Blood on Roses

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Transformation

“I burst into his room, taking note that it was even colder than usual. He wasn’t there. All I saw were his pure white roses that weren’t so purely white anymore. There was only one thing in my sight. Blood on roses.”
~ Hazel Dawson

SEVENTEEN

I was so worried that Arthur could recognize Zach, I forgot Zach might remember Arthur!

“A vampire hunter raised you. You must’ve told him about us. Are you acting as a spy?”

Zach had acted hostile toward me before, but this time, it was practically an interrogation. I said that I only found out that he was a hunter a week or so ago. I doubt he’d believe me, but I didn’t leak anything.

“Now I really need to keep a close eye on you.” Zach tilted his head. “I’m hesitating to allow you to go to school.”

I rolled my eyes. “Please, if I wanted to rat you out, I would’ve done so long ago.”

“How am I supposed to know your intentions? I don’t even understand you.”

“I don’t understand you, either. I think we’ve already established that.”

He clicked his tongue and stood back up straight, pushing his hair back. “I can’t believe Arthur Carrington is your guardian.”

“You know him?”

“Yeah, he killed two of our members in mere minutes. Impressive man,” Zach replied in a detached tone. He didn’t even emphasize the fact that Arthur annihilated two vampires belonging to The Ones.

I suppose I should stop getting surprised by his heartless side.


I promised that I’d let Zach read my memory by the end of the day to prove my innocence so he’d stop bothering me. He said this morning that he’d visit some bookstores while I went to school.

“Jeremy passed,” Kaydence whispered to me as soon as I sat down beside her. She quietly sobbed, and I patted her on the back.

My heart clenched when I recalled Jeremy slowly closing his eyes right in front of me. Why did he look so peaceful? My eyebrows tugged inward. He didn’t let that vampire get him on purpose, did he?

Because of those thoughts, I went through the rest of the day while trying to make myself as small as possible. I avoided making eye contact with people in the halls so I wouldn’t have to greet them and act chirpy.

Zach was an astounding cook, so I didn’t mind him when he crashed on the couch for hours while reading the new books he got. Most of them were mystery novels that I hadn’t even heard of before.

On Tuesday night, I bawled my eyes out for ten minutes straight. Chocolate jam tasted like glue on my tongue, and coke tasted like expired water if that were even possible. I could smell the steaming omurice in front of me, but the taste was no longer identifiable by my tongue.

Zach sat across from me and watched me while he held his head up. He mumbled, “Is it that great of a loss?”

“Of course, it is.”

“Tell me, how does chocolate taste? What about pasta or sushi? Humans seem to enjoy them a lot,” he asked rhetorically with a placid face. I swallowed and wiped my face. I tossed him a glare, and he shrugged.

“Quit being a baby. In exchange for different taste buds, you can outrun the fastest animal on earth, and you can lift a truck with one hand.”

“Why would I ever need that kind of power?”

“To fend for yourself. I wasn’t making shit up when I mentioned that vampires could never live a peaceful lifestyle. Lots of crap happens to our species. It’s like a danger magnet.”

I flinched when I heard him say ‘danger magnet’ the same way I described my new life. Sometimes I disliked the similar aspects of our way of thinking.

“By the way, it’s going to hurt,” Zach said abruptly. I covered my neck instinctively, and he snickered. “Not that. Your fangs will grow at approximately midnight. It’ll feel like having your wisdom teeth pulled out without anesthetic.”

I glanced at the clock. I only had an hour left.

“There’s a solution,” Zach added. “You won’t feel it if you’re coincidentally unconscious during those short minutes.”

“How am I supposed to do that? It’s not like I can fall asleep.”

“How else does someone fall unconscious?” he quizzed me instead of answering directly. I blinked for a good two seconds before I understood what he was getting at.

Hemorrhage.

I opened my mouth to refuse, then shut it. Pain for five seconds or pain for five minutes?

By the look of that stupid smug smirk on his face, Zach knew what I was contemplating. Then again, he’d be draining the life out of me.

