I wake to the sound of rattling chains and the clunking of wood on rock. Opening my eyes, I see I’m in a dark room—no, not a dark room, the back of a covered wagon, with things hanging from the ceiling and banging on the walls with each rock we roll over.
I blink a few times, my eyes adjusting to the lack of light.
A hand covers my mouth and red eyes stare back at me through the darkness.
“It’s me again,” the voice whispers. His other hand is busy picking the lock holding my arm up to the right wall of the wagon. “I had to suck the venom out of you.”
“Venom?” I mumble through his hand.
“Oop, sorry,” he chuckles, releasing my mouth.
I lift my free hand up to my neck, where pain moves through my body, and for a moment, I picture him there, sucking the venom from my blood, and my heart does a little dance.
“Venom?” I ask again. I hope he doesn’t have the power to read minds too.
He nods in the darkness. I can barely see his face.
“The vampire that bit you left a lot of it in your bloodstream. They really wanted to do some damage.”
The lock pops open and I rub my wrist. It tingles as the blood returns to where it needs to be.
“Why are you doing this?” I ask, looking up at him.
I see his glowing eyes dart to mine, and I lose my breath for a moment. Something about him seems familiar...
Nope. Just my imagination.
“I don’t know,” he says quietly. “Call it a gut feeling. Now, come on, we’ve got to move.”
He takes my hand and a tingling sensation runs up my arm.
He’s a vampire remember? They deceive to kill.
I shake my head and stand up with him, the wagon rocking underneath us. It starts to slow.
“He knows you’re awake. Hurry.”
We jump out of the back and start to run down the rocky path in the moonlight. I’m out of breath soon, and he drags me along behind him. He looks back in frustration and picks me up like a baby. I almost protest, if it wasn’t for that moment of exhausted relief that washes over as he holds me.
We’re running faster than any human can go, and I watch as trees whip by us. Another set of footprints falls behind, and the boy stops to listen.
“He’s gone,” he says and sets me down.
He looks at me, his glowing eyes staring me down and studying me. I look away shyly, a quality I’ve never had, until now. If I were still a vampire, I’d definitely say something about the attention from him. But the feeling of inferiority as I stand as a human in front of him makes me think twice about what I want to say.
“What?” I ask, looking at the ground.
“I just can’t figure out who you are,” he whispers and moves my hair from my eyes as I look up at him. “I never forget a face…”
“What’s your name?” I ask suddenly, shocking even myself.
He backs away and walks to a nearby tree.
“I don’t think I should tell you that yet,” he leans against the dark trunk that’s barely visible in the scattered moonlight. “Not until I know who you are. What’s your name?”
I start to answer, but I don’t know which name to give him. Rachelle or Vanessa?
Branches snap overhead, and, instinctively from being a vampire for so long before, I’m thrown into a defensive position, teeth bared and turned around, away from the boy who saved my life.
The boy watches me with curiosity. He hasn’t moved from his position by the dark trunk.
In the trees, figures swing from branch to branch, their laughter vibrating through the leaves. One of them drops to the ground.
He reminds me of Harper, what with the monkey tail and the resemblance between a monkey’s face and his, which is more boy, I’d like to say, with hair growing all up his neck and by his ears like sideburns.
“What’s this?” he asks the vampire boy as he looks me over, his tail letting him hang from the lowest branch. His eyes are filled with wonder and—hunger? “Have you brought me a snack?”
“No,” The boy answers too quickly. “No, I brought her here to be safe. Safe. You understand what I’m saying, right, Bellis?”
The monkey boy laughs hysterically, his sharp teeth glinting in the specks of moonlight as he drops to he ground.
“Loud and clear.”
He runs a finger over my jawline and I smack it away.
“Feisty one here, huh?” he asks, making a loud sound by snapping his jaw shut. “I like her.”
The monkey named Bellis laughs and the vampire walks between us. Bellis twists his face into something dramatically sad.
“Awh,” he whines. “You’re no fun.”
“And you’re hungry.”
Bellis laughs. “You’re right. I think I want some squirrel.”
He laughs his monkey laugh and jumps up into the trees, more cackling following behind him as they get further and further away.
“Where are we?” I ask, keeping my eyes on the treetops.
He walks back over to the tree he had been leaning against and bangs on it twice, really hard. I hear the groaning and squeaking of pulleys and wheels, and a hidden door falls open, making a loud ‘thud’ as it hits the ground. A soft yellow glow comes from inside the trunk.
The boy motions for me to go in first, his face still in the shadows.
I take a step and then another one, and more and more until I stand before the trunk. I look up as I walk inside, and I, unknowingly, step into the part where the ground disappears suddenly.
I fall down into the dim lighting, sliding down a long, narrow wooden slide. I hear the boy behind me, laughing a little bit as he makes his decent as well.
At the bottom, I sit for a second, which is a mistake, because he comes crashing into me.
We lay on the ground, and he’s laughing. I can’t help but smile and I turn around and face him.
My insides cave in on themselves and all joy is lost.
I remember him.
