CHAPTER THEME Candy Coated Su!c!d3; Night Club
FORM - DONE
Outgoing | Enticing | Egotistical | Hedonist | Courageous | Energetic | Reckless | Defiant
Devyn has a big ego. She seeks attention and the freedom to do as she pleases. Idleness is not a way of life for her… she’ll be off somewhere, doing something at any given time. Sports, dance, and group activities fill most of the minutes of her days. She can be a bit of a tomboy at times who isn’t afraid of anything but her femininity is never overshadowed. She can easily be enticed to all sorts of pleasures without inhibitions (and vice versa). Her sensuality with an overwhelming desire for more is not tamed by her often impulsive nature. Too often, her choices can lead to compromising situations. She lives by the motto, No Apologies, No Regrets… so do not expect her to feel remorse or lament past mistakes. It is all par for the course, opportunities to learn and grow. She is not a planner… life is meant to be lived and experienced, so come what may… she will go where the mood leads her. She does not like taking orders while at the same time will hold little value, and respect, for someone that allows her to walk all over them. And she will, if given the chance.
Interests: Samuel | Philip | Christian
STORY - DONE
CONNECT THE DOTS - DONE
The Aftermath - DONE
Numbly, I settled onto an empty chaise and took breathed in slowly. Inhaling the pungent scent of the carnage surrounding me. There was something strange in that. Like I felt apart from it all… distant and untouched. Glancing down, I watched my fingers slowly curl and unfurl. Over and over again. Simply concentrating on that movement rather than peering around the room. Rather than see the fear on many faces, the confusion… the destruction.
But avoiding watching the spectacle did not keep me from hearing everything. There was sobbing… and way too loud whispering… most of the staff flinted through the crowd trying to calm individuals down while coordinating everyone into the temporary dorms that were being set up. And I sat that… mute and unfeeling.
Headmaster VanDrake tried to invoke some peace of mind and failed miserably. Seeing the huge gashes under his tattered shirt wasn’t really working to put anyone’s mind at ease. Nor did the fact that one of the missing students was his very own sireling.
The decision was made to keep us closer together and the students were moving to comply. At least those of us that could, should have been. The rest… the injured, were being tended to and along with Eve, there were more that were still missing.
Both Phillip and Chris fell into one of those two categories. My fingers actually shook for a second but I clenched them again, tighter than before, and squeezed them between my thighs.
“Away from the window, Miss Mitchell.”
Blankly, I looked at Professor Kirkwood after his barked command and found myself wondering if he always had those creases etched into his forehead like that. Probably. Yes. But he didn’t really sound like his usual angry and irritable self whenever he was speaking with one of my kind, not directly in any case. He just seemed, well… it sounded very much like impatience. Just like Silas VanDrake.
It took a moment for my brain to connect with his words but when it did I simply twisted around, noticing for the first time just how close to the outside world I had gone. The sun was just starting to peek over the treeline surrounding the estate, and its brilliant dusky hue illuminated the trampled, ruby-hued snow mere feet from me.
A shiver raced down my spine but I didn’t move, just stood there staring at the bloody proof of the night's terror. In my head, I knew I should be more afraid. More… something. Ready to run… to escape. This place wasn’t supposed to be for humans.
There’d been other evidence too… homicidal slashings, red splatter, and charred stains trailing down the halls and exploded in some rooms of the usually so pristine mansion. But I couldn’t help but wonder, just who’s blood? Did vampires bleed? And why was that what my mind was interested in?
“Miss Mitch- Sam can you please…”
He sounded irritated now. And why wouldn’t he be? Everything was a mess. I shook suddenly.
“Did someone go with you to gather some things from your dorm already, Miss Mitchell?”
I blinked and briefly looked up at Sam who was guiding me away from the window. He hadn’t been there before. At least, I didn’t think he was. But I barely noticed any of the other handful of bodies nearby.
“I, I don’t know.”
My tone was flat. My mind too. I glanced around to see that Professor Kirkwood had his hands full with another student looking distraught… or maybe just as senseless as I felt. Why hadn’t I noticed that a second ago? Most of the staff seemed to be trying their best in similar situations. And it wasn’t just the humans that seemed troubled or at a loss to explain any of what happened. I did not mistake some of their terror. And if the vampires were scared… what chance did any of us humans have?
The word was uttered softly but I knew it was the discreet brush of his finger across my arm that snapped me out of the astral-like detachment and fog.
“No. I..” I squared my shoulders and stood a bit straighter, “no I’ve just been right here.”
Something flickered in his eyes… not the usual blackness I’d grown accustomed to but something else. Approval perhaps
“Okay…” he muttered after a short moment of watching me carefully before he glanced around. “Let me see if I can find someone to-”
He must have realized what I’d already witnessed as he scanned the room. Another second later, I was whipped through the halls to my room. It took Sam a matter of seconds to inspect the interior, verifying it was empty and at least appeared to be safe. Considering. Then he stood, at full alert, guarding the door while I stepped inside.
“Just grab a few things… some clothes, toiletries…”
I nodded, not that he saw. The shuffling of my feet drew my attention to the hem of my robe, soaked as it were in an inch or two of blood and soot. I hadn’t changed… I wasn’t really sure anyone had out of their clothes from the previous night. The memory of how that time should have been spent flashed in my head but I didn’t have time to reflect or lament. Nor should I. What bad taste… to consider complaining about missing out on some sex when people were hurt… or possibly dead. No matter how juicy I thought the sex might have- oh my God!
I discarded my ruined nightclothes and wiggled into a pair of jeans and top, tugged a comb through then hastily arranged a fat braid over one shoulder, and quickly stuffed some other items into a duffle.
“You’ll be okay.”
It was a statement. I nodded, firmly. Determinedly. Suddenly, Sam tugged something from his pocket.
“Take this… don’t lose it.”
He flattened his palm over mine and clutched them together snuggly. A shiver raced down my spine before he released me.
“What is it?”
A smirk peeked from his obviously fatigued face, “A key… sometimes I wonder that you have a screw loose.”
I couldn’t help the eye roll that incited as I twirled the ornate skeleton key between two fingers. “I meant…”
“Just…” he interrupted, then paused and glanced down the hall before quickly adding. “You’ll know what it is… if… or when you need it.”
I frowned, ready to demand more insight than that.
“All set, Miss. Mitchell?”
Just then, a member of the staff appeared with another student in tow and I knew instinctively that the formality was for their benefit rather than mine. Still frowning, I nod and stuffed the item in my front pocket before Sam dashed me back to the ballroom. He didn’t linger. There was simply too much that needed to be done.
Unwaveringly, I set about to secure and adjust to my new sleeping arrangements.
Startled, I spun and gasped before rushing forward.
“Oh my… Phillip. Are you alright?”
I touched him, perhaps more so to ensure he was really there, alive… real. He seemed as if he did the same, gripping my arms as I took his. I squeezed firmly and ignored the ashy sediment that quickly covered my fingers. I had absolutely no idea where he had been or what he’d been doing to get so filthy.
Fighting, I supposed. For his life perhaps.
Frowning, I moved upward… at one point having to stretch up on my tiptoes as one hand brushed through his hair and the other moved to the left side of his head. Gently, I cupped the ragged bandage that draped lopsided over his eye.
For a fraction of a minute, he leaned into my caress, his one eye shutting briefly before he gazed directly into mine. Laser-focused.
“We need to talk.”
“Shouldn’t you be resting?”
It seemed the logical thing I’d want to do after being wounded. Well, who was I kidding… I’d probably be up trying to figure out how to get past the injury as quickly as possible.
Still. I had no idea about vampire injuries. I certainly hadn’t seen any in my entire time since being there. They always seemed so… perfect. Both in looks and movements. But clearly, they were capable of being harmed. I frowned.
Phillip collected my hand and pulled me away from the ballroom. I had no idea who noticed us leave… that was, other than his sire. Professor Kirkwood’s gaze narrowed at our progress but then was distracted by one of the other staff. Phillip was so intent on our direction that I didn’t think he noticed he was being observed.
Or perhaps he simply didn’t care.
Of all the other staff, Theodore Kirkwood seemed the absolute least enamored of the human presence, to almost downright hostile… though I got the feeling he did try to hide it on occasion. And Phillip had never bothered bringing his sire up at any time that we’d been around each other.
And probably, right that minute, it was so far down on the priority list that I brushed the thought aside.
We entered a small salon near the ballroom and Phillip shut the door firmly behind us. The room was a mess but he brushed a ripped cushion off and flipped it so that I could sit on the sofa he rightened.
Odd, how the sight of the bloodied mess around us seemed so minuscule in my head.
“Are you okay?”
“Me? I’m not the one injured.” His eyes seemed to wander over my body as if he were confirming it again for himself. He nodded briskly. “Are you hurt… I mean, does it hurt?”
“The pain is negligible… but it will take some time for me to heal.”
“I’m not really sure.” He shook his head, frowning hard. “Chris and I… well, let me start at the beginning. First, thank you.”
Now, that had my brow arching high.
