Blood on Roses

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Friendly Fire

“Just because you embrace your dark side, doesn’t mean your light is dead.”
~ Alecx Harris


The gears in my head spun rapidly, but it was no use. I couldn’t come up with any excuse. There was no way I could convince Roman that I didn’t just call him by his dead twin’s name.

Roman grabbed my arm and recklessly teleported onto the roof of a nearby high-rise building.

“I’ve had this suspicion for a while,” said Roman, trembling. “Selective memory loss isn’t the cause of the gaps in my memory, is it?”

Even if Roman were to know the truth, I shouldn’t be the one to tell him. It should be a responsible, authoritative figure like Harvick or Josephine. They kept it a secret from Roman to maintain his mental health and protect his fragile soul.

But he also deserved to know the truth about himself.

I softly shook my head. “Since two years after your incident, you’ve shared the same body with Ashton. He controls it as his own, and he uses telekinesis.”

Roman leaned back against a pillar. He always had a subconscious feeling that his twin returned. It must be painful, knowing that his brother still existed, yet he could never interact with him as he did before.

I recalled that Zach appreciated the fact that I not once appeared sympathetic when he told me his tale. I was the same. I suppose Roman wouldn’t be any different. No self-respecting person liked the feeling of being pitied.

That being said, I wasn’t sure if speaking my mind was appropriate for Roman’s situation. After all, he just absorbed a shocking revelation.

“Why did you tell him?”

I looked at Ashton’s accusing glare with tightly-knit eyebrows. “Roman always had a feeling that you were there. He was just too afraid to admit to himself, and since no one said anything, he dismissed it as the shadows of his past haunting him. He doesn’t deserve to live painfully for the rest of this eternal life. At the very least, he’d know that he’s not alone. Since you can see things through his eyes, I’m sure he can do the same for you, too.”

I lost my train of thought when Ashton’s unsmiling expression didn’t waver. His blank stare made me nervous enough to come to a pause.

Did I say the wrong thing?

Unexpectedly, an amused smirk drew at the corners of his lips. One look at that coy expression told me that Roman only pretended to be Ashton so I’d speak up.

In an instant, we arrived back in the living room of the base. Roman promptly let go of my arm, but the amusement didn’t leave his face.

“I finally understand why Zachary’s so infatuated with you,” he said out of the blue, then teleported away.

I was glad that he left. With a comment like that, even my bloodless cheeks would suffuse with color. Darn! Was Roman always that cunning?

After lying on the sofa for several minutes, staring at the strangely fascinating ceiling, my thoughts drifted to the events of these past few days.

I realized that everyone still believed that I possessed dysfunctional intangibility. If Harvick hadn’t spread the word, he and Ashlynne were the only two beings on this planet who knew my real power.

My ponderings were interrupted by a painful grumble in my stomach. I knew the feeling of hunger as a human, but a vampire’s craving for blood was like a human without a bite of food for three days straight. And it hurt. Real bad.

It’d been nearly fourteen days since I turned. Ever since Josephine reasoned that my limit was fifteen days, I’d been drinking water with the condiment mixed in it once a day. The discomfort subsided, only to return a few hours later.

I still despised the idea of drinking actual blood. The condiment wasn’t a long-term solution, but for now, I was sticking to it. I made a quick glass of mildly red water in the kitchen. As I drank it, I noticed my attire. I wore a denim jacket with rolled up sleeves over a white T-shirt, skinny black pants, and white sneakers. This outfit was cute, but I ran away with just these. Perhaps I should make a trip back to my house tonight.

My energy hadn’t fully recovered from the teleportation a couple of hours ago. I waited until before dawn to make a quick trip back to grab some belongings.

At four in the morning, I tied up my hair and wished for X-Ray vision for half an hour, then set out to my house under the cloak of night.

Unsurprisingly, security tape surrounded the exterior of my house. Several hunters armed with weapons patrolled the area. I lowered myself on the roof of a house down the street. I had wished for X-Ray vision to make sure that no one hid behind walls or inside the structure.

And I was glad I did. Someone stood in my room, waiting for me to appear. If I had fatuously teleported directly into my room, things would’ve gotten messy.

