Chapter 1

It might be wise to start from the beginning. My name is Jessica Anne Laurel. I was born in England and was raised there until I was six years old. We immigrated in 1892 to the United States on the eve of my seventh birthday. I was an only child.

My family had been wealthy for several generations, and when we settled into the society of the United States, we were considered first class. Being labeled as such, we were left to ourselves, allowed to come and go as we pleased. Considering our money supply, even if someone had opposed us, we could get anything we wished for without trouble. Because of this, I was able to attend a boarding school in Massachusetts up until high school, and I eventually attended a co-ed college at the age of seventeen. I was bright for my age; it resulted in my family's wealth backing my education at an all boys college. My parents believed I deserved the best treatment, even if it meant sending me to a school with peers of the opposite sex. The girls in the school adjacent to us envied me to the fullest. I hardly noticed the young men who stared after me in the hallways.

I was brilliant-hardworking, smart, and dedicated. It was my third year attending college. I was only nineteen at the time, and having been as smart as I was, everyone knew that I would graduate with the title valedictorian. My friends were numerous, and although I was unable to compete in school activities, all of my classmates knew I could match them easily. I had few companions from the girls' school, and even those young women could not relate to me the way my male ones could. My whole world came crashing down the day I met Laurenz Le Noir.

I had just returned from showering (I stayed in the main building-there was no way the school board would let me bunk with males) when a gust of cold wind blasted through the double doors. Wrapped in a towel and shivering, I made my way to my room when a freezing hand came to rest on my arm.

Laurenz introduced himself, smirking at my attire. I glowered at him, and turned away to enter my room. He followed me, his hand on the small of my back. He asked if I could show him around. I said maybe, when I was actually wearing clothes. He grabbed me and pulled me toward him, brushing my wet hair from my neck. I slapped him, and turned away into my room. I slammed the bedroom door in his face.

By the end of the semester, the buzz of the new, attractive, and charming student had died down. The girls seemed to loathe me even more. Laurenz was worth something, and I was the brick wall in their way. I couldn't see why I'd be the competition-I despised him beyond measure.

Laurenz Le Noir could have been summed up in three words: an egotistical fornicator. He was sickeningly beautiful, with his deep green eyes and ink-black hair, which he wore at a choppy angle. With his cunning, ingenious mind, and striking good looks, he was far from normal. The young women who attended the other academy were awestruck, all having said themselves he was perfect in every way. They admitted they would lay before his feet so he could step on them if he asked. Even the men at my school said he was extraordinary. He was a good friend, a leader, and a role-model. Yet I refused to acknowledge his talents. While others swooned after him, I gagged on my tongue. When asked why I did not fancy him, I answered simply: "There is nothing sincere to adore."

Laurenz beat me at everything, whether it was the respect of my peers or earning the highest grades in class. He was a hard worker, an overachiever, and still knew how to have a good time. He was so talented at sports that he was prevented from playing. I would have been the same, except there weren't any girl teams to participate in. Ladies were not permitted to take part in such events. Nevertheless, he was my competition, if only figuratively. Men always had dominance over women, regardless of where I attended college.

In all his perfection, Laurenz always managed to find time in his schedule to torment me. In all of his glory, nothing pleased him more than to see my reactions to his poking and prodding. Five years my senior, and six inches taller than me, he enjoyed towering over me from behind and whispering comments in my ear. He was like a mosquito, but every time I tried to swat him, he would dig under my skin and cling to me. Everyone thought he was merely flirting, igniting the girls' jealousy even more. No, I knew better. He did it simply because he knew I disliked him.

Outsiders would say I was blinded by hatred, but I knew for a fact there was something horribly wrong with Le Noir. I could never quite put my finger on it. I believed there was no logical explanation for his existence. Even when I was deep in my jealous rages, I found that I loved him as much as, maybe even more than, the others. He had an enchanting pull that always beckoned me to him, regardless that I hated him. Several times I have recalled the night when that pull was strongest, when my suspicions of his abnormalcy were proven true.

