VIVIENNE HAD forgotten how much she used to love the steps of the library. There was a grandeur about the wide marble steps accompanied by guardian lions that made her feel like a princess of the wilderness. But today, carrying her cellphone in one white-knuckled hand and her bag containing a Vampire-stake-gun in the other, that memory felt like a travesty. Vivienne wandered back and forth between the two columns lining the doorway into the library. Lady Maglania’s men were watching her, or so Maglania promised. They would intervene if things got complicated.
Vivienne’s mind swirled with terrifying ideas of what they meant by that term. But somehow, all of the possible scenarios ended with her head rolling on the floor like Wisteria’s. The cars sped by under the grey November sky. None of them slowed down in front of the library. Blake was late. She hoped he wouldn’t come.
Then, as she made another lap around the columns, a hand grabbed her from behind. She nearly screamed if not for the fact that her abductor suddenly appeared in front of her smiling widely.
“Gotcha!” He said, laughing. His eyes flashed brightly like a cat’s.
“Glenn?” She asked and glanced around nervously. He was alone. “I thought -”
“My master couldn’t come personally. He sent me to come in his place. Don’t worry, Lady Ornelias, I showered before I came, this time.” His eyes fell to her bag. Without a moment’s hesitation, he reached out grabbed the straps. He easily tugged the bag out of her hands and the stun gun along with it. “Let me carry that for you,” he said. “Come with me, the town car is this way.”
Vivienne only had a second to shoot a pained look at the general direction of Lady Maglania’s men. She hoped that they had a back-up plan for extracting her from Blake’s clutches alive.
She followed Glenn down the stairway into a black town car that had been parked around the corner. Glenn opened a rear-end door for her and ushered her inside. It was pitch dark and Vivienne saw only the dimmest reflection of light from the tinted windows. Glenn handed her bag and shut the door behind her. He went around the front to the passenger side door.
“Boss, where to?” Glenn asked.
“The pier,” a voice responded from the darkness.
Glenn nodded and closed shut down the divide between their seats leaving Vivienne along with her secretive companion. She didn’t need the light to recognize him.
“Blake?” Vivienne asked. “Where are you taking me?”
“Not far,” he responded. “I’m sorry I didn’t meet you personally.”
The car pulled away from the curb and Vivienne tried her best not to let her panic show on her face. Allison couldn’t be far behind. She wouldn’t let her best friend come to a bloody end at the hands of a vampire. Vivienne grabbed a handful of her jacket and squeezed hard. She needed all the courage she could muster to finish this, alone.
“What are you letting them turn you into, Blake?” Vivienne asked. She tried to force her eyes not to stare at the divide between her and front seat where her bag was. All of this wealth, this city was alien to her. She never belonged here. All she had to do was to plunge that gun into his heart and pull the trigger. Then the nightmare would end. The longer she sat here with him the more she began to question her determination. Underneath all the fancy suits and the sophisticated air, he was still the boy who used to hide in his parents’ attic with her. Blake suddenly reached out with one gloved hand and grabbed her. She nearly jumped out of her skin at his touch.
“This isn’t me,” Blake whispered to her. His voice sounded hoarse. He squeezed her fingers hard, too hard. She winced but he didn’t notice. “Your hands are like ice,” he suddenly noticed. “What’s wrong?” He removed his glove and wrapped his hand around hers. He was beautiful, too inhumanly beautiful. She missed the boy she once knew, the one who was nothing but a pile of rough elbows and knobby knees. Sitting there in his gorgeous fitted suit and crisp white shirt, he was simply another handsome stranger.
The town car had pulled into rocky and deserted country road that was leading them into a mountainous wasteland. There wasn’t another person or vehicle in sight. Lady Maglania wasn’t coming for her. She was in this by herself now. “It was all your thirst for power, wasn’t it? It got you into a rut now didn’t it?
Blake seemed to find her taunts funny. He smiled and leaned forward. “I guess you really don’t know the role you had in all of this. From the beginning, it was all because of you. But you are special Vivienne. You were born with an ability that is so special that they don’t even know about it yet. If they did, they would destroy you.” Blake sighed as he continued to hold her hand in his like it was his prisoner. “I wish I could show you.”
She slowly unzipped the top of her bag as quietly as possible. Every tooth of the zipper sounded like thunder to her ears. Vivienne reached into her bag and pulled out the gun. She pointed it at him but couldn’t bring herself to pull the trigger. Her hand shook as her sweaty index finger stroked the trigger. “Did you kill Wisteria?” Vivienne asked.