“For keeping Chris’ secret.” I remained quiet, watching him hesitantly daring not to assume he knew every detail. “I know. About it all. About the vampire that turned him… the curse. About your nagging him to tell me and your commitment to keeping the information to yourself when you didn’t have to.”
“I did have to. I promised.”
“And that’s utterly common for humans?”
“You don’t remember… when was the last time you were one?”
“Around five years ago… so not so long ago that I don’t recall loyalty being gingerly given.”
“Well… regardless, you don’t have to thank me for that… it was between him and me.”
“True, but you could have blabbed about it to anyone. I assume you have kept it to yourself… considering how doggedly you refused to explain your damn cagey behavior to me in the last couple of weeks.”
“It wasn’t my business to tell.”
“And when has that ever stopped people from sharing juicy gossip.”
“Gossip?” I shook my head. “It was a great deal more than idle gossip.”
The image of Chris’ maker struggling violently in that cage sprang to mind.
“Yes. You shouldn’t have been there. Anything could have happened to you if that thing had been loose. Chris was reckless, putting you in harm's way like that.”
I lifted my chin stubbornly at his dismissiveness but what should I expect? It wasn’t as if we had shared any deeper connection than the obvious physical attraction. He had no reason to assume I would be anything other than reckless at any point… too dumb or naive to be relied upon in a desperate situation.
“I was not afraid.” It was a lie. That creature did frighten me. But… oddly enough, I hadn’t feared for my life. Perhaps because it was locked up… maybe because Chris was there. I remember being worried about Chris, fearing for him, in those moments. It would be incredibly foolish of me to not consider the sort of trouble I could find if any creature wanted to cause me harm. But up to that point, I’d been waltzing through the newly revealed vampire world as if they were nothing but harmless bunny rabbits.
Even now, I struggled to label them monsters despite every warning I’d been given.
“Yes. I’m aware you think you are invincible.” He waved his hand defensively. “I mean no disrespect. It’s just… you aren’t you know? But still… you are already involved in this, and I trust you… we trust you.”
I took a deep breath and turned away.
“Chris is missing though. No one has seen him… I overheard the list of missing.”
“Chris got away before everything went to hell… not precisely before… but he got the headstart he needed.” He rubbed the back of his neck as if he were trying to rub away the weight of the world. My stomach coiled though. “I fought the dogs… kept them at bay while he escaped.”
“I don’t understand… why would dogs attack so violently?”
“They weren’t just dogs. They were werewolves.”
He nodded. “They had to be summoned… or invited onto the estate. There is no way they should ever have gotten so close… much less inside.”
“Werewolves are real?” I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised. Vampires are… why not werewolves. And wraiths… what else could be lurking in the shadows? “Are you… I thought werewolf bites were- well… another of those things we’ve been disillusioned about I guess?”
“It hurts like hell. But I won’t die from it. It takes longer to heal… and regain my strength. If there had been more… or more time for them to attack… well, that might have been a different outcome. Silas jumped in and then so did some of the other staff.”
My stomach was churning hard as I looked him over once more. One clearly had landed a good swipe across his face… but other than that he just looked worn… and dirty.
“Do you fight them with fire?”
I pointed then reached forward and fiddled with the frayed ends of his shirt sleeves. His arms and hands were darkly singed, as were other areas of his torso and legs peaking through his ruined garments.
“Oh…” he shook his head, frowning once more. “That… I… actually I cannot explain that. The fire, it wasn’t for the werewolves. I don’t even know if fire harms them at all.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t either. I have no idea where it came from… it was just everywhere. But… before you ask, no it doesn’t kill us. But, well it just takes a longer time to heal from it. We’re weaker… if something had malicious intent it’s a good way to cripple us so that we’re easier to deal with. But there wasn’t anything but the werewolves… and I doubt they would have… I… I just don’t know.”
Chills raced down my spine. Not really because what he said made me scared… or even nervous. I was shocked he would reveal something so vulnerable.
“What else can hurt you? I mean… besides the obvious stake to the heart…”
His eyes flashed black.
“Let’s just focus on the information I have… what I need to tell you…” he didn’t wait for my agreement. “Chris and I, we’ve been looking for a way to release him from the curse. I know you’ve been trying to find information too…”
“How do you know that?”
“I’ve seen you browsing the books in the library. I admit I didn’t know what you were searching for at first.”
“So you were spying on me?”
“You were being evasive as hell. You and Chris both. I knew something was going on. But I never dreamed…” A look of regret fell across his face. “You, and Chris… you two shouldn’t have to deal with this. It’s not fair…”
Again, his dismissiveness irked me. It was far too late for me not to be involved as far as I was concerned so he could just take his cautions somewhere else. But he didn’t try to send me away… or stop me from being involved.
“But everything clicked once I knew the whole story. We haven’t gotten far, to be honest. But we had a lead… we were heading out to investigate when we were attacked. He got away. But he should be back later tonight with information. Maybe we can connect some dots from what you’ve been looking up and what he brings back.”
“I doubt it…” I admitted honestly. “I mean… I’d love for that to be the case… and hope somehow I can help. But everything I’ve found so far has been gibberish to me. Chris is teaching me the language… I AM getting better at it, but to read a book full of it… I’m afraid I’m not that talented.”
“It could be a small thing. We never know. However tiny, it’s possible to give us some direction. Maybe.”
I could tell he was trying to be encouraging now and I nodded, although I secretly reserved judgment. Or maybe he was just trying to be optimistic for his best friend's sake.
Suddenly, he eased against the sofa, letting his head drop to the back, and closed his eyes… well, one good eye.
“Are you alright?”
He didn’t look but made a sound of affirmation. I clutched his fingers, hoping to offer some comfort. Without hesitation, he took the offering and tugged until I was wedged against his side. He draped an arm over my shoulder and rested his head against mine.
Sighing softly I leaned back and stared blindly at the ceiling. If that were all to see in the room, I could believe the havoc from last night didn’t exist.
“I’m glad you are safe… I…” he shook his head. “Everything just got so crazy so fast… I would have come for you… but then I got hurt and… well we managed to deal with the threat before anything worse could happen.”
Sam made sure I was safe before he’d gone to join the fray but that was neither here nor there.
“Do you think the threat is gone?”
He leaned up and pierced me with a serious look.
“Yes, the werewolves are gone.”
Maybe. But he’d even admitted that he didn’t know how or why they got there in the first place. Not by accident if I took his words literally. How could he be so certain? Or was he just delusional?
“I’ll not let anything happen to you… And Silas, Theodore… the rest of the staff, they’ll make sure the school is safe and that no harm comes to the humans that have been brought here.”
Again, my thoughts were negative but I kept them to myself. To him, I was nothing more than a delicate flower to be coddled and protected. I didn't really blame him though. Why would a vampire, with all their strength and speed over humans, consider one more valuable in a fight? We were weaker than them... slower... and far more breakable. It didn't even occur to him that maybe I could be more than what he, and most of the others, expected.
But there’d already been a death… this attack… missing students. How were they going to keep the humans at this school safe if they couldn’t even keep themselves safe?
And that’s when the thought occurred to me. Perhaps it wasn’t the humans that were in any danger at all. Right from the start. Something primitive surged inside of me thinking about those I’d come to care about. Despite myself, I did care. And I was not willing to just curl into a ball in the background while those that mattered to me were attacked.
He seemed relieved by my complacent tone. His hand came up and cupped my face, much like mine had done earlier. But he leaned in and gently touched his lips to mine. It was tender, sweet really. And I didn't dislike it, not at all. My body certainly responded to the intimacy. But my mind was racing.
His hand slipped further, tilting my head back as he deepened the kiss. His other hand stroked down my side and pulled my entire body closer. And I let him. Willing to offer him... us... this moment of solace and indulgence when everything else was an utter nightmare.
He did not ease up once started but he moved carefully as if he were terrified of my frailty. At any other time, I might have called him out for the infuriating mercy. But I tried to soothe his worries with my body all while my own worries rolled around insistently.
Because... if I were right... there was so much more to worry about than Chris' curse. So many others may actually be in danger.
Black Sea - DONE
Hand to my chest I choked back a loud scream as the face beside me fully came into vision. Dusk had already started to settle in and the interior of the house was cast in shadows. If it weren’t for his eyes I might never have noticed him there, just outside the bathroom I’d just left.
“Devyn.” The eerie brightness of those eyes sent a chill down my spine… as if a smoldering fire burned in their depth but I shook my head of the fancy. And it was obviously in my imagination, as soon as my eyes adjusted to his face in the dimness, he looked as normal as ever.
“Gezzus, Chris… you scared the shit out of me!”
“I need you to come with me… quick.”
I frowned and peered around the empty hallway. He gripped my arm in the next breath.
“Chris!” I tried to pull my hand free but he was moving, his far superior strength making any hesitation or resistance futile. I looked in both directions trying to gauge which exit he was heading towards. “Shouldn’t we get Phillip?”
“He’ll meet us there. Come on, we mustn’t dally.”
Dally? I shook my head and attempted once more to loosen the vice-like grip on my wrist.
“Did you just get back?”
“Not here,” he hissed then whipped us both down the hall “we just… we have to go, now.”
