The Chelsea Chronicles Book 2: Transformation 3d cover updated 2023

The Chelsea Chronicles Book 2: Transformation by Jennifer St. Clair

Normally a quiet, serene place, Chelsea Kingdom seems like the perfect location for a centuries’ old vampire to blend in and live a normal life, even escape hunters and an angry mob. Unfortunately, his timing couldn’t be worse…


The Chelsea Chronicles Book 2: Transformation 2 covers updated 2023

As Anna, crown princess of Chelsea, adjusts to life as a vampire after recent events, Vlad plans for a future he has no real hope to seeing come to pass due to injuries sustained while attempting to save Anna’s life. But, as life goes on for Anna and her friend Valerian “Val” Moreton, it changes for others–some of whom are not quite what they seem…

GENRE:  Fantasy     ISBN: 978-1-922066-98-5     Word Count: 50, 980

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Continue the series:

The Chelsea Chronicles Book 1: So You Want to be a Vampire continue the series The Chelsea Chronicles Book 2: Transformation continue the series


Chapter 1


There was a body in the bottom of the lake, and Vlad had no idea how it had gotten there.

He stood on the bank, where the cat-tails crowded around the shaggy lawn, and stared at the faint white arm flapping in the current below. Every once in a while, a fish passed in front of it, or algae, obscuring it from view, but then it appeared again, looking all the more like a piece of debris instead of an arm.

Except that when he had tasted the water, he had tasted death.

The moonlight shone down on the water, and for a moment, he wondered if anyone else would be able to see the arm until morning when human eyes could see more clearly.

“You called?” Reginald’s voice had lost its edge of suspicion soon after Vlad had been forced to make Anna into a vampire. There was no love lost between them, but respect had replaced some of the distrust, and Vlad had known it would be Reginald who responded to his call.

“There’s a body in the lake,” he said simply. “I wasn’t certain at first, but the water tastes of death.”

Reginald stared at him for a moment, then nodded. “Can you show me where? If we go out on a boat?”

“If you have spells to combat the darkness, you might be able to see it from here,” Vlad said. “There may be more than one. I can’t tell.”

“More than one?” Reginald frowned.

“I’m not sure the taste would be so strong if it was a single body,” Vlad said, and pointed to the middle of the lake. “There.”

The arm waved. Vlad fought against an almost overwhelming urge to wave back.

“Oh,” Reginald said. “And you just–saw it?”

Vlad’s lips twitched. “Interrogating the only witness?” he asked lightly, knowing that Reginald was only doing his job. “I often walk around this lake. It’s near my house, and it’s usually fairly empty at this time of night. I’ve never seen anyone near here, before you ask. And the body wasn’t in the water three nights ago, which is the last time I was here.”

“Or bodies,” Reginald muttered.

“Or bodies,” Vlad said, watching the faint form in the water. “I hope not, but I thought you would be the one to call.”

“I’ll have my men drag the lake,” Reginald said. “It might take longer than a night to find everything, if there is anything else to find.”

Vlad nodded. “You know where to find me if you have any other questions,” he said, and turned to walk away.


It was the first time Vlad remembered Reginald actually speaking his name. “Yes?”

“How did you see… How did you see the body in the water?”

Vlad wanted to say that it had waved to him, but that wasn’t quite true. He’d been resting his leg, which still ached, standing there watching the night birds fly across the dark water, letting his mind run free to chew on the peculiar problem of what was to come. He’d been invisible in the shadows, content to step away from the world for a moment and contemplate civilization from the outside again.

Where vampires belonged.

The white of the arm had caught his attention first, and long before he realized what it was, he had watched the waving form, wondering why someone had sullied his solitude with their trash.

He could have explained all of this to Reginald, but he did not want the policeman to have such an intimate understanding of a vampire’s mind or moods. “It reflected the moonlight,” he said softly. “And it did not belong. I didn’t realize what it was until I tasted the water.”

Not quite the truth. But Reginald would have other concerns once the body was freed from its watery grave. He wouldn’t have time to pick apart Vlad’s explanation, or wonder why he had chosen this particular lake or this particular place to wander at night.

In truth, Vlad liked to believe that walking helped the stiffness, and would eventually entice the wound to finally heal. At least he’d healed enough to eschew the cane. Most of the time. He had stood in one place–waiting for Reginald to arrive–long enough to wish that he had it now.

“Thank you,” Reginald said, two words which must have cost him a lot of pride to voice.

Vlad inclined his head. “You’re welcome.” He glanced at the sky, which was still dark enough to be night. “I should get home.”

“I know where to find you if I have any questions,” Reginald said with a nod. “I’ll let you know what we find.”

Six months ago, that sentence never would have left his lips. Six months ago, Anna had been alive and not tied to the night like Vlad.

Six months ago, he’d abandoned his castle out in the country and moved to the city to hide. And nothing had been the same since.

