Hunted | Teen Ink


April 7, 2012
By WaShEdOuTfAdEd BRONZE, Merritt Island, Florida
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WaShEdOuTfAdEd BRONZE, Merritt Island, Florida
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Favorite Quote:
The questions remain the same, the answers are forever changing.

Author's note: I don't really know how I came up with this. I just really like vampires and the supernatural and I love literature about it and I hope that all who read it gain the same pleasure I did while writing it.

I ran as fast as I could up the stairs and into my bedroom, I slammed the door shut and locked it. I paused for the briefest of moments to catch my breath and to think.

“You don’t think a locked door will stop me, do you Zoey?” the boy called from outside my door, his voice cold as ice.

The door flew open; twisted off its hinges, and banged into the far wall of my room with such force it seemed to make the whole house shudder.

I spun around to face the most gorgeous creature I had ever seen in my life. Gorgeous yes, but his mouth was twisted into a demonic smirk that took away from his astonishing beauty.

I risked a quick glance at his eyes. Without a fair amount of training, a person’s eyes reveal everything about themselves. His eyes were wild with an undying hunger tearing its way through his body like an enchanted fire.

They were flat out black in color. The color you’d expect the devil’s soul to be. (If such a being does exist.) They were hard and cold; they were inhuman.

I’d always been able to face fear very well, I always looked at a situation rationally and I didn‘t often panic, but right now I was terrified. Terrified of the creature that stood not eight feet away from me.

I didn’t hear him walk into my room but suddenly he was right in front of me less than a foot away. His hand slipped around my neck and he squeezed hard. I was suddenly slammed against the wall.

A low growl reverberated from his chest that would sound more common coming from a wild dog than a mere boy, then he banged me against the wall again. This time almost unknowingly into a small mirror that hung underneath my window. The glass shattered and one of the shards sliced through the skin on the back of my head. I barely felt the pain spread down my neck.

My hand automatically reached up to touch the wound and it came away covered in blood. I stared at my hand in horror.

He grabbed my arm and stared at the blood covering my hand. He bent down to my height and breathed in deeply my bloody hand right in front of his face.

I clenched my fist and pulled with all my strength to get my hand back. He didn’t seem to notice, but when he let go of my hand it flew back and hit me in the chest.

The hand that was around my throat pushed down on my shoulders so hard that I couldn’t resist but slide down the wall until I was sitting with my back up against it. His expression was ravenous and I knew that he hungered for my blood. That he yearned for it so much it ached.

I stared straight into his face, my eyes turned hard, and I swiped the tears from my cheeks not quite remembering when I had begun crying.

“What are you?!” I asked, determined not to let my voice tremble. That fight was lost. He concentrated on my tear-stained visage, his face still while a million expressions crashed through his eyes too fast for me to understand any of them. The fury drained from his being and his hand dropped from my throat. His menacing smirk turned into a depressed grimace. He flew backwards onto the floor, his head in his hands, his body convulsed in deep sobs. He looked at me; fear splattered across his face. Fear of himself and what he could have done to me. However, there was more in his expression; there was a sincere apology.

“I’m so sorry.” He said, his bottom lip trembling. I got up slowly and inched toward him. It wasn’t a smart idea, but I was curious. My question still hung in the air. He shot up lightning fast, and before I knew what happened he was in the farthest corner of my room.

“Don’t worry. I don‘t bite.” I said almost sarcastically.
He chuckled humorlessly and said a bit harshly, “You don‘t, but I might.”

I stared at him never before had I seen such a being. He drifted slowly back over to me his dire hunger growing with every heartbeat.
His hands suddenly curled into tight fists and he halted. “I need to go.” He said.

“Dude you almost killed me! You could at least take me to the hospital!” I answered tactlessly. He glared at me and he began to look less like an animal and more like a teenage boy.

“I said I‘m sorry!” He said angrily, as if he found it easier to be mad at the girl he had almost killed than nice to her. I just stood there blood dripping from my head. He stared at the puddle beginning to form on the floor restraint painting his face. He neared the edge of my bedroom window.

“Wait!” I said in a hurried tone. He looked back at me over his shoulder, the very sight of him made my heart jump into my throat and I had no doubt in the world that he could probably hear it thumping feverishly. I had no idea why I thought that though.
“Um, what’s your name?” This is a question I always have to ask no matter how rude (lethal) the person’s entrance is.

“Blake.” he said as he threw himself out the window. I found it strange that some guy would leap out of the window rather than walk through the front door. He hadn’t had any problem with breaking my bedroom door down.

“Blake.” I sighed to myself. The name came out with a mixture of derision and gratitude. The last thing I remember is falling to the floor and floating into the shadowy clutches of sleep.


“Zoey!” I heard the panicked cry of my best friend Phoebe through the haze of unconsciousness. I squeezed my eyes shut. I knew if I opened them I would just see my best friend hovering over my bed trying to wake me up, and then I would know all of what I experienced last night was just a beautiful nightmare.

Okay I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking, what is this freak talking about? That was not beautiful! It was horrible! A horrific nightmare that involved almost being killed by the world’s most lethal creature.
I’m a pretty twisted sister. It was fascinating to me; being that close to someone so unusual. Hearing his voice, those perilous words that drifted through the air, splintering through my mind and making me shiver with fear and pleasure. Seeing his face. Even feeling the excruciating pain, he caused me. There’s nothing else in this world quite like that.

“Zoey!!” Phoebe shouted again. She started shaking me up and down and I had no choice but to wake up. My eyelids fluttered open and the first thing I noticed was that I wasn’t in my bed. I was on the floor. The second was Phoebe’s face tinged with a sort of green color, and she looked like she was going to be sick.
“Oh my god! Zoey you’re alive!!” Phoebe gasped, relieved. My eyes scanned the room and then I saw it. The most useful piece of evidence I had that told me last night wasn’t a dream. There was the shattered mirror hanging haphazardly under my window. I could have jumped with joy if I didn’t have the most massive headache.

“Zoey are you alright?!” Phoebe asked, her voice brimming with concern.

“Yeah,” I replied, sitting up slowly.

“Are you sure?” she asked, her hands fluttering uselessly over my bruised body.

“Uh huh.” I said checking to make sure the rest of me was okay. I glanced at my right hand and saw my fingers stained crimson with blood. Yes another sign! I thought to myself.

“Zoey!” Phoebe squeaked, horrorstruck.

“Huh?” I said, bending my legs and arms to make sure nothing was broken.

“You’re bleeding!!!” Phoebe yelled. My right arm reached up to touch the scrape on the back of my head and sure enough, my hand came away stained with even more blood. “Oh god! That’s a lot of blood.” Phoebe said, glancing at my hand then at the puddles of dried blood on the floor. “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the hospital and get like transfusions or something?” she asked nervously.

“No, no, I’m fine. It’s just a scratch. Besides head wounds always look worse than they are.” I said standing up, as I did I felt a bit dizzy but not too bad.

“Okay. But you might want to clean yourself up you look terrible.” Phoebe said.

“Thanks.” I replied sarcastically. I grabbed a clean pair of clothes and headed down towards the bathroom. When I got there, I closed the door and looked in the mirror.
I almost screamed at my own reflection. My hair was matted with blood and my neck was covered with finger shaped bruises. I really was a mess. I quickly got out of my dirty clothes and jumped into the shower.

It was a relief to have the blood run off my body and down the drain. I washed my hair carefully and I noticed that the scrape wasn’t on my head it was the back of my neck and it really wasn’t deep at all. Nothing a band-aid couldn’t handle.

I stood there under the running water for a bit and then shut it off. I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around myself. I got a box of band-aids out of the medicine cabinet and took one out. I dried the cut off as best I could and put the band-aid on it. There, good as new.

I pulled a violet tank top over my head, and put on a pair of gray Capri’s that said Dance in purple on the back. I ran a comb through my hair and pulled it back into a damp ponytail. I grabbed my dirty clothes off the floor and threw them in the hamper. I opened the bathroom door and stepped cautiously back into my bedroom.

“Better.” Phoebe said approvingly. “But tell me,” she paused, “What happened to you?”

“Uhhh…” was all I could muster. There were thoughts about last night racing around in my head, but the most solid one was; should I tell her? Should I tell my very best friend about the complete stranger that tried to kill me? I had a feeling that he wouldn’t want me to tell anyone. Of course, he didn’t actually tell me what he was but I thought I had a pretty good idea. The only conclusion I could come to was…Vampire.
I mean what else could he be? With the strength, and the speed, and oh my dear sweet Goddess he was hot! Plus, there was also that hunger. The way he looked at me as if I was just something to eat. The way he seemed to be able to hear the acceleration of my heart beating furiously against my rib cage. The way he wanted so much to taste my blood…

“Well?” Phoebe asked impatiently. I glanced at my clock and said, “I have to go…now.” and I started walking rapidly towards the door.

“Wait, wait, wait, wait. Where could you possibly be going?” Phoebe asked.

“The gym. Self defense classes start today.” I said, opening my bedroom door, and stepping into the hallway.

“But how are you gonna get there?” Phoebe said following me down the staircase. “Its raining and your cars at the auto shop.” Phoebe said.

“Its only six blocks away. I’ll ride my bike.” I said stopping at the front door. I turned to face her.

“But you’ll get soaked.” she said. I sighed as I finally registered the rain pattering on the roof.

“So. A little rain never hurt anyone.”
I opened the door. “Fine. I’ll just go clean your room or something.” She said sadly.

“Good luck with that.” I said teasingly.

“You know since its raining no one will be there; maybe not even the instructor.” Phoebe said.

“Ah Pheebs, so what? I went to last session, I know my way around.” I replied as I walked out the door and got on my bike. Phoebe shut the door and headed up stairs to do what she could to make my room look less like a crime scene.

When I got to the gym, there was only one car in the parking lot and it belonged to the girl who worked at the front desk. I ran through the lot and pushed open the double doors at the entrance. When I got to the front desk Sadie was laid back in her chair with her feet on the desk reading a Life&Style magazine.

“Um, Sadie?” Sadie jumped at the sound of my voice, almost falling out of her chair.

“Oh, hey Zoey. Thank God, you’re here! I am so bored. So um, okay. You don’t have to pay or anything I’m just gonna leave and go home and you can stay here as long as you want. Just don’t forget to lock up when you’re done. The keys are under the desk. So…bye." Sadie fumbled under the desk for her purse and tucked the magazine under her arm and left.

“Okay that was odd.” I muttered to myself. I bought a bottle of water from the vending machine in the corner of the lobby with the loose change I found in the pocket of my pants and took a swig before leaving it on the desk.

I opened the annoyingly creaky door that lead to the gymnasium and walked slowly through it, looking around at the speed bags, and the kickboxing simulators that littered the gym. Phoebe was right. The instructor wasn’t here. I stepped over toward the training dummy and started practicing basic defensive moves.

Nearly thirty minutes had passed, and after riding my bike in the rain my drenched clothing was beginning to dry. I moved into a separate room where there was a variety of exercise equipment. I set the treadmill to a fast sprint. I love to run and I’m really good at it. Phoebe said I should’ve joined the track team at school, but I never did. I started running.

The thumping of my heart and the electronic whir of the treadmill created a rhythm that lulled me into a trance-like state for about forty-five minutes. When those minutes were up, I jumped off the treadmill while it was still going.

It had been about an hour and fifteen minutes since I had gotten there, so I decided it was time to go home. I turned the treadmill off and turned around. What I saw astounded me and set my heart beating at a dangerously high level.

It was him. The guy that almost killed me last night. My eyes widened and it took all my strength to keep from either hyperventilating or passing out.

Something was different about him. His eyes were a big part of it. Just like last night. They were a different color. They were a long way from black and nigh irresistible. It was hard to look into them, but once you did…that’s it.

Game over.

You could never look away.

The cobra and the mouse.

The lion and the lamb.

The age-old story of predator and prey. They were apologetic still, but not nearly as fearful. Instead of the black that they were they were a nice shade of blue-gray.
“Um, hi.” He said hesitantly. His voice bounced around in my scull. It was carefully trained to reveal no hint of what he was truly thinking. In truth, his voice sounded vaguely familiar and not just from last night.

I seemed to be frozen in place.

I couldn’t think.

I couldn’t breathe.
All I could do was listen to my heartbeat become so rapid it seemed like one continuous beat. I quickly surveyed his entire expression. I tried to read him. Ordinarily I’m very adept at puzzling out what someone’s true feelings are but his face was a mask of indifference. However, I still detected the hunger. He still craved my blood. He wanted it. Nevertheless, his thirst wasn’t nearly as intense as it was the night before.

He mistook my stunned silence. He thought I’d finally gone into a state of shock. He thought that I was afraid of him. He turned to leave. But just as he lifted his foot to take a step towards the doorway, I came out of my trance so to speak.

“Wait! Don’t leave!” I took a quick step toward him. He turned back around to face me. “I know what you are.” I said, hoping that what I said would be enough to keep him intrigued.

“Really?” He said the most charming crooked smirk I’ve ever seen appearing on his face. His left eyebrow rose questioningly.

“Um…Yes.” I said nervously. His stance told me to go on, to say it. “Uhhh…” I swallowed and took a deep breath. His smile grew. "Um…”-blink- “uhh…” -deep breath- A single word escaped my lips, “Vampire!” His smile disappeared. I think he was counting on me getting the answer wrong.

“Are you afraid?” He asked. One minute he was standing in front of me about six feet away, the next, he was behind me about six inches away. I turned around slowly to face him and said, “No.”

The truth was I was terrified. I was scared now and last night. But I sure didn’t want him to know that. My throat got tight. I couldn’t speak. I opened my mouth but no words came out. I just stood there. The most lethal creature on the face of the planet now less than three inches away from me.

I slowly turned back around. I knew it was stupid of me to do that but I couldn’t look at his face without turning into an entranced, vulnerable pile of mush.
“You’d turn your back on me? Even though you know what I could do to you?” He whispered softly in my right ear. I kept completely still, my heart accelerated at his closeness. I felt his cold breath on the skin of my neck and I shivered involuntarily.

“W-what do you want from me?” I stuttered.

“Nothing really. But at the same time so much.” I took a deep breath and said as angry as I could manage, “Okay listen buddy; I’m not much for riddles, so just screw the cryptic crap!”

“I would say sorry. But I’d be lying. When you’re angry, the blood pools beneath your skin and it grows hot. I love seeing that.” Blake said in a dangerous voice, and he stroked the side of my face from my temple to my jaw. The contact his skin made with mine left a burning trail along the side of my face even though his fingers felt as cold as ice.

“Well, you obviously want something or you wouldn’t be here.” I mumbled almost unintelligibly as I stood there too afraid to move.

“Well Zoey, did you ever think that maybe I wanted to see you again? That the opportunity to catch your sweet scent was too great to pass up. Maybe I thought I deserved to be tortured for what I nearly did to you.” Hate hazed over his words and only the tiniest fraction of his hate was directed towards me. The rest was all for him.
He hated me for making him feel so helpless, for putting the dry ache in his throat and the ravenous hunger in the pit of his stomach. He hated himself because he hated what he was. He utterly despised the monster inside. The monster who could snap five persons necks in less than a second. The creature who loved to kill just for the hell of it. The demon that just boiled beneath the surface waiting for the day it got to come out and play.

“Torture yourself? How?” Was my clueless response. Blake who seemed to be in a completely different place looked down at me and said calmly, “Being so close to what I can’t possibly have.”

“Oh…” I murmured quietly. He grabbed me gently by the shoulders and turned me back around to face him so he could see into my eyes to read my emotions… to read my soul it seemed. I blushed, my cheeks turning sweet crimson. I looked down at my feet.

Blake sighed longingly, bent down slowly as if to whisper in my ear, and pressed his smooth cool lips to the hollow of my throat. His lips brushed down my neck until he reached the crease above my shoulder.

I froze completely and my mind went white with fear. Blake opened his mouth and I felt two razor sharp points press gently against my skin. With a sudden burst of adrenaline, I rolled out of his grasp and darted about nine feet away from him.
“What the hell man!” I yelled, backing farther away from him rubbing the place where his teeth almost broke my skin.

“What?” Blake murmured coolly, leaning back against the wall a cocky sideways grin on his mouth.

“You know what’s weird—,” I said, my voice rising with hysteria and fear. He shifted his weight off the wall and crossed his arms, signaling me to go on.
I took a deep breath and continued, “First you apologize for almost killing me, then you try to eat me!! And you know that really doesn’t give a girl the impression that you’re one of the good guys!!!”

“Well, as you can obviously see, I am not one of the good guys.” Blake said the same crooked smirk on his face. His mildly arrogant voice ringing through the air.
I smiled edgily and said, “Like I even need your assurance.” I backed slowly toward the exit without turning around. Blake took a long stride forward that put him about three and a half feet closer to me.

I started backing away faster, and he took another step. I stumbled through the door and into the lobby.

I started to turn around but stopped; I realized that it wouldn’t be very wise of me to turn my back on him again after he almost bit me, but I did anyway.

I spun around and sprinted towards the main entrance, extraordinarily fast for a human but not nearly as fast as a vampire. I was almost at the door when Blake appeared in front of me, out of nowhere.

A small gasp escaped my lips. I looked at his face, and again he was more animal than teenage boy. I saw his lips part menacingly, and I heard a low growl split the air. I didn’t even have enough time to compose my terrified expression before he grabbed me by the throat and lifted me off the ground.

And if I weren’t so busy you know being throttled and all, I would have made a snide remark that would sound a little bit like, “You know it wouldn’t hurt if you took a few anger management classes.”

I grasped desperately at his hand wrapped tightly around my throat, but he wouldn’t let go. I felt my face grow red from lack of oxygen. I couldn’t speak so I tried to beg with my eyes. Beg for dear life. I knew Blake was smart. I knew he could take a hint. Fortunately for me he did. Blake took a deep breath, closed his eyes and let go of me.
I fell to the floor, gasping for air despite the ache of my neck and throat. I looked up at him still sucking wind.

His eyes were squeezed shut and his fingers trembled as he fought to keep control of himself. I swallowed and winced at the pain. Man he has a killer grip.
Blake rested his head against the wall and massaged his head with his index and middle fingers.

I got up slowly and lay my hand on his shoulder in what would be a comforting way. He flinched away from my touch.

“Please…Don’t.” He begged. I took my hand back and let it drop to my side. Having to do so hurt me. More than I would’ve liked it to.

I felt paralyzed next to this unusual marble creature. That’s how I would describe him. Because he was so still. I mean I was good at being still and quiet but definitely nothing at all like him. I still had the steady rise and fall of my shoulders and chest that told people I was breathing. With him, there was nothing. Before it at least looked like he was breathing. Now I could tell he wasn’t.

There was nothing I could do. I knew that. I couldn’t make him feel better because me just standing here was causing all the problems. All I could do was stare at him and imprint every single one of his somehow flawless features into my head because I was too selfish to leave. His rustled dark brown hair, his cheekbones that cut across his face in an almost perfectly angular way but not quite. I moved my eyes down from his face and across the alabaster skin of his neck, down to the way his dark blue hoodie hung on him. The long sleeves were pushed up to his elbows showing off his hard, muscled forearms.
I crept closer to him and mumbled, “Are you okay?” He suddenly unfroze and was all the way on the other side of the room before I could even blink.

“Fine.” He half said half sighed. He slid down the wall and into a sitting position and stared at the ceiling. I sat down beside him about four feet away and hugged my knees to my chest. He groaned but didn’t do anything.

“Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” I asked cautiously, being careful not to strike any nerves. I don’t think I could handle another strangle hold.

He turned his head to face mine and rolled his eyes. An incredibly human gesture. “I really don’t think talking will help. Especially talking to you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked crossly.

“I just-I just can’t concentrate with you around.” I looked into his eyes a little crease appearing between my eyebrows.

“What?” Blake asked, sounding slightly amused by my expression.

“Nothing. I just thought I was the only one that happened too.” I said embarrassingly.

“Yes it happens to me,” he said smiling. “Probably not for the same reason it happens to you though.” Confusion painted my face.

He chuckled without humor and started to explain. “Your scent is like nothing I’ve come across before. Your blood is highly desirable to every vampire I‘m sure. And it just confuses me. Clouds my better judgment. Like last night. I absolutely dreaded the thought of killing you but when I saw you, I felt I had no choice. Your scent put a thick haze in my brain and completely erased all sane thoughts. Leaving only the monster behind. The monster I don’t ever want to get out again.” He looked down at his hands, ashamed for having to tell a mere human how he really felt.

“Wow.” I said. “I feel like I should apologize or something. For making you feel that way. It’s got to be horrible to lose control of yourself like that.”

“It’s not your fault.” Blake murmured tilting his head back against the wall and closing his eyes.

I stood up slowly, keeping my eyes firmly glued to the space that Blake occupied. He didn’t move or stir in the slightest. Like he didn’t hear or feel me get up. I mean I was stealthy, but not that stealthy.

I stepped around him and noticed nothing but a small tightening of his muscles at our extreme closeness. I grabbed the door handle with cautious hands and pulled the door open. I slid through the small opening and darted to the bike rack where my bike sat soaking wet, the rain pattering on the leather seat.
I wiped the water off the steel lock that fastened my bike to one of the metal post. I felt around in the pocket on the side of my Capri’s, and came away with nothing but a bit of grayish pocket lint.

“Damn.” I cursed quietly under my breath, as I flicked the lint onto the ground and remembered that the key was at my house sitting on the kitchen counter. My hands moved automatically down to my hips, which is what I did when I was angry or irritated. I looked up at the sky and squinted my eyes against the falling rain.

Suddenly I felt a cold finger press gently against the band-aid smoothed across the cut on the nape of my neck. “Do you need help?” Blake asked softly. His finger fell off my neck and traced down my spine. I shivered involuntarily. Am I the only one who thinks he has an issue with personal boundaries? I wound my fingers around the steel chain.
Blake crossed over to the other side of the bike rack and asked, “Do you mind losing the lock?” I looked down at the lock.

“Um…No.” I said, confused. He smiled and wrapped his right hand around the chain. He gave a gentle tug and the steel snapped as if it were made of paper. My jaw dropped as I marveled at his strength.

A full grin split across Blake’s face and he laughed at my expression. The sound of his laughter was so pleasant; I could listen to it forever. I quickly snapped my mouth shut. I caught the lock as he dropped it and stored it in the pocket on the front of my bike.
A lightning bolt flashed a couple blocks away lighting up the whole sky. I jumped at the loud sound of thunder that followed. The rain poured harder on the pavement and me. I was instantly drenched. Seriously, I looked like a drowned Chihuahua and I was shaking like one too from the cold rain.

I looked up at Blake. He was still smiling, his razor sharp teeth glittering white, obviously he was amused by my drowned Chihuahua state.
His brown hair was now black from the rain. Drops of water putting identical black spots on his hoodie.

“Well, I guess I’d better go." I said, trying so hard to keep my teeth from chattering. I started to get on my bike.

“Wait.” Blake said. He grabbed my shoulder and spun me around. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but seemed to think better of it, and shut his lips in a tight line. He took his hand off my shoulder and stroked my left cheek, his fingers hesitated on my skin.

I was shocked. He had just touched me. And this time he didn’t try to strangle me too. I tried not to blink because I knew that if I closed my eyes even for the tiniest fraction of time he would be gone when I opened them again. I didn’t want that.

Eventually I had to blink though and when my eyes opened he was gone, leaving nothing of his presence but for the faint electric sensation that started in my left cheek where his skin touched mine and fell through my whole body.

I got onto my bike and pedaled home, my head filled with thoughts of pity. Pity for Blake. I just couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I couldn’t imagine what being a vampire put him through. What it made him feel?

Hunger. Undeniable hunger and a thirst that felt like a white-hot cattle brander stuck down his throat whenever he was near a human. (Yes, I definitely think that’s a suitable comparison.)

I was so consumed by my thoughts I almost rode past my driveway. I took an abrupt stop and walked my bike up the drive in the pouring rain. I tossed my bike to the side and opened the door. I stepped through the doorway and looked around.
The house was completely spotless. Wow when Phoebe was bored she turned into an unstoppable force of nature, leaving cleanness in her wake.
I kicked off my shoes and walked across the wooden floor into the living room where Phoebe sat in her recliner watching 10 Things I Hate About You. Cold water dripped off my hair and onto the carpet.
“Hey, Hey, Hey! OFF! The carpet.” Phoebe yelled at me. I took a step backwards off the carpet. A puddle of water started to form on the wood floor. Phoebe stood up and walked over to me, “Okay! You know I just mopped this floor. So go up to your room and change into something a little less wet.”
“Yeah…I’ll go do that.” I said in a hurry. I raced up stairs and into my room. I opened my closet and found a pair of old stone washed blue jeans and a dark green long sleeved shirt. I sprinted back downstairs, and into the living room. I flopped down on the couch next to Phoebe’s recliner. For real that’s its actual name “Phoebe’s recliner” no one sits there except Phoebe. Several years back my dad sat there one time and I swear she almost exploded.
“So, you were gone a long time.” Phoebe stated suspiciously.
“Uh huh.” I answered.
“What were you doing?” Phoebe asked putting the T.V. on mute. Panic crept into my brain.
Should I tell her? No you idiot! You can’t tell her! If you do, she’ll think you’re insane. I was so caught up in my panic that I didn’t hear the doorbell ring. Phoebe practically fell out of her chair in her attempt to get to the door. I just sat there watching her slide down the hallway in her fuzzy purple socks. I heard her open the door, and there in the doorway stood the rain soaked silhouette of the most gorgeous person in the entire galaxy.
Phoebe’s jaw dropped to the ground as she stared at him. I’ll give you one guess as to who it was.
I shrunk back into the couch, not wanting him to see me. “Is Zoey here?” I heard Blake ask, his voice as smooth as silk. I could just imagine how Phoebe was feeling right now. Shocked, envious, powerless, entranced. I peeked over the back of the couch and saw Phoebe quickly snap her jaw shut and collect herself. I also saw Blake hold back a smile when he saw me. I quickly ducked back down out of sight.
“Um, Zoey come-” she cleared her throat noisily, “come here.” Phoebe said turning her head toward me. I sighed quietly, and slid off the couch. I trudged unwillingly over to where Blake and Phoebe stood.
“Hey.” I said biting my bottom lip.
“Hey.” he said mirroring my tone exactly, an odd kind of smile in place on his face. Odd but unimaginably gorgeous. He caught a strand of my hair blown loose by the wind between his fingers and twisted it back into place. I felt blood flood into my cheeks, creating maybe the most delicious color he’d ever seen in his entire existence.
His eyes raked over my blushing face, he almost unnoticeably turned his head toward the open door, and let the rain washed air fill his lungs even though he had no need for the oxygen.
“Sorry.” I murmured dropping my head to look at the ground.
“No big.” He insisted, laying two fingers under my chin and tilting my head upward to look at him. I flicked my eyes in Phoebe’s direction, and saw her face twisted with confusion. I really couldn’t help but smiling as I realized she had absolutely no idea why I was apologizing for blushing.
“You can go Pheebs.” I said.
“Yeah, sure.” Phoebe said confused. "I’ll just be…elsewhere. She stepped carefully around Blake and I and towards the staircase. I heard her stomp up the steps and settle into the guest room. This was practically her room.
Blake seemed to be listening to Phoebe’s get away with me. His hand moved down from my hair to the arch of my throat as if to feel my pulse. He seemed to do this without even thinking.
I decided that having his hand on my throat was all right as long as he wasn’t strangling me. We listened to Phoebe flick the TV on and jump onto her bed.
I waited a few moments and then asked, “What are you doing here?” His hand slid off my neck, across my shoulder and down my arm.
I shivered at his touch. My skin buzzed with a new sensation I had never felt before. A strange mix of desire, something I couldn’t decipher, and utter terror. He dropped his hand to his side. “Well?” I said curiosity in my voice. A small crease appeared in the middle of his marble brow.
“I don’t know.” He said so quiet I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or to himself. I could tell he wasn’t going to say anything further on the subject, at least not at the current time.
I stared at him but he didn’t seem to notice. It seemed like he was trying to find an answer to why he was here, not just to tell me, but also so he would know himself.
I shook my head quickly to clear it and said, “Um… do you want to come in?” He stepped away from the open doorway and further into my house, though he still seemed to be deep in his own thoughts.
How I would love to know what those thoughts were. BRAIN DISSECTION TIME! We stood there silently. It was kind of an awkward silence and kind of not.
I didn’t want to be the first to speak, but it seemed neither did he.
“Someone should really say something.” I said finally. The sound of my voice seemed to snap Blake out of his reverie. He didn’t smile as I thought he would.
“I…I shouldn’t be here.” My smile faltered.
“Not exactly the response I was hoping for.”
“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have come here. I don’t know why, but I just can’t stay away from you.” He took a step backwards towards the door that was now closed.
“Then don’t.” I said simply. He turned around and closed his eyes.
“You don’t understand.” Blake sighed.
“Maybe I don’t need to understand. Maybe I just need to know.” I said. I could feel hot tears pricking at my eyes for some weird reason.
“I already told you.” He said banging his fist against the door in frustration. I watched as the ebony door trembled within its frame. He turned back around to face me and was less than a foot away from my body in one blindingly fast movement.
“I’ve always been quite good at acting civil around humans,” Blake said quietly, still looking ashamed of himself. “But it’s you. Just you in fact,” he said leaning closer to me. “I don’t know how you do it, but you somehow have the ability to drive me completely insane.”
“I’m-I’m sorry.” I whispered, looking down at my feet.
“Don’t be.” He said his perfect voice filled with regret. “Just stay away from me.” I looked up at him and said with genuine anger, “You came here remember? For a reason I still don’t know.” Blake set his jaw and turned his gaze to the floor. I blinked and shook my head. “I’m sorry.” He raised his eyes to meet mine.
“You apologize too much.” He forced a smile.
“Speaking of which, you kinda owe me a new bedroom door?” I said, though in no way did he owing me a door and I apologizing too much have any sort of relation whatsoever.
His smile grew and this time it seemed to come more naturally. His smile was delightful yet frightening.
The grin showed off his teeth, which were whiter than snow and his elongated canines that were fear inducing yet in many ways mesmerizing. Seeing him smile made him seem almost human until you caught a glimpse of the only trait that showed what he really was. I tried to smile along with him, but…the sight of those fangs they just did something to me; I was a bit on edge.
His smile faded and he whispered, “Your friend is coming down stairs.” I turned my head toward the staircase and noticed that the quiet murmur of the TV had disappeared.
“Zoey?” I heard Phoebe call. I didn’t reply. “Zoey?” Phoebe called again, rounding through the kitchen.
“Do you have to leave?” I asked.
“I suppose I should.” He sighed.
“I know this is sort of a stupid question, but will I ever see you again?” I asked. He grinned.
“The possibility strikes me as a yes.”
Phoebe’s footsteps stopped. I didn’t see why she stopped, probably so she could eavesdrop. “I‘ll be here again. I promise.” I didn’t want to say goodbye but I felt that I must.
“Bye.” I mumbled. He kept a tight-lipped smile so as not to arouse any further suspicions in Phoebe’s mind. Again, he stroked the side of my face one single time, from temple to jaw. Again, the back of his hand hesitated on my skin. He opened the door and in a split second, he was gone, as if whisked away by the wind.

I started to feel light headed and I realized that I had been holding my breath. As soon as my heart rate returned to normal so did my erratic breathing. I turned around and there was Phoebe her lips pursed in suspicion her hands on her hips.

“Who was that?” She asked.

“Um, no one.” I answered, though I knew perfectly well that Blake wasn’t “no one”.

“He didn‘t seem like no one?” Phoebe stated.
She was my best friend; we never kept secrets from each other. I guess I didn’t have to tell her what he was. She just asked who he was.

“His name is Blake, and he‘s a friend.” I said.

“That’s it!” Phoebe exclaimed. “That’s all you got!?!”

“Yes.” I said, though inside my head I screamed no.

“You sounded a bit intimate and I think you should get to know him better before you get too serious.” Phoebe said concerned.

“We‘re just friends.” I stated, because for all I knew we were just friends. Even though every time he looked at me my head went all tingly.

“Uh huh, sure.” Phoebe mumbled putting her hands on her hips.

“I don‘t see why you‘re so miffed,” I said, skipping over to her and leaning down to whisper in her ear, “Unless you‘re jealous.”

“I am not jealous.” She said in defense, her ears turning pink.

“Yeah, that’s why you were so willing to let him in.” I stated.

“I didn’t let him in.” She said tersely, “He asked for you, so I got you. Perfectly normal.” Phoebe continued the annoyance clear in her voice.

“Sure. Fine. That’s just fine.” I said though I knew that Phoebe thought he was gorgeous.

“So that’s really all you know about him?” Phoebe whispered her voice mellowing out.

“Well I know that I kinda like him, except when he‘s being annoying.” What I said didn’t exactly answer her question but at least it wasn’t a lie, and it seemed like an answer that would satisfy her.
“If you trust him, I guess I’ll just have to deal. And what guy isn‘t like that?” She said with a smile. I wasn’t sure I would go as far as ‘trust’ but I felt like I’ve seen him before. I felt like I knew him. I felt that I owed him something and I felt like there was something that made it impossible to stay away from him.

That night Phoebe stayed over. She called her parents and told them that she would be home the next day. It was about 1:00am before I fell asleep. I glanced over at Phoebe; she was sprawled out on her chair.

I was trapped in a small windowless room with a shimmering doorway at the front and Blake was there with me.

His eyes were strange. His irises, which I’d only seen being black and gray, were now huge, black as night, and rimmed in red.

He was sitting in the farthest corner of the room trying desperately to stay as far away from me as possible.

Suddenly there were twelve other hooded people standing at the doorway and by the way Blake reacted, these weren’t nice people.
He was standing beside me in one of his blindingly fast motions but somehow I could keep up this time.

“We’re not going to hurt her, Blake.” Spoke the person in front.

“Why should I believe you, Clay?” Blake snarled threateningly. Clay sighed and stepped through the shimmering doorway. He strode over to where we were standing and reached for my arm. Blake stepped in front of me, “Don’t- touch- her.” He said darkly. Clay backed away but his expression was amused and not in the least bit scared.

“How strange. A vampire in love with a Hunter. I would‘ve thought it impossible.” Blake’s eyes narrowed dangerously. I finally found my voice. “A-a hunter?” I stammered.

“Let me talk to her Blake.” Clay said in a calm voice that I could tell masked an extreme hate for Blake and everyone like him.

“No.” Blake said flatly through gritted teeth.

“What’s a hunter?” I asked a bit louder. Clay reached his arm out to me. I knew I shouldn’t have gone against Blake, but he was hungry. I mean seriously, I could practically hear his stomach rumbling. He told me himself that my scent clouded his better judgment. So maybe he was wrong about these people.

I took Clay’s hand and followed him through the shimmering portal. Blake stood by the edge of the door, pacing back and forth, yanking at the ends of his hair in a way that made him appear quite mad.

“You must know what a Hunter is because you are one yourself.” Clay said slowly as if he were speaking to a five year old.

“I am?” I asked, shocked. I never thought of myself as anything other than just me.

“Yes. And Hunter’s kill vampires.” Now I knew why Clay meant by “How strange.” That meant that Blake was in love with me. I felt a surge of happiness. But then my happiness became overwhelming sadness. If I was a Hunter, did that mean I had to kill Blake? The thought then struck me as funny; I couldn’t possibly be strong enough to kill a vampire.

“But how could anyone kill a vampire?” I asked absently. “Wouldn’t they be too strong?” Several of the other hooded figures laughed and Clay silenced them with a glance. Clay was focused on me. Almost acting as if there weren’t eleven other people, and a starving, not to mention pissed off vampire in his presence.

“Hunter’s are the closest things to vampires that aren’t vampires. They have the speed, the agility, the strength, and our senses are just as acute.” I turned my gaze to Blake confined by himself in the cell I’d just left.

“I can’t be a Hunter.” I said without looking at Clay. “I’m not like that. I’m only human.” I said absolutely sure that I was right.

“Really.” Clay said.

I jerked awake, it was 5:32am and the sky was a faded gray color. That dream was so real. But how could I dream about someone I’ve never met before?

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, that dream was just excessively real. I swung my legs over the edge of my bed and stretched my arms above my head. I got dressed as quick as I could, scrubbed my teeth with my toothbrush, and pulled a comb through my hair until it was soft as silk.

I stopped at my door-less doorway. I sighed and brushed my fingers along one of the pieces of the fragmented door, flash backs of the other night dancing their way through my mind. I sped downstairs, taking two steps at a time. Phoebe was still asleep, half on her chair half off it. I stopped mid-step.

“Oh!” I said as I just realized summer break started two days ago.

“What!” Phoebe gasped falling the rest of the way out of her chair.

“Sorry.” I said sheepishly. Phoebe ignored my apology as she always did.

“What time is it?” She asked groggily, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. I glanced at the clock sitting by the window.

“5:48.” Phoebe groaned dramatically.

“Why do you do this to me Zo?!?!” Phoebe whined loudly.

“Sorry.” I said again.

“Whatever.” She mumbled, clambering back up on her chair and closing her eyes. I sighed. The only bad thing about summer break is finding something remotely entertaining to do.

I went to the window and peeked through the thin white curtains. It was bit overcast and wispy grey clouds blanketed the sky. I settled on something a bit more exciting than sitting at home doing nothing. I tore a piece of paper out of a stray notebook I found lying behind the couch and scribbled a note on it for Phoebe.




gone out 4 a bit

b back whenever C ya! .



I set the note on the armrest and pulled on my ratty old Vans. I opened the door noiselessly and slipped out onto the streets. The clouds pressed down on the air making it hard to breath. It was very quiet and I had the feeling that someone was watching me. It was unnerving. No one was around. I assumed it was because it was before 6:00am no one was awake. I didn’t know how long I had been walking through the deserted streets, but breathing in the saturated air made my lungs feel funny. A cool rush of air tickled the back of my neck.

“Hello.” I nearly fell forward and my heart felt like it had just been jump-started. I spun around, and my knees almost buckled in surprise.

“Bell. Neck. L-look into it.” I said swallowing hard, irritation, surprise, and pleasure cloaking my voice.
Blake smiled, amused by my reaction. “Hmm. Now I always thought the average teen slept through the better part of the day.” He said.

“Yeah.” I murmured not really paying attention to what he actually said. “You shouldn’t sneak up on people.” I said as we started walking down the empty lanes together.

“It’s an occupational hazard.” He said shrugging. I smiled. The clouds above us opened up to reveal a sliver of sunlight. Blake’s hand reached up as if to brush the ray of sunlight away, but his hand hovered there blocking the light from his eyes.
I was chewing my lip furiously, trying to decide if I should tell him about the dream that I had the night before when I noticed his reaction to the light I was exposed to everyday.

“You okay?” I asked him. He lowered his hand slowly as we came under the clouded sky once more.

“Yeah, I’m just not much of a day person.” He said, his now what I came to think of as trademark smirk appearing on his face.

“Right.” I replied in understanding. (v + s = b where v represents the vampire, s represents the sunlight and b represents the badness that happens as the solution to that equation.) I went back to pondering my decision of whether or not I should tell Blake about my dream. He seemed to notice that I was thinking about something, because he kept quiet and occasionally glanced at me as if checking that I was still with him.

“Um, I need to tell you something.” I said taking a deep breath.

“Alright.” He replied, instantly gaining focus.

“I had a dream last night, and it was so real it was scary.” Blake nodded for me to continue. “You were in it, along with some other people. People I’ve never met before. There were twelve of them.” He seemed to be really listening; he looked like he was fascinated by my dream. “There was a guy and he knew you. His name was Clay.” I paused to see if Blake recognized the name.

Blake’s jaw tightened and he stopped walking. (That’s recognition if I ever saw one.)

“What did he look like?” He asked.

“Uh…” I mumbled remembering the unforgettable. “He was about as tall as you, and he had like vividly green eyes, and blonde hair.” I smirked, “He was kind of cute.” I stopped too and stood there next to him.

“Were you in the dream too, or were you just watching? And he‘s not cute.” Blake said harshly.

“I-I was in the dream. Clay wanted to talk to me, you wouldn’t let him, and he wasn’t scared of you and…your eyes they-they were so dark with red.” I took a breath and waited for Blake to say something. His muscles seemed to tense at the mention of him having red in his eyes.

“What would a Hunter want with you?” He said so quiet I think he was talking to himself.

“That’s what he said. There were only twelve and he said I was the thirteenth Hunter.” I said quickly. He turned to look at me, the full force of his smoky gray eyes making all coherent thoughts fall to pieces and making it very hard to believe his eyes could ever appear like they did in the dream I had. “He couldn’t have been telling the truth. I mean I’m just a puny little human right?” I said, seeking reassurance. Blake just kept staring at me, as the answer to this question was tattooed across my face. Then in one blindingly fast movement, Blake had my right forearm locked in the steel grip of his left hand.

“What’s this?” He murmured quietly, indicating the pale shape that resembled the Greek letter Psi burned into my skin.

“It’s-” I cleared my throat nervously; “It’s a birth mark.” Blake’s eyes stayed intense and his grip tightened making my arm start to tingle uncomfortably. “You know I need that.” I said trying to tug my arm free. He let my arm go.

“Clay has one just like it, your birthmark, as does every other Hunter.” He said, making sure to put extra emphasis on the word ‘Birthmark.’ I rubbed the feeling back into my arm. “It’s the mark of the Hunter.” Blake continued.

“No it can’t be.” I insisted.

“I really wish it weren’t.” He murmured. I let out a shuddering breath, and tossed my hair over my shoulder exposing a bluish vein on the inside of my throat I did all of this without thinking about the consequences.

“This cannot be happening.” I said angrily. “I mean a vampire tries to kill me? Cool. Fine. Whatever. But this?” I rambled on sarcastically.

I could tell Blake wasn’t listening; his gaze was transfixed on my neck. The vein I exposed without notice pulsing every time I moved my head. I brushed my hair back over my neck. “You have a serious drinking problem.” I said. He turned around and ran a hand through his hair, pushing his dark brown bangs off his pale forehead. I stared at his back.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t funny.” He turned back around.

“It’s not that. It was kinda funny.” He said moving closer to me. He pulled my silky deep brown hair back very gently and let it fall to one side, then tilted my head to the side with incredible tenderness. He stroked the side of my neck with his forefinger.
“I’ll only how far my limitations stretch, when I’ve gone too far.” He whispered, gazing intently at my throat. I kept completely still and imagined how hard this was for Blake to do and if I stirred the air, I would probably die. He bent over me and his lips brushed against my skin, “What do you think Zoey? Have I gone too far?” I heard him whisper in my ear because by this point I had squeezed my eyes shut. I honestly thought he was going to kill me, but he stood up and backed away from me, a cocky smile on his face. I let out a more than audible sigh of relief.

“Do you trust me?” Blake asked suddenly. That was random, and I was caught completely off guard. The word was out of my mouth before I could stop it.

“No.” Blake didn’t look surprised, in fact, he looked satisfied. I had wanted to say yes, that I did trust him, but my instincts had reacted before my brain.

“Good.” He said. Now I’m confused. My cell phone rang in my back pocket, I let it ring, the song “Horrible Dream" by Ayria, blasted from the phone’s speakers. Blake raised a quizzical eyebrow at the grunge/techno ring tone. I sighed and rolled my eyes; I pulled the phone out of my pocket and recognized Phoebe’s number. The clock on the screen read 11:22am


“Zoey!!! Where the hell are you?!?” I held the phone away from my face as Phoebe’s words were yelled across the line, she apparently didn’t get the note I’d left for her. Blake snickered as he could obviously hear Phoebe’s words as well. I looked back at the street sign, then at the house number.

“124 Prescott Street.” I spoke into the cell phone’s receiver. I glanced at a couple of guys making lots of noise, coming from a house across the street and noticed that I went to school with all three of them. One picked up a skateboard and the other two picked up bicycles from the curb.

“Hey Zoey!” One of the guys from across the street yelled.

“Who was that?” Phoebe asked. I turned my attention back to the phone call.

“Um, Colten Fullmack from school.” I heard Phoebe’s breathing quicken on the other end of the phone. I looked back at Blake, it just seemed like the thing to do, and I had to stifle a gasp as I saw his expression. It was feral, terror inciting.

“Oh you mean that cute guy from chem. Who has a crush on me?” Phoebe asked, dropping the suspicion and becoming herself once more.

“Yeah, that guy. Listen I’ll be back later but I gotta go.” I said in a distracted voice.

“Okay I’ll se-” I hung up before she could finish her sentence.

“What’s…What’s wrong?” I asked Blake. He didn’t answer.

“Zoey.” I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. Blake’s body went rigid.

“Hey Malick.” I said, brushing his hand off my shoulder and stepping cautiously toward Blake.

“I have to leave. I’ll…see you later.” He murmured his gaze locked on Colten and Malick, though he completely ignored Nate lagging behind on his skateboard. Blake brushed his fingertips along my cheek, turned, and left.

“What’s that guy’s problem?” Colten asked as Blake disappeared around the corner.

“Yeah, do you know why he was staring at us? He looked like that time Wyatt got stabbed in the hand with a pencil during chem. class.” Malick stated. I smiled as the memory of Wyatt Tolsee’s face when his lab partner Alicia McNab accidentally stabbed him with a pencil.

“I thought he looked kinda cool.” I heard Nate mumble. Malick and Colten sent incredulous glances over their shoulders. Nate shrugged, "I’m just sayin’.” He mumbled in his sweet southern accent. I remembered in eighth grade when that accent had a way of making me melt.

Yes, I had a crush on cute, ingenious, punk, skater boy Nate Reinhart. Colten and Malick both punched Nate lightly on the shoulder, laughing at him. I grinned, but that’s when I saw them, Psi-looking symbols branded onto Malick and Colten’s forearms, exactly like the so-called birthmark on my arm. My smile dissipated.