I shivered at the urgency in his voice. The desperation. He moved with purpose, his footsteps light and airy despite the speed. Or because of it. I know mine barely hit the floor as he moved rapidly down another long, shadowed hallway.
This one was different, in an area of the house I’d never been in before. I tried to get my barrings, but with the unusual location and his rapid pace, I was completely lost. One thing that slowly came to me though was that we were not headed for an exit. Chris was guiding me deeper into the mansion.
“Where are we going, Chris?”
“Just a li– shhh…”
He cupped a hand over my mouth and snatched me into a shadow. I squirmed but his hold was fierce and I could feel the heat of his breath against my neck. Fear welled up in me… fast and violent. A fear that seemed so much grander than it should be and incredibly irrational. My eyes bulged and my pulse started to race erratically.
What the hell was happening?
Seconds ticked by before I heard the voices, a bit too far away for me to identify who they belonged to but for some reason, I felt terrified of their approach. Who were we hiding from? Did Chris have some information that implicated someone at the school in his trouble?
The voices turned away and almost immediately Chris resumed his movement, dragging me along beside him.
“Chris, what is it? You’re scaring me.”
“You should be scared!”
Was that a sneer? I turned more fully towards him, even while he continued but all I could see and sense was his urgency. The choking anxiety was not soothed in any way. I believed I’d never been so afraid in my life.
I am not sure how long we moved but I did know we continued going down. I’m sure I never even imagined the mansion had levels that deep. We turned into a tunnel and I gasped as I brushed the wall, dirt crumbling beneath my fingers and scattering underfoot. A chill swept up my spine and I leaned closer to Chris, clutching his arm with my free hand while still firmly gripped by the other.
“What is down here?” The darkness was growing heavier, with only single lamps ever so often… just enough to cast a sliver of brightness before the creepy darkness took over one more. And I was almost certain that I could see my whispered breath at that depth. I wanted to leave… I wanted to scream into his ear to take me back but I bit back the hysterical chiding.
“Almost there… just a little further.”
It was a struggle but I inhaled deeply and squared my shoulders, resisting the mindnumbing dread trying to consume me. If Chris needed me, I had to be there… to support him. To help him. I bit the inside of my cheek as my throat clogged in panic.
Then we stopped.
Chris continued to hold my wrist but somehow managed to unlock and throw the iron door ahead of us open. Nothing but darkness greeted us. I frowned harder, clearing my throat and trying to ignore the alarms blaring in my head.
He stepped back slightly, finally releasing my arm. Unconsciously, I stepped forward and narrowed my gaze while rubbing some feeling back into my tingling wrist. My mind started to spin, wondering what on earth we were doing… but at least the choking fear was subsiding… only to be replaced by rabid curiosity.
“I don’t see anything…”
Before I could even turn to face him, his hand slammed into the base of my back sending me stumbling. I lost my footing and ended up crashing to the dirt floor before the tiny glimmer of light faded completely with the jarring clatter of metal against metal.
My eyes bulged as I twisted in the dirt, sneezing as some roused and puffed into my face. Spitting mad, I slammed my hand down hard, feeling something razor-sharp scratch one of my fingers.
I growled and jerked to my feet and raced back towards where the door should have been.
I shouted, but there was no response. Not concern, fear, or even laughter. I hit the metal door, brushed my hands down its frame, and searched for some level or knob that should release me, but found nothing. Dust and debris fell over me but I paid it little heed. Still shouting I continued to hammer against the cold iron until my fist stung from the effort.
I squealed as I slammed my entire body against that damn door… kicked and yelled some more until my damn voice started to strain. Still, he did not return… he didn't open the door and laugh about scaring the shit out of me… it wasn’t some practical… completely unfunny… joke. Tears burned the back of my eyes but I gulped them back.
Chris must be losing his fucking mind… transitioning into that monster. I wanted to cry… I really did. I pounded my fist against the door one more time with rage and fear both fighting for purchase inside of me. There was no point in crying! Who the hell would hear it at any rate? I was alone, in some cell of some sort, deep underground. Heaving, I laid my head against the cold surface and trembled.
This must be those catacombs some of the other students had talked about. But I had never been too interested so didn’t have a clue what was actually down here. Maybe I should have tried to learn more about the estate.
Then I saw it. A tiny little dot, really… narrow and thin. Light seeped like a tiny pinpoint of hope. I ran my finger across the spot, almost too scared to be proved wrong but it was indeed a hole. The little ray of light bounced off the pad of my thumb. Slipping to my knees I peered at the spot, just under where the doorknob should be realizing that it must be a keyhole. Though it wasn’t like any keyhole I had ever seen before. I leaned forward and tried to see into the tunnel beyond but that was pretty futile.
Breathing raggedly, I turned away and flopped to the ground with the cold, hard slab against my back, and stared into utter darkness. I brushed an itch against my cheek as I tried to think this through. The keyhole barely shed light on a tiny spot of dirt.
My mind raced, picking apart potential solutions to my current predicament. So mentally occupied that it took another couple of seconds for me to realize I was brushing the scrape that was now itching on my hand. I bit my lower lip looking back at the door and then at the ground I couldn’t see.
There had been something sharp down there… maybe I could use it to jimmy that lock. Excited with the idea, I got on all fours and brushed my fingers across the dusty surface, inching forward slowly until finally I gripped something oddly shaped. One end was completely jagged but I couldn’t make out what it was and I certainly had a hard time getting my barrings again.
“Stupid!” I hissed at myself and almost laughed.
I sat back on my knees and took a deep calming breath, grinning as I immediately spoke the words Sam had taught me such a short time ago.
Considering it was the only spell I knew… I certainly had practiced it enough times that the burst of flame jumped out after only one enunciation.
I screamed. The flame extinguished as I threw the object with all my might. It hit a wall, I was certain as I scooted backward. When something brushed against my back I yelled again, jumping up and running wildly in the other direction until something hit my foot, making me stumble and fall for the second time. The sound of bones rattling under me had me shaking violently while I scurried back towards what I thought might be the center of the room.
I squeezed my eyes shut and counted to ten… analyzing what I could possibly do at that point. But nothing came to mind. All I knew is that I had to get out of there. Somehow. Shakily, I recited the incantation once more and steeled myself for the sight I knew now I would see.
There were no windows, just the earthen floor, dirt-packed walls, and the intimidating iron door. And the skeletons. Piles of them scattered across the cell. It had been a splintered bone I held just moments before a burst of manic laughter spilled out of me. I supposed, to some extent… it might be better than crying. My hand itched with the memory and I rubbed it frantically against my already filthy jeans.
And that’s when my hope soared once more.
Holding my breath, I squeezed my fingers into my pocket and pulled out the key Sam had given me earlier that day. My stomach coiled as I turned towards the door again.
It had to work, right?
Slowly, I stood, keeping the flame bright and my eyes glued to the metal door… and not on the obstacles that littered the floor in my way. Shivering, I kicked when something creepy touched me and rushed the last couple of steps.
I held my breath, praying that this worked as I slid the narrow key into the hole… because what else did I have to lose?
Clumsy - DONE
My heart slammed into my chest as I spun around, utterly dumbfounded at the cozy, clean room. A library. I turned again, 360 degrees, but the door I had just stumbled through was nowhere to be found.
“What the hell?”
I winced at my scratchy raw voice, reaching up to caress my neck as a noise drew my attention. Taking a tentative step forward, deeper into the far too polished and pristine wood-accented room, I found myself tilting my head and sucking in another stunned breath. Our eyes locked when Sam spun on the ladder before he moved down from the stacks with a thick tome casually gripped between his fingers. Three powerful strides later he stood next to me, tilting his head slightly.
“Well, it didn’t take you long to find trouble…” He wrinkled his nose. “Something quite fiendish too, based on the smell.”
“Sam?” He arched a brow. “How am I here?”
He flicked the key still clutched between my fingers. I lifted and stared at it cluelessly.
“It’s special. It will always bring you back here should you need to use it. You’ll be safe here, no matter what.” He gave me a moment to let that sink in before his tone grew more serious, demanding. “The better question is where the hell were you?”
Grimacing, I pressed one finger against my lips and immediately spat as dirt gritted between my teeth. Angry and skeptical, I began pacing while unconsciously rubbing at the throbbing pain in my hand. Where the hell had I been?
“The… the catacombs, I think. I… I don’t really know.”
“How could you be in the catacombs without knowing it?”
I frowned harder, pressing my lips together as every second of the past hour or two replayed in my mind. How long had we traveled in the halls and tunnels? We moved fast but not at the same dizzying speed that Sam usually zipped me around.
“I’ve never been there. But… it was incredibly dirty.”
Lifting my hands I glanced down, the warm lighting giving me full access to see the mess I’d become. There was even a reflection gazing back at me when I looked up… horribly prominent from a mirrored cabinet several steps away. I whimpered annoyingly.
My head whipped around so fast to level a very dangerous glare. He smirked.
“It’s not funny.”
“No. But I am still waiting to get to the part about what happened…”
I inhaled sharply and wished I could sit down but the richly upholstered armchairs and sofa were quite daunting in my current state. I squeezed the bridge of my nose seeking patience and enlightenment from my jumbled mind.
