I spent the rest of the day utterly distracted-- I mean who wouldn’t be, with everyone staring at me like I was either brave or very stupid. I’d never been in any type of relationship before… never dated, only crushed on boys from afar; and technically I wasn’t sure if this qualified as a relationship-- given that I felt like I was more a pet due to how Vincent had described his eating habits. I guess only time would tell… if I survived that long. When lunch ended and we headed back to our classroom I felt eyes staring at me I curled away from the people we passed and towards Vincent as almost a defensive tactic, but I’m not really sure that was a wise choice-- it just got more people looking at me in an even stranger way than before. People parted before us as if they were the Red Sea that Moses parted… back in class I couldn’t focus on school work, although no one seemed to notice. I tried to take it all in, I mean Vampires -- even made Vampires could have children? That couldn’t be possible. They could be in the sun and not die? That didn’t sound plausible and yet I had seen it with my own two eyes, just now. I couldn’t believe that just a short while ago I hadn’t even believed Vampires existed, but I had been totally okay with hell and the Fairlands. What was wrong with this world? How many secrets were hidden in fables, tales and myths?
By the time school finally finished and Mr. Flimheart finally dismissed us I was pooped. My brain felt like a garburator, digesting all the little pieces of information that now sat in my brain. Vincent hooked his long lanky arm through mine and walked me out of the classroom. I walked down the hall in a daze, my sweater now stowed in Vincent’s brown side bag. I wondered if this was what it felt like to be a Stepford wife on display as Vincent put on his wraparounds and swung an arm about my shoulders-- his cold touch sending shivers down my spine. If this was a horror movie it would be the part where the epic scary music came on and guns would be pulled out and everyone would die… but my life wasn’t a movie, so it was silent, still, and un-hingingly creepy instead. I swear heads turned ways I never thought they could, and there wasn’t the sound of anyone breathing at all. The loudest sound in the quad? The sound of Vincent’s motorcycle taking off with me on the back.
I was relieved when we pulled into the drive at my house. I jumped off the bike and shook myself, did a little dance--not caring how crazy it looked. I just needed a physical representation of all the mental garbage I was trying to let go.
“How are you holding up?”
I shrugged. I was alive. That should be enough. “Ask me in an hour. Maybe then I’ll have an answer.”
Vincent chuckled. “That’s a great idea, little bird--but until then, let’s get you inside.”
Inside? I couldn’t contemplate going in there right now! Too many thoughts-- the wedding dress in my wardrobe… the pile of clothes on my floor...what if Anna was home? Or Mike-- or Angela?
“Breathe.” Vincent pulled me into his cold arms, and for a moment we just stood there-- the oddest looking pair on the street. It took me a moment to regain composure. “What I think you need is a night out. It’s been too long since you went to Plumanara.”
I wanted to know how he knew that-- but I was too mentally exhausted to ask, so instead, I nodded.
“Well-- if we’re going out then you need time to dress up.”
I made a move to pull away from Vincent to walk towards the house, but instead of letting me go-- Vincent scooped me up in his arms and bounced around the house, leaping into my open bay window in my bedroom...on the second story of our house. I fell out of his arms and onto my bed. I lay there for a moment while Vincent was rustling about by my wardrobe. A few minute later he came into my line of vision holding up a vibrant red-- not scarlet-- but a red dress.
“This one I like.’’
I rolled my eyes, as the dress fell from Vincent’s hand onto my face. I lifted the light material from my face and sat up.
“HEY!” But there was no one there. Vincent was gone and I was left alone with my thoughts, the sound of a motorbike roaring off in the distance.
After collecting myself I puttered into the bathroom and began working on my makeup. Marissa had been a walking fount of beauty and makeup tips and tricks-- but normally I let her pamper me-- it was so much harder getting those winged eyeliner tips done perfectly by myself-- and so was curling my hair… I missed Marissa and I felt bad again that I had yet to actually connect with Claire. She’d left me a dozen or so new Facebook messages but I had yet to get around to opening them. For some reason I just didn’t think she would get my life now-- or worse yet, that she wouldn’t believe me when and if I told her all the crap that was going on.
