Chapter 1: Where Dreams Come True
Being brokenhearted in Disneyland sucked.
Everywhere I looked lovey-dovey couples, or happy families were jumping with joy. And here I was; sitting on a bench with a slurpy in my hand looking like that last pissed out drunk at the bar sobbing her life story to the overly bored bartender who just wanted to go home.
The Disney princesses in their costumes paraded by me. With their assigned princes and their happily ever after - rubbing them in my nose like they were saying: Look at me, I have a handsome prince, a palace and more happiness than you could ever achieve. It was a painful reminder that my knight in shining armour was nothing but a projection I made. In reality, the knight had a rusty, covered in shit shield and a mule instead of a white horse. His noble steel sword was a mouldy old stick which he waved around like a crazed Gorilla.
And even that is an insult to the primate.
It was a miserable and utterly shitty reminder and oh so painful jab every freaking time in my already pin cushion of a heart. The blame was all mine to fall for the act he portrayed. However, the anger that was masking the deep sadness was his fault. All his fault that I couldn’t enjoy this magical place. I was in freaking Disneyland; how dare I be sad. It was a place where the excitement of kids and adults’ inner children alike was a thrumming pulsating energy that could entice even the grumpiest person to dispel their permanent scowl. All around the jubilant screaming made even my little sorry-for-myself ass smile.
A young boy with a wavy brownish blond head full of hair was snaking through the crowd towards me while excitedly waving his hands to get my attention. But he wasn’t alone.
it always amazed me how Jeremy possessed a gift of easily conversing with others and making friends effortlessly. Must be our moms’ ability that passed on to him while skipping the previous generation.
“Jeremy! Over here!” My yell was as loud as the Tarzans’ cry in the jungle. A few Karen like moms’ turned around, giving me a stink eye while their kids were making more brouhaha than I ever could.
Unbelievable. Fucking double standards.
Jeremy turned toward the sound, then spotted me sitting by myself; he smiled at me. Then motioning the same aged group of three to join him, he zoomed toward me. Soon enough, I was surrounded by the boys, all talking excitedly over each other. Jeremy tugged at my arm. “Can I go again?” Pointing toward the rollercoaster ride he had taken at least half a dozen times by now, he gave me big sad puppy eyes.
“What if you take these boys and buy them ice cream or slurpy? Then you can ride till you drop.” Suggesting with a smile, I hid my concern that Jeremy would die of dehydration if I let my him do as he pleased.
It was like I said a magic word, the whole little boys’ squad looked at me like I was a mighty God and them, my devout worshipers. Once I gave my brother enough bills to pay for the lot, he bounced away like a ball while screaming: “BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER!”. The three boys murmured their thanks and followed the overly excited Jeremy, who was literary on the verge of combusting with happiness.
Today was the day Jeremy turned eight, and I decided (since we had enough money and time) to go to the place where every child wanted to go. So, I blindfolded him and only until we were right by the entrance gate to show him his present. I had never received as many hugs and kisses from my brother in all seven years combined as I had before we entered the park. While I watched the boys at their departure to the sweets’ vendor, my mind focused on the past.
Has it already been three months?
It seemed like yesterday and yet a whole eternity since I left Camaraderie without looking back. Here we were chilling at an amusement park like there was not a care in the world. And yet underneath the illusion that humans were the dominant species, there was something much darker dwelling in our society. Controlling the economy and shaping the fate of the seemingly human world from the shadows there was a whole vampiric society with the natural-born vampires at the helm. The twelve Stainless families with each direct descendant of the ever first vampires were watching over their born and created lineage while searching for ways to gain even more power. The complicated pyramid-like archaic society was anything but simple to understand, and somehow, I also had a place in it. However, it was more at the bottom of their structured community.
I had been a Donor to a powerful Stainless (their fancy way of labelling born) vampire next in line to lead his family; Lysander Andreyev Varshawsky. Once I even thought that I was perhaps something more. A lover, an ally, a friend; someone who had a place in that world. In his world. A wave of sadness came over me that was similar to the loss of a loved one. Although I haven’t lost anyone to the irreversible death recently, it made sense in a way that I was currently going through the process of grieving. I was mourning in the graveyard of my hopes, my dreams and my expectations of what could have been. Feeling the loss and grief of a failed relationship, which I gave my heart and soul to make it work, was devastating. It certainly felt like a fist tightened around my already bruised heart threatening to make my organ burst whenever I was alone long enough to be submerged in my thoughts. They eventually swam toward him and other people I left behind.
A small voice broke my sad thoughts. Disoriented I looked around and saw Jeremy with two ice creams in each hand looking slightly terrified at me.
“What is it?”
“Why are you crying?” A whisper escaped his lips, and Jeremy’s blue eyes widened.
