35. How to Have Nothing Change
Dimly, I was aware of blood leaving my body. The burning pain in my neck that dulled with every passing moment. The shadows growing in my vision as the vampire sucked the life from me.
I didn’t care. I couldn’t care.
Mom was dead. And it was my fault. I wasn’t fast enough. I wasn’t strong enough.
The vampire suddenly drew back, spitting harshly. “You don’t taste human,” he said, snarling, his face, blood dribbling out of his mouth, looming into my field of view. “What kind of witchcraft have you been playing with, girl?”
If I’d been in a better state of mind, I would have been insulted. Me? Dabbling in witchcraft? Magic and sorcery and unnatural? The idea was almost laughable, with my broken sense of humor.
But I stayed silent. There was no use in fighting against the vampire, not now. I was going to die. I wanted to die.
Please, please, just let me die.
The disgusted sneer left the vampire’s expression, and his nostrils twitched. Flared. A grin crossed his face as he ran his tongue over his teeth, which were stained red with blood. My blood. The idea, on a normal day, would have nauseated me. Angered me. But today? Here and now? It was a reminder of exactly how close I was to death. A welcome concept.
The pain in my neck flared again as the vampire lowered his head back down, finishing what he started. I began to grow dizzy, my mind spinning, swooning. I saw Mom’s body out of the corner of my eye, growing blurry with each passing moment as the blood left me.
She wouldn’t have wanted me to just give up and die with her. No mother would want that. She would have made me fight, scream, live.
Not that I had much strength left to do that. If I was going to fight, I should have done it five minutes ago. Now? It was too late.
Besides, having hope while facing death head-on was useless. There was no way out of this for me. Nobody knew where I was. Nobody even knew that I was out here. It had just been Mom and I, and we’d left the safe house without breathing to a single soul where we were going. Why we were leaving in the first place.
My body slumped lower, unable to stay upright for much longer. My vision narrowed to a bleary tunnel as I focused on Mom’s body.
As my eyes closed for what I assumed would be the final time, the vampire’s fangs, sunken deep into my neck, were torn out of me with a force that ripped at my skin. I felt blood slink down my throat, briefly pooling on my shoulder before dripping down the front of my shirt. It was quite an uncomfortable sensation, and definitely not one you want to have as you’re dying.
And I was. Dying, I mean. I knew it then, and I still know it now. Even if I had been able to survive being the vampire’s dinner, with the newest addition to my neck wounds, there was a high chance that I was going to die here, in the street. Like Mom. Like Kenny. Like so many people I knew or didn’t know. I was bleeding out, and I wasn’t afraid to die.
Okay, maybe I was. Just a bit.
I heard it when the vampire was killed by whatever threw it off of me. The sickeningly sweet sound of a stake being shoved through its heart. The vampire screamed before it crumbled into ash, which was swiftly blown away by the wind. It was an old one, then.
I was okay with a vampire’s death being the last thing I ever heard.
That was when a warm, tingling sensation appeared on my neck, right where the wound should be. It spread through me, moving into my very bones, my veins, my heart.
It stopped abruptly, just as the smallest bit of energy seeped into my muscles.
I opened my eyes, only to see a pair of blue eyes matching my own staring down at me.
“Oh, Reese,” Cedric said, his voice thick with sorrow and fear. “I’m so sorry.”
Me too, brother. I thought dimly. Me too.
When I awoke, I noticed three things.
One: There was a delicious warmth pressed against my back, as well as an arm was thrown across my waist.
Two: I was not in my room.
Three: My neck hurt like a bitch.
I didn’t regard them necessarily in that order. On top of that, I was sweating, my hair was more of a disaster than usual, and I was pretty sure I had been drooling. Also, I desperately needed to use the bathroom.
Honestly, the only one of the observations that concerned me was my neck. I don’t know about you, but I was pretty sure things that happen in dream memories aren’t supposed to translate into real life. Unless it was some witchy-voodoo thing that I unlocked when Rebecca made me acknowledge my supernatural heritage.
Fucking hell, I really hope this isn’t a witch thing. I don’t want waking up with unexplained injuries to become a regular thing. Maybe Elijah had a loose screw in his bed that I impaled myself on.
Which reminded me of the hulking presence lying behind me. Which in turn gave me memories of last night, ones that I would be all-too-happy to forget and move on from and never think of ever again.
Yeah. You need to leave, right now. It’s bad enough you stayed the night. But still being here when he wakes up? That says something.
Wow. My subconscious is really helpful. Maybe it has a loose screw somewhere.
My bladder screamed at me, as if it was telling me to get the fuck out of there. Like I needed the reminder. Carefully, so as not to wake Elijah up, I slowly wiggled my way out from under his arm and shifted my weight gradually off the bed, before grabbing my clothes and sneaking off to the bathroom. I let out a quiet sigh of relief as the door locked shut behind me with a click.
It was bad enough that I stayed the night. Still being here when he woke up would be making a statement. One that I have no desire to make.
Oh, well. We all make mistakes. I just wish I hadn’t made so many.
After washing my hands, I ran them through my hair, fighting to rid myself of the worst of the tangles. Elijah’s hairbrush taunted me on the counter, but I downright refused to use it. I had my own hairbrush, thank you very much. I’d use it when I returned to my own room. For now, I threw the rebellious strands into a rough ponytail and called it a successful battle.
I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror as I dressed, and I frowned, spying something on my neck that shouldn’t be there. The source of that dull, persistent ache, perhaps? I tugged down the collar of my shirt so I can examine it more closely.
