that I could sip on without anyone seeing the deep red liquid inside. Still, I had to get from now to then and there was a lot of time, a lot of stress, and a lot of beating hearts between now and then. I took a deep, bracing breath and let it out slowly through my nose. I could do this.

Please, god let me do this!

We drove to the airport in silence. I didn’t put my earbuds in just in case my parents wanted to talk, but of course they didn’t. I got the feeling they were a little nervous. I was a little nervous, too. For one thing, I’d never been to Korea before. When you looked different from everyone else, people just assumed you were different. But other than having parents who spoke another language, I was as American as they came. Sure, I felt pretty confident that I could hold a conversation in Korean. I mean, I’d be able to make my way around town and order my lunch and stuff. But I didn’t know anything about what it was like to be a teenager in Seoul. I had a feeling that the K-dramas I loved to watch would only educate me so far, ya know?

I was nervous my clothes weren’t cute enough—that the style I’d adopted and long thought of as cool would look like I was a faker in Seoul. Like I’d get off the plane and all the locals would take one look at me and only see a wannabe. Gah! And I was gonna be there for three whole months! With no Philo and no Stacey to help me feel human. Okay, maybe I was more than nervous. Maybe I was freaking out.

We’d be living with my uncle, aunt and cousin. And my cousin was a nineteen-year-old guy, so I didn’t expect I’d see him much. I mean, it’s not like we’d have anything in common. What I was gonna do all day, every day, was beyond me.

Nerves pooled in my stomach as we parked in the long-term lot and got out of the car. I’d never flown in an airplane before, let alone on such a long flight. But it wasn’t the flight that made me nervous, at least not really. It was the whole customs thing and having to present my papers in front of my parents. It was humiliating to have to provide them like I was some livestock or something. I understood why they had to pay special attention to the travel of vampires, but couldn’t they just put a little red dot on my passport or something?

Mom and Dad argued for a minute as Dad unloaded the car. He was bugged we’d brought so much but Mom said we’d be gone for three months and did he expect us to run to the laundromat every other day—to which Dad replied we could wash our clothes in the sink like he used to do as a child.

Omo.

We checked our bags at the counter inside the airport and, as expected, the woman printing our boarding passes gave me long, side-long looks but wouldn’t hold my gaze when I caught her staring. You’d think I had horns growing out of my head or something. At least no one else in the crowd gave me a second glance—no one would know I was anything other than human unless they looked at my darn papers, which that agent lady had. The next step would be even worse: Security.

And I wasn’t wrong. Because jelly-like squares are particularly a no-no in TSA rules, I had to get out my container of blood pudding and the doctor’s prescription, and hand them over to the TSA agent for scanning. Not only did all the agents shift into a kind of on-guard posture and eye me warily, I had to stand to the side while my food was examined for explosives. No, my food wouldn’t explode, but I might if they didn’t let me have it.

It bugged me, but more than that, it embarrassed me. Mom and Dad were already through the line, already had their bags gathered and their shoes back on, waiting. And Dad refused to look at me. The way he stood way off at the very limit of the security area made it seem like we had absolutely nothing to do with one another. Too bad for him we were the only Koreans and I was a minor, so it wasn’t hard to figure out, for anyone who might be watching, that I belonged to him. I wondered if he’d ever be proud of me again.

The man inspecting my food finally closed the lid and handed the box back to me, along with an index-sized, laminated card. “Read that, please.”

I picked up the card and started to read, I promise, on my immortal soul, that I will abide by the laws—

“Out loud.” The agent gave me an exasperated glare as if that should have been obvious.

I glanced around. The security checkpoint was packed with people pushing their things down the little belt things, but everyone near me were quiet. They were trying to hear why the little Asian girl was being interrogated by the TSA. And now this guy wanted me to read this . . . this . . . disclaimer in front of everybody?

He tapped the end of a pencil on a camera that sat on top of the bomb detecting machine he’d run my food through. “And look into the camera.”

What the? “Seriously?” The expression in the man’s eyes said seriously. “Fine.” I glanced around again, then kind of curled around myself, trying to hide as much of myself from the nosy onlookers as I could. I cleared my throat and stared up at the stupid camera.

“Oh, and say your name and where you’re traveling to, first,” the man added. It did say that at the top of the index card, but I didn’t realize it was part of this whole charade. I held back a dramatic sigh.

“I, Minnie Kim, traveling to Seoul, Korea, promise on my immortal soul, that I will abide by the laws and tenets as outlined by the agreement between the Transportation Security Administration and the Council of Vampires, pursuant to the Rights and Responsibilities Act of the Treaty of London. I state that I have brought along sufficient sustenance for the duration of my journey and should I—” Holy guacamole were they really making me say this? I glanced around furtively, this time finding that a few people were openly staring, their mouths hanging open, while they neglected their luggage.

“Seriously?” I whispered to the agent.

He smirked and nodded. Seriously.

I shook my head. This was ridiculous. Where were my rights? Why did they have to treat me like some kind of evil murderer? My voice took on a hard edge as I continued, even though inside ticked off faded more to insecure.

“I state that I have brought along sufficient sustenance for the duration of my journey and should I attempt to harm any passengers or crew, the Marshal, attendants, or passengers, have the right to restrain me by any means necessary. I will not charm, coerce or force any human onboard to do anything they do not wish to do of their own free will.

“Furthermore, should I fail to arrive at my destination in my current animated state, and am unable to be revived by normal measures, my Maker and family, both living and dead, will not seek restitution for damages. I hereby release the TSA, the airline, and all its agents, from any responsibility regarding my health and well being.”

By the time I’d finished speaking, my whole body hummed with rage and my jaw ached. I wanted to let my fangs descend and roar bloody murder at this pompous man and this farce of an agreement between me and everyone here. My hand shook as I handed the crumpled card over to the man. To his credit, he had the good sense to seem afraid as he took it, and he didn’t say a word. I wasn’t a vamped-out kind of girl. I didn’t go around threatening people. But I glared at him, and let my eyes go black as I picked up my plastic container of freaking blood pudding and stuffed it into my bag.

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You've seen my descent.
Now watch my rising.
~ Rumi