“I don’t know Sam. He dragged me down into the mansion. I assume the catacombs because I heard there were some beneath… but… it was so far down. Did you know it went so far down?”
By the time I looked back at him, needing clarification… help… understanding, his back was utterly straight and he was watching me intently.
I frowned, nibbling on my lip again, and turned away. I promised Chris I wouldn’t tell his secret. It had been weeks… but he had finally come clean to Phillip. But it was still his secret, not mine. Telling Sam would break that trust.
But… Chris must be losing his mind. The creature… it had to be overtaking him like it had his maker. My heart pounded harder and I started to pace again, running what I knew through my mind… wondering if I dared admit the truth. Chris clearly needed help… and I was no match for his strength. If he came after me again, what was I supposed to do? Why had he taken me into the depth of the estate to lock me away?
So many unanswered questions. I finally looked back at Sam and saw quite clearly that he was still waiting, arms crossed but waiting. I could read the impatience in him… insistence. He wanted an answer.
“It was Chris.” At his incredulous look, I rushed to admit it all. “He doesn’t realize what he’s doing Sam. The guy that turned him… was cursed. And… well according to the vamp’s butler… Chris, he is cursed too. Because of it. It’s not his fault, he’s just not thinking straight.”
Something fiery flashed in his eyes as he looked steadily at me.
“Did Chris tell you this?”
I blushed. Actually blushed. Not that I imagined he could see it through the layer of grime covering me.
“No,” I muttered stubbornly lifting my chin. “I was with him when he found out.”
I did not feel any judgment from him though. Not like I had where Phillip was concerned. He didn’t fuss or complain about my being there… witnessing this ‘danger’. He didn’t remind me of my inferiority or my weakness. Or call me reckless.
“What exactly did you find out?”
“That he’s cursed,” I repeated dumbly. “His sire- well… not a sire I guess. But the one that made him… is that called a turner?” I shook my head at something so meaningless. “Whatever. The butler told us that Chris had tainted blood. That he would turn into that wraith, just like his charge.”
I gritted my teeth, desperate to keep the thin strip of sanity I had left and not break down completely at this point. I’d gotten out of the cell… with level thinking… I couldn’t fall apart now that I was free. But oh how I wanted to. I still had to figure out how to help Chris, now more than ever since he was starting to show sign-
“That wasn’t Chris.”
He shook his head to reiterate his words, firmly confident.
“The smell… it’s far too ancient… too evil to be a vamp as young as Chris.”
“Yes. I can smell it all over you… its scent clings to you like an awful cologne.”
I whimpered again and rolled my eyes upward.
“It is okay… you obviously need a shower desperately anyway.”
“Hardee har har.”
“Not really joking… you’re like pigpen leaving a damn dustcloud all over my stuff every time you move.”
Horrified I glanced down and sure enough, there was a trail of debris and crumbled earth everywhere I’d stepped since arriving.
Sam stepped past me to dig a garment out of a nearby chest and looked like he would toss it. Tentatively, I prepared to catch it.
“Actually… you’d just get it filthy in an instant.” He tucked it under his arm and grabbed a towel and cloth from another drawer. “Follow.”
Frowning, I did, not really seeing any other alternative. I almost wept then as we entered a small washroom complete with a stand-in shower stall in the corner of the library. He set the clean items on the side of the basin and left me to freshen up.
Of course, it’d taken a full shower and scrubbing to wash away all the evidence of my ordeal and I purposefully stuffed my discarded clothes into the wastebasket, knotting the bag and pulling it free before returning to Sam. His eyes roamed over me, head to toe when I returned wearing nothing more than one of his oversized shirts. Well.. oversized on me.
He handed me a glass nearly full of bourbon before leading me to the sofa.
“Are you okay?”
Odd that he hadn’t bothered to ask that when I first appeared looking like some homeless bum. I curled my legs under me and took a sip, bracing for the heady burn as I tried to consider the appropriate answer. Or the actual one.
“I really thought it was Chris.”
“I don’t doubt you.”
“So where is he then? The real Chris.” I felt my chest tighten, worried anew. “Do you think he’s dead?”
His eyes flashed black and I wasn’t exactly sure why.
“I don’t know.” I blinked back tears. One must have slipped because he wiped it away. “I’ll try to do a locator spell tomorrow… see if we can come up with something.”
“You wi- thank you, Sam.”
“It’s not like you to be so… soppy.”
I sniffed loudly with a bit of a sad laugh, “I know… atrocious isn’t it!”
He smiled but did not respond leaving me feeling awkward. Of course, he wouldn’t find some weeping human attractive. I inhaled and focused on my anger instead of the mournful disappearance.
“I’m okay, or, I will be. It was just scary… you know. And… infuriating…” I told him more, about the fear I felt and the skeletons. The creature didn’t explain anything, at all. Just seemed urgent and determined to get me away before it locked me in that cell. “Do you know what’s going on, Sam?”
He was thoughtful for a moment, swirling the same type of dark liquid in a glass he held.
“I don’t, sadly. Things are getting bad, none of us knows what might happen next…”
I looked down into my glass, steeling myself against the caution I expected, so use now to them all wanting her to avoid taking risks. Stiffening for the judgment and admonishment he was sure to give.
“Look, Sam… I know it was reckless… but how the hell was I supposed to know it wasn’t Chris?”
“You couldn’t. And none of us can be close enough to always guarantee your safety. You’ll need to learn to defend yourself better.”
Eyes widening, I looked up. What was he saying?
“That key can get you away… but it and a bit of fire magic won’t be enough. Not if things continue to develop as they have. Are you willing… interested in learning more?”
He nodded. My stomach flipped wildly. He wasn’t just expecting me to sit back and let them protect me?
“It’s the only way I can think to do, to help keep you safe.”
My brow knitted.
“Safe from what though?”
He shook his head.
“Not sure… those werewolves shouldn’t have been anywhere near the academy, it’s never happened before. And now this thing with Chris’ likeness.” He tilted his head and reached out to tuck the fat braid over my shoulder and a loose strand behind my ear. It was a tenderness I had not expected and it sent chills down my spine. “I’m just… well, it’s peculiar. Are all the humans endangered… or was it targeting you specifically.”
“Me? Why… why would it target me? I’m just another human…”
He chuckled softly but I could tell he was worried.
“I wouldn’t exactly say that.”
Instead of answering he drowned his drink and poured another. I already knew that the effect of liquor did little to him which made his ease at consuming it quite understandable. But I wondered if it were some quirk from when he was once human. Had he been a heavy drinker then?
“You can stay here for tonight… unless you prefer to go to the ballroom then I’ll take you. But we can start your training straight away in the morning if you’re here.”
I already knew I did not want to be alone. My pulse raced as I feasted on the sight of him, suddenly remembering everything that happened before we were interrupted just last night.
How had all of this happened in just one damned day?
I licked my lips.
“I’ll stay here then…”
And no matter what anyone would have tried to convince me of… I knew he was not unaffected. And yet, he hesitated when I would much rather he not.
“You understand that no one can know about this. What I’m teaching you… about any of this…”
The words left unsaid maybe hit me more than the ones uttered aloud. I understood, of course. I was nothing but a human, someone outside their world… the magic in it. Sure, I’d been invited to have a look-see… but actually to become involved in it? I doubt any of the powers that be ever intended anything like that. How much trouble could he get in for teaching me these secrets… or for the intimacies we shared beyond the magic? In the grand scheme of things… not only was he a vampire, so vastly different in every sense… but he was also a teacher at the academy.
“I know.” If it were just me, I’d say fuck it and let the cards fall where they may. But it wasn’t just me… and I honestly did not know how much of a problem I could be to him in his world. “Do you think… would you rather we stop…”
I had to look away, knowing I did not wish to see his expression or have him see mine depending on the answer. The soft chuckle was highly unexpected.
“Danger lurks no matter which path we take… I can’t just walk away without knowing you have at least some way to defend yourself.”
Such circumspect logic. Not for the first time, I was left wondering what he actually wanted. Did he wish to walk away? I promised I would not get upset no matter what he wanted… but the not knowing was highly annoying. I needed to get off this topic… distance myself from the sentimental bullshit I never usually experienced. And for goodness sake, I really should stop trying to imagine more to this good time than was ever intended.
“You trust me, don’t you?” I rushed on before he had a chance to answer. “I mean… I assume you do. Am assuming it. Why would you teach me… or tell me some of the things that you do if you did not?”
“Yes, why would I…”
I sipped my drink, wondering what I wanted to get at. Something nagged at the back of my brain but it was slow to come to the forefront.
“Why do you ask?”
I guzzled the rest of my drink and twisted further to the side to face him fully.
“I… something is bugging me. Since this morning, after I spoke with Phillip.”
“What else, besides fire and werewolf bites can slow a vampire down? What else… other than a stake can kill you?” There was a long hesitation and I couldn’t really blame him if he didn’t want to say. If I had a blatant weakness, I’d keep it to myself too. Phillip clearly sidestepped the conversation at the time. “I just… what could I, a human, do to eliminate a threat that might be out there.”
