*Student at El Camino High School]] (formerly)
James Rasmussen is a lamia vampire, the deuteragonist of Secret Vampire and the soulmate of Poppy North. When he learns that Poppy is dying of pancreatic cancer, he does everything he can to save her life, even when that eventually means the only solution is to turn her into a vampire as well.
James is likened often to the famous James Dean in appearance. He is shown to have "silky light brown hair, a subtle, intelligent face, and gray eyes that were alternated intense and cool", the gray eyes being inherited from his mother. Poppy also notes that in times of anger, his gaze can be somewhat "frightening". Poppy later notes that he has the scent of "winter rain", and refers to him having a "silvery aura of power".
James is described, to others, as being cool and emotionless, with a reputation for being "mysterious" and "dangerous". However, this facade is seen through by Poppy, who knows he can be both caring, gentle and "vulnerable". He also shows a fierce protectiveness of Poppy, even willing to kill for her sake to guarantee her safety. She is also stated as being the "only person in the world" allowed to call him Jamie.
James was originally noted for having multiple girlfriends, usually very beautiful, popular girls, but due to his love for Poppy, he only uses his girlfriends for blood. After discovering that Poppy was indeed his soulmate, he ceases seeing anyone else.
James is the only child of Jasper Rasmussen and Madder Rasmussen, his mother being a member of the Redfern family before marriage. Born into a wealthy lamia family, James was groomed in the philosophy of the Night World. However, as a child, he became very fond of his nanny, Miss Emma -- a human woman. Noticing their son's affection for her, his parents intervened and took the four-year-old James on a three-day trip, all the while forbidding him to feed (which to a vampire is the equivalent of air deprivation).
After returning, they sent Miss Emma to James's room. Against his better judgment and all the while weeping, James attacked and drained Miss Emma's blood completely, nearly killing her. In a panicked attempt to save her life, James tried to change Miss Emma into a vampire, giving her some of his blood. However, his parents realized what was happening and interrupted James, resulting in Miss Emma's death and resurrection the next day as a mindless ghoul. Ultimately, James's father took the rotting remains of Miss Emma, staked her and set the body on fire. Her death remained emblazoned on James's consciousness for years, and precipitated his coldness towards his parents for what they had done, and their treatment of both him and Miss Emma.
Possibly a year later, James was enrolled in kindergarten in California. In Poppy's memory, "he had been a pale, slight boy with big gray eyes and something subtly weird about him." As such, James quickly became the target of several bullies. However, when the five-year-old Poppy realized what was going on, she attacked the group and protected James from them. The two immediately became best friends. Despite their friendship, James had a marked fascination with death, even as a child, having shown Poppy several dead animals.
The two remained friends for years, even as James eventually grew into a handsome and strong young man, though he also "developed a reputation for being tough and dangerous." When he reached junior high, he had begun having girlfriends, whom he used for feeding and regularly got rid of soon afterwards, to avoid the blood rapport between him and his donors becoming too strong. However, he kept Poppy as his best friend, sickened by the idea of using her for blood. It is implied James has been in love with Poppy since childhood, but refused to admit his feelings for her, even to himself, due to the laws of the Night World. He also felt fearful of hurting her physically and emotionally if he ever got closer to her.
Despite Poppy hiding her frequent abdominal pain, due to his vampirism James knew something was very wrong with her, sensing for weeks that she hadn't been sleeping and was losing weight.
On the first day of summer vacation, he goes to see Poppy, bringing her a new CD. It is also revealed that he and Poppy's twin brother, Phillip, despise each other, as Phil has a subtle inkling about his affection for Poppy and is appalled by James's serial dating. However, while discussing their plans for the summer, Poppy is struck by one of her debilitating pains; James easily catches the milk carton she had been holding as it flies from her hands, and Poppy notes his worry, though others cannot detect it so well. Poppy's mother insists on her daughter seeing a doctor, and while she gets ready, James and she listen to the new CD.
As they talk, Poppy notes that James seems troubled, and he reveals that "an unwanted" relative (his cousin Ash Redfern) is coming to see him, although he also states that he is worried for Poppy. The two share a quiet moment, the lamia boy about to tell Poppy something, but he quickly silences himself, and teases Poppy with her fear of needles before she goes.