“Hey?” I said, still not sure if I should say anything. Malick turned back to me, smiling. “What’s that mark?” I asked.

He looked at his arm, “Scar, why?” I glanced at my own arm and Malick’s gaze followed mine. I held out my arm for him to examine. Colten looked back at Malick and I and joined in our observations. We each had our arms held up against each other’s.

“Interesting.” Colten mumbled. Nate sighed in a bored way.

“Hey Cole, we gotta do that thing today remember.” Malick said vaguely.

“Uh, yeah right.” Colten replied.

“See ya Nate, Zoey.” Malick said hopping on his bike.

“Hey can you tell Phoebe I said hi?” Colten asked hopefully.

“Sure.” I answered, and I watched Malick and Colten pedal down the street on their bikes.

“Really weird.” Nate murmured. I laughed softly.


“I honestly don’t know why I hang out with ‘em.” He sighed, kicking his skateboard up into his waiting hand. “See ya.” He said turning away from me and moping back over to the other side of the street.

“Yeah, bye.” I mumbled quietly. I glanced down the street trying to remember the way I’d come. I passed through the streets and noticed families coming out of their houses a summer break buzz in the air.

When I reached my house, I saw Blake sitting on my doorstep. He looked up at me, “Hey.” He said in a troubled voice.

“Hi.” I replied, stopping in front of him and crossing my arms. He stood up, noticing that my tone was full of accusations. “You mind telling me what your problem was back there? I’m surprised you didn’t scare my friends off!” I said anger flaring up and now I wasn’t scared of Blake in the least.

“I assure you Zoey; there is a perfectly liable explanation for my behavior.” He said in an infuriatingly calm voice.

“Let’s hear it!” I challenged, annoyed by how calm he was. Then I remembered the Psi’s on their wrists, which meant…I gasped, and ran my fingers along the symbol on my arm.

“I’m not trying to make excuses but it’s instinctive.” He mumbled. I stared at him my mouth agape.

“So you’re telling me that you have no choice-but then why-how come…? Uhhhgh.” I fell to the front step, my hands over my eyes. Blake sat down next to me.

“Yes, I have no choice but to act that way. I don’t act that way around you because you’re not like them yet. I‘ve known you were going to be a Hunter for as long as I‘ve known you…I just can‘t believe they sent you a message in your sleep. They could‘ve at least had the decency to tell you to your face.” He said. I leaned my head against his cold shoulder. He took a cautious breath and placed an arm around my shoulders in somewhat of a one armed hug.

After my head had cleared, I looked up at Blake. His face was turned away and though my head rested on his shoulder he seemed to edge away from me. I felt a completely random question bubble up in my brain; I moved away from Blake and looked at him curiously.

“I know this is a bit random, but…do you have a last name?” He turned back to me smiling.

“Yes.” I cocked my head to the side, asking. “Pierdut, Blake Anton Pierdut.” I nodded thoughtfully. Anton…Hot! Pierdut…Different. (Pronounced Peer-doo)
I bit on my lip.

“If you don’t mind my asking, how-how old are you?” I asked.

“Ah, I was expecting that question sooner or later, but it really depends on what you mean.” He said leaning against the step behind him.

“Oh…right.” I mumbled. “Screw it. Tell me ‘em both.” I said waving an airy hand through the wind. He smirked.

“I’m seventeen and I was born January twenty-second, 1813. Born and died in Chisinau, Romania.” I stared at the ground for a moment, then look back at him, eyes wide with shock.
“One hundred-ninety-eight years old!” He nodded. “Wow. That‘s like almost two hundred years.” He laughed. I paused for a moment. “If you’re Romanian where’s your accent? “ I asked. He shrugged.

“I left Europe around 1900. I guess the accent just kind of faded.” I nodded.

“So that’s why your name is so strange.” I paused hoping I didn’t offend him. “It’s just so…” I tried to think of the right word. He smirked and offered, “Romanian.” I smiled and nodded.

I heard the door open, “Zoey!” Phoebe was standing in the doorway with a brush that she was yanking harshly through her short blonde hair. Her eyes roved over the spot next to me, “and Blake.” She said a little less enthusiastically.

“Watch this.” Blake whispered in my ear before standing up. “Hello you must be Phoebe.” He said in a charming voice, running a hand through his hair in a carefree way and flashing a brilliantly white smile.

“H-” The word got caught in her throat on the way out. She swallowed hard, and set the brush down. “Hi…” I grinned.

“I hope you’re not too terribly upset that I stole Zoey for a bit.” He murmured angelically. She stared at him in confusion, and I recognized her expression from my own face. She was trying to comprehend his words, which was really hard to do when he gets all charming like that.

Phoebe shook her head quickly, “No, not-not at all.” Blake reached his hand down to me; I grasped it hesitantly and let him pull me up to stand beside him.

“I’ll see you later,” he said. I nodded. He bent down and whispered in my ear,
“Interesting skill isn’t it.” A smirk appeared on my face. Phoebe still looked confused and jealous at how close Blake was to me. She probably wouldn’t be jealous if she knew what kind of teeth were behind those clever lips of his.

Blake walked down the street his hands in his jacket pocket. That’s when I noticed what he was wearing, a pair of jeans, a black leather jacket, and shoes that looked exactly like mine except they were bigger. What he was wearing was relatively normal, definitely not what I’d expect a one hundred ninety-eight year old vampire to wear. (Velvet cape and Italian dress shoes?)

I looked back to Phoebe standing in the doorway; she shook her head, trying to clear it. “So did you like call him to meet you or something?” She asked fiddling with her black and purple happy bunny pajama pants.

“No. We just ran into each other and started talking.” What I said was definitely not a lie.

“Uh huh! Likely story.” She said turning back into the house.

“It’s true.” I insisted.

“Sure.” She mumbled, grabbing her brush off the table and yanking it sharply through her hair. I followed her into the living room and said, “Colten told me to tell you hi.” Phoebe’s expression brightened.

“Really?!?!” She asked happily.

“Yeah, right before he had the desire to be elsewhere.” I mumbled flopping down onto the couch and pulling off my shoes.

“Elsewhere?” She asked puzzled. She sat down on her recliner and flicked on the television, not really intent on watching it, just out of habit. She then turned to me for an explanation.

“Well, he was with his friends, you know Malick and Nate. And for some reason Colten and Malick seemed really schizo after I showed them my birthmark.” I held out my arm.

“Hmmm…Wonder why?” Phoebe muttered to herself, prodding the strange Psi shape on my arm.

I decided not to say anymore. “Beats me.” I said, taking my arm back and hugging my knees to my chest. Phoebe sighed and muted the TV

“There’s nothing on.” She complained.

“Well then, if you’re not going to watch the TV can you turn it off? I have to pay the cable.” I muttered, staring at the far wall of the living room. She turned to me.

“What are you talking about? Social Services pay for the cable.” I thought about what she said. It was the truth, at least for a little while.

“But only until I’m eighteen.” I said finally. Phoebe shrugged, "That’s an entire two years. I say enjoy it while you can.” I narrowed my eyes, “Are we really having a discussion about this?” I asked.

“What? I’m bored and I don’t know what else to talk about.” I hopped up off the couch, walked over to the TV and hit the power button. The screen went black.

“Let’s do something then.” I suggested.

“Like what?” Phoebe said, jumping up, leaving her recliner rocking back and forth wildly.

“Oh great, I come up with the brilliant idea of doing something, and then you stick me with the chore of thinking of what that something should be?” I asked sarcastically.

“Ah yes very funny. We could go shopping!” Phoebe said excitedly.

“How did I know that one was coming?” I stated. She grinned, “I’ll be right back.” She sped down the hallway, and I heard her footsteps thud up the stairs. She was back a moment later, fully dressed in something that is not normally worn to bed, and there was a violently pink handbag dangling from her shoulder.

“So how are we gettin’ to the mall?” She asked, checking how much money she had in her bag and smearing berry-pink lip-gloss on her lips.

“Oh!” I gasped, bringing my hand up to my forehead.

“Zoey,” Phoebe whined impatiently, stomping her foot in an irritated way. “We have to go shopping, like now.”

“Okay, okay, well the body shop said that the detailing would be done today. Around…” I pulled my phone out and glanced quickly at the time, “now actually.” That’s when I heard an approaching vehicle stop in front of my house.

“Wow, do you suppose you can make a wad of cash arrive now too?” I smirked at her and walked down the hallway to open the door.

There was my car, in all of its green and black camaro-y goodness; it looks like bumblebee from transformers only its bright green instead of yellow. A gift from my rich aunt.

My car was settled on top of a heavy-set tow truck, glittering in the small amount of light peeking through the clouds. I glanced at Phoebe; her bottom lip was pushed out in a pout.

“I wish I had a car.”

“Yeah.” I said, grabbing a twenty off the counter and my car keys off the hook. I shoved the money into my pocket and followed Phoebe out the door. The truck driver hopped down out of the driver seat and started turning a crank to let my car down. After what seemed like an eternity, even though it had probably only been about three minutes, my car thudded softly on the side of the road.

The man that drove came up to me and said, “They just did the basic package,” he paused and took a breath, “An oil change, tune up combo, and I think they ran it through the car wash a few times. If you’ll just sign here…” he held out a clipboard and a pen to me.

I grabbed it and scribbled my signature on the bottom line. “We send the bill to social services right?” He asked, as I returned the clipboard to him. I nodded. The man got back into his truck and started the ignition, I watched until he trundled around the corner and we could only smell the smoke puffing from the exhaust as a reminder he was here.

“Can we go now?” Phoebe asked, starting towards my car before me.

“Why are you so eager to go to the mall?” I asked, opening the car door and sliding into the drivers’ seat. She got onto the passengers side and settled herself in the leather seat. She pulled the seat belt over her and answered, “I’m a shopaholic, what can I say.” I grinned, and started the car.

The mall was one of the biggest places in the city. Three stories high, and filled to the brim with stores that appeal to everyone.

When we got to the mall, I barely had time to park my car before Phoebe jumped out and started sprinting down the many rows of cars. “Come on Pheebs! Wait for me!” I sped down the parking lot much faster than Phoebe was running and I reached her in a matter of seconds. When Phoebe saw me coming up behind her, she grabbed my hand and pulled me through the entrance.

“That’s better.” Phoebe sighed as she took a deep breath of mall air and started towards the coffee shop to buy a non-fat caramel latte. I worked my way over to where Phoebe was licking the foam off the top of her newly acquired coffee.

“Hey Zo!” She called, wiping the foam from her lips with the back of her hand, “look whose here.” She nodded towards a table on the other side of the room. I glanced at the place she indicated.

There was a group of girls all talking and laughing together. There were six of them and Phoebe and I had taken to calling them the “Six Chicks” the most popular girls in school, desired by every male in the school, from freshman to senior. I used to be jealous of them, but since I met Blake, I hadn’t really thought about it.

There was a petite girl who was like the leader of the six chicks; she had dark auburn hair that she was constantly tossing over her shoulder. Her name was Peyton Meyers. Then there was Amenti Saroyan, she had beautifully tanned skin, long dark hair, and eyes that were such a dark brown that they were nearly black. I don’t really feel like going too deep into detail about the rest of them, but their names’ are, Avery Tiller (Hate her), Kendra Locks, Sofia Clark, and Ginny Martose. I kind of always felt drawn to them for some reason, but I never made a huge effort to join the gang.

Peyton’s head whipped around to look towards us. I was startled. She couldn’t have possibly heard what Phoebe said. Then I noticed the rest of the girls looking my way.
I smiled shyly. Most of the girls smiled back politely (except Avery). A full grin spread across Peyton’s small, pixy-like face, showing off her perfectly straight, brilliantly white teeth. I heard her murmur, “Excuse me.” To the rest of her posse, and she skipped over to us, her flowery pink skirt swishing about her knees.

“Hey guys.” She said mostly to me. Her voice was cheerful, conversational, like the way someone would talk if they were trying to make friends. Phoebe looked appalled by the very fact that Peyton was talking to us. Peyton tossed her long hair over her shoulder once more. I caught a glimpse of her right forearm; a pale shape that resembled the 23rd Greek letter Psi was stamped onto her arm. My mind went blank.

No! No flipping way! Not Peyton! She CANNOT be a Hunter; she’s just so…so Peyton! I stared at her arm and tried to keep myself from hyperventilating.

“What? It’s just a birthmark.” She said grinning. “You have one too.” She glanced fleetingly at my own wrist, which I had tried to hide behind my back. I was so engrossed in my panic that I didn’t notice that six chick number two and number three had approached. Amenti reached her arm out to Peyton, and to my ever-growing horror there was a pale Psi inscribed on the inside of her sun kissed arm as well.

Oh my god! This cannot be happening! I glanced at the forever hyperactive Ginny Martose, she was bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet in somewhat of a caffeine overdose. Her shoulder length flaming red hair was mimicking her bubbly movements as it swung from side to side. She brushed a strand of hair from her face with her right hand, exposing the inside of her wrist to the entire coffee shop.

My eyes widened and my heart jumped into my throat, there was another Hunter, a Psi exactly like mine. I tugged on Phoebe’s sleeve so that a little bit of her latte sloshed out of its cup. “Come on.” I whispered to her.

“Okay!” She said wiping off the rim of her Styrofoam cup and placing a plastic lid on top. Phoebe let me pull her from the growing crowd of six chicks, and as we exited the coffee shop, I glimpsed a few more Psi.

“Hey!” Peyton called after me, “Where are you going?” She looked disappointed that we were leaving.

“We have to leave.” I said wincing at my lame excuse. Phoebe gave me a look that plainly said, “What the heck are you talking about?”

“Oh.” Peyton said in a dejected tone. I smiled at her before turning on my heel and walking in the other direction.

When Phoebe and I were well out of earshot, she turned on me and said, “What was with the abrupt departure?” I looked at her and muttered, “Since when do you use words like departure?” She shrugged.

“Not one of those girls ever talk to us, and when the leader of the pack decides to converse, you feel the need to bail.” Phoebe took a swig from her now luke-warm latte. I sighed and thought about which lie I should tell my best friend now.

“I just felt out of place. It was weird.” I took a deep breath, “I mean why today of all days did Peyton want us to exist?” Phoebe took another uncertain gulp from her cup and then finally said, “I don’t know.” I exhaled sharply.

“So are we gonna go shopping or not?” Phoebe grinned and dropped her coffee into a nearby trashcan.

“Of course!” It was smart to bring only twenty bucks. It kept me from spending too much. Phoebe dragged me through every store in the mall. Even the ones she never shopped at. (Like Aeropostale and Sports Heaven) I think she was just happy to have something to do.

By the end of like seven and a half hours, we had scoured the entire mall minus the restaurants. Phoebe’s arms were loaded with shopping bags. I bought a single object. A sterling silver cross necklace. I really hoped that the silver or cross stereo type was true, so that what happened at the gym didn’t happen anymore. Since the necklace wiped out most of my cash, I didn’t buy anything else; but Phoebe just kept adding to the amount of her daddy’s money that she was spending.

Throughout the entire trip I felt like I was being watched, but every time I turned to look around there was nobody, well nobody that was watching me. And no one with funny Greek letters imprinted on their wrists.

At the end of the shopping trip Phoebe was weighed down by an infinite amount of different colored shopping bags, and I had one pretty little blue box, in one little plastic bag, with it’s contents around my neck. We were nearing the exit, and that’s when I felt it. That spine tingling feeling you get when someone is watching you.

I spun around as fast as I could and the world around me seemed to blur. I saw the unmistakable long, pale fingers of Blake disappear into a shop only a few yards away from where I was standing. I shook my head unbelievingly. He’s just upgraded from appearing coincidently to stalker. I caught up to Phoebe.

“Hey can you wait for a little bit, like right here?” I asked. She sighed and her arm full of shopping bags drooped.

“Whatever, but hurry will you, these bags are heavy.” I nodded and marched purposefully toward the shop that Blake hid in.

“Hey.” I said, smirking in an annoyed way.

“Uhh, hi.” He retorted in a tone that implied that he knew he had made a mistake.

“So what, are you following me now?” I asked my hands moving down to my hips in irritation. He ran his left hand through his hair, and exhaled in a gust of sweet smelling breath that made my head spin.

“I just wanted to make sure you were safe.” He said softly. I tilted my head to the side, “Safe? Why wouldn’t I be safe?”

“There were Hunters here, quite a few actually.” He whispered softer still, the shame in his voice becoming more prominent.

“Mm-hmm. Six girls? My age? Popular type?” I asked in a matter-of-fact tone. Blake’s eyes narrowed in curiosity, and he nodded. “Thought so.” I declared. “I go to school with those bimbos, they’re nothing special.” I swatted the fact that they were all Hunters away like an irksome fly.

Suddenly Blake grabbed me roughly by the shoulders, squeezing them until my arms started to buzz. “Hunters can hurt you; they can kill you within a split second. What can I do to make you understand that?” He said his voice on the edge of a growl.

“Well for starters you can take your hands off me. My arms are going numb.” Blake loosened his grip on my shoulders, but didn’t remove his hands completely. I glared at his hands, my teeth gnashed together in anger.

“I just wonder sometimes why I can’t make you understand.” He muttered his tone painted with shades of frustration and restraint.

I smirked cleverly, “No you don’t understand. The Hunters won’t hurt me. They need me,” I said pointing at myself. Blake stared at me like I‘d just grown a third eye. “Listen, there are thirteen Hunters, and I’m the thirteenth. I’m like Zoey the untouchable.” I smiled in hopes that what I said would make him smile too. I saw a grin begin to pull at the corners of Blake’s mouth, but his smile was forced and it didn’t give me the same satisfaction that a flat out grin would have.

“I just, I don’t want anything to happen to you. I‘ve gone through too much already.” He murmured barely coherently.

“I understand that, I really do. And I’ll let you worry a little bit. But don’t get all protector of the innocent on me.” I said trying to lighten the mood even more, though I was still pretty ticked that he had been following me.

Blake scoffed sarcastically, “Now you sound like Clay.” I frowned. I don’t think I wanted to be compared to a person that Blake hated.

“Does that mean that the Hunters are good?” I asked my voice was no more than a whisper.

“To some.” He answered. “But they’re very narrow-minded. Hunters think one way: ‘Vampires bad, humans good.’” He explained further. I honestly had trouble finding a flaw in that way of thinking.

“Isn’t that how everyone should think.” I muttered. His grip tightened in a way that was probably involuntary.

“In some cases.” He whispered darkly, leaning closer to me.

“But not in your case right?” I said cocking my head to the side, giving Blake a glimpse of a thick blue artery at the base of my throat.

“I’d like to think I’m different.” He whispered while gazing captivated at my neck. “But the truth is…I’m not different at all, I still want it.” He moved closer to me still and his muscles tightened in a way most predatory. His left hand moved from my shoulder to my jaw line and he tilted my head to the side even further, making the vein on my neck grow deeper in color. “I’ll still always be hungry for it.” He let his hand slide down the side of my neck, tracing the pattern of veins with his index finger.

It’s not like I didn’t like Blake, but he could be just so annoying. What with all the brooding, and complaining about how much he wanted my blood. Why didn’t he just take it? Why did he have to make it so hard for himself? Why didn’t he just give in? Suddenly the air smelled faintly of…burning. Something was burning. Blake yanked his hand away from my throat and cursed under his breath.

I pulled away, “So was that the silver, or the cross?” I asked smirking. He set his jaw. I sighed and tried not to roll my eyes. “Blake I-I’m sorry.” Blake exhaled sharply, but his breath came out more like a snarl.

He swiped his hand dangerously near my throat, and the smell of burning flesh crept into the air. “Don’t be sorry, be smart.” He took his hand back and started away from me in the opposite direction.

I sighed in an aggravated way and stomped back towards where I left Phoebe.
“Zoey! What were you doing? I think my arms are about to fall off!” I took a couple of Phoebe’s shopping bags and started lugging them towards the exit. “Thanks.” Phoebe said suspiciously. “So what did you make me wait here for?”

I shrugged and muttered, “I saw someone I knew.” I admit it wasn’t the complete truth, but it wasn’t a lie.

“It was Blake wasn’t it?” She mumbled as she pushed open the door with her shoulder.

“Okay, yeah it was.” I said giving in.

“Isn’t it a little weird, him just showing up?” She asked stopping by the passenger side of my car. I grabbed my keys and pressed a button to unlock the doors.

“Yeah. It is kind of creepy but-“She slid into the passenger seat and piled her shopping bags around herself.

“But what?” She asked. I got into the drivers seat and set the rest of Phoebe’s shopping bags in the back seat.

“Nothing.” I mumbled starting the car.

“Zoey.” She said turning to look at me. I kept my eyes on the road. “We’ve been best friends since pre-school; don’t you know that you can trust me with the truth?” I sighed.

“If I told you the truth you’d think I’d gone crazy.” Phoebe rolled her eyes and said, “I already know you’re crazy, so you can tell me.” I smiled half-heartedly. I’ve made my decision. I’m not going to keep lying to my best friend anymore. I’m going to tell her everything.

“Well it’s about Blake. And me. And the six chicks for some messed up reason.” I said. I took a deep breath and tried to continue. “I guess I should start with Blake first.” Phoebe nodded for me to go on. “He…Well.” I licked my lips nervously. “He’s…Not human.” I glanced cautiously at Phoebe, her mouth was hanging open and her eyes were open wide. I turned my gaze back to the road.

“Well what…What is he?” She asked in a serious voice.

“Huh…He’s um, he’s a vampire.” I whispered the last word as if it were a curse. Phoebe’s eyebrows climbed up her forehead and her eyes bugged wider. At least she wasn’t laughing in my face. “So do you-do you believe me?” I asked keeping my eyes straight ahead.

“Of course I believe you Zo, and you know that would actually explain a lot.” I focused harder on the road ahead of me, and began to wonder if I was doing the right thing. I don’t know, maybe Blake would understand why I couldn’t keep lying to Phoebe, or he might possibly rip my throat out with his teeth. I flinched slightly as that thought came skittering through my mind. Phoebe shook her head to clear it.

“Okay, so what about Peyton and her followers?” She asked curiously, almost in an eager, tell the school newspaper way.

“Phoebe! You know you can’t tell anyone about this, nobody! You can tell zero peoples!” I said sternly.

She scoffed and rolled her eyes, “I won’t tell.” I nodded as if convincing myself that I could tell her the rest.

I swallowed and continued, “The six chicks are…Well technically, they’re vampire Hunters.”

Phoebe laughed, “Vampire Hunters? You mean like Buffy?” I grinned and nodded.

“Sort of.” I said. “But there are more than one. There are thirteen; well actually there are only twelve at the moment.” I turned onto my street and wondered how we got back home so fast. I glanced quickly at Phoebe. She looked like she was about to ask the question I really didn’t want to answer.

“Then where’s the thirteenth?” She asked. I swallowed and pulled into my driveway. I could feel Phoebe’s eyes on my face, “You’re looking at her.” I pulled the key out of the ignition.

Phoebe stared at me, her mouth agape. “But you can’t be. You don’t have super strength, or,—or any of that stuff.” I leaned back in the seat and stared at the steering wheel, “That’s what I said.” Frustration and stubbornness cloaked my voice.

“So are they-are they dangerous?” Phoebe asked. I sighed, opened the car door, and reached into the back seat to gather Phoebe’s shopping bags.

“Blake seems to think so, but I really don’t know.” I slid out of the car, lugging Phoebe’s shopping bags behind me. Phoebe got out of the car her arms laden with multihued bags. We both pushed the doors close and started up the front steps to my door.

“Well of course he’d think that, he’s a vampire. Zoey, if Blake’s a vampire, and—and you’re a vampire Hunter…Then don’t,—aren’t you supposed to kill him?” She murmured cautiously, dragging her bags through the doorway and piling them up against the wall. I gasped at the thought.

“I-I couldn’t possibly do that.” I stuttered pushing a tendril of hair out of my face. “God I couldn’t do that! Not now, not ever.” I could feel panic constrict in my chest at the very idea of going up against Blake.

Phoebe shrugged and said, “Plus, if you ever did try to kill him, he’d probably snap your spine before you could even think about it.” I looked at her like I couldn’t believe what words just came out of her mouth. “I’m just saying.” She muttered, shrugging again.
I shook my head in disbelief. It was a bit interesting really. I mean Phoebe was taking this incredibly well. I decided to voice my opinion aloud.

“Uh Pheebs, you seem to be taking this rather well.” She poked around in one of her shopping bags and sighed, “Well you know it makes sense, all the stuff you’re talking about. I mean the only the gods know how many people have written about vampires. And to think,” She sighed wistfully, “All the stuff in Twilight is real…Well except for the sparkly vampires’ part.” Phoebe paused to try on a pair of strappy pink heels, then she turned to me and asked, “Blake doesn’t sparkle, does he?” I laughed, and the corners of my eyes crinkled in a smile.

“Nope. No sparkling.” I replied. She nodded and twisted her ankle in all directions admiring her new shoe.

“Good. Because personally I think that was the only thing Stephenie Meyer went wrong with.” This was Phoebe. The person who can make you smile even in the toughest situations. It was a relief that I could talk to someone else about it. Phoebe took the shoes back off and tried on another pair. She scrutinized a pair of violet Mary Janes then asked, “So can you like sense other Hunter or what?”

I fiddled with the cross at my throat and answered, “Kind of. I feel drawn to them. But it’s the Psi, the birthmarks. That’s the mark of the Hunter, as Blake put it, every Hunter has one. And here I was thinking I was special.” Phoebe stopped in the middle of trying on a striking silver high-heeled sandal that would be enough to break a trained super models ankle, and looked at me.

“That means Malick and Colten are Hunters right? They have the same mark you do.” She said flatly, clearly disappointed that the boy that had a major crush on her was an inhumanly strong, vampire hunting, freak. I nodded and let my mind wander.

Why did this happen to me? I mean I was never the most normal person in the world, but there were tons of people weirder than me; but now I’m like the mayor of Weird Ville.

“Zoey!” Phoebe shouted excitedly snapping me out of my reverie.

“Hmm?” I mused.

“I think, well I think I might know where Malick and Colten went this morning when you saw them.” She said jumping up off the floor and nearly falling forward because of her six-inch heels.

My eyebrows knitted together in confusion, “Where?” Phoebe regained her balance and started pacing, as she always did when she was thinking.

“Well it’s possible that they went to tell Peyton about you. Maybe that’s why she was so nice to you when we saw her.” I thought about what she said.

“It’s possible.” I muttered biting my lip, “Actually that’s—that’s really possible.” I said as realization dawned on me. That was exactly where Colten and Malick had gone. I could just imagine what he told Peyton, “You have to be nice to Zoey. Get her to trust you.” Yeah right! I wouldn’t trust one of the six chicks even if they were human. Colten and Malick must have told all the six chicks, and maybe even-I swallowed hard-Clay.

“Hey Zoey.” Phoebe said zapping me back into reality.

“Yeah?” I asked. She dropped her new pair of shoes back into one of the shopping bags and said, “Talking about all this supernatural stuff is really cool, but could we talk about it over dinner ‘cause I’m like starving.” She stated matter-of-factly.

“Of course you’re starving, what do you want?” I asked smirking.

“Macaroni!” Phoebe cried as if a box of it just fell from the sky and hit her on the head. I raised an eyebrow.

“Macaroni, really?” I asked. She wanted macaroni? What were we eleven years old again? “Fine. There’s macaroni in the pantry, but you have to make it yourself.” I muttered. I didn’t know why, but I wasn’t really hungry. My head was just too full of recent events.

“You mean I have to cook?” Phoebe asked awkwardly. “Like with a stove and boiling water and stuff?” She continued, recoiling from the thought. I turned back to the conversation.

“There should be microwave directions. Do you think you can handle stirring and pressing some buttons?” I asked sarcastically. Phoebe didn’t answer my mocking remark. She started towards the kitchen, having to jump over a few shopping bags on the way.
I sat down on the floor and let out a sigh. I tried to block out the clatter of dishes and the electric whir of the microwave, which was surprisingly easy to do.

I propped my elbow up on my leg, and leaned my cheek against the palm of my hand. I touched the uneven lines of the Psi on my arm and felt a surge of…Something pass through me. Power? Adrenaline? I didn’t know. And I wasn’t sure I really wanted to.

About twenty minutes later Phoebe came back with two bowls of macaroni and cheese. She placed one in front of me. When all I did was stare at it; she sighed and took a bite from her own bowl.

A few minutes of silence had passed when I heard a gasp, and Phoebe’s spoon dropped back into her bowl. “Zoey!” Phoebe said, alarmed.

“Hmm?” I asked, then wincing at the lack of concern in my voice.

“Zoey you have to tell Blake that you can never see him again!” She took a quick breath. “No wait! I take that back! Don’t-don’t make him angry. Ah! You should leave! Go! Hide!” She said speedily. I stared at her incredulously, my mouth hanging open.

“Wh-what are you talking about Phoebe? Why are you telling me to leave?” I asked, thoroughly freaked out. Phoebe looked scared out of her wits.

“Blake is a vampire! What do vampires eat?” She didn’t wait for me to answer. “Vampires eat people! Zoey you are Blake’s natural food source! And to any outside observer you seem like a very willing and idiotic meal!” Phoebe explained breathlessly.

“Vampires don’t technically eat people.” I muttered lamely. I know that was like the worse comeback ever.

“That is hardly the point Zoey!” She cried in an extremely exasperated tone. I sighed, “He won’t hurt me.” I really hoped that what I said was true.

“Maybe not on purpose, but what if he made a mistake? What if he slipped up, just once?” She insisted. The wound on the back of my neck twinge as a reminder of Blake’s first mistake. Phoebe was right. I knew she was, but I didn’t want to believe her.

“He knows how to control himself, and he would never let it go that far.” I whispered. Phoebe groaned loudly.

“Fine! Whatever! But don’t come crying to me the first time Blake tries to suck your heart out through your neck.” She said. Yikes! I really wish Phoebe would stop with the cringe-worthy visuals.

“You done?” Phoebe asked, glancing at my still full bowl of Mac ‘n’ cheese. I nodded and she took the bowl away. I heard Phoebe riffling through the cupboards for a plastic container to put the rest of the macaroni in. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and glanced at the time. It was nearly eight thirty. That’s when I noticed how tired I was. I had only gotten four and a half hours of sleep the night before and they weren’t exactly restful.

Phoebe came back from the kitchen and muttered, “I’ll see you tomorrow Zo, the ‘rents want me home tonight.”

“Okay.” I said, and I hid the relief in my voice. I usually wanted Phoebe around during a crisis, but I think I needed to be alone right now. She just didn’t understand how hard it was, crushing on a one-hundred ninety-eight year old vampire, being hunted down by twelve inhumanly strong teenagers, most of which I go to school with, and then trying to explain all of these inexplicable things to your best friend who thinks you should run away from it. I heard the door slam shut as Phoebe left me all alone.

I have to admit it felt worse, being alone. With nothing but time on my hands, and a whole mess of serious thoughts. I have no idea how much time had passed while I was sitting with my back against the door. The real world had been drowned out by my rampaging thoughts.

I was still sitting cross-legged on the floor, my eyelids beginning to droop with fatigue when I heard a loud; tap, tap, tapping sound coming from somewhere in the house. At first, I thought it was coming from the front door, so I stood and opened the door. “Pheebs?” I asked. There was no answer but for the whisper of wind and the twinkle of stars above me.

Okay, no one at the door. I thought to myself. The tapping noise continued, and I realized that the sound was coming from upstairs. I raced up the steps two at a time, and the tapping became louder. A thought danced pleasantly through my mind, it was probably Blake. He was always the one popping suddenly out of thin air the way vampires seemed to do.

I grinned as I passed Phoebe’s bedroom door. My grin faded as I remembered that I was supposed to be mad at Blake. I entered my door less bedroom and sprinted across the floor to my window. What had started out as just a mere flicker of curiosity now flared to the intensity of a forest fire. I flung open the window and the tapping stopped.
“Blake?” I whispered into the darkness. But there was nobody there, and I received no reply. I leaned out of the window, and squinted into the all-consuming blackness of the night. I finally noticed that there were no streetlights on.

The next thing I know someone jumped through my window and there’s a white cloth covering my mouth and nose, held to my face by a strong hand that belonged to only the gods know who. My eyes closed but still the cloth was pressed against my lips. A sluggish thought came into focus…Chloroform. That sickly sweet smell was chloroform.
The person that held the chloroform soaked rag swept me up into his arms. There was a rush of wind, and a faint falling sensation, followed by a nearly silent thud when he hit the ground.

I was laying limp in his arms, held tight to his chest. Who was this person? When the chloroform was finally removed from my face, I strained to open my eyes one final time.

The last thing I remember seeing was eleven people, not including the person whose arms I resided, and the blond haired, green eyed, kinda cute face of Clay. Then I let the dark have me, and I drifted into the depths of a drug-induced sleep.

How come I keep getting knocked out?

I can honestly say that was the best sleep I have ever gotten in my entire life. Chloroform and exhaustion is the perfect recipe for dreamless sleep.

For some strange reason I didn’t want to wake up. Therefore, I kept my eyes shut and rolled over trying to get more comfortable so I could get just a few more hours of sleep. But as I turned my body, I bumped into someone’s arm.

My eyes snapped open. I looked up to see a kid, no older than myself with sandy blond hair, and playful hazel eyes. He was focused on the TV screen where there were two animated people, one of which was being repeatedly punched in the face. The boy who was sitting next to me had a play station 3 controller in his hands, his fingers were moving so rapidly they looked like nothing more than skin shaded blurs.

“Malick?” I mumbled, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from my eyes.

“Hey, hey sleeping beauty.” Malick said turning his head towards me though his fingers on the controller were still moving impossibly fast.

“Where-where are we?” I asked glancing around the room. I saw a ping-pong table, a very complicated looking stereo, and a wooden chest overflowing with every kind of weapon you could imagine all elaborately made from silver. Malick paused the video game he was playing and swerved all the way around to face me.

“Uh…I’m not sure I’m allowed to tell you where we are.” He answered. I sighed and rolled my eyes, “Fine, don’t tell me. But can I ask…How long was I asleep?” Malick glanced at his watch, “Whoa, almost twenty-one hours.” He said raising his eyebrows in surprise. I was shocked as well.

Suddenly from outside there came exhilarated laughter. The door swung open and nine teenagers filed into the room. Grins and laughter went zinging through the area.
“God! That was just so freaking AWESOME!!!” Someone yelled. A ripple of amusement floated through the crowd.

Then I recognized a familiar voice, “Yeah, yeah Jason we all agree, storming that nest of vamps was pretty awesome. But yet you say it again.” It was Colten. He shoved his way out of the crowd and flopped down on one of the puffy recliners.
I stared around the room at anything but the mass of people who had just entered the room.

“Fine I’ll stop saying it but, god that was just such a rush!” The guy named Jason replied. A few more people laughed and someone scoffed, “Newbie.”

By now, my mouth had gone dry with shock. I thought the Hunters would be all arrogant and proper and all work orientated. But they were behaving like a bunch of kids. That’s when I realized that’s all they were. They were just a bunch of kids. I’d say the oldest one in the room was maybe eighteen. It’s not like they chose to be Hunters; they were born that way.

“So you’re number thirteen?” Someone said to me. I turned my gaze unwillingly to the person who had spoken. A guy who had bronze hair that hung in his eyes. Peyton came skipping out of the din and jumped onto the couch beside me.

“She has a name.” She scoffed at the person who had just spoken to me.

“I’m Cedric.” The boy informed me holding out his hand for me to shake. I was hesitant in taking his hand. “Zoey.” I muttered in an uncertain tone, and I just only brushed my fingertips against the palm of his hand.

“So Zoey, what’s up?” Peyton asked smiling brightly and tossing her glossy auburn hair over her shoulder.

I looked at her and said, “Oh you know the usual; knocked out by chloroform in the middle of the night; kidnapped by twelve teenagers, and brought to a house I’ve never been to before against my will. Nothing big.” Peyton blinked looking absolutely stunned.

“Well when you put it that way it sounds kind of bad.” She mumbled.

“There’s a way to make it sound good?” I asked sarcastically.
Peyton looked slightly hurt by my reaction. I could tell that most of the Hunters enjoyed what they did so maybe they were surprised by my negative response. We didn’t have time to say anything else because two people suddenly burst through the door; one of which I recognized as Clay. They were shouting so fast that the only words I caught were, “Hurry up!” and “Vampire!” Malick, Colten, and Peyton sprung up from their seats and joined the rest of the Hunters.

“What’s going on?” I asked, alarmed. One of the six chicks-Ginny Martose- turned back to me.

“Somehow a vampire got past our security. That never happens.” She explained quickly. She then spun back around on her heel and headed out the door at an amazing speed, her bright red hair swinging dramatically around her shoulders. In a matter of seconds, everyone was gone and I was alone, completely alone.

I knew I should’ve stayed put, but my natural curiosity got in the way of my common sense. I got up from the couch and snuck through the doorway in pursuit of the Hunters. When I came to the end of what seemed to be an extremely long hallway; I heard sounds of fight, and sounds of struggle.

I peeked through the doorway at the end of the hall as silently as a shadow. My eyes widened and I had to work to stifle a shocked gasp.

Blake! Blake was the vampire that had gotten past security.
He was being restrained by at least six Hunters; three on each side holding his arms back with all the strength they could muster.
He was so enraged that his words lashed out in harsh snarls. “Where is she?” His head whipped back and forth to threaten each Hunter and his fangs glinted sharply in the fluorescent lights that shown above. I shoved open the door and the Hunters that weren’t holding back a furious, bloodsucking vampire swerved around to look at me.

“Zoey! You shouldn’t be here.” Amenti said nervously in a voice that suggested worry. (Egyptian worry!) I couldn’t help but be amused by her strong Egyptian accent. Blake spun around and lost one of the Hunters that held him. His teeth were still bared, his fangs still showing. He stared at me; his eyes expressed some sort of relief, but his stance was full of an insatiable, animalistic hunger. My mouth opened slightly and a quiet gasp escaped my lips. Our eyes held each other’s and for some reason I just couldn’t look away. That’s when I realized that an actual twinge of fear shot splintered my mind.

“Get her out of here.” Clay yelled in an authoritive voice. Sofia, Kendra, and Ginny sprinted over to where I stood frozen in terror; my gaze locked with Blake’s. I was being tugged backwards by three of the six chicks. I stumbled and unfroze. What I saw was so fast I couldn’t keep up. Malick was suddenly flying across the room. He banged into the wall and the dry wall cracked. There was a blur and Colten was behind Blake. Blake went rigid for a fraction of a second and there was a deafening crack when Blake reached over his head, grabbed Colten by the neck and flipped him over so that he landed on the tile floor putting deep crevices in the stone and even making some tiles fly out of place. I yanked my way out of Sofia’s grip and rushed into the middle of the fight. I was right between Blake and Jason, both of them looked like they were going to explode with anger. They lunged at each other. “STOP!” I cried and both of them froze.

Despite how stressful things were at the moment, I still had enough time to marvel at how great their reflexes were.

“Get out of the way Zoey.” Blake growled, his voice quavering with rage. I glanced fleetingly at Jason and his expression said the same thing.

“No.” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“Zoey get out of the way or—“ I cut Jason off.

“Or what? Are you going to hurt me?” I asked stubbornly. Jason sighed, but neither of them moved.

“Zoey you don’t understand, he’s a vampire.” Jason insisted desperately.

“I know.” I muttered slowly moving towards Blake. Jason’s eyes flashed with worry and he opened his mouth to object. “I’m fine with any of you killing vampires; just not this one.” I whispered knowing that each Hunter would hear me. I was now close enough to Blake to reach out a hand and touch his arm, but of course, I didn’t. “Come on.” I mumbled looking down at the cracked tile. Blake stood still, not looking at me. “Blake please.” I begged, going against my better judgment and laying my hand gently on his arm in away that would be comforting to any human.

He brushed my hand away; his face was a mask painted with colors of hatred, restraint, and burning, hot-blooded desire. He sauntered over to the door trying to ignore each one of the Hunters steely glares.

I trotted after Blake; shooting apologetic glances at every person I could see.
When Blake and I were some ways away from the Hunters’ secret hideout I stopped. Blake halted as well, and exhaled in a gust. He peered at me from under his dark brown tousled bangs. There was a guilty expression sliding across his face.

“What is your problem?” I asked shrilly. He swallowed and looked away from me for a moment. I glared at him until he answered.

“You were gone for nearly twenty-four hours.” He looked back at me and sighed; clearly, he thought he had explained all that he needed to, but it wasn’t enough for me. “I went to your house,” he continued. “Phoebe was sitting on your doorstep crying. She told me you were gone. Your door was unlocked, and your window was wide open. I could smell the chloroform before I even entered your house.” He took a breath and winced as the smell of my blood filled his lungs. I gave him a look of impatience that said ‘continue’. “I traced your scent and when I found where it ended…I just-” He looked at the ground and shook his head in frustration. “I just lost control!” He ran an ashamed hand through his hair.

“Fine; but just to let you know I really don’t appreciate you stalking me.” I stated. And I stomped away from him in a huff. Blake stayed where he was on the sidewalk his arms crossed over his chest defiantly.

“Zoey, you do realize you’re going the wrong way.” He said in a highly mocking tone, a cocky smirk on his face. I spun on my heel and marched stubbornly in the opposite direction. Blake put a firm ice-cold hand on my shoulder and turned me in the right direction. My heart leaped at the casualty of his touch, but I was still angry.

I gritted my teeth and let him lead me to the correct street. Apparently the way to my house lead through a dark alley. How cliché.

I struggled out of his grip on my shoulders and turned to face him; we were less than five inches apart. “Why do you do that?” I asked quietly. He pushed my hair behind my ear and I held back a nearly involuntary shiver.

“Do what?” He said, answering my question with another. I swallowed.
“Be so charming and then be so not. You‘re seriously giving me whiplash.” I whispered. He had to know the way he acted, right? He had to know that he was a bit hard to figure out at time, didn’t he?

“You think I‘m charming?” He asked unbelievingly. I nodded grudgingly. Apparently he didn’t hear the part about him being so not charming at times. “Hmm, I guess it’s a vampire thing.” He murmured softly leaning forward, closer to me, dangerously close.

“Well stop it.” I said, backing away from him and running off in the direction of the crowded streets.

I didn’t know if I was going the right way; but the truth was I really didn’t care. Why did Blake have to be such a…such a…? Well I can’t think of a bad enough word right now, but that’s what he is! He is just so infuriating! I saved his ass back there and he didn’t even say thanks; or acknowledge in any way that he was grateful. He attacked my friends, and still I helped him.

I stomped down the street. “Maybe I should’ve let them kill you.” I grumbled angrily. He was following me, again! I swerved around to face him, my fist raised, my expression livid with irritation. Before I could think about what I was doing, I swung my arm at him in an attempt to hit him. He caught my arm, his fingers closing tight around my wrist.

“I’m sorry about your friends.” He said seriously, looking curiously at my wrist in his hand. I yanked my hand back and continued walking down the street fuming. Stupid vampire reflexes.

“Well you know ‘sorry’ isn’t gonna cut it.” I mumbled absently. He caught up to me and asked, “How can I make it alright.” I gave a short laugh and said, “You could go away.” Or let me punch you in the face.

Blake stopped mid-step. “Is that what you want?” He asked looking at me. His expression wasn’t the composed mask it always was. He looked hurt. I made a sound in the back of my throat that was somewhere between a sigh and a groan and stopped walking.

“I don’t know what I want.” I said rubbing my head, because it had suddenly started to ache. We stared hard at each other; both of us seemed like we were trying to read each other’s minds.

Finally, I sighed and sat down on the sidewalk. Blake sat down beside me but said nothing. I thought about speaking but every time I opened my mouth to say something, I lost my nerve. Then suddenly the words I had only spoken in my head were starting before I could stop them. “My life was complicated before I met you.” I swallowed past the lump in my throat and continued, “And I was just dealing with the normal stuff.” I paused because it looked like Blake was going to say something.

“So you want me to go away.” He said in a glum voice; it wasn’t a question. I took a deep breath and exhaled in a sigh.

“I’m not going to answer that yet. The thing is; I just met you like four days ago.” His gaze found the ground and it looked like he wanted to say something desperately but his lips remained set in thin line so I continued, “sometimes you can be so sweet, and you make me like you so much.” I took a quick gulp of air. “Then at other times you get me so angry.” I stared at my hands folded gently on my lap and thought about what to say next. “I don’t want you to leave…but-I just.” I sighed as I realized that I was at a loss for words.

“You need time.” Blake murmured. I could feel him staring at me. I nodded without surrendering myself to the pained expression on his glorious face. “And space.” He continued. Again, I nodded.

“But that doesn’t mean stalking me from the shadows.” I explained trying to lighten the mood. The corners of his mouth turned upward in a sad smile. I glanced at him and my heart leaped as I again noticed how gorgeous he was. I stood up and started walking down the sidewalk.

“Zoey.” Blake called my name, making it sound a thousand times more beautiful than it really was. I turned around and he was right there. I gasped at the close proximity.

“What?” I whispered, struggling to gather my thoughts. He shrugged shyly and said, “Well, you’re still going the wrong way.” I grinned.

“Walk me home?” I asked. He licked his lips and nodded sharply to the opposite road. I sighed at my horrible sense of direction. We walked down the street side by side. Neither of us said anything. Occasionally Blake took a hand from his jacket pockets and pointed in a different direction. It was a long walk back to my house, but Blake seemed to know where he was going.

About an hour and a half passed and then we were turning onto my street. Blake and I hadn’t spoken a word the whole way back but I think I was all right with that. I trudged up the front steps of my house and rang the doorbell. Why I rang the doorbell at my own house I’ll never know. Phoebe answered the door, and she looked absolutely dreadful. Her short blonde hair was sticking up in every direction possible, her eyes were rimmed with red caused by her constant tears, and she sniffled every few seconds.