Instead, I appeared soundlessly in the living room. Moving stealthily at vampire speed to the kitchen, I raised a glass and threw it on the ground. Instantly after, I hid at the bottom of the staircase on the opposite side of the living room.

The person dashed down the stairs. As his foot left the last step, I zoomed past him and up to my room. I locked the door behind me.

First, I stuffed my laptop and charger into my backpack. By that time, I guessed that the hunter figured out that he got tricked. I spared a glance in the direction of the staircase, and sure enough, he opened the front door and called for the others. I had to move fast if I didn’t want to end up captured.

I snatched my phone charger, then clothes to last me a few days. Everything I had still stayed in the same places and nothing was taken. Good thing their investigation hadn’t begun before I came back.

Yelling resonated within the household, and the doorknob to my room jiggled violently. I thought I wasn’t amateur enough to be startled by that, but immediately, my quaking hands knocked over the mug on my desk.

My brain died for a moment, and my eyes darted all around my room to make sure I didn’t leave anything important behind.

I yelped when I heard a loud smashing sound and a blade peeked through the splinters in the door. Straight after, rapid axing knocked at the door. If Arthur hadn’t taken extra precaution while renovating this house, the door would’ve flown open ages ago.

I rolled open the bedroom window. My room faced the driveway, and I could see two cars parked on it and a few hunters waiting there. Too bad Zach taught me how to climb walls.

I zipped my backpack and flung it on my back, then gingerly hopped from my window ledge, stepped on the frame of the opened window, and climbed onto the roof.

Teleporting for a shorter distance meant consuming less energy. It would be safer to teleport directly back to the base, just to ensure that no one would see me going there, which meant I had to travel for a bit.

I went down the opposite direction to throw them off. I made myself conspicuous by leaping from roof to roof. Many people chased after me, some firing arrows identical to the ones that once pierced through Zach’s body.

After arriving at the park where I first met Zach, I dove into the greens and proceeded quickly from there on. With my speed and the cover of the night, I easily got rid of my tails. Once I neared the library, I glanced at the time before teleporting.

I woke up on the dining room table and was unconscious for nearly ten minutes.

My lungs clenched, forcing me to breathe rapidly. A white-hot burning coursed through my entire body as if I just swam twenty sets. I tossed and turned to my side and wheezed. I curled up slightly.

If adrenaline existed for a vampire, mine was pumping.

I sped to Harvick’s office and left my backpack there. He said that I could crash at his office anytime. He was rarely present there, anyway.

Unlike being a human, the best way for me to recover from exhaustion was to keep moving. I gunned straight for the gym, but not before passing by Zach’s room. My X-Ray vision was still intact, and I could see that he wasn’t in there again. Just as I got to the elevators, my temporary ability faded and my sight returned to normal.

At first, I felt self-conscious and stayed on the treadmill in the furthest corner. The specialized treadmills here were great practice for controlling speed.

I kept thinking that everyone would sneak glances at me. I still held the strong scent of a hybrid. I didn’t like the judging and not-so-subtle stares.

It was human nature.

But apparently not vampire nature.

I soon realized that no one gave a damn about anybody else here.

Unless they were friends, vampires wouldn’t even spare a glance at passerby. I could stand in the center of the gym and sing off-key on the top of my lungs, and I wouldn’t get a reaction.

All vampires could tune out the rest of the world when they wanted to. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said nobody could hear me. Realizing that fact helped me relax a lot.

I peered into the room where that one girl always practiced lunges and short-distance attacks. I observed her aggression on the human dummies. Maybe this could be fun.

“Hey.” I approached another being initially for possibly the first time in my life.

She glanced behind her, then twirled her short hair. “Me?”

I offered a friendly smile. “Yeah. Could you show me how to do that?”

Laurie was her name, and she agreed to practice with me.

“I’m sorry I took so long to react,” said Laurie. “I’m not used to people talking to a weirdo like me.”

“People think you’re weird?”

“Uh, yeah!” She huffed. “Imagine this demented girl who practices nothing but tearing stuff apart.”

Point taken. Still, during my first time living Monday the 14th, she helped me out. We fought off a large group of vampire hunters quite well until their reinforcements arrived.