I quickly touched my cheeks to discover he was right. I was feeling beneath my fingertips moister that could only be produced in my eyes. “Oh.” My voice was calm, collected even as I thought of myself as a shattered object with pieces scattered in a hundred-mile radius. “I was just thinking you are growing up too fast.”
“I am only eight.” Jeremy pouted like I just insulted him. “Nothing to cry about, you big baby.” Stretching his hand, he pushed the ice cream in my hand while looking uncomfortable.
“You bought it for me?”
Shrugging while looking embarrassed, Jeremy looked everywhere but me. “You seemed sad. With ice cream, you can’t be sad.”
The straightforward and simple child-like explanation was enough to make me smile in earnest. “That is very true. Thank you, Jeremy.” I licked the overly sweet vanilla ice cream and smiled in earnest at his thoughtfulness.
Shifting from one foot to another, I knew he was anxious to get to his newfound friends. I licked my ice cream showing him I liked it then shooed Jeremy away with a smile. He bolted like someone gave his scrawny behind a boost of energetic shock. The three boys laughed as he joined them; all happy to share an adventure with a boy who bought them a very sugary drink.
If Will was here, he would kidnap the slurpy machine.
The thought of my friend, whom I left behind, made my mood dark again. I missed Will but not just him; there was a whole list of the people I wanted to see.
There was Ali, the daughter of a Russian mobster who played with guns and swords since she could walk. The toddler Aljushka would ignore the girly Barbie dolls while asking for a new Glock gun for Christmas.
Next came Fergus or Gus Gus, a human version of the grumpy cat while having a heart of gold. That particular heart beat mostly for three things, technology, Tammy (his Stainless vampire girlfriend) and more technology. Further down the line came his tech company Gulliver which primarily developed games. But behind his glowing CEO image, there was a hacker that loved to crack codes and worm his way in all sorts of secret databases.
Then there was Rosa the Latina with all the explosive nature and fire like personality which was similar to the detonating hand grenade. Yet she was as sweet as fairy-floss and ever so kind to those she loved. Rosa was at the Donor Society because her uncle, the leader of a Cartel, wanted to protect her from his ruthless competitors. But underneath Rosas’ sweet demeanour, there ran a coldness that could only be learned in an aggressive and violent surrounding she was brought up in. Still, she was the best friend a girl could ever wish for. Or your worst nemesis. She could flip like a coin if you hurt the people Rosa considers to be close. Rosa would be protective of her friends as a lioness is to her cubs.
Her complete opposite was Matteo. This sight impaired Italian gentleman might be the youngest of the group; however, he was the wisest and calmest among my friends. Although he was blind, it would be a terrible thing to underestimate Matteo. As sharp as a knife, his intellect and cunningness could make you wonder what more could he be capable with his sight. Probably world domination without the world knowing.
The last but not least was Will. My Scottish best friend whom I considered as a big brother. He was the glue of the group, always making jokes while being rowdy with his ever so sunny personality. Yet there was a deeper part of Will which was sombre and melancholy. A piece that longed for his little sister that he left behind as he took her place as a Donor at the Camaraderie. We instantly clicked because of the protectiveness Will and I have for our younger siblings. The happy-go-lucky Scott was the reason why I could put the theory of my escape into reality.
Without each and every one of them, I would be utterly lost and sunk like Titanic in the backstabbing Camaraderie. It pained me that I couldn’t contact my friends and tell them Jeremy and I were doing fine. The only number I had was Wills’, and I only send him a text about where he could pick up his car. He replied that for all he cared I could sell it since he had no need of it.
And that was the last time we spoke.
I contained my genuine emotions when Jeremy was around. For him, it was finally the time to have a normal childhood, where he could jump and run, get dirty and not feel tired when he chased other kids around the playground. Jeremy was a healthy, normal boy now. The illness all but disappeared (with a high probability of supernatural help in the shape of vampire blood).
So, most of the time, I didn’t let myself fall apart; I had to be an adult and live since I was responsible for someone. Getting through my blues was my number one priority on my to-do list. I felt that I had no right to wallow in self-pity. What I could do was to analyse and recognise my emotions as they came - then let them go. I owed it to Jeremy and my friends. But most of all, I owed it to myself; the new Dess I had become while I was serving as a Donor. Now more than ever; I was a down in the dumps.
It was my wish to restart my life with my brother. To leave the supernatural crap behind and not think about it again. Jeremy does not need more horror than he already experienced. This was the time for him to live, to make friends and go to school. Without worry, sickness and misery wreaking his life more than it already did. While Jeremy would discover and start becoming his own person, I will be able to relax and for once in my life not worry about money for a while. We had enough to sustain us for at least five years safely tucked away in a bank under mine and Jeremys’ name.