“How does this information put you in a position to do that?”
“This attack… and the death before. It seems to me that it’s about the vampires.”
“Well, we are vampires.”
I shook my head and bit on a torn nail. “I mean… well, the vampires were the ones attacked. Until tonight, I haven’t heard of any attempts or harm coming to any of the humans. Until I was taken and locked in that cell. Do you think… is it possible that the attacks are targeted specifically against the vampires.”
“I was speaking with Phillip this afternoon… and, well, he clearly did not trust me enough to be frank. He just wanted me to let you all handle this. But… I am not so sure he is thinking of this as someone being threatened. He assumes the attacks have something to do with trying to harm us, humans. I just… I am not sure that is the case.”
“Very few humans would have the capacity… or knowledge to kill a vampire. Unless they’re a slayer perhaps.”
“Slayers are real? Like they are humans that hunt vampires?”
“They’re real. In most cases… the more successful ones are far from human anymore.”
I frowned, and nodded but continued to shift through the information I already knew. I should ask more about it but I was already getting off my train of thought. I nibbled on my cheek before continuing.
“But Phillip admitted that the werewolf bite and his burns slowed him down. I’m sure he didn’t mean to get my mind whirling… but I can’t help to wonder if maybe that attack had been to intentionally slow you all down. To make you easier targets… if someone had succeeded… the only way to actually kill you all is to stake one after another?”
“There’s the stakes. And curses.” He finally spoke. “You already know about both.”
“A curse can kill you?”
There was another pause when his eyes blinked black then back again. I did not dissuade him from my interest, instead, I kept a steady, level eye on him hoping he would be more open than Phillip had. If he trusted me with magic… why not this information?
“A curse can drain our power which reverts us back to human form. We will age as if we were the same age from right before transition… or it can eliminate our immortality.”
“That’s not the same thing?”
“No. In that case… we will instantly age however long we’ve been on this earth. In vampires such as myself… it would be a death sentence. Someone like Phillip and Chris… a few years older than they are now. In either case… once we’re back in human form, if we don’t instantly drop dead from old age, we can be killed by any method.”
“And if you are weakened… someone could come in and cast a curse on the lot of you… or… maybe you don’t even have to be weakened at all for a group curse. Is that a thing? Like someone could come in and cast something on all of you at one time?”
“As interesting as this conspiracy theory rabbit hole you’re going down is… it’s been an awfully long day and I honestly cannot speculate… especially not on an empty stomach.”
“You’re going to leave?”
He looked confused. “What?”
“I… I just thought…” should I even bother explaining. How utterly silly he will find me. But I pushed on… “I thought you would be staying here,” I waved my hand around generally, “with me… tonight.”
Suddenly, that wicked smirk was back and all the horrors and evils of the day were pushed way back in my mind.
The next morning, true to his word, Sam began sharing his knowledge of magic with diligent scrutiny. He showed me the location spell he spoke of the previous night only to turn up with inconclusive results. Chris… the real one… seemed to be in one hundred places at once.
He promised he’d keep working on it but turned the focus quickly to teaching me defensive magic while VanDrake's classes continued to be canceled for the time being.
THE FINE PRINT - DONE
Ready, Set, Go - DONE
Freedom to move throughout the mansion was greatly reduced… in fact, the entire place was on complete lockdown. The staff continued to monitor things but classes were postponed until further notice.
This only translated to me as more time to practice the defensive techniques Sam had begun teaching me. It had been only two weeks, and I wasn’t any kind of virtuoso, but I was coming along. According to his assessment. I was feeling impatient.
There had still been no sight of Chris, Eve, or another student, Dalton. And I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Sam was still unable to find a location on Chris and I began to worry that was a bad omen.
Perhaps he was laying somewhere in a ditch and none of us were the wiser. But Sam was certain that if that were the case he wouldn’t get any reading at all… not multiple.
I tried to contain the worry.
It didn’t help matters that one morning Eve magically returned to the estate. It caused quite the uproar… and since we were all basically corralled together, it was impossible not to hear, and witness, the news.
Eerily, she walked in and made a direct path to Silas and those of the Vampiric Council that had been spending hours and hours holed up together discussing what to do about the situation unraveling at VanDrake.
Everyone that hadn’t heard it directly from her mouth soon got wind of the unbelievable ultimatum.
Count Dracula wanted the academy.
It sent shockwaves through the student body and the staff. Everyone started whispering about it and about Eve’s strange behavior as she delivered the message. Far from her usual brazen personality.
“Did you hear?”
“Yeah… but… that’s not what I’m here for.”
I frowned as Phillip clutched my elbow and pulled me far enough away from the crowd so that he could talk privately.
“Is everything okay?”
He looked around a bit anxiously and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I scanned his face intensely, trying to see if anything looked suspicious or out of sorts. But he looked normal. Just like that Chris-like thing had looked normal. For the most part.
I’d asked Sam about teaching me how to tell if someone was real or an impersonation but we hadn’t gotten around to anything close to something as complicated, per his words, like that.
“I want you to come with me…”
My heart raced. Chris-thing had said the same thing. Or something close to it. But Phillip hesitated.
“We’d have to leave the estate so it will be tricky. No one can see us leaving.”
“To go where?”
He looked around again, obviously cautious.
“Can you just trust me? I believe you will want to be there.”
My stomach coiled tight and I followed his lead, peering around but there was no one close enough to us to make any difference. Unless I screamed. Surely someone would come running, fast too… if I did that.
“Can’t you trust me and tell me where?”
“It’s too risky. Someone might overhear… I… please Dev.”
I gritted my teeth, wanting to trust him and go with him but also so very leery after the last time I’d trusted an urgent invitation.
“I’ll just go get ready then…?”
I knew it was a test of sorts. To see how he would react to a delay… or the possibility of me getting away from him. But he nodded, completely comfortable with the suggestion, despite the hint of agitation I could sense in him. Oddly enough, I was sure the restlessness had nothing to do with a desire to spirit me away. Or to lure me into some dark and dingy cell never to be seen again.
If he had insisted I go immediately, or grabbed my arm to lead me away, I would have screamed my head off. It was mostly because of that reason that I determined to go with him… without further clarification.
But maybe it was still the creature, being more conniving. How many faces could it wear? I should have asked Sam more questions about it… some sort of shapeshifter I guessed.
I tried to find Sam after stepping away from Phillip, just to let someone… anyone, know that I was not going to be around. To know someone might look for me if I didn’t return. But other than him, I had no idea who else I could trust. When I didn’t locate him, I made sure to stuff the key inside my boot, somewhere no one would easily find it in case something insane were to happen.
Boyshit - DONE
Phillip managed to smuggle us both out of the mansion and the drive wasn’t too long. Nor was it unfamiliar. Within record time he parked in front of The Yard. He still had not explained what we were on, and I certainly could not figure out why he thought I’d need to visit their rage room location.
Until we went inside and my face drained nearly of all color.
I gasped loudly, grabbing his arm and trying to hold him back as he stepped forward. I am not so sure what I aimed to do when I moved in front of him, as if I meant to protect him from some sort of harm. I held out an arm while my mind picked through the new spells Sam had been teaching me in the last couple of weeks.
“Stay back… we aren’t going anywhere with you!”
Phillip laughed dismissively and with a heavy dose of confusion behind me.
“What the hell, Dev.”
He literally lifted and set me aside and two steps later embraced his obviously equally confused friend.
I frowned, keeping my distance, watching intently.
“You don’t know that is him, Phillip!”
“Who the hell else do you think I am?”
I wished I knew how to differentiate.
“Does he… does he smell… normal?”
They both looked at me strangely.
“Like… does he smell… old? Or like… evil?”
My gaze darted between them, completely suspicious and undeterred.
“Devyn, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“It might not be him!” I insisted on looking at Phillip then, giving him a very serious and deadly gaze. “It could be that other one.”
They exchanged glances while their confused amusement started to ween.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that someon- something, looking like Chris, tried to steal me away two weeks ago.”
They both were fairly serious now, each more concerned in an instant.
“I… I don’t know. I just know… that might not be Chris. I… I don’t know how I can tell. But… maybe you can smell if he doesn’t smell right… can you… can you tell if he smells evil and old?”
“It is me.”
I stood back a bit longer, trying to determine if Phillip could be sure… trying to figure out how I could be sure. But I know the latter was impossible… I would have to trust at least one of them in this matter.
It took another few moments of me debating internally while they each affirmed the identity before I accepted it.
“What the hell happened, Dev? Why am I just now hearing you had a strange encounter.”
“Strange!?” I scoffed and huffed as I scrambled into a booth that we moved to. Phillip sat between us, Chris opposite me. I watched him steadily, still uncertain what to believe. “You… it… whatever it was… locked me in a cell in the catacombs.”
“What?!” Again, they spoke in unison. Something dark flashed in their eyes.
I summed up the encounter, admitting only that I jimmied the lock to escape and since I didn’t know what exactly to say about it… I just didn’t say anything. Thankfully, they were both so distracted by the threat I’d been with, neither of them bothered to question how I might know about the stench that might come off a creature such as that.