When Poppy learns that she may have pancreatic cancer, she calls James. Hearing her, he tries to come over, but Poppy prevents him due to her need to go to the hospital immediately, although she asks him to research the cancer before going. After hanging up, James is stricken by the possibility of Poppy having cancer, and is frustrated that he cannot soothe her fears. Learning of the truth of pancreatic cancer makes the situation far worse, as the cancer is incurable, "inoperable" and involves immense pain, with almost no chance of survival. He reflects on this happening to Poppy, realizing his love for her, although he cannot bring himself to fully think it, due to the Night World laws.
He goes out to a Black Iris club to seek aid from a friend: a witch named Gisèle. He requests a spell to cure cancer, making Gisèle laugh, as she knows vampires cannot catch such a disease. However, her humor turns to mild shock when she learns the spell is for a human. She suspects James of having fallen in love with a human, but when James defensively evades the accusation, Gisèle backs off. Promising not to say anything about his request, she asks him to leave, additionally revealing that there is no spell to cure cancer.
He then seeks help from his father, but this backfires, as his father cannot comprehend James's emotion. He misunderstands James, thinking that he feels compassion for Poppy and wants to end her suffering ahead of time. Despite his own reservations, Dr. Rasmussen tells James that if he can do it discreetly, he could performing a mercy killing on the girl without permission for the Night World. Angered, James leaves, covering his disgust with short responses and sarcasm, which is lost on his father.
James arrives at the hospital at night, startling Poppy out of a restless sleep. However, his demeanor is initially so cold and exacting it frightens her. Upon realizing this he softens, confirming Poppy's statement of him caring about her, and finally tells his friend the truth about himself. Think James is playing a practical joke on her, Poppy reacts with anger, throwing things and yelling until she attracts a nurse. James uses mind control to get the nurse to leave, and then shows Poppy his elongated fangs to prove his words. After explaining about himself and the Night World, he reveals to Poppy that, to save her life, he intends to change her into a vampire as well. Poppy ultimately agrees after some deliberation, and the two exchange blood.
The soulmate bond initiates, although at first the two do not realize it, and James, even though admitting he'd never experienced this, mistakes it for the bond created when two people exchange blood. Poppy and James are able to see into each others' souls, although James is reluctant to let Poppy in, insisting that there are "so many dark things" in his mind. She sees a glimpse of herself as James views her: "fragile and graceful, an emerald-eyed spirit of the air."
The two are then interrupted by Phil, who angrily escorts James from the hospital. Tired and preoccupied with whether Poppy had gotten enough of his blood, to get Phil off his back James lies to the human teen about the true nature of their relationship, telling him he is pretending to care about Poppy out of sympathy. Convinced but wary, Phil lets James go.
Misunderstanding and DeceptionEdit
When Poppy is released from the hospital, she calls James, who tells her to have him come over when she is alone, but warns her not to let Phil know. When he arrives, the two know things have changed between them, though James fails to explain why he didn't want Phil to know he was with her. He informs Poppy that they must exchange more blood this time. When asked why he'd never fed on her, he tells Poppy that he's never exchanged blood with the other girls he's been with, and that until now he's only ever done it for feeding, though eventually he answers that he never fed on Poppy because she actually cared for him. Additionally, sharing blood can be dangerous in itself, even lethal. Poppy is sure James wouldn't kill, although he corrects her by obliquely referring to the event with his former nanny as a child.
She pities James's loneliness, though he asks her not to, as he is both touched and upset by her compassion. James darkens the room to prevent his abilities from being limited, and he takes more of Poppy's blood, reviving the soulmate bond despite James's misgivings about taking advantage of the blood exchange. However, before Poppy can take some of his blood to compensate for her own, Phil interrupts them again and reveals what James had told him the previous night. Poppy senses Phil's sincerity and turns on James, hurt and angry.
Furious, Phil tries to punch James, who ducks and manages to trap Phil in a headlock. At this point, Poppy's parents rush in. James softens and tries to explain himself, but Phil elbows him in the torso, causing James to lose his temper and single-handedly fling Phillip into Poppy's dresser. Cliff, Poppy's stepfather, intervenes and sends James home, despite the lamia's promise of returning.
