Five years, five months, two weeks, four days; 47,832 hours
It has been five years, five months, two weeks, four days, and 47,832 hours since the day she left. Five years, five months, two weeks, four days; 47,832 hours since my non beating heart was practically taken from my chest and put into the backseat of that black sedan to drive away and never be seen again.
The biggest issue with being an immortal and enhanced being is that I will never forget that pain. It will feel just as real as it did in that exact moment five years ago, for the rest of my existence. I envy that of humans. Their minds help them to suppress pain, it helps them remember things differently. They can take what they want from a memory, but not me. I see it all. There was never a chance in hell or heaven or anywhere else that I would forget her, but at least if I was human, like her, I could move forward. I wouldn’t spend every single day obsessing over the way it sounded when she sighed, the way she smelt when she came down from the gardens, the glimmer in her eyes when she was determined, or the sound of her voice when she begged, begged me not to send her away. I can’t escape it.
It is the same every single day. I can’t go back inside that room that I shared with her. The room she became mine, and me hers. I can’t face the memories in that room, or the ones in the gardens. I haven’t been back there. I go about my nights, doing what must be done, but although I am technically a vampire, I feel more like I move through my life in a ghost like state. I’m a shell of a man without her warm hand in mine. Every time I close my eyes, hers is the only face I ever see.
Her plump red cheeks, her piercing blue eyes that saw through the soul I didn’t even know I had before meeting her, her pink lips, the way she’d chew on her bottom lip when she was nervous, her strawberry blond hair blowing in the wind or slick down her back in the rain. It was always her.
I wish I could soften the memories. I wish they didn’t feel so real, maybe then I could get over what happened here, but I can’t. Not when her ghost haunts me everywhere.
Five years, five months, two weeks, four days, and 47,832 hours since she left, and I still can remember every second of that night in painful detail…
“I’m not going anywhere, Calvin.” She promised, her big eyes swollen from tears. She tried to smile at me, pulling me closer in the bed beside her, but her expression faded, a thought clouding her mind for a minute. “I’m not going to forget this.” She whispered to me as she leaned over me, her hair falling around us like a curtain and she held my face in her delicate hands. “Because I’m not going anywhere.” She said again, that fierceness sparking in those eyes. She leaned down and pressed her soft lips to mine.
I kissed her back, not wanting her to see it in my face that it wasn’t true. I knew then that she was not mine anymore. Never mine to begin with. Rachel always belonged to Rachel. A man can’t claim ownership on a woman like her. If it were possible for my heart to break, it would have done it so many times that night…
“I need to tell you the truth, but I really just want to hold you while you sleep one last time.” I’d told her, my body aching to have her beside me again.
“No.” She whispered, determination was her favorite tone. “I don’t want you to tell me.” She decided. “I want you, Calvin, always…no matter what that means, I want to be with you. Please don’t tell me if it’s going to end us.”
I’d tried to tell her then, but she wouldn’t allow it.
“You don’t understand what you’re giving up.” I’d told her.
Her sigh could always make me smile. “I’m telling you I don’t want to know.” She said again. “There is no life for me that doesn’t include you.” Her voice so full of love, and she looked into my eyes, her face pleading. Pleading with me not to ruin what we have here. “If you love me, Calvin, don’t tell me.” She demanded and I had to look away from her. I wanted to give her the world, but not this world. I knew she didn’t belong here. “Make love to me, Calvin.” She whispered breathily.
I replay that one last time in my mind over and over all the time. Her porcelain skin, the way she’d breathe, the looks on her face. Who was I to deny her her last request? I needed to have her one last time just as much as she needed to forget all of her troubles.
Once she was fast asleep, a smile playing on her lips, I’d tucked her in, brushing her hair away from her face and kissing her warm cheek before I went in search of Pedro…
“Get the things together.” I told him as I sat down at my father’s desk. “I can’t do this to her anymore.”