We had a staring competition for a solid minute. I overanalyzed way too much. I considered his consequences if he sucked me dry. Will I die? Would it be lethal or damaging to my health? Then again, in a couple more hours, I’d be immortal. But, I’m still prone to a million ways of death before that time. How can I guarantee my safety?

“Deaths usually occur when 4-5 pints of blood is lost. Almost anyone would faint at 2 pints. I can control myself within that range. Nothing will be fatal. The only issue is whether you trust me or not.” Zach reasoned out. “It’s fair that you don’t.”

He hit all the points of my worries. I tugged at my loose side fringes.

“I trust you.” The words flew out of my mouth. Brief surprise crossed Zach’s eyes.

I stuttered and added, “But I still need more time to think!”

“Too late. You’re taking too long.”

The next thing I knew, my back hit the lower kitchen cabinet. Zach’s black and red irises stared into mine, giving a silent warning. I squeezed my eyes shut before a stabbing pain pierced into the side of my neck. My skin gave way like silk under his razor teeth.

I inhaled sharply, and a tremor rolled down my spine. I unconsciously arched my back in both discomfort and guilty pleasure. Somewhere along the lines, my mind began to feel foggy and diluted. I held a death grip on Zach’s shoulder as the aching worsened until I could no longer contain my screams.

I bit my lip to restrain my shrieks to no avail. The feeling of five wasps stinging my neck at once continued to consume my mind. Soon, I began to shove Zach against my better judgment. If I interrupted him mid-way, the pain would linger for longer than necessary.

His hand held the side of my head to keep me in place. I thrashed my legs, but all they hit were air. I grew weaker as I felt the scarlet liquid leave my body faster and faster.

I was scared that he wouldn’t stop. I felt like a lake’s worth of blood was being extracted from me. My limbs ran cold soon enough, and I fell limp, unable to resist.

In an instant, I shut down. It was the longest ten seconds of my life.


I let out a soft groan and groggily opened my eyes. I was shocked to see five pairs of eyes looking down on me with both alarm and concern in them. I shifted around and found out that I laid on a couch. I blinked again to focus my vision.

“What are you all doing here?” I asked, confused. Hailee, Zach, Ashton, Kassandra, and Harvick glanced at each other. I could tell that it was Ashton by the way he dramatically sighed in relief when I met his eyes.

Hailee threw her arms up in the air and announced, “Our suffering has ended, guys, she’s awake.”

While they murmured amongst themselves, I noticed my reborn self. I felt strange. It wasn’t a bad or good feeling. Perhaps I was more powerful and bloodthirsty. A surge of energy flowed through my whole body. At that moment, I almost wanted to unleash that power somewhere.

“Ow!” I cried when I pricked my bottom lip with my newly-grown fangs. I recalled nothing of when they grew. It looks like Zach didn’t lie to me.

I traced the outlines of the sharp teeth. Harvick peered at me like a dentist, then cracked a smile. “They grew perfectly. I’m glad.”

“You went on a total rampage!” Ashton exclaimed. “You’re lucky Zach brought you here in time.”

I turned to said person for answers. He seemed more irritated than usual. Nevertheless, he told me what happened, “You began to toss and turn at vampire speed in your unconscious state. It looked dangerous, so I carried you here, and I was right. Things went out of hand, fast.”

“What exactly did I do?” I asked quickly, turning to anyone.

With a small pout, Kassandra rolled up her sleeves, revealing three bright red teeth marks. I gasped and quickly sat up. Zach and Hailee also had several scratch marks on them. Fortunately, all of their wounds gradually healed after I examined them. Ashton had tried to telekinetically keep me pinned to the couch and apparently, I did not take that well at all.

“I’m so sorry, guys,” I murmured sheepishly.

“Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. It hurt a lot when my fangs grew, too.” Kassandra beamed at me.