I spent around two hours primping and preening-- then gave up. I figured I looked half decent. This would be my first time going ‘on a date’ since Topher, and real date or not, I was excited to go back to Plumanara, to dance and to get the memory of Nameless out of my mind. I pulled on the red dress and found some heels to match then sat on my window seat as I watched the sunset, with a copy of my favorite fairy-tale, Sleeping Beauty open on my lap. Somewhere in that time, I fell asleep sitting there waiting for Vincent. When I woke, it was dark and I had five missed calls from Angela-- and two texts. I quickly checked in--Angela and Mike had gone for dinner a movie with some of their friends. I blinked a few times as I looked at the time. It was already 11 pm.
I jumped. Vincent was sitting on my bed in the dark.
“Jeepers! How long have you been sitting there?”
“A while. You just looked so peaceful-- and I know you’ve been having trouble sleeping…”
I nodded. This was true, and that was possibly the best nap that I had had in a long time.
Vincent stood and moved into the light coming from my desk lamp, which he must have switched on because I definitely hadn’t; he was dressed in a white dress shirt with a grey vest and black skinnies. It was strange to not see him clad in leather-- he almost looked like a normal person, and way less tough or dangerous. I was glad. He reached out to grab my hand, and pulled me to my feet. I felt my heart pumping, and watched Vincent’s eyes, as his pupils widened and narrowed like a cat’s. I knew in that moment he wanted my blood, but something was making him resist.
“”Ready to go?”
I nodded. I’d been ready for something exciting for the longest time, and this felt like it was going to be thrilling. “Am I ever.”
Vincent grinned, his white teeth glowing in the lamp light. “Then let’s fly.”
And fly we did. The world was once again a spectacular blur of color as the wind rushed by and Vincent’s feet moved soundless over the pavement, and I encased in his arms was the only one to witness the spectacle. Vincent did not stop running until we were in front of Plumanara. With me still in his arms, he made his way to the front of the line, despite the frustrated murmurs of the teens in line we soon found ourselves standing at the doors where Sebastian was currently standing on ‘’bouncer’ duty.
“Aren’t you a little young to be working here?” Vincent growled at Sebastian.
“”Aren’t you foolish to show up here with her?” Seb threw back.
“Enough boys.” I untangled myself from Vincent’s arms and stood shakily on my own two feet. “Don’t make me have to separate you.”
“As if she could.”
For a moment there was silence.
Sebastian growled. “I supposed I have to let you in, don’t I?” He said sarcastically.
“Yes, you do.” A woman had stepped out of the building and was glaring at Seb. She had long brown hair and violet eyes like me. “”I’m so sorry Lord Vincent.”
“”Violet.” Vincent reclined his head slightly.
Who was this woman? I had not seen Vincent show respect to anyone, and yet he had just shown this woman deference.
“I’m so sorry for my brother-in-law’s behavior. Please do come in.”
Brother-in-law? Was Sebastian her brother-in-law? I didn’t have much time to contemplate this though, for we were ushered right into the club by Violet as Sebastian stepped aside and let us through growling. Inside the party was already going, the DJ spinning techno tunes. Violet disappeared into the coat check area as Vincent took my hand and led me into the thickest area where people were dancing. In fact, there was so little room for me to move, my body was pressed up against Vincent. He had this vibe about him on the dance floor; it was like he could control the flow of people around us causing them to hem us in more and more until we were completely cut off from the rest of the dancers in our own private circle. Time wasn’t real here at Plumanara-- I had often felt this way when dancing, that time was standing still-- suspended.
“I can’t breathe,” I whispered, suddenly my claustrophobia taking over me. It had been a while since I had felt this overwhelmed, not since coming home had I felt this rush of panic, though whether is was my own panic or someone else’s I couldn’t tell.
Vincent shouldn’t have been able to hear me over that much noise and confusion but he did, he immediately scooped me up and carried me out the back door and into a little alley behind the club. Now that I was outside of the club, my panic had all but vanished. He propped me up against the wall, my heart beat against my rib cage, sweat seeping from me-- I felt a different emotion.