James tries to call Poppy and explain, but in her current mental state, Poppy is disoriented and in pain, unwilling to listen to him. She asks if what he told Phil had been true, and James admits that he had said it, but he had not meant his words, only saying them to get Phil away from him. Unconvinced, Poppy hangs up and refuses to speak to him.
Berating himself for not telling Poppy he loved her, James then goes to see his mother, who had learned of James's conversation with his father. He shields himself from his mother's mental invasiveness, pretending to only care about Poppy in the capacity of a companion, or "pet". His mother, convinced, allows James to leave, but tells him Ash indeed will be coming the next week, in spite of James's irritation.
Concerned for Poppy's life, James follows and corners Phillip, believing his nemesis to be the only one who can convince Poppy to see him. He reveals his vampiric nature to Poppy's twin, who reacts with anger and disbelief that Poppy had ever accepted James's offer to become a vampire. James additionally shares his experience with Miss Emma to Phil, explaining that if Poppy dies now, she will become a ghoul as well. Phil threatens to expose James, but is deterred when the lamia teenager tells the other boy the truth about the extensiveness of Night World society, and that unless he keeps quiet, they will kill him for his knowledge.
Forgiveness and TransformationEdit
When Poppy confirms James's words about her decision to become a vampire, Phil goes to collect him and asks for him to save Poppy. James returns and allows Poppy to read his mind to determine if he really loves her. After verifying his feelings, Poppy allows him to give her blood, which restores her mind. James also admits to having broken both Night World cardinal laws for her, and that, after she is changed, they cannot share blood or the closeness it brings anymore. After finishing, with Phil, they arrange for the final blood exchange to occur the next night, once Poppy's parents are out of the house. James briefly caresses Poppy's cheek before departing.
The next day, to facilitate James's work, he and Phil reconcile before Cliff and Phillipa, who, additionally convinced that Poppy is well enough, leave for the evening. Once they have gone, Poppy sets up her room for her final conversion, James picking out the perfect music for her, although he is upset and concerned about the risk that she might fully die in spite of their efforts. However, Poppy herself is calm, and James tells her that after the final blood exchange, she will go into a deathlike sleep, which he will awaken her from in time. Phil departs the room, and James takes the last of Poppy's blood. He then removes his shirt and cuts his throat, allowing Poppy to drink his blood for the final time, after which he kisses her forehead before getting her brother. Both he and Phil hold her hand as she slips into slumber.
Upon seeing his sister begin to look actually dead, Phil loses control and begins smashing things, though he is stopped by a furious James, who warns Phil that his tantrum might awaken Poppy and ruin the conversion, threatening to kill her twin if he endangers Poppy's life. Phil sobers and helps James clean up the living room and Poppy's room. When questioned whether Poppy will resurrect, James expresses a fearful hope that she will, although if she doesn't, James admits he would kill himself. Phil is angered by this, insisting he stay alive in Poppy's honor; the two boys truly come to an understanding at last.
James calls Phil and Poppy's parents, waiting for Poppy's body to be "cold" so no one tries to resuscitate her. He additionally calls Poppy's doctor to prevent an autopsy from being performed. Poppy is declared dead but when the funeral home workers arrive, James uses mind control on them and Cliff to prevent the girl from being embalmed; Phil notes the physical strain on James with controlling three minds at once. He also subtly comforts Phil when Poppy's body is taken away.
James is not present at Poppy's funeral, but comes to Phil directly afterwards, needing a hand in digging up Poppy from her grave. Like Phil, he had heard Poppy's mental scream while she was comatose. However, Phil is in extreme denial over what truly happened, having convinced himself that his sister was actually dead. James insists that Poppy will need Phil there, which snaps her twin out of his delusion, and he agrees to help get her out. James furthermore admits that although he did hear Poppy, things could still go awry even at this stage, though he is impressed with her telepathic ability, deeming it one of the strongest he's ever encountered.
The two go to the cemetery and begin digging at the fresh soil over Poppy's grave. Even in this situation, the two manage some mild humor as they dig, although Phil notes that James can dig for longer than he and not tire as quickly. Breaking open the vault of the grave, James and Phil locate and open Poppy's coffin.