I finally took the time to scan the room. I was in Harvick’s office. The couch across from the one I was lying on had a massive tear on it, looking like a five-foot-tall cat scratched it. Several books scattered on the ground, probably having fallen off of the bookshelves.

“Well?” Hailee finally grinned and peered at me. “How do you feel? Any idea what your special power is?”

I slowly shook my head. I did notice a strong surge of newfound strength in me, but nothing along the lines of ability.

“That’s normal,” Harvick explained. “Some vampires, like Kassandra, know their power right away, and some don’t. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing. You just need some time to go about to discover it.”

“I swear, if you get some amazing ability like materialization, make an ice cream pie appear out of your hand,” Hailee excitedly theorized.

“An offensive one would be more useful,” Zach stated instead. “I’ve always thought that controlling an element is cool, like fire.”

“No, no! An impenetrable barrier would be so safe and secure! Even if you do nothing and just stand there, hunters won’t be able to get you!” Kassandra chipped in her opinion.

Ashton rubbed his chin in thought. “If I have to choose one, I think hypnotism is awesome. You can compel anyone to do whatever you want by just staring at them. They won’t even know they’re being controlled.”

Harvick chuckled, then pitched in his own, “Judging by your ancestors, even something like time travel could be likely. Think about it. I can rapidly age anything with a touch, your mother could bring back the dead, and your grandfather could shapeshift. The possibilities are endless with you.”

All of a sudden, I felt strangely pressured to release a superhuman ability that combined all of this world’s known powers.

I facepalmed while the four younger vampires chattered and argued on why their hypothesis ability was superior. For a moment, I envisioned the shadows of Kaydence, Alecx, Jaxson, and Sophi on these vampires.

Maybe, just maybe, their worlds weren’t as drastically different as they believed them to be.

“We’re all free today, why don’t we explore and find out your real ability? See who’s more right,” Kassandra suggested. I rose from the sofa, feeling slightly nauseous as I did, and agreed.

Zach nodded. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see what you had.”

“Let’s go to the gym.” Hailee moved to the door enthusiastically. Kass, Zach, Ashton, and I followed. Harvick remained in his office to clean up. Plus, he had work to do. I apologized once more for the mess I made.

Magically, I didn’t even need to try to get into vampire speed. As soon as I thought to go fast, I leaned into a natural and speedy zoom. I was the last one to start running, but I arrived in front of the elevators first.

Okay, I could get used to some of this.

“Why can’t we just get France to check what her ability is?” Ashton asked.

Zach and Hailee glanced at each other, then Hailee answered, “He’s a drifter. He won’t be back for a while.”

Strange. He’s just been rescued, and he won’t even spend two days with his father, whom he hasn’t seen in years?

“Here we are,” Kass announced chirpily as the elevator doors slid open and revealed the familiar gym. As soon as I stepped out, I saw a female vampire lunge across the room to attack one of the human dummies. Oh, jeez, it was the same girl I saw weeks ago when I came to the gym for the first time.

“Play around for a bit. See if you feel changed,” said Hailee. At that, Ashton headed straight for the trampoline room, and Hailee made a beeline for the yoga section, dragging Kass with her.

“Looks like it’s just you and me again,” I remarked to Zach, then decided to head for the weights. The first time I tried, I couldn’t lift the smallest one.

Zach silently trailed behind me. When I took a seat, he stood in front of me and confessed, “I drank more of your blood than I had to. You already passed out, but it took me longer to stop myself. I may have taken nearly three pints while you fainted at one.”

I stared up at him while he admitted. I searched myself; I wasn’t upset. With a small smile, I assured him, “It’s alright. You didn’t lie to me. My fangs grew perfectly, and I didn’t even feel it. I’m safe and sound, aren’t I?”

Zach paused for a second, then hummed in agreement and added, “Your forgiving attitude is going to be the death of you one day.”

“I’m not that forgiving,” I countered without thinking. “When I find the person who murdered my parents, whether it be a hunter or a vampire, I guarantee that I’ll triple their suffering compared to what they inflicted on my parents.”