“Vincent,” I whispered. He wasn’t even looking at me, he was too busy watching the alley way making sure we were truly alone.
“Vincent?” My mouth was dry as he turned to face me. I wanted to scream at him, tangle my fingers in his hair and shout-- but then just as quickly I wanted to burry my face in his. Gah. I was an emotional train wreck.
Vincent’s eyes were glowing in the dark, reflecting the light, his pupils were narrow slits, in that moment he didn’t look human -- he looked more like a cat stalking its prey-- and I knew he was hungry and I was hungry... only I knew what he was hungry for and I didn’t know if there was a word to explain what I wanted in that moment. Instead, I tilted my head. “I told you; you have my permission.”
I watched him swallow, what I don’t know-- do Vampires have saliva? I found myself thinking. Vincent reached out a hand and brushed the loose curls away from my neck, as his cold finger touched me I shivered. I wanted to tell him to stop torturing me by putting it off, I knew he wanted my blood. His face changed in that moment, he looked at me as he watched and listened to my blood quicken, he looked starving. Then he lunged at my neck, pulling me into his arms, locking them around me in a fatal embrace.
At first it felt like someone had pinched me, as his teeth pierced my skin, but when he began to suck my blood I felt his passion and desire and hunger, I could see things in my head, how he liked living dangerously, and taking risks. I could see and feel things that he must have seen and felt, and there was no boundary between his mind and mine. I somehow found the strength to wriggle my arms free of his locked embrace and wrapped my fingers through his hair with one arm and pulled him closer to me with the other.
So I thought, this is what Lexi must have been doing with that guy. Didn’t she marry him? I suddenly understood why she had been pulling herself closer to that I guy I had seen her with at Nameless-- I felt like I couldn’t get close enough to Vincent, I could see pieces of him and his past, his mind an open book. I wanted to see more, to know more-- I found myself blushing; no wonder authors said it was a sensuous experience.
I don’t know when it stopped but I was suddenly aware he was no longer sucking my blood, but he was kissing my neck and then chin and suddenly my very red lips. I felt so lightheaded and weak, but at the same time, like I was on top of the world, and I wanted more. His hands massaged my back and I wanted to stay in his arms forever-- I almost didn’t care that this might not be a real feeling of love, if it had come from him biting me and his power of a predator-- or even if he killed me. I would rather die like this over how I felt I would die if I had allowed Topher to still be in my life…
Vincent’s shoulder jerked back and I was suddenly flying at the brick wall behind me, and Vincent was howling in agony. I blinked a few times confused, my back on fire. There in the alley; standing topless was Topher, dark swirling tattoos moving all over his skin. His eyes were fierce and angry, and in his hand a wooden stake. "You’re MINE!” Topher shouted at me.
Vincent was picking himself up off the ground, blood seeping from his shoulder where Topher must have stabbed him once already with that stake in his hand.
Vincent growled. “You know better than to try to stake me oh mighty Fallen of the Guard. I’ve done nothing wrong.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and spat onto the ground. “Besides you know that it would take more than a stake to kill me.”
Topher scowled, ignoring what Vincent had said he nodded at me. “Touch her again and I’ll kill you, even if you are royalty, even if my family has sworn to protect you and your secrets. She’s mine. I marked her. The only way out of being marked is to die. Stay away from her.”
I could feel the blood seeping from my back; I was in so much pain, but was it true? The only way out of being marked was to die? The words of the seer ran through my head ‘he is your savior and your slaughterer’. I shivered.
“Get lost scum before I have to take you out, like my dirty laundry.” Vincent snarled back.
“What your dirty laundry? Hah-- Don't you have servants to do that?”
Vincent growled, baring his fangs.
“I’m just doing my sworn duty to save and protect innocent lives, and you are neither innocent or alive.” Topher hissed. Topher looked at me then in a seething rage. “If I see you with him again I will kill him. Then I’m taking you, regardless of your choice.” He said as if it was a fact, plain and simple and then literally disappeared into the darkness.