“Zoey!” Phoebe yelled launching herself at me and wrapping her arms around my neck in a tight embrace.

“Hey Phoebe.” I choked out. “Okay you know, oxygen becoming an issue.” I said in a strangled voice.

“Oh! Oh I’m sorry.” Phoebe laughed in a watery way. She pulled away from me, new tears spilling from her eyes. She swiped her sleeve across her nose and sniffle again. Then she flung herself at Blake and hugged him tight. He stumbled backwards in surprise, and the corners of his mouth pulled downward in a frown, but still he let her squeeze him. “Th-thank you!” Phoebe sobbed gratefully. She suddenly sprang back from Blake, “Oh god! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean—I’m sorry!” She flustered as she realized she had just been hugging someone who would love to chew her throat out and drink every drop of her sweet ruby red. There was a hint of shock in Blake’s expression.

“It’s all right. I-I told her everything.” I muttered sheepishly. Phoebe nodded, an unstable smile spreading across her face.

“Okay.” He said in a composed tone, rubbing the back of his neck as if it hurt. “Well, I guess I’ll see you some other time Zoey.” He mumbled awkwardly.

“Mm-hmm.” I said smiling apologetically. I watched Blake walk down the street and everything seemed dull compared to his radiance.

I sighed and turned back to Phoebe and she rushed at me and had her arms around my neck again. “Oh Zoey, I’m s-so glad you’re b-back!” She cried. I didn’t realize how I missed Phoebe while I was with the Hunters. “I’m sorry, th-that I c-called you an idiotic m-meal.” She sobbed loudly. I laughed in a watery voice, and I noticed that I had started to cry too. Aren’t we just the most emotional, crybaby girls ever?

“It’s okay Pheebs.” I murmured. She pulled away from me and sniffled again.

“What happened to you?” She asked holding open the door, and taking a tissue from a box sitting on a small wooden table just inside the doorway. I followed Phoebe into the living room, and we both flopped down on the couch. I took a deep breath and thought back to the night before.

“I guess it was last night after you left. I heard this tapping sound coming from my bedroom.” I swallowed sullenly and continued, “Some guy jumped through my window and knocked me out with chloroform.” Phoebe gasped.

“Who…Who was it?” I shook my head.

“Could’ve been a number of people…” I said. I counted off my fingers with each name I said, “Colten, Malick, Cedric, Jason, and some guy I don’t even know the name of.” Phoebe’s eyebrows climbed up her forehead as I said the names.

“Blake ‘saved’ me.” I said, making quotation marks in the air with my fingers. “Attacking a few of my friends in the process.” This time Phoebe looked confused.

“Blake hurt someone?” She asked.

“Understatement.” I said in a dark voice. Phoebe looked shocked. Seriously he’s a vampire what do you expect. I wanted to say that but I didn’t. “Blake kicked Malick about fifteen feet across the room; he banged into the wall so hard it cracked.” Phoebe’s eyes widened in terror and amazement. “He also slammed Colten into the floor hard enough to knock the tiles out of place.” It felt good telling this to someone other than the person who committed it.

“Wow.” She said.

“Yeah, but I stopped the fight before anything else happened.” I said shrugging as if I talked about things like this all the time.

“How’d you do that?” Phoebe asked leaning closer to me eager to hear the rest of the story.

“Well, it’d be cool if I could say I used my awesome Kung Fu skills to make ‘em back off, but I just yelled stop.” I said grinning. Phoebe giggled, “Yeah, everyone underestimates the value of a good yell.” We both started laughing, and once we started we couldn’t stop. It had been a long time since Phoebe and I had laughed so hard. What we were talking about wasn’t even that funny but we laughed anyway. We did more than laugh; we chuckled. We chortled. We guffawed. We giggled. We snorted. We laughed so hard we started to cry.

By the time, we finished laughing we were both laid out halfway on the couch halfway off it, gasping for breath.

“So what about Blake?” Phoebe asked still smiling hugely.

“What d’you mean?” I asked, looking slightly confused. Phoebe’s smile faded to be replaced with her love doctor face.

“Well you guys seemed a little awkward around each other.” She explained.

“Oh, I guess it was a little weird between us. I just let Blake know that he can’t follow me everywhere and expect me to be okay with it.” I muttered. Phoebe nodded in understanding. Suddenly there came a harsh knock on the front door. Phoebe and I got up off the couch and walked curiously toward the door where the vicious knocking was coming from.

I opened the door cautiously and was surprised to see Phoebe’s parents. “Uh, hi Mr. Hallman.” I said indifferently. Phoebe’s hulk-like father shoved his way into my house, his mousy little wife scampering behind him.

“Phoebe Annabelle Hallman!” Phoebe’s father bellowed. Phoebe shrunk back and seemed to become very small. “You are never allowed to see this girl again!” He said jabbing a fat finger in my direction. I glared angrily at him but he didn’t seem to notice.
I saw tears start to well up in Phoebe’s eyes. “Now get your stuff and go home!” He commanded.

“Why?” Phoebe cried.

“She’s irresponsible sweetheart. And she has no parents. And she was missing for nearly 24 hours!” He tried to sound nice at the beginning but he ended his sentence with a roar.

“But she’s my friend.” Phoebe sobbed.

“I don’t care. Now go back to the house.” He said. I saw Phoebe clench her fists, and she screamed, “No! I won’t go back home ever!!!”

The noise began as a slight rattle and I dismissed it as any normal person would do. “What did you say to me?” Her father asked angrily, raising his fist and shaking it in the air. The rattling became louder.

“I said…no!” Phoebe hissed in a cringe-worthy voice. I glanced around as the rattling became even louder and noticed objects shuddering fiercely, and some were even levitating a few inches above the surface they were originally resting upon. Phoebe’s dad came closer and grabbed his daughter roughly by the shoulders, shaking her.
She stared at his hands, “DON’T! TOUCH! ME!!!!!” Phoebe grabbed her father’s arms and for one prolonged moment, her hands glowed fiery red and her father’s jacket sleeve caught fire. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak; I just watched the flame creep up his arm with astonishing speed.

Phoebe sprang back from her father and the floating objects crashed to the floor. I looked back and forth between Phoebe’s shocked expression and Mr. Hallman’s frightening attempt to swat the fire from his jacket.
What the hell just happened?

My thoughts were panicked. Phoebe’s dad just caught on fire. That was weird, even for me. I watched Phoebe’s father wrench the jacket from his back and stomp out the fire. Mr. Hallman gave his daughter a frightened look and started backing quickly down the hall towards the door. Phoebe’s mom gave Phoebe an apologetic glance and scurried after her husband. When the rest of the Hallman’s were out of the house, I walked over to Phoebe and thought: How can Phoebe possibly be related to those people? She looked absolutely nothing like them, and God knows she doesn’t act like them.

“Pheebs, you okay?” I asked in a quiet voice. She looked at me, tears leaking down her cheeks and she shook her head. “Come on.” I whispered, and I led Phoebe back into the living room. I pushed her gently onto the couch and sat down beside her. She swiped the tears from her face and hugged her knees to her chest.

After a while of just sitting there staring at the wall I was about ready to burst with questions. Phoebe glanced at me, sighed and asked, “What?”

I turned quickly to face her, “Oh my god!” I whispered in an urgent voice. “How’d you-I mean that was…Oh my god!” I flustered, convinced that Phoebe had made her father catch on fire. Phoebe looked at me in an annoyed way then went back to glaring at the wall. “How did you do that?” I asked softly.

She looked at me, “You think I did that?” She said and I could swear I detected the slightest hint of excitement in her otherwise uncharacteristically bleak voice. I nodded my eyes wide with amazement. She sighed, “All I remember is being really mad and then poof!” She gestured with her hands, “Flaming father.” She murmured. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Hmm, it’s definitely not something you see everyday.” Phoebe shrugged and muttered, “Unless, of course you’re us.” I let out a short laugh. I guess Phoebe had run out of things to say because she continued to stare at the wall. Though I too had nothing to say, I sure had enough to think about.

How did Phoebe do that? I mean she set her father on fire. And I’m guessing that if she did that she was also responsible for the floating objects. Spontaneous combustion and levitation; it was like…MAGIC!

“Phoebe!” I yelled springing up from the couch.

“What?” She asked in a panic.

“You’re a witch!” I said, filled from my toes to the top of my head with excitement. Phoebe’s face fell.

“Zoey, I didn’t mean to hurt him. I don’t even know how it happened!” She cried.

“Pheebs no! That’s not what I meant.” I said, more excited still. “I meant you’re a spell slinging! Curse casting! Wiccan badass!” I insisted in a voice that sounded as if I was a coach giving a pep talk to a losing team.

Phoebe smiled, “Really? You think? Is that-is that even possible?” She asked. I shrugged and plopped back down on the couch, “I don’t know! I mean vampires and Hunters are real; so why not witches?” Phoebe’s eyes widened.

“Let’s put it to the test.” She said, smiling mischievously. I returned her smile and nodded. She sprung up from the couch and skipped over to the window, her usual perkiness back in her step. There was a white candle sitting on the windowsill, which Phoebe grabbed and skipped back over to the couch. She sat down and placed the candle in the middle of a glass coffee table stationed in front of us.

I kept quiet and watched Phoebe concentrate on the candle. After a few minutes, I started to get bored and I had to stifle a sigh. My eyes were just beginning to droop shut when I heard a gasp.

My eyes popped open and I glanced at Phoebe. She was staring at the candle, her mouth hanging wide open. I saw her fingers twitching with power beneath the candle, which was hovering several inches above the tabletop.

Her hand moved out from under the candle seeming to have a will of its own and she briefly touched her index finger to the candle’s wick. The air seemed to grow thick with electricity and the wick sparked into a flame.

My jaw dropped so far I’m pretty sure it touched the floor and I gasped. The candle dropped through the air landing hard on the coffee table and the flame dissipated.
Phoebe blinked out of the weird power haze she had somehow found her way into. “What-what happened?” She mumbled.

“Pheebs!” I squealed bouncing up and down on the couch in excitement. “You did it! You made the candle float and then you…you lit it without a lighter! That is so flipping awesome!” By now, I had jumped up off the couch and was dancing around the room in amazement. Phoebe looked purely stunned. She touched her finger to the candlewick once more and it lit. She let out a surprised squeak and jumped back into the couch.
I paused in the middle of my wacky happy dance staring at the flame flickering wildly atop the candle. I giggled hyperactively and continued dancing. Wow! A day of sleep really did the body good.

“Oh my goddess! I’m a witch!” Phoebe burst out eyes wide. I rolled my eyes in the middle of my dance and said breathlessly, “I do believe I just said that!”

“This is so insane!” Phoebe cried, joining me in my dance of wacky happiness. I grinned. “Vampires! Witches! Hunters! Werewolves! Demons! Who knows? They could all be real!” She said. I stopped jumping and my grin faded. “What’s wrong?” Phoebe asked confused by my sudden dour mood.

“I was just wondering why we think it’s so cool that these things are real.” I insisted. Phoebe stopped bouncing,

“What d’you mean?” She asked.

“Well…All witches can’t be good. Not all vampires can be like Blake. And the Hunters don’t seem very friendly.” I murmured. Phoebe sighed and sat back down on the couch.

“That’s a good point.” She said staring at the flickering candle. I sat down beside her.

“Maybe we think it’s cool because we’re freaks.” I stated. Phoebe giggled, “Yeah a couple of freaky outcasts we are.” I nodded in agreement. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and glanced at the time as I often do.

“Whoa.” I said quietly.

“What?” Phoebe asked peeking over my shoulder at my phone. The screen on my phone read, 3:44am. “How’d it get so late? Early? Whatever.” She asked. I shrugged. “Well I’m tired.” Phoebe stated, getting up off the couch. “I’m going to sleep.” She trudged upstairs.

I heard Phoebe flop down on her bed and then things were quiet. I sighed and stared into the dancing flame on top of the candle. I was just way too wired to sleep so I just sat there, alone, in a dark house but for the flicker of a candle that was lit by magic.
I can accept the fact that Phoebe is a witch. I’m cool with it and not at all jealous…

I mean why couldn’t I be something like that? Instead, I’m supposedly a Hunter, which would be kind of cool if I had super strength, and super speed like the rest of them. But I don’t! I am utterly pathetic! It seems like all my friends are super heroes and here I am-the damsel in distress-thinking that I belong.

I curled up on the couch and stared at the flame perched precariously on top of the white candle. I chewed my bottom lip as my suddenly depressing thoughts raced through my mind in a barely coherent fashion.

I must have been more tired than I thought because I felt myself drift off into an uneasy sleep to the angry buzzing of my thoughts.
A nice dreamless sleep would’ve been too good to hope for two nights in a row but somehow the hope weaseled its way into my heart. As it had many times before my hope went ignored.

It started out like all my other nightmares. It was an icy January night, I was twelve years old and engrossed in a hand held video game. I was sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car and they were sitting in front. Everything seemed completely normal; they were listening to music and laughing.

Suddenly some guy came out of nowhere. The car swerved to avoid hitting him. The tires hit a patch of ice and the car spun out of control.

The video game flew out of my hands and my body jerked forward because I had neglected to put a seat belt on. The car rammed into the side of the bridge we were passing over breaking the railing.

The car was perched in mid-air for a split second then it plunged into the ice-cold water, which made the air whoosh from my lungs.

I remembered water flooding into the car through some unseen opening, and floundering around trying to roll down a window or open a door but it was futile. As my lungs began to burn for oxygen there came a muffled crack as one of the windows were smashed open and I was yanked from the drowning wreckage of my parents’ car. I kept my mouth and eyes shut and let some invisible savior drag me from the water.

As abruptly as when the car went off the bridge I was out of the water; painfully cold air tearing through my throat and searing in my lungs. I saw a gorgeous teenage boy hovering over me. He was soaking wet and had the most memorable eyes. Blue-gray with just the very edges going black.

There was something more fighting to break through the wall I put up around the memory of that night but I forced it back into remission.

The nightmare suddenly flashed to the morning after the accident. I woke up fully dressed in my bed. I was thinking…Hoping…Praying that all that had happened last night was just a dream; the man in the middle of the street, driving off the bridge, and abandoning my parents as I was saved and they weren’t. I walked slowly into my mom and dad’s bedroom trying to prolong the moment because somehow I knew that they weren’t going to be there…They weren’t.

I jerked up from the couch breathing hard, tears spilling from my eyes and trailing down my cheeks. It had been nearly a year since I had relived the night my parents died, I thought I was over it. The candle resting on the coffee table was dull and without flame.
I glanced at my cell phone that was sitting on the edge of the table. It was 7:20am. Too early to get up so I fell back on the couch and stared at the ceiling trying to give myself time to calm down after that dream/memory. I closed my eyes wanting to get at least another hour of sleep but sleep wouldn’t come.

A few minutes later, my phone started ringing blaring techno music filling the air. Music of that genre isn’t so likable early in the morning. I reached onto the coffee table where the music was coming from. I slid the phone open and put it to my ear. “Hello.” I said in a sleepy voice.

“Did I wake you?” I heard Phoebe ask. I sighed, “No.” There was a pause where all I could hear on the other end of the line was Phoebe’s breathing.

“Well…What are you doing?” She asked.

“Talking to my best friend. Where are you calling from?” I murmured letting my eyes droop shut.

“Um…Upstairs.” Phoebe said sheepishly. I groaned confused, “Why?”

“Because I didn’t feel like coming down stairs.” Now I noticed that I could hear Phoebe’s words echoed upstairs.

“Can you sleep?” I asked.

“Nope. Can you?” Phoebe replied.

“No.” I said though I still felt tired.

“Good! ‘Cause I’m lonely.” She said in a babyish voice. That was just another way of saying ‘come upstairs‘.

“I’ll be right there.” I sighed. I closed my phone and got up off the couch with a groan. I stomped up the stairs and into Phoebe’s room.

“Zoey! Watch this!” Phoebe commanded excitedly. She was sitting cross-legged on her bed and there was a pile of different colored marbles lying on the fluffy comforter in front of her. I was curious so I did as she said and watched her and the marbles. Phoebe became still and silent which for Phoebe is like a miracle in and of itself. She raised her hands above the pile of marbles the palms of her hands facing upward. Several of the marbles soared into the air.

My eyes popped open in amazement. Phoebe grinned and twirled her finger slightly beneath the marbles; they began to rotate and revolve around each other like a mini solar system. It was all I could do to not laugh aloud at the sight. “Oh my god!” I shrieked gazing mesmerized at the marbles dancing gracefully in mid-air.

“I know right! It’s so awesome!” Phoebe said beaming proudly at her magical marbles. I grinned broadly. This was so insanely cool!

“So how’d you learn to do that?” I asked curiously sitting down on the bed beside her, my eyes never leaving the floating objects. She let her hand fall back into her lap and looked at me. The marbles kept miraculously twirling around in the air.

“I don’t know how I did it exactly. I was just really bored so I got my marbles out.” She pointed towards a large plastic container about half filled with brightly colored marbles. Phoebe has been collecting marbles ever since I met her in pre-school when I was four years old. She was the same age I was and her parents decided that she was old enough to know not to put the marbles in her mouth and choke on them. She only had three marbles then and they were her most prized possession. “I thought they would be more interesting if they were floating and voila!” She gestured dramatically towards the marbles hovering precariously in the air.

“Very cool!” I observed with evident zeal. Phoebe smiled and lifted more marbles into the air with her new witchy powers. I was truly astounded at how adept Phoebe was becoming with this new skill of hers.

Suddenly my cell phone started to buzz and the AT&T ring tone filled the air. A few of Phoebe’s marbles stopped spinning but she gained focus and they started back up.
I slid open my phone and glanced at the number that was calling my phone. It wasn’t one I was familiar with.

“Hello?” I asked uncertainty coloring my voice. “Who is it?” Phoebe mouthed silently. I shook my head and shrugged.

“Hey, it’s me.” Came a smooth yet somehow awkward sounding voice from the other end of the line. My breathing caught in my throat and it felt as if my heart had just lodged itself in my trachea. I had to swallow hard to get it back in the right spot.

“How did you get this number?” I blurted out before I could think of anything slightly intelligent to say. Phoebe was bouncing up and down impatiently. She desperately wanted to know who was on the other end of the call. The marbles were floating higher and higher above her head, spinning faster and faster.

“You’re listed.” Came a simple answer from the earpiece. “Oh.” I said and I mentally kicked myself. That’s what I get for putting my cell phone number in the phone book. Phoebe’s marbles hit the ceiling and clattered to the floor. I ignore the marbles and Phoebe since it practically took all my concentration to focus on the call and keep myself from having a heart attack or something.

She sighed so loudly it almost sounded like a growl. I took a deep breath preparing to speak, “If you don’t mind my asking; why did you call?” I asked trying frantically to sound cool.

“I thought it would be a bit more convenient if I called instead of just showing up like I normally do.” I swear I could hear the smirk in his voice.

“That didn’t answer my question now did it?” I said, an involuntary grin taking residence upon my lips.

“I was wondering if you might want to do something.” There was a short pause, “With me that is.” Blake asked uncertainly. Again somehow my heart found its way into my throat; attempting to choke me into silence.

“You mean like a…Like a date?” I felt I just had to ask this question.

“Yeah, I guess you could call it that.” Blake replied in an almost openly embarrassed way. My heart was racing and my head felt light and fluffy. I felt like giggling my brains out like some girly girl; but I kept my cool.

“Um…Okay.” I said in a marginally breathless voice. I’ve been taking risks since I first met Blake why not take a few more?

“Cool! Tonight around eight. I-I’ll pick you up?” He asked nervously. It was easy to tell that he didn’t do stuff like this very often but that was perfect because neither did I.

“O-okay.” I stammered excitedly.

“Great! See you later.” Blake said and then the line went dead. I calmly slid my phone shut; then burst into fits of over-delighted squeals and giggles.

“Who was it? What’s going on?” Phoebe asked. I paused in between giggles long enough to breathlessly say one word, “Blake!” Phoebe groaned loudly.

“Well what did he say?” She asked. I stopped laughing immediately and sprung up off the bed.

“Oh my god!” I yelled elatedly.

“What?” Phoebe said sounding thoroughly alarmed.

“Oh my god! What am I gonna wear?!?!?” I asked urgently before darting from Phoebe’s room and into my own.

I tore open my massive walk-in closet and glared anxiously at every corner. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to wear. I mean should I appear sophisticated, classy, mysterious, fierce, shy, smart, sexy, girly, or funny? The guy is a vampire and I’ve only known him for like four days. How am I supposed to know what a teenage vampire looks for in a girl?

Phoebe came sprinting into my room and she asked, “You have a date?” I nodded, my head bobbing up and down nervously. “With Blake.” Phoebe said and this time it wasn’t a question. I nodded yet again my head moving even more rapidly. “So what are you gonna wear?” She asked.

I groaned melodramatically and threw my hands up in the air for emphasis, “Why do you think I’m in here Pheebs?!?!” I fell to the floor in front of my gargantuan closet in a hopeless heap.

Phoebe stepped around me and vanished into the depths of my over-stocked closet. A while later Phoebe returned smiling triumphantly. “What about this?” She said.
I glanced at the outfit Phoebe was displaying and almost fainted. She was holding an incredibly short, incredibly tight black leather dress; complete with fishnet sleeves, thigh slits, and a neckline that plunged to the waist. “No.” I said immediately my eyes wide with the horror of wearing that outfit. I wore it last year for Halloween only because Phoebe had bought it for me and there was no one to tell me not to wear it. I had gotten a lot of candy that night.

Phoebe gazed at the dress. “Why not? It’s sexy.” She insisted smiling in a totally perverted way.

I narrowed my eyes, “I’m fine with sexy. But I don’t want an outfit that says, ‘hey I’m an enormous tart.’” Phoebe sighed and hung the dress back up. I got up off the floor and joined Phoebe in the room that was more like a clothing store than a closet. I shuffled through the many drawers and racks finally coming up with something that I would consider decent for a first date.
A pair of seriously distressed blue jeans, slashed up with tons of holes. I grabbed a studded belt that added just the right amount of classy edge to the jeans and a deep purple tank top sporting a pentagram and the words Inkubus Sukkubus across the front.

I ran a comb through my long dark hair and pulled it into a hair band so that it was out of my face. I looked in the mirror and adjusted the silver cross at my throat. Glancing down at my fingernails, I sighed. There was black nail polish beginning to chip off my nails. I didn’t feel like re-painting them so I just scratched the rest of the black polish off.
Since I was finished with picking my outfit for tonight, I exited my closet and laid the tank, jeans, and belt out on my bed.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and glanced at the time. It was only noon! By the gods, waiting for eight hours is going to be pure agony!

I flopped back on my bed. “I wonder where he’s gonna take you?” Phoebe mused quietly. I sighed, “I don’t know,” I paused for a second to think. “But I bet wherever it is it’s gonna be awesome.” I said grinning.

“How do you know going out with a vampire is a good thing?” She asked sullenly. I gave her an accusatory look, “What do you mean?”

She sighed and fiddled with a strand of her hair hanging out of place. “I mean, what if he’s planning on taking you to his lair and sucking your blood.” I looked at her my eyebrows raised.

“What?” She asked as if what she said was something one used in everyday conversation. I rolled my eyes at her. I was in such a good mood right now not even Phoebe’s outright tendencies to speak every word that popped into her brain no matter how disturbing could get me down. This was going to be increasingly difficult. Waiting was just too problematic; I had to do something. I sighed and turned to Phoebe, “Do you have any good ideas on how to kill time?” I asked. Phoebe grinned.

“Getting all jacked up on mocha’s is always fun!” She said giggling. I smiled.

“I’d be all for that any day but today. I don’t want to come off as a sugar high wacko on my date.” I said. The word date made my heart flutter hyper-actively.

“Yes that would be bad.” Phoebe mumbled nodding her head.

“Wanna go down to The Mart and get an energy drink?” I asked. The small store was actually called “Sal’s Whatever, Whenever Stop” and it said mini mart in glowing letters above the door but the mini part has always been busted so everyone calls it “The Mart”. Phoebe sprung up off the bed and, seeing as we both fell asleep fully dressed, sprinted down the stairs. I heaved myself off my slightly wrinkled comforter and followed Phoebe down the stairs.

She was waiting by the door; shoes on, lips glossed, purse in hand. I grabbed a ten-dollar bill off the kitchen counter on the way to the front door, pulled on my Vans without socks and opened the door. Phoebe skipped all the way to my car and jumped excitedly into the passenger seat. I really didn’t think she needed an energy drink. I slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

Only a couple of minutes had passed before we were pulling into the small parking lot in front of The Mart. Phoebe hopped out of the car and walked up to the entrance. I sighed tiredly and followed her.

When I entered the store, I saw Phoebe already leaning against a wall chugging a Monster energy drink. I grabbed the same kind of drink from one of the refrigerated cases and brought it to the counter. “One dollar and forty-three cents.” Said the pimply, twenty year old cashier in a severely bored voice. I smiled politely at him and handed two dollars over the counter. His neck flushed bright red and he gave me fifty-seven cents back.

I moved back over to where Phoebe stood. She was about halfway through her second energy drink and bobbing slightly on the balls of her feet. I popped the metal tab on my drink and began taking small sips. I wanted to waste as much time as I possibly could. By the end of an hour, I was only a quarter of the way done with my drink. Phoebe was bouncing off the walls of the small store; dancing wildly to the eighties, music that always played in The Mart. A few people were staring at her like she was a total freak but I knew Phoebe didn’t mind the extra attention.

By the time I was almost done with my drink Phoebe had downed three and was almost exploding with energy. I pulled out my cell phone and glanced at the outside screen. It was 3:57pm.

I sighed. How am I supposed to get rid of the five hours and three minutes I have on my hands without getting painfully bored?

I was staring at the back wall of the store the drink in my hand all but forgotten when Phoebe came dancing up to me saying, “Zoey! Zoey! Zoey! Zoey! Zoey!” I ignored her for the most part, right until she put her face up close to mine, her eyes wide, her pupils humongous. “Helllloooo!” She said drawing out the word and breathing sickly sweet Monster smell into my face.

I rolled my eyes, “What?” I asked. “Nothing! I just wanted to say hi!” She said giggling hyperly.

“Hi.” I replied. Phoebe sighed.

“Well hurry up and drink this thing!” She commanded snatching the drink from my hands. I stole the drink back and took a quick swig. “You’re never gonna get any energy if you don’t chug that thing!” She insisted like some frat boy at a kegger. I gulped down the last of the energy drink. Phoebe grabbed the aluminum can away from me and started twirling around with the can held above her head. I smiled slightly. Phoebe could just be so amusing.

“What are we supposed to do now?” I asked. Phoebe stopped mid-twirl.

“Drink more Monster! WHOO!!!” She yelled and started dancing again. I snatched the can and threw it into the trash bin.

“You don’t need anymore Monster.” Phoebe giggled.

“Maybe you’re right.” She said, starting towards the door of The Mart. I followed her towards my car and watched her step full of renewed bounce. When I first found out that I was going on a date with Blake, I felt a variety of emotions. I was ecstatic and also a bit nervous. I have a feeling that those emotions are normal. Now that I’ve had some time to think about what was only a few hours away. I started to get scared. I mean where does a vampire take you on a first date? I didn’t know whether to expect a trip to the movie theater or if he was going to whisk me away to some uncharted territory and never let me go. A thrill of fear passed through me as I thought about what Blake might do if he and I were completely isolated from the rest of the world.

“Zoey are you coming?” I heard Phoebe call. That’s when I noticed I had stopped walking and Phoebe was sitting in the passenger seat speaking through the open window. I blinked back into reality and saw Phoebe’s face looking back at me from my car window. I started quickly towards my car stumbling over my feet in the progress.

I fumbled my way into the car and tried to keep my thoughts focused on the road ahead of me. Phoebe kept sighing in an unnecessarily loud way. I ignored her. Finally she gave up trying to get my attention and spoke, “Are you mad at me or something?”
I glanced quickly at her and answered, “Not at all. Why?” In a very distracted voice.

“‘Cause you haven’t said anything to me since we left The Mart.” She said in a close to hysterical voice. I shrugged and turned into my driveway, “There’s nothing to say.” I knew what I said wasn’t completely true. There were thoughts about everything shooting through my mind like bullets. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out with Blake anymore. I didn’t really know him and the things I did know weren’t exactly moral. But the thought of canceling on him made my skin crawl. I was almost sure he wouldn’t mind if I canceled. He would probably understand. But I didn’t want to take that kind of chance unless I was one hundred percent sure he wouldn’t do anything irrational. He definitely wasn’t the kind of person you’d want to piss off.

“Zoey!” Phoebe’s words intruded upon my thoughts like a slap in the face. “Huh?” I muttered. I realized that the car was still on and Phoebe was halfway to the front door. I pulled the key out of ignition and slumped over the steering wheel. After a few minutes, I leaned back and kicked the door open a little rougher than I intended.

I trudged towards the door, which Phoebe had left open and moved through the hallway at a slug-like pace. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and gazed wistfully at the screen. 4:36pm. Grrrr. Why does time have to be so…hourly? I sighed and placed my car keys on the hook.

I came into the living room to see Phoebe staring intently at the blank TV screen. I lifted a questioning eyebrow. “Pheebs, what’re you doing?” All I got in response was an impatient “Shush!”

She squeezed her eyes shut, then they snapped open and the TV flicked on. I sighed and flopped down on the couch. “Are you gonna start using your powers for everything?” I asked.

“Why not?” Phoebe replied, leaning back in her chair a satisfied grin on her face. I rolled my eyes and said, “I just don’t want you to get too show-offish okay.” Phoebe smiled brightly and grabbed the remote control off the side table. I sank back into the couch and watched Phoebe bounce up and down as she flicked through the channels without really seeing what was on. Finally, she settled on some cheesy sitcom that neither of us would really enjoy.

By the time that was over Phoebe and I were practically dead with boredom. I impatiently checked the time again. The screen on my cell phone read 6:30pm. Finally! I could do something to get ready. I was planning to take a nice long shower so I had to start early. I sprung up from the couch, “I’m gonna take a shower.” I stated plainly. Phoebe turned her head and blinked blearily at me.

“M’kay.” She replied. I nodded slowly and raced upstairs two steps at a time. I was surprised to find how eager I was to go out tonight. I thought after the disturbing thoughts that had passed through my mind during the day I’d be terrified. But the only thing I was scared about was whether or not Blake would like my clothing. I really don’t know what happened; maybe I only liked Blake when I wasn’t around him. Yeah that could be it.

When I got into the bathroom, I turned the shower on and waited a minute or two for the water to heat up. Then I undressed quickly and slipped behind the shower curtain. The warm water was so soothing it’s like I had no choice but to stand there for a bit and let the warmth calm my nerves.

I washed my hair slowly with my favorite cherry blossom scented shampoo. Then scrubbed my body with soap until my skin glowed. I shaved my underarms and legs until not a trace of hair remained.

Thirty minutes later the water began to cool so I switched off the shower having done all I could to ready myself for tonight. Though I think nothing could have prepared me for the night to come.

I squeezed the excess water from my hair then stepped out of the shower onto the frigid tile floor. As I wrapped a fluffy white towel around myself I smeared my hand across the foggy mirror so I could see my reflection.

I was tall and slender which most girls would die to be. But my height made me clumsy and most of the people I knew confused slender with scrawny. The only admirable attribute about me was my hair. Long and silky it fell down my back like an ebony waterfall. But other than that I was exceptionally ordinary looking. I honestly don’t know what Blake saw in me. I suppose he’s not perfect either but he could do a lot better than me with that vampire charm of his. Someone as unusual as him and someone as normal as me don’t belong in the same universe, let alone the same zip code.

Maybe I was just a sweet treat to Blake; a temptation. My vivacious attitude gradually started to go flat. What if Blake only wanted me because he couldn’t have me? The whole forbidden fruit thing.

I shook my head quickly from side to side, my pessimistic thoughts flying from my head like the water droplets from my hair. I shambled across the hallway and into my room. I grabbed a bra and underwear from my dresser drawer and snatched the clothing that I had laid out this morning from my bed.

I dropped the towel that I hugged around my body on the floor and got dressed as quickly as I could, nearly falling forward as I accidentally stuck my foot through one of the holes in the right leg of my jeans. I tugged the tank top over my head and grabbed the studded belt, which I stuffed through the belt loops encircling my hips.

I dashed into my closet and stood stationary in front of the full body mirror. My hair was still sopping wet so I skipped back across the hall to the bathroom and dug under the sink for my blow dryer. I plugged the small machine into a power outlet in the wall and switched it on. After a few moments of boisterous hair drying, I turned the blow dryer off and combed the knots out of my hair.

I put on some peach scented deodorant and pulled my makeup bag out of the medicine cabinet. After applying a thin line of black eye-liner underneath my eyes and smearing some smoky eye shadow onto my eyelids, I ran across the hallway and back into my closet. I snatched three pairs of earrings from my jewelry box; a pair of jade and gold turtles for the first lobe piercing, small diamonds for the second lobe, and small sapphires for the cartilage piercing, and jabbed them all through the miniscule holes in my ears.
I looked into the mirror and sighed as I realized there was nothing more I could do to myself that didn’t involve cosmetic surgery.

I reached into a drawer and pulled out a pair of short black socks than slipped them onto my bare feet. I rushed back into the bathroom and gathered my dirty clothes up from the floor. I switched my cell phone from the back pocket of the jeans I wore previously to the jeans I was wearing now and threw the clothes into the laundry basket.
I walked slowly back to my room and dug through my closet until I found a pair of almost brand new purple All-star converse that went really well with my shirt. Finally, I was satisfied with my reflection. I checked the time and groaned. It was only 7:33pm. Why couldn’t I be one of those girls who took four hours to get ready?

I walked extremely slow trying to waste as much time as I possible could. I stopped at my doorway to adjust the broken pieces of my door that were leaned up against the wall.

When each section was incredibly symmetrical, I progressed through the doorway and down the hallway keeping my steps slow and small. When I got to the staircase, I checked my phone impatiently, 7:37pm. I sighed and started down the stairs taking a deep breath with every step I took; trying to calm my heart because suddenly I realized I could feel it thudding hyperactively against my ribcage. I knew that the sound of my heart fluttering like a hummingbird would only make things harder for Blake. But as I thought his name my heart began beating faster. It was then that I noticed I had stopped in the middle of the staircase and was staring blankly at the wall. I jerked my head back and forth to clear it and continued down the stairs. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I took one last calming breath and my heart rate returned to a somewhat normal pace. I trudged through the kitchen and entered the living room.

Phoebe was staring at the television a distant look on her face. She looked completely zoned out. “Pheebs?” I said as I was coming around to the front of the couch. Her expression remained blank. I sat down beside her and waved my hand in front of her face. That’s when I noticed the TV changing channels. It was changing so rapidly that you couldn’t hear what was being said on each channel. It took me a couple seconds to realize that Phoebe was changing the channels with her powers. I sighed and started to worry that Phoebe was getting too dependent on her newly discovered abilities.

I glanced at my cell phone and I swear my heart almost stopped. It was 7:58pm! My heart leaped and starting pounding nearly three times as fast as it had been a moment ago. I took several deep breaths and had little success with calming the thumping in my chest. The doorbell rang and my head jerked towards the hallway that led to the front door. Phoebe gasped and the TV screen went black.

I sat frozen on the edge of the sofa anxiety pulsing through my veins like liquid nitrogen. “Zoey!” Phoebe said shaking my shoulder. “Huh?” I squeaked. I tried to sound calm but my voice betrayed me and cracked with apprehension. “I think Blake is here.” She stated softly. I couldn’t seem to make my brain work so I just sat there on the couch my eyes wide. Phoebe grabbed both my shoulders and gave my body a good shake.

“Remember Blake? The insanely hot vampire dude waiting right outside the door for you!” That snapped me out of whatever trance I had found my way in to. I sprung up off the couch and bolted down the hallway. I grabbed my purse from a table by the door and smoothed my hair over my neck. Then I cautiously reached for the doorknob.

I opened the door slowly. I saw Blake standing just on the other side of the doorway. He was like a mirage of the perfect guy and I was afraid he might disappear. My breath caught in my throat and my heart started beating fiercely against my rib cage.

An amused smirk spread across his face revealing nearly all his teeth but something was different…no fangs. Evidently, he was expecting my reaction. “Hi.” I whispered in a confused voice.

He chuckled quietly as if he was enjoying a private joke. “Hi.”

“Blake.” Phoebe said coming up behind me. I tore my gaze from Blake and looked at Phoebe.

“Phoebe.” Blake replied nodding slightly in her direction. I heard Phoebe clear her throat uneasily.

“Uh, Pheebs I’ll-I’ll see you later.” I stammered nervously.

“Uh huh.” She said in a voice that was close to suspicion. There was a moment of tense silence but then Phoebe asked, “So where are you guys going?” Her eyes were narrowed in scrutiny and in no way was she trying to be discreet. I felt like I should’ve know the answer to her question but I didn’t. Anyway, the question wasn’t for me it was for Blake. I looked back at him because I was curious to see what his answer would be. He smiled crookedly and shrugged. He had no clue where we were going. I didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing but it made my insides twist. Phoebe seemed taken aback. “Okay well have fun.” She said and disappeared from the doorway. Blake and I were alone.

He held out his hand for me to take. At first, I was hesitant. I mean I was used to a strict no contact policy. But I gave in and let my hand become entangled in his smooth, solid grasp. “So where are we going?” I asked trying to sound unconcerned about our destination.

He glanced down at my hand resting in his and said, “Anywhere you wish to go I’ll follow.” Normally I would find what he said extremely lame. But the articulate flow of his words scattered my thoughts and made my knees go weak. Even after rounding up my thoughts, I still had nothing to say.

“Um.” I whispered gazing aimlessly around my yard and spotting nothing to look at except my car. “How did you get here?” I asked without thought.

“What do you mean?” Blake replied. I didn’t like when people answered a question with another question.

“Well there’s only one car here and it’s mine.” I explained. He stopped and looked at me with his penetrating gray eyes that had somehow become significantly lighter in color almost like silver.

“I didn’t use a vehicle Zoey.” He said incredulously like the answer to my question was ridiculously obvious.

“But how…” I finished my sentence with shocked silence. Blake raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t use a car…” I whispered quickly to myself. Blake laughed quietly in the dimming light of a late summer day. “You walked all the way to my house?” I asked and I couldn’t help but wonder where Blake lived.

He leaned back against the frame of my car and to me he looked like one of the pictures from the car calendars Phoebe has. Her parents think she’s interested in the cars but I know she just gets them so she can look at the hot guys. “It was a great deal faster than walking but that is the idea.” He said. I thought about that for a moment and then it hit me; Blake is a vampire and vampires have super speed.

“Oh.” I whispered. Oh, my god I’m stupid. By now, I had let go of Blake’s hand and I folded my arms across my chest.

“So, where do you want to go?” Blake asked breaking the uncomfortable silence we had somehow lapsed in to. I shrugged. He glanced thoughtfully at the concrete driveway. “Hmm, well that could pose a possible threat to our night now couldn’t it?” He said lightly. I’m not sure I caught anything he said after the word ‘our.’ I shook my head trying to make myself less susceptible to the distraction that was Blake.

“You know this thing normally works better when someone knows where they’re going.” I interjected as I fiddled with my car’s side view mirror.

“And ‘this thing’ would be…” Blake trailed off in question pacing around the side of my car. I took a deep breath and kept my eyes locked on the mirror as Blake slid out of my line of vision.

“The whole dating thing.” I tried to say the word casually but it still came out sounding like a curse word.

“Oh.” He sighed and I felt the car creak as he leaned back against the door on the other side. “Yeah, I guess knowing where you want to go would help.” He mumbled awkwardly. Up until now, Blake’s words had been pretty smooth and confident but now you could tell this was unfamiliar territory for him.

“Um…Well.” I shuffled my feet nervously trying to figure out something more to say. “Come on.” Blake said and I could feel his chilly breath against the back of my neck. My heart leaped into my throat at the sudden closeness and I had to fight to keep myself from jumping. I reached for the car door prepared to get into the drivers seat and drive to wherever he wanted to go.

Suddenly Blake’s pale hands were on my wrists forming shackles around them, “We’re not driving.” He whispered.

“Why?” I asked staring at his fingers on my skin. He sighed, moved his hands up my arms, and gently massaged his right thumb across the Psi inscribed on the inside of my right forearm.

“That would defeat the purpose of asking you out.” Blake explained. That didn’t really tell me much. I didn’t know what the purpose for asking me out was. I decided not to ask Blake what he meant. I’m sure I’d find out eventually.