It was a late night, and I was starving. No one was out, really, and I was walking in an alleyway, where most vampires made their kills, including me.
“Stay here for just a minute, Brandon,” I heard a voice say. “I’ll be right back.”
“Okay!” The little voice called as a door shuts.
I crouched down, my black eyes catching sight of the prey. He was small, but he would have to do. Besides, children’s blood was sweeter, though it was frowned upon to drink it.
I attacked and drank him dry.
I was finished by the time the door opened again, and I dropped the boy to the ground, zooming off to hide again, full and curious enough to watch the scene play out before me.
“Brandon?” The boy’s shaky voice croaked as he dropped the bag in his hands. He knelt down to hold is brother in his arms, and he talked to him like he could answer. “Brandon, what happened to you?”
He felt around the boys’ neck, stopping at the bite. He froze, and I heard his slow heartbeat pick up.
“Who’s out there?” he growled as he stood up, holding his brother in his arms. “I know you’re there.”
Pride led me out from behind the dumpster, and I smiled, wiping the blood off of my mouth with my hand.
That’s when I realized I’d made a mistake.
His eyes glowed red with anger, and he walked to me with his brother still in his arms. His body was trembling.
“You took him from me,” he said, his voice shaking, fangs fully extended. “He was the only thing my mother had left. And you took him.”
A lump in my throat had risen, and I played it off like I didn’t care.
But I did. I did at least little bit.
“I hope you’re full. This might be the last time you’ll ever drink from anything ever again.”
I’d recognized the threat, and saw the escape he was giving me. I started back down the ally, and he called after me.
“I won’t rest until I find you. And I will find you.”
My smile falls as the memory ends, and he looks at me, confused. His face is flawless, just as any vampire’s face. His eyes are red, and his shaggy hair is black, almost hanging over his eyes. Everything about him is gorgeous... except for the fact that he finds me familiar. Except for the other fact that he was searching to kill me in another life.
I stand up hastily and brush myself off. I stare at the ground, my stomach twisting around itself.
“What’s wrong?” he asks reaching to take hold of my arm.
I shake my head, forcing the chills he gives me to go away. His hand touches my chin gently, forcing me to look up at him. I tremble at the sight and my heart races with mixed emotions.
He’s going to remember soon. It doesn’t matter if I’d made a wish and the fairy granted it, does it? He’s going to remember, and he’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill me and I won’t have a chance because I’m human. But… maybe it didn’t happen since I made that wish. However, the thought doesn’t ease my nerves.
I pull my face away and look at my surroundings to get the thought off of my mind. Maybe being a human wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it was…
All around me is a thriving, throbbing city full of creatures from storybooks and fairy tales walking down the sidewalks. There are shops and houses and lights and music... though none of it was like New York, of course, because they probably don’t have electricity yet…
“What is it?” he asks, trying to turn my face towards him again.
His hands are cold and they send chills down my body as I pull away.
“Where are we going?” I ask quietly, my hand lifting to the bite on my neck, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
He pauses for a moment, as if pondering what to say or to ask me. He eventually sighs.
“To my house. It’s just up there.”
We walk for a good ten minutes before we reach a door made of sticks and twine and mud. The walls around it are made of them too, along with many of the houses on either side of it. The roof is made of leaves and there are no windows.
“There are many more places like this,” he explains as he leads me in and shuts the door behind me. “I just happen to like this one better, apparently.”
“Why is that?” I ask, the sting from the memory still pulling at my heart.
“I don’t know, really,” he says, sitting down at a table made of sticks. “I just kind of... live here.”
“Oh...” I trail off.
I run my hand over the bite on my neck, the thought of the boy so close both scaring and exciting me. He could have killed me then... but he didn’t remember who I was. Maybe he doesn’t know.
“Why did you do this? Save me, I mean,” I ask, and look up at him.
It sends waves of guilt through my body.
He looks at me strangely for a moment, probably trying to decipher what emotion it is that’s clogging up his ability to read my body language.
“I couldn’t let you have the same fate as...” he says, tracing one of the twisted sticks on the table.
“You didn’t have to. I would have been—”
“Dead. You would have been dead,” he snaps gently, looking up at me. His eyes are on fire. “I can’t... Something in my past... I think...”
He stops and I hold my breath, waiting for the terrifying moment he remembers. If… I remind myself.
“Never mind. It doesn’t even matter. I can’t remember anything.
“You need sleep,” he says, standing up. “My bedroom is over there. You’re welcome to sleep in there.”
He puts up a hand to silence me, and reminds me that he’s a vampire. That he doesn’t sleep.
I don’t think that’s a good thing for someone in my position. He could be up all night thinking about who I am and suddenly stumble upon the memory…
Unless it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it hasn’t. Maybe that’s in the future…
But he said his past. He remembers me from somewhere… from somewhere in his past. What does that mean? And is it threatening to me?
I nod my head, and walk away from him and to the room, which is entirely made of sticks except for the bed. It is soft and comfortable. Comfortable enough to fall asleep
But I can’t when I’m sleeping in the same house as the vampire that will soon remember he swore to kill me.