In my weakened state, I could barely see straight, everything was getting fuzzy. I could discern that Vincent had picked me up and that the coolness of his skin on mine was refreshing, my head was pounding, and my back was burning where my skin had scraped up against the brick wall. Air rushing past me let me know that Vincent must be running, I felt weightless and then we were soaring; into my open window, I suppose. I passed out. When I awoke I found myself lying atop something cool, and realized Vincent lay underneath me, and that he knew I had awakened because I twitched and my pulse rose.
“Don’t move. You have a slight fever; just go back to sleep.” His voice was commanding and hypnotic. I shut my eyes and blocked out the world.
After what seemed like hours I stirred, I knew right away something was wrong. I was freezing cold, and my back didn’t hurt. I sat up and looked around. I was still in my red dress, under me Vincent was sleeping, he must have torn his top off at some point because he was topless beneath me. I stared at him, he looked so serene, yet beautifully dangerous.
I slipped off my bed slowly and looked around, I walked to my full-length mirror and spun around so I could see my back… there were no marks or scratches. My nerves strung taut.
“No,” I whispered, something going off in my brain telling me it was bad that Vincent was here, something Prince Charles had said.
I spun around and the door of my room flung open, Nanny strode in. I flew into action I launched myself at Vincent and wrapped my arms around him. “Don’t move.” I hissed. Under me, Vincent tensed like a cat ready to spring.
“Poppet!” Nanny cried, looking horrified. “What are you wearing?” She picked me up and stared disgustedly at my red dress; that was when she saw Vincent lying on my bed, his creamy white skin glowing softly in the morning light. Nanny threw me behind her, her face going stormy purple; she screamed, and knights came running. They pointed very sharp looking swords at Vincent, and I was filled with dread. I knew Vincent didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation because he stood walking towards the knights and looked amused; he pacing the ground in front of my bed, just out of reach from the swords. I could see he thought this was ridiculous; they couldn’t kill him with their swords. How was I going to diffuse this? How were we going to get back to our reality?
I knew Vincent was going to try to frighten them off with his Vampire fangs and eyes, but if he did that they would expose him for who he was and they would find a way to kill him, they would think he was evil. They would net see what I saw in him. They would not understand that deep beneath the scary exterior lay a sensitive soul. A picture flashed through my mind-- something I had seen when Vincent’s mind was one with my own; he was holding a little bird that had broken wings. There were tears running down his face, he had been so heartbroken that the bird would never fly again. I knew that was why he called me little bird now… and I knew that man still existed, and that was the man they would try to kill.
“No,” I said so quietly that no one could possibly have heard me, not even Vincent heard me that time, or if he did he ignored me.
Vincent closed his eyes, and when they opened they were like cats eyes, and they were bright, his tattoo was flexing around his arm, and when he opened his mouth and hissed, his long canine fangs were clearly exposed.
“KILL HIM!” Nanny screamed backing up closer to the wall nearly squashing me.
I darted out from behind Nanny as the Knights leveled their swords and spears at Vincent-- it was now or never. I dashed around the Knights and threw myself in front of Vincent, hoping against all odds that they would still have a command to protect me above all else and not come charging at Vincent or myself. “If you kill him you kill me too.” I closed my eyes and wait, but nothing happened.
“”Little Bird,” Vincent whispered.
When I opened my eyes, the Knights had put their swords away, but were still standing on the offensive, ready to strike should the command be given.
“Take him to the dungeon, and don’t let the Princess leave.” Came a barking masculine voice. I looked toward the doorway to find Charles was glaring at me while Nanny was still pressed up against the wall. The knights came forward, one grabbed each of Vincent’s arms, he blinked and stared at me as they led him away, as if he suddenly understood all the stories I had told him about my past, and that we were in an alternate universe, which meant I knew he wouldn’t bother trying to get free-- he was in a place that didn’t make sense to him. This was my world, where things moved in a slower time and things were backward... It was up to me to get us out of here. I just hoped I could get him out of here. Alive.