“Sire Fire…” they muttered to each other making my brows furrow.
“Sire Fire…” Chris uttered though there was confusion on his face. “But why… how?”
“What the hell is Sire Fire?”
Chris shook his head and wrung his hands together over the table.
“It’s… it’s legend really. Like how humans view the boogeyman and such. Something just used to keep the younger ones in line… behaving. As far as I know…” he looked at Chris who quickly agreed with a nod, “it’s when a sire has decided to eliminate or harm their sirelings. They’ll take on the likeness… or avatar, whatever you want to call it. Kinda like shifting into the appearance in order to disrupt and cause chaos. They’ll attack the friends and other family members connected to that sireling. But…”
“But… we’ve never heard of it being used on a half-fang. This is one of the old families' rituals… something rumored to be favored and used by them to punish and discipline.” Chris added in utter confusion.
“No vampire, as far as either of us could imagine, would bother with such a thing for a half-fang. They don’t even have any sort of relationship or connection to the… well… what reason would Chris’ maker have to go after anyone connected to him?”
“Because he’s a monster?” They both looked at me. “Well… he is. Physically and mentally apparently.”
“That creature didn’t appear to have any mentality to draw on when we saw it.”
Perhaps Chris was right but what other solution or explanation could there be? We talked a little more about the myth and how odd it was to have something like it happen when there wasn’t a true sire bond existing between Chris and his maker.
“This doesn’t explain though why you never told me you were in danger. I would have made sure you were more protected in the last couple of weeks just in case it tried again.”
“Exactly… I’d have had even more limitations on my freedom than I already have.”
“To protect you!”
I crossed my arms over my chest.
“I clearly survived without the added security.”
“Dammit, Devyn. You were locked inside a cell… alone. No one even knew you were down there… what if you hadn’t managed to get the door unlocked?”
“Luckily, I did.” He tossed his hands up. I looked at Chris. “Why aren’t you back at the academy yet? Everyone still thinks you're missing.”
Once again they exchanged looks but I supposed they accepted my change in the topic after I jetted my chin out stubbornly.
“I couldn’t be there. Anything could happen… what if I started to turn into the creature and actually harmed someone? None of us knows what sort of control I could maintain in the other state… although, your encounter would suggest there is more control than I might have imagined.” He tapped his fingers against the table.
“And what would you do if that happened anywhere else? Around strangers… around humans who wouldn’t be able to protect themselves.”
“You’re right… but I wasn’t thinking that way. Besides… there was the trail I had to follow. We…” he darted his finger between him and Phillip, “we found a lead on a woman we believed cursed my maker… and cursed everyone he made as well. We were going to go find her… but then we got separated. Phillip insisted I go on… but, I wasn’t about to leave him…”
“But you had to.” Phillip insisted. And clearly, it was exactly what ended up happening since Chris was definitely away from VanDrake since then.
“When I caught up to her, she agreed to lift the curse.”
Okay, so Phillip was hearing this information for the first time as well. But his excitement was almost a match for my skepticism.
They both looked at me again.
“Why would she just agree to do away with something she obviously did maliciously. Who is this woman?”
Chris shook his head.
“She’s the leader of one of the oldest covens in the area. I, I didn’t know her before, no… but I don’t have any reason to doubt her right now.”
“You don’t? You just met her… and a coven? So…like a witch?”
He nodded. Immediately, I felt anxious. Sam had stated that witches were more of a label. But now there is a coven? So… more than a label?
“Her name’s Cassandra…”
“Why is she so willing to just erase what she did to him? To you?”
“She wants a book.” He looked to Phillip. “She’ll lift the curse in exchange for the book. She claims it’s supposed to be in one of the libraries at the school.”
“A book?” I scoffed, frowning. Phillip hummed softly. “Why would she need a book from a vampire school?”
“She claims it was stolen from her… her coven. She said vampires took it and my maker was involved in the theft. She stated that he and the others involved have already been dealt with accordingly.”
“So she cursed him, and potentially others, instead of trying to get it back? Why would she ask you for something she wasn’t interested in getting initially? Why now… wh-”
“You don’t know she didn’t try to get it back before, you’re only assuming.”
“And does it even matter why she’s willing to take the book now when it will take this curse away?”
I looked at them as if they had lost their minds. Or maybe I was becoming slowly deranged. Did they not even give one consideration that this unknown woman could be trying to manipulate them? Trick them?
“Of course, it matters why now. Why help you? She doesn’t know anything about you. She was so furious at the one that made you that she cursed his entire line… not giving one shit who else was affected by her magic. It was an attack against nameless others… who may or may not… and not in your case in particular… involved in this so-called theft.”
“What reason does she have to lie?”
“To get ahold of whatever this book is. Did she tell you anything about it? What it’s called… what’s in it?”
Chris’ lips tightened. Phillip seemed interested in the question at least for a moment. I didn’t want to just denounce the possibility but they were way too fast to just take it as gospel without any examination.
“She could only describe it… bound in Mood dragon hide…” My eyes widened as if this were proof of her insincerity. If the book were hers… and she cursed a whole line of vampires for taking it why the hell would she not remember something as simple as the name? Surely, it must be valuable or highly revered for her to have gone to all this trouble… all this vindictiveness.
“Why are you so quick to believe her?”
“Why are you so quick to discredit her?”
It was my turn to press my lips together and my nostrils flared. I was ready to discredit her, all of this. Which seemed strange, right? But maybe it was their utter lack of speculation that had the hairs on the back of my neck rising. I’d even have claimed they were illusioned by a pretty face if it weren’t that only Chris had seen the witch.
“Because she could be lying.”
“Or telling the truth…” Phillip added, clearly still leaning towards not caring as long as they got the curse lifted.
“She says the book is rightfully hers and the only one rumored to be bound in this way she claims was stolen… and she believes it’s now at VanDrake.”
“That’s a lot of guesses and assumptions and assertions when none of it has been verified. It’s not like you can ask the one that was cursed, now can you?”
“And you give him any credit? You forget he turned me… something already quite crude in the vampire world. If he did that, why would you so easily assume he couldn’t or wouldn’t do this?”
“I don’t know Chris. Maybe your resentment towards him is making you assume the worst too.” My voice softened as I tried to think of this more rationally even though I was far from unbiased. “Maybe he was already cursed when he bit you… out of control… maybe he didn’t even realize he was doing it. Neither of us knows why he did it… nor what he knew at the time… nor if he really did this thing this witch is claiming. Don’t you think we should ask someone about it? Before we just go assuming this person that cursed you is trustworthy?”
I immediately thought of Sam… and his private collection of spellbooks, some of which he was using to help me learn magic. He might know of this book… he might know why a witch wanted it. And if it were honestly stolen…
“Maybe.” It was Phillip, “But do we really have the time to drag our feet on this? We don’t have a clue when the curse will try to claim him.”
“What about your Sire, Phillip? He knows vampire culture… history. Can’t you ask him if he is familiar with this book? See if he knows anything about this theft or the curse? She claims all the ones involved have been punished… maybe there is a rumor about it…”
Something changed in his expression that I could not identify before he uttered another maybe. But even though I hoped they might lead with that frame of mind, they immediately switched onto the topic of how to locate the book in question.
I had no idea what I could… or would do.
CHAOS MODE - TBC
Distraction - DONE
“I wasn’t sure you were going to agree to come with me.”
Phillip grinned just after we joined the crowd on the dance floor. The party itself was… festive? One would think it really was a joyous occasion. At least, any newcomer might. Having been a part of this world for the past few months, I no longer considered myself the outsider I’d been when I first entered it. At least… I knew some of the secrets… I literally knew where some of the bones were buried.
A shiver ran down my spine with the memory of coming face to face with some.
“Do you think you did something to piss me off lately?”
He smirked and took the liberty to tuck our bodies closer together, the flat of his palm inching down and pressing against the base of my spine.
“I think you’re constantly finding some reason to be pissed at me.”
“Maybe you should stop trying to piss me off then.”
“I swear…” he laughed softly, “you have no cowardice.”
“That disappoints you.”
He peered down, his fingers tightening further.
“It worries me.”
“I’m an adult you know…”
“Surrounded by vampires. And werewolves attacking… a wraith trying to bring you harm…”
“More of a reason for me to be prepared for anything, wouldn’t you say?”
It was wrong of me perhaps, to judge him based on the level of respect I felt I received from Sam. But Sam didn’t try to sugarcoat things… or suggest I allow him and the others to do the protecting while I sit by being a useless target. If something was coming for me, there might not even be any time to run for help.
“Chris is in the mess he’s in because I…” he shook his head and spun me in tune to the music playing causing us to spread apart slightly.
But before we could continue there was a commotion near the head of the room bringing a pause to the music and dancing. I followed Phillip’s gaze to where Count Dracula was being heralded and presented. The new headmaster of VanDrake Academy. Everyone knew the party was for him from the start but they waited to do this big announcement after everyone had settled into the ‘celebration’. And although many of them continued to try and hide it, I did not imagine the crackle of rancor that seeped into the atmosphere. My eyes landed on Sam, too much of a distance away for me to read anything in his expression but his shoulders were ramrod straight and for some reason he looked far more menacing than I had ever seen before.