He led me down my driveway letting go of my arms as he did so. We walked side by side for a minute. I was really wondering where Blake was taking me or if he even knew where he was going. In fact I was so caught up in my thoughts I didn't notice my steps becoming slower and slower. It wasn't until I saw Blake nearly ten feet in front of me did I find my way back out of the depths of my mind and into the real world. I ran to catch up to him. I heard him chuckling quietly when I became level with his steps.
"What were you thinking about?" He asked amusement plain in his expression. I shrugged.
"Just wondering where we're going." Came my reply. He smiled and stretched his arms above his head as the sun sank below the horizon reveling in the night that he seemed to think of as his own. "What's your favorite thing to eat?" Blake asked.
I thought it was a random question and I couldn't imagine why he would be interested in knowing what my favorite food was. He looked at me, waiting patiently for an answer. There were only three restaurants in the town and two of them were merely fast food restaurants; the third was an Italian restaurant that I absolutely adored. I knew what my favorite food was but with Blake's eyes on my face, it took a few seconds to recall what it was.
"Um..." I whispered thinking. "Cella's. On Revero." I mumbled. He nodded and quickly looked both ways as we turned out of my neighborhood and onto the main road. It was like dead quiet. It surprised me that there weren't many cars except for the few stragglers coming back from the lake after which the town was named.
Jasper Lake; population four-hundred eighty-one. The lake was full of jasper pebbles worn smooth by the water. I thought about the place with fond memories. I missed going there.
"This is awfully slow." Blake complained.
"Hmm?" I asked absently.
"Walking." He clarified, noticeably speeding up. I practically had to jog to keep up with his stride.
"We should've taken my car." I said. Blake sighed. "We don't need a car." He insisted.
I groaned, "You may not need a car but in case you've forgotten I do." A small grin spread across his face.
"No, I haven't forgotten." He said in a way that made me extremely nervous. I froze on the sidewalk.
"Where are you going with this?" I asked warily. Blake's grin expanded into an excited smirk. Oh. My. God. Why didn't I see this before? Blake had never complained about walking before so he must have something up his sleeve. I've read enough vampire novels to know when something terrifying is going to happen. Whether in a good way or a bad way, I didn’t know.
He realized I had figured it out and held out his hand for me to take. I stared at his hand in utter shock. I wasn't even used to his very presence and just the thought of being that close to him made my heart skip a beat and my stomach do back flips.
I swallowed pass the lump that was rapidly forming in my throat and didn't take his hand. "Are you sure you can handle that?" I asked trying not to sound offensive. He rolled his eyes in a very human gesture and replied, "I won't know until I try." I started to reach for his hand then paused.
"Are you absolutely sure?" I asked hoping he would forget about it and we would walk or go back to get my car.
He sighed loudly and jerked forward to grab my hand. I gasped as he pulled me closer to him faster than I was prepared for and then slung me over his back like I was nothing more than a human shaped backpack. (Stephenie Meyer would be so jealous!) "You'd better hold on tight." Blake whispered with breathless exhilaration. I cautiously wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged his sides with my knees twisting my ankles together to hold my grip. It made me feel like a little girl again; visions of piggyback rides with my dad danced through my mind.Blake brushed the tip of his nose against the inside of my wrist in a slightly intimate manner. My heart fluttered inside my chest and my face reddened as I remembered Blake could hear it. I felt his shoulders shake with silent laughter.
There was a nearly unnoticeable lurch and the whole world seemed to fall away only to be replaced with unearthly blurs of dark blues and greens. My hair was being whipped back by the wind and my eyes stung but I couldn't close them. I felt Blake's muscles gliding effortlessly beneath me and I heard his steady breathing; but there was no heartbeat.
Have you ever stuck your head out the window of a flying jet? Well if you have then you know what it feels like to ride on a vampire's back. The speed was both thrilling and terrifying and I couldn't decide if I loved the feeling or hated it. It was similar to a roller coaster only like a thousand times better! In what felt like only about thirty seconds of flying through the air the wind stinging my face I felt Blake begin to slow. Oh and it was much more beast than Bella riding on Edwards back even if it sounds undeniably similar.
When he came to a complete stop my arms couldn't seem to move and they were still twisted around his neck in a strangle hold. "Uh, Zoey." Blake said in a concerned voice.
"Sorry. I'm just waiting for my organs to catch up." I answered dizzily, without even trying to untangle myself. Blake sighed in an amused way and began disentangling himself from my grip.
I fell to the ground with an, "Oof." My eyes were frozen open in shock and I wore an expression that looked much like a deer caught in the headlights. A grin spread across Blake's face and before I knew it, he was doubled over in fits of laughter. "Are you alright?" He asked crouching down next to me. I looked into his smiling face and was flustered by his alien beauty.
His smile began to fade, "Zoey?" He asked, starting to look nervous. I just sat there on the grass lawn in front of Cella's Italian Cuisine in stunned silence. Blake stood up and ran his fingers through his wind blown hair, "Maybe I shouldn't have done this." He murmured starting to pace. "Zoey." He said kneeling down in front of me placing his hands on my shoulder and giving them a gentle shake. I blinked a few time as if coming out of a daze and almost began to hyperventilate as I realized his skin was touching mine. "I'm so sorry Zoey. I just thought since you were a Hunter you'd be used to it." His words strung together so fast I could barely understand them. I shook my head to clear it. "I am sorry." Blake insisted once again. I sprung up off the ground.
"Are you kidding me?" I said loudly. "That was...My god that was the most incredible thing I've ever experienced!" I yelled. Blake smiled, relieved that I wasn't upset about that wild ride.
"Shall we?" Blake asked, waving an arm towards the entrance of the Italian restaurant. I finally realized just how nervous I really was so I just looked at Blake and nodded. We walked over to the entrance standing nearly eight inches away and every time I sneakily moved closer to him, he'd move away. I did not get it! I had just been straddling his back as he ran at jet speed and now he was afraid of getting too close to me?
I sighed as Blake acted like a perfect gentleman and held the door open for me. "Thanks." I muttered as I stumbled through the doorway. An absolutely gorgeous girl met us at the door. She looked to be a few years older than me.
"Table for one?" She asked in a cheery voice, eyeing Blake with evident interest. I raised an eyebrow and cleared my throat a bit louder than necessary. The waitress turned reluctantly to face me placing a dreadfully fake smile on her face. "Sorry. Table for two is it?" I returned her fake smile and nodded.
The waitress led us to a table in the midst of a crowded room. I was about to sit down when Blake stopped me with a quick glance. "Would you be so kind as to seat us somewhere a little less crowded?" He asked the waitress his trademark smirk playing around the edges of his mouth. She seemed temporarily stunned by the request and her lips puckered reluctantly. Blake's eyebrows rose questioningly and his eyes smoldered, "If it's too much trouble we can stay here." He told the waitress.
"What? No. It's no trouble at all." The waitress said as if Blake were questioning her talent as a waitress. She led us back across the restaurant to the other side. It was a completely empty dining area with booths lining the walls and tables in the middle. "Is this okay?" She asked Blake.
He smiled charmingly at her and said, "Perfect." My god I swear she almost fainted. The waitress stood there for a moment in silence.
"Uh...What can I get you to drink?" She finally stammered. Blake looked at me as I slid into a booth.
I regained focus and answered, "Just water." The waitress paused for a moment and then left.
I sighed and looked at Blake. "You know that was kinda unfair." I said.
"What was unfair?" He asked tilting his head to the side.
"Doing that weird mind control thing to the waitress." I replied.
"I did not control her mind Zoey." He said setting his elbows on the tabletop. I mimicked his actions.
"Then what do you call it? Supernatural persuasion?" I asked. He paused for a moment then answered, "Yes." I sighed in exasperation. "I'm annoying you aren't I?" Blake said. I raised my eyes to look at him.
"Just a little bit." I replied, a sideways smile lighting up my face. He returned my smile and that made me feel good inside.
At that moment, the waitress came back with a glass of ice water that had a lemon wedge on the rim of the glass. She set the water down in front of me and turned to Blake. "So you ready to order?" She asked a coy smile on her lips. I scoffed quietly and sipped my water. Again, Blake looked to me. The waitress rolled her eyes and faced me. I fought the smug grin that threatened to spread across my face.
"I'd like the Zuppa Toscana please." I said without even looking at the menu. She pursed her lips and scribbled the order down on a yellow note pad.
"And you would like?" She asked politely turning back to Blake.
"I'm fine." He said.
"You sure?" The waitress asked. He nodded. "Okay well if you change your mind let me know." She said as she picked up the two menus on the table and left.
"So you're just gonna sit there and watch me eat?" I asked.
"Well if you bring someone to a restaurant it's very likely that you'll see them eat some type of food." I looked at him.
"Ha ha very funny." I said sarcastically. I was silent for some time. Mostly I just looked around the room we were in. I've never been seated in this room before. There were a few questions that I wanted to ask Blake but I didn't know how. I mean he had fangs. Not now but before. I saw them. Why didn't he have fangs anymore? Why did his eyes keep changing colors? The first time I met him they were flat out black, the second time I saw him they were a dark gray color, and now they were such a light gray they almost looked like liquid mercury. And a question I kept coming to was why he even asked me out? I was nothing special. If anything, Blake should stay away from me. My eyebrows knitted together as I thought about how much more interesting my life had become since I met Blake. I didn't want to go back to being invisible again.
"You're thinking about something." Blake stated, breaking the silence. I blinked a few times before saying, "Yes I do that often."
"Care to tell me what you were thinking about?" He asked softly. I glanced down at the table and bit my lip.
"I have questions." I mumbled to the table. He sighed.
"Questions about what?" He asked even more softly.
"About...You." I answered.
"Ask them." He commanded. I looked up at him.
"Why didn't you order anything to eat?" I asked. He hesitated for a moment then replied, "I don't think anything they have here would satisfy my appetite. Unless you count the waitress." I smiled but couldn't help but feel that he actually meant what he said.
"So you don't eat regular food?" I questioned.
"Well I'm capable of eating normal food but it doesn't do much in the way of sustenance." I nodded. "I thought you read vampire novels alot." He said. How did he know that?
"Well I do. But I haven't exactly had the proper resources to separate fact from fiction." I explained.
"So now I'm your proper resource?" He asked. I grinned, "Yes. I just don't think I have enough patience to wait for my questions to be answered." I said.
Blake leaned against the back of the booth and scrutinized my face. "What?" I asked, beginning to feel self-conscious about him staring at me.
"I'll make you a deal," he said his gaze not leaving my face. "You can ask any questions about me and I'll try to answer them as best as I can." He continued. I was about to agree when I hesitated.
"What's the catch?" I asked warily. Blake smirked, "If I happen to have any questions about you, you'll have to answer them as truthfully as you can."
I knew that if I agreed to this I could attain some very valuable information, but I also knew that if I agreed to this Blake could find out anything he wanted about me with just a series of questions. I decided that there weren't many interesting facts about myself, certainly not as many juicy tid-bits that could be lurking within Blake's head. "Deal." I said nodding once.
He smiled. "Okay then. Ask away." He said folding his arms over his chest. I paused for a moment to think.
"Um..." I murmured nervously. Blake raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Why don't you have fangs?" I asked, trying to keep myself from sounding like an idiot; no such luck. He leaned across the table.
"Who’s to say I don't." He whispered, his cool breath tickling my nose.
"But-" He cut me off by pressing a cool finger gently to my lips. I think I almost passed out! He removed his finger from my lips and grinned. I could see all his teeth and still the fangs were nowhere in sight. His pupils grew by an infinitesimal amount and his canines elongated and sharpened themselves to a razor point. My eyes widened and a small gasp escaped my mouth, which was slightly ajar.
I abruptly leaned forward to get a closer look but suddenly Blake was no longer within my reach. I saw him pressed into the back of the seat and felt confusion sweep over me. "What's wrong?" I asked curiously, leaning back into my side of the booth. He shook his head and I noticed that his mouth was now clamped shut. I couldn't help but feel that I had done something wrong.
"Did I do something wrong?" I asked already feeling guilty. Again, he shook his head and I saw his jaw relax.
"Not you. Me." Blake answered simply. The confusion didn't go away.
"What?" I asked. He sat forward but not nearly as close as he was before.
"I just wasn't prepared for you to move forward that quickly." He said. I thought about his previous actions for a moment before deciding that they were rational.
"Anymore questions?" Blake asked after exhaling in a gust.
"Can you tell me why I can't be close to you? Like physically?" I asked uncertainly. He glared down at his hands folded neatly on the tabletop and sighed wistfully. Just as he was about to open his mouth to answer the waitress came rushing towards our table with a tray on which rested a bowl of steaming Zuppa Toscana. Zuppa Toscana is just fancy talk for soup made with potatoes, Italian sausage, and kale.
The waitress whose name I've yet to remember tucked the now empty tray under her arm and turned to Blake. "So have you changed your mind?" She asked with a sweet smile. He shook his head and I think I could just make out a hint of exasperation in his expression. "Oh, alright." She said and she left, her shoulders slumped in dejection. I smiled to myself. Guess Blake is a one-woman vampire.
I turned back to face Blake. "You were going to answer?" I prompted.
"You should eat first." He replied. My eyes narrowed.
"It's too hot right now." I said. Really, this wasn't an excuse. Many burnt tongues provided sufficient experience points.
He groaned quietly, "Fine." He said. "I have the ability to make my mouth look absolutely human." I had to lean across the table to hear his whispered words. "When I'm around you I don't have to worry about it much but in public it's different." He went on. "To show you what I just showed you I had to think about rather unpleasant things. That’s why you can’t be close to me." By this point, my eyes were wide and I was eager to hear more.
"What kind of unpleasant things?" I breathed quietly. He reached across the table to stroke my neck with his fingers. "This is the carotid artery," he murmured, closing his eyes and pushing gently on a blue line that ran from the back of my neck to the base of my throat. "It controls the blood flow. I’d go for this artery because if I hit it just right I wouldn’t have to make a mess and not one drop would be wasted." I couldn't help but flinch. I mean I'm a weird person but that’s just kind of creepy.
"Oh those unpleasant things." I mumbled quietly. He removed his hand.
"Yes those unpleasant things." He said smiling awkwardly. We were quiet for a moment. I was trying to think of some more questions as I waited for my soup to cool.
I glanced at Blake and chewed my bottom lip in thought. I continued to stare at him until he asked, "What?" I snapped out of the daze that staring at him had induced.
"I have another question." I said simply. He took a deep breath, "Okay shoot." He said. It was a phrase so ridiculously human I almost burst out laughing.
"Why do your eyes change color?" I asked. He smirked and set his elbows on the edge of the table.
"Guess." He said mischievously. I exhaled unhappily but then I thought about our agreement. He told me he would answer any question I asked if he could. If he was telling me to guess he must think I'll guess correctly.
"Um, well the first night we met your eyes were pitch black." I stated trying not to dwell on the memory. He nodded. "They were dark gray at the gym." I continued, trying to make a connection. "And now they're similar to liquid mercury." I said, nervously flicking my eyes to his and back to a random place on the wall.
I shook my head trying to clear it. The only vampires I've read about whose eyes had changed color had been the Twilight vampires. But their eyes had been black when they hadn't fed recently, then when they fed on animals their eyes turned gold and when they fed on humans their eyes were red. I wondered if it was the same thing. I paused before saying, "The night we met...You hadn't...fed in a while." It felt strange saying the word "fed" aloud.
He nodded slowly though he knew what I said was more of a statement than a question. "And when your eyes are gray it means that you have had..." I trailed off I just couldn't bring myself to voice my thoughts aloud.
"Yes." He said quietly. I chewed on the inside of my bottom lip and tried not to dwell too long on such unpleasant (undeniably sexy) things.
"You should eat now." Blake murmured. I glanced at my soup. Suddenly I didn't have much of an appetite but I didn't want to talk anymore just yet. I dipped my spoon into the mixture and scooped up a piece of sausage. I stuck the spoon in my mouth and the broth burned the top of my mouth. I fought the urge to spit it back into the bowl. Wouldn't be very lady-like would it?
I took a few more bites this time being careful to blow on each one first. I found solace in the silence. I took a sip from my water to cool my mouth. I put my spoon down and looked at Blake. This final unrelenting question gnawed at my brain and I felt that if I didn't ask it soon my head would explode.
"Blake." I said cautiously. His eyes shifted to my face, "Yes?" I stared at his face unable to think of a good way to start the question. After a few moments of silence, I gathered the courage to speak.
"I have one last question." I said. He raised an eyebrow, "Just one?" He asked. "Well of the most vital." I responded. He nodded for me to continue. "Can I ask what was going through your mind the night we met?" I whispered looking down at my hands.


Phoebe had her annual end of school cold so she couldn't attend the end of school dance. I went alone. It began at 7:00pm and went on until 12:00am. I left the school at ten because the dance committee did a pretty poor job. I began walking the short distance from my school to my house. I had a strange fear of walking down deserted streets in the middle of the night. Too many stories of young girls and drunken creeps.
I walked down the sidewalk at a brisk pace, put on edge by my fears. I started walking faster until I was almost jogging; I kept my head down. As you can imagine I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going. Just pacing the familiar route back home; and naturally I walked straight into someone. I mumbled an apology and kept walking, this time being more attentive.
I had the sinking feeling I was being watched, or followed, maybe both. I cast a quick glance over my shoulder and saw a guy. He was gorgeous and looked to be around my age and his head was down too. I shook my head, thinking my troubled thoughts were nothing more than a case of paranoia. I couldn't hear any footsteps behind me so I turned my head quickly to see if the guy was still there. He was; but that wasn't the only thing. He seemed to be at least fifteen feet closer.
My heart jumped and began beating at a rate almost twice as fast as before. He appeared abruptly before me a charming smile on his face, which was as pale as bone in the light of a waxing moon. I gasped but it came out more like a terrified squeak. His hand brushed my shoulder and he pushed me gently into the narrow area between two building complexes.
"What's your name?" He asked in a smooth voice as he backed me against the brick wall.
"Z-Zoey." I stuttered. He brushed my hair from my neck and licked his lips hungrily. He placed an arm across my shoulders and braced his other arm against the wall. My breathing quickened. His lips felt ice cold against the base of my throat. Then suddenly I felt two razor sharp points press against my skin and my instincts kicked into hyper-drive. My knee rushed up and hit the guy right in the stomach.
He stumbled back and I took advantage of this moment and ran. As I bolted down the sidewalk to my house, my hand reached up to touch the spot where the guy’s teeth had almost penetrated my skin. There was no blood. Thank God. I hurried onto my street and sped up my driveway. I fumbled with my house keys and finally got the door open, yet I neglected to lock it back. I ran as fast as I could up the stairs and into my bedroom, I slammed the door shut and locked it. I paused for the briefest of moments to catch my breath and to think.
"You don't think a locked door will stop me, do you Zoey?" the boy called from outside my door, his voice cold as ice.


"It was quite a surprise when you kneed me in the stomach and it actually hurt." Blake said smirking. I couldn't help but feel pleased with myself. The atmosphere thickened as his smirk disappeared only to be replaced with a grimace of self-loathing. "It was careless of me. I shouldn't have gone out that night." I tilted my head to the side, "Why?"
He sighed, "Like you said, I hadn't fed in nearly a month." The word sent shivers down my spine.
"Is that a long time?" I asked. I couldn't imagine going a month without eating, but I was human. I've read about vampires who can go months without feeding, and some who fed daily.
His brow creased as if the answer were buried somewhere deep within his mind. "Most of us feed every few days." He said finally. I noted the fact that he included himself in the "us" he spoke of. I nodded slowly. After a few minutes I said, "You still haven't answered my question."
His shoulders fell and he slumped against the back of his seat. "The first night we met..." He trailed off. "I was walking down the street when some chick ran into me." He smirked as he does so very often. I couldn't fight the grin that sprung to my lips. Then his expression grew somber, "The scent of her hit me like a battering ram. So I followed her, driven by my hunger."
My eyes were wide; it felt like I was trapped in one of my favorite books. "I backed her into a corner and just the mere closeness nearly drove me mad. It was difficult to be charming with a stomach so empty it felt as if it might cave." He closed his eyes so as to remember the night in excruciating detail. "Of all the humans I had met not one had a scent so appealing. She just smelled so good. I had to taste her."
I didn't know why Blake wasn't speaking my name. Maybe it was more comfortable for him to speak of me as if it wasn't me at all. He took a deep breath through his nose as if to remind himself of the scent he so desperately craved. "I was so close but somehow she made me back off. Like any person she ran, and I followed."
His brow furrowed and his hands gripped the edge of the table. "I almost killed her." He growled in a pained voice. "Until I saw her face stained with beautiful tears. Only then did a portion of my sanity returned. I tried to get away from her before I lost control again. But here she was, bleeding from the back of the neck asking me what my name was."
He opened his eyes. I stared at him my mouth ajar. "I know that story should've totally creeped me out but...Have you ever considered writing books?" I said. That seemed to have taken him off guard.
"About what? My life?" He asked. I smiled and nodded. He thought about it for a moment, "Hmm."
There was a moment of silence while I finished my soup, which had finally cooled to the point of edibility. Blake watched me closely as if there were no action more fascinating than eating soup. Even when I finished he continued to stare at me. Finally, I took a deep breath and asked, "Why are you staring at me?"
He blinked, "What?" I pushed my bowl out of the way so I could lean across the table.
"You staring at me. Why?" He leaned across the table as well, so close I could feel his cool breath tickling the tip of my nose.
"There was a question that I expected you to ask and you didn't. I was just trying to figure out if you didn't ask it on purpose or if you simply forgot; but your thoughts are indiscernible." Blake said passively.
"Which question would this be?" I asked in the same compliant tone. He set his elbows on the table and clasped his hands together resting his chin upon his interlaced fingers.
"I expected you to ask-what I thought to be-the most basic question. What does something like me traditionally eat?" He said. I sighed through my nose and leaned back against my side of the booth. He remained in the same position and only his eyes looked up to meet mine. I looked at him curiously.
"I assumed you drank blood. That’s why I didn't ask." I said plainly, as if this conversation was one of the most normal in the world.
It would be stupid to think that Blake didn't drink blood. But the real question was...from what? I saw Blake smile. "I know what you're thinking but don't worry I haven't bitten a human in almost thirteen years." Oh well that's comforting...NOT! Blake's one-hundred ninety-eight years old! That means that the other one-hundred eighty-five years of his life he fed off humans!
My eyes widened in shock. Blake bit his lip and gazed down at the corner of the table. "That's really not comforting is it?" He said. I looked around nervously then shook my head.
Suddenly the overly flirtatious waitress popped up out of nowhere. "You guys finished?" She asked. At least this time she addressed my presence. Blake looked briefly up at her and nodded. She set a little booklet on the table that had the bill in it and started cleaning up our (my) dishes. Blake and I reached for the bill at the same time and our fingers touched for about a fraction of a second before he slid the booklet out from under my hand with undeniable grace.
He pulled the slip of paper that was the bill from the booklet and glanced fleetingly at it. I snuck a peek at the paper and saw the number $13.75 on the total amount spot. Blake pulled a twenty-dollar bill from his back pocket and handed them to the waitress. She plucked the twenty from Blake's hand and stuffed them into the pocket on her apron, then continued to clean up the table. Blake slid out from the booth and I followed his example fighting the urge to kick the waitress in the shin like I'd been longing to do since the moment she decided to wait on us (Blake).
He led me towards the front of the restaurant and out the front door. I crossed my arms over my chest as we walked through the small parking lot back to the sidewalk. Blake sighed and turned his light gray gaze to me, "What's wrong?" He asked.
"I could've helped you pay the bill." I said huffily. He grinned that crookedly perfect smirk at me and said, "I asked you out Zoey, so it was only proper of me to pay the bill." I looked at his face and couldn't help but smile.
"How gentlemanly of you." I said. We reached the sidewalk and he led me in the direction opposite of my house. I looked behind me. "Uh Blake, my house is back that way." I said stopping. The corners of his mouth lifted in a smile.
"We're not going to your house." He said smoothly. My eyebrows knitted together.
"Then where are we going?" I asked nervously.
"My house." He answered simply. I wasn't sure how I felt about that. He tilted his head slightly. "Are you scared?" He asked.
"Scared?" I snorted. "No. I-I'm not scared." I flustered.
"Then come on." He said. I took a deep breath, "‘Kay." I answered. Okay I was a little scared but not because Blake was a vampire. I mean this was my first actual date with the guy and he was inviting me over to his house.
It was about 9:30pm according to my cell phone and the sky was for once completely clear. You could see billions of stars, and the light of the nearly full moon was enough to read by. Blake and I walked side by side, our arms occasionally brushing together. Believe it or not, I was completely content just walking in the moonlight. I loved the moon, it was beautiful and it made me feel...powerful.
I cast a swift glance at Blake and breathed an inaudible sigh of relief when I saw him looking away from me. (Now I could stare at him without him knowing.) His head was tilted slightly upward in the direction of the moon and I could swear he was whispering something. But his lips were moving too fast, and his words were coming so quietly that I had no hope of understanding what he was saying.
His stream of whispers ceased and he performed this strange gesticulation; he pressed the first three fingers of his right hand to his lips, then offered his arm to the moon, then held his hand to his heart. (Is it beating?) "What was that?" I asked before I could think. His head whipped back to me and he smiled sheepishly, "Uh...I was" He gestured idly towards the moon.
"Honoring the moon." I offered. His nervous smile softened.
"Yes, actually I was." He said. I smiled sweetly.
"I do that sometimes too." I said. He shrugged, "It's just something I've always done, even before I was turned." He whispered looking up at the moon like a long lost friend. I couldn't believe I was standing less than six inches away from the most gorgeous guy I've ever met (seen...exists) and I was actually speaking intelligently.
I hadn't realized how long we'd been walking until Blake turned into a driveway. It was partially covered by trees and it looked completely normal. I mean I was almost expecting a Victorian castle or something like Dracula, or a big white house with huge glass windows like Edward. Guess Blake's more of a Vladimir Tod living condition kinda guy.
I followed him up the drive to the old looking oak door. Instead of pulling out a key like any normal guy, Blake lifted a panel I hadn't noticed on the left side of the doorway and punched in an eight-digit combination. I heard a series of clicks and the door swung open. Okay less Vladimir Tod and more international spy guy.
He held the door open for me and I walked through nervously. If I were to describe Blake's house in one word it would be...Wow. His house looked like what I wanted my house to look like. He left my side for a moment to turn on the lights. Which weren't really lights at all, they were like oil lamps. He looked back to me, "You don't mind the lighting do you? Fluorescents tend to be a bit harsh."
I nodded and looked around in awe. The interior of his house was…well…I don’t know really know how to describe it. His house was like mountain cabin mixed with high tech gamer mixed with skilled hunter. There were three medium sized TV screens on the west wall or maybe they were computer screens. I don’t know maybe they were both.
The floors were polished wood and the walls were paneled wood of the same color. There was a glass cabinet displaying different weapons. Knives, daggers, throwing stars, crossbows, scythes, and I think I saw a sickle. Interesting. Blake shrugged, “I know the place is kinda a mess, but I just decided I was gonna bring you here today.” I looked the place over once more and grinned.
“I like it. I just can’t stand those overly clean places.” I say. Blake looks at me, “Really?” He asks. I nod, “I hate it when people try to make their house look perfect when they have people coming over.” He chuckled, “Nice to know.” He walks over to the living room and shoves a pile of books from the cushions of a black leather sofa. He waves a hand toward the couch and I sit.
Blake stands there with his arms crossed over his chest and looks at me. I inhale deeply and let it out in a sigh. “I suppose this would be the difficult part.” I mumble.
“What?” Blake asks.
“Well you invite me to your place and here we are.” I say gesturing to the room around us. “Now we have no clue what to do with ourselves.” I say shrugging sadly. He sits down next to me on the couch and hesitates for only a moment before setting an arm around my shoulders.
“I’m sure we’ll find something mildly entertaining to do.” It took all my strength to keep from hyperventilating. Blake’s skin was actually in contact with mine. Oh my goddess! I could feel my heart speeding up. Blake turned his head to look at me.
“Hmm, interesting.” He murmured. I knew he was talking about my heart. He could hear it. The left side of his mouth lifted in a sideways smirk. “I wonder if…” He trailed off and leaned closer to me. So close that I could feel the coolness of his breath. My heart jumped and I took a deep breath. I could hear his laugh and his lips brushed my collarbone. My heart leaped into hyper-drive becoming completely erratic. I realized I was holding my breath so I let it out.
“I want you to remain completely still.” I heard Blake’s voice in my ear. I froze entirely mostly as a reflex rather than because Blake told me too. His lips moved from my neck to my jaw then to the corner of my mouth. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. My heart was beating against my ribcage fiercely as if a bird was caught in my chest trying to get out.
Suddenly his lips were pressed against mine and the reaction was instant. It felt like my skin was on fire! But you know like the pleasant kind of fire. My heart was hammering harder than it had ever beaten before. I parted my lips to breathe in his scent. Something never smelled before. I tried to stay still but it just didn’t seem right. I sneakily wound my arm around his neck. He paused for only a second before placing a hand on my waist and pulling me closer.
I twisted my fingers into his hair and pressed myself into his body, we fit together perfectly. Like puzzle pieces. Soft (me) against hard (Blake). Okay normally I’m not this sluttish but damn this vamp was hot! I feel his tongue flick out and brush my lips and he slid his hand up the back of my tank trailing his fingers up and down my spine.
I shivered with pleasure. I took a chance and softly bit Blake’s bottom lip. Let’s hope he doesn’t repeat my actions.
Suddenly he broke away from me. I fell back into the couch breathing hard. After a moment I asked, “Did I do something wrong?” He looked at me still breathing rapidly.
“No, my mind just began wandering.” He said.
“Didn’t I keep you interested?” I asked placing a small grin on my face that I hoped was somewhat seductive. Or at the very least not completely stupid. He smiled at me and I could see the tips of his fangs protruding from his top jaw.
“You kept me greatly intrigued. My thoughts just drifted from your body to…” He trailed off and looked down at the floor in shame.
“My blood.” I finished for him. He nodded. I brushed the side of his face with my fingertips. “It’s okay. I don’t mind the thoughts. But please don’t act them out.” I mumbled. He laughed and kissed me on the forehead. A warm, flushed feeling began at my forehead and fell through my body like melted chocolate.
“So what do you want to do now?” Blake asked smiling. His canines now looked normal. I shrugged.
“Kinda hard to top that kiss.” I said grinning. He cupped his hand around the nape of my neck, smoothing his fingers over the cut that was nearly healed. He angled my face upward to kiss me again. This one was short and sweet, and the taste of it lingered on my tongue even after he’d taken his lips from mine.
He stroked my cheek and the coolness of his skin was soothing. That’s when I realized that my cheeks were probably red as hell seeing as they were burning with pleasure. That’s when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me ask. “You play guitar?” I asked. Blake looked over my shoulder at the acoustic guitar resting in the corner.
He let out a nervous chuckle. “Yeah, I guess.” He said.
“Play me something.” I whispered leaning my head on his shoulder. I suddenly felt very tired. I pulled my cell phone from my back pocket and saw that it was 11:09pm. Not that late, but I hadn’t been getting great sleep.
He grabbed the guitar from the corner and tucked it under his arm. He laughed anxiously again, “What should I play?” He asks. I shrugged.
“Something sweet.” I murmured. He started strumming something that I immediately recognized as “Misguided Ghosts” by one of my favorite bands Paramore. I closed my eyes and began humming along.
The song was going smoothly but somewhere in the middle Blake struck the wrong chord. “Damn.” He whispered.
“Your G chord sounds flat. “ I mumbled.
“I know.” He says. “I don’t know what’s wrong with it.” He plucks the open strings that make a G and they all sound in tune.
I break his grip on the fingerboard and sit in front of him placing his hand back on the fingerboard forming a cage around myself. “Maybe it’s not the string, maybe it’s your fingering.” I said. “Play G.” He placed three fingers of his left hand on three different strings and played G. I tossed my hair over my shoulder and placed my left hand over his. I slid his fingers down on the strings and he played the chord again. In perfect tune.
“Thanks.” He whispered a little breathlessly. I looked up at him and saw his eyes trained on my throat. I brush my hair back over my neck and disentangle myself from the guitar/vampire cage.
“Sorry.” I mumbled. He sighed and cleared the hair from my neck. He stroked my throat with the back of his hand and finally planted a kiss on the base of my neck. The coolness of his lips made my skin tingle.

Something suddenly jumped inside me and I realized…I loved this boy. Like really loved him. I didn’t know if he loved me too, or if I should tell him, but it was true. I loved Blake. He brushed his fingers through my hair and said, “Zoey…I think I love you.” I spun around quicker than I would have though possible.
“What?” I asked. A hysterical laugh bubbled in my throat. He looked at me his silvery gray eyes had gone wide.
“I’m sorry. I have a habit of speaking before thinking. If you don’t feel that way also, it’s okay but I just figured I should let you know.” His words strung together so fast I could barely understand what he was saying.
I just stared at him. I was using every ounce of my strength to keep from laughing. He sighed and dropped his gaze. I realized I was holding my breath so I let it out slowly. I felt a familiar tug in my stomach. The feeling I got just before I did something wickedly impulsive.
I grabbed Blake’s face between my hands and kissed him hard on the lips. When I pulled away, I stared into his eyes, which was a difficult thing to do. “Do you think I would be here if I didn’t love you?” I cried shaking my head like it was completely obvious. He sighed and this time the relief was almost visible. He removed my hand from his face and kissed my palm.
“I suppose it was quite apparent. Why else would you risk your life every moment you’re with me?” I looked at him with a grin on my face.
“Love makes you do strange things.” I said. He pulled me onto his lap and kissed me again. “Ain’t that the truth?” He mumbled. I giggled. Like literally I never giggle but here I was…giggling.
“How do you say love in Romanian?” I asked.
“Dragostea.” He answered then paused like he couldn’t believe he still remembered how to say it.
“Dragostea.” I repeated in a whisper.
“So, anymore questions?” He asked. “Huh?” I muttered, again expressing my extraordinary intellect. Sigh.
“Questions? Anything you wanna know?” He said. I glanced up at him from my perch on his lap.
“What’s with the high tech security?” I asked. I felt him shrug.
“I like my privacy.” He whispered. I nodded.
“What about the knife collection?” He laughed.
“Kind of a quirk.” He said. “Mm hmm.” I mumbled leaning my head against his hard but somehow soft shoulder. “How are you not tired?” I asked.
“Well…I don’t actually sleep much.”
“Oh. You’re one of those vampires.” I murmured.
“One of ‘those vampires’?” Blake asked. I yawned and started to explain.
“Well in some books you have the vampires that sleep during the day in coffins. Like in Anne Rice novels. Then you have the vamps that go to school and try to blend in that sleep at night in beds. Like Vladimir Tod. Then you have vampires that don’t sleep at all like in Twilight.” I said before yawning again.
“Door number three.” Blake whispered. I nodded sleepily and yawned yet again. Man, I was tired. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and glanced at the time. Whoa! 12:32am.
“Do you want me to take you home?” He asked. “Mmm.” I mumbled as my eyes drooped shut. The last thing I remember is Blake picking me up and cradling me against his chest. Then taking me upstairs and setting me on a soft leather couch. I opened my eyes one last time to see Blake cover me with a velvety, robin-egg blue quilt and sit down in a recliner opposite of the couch.

Had I really spent the whole night with the finest guy in the universe? Or was it all just a dream? Had I really fallen asleep in his house? On his couch?
Knowing my luck and imagination I probably made up the whole date, so I pretty much gave up all hope that any of what I experienced the night before was anything other than the result of an overactive imagination.
I felt leather underneath my cheek and a soft downy blanket on top of me. If the date with Blake had been nothing but a dream…Where the hell was I? I opened my eyes and the world was blue. Then I realized I had the blanket over my head.
I flipped the blanket off my face and saw that I was in a room that wasn’t mine. I sat up and looked around. I was sitting on another black leather couch with a baby blue quilt covering my legs. There was an empty recliner opposite of me and two bookcases. One laden with a number of different books ranging from thick tomes bound in old leather to books that could’ve been published yesterday.
The second bookcase was filled top to bottom with CD’s. Every kind of music you could imagine from country to Scream-o. There was a totally tricked out stereo in the corner of the room and a gigantic flat screen T.V. hanging on the wall. I mean seriously it was like 72 inches or something.
Okay so I was in Blake’s bedroom. That much I could tell. But where was Blake? I heard the door open and saw him. His hair was damp as if he had just taken a shower, and if I remember correct, he was wearing a different pair of clothing. “Blake!” I yelled. I jumped up from the couch and launched myself at him.
I wrapped my arms around his waist in a hug. His body stiffened and I suddenly sprang back. “Oh my god! I’m sorry!” I shouted probably too loudly, my eyes had gone wide as I realized the mistake I had made. He let his breath out slowly and smiled. “Uh…Where’s the bathroom?” was the only question I could think to ask. His smile widened and he said, “Down the hall, second door on the left.” I grabbed my purse, which had somehow appeared by the couch though I was sure I left it on the first floor.
When I got to the bathroom, I was somewhat surprised to see a mirror. You know the whole superstition about how vampires cast no reflections. Guess it wasn’t true. I stared at my reflection. Eesh. I had a major case of bed head so I opened my purse and pulled out a comb. I yanked the comb through all the knots in my hair until it was sleek and smooth. I threw the comb back into my bag and grabbed a tiny wisp toothbrush.
I bit down on the toothbrush and a minty taste coated my mouth. I scrubbed my teeth vigorously until they shone a little whiter. Yes, I keep a comb and mini-toothbrushes in my purse. Along with hair ties, cell phone charger, car keys, house keys, emergency cash, gum, a lighter, a pocketknife, and eyeliner. I would probably pack a change of clothes too but the bag is too small. I bet I could live out of my purse for a week. I glanced in the mirror and carefully wiped the smudged eyeliner out from under my eyes. I thought about reapplying then decided against it.
I opened the bathroom door and walked back up the hall and into the first door on the right. Blake’s bedroom or couch room really. I came around the corner and saw Blake standing in the exact same spot I had left him in. He held his arms open for me. If he wasn’t hesitating than neither was I. I didn’t launch myself at him like last time, this time I carefully placed myself in his arms. He wrapped his arms around me. He made me feel so small and dainty and…breakable.
He smelled really good. I know he just took a shower and all but that wasn’t it. It wasn’t like how Blake thought I smelled good, not like I wanted to eat him or something. (Not literally anyway.) It was like one of those cologne’s that had pheromones in it to attract girls. (And female animals.) But it wasn’t like any cologne I’d smelled before it was better than that. I took a deep breath trying to figure out what it was.
Suddenly my phone began buzzing in my pocket and “Horrible Dreams” By Ayria blared from the speakers. I sighed and pulled the phone from my pocket. I looked at the caller I.D. though I already knew who it was from the ring tone and put the phone to my ear. “Hey Pheebs.” I said into the phone. All I heard on the other end was a high pitched, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Phoebe was screaming.
“Pheebs!” Phoebe! What’s wrong?” I said in a frantically worried voice. Blake set his arm around my shoulders, which took my attention away from Phoebe for a moment. “What’s wrong?” He whispered in a concerned voice. I shrugged. Phoebe suddenly stopped screaming and said, “Oh my goddess! Is that Blake?”
“Yes.” I said as the worry melted into confusion.
“You’re at Blake’s house?!” She cried excitedly.
“Yes.” I repeated.
“You spent the entire night at Blake’s house?” She enunciated each word carefully.
“Uh huh.” I said.
“Oh my gracious goddess I do believe I may die.” She said and I swear I could hear her fanning herself.
“Zo, you have to tell me everything! Simply everything!” Phoebe insisted over the phone. I could hear Blake laughing. It was nothing less than beautiful.
“I’ll tell you about it when I get home. Alright?” I said.
“Okee dokee,” Phoebe said. One of her dorkier Phoebe-Phrases. “Just hurry! I can’t wait long for gossip this good!” She yelled so loud that I had to pull the phone away from my ear. I felt Blake’s frame shake as he laughed again.
“See ya later Pheebs.” I said.
“Bye!” She answered and the line went dead.
“She’s rather amusing.” Blake said. I turned around and placed my hands on his perfectly sculpted chest.
“Yeah she’s-she’s a character.” I murmured. He placed two fingers under my chin and tilted my face upward. He planted a quick kiss on my mouth and whispered, “Do you carry a toothbrush and toothpaste in that bag of yours?” I grinned, “Wisp is a really handy thing.” He placed his hands on my upper arms and held me at arms’ length. The right side of his mouth lifted in somewhat of a sideways smirk. “Do those things actually work?”
I returned his smile and said, “Well obviously. Can’t you tell by the minty freshness of my breath?” His smirk turned into a full-blown grin. He bent down to rest his head on my shoulder and took a big sniff. For some reason my body stayed relaxed as he inhaled. “Mmm.” He sighed. “No amount of minty freshness could compare to that scent.” Blake mumbled against my skin.
“Do you want to go home?” He whispered his lips brushing my skin. I groaned quietly. “No. But I probably should go. Phoebe might actually die if she doesn’t get her daily dose of gossip.” I couldn’t see Blake smile but somehow I knew he was. I set my arms around him and twirled my fingers through his still slightly damp hair. We stood there for a moment in a strange embrace. He stood up and backed away from me. I don’t know why but his pupils seemed significantly larger than they had a few minutes ago. It was probably just my imagination.
“So are we walking?” I asked, trying to get over the curiosity his changing-pupil size-that-was-probably-just-my-imagination thing that had stuck in my head.
He shrugged, “I have a car, but whatever you prefer.” I sighed and looked up at him.
“I think it would be a bit strange if we suddenly arrived at my house without a vehicle, especially if Colten or Malick happen to be around.” I felt his muscles tighten as I mentioned their names.
“Right. Car it is then.” He practically growled. He didn’t even actually know Colten and Malick and still he hated them. Sure, they tried to attack him, and they kidnapped the chick he loved (ME!!), and they were Blake’s natural enemies…Ooh. I think I’m starting to hate them as well.
I grabbed my bag and slung it over my shoulder. He picked up a ring of keys from the top of one of his bookcases and led me out of his room and down the hall. His house was surprisingly big. Way bigger than how it looked from the outside. He took my hand in his and pulled me through the good-sized living room. I saw his wicked knife collection, the guitar that I helped fix, and the computer/T.V. thingy that was on the wall. We passed through the kitchen; the floors were made of granite tiles and the tabletops were made of steel and it was completely humungous. Then finally, we got to a door at the back of the kitchen.
A two-car garage was lit only by a single window that was placed close to the ceiling. The only window in the entire house. There were two cars in the garage; a silver Corvette that was like wickedly cool looking and next to the Corvette was an old but extremely well preserved ’67 Chevy Impala that was black. Like Dean’s car from Supernatural!
He caught me staring at the black car. “If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, you’re right.” Blake said. I glanced at him.
“What do you think I’m thinking?” I asked beginning to chew my thumbnail. He chuckled nervously.
“I’m a really big fan of Supernatural. Another quirk.” He muttered walking over to the car. I followed him and brushed my fingers gently along the car’s frame.
“Does it work?” I asked, because honestly I wasn’t sure it would. It looked like a piece of art you’d find in a Supernatural Museum. Not a car someone would actually ride in. It just looked so much like Dean’s car.
“Of course.” He replied with a grin. “You wanna take this one?” He asked flashing all of his brilliantly white teeth in a smile. I smiled back and nodded rigorously. He opened the passenger door for me and I climbed into the leather seat. Everything was the same as Dean’s car. Except the windows were tinted really dark. And of course the lack of weapons. Don’t forget the army man that Sam stuffed into the ashtray, or the Lego’s that Dean shoved into the air vent.
Blake slid into the drivers’ seat beside me and closed the door. He pressed a button on the key pad attached to the ring of keys and the garage door opened to the dim light of another overcast Jasper Lake morning.
He put the key into ignition and started the engine. It sputtered once and then lapsed into a gentle purr. He pulled out of the garage and quickly pressed another button on the key pad. The garage door lowered behind us. He drove us down his long nature encased driveway and turned onto the tree lined serpentine street. I could not help but gape at the interior of the car. It was almost as amazing as the exterior. I mean people thought I had a cool car and-not meaning to gloat-I did. However, Blake’s car totally trumped mine. Plus! He had two cars!
Suddenly Blake asked, “What are you thinking?” His voice brought me out of my weird internal car rant. I looked at him.
“Just the awesomeness of your car.” I said completely honestly. He laughed,
“Really?” I nodded.
“I’m a really big fan of Supernatural too.” I said somewhat sheepishly. He laughed again. I could not help but love that crystal clear sound. Blake makes Edward Cullen look like a total chump. “Do you even like the episodes about vampires?” I asked. He took his eyes off the road and looked at me. If it had been any other person driving, I would’ve been scared and told them to focus on driving; but with Blake I felt totally at ease.
“Yes, I even like the episodes about vampires.” He said. I looked at him with my head cocked slightly to the side. “What?” he asked turning his gaze back to the road.
“The episodes about vampires don’t offend you or anything? ’Cause I’ve seen those vamps and they’re nothing like you.” He chuckled.
“Most of the time vampire movies do offend me. They rarely get the facts right and they’re not consistent in the least. But Supernatural is the exception.”
I thought about what he said. “Yeah movie makers do change the story a lot.” I mumbled. He nodded in agreement. “You watch lots of vampire movies?” I asked. This conversation seemed so normal.
“I can’t help but watch them. I like to criticize.” He said. I laughed.
“You must’ve had something to say about Twilight.” I said. He turned his body to face me, only keeping one hand on the wheel. I had to admit this time it scared me a bit. I mean shifting your gaze is one thing, forgetting the road completely is another.
“It was a good story I guess. But venom and…sparkling.” Sounded like when Phoebe started ranting about witches. He turned back to face the road for which I was thankful. “I mean what is the purpose of vampires that sparkle?” He asked. I sighed. I shouldn’t have asked.
“It does sort of ruin the image.” I muttered.
“Exactly.” Blake said. I smirked as a thought popped into my head.
“I mean what if Bella had ADHD and one second she was scared crap-less of this vamp dude then the sun shone on him and he started sparkling and she was like, ‘ooh pretty!’?” Most people hated the what-if game. But I had a feeling Blake would find it funny.
His focus once again left the street ahead of us and trained on me. An eyebrow was raised and that playful smirk had taken residence on his lips. “ADHD huh?” Blake asked. I smiled sweetly and nodded. For some reason my eyes drifted to the dashboard in front of Blake and I gasped.
“Holy crap!” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.
“What?!” Blake asked worry coloring his tone. My eyes were wide as I looked at him.
“You’re going like 90!” I yelled. He looked at me with an incredulous expression.
“Yeah. So?” He said not even slowing. I stared with my mouth hanging open, “So, slow down! The speed limit’s like 50! What if we get pulled over, or you know, Crash!”
The trees lining the sides of the road were nothing but greenish blurs. I didn’t see any cops though, and if one did pull us over Blake could probably charm his way out of it. As for crashing…
“You’re safe with me Zoey.” He said in a soft voice. My eyes bugged even wider and I said, “Easy for you to say. If this car ends up wrapped around a tree you could probably get up and walk away.”
He shrugged, “Probably. But you’d be fine. You’re a Hunter.” My mouth flopped open.
“No, I’m not a Hunter.” I said. Blake slowed the car to about 75mph and turned his gaze to me
“Yes Zoey, you are.” He said seriously. I let my eyes fall to my hands resting in my lap.
“No I’m not. I don’t have super speed or strength.” I took a deep breath and muttered, “I don’t have anything.” Blake sighed and rubbed his temples with his index and middle finger while keeping one hand on the wheel.
“All Hunters go through a time where their powers come in waves. Sometimes you have them, sometimes you don’t. Eventually you’ll have access to them at all times.” He explained. I nodded.
“You seem to know a lot about the Hunters.” His grip tightened on the steering wheel.
“I once prided myself in killing them. I enjoyed learning everything I could about them. Strengths, weaknesses…Blood type.” He said darkly. I swallowed noisily, “Blood type?” I saw his jaw clench and then relax.
“Yes. AB positive. Every one of them.” He murmured. That was my blood type.
“I doubt that’s something one displays. How do you know? Can-can you just tell by scent?” I heard myself ask. He shook his head.
“It’s difficult to tell by scent. But unmistakable by taste.” he whispered in a strained voice. I don’t know why he was getting so worked up over this Hunter info. conversation; but I didn’t like the tension in the air.
I took a deep breath. “Well I can see that you’re having trouble talking about this subject so I think I’m just gonna shut up now.” I said. Blake glanced quickly at me then returned his gaze to the road. I briefly noticed that we were almost to my house.
“You’re right, this is a tender subject for me but I can hardly blame you for being curious.” I sighed.
“Then why do I feel like my utter ignorance on the subject is annoying you?” I asked sadly. He sighed and relaxed his grip on the steering wheel. I could see finger-shaped dents in the metal where his hands were.
“Have you ever been in class and there was a concept that nobody grasped but you, and the teacher kept on going over it?”
I nodded, “So I am annoying you.” I said. “Well if you insist on annoying me…” He muttered.
“Okay, okay. I’m shutting up now.” I said in surrender. “Sheesh, moody vampire.” I mumbled under my breath. We pulled into my driveway and he shut the car off. He leaned over the center console and nuzzled my neck making me shiver.
“Wanna make my mood better?” he whispered in my ear. I smiled and arched my neck. I don’t know why, it just seemed like the thing to do. He kissed my throat and I felt a bit of pressure as his teeth pressed against my skin.
This time I wasn’t scared. There was a playful air about the almost bite; it wasn’t like at the gym.