At a mortal’s pace, Vlad walked away from the lake, his movements hampered by the growing ache in his hip and the vain urge not to limp while Reginald was watching. He made it as far as the sidewalk before abandoning all pretenses and sinking down on a nearby bench. It was only second nature to blend in with the night so the occupants of the carriage that swept into the park did not notice him at all.

But the second carriage that pulled up in front of him had no such blindness.

“Do you wish to ride, my lord?” Willie’s face was perfectly blank, which probably meant that Maggie had sent him.

“Are you my nursemaid now?” Vlad snapped, and pushed himself up. He couldn’t help but sway backwards as the ache in his hip became more of a throbbing inferno; he’d definitely overextended himself tonight. “I would prefer to walk. Go home.” Peevishly, he limped forward, and had to grab hold of the nearest wall–or else collapse into an ungraceful heap on the ground.

“My lord–” Willie sounded perfectly miserable.

“My name is Vlad,” Vlad snapped.

“Yes,” Willie said. “I realize that. And you’ve not lived this long by indulging in stupidity.”

For a moment, Vlad could only stare at him, his mouth agape at his words, his mind more shocked than angry–at least for now. “What did you say?” he asked, certain that he’d heard wrong. Perhaps in addition to his hip, he was also losing his hearing. That would just be the icing on the cake. After all, no other vampire had survived a silver wound. Why did he believe he would be so lucky?

Willie closed his eyes. “I’m sorry. I spoke out of turn.” But his voice–and his apology–lacked conviction, meaning that he had meant what he said.

In silence, Vlad opened the door and climbed into the carriage. Willie was…well, he was right. He had pushed himself and pushed himself until he had nothing left to push, and for what? He was no better off now than he had been six months ago. The wound had not completely healed, he had none of his prior strength or speed, and if the vampire hunters showed up at his doorstep, he’d be hard-pressed to avoid them.

“You were gone longer than normal,” Willie said from above, not raising his voice, since he knew Vlad could hear him. “She gets worried.”

“I know,” Vlad said, and leaned back against the seat. The rocking and jarring thumps as they drove over cobblestones did nothing to help the throbbing pain, but a small part of his mind admitted that it wasn’t necessarily a terrible thing to ride home, especially on a night like this. “I found a body in the lake, and I had to call Reginald.”

For a moment, he thought Willie hadn’t heard him. And then, incredulous, “A body?!”

Vlad closed his eyes. “Or bodies,” he said. “It was a bit hard to tell. Don’t be surprised if we get a visitor later on; he said he’d let me know what they found.”

“Yes, my lord,” Willie said, resorting to his habitual response.

They rode the rest of the way in silence.



Chapter 2


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, safe in my bed, but also trapped in my body again, lying under my covers, but also lying in an abandoned kitchen with Noel Warrington bending over me, his voice whispering in my ear.

I can never tell what he’s saying in the dream, but I know what he said well enough. “This is what we call stasis. The state before one becomes a vampire. I’ve been told you can survive for days like this.”

And I always have to smother a scream.

The nightmares have made many a sleepless day, but I don’t really have to sleep now. My body doesn’t require sleep, but my mind doesn’t want to give it up, so I pretend that I’m napping instead, and sometimes the dreams don’t come at all.

But most of the time, they do. And I wish I knew what to do about them.

Perhaps part of my problem is that when Noel drank my blood, he also changed my life. According to Vlad’s book and everything else I had read since my change, Vlad had only two choices. Make me into a vampire, or let me die. He’d chosen the former, which meant that my status had shifted; while the people of Chelsea could grudgingly accept a vampire princess, they would not–ever–accept a vampire queen.

Which meant that when my father died–or even before–I had to figure out something to do with my life, because my family’s long tradition of ruling Chelsea would die with him.

Val would be king; that much was already almost guaranteed. And I didn’t mind much at all. Really, I didn’t. Perhaps it was the change; this new disconnect from things. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t help but realize that if I lived long enough, even Chelsea itself might fall to dust.

I had no idea how Vlad had lived so long. I was having trouble making it through my first year.

In the end, I busied myself by learning how to utilize my newfound talent. I discovered that I could ‘borrow’ pieces of the spells around me to use for myself, so my personal wards rivaled even Reginald’s, since I borrowed most of mine from him. And I walked. I walked around the kingdom, sometimes with Val; sometimes alone, and I watched the people around me until I had a pretty good idea of how things worked out on the street.

But even with that knowledge, what Vlad found in the lake… I stood on the opposite shore, completely hidden from view, as Reginald’s men dived deep under water and filled their body bags until five lay lined on the grass and it was almost too close to dawn.

Val’s house was closer, so I fled there instead of home, and arrived on his doorstep just as the first faint light of the sun peeked over the trees.

“You cut it a bit close, didn’t you?” He pulled me inside and shut the door behind him. “Does anyone know you’re here?”