There was something terrifying and sickly arousing about it, this unquenchable hunger I seemed to have for him. Even now, with Phillip by my side, who was no slouch by any means of the word, I felt my body tingling over the older vampire.
In the next instant, he turned, laying eyes on me… then stroked slowly downward. The movement was so casual, so calculated that I felt certain no one else in the room would have noticed. At least, I thought Sam, with his insane amount of control, wouldn’t have done it if he thought he might get caught. Chills jolted through me and my pulse thumped erratically.
“It’s okay Dev…” Phillip leaned in to whisper against my ear but my gaze remained locked. “I’m sure he won’t do anything to bring harm to the humans.”
I tried to focus on Phillip’s words but they sounded hollow, distant. It took a great deal of concentration to realize he spoke of Dracula. What did he say… I blinked, finally, as the connection was cut off with both of us looking away.
“I, I didn’t think that.”
“You’re shaking…” His hand wrapped across my shoulders and rubbed gently. So delicate with his fragile human date. Handling me as if he feared he might accidentally break me. “Silas will figure this mess out… and I’ll get you out of here before I let anything happen to you.”
“How can Silas fix this? Isn’t Dracula your like head vampire or something?”
He chuckled. “He’s powerful, sure. Head? That’s not how this works. There is a vampire council that makes most of the key decisions for our community. Anything that isn’t already laid out in our laws.”
Curious, but a little too aware of my darker thoughts I suggested we get some air while the obligatory congratulations were underway.
“What were you going to say before?”
He stepped closer, crowding me. Inching me backward into the darker shadows of the balcony until I pressed into something tall and firm. A sort of screening had been leveled over the railing, I could only assume to keep out anything that might try to get in without authorization. I titled to look up at him without even a hint of fear spearing into me.
“And here I thought you wanted to come out here so we could entertain each other.”
I smirked, “You mean you hoped.”
“You can’t knock me for it…”
He trailed the tip of one finger over the cutouts of my bodice until he focused fully on the skin-tight, leaf-like shapes across my breasts.
“I won’t… but I also won’t let you avoid the topic.”
“What is? I didn’t promise you anything for the answer to my question…”
“You already owe me for the night you ditched me and Chris at The Yard.”
He didn’t stop brushing on glimpses of bare skin under my dress. I laughed throatily.
“That is definitely a figment of your imagination. I never agreed to anything…”
“You took the keys.”
“And you’re trying to deflect…”
“More like distract…” he murmured softly after leaning closer, the word blowing against my ear before he let his lips touch my skin.
“It’s the same thing…”
He hummed incoherently and shamefully, I tried to shove away the comparison that sprang to mind. His touch was wispy and teasing. It did stir a reaction from my body… he wasn’t at all clumsy like I sometimes felt tripping over myself for the intimacy in the library. And my pulse fluttered still, making the memories of other times flood my brain. Remembering heat and fire and the burn.
He hummed again, running his tongue against my flesh followed by feather-light kisses.
“Do you feed off humans?”
He drew back, his eyes widening. The shock so evident in his face made me feel like a heel.
“No!” I bit the inside of my cheek, confused by the vehemence in his tone. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Dev.”
He looked worried. I cleared my throat and straightened slightly, feeling utterly awkward. Why had I asked that?
“I… I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Scare me?” I choked out. He hadn’t at all.
“Made you think I would… that I planned to…” He braced one hand on the balcony railing and stepped back, putting a little space between us.
“You’ve never done it?”
“You don’t want to?”
Why was I pushing? He was obviously uncomfortable, his whole demeanor had changed and I could tell he was struggling to keep whatever bugged him about this topic off the surface. Failing… but trying. The terseness of his tone was really all the warning I should need to know he was not a fan of this topic.
“You know I would never hurt you, Dev… you don’t have to be afraid I would do that to you.”
“Are you afraid that you might hurt me?”
His eyes flashed darkly and silence filled the space between us.
“You just told me I didn’t need to be afraid now you’re saying you might hurt me?”
“I would never, not intentionally. But… all this mess with Chris. If it wasn’t for me he would never have been turned. If I hadn’t befriended him… he wouldn’t have been anywhere near that party. He wouldn’t have had to suffer as he has. He wouldn’t be cursed. I cannot let that happen to you.”
“You aren’t responsible for me, Phillip. You can’t decide my choices or my follies. You aren’t responsible for me, any more than you are responsible for Chris. You didn’t turn him… and you didn’t force him to go to that party… did you?”
“No, of course not. But he was there because of me.”
“Did he tell you that? Has he accused you of being responsible for his fate?”
“No. He would never.”
“Then why are you?”
“Because… I should have known the danger he would be in. I think deep down I must have. I should have at least guessed a human wouldn’t be safe there.”
I shook my head listening to him, seeing how fully he believed and carried the weight of this situation on his shoulders that no one blamed him for but himself. He was tormenting himself over things out of his control.
“Well… I’m not here because of you. I came of my own accord. And whatever happens to me will be because of a decision I made… not you. You aren’t entitled to burden my decisions.”
“There you two are! Damn… I’ve been looking everywhere!”
We both jerked around, startled by Chris’ rushed appearance.
“What’s up, Chris?”
Phillip’s voice was level but I wasn’t exactly sure he felt that way. I straightened and stepped a bit out of the shadows.
He flopped into one of the deck chairs with a loud huff.
“Nothing! Not one single thing.”
What on earth was this about? Phillip settled in the chair beside him leaving me to decide to join or let them have this moment alone. His next words decided my actions quickly.
“I’ve looked in every library… that book isn’t anywhere here.”
“That book? Do you mean THE book? For that witch?”
They looked up and I realized that they had decided to go ahead with the hunt regardless of my cautioning against it. And yet they always wanted to claim I was the reckless one.
“Did you ask your Sire?”
I didn’t mean for the words to come out so sharply, but they did anyway.
“I did not.”
“Why, Phillip? Don’t you think Professor Kirkwood would tell you if he knew something important?”
“If he found out what I wanted the information for? I cannot say… I’d rather do this our way at any rate.”
My stomach flipped crazily. I’d held off asking Sam… certain that Phillip would speak with his sire about it and save me the unnecessary questions. I glanced between them, feeling unsettled by their refusal to seek help from those older and most likely wiser than any of us could possibly be. Surely there had to be at least one person they trusted besides each other. I thought the sire and sireling bond was an incredibly strong one. And yet… Sam didn’t discuss his at any great length with me so far.
“Have you even learned any more about this witch?”
The sullen silence was more of an answer than they needed to give.
“Urgh… fine. I will get some answers before you two create more problems than we already have.”
They both jumped up as I turned to leave.
“Where are you going?”
“Answers to what?”
“About this witch… and this book.”
“We’ll never find it if you blab…”
I narrowed my gaze on Chris who immediately clammed up.
“Or maybe we can get the other half of this story and figure out what the actual truth is!”
“Dev, please. At least let’s discuss it more tomorrow. After we haven’t been drinking and partying… let’s try to enjoy the rest of the night. If we still can’t figure a solution by then, I’ll speak with Theo.”
I looked suspiciously at Phillip now.
I continued towards the entrance to the ballroom.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t plan on sitting here listening to you two conspire about this topic for the next twenty minutes. Find me when you’ve finished grumbling about this setback of your own making.”
They didn’t attempt to stop me again. Which was maybe lucky for them considering the amount of irritation bubbling under my skin. All they had to do is ask one of the older vamps. They had to be willing to trust at least one of them, right?
Fuming, I continued to storm through the crowd, ignoring the half-smiles and fake laughter. It all rang false to me and unappealing. The pretense was simply pathetic to me. Why did they have to pretend to like this bullshit? What exactly would happen to anyone that voiced any opposition to this farce?
And why was I so immensely annoyed. Stupid question, I knew why. I barely noticed the individuals I apologized to as I bumped and jostled towards the punch bowl. That was until I barreled right into Sam.
The funny thing was, I was sure he hadn’t been there, in my path. Or I most definitely would have seen him.
His hands reached out, catching me as I stumbled with his own quick apology slipping from his lips. Goosebumps were rapidly springing along my arms.
But when I looked up, I could see the tension around his eyes and lips.
“Miss. Mitchell.” He nodded as he dropped his hold but the heat still clung to me. Excitement. Maybe I was more of a masochist, a pure glutton for this gut-wrenching yearning. Could he sense how insanely my body ached for his touch? What on earth was I supposed to do with this desire?
Eventually, I’d have to move on… leave the school. And maybe, for a little while, he might still indulge in this secret affair… afterward. But for how long? Would I ever get over this savage hunger? Or would I be obsessed with his touch for the rest of my days? After I’ve gotten older… after I’m old. Some elderly fiend… and he’d simply be the same. Forever.
“Are you enjoying the evening?”
“It’s as expected… would you care for a drink?” He turned and leaned forward towards the bar while he hissed softly, only for me. “Do you have the key?”