All fake, of course. If I used my real name, there would be hell to pay, and I was not in a good emotional state to face the person I fled from in rage and disappointment. There was something that you just cannot do to another person, and Ly (a shiver ran through my body as I thought his name) did just that one thing for which he cannot get my forgiveness.
If I ever see him again, I am going to play him Twilight movies until his eyes bleed. Then assault him with sea urchin. Why that particular animal? Use your imagination.
A sudden feeling of being watched made me look around the crowd. A familiar feeling of the hair rising on my arms then at the back of my neck made me weary. The sudden goosebumps only confirmed my suspicions; there was something supernatural in my close proximity.
And it was watching.
If I never encountered a vampire, I would overlook him; however, since I was around them constantly in these past months, there was no mistaking him for a human. The pale man leaning stoically on the food and drinks booth counter was as human as I was a vampire. He did try to blend in and failing miserably. I don’t know what he thought he would achieve with a hat with Mickey Mouse ears on his head but looking normal was far from it. The ridiculous outfit was completed with sunglasses; however, I stopped snickering when I saw who the vampire was targeting.
“I’m guessing he’s not here for It’s a Small World ride.”
His eyes were fixed on children, and in this place, he had more than enough of prey. This was the perfect playground for a child predator.
A vampire at Disneyland, and here I thought I had seen it all.
Looking at the place I last seen Jeremy and noticing he was still waiting in line for the ride, I decided to act. Someone needed to protect the little girl who was getting a bit too close to the danger as she curiously gazed up at the man without her parents to watch her. Grabbing my things, I muttered incredulously while power walking toward the vendor. “Why do people even have children if they let them wander around without any adult supervision.”
The back of the vampire tensed as I approached while addressing the little girl with a sad attempt at a Southern accent. “My lord! Sweety, your momma’s worried sick. Get along now and get to her sugar.”
The child just looked at me with wide-eyed as I shooed her away. As she went toward her parents, the little girl constantly looked over her shoulder at me. I would probably look in the same state of confusion if a strange lady approached me when I was her age.
I looked at the person behind the counter, smiling while ignoring the vampire. “One slurpy if you will, honey.” My voice was sickly sweet as I addressed the bored clerk.
“Ma’am.” The guy who was clearly on his summer job said carefully while pointing at the object clasped in my fingers. “You have one in your hand.”
With a tinkling laugh that was coloured in a bubbly yet forgetful tone, I slapped my forehead slightly. “Well slap me twice and call me a cowboys’ cow! How silly of me. But another one won’t hurt, so whip me a new one, will ya?”
From the corner of my eye, I saw the vampires’ nostrils widen as he took a whiff, probably smelling something he had not expected. I knew what he tasted on the tip of his tongue when he inhaled. Lys’ blood in my body which was circulating with each heartbeat. It came from the four vials that he had given me on the day I decided to turn my back on him. However, they did not last very long. The last drop was used a week ago as I spiked Jeremiys’ morning Smoothie. Vampire blood was beneficial; it helped with battling compulsion and had super fast healing proprieties. Who needed Tylenol when a drop of vampire blood could make the pain go away as if it never existed.
“I will pay for the lady.” The deep rasp came from the Mickey Mouse Vamps' thin mouth.
No, you certainly will not.
I no longer pretended to not look at the supernatural being beside me. I openly stared at him. However, I couldn’t see much of his face because of his stupid hat. It was positioned in a way that the upper part of his face was utterly concealed from my searching gaze. Putting a beaming smile on my features while looking apologetic, I resumed the role of a southern lady. “Oh, really there's no need-”
“it is not every day a common vampire like me meets a Donor.” Giving me a slightly lopsided grin the Mickey Mouse Vamp’ dropped a bomb on me like the Americans did on the unfortunate Japanese citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It took all my might not to gasp theatrically then duping the slurpy on his head and run away. My facial features stayed in precisely the same way as my mind shouted hysterically ‘Bitch run!’.
“I’m not sure what you mean.” I blinked several times, acting like a total bimbo. Me? A Donor? Never.
Someone give me an Oscar; I deserve an award for my acting skills.
Snickering at me like I was not fooling anyone the Mickey Mouse Vamp replied mockingly. “I am sure you do.” Then turning to the person behind the counter I saw behind the dar sunglasses two bright green dots right where the irises would be. “You hear nothing and will remember nothing.” For a moment the clerk stared blankly at the man who issued a weird order. Then nodding once utterly hypnotised he just continued to do some stacking like me and Mickey Mouse Chap were invisible.
I was no stranger to compulsion being more than once under it myself. It was an annoying yet terrifying experience which I didn’t want to go through it again. Placing my hands at my hips, I hoped that I portrayed a scary image of anger. Pretending like I had no clue what he was talking about I continued “Well, now that is most rude-”
“Gwilym says hello.”
That shut me right up.
