by Queen of Sarab

Chapter 2

Raven couldn't get the stranger out of her mind.
Briar. Sandy blonde hair falling into soft brown eyes. Intense eyes.
Intellectual. Artistic. Beautiful. No, no, no, stop thinking about it.
Just...think of something else. Um...trees. Briar was in the park. No! Oh,
uh...lamp. Light. Sunlight. Briar could be in the sunlight. Disgusted with
herself, Raven grabbed a book at random off her shelf and flipped open to
the first page.
Yeah, great, a romance, just what she needed.
The door to her room swung open unexpectedly, thankfully interrupting her
thoughts. The boy of about 19 who'd thrown open the door didn't wait for an
invitation,but barged in and flopped onto her bed, black curls falling in
disarray over ice-blue eyes. Darion.
"So I met this real cute girl tonight," he said. He flashed an eery,
disturbing smile. "She was tasty."
"You know I don't like hearing about your meals, Darion," Raven sighed,
sinking into the chair sitting next to her dresser.
"And you know I don't care," he shot back. "She was a pretty little
redhead, really put up a good fight. 'Course I won."
"You didn't...kill her, did you?" Suddenly worried, Raven turned startled
eyes to her brother. "I mean..."
"You know I don't share you feelings on killing humans, Rave," Darion
rolled his eyes. "But no, I didn't."
"Good," Raven let loose a relieved breath, sinking deeper into her chair.
As her brother continued to talk, she stopped listening to her brother's
chatting and let her mind wander back to the boy in the park.

Briar was back in the park, where he had been every free moment he'd had
for the last 3 weeks. He was hoping for another glimpse of Raven. Even
though she'd shown no interest in him whatsoever, Briar couldn't help hoping
he could just see her again, if just from a distance. There was something
unusual and original about her, something he'd seen in her eyes that he'd
never seen before and couldn't place. He would love to draw her eyes.
At least, that's why he told himself he wanted to see her.
But nothing had happened in 3 weeks. And Briar wasn't sure how much longer
he could keep this up. With a resigned sigh, he sank back on the bench
under the streetlight, brushing a stray piece of hair out of his eyes.
He didn't see her until she was almost directly in front of him. He sat up
Startled, she glanced over at him, not seeming nearly as collected or cool
as she had at their first meeting. "Oh," she said. "It's you."
"Yes, it," Briar replyed stupidly, heart soaring that she'd
remembered him...kind of.
"So...bye." Raven began to walk away quickly. Briar panicked, realizing
this might be his last chance,. and was speaking before he knew it.
"Would you like to go for a walk or something?"
Raven stopped abruptly, and for one frightening second Briar thought she
was going to laugh in his face. But her smile wasn't amused or scornful- in
fact, Briar thought it looked a little...happy.
"I would love to," she replyed, looking as though she were startling even
Briar hadn't smiled this much in a long time.

Raven flopped on her bed, eyes closed blissfully. If her heart had still
been beating, it would have been going a million miles an hour. She'd had a
wonderful night, wandering around with Briar. He'd told her about his art,
and how he was kind of a loner at school, and how he longed to go off to art
school next year, but he didn't even have enough money to pay for books. How
beautiful he found everything- especially her. How he thought her eyes were
like the center of a flame, and her hair was like a raven's wing. He'd
poured out his heart to her- and all she'd been able to tell him was she'd
meet him tomorrow same time, same place.
She couldn't exactly tell him the truth- he'd at the very least be
repulsed. And he would of course not want to see her again. For a horrifying
moment, Raven could see him in her mind, face contorting in fear
and...disgust. She couldn't tell him the truth. Absolutely not.
No, she couldn't get in a serious relationship with him- she had to break
it off before she hurt him too much. Or worse.
She went to sleep at dawn with her mind made up tomorrow would be the last
time she saw Briar.

Briar shivered, pulling his jacket tighter around him. He knew he was
almost an hour early, but he didn't care. He could wait forever for Raven.
And besides, he didn't want to stay home. Gingerly he touched the new
purplish bruise adorning his shoulder.
No, forget that, he told himself. Just draw.
Pulling out his pastels, he began to blend together a crimson red and a
midnight blue into the sunset quickly fading before him. He let himself fall
into the rhythm of the drawing, barely noticing what he was doing.
The flash of black hair shining in the streetlights caught his attention
immediately. He looked at his watch. Still 30 minutes until he was supposed
to meet her. What would she be doing here?
Briar threw his art supplies into his bag and started towards her. He
didn't notice the other boy until he was almost all the way across the
street. Feeling like his heart was dropping into his feet, Briar stopped
dead in his tracks, staring at their backs retreating down an alleyway. He
knew it was Raven- there was no doubt of that in his mind. And the way she
kept laughing and touching that boy... no, he wasn't a relative or friend. could she do this to him?
Mind reeling, he began to follow, barely knowing what he was doing.
The alley was exceedingly dark and damp, but Briar spotted Raven almost
At first it looked as though she was kissing the stranger- but her lips
were on his neck, not his mouth. And he seemed to be asleep or knocked out
or something. Mesmerized, he took a step forward, crunching a piece of
broken glass. Raven looked up instantly.
Briar drew in a sharp breath. This...thing...could NOT be Raven. Her eyes
weren't yellow and feral like that, her teeth weren't nearly that long, her
face was smooth and beautiful, not distorted and grotesque. Briar felt
himself falling, heard the crunch of glass and concrete under him as he hit
the concrete hard, but he couldn't feel it. And suddenly everything was