a/n - Alright guys, here it is, all I've achieved over these months to do with this story. I actually wrote this right after I finished Bittersweet, but then it just...died. I totally lost interest. As much as I want to finish this, I have so many other projects and things going on that I'm more focused on that I haven't even gotten around to continuing this. I know, I know, I said there would be a sequel, and there still may be, but that completely depends on if I get my act together and get back to writing this. At this point in time I can't promise any more than this, although I love this chapter. So I hope you enjoy it and don't hate me too much for the wait and possibility of there not being any more.
Roses and Razorblades
Everything was dark, quiet, but I was so used to the empty night that it no longer bothered me. The intoxicating smell that I was tracking through the thick forest seemed to lead me on endlessly, the scent in my nose infuriatingly strong and mouth-watering, but still far away. No matter how much I tried to ignore it and take closer prey, my body refused to give up the chase and continued weaving between the dense stands of underbrush and trees, following the smell almost as if it were a tangible path before my eyes.
I still wasn't quite used to my new senses, the hearing and the night vision so much better than my old human ears and eyes, and each little sound in the woods made me jump in surprise. Things were still slightly disorienting; everything was louder, brighter, more exaggerated, but I was almost to the point where I felt comfortable in my skin. My new vampire body. Seth said that I was nearing the point where I could come out in the day again.
It had been almost a year since my mother had died, since Seth had changed me to save my life, and I was officially tired of the night. I hadn't seen sunlight in far too long and I'd been forced to spend my time hunting animals. And drinking their blood.
Being a vampire was not glamorous. It wasn't all speed and beauty, pale skin and yellow eyes. All that was included, but mostly it was gore, violence, night, and blood. I'd learned this the hard way. After I was changed, I could barely walk I was so unaccustomed to the changes in my body. My limbs moved faster than I thought they would, things always seemed closer than I judged, the lightest grip could break delicate objects, and loud noises nearly split my head in half. It was a lot to get used to.
But with Seth's help I managed and now, months later, I was roaming the Rocky Mountain woods alone while Seth traveled to the nearest town to get us new clothes. The ones I wore now were ragged and filthy, being about a month old and unwashed, so Seth had finally given in and left to go buy both him and me a fresh set of clothes. I picked at the nearly colorless shirt draped over me and grimaced in disgust. My jeans were little better and I hadn't worn shoes in months.
The scent I was tracking spiked in intensity as I entered a small clearing, bringing my thoughts to a momentary standstill. The moonlight was bright and sharp in my eyes, illuminating every small detail of the woods around me and sending my brain into overdrive for a split second as I processed everything I saw into logical thoughts. A snapped twig near the large oak on my right, a discarded biodegradable paper cup in the center of the clearing, and a light footprint near the forest's edge. Signs of life.
But what kind of life? I knew, but I didn't want to acknowledge the fact that I was unknowingly hunting a human being. The cup could be days old, the footprint weeks, dried in mud. The addictive trail couldn't be from a person; no one would be out in the middle of the Gunnison forest around midnight. Especially not alone.
My feet kept moving as I shook my head slightly, inexorably dragging me toward my prey. I wanted to stop, I really did, but at the same time…I didn't. I wanted to find the thing I was chasing, to feel it's warm skin and taste its blood as it dripped down my face…. Even as the thoughts came to me, they seemed rational. After all wasn't that who I was now? I was a hunter, a killer. I was a vampire.
My breath came quicker as I began to give myself over to the primal impulses that I'd been holding inside my chest, my stance immediately transforming into a predatory crouch. My heart beat once and I smiled. I was getting excited.
The prey was close now, I could feel it. The smell was so strong in my nose that it almost burned; the sweetness of it overwhelming and sinfully alluring. The forest was silent around me. All the animals had fled, their instincts screaming at them to leave the area as soon as I entered it. Their little animal brains told them that I was dangerous. They couldn't have been more right. I shivered slightly as the scent became so thick that I could feel it on my tongue, light and insubstantial as air and cotton candy, and just as sweet. Absolutely delicious.
I rounded a corner of the trail and suddenly I could hear it; the almost inaudible footsteps bouncing against the trees, the light breathing of human lungs. The beating of a human heart.
I faltered for a second. What was I doing? I couldn't murder someone just because I was no longer a part of their species. What right did I have to take away a person's life? I licked my lips slowly, savoring the taste of roses. You have every right, my body screamed at me, you aren't one of them anymore. Just take it, it's so weak…
With a jerk of my head, I broke off the voice of my appetite, clenching my hands into fists in an attempt to calm myself down, to gain control. I felt my consciousness slowly slipping, my monster taking over. My teeth lengthened against the inside of my lips and I opened my mouth with a deep breath, closing my eyes and tilting my head back to pull greedily at the scent of blood.
I couldn't let Seth down like this. He knew, he understood, what I was going through and he had never ceased to support me. I knew, without a doubt, that he would never consent to what I was about to do. I didn't even want to do what I was about to do. But I felt my control failing, the steel muscles in my legs tightening. I was almost drinking the smell now, it was so powerful.
My eyes snapped open, my lips pulling back. The last vestiges of self-control faded into the leaf-scattered ground and I took another decided step toward my prey. I moved silently, steadily, as I trailed the human closely for a few more moments, readying myself for the kill. This was irrevocable, this decision. After this I would be a real murderer, a perfect monster.
Would Seth be able to forgive me? Would he want to?