That came out a lot more menacing and ominous than I expected. Zach let out a deep chuckle in amusement. “How very dark of you. I applaud it. I’ll make sure to watch when that happens.”

“You think I’ll be able to find the perpetrator?”

“Yeah,” Zach responded right away. He reached out and brushed his fingertips against my loose strands of hair. His actions seemed to take both of us by surprise. He retracted his hand and stuffed them in his pockets, then clarified, “Your hair was sticking up. It bothered me.”

“Oh,” I hummed. I reached for a dumbbell. I didn’t realize that I grabbed the heaviest one until I effortlessly lifted it. How incredible. I could feel the weight of the object, but I had no trouble waving it all around.

“What up, Zach?” Just then, a vampire came by. Zach turned, and the two exchanged a greeting. After that, the other vampire walked away. They acknowledged each other but clearly weren’t close friends.

“Who’s that?” I asked. The dumbbells got too easy and boring for me, so I put them back.

“My former cellmate,” Zach said. I stared at him, flabbergasted. He registered my confusion, then mumbled, “Oh, yeah, I haven’t told you. Hunters captured and held me captive for a couple of years a while back.”

No wonder he sounded like such an expert when we broke France out. He knew exactly how those vampire prisons functioned. Thinking back on France’s torture wounds, I couldn’t help but scrunch up at the thought of Zach going through the same thing. Torture could seriously mess someone’s mind up.

Could that be why he was so bipolar all the time?

Before I could ask or he could elaborate, my body suddenly floated into the air, and I was dragged across the gym by an invisible force. I landed in Ashton’s sturdy arms. His hair was a mess, and he grinned. “I got bored of the trampoline. Have you found out what your power is, yet?”

“Sorry, I haven’t started.” I patted Ashton’s shoulder, and he let me down. Zach strolled up to us. The three of us wandered around. Soon, we’ve established that my ability had nothing to do with elements or the mind. I couldn’t make anything appear in my hand as Hailee suggested, and I couldn’t create a barrier or be invisible like Kass hoped I could.

Eventually, I decided that trying one at a time was stupid, and asked the two boys what happened to them.

A natural-born vampire uncovered their ability at the age of five, whether it got powerful or not depended on how hard said vampire trained to develop their talent.

“Mine came to me when I slapped my sister’s arm and read her memories from before I was born,” Zach said. “Then at least I knew my ability was psychological based. It wasn’t hard to figure out everything else.”

“Roman wanted to win a race against me so badly that he teleported.” Ashton smiled. “My power came naturally to me. I knew what it was on the night of my fifth birthday.”

“They sound accidental,” I commented. “Perhaps I’m doing this wrong. I’ll just need to go on with my everyday life.”

“That doesn’t work,” Zach countered. “Say for example you had laser beams. Under the public’s watching eye, you’d be doomed. We were reckless because we lived in a household of vampires; it didn’t matter if anyone else saw. Before we’re even sure what field your ability falls in, it’s safest not to go outside.”

Sulking, I plopped down on the bench in the break room. Ashton and Zach shrugged at each other. A little while later, Hailee and Kass chattered while walking up to us.

They passed by the fridge by the entrance, and Hailee said, “That reminds me. When you get thirsty, remember where to find juice boxes.”

I cringed in disgust. I couldn’t imagine drinking something as metallic as blood. It’d taste entirely different now, but it was still gross.

“How much longer do I have until I have to drink one?” I asked, hoping that I could drag it on for longer.

“It’s not the same for everyone. Limits can be trained to go longer if you always wait until the absolute last minute to drink blood. That last minute will extend each time,” said Ashton.

“Most of us don’t have the patience for that,” Zach added, probably referring to himself.

“Huh, interesting. How long can you guys last?”

They all held up a number of fingers. The longest time was ten days, which was Ashton or Roman’s limit. Kassandra’s was seven, and Hailee’s was eight. Finally, Zach could only stay sane for five days without a drop of blood.

