Chapter Two

The tiger's eye gemstone is considered a sign of the vampires. However, only humans associated with them wore the gems. Marisa had flirted with danger all her life, and then one night Death came knocking and she flirted with him, literally. So now she wore a tiger's eye necklace. The stone was shaped into a leopard, the favorite alternate form of her boyfriend. No other vampire would harm her because he had claimed her.
His name was Lysao, and he was waiting for her when she arrived at the bar that she had met him in. That was back when she didn't know about vampires. There were a few ignorant humans hanging around, but most of the humans knew exactly what they were dealing with; the majority of the crowd was vampires. They traveled around, mostly. They didn't have a regular spot and bars were just the easiest places to find in the middle of the night. Convenience led them to nightspots.
Lysao led Marisa into one of the dark corners where they usually made out. But this time he bit her neck, and she let him. It didn't hurt, and she liked the feeling anyway. She felt powerful, being a factor in this being's survival. He pulled away after only a few seconds, not wanting to make her feel sick.
She grinned at him, noticing as he watched her blood trickle down from the bite. He wiped it off with his fingertips, and painted her lips with it, making them shiny and red. She slowly licked it off, savoring the sweet, warm taste on her tongue. Marisa might as well be a vampire; she loved the taste of blood as much as they did.
But Marisa loved Lysao more than blood, and he was the same way with her. He put his finger in the way of the trickle, letting it gather in a pool. He licked it off and started kissing Marisa, letting her taste her own blood on his lips. Suddenly, he tore the necklace off her neck, and she stared at him questioningly. He smiled and she relaxed.
"Marisa, as a human you are almost more vampire than I am," he said. She murmured a reply. He held the gemstone in his hand where it touched against Marisa's blood, and it suddenly melted in his palm and turned red.
Lysao put his hand to her mouth and she eagerly drank the liquid. Slowly, she stopped breathing and he caught her as she collapsed. Her heart gradually stopped beating, and she opened her eyes. They had always been gray, and the sudden whiteness of her skin against her black hair made her seem like a black and white photo.
"I'm like you now, aren't I Lysao?" she asked him, breathless in more than one way. He kissed her forehead.
"Yes Marisa, you're one of us now."

Nelly woke up in a cold sweat, her blankets thrown onto the floor. She glanced at her clock and swore. Only four-thirty. She had a whole hour before she was supposed to be up. She'd had the nightmare again, the one about Marisa. Marisa and Nelly were orphaned sisters, but had been adopted into the same family. Marisa had vanished a few months ago, when she was nineteen. The dream was the truth, and Nelly knew it.
But she still refused to believe it. Nelly was eighteen now, two years older than her brother, the one that her parents hadn't adopted. Tommy was always very nice and tried to be Nelly and Marisa's friend. But they had wanted none of it. Their parents had turned on them and had a child, one that was really theirs. And three years after Tommy, Lila was born. She was now thirteen.
Nelly's name was really Nicole and it had taken her three years to convince her parents to call her Nelly. It had taken Tommy a week to get them to use his nickname. And Lila was the baby. The one Nelly was expected to baby-sit and teach about adolescence. But she was only legally her sister; they were not related by blood. So Tommy watched her and she learned from her mother.
Nelly and Lila were five years different and hardly knew more about each other than their names and ages. And now Marisa was gone and Nelly was alone. Life sucked. At least Marisa was dead. At least she was dead and could be with her boyfriend for the rest of her… afterlife. Nelly used to have a boyfriend. She got bored with him. She always got bored. No one but Marisa, Sarah, and Jewel had ever been able to keep Nelly's attention. And now Marisa was gone.
Nelly went into the bathroom and took a shower. Lila would complain if she woke up. But Lila was the baby and so her mother would come in and wake her up right on time. She didn't have to worry about alarm clocks. Nelly got out and put on a green tank top and baggy khakis. She brushed her black hair back and secured it into a messy ponytail. She slipped on her favorite sandals and whipped open her laptop without looking, pressing the power button with practiced accuracy.
She played on her laptop for a half-hour until she heard Linda call them all to go down to breakfast. Nelly turned off the computer and shoved it into her backpack, then headed downstairs.
"Good morning sweetie!" Linda greeted cheerfully.
"Morning Linda," Nelly replied. Since she was about twelve, she'd refused to call Linda and Dennis "Mom" and "Dad."
Nelly made it to school and sat in her seat. After the bell rang, everybody else came in. Nelly's best friend Jewel sat down next to her. Just as everyone settled down, a new girl came in. The teacher read her name off of the forms she had been handed. Mariah Lommel took the empty seat on Nelly's other side. She gave Nelly a friendly smile and pulled out a notebook. She wrote in neat handwriting and pushed the notebook over to Nelly. She read the message.

I'm Marysa's friend, she sent me to come get you. She wants you to visit her. Please meet me after class. Don't tell Jewel. If worse comes to worse you can take her later.
~ Meryah

After the bell, Nelly met Meryah at the door. Meryah pushed something into her hand, and Nelly found it to be a tiger's eye stone shaped like a heart. She put the necklace on without even thinking about what it could mean. Meryah led Nelly right out the front door and into a car. Nelly got in without a second thought.
Meryah drove to the bar that Marisa had loved. Even during the day, it was dark and gloomy inside. In a corner booth, Marisa was waiting. But it wasn't Marisa. Meryah greeted her and then left through a door in the wall. Nelly sat down across from the creature that had been her sister. The vampire smiled happily. "I'm called Marysa now. I've been calling to you for a while in your dreams, but I decided that it would be best to just come and get you. Nelly, there's something you should know," she said.
Marysa looked down and sighed. "Your name was changed when we were adopted. They wanted to have a daughter named Nicole. I was already too old to undergo a name change. But you were just a year old. Your name was Teresa. I didn't want to tell you because I thought it would be easier for you that way. But that's not what I wanted to tell you. We're, I mean you're, a half-vampire. I want you to come over to my side. You'll feel more at home, I know it. Even if I was always more vampiric than you, it will be better."
Nelly was, to put it simply, shocked. She had never imagined this, never even thought it. Marysa went on to tell her that it was Nelly's decision. She refused to change Nelly against her will. Nelly left the bar without a word and was hardly surprised to find Meryah sitting at the wheel of her car. Meryah saw her and got out. She didn't offer an explanation but started to walk away from Nelly, watching as the human girl got in her car that had been in the school parking lot the last time she saw it.
"Hey kid," Meryah said hesitantly, turning around. "Don't worry about Marysa, she's just really concerned about you. No matter what your decision is, she'll keep in contact with you. I saw the girl you used to know. I hung out with Lysao's group sometimes when she was there. She's still like that when you get past her shell."
Nelly smiled weakly, still jarred by what she had been told by her ex-sister. Meryah smiled back.
"I don't mean to be nosy, but I think you should seriously think about coming over. Marysa can't tell you why she suddenly wants you here, and she feels really guilty about it. See, it's dangerous for you. You really need to find a way to be safe, and we both know what the easiest way is. So just think about it. And don't worry about your best friend Jewel. You know she'd be more than happy to come along."
With that final note, Meryah turned away and started down the street. Nelly slowly started her car and drove home.