“I lost track of time,” I said, which wasn’t exactly the truth, but was close enough. “Vlad found a body in the lake, but there were five so far when I left.”

Val turned to stare at me. “Five?

“So far,” I repeated, and then, because I couldn’t help but ask, “How’s Rue?”

“Not any better than he was two days ago,” Val said with a small smile. “But you can tell him what Vlad found while you tell me if you’d like.”

My father’s doctors hadn’t quite given up on Rue, but they had released him to his brother’s care where he lay–with periodic visits by the doctors–unconscious, no closer to opening his eyes than he had been six months ago, or so it seemed. Someone who wasn’t quite a vampire had stumped every doctor in Chelsea, and quite a few wizards as well.

“I’ll do that,” I said. “And who knows? Maybe a bit of a mystery will entice him to wake up.”

Bear raised his head from where he lay beside Rue’s bed and thumped his ropy tail as I walked into the room. Rue lay in the same position I had seen him in two days ago, his shadows only a faint outline around his body, his eyes closed. He breathed and drank just fine, and his wounds had healed, but the silver’s poison had trapped him inside himself somehow, and no one knew how to free him.

I pulled up a chair and took his hand. “Val wanted me to tell you about the bodies Vlad found in the lake,” I said, keeping my voice gentle and low. “But first, I’ll tell you about what they’re going to do with your father’s house.”

His hand twitched in mine. I waited for a moment to see if there would be any other sign of his awakening, but it didn’t happen again. “Daddy had the house torn down, of course; it was becoming a bit too difficult to ward against sightseers. But all of your things are safe.” My father had packed the contents of Rue’s room himself. A handful of books. A sketch of a little girl who had to be his dead sister Caraway. Minerva had possessed quite a bit of jewelry; that had been packed away too, for Rue to dispose of or keep as he wished, if he ever woke up.

“I found a picture of your sister Cara,” I said, and tucked the framed picture between the fingers of his other hand. We were operating on the belief that he could both hear and feel, and since I had once been trapped in my body unable to move, I felt a strange sort of kinship with him. “I’ll put it on the table beside your bed before I leave.”

When Val walked into the room, I switched my story to what Vlad had found beside the lake, and how I had watched Reginald’s men bring up five bodies instead of just one.

“There aren’t enough people in the city for five people to go missing and no one to notice,” Val said, and sat on the end of Rue’s bed. “Where did they come from?”

“Reginald will find out,” I said, but without missing persons’ reports, he’d have just as difficult of a time finding their identities. “It’s funny, though; I’m pretty good at smelling death nowadays. And I didn’t smell anything at all. Even when they were bringing up the bodies.”

“You said Vlad had to taste the water to know for sure,” Val said. “Did he know you were there?”

I shook my head and gently stroked one side of Rue’s face. “My wards have gotten better. Even Reginald didn’t know I was there.”

I’d be the first person to admit that it was a bit liberating to be able to slip in and out of places unnoticed after having him follow me around for so long.

“You can stay here all day, obviously,” Val said. “But I have class this morning; do you mind sitting with Rue?”

“I don’t mind at all.” I told him the truth. Rue’s silence helped soothe my mind, and I had already told him about my nightmares. Telling him meant that I wasn’t just keeping it to myself–although Val knew as well–and hopefully helped him realize that he wasn’t alone.

If he could hear us. The doctors weren’t sure of that at all.

Val’s house was almost warded better against sunlight–or any other stray ray of light–than Vlad’s home or the castle. He’d left nothing to chance for Rue’s eventual awakening, and the fact that his brother had yet to awaken meant nothing at all.

We never spoke about what might happen if Rue never woke up.

He smelled–strange to my new nature; a mixture of human and vampire instead of one or the other. But his hand was soft in mine, and he was so vulnerable just lying there that I couldn’t help but hope that he would have his happy ending and wake up whole.

“I’ll be back before lunch,” Val said. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” I told him, and smiled to show him that my mind would not dwell on the bodies in the lake. “I’ll sit here and read him a story. You do have something I can read to him, don’t you?” Normally, I brought my own, but I hadn’t intended to stop by or stay all day until the bodies in the lake caught my attention.

He returned with a book of fairy tales. “This is all I have, but I’ll stop by the library on my way back and find you something else.”

“What do you talk to him about?” I asked curiously.

Val flushed. “All sorts of things,” he said after a moment. “But mostly I try to let him know that he’s not alone.”

I felt a surge of something from him, as if he’d choked back the rest of what he really wanted to say, but I didn’t push him. He had been under a lot of pressure lately.

We all had.

“Thanks, Anna,” he said. “Let me know if anything changes, okay?”

“I’ll have you dragged away from death itself if he opens his eyes,” I promised, and opened the book as Val walked out the door. “Once upon a time…”


The Chelsea Chronicles Book 2: Transformation print cover updated 2023

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