Blake didn’t look terribly impressed by her gun. He leaned his chin against his closed fist and stared out the window at the cityscape going by. “I did,” he finally said. “Was she your friend?”
“Yes!” Vivienne snapped. “And you killed her in cold blood. You’re a monster!”
“Then go ahead and shoot me.” Blake finally said.
Vivienne’s hand shook and then finally she lowered the gun and laid it down on her lap. “Tell me why you killed her. You must have a reason. Were you drinking her blood? Are you planning to do the same to me?”
“No,” Blake said, wearily. His eyes glowed dimly in the darkness. “I killed her because she had been abandoned there with her neck severed open by another monster, who unfortunately happens to an irritating acquaintance of mine. If I wanted your blood Vivienne, you wouldn’t be sitting here holding that ridiculous weapon right now.”
“But Allison said you’re a blood-thirsty monster,” Vivienne snapped. “She’s my best friend.”
“Oh, you shared our plans with Lady Maglania?” Blake asked with an eyebrow raised. He sighed again, this time more profoundly. “You didn’t give her the necklace did you?”
Vivienne didn’t reply. She stared at Blake and then slowly nodded her head. Blake lowered his head into his hand for a second. It seemed that she finally got to him. When he looked back at her his eyes were filled with anger. He made a fist and drove it into the door of the car. He took a deep resigned breath and then sat back.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
“I broke a bond that never should have been made,” Vivienne said. “What’s so important about that necklace, about the bond between us?”
“What does it matter now?” Blake asked. He stared out the window with anger in his eyes. For a second, perhaps it was her imagination, his eyes looked red as though he was becoming tearful. Vivienne leaned forward and grabbed his hand. She squeezed it. That was when that the vision started.
The car disappeared and Vivienne was standing back in River Way, in a forest far from the manor. It was nightfall, the last light of twilight fading from the skies. Vivienne felt the coldness of the autumn air on her bare skin. Standing before her, was Blake, not the Blake she knew but the one she had remembered. He was a boy of eleven, wearing a light, black, hooded coat. He pulled his collar against his neck and shivered as though he felt the cold too.
He was distracted by something in the distance. Vivienne saw him creeping slowly toward a sound that was just beyond her line of sight. She heard a voice beside her coming from the shadows.
“Follow him,” the voice said. “Isn’t this what you always wanted? To finally know what happened that night I died.”
Vivienne nodded and walked quietly beside the boy. She was inside of Blake’s mind, watching his memories unfold as she had done to Calbert. The boy crept after a shadowy creature through the forest into a clearing. Vivienne watched as Blake hid behind a tree while the creature scouted about. Blake’s breathing quickened as he watched. Vivienne noticed the creature was clutching something to its breast. It dropped the object in the center of the clearing. It was a black house cat, its neck ripped open and bleeding. The cat jerked as it was thrown on the ground.
The creature crawled to one of the sinkholes on the ground that was covered with a lid. Vivienne saw it rip a heavy metal covering off and then crawl into the hold. Vivienne followed Blake as he slowly crept closer. He was trembling violently with fear as he sucked in a breath at the sight of the body of the cat. He approached the hole and peered down into it. Vivienne saw the metal lid had the Thorne family crest on it, the willow tree.
“My father told me never to explore this part of the forest,” the voice beside her whispered. “Do you know what was inside those holes, Vivienne?”
“Nectar,” Vivienne said.
“Yes, Dark Waters,” the voice said. “This was why my father was executed. It had everything to do with this place where I was never supposed to go. And until the last few nights, I had never gone.”
“Why did you do it?” Vivienne asked but their conversation was interrupted by a skeletal hand that appeared from the hole. The creature Blake had been following, crawled out of the hole and its glowing eyes caught sight of the young boy.
Blake backed up and held his cane out to the creature. “Stay back,” he said, his voice trembling. “These are my family’s ground. You are trespassing, fiend. I am Blake Thorne, son of Sebastian Thorne. My family has long defended Ignias against demons like you.”
The creature laughed as he crawled toward the boy. Vivienne saw the nectar drip off the monster’s body, thick black oily droplets with iridescent sheen. A long snake-like tongue appeared in the creature’s mouth.