No, no, no, no…
Flashing another sarcastic smile at my direction, the Mickey Mouse Vamp congratulated himself. “Thought that might get me your undivided attention.”
Was I celebrating my freedom too soon? Is three months all the reprieve I’m going to have from the supernatural?
I was not ready. Not at all prepared to face him. Putting two and two together was easy; Gwilym as his best friend was dispatched to get me back. But why now? It did irrtate me a bit that he hadn’t come for me or at least tried to give me a message. Hell, even an Indian smoke sign would be appreciated. But his staying away only proved his guilt, and it was a justification that a choice of me leaving was the right one. Looking over to where Jeremy was still waiting for his ride, I knew what I should do. “I have nothing to say.” I dropped the accent and turned away from the Mickey Mouse Vamp trying to put as much distance between us as possible.
He was having none of that. “I have watched over the two of you since day one.”
A shiver ran down my spine despite it being a warm summery and sunny day. The feeling of a trap closing around me having no way of escaping made me feel claustrophobic. “That is not creepy at all, considering you have a keen eye for children.”
“Thought that might reel you in. And it worked.” The self-satisfied prick widened his smile, and I wanted to rip the absurd hat off and shove it down its’ throat so far that his asshole would have permanent mouse ears.
“Congratu-fucking-lations. What do you want? Applause?” I return to the counter with anger colouring my features. There was a hint of panic in my voice, and I expected that at any second that someone would grab me from behind and drag me away.
“There’s no threat coming from Gwilym. You can be at ease and continue your false appearance of being free.” Waving his hand dismissively at me, the Mickey Mouse Vamp turned his back toward me as if he was done with our conversation.
Good Luck with that buddy.
“Why would a person like you be doing the bidding of someone like Gwilym?” I continued to look at the blackboard, which showed the Disneyland special sweet yet cooling deserts.
In all the lore Vampires and Werewolves were enemies or at least in a sort of cold war situation. My mind spun for a minute; then I stopped myself. It was none of my business, and I did not wish to know the details of the world I had just departed from.
Liar. Said a small voice at the back of my brain. The curiosity is killing you.
Ignoring the voice, I continued to stare at something while seeing nothing, waiting for an answer from the weird vampire that I wanted to do nothing with.
“That is for him to know and for me not to question.”
The complete ignorance and blasé of his voice made me angry, and I was on the verge of combustion from anxiety. “Well, I am. If you think I will go back-”
“I am not here to drag you back to your fucking spoilt Stainless. I have more urgent things to do than that.” For the first time the male vampire showed more than just sarcastic and apathetic emotions. He was angry at me for daring to suggest that perhaps his grater mission in life was to be an errand boy to a Stainless.
“Yeah, like spying on me.”
Ignoring me entirely, he rose to his feet, and I finally caught the sight of his features. The Disneyland guest had Asian looking features like that of a K-pop idol; however, he was tall and incredibly lean. With a skin that was an ideal in the South Korean culture he would probably succeed in the idol industry without breaking a sweat. “I want to warn you that I am not the only one who has been watching you the whole time.” This time there was no mockery or sarcasm in his voice only deadpan factual information.
It was like someone kicked me in the chest, taking my breath away. “What?” I whispered, hoping I heard him wrong.
“The freedom which you believed to have had is just an illusion. If I weren’t near you, another Rogue would suck you and your little brother dry just to make a statement. The resentment of the Stainless in the Rogue circles is high.”
“That’s not true. You are just trying to intimidate me.” Shaking my head, I took a step back needing space to think, to plan, to process the cluster fuck I was just shoved in front of and forced to swallow.
Shrugging, like all of it, had nothing to do with him while couldn’t caring less, the Asian vampire proceeded without intermission. “Then be my guest, see what happens when you are outside all alone after dark. But I don’t recommend it.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Is that a threat?”
“Take it as you like.” The Mickey Mouse Vamp threw a few bills on the countertop and whispered something in such a low tone that my human ears couldn’t pick it up.
“Ma’am what kind of slurpy? Ma’am?” The man minding the booth loudly exclaimed like he was annoyed by my slowness to decide.
“What?” Looking at the Slurpy guy with annoyance that was on the borderline of anger, I completely forgot my fake southern accent. I was too immersed into the information I had just received to be polite at someone who was interrupting a very important conversation. Seeing the shocked look, I immediately corrected my mistake. “I mean what, sugar?” For additional display of my innocence, I fluttered my eyelashes dramatically and leaned on the counter giving him my full attention.
The guy blushed and with much less irritation decided to be polite and asked again yet much more politely. “The slurpy, which kind would you like?”
“Coca Cola would be nice,” I said absentmindedly then looked at the spot where the rude vampire was standing.
But as I turned to ask for additional explanation, the only testament of his existence was the Mickey Mouse hat on the counter beside the money.
Great. Just freaking marvellous.