The beating heart called to me mercilessly and my own responded with another solitary heartbeat, my cold, white skin warming slightly as the flow of my blood increased minutely. I shook my wild black hair out of my face and a smiled again as a growl began deep in my throat, vibrating my chest and spine.
And I surrendered to myself.
Immediately, my pace quickened to a speed unimaginable for human legs, the forest blurring into lines of grey on either side. The delicate sound of my footsteps was loud and echoing in my ears, but I barely noticed now, my whole mind given over to the need and the heady scent of my prey. I heard the heart rate of the hunted quicken as it became aware of its danger. Maybe it had heard me coming, or perhaps it had sensed that it was being watched, followed. Neither mattered. I was close enough now that I could taste its adrenaline rush in the air.
Branches scratched across my skin leaving lines of agitated red as I haphazardly sprinted through the wilderness, but I couldn't force myself to slow down or navigate with more caution. Any rational thought was lost and drowned beneath the screaming need of my own personal demon. The human was completely attentive now, uselessly half-running through the woods along the trail. It must be accustomed to the forest, knowing which sounds were normal and which weren't. I was anything but ordinary.
I rounded another corner of the trail and came face to face with my prey, meeting its eyes squarely as it looked over its shoulder, still running. The man was tall—much taller than me—and broad, with dark, unruly hair and wide black eyes that surveyed me quickly, trying to connect the danger his instincts were screaming to my slender, apparently helpless form. He slowed down, possibly thinking I was running from the same insubstantial threat as him. I smiled.
I struggled inside myself to reason with my impulses, to tell myself that this was wrong, but I had no control left. It took infinite effort just to summon up the strength to doubt my current actions. The man had come to a stop and was turning back to face me, his hand outstretched in the universal gesture of aid. His eyes flickered to either side, still uneasy, but he was comfortable in this environment; I could tell from the way his hips shifted as he walked to balance his body on the uneven trail and how tight and prepared he still was for the danger.
The smell was almost unbearable so close, settling over my skin like dew, and I tilted my head back again to take it in, flicking my eyes up to the moon. The sudden intake of breath from the man not ten feet in front of me brought my gaze back down to focus on him again, observing him as his breathing quickened and he took a single step back.
My eyes must have given me away; the moonlight glancing off of them to reveal how unnaturally golden they were. All the better, a part of me said, a challenge will be so much more fun. I took another step forward and grinned widely as he took a corresponding step away. His eyes widened, full of horror. That's right the fangs tend to freak people out…
I couldn't take it anymore; the smell, the skin, the frantic beating of his heart, all calling to me, leaving no opening for refusal. My fingers bunched into claws and my knees bent further, readying me for the pounce, the kill.
Suddenly, without conscious thought, they straightened and I found myself flying, imperceptible as a bullet, toward the motionless man, prepared and hungry for what I would find the instant my hands came into contact with his body. Every fiber of my being was begging for the blood, sending shivers of need through every muscle in the fraction of a second I remained in the air.
Something slammed into my side, throwing me abruptly onto the hard packed dirt of the trail and pinning me down with a strength that I hadn't expected. My attacker was bent over me, hands on my upper arms and legs on either side of my hips, pressing my flailing limbs onto the ground with his hands and feet. I struggled violently, arching my back up off the ground in an attempt to throw him.
A snarl ripped out of my throat as I felt the scent get weaker and weaker, the fast, fluttering heart beat leaving my range of hearing. The man was running again, fleeing the scene, getting away. The seductive thickness of the human's smell thinned and I fought the interference of my crime with all the strength in my preternatural body. But slowly my mind began to clear and I became aware of a low voice speaking desperately into my ear.
"Alessa! Alessa, calm down! You have to fight it!" The voice was familiar and as it finally filtered through the daze of need in my head my resistance began to slow. The face above me came into focus for the first time and my fighting ceased altogether as I stared up into Seth's amber eyes.
He looked back at me from beneath the fringe of his curly, black-brown hair, inspecting my face for any sign of the monster he had just banished. I knew what he saw; a dirty, pale girl of almost seventeen, a face with small, delicate features and normally blue eyes. From the continued worry in his face, I could tell that they still hadn't changed back completely from their vampire yellow. I could never compare with him. His sharp jaw line, pointed chin, and pronounced cheekbones gave every impression of perfect and dark beauty, but I knew that he was almost as unstable on the inside as I was and much more good. I could never measure up.
Seth gazed down at me for a few more seconds before releasing my arms slowly, almost reluctantly, and rolling off of me and onto his feet. He offered me a hand and I took it gratefully, wrapping my cold fingers around his equally freezing hand and pulling myself up into a standing position. He didn't let go when I did, instead intertwining my fingers with his when I started to pull away. My eyes met his again and I flinched a little at the concern shining back at me.
"Are you alright?" His question was unnecessary because I had already interpreted it from the look on his face, but even though I'd been prepared, I still didn't know how to answer.
Was I okay? The only thing I knew for sure was that I was trying desperately to forget what had just happened, shuffling all the feelings and desires from the last five minutes into a part of my mind that I could ignore. Trying not to acknowledge how monstrous I really was. So I guess that meant no.
"Yes," I managed to lie, but I was remembering a night exactly like this, with a situation exactly like this over a year ago. Back when I was still human, when I was still myself, I had felt the fear that the man who had just run from me had felt. I had stared with the same sort of horror at the same sort of abomination as he had just settled his terrified gaze on moments ago. I'd encountered a nightling, seen the yellow eyes, and been washed with relief when Seth had stopped it from ripping out my throat. But an important piece was different now.
I was the monster.