Suddenly there was a high-pitched scream and Blake sprung back into his seat. He was breathing hard through an open mouth and I could see his canines fully elongated. I looked in the direction of where the scream came from.
Phoebe was rushing down the steps and towards the car. “Sorry about…” I nodded towards Phoebe. He shook his head.
“Almost went too far. She saved you.” He mumbled. I brushed my fingers against his jaw.
“You would’ve stopped yourself before anything bad happened.” I said. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew they were the right ones. He turned his head to kiss my hand.
“You think?” He whispered against my fingers. I smiled sweetly.
“I don’t think, I know.” I said reassuringly. Suddenly the passenger door flung open. There was Phoebe in her neon green skinny jeans and Blood on the Dance floor T-shirt. With her white-blonde, hair all spiked up with purple hair gel. She abruptly stuck her hand through the door and grabbed my face. She tilted my head from side to side.
“Phoebe, what are you doing?” I asked confusedly. She stared at me hard.
“Just checking for bite marks.” She said. Then she looked at Blake, “No offense.” He waved off the comment and opened the drivers’ side door.
I got out too when Phoebe let go of my face. I shut the door and before I could take a step up the driveway, Phoebe pressed a silver locket to my forehead that she most certainly took off a chain in my jewelry box. I sighed and removed Phoebe’s hand from my head. “Phoebe, please stop. In case you hadn’t noticed I am still wearing the necklace I bought.” I said in a matter-of-fact voice.
Her eyes fell to my neck. “Oh…right.” I saw Blake raise a hand to shield his eyes as the clouds opened up to reveal the sun. I walked over to him and said, “We should probably go inside.” He nodded.
All three of us started towards the front door of my house. Phoebe came up behind me, “I saw him bite you in that badass car of his.” She said in a typical Phoebe-like fashion.
“Kissing Phoebe. It’s called kissing.” I said slowly.
“Oh.” She said. “Oh!” She shrieked happily jumping up and down.
“Yes kissing and almost biting. Until you screamed.” Blake whispered just loud enough for us to hear.
“What?!?” Phoebe screeched, shooting through at least three octaves. I sighed and laughed nervously.
“He’s just kidding. It was play biting, like with a dog.” I regretted the comparison immediately. Blake sighed and cleared the hair away from my neck almost unknowingly.
“That’s how it started out. But in the second before Phoebe screamed I could feel your hot pulse beneath my lips, and longed to bite.” He murmured.
Phoebe and I were staring at him. I let out a shaky breath, “I know your intention was to scare me but I’m just stuck on hot.” I said. “Ditto.” Phoebe added. He sighed and brushed his dark brown bangs off his forehead.
“You guys are probably the strangest humans I’ve ever met.” He said. Phoebe hopped over to us and scooted into the spot between Blake and I.
“I’m pretty sure Zoey and I are the strangest of any species you’re gonna meet.” She said. Blake smiled and Phoebe squealed.
“Hey Blake, can you give me a peek at those pretty, pointy, pearly whites?” Phoebe asked. Blake cast a swift glance in my direction. The question in his eyes was obvious. He was asking permission.
I nodded and pulled Phoebe back a few feet. “Just in case.” I said as she opened her mouth to ask.
I watched as Blake closed his eyes. The next moment a growl pierced the air. It gave me a serious case of goose bumps. Phoebe’s eyes were squeezed shut and she was hugging me tightly. “Phoebe it’s okay.” I said. I hoped it was true. She opened her eyes and gasped.
“By the Gods.” She whispered. I looked too and was shocked. His fangs were bared, but it was different than it was at the restaurant. His pupils were huge, his skin had gone from a nice shade of ivory to absolutely cadaverous, and he just looked so angry.
Phoebe pulled away from me, “Be careful.” I whispered. She nodded and slowly crept closer to Blake.
“Phoebe stop!” I spun around and saw Colten and Malick standing in the hallway. I heard Blake hiss. I know it sounds weak but if you’d been there you would’ve freaking peed your pants.
I forgot to be cautious and rushed over to Blake. I set my hand on his shoulder and found that he was shaking with fury. I looked over at Colten and Malick, “Why are you here?” I asked.
They looked at each other then Colten said, “We sensed a vampire and came to investigate.” I nodded.
“Okay. Well now you know it’s Blake so…Go away.” I said trying to keep my tone light.
They didn’t leave. “Get the hell out of my house!” I screamed. They still didn’t move. I threw my hands up in the air with a cry of exasperation.
“We’re not leaving until he does.” Malick said.
“Oh my God! I spent the whole night at his house and look at me, I’m fine!”
“Are you sure you’re fine? He looks pretty pissed. And pissed off vampires are not the best company to keep.” I sighed and left Blake’s trembling frame. I walked over to Colten and Malick.
“He’s only pissed ’cause you’re here. Now…Shoo!” I said.
“I don’t think Clay would want us to leave you alone with that--”
“I don’t give a damn what Clay wants!” I screamed. I turned around, dead set on just ignoring them until they left.
I walked back over to Phoebe and Blake. “So what’s the plan? We just gonna ignore ’em?” Phoebe asked. I nodded. I grabbed Blake’s hand, “Come on, we’ll just go in the living room and wait ’til they leave.” He didn’t move, he just continued to glare hostilely at Colten and Malick. I pulled on his arm.
“Please Blake. If you want to prove to them that you’re not just another soulless vampire you’ll do what I say and ignore them.” I said quietly.
Blake abruptly straightened his stance from the half-crouch he had recently been posed in. He nodded at me tersely and made a real show of ignoring the two Hunters that had barged through my door.
Blake left the hall and I heard him plunk down on the couch in the living room. “Go on Phoebe I’ll be there in a sec.” I said. She nodded and retreated to the living room.
I walked over to where Colten and Malick stood and got right up in their faces. “Okay look, I want you and your little gang of good-doers to mind your own damn business. If you try to kidnap me again I will let Blake rip your throats out. Got that?” I said and the authority in my voice made a shiver run down my spine.
“Get out of here!” I took a chance and pushed at them with both hands. They both flew backwards and banged into the wall. This must’ve been one of those waves of power Blake had been talking about. They scrambled up off the floor and left.
I exhaled slowly and smiled. I had just made two super-strong teenage guys scared. What amazed me further was that I could sense their fear but I wasn’t in the least bit scared.
I rushed into the living room and Phoebe sprung up from her recliner. “What happened? Are they gone?” She asked. I looked over at Blake sitting on the couch. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was staring blankly at the television. He had turned back into the moody vampire guy.
I stared at him and wondered why he was acting this way. It couldn’t just be because Colten and Malick were here. He’d started acting that way in the car. He was the best guy in the world all last night and now he was all broody.
I circled around the living room and plopped down on the couch next to Blake. Phoebe followed and sat down next to me. I continued to scrutinize Blake’s expression. “What happened with Colten and Malick?” Phoebe asked in a serious unPhoebe-like voice.
I shrugged and said, “Burst of inhuman strength.”
“So that bang I heard was-”
“Me shoving Colten and Malick into the wall.” I finished for her.
“Sweeeeet.” She said turning back from worried concerned friend to happy-go-lucky friend. I managed a brief smile before turning back to Blake.
“What’s wrong Blake?” I whispered. He looked away from the TV.
“Nothing. I’m fine.” He said. I gave him my yeah-right look. He squirmed in his seat. I guess my yeah-right look works on vampires just as well as it does on humans.
“I got angry okay! To show Phoebe my teeth I had to let a little of the monster leak through and when they showed up I couldn’t seal the leak before more monster got out.” He said.
I sighed and rested my head against his shoulder. He tensed for a moment and then relaxed his arm around my neck. “Nice leak metaphor and you’re not a monster.” I whispered. He bent and kissed the top of my head.
“You don’t know that.” He whispered back. Phoebe cleared her throat noisily and said, “Get a room people!” I nudged her with my elbow and said,
“You’re just jealous.” Her ears turned pink.
“Well it certainly doesn’t help to find out that the boy who has a crush on you wants to kill your best friend’s boyfriend.” She said snootily.
“What about Nate?” I said all of a sudden.
“Eh, he’s too skater boy for my taste.” Phoebe said. I shook my head,
“That’s not what I meant. And since when don’t you like skater boys?” I asked.
Phoebe sighed, “Then what do you mean? And since I tried to impress Tony Estera by getting a skateboard and trying to ride and falling on my face a lot.” She said. I laughed at the memory.
“Nate was the boy on the skateboard the day I found out you were a Hunter?” Blake asked quietly. I nodded.
“Then what about him?” Phoebe asked. I sighed.
“Colten and Malick are his best friends, do you think he knows about them?” I asked. Phoebe shrugged and grabbed the remote control off the side table closest to the end of her couch and started flicking through the 800 channels that were available on my satellite package. (Those Social Services were paying for.)
I looked at Blake, convinced that Phoebe had had enough seriousness for one day. “I wouldn’t assume so. Hunters aren’t permitted to reveal their true identity to anyone.” Wow. This was starting to sound really comic-bookie.
“Does that mean I’ve broke some super-teen law?” I asked glancing at Phoebe. She seemed completely oblivious to her surroundings. I glanced at the TV screen. No wonder, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on. She is utterly obsessed with that series, she owns every season. And she thinks that first season ‘hunk of re-ensouled vamp-candy Angel is just so yummilicious.’ Her words not mine.
I heard Blake sigh, “You’re dating a vampire. I really don’t think revealing your position of power to your best friend that also happens to be a witch is much of a big deal.” He said. I smiled. Hee Hee! Blake and I were dating! Then I realized something.
“How do you know Phoebe is a witch?” I asked. Phoebe didn’t even flinch at her name.
Blake smirked, “I can kind of smell it.” He said. Okay! Majorly disturbing! “You can smell it?!” Phoebe screeched. Looks like Buffy was on a commercial.
I watched as Phoebe sniffed her arm. I felt Blake’s frame shake with silent laughter.
“How?” I asked. He shrugged and looked down at his hands that had somehow ended up around mine.
“It has something to do with the amount of adrenaline in witches’ blood. Makes it smell different. Usually witches have ADHD so they’re really hyperactive, especially with all that magic zinging through their bodies like electricity. Good witches are rather good company to keep. And the blood of a witch…” He trailed off.
I prodded him with my finger to go on. He took a breath. “It’s as powerful as Hunters’ blood, sometimes even more so.” Phoebe and I stared at Blake, not like in the, “Oh my God you are a total creep!” way. But in the “Oh my dear sweet Goddess you are a God!” way.
He took his hands off mine and got up from the couch. “You people are so strange! Don’t you understand that I’ve done some really bad things in the past?!” His voice rising considerably. I stood up and walked over to him.
“Exactly Blake. In the past.” I said softly.
“So what, were you like some ruthless vamp in the olden days and you got cursed with a soul like Angel? Or did you like fight for your soul like Spike?” Phoebe asked suddenly her eyes still glued to the TV screen.
“My soul?” Blake whispered as he fell back down on the couch.
“What’s wrong?” I asked in a concerned voice.
“I remember every evil thing I’ve done, and I remember enjoying each one. I was hunting one night…Hunting a witch.”
By now Phoebe had muted the TV and was staring intently at Blake. He squirmed underneath our gazes. “I drank every drop of her. I killed her. She was just so sweet. So powerful. And she was only six years old, walking home from a dance studio just after sunset. I was high on her for hours. I guess her coven found out because later that night I began to regret killing her. I had never regretted killing anyone. Regret turned to guilt. Guilt turned to misery. I couldn’t believe I remembered every single thing. I tracked down the coven and begged them to reverse it but they didn’t. I even killed all of them but it didn’t help. That was the last human blood I tasted. Thirteen years ago.”
He sighed and set his head in his hands. Man oh man I do love when Blake tells stories. “Only thirteen years ago?” Phoebe squeaked. Blake lifted his head only long enough to nod then he went back to brooding.
“That’s not like Angel.” Phoebe said shaking her head. I sighed.
“Phoebe, you do know that Angel isn’t real right?” I said.
“Just because you say he’s not real doesn’t mean I can’t believe he is.” Phoebe said in a haughty voice tilting her nose in the air. “How old is Blake?” Phoebe whispered as if she thought that would keep him from hearing her.
“One hundred and ninety-eight.“ I whispered back as if I thought that could keep Blake from hearing me. “So he’s fed off of humans for the other one hundred and eight-five years?” She asked nervously and she scooted farther away from Blake even though I sat between him and her.
“Well I assume the first seventeen years of his life he ate people food.” I mumbled. She sighed.
“Fine then. He only fed off of humans for one hundred and sixty-eight years.” She said rolling her eyes skyward. “Big diff.” Phoebe paused for a moment then launched into a serious psycho-babbling fit.
“Technically it was thirty years he didn’t drink human blood but only the thirteen previous years actually count because the seventeen years before he became a vampire he was simply human and didn’t have to worry about keeping the monster in check, but in the past thirteen years he’s had to endure the smell of human blood all around him and he feels too racked with guilt about everything he’s done in the past and he vowed never to taste another drop of human blood for as long as he lives-which could be a very long time-so he’s too afraid to take a bite out of a paradise that lurks within the veins of every human he meets. But animal blood isn’t enough and it’s getting harder everyday to withstand the smell of blood and--”
I clamped my hand over Phoebe’s mouth. Wow, her run-on sentences sure were getting annoying. “Thank you.” She mumbled breathlessly against my hand. I removed my hand and patted her on the shoulder. I brushed my fingers against Blake’s arm.
“Are you okay?” I whispered.
“Yes. I should get home.” He said suddenly standing up. He was almost to the door by the time I stood up. I sped down the hallway and towards the door. I caught Blake just as he was reaching for the handle.
“You don’t have to leave.” I said. He turned to look at me and whispered, “I don’t have to but I probably should.” I squinted my eyes as I looked into his face,
“Why?” I asked. He sighed deeply, “You have two Hunters living in your neighborhood. It’s not such a good place for someone like me.”
“Three.” I corrected automatically. He raised an eyebrow.
“Three?” He asked.
“Amenti lives two doors down.” I said. He gave me a blank look. I sighed.
“The one who looked like an Egyptian princess.” I mumbled. It may sound like a high compliment but it’s really true. She must be related to Cleopatra or something. Her and her sister Mesektet are both gorgeous, smooth copper skin, silky black hair, big, round dark brown eyes.
“Oh that one.” Blake whispered.
“Three Hunters within walking distance of my house. Don’t you think you should stay here to protect me?” I said innocently.
“I’ll always be here to save my dear damsel in distress.” He mused softly while stroking my cheek with the back of his hand.
Coming from any guy other than Blake I would’ve found the whole ‘damsel’ thing really demeaning, but coming out of his mouth the words made my knees feel like jelly. Raspberry jelly to be specific.
“Why don’t you just stay until dark?” I asked quietly. Blake smirked.
“But isn’t nighttime when you need the most protection?” He inquired. I smiled and brushed my fingers against his arm.
“Then maybe you shouldn’t leave at all.” I whispered. Blake caught my hand in his.
“You do drive a hard bargain.”
“Well I was captain of the debate team in eighth grade.” Oh my Gods! Did those words just come out of my mouth? It was true sure, but the debate team is for geeks. Ah, what the hell? Let him think I’m a geek. I think debate team is cool.
“Debate team huh?” I shrugged and nodded. “Another interesting piece of the puzzle that is Zoey.” He said. HA! I knew he wouldn’t think it was dorky.
“Puh-lease people! You’re making me nauseous!” Phoebe yelled. I looked back at her and rolled my eyes.
“Do you really have to leave?” I asked once again. Blake smiled and cupped his hand around the nape of my neck. He planted a quick kiss on my mouth, his lips drifted to my ear and he whispered, “I will stay as long as you want me.” I ran my fingers through his hair and said, “Well then I guess you’re never leaving.”
Blake’s smile widened and I noticed that his teeth had turned back to normal. Now he looked like your average, ordinary, everyday really hot guy.
Suddenly a gagging sound erupted from behind us. I glanced back and saw Phoebe holding her stomach and making false vomiting sounds. I rolled my eyes and hopped over to her.
“You are so jealous.” I said poking at her spiky hair. It was stiff with gel but it looked wicked cool with all the purple streaks in her long-ish, flared pixie cut, radioactive blonde hair.
She sighed wistfully. “Oh woe is me!” She said placing the back of her hand to her forehead. She fell backward into my arms and closed her eyes in a mock faint. It wasn’t actually any trouble holding her up. She was short and skinny. I think she weighed about fifty pounds.
Phoebe opened one blue eye and drew in a shaky breath. “If only my dearest Vladimir were to walk through the door with a dozen calypso orchids and a glass of O pos.” Her eye drooped shut again and she sighed loudly. I pushed her up into a standing position.
She peeked through half closed eyes. “O pos?” I asked. Phoebe opened her eyes the rest of the way, grinned broadly, and nodded.
“Need a hearty snack for my Pravus beau.” I raised an eyebrow.
“And the orchids?” I asked. Phoebe shrugged, “You know Calypso’s are my favorite.” I sighed.
“You only like Calypso’s ‘cause that’s the name of the goddess in The Pirates of the Caribbean,” I said.
“So. They’re pretty.” She whispered. I looked back at Blake who I’d seemed to have forgotten but couldn’t possibly be capable of that in a gazillion years. He was watching Phoebe and I with an intrigued expression. I giggled nervously.
“She’s right. We are the strangest…beings you’re ever gonna meet.” I said.
“Well the strangest people are normally the best.” He insisted. I nodded and said, “I can totally believe that.” Phoebe was staring expectantly at the front door. I smiled sadly and pat her on the shoulder. “I don’t think Vlad’s coming sweetie.” I said softly.
Blake cleared his throat. “Can I ask who Vladimir is?” He asked coming away from the door. I sighed and began to explain.
“Vladimir Tod is a half-vampire, half-human, fictional character. Supposedly, he can’t be killed. Not by sun, or wooden stakes, or garlic.”
Blake raised an eyebrow, “Garlic? Wooden stakes?” He asked the hint of a smile lighting up his face.
“I take it those things have no affect on you.” I said.
“Uh garlic…no affect except stinky breath. If the stake was silver though…through the heart and it could be lethal.”
What he had said about the garlic made me smile but what he said about the silver stake instantly made that smile dissipate.
Blake forced a smile and pulled me into a hug. “How many people run around with silver stakes in their pockets though hmm?” He asked smoothing his hands down my hair.
I pulled away from him and held my hands flat against his chest. “Let’s think…twelve deranged super teens that are looking for vampire’s to kill.” I murmured. He covered my hands with his own and grinned mischievously.
“Don’t worry about me, love. You saw what happened to the Hunters the last time we met.” I smiled.
“You mean how you went all ’grrr’ and kicked the crap out of them?” I mumbled.
“Precisely.” Blake said. “It would do you no good to worry about me.” I grinned.
“Isn’t that what I should be saying?” A corner of his mouth lifted in a smirk and he hugged me nice, tight, and close.
I pressed my face into his shoulder and breathed in his peculiar scent. Peculiar and amazing. He kissed my cheek softly, then my jaw line, and finally he placed a small kiss on my neck.
His lips hovered there and I heard him whisper, “I still can hardly believe how good you smell.” I didn’t know if that compliment was good or bad. Half of me felt like I should back away (the sensible half) and the other half wanted to stay glued to Blake for as long as humanly possible even though he was about a quarter of a centimeter away from biting into my very exposed jugular.
“What’d it be like to take a taste?” I heard him mumbled nearly incoherently. Though Blake had fed just a day and a half ago, the scent and sound of my blood rushing through my veins made Blake’s canines elongate fully and I swear I heard his stomach growl, but still I didn’t back away.
His lips parted and I felt his teeth press against my skin. Suddenly Blake and I were wrenched apart and I banged into the wall. “Ow.” I groaned rubbing the back of my head where it had hit the wall.
Blake had almost bitten me for the third time since I’d known him. I stood up slowly and my hand automatically drifted to my neck. I looked at Phoebe, she had a panicked expression splattered across her face and she had her arms held out to the side. I looked to the doorway and saw Blake. His back was to the door and it looked as if he were straining to push himself away from it.
Phoebe dropped the arm that was pointing towards me to her side but kept a good amount of her concentration focused on Blake.
“I get that you’re a vampire and to me that usually equals cool, but I also get that you’re dangerous. If you ever try to take a bite out of my best friend again against her will. I will have absolutely no problem injuring you so severely that it will take even you weeks to heal. Got it?”
Wow! Phoebe sounded like so scary right now. I didn’t know if I should be mad or thankful. I mean she did just threaten to hurt my boyfriend. (Hee! Hee! Blake’s my boyfriend!) But she also just saved my life or at least she saved me from being seriously wounded.
Blake’s head dropped in shame and I felt a silent promise emanate from him. A promise that he would never try to hurt me ever again. The promise was directed at me as well as at Phoebe and none of us knew that this promise would not be kept.
She dropped her arm and Blake fell gracelessly from the door. “I think I should leave now.” Blake said in a hoarse whisper that was so quiet I wasn’t quite sure how I’d heard it.
He opened the door and I said in a shaking voice. “I think that’s a good idea.” I blinked and he was gone. I ran to the door and peered out to the driveway. His car was gone too.

“Are you okay Zo?” Phoebe asked. I nodded and closed the door. She patted my shoulder and said, “I’m sure after a while things will get better.” I quietly shut the door and rested my head on the cool wood.
“No Phoebe, I don’t think they will.” She gave me a confused look. I sighed and said, “Whenever Blake and I get close we run into this problem. He pulls away if it get’s too bad but what would happen if he didn’t catch himself in time?”
She shrugged and said in the usual straightforward fashion of Phoebe, “Well I’m sure that he’d stop before he killed you.” I looked at her and frowned.
“That really doesn’t help Pheebs.” She grinned and said, “Just telling it how I see it.” I fought to smile back but my lips just would not work.
“Yeah I know.” Phoebe’s grin grew, “What about that wicked display of power back there? That was pretty radical right?”
This time the smile came with ease. “Yeah I can’t believe you did that. How did you?” She scoffed, “I was standing right there Zo. I could hear everything Blake was saying even that bit when he was wondering what it’d be like to take a taste. It was a reflex.”
I smirked, “Pretty wicked reflex.” I stated. Phoebe squealed, “Tell me about it!” She paused for a moment before saying, “If only I could learn to do it on purpose.” I shrugged and said, “Yeah that would probably help.”
She took a step back from me and took a deep breath. “Okay, here we go.” She breathed in deeply again and closed her eyes. She lifted her arms slowly and I gasped.
“Holy crap!” the words left my lips before I could stop them. Phoebe slowly opened her eyes being careful not to startle her concentration. Her eyes widened and she fought to keep her focus.
Every object within a five-foot radius of Phoebe was hovering at least six inches above the surface it was originally settled on. “Oh my God Phoebe! That’s amazing!” She slowly lowered her arms and the things that were floating gently fell back to solid ground or table.
“By the Gods! Am I the bomb or what?” Phoebe shouted. “You are the bomb indeed mistress witchy-pants.” I said bowing low to the ground. Phoebe returned my bow.
“Thank you for acknowledging madam Vamp-Lover.” Then we launched into a fit of much needed giggles.
We found our way back to the living room and flopped down on the couch. When we ceased laughing Phoebe asked, “What’d you wanna do now?” I looked at her and said, “Honestly, I wanna go find Blake and tell him that I’m not mad at him for almost biting into my neck.” Phoebe gave me a bit of a sideways look.

“You’re not mad at him?” She asked. I shook my head. “Well I am.” She said.
“Why?” I asked. Her expression was incredulous, “Of course I’m gonna be mad at the vamp that tried to chow down on my best friend.” I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat.
“I kind of feel guilty.” I said.
“Guilty? What for?” She asked. I shrugged, “That’s the thing, I don’t know.”
“Okay, well you can go find Blake and I’ll just sit here and be pissed at him ‘cause that’s what I do.”
“I’ll be back in a little bit then.” I said and I got up from the couch. I rushed through the living room, hallway and then through the front door.
I jumped down the steps but stopped abruptly when I saw Blake sitting on the first step. I nearly fell over on top of him because of my quick stop. He turned to look at me and he couldn’t help but crack a smile. I hastily righted myself and I sat down on the bottom step beside him.
“You didn’t leave?” I asked him softly.
“Actually I did. You’ll notice my car is missing.” he said stonily gesturing towards my driveway. The only car there was mine.
“Why’d you come back?” I asked. His shoulders slumped forward and he ran a distracted hand through his hair, momentarily clearing his dark bangs from his forehead.
“I just-I had to apologize. I can’t believe I got that close. You don’t know how sorry I am.” he said somewhat nervously. I scooted closer to him and wrapped my arms around him in a hug.
“I was never angry.” I murmured soothingly. He disentangled himself from my grasp and moved to sit on the other side of the long step.
“Don’t. Just please…don’t.” he begged. I was kind of getting freaked out. Blake’s hunger seemed way out of control. Even the briefest of my touches seemed to set him off. I just didn’t get it. He was completely fine all last night and then he changed personalities from fun, flirty, and somewhat cocky to brooding, seductive, and somewhat dangerous in a matter of hours. It was like we’d gone back to the night he’d tried to kill me, or the night in the gym.
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked, trying so hard not to sound accusatory.

“Nothing. I’m just…” He trailed off as he wrapped an arm around his abdomen and doubled over. A crease appeared between my eyebrows. What was that supposed to mean? Was he in pain? What was wrong? He stayed locked in that position for about half a minute before sighing and straightening up.
He looked tentatively at me and forced a smile on his face. “I’m fine Zoey. Really.” he assured me. Uh huh. Right. I rose a stark eyebrow, “Okay, I know you’re all cunning with your obvious vampire-ness," I said, waving an airy hand at him. “but you are a terrible liar.”
He sighed and dropped his head so that it seemed he was focusing intently on the cracks in the cement. The way his dark brown hair hung down in his face made him look so emo and so hot. “How do you do that?” He asked. My brow creased in confusion.
“Do what?” I asked.
“See through all my pretenses so easily? No matter how hard I try to hide something you seem to know that something is wrong.”
I moved across the short space between us until I was so close to Blake our arms were touching. He breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly. I twisted my arm around his and rested my head on his shoulder. “It’s a gift.” I whispered.
He bit down on his bottom lip and turned his head away from me. “It’s not really fair how you seem to read my mind and I never know what you’re thinking.” He said with his head still turned in the opposite direction.
“Do I hurt you when I’m close?” I asked softly. He turned back to face me and set his arm around me, pulling me even closer.
“Of course not.” He replied sincerely, but I could tell his answer wasn’t a truthful one.
“You’re lying.” I stated. Blake groaned and backed up two steps closer to my house. I turned around to look at him. He gripped the edge of the concrete step until his knuckles turned white and the rock crumbled beneath his fingertips.

“Yeah, it kind of hurts being around you. But I can handle it.” he said. I didn’t really like the idea that my very presence was causing Blake pain.
“Hurts you like how?” I asked, though I thought I already knew how. He pulled his knees into his chest and wrapped his arms around himself. He looked emo. I dig that!
“Imagine not eating anything for a week only times about a hundred.” He said looking straight over my head.
Wow. I could barely imagine not eating for a week but times a hundred. Must be hell. Blake took a quick breath and continued, “Now imagine someone puts your favorite food right in front of you but they don’t allow you to eat it.” Sounds like Blake’s got some serious hunger pangs.
Suddenly I felt guilt ram me in the chest. I was Blake’s favorite food. I was putting him through hell. “I’m sorry.” I whispered breathily. He smiled, “It seems every time I come here you’re apologizing for something.” I looked down at my hands pensively.
“I have a lot to apologize for.” I said. He got up from the step he was sitting on and plunked down beside me with a groan that was near a growl.
“You have nothing to apologize for. If anything, you should be angry with me. The guy who has trouble deciding whether he views you as a girlfriend or a food source. I’m the one who needs to apologize.”
The intensity and anger in his voice scared me. But it also kind of turned me on. Yeah…I’m kind of disturbed. I saw him rub his head as if it hurt. I touched his wrist and he let me pull his hand away from his head. “Here let me try this.” I said. I climbed up to the step above Blake and sat down cross-legged.
I took my index finger and middle finger on both hands and placed them gently to Blake’s temples. I massaged his head in small circles and I could feel some of the tension in his body ebb away. I watched him close his eyes and let out a slow breath.
“You cannot possibly know how good that feels.” He mumbled nearly inaudibly. “Mm hmm.” I answered. I saw his shoulders rising and falling in a steady rhythm, in perfect synchronization with his breathing. It wasn’t like the choppy breathing he was doing before, when he had to be careful with every breath. It was strong…healthy.
“How’d you learn how to do that?” Blake asked in a weirdly calm voice. “My mom and my grandma.” He let out a laugh.
“Well thank you Zoey’s mom and grandma.” He said gratefully. I beamed and continued to work the tension from Blake‘s body.
“My grandmother owned an apothecary up somewhere in the Palamo Mountain Range. She grew most of her own herbs and I loved helping out.” I smiled at the memory. “She knew the human body like the back of her hand. Everything about pressure points, how to numb pain, cure seasickness, release tension, relieve stress, even kill someone. She taught me a few things.” I said.
“Any chance you know a pressure point that can get rid of hunger?” He asked hopefully. I sighed and moved one of my hands from his head to stroke his cheek with my fingers.
“’Fraid not sweetheart.” I said and I bent down to kiss him gently on the cheek.
He turned his face towards me just in time for his lips to brush the corner of my mouth. “You smell so good.” Blake whispered against my cheek. I immediately began pulling away from him. Slowly as to not stir the air around us too much.
“Sorry.” He whispered yet again.
“Don’t be. It’s not your fault.” I insisted. He began rubbing his head as if it had begun hurting again as soon as I’d stopped. A sudden thought entered my mind and I knew I just had to speak it aloud.
“Didn’t you just feed yesterday?” I asked. The word ’feed’ came out of my mouth easily today. He looked at me with a bemused expression and answered, “Yes.” I shook my head in befuddlement.
“Then why are you so starving all of a sudden?” I asked. He sighed and looked out across the street.
“Most normal vampires feed two or three times a week on fresh human blood. I have to feed daily because I drink…Cattle’s blood. From a butchers.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and asked, “Why do you sound so ashamed?” He stood up and began pacing back and forth across my driveway.

Because I am ashamed!” He said, probably a whole lot louder than necessary. “Drinking the blood of animals is shameful! And quite frankly it’s disgusting!” He was pacing faster and faster. So fast in fact that he seemed to be blurring around the edges. That’s when I noticed his eyes. They weren’t that soft silvery gray they were the night before, they were dark gray almost the color of pencil lead. They were almost black.
He sat down on the step and rested his head in his hands. (EMO MOMENT!) “What’s wrong?” I asked. He didn’t answer just stayed locked in his moody silence.
“Blake, you know you can talk to me.” I said softly. He looked up at me, “You want to know the truth?” He asked. No lie to me. Of course, I want the truth! I almost said that but instead I nodded. “I’m in love with a human that’s also a Hunter. Her blood calls to me louder than anyone else’s. I’m starving and my head hurts like crazy. You want more?”
I didn’t know if I should be upset or happy. He just told me that he loved me…sort of. But he also just told me that the fact that he loved me was part of what was wrong with him.
“So cattle’s blood. It’s not enough is it?” He glanced briefly at my throat and grabbed at his stomach in a spasm of pain. The Thirst hurts. It hurts so bad. I could literally hear his stomach rumbling with hunger.
“No, it’s not.” He said in a husky voice. We sat there for a moment in a bit of a dramatic silence. But I’ve never been one for dramatics.
“So. You know what I think you should do?” I asked patting him reassuringly on the knee. He tilted his head to the side in question. “You should go home. Maybe get a little something to eat.” I said sweetly and with a -no doubt- annoyingly chipper smile. He smiled at me. His canines were long, sharp, and completely exposed but still the sight was undoubtedly breathtaking.
I smiled back. “Seriously dude. I can hear your stomach growling.” I said and I poked him in the belly. I don’t really know why, it was a weird impulse.
He grabbed my wrist and unfolded my fingers so that my hand lay flat against his abs. He closed his eyes and guided my hand upward across his stomach, his chest, and his neck. It may not seem like much but he allowed me to feel him. Just that fact made my heart pick up double time and the little fangirl in my head scream with delight.
When my hand reached his face, he breathed in the scent on my blood at my wrist and kissed the palm of my hand. He pressed his cheek into my hand. His skin was so cold. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re technically dead. He sighed deeply. “You’re so warm.” He whispered. I could hear the longing in his voice. I wasn’t sure if it was longing for my blood or my body. Maybe it was both.
Suddenly the front door opened, “Zoey?” I heard Phoebe call my name. Blake sighed and opened his eyes. I looked up at her. She smile nervously and said, “Sorry if I’m uh, interrupting. But you didn’t grab your keys.” She crossed her arms over her chest, “I guess you didn’t need them.” she continued coldly.
Her frigid attitude wasn’t directed at me (thankfully) it was directed at Blake. She was doing the whole “over-protective best friend” thing. “Thought you left.” She said icily to Blake.
“I did.” Blake replied. He squeezed my hand gently before letting it go then he turned a charming smile on Phoebe.
She blinked a few times as if he had crashed her train of thought then asked, “Why’d you come back?” He shrugged nonchalantly.
“I felt the need to apologize.” he said smoothly. She unfolded her arms and placed them on her hips.
“Did you?” She asked skeptically. He nodded once in confirmation.
“Good.” She said without the slightest hint of a smile. Blake squirmed slightly under Phoebe’s hard gaze and let out a nervous laugh.
“I guess I’ll see you later Zoey.” He said, and he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before standing up.
“Bye.” I said dreamily, as I rubbed the spot on my cheek where his lips had touched. He started down my street at a human pace. “Oh!” Phoebe exclaimed and she began running after him.
When she caught up to him they were well out of earshot. I saw him turn around at her approach and Phoebe set her hands on her hips with her normal Phoebe-tude. I guess she asked a question because Blake offered her a nod in return.
Man I so wished I could hear them. I was tempted to get up off the step I was sitting on and join their conversation. I strained harder to hear and suddenly the sound of everything flooded into my ears, I could hear people talking in their houses on the other side of the neighborhood. I could hear Phoebe’s heart beating though she was at least sixty yards away. I could hear the insects crawling in the earth. But more importantly, I could hear the conversation that was going on between her and Blake.
“If you ever hurt Zoey in any way I will beat you to death with a silver shovel. Got me?” She asked seriously. I saw Blake nod. “Promise me out loud, Blake.” She said prodding him hard in the chest with her index finger.
“You have my word that I will never hurt Zoey in any way.” he promised her in a dead serious voice.
“You’d do well to remember this conversation.” She said poking him once more. Phoebe pulled her hand back quickly as if she though Blake would bite her fingers off if she kept her hands there longer than she had to and turned around in a huff to walk back to my house.
“What were y’all talking about?” I asked Phoebe as my hearing faded back to normal.
“Stuff.” She answered vaguely. I stood up and followed her back into my house.
“You didn’t have to be so mean to him.” I said quietly.
“I wasn’t.” She said as if she’d been offended.
“So you didn’t tell him that if he every hurt me you’d beat him to death with a shovel?” I asked. She stared at me open mouthed.
“H-how did you hear that? We were like a gazillion feet out!” She exclaimed. I touched my ear and said, “Super hearing Pheebs!” She grinned, “That is so cool!”
I groaned, “You’re changing the subject.” She sighed, “I didn’t mean to be mean, but the dude almost sank his teeth into my best friend’s neck. I’m sorry to say this Zoey, but you’re starting to look like the idiotic meal again.”
We walked down the hallway and into the living room. Phoebe sat down gently on her recliner and I flopped down on the couch flinging my legs up on the other side. We were silent for a bit until Phoebe sighed loudly and finally spoke, “I’m sorry for threatening you boyfriend. Do you forgive me?” She gave me her best puppy dog face, pouty lip and all.
I sighed. I’ve always been a sucker for the puppy dog face. “Yes I forgive you.” I said hopelessly.
“Yea!” She shrieked as she jumped up from her recliner and tackled me in a hug. I pushed her off me and she sat cross-legged on one of the couch cushions.
“So about that super hearing?” She asked curiously.
“What about it?” I replied. She let out an exaggerated groan.
“What did you hear?” She inquired. I shrugged.
“Everything.” I answered. She frowned at me, “Like everything ‘everything’?”
“Well no not everything. But I could hear people talking on the other side of the neighborhood as clearly as if they were standing right in front of me. I could hear heart beats three blocks away. It was pretty rad.”
“Whoa.” Phoebe stated her eyes bugging at least four times bigger than normal.
“So can you still hear everything?” She asked, her hand drifting absentmindedly to her heart. I shook my head, “Nope, the only heart beat I hear now is mine.”
“So far you’ve experienced super strength and super hearing.” She ticked my Hunter powers off on her fingers.
“And super speed.” I corrected automatically.
“What? When?” She asked. I shrugged, “At the mall I guess.” her eyes widened. “You guess?!” She squealed.
“Cool your jet’s Pheebs! It was nothing.”
“Nothing?!” She said, her voice edging higher up the scale.
“Well I had that weird feeling you get when someone’s watching you and I kept turning around and no one was ever there so the last time I turned everything blurred and I caught Blake before he could hide.” I said like the fact that he was bordering on stalking me was completely normal.
She nodded, “Well I guess that explains why I didn’t notice. I was too busy shopping.”
“It was easy to miss. I’d wager I was moving so quickly no one could see.” I said. She smiled hugely, “That’s wicked cool!”
Suddenly the doorbell rang. Phoebe pursed her lips and turned her head towards the door. “Wonder who that could be?” She asked. I shrugged.
“Let’s check it out.” I suggested. Phoebe and I walked down the hallway to the front door. Phoebe stood on her tiptoes and peered through the peephole.
“Who is it?” I whispered. Phoebe looked at me with one eyebrow raised in suspicion.
“Well it’s not Blake if that’s what your wondering.” She said.
“I wasn’t wondering that.” I said defensively. The truth was I wasn’t only wondering I was hoping. Phoebe grabbed the doorknob and pulled open the door.
In the doorway stood Phoebe’s mother. She gave a weak smile. “Can I come in?” She asked tentatively. Phoebe gave me a quick look. I nodded. Phoebe looked back at her mom and said, “Yes.”
Her mom nodded and stepped through the door. I closed the door behind her. “Oh Phoebe I’m so sorry.” She said and she grabbed her daughter in a tight embrace.
“It’s okay mom.” Phoebe said patting her on the back. A small sob escaped from her mother.
“I should’ve said something when your father came here. And I should’ve told you what you were before something dangerous happened.” She said. Phoebe pulled away from her.
“You knew? You knew I was a witch?” Phoebe asked. Her mother nodded.
“Your grandmother was one too. It skipped me though.” She said somewhat resentfully.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” Phoebe asked seriously. Her mother’s eyes fell to her feet, “I had been meaning to, but the opportunity never came up. Ever since you were born, you had shown signs of power. Things falling off shelves whenever you had temper tantrums. I saw you one time alone in your room you were about two or three and you made you stuffed animals dance.”
“Really?” Phoebe asked a small smile lighting up her face. Her mother smiled too and that’s when I started to see some bit of resemblance between them.
“I want you to come home Phoebe and your father does too…deep down…I think.” Her mom said in an unsure voice. Phoebe’s slight smile disappeared at the mention of her father.
“I’m sure he does.” She muttered grudgingly. “Can I just stay here and you can come here whenever you want?” She begged.
I caught Phoebe’s eye and shook my head frantically. I couldn’t have Phoebe’s mom barging in when Blake was around. Especially if his hunger stayed so out of control. Phoebe instantly caught her mistake, “Well actually it might be best if you call first before you visit.” She added hastily.
Her mother nodded in consent, “Of course I’ll let you know ahead of time. Maybe it is best if you stay away from home for a little longer. I just wanted you to know that I’m not angry with you and that I’m sorry.” She said and she hugged Phoebe again. Phoebe hugged her back and whispered, “I know mom. I love you.” Her mom kissed her on the forehead and said, “I love you too sweetheart.”
They pulled away from each other and her mother started towards the door. I opened the door for her without saying a word.

The door shut and Phoebe collapsed to the floor. I rushed over to her. “Pheebs what’s wrong?” She shook her head.
“I’m fine. Actually I’m great.” She announced with a grin. I returned her grin.
“Just how great exactly?” I asked. She jumped up from the floor and said, “As fit as a fiddle!” As the words left her mouth a violin appeared out of thin air and she caught it before it fell.
Her and I exchanged glances and she laughed. “I totally did not mean for that to happen!” She exclaimed. She plucked the A string and it rang in perfect tune. She looked at me confusedly.
“What am I supposed to do with it now?” She asked. I shrugged.
“Keep it if you want. Or make it go away.” I answered simply. She raised an eyebrow.
“Make it go away? How do you propose I do that?” She asked skeptically. I shrugged again, “Tell it to go away.” She rolled her eyes.
“It’s an instrument Zoey not a dog.” She said. I ran over to her and the violin.
“Yes, but it’s a magical instrument.” I said waving my hands in the air as I said ‘magical’. Phoebe looked down at the instrument. It was kind of pretty.
“Fiddle I command you go away.” She said in a very official sounding voice. The violin disappeared from her hand and as it did she gasped, “Holy Crap!”