It was the night before graduation, and out of sheer boredom I attended the party. For years the school board tried preventing the two schools meeting, but ultimately gave up. Nothing they did convinced the students to stop, so they pretended to know about it.

I ended up consuming a disgusting amount of alcohol. The next day I would have to sit back quietly as Le Noir took the stage as valedictorian. I had worked my entire life for the title, and in one single school year, another stole the glory from me. My pride was shot; I decided to stop the pain by numbing it.

I remember that high-pitched giggle which interrupted my thoughts. I turned, and saw none other than Laurenz being deeply entertained, as he suckled a girl's neck. She already had one dark bruise on her throat, and another was forming at her pulse point. She caught me staring and smirked at me. She tangled her hands in his hair mockingly, but then turned her attention back to him as he boldly put his hand up her shirt. She let out another laugh; he responded with a chuckle. I left the room in disgust.

Eventually I had to step outside; the room had become so thick with body heat I thought I would suffocate. I sat down on the stone steps and put my head between my legs. I began to cry, feeling miserably sorry for myself. Someone came outside behind me, and I stumbled away to hang on a tree. I hugged it tightly, closing my eyes as I saw the ground spin. It was only after a few second that I felt the unwanted pull of Laurenz's presence. Intoxicated beyond measure, I followed it.

I'd gone a hundred yards or so without realizing where I was. I shook off most of the wooziness that began to settle in and gazed through blurred vision. I stood in front of the edge of the forest. Its dark trees reached for me like bony arms. About twenty yards in front of me, I spotted a figure. I inched toward it, the pull of him becoming stronger by the minute. The figure was distorted looking; I realized that the person was holding something. A nauseating slurping noise floated from it. I smelled blood. There was a loud thud and the person dropped whatever he was holding. I stared at the mass on the ground, unsure of what it was. I gasped as my mind comprehended what it saw. It was a body.

I looked up. Two ruby red orbs stared at me through the darkness. I backed away slowly, never taking my eyes off of the person. I spun around and dashed toward the college house. Swift footsteps padded behind me. I looked around, unable to see who chased me. I crashed into something in front of me, and tilted backwards. The person grabbed me by the waist. I drew back my fist to punch him. My legs gave out from under me and I was drawn close to the man in front of me.

"Disgusting-you reek of alcohol."

I struggled against him. His muscled arms tightened around me.

"Let go! I'll call for help!"

"Do it," he purred. "Give me more satisfaction than I already have."

I opened my mouth to scream. Sleep took me.

I woke up being aware of two things: my head felt as though it would split in half, and something cold laid next to me. I attempted to sit up, but something pushed me back.

"Good you're sober. Now I can have you."

"Le Noir?" I growled. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Hold you tongue. This will hurt only for a moment."

"What are you talking about?" I flinched as cold air hit my neck.

"Lie still," he ordered.

"No! Let me up." I pushed at his chest.

"I've waited too long," he snarled.

In an instant, my arms were pinned down, and Laurenz straddled my waist. His lips pressed down on mine. I fought to break free, but his practiced tongue parted my lips, demanding I respond. I gasped, and I could tell he was drinking up the sound with satisfaction.

He was the one to cut off, and I was left weak. His breath tickled my skin. I was too drunk-not from liquor this time, but his overpowering presence-to do anything about it.

Two identical needles pierced my neck. I cried out in the dark. Scalding pain burned through my skin. I whimpered, pleading for him to stop. I arched into his body; he groaned. My eyelids drooped, and I surrendered to a paradise that tasted of velvet chocolate.

Laurenz never mixed our bloods. Instead, he chose to give me a human's supply. Now I am only a half vampire, still blessed with life yet damned to darkness. Laurenz is now my master, and I, his apprentice. I hate him to this day with my still beating heart, just as I had one hundred and three years ago.