How I managed to keep a straight face, I cannot say. Maybe because despite the shiver his whisper caused, I knew he was edgy for some reason other than any rendezvous we might have.
“Always,” I responded, clearly. A second later he offered a drink while his gaze shifted down. The look was so quick I could have believed I imagined it but I wondered instead if he were curious where I hid it under the form-fitting gown.
“Well… I should mingle more.” He swallowed back the glass of whatever he had taken to drink and turned to set that down, once again speaking softly. “Use it, now. And stay there until I come.”
Before I could react or respond he stepped away. The entire conversation with Phillip and Chris evaporated… the concern, the questions I should and must ask. All gone. Instead, I stood there having to make the decision on whether to follow Sam’s obvious command… it really did not sound like a request or invitation. But regardless, there wasn’t really a decision to debate… not if I let my body decide for me.
Cravings - DONE
An hour later, Sam burst into the library, the one place where we were able to be freely open with each other. I didn’t care about the hiding, not really. Not when it gave me the chance to learn and touch to my heart's content. The scent of him was all too familiar and comforting while I curled up on the sofa awaiting him.
I actually looked up from the tome I was plucking through with a grin hearing him come in. But less than a second later I stood, concern washing through me. The book fell with a thud to the floor.
His eyes sought me out, the mixture of fury and relief on his face was so odd and unsettling.
“Shit is spiraling out of control…” He brushed his fingers through his already scruffy hair. “I cannot be sure about this… none of this.”
He started to pace but I clutched the hem of my gown and rushed after him, grabbing his arm. His earlier elegance was tousled, his tie loose, sleeves rolled up. I could see stains on the cuffs. All the wicked thoughts I’d been fantasizing about for his arrival fluttered away.
“Sam, what is it? What happened?”
His hands shot out, gripping my arms now, squeezing as if he were trying to be sure I was actually right there. I bit back the anxiety feeding off his current temperament.
“Dracula was attacked. He’s dead.”
My heart slammed into my chest. I’d only left the party a short time ago and he’d been alive and well. Still partying like the king of the castle.
“That can’t be true!”
“It is. It’s true. He was staked.”
“By who? How?”
Sam shook his head, almost shaking me with his vice-like grip.
“I can’t pretend shit is okay, Devyn. I… nothing is okay. I don’t know if I will always sense when something is happening. When there is danger. I might not be able to keep you safe.”
“Sam… what are you talking bout? Keep me safe from what?”
His jaw flexed and every part of me trembled. But shockingly it wasn’t fear. It was anger. And frustration. Something… well, I guess the death of Dracula had really spooked Sam. He looked ready to explode with a rage that burned in him. And I was blinded by this temper on his behalf. Mad that anything could upset him so much… make him worry so much.
“Anything… this fucking mess. The creatures and dangers of my world.”
“Then change me.”
He froze at the words I blurted out. To be fair, I certainly hadn’t expected them either.
The idea flourished, like a wildfire, in my head. Brazenly, I stepped closer, gripping the gaped lapels of his jacket.
“I don’t want to be fragile… or helpless… or inferior.”
His eyes seemed to bore through me. And I wasn’t sure if it was still his fierce anger or frustration or some perverse fiery passion. I felt like he tried to reach for anything that would change the direction of where this conversation was headed.
“You’re not helpless. You’re picking up the magic fast…”
“Can you honestly say it will ever be enough? How long? A year… 10…? Will I still be learning when I’m old and gray… dying from some pointless ailment? Or will I be cut down next week… barely able to put up any defense at all? I want to be like you. Powerful. Strong. Immortal.”
“You just said yourself that this world is a danger to me. And that’s because I’m human, right?” His jaw clenched. “Your number one, most famous vampire of all time… the one even us humans knew about is fucking dead. I sure as hell wouldn’t claim to be as strong as him if I were to transition… but at least I’d have more of a fighting chance if I were stronger than I am now.”
“You don’t even know what you are asking for…”
“I’m asking for you to Sire me… to make me a vampire. That is what I want, to be like you.”
“Sire– I cannot!”
“What do you mean you can't?... You mean you won’t!” I shoved at his chest, furious… mindless. “You think to just pull me into this world… show me what it could mean to be a part of it… tease me with the decadency and power and then just oust me from it like it means nothing?”
My argument was irrational… the accusations I spit at him. He hadn’t pulled me into anything. I’d just been mad at Phillip for thinking he had any right to feel responsible for my actions. Sam stood there, motionless. I couldn’t fathom what he must be thinking. I couldn’t even believe I was suggesting this.
Sam was not responsible for my being here but he had fully been willing to let me peek under the surface, to sneak around under it… to be corrupted and enticed by it. I’d gone willingly, eagerly. But now he wanted to rip it away. I couldn’t just let it all go, not now. The bug had bitten and the itch was spreading. The more that I thought about it the more I wanted it.
“I get it… it probably does mean nothing to you… I probably do not mean anything to you… or the rest of your kind. What’s a damn human know about anything, right? But it matters to me. It means something to me! What I’ve seen… what I’ve experienced. I want it.”
“I cannot Sire you, it’s impossible… it would never be allowed.”
Impossible? Not allowed? I narrowed my gaze.
“You’re saying I’m not good enough to be a vampire?”
“I didn’t…” he shook his head, his eyes perhaps flashing with annoyance. I wasn’t sure… annoyance, frustration, irritation… disappointment? There was some emotion I was perhaps too blinded by my hurt to recognize.
Because it was exactly what I heard. No family would welcome me, they would refuse me. He refused me. Fighting back tears I looked away and drew in sharp ragged breaths. How utterly stupid and assuming. And humiliating. For the first time in my life, I had regrets. Not of our time together, or the things I learned and shared with him. But because I’d dared to dream of something so utterly out of reach.
“I should go.”
The words were soft… I didn’t want to let him see how hurt I felt. How defeated I felt.
“You will not.”
His tone was sharp, uncompromising. My heart raced. Anger and this awful, betraying excitement pulsed through me.
“You cannot keep me here… against my will!”
“I can and I will. I’ll protect you if I can, even despite your recklessness.”
I turned, glaring… trying to focus only on the outrage… even as every stupid nerve in my body and this vulgar nagging voice whispered at the euphoric pleasure that could be had. The complete and utter conviction he displayed made me see black.
Without a plan, I spoke one of the incantations he taught me, a sadistic satisfaction rushing through me at the utter disbelief that showed when his body jerked back a few steps… farther out of reach than he had been before.
The spell should have slammed him back even further and harder but I had only a novice’s strength and power. His gaze narrowed and my spine tingled with definite uncertainty.
Frantically, my eyes darted around the room and I hissed three vampiric words. Before the last syllable passed my lips, his fingers circled my wrist harshly, locking it and the heavy, iron candlestick I now welded high above my head. In the next breath, I slammed against the wall… not hard enough to harm me but he wasn’t by any means gentle. His hard body pinned me there with brute strength. I bucked and slammed against him… tried to yank my weapon down to use it against him.
“What do you think you’re going to do? Beat me?”
I growled, viciously… wildly. My other hand lashed out, but he captured that one too, lifting it above my head where he restrained both with one fist.
“Get off me!”
“When you calm down…”
That only served to make me angrier. I twisted and tried to kick him instead.
“Never!” I lashed out like some wounded animal. Anger and pride were much easier than humiliation and disappointment.
“Fucking hell, Devyn. You can’t beat me!”
“I’ll fucking try! Until my last fucking breath!”
It wasn’t the first time I’d said it and I saw that he quickly remembered. The last time though had been in a very different situation altogether. Shamefully the memory rushed back and lust barrelled through me.
“Stop with your fucking tricks!”
I sounded breathless. He didn’t even pretend to misunderstand… instead, he blatantly called me out, his voice lowering and eyes glowing after they stroked lewdly down to my heaving chest. My gown outlined the puckered tip of each breast.
“If you fucking think I’ve had to compel your body into wanting me at any point, you haven’t been paying attention.”
“I don’t want you!”
His free hand stroked up and gripped my neck firmly. I could feel one of his fingers brushing lazily against the pounding pulse underneath while he elevated my chin, forcing me to look up at him. Fire blazed in his way too black eyes, making me tremble violently. I tried so hard to convince myself it was fear of his strength that had me shaking so visibly, when, in fact, I knew it was in fear of my treacherous body.
“You’re a liar.”
“And you’re a hypocrite!”
“Maybe…” he hissed as he eased the metal from my fingers and dropped it carelessly aside. “But I won’t let you go tonight… I cannot…”
Then his mouth sought mine, claiming it in a demanding, greedy kiss. Whatever rebellion I wished to show withered and died a harmless death. Replaced by intense, savage need. I might hate my capitulation in the morning but at that moment, nothing else mattered. My nails raked against his flesh as I dragged him closer, his were no milder. And the rage and hurt I felt fueled my lust.
I had no concept of time, I only know that at some point I collapsed, sweaty, and spent before Sam gathered me into his arms and I drifted to sleep.
R1-DONE | R2-DONE | R3-DONE
Last edited by BambiFoxx (24/05/2022 at 15:56)