I laughed. “You’re gonna be as powerful as Willow soon!” I said. In case you don’t know “Willow” is one of the witches from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Phoebe jumped up and down and shrieked, “I know right!” She stopped jumping suddenly.
“Let’s just hope I don’t get addicted and go all black eyed b**** on everyone.” She said covering her eyes. I patted her shoulder, “Even if you do, you know I’ll bring you back. Just like Xander did.”
She hugged me, “Good!” My brow creased and I frowned. Phoebe let go of me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I sighed and looked at her in exasperation. There was a feeling in my chest that I didn’t like. It felt like something was missing.
“I miss Blake!” I whined pitifully. She rolled her eyes at me, “You are so addicted to that boy. Why don’t you call him?” I pushed out my bottom lip.
“I don’t have his number.” I said in a whimpery voice. I left the hallway and sat down on the couch in the living room. Phoebe followed me and sat down in her recliner.
“Yes you do.” She replied. I gave her a confused look, “I do?” She nodded.
“He called you before you’re guys date so that means his number is in your phone somewhere.” A sudden smile sprung to my lips.
“You’re right!” I shouted. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and scrolled through my past calls. There was Phoebe and then there was a number that I didn’t recognize. It had to be Blake because I had names for all the other numbers in my phone.
I pressed the call button and put the phone to my ear. After two and a half rings a voice answered, “Hello?”
“Hi!” I replied. Wow! My voice sounded way too perky.
“Zoey?” He asked. I think I could hear the grin in his voice.
“Yeah.” I said, and I felt a smile creeping onto my face as well.
“Hey sweetheart, what’s up?” He asked. His voice sounded so carefree. And the ‘sweetheart’ thing made me blush fiercely.
“I missed you.” I said innocently. I heard him laugh.
“I’ve only been gone for like an hour…” He trailed off. At first, I thought he was done talking but something told me to hold my tongue. Something told me he wasn’t finished speaking. “It may sound silly but I miss you too.” He said somewhat sheepishly.
“You wanna come over?” I asked.
“You know I do. But I’m not sure I’m wanted.” He replied.
“Of course you’re wanted, Blake. I want you.” I said, all but forgetting that Phoebe was sitting not five feet away from me.
“I want you too. But I’m not sure Phoebe likes me much.” He answered. I glanced quickly at Phoebe and talked quietly into the phone.
“It’s my house. If I want you here she’ll just have to deal with it.” I said stubbornly, but not denying that Phoebe didn‘t like him..
Phoebe gasped. “I can’t go home so for the time being this is my house too.” She said snootily. I ignored her.
“I don’t remember the way to your house…or do you wanna meet somewhere in between?” I asked sweetly.
“You and me, tonight at the lake. I hear it’s gonna be a clear night. Full moon too. Should be beautiful.” His words made my heart flutter hyperactively.
“What time?” I asked. “Sun sets in twenty-six minutes. How about seven?”
“I’ll be there.” I said.
“Good. I love you Zoey.” He said in a steady voice. My heart thumped heavily.
“I love you too.” I answered. Then the line went dead. I closed the phone and checked the time on the outer screen. Holy crap! It was 6:42pm! “I have to go!” I shouted.
I leaped up from the couch and sped up the stairs my cell phone still grasped in my hand. I rushed to my bathroom and turned the shower on. I got undressed and quickly jumped into the hot rain. Really hot in fact. I almost jumped back out of the shower but enough sense was left in my brain to turn the heat down and stay put.
I washed my hair but didn’t condition it and shaved my underarms. I scrubbed my whole body with a sponge and rinsed off. I turned the water off and stepped out onto the tile. I hastily dried myself off and wrapped the towel around my body. I glanced at my cell phone, which I had left on the counter and saw that it was now 6:50pm. I jumped into hyper-drive.
I rushed into my room and got into the top drawer on my dresser. I dropped the towel and put on a pair of clean boy short underwear and a bra. I ran to my closet and tore through the clothing. I finally settled on a pair of hole-less jeans and a black fitted T-shirt that said, ‘3 part sinner, 1 part saint’. In sinuous silver script.
I shoved a pair of old flip flops onto my feet and hurried down the stairs. Phoebe was still sitting in her recliner when I came into the living room. She looked up at me. “That was fast.” She stated. I grabbed my purse off the floor and rummaged through it. I took out the comb I always kept and yanked it through my still wet hair.
I replaced the comb and grabbed another one of the wisp toothbrushes I bit it and cleaned my teeth. I threw the toothbrush into the trashcan at the edge of the hallway and slung the bag across my chest. “I’ll be back later or something.” I said as I was walking towards the front door.
“Okay, just don’t get killed by your vampire sweetheart.” She replied dejectedly. I shook my head and left the house. I ran to my car and jumped in. I stuck the key in ignition and pulled out of the driveway.
It was only two miles to the lake but it seemed that time was just having so much fun with me today. I reached the parking spaces at the beginning of the trail that lead down to the lake at 6:58. It was still light outside but the sun was sinking fast. I jumped out of my car and locked it. I placed the keys in my pocket and started hastily down the trail and I just happened to leave my purse in the car. I don’t know why I brought it anyway. The night was cooling fast and I began to regret not bringing a jacket. A couple minutes later, I reached the large clearing and the beach.
The sand was soft and white and it seemed to glow in the night. I looked around but I didn’t see Blake anywhere. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and glanced at the outer screen. It read 7:03pm. I sighed and slipped the phone back into my pocket. I placed my hands on my hips and stared out across the water. The sky was painted orange and pink as the sun sank lazily below the horizon.
What if Blake wasn’t coming? What if he thought it would be too dangerous if we were alone? What if he felt too ashamed to call and cancel and break my poor little girly heart? I felt anger and dejection settle in my chest.
“You didn’t think I’d stand you up did you?” His voice came from directly behind me and I could feel his cool breath on the back of my neck. I jumped forward and spun around. My heart was beating a mile a second as I saw his face.
“Jeez Blake, you almost gave me a heart attack!” I exclaimed. He smirked and shook his head in amusement.
“Zoey, you are far too young to have a heart attack. Your heart sounds as strong as ever.” He informed me. I cleared my throat and smoothed my hair nervously.
“Yes well, you still surprised me.” I said. He stepped closer to me and cupped his right hand around the nape of my neck.
“That was my intention.” He said softly. I tried to will my heart to stop beating so fast but it didn’t seem to want to listen and just kept on speeding up due to the close intimate contact with Blake.
He leaned in slowly and pressed his soft lips against mine. I think at one point during this kiss my heart actually beat its way out of my chest and hovered in the space between us trying desperately to decide whether it belonged to me or to Blake. I closed my eyes and felt the tip of Blake’s tongue quickly and skillfully skim the length of my bottom lip.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed my body against his. Suddenly he pulled away easily breaking my grip around his neck. I opened my eyes to find him standing a couple feet away with his hands on his knees and he was breathing hard. I also saw that my heart was securely strapped down inside my ribcage.
I crossed my arms over my chest. I think I am done apologizing. “You okay?” I asked. He straightened up and I saw a huge carefree smile stretched across his face. It was the kind of smile that made other people smile.
“Oh yeah. I’m great!” He announced breathlessly. In a flash, he was standing right in front of me, he picked my up and spun me around once before setting me back on the sandy ground.
I grinned. “What’s got you in such high spirits?” I asked. He gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and whispers in my ear, “You.” I giggled. He has such a way with words. Then of course, I had to make things more serious.
“So you’re not hungry anymore?” I asked. His smile didn’t even waver.
“I left home and I’ll admit I wasn’t satisfied but I was…stable. But when I saw you. When I caught your scent,” he crept closer to me. “It felt like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. I was starving.” His smile grew impossibly wider. “But for what I’m still not sure.” He said.
I saw his eyes the color of thunderclouds. Significantly lighter than they were earlier today. I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him. Not a tight panicked hug but a soft embrace. He wound one arm around my waist and the other around my shoulders and gave me an unbearably sweet squeeze.
We remained in that position for a few moments before he pulled away. The sun had completely set by now and the moon was visible over the water and stars pinpricked the sky. I stood on the sand and looked at the moon. I could feel her power wash over me. It was like a giant white eye that took watch over the world after the sun set.
Blake sat down and held out his hand for me. I didn’t hesitate this time. I plunked down on the ground and slid my hand underneath his and I could feel the fine sand shift around my fingers. “Zoey,” he whispered. I turned to face him.
“What?” I asked with a slight smile. He touched my neck with his cool fingers.
“Do you think I’m being selfish?” He asked as he dropped his hand back into the sand.
I raised an eyebrow in confusion, “Selfish? For what?” I asked. He looked down at our hands intertwined and sighed, “For putting you in danger just because I don’t think I could live without you.” I grinned though his tone was serious.
“Blake, do you have any idea who you’re talking too? I’m a very strange person; and this kind of danger you’re talking about…” I trailed off and shook my head at him. “I’ve only dreamed about being in this kind of danger.” I said.
He laughed. “So you’re not worried about the fact that I technically want to eat you?” I shrugged.
“Well, I don’t wanna die if that’s what you mean but the whole, ‘I’d love to mercilessly devour you’, vampire thing is kinda sexy.” I admitted dramatically. He smirked with only the right side of his mouth and asked, “Really?” I nodded reassuringly. His smirk widened into a full-blown grin.
“Well I’ll admit that makes me feel a little better.” I leaned closer and hugged him. He suddenly dropped backwards into the sand and I fell with him. With my hands flat against his chest and a shocked expression on my face, I heard again his clear laughter. I slapped my hand against his chest, which only made him laugh harder.
“Why’d you do that?” I asked. He shrugged and smiled up at me. “What are you smiling at?” I asked.
“You.” He answered just like before. I giggled and I was thankful that it was dark enough despite the moon to hide the blush in my cheeks. “Come here.” He whispered seductively. I leaned my face closer to his until our noses were almost touching.
His arm came up and wrapped around me pressing softly on my back until I gave in and let him push me down until my head rested against his chest. I could hear his breathing but there was no heartbeat.
“Can I ask you more questions?” I asked.
“Ask away.” He said with a smile. I thought for a moment searching for the most vital.
“Why do you try so hard…to fight what you are?” I asked haltingly. My head rose as he took a deep breath. For a minute, I didn’t think he was going to answer but as always, he proved me wrong.
“Because I don’t want to be a monster.”
“But don’t you ever miss it?” I asked, and I immediately cursed myself for bringing this up but I had to know. He sighed loudly and gently pushed my arm and head off his chest. I sat up in the sand. He pushed himself up slowly and focused intently on my face.
“Do you really want to know?” I looked at the sand and thought about what I was going to say which as you’ve probably gathered I don’t do very often.
“Yes, I do want to know.” He was quiet. I rolled my eyes. “You said you’d answer my questions.” I reminded him.
“Miss what exactly?” He asked uncertainly. Well at least he was considering answering. I shrugged.
“Everything. Feeding, killing, hunting, torturing, maiming, scaring the crap out of people, feeling warm human blood gush from an open wound and down your throat and-”
He clapped his hand over my mouth. “Please stop.” He said with a strained smile. He took his hand from my mouth.
“Well do you?” I asked as soon as his hand was out of the way. He moved closer to the water and stared out across the lake. I heard him take a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“I miss it. All of it.” He whispered, and I think I could detect the slightest hint of shame in his voice.
I crawled across the sand and sat down next to him, “That’s okay you know. To want to do things you shouldn’t.” He shook his head, “But it’s wrong. I know it’s wrong and I hate myself for wanting to be able to enjoy myself again.”
I rested my hand on his shoulder. “You know, I really am trying to be disgusted by the fact you want to be able to enjoy killing people again; but the way you hate yourself for feeling that way just makes you seem all tortured soul-ish. It‘s really hot.” I said straightforwardly.
He laughed and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. He pulled me close and hugged me tight. “I love you.” He whispered. I smiled, “I know.” I sighed quietly trying to be inconspicuously but of course, Blake heard me.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“Nothing but…” I trailed off. He gave me a serious look.
“But what?” he asked. I shrugged underneath his arm.
“I feel like I’ve known you way longer than I really have. When I first saw you that night I thought you looked familiar but I couldn’t place where I saw you before. I kind of felt like I owe you something.”
He took his arm back from around my shoulders. “What happened?” I asked. I didn’t like his arm not being there.
“A lot of people say I look familiar. I just have a common face.” He said hastily. That was probably one of the biggest lies I had ever heard.
“Blake, you have possibly the most uncommon face in the entire world. And what people? You don’t talk to any people.” I said defiantly.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “I talk to plenty of people.” He insisted. I raised an eyebrow.
“Oh really, like who?” I asked.
“I talk to you and Phoebe and…” he trailed off. Caught in his own snare.
“Yeah that’s what I thought.” I retorted haughtily.

“Shut up.” He said.
“Wow, sore loser much.” I mumbled. He clamped his hand over my mouth.
“Be quiet! I hear something.” He hissed. He took his hand from my mouth.
“What is it?” I asked quietly. He stared at the sand with a staggering amount of concentration. “Heartbeats. Human heartbeats.” he whispered. I strained hard to hear what he was hearing but failed miserably. So much for Hunter abilities. He suddenly grabbed my arm and sprung up from the ground pulling me along with him.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” I asked not taking care to whisper.
“Hunters.” He growled furiously. “All of them.” My eyes widened in fear as he tugged me towards the trail that lead back to my car.
“Well maybe they’re just here to make sure you don’t hurt me or anything. Maybe they’re not here to do any damage.” He looked at me for a split second before he continues dragging me through the grass.
“Do you really believe that?” He asked. No, I didn’t believe that. I was just trying to maintain the one shred of optimism that had weaseled its way into my heart but it was immediately squashed by the weight of fear.
Sooner than I would’ve thought possible, we were back to where I had parked my car. He had the door open on the driver’s side though I was pretty sure I had locked it.
I climbed in the seat and he closed the door. I had expected Blake to get into the passenger seat but he didn’t. “Go.” He commanded me. I opened the door.
“Not without you.” I said stubbornly. He leaned through the car door and pressed his lips against mine. The kiss was hard and panicked. He pulled away too soon and forced a smile onto his face. Suddenly his eyes widened and he let out a faint gasp. That’s when I saw it. A bloodied silver blade protruding from his stomach.
I reached for his arm but-though he was only a few inches away-my hands couldn’t find him. “Leave.” He whispered the single word before falling to the ground. Behind him, I saw Clay.
Hard green eyes and a wicked grin on his face. He was enjoying this. How sick. I watched as Clay reached his arm in front of Blake and towards the blade.
Blake growled but he was in too much pain to do much more than that. Clay gripped the blade and bent it upward inciting a wince from Blake.
Clay along with others whose faces I couldn’t see began pulling Blake back towards the woods that’s when I unfroze.
“Blake!” I cried. He could barely do more than lift his head, which told me what silver did to him when not driven through his heart. As if all his strength had been taken away.
I stumbled from the car and ran towards them. Two cloaked figures wrapped their hands around my arms to hold me back. “No!” I shouted. “Why are you doing this?” I screamed. The only answer I received was the Hunters tightening their grips on my arms and Blake moaning as he was dragged into the surrounding forest that covered most of the country.
The last thing I remember was Clay returning from the woods to where I was being held hostage and smiling devilishly. I yanked my arms one final time and broke away from the Hunters holding me. I rushed towards the woods bent on finding Blake but I was stopped.
Clay’s figure blurred for a split second and this excruciating pain exploded in my head. The last though was Clay kicked me. And everything went blank. I had been knocked out…again.

When I finally came to, I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was. It was dark due to the full moon being blocked out by the dense clouds blanketing the sky.

My head ached something fierce and then I remembered why. Clay! The Hunters! Blake! I sprung up from the ground and my head reeled with dizziness. I reached out to steady myself and my hand brushed the metal frame of my car.

I dug into the pocket of my jeans and pulled out my keys. I jumped into the driver’s seat whose door was still open. I stuck the key into ignition and started the car. I glanced at the clock on the dash it said it was 2:47am. I spun the car around and started back towards my house.




“Hey Blake I thought you’d sleep the day away.” Clay said in a calm voice as he locked the final shackle around Blake’s wrist. Blake jerked forward but the mystical restraints held fast. “Hmm, so they do work.” Clay whispered, glancing fleetingly at the bindings that bound Blake’s wrists above his head and ankles to the floor. A menacing growl split the air and Blake yanked on the chains futilely.

“What’s the hurry Blake we’ve got hours?” Clay said, uncovering a table full of various silver implements. Blake gazed down at the silver and the chains rattled as he tried to pull free. “Hmm where to start?” Clay mused his hands hovering above the weapons.

“Why are you doing this?” Blake hissed threateningly, glaring hostilely at Clay.

“We need Zoey and the only way she’ll come to us willingly is if you’re out of the picture.” Blake’s eyes flicked back to Clay’s face and they were angry and panicked.

“I swear to god if you touch her I will kill you in the most painful way possible.” he snarled.

“Threats will get you nowhere Blake.” Clay picked up a silver poker from the table and twirled it between his fingers.

“Why don’t you kill me then and get it over with?” Blake asked. A small half smile appeared on Clay’s mouth.

“Now what fun would that be?” He murmured darkly.

“You are completely insane.” Blake said, shaking his head. Suddenly Clay’s fist connected with Blake’s jaw and Blake’s head whipped back from the force of the hit. Blake chuckled breathlessly as if he enjoyed the pain and asked, “Is that all you got?” Clay grabbed a hand full of Blake’s shirt collar and hissed, “You deserve to die.” Blake tried to pull away but he couldn’t, not just because of the restraints but because he couldn’t seem to look away from the angry blue vein pulsing on Clay’s throat.

He knew he needed blood to heal the wound that Clay had given him with that silver sword and he was getting kind of hungry.

“Why? Because I’m a vampire?” Blake asked smirking arrogantly his canines fully elongated.

“No.” Clay said letting go of Blake’s shirt and backing away. “Because you murdered my family.” Clay said, plunging the silver poker deep into Blake’s stomach so that it stuck out of his back. Blake cried out in pain and the smell of burning flesh and blood filled the air in the dark basement.

“I was a different person then.” Blake whispered, breathing hard.

“Person? You’re not a person.” Clay said grabbing the poker and giving it a good twist. Blake gnashed his teeth together to keep from screaming. “You’re a monster.” Clay growled. Blake’s head was downcast and his dark brown bangs were hanging in front of his face.

“I haven’t been a monster for a long time.” Blake whispered, his breathing becoming even more rapid.

“You’ve always been a monster and you always will be.” Said Clay in a soft voice.

“I’m sorry.” Blake insisted. Clay sighed, picking up another silver poker from the table. “Your apology means nothing to me. It doesn‘t bring them back.” Clay said inspecting the point on his poker. “Do you remember my little sister?” Clay asked. In fact, Blake did remember Clay’s sister, in excruciating detail. Her name was Elayne and she was the sweetest Blake had ever tasted. She was six years old and a powerful witch though she hadn’t realized it yet. He nodded and the memory of her blood running down his throat made his gums pulse with hunger and his mind ache with remorse. “She was my world. As was the rest of my family. Until you came and ripped their throats out.” With that final morbid word, Clay stuck the second silver rod through Blake’s shoulder and Blake couldn’t help but let out a howl of agony.




I pulled into the driveway and stopped the car, rushed through the front door and fought to calm my pounding heart. “Phoebe!” I cried speeding into the living room.

“What?! What is it?!?” She asked, falling off the couch where she had been dozing. I took a deep breath and the words poured from my lips so fast I could barely understand them.

“They took him Phoebe! We were on the beach talking and Blake heard something and we tried to get away but Blake wouldn’t come with me and I was distracting him and Clay had a sword and they just came out of nowhere and they-they just took him!” I screamed.

I could feel hot tears prick at the corners of my eyes. Phoebe shook her head from side to side, “Zoey slow down and explain. What happened?” My breathing was quickening to the point of hyperventilation.

Phoebe jumped up off the couch and grasped my shoulders firmly, she stared me straight in the eyes. “Tell me what happened. “

“I met Blake at the-the lake on the beach and we just sat there and t-talked and s-suddenly the Hunters appeared. Literally out of nowhere. Phoebe we have to save him.” I didn’t care that the tears began to flow.

“How are we supposed to save him?” She asked.

“I don’t know Pheebs! But we gotta go now. They could be doing only god knows what to him at this very moment!” I jolted into high gear and flew down the hallway. I shoved open the door of my dad’s old study.

There was a busted television in one corner of the room, a high tech computer sitting on a desk that I rarely used, and hanging on the back wall was a trophy case filled with a variety of fierce looking knives, daggers, and swords. Blake’s not the only one with a quirky knife collection.

“Zoey you can’t charge half-cocked into a house full of supercharged teenagers with a bunch of knives.” Phoebe cried. I opened the case and took out a double-edged steel knife. I stared at the blade trying to decide if it would do any damage to the Hunters.

“I should be able to make some kind of impact.” I murmured turning back to the case of knives trying to decide what others I should take with me.

“Zoey.” Phoebe pleaded. I grabbed a small dagger and tucked it in my belt. I turned away from the room and stepped purposefully down the hall. “Zoey.” I heard Phoebe say and she grasped my arm. I reluctantly turned to her and felt new tears spill down my cheeks.

“Zoey I’ll help you; but we have to think of a plan first.” I squeezed my eyes shut.

“Phoebe, how’s your magic coming along?” I asked in a strained voice, my eyes still closed. I felt her shrug, “If I concentrate I’m pretty sure I can do anything.” My eyes snapped open.

“Show me what you can do.” I said sternly. Phoebe stared into my eyes before taking a step back. I saw her clench her fist and cut her arm through the air. The knife I was holding flew out of my hand and stuck in the wall. I nodded quickly and reached over to yank the knife from the wall.




“Come Blake I thought you enjoyed pain.” Clay said while slowly pulling the poker out of Blake’s stomach. Blake winced. Clay wiped the traces of blood off on Blake’s now tattered shirt.

“I can see you’re angry,” Blake whispered. He lifted his eyes to Clay’s face, “but you’re an amateur when it comes to torture.” Clay’s closed fist hurtled through the air and connected with Blake’s face.

Blake chuckled and spat out a mouthful of blood. “Don’t underestimate me Blake, I’m just getting started.” Clay hissed. Blake rolled his eyes. “There are many different ways to torture someone. You of all people must know that.” Clay said picking up a silver dagger and pressing it against his own forearm.

Blake raised an eyebrow. “Self mutilation is a type of torture?” He asked. Clay smiled, “For a vampire.” The blade cut through Clay’s skin and a trail of blood spilled from the wound.

A sharp intake of breath leaked from Blake’s mouth and suddenly he felt as if he hadn’t eaten in weeks though it had only been a day. Clay smeared his fingers across the laceration and waved his fingers in front of Blake’s face. “How long has it been since you tasted human blood?” He asked smirking.

Blake’s body wrenched forward his mouth open longing for something to bite. Clay removed his hand and Blake’s teeth clamped down on empty air. “What was that about not being a monster?” Clay asked.

A chill inciting snarl ripped through the air and Blake glared belligerently at Clay’s bleeding arm. Clay snickered and wrapped a clean cloth around his arm that would be completely healed in half an hour or so. “Why do your kind love this so much?” Clay asked, glancing at his fingers.

Blake’s eyes flicked to Clay’s fingers, “Because it’s something we can never have.” Clay seemed confused by this response. Blake sighed as he began to recover from the smell of Clay’s blood,

“Don’t you see? Blood is life. Why do you think we drink it?” Blake said in a voice that plainly said that for a Hunter Clay wasn’t very smart. Clay nodded and jabbed his fingers into the wound on Blake’s abdomen that would’ve already been healed had it not been made with silver.

A fragment of the stone ceiling crumbled and fell to the floor as Blake tensed with pain. Clay removed his fingers and yanked the second silver rod from Blake’s shoulder tearing off the sleeve of his shirt.

“So I figure the more blood you lose the hungrier and weaker you get.” Clay said tapping the silver dagger against Blake’s throat singeing the vampire’s skin each time. Blake swallowed nervously because he knew that Clay was right. Clay drug the point of the knife across Blake’s throat and a bright red line trailed behind the blade. Clay sliced through the skin on Blake’s arms three times, once on the wrist, once on the bicep and once on the crease of his elbow. Then he made a series of shallow cuts on Blake’s stomach. Clay took a step back to admire his work. Thin streams of blood spilled from the cuts on Blake’s body and began forming puddles on the floor. Clay smirked. Blake’s head hung low and the smell of his own blood made his stomach scream with hunger and his throat burn with thirst.




I angrily stomped down the hallway with Phoebe trailing behind me. “So what’s the plan?” She asked. I turned my head back to face her but kept walking.
“We find where they took him, we go there, we bring Blake back. We cut down anyone in our way.” I said through gritted teeth as I handed her one of my knives. Phoebe took the knife but stopped walking.

“What about our friends like Colten and Malick?” I stopped at the door and rested my head on the shining ebony wood.

“If they try to stop me I’m not going to hesitate.” I said though I knew I’d be lucky to carry out this plan with my life intact.

I opened the door but before I could take a step outside Phoebe stopped me. “Do you know how to get wherever it is they took him?” She asked. I paused.
“No.” I whispered. Phoebe shut the door and pulled on my arm.

“Come on.” She said leading me back down the hall and to the staircase.
I tried to yank my arm back but Phoebe was stronger than me. Some Hunter I am huh? Once we were upstairs, she disappeared into her room. I sighed impatiently and started tapping my foot. She came back a moment later with a red candle, a map of Jasper Lake, and a quartz crystal on a black chord. She flew past me and hurried down the stairs. I followed.

“Pheebs what are you doing? We gotta go!” I cried. She sat down on the floor by the doorway and unfolded the map. She touched her finger to the candle’s wick and a flame sprouted from the top. She then dipped the crystal into the small pool of melted wax that formed around the candle’s wick.

“I’m scrying. Do you have anything that belonged to Blake?” Phoebe asked in a tranquil voice. My hands jumped to my pockets and I felt around in them for anything that might be of use. I pulled a black guitar pick out and handed it to Phoebe.

Yes, I took it from Blake’s house without him knowing but I felt I might need it and guess what, I was right. She raised her eyebrows as she took the pick. “He plays guitar? That is so hot.” She said smirking.

“Focus Phoebe focus!” I cried my heart begin to beat faster.

“Right!” She held the guitar pick to the string and glared at the map. The crystal began swaying madly over the different buildings in the small town. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! I kept shouting in my head. “Got it!” Phoebe said. I saw the crystal hovering pin straight over the location. I got down on my knees and looked at the map. Phoebe pointed at a point on the map. “He’s in the building complex down by the lake.” Phoebe said in a confused voice.

“Come on.” I said opening the door. She hopped up off the floor and followed me as I walked down the drive way and to my car. “Get in.” I said. I felt bad about bossing Phoebe around, but I was pleased to hear the authority in my voice ringing through the air. I sounded a lot more confident than I felt. Both Phoebe and I got into the car. I started the engine and pulled out of the driveway.

“So, we know where he is but what’re we gonna do once we get there?” Phoebe asked nervously twirling the small dagger I had handed her between her fingers. I sighed and slumped over the steering wheel.

“We figure out which building he’s in and…” I trailed off. I didn’t have the slightest idea what I should do.

Phoebe looked at me with a slight smile. “Maybe we should just play it by ear and see what happens. That’s what I do on all my exams and I’ve never gotten below a B.” I couldn’t help but smile.



Blake’s head was hanging down and his breath was coming in quick pants that really sounded more like snarls. “Hungry Blake?” Clay asked in a voice that was insanely calm. When Blake didn’t reply Clay launched forward and grabbed Blake’s face with his right hand. “You’re supposed to answer when someone asks a question Blake.” Clay growled staring into Blake’s now black eyes.

Blake licked his dry lips and strained weakly against the chains staring intensely at the pulsing arteries on Clay’s neck. “Yes.” Blake whispered.

“Good boy.” Clay said letting go of Blake’s face. Clay went back to the table and opened a small wooden box, which held two vials filled with a silvery substance and a syringe.

“That. How’d you get that?” Blake asked breathlessly. Clay smiled.

“Liquid Silver. Most potent stuff the black market has.” He said lifting a vial from the case along with the syringe. He filled the syringe with the Liquid Silver and tested it by squirting some of it on Blake’s arm.

Blake cringed as the silver burned his skin. Clay smiled again and jabbed the needle crudely into Blake’s forearm (the needle was also silver. If it wasn’t it wouldn’t have penetrated his skin) and pumped the Liquid Silver into Blake’s bloodstream.

Blake cried out in pain and jerked at the chains. He twisted his arm this way and that as the silver clawed its way through his veins. It wouldn’t kill him but the pain was so intense it would make him wish he were dead. Enough pain to drive someone insane.

He yanked on the chains with such desperation that they almost snapped. And he began screaming in a language that Clay didn’t recognize. After a few moments of Blake yammering in pain at the top of his lungs in a language that made no sense to Clay he snapped, “Would you speak English you stupid vampire!”

For a brief moment Blake forgot the pain of the Liquid Silver and glared straight at Clay his black eyes practically boring a hole through Clay’s head. “Primul sansa eu obtine, voi spinteca dumneavoastra gatlej afara!” Blake growled in a low threatening tone. Clay screamed in exasperation.

“English!” He yelled throwing his hands up in the air. Blake chuckled though he felt no hint of humor in the situation.

“Guess you forgot all about your Romanian lessons at the academy.” He said in a husky voice. Clay’s fist rammed into Blake’s stomach. Blake coughed weakly.

“How’s the silver feel hmm?” Clay asked superiorly.

“Zoey ma va salva.” Blake mumbled in pain squeezing his eyes shut. “Zoey ma va salva.” He whispered again letting his head hang low. Clay grabbed Blake’s throat.

“What are you saying?” He asked. “Zoey will save me. You dumb-ass.”
But how could Zoey save him? There was no way. Blake saved Zoey not the other way around. She was too weak, too inexperienced. She wasn’t a Hunter, not completely. If she tried to save Blake, she would be killed. But he couldn’t help but hope.

“She won’t save you. She doesn’t care about you.” Clay said in a harsh voice. “She’ll never love a bloodsucking monster like you.” The words felt like whip lashes against Blake’s skin.

“You’re wrong.” Blake whispered, and he could feel hot tears prickling in the back of his throat. Clay backed away from Blake and tilted his head to the side.
“Are you…crying?” He asked. Blake felt hot tears trailing down his cheeks.
During all the pain he had endured not one tear was shed, but when it came to Zoey, he wasn’t able to control his emotions. “I never knew you were so weak.” Clay said jabbing his finger into Blake’s chest. Just that minor contact made Blake’s skin burn and his head reel with hunger.




Phoebe and I finally reached the building complex. I turned off the engine and took a deep breath. How in the hell am I supposed to do this? I asked myself as I opened the door and hopped out into the deserted parking lot. Well what was I to expect? It was about three in the morning. Phoebe joined me in the parking lot. I looked at her, “So should we just check all the buildings?” I asked. She smiled at me.

“No need. Take my hand.” She held out her hand to me.

“What?” I asked confusedly. She grabbed my hand.

“I can use your desperation to find Blake to help me track him.” She said with a forced mischievous smile. I sighed. She shut her eyes and raised her hands to the sky as if to grab the moon. “Where are you? She whispered.

Her eyes popped open and she let go of my hand. “There.” She pointed towards an abandon warehouse at the very end of the complex. Great. Why couldn’t we find Blake in the basement of like JCPenny’s or something?

I inhaled and held my breath for a moment before letting it out. I glanced at Phoebe, “You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.” I said. She plastered a fake smile on her face and said, “And miss all the fun? Hell yes I’m coming.”

Her voice sounded confident but I could hear the fear behind it. She held out her hand towards me again like she did whenever we were in a serious situation. (Usually before exams.) I grasped her hand with a clap that sounded immensely loud in the quiet of the night.

She gave my fingers a reassuring squeeze. Phoebe was a really good person to have around when you’re going into an abandon warehouse to save your vampire beau from being maimed and killed by some overly strong teenagers.

We began walking towards the warehouse. Phoebe opened the door for me and we reluctantly entered the building. “Hi.” Came a perky voice from right in front of us. My hand automatically reached for the dagger at my belt. “So what’re you guys doing here?” Peyton asked. My hand relaxed slightly.

“Hey Peyton.” I mumbled. Okay I was kinda expecting a cavalry or something.




“Zoey.” Blake whispered barely coherent. He was so weak…so hungry. He hadn’t felt this starved in his entire existence.

“How many times do I have to tell you? She’s not coming.” The only good thing about being so starved was that Blake’s sense of smell had increased as a reflex and he could smell her. She was in the building. He couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing but she smelled really good.

Clay’s eyes widened. “No.” Blake gave Clay a wide smile exposing his fully elongated fangs. Even that small movement caused immeasurable pain.




I forced a semi-believable smile onto my face and asked, “Peyton is Clay around?” She returned my smile and this time I could see right through it.

“Um, he’s busy right now. Why?” She asked. This was getting tiring. I crossed my arms over my chest.

“Just cut the crap Peyton. You know exactly why I’m here.” I said. Her hazel eyes widened innocently and she shook her head. I pushed her aside and pulled Phoebe along with me.

Then Peyton did something I never expected her to do. She didn’t hit me or threaten me she grabbed onto my arm and screamed, “SHE’S HERE!!!!!”

I tried to shake my arm free but Peyton had a really good grip. So I just dragged her along with me ignoring her. “Phoebe where is he?” I asked. Phoebe looked around the room for a moment then said, “The basement.”

“No!” Peyton shrieked, pulling on my arm like a child that wasn’t getting her way. Malick and Colten appeared out of nowhere.

“Hey Zo!” Colten said.

“What’s up?” Malick added. I rolled my eyes.

“Why are you people being so nice?” I asked.

“‘Cause we’re your friends why else?” Malick said. I narrowed my eyes.

“If you were really her friend you wouldn’t keep trying to kill her boyfriend.” Phoebe said logically. Malick, Colten, and Peyton all exchanged guilty glances. Peyton let go of my arm.

“It’s for the best Zoey really. The Hunters need you.” She said.

“There’s a reason the Hunters are always in groups of thirteen.” Colten said. Malick nodded in agreement.

“Each Hunter has a special ability aside from the normal stuff and all those abilities together make the Hunters nearly invincible.” He informed me.

“Yeah that’s really great but I don’t have any abilities. I’m useless.” I said. Peyton smiled.

“That’s how it starts but you’ll get your powers. You know, eventually everyone does.”

“I don’t want to be a Hunter!” I pushed through them and ran for the basement. Phoebe was right behind me and Colten, Malick, and Peyton were right behind her.

We came down a hall and I ran smack into someone. I looked up and saw someone I didn’t recognize. He had dark hair that came down to his chin and skin the color of coffee with way too much creamer in it. Phoebe then rammed into my back. “Adam stop her!” I heard Peyton shout.

Within a second, the boy that must’ve been Adam had both of my wrists locked in one of his hands. I tried to jerk free but he was really strong. I heard Phoebe take a deep breath and suddenly Adam was pinned to the wall. Peyton, Malick, and Colten were floating in the air. “What the?” I turned back to Phoebe who had her arms spread wide and a panicked look on her face.

“How are you doing that?” I asked. She shook her head.

“I don’t know!” She cried.

“Well however you’re doing it don’t stop.”

“Okay!” She shouted. I headed towards the door that must be the basement.




Blake could hear her footsteps, her erratic breathing, and her fluttering heartbeat. The combination was one of the most beautiful sounds in the world to him. Clay swiped his fist across Blake’s face causing another mouthful of blood to spill from his dry lips. Clay rushed up the stairs to the door of the basement, which had no lock.




I twisted the handle but the door wouldn’t open. It was like it was being blocked or something. Then it dawned on me. Clay was blocking the door on the other side. I pushed as hard as I could but the door wouldn’t budge. I looked back to Phoebe. Her arms were trembling from exhaustion and I knew she couldn’t hold out much longer. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Didn’t help.

I pushed on the door again as hard as I could and it began moving. I could hear Clay’s shoes scraping along the floor as I pushed him along with the door. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a step each time I pushed the door a little farther open. I heard a tiny whisper. “Zoey.” It was so faint I almost missed it but I didn’t. It was Blake, he sounded desperate. I pushed the door one more time and it broke.

It snapped completely in two and hung loosely off it hinges. Whoa! Did I do that? I saw Clay and I wasn’t afraid. I shoved him hard and he fell down the stairs.

I rushed down the stairs nearly falling myself and I saw Blake. His head was hanging low, his arms were chained above his head, and his ankles chained to the floor. His shirt was so tattered it was as if he weren’t wearing a shirt at all which you know, I wouldn’t have minded if his abdomen weren’t riddled with cuts and holes.

“Hey sweetheart. ‘Bout time you showed up.” He whispered hoarsely. I smiled and rushed over toward him. I reached up to the shackles and grabbed the small knife from my belt glad that I brought it. I stuck the blade into the lock and twisted it around until the lock popped open. Then I unlocked the ones around his ankles. He fell to his knees and coughed. A mixture of blood and saliva leaked from his mouth. That worried me. A while ago, my grandmother told me that if you bleed from the mouth you’re seriously injured. But I could see signs that he had been repeatedly hit in the face so maybe that was why he was spitting out blood.

I wrapped my arm around his waist and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Zoey no. He’s dangerous.” Clay said from the corner. I glared at Clay and did something I would never have done before. I stuck my tongue out at him and helped Blake up off the floor.

He winced as he straightened up even with my help. I heard a crash up above and my thoughts drifted to Phoebe. I saw a door on the back wall that led to the outside. I dragged Blake toward the door and opened it. It opened into the dark forest with which most of Jasper Lake was filled.

We stumbled through the door and started across the leafy undergrowth. I could hear the Hunters coming down the stairs and following us.

I was increasingly aware that I had my arm around Blake’s bare torso and he wasn’t pulling away. I was also aware that we were being pursued by some super teens but I couldn’t go any faster. Blake was weak; therefore, I was supporting most of his weight. Let me tell you, it was difficult trudging through the woods with a half-conscious vampire leaning against my shoulder.

Suddenly a root sprung up from nowhere and my foot caught on it. Knowing the clumsiness of me I wasn’t able to regain my balance before the leafy undergrowth reached up to meet my body. I lost Blake and he fell away from me. My head whipped around in the darkness trying to find where he landed. I heard him groan and scurried over to the right. His left hand was pressed against one of the many wounds on his stomach. I gently pulled his hand away; his palm was stained with crimson blood.

“Are you alright?” I whispered. His head moved about a fraction of a centimeter. I took that as a yes.

“Are you?” He asked in a nearly inaudible voice.

“Yeah.” I answered, briefly noticing a scratch running the length of my right wrist leaking blood.

“You’re bleeding.” He said, turning his head away from me. The fact that he could smell my blood still gave me the chills.

“It’s just a scratch.” I mumbled pushing myself up from the ground. He tried to push himself up but his arms trembled and gave out. I kneeled over him; his eyes were wide and he was breathing quickly through his mouth. “We just have to get back to the parking lot, get in the car, and get home. Phoebe will be waiting there. She’ll know what to do.” I didn’t know if I was trying to assure Blake or myself. I could hear the Hunters yelling as they traipsed through the woods after us. I quickly reached for Blake’s arm but stopped…it stopped.

I could no longer hear the quick gasps of a hungry vampire. As weird as it sounds, that was a bad thing. “Blake?” I breathed, my eyebrows knitting together in confusion. (This is how stupid I am.) I pressed my index and middle finger to the cold skin of the arch of his neck and felt around for his pulse. Of course, it wasn’t there. I almost slapped myself in the forehead.

“Blake!” I said a bit louder, shaking his shoulder roughly. No response. I stared at his body. So perfect, frozen completely in time and fell backwards on my butt. “How can he just-what…” I flustered absently. I could hear the Hunters they were getting closer. Suddenly my thoughts kicked into hyper drive and I sprung up from the ground.

I grabbed Blake’s arm and hauled him behind a nearby tree. He was suddenly a lot lighter than he was a few minutes ago. I knew what I had to do. I glanced at my wrist and dabbed my fingers in the cut until they were damp with blood, then I brushed my fingers against Blake’s lips and waited as the Hunters got closer. Blake’s tongue flicked out to taste my blood on his lips. I practically jumped ten feet in the air I was so surprised it worked.

His eyelids fluttered open and he drew in a ragged breath. “Thank the God’s above!” I screamed then clamped my hands over my mouth. I had to act fast. “Blake! I know how to get us out of here!” I whispered urgently. His eyes focused on my face with what looked like some difficultly. He looked confused. I motioned to my hand. He stared at my wrist with his pitch black eyes and licked his pale, dry lips. He looked like he was at least considering.

Then he turned his head away from me. “No.” He growled adamantly. What really surprised me was that I growled back without even the slightest amount of fear coursing through me.

“Blake just do it! They’re coming!” I urged. He mustered up enough strength to stare me in the eyes.

“Zoey they want to kill me not you! Now leave.” Though his voice was barely more than a whisper, I could feel the power in it brush against my skin.

My eyes turned hard. I don’t like being told what to do. “No. If you don’t come with me I’m not leaving.” I said and I impulsively shoved my wrist closer to his mouth. He attempted to bat my hand away but his speed was hampered by hunger and weakness. The Hunters were almost upon us so I did something no sensible person would do. I pressed the wound on my wrist to his lips.

He tried to turn away but this time my strength was greater than his. I kept my arm pressed firmly to his mouth. Blake’s eyes widened as he got a taste of heaven and he grasped at my arm almost desperately, not even thinking about refusing. He braced his jaw against my wrist and I felt a sharp pain as Blake’s teeth sank into my skin. A thrill of excitement shot up my spine. A real live/undead vampire was swallowing mouthful after mouthful of my blood! Can you believe I actually dreamt of this moment before I ever even met Blake?

“Zoey?” I heard my name leak from the surrounding darkness. I looked up from Blake’s face and saw Malick. He looked like a frightened child. He was staring at me open mouthed.

“Malick I can ex-”

“What the hell are you doing?!” He screamed before I could finish.

“Why are you letting that thing feed off you?!” I think he was about to cry.
“He’s not-” I was cut off by a wince as Blake bit down harder.
Malick gasped and fell to his knees beside me. He had his hand around my right arm in a flash. “No!” I said quickly. He stared into my face with an incredulous expression. “I made him bite me.” I insisted honestly my eyes growing big.

He shook his head, “WHAT?!?!?! Why-why would you do that?” Malick asked. My eyes were glistening with tears. Blake’s bite was definitely worse than his bark. “He was going to die Malick. Clay was killing him! I had to do something!” I cried.

“He’s a monster. He deserves to die!” Malick said in a voice so harsh I barely even recognized it.

Suddenly Peyton sprang from the dense forest. She caught sight of Blake, Malick, and I on the ground and gasped loudly. I was beginning to feel light-headed. Maybe Blake was taking more blood than I was aware of. “Zoey!” She shrieked in a worried voice. She flitted over to my side and tugged on my arm.

“Stop!” I screeched or slurred really. Suddenly I was ripped away from the ground by strong arms. The air stung the bite mark on my wrist. I kicked weakly at the person who held me. I turned my head and saw hard green eyes. “Let go of me you son of a-” I was thrown to the side like a rag doll.

A terror-inciting snarl split the air and I saw Blake’s figure blur. Suddenly he was standing; his teeth glistened in the moonlight. A trail of blood leaked from the corner of his mouth…my blood.

He glared at Clay growling curses under his breath. I swear I saw a flicker of fear in Clay’s eyes. “You had to chain me up to beat me.” Blake’s words slithered through the air like a viper poised to kill. Clay took a step back.

“You should be dead.” He said. Blake cast a swift glance in my direction and smirks dangerously.

“The blood of a Hunter is a real rush. I bet it could bring a vampire back from the dead.” Blake said, turning back to face Clay. I shook my arm weakly and Clay’s eyes widened in alarm.

“I thought you cared about her.” Clay whispered incredulously. Blake looked back at me and his smirk disappeared.

“That’s why I refused.” He cried, throwing his hands up in the air. By now, he was close enough to Clay to see the veins pulsing on his neck. Clay stood his ground of course, acting the hero as always. Blake shoved Clay into a nearby tree. “I guess she cares about me too.” He growled.

“You’re-you’re a monster. Why would she help you?” Clay asked.

“That’s right. I am a monster.” Blake said with a sadistic smile on his face. I’ve never seen him like this. He seriously looked off his rocker. Maybe he was just really angry. That was probably the most likely. Suddenly the rest of the Hunters came from the forest. The one with sea-green eyes-Cedric I think his name was-came at Blake with the speed of lightning.

Just as Cedric was about to strike, Blake caught his arm and twisted it behind the Hunter’s back pressing his face into the tree he had Clay pinned against. A feral growl escaped his lips and he hissed the words “Don’t touch me.” His voice made a chill run down my spine. I mean I was actually frigging scared of him.

Blake growled again as Cedric tried to escape his grip and squeezed Cedric’s arm until it cracked. The sound of his bones crunching made me wince. I saw Cedric scream but he was cut off as Blake let go of his arm and swiped his fist against Cedric’s face knocking him back a few yards.

Clay took this distraction and pushed Blake off him with his Hunter strength. Before Clay could move so much as a foot from the tree Blake was on him. “No, no Clay. Stick around.” He said in an insanely calm voice. Blake pulled his arm back and let it fly. He was so fast that Clay didn’t have time to duck. Blake’s fist connected with Clay’s face and Clay flew back into the tree.

He slid down the trunk of the tree unconscious. Blake glared at the blood trailing from Clay’s now broken nose and leaking from his busted lip. He looked at the blood that was splattered across his knuckles. He lifted his hand to his mouth and licked away the blood.

Oh my God. What have I done? I had given Blake my blood because he would’ve died without it but he had chosen to taste Clay’s blood. I had to admit it was kind of sexy…okay I found it really attractive. Yes, I know I have serious problems.

Blake turned to face the rest of the Hunters that had grouped together. He smiled, exposing all of his teeth including his glistening white, lethally sharp fangs. “So, who’s next hmm?” He asked. And I swear I could detect the slightest hint of a Romanian accent.

Clay was unconscious and Cedric was on the leafy ground cradling his right arm. Jeez, I guess the Hunters were weaker than I thought. Or maybe my blood just made Blake really strong.

The Hunter that I instantly recognized as Malick stepped forward. Blake grinned that same sadistic smile and said, “So we’ve got a taker. This is gonna be fun.”

They circled each other like wolves preparing to fight. “I can’t believe I let you live when I saw you at Zoey’s.” Malick said. He seemed completely focused on the task at hand. Completely focused on taking Blake down. Blake was poised in a slight crouch but he seemed absolutely confident, relaxed even.

“From what I heard Zoey kicked yours and Colten’s ass when you tried to convince her I was bad company. You were right of course but you couldn’t kill me on the best of days.”

“Care to wager on that?” Malick asked. Blake smirked and stopped walking. Malick stopped too.

“As a matter of fact, I do.” Blake rushed at Malick so fast he was a blur. I saw Malick’s legs kick out from under his body and suddenly he was lying flat on his back. Malick coughed from the fall. “Hm? Is that all you have to offer?” Blake asked looking down at Malick. Malick groaned and tried to push himself up off the ground.

Blake knelt over Malick and placed a hand on his chest pushing him back into the leafy undergrowth. “No. Stay down.” The right corner of Blake’s mouth lifted in a sideways smirk and he wrapped his hands around Malick’s throat.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. On one hand I was kind of glad that Blake was beating the crap out of these kids, but on the other it seemed like Blake was enjoying the pain of others way too much. It couldn’t have been just because of my blood.

I watched as Blake throttled one of my friends. Malick struggled, tugging uselessly at Blake hands trying to get him to let go. I saw his face grow red from lack of oxygen. Then he ceased struggling.

Three Hunters down. Nine to go. Colten -who had somehow found his way up into a tree- fell from the sky knocking Blake to the ground but he was soon back on his feet. It was fists flying so fast they blurred. Finally, Blake got in one good solid hit. Colten temporarily stunned stumbled backwards giving Blake a perfect opening. He grabbed Colten by the shoulder and slammed him into the ground. He was down. Adam, Jason, and Peyton came at Blake at the same time. Blake let out a slightly maniacal laugh and he motion to the Hunters. The gesture was simple. It said, “Come and get some.”

Adam and Jason came from the sides and Peyton came down the middle. I actually felt scared for her. She was so tiny. But the way she moved reminded me of a jungle cat. She was quick and agile.

Jason was a bit of a hothead so he was the first to attack. He threw a punch and Blake caught his hand mid-hit. Jason’s eyes widened and Blake smirked. Blake kicked Jason in the chest and he flew backwards and banged into a tree. Knocked him out cold. Now it was Adam’s turn he was a little more intelligent.

He delivered a perfect roundhouse kick but Blake caught his foot and twisted it until it snapped. Adam cried out in pain. I saw the bone sticking out of his skin. Blake smiled and gazed longingly at the blood gushing from the injury.

Suddenly Peyton ran at Blake and pounced on him knocking him to the ground. My eyes widened in shock. Maybe she was stronger than she looked. She pulled her fist back and punched Blake smack in the jaw.

I might’ve been hearing things but I swear I heard Blake laugh. He rolled around in the dirt with Peyton for a moment laughing like some kind of bloodsucking lunatic. If I didn’t know better I would’ve been jealous.

Then suddenly as if he’d gotten tired of Peyton’s girlish games he leaped up from the ground tugging Peyton along with him by her hair. He pinned her against a tree. One arm across her chest the other braced against the tree behind her. Just like the first night he and I met in the alleyway.

He cleared Peyton’s dark auburn hair away from her neck and breathed in deeply. “Smell that sweet AB positive.” He trailed the tip of his nose along the skin of her throat. It looked kind of intimate and I instantly felt jealousy boil up inside. I knew it was stupid of me to feel jealous, but that nose-brushy-throat thing was for me only!

I saw Blake open his mouth to expose full-length fangs. Peyton whimpered and squeezed her eyes shut. She knew what was coming and suddenly so did I. Blake was going to bite her and drink until every drop of her blood was gone. It wasn’t like the times when he and I got too close, the smell of my blood overwhelmed him, and he barely had a choice in whether to back away or bite into my jugular. No, Blake was going to bite Peyton when he was fully aware of his actions. He was going to do it on purpose and for no reason.

I abruptly sprung up from the ground. I stumbled backwards as my head reeled. I glanced down at the bite mark on my arm. It was no longer bleeding and it seemed to be smaller.

I rushed over to where Blake and Peyton were and gasped at what I saw. Blake’s mouth was latched onto Peyton’s neck. By the Gods. “Blake?” I whispered barely coherent. I lay my hand on his shoulder and he suddenly jerks away from Peyton to look at me.

His fangs were bared dripping with blood, his eyes blacker than the night sky. He didn’t bite Peyton for no reason. He did it because he was ravenous. But how could he be hungry still? I’d wager he drank at least two quarts of my blood. But then I remembered the immense amount of vampire books I‘ve read and what nearly every one of them said. A vampire so starved he was near death could drain five humans without being fully satiated. Blake was hungry enough as it was when he was drinking animal’s blood everyday but after that torture…I couldn’t even imagine how empty his stomach was right now.

He stared at me and a low growl leaked through his lips. Recognition suddenly entered his eyes. He closed his mouth and backed away from Peyton. He looked around at all the Hunters he’d hurt. He looked utterly terrified of himself. “I-I’m…” His hand reached up to cover his mouth in shock, Romanian accent gone.

“Blake.” I said walking towards him. He spun around so fast he was a blur. I jumped slightly at his expression. It was torn. A mixture of hunger, horror, and complete disgust.

“Zoey.” He whispered, glancing quickly at the bite on my arm. “Oh my God.” He said, falling to his knees in front of me. Harsh sobs racked his body.

