Adrian stops calling, I try calling him but he ignores me, it even gets to the point where he hangs up on me when I call.
I don’t know what happened to the relationship we had, I don’t know what I did wrong.
It’s been months since I’ve heard from him last, I have to keep moving though, I can’t get stuck on some stranger I barely know who lives halfway across the world.
Cynthia and I share a room while Thomas sleeps in my old room, he offered to take the couch but I remember how uncomfortable Adrian said it was. Besides, there have never been boundaries between Cynthia and I, so sharing a bed is not uncomfortable and it holds familiarity.
Thomas hooks Cynthia up with a job, but she doesn’t hold it long, she was taken as a thirteen year old and does not do well in crowds thanks to our time in Harlem.
“I can’t do anything,” Cynthia grumbles, walking inside and throwing her bag down, “I’m useless!”
“No, you’re not,” I say, going to her, “You just haven’t found your right fit.”
“I should just go back to the vampires,” she snarls under her breath, “At least I was good at that.”
“Don’t say that,” I gape, “Don’t even think that.”
Cynthia just rolls her eyes and then walks away, I’ll talk to her once she’s calmed down.
I look out the front door she barged through and then quickly shut and lock it.
Max looks up to me from his bed and tilts his head at me.
I’ve been afraid of the outside, I don’t like it when doors or windows are left open, fear is now a full part of who I am, I know I should try to move past it.
“Come on,” I sigh, I look over to Max and then grab his leash, “Let’s go for a walk.”
The dog bounds over to me, wagging his tail as I clip his leash on, I take him outside and ignore how my heart races and my hand clamp together in fear.
I know what they said about me, I know what the hunters said, they said that I was important, that I was favoured and different from the other girls.
I already knew that I was different, I knew that Thana preferred me, she favoured me and I know she wants me back, but I can’t figure out why and I don’t want to know, I’ve stopped picking at my memories; I know I’ve been compelled and I’m ok with that, I don’t want to remember any more than I do now.
Max and I actually enjoy our walk, the sun is out and the streets are relatively quiet, it’s just past lunchtime and most of the people have returned to their jobs, I walk as far as I can before turning around and returning home.
“You’ve been gone for an hour,” Cynthia says once Max and I walk through the door, “That’s the longest you’ve ever been out alone.”
I shrug my shoulders and smile, I’m getting better, I can feel inside me, but somehow Cynthia doesn’t seem ok with that, she goes back to our room and shuts herself inside.
Thomas comes home at five, he places his hat down and runs a hand through his hair.
“Tough day?” I ask, already making him a coffee.
“Nah,” he sighs, “just the usual, mostly paperwork.”
Thomas sits at the kitchen counter and we talk about his day.
“I went for a walk today,” I say after he’s finished, “by myself, for an hour.”
“That’s great!” Thomas smiles, he places his hand on mine and squeezes gently, “I’m proud of you.”
Cynthia doesn’t join us for dinner and is already asleep when I look in on her, I don’t want to wake her, I know she’s had a hard day, so I decide to stay on the couch for the night.
Adrian was right, the couch is uncomfortable. I don’t sleep well and I can’t shake the feeling of dread that sits on my chest. At midnight the world seems to become draped in an eerie silence, not even the wind stirs outside.
At midnight, I roll off the couch and make my way to the kitchen for a glass of water, finding some distraction in the mundane task.
As I take a sip I hear glass shatter, the next thing I hear is a strangled scream followed by Max growling.
They’ve found me.
Thomas comes out of his room, wide-eyed with his gun pointed at the floor, he goes down the hall, heading towards my room.
“Thomas,” I whisper, wanting to warn him but my voice becomes lodged in my throat.
Thankfully, Thomas hears me, he hears me and comes into the kitchen.
“What was that?” Thomas asks.
I can’t answer, I slide down to the floor as another strangled sound comes from my room.
Max stands by me, he is ridged with his hackles raised and his tail stiff.
“Lolita!” a voice calls out.
Vampire, there’s a vampire here, his voice is deep and he growls like a lion as he stalks through the hall.
“Little Lolita, where are you?”
I cover my mouth with my hand as I hear a crash and my heart leaps into my throat.
Thomas stand and points his gun, I hear the gun go off, then it goes off again and again.
“What the hell?” Thomas says, I see his face go white and then a hand reaches out from the darkness of the hall and grabs him.
Max barks and then hurtles over the counter, I hear the vampire scream and then the gun goes off again.
I have to run, I have to run.
I get up and see the vampire stick his fangs into Thomas’s neck, the vampire's eyes are open and he looks right through me.
“Little Lolita,” the vampire smiles, he tears out Thomas’s throat and blood sprays all over the walls and floor.
I look over and see Max, he’s been thrown against a wall and he’s on the floor, he’s not moving.
“Thana wants you back,” the vampire hisses.
“I’m not going back,” I stammer, taking a step back until my back is pressed against the fridge, “Please, leave me alone.”
The vampire launches himself at me, I dodge out of his reach and he smashes into the fridge.
“Come here you little cunt!” he roars, racing after me.
I try to reach for the door, but the vampire tackles me into the couch and we fall onto the floor.
I hit my head and see white spots dance around my vision.
“Little Lolita,” the vampire coos, wrapping his hand around my throat, “Time to come home.”
I struggle against the vampires hold and he gets mad, he tightens his grip and then punches me in the stomach. The force cracks my rib and knocks the wind out of me.
The more I beg, the more I struggle, the worse it gets. He feeds off me and like all those before him, he becomes enchanted by my blood, he takes too much.
“Stop,” I whimper as my eyes fall upon my friend.
Thomas, he’s dead, his blood is soaking the floor and Max, Max still isn’t moving.
“Stop,” I say, something surges through me, something powerful.