“How could I help it, though? There are all these amazing Purebloods and Elites around, and I’m just an ordinary vampire.” Laurie sighed. “I need to rely on physical strength to survive.”

“That’s not a bad thing. You’re facing life and relying on yourself. I find it admirable.”

She finally cracked a grin. “Alright, you have a way with words.” She gestured to one of the dummies that were still intact. “Let’s get started.”

On Wednesday night, Laurie had to leave for a scheduled mission. Hanging out with her had been fun, and I was glad I made another friend. I bounced up and down in the empty trampoline room.

I’d been wishing for Zach’s location. For the past few days, he was out of the city, sometimes even out of the country. Teleporting cross-country was still too much for me. Besides, I’d look deranged if I traveled that far just to speak to him.

Well, why couldn’t I just wish to telecommunicate?

Because connecting to someone halfway across the globe might just get me drained in two point five seconds.

As an Elite, I couldn’t do anything! This power was obviously designed for the powerful Pureblood that I was supposed to be. Too bad. I wasn’t going to suck a vampire’s blood anytime soon.

I leaped and backflipped into the foam pit.

I emptied my water bottle and renewed it. This all reminded me of downing two cups of coffee per hour to stay awake overnight when assignments needed to be done, and I procrastinated too much during the week.

Afterward, I went to Harvick’s office, where I left all of my stuff. I picked up my bag and ruffled through the limited belongings that I grabbed. I felt like I forgot something.

I took steps backward in thought, then bumped into Harvick’s bureau. I glanced at the notebooks and pens placed neatly on it. And it hit me.

I forgot my diary!

I uttered profanities under my breath. I kept that diary in the depths of my drawers. I intended for it to be harder to find if anyone ever rummaged through my desk, but now, that plan backfired. If it sat on the desk nicely beside my laptop, I wouldn’t have forgotten it.

I didn’t remember writing anything critical about my situation. Everything should still be fine. I eventually convinced myself to stop worrying.

Laurie returned on Thursday morning from her short mission. She came to the trampoline room with three others. One of them was Celia, but I didn’t recognize the two other guys.

I came to a standstill on the trampoline. I scanned their unfriendly faces.

“Uh, how was the mission?” I asked.

“Zip it, half-human,” Celia growled and immediately after, the massive man caught me by surprise and choked me, then violently threw me into a wall by my neck.

My body dented the wall. My hand flew to my nape, where it sustained the most damage.

“What are you doing?” I scrambled to my feet and mustered my best glare. In the blink of an eye, the four of them sped to me.

Laurie pinned my shoulders to the wall with incredible strength. Her unblinking bright orange orbs glared into mine. “You’ll always be nothing more than a disgusting human. We may drink blood, but humans are the real monsters who leech off of others until they have nothing left.”

Jeez, someone’s on their period.

“What the hell are you talking about? Let go.” I was about to grab and push away Laurie’s arms, but the two other guys pinned my arms down, as well. I couldn’t move a muscle.

I wish they’d let go! I screamed in my head, but nothing happened. I wasn’t powerful enough to manipulate others.

“You’ll never be one of us. Got it, half-human?” Laurie yelled again. “You were gullible to think that I’d be desperate enough to socialize with someone like you. Tell you what, all the things I taught you these past few days were jokes. They’re not practical at all. Had fun practicing?”

My temper reached a boiling point, and I realized that I worded my previous wish wrong.

I wish I’d be free from their grasp. As soon as the request took place in my mind, as if I produced a barrier that shoved them away, the four menacing vampires instantly got thrown back at least a few meters. Laurie knocked straight through the row of practice dummies.

“I don’t know what you’re on. I’ve never done anything disloyal to this group,” I retorted.

“Do you need me to spell it out for you?” Celia said, getting to her feet from across the room. “If not for you, Hailee’s identity wouldn’t have been exposed. Your appearance messed everything up! Who do you think you are, keeping Zach all to yourself?!”

At that, even Laurie turned to Celia in surprise. Apparently, Celia had been hiding her feelings quite well from her peers.

I snorted in disdain. “So that’s what all this is about. Does doing all this to me somehow make him pay even the littlest attention to you? You’re the epitome of pathetic. Please stop tarnishing the reputation of all women worldwide.”