“It’s okay.” I whispered to him soothingly. I knelt down on the ground and wrapped my arms around his bare shoulders. I squeezed him tighter trying to calm his violent shaking.

“I’m sorry.” He murmured, into my skin.

“Shhh.” I said stroking my fingers through his hair as he cried into my shoulder.

“I’m just…so hungry.” Oh no. He suddenly pushed me away, probably harder than intended. “No!” He screamed and he ran off in the direction of the highway.

I started after him but Peyton stopped me. “Don’t.” She said. I looked back at her. She was leaned up against the tree. She looked pale and tired but the wound on her neck was already healed.

“Why?” I asked. She shook her head and smiled.

“I may not understand what you see in him, but I can tell that he really loves you. He turned into a monster before your very eyes. He bit me. He bit you. He drank human blood for the first time in a long time. Going after him will only punish him more than he’s already punishing himself now.” She said softly.

Wow. I never knew Peyton could be so insightful. “He’s weak.” I turned to see who had spoken. Avery Tiller. Bleach blonde piece of anorexic crap. The only one of the six chicks that I actually hated.

“Weak?” I asked stiffly.

“Yes, weak. He didn’t even kill any of us.” She said haughtily. I couldn’t believe what she was saying.

“Maybe he should’ve. Maybe I should’ve let him.” I retorted. Man, I really hated this chick. I’d known her since fourth grade. She bullied me everyday from fourth to ninth grade. It wasn’t like physical bullying. But she always called me names and teased me about my parents’ death. In the seventh grade, she spread a rumor that I cut myself. And one time in eighth grade, she paid two guys on the football team to lock me in the boiler room with Nate Reinhart, who was my eighth grade crush. The same Nate that’s best friends with Malick and Colten. Man, I really hated this chick.

She stepped forward from the group of Hunters that Blake hadn’t pummeled. “I heard that he drinks cattle’s blood. I mean, what kind of vampire does that?” She asked.

“A vampire that doesn’t like to hurt people.” I mumbled. She scoffed, “A vampire that doesn’t--oh that’s rich. There’s no such thing. All vampires are bloodthirsty, evil, weak, animals.”

“You think he’s weak? Clay, Malick, and Jason are unconscious. Cedric has a broken wrist and Adam’s ankle is snapped completely. He bit Peyton and probably caused Colten internal bleeding in his lungs. I didn’t see you go up against him.” I said my voice rising considerably.

Avery shrugged, “Sure he caused a lot of damage, but he could’ve caused more and he didn’t. He’s weak.” She said smugly. I walked towards her until I was close enough to see the brown roots on the top of her head. I knew she wasn’t a real blonde.

“The fact that he didn’t kill anyone means that he’s strong. He was starving. And angry! Do you know how hard it must’ve been to resist the temptation of killing someone? Of feeding until there wasn’t a single drop of blood in you freaking veins?!?” I screamed. This chick was really pissing me off.

I walked towards where I could see headlights. Phoebe would be waiting there with my car.

The remaining Hunters formed a wall so that I couldn’t pass. “Excuse me.” I almost growled.

“Let her go.” Peyton said still slumped against the large oak tree Blake had backed her up against.

The Hunters created a space big enough for me to pass. I grumbled angrily as I tromped through the woods. I glanced briefly at the bite mark on my arm and noticed it was completely healed but for a faint crescent shaped scar that marred the Psi shape. I smoothed my fingers across the mark and noticed that it was a few degrees cooler than the rest of my body.

When I finally reached the parking lot, I started to run towards the car. I didn’t car if Peyton thought it was best the leave Blake alone. I had to find him and I needed Phoebe’s help to do it.

She was sitting in the passenger’s seat the door was open and I could see her. She was pale in the moonlight, even paler than normal. That’s when I saw it; a gash above her left eyebrow that she was tentatively dabbing at with a napkin from the glove box.

“Phoebe I’m so sorry I didn’t stay to help you. I just- I had to get Blake.” I started in a panicked voice. She held up a hand for me to stop.

“It’s okay Zoey. You had to get your beau. I totally understand.” I climbed into the driver’s seat and instructed Phoebe to close the passenger side. She did.
“Let me see.” I said. I took the napkin away from her and turned the overhead light on.

I dug behind the seat and grabbed a water bottle that was probably a couple weeks old but had never been opened. I spilled a bit of water onto the napkin and dabbed it onto the cut on Phoebe’s head. She winced. “I feel so bad for leaving you.” I said.

She took the napkin away and set it on the dashboard. “I can take care of myself. You did the right thing.” She said and I saw her place her hand over the wound and grab my hand. I felt a brief wave of weakness and the she let go of my hand.

She sighed and pulled her hand away. The gash was completely healed but for the faintest of scars. “Why didn’t you just do that earlier?” I asked. She smoothed her side bangs over the scar and said, “I’m not strong enough on my own.” “Oh.”

I sat in the driver’s seat trying to make myself move. I finally snapped myself out of my stupor. I grabbed the keys off the dashboard and started the car and pulled out of the parking lot, I didn’t bother with the seat belt. When I reached the two-lane road that passed as ‘highway’ in the small town of Jasper Lake I drove in the opposite direction of my house.

“Where are we going?” Phoebe asked. I glared through the windshield at the lightening sky trying to remember the way to Blake’s house.

“Blake’s place.” I answered.

“Yeah, why isn’t Blake here?” She asked. I looked at her and then quickly shifted my gaze back to the road.

“He ran off after wailing on the Hunters.” I answered simply. She gave me a confused glance.

“I though he was like near dead.” She said. The place where Blake bit my arm began to buzz.

“He was.” I said and I gripped the steering wheel tighter, so tight in fact that I could feel my fingers sinking into the metal, which really surprised me.

“What do you mean wa-” She cut off as she caught a glimpse of my arm. “He didn’t.” She said seriously. I bit down on my bottom lip and nodded. “I can’t believe that son of a Banshee bit you!” She shrieked.

“He was dying Phoebe! What was I supposed to do?” She shrugged.

“I don’t know find him a squirrel or something.” I glanced at her.

“A squirrel?” I repeated.

“I have no idea. It was the best I could come up with.” She said. We drove down the long twisting road that lead to Blake’s house. I pulled into the driveway and stopped the car. “Nice house.” Phoebe murmured.

I opened the door and jumped out of the driver’s seat. Phoebe got out of the car and followed me up to the front door. I searched for the panel on the left side of the door flipping it open when I found it. I stared at the metal buttons with their numbers clearly printed on the surface.

“What’s the combination?” Phoebe asked quietly. I shrugged and reached out to punch in the numbers that were running through my mind.

04099813. A little green light came on and there were a series of clicks as the locks popped open. I can’t believe I got it right. I definitely did not remember it from the one time I saw Blake punch in the numbers.

“How’d you know that?” Phoebe asked quietly. I shook my head. We crept through the house, which was ominously quiet.

“Do you smell that?” I asked. Phoebe nodded and her nose scrunched up at the smell. It was really familiar but I couldn’t place what it was.

We walked through the living room following the disgusting smell. When we came to the kitchen, we saw Blake sitting on the tile floor with his knees pulled in against his chest and his arms wrapped around himself.

That’s when it hit me. I knew what the smell was. It was blood. I heard Phoebe gasp at the scene around us. It was pretty gruesome. About a dozen empty, bloody plastic bags littering the floor and counter tops.

I rushed over to Blake while Phoebe stayed frozen inside the doorway. I crouched down beside him. “Blake.” I whispered. He looked up at me and I almost fell backwards in shock. His irises were still completely black and blood stained his mouth.

He looked around at the empty blood bags. “It’s not human.” He stated plainly.

“I know.” I whispered. Believe it or not, I could smell that it wasn’t human. He grabbed my arm in a quicker than life movement and stared at the scar he had left.

“But I can still taste it. It won’t go away.” He mumbled. I tried to pull my arm away but he wouldn’t let go. My arm began to ache.

“Blake you’re hurting me.” I said quiet enough that Phoebe couldn’t hear. He let go of my arm, “Sorry.”

“Blake are you okay?” I asked. He studied my face.

“I‘ve been better.” He admitted, with a hint of shame. I didn’t like him being in pain. “I’m starving and…out. And I’m losing control of it.” He said looking around again at the empty bags.

“Is there anything we can do?” I asked but I didn’t bother asking what ‘it’ was. Of course bringing Phoebe into this mess.

“Nope.” He said. He jumped up off the floor so fast that this time I actually did fall backwards. He walked over to the kitchen’s sink and turned the water on.

He wet a paper towel and cleaned the blood from his face. After throwing the soggy paper towel and the plastic blood bags into a biohazard container under the sink the kitchen looked almost normal.

“Blake, where exactly are you going?” I asked suspiciously.

“To get more.” He said, looking once more around the kitchen, this time seeming satisfied with how it looked. He didn’t really specify what the ‘more’ he was going to get was but I assumed he meant non-human blood (I hope) so I didn’t ask.

“Do you want us to come with you?” I asked. He shrugged.

“If you want to.” He said.

“I don’t want to.” Phoebe said.

“But you’re not okay. You told me yourself.” He set both hands on both of my shoulders.

“I told you ‘I’ve been better.’ Don’t worry about me Dragostea.” He said sweetly. I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the lips. I could still smell the blood on his breath.

“Hurry back.” He smiled and nodded. I stood there stunned by the whiplash causing moods of Blake. When I heard the door shut and was sure Blake was out of earshot I turned to Phoebe.

Her eyes were wide, “Does Blake like have a multi-personality disorder or something? And what the hell does ‘dragostea’ mean?” She asked.

“It means love.” I whispered. She walked up and grabbed my arm.

“Do you think we should follow him?” She asked as she pulled me back toward the front of the house. “He seemed kind of suspicious.” She acknowledged. I shook my head.

“I trust him Phoebe.” I said. My voice sounded convincing enough but I wasn’t entirely sure if I trusted Blake.

“Whatever you say.” She mumbled as she pushed the front door open. When the door closed behind us, we heard the clicks that signaled the automatic locking of the door.

Phoebe glanced back at the door and I heard her swallow nervously. “Zoey, would you hate me if I told you that Blake creeps me out.” She asked in a small voice.

Finally something that made me laugh. I giggled quietly at the comment. “No Phoebe I wouldn’t hate you.” I assured her. We got back in my car.

I sat in the driver’s seat and suddenly realized how tired I was. I’d been running mostly on adrenaline the past few hours. It wasn’t until Phoebe leaned across the center of the car shook my shoulder did I notice that I had closed my eyes.

“You want me to drive?” She asked in a way too eager voice. I blinked a few times as I attempted to focus on her face.

“What? You don’t have your license yet.” I reminded her, stifling a yawn. She shrugged.

“I won’t get caught. Plus I can probably use my witchy powers to weasel my way out of it if I do.” She said. I sighed. I really was tired.

“Fine.” I climbed into the back seat and Phoebe jumped into the driver’s seat. She had to scoot the seat closer to the pedals to make up for the difference between her 5’2” and my 5’8”. She stuck the key into ignition and turned it until the car sputtered to life and purred like a jungle cat.

She giggled and bounced up and down in the seat. It’s not like I was nervous. Phoebe passed the Drivers Test at school on the second try and she scored really high. But…Phoebe was kind of; um wild?

I kept my eyes closed the whole trip. Not because Phoebe was driving like a maniac but if I tried to keep them open they’d just shut again on their own. I had no idea how Phoebe was still so hyperactive. Adrenaline and magic aside.

I was so thankful when we pulled into my driveway in one piece. She shut off the car and laughed victoriously. “Am I the bomb or what?” She asked. She turned around to look at me and saw me with my eyes closed. She sighed and reached back and flicked my nose.

That woke me up. “Hey!” I yelled accusatorily.

“We’re here!” She said with a grin. Guess the night’s (early morning’s) drama had no affect on her because she seemed like her usually bubbly self again.

I sat up and kicked open the back door of the car. I stumbled out and walked sluggishly up the driveway. I fumbled with the keys and unlocked the door. I didn’t feel like going up stairs and I was too tired to be hungry. I went into the living room and collapse on the couch. I heard Phoebe rummaging around in the kitchen and saw her walk back through the living room with a half-eaten bag of chips.

“Nighty night Zoey.” She whispered before escaping to her room upstairs. I lay down on the couch and prayed for salubrious sleep. As usual my prayer when unanswered.

From the outside, the building looked exceptionally ordinary. Kind of ‘warehouse’ in structure. But the interior was quite extravagant. Checkered tile floor that was so polished you could see your reflection and a carpeted area filled with small coffee tables and plush chairs.

It was a lot like the lobby at a five star hotel. Numerous doors leading off into different rooms. In whole, it was far larger than you would’ve guessed from the outside.

“Anton?” Came a surprised voice. Blake turned his head at the sound of his middle name. The name he had gone by until the beginning of the twenty-first century. A man probably in his early twenties stood up from a large marble desk.

Blake’s signature smirk took up residence on his mouth. “Milo.” Blake said. Milo pushed his dark blonde hair out of his eyes and laughed.

“Do my eyes deceive me?” He asked, coming out from behind the desk. Blake’s smirk grew and he shook his head in confirmation.

Blake was pleased to see a familiar face. Milo and Blake go way back. Like the 19th century ‘way back’. They were friends even before either of them were turned. “I never thought I’d see you back here again. How long has it been?” He inquired coming up beside him. Though Milo was older, he wasn’t as tall as Blake and he never would be.

“Fifteen years.” Blake answered sullenly his voice suddenly full of nostalgia. Milo grinned.

“So what brings you back?” He asked. Blake crossed his arms over his chest.
“I think you know what.” He said bleakly.

He was beginning to regret coming here but he could smell the blood coming from behind the many doors around the room. It was calling to him. Milo laughed aloud, “Guess the whole ‘cold turkey’ thing didn’t work out huh?” He asked.

Blake shrugged nonchalantly, “It did work…for a while.” Milo suppressed another laugh.

“What changed your mind?” He queried. Blake sighed.

“A girl. And…the Hunters.” His voice had faded into a whisper. Milo’s eyes widened, “The Hunters?” Blake nodded. Milo looked flabbergasted.

“Well what happened?” Blake looked at the floor.

“I was ambushed and distracted by…” he trailed off; not sure if he should mention Zoey to Milo. After all, he had nothing against feeding off live humans and Zoey was, well, Blake’s.

“The girl.” Milo offered. Blake nodded.

“The leader had some personal vendetta out for me on account of I kinda killed his family.” Blake informed him. Milo’s eyebrows climbed up his forehead with each word.

“Strung you up and bled you out didn’t he?” Milo asked. Blake nodded once more. “Scarlett!” Milo called in an apprehensive voice. His eyes flitted to Blake’s as if to confirm what he already knew. Milo could sense it in the air. Blake needed to feed…desperately and neither animal nor hospital blood would do the trick. He needed fresh blood.

A tall, voluptuous girl with long, dark red hair that was pulled over her left shoulder entered the room. Her high-heeled sandals clicked against the tile floor. Her scent was nearly overpowering and it was all Blake could do not to grab her by the arm and chew her throat out right then and there. He noticed that she had no scars, which meant she was new.

Milo grinned deviously at Blake’s reaction to the new girl. “Yes Milo?” The girl asked her sensual eyes open wide. Milo smiled at Scarlett and said in a charming voice, “This is Blake. I want you to give him whatever he wants.” She smiled back at him in understanding. The girl turned to Blake and said, “Hi Blake I’m Scarlett.”

Blake could barely do more than stare at her very exposed throat. Milo laughed raucously. “Have fun.” He commanded as he placed a hand on each of their backs and pushed them toward a hallway on the left side of the lobby-like room.

Scarlett took Blake’s hand. “Come on.” She said in a dreadfully innocent voice. The contact her skin made with his made his stomach ache with the hunger. He followed her helplessly through a long hallway and into a small room with no windows and no way to escape.

It was dark, lit only by several candles on a cherry wood table in the corner of the room. Once away from the early morning sunlight that was very visible through the windows in the lobby the throbbing in Blake’s head eased.

Blake really shouldn’t have been here. He knew he shouldn’t have been here but he was. He had willingly found his way back to most disgusting place in the entire world. A place called Sange Bautorii where vampires pay humans so they can drink from them. He came here because he knew. Deep down he knew that he had to be here.
Blake’s hunger had grown immense in the past few years and if he kept feeding on animal blood alone, he would end up hurting someone he cared about. After being tortured by Clay, he knew he was dead. Then Zoey came like he knew she would.

He wasn’t hoping to survive he was just hoping to see her face one last time before leaving this impeccably cruel world. But she had to do something so stupid, so stubborn. Something that the monster inside him had longed for her to do since he first laid eyes on her.

She had saved his life and reawakened his lust for human blood. As if he really needed any more problems. He kind of hated her for saving his life.

“Hey are you okay?” Scarlett’s voice brought him out of his contemplation. She actually seemed to be concerned. He looked at her sitting on a red velvet couch. He grinned at her maliciously and she let out a small gasp as she caught a glimpse of his fangs.

She knew who and what she was working for but she had evidently never seen a ravenous vampire up close.

He sat down on the couch next to her. “You’re new aren’t you?” He asked, leaning across her and brushing his lips against her throat. She shivered and nodded. “You know you are a very stupid girl right?” He whispered his lips close to her left ear. Her face fell and she nodded again. He pulled away from her though it was almost painful to do so. “Then why are you here?” He asked. She let out an audible sigh of relief and shrugged.

“I need the money.” She murmured dejectedly.

“Ever think about trying a less lethal occupation?” Blake whispered sarcastically. She seemed to want to change the subject.

“Why are you here?” She inquired. He smirked dangerously and leaned in again to whisper in her ear.

“Because I’m hungry.” He heard he heart speed up once more at his close proximity. The moist sound made his stomach rumble. He pulled away from her before he bit into her throat.

She stuck her nose up in the air with a haughty expression on her face and pulled her hair-which had fallen out of its original style-back over one shoulder in a graceful sweep.
The scent of her blood was maddening. Suddenly swarming around him more powerful than ever, made even more intense by the warm, dark room. He reached up slowly and deftly smoothed her hair back over both her shoulders though he loathed saying goodbye to the deliciously blue arteries pulsing along her throat. “Not like that Sweetheart. I could kill you that way. Which believe it or not is greatly frowned upon in this establishment?” Blake said a little breathlessly and with an enormous amount of difficulty. He would love to bit into her neck and drain her completely dry but he definitely didn’t want to kill her.

She offered her arm to him. “You need this Blake. I may be new but I can tell that much.” She said with a real passion that Blake couldn’t quite understand.

He gazed down at her arm the veins were completely visible through her pale skin. His piercing black eyes flicked back to her face. “At some point your gonna have to tell me to stop.” He warned her darkly.

She nodded apprehensively and smiled encouragingly, “Don’t worry I will.” She answered him. He turned back to her arm, which felt so delightfully warm to his dead hands and dived into sweet release as he opened his mouth and sank his elongated canines into her beautifully smooth skin.

Rivers of blood flow as sweet as life itself.




I sprung straight up at the sound of a girl’s scream and it took me a minute to realize the screaming was me. I clapped my hand over my own mouth to cut the scream off.

Suddenly Phoebe came rocketing down the stairs and into the living room. Her hair was knotted and sticking up on one side and she had a red mark on her cheek from where she was lying on the pillow. “What’s wrong?” She asked.

I took a deep breath and tried to calm my thumping heart. Already the dream was beginning to fade from my memory. I shook my head, “Nightmare.” I said. Phoebe sat down on the couch beside me.

“The one about your parents?” She asked staidly. I shook my head again.
“No it was…about vampires.” I said slowly.

“Well you’ve had nightmares about vampires before.” She said.

“Not like this.” I whispered.

“Was it Blake?” She asked. I nodded. “What was it about?” She wondered aloud.

“He was at a place where there were humans that vampires could feed off.” I explained. Phoebe’s eyes widened.

“You mean like the Blood Bar Aidan goes to in Being Human?” She asked.

“Yeah like that exactly.” I said. She frowned.

“Wasn’t that episode on just last week?” She queried. I nodded. I loved that show and especially that episode. She shrugged then. “Maybe you just had that episode and Blake on your mind and they mixed. I may not like Blake but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would go to a place like that.”

My head bobbed up and down in agreement. “You’re right. I’m just being paranoid.” I said quick to dismiss anything negative about Blake. Dreams like this were normal with me only not as vivid and not with anyone I recognized.

I took a deep breath and attempted to move on to something a bit more pleasant. “So what do you want to do today?” I asked. Phoebe shrugged.

“It’s gonna be hard to top last night huh?” She said with just the slightest hint of sarcasm. I made myself laugh. She sighed and sat down on the couch next to me. “I know you want to see Blake. You’re worried about him. You should go see him.” She said.

I frowned. “I don’t want to crowd him.” I whispered. She groaned.

“You’re his girlfriend; you’re supposed to crowd him.” She told me. I rolled my eyes and said, “That may be so but most boyfriends break up with you if you make them angry. Now if you make a boyfriend like Blake angry they could decapitate you with their teeth.” I cringed at the thought.

“Nice image.” Phoebe mumbled.

“Where shall we go? What shall we do?” I asked as I jumped up from the couch.

“Roller skating!” Phoebe blurted out almost instantaneously. I grinned,
“Okee dokee.” I said. Phoebe smirked impishly, “Why don’t you call Blake and ask if he wants to come with us?” She asked flirtily. I smiled.

“That’s a perfect idea.” I could picture it now; and the picture was funny! Blake…Roller-skating. It was something I wouldn’t mind seeing. Of course, with his sometimes annoyingly amazing dexterity, he would probably make a fool out of Phoebe and I. Suddenly Phoebe burst out laughing. “What?” I asked her.

“We should definitely force Blake to go roller skating!” She cried between gasps of laughter. I grinned she must’ve been seeing what I was seeing. I nodded.
“Definitely.” I agreed. I glanced at the clock by the windowsill. “The skating session starts at 10:30am and its 9:27am. We should call Blake first.” She nodded.
“You do that. I’m gonna take a shower ‘kay.” She said spinning around and bounding up the stairs.

“‘Kay.” I replied. I reached for my cell phone on the coffee table and flipped it open. I went through recent calls. I found Blake’s number and pressed the call button. This would be good. For Phoebe and Blake. I could tell him about my wacky nightmare and we could laugh off the twisted depths of my mind.

Two and a half rings later Blake answered. “Hey Sweetheart.” Came Blake’s voice. He sounded perfectly normal.

“Hi!” I said. Again, my voice sounded far too perky.

“What’s up?” He asked, just the right amount of concern entering his voice.
“Nothing. I just wanted to check on you. And also ask you if you wanted to do something.” I said, a bit reluctant to tell him what that something was and of course, he had to ask.

“What might that something be?” I giggled nervously.

“Roller skating.” I answered. He was quiet and I was afraid he wouldn’t want to go; but just as I was about to give up hope he continued.

“Roller skating…” He said as if he were tasting the flavor of the words.

“Yeah. With me and Phoebe.” I continued. He paused again.

“Phoebe…” He said in the same tone.

“Yeeaahh.” I said, dragging the word out.

“I’d love to go.” He surprised me by saying. “Is Phoebe alright with it?” He continued. I nodded though he couldn’t see me.

“Actually it was her idea. I think she wants to bond. For my sake.” I said. I heard his laughter through the phone.

“What time?” He asked.

“Um, the session starts at ten thirty so do you wanna meet here at like ten fifteen?” I asked.

“I’ll be there.” he said.

“I love you.” I said it this time.

“I love you too.” He said in a voice so passionate it almost brought tears to my eyes. The line went dead.

I waited there for a moment listening the sound of Phoebe’s shower. I jumped up from the couch and started towards the stairs. I had to find out what to wear!

I took the stairs two at a time and skipped happily into my room. My first date with Blake during the day. Good thing the skating rink’s inside huh? I walked into my closet and perused the racks of clothes. “Hmm…” I mused as I began chewing on the inside of my cheek. Phoebe always thought I had a good sense of style and I admit I had to agree. Roller-skating called for a different type of clothing than what I normally wore. I was a big fan of the whole 70’s Roller Scene. The local roller rink had been around since the 50’s and it had never really changed much. It had upgraded some of its arcade games but it had kept its character. Everyday there was 70’s night (or day).

I picked out a pair of hot pink cotton leggings that came down to the middle of my calves and a tattered blue jean skirt. I grabbed a deep purple fitted tank top with thick straps and a worn brown leather belt. The outfit didn’t really match but that was kind of the point. I laid my clothes out on my bed and looked them over. Very seventies I think. I ran back into my closet to pick out a pair of shoes but then realized I didn’t need a specific pair of shoes because I was going to be wearing roller skates most of the time.

I sighed, grabbed my clothing and started walking towards the bathroom. The shower was off and the door was closed. I banged on it loudly, “Hey Pheebs you almost done?” I asked.

“Hm, almost.” She replied. I sighed again.

“Can you hurry? I need to take a shower too you know.” I said. Phoebe groaned.

“Chillax Zo.” She called. I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall next to the bathroom door. Just as I began to get impatient enough to actually start tapping my foot Phoebe opened the door.

“How do I look?” She asked opening up her arms and spinning around. She was wearing bright red skinny jeans and a silver sequin top. Her white-blonde hair was straightened and feathered and she had a thin silver headband set upon her brow. She was wearing shiny silver eye shadow and bright red lipstick that matched her jeans.

“Far out.” I said. She giggled hyperactively.

“I look just like Cherrie Currie.” She exclaimed.

“Now scooch.” I said.

“Okay. Okay. Fine.” She said and she began skipping down the hall. I went into the bathroom and closed the door behind me. I turned the shower on and set my clothing on the edge of the sink. I undressed and jumped into the shower.

I washed and conditioned my hair and scrubbed my body with my new cucumber melon body wash. I inspected the scar left on my arm by Blake. I sighed and prodded it gently with my index finger. The pale scar felt a few degrees cooler than the rest of my skin. I could remember exactly how it felt when Blake’s teeth sank into my skin. I shivered despite the warm water coming out of the showerhead. I began wondering if Blake favored the right arm because if I concentrated I could remember that the girl in my dream that Blake was feeding off had been bit on the right arm.

Hmm. I don’t think it would be appropriate to ask him at any point in time. When the water began to run cold, I turned off the shower. I opened the shower curtain and stepped out onto the cold tile floor. The mirror was all foggy so I rubbed my hand in circles across the surface and I could see my reflection. I cracked the door open to let the steam out and dried myself off. I pulled my clothes on, took the hair dryer out from under the sink, and set to drying my hair.

Once the dampness was gone from my hair, I combed the knots out and tied it up in a sloppy side ponytail with a bright pink hair scrunchie. I studied my reflection and got out my makeup bag. I pulled out charcoal eyeliner, black eye shadow, hot pink eye shadow, black mascara, sparkly pink lip-gloss, and light pink blush although my cheeks remain perpetually pink no matter what I do. I smudged the black eye shadow along my lash line and then put the pink eye shadow on the rest of my eyelid up to the hollow beneath my brow bone. I then lined my lower lid with the charcoal eyeliner and brushed my cheeks with the blush. I smeared my lips with the lip-gloss and checked my reflection once again.

I looked like your stereotypical Roxy Roller. I put my
makeup back in its bag and put my wet towel in the hamper. I opened the door the rest of the way and came out of the bathroom. I ran to my room and shoved on a pair of thick bright blue socks and a stuck my feet inside a pair of ratty tennis shoes. I could hear the television on downstairs. I started down the stairs and found Phoebe staring at the television.

“Whatcha watching Pheebs?” I asked.

“You know how they had that Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon on yesterday?” She inquired without taking her eyes from the television. I didn’t remember because Blake was probably on my brain as he is the majority of my waking hours and a few of my non-waking hours as well.

“Vaguely.” I answered finally.

“Well now they’re showing Angel.” She said.

“So.” I mused as I looked down at my fingers and began picking at my cuticles. She turned around to glare at me.

“So,” She said, severely stressing the word, “I have to watch it.” I sighed and glanced at the digital clock sitting on the windowsill. It was 10:07am.

“C’mon Pheebs! Blake’s gonna be here in a few minutes.” I whined. She ignored my whining and turned back to the TV. I stomped over and placed my hands on the back of her recliner. “It’s not like you don’t own the whole series.” I said.

“But it’s different on TV.” She complained. I groaned loudly.

“How so?” I inquired. She shook her head causing her feathered hair to bounce wildly.

“There’s commercials and-”

“They edit stuff out and the satellite could black out and please tell me; how could that possibly be better than watching it on DVD?” I asked cutting her off.

She went silent for a moment then blinked both her eyes hard and the TV flicked off. “You’ve made your point.” She murmured. Suddenly there was a quiet knock on the door. I glanced once again at the clock. 10:15am on the dot.

I grinned. I liked a guy that was punctual. Phoebe rolled her eyes skyward and waved an airy hand at the door. I giggled and raced down the hallway and towards the front door. I posed in front of the ebony door, tugged at my side ponytail, and smoothed out my shirt. I straightened my shoulders and opened the door. As soon as he caught sight of me his lips pulled into a dazzling smile and my heart had an audible reaction, which only made that smile grow.

“Hi.” I whispered.

“Hi.” He answered. I felt my cheeks grow warm, turning my blush covered cheeks even pinker. His eyes looked me up and down once and his smile faded a bit. “I wasn’t aware that I had to dress up.” He said. I had to concentrate to catch his words. I quickly took in his appearance. Something I rarely did on account of I was most of the time staring at his face and trying to figure out how one individual could be so breathtakingly beautiful.

He was wearing faded blue jeans, a white T-shirt and a worn leather jacket. “Don’t worry Blake you look fine.” I said cutting myself off before I said anything further. Something along the lines of, “You don’t just look fine you look downright HAWT!” I thought that would be a bit inappropriate.

“Not as fine as you Sweetheart.” He murmured charmingly, grabbing my face gently by the jaw and bending down to my height to press his lips softly against mine.

My reaction was immediate. My fingers gripped the collar of his leather jacket seemingly of their own accord. His left hand reached up to encase mine and the kiss deepened dangerously. Blake’s right hand circled around my neck the heel of his hand ending up under my chin.

His lips drifted from my mouth to my jaw and his breathing quickened. I felt his cool lips against the arch of my throat above his hand. Suddenly he pulled away from me and spun around. I heard him exhale deeply. “Blake, you alright?” I asked. He didn’t turn around.

“I’m fine. The sunlight’s just messing with my head.” He muttered. I pushed him playfully on the shoulder out of the doorway and towards my car.

“Into the car with you then.” I said. He turned his head to smile at me and started walking at a fairly human pace towards my car. Suddenly Phoebe came rushing through the door.

“We going or what?” She asked hastily.

“Yeah!” I said. She groaned loudly and slumped over to my car. “What’s your problem?” I asked.

“I have to sit in the back don’t I?” She asked. I looked at Blake. He was leaning against the front passenger side of my car with an eyebrow raised. I turned back to Phoebe, clasped my hands together and pushed my bottom lip out in a pout.

“Please! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please sit in the backseat!” I begged. She narrowed her eyes at me then sighed and went to sit in the backseat. “Thank you Phoebe!” I crooned. She waved her hand at me, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.” I grinned.

I walked over to Blake and absentmindedly straightened the collar of his jacket from where I had tugged on it. “Get in.” I said softly. He smiled and tapped my tank strap with his forefinger.

“This is a very nice color on you.” He said. My cheeks turn from pink to red in a matter of seconds.

“Thanks.” I murmur. He sighs.

“That’s a nice color too.” He says brushing his fingers along my cheek. I look into his eyes, which are gazing longingly at my throat. His eyes were nearly black.

He shakes his head and grins, “Sorry.” I return his smile.

“No big.” I said.

“I’ve just been a little on edge since…” He trailed off.

“It’s only to be expected. You looked pretty rough when we saved you last night.” I said.

“Did I ever thank you for that?” He asked. I shook my head. “Thank you.” He said as he popped the handle on the passenger door. I smiled sweetly.
“You’re welcome.” I rounded to the other side of the car and got in the drivers side. I stuck the key into ignition and started the car. I pulled out of the driveway and started down the street.

The Roller Rink was only like seven miles away. Everything in a town as small as Jasper Lake was pretty close together. “You know what,” Phoebe said suddenly. She rests her chin on the back of my seat.

“What?” I asked her.

“I feel like a child. Sitting in the back seat like this with you guys up front like my parents or something.” She mumbles.

I pat her on the head, “Put your seatbelt on my child.” I say in a formal voice. She pulls her head back and attempts to bite my hand. That gets a laugh out of both Blake and I. Phoebe sits back in her seat and crosses her arms over her chest.

“Yes I am very funny.” She says sarcastically. I smile and turn back to the road. I have to admit it was a kind of awkward drive with Phoebe there. I could actually feel the tension in the air. I pushed my foot down harder on the gas and the car sped up. I was grateful when we pulled into the Roller Rinks parking lot.
“Well that drive was fun wasn’t it?” Phoebe stated as she jumped out of the backseat. Blake and I exchanged glances and we smiled at each other. I pulled the key out of the ignition and got out of the car.

Phoebe began skipping towards the entrance completely oblivious to Blake and I. I shook my head at her and looked back at Blake. He held his hand out to me and after a slight pause; I took it. He pulled me closer in a faster than life movement that left me breathless, let go of my hand and set his arm around my neck. HE WAS TOUCHING ME!!! The thought sent chills up my spine and made my heart thump faster. Blake sighed and pressed his lips against my temple.

“I love that sound.” He whispered. I felt his lips move against my skin as he spoke. I giggled nervously and just stood there as my heart rate climbed. I heard him chuckle breathily and he straightened up. “Shall we?” He asked gesturing with one arm at the Roller Rink while keeping his other arm settled comfortably around my shoulders.

We start walking towards the rink. When we get inside I see Phoebe getting her hand stamped by the girl at the little booth thing where you pay. Phoebe turned around and grinned at me before racing down the hallway and to the rink. There was one person in front of Blake and I and after he paid and had his hand stamped we were next.

I reached into my back pocket and then realized I had left my money in my purse, which was sitting on the kitchen counter back at my house. “Damn.” I whispered.

“Don’t worry Sweetheart, I got it.” Blake murmured just so I could hear. He slipped a black leather wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. He handed it to the women at the cash register thing.

She was pretty and in her twenties and she stared at Blake with wide eyes. She took the money and popped it into the cash register. I plopped my hand on the counter so she could stamp it and Blake did the same. The woman-I looked at her nametag pinned to her shirt and it read ‘Mattie’-quickly stamped my hand without the slightest hint of hesitation. When it came time to stamp Blake’s hand I noticed her bite down on her bottom lip and stamp the back of his hand with trembling fingers.

I didn’t know if she could sense something predatory about him and was scared or if she thought he was really attractive and was about to pee her pants. Blake offered her a small smile and her already wide eyes widened even more.

Once our hands were properly stamped, I grabbed his arm and pulled him through the narrow hallway. The skating rink was the second largest building in Jasper Lake. Right after the mall. The skate floor was made up of cement and painted over in bright colors; it was surrounded by a three-foot wall on all sides aside for small sections that were open at regular intervals to let people off the skate floor.

The rest of the floor was covered with black felt that skates could roll over easily. There were various arcade games scattered about the building and a generously sized play area for children less than ten years of age. There was a snack bar and a tile area that was blocked off for parties. The whole interior behind the hallway was dark with psychedelic lights flashing above the floor.

I lead Blake to the counter where you could rent skates. “I cannot believe you are making me do this.” He said, leaning against the counter. I grinned at him and asked, “What size shoe do you wear?” I glanced briefly at his feet and before he could answer I said, “Eleven?” He nodded as a somewhat impressed expression slid across his face.

“What d’you need?” The guy at the counter asked. I turned to face him,
“Nate?” I said in surprise. He blinked blearily as if he would very much like to be asleep at the moment.

“Hey Zoey.” He said, a bright smile creeping onto his face. I felt myself smile back almost involuntarily.

“I didn’t know you worked here.” I said. He shrugged.

“Neither did I ‘til Asher dragged me outta bed and told me I did.” He said, his Tennessee accent flaring. Asher is his older brother who has been trying to get him a job for about a year now. I laughed and Nate did the strange smirky thing that reminded me why I had such a major crush on him in the eighth grade.

“So whatcha need?” he asked again.

“Um, size eight in women and size eleven in men.” I replied.

“Skates or blades?” He inquired.

“Skates.” I answered. He nodded and went off in search of the skates. I looked at Blake who was staring after Nate.

“He likes you, you know.” He murmured. I raised an eyebrow.

“How do you know?” I asked. He shrugged.

“The moment he saw you his heart sped up as well as his breathing.” He said as if he had expected me to hear it too. I grinned mischievously.

“You’re not jealous are you?” I asked in a sing-songy voice. He scoffed defensively.

“Now way! The dude has absolutely nothing on me I’m a freaking vampire.” He said with a laugh that sounded darker than intended.

“Exactly.” I said, working my way off the topic of my love life. “You have amazing dexterity. You’ll be skating circles around me in no time.” I said, bumping him with my shoulder. He bumped me back.

“That’s not what I’m worried about. It’s just, the last time I went to a Roller Rink was in 1977 and I didn’t exactly do much skating.” He explained.

I cocked my head to the side. “What else could you do at a skating rink but skate?” I asked curiously. In 1977, he was still seventeen years old and my mom was only seven. It rather freaked me out but I like being freaked out. He smirked dangerously at me.

“Watch. Lure. Feed.” He whispered first in my right ear and then in my left. He straightened into a more appropriate stance and shrugged, “It was a process.”

I swallowed nervously and he burst out laughing. “Here’s your skates.” Nate said. Blake took both pairs of skates and muttered a careless “thanks” in Nate’s direction. Nate raised an eyebrow at me. I rolled my eyes. Maybe Blake was right about Nate liking me. I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I mean I’ve read Twilight before and the whole Edward/Jacob love triangle thing was pretty messed up. Why couldn’t Nate have been into me in the eighth grade when I had been like madly in love with him?

Blake plopped down on a bench that was backed against the wall and handed me my skates.

I sat down next to him and kicked my ratty sneakers off exposing my bright blue socks. Blake chuckled quietly, “Nice socks.” I grinned at him as thanks for the compliment. He sighs and leans back against the wall. I risked a quick glance at his feet and see that he already has his skates on while I barely have the first one untied.

I feel him watching me and his eyes are filled with longing. The normal longing, the human longing.

When I finished tying the laces on my final skate Blake jumped up from the bench. He seemed as steady with skates as without skates. He held his hand out for me. I took it without hesitation. Although I was a good skater, I was prone to falling so I was thankful for his stability.

He laughed good-naturedly at my unsteadiness. We rolled our way to one of the open spaces about three yards away.

“You seem to be in pretty high spirits. Considering you were nearly tortured to death not ten hours ago.” I said. He let go of my hand and gestured widely at the skating rink.

“I’m in a dimly lit room, listening to some pretty good seventies rock, surrounded by tasty looking people, with the girl I love. What’s not to be in high spirits about?” He said, grinning roguishly.

“What if the Hunter’s come after you again?” I mumbled. He gave me an incredulous look and scoffed.

“Like they’d try. I put the fear of God into them. They’ll have to regroup…and wait until that Peyton chick’s red blood count increases.” He said. Okay that’s the second crack he’s made about eating people.

“Well what about after they regroup?” I asked, purposely leaving out the part about Peyton’s blood cells.

He frowned and shrugged. “We’ll deal with it when it happens. Now chill Zo, we’re on a date.” He said winding an arm around my waist. That’s the first time he ever called me ‘Zo’. I sighed worriedly; but with his arm around me like that, I couldn’t possibly keep a straight face.

I smiled and leaned my head against his shoulder. He pressed his lips against the top of my head and inhaled deeply. He groaned quietly. “God. Why can’t I get used to how good you smell?” The question was rhetorical so I didn’t answer.

Suddenly Phoebe popped up literally out of nowhere. “Hello Zoey. And LoverVamp.” She said, smiling hugely.

“Hey Pheebs. Where you been?” I asked. She shrugged and started rolling off ahead of us. I removed Blake’s arm from around my waist but kept a hold of his hand and started after Phoebe tugging Blake along with me.

“I was at the snack bar getting ice cream. Then I talked with Nate for a bit. BTW he says your boyfriend freaks him out. So now, you know that I am not the only one! Then I requested a song.” She took a deep breath after her long run-on sentence.

“What song did you request?” I asked. She grinned mischievously.

“You’ll see.” She said. Some random song by The Ramones ended and a new song started. A song I instantly recognized as David Bowie’s “REBEL REBEL.”

I squealed and jumped up. When I landed, I stumbled and nearly fell over before Blake’s arm reached out and caught me inches before I hit the floor.

I giggled nervously and I checked Blake’s expression just to make sure I hadn’t crossed some invisible line that made him lose his carefully maintained self-control.

The corners of his mouth had pulled into a slight frown but his eyes didn’t betray any of what he was feeling. He pulled me back up into a standing position. I smiled apologetically at him hoping he would forgive me. He smiled back showing off his teeth. They were sparkling white but his canines remained utterly human.

“I like this song.” I explained. His smiled widened and he chuckled.

“I could tell.” Phoebe abruptly began singing along at the top of her voice.

“YOU’VE GOT YOUR MOTHER IN A WHIRL! SHE’S NOT SURE IF YOU’RE A BOY OR A GIRL!” Several people stared. I rolled my eyes at her but couldn’t help but hum along.

“David Bowie was a very strange musician.” Blake muttered, squinting his eyes as one of the flashing lights flashed our way. I nodded in agreement, causing my side ponytail to bob on my head.

“I saw him once in concert and believe me, once was enough.” Blake said. I squealed and grabbed his arm in a death grip. “You‘ve seen David Bowie! You are so lucky!” I said. He caught my hand and kissed my palm.

“Unbelievably lucky.” He whispered. I shivered at his touch and he laughed. Phoebe sighed loudly.

“Well if you guys are just gonna grope all day I’m going back to the snack bar.” She rolled her eyes at us and rolled back toward one of the openings in the wall. I shook my head at her in mock sadness. Blake laughed.

“I’d swear she was jealous.” I said. I rolled my head to look at him. “She needs a boyfriend.” I rationalized. He grinned.

“What time is it?” I asked suddenly. It seems I always have to know the time and I ask at the most random of moments. He shrugged.

“About 11:30 why?” He asked. I fleetingly glanced at his wrist for a watch, his hand for a phone and the wall for a clock and found none of any.

“How do you know?” He shrugged.

“I just do.” He admitted. I smirked.

“You’re just so full of vampire powers.” He smiled impishly at me and leaned closer.

“More powers than you know.” He whispered in my right ear. His proximity made me shiver again.

Suddenly there was a loud crash and my head whipped around at the sound though both Blake and I kept skating. A girl was on the floor wailing. She was the first person to fall during this session.

“That sounded like it hurt.” I mumbled. There were patches of the floor not covered in paint exposing the rough cement underneath. That was what the young girl tripped over.

Abruptly Blake stopped bringing my attention back to him. I looked away from the girl that had fallen and looked at him. His expression was fierce and it almost scared me. His mouth was slightly ajar and I could see the tips of his elongated canines that were just visible behind his top lip. His eyes were flat out black and his face seemed paler than it had been just five minutes again.

“Blake?” He didn’t respond. I shook his shoulder gently, “Dude are you okay?” He turned slowly to look at the girl who had fallen. I followed his gaze and gasped. The girl was still on the floor, crying, holding her knee. There was a large circular scratch right on her kneecap and a heavy trail of blood was spilling down her leg and pooling on the floor.

“S***!” I exclaimed in a loud whisper. This was bad! “Blake.” I shook him. Or I attempted to but he kept as still as stone. I growled in the back of my throat and pounded on his chest with my fist. “Blake look at me.” I commanded. His head whipped around and he glared at me.

“Calm down. You have to keep control.” I whispered. A devilish smirk split his face and the sight was terrifying and attractive at the same time.

“Who says I want to keep control?” He snarled. Suddenly he was gone. My head whipped around trying to find Blake. Then I saw him. He was kneeling by the girl who had scraped her knee with a tight-lipped smile. He was no longer wearing skates though.

“Are you alright?” I heard him ask the girl in a seductive voice. She looked up at him and gasped quietly, seeming to forget the pain of her knee for the moment.

“Y-yeah, I’m alright. It’s just a scratch.” She said.

“Let me take a look.” He commanded in a near irresistible voice. I could only imagine what was going through that girl’s head right now.

She pulled her hand away from her knee and it was a pretty bad scrape. Nothing that would damage her health or anything but it would probably bleed for a while. I saw Blake gently prod the bloody area around the scratch and I saw the girl wince. He pulled his hand away and the tips of two of his fingers were coated with blood. He turned away from the girl and I leaned with him so I could see what he was doing.

Shock, disgust, and a fair bit of attraction boiled in my chest when I saw his tongue flick out to lick his fingers clean. I saw the corners of his mouth turn upward in a smirk. He turned back to the girl and helped her to her feet.

“How about we see if the front desk has some bandages?” He asked the girl in a perfectly polite voice. I couldn’t even imagine how hard it was to maintain that polite tone of voice. The girl stumbled slightly and he caught her by the arm.

“Sure.” She said with a slightly pained smile. He nodded and pulled her towards an opening in the wall. When he left the rink I suddenly unfroze and the moment I unfroze one impossible thought surged through my brain. Blake was going to kill her.

I raced to the nearest opening, ripped off my skates, and shoved my feet into my shoes that were still resting on the bench where I had taken them off. I ran toward the exit passing the snack bar. I saw Phoebe at a table with a couple of the kids from our school. She gave me a look that said, “What’s wrong?” I knew there was panic on my face and I knew she could read that panic. Her eyes widened as she made the connection. Something was wrong with Blake.