“Where is the girl?” The creature asked. “You know the one I speak of, little lord. The one with the cursed blood in her veins.”
Blake gave out a angry cry and stabbed his wooden cane at the creature’s chest. The creature struck out with one skeletal arm and knocked Blake off his feet. He fell several feet away and landed with a hard thump. Vivienne saw Blake roll over and push himself back up on his feet. He had a bloody bruise on the side of his head. He stumbled forward with determination. The creature laughed again.
“I will find her whether you will give her to me or not, Lord Thorne.” The creature slithered toward Blake and grabbed at his ankles, its tongue licking the blood that was dripping down Blake’s shirt and onto his pants. “You too have such potent blood,” the creature said. “The two of you will be no ordinary meal.”
The creature advanced on Blake who was brandishing his cane but slowly backing up against the pit.
“There is nowhere else to go,” the creature said as Blake barely maintained his balance at the edge. “Poor little lord, so brave and yet so helpless.” Slowly, Vivienne saw Blake’s cane start to glow in dull blue-gold veins. He pointed back at the monster who squirmed in its light. “You know the fight is already lost,” the monster said. “Give me the girl and I will leave these grounds.”
Blake looked back down at the pit and then back at the monster. Vivienne saw the anger on his bloody face replaced by a look of peace. “The fight has only begun,” Blake whispered as he took a step backward and fell into the pit.
Vivienne ran to the edge of the pit and looked down. She saw nothing but darkness, in the distance, she heard a splash of water. Then, after what seemed like forever, she saw a hand appear on the edge of the pit. A creature appeared from the pit with enormous wings and talons like that which she saw at the castle. Its eyes glowed emerald, such a familiar emerald. It lounged past Vivienne and attacked the monster with the snake tongue, ripping it to pieces. Vivienne watched as the feather and fur melted from the winged creature’s body and Blake appeared, wet and bloody. He crawled to the body of the cat and sank his teeth into it. As he drank, the wounds on his body started to heal.
Vivienne blinked and drew back. She felt the leather of the town car against her skin. She was still breathing hard from what she had seen. Blake was staring absently out the car window, his hand still resting on the car seat where she was holding it. Vivienne had a feeling despite his appearance of indifference, he was terribly mad at her and couldn’t even look at her.
Her mind was reeling if he had become a demon to save her why didn’t he just tell her so. So he was the creature she had seen kill the demon-woman at the party. He had heard her cry for help, because of their bond. That bond was lost now that she had given the necklace to Lady Maglania.
“What did he mean by my cursed blood?” Vivienne asked.
“It’s nothing,” Blake said in a reassuring voice. “Just the ranting of a lunatic.” There he was again, speaking to her like she was a child, to be protected and comforted. She almost wished he would yell at her instead of regarding her with composed frustration.
Vivienne slid the gun off her lap and moved closer to him. She raised her wrist and offered it to him. “Go ahead, this is what you want, isn’t it?”
He shook his head. “Not anymore, not after everything. Just behave yourself until we get to the pier. If your friend beats us there you might not live to see dawn.”
“The necklace was why you came to save me from that demon at the party. That’s out connection.”
Blake nodded absently as though this should have been obvious to her. “It’s also why no other demons have come after you all these years. They could sense my presence on you. It turns out I made quite a fearsome demon. Now that it’s gone, she can turn me against you, force me to kill you. That’s why you need to get to the pier.”
Vivienne reached out and grabbed his hand. Slowly, he turned his head to look at her.
“I’m sorry,” Vivienne whispered. “I didn’t know. You didn’t have to sacrifice yourself to save me. I wish there was some way to take it back.”
Blake smiled gently at her. He reached out and stroked her hair with the tips of his fingers. “I could never stay angry with you.” He took her hand in his and brought her hand to his mouth for a kiss. “I’ll always fight for you, even against the most hopeless odds.” He continued to kiss her hand, slowly moving his way to her wrist. Slowly, she felt his teeth pierced her skin. Vivienne winced at first at the pain but then she was drawn into a trance. Her blood was leaving her but she didn’t care. It started slowly at first, a teasing kind of pleasure, sweeter than the sweetest chocolate. It came and it ebbed with his every sip. The sky started to blur and seemed alight with sparkling fireflies. It started to hurt more but she desperately wanted him to keep going. A strange warmth spread out from the tips of her fingers, up her arm, and then everywhere.