Celia’s features twisted more and more as I spoke. Flames were practically shooting out of her nostrils by the time I finished. She hollered and charged at me, but she only took one step before Laurie stopped her.

Just then, someone yanked my hair and hurled me into the foam pit face-first. I was so preoccupied with Celia that I didn’t pay attention to the two guys. The foam cubes around me shifted around and forced me to sink deeper down.

“Rot in hell, half-human,” a gruff voice cursed, then helped drag an enraged Celia out of the room. I waited until I was sure their footsteps disappeared into the elevator.

I laid in an odd position at the bottom of the pit on some foam cubes. It always took me so much effort to climb out of the pit.

Screw “I was glad I made another friend”!

Celia’s behavior just now was very much human, as much as she accused me of being “too human.” Girls were batshit insane when angered, no matter what species.

I rolled my shoulders. The pain was already gone. I made an effort to move my arms and legs to get out, but it proved to be too much work.

I wish I could float out of this pit and land on a trampoline.

That wish was specific enough to be easy-breezy. I bounced off the trampoline before landing on the ground. This room now bore the mark of a nightmare.

I brought my backpack to the kitchen to fill it with the sugar packets. Half of my bag now consisted of the packages. If I ended up on a trip for a mission, I’d have my supplies.

Just as I scooped the last handful, cold water suddenly ran from my head and down my shoulders and back. I gasped and flinched away. I dabbed my sleeve over my eyes and looked at the perpetrator.

“Whoops,” he snickered. “At least it wasn’t blood, right?”

The unfamiliar vampire set the glass on the counter and sped out of the kitchen. Why was everybody picking on me today? Was it because of the human blood?

But didn’t all vampires except Purebloods have more or less a bit of human blood in their ancestors?

I shrugged off the incident. These childish little pranks wouldn’t get me riled up.

I changed into a nude cardigan over a frilly white tank top matched with pasty blue ripped jeans. I fluffed my hair and shook it around until it dried a bit. Then, having nothing to do, I sprawled out on the living room sofa and waited for Hailee while playing on my phone.

At around midnight, the familiar dim light of Roman’s teleportation flashed in the middle of the lobby. I poked my head over the sofa and saw Hailee standing there with the largest suitcase I had ever seen.

She noticed me as I got up and smiled in pleasant surprise. “You weren’t waiting for me, were you?”

Just two months ago, Inever thought that I’d ever be happy to see Hailee. I grew to like this overconfident but sometimes surprisingly sentimental girl, yet she also never failed to be bitchy.

I accompanied Hailee to her room and helped her unpack while I filled her in on the details of this past week.

“I knew that bestie of yours was going to be trouble one day,” she remarked. “Well, now you can join me in my quest of learning how to knit because I just have that much time on my hands.”

I laughed a little. “Of course. Can’t promise I’d be any good, though.”

“You didn’t pathetically wait for me on the couch just to tell me this, right?”

I pouted at her usual harsh choice of words. I fidgeted while setting her laptop down on her desk and mumbled, “Right. I’ve been meaning to have a conversation with Zach, but these days, he’s been all over the place. Last time I checked, he was chilling in Germany. Can you contact him?”

“I am slowly becoming a third wheel.” Hailee snickered. It gave me vibes of a friend teasing me about a crush.

Once her grin dropped and her eyes focused on nothingness, I knew that she was contacting Zach. I kept my mouth shut and waited patiently.

Hailee’s perfect eyebrows twitched several times, probably indicating that Zach was refusing to cooperate.

It was then that it abruptly dawned on me: I had no idea what to say.

After a few more seconds, Hailee turned to me. “He’s at the place where you first met. ‘I’m not going to wait an extra minute, so she better hurry up’ is what he said.”

I beamed gratefully. “Thanks. I’ll tell you how it goes. By the way, can you help out this other girl later? Her name is Ashlynne. This is her number. Just tell her your name and mine.”

Albeit confused, Hailee nodded. “Good luck,” she added as I dashed out of the door.

A million things crossed my mind as I snuck my way around the city to the park where I first saw him.

Two things were for sure.

I must know why he’d been avoiding me.

I must tell him how I felt.

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