The vampire ripples, he gets off of me and backs away.
“What are you doing?” he asks, his eyes wide in shock as another ripple goes through him.
I can barely keep my eyes open, but I hear the gun go off again, it goes off multiple times, the noise is deafening.
I lose consciousness, my head pounds and throbs, my whole body is burning with pain.
Voices swirl around me, my head is throbbing my back is throbbing, my whole body is burning in pain.
“Rowy,” a voice calls, it swirls around me and everything feels wrong.
“Help,” my voice is raspy, I can’t open my eyes, “Please.”
There are hands on me, and a loud blaring sound comes from the distance.
“Sorry,” the voice says, “Damn, I’m sorry, come on just stay with me, stay with me ok?”
I know his voice, it’s soft and purring, he’s soft and calming.
“Alec,” I know his name, no one knows his name, but I do.
“It’s me,” he confirms, “This is going to hurt.”
Something snaps and I can’t help but scream as pain shoots up my arm.
“Please,” I whimper, I don’t want to be in pain anymore, “Help me.”
“I can’t,” he whispers as the noise gets louder, “I can’t help, they’re coming to help you.”
Tears are burning my eyes, my throat feels as if it’s on fire.
“They’re here,” Alec says, whispering as the sirens stop.
I find his hand through the darkness and squeeze him, “Don’t leave me,” I beg, my throat rasping.
I can feel the tension in Alec’s hand, he was going to leave, he should leave, but instead, he relaxes and then whispers, “I won’t, I promise.”
Things go silent again, my mind slips from me and the next time I am conscious, I am in a bed.
The sheets are soft and the bed is firm, this isn’t my bed. I remember what happened to me, I remember the vampire who broke in, he killed Cynthia… he killed Thomas.
I manage to crack an eye open, but it hurts, one of my eyes can’t open at all.
The smell of disinfectant and cleanliness burns my nostrils and makes my stomach churn.
My heart is racing, I can hear it on the monitor next to the bed. There’s an IV drip attached to my arm and there are wires on my chest.
But there is a weight that pressing down on the bed to my right, I have to crane my neck to look at the source of the weight, what I see is shocking, there is a vampire sleeping next to me, he is sitting on a chair and leaning on the side of my bed, this can’t be happening.
But I remember him, I remember asking him to stay, I remember who he is.
“Alec,” I breathe, in an instant, his eyes snap open and look to me.
“Rowaelin,” he whispers back, not moving from his position.
I remember him, he’d travel with my father when my would father come and visit, I don’t remember my father, but I remember him, I remember how I trust him and how safe he makes me feel.
“Are you ok?” he asks, watching me carefully.
“It hurts,” I whisper truthfully, my whole body seems to be freezing yet burning at the same time, “Alec, it hurts.”
“I’ll get them to up your morphine dosage,” he says, sitting up calmly and slowly, “But you’re going to have to heal yourself.”
“Why?” I ask, “Why can’t you just take me away?”
“Because there is a hunter coming for you,” he says, his voice lowering, “They called the hunter, Sylvanus, he’s coming to get you.”
“Max,” I breathe, remembering Adrian’s dog, he wasn’t moving when I saw him last.
“The dog is fine,” Alec soothes, taking my hand and squeezing it, “he is at a vet and they’ll bring him here when they can.”
I let go of the breath I was holding, the tears that well in my eyes start to leak out, my friends are gone.
“Cynthia called Thana,” Alec says, my eye widens as best as it can and I look at Alec in shock, “She called Thana hoping for mercy, she wanted to return.”
“I don’t know,” Alec says, flexing his hands, “I heard about the plan too late, when I got there he was shooting himself in the head repeatedly until I killed him."
Why me? Why can’t they just leave me alone?
A doctor walks into the room, the same doctor who looked after me after I was shot.
“Rowaelin,” she greets with a smile, “you’re awake, good.”
“She needs more morphine,” Alec says immediately, “She’s in a lot of pain.”
The doctor looks to Alec and rolls her eyes, it's obvious that they’ve met before; the doctor isn’t afraid of him, but she does as he tells her.
“You have three broken ribs,” The doctor starts after administering the drug, “you have a lot of internal bleeding and bruising, your right arm is broken,” I look down to my arm and find it poking out of the sheet, encased in a white cast, “your shoulder was also dislocated, but Ren put that back in place for you.”
I look over to Alec and he nods his head, he doesn’t look the same as he did a moment ago, he seems more like the monster I saw on the road that night he saved me.
I should be afraid of him, just his look should be enough to paralyse me with fear, but his eyes are the same, they’re soft and familiar, they’re Alec’s.
“Rowaelin, did you hear me?” the doctor asks, I tear my eyes off Alec and then turn to the doctor, “I said that the police are here, they want to ask you some questions, if you’re ok with that?”
I nod my head once and the doctor smiles.
“Give us a moment before sending them in,” Alec says as the doctor turns to leave, she just sighs and then walks away.
“How do you do that?” I ask, speaking around my sore throat, Alec’s eyes are still on me as he raises an eyebrow in question, “How do you seem to change your face?”
“A secret to tell another time,” Alec says with a smile and a wink, “I should leave before the hunters turn up.”
“But it’s daylight,” I stammer, looking to the window that Alec avoids.
“I’ll find somewhere to hide, don’t you worry about me little bird,” Alec stands and then leans forward to place a kiss on my forehead, “Don’t worry,” he says, straightening and putting on his jacket, “I won’t be far, I’ll come if you need me.”
I watch Alec leave, he goes out into the hall and then disappears just as two police officers walk into the room.
“Miss Rowaelin Black, I am detective Jon Maddens,” the first says, “And this is my partner, Detective Amy Denver, we’d like to ask you a few question’s if you’re up to it?”
I nod my head and the detective pulls out a note pad.