Holding her, James quietly calls out, finally waking her up. However, after removing Poppy from her grave, James immediately notices Poppy's hunger for blood and tries to get her away from Phil, whom she has mistaken for prey. James carries her away from Phil when she attempts to drink his blood, but berates Phil when her brother thinks perhaps Poppy was better dead.
James answers Poppy when she mentally calls to him, though she can sense he is saddened by something (Poppy's new predatory state). The boys attempt to bring Poppy to James's apartment, but deprived of fresh blood and suffocating, Poppy leaps from their car and attacks a pedestrian. Once she has drunk enough to recover, she attempts to keep drinking, but James stops her, asking her to choose whether or not she really wants to become a killer.
Hearing this, Poppy relents. Phil is "appalled" with her behavior however, which prompts James to angrily inform him that bloodlust to a vampire is like being oxygen-starved, and that Poppy could have went after him at any time, yet chose not to. Poppy is shaken by Phil's revulsion, but James reassures her, calling Phil a "jerk", though Poppy finally realizes James is saddened that he had changed Poppy into the same creature he himself is.
Once they arrive at James's apartment, he tells Phil to take his car back home, as he doesn't want Poppy to be left alone. Irritated, he also informs Phil that his role in this is now over, and that Phil needs to live his life and forget about them. Surprisingly, Poppy gently defends Phil's reaction, soothing James, who also temporizes that Phil was at least "trying to cope". James collapses on his bed while Poppy changes for sleep; he tries to go sleep on the couch but Poppy will not allow it, knowing she is "safe" with him and at last telling him she loves him.
She and James share a quiet moment, during which James reveals that they are likely soulmates. He also mentions, apologetically, that due to the Night World laws, despite loving Poppy since childhood, he could never have a relationship with her, only being able to have relationships with girls he never cared for. He explains Poppy's new condition to her and what she is now capable of. He also tells her about the Black Iris and other Night World clubs, and the flower symbols of their kind. The two drift off to sleep.
The next day, James tells Poppy he must leave to prevent Ash from coming, insisting his Redfern cousin is "dangerous", and departs. However, while he is gone, Poppy is discovered by his cousin, whom convinces her to leave with him for Las Vegas to protect James from execution.
Upon discovering Ash and Poppy gone, and her note for him, James is filled with rage and vows to "break one of Ash's bones" for every teardrop on the note, although he is lost on where Ash might have taken her. James rushes out of the apartment, calling his mother and several Night World clubs before heading to Phil's house. Once there, he tells Phil what has happened, Poppy's twin noticing James's barely concealed fury. When Phil questions Ash's identity, James assures Phil that "he's dead", with the lamia intending to decisively kill his cousin. Speaking with Phil actually allows James to calm slightly and think on Poppy's location, which he successfully deduces is Las Vegas, due to it being the nearest Night World-controlled area where Ash has much influence.
He and Phil drive to Vegas and arrive at the Harman's shop after Ash and Poppy leave, questioning his cross-cousins, the witches Thea and Blaise Harman. Blaise had already gone, but the sympathetic Thea tells James what had happened, and that Ash may have taken her to a summer solstice party being thrown by Thierry Descouedres. Although Thea expresses concern for James, who she believes doesn't look well, James leaves her and races to the party to stop Ash from turning Poppy in to Night World authorities for execution.
James makes it to the mansion where the party is being held, insisting Phil remain behind, although the twin follows. He tracks Poppy through her mental screaming at Ash, arriving on the balcony as she frees herself from the Redfern boy. Confirming that Poppy is all right, James attempts to fight Ash, who is unafraid of the challenge. However, believing Ash is waiting for other party-goers to discover them, Poppy insists that James and she just leave, even as Phil also arrives to help.
Upon hearing Phil's declaration that he will "knock [Ash's] head off", both James and Poppy burst into laughter, while Ash just looks at Phil with disbelief, asking James if Phil actually "understand[s]" vampires. James confirms this, and admits that Phil is protective of Poppy. Sizing up their number, Ash surrenders, allowing the three to leave and agreeing not to turn them in. James then claims that eventually, Ash will love someone, and that "it's going to hurt". In reply, Ash calls James a "lousy prophet", but reveals to his cousin Poppy's dream, and that they should check her family tree. Mystified, James, Phil and Poppy leave.