I got to the lobby and turned to the girl at the counter. “Um excuse me,” I said hurriedly. She looked alarmed and not just a little bit scared. “Did you see the guy that was with me pass through here? He was with a girl with a scraped knee.” I knew she would remember Blake. He wasn’t easily forgotten.

“He left.” She said in a nigh whisper.

“Which way did he go?” I asked urgently. She pointed to the right with a shaking hand.

“He looked like he was fixing to do some serious damage. He looked…” She trailed off.

“Hungry.” I suggested. She nodded. “Damn.” I cursed under my breath then I left. I turned to the right and ran to the back of the building. There was a overhanging roof on the back of the building creating a fair bit of shade, and in that shade I found Blake as well as the young girl. She was younger than I was fourteen at the most.

My eyes bulged at what I saw. Blake was holding the girl by the arms his nails digging into her flesh so hard that beads of blood were trailing down her skin and his mouth was braced firmly against the girl’s throat greedily gulping down her blood as if it were freaking ambrosia.

“Blake.” I whispered incredulously. I raced to where Blake and the girl stood with impossible speed. “Blake!” I yelled furiously, as I did something no intelligent person would dare attempt. I wrapped both my arms around the torso of a feeding vampire and pulled on him with all my strength. He broke away from the girl and I stumbled backwards my arms still locked around him.

The girl sank to the ground whimpering feebly. She was still alive, her eyes frozen open in fear. “W-what happened?” She whispered. I looked at the girl though it was taking most of my attention to keep Blake from going after her. You see, he was hissing and spitting and struggling fiercely against my grip. It was a wonder I was able to keep a hold of him. Maybe I did have something in the way of Hunter strength.

“Go! Run!” I shouted at the girl. The girl sensed the power and urgency in my voice and immediately stood up. She stumbled and braced herself against the wall then she ran as fast as she could back towards the front of the building. I hope that she would have the sense to just keep running.

Blake growled loudly. It was a feral sound that would sound more normal coming from the mouth of a lion than that of a teenage boy. It was quite possibly the most fearsome sound on the planet and it was loud enough to make my ears ring.

“LET ME GO!” he roared and there was just the slightest bit of motion in his arms and suddenly he was racing towards the front of the building at amazing speed, probably following the scent of that girl.

I hurried after him and I was astonished as I caught up with in a matter of seconds. I reached out and grabbed the collar of his jacket. He jerked back and fell to the ground. We were still out of sight, still in the shade, and still alone. I quickly did the first thing that popped into my brain. I pinned his shoulders to the ground and sat on top of him.

I took in his appearance with careful eyes. His fangs were bared and red with blood, his eyes were the darkest black I’d ever seen, and his chest was heaving with intermittent breath. Something was wrong with him. Something was terribly wrong. He seemed to have lost his mind completely and I had the strangest feeling that I was somehow responsible.

After a few moments, he gradually ceased struggling and calmed down a little. “Z-Zoey, you gotta let me up!” He insisted, his dark eyes focusing on my face. My brow creased and I glared down at Blake.

“Oh I do, do I? Why?” He seemed taken aback by my retort.

“Yes, you do. It’s for your own protection I assure you.” He flustered and he tried to lift himself off the ground but I pressed him back into the asphalt and squeezed his sides with my knees.

“You are in no position to assure me of anything.” I said. Something resembling a cry of exasperation mixed with a growl escaped from his open mouth and he proceeded to bang his head once furiously against the pavement. Small fractures appeared in the asphalt and I have to admit that I was impressed.

“Blake, you do know that you just bit someone, right?” I inquired suspiciously. He scoffed at me.

“I know perfectly well what I just did, Miss State the Obvious. I do remember, you know! It happened like five minutes ago! She tasted damn good too!” He laughed loudly.

My mouth dropped open in shock. I can’t believe he’s saying this. He abruptly ceased laughing.

“Oh I’m sorry Sweetheart. I didn’t mean to offend you. She didn’t taste as good as you did. No where even close.”

“What the hell has gotten into Blake? You seem almost drunk!” I exclaimed. He smirked at me mischievously.

“Vampire’s can’t get drunk silly…well, they can, but not on alcohol.” He answered with a laugh. That explained it. He was blood drunk. The only kind of drunk a vampire can get.

“You should really let me up before that girl’s scent goes cold.” He said in a dreadfully carefree voice. As if he had all the time in the world and was just having fun with me.

“Why? What do you need that girl for?” I asked, not making a single move to let him up.

“Well I have to finish her off of course or she could tell someone about me.” He said as if it were perfectly evident.

“She won’t tell anyone.” I promised. He rolled his eyes.

“Well maybe you should let me up just to talk to her and make sure she won’t tell.” He insisted with a charming smile.

“Uhhh…no!” I replied sarcastically. He sighed and his head fell to the side.
“You’re no fun.” He whined. Suddenly it came crashing down on me. The way he’d been talking to me, the way he’d been acting, the jibes he’d made about his former process. Watching. Luring. Feeding. How he was happy that he was in a dimly lit room full of tasty looking people. Peyton’s blood count. He’d been so happy and wild and the complete opposite of the Blake I knew.

“You’re not Blake.” I whispered. He let out a sharp bark of laughter.

“So you’ve finally figured it out have you?” He said, a slight Romanian accent leaking through his words.

“Who are you?” I asked my voice no more than a whisper. He cleared his throat and smirked dangerously.

“Anton Pierdut. Blake’s truest self where his dark heart lies. Nice to meet you Dragostea.” My eyes pop open wide and because I’m the weirdo that I am, a large grin split my face.

“So you’re the guy that Blake was before you killed that little witch thirteen years ago? You know, I‘ve always wanted to meet you.” I said, without showing the slightest hint of fear. He smiled wickedly and I could clearly see his fangs, but he seemed perfectly at ease.

He wiggled his shoulders beneath my grip, and for a split second, I was afraid he was going to try something but he just clasped his hands behind his head and lay back down.

“The young Wiccan was Clay’s little sister. And honey you’ve already met me.” He said with a laugh.

“That’s why he hates you so much. You killed everybody he cared about.”

“That I did! It was quite an accomplishment. I killed a whole coven of witches in one night! I asked them nicely to remove the hex first, of course. But when they refused…well.” He chuckled darkly.

I smirked, “Let me guess; you chewed out their throats and sucked them dry.”

“I’m flattered. You know me so well.” He murmured.

“That’s right. I do know you. You did drink my blood after all. I may have fed it to Blake but you were the one who drank it to save your own life.”

“Hmm, yes. You gave me the strength to overcome Blake’s more human nature. Sometimes he gets loose though and I’m determined not to let it happen again. I have to keep drinking human blood to keep him in check. Have I mentioned that I find you very appealing in this position? It is very picturesque. Someone should definitely take a Polaroid or something.” He admitted with a sly smile.

I realized that to any outside observer I would look like some enormous slut straddling my boyfriend behind a Roller Rink.

He removed his hands from behind his head and placed both on each side of my waist. His figure blurred and suddenly he was sitting up and I was on my knees facing away from him. His right hand was around my throat and his left hand was binding my hands behind my back. His grip on my throat was just loose enough to allow me to breathe.

“Do you know how easily I could kill you right now Amant?” He asked in a voice no louder than a whisper his Romanian accent flaring as he said the word ‘amant’ what it meant I wasn’t sure. Despite the position I was in I didn’t feel scared.

“Pretty easily I’m sure.” I said in a calm voice. I felt his cool breath against the back of my neck as he chuckled.

“But you’re fairly intriguing draga, and I have absolutely nothing against you. How ’bout we try to make this work you and I? Unless you’d prefer Blake. If that is the case you’d better not get in the way when I feed or you could end up getting hurt,” He stroked my cheek with his thumb. “We wouldn’t want that would we?”

I stared down at his arm. It was pale and cold, and lean and muscled. To be perfectly honest it was quite an attractive arm as far as arms go. I gently pulled my left arm free of his grasp and trailed my fingers along his right until I reached his hand. I tugged on his fingers until he released my throat.

I kissed his fingertips one by one and let my tongue lick his skin. As weird as it sounds he tasted good. Not like food good. Not like how he thought I tasted good.

“No we wouldn’t.” I whispered into his hand. He chuckled deviously and twisted his hand so that his fingers entwined with mine.

“This is going to be even more fun that I imagined it would be.” he said. I turned around to face him.

“So you were counting on me being a human with no sense of morality?” I asked plainly.

“Hm, something like that.” He murmured. He seemed puzzled. I couldn’t be sure why. I decided to ask. It might not have been the smartest idea but I was curious.

“You seem surprised.” I whispered, looking into his face. His eyes were still black, his canines were still deathly sharp, but he wasn’t behaving like a feral animal anymore. He had seemed to gain some sort of twisted control over his actions.

“I’m not easily surprised but I must confess that you surprise me greatly. I’m…interested in you. Hunters, hell, humans in general are very conflicted creatures. They’re always agonizing over what’s right and what’s wrong. When you become a vampire, you can turn that off like a switch and suddenly there’s this blinding clarity coming at you from all directions and you can do anything you want without consequences. You seem to have that clarity as well.” He said.

“No, I don’t have that clarity. I’m just a grade A vampire freak whose dream it’s been since she saw Queen of the Damned when she was seven-years-old to be a vampire’s girlfriend and watch him kill people and drink their blood.” I said my eyes wide.

He began laughing. It didn’t sound menacing at all. It was light, carefree, and happy. It was a beyond pleasant sound that I wouldn’t mind listening to for the rest of my life. It was the exact replica of Blake’s laugh. This sound was unchanged.

“Why was that your dream? A seven-year-old’s dream?” He inquired. I grinned and shrugged.

“A vampire biting into a young girl’s neck…It always seemed kinda sexy.” I said sheepishly.

He laughed again and pulled me into a tight hug. The action took my breath away. My head was against his chest and I could hear his breath racing through his lungs. He pressed his lips against the top of my head. It felt the same as the hugs I had shared with Blake but somehow different. More meaningful almost.

“You are so twisted.” He whispered. I felt his body against my face. His chest was cold, muscular, and perfect but just a little bit off. He was just flawed enough so that my presence made him perfect.

“Yeah I am pretty twisted.” I admitted.

“Join the club, Sweetheart.”

“Can I be club president?” I asked. He chuckled quietly.

“Sure.” He mumbled. I pulled away from him and stood up. I held my hand out for him. He grasped my hand and I helped him up.

“You wanna go back in?” I asked. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose. He seemed to be sniffing. It was a peculiar sight to see but I can’t say it was entirely unattractive.

“If you want; but I don’t smell anything good in there.” He said. I giggled and jumped up and down like a loon.

“You are like so much cooler than Blake!” I shrieked. He threw his head back and laughed.

“I’m afraid you’re only stating the obvious. What I can’t understand is how Blake landed a chick like you.”

“He had good taste. So you’re saying that the girl who scraped her knee was the only tasty tidbit in the whole rink?” I asked incredulously. He put an arm around my waist and pulled me close to his side. He cleared his throat and a short laugh escaped from his mouth.

“I can’t say she was the only one. Honestly, I’d like to drain ‘em all but that would arouse suspicion.” He said in a completely honest, straightforward way. He was a lot more truthful with me than Blake was. He didn’t see the need to spare my feelings. I was starting to like Anton more than Blake. It was strange but he was the kind of guy I had wanted from the beginning. A wild, passionate, semi-deranged vampire. I had just settled for Blake because he was interesting.

“Yeah a small town like this isn’t the best place for a first-class massacre.” I said. He smiled brightly at me.

“What’d be nice is if we could head to the capitol. Could kill as many people as I wanted there.” He said staring out into the parking lot.

“Yeah but the police force there is a lot more competent. You could always just feed on people without killing them.” Anton sighed and stopped walking. We had stopped just at the edge of the shade. He squinted his eyes against the light of the sun.

“It’s not that simple.” He murmured.

“What’s not?” I asked.

“It’s not that simple to just start feeding and stop at any time.”

“So when you taste blood it makes you go into a frenzy and you can’t stop?” I asked.

“Exactly.” We were still stopped at the edge between light and dark. He bit down on his bottom lip and looked nervously out into the sun-bathed parking lot.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, taking his hand from my waist and wrapping his arm around my shoulders.

“It’s a really nice day. It’s usually not this sunny here.” He said. I reached up onto my toes and kissed him on the neck. What little color Anton had focused in his cheeks and he blushed. I giggled. It was nice to know that Anton wasn’t all-smooth, he still had some adorable awkwardness left in him.

“Let’s get out of here.” He said all of a sudden.

“Where do you wanna go?” I asked. He shrugged.

“I d’know. Somewhere fun.”

“Where’s fun in Jasper Lake?” I asked. He turned his head and touched the tip of his nose to my jaw. I instantly froze. Not because I was scared but it was just a reaction. He chuckled breathily.

“Ever heard of Domain?” He asked in a husky voice. I shook my head and arched my neck. He trailed his nose along my throat and his breathing sped up along with mine.

“It’s a night club at the east edge of town. I’ve never been there but it can’t be completely stupid. I see many interesting looking people go there.” He mumbled against my skin.

“‘Night’ being the operative word.” I said. He laughed and straightened up.
“We can go later if you want. But I still want to get out of here. This place is giving me a migraine.”

“Sure. We can go back to my place or yours; whichever.” I suggested. He tightened his arm around my shoulder and continued reluctantly into the sunlight.

“Your house has too many windows.” He admitted, shielding his eyes against the sun with his free hand.

“I’ve been meaning to get some thicker curtains. You should really get some sunglasses or something.” I said. He tilted his head to look at me and rolled his eyes in an impeccably adorable way.

“I own sunglasses I just have a habit of forgetting to wear them.” He mumbled, his left hand drifting up to cradle his forehead.

“It seems, Anton, that the sun affects you more than it affects Blake.” I observed. He exhaled deeply and dropped his arm.

“Yeah, let’s go.” He shook his head as if to clear it. I pulled my keys out of my pocket and unlocked my car with the press of a button. I opened the driver side door and slid into the seat. Anton (Blake? Hell I don’t even know anymore!) opened the passenger side and flopped down into the seat. He closed the door and pulled the handle on the side of the seat. The back of the seat fell backwards and Anton closed his eyes and covered his face with his arm.

I glanced quickly at him and shook my head while a smile planted itself firmly upon my lips. I found my cell phone and was just about to slide it open when “Save our Souls” starting blasting from the speakers. I opened the phone and put it too my ear.

“Hey Pheebs, I was just about to call you.” I said.

“Where are you? What’s going on? I saw Blake leave with some girl and then you left and I was worried! The girl was bleeding pretty badly and he seemed kind of…” She trailed off and I knew exactly what she meant.

“Yeah he’s fine now. The girl’s fine too.” I let my eyes flick to Anton. His arm was still covering his eyes and there was a slight smile playing around the edges of his mouth. I knew what he wanted me to do. He wanted me to feed Phoebe some bull crap story that she would believe. I couldn’t help but grin.

“It must’ve been the sun. Have you noticed that it is really sunny today?” I asked. She sighed. I hope she believed me.

“Yeah. Stupid sun. Someone should really do something about that freaking star.” She said. Ha. Classic Pheebs.

“I’m gonna drive him home ‘kay.” I said.

“You’re gonna come back though right? After you drop him off you’re coming right back to spend some quality time with your bestie right?” She asked almost pleadingly.

“Pheebs you live with me. You’ll be seeing me so much you’ll be sick of me by the end of summer.” I said with a smile. I heard her laugh into the phone.

“I’ll never get sick of you girlie. The skate session is over in two hours though; you’ll come back for me won’t you?” She asked.

“Umm…I might be spending a few hours with Blake; we’re going to a night club called Domain after the sun sets.” I said sheepishly.

“Ooh Domain. Schmexy! I can catch a ride with someone.” Phoebe squealed.

“You’ve been to Domain?” I asked in bemusement.

“No, but Nate has. He says it’s majorly cool. Our kind of place completely.” She said excitedly. I smiled.

“You should ask Nate if he’ll take you.” I said.

“Mmm…I don’t know. I don’t think he’s that into me. Which is weird ‘cause you know, like everybody is into me!” She said kind of self-absorbedly. I grinned.

“You can just ask him as a friend.” I suggested.

“Okee dokee! I’ll do that then! See ya later!”

“See ya Pheebs.” She giggled and the line went dead. I shut my phone and shook my head. I can’t believe that worked. I turned my head to look at Anton; his slight smile had turned into a full-blown grin.

“Was that okay?” I asked. His free arm reached up and curled around my neck and he pulled my body down to lean over the center console. He uncovered his eyes and grabbed my chin with his other hand drawing my face nearer so it was only inches away from his. He kissed me full on the mouth, his lips immediately parting and his tongue pressing against my lips.

This was the first time any guy had kissed me like that. Actually, embarrassingly enough, I haven’t been kissed on the lips by anyone that wasn’t related to me. Heh, I’m sixteen and I’ve never had an actual boyfriend.

I didn’t know how to respond. But something inside me stirred something deep in my brain that told me what to do. I opened my mouth and tentatively let my tongue brush his.

The first time Phoebe kissed a boy with tongue was when she was fourteen and she’d told me it was disgusting and slimy like steamed oysters or something. This wasn’t anything like that. His lips, his tongue, his skin was cool while the kiss was almost unbearably hot.

He pulled away from me but kept my face close. “You were perfect.” He whispered. I smiled and my heartbeat sped up considerably. He smiled back, his fangs were completely exposed, and he seemed to have no intention of hiding them.

“You smell incredible.” He groaned. I brushed a piece of his hair out of his face with a twitch of my fingers.

“I believe you’ve mentioned that before.” I murmured. He caught my right hand and pressed the inside of my wrist to his lips.

“I just can’t get used to it.” He whispered feverishly. I gently pulled my hand away and I saw his eyes follow.

“I did that.” Anton stated brushing his fingers against the crest shaped scar. His eyes looked confused.

“Yes. You did that. My first battle scar. I think it looks cool.” He grinned.

“Don’t you mean your second?” He asked. I tilted my head to the side. He reached up and trailed his fingers along the back of my neck. The action made me shiver. He was right. My first scar was the one I got when we first met. The one on the back of my neck from the mirror.

“Was that you or Blake that tried to kill me all those nights ago?” I asked curiously. He smirked.

“I wouldn’t know. Maybe it was both of us.”

“Hmm, interesting.” I mumbled. I leaned back into my seat and I heard him sigh. I stuck the keys into ignition and the car roared to life before lapsing into a quiet purr. Usually when I’m driving I immediately turn on the radio and I had to fight not to flick to the hard rock station.

“Zoey, you’re allowed to turn the radio on. It is your car after all.” Anton said. I gave him a sideways look and smiled.

“Any preferences?” I asked. He grinned.

“Hmm, hard rock seems suitable.” He said, barely containing a laugh. I turn my head to look at him as we come to one of a total of three stoplights in town and I raise a curious eyebrow.

“Okay, it’s the strangest thing. I was just thinking that.” I said incredulously. As far as I knew neither Blake nor Anton could read minds.

“I know.” He snickered. The light turned green and I punched on the gas. I flicked the radio on and turned it down low enough that it was just background noise.

“How did you know?” I asked. He yanked playfully on my side ponytail and laughed.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” He said. It’s interesting; I was really under the impression that Anton would be like an evil genius or something. He didn’t seem evil to me. He seemed like a pretty cool person.

Anton laughed again. “What were you expecting? Dr. Doom?” He asked. My head whipped around to stare at him. The car swerved before I turned my attention back to the road.

“I knew it! You can read minds!” I exclaimed. He pulled the handle on the side of the seat and sat back up. He leaned toward me over the center console again and cradled my jaw in his right hand.

“I can only read minds when I have a constant supply of fresh human blood.” He whispered, touching the tip of his nose against my throat.

“You need some more?” I asked, arching my neck. I felt his cold breath against my skin and then his teeth almost penetrating, almost reaching the warm blood underneath. My heart was beating erratically and I wanted him to bite me but I had to concentrate on the road. There may not have been much traffic but there was enough.

I took one hand off the steering wheel and placed it on his chest. I pushed him back into his seat. “Later. I’m driving.” I insisted reluctantly. He gripped the edges of the seat and cast a dark glance at me.

“Later, you promise?” He asked almost desperately. It didn’t make sense that he would be hungry still but maybe I didn’t understand anything.

“You don’t understand a lot but some things you do understand. Ever since last night…I’ve just been starving for some reason and no matter how much I drink the hunger won’t go away.” He said, folding double in his seat. I turned left down his long driveway and looked over at him with sympathy. I let go of the steering wheel with one hand and reached over to brush his hair out of his face.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get you something later; maybe you can find something at the club.” I suggested. He straightened up and turned to look at me.

“You are so good to me.” He said.

I pulled the car up to Blake’s/Anton’s house (this is getting confusing). And pulled the key out of ignition. I sighed and sat back in my seat. Anton stared out the windshield into the sun-bathed yard, light filtering through the many trees scattered about his property.

“You okay?” I asked. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then he licked his lips uncertainly and turned to me with a big and undeniably fake smile.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He said unconvincingly. I opened the door and jumped out onto the grassy yard. I shut the door and looked back at Anton through the windshield. I motioned to him with my left hand.

“Come on!” I commanded with a smile. He kicked open the passenger door and, so quickly he was a blur, he was standing under the eave hanging over the front door. I spun around and ran after him. When I came to him, I saw him staring blankly at the key pad on the left side of the door.

“I-I forgot the combination.” He said. I rolled my eyes at him and pushed him aside. I started punching in the combination still wondering how exactly I knew what it was.

“How do you know the combination? I’ve only taken you here once.” I shrugged as the small green light came on and I opened the door.

“I just know. It’s weird. Sometimes I just know things.” I whispered as I pulled him through the door. He closed the door behind us.

“Ack! I can’t see a thing!” I complained. “Don’t you have any windows?” I asked. He chuckled breathlessly. I widened my eyes and tried to see but it was hopeless.

“Guess you haven’t gained the ability to see in the dark yet. Don’t fret Dragostea I’ll get the lamps.” Two seconds after he said this, the room lit up with oil lamps at regular intervals on the wall. The soft light was very easy on the eyes and left some corners of the room in shadow. I looked around but couldn’t see Anton anywhere.

“In here.” Came his voice and I saw the kitchen light up with more lamps. I walked slowly into the kitchen and saw Anton removing his leather jacket and dropping it on the floor. He waved a hand at the counter so I took a seat at one of the stools. I pulled the scrunchie out of my hair and combed my fingers through the tangles in my hair.

“You hungry? ‘Cause all I got is water and…ew.” He opened the refrigerator and all I saw was a few water bottles and a plastic container full of blood. He turned back to me and his expression was so disgusted I had to laugh.

“I’m fine but thanks for trying.” I got out between giggles. He shook his head and slammed the door shut hard enough to make the whole refrigerator tremble. He sat down at the counter in a seat that was right across from mine and put his head in his hands.

“I honestly don’t know how Blake drinks that s***.” He mumbled to the table. I reached my arm across the table and pat him on the arm.

“Blake even told me he has a hard time digesting that stuff.” I said. He grabbed my hand and pressed his lips against my palm.

“Animal blood smells better than it tastes and it doesn’t smell so good. Just the scent coming off your skin is enough to drive me crazy.” He whispered, staring down at the lines on my hand.

“How about a taste?” I asked. His eyes flicked up to my face and he smiled. He opened his mouth and the sight of his fangs poised over my wrist made goose bumps rise on the back of my neck. I pulled my hand back and his mouth clamped over empty air. He growled low in the back of his throat.

“Why’d you do that?” He hissed. Fear leaped in my chest and I backed away from him. I couldn’t decide if I liked the feeling of fear or not.

“I’m getting a knife.” I said, looking around the kitchen.

“Why?” He asked moodily. I spotted his knife collection in the corner and unlatched the glass door.

“I don’t want Phoebe to see that you’ve fed on me again.” I said.

“Ooh, look at miss Smarty Pants thinking ahead.” He said sarcastically. I chose a gleaming dagger from the case and twirled it between my fingers. I sat back down at the counter and placed the point of the blade against my skin. Anton licked his lips apprehensively.

“Most ordinary teenagers haven’t the ability to slice through their skin with ease.” I murmured.

“You are anything but ordinary, Zoey.” He said. I noticed his fingers trembling as he grasped the edge of the steel counter. I drug the point across my left forearm and a trail of blood spilled from the laceration and onto the counter top.

His arm flashed out to grab mine and his fingers smeared the blood across my skin. He lifted my arm to his lips in a blinding movement and I felt his teeth against my wrist. The sound of him drinking my blood made my heart rate climb. I just hoped he wouldn’t go too far. Just as I began to feel faint, he ripped himself away from my bleeding arm and backed away from the counter knocking over the stool he was sitting on. He pressed back against the brick wall that separated the kitchen from the living room.

His mouth was covered with my blood and he truly looked like a vampire. I watched as he turned and pounded his fists against the brick wall hard enough to make some of the older ones crumble as if that wall had done him a personal wrong. The effort it took to contain his hunger made him seem almost mad. He laughed hysterically and sank to his knees. He looked up the wall as if he were seeing something that wasn’t there and then rested his head against the brick with closed eyes. “Anton?” I asked.

“What makes you so different?” He inquired in a whisper. I didn’t quite understand his question but the cold air in his house was stinging my new cut.
“What do you mean?” I asked. He shook his head and laughed again.

“How do you do it? How do you make me so crazy?” He groaned as he spun around to sit with his back to the wall. He swiped the blood away from his mouth with the back of his hand and then licked the blood off his skin.

“Well you said that Hunters’ blood was the best.” I mumbled. I was seriously beginning to think that Anton was less evil and more insane. He shook his head again furiously.

“No! I’ve come across thirty-two Hunters. I’ve killed seventeen. I’ve drained eleven. None have smelled at tantalizing as you. Not even close. And the taste…I want more! I need more!” He pushed himself up off the floor and had my left arm in his hand in the blink of an eye, literally.

“No. You’ve had enough.” I said trying to pull my arm back. He growled and bared his fangs at me. I couldn’t help but notice that he had fangs on the bottom jaw as well as the top. How had I not noticed that before?

He brought my arm to his lips though I fought with every ounce of my strength against him. I was into it once or twice but I wasn’t stupid. Him being so out of control like this! He could kill me! and believe it or not…I didn’t want to die. He dug his fingernails into my skin and beads of blood dripped from my arm and onto the table.

“That hurts.” I said staring down at his hand gripping my arm. He bent over my arm and pressed his lips against the cut.

“Stop. Please.” I cried as he pressed his fangs against my skin. Suddenly he lurched away from me and moved his hands from my forearm to my bare upper arms. He kicked my stool out from under me and pinned me against the wall my back was to. He restrained himself from embedding his sharp nails into my skin but his fingertips still did enough damage. If he squeezed any tighter, he would most likely break my arms.

“What have you done to me?” He pleaded, looking me straight in the eye. His words didn’t make any sense. I shook my head frantically.

“I-I don’t know what you mean!” I answered. My voice sounded scared and young.

“You made me drink! Why?! Why would you do that?!?!” He screamed. I wasn’t the only one that sounded scared. Anton’s voice had morphed into that of someone that was afraid and seemed to have no knowledge of what was going on.

“Blake?” I whispered disbelievingly. He didn’t have to answer. I could see it in his eyes. They were pitch black still and glistening with the threat of tears. They were filled with terror and confusion and hunger. Not arrogance, insanity, and hunger. (Hunger is just inevitable in this case.)

“I don’t understand. Why did you? I never wanted your blood-like the blood of so many others before you-to dry in my throat like ashes. Why?” He sobbed. Even after everything he’s going through, he still has the mental capacity to be poetic. Yep; that’s Blake. If I learned anything in the last few hours is Anton could never keep his mind together long enough to come up with that one.

“I just wanted you to live Blake. I wasn’t thinking about what would happen afterward.” I said in a hurry. He didn’t seem to be in the mood for patience.

“I’m already dead Zoey. You shouldn’t have even been there. You should’ve just forgotten about me!” He cried. I saw tears spill from his eyes. I didn’t know vampires could cry. Then again, Lestat De Lioncourt cries blood.

“I can’t forget about you.” I whimpered. His yelling was starting to scare me. He stared into my face and I stared back. It was just so again. The cobra and the mouse, the lion and the lamb…Predator and prey. I knew now that I could never have loved Anton. Anton had no soul and soulless beings couldn’t love.

“I should’ve avoided you after that night. I can’t leave now that you’ve grown…attached.” He mused quietly as he cast his gaze downward. I exhaled slowly as his eyes left mine.

“It was good that you saw me after. You nearly killed me. I think I deserved an explanation.” I said. He carefully pulled his hands away and I was able to let my arms relax, though they now ached terribly.

“Not that night.” He carelessly admitted. My eyes narrowed.

“Then what night are you talking about?” I asked.

“Damn it!” He cursed loudly. He backed away from me then and covered his face with his hands. “Forget I said that.” He commanded his words slightly muffled against his hands.

“Blake, what night are you talking about?” I repeated. I walked towards him and he backed up even farther.

“It’s nothing. There’s a first aid kit in the upstairs bathroom closet. I suggest you clean yourself up; I honestly don’t know how much more of this I can handle.” I considered going upstairs but I wanted to know what he meant.

“I’ll go after you tell me what you mean.” I said adamantly. He kept retreating until his back was to the wall.

“I’m serious Zoey. There’s only so much I can take.” He said as his eyes fell to my still bleeding arm.

“Then tell me what I want to know.” I said clenching my fists. He sighed and again covered his face with his hand.

“October 27, 2007.” He whispered. I gasped and immediately ran up the spiral staircase stumbling in the darkness. I groped my way down the hall and turned in the second door on the left. I slammed the door shut and searched in the pitch-blackness for a light switch though I doubted I would find one.
To my surprise, I did find a switch and I flicked it on eager for some artificial lighting. I looked at my reflection in the mirror over the sink and couldn’t help but think my face looked a whole lot paler than usual. I wasn’t sure if it was from the blood loss or from finding out that Blake had been on the bridge the night my parents had died.

Suddenly memories that had been too painful to face in the past came crashing through my mind like water from behind some invisible dam.




My lungs felt ready to burst and the water that had somehow leaked from the fastest flowing part of the Sinistine River (the river that fed into Jasper Lake) into my Mom’s car was over my head and freezing cold.

Winter had come early this year. There had been ice on the bridge. There was a man in the street and my father had to swerve so he wouldn’t hit him. We hit a patch of ice instead, the car had spun out of control, and we had somehow ended up in the water…We were drowning… At least we would die together.

I heard a crack and through the long tunnels that were my eyes, I saw a boy smash through the driver’s side window and grab my dad’s arm. He must have had enough consciousness left to know what was going on because I swear I saw him pull his arm away and point towards me then at my mom. He wanted Mom and I to be saved first.

The boy pulled back and I saw his blurry figure come to my window. He seemed to punch right through the glass and he stuck his arm through the window and pulled me out of the sinking car.

I’m pretty sure I passed out on the way up to the surface because the next thing I know I’m lying on pavement. There’s a slight pressure on my chest and a breath of frozen air tears through my throat and sears in my lungs.

I see the boy clearly now. He is in his teens. Fifteen at the youngest but definitely no older than seventeen or eighteen years old. His eyes are dark gray and his hair-which is soaking wet like the rest of him-hangs in his face. Oh and did I mention that he was quite possibly the most gorgeous person in the entire universe!

I turn my head to see where my parents are but I don’t see them. Is it possible that they’re still in the water? My heartbeat picks up and my breathing starts to quicken.

“Where are my parents?” I ask as I try to sit up. The boy pushes me back down with a cold, firm hand.

“You have to stay down.” The boy says resolutely. His voice is sweet and persuasive and just the very tone immediately makes me want to trust him but I can’t trust him. He might’ve just saved my life but I didn’t know him.

I begin to hyperventilate. “Where the hell are my parents?!?” I scream. His intelligent gray eyes are carefully guarded but I can see right through it. The guilt on his face as he glances towards the deep, rushing water below the bridge.

“No!” I screech. “No! You’re lying! They’re fine! They’re fine! You liar!” I cry in overwhelming denial. I can feel hot tears sting my eyes. With each word, I begin to thrash about on the ground. He places both of his hands on each of my shoulders and presses me into the pavement so roughly that I instantly stop struggling.

“Settle down idiot or you might break something!” He growls at me. I stare hard into his face.

“Damn right I’m gonna break something! It’s called you face! Now let me up before I scream “rape”!” I threaten.

“Go ahead! Scream. No one is around to hear you!” He retorts as his lips pull up in a heartbreaking smirk.

My heart pounds faster as I really see how pleasing he is to look at. Then I blush fiercely as the thought crosses my mind.

The boy looks down at me with a weird expression on his face and his left hand moves from my right shoulder to clear my wet hair from my neck. He looks transfixed and captivated and all those other fancy words that I don’t feel like using just now.

“Hey! Earth to savior! What’s wrong with you?” I ask waving my now free hand in front of his face. He doesn’t seem to notice that I’ve even spoken. His eyes settle on my throat and a crease appears in the middle of his brow as if he is frustrated or something.

He slowly begins to lean over me and he opens his mouth slightly. That’s when I seem them. Four pearly white fangs. Two on the top and two on the bottom.

“Holy crap! What the hell are those?” I exclaim. He straightens back up, snaps his mouth shut, let’s go of me and is suddenly standing before I can take another painful breath of freezing air.

His back is to me and I can see his shoulders rising and falling as he takes deep breaths of the crisp early winter air.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t save your parents, but I did save you and that something right? That’s penance isn’t it?” He asks miserably.

“Are you like some religious freak, vigilante person that goes around saving people or something?” I ask. He laughs. It was a nice sound. He turned around and some how he looked different that before.
I could see something in his face and I could tell by the way that he held himself that he wasn’t like other people. I could see in his stance and in the set of his mouth that he was restraining himself from doing something very bad. I could see in his eyes that he had lived a long life and that he had been living his life with a terrible hunger that he has only recently tried to suppress. I didn’t know how I knew all these things but I did. Sometimes I just know things.

“I am not a religious vigilante.” He says. His speech was careful and practiced. Something that I had not noticed before. I pushed myself up off the street and tried to stand. My legs felt numb with cold and shock but I gained my balance quickly.

“Then let me ask you this one…Are you a vampire?” I inquire without the slightest hint of fear in my voice. He smiles widely and I could again see his fangs.

The next thing I remember is waking up fully dressed in my bed the next morning. I remember searching my house for my parents just in hopes that last night was a horrific dream. I mean there was a vampire in it that saved my life from a watery grave. How much more dreamlike can you get? But it wasn’t a dream. Turns out all the stories Dad told me about my grandma Vera being a vampire Hunter were true. He told me vampires were real and that our family had been hunting them for as long as they existed. I always thought he was just feeding my imagination.

I spent the next three months surrounded by relatives, police officers, and social workers. In my parents’ wills, it said that I was to remain in the house alone but under the care of social services. They would pay for my schooling and everything else I needed until I turned eighteen. They would pay for college if I went but then that was it. After that I would be on my own.

There was a social worker named Charlene Tate that checks on me every month or so but for the most part, since age twelve I lived by myself.




I stare into the mirror again and my face is shocked. How could I have forgotten that four years ago Blake had saved my life? How could I have forgotten my first encounter with a real vampire? How could I have blocked all those memories?

I opened the bathroom closet and searched for the first aid kit Blake had mentioned. I found it easily because everything was very organized. The kit was like one of those special army kits. I opened it and found everything one could possibly need when injured. Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, sterile needles, thick black thread, rubber gloves, extra strength pain medication, hypodermic needles, gauze, wound dressing, surgical tape. What a vampire would need with all this stuff I hadn’t the slightest idea.

I turned the water on and rinsed the blood off my arm. I switched the sink off and patted my arm dry with a hand towel. The marks from Blake’s fingernails had already stopped bleeding and didn’t merit a bandage. The cut wasn’t very deep but I think I might’ve got an artery because it was still bleeding heavily.

I unscrewed the cap of wound dressing and dabbed a little bit on the cut. I wrapped the gauze tightly around my arm and taped it with the surgical tape. I placed everything back into their proper spot and cleaned up every spot of blood that littered the sink. I stopped to inspect my arm. It wasn’t my best bandaging job but it would suffice for now.

I turned off the light and left the bathroom. I found my way down the hallway and stumbled down the stairs following the soft glow of light coming from downstairs. I paused at the edge of the kitchen and saw Blake. He was standing by the counter and staring intently at my blood that was spattered on the steel surface. He seemed to have an internal conflict.

He had already made the decision to wipe the blood away with a paper towel and forget about it. He had the towel in his hand but he couldn’t make himself wipe it away. It would’ve been amusing if it weren’t my blood on the counter top.

Without any hint of warning, he slammed his hands flat against the counter. The action was surprising and loud enough to make me jump. He still didn’t seem to notice my presence so I just stood there and watched him. He leaned forward slightly and his hair obscured my view of his eyes.

His shoulders were heaving uncontrollably and I started feeling extremely bad for him. This must have been excruciating for him. He had to struggle and struggle to win dominance over Anton and he had to do it all of the time.

He straightened up and took a deep breath. It rather reminded me of an asthma attack. Or some other kind of attack. (Heart attack, panic attack, anxiety attack etc.) He pulled his hands away from the table and that’s when I saw the terrible mistake that he had made.

When he had slammed his palms onto the counter top, he had slammed the forefinger on his left hand right into the puddle of my blood. He lifted his hand and stared at it, mesmerized.

Don’t do it! I screamed internally. I wanted to stop him but something inside me told me to stay put. He had to make this decision by himself. I just hoped he would make the right choice. I just hoped his resolve would be strong enough. I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from speaking and watched Blake intently. Knowing Blake, he’d probably feel my gaze or something and then that would be a form of interference. I softened my eyes and simply looked at him.

He brought his bloodied finger to his mouth and parted his lips. He slowly pressed his finger against his tongue and licked the blood away. I let out an involuntary sigh. I couldn’t blame him. He is a vampire. This is what vampire’s do.

Blake suddenly clenched his fist and brings it down solidly against the steel counter top.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He mutters to the table. I step farther into the kitchen and Blake looks up from the table.

“Are you okay?” I ask tentatively. He glares at me and his face is livid with anger. His eyes are different. They aren’t the black or gray that I’ve seen. The irises are so large there is barely any white left in his eyes, pitch black and rimmed with red. What appears on his face is something between a smirk and a grimace. He grips the tabletop with both hands, his fingers sink into the metal, and when he pulls his hands away, the outline of his fingers is left.

“Hmm, let’s think…Am I okay?” He pauses for a moment and looks to be deep in thought. His eyes flick up to meet mine and suddenly he is right in front of me. His fist connects with the brick wall behind me, hurtling past my face less than an inch away. The wall cracks and chunks of brick fall to the ground around me and I’m dusted with red brick particles. His breathing quickens and the stench of blood gusts into my face. He stares into my eyes and suddenly I am sapped of all my willpower.

“Pull your hair back.” He commands in a silky voice. As if my limbs are no longer under my own power, my hand reaches up and I pull my long dark brown hair over one shoulder. He opens his mouth wide and I can see all four fangs. So seductive, so lethal, so stained with the blood of only God knows how many innocents. His left arm winds around my lower back and he pulls me closer, closing the small space between us until my body presses tightly against his.

I feel his tongue on my throat and he whispers, “I’m not okay.” I freeze completely. I don’t know who this is. Anton isn’t this seductive and Blake’s not this risky. Maybe this is the id. Anton was Blake before he came to the United States but he wasn’t the monster Blake had always been afraid of letting out.

“I want…you.” He whispered. I could feel his teeth against the skin below my ear and I could feel his fingers dig into my back. I didn’t think I could mess with this Blake. I didn’t think I could do anything to stop him.

“I want your blood. I want your body. I want everything. Give me everything.” He moaned. I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for death.

“No. Eu nu pot. Eu voi nu. I can’t. I won’t” He said. I heard his mouth snap shut and his forehead came down to rest on my shoulder. He drew in a ragged breath. “Nu voi ucide. I will not kill.” He seemed to be first saying something in Romanian and then in English. I didn’t think it was for my benefit but for his. So he could remember it in two different languages.

My arm came up to curl around his back and I hugged him. “You are strong. It’ll all be okay.” I whispered.

“I--am--sorry. Will you ever forgive me?” He asked through inconsistent breaths of tainted air. Tainted with the overpowering scent of my blood. The scent and taste he desperately craved was now doused around his house like perfume.

He turns his head and kisses the base of my throat. “I am sorry. Unbelievably sorry. I keep thinking that if I had told you about the curse you wouldn’t have come to rescue me or you would’ve done something differently and we could have avoided this whole mess.” He whispered.

“The curse? From thirteen years ago?” I inquire, being careful not to stir the air around us. He’s seemed to have calmed down a bit, but with his teeth this close to my neck…Well would you be comfortable with a ravenous vampire’s mouth millimeters away from your very exposed throat? I should’ve worn that cross necklace or a turtleneck or something. He pulled away from me and turned around so that I was staring at his back.

“Curse this beast for murdering our own, command the unseen to be shown. The guilt he turned off like a switch, now inside him let it twitch. From a twitch to a burn, teach him the lesson he can’t learn. Give him repentance, give him remorse, of his actions feel full force. Until the blood of a loved one touches his lips, he is cursed with a soul from the mouth of a witch.” He recited word for word. That was the curse. So this was my fault. I was the cause of all Blake’s pain.

“If I drained the blood of someone I loved the curse would be broken and I would turn back into the most vicious creature Romania had ever known. But the curse seems to be only half broken. I can retain what little sanity I have left if I’m strong enough.” He said before turning back to face me.

“Why do you think that is?” He wondered. I shrugged.

“Maybe it’s because you didn’t drain me completely.” I mumbled. So calmly I could discuss my own demise. He smiled charmingly but a fragment of the charm was lost when I saw his fully lengthened fangs. He still hadn’t the strength to force them under control.

“My thoughts exactly. It would most likely only make things worse if I were to drink your blood again.” As he spoke the last sentence, I don’t think I imagined the hint of regret in his voice.

I pushed myself off the wall and walked slowly past him. I saw his muscles tense as my arm gently brushed his. I bent down and picked up the slightly damp paper towel that he had been prepared to wipe my blood up with.

I silently began scrubbing the blood from the counter; the cloth dipping when I came to the large dent where Blake’s fist had connected with the steel and the hand shaped depressions where he had taken out his anger.

“So how are we going to fix you? How are we going to make it so Anton will never get out again?” I asked as I tossed the now bloodstained towel into the biohazard container under the sink. He half turned and brushed his finger slowly along the counter top.

“I can still smell it; and what do you mean ‘we’? You are in far too much danger around me; more so than anyone else on the planet.” He said as he picked his finger up off the table and rubbed his thumb in circles against it.

I felt anger spark in my limbs. “What do you mean? I have to help you. It’s my fault you’re like this.” I said. He spun around all the way to glare at me and the hand that was resting on the counter top clenched into a tight fist.

“You’re right. This is your fault. So I don’t need you hanging around and fucking things up even more.” He growled at me. I took a step back from him. I actually felt fear leap in my chest for the second time since I gave him my blood. His face fell and he reached out to me with a hand trembling with the effort to be gentle. His fingers skimmed my cheek and he sighed.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. God, I just-I don’t know what’s happening to me. I bet the witches’ never planned for this to happen.”

“It’s okay.” I whispered softly. He slipped his hand away from my face and let his fingers trail down my neck and arm all the way down to my hand.

“I can’t let you stay here. I have to figure this out on my own. I have to fix this myself.” He murmured, looking down at his still clenched fist.

“How? How do you plan to fix this?” I asked.

“Abstinence. If I give it some time and if I’m able to resist, the human blood will work itself out of my system.” He said.

“Really? It’s that easy?” I asked. Clueless. A bitter laugh escaped from his mouth.

“Easy? In words perhaps but…you don’t know what it’s like to have something inside you that you have absolutely no control over.” He muttered darkly.

“But you do have control over you thirst. You controlled yourself for thirteen years before I ruined everything.” I said.

“Actually it was nine years before you ruined everything but whose counting.” He replied. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“That doesn’t count. I was only twelve and we talked for like five minutes and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant conversation.” I said. He smirked that same heartbreaking smirk that had an effect on me, even then.

“I remember. You cussed a lot and you threatened to break my face and scream ‘rape’.” He said. Of course, he would remember those particular details.

“Yeah, exactly. It’s not as if I made that big of an impact on you. You saved my life and brought me home and then you left. It’s not like you hung around or anything.” I saw shame flash in his eyes that had returned to normal black, no red to speak of. Maybe I had imagined it.

“Are you kidding me? You made an enormous impact on me, especially when you stopped breathing. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to get that close to you and not…” He stopped himself before he could finish that sentence.

“CPR?!?” I exclaimed. He grinned.

“I wasn’t about to go through all that trouble just to let you die on me.” He explained. My fingers brushed my lips. Him. A complete stranger. A vampire. Did so much to save the life of one pathetic little human. Me.

“It was worse afterwards though. Every time you did something dangerous or were out after sunset.” He shook his head sadly.

“What do you mean ‘afterwards’?” I asked suspiciously. He laughed nervously.

“Oops.” He said.

“Oh my God! Don’t tell me you started stalking me when I was twelve!” I shrieked.

He took a step back. “Well I had to make sure no more vampires came after you.” He said. I gasped.

“That man. In the road. He was a vampire, wasn’t he?” I asked. Blake nodded.

“Yes, and he was after you.” He said dismally. My eyes widened.

“Me? Why?” I asked. He shrugged nonchalantly.

“Many vampires go after Hunters that haven’t come into their abilities yet. He wasn’t planning on your father swerving like that on an icy road. He was planning on being run over. When your parents left you to see if he was all right, he would kill them and then he would kill you. Have himself a nice meal.” He muttered; and I swear I could hear his stomach rumble as he spoke the words.