Pedro lifted his thick eyebrows. “But, Calvin, you can’t let her leave.” He said shaking his head. “She has told me that she doesn’t want to know, so why can’t you just let her make her choice?” He asked me urgently. It was clear that he didn’t want her to go any more than I did.
“Pedro,” I’d sighed. “She doesn’t deserve this.” I told him. “She has a family, and a life waiting for her out there. Don’t you want that for her? Don’t you want her to be as happy as she can?”
“She’s happy with you, your highness.” He said softly.
“I know that she is, or at least tries to be, but you and I both know that she is just settling for this.” I reminded him. “She doesn’t even know that her whole stay here is a lie. She should know the truth.”
“So tell her.” Pedro said quickly. “Tell her the truth, get rid of your guilt, and I am sure that she will still chose to stay here with us. She belongs here.”
I closed my eyes, rubbing my exhausted eyes. “Pedro, you’re letting your feelings cloud your judgement. We can’t keep her a prisoner here, she should be out there.” I said, pointing up. Rachel belonged in the sun, with other humans like her, not locked away in this underground dungeon that would only snuff out her light like it had done to my mother.
Pedro’s shoulder slumped forward and he turned away from me, not before I could see the wetness growing in his eyes. “I’ll gather the things.” He said softly, shuffling out of the room.
Sitting in my father’s study, all I could think about was him and my mother. He really did love her, as much as I like to tell myself otherwise. The old man had found love in her, and he was obsessed with her. He was sure that she loved him too. He pampered her, gave her everything she could dream of, but at the same time, he held back the one thing that would truly make her happy, and that was freedom. My mother believes the same lie as Rachel. There was never any reason that she couldn’t leave here and go back to her mother.
I shook my head at myself and slammed my fist down on the desk. I’d let myself put another girl through the same thing my mother had gone through. I swore not to be like him, but then here I sat, keeping a secret from the one I loved the most, holding back the one thing that could make her life whole. I’d told her before, I don’t want to be like him.
“So don’t be.” She’d said with so much wisdom.
I can’t be like my father anymore. I think my mother did love my father, like I feel certain that Rachel does love me, but that didn’t stop this life from breaking my mother. She had a spirit so strong, and a light that she carried with her, but this place broke her. I won’t be a part of breaking Rachel’s spirit. I’m going to let her light shine, like she should.
I knew it was the right choice then, and I still don’t question that, but I never intended for things to go the way that they did that night.
I still had the matter of Daniel’s father to deal with, so I left the study and made my way with my guards to level three. No sooner than I stepped off of the elevator we were hit with the smell of fresh blood, and a lot of it. My vision was covered in a red haze from the scent.
“What’s going on?” I asked the guards urgently.
Cromley took out his radio to call in, but a guard came rushing our way from up the left corridor. “Your highness, we have a breach!” He shouted. “Someone has released all of the convicted from the dungeons.” He explained. “They’re all free.”
My body went rigid. There were nearly one thousand banished to the dungeons. “Sound the alarms.” I said horrified. Carnage was the only thing that could come from this. Somehow Castro must have done this, and if it was indeed him, he’ll be after revenge, which means he’ll be after Rachel.
The loud alarms assaulted my ears, making me cringe. I closed my eyes and braced myself for the flashing red lights to fill the corridors. Because when we are in a feeding state our vision becomes red, having a strobing red light throws off our vision. That along with the sounds of the sirens, it makes things more confusing for us. Slowing down potential attackers by disorienting them. I had to focus, picturing Rachel’s face to be able to resist the smell of the blood that I could tell was being spilled in an enormous amount by the minute.
Too much time. I’m wasting too much time. I snapped open my eyes, thinking to myself, what would Rachel do? When I left her she was in our room, but I find it hard to believe that she would stay there. Her friends are with her, the guards all most likely abandoned posts to help in the fight, so what would she do?
The answer was simple. She’d try to save her friends.