On the way home, James questions Poppy about her dream and how Phil knew where to find his sister. Joyfully, James realizes that Poppy and Phil had in fact been Night People all along: a pair of lost witches. He is especially jubilant about this, as it means that Poppy was never a renegade and that they can be together openly. Poppy then asks James to pull over so she can kiss him.
In the end, they eventually decide to go live with Poppy's birth father, himself a lost witch. Phil finally accepts James for what he is, which the vampire thanks him for, and he and Poppy decide to feed only on animals and willing donors rather than humans, although James teasingly refuses to bite possums or werewolves. James also informs Poppy that, due to the soulmate bond, they can still share the closeness they had while exchanging blood. Phil complains about being able to hear their romantic thoughts, although his willingness to give them privacy indicates that he now trusts James.
Phil helps load more of Poppy's belongings into James's car, while James himself waits as Poppy says a final goodbye to her mother as she sleeps. When she finishes, she gets into James's vehicle after saying goodbye to Phil. Phil and James shake hands before he and Poppy depart for the East Coast.
James and Poppy are mentioned in this book as having returned to Vegas for a meeting with Circle Daybreak, showing that the two have joined the organization.
Later in the book, Hannah Snow, the soulmate of Thierry, is introduced to the soulmate couples of the earlier books, introduced to James and Poppy by Thea. Thea informs her that James is a Redfern through his mother, to which he responds that he "didn't pick [his] parents". Poppy also tells her what James had done to save Poppy; Hannah notes their affection for one another. When Ash, who is also present, tells Hannah that the Night World is after all of them, James grins and mildly gloats over the fact that his cousin has finally admitting to being one of them.
Strange Fate (Preview)Edit
Poppy and James are seemingly sent on a mission from Circle Daybreak, during which Poppy attacks and incapacitates a Navy SEAL. However, as she finishes, Poppy and the SEAL are alerted to a new presence: a large tri-horned black dragon. Poppy attempts to use her psychic Power to attack the horns but she is knocked into the bushes by James, who seeks to protect her from the dragon. The enormous creature meanwhile incinerates the SEAL with a fiery blast. James advises Poppy not to fight, and to instead stay put and hope the dragon forgets her, but the dragon soon turns toward the bushes. As a last attempt at escape, the soulmates use their bond to unite mentally; they lower their body temperatures significantly to avoid detection. However, the creature is not fooled, laughing at their effort.
The couple, acknowledging they are doomed, bid one another goodbye, exchanging declarations of love. Fortunately, as the dragon is about to breathe fire at them, Ash appears by helicopter, along with Poppy's twin brother, Phillip. The twins quickly begin a psychic assault on the dragon, termed as a Synergy Yell; Poppy and Phillip telepathically unleash a wave of telepathic power at the horns, as Poppy had remembered their significance. This action, ramped up by Poppy from a yell to a "shriek" is powerful enough to stun the dragon, allowing Poppy and James to escape up into the helicopter. However, the effort involved in the Syngery Yell, as he was not trained as Poppy was, causes Phillip to become overwhelmed and pass out.
As the dragon is too stunned to follow, the helicopter is ordered by Ash to return to Circle Daybreak; Phillip is wrapped in a shock blanket while Poppy is given tea for comfort. Ash reveals, when questioned by James, that the dragon had in fact was targeting James himself, as foreseen by the Maiden, Aradia; "for some reason the dragon doesn't want Redferns or Harmans—especially ones with human or ex-human soulmates.”
The name James is of Hebrew origins and means "he who supplants". The name Rasmussen is a Danish and Norwegian one, meaning "son of Rasmus", Rasmus being a variant of the name Erasmus, a Greek-derived name meaning "beloved."
- James is the first lamia vampire introduced to the series, and the first vampire introduced overall.
- James and Poppy are the first soulmate couple revealed in the series.
- Unlike his parents and cousins, James is one of the few vampires of the series who doesn't have a traditional lamia name.
- Poppy's musing about James having a silver-colored aura might have been her sensing his Power ability, which all vampires begin to demonstrate in the later books of the series during the search for the Wild Powers.
- Like Morgead Blackthorn, James knew his soulmate since childhood.
- Through his mother, James is related to the Redfern family (though, due to the patriarchy of the family, he is not technically regarded as being a 'true' Redfern).