“But enough about that,” Hailee complained. “You still don’t know what your power is?”

I gulped. Why are you so impatient? Do they want to see an almighty ability that badly?

I leaned back against the wall upon Hailee’s questioning gaze. This was giving me unnecessary stress. I just wished that I could get away from them for a second. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know how to activate my power.

My thoughts were interrupted when I fell through the wall and straight into the foam pit that was on the other side.

With a yelp, I tumbled into the foam pit head-first. Was that it? Was that finally my power? What the hell was it, going through walls?

That’s lame compared to telepathy, mind control, and telekinesis.

When my body floated upward, I knew Ashton was close by. I landed gently on my feet in front of the group. Kassandra seemed puzzled, and Hailee forced a smile. Ashton and Zach were both expressionless.

“Intangibility, yeah? That’s cool, too,” said Hailee.

“Yeah. Passing through physical matter is,” Kassandra paused, and she became visibly flustered. “Convenient and useful! It’s unique.”

“It’s far from what I imagined,” Zach said bluntly, hitting me right where it hurt. I couldn’t even get mad at him. Intangibility would be astonishing for a human, but for a vampire, it wasn’t efficient. Roman could teleport; that was much faster and practical than going through walls.

“Look on the bright side! With your ability discovered, you can go home and do whatever it is that you do,” Ashton said with a grin. “My favorite TV show’s on in five minutes. I’ll see you guys later!”

Ashton ran to the elevator and left. Kass and Hailee went back to their yoga session. Zach nodded his head toward the door.

“Let’s go home.” He turned around and headed out.

Instead of opening the door, I tried walking through it. My forehead hit the glass mercilessly. I held up my hand against the pane, but it won’t go through. I grumbled, “It’s unstable, too? Spectacular.”

Zach walked me home. He expressed his confusion about my anticlimactic ability. In the end, we concluded that ancestry wasn’t everything. Since no one’s ever met a hybrid in their life, they couldn’t be sure exactly how they were supposed to be. For all we knew, books might’ve exaggerated, or a stronger capability would unlock after I became equivalent to a Pureblood.

As we turned on my street, Zach began, “If it ever comes to it, I can show you how to hunt. You won’t have juice boxes prepared for you all the time, after all.”

I shivered at his words. I flashbacked to the scene of murder that I ran into the first time I saw Zach. The way I saw him now was less monstrous than I saw that night, but that didn’t mean he was any less capable of such cruelty.

I had tolerated it because vampires needed blood to survive. Although a lion would cruelly eat a gazelle, it was only trying to live. It was just how nature was. I rubbed my goosebumps.

He probably heard my voice, but Arthur opened my front door as I got on my porch with Zach. Arthur obviously had matters to discuss.

“Oh, hello. It’s you again,” Arthur greeted with a friendly beam. Zach responded with a simple “hi.” The corners of his lips tugged up; however, I wouldn’t call it an attempt to smile.

“Goodbye,” Zach said to me, and I waved. He headed down the street, toward the park. The early 5 AM sky was still dim. I knew exactly what he was going to do.

“What were you guys doing outside so early in the morning?” Arthur asked right after shutting the front door behind me. I grabbed a cup of water to buy myself more time to think of an excuse.

I realized that I was wearing sweatpants, and Zach was also wearing jogging pants. I set the cup down. “Morning practice. He invited me to his basketball practice. I couldn’t sleep again.”

“Still can’t sleep?” Arthur asked in concern, making me feel bad for lying. He glanced back out the window, but Zach was long gone, then turned to me. “Do you like that boy?”

I laughed. Arthur arched an eyebrow at me, making me stop. “Oh, you were serious. It’s nothing like that. We’re friends.”

“Are you sure? I’m getting dad vibes. I feel like getting out a shotgun every time I see him, even though he’s good to you.”

“Gosh, Arthur, you’re funny!”

Arthur hummed and let it go. He pulled out a chair for me on the dining table. “Take a seat; I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something.”

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