I bypassed the elevator, knowing I could move faster than it, and I ran for the passage that would lead me to the stairs. I flew up them, needing to see her safe, that way I could focus on getting the damned convicted back into the dungeons with the least amount of unnecessary blood shed from my people.
I crashed through the door when I heard the screaming, then I smelt the blood again. It was Lexton. My eyes turned again, giving me a bit of double vision, but I followed the scent. I could hear them, and smell them as I came around the corner.
“Help!” Lexton screamed and I saw one of my kind attacking Greer, and Tessa already spent on the ground.
The man was ripping into Greer’s neck, while holding Lexton by the arm with bone shattering strength. Her arm was definitely fractured in multiple places, the bone piercing through the skin near her elbow. Her eyes were full of terror and pleading me to help her. I smelled the air again, making sure that Rachel wasn’t with them, then I ran over, quickly ripping the head off of the man and breaking his arm off of Lexton’s. She screamed in agony at the movement, but I drug her behind me up the hall to the stairway that would take her to the bunkers. “Where is Rachel?” I asked quickly, shoving the little black code reader that she’d need to get into the bunker into her hand.
Lexton looked like she might go into shock at any minute, but I shook her shoulders, causing her more pain than I meant to. She screamed, throwing back her head. “She went to find you!” She said with a cracking voice.
Of course she did. Rachel never does the thing that you expect her to do. Why would she risk herself like this for me? I can take care of myself, but she can’t against this kind of threat.
I pushed Lexton into the right direction, knowing that only Pedro was down below, and waiting at the bunker.
If Rachel is looking for me, then she probably went down to level three thinking I had gone to speak with Castro again. I’d never felt real terror in my whole life until that realization came to me. If Rachel, human Rachel, went to the main level of the attack, then there was a very high chance that I was going to find the reason of my existence dead on the floor somewhere.
As soon as I hit the third level, my fear backed off just barely when I could hear her angelic voice filtering through the corridors, but I knew she was in danger because she was with Castro.
I ran fast as my feet would carry me, freezing for a split second when I saw her.
Castro was standing in almost the exact same spot as I had found my dead mother all those years ago. It was like it was all coming full circle on me. My father loved her so much that she died, and now, the girl I love is being held up against a wall by her delicate neck all because I love her. I should have set her free so long ago.
“I tried to do the right thing!” I shouted, running full speed towards him, easily taking him down to the ground, Rachel falling to the floor with a thud behind me. I killed Castro, my stomach aching at the look in his eyes right before he died. That same look that Daniel had before I ended him.
I took care of Castro, then turned back to my queen sprawled out on the floor, with tears in my eyes. This was just like my mother. She was lying in the same place.
I’d decided right then and there that I couldn’t do this to her anymore. It would have to be tonight, not the goodbye I wanted, but the one that was necessary. I’d seen her friends die, I’d seen my mother die, and I wasn’t willing to watch her suffer the same fate.
I turned away, only for a second, back to the pyre that was Castro, and I quickly pulled a tablet from my pants pocket, telling Pedro to bring me the papers. I knew this was coming. The information she needed, and my letter were already written and waiting inside of an envelope in my father’s study. He replied instantly in agreement, telling me the car would be waiting.
I turned back to Rachel, a tear rolling down from my eyes.
I lifted her from the ground and ran with her as fast as my feet would carry me. I needed her away from the danger, even if that danger is me.
In passing Pedro slid the envelope to me discretely.
Too quickly, but also not fast enough, I had her on her feet on the edge of my little faux town.
She was shaking as she stared into my eyes. “What’s going on, Calvin?” She asked warily.
“You’re leaving, Rachel.” I whispered, my own body shaking with a chill when I said that out loud.
Her breathing stopped suddenly and she widened her eyes. “What? No!” She shouted, trying to go back into the city but I stopped her.