Did the bastard give me a fucking hickey?
Oh, the audacity, to put a mark on me like that, as though I was his, like he could mark me as his territory, however temporarily, and expect me to just be okay with it...
The logical part of my brain started spinning, seeking answers that ticked at the back of my mind. I vaguely remember reading about hickeys when I was thirteen, having recently read an online fanfiction and was mildly curious about sexual acts and etcetera. I read that hickeys weren’t supposed to hurt; the physical aspect of it, the bruise-like mark, was just a result of capillaries rupturing under the skin and the blood seeping into the surrounding tissue. But unlike a bruise, they’re not tender to the touch. In fact, they’re generally painless.
The mark on my neck, however, hurt like a bitch. Especially when I poked it.
I pulled the shirt away further, leaning in close to properly examine it. Wait... was that blood on my neck? I yanked down the shirt, exposing my collarbone. There! Another spot of blood. It was rubbed away in places, but if I filled in the missing pieces...
The blood would have flowed from my neck and down past my collarbone, just like in my dream. If I went back into the bedroom, there would probably be splotches of blood on the pillow and sheets where it rubbed off my skin.
Gritting my teeth, I ran a finger over the marking. Pain flared, the sensation reminding me of a vampire bite, only without the venom. Wait... I repeated the motion, inhaling sharply. There were bumps on the mark, like scabbed over bite marks.
“What the fuck?”
I stormed out of the bathroom, the door slamming against the wall as I threw it open. Rage flared up within me, stronger than any other time I’ve been this angry. Well, lately, I guess. There was that time I was ready to riot in front of a warlock’s apartment, but that’s a story for another time.
Actually, rage wasn’t a strong enough emotion to describe what I was feeling. I was livid. I was murderous. I was ready for the streets of Toronto to run red with the blood of the werewolf pack.
Also, I’d woken up Elijah with my shouting.
He sat bolt upright, blinking, his hair rumbled in a way that I probably would have appreciated had I not been ready to stab him forty-three times. Why was my dagger never here when I needed it? I’d have to go hunting for it later, otherwise, I’d be forced to get creative with how I killed the Alpha. Would decapitating him work?
If not, watching him run around searching for his head would provide me with an insurmountable amount of amusement.
“Reese?” His voice was tired, making it sound husky and irregular.
Now is not the time to be attracted to him, Reese! Focus!
I stormed over to him, glaring silver daggers. “What the fuck did you do?”
He raised an eyebrow, seemingly confused, though his green eyes glinted with a knowing look. “What are you talking about?”
Not buying his bullshit for a second, I let out a long, frustrated sigh and yanked down the collar of my shirt, fully exposing the Mark. “That. What the fuck is that? I’m entirely certain it wasn’t there last night! So what the hell did you do?”
He stared at it for a long, agonizing moment, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. I crossed my arms, impatiently tapping my foot.
Then he smirked.
He fucking smirked.
“I think,” he said slowly. “That you know exactly what that is.”
I could not believe him.
“You Marked me,” I growled. “After I specifically told you no biting. Actually, what I said was to keep your dog-teeth away from my neck.” I waved a hand toward the Mark. “What got lost in translation?”
His smirk turned into a grin. A wicked one. His eyes glittered with a cold menace, completing the ensemble. In a flash, he grabbed my wrist and pulled me on top of him, a blanket the only thing separating us. Well, that, and the fact that I was fully clothed.
I tried not to think about how he was not clothed and likely completely naked under the covers. I didn’t recall him throwing those pajamas back on. Then again, I didn’t remember him biting me, either.
“Oh?” Still clutching my wrist, he slowly brought my hand up to his lips. “You would have preferred if I Marked you elsewhere?” His mouth trailed down my palm, stopping at my wrist. “Perhaps here?” He nipped lightly at the spot. Despite myself, I let out a sharp gasp. “Oh here?” He wandered up my arm, stopping to press a kiss against my shoulder, pulling up my sleeve. I shuddered, the sensation was much more overpowering than it has ever been. Because of that stupid bond. Unable to go any further because of my shirt, he tugged me closer, his mouth roaming up my jaw. “Or even-”
I pulled away and rolled off the bed before he could react. “Stop,” I snarled. “I’m not letting you get away with this, Elijah Randon. You Marked me. Without my consent. In fact, I told you not to.”
“You’re my mate,” he said simply. “And I’m an Alpha. I can do what I wish.”
“That is not true.” I was seriously considering the decapitation option. “I’m not your property. I’m not a possession. I’m not a thing to be owned. I’m a human.” Well, kind of. “And, if I recall correctly, I’m supposed to be your equal now, whatever that means.” If it means I’m supposed to help lead this pack, allow me to lead it to its death. “I promise you, Elijah, you will pay for this.”
While I was somewhat proud of my little outburst, he looked more amused than anything. “I do seem to remember you saying something similar when I killed your father,” he mused. “And yet, here I still stand, alive and well, perfectly fine.”
I flinched at the mention of my father.
And as I flinched, he did.
The completed bond. Well, that’s interesting.
“I can assure you,” I said softly, a cold quiet. “That you will get what’s coming for you. And I will be there when it happens.”
Without waiting for him to say another word, I stormed out of the room, ignoring the swell of guilt rising in the pit of my stomach.
I buried the feeling deep, deep down, where not even I could find it again.
Marks my words, Elijah Randon. Mate or not, I will end you, even if it’s the last thing I ever do.
Even if your death will send me unwillingly into the deepest depression I’ve ever known.