I tried to make her see. I tried to help her understand why I was sending her away from me, but I could hear the hurt in her voice and see the betrayal on her face. I cried when I told her the truth. I told her it was all a lie. There was no vampire takeover that had changed the world. The world was the same as it ever was. I told her she could be free, but she didn’t want to hear it. Pedro had been right. Given the choice, she would have chosen me. That realization was almost just as painful as pushing her away from me. She wasn’t even angry. I wanted her to slap me, to call me names, tell me she hated me for doing this to her, for tricking her into believing she had no other choice but me, but of course, Rachel never does what you expect.
She shattered me by begging for me not to make her leave. She said she didn’t care, said she wanted to be with me no matter what.
“You’re going home.” I told her.
She looked up at me with those shiny blue eyes and red face. “I am home.” She whimpered.
Thinking about her saying that to me still kills me, almost as much as what she had said next.
“You don’t belong here.” I told her, trying to make her see that it was true.
“I belong with you.” She cried, and I wanted to believe it. It hurt to know that she felt the same way as I did. I belong with her, but she doesn’t belong here. Rachel is my everything, my eternity, but she can’t lower herself to be with me.
“I love you, Rachel.” I’d professed, no truer words had ever, or would ever pass through my lips. This is me showing her my love.
I could see the man Pedro had hired behind her, the rag ready in his hand.
I looked at her one more time. My angel. My queen. My life. The pain on her face made me want to die a thousand painful deaths knowing that I was the one who had put that look there.
“Do it.” I nodded to the man and he stepped forward.
Her eyes widened with fear. “Calvin, no!” She shouted, fighting back. “I love you!” She yelled before his hand covered her mouth.
My body shook with painful sobs as her eyes rolled back and then closed, her body going limp.
I walked to her, taking her from the man and I cradled her against my chest.
“I’m so sorry.” I whispered over and over, my tears mixing with hers. “I love you, always, I’m doing this for you, Rachel.” I told her. “You don’t understand right now, but you will. You’ll see.” I nodded to myself. “I’m so sorry. I love you, Rachel.” I cried.
I kissed her head before I walked her over to the car, laying her carefully in the backseat, tucking the envelope back into her soft hands. I brushed her hair from her face for the last time, then I closed the door, backing up as the man got into the front seat and put the car in drive.
I screamed until I was hoarse as I watched the car disappear.
I collapsed onto the ground, slamming my fists against the cold stones over and over.
I felt a hand land gently on my shoulder and I looked back to see Pedro standing behind me with his other hand on his chest. “She’s gone?” He asked, his eyes full of tears too. Rachel had touched everyone’s life, not just mine. It was hard not to love her.
I nodded my head. “Did I just make the biggest mistake?” I asked quietly, still staring in the direction that the car took her.
Pedro patted my shoulder. “You did the right thing.”
“Do you really think so?”
Pedro looked at me hard and shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Five years, five months, two weeks, four days, and 47,832 hours later and I still ask myself that same question, especially right now. I knew I had done the right thing, but I didn’t know if it was a mistake. How do you know if doing the right thing is going to be worth all of the pain in the end? I never could have foreseen the dangers that would be coming now. I thought I had protected her, but now, now I don’t know.
My phone finally rang, stopping my pacing of the study. “Pedro?” I answered it urgently.
“Yes.” He replied. “I’m here.”
“And?” I asked, nerves running like electricity gone wild inside of me.
“She’s beautiful.” He said, the smile evident in his voice.
“Well, I already knew that.” I told him, smiling a little myself when I pictured her little face.
“I got Rachel to agree.” He told me. The confirmation both soothed my worried mind, and also scared it at the same time.
“So my plan is a go?”
“Plan is a go.” He replied.
I hung up the phone, then lowered myself into my chair. “Rachel.” I whispered her name into the empty room, her name ringing back in my ears over and over.
After five years, five months, two weeks, four days, and 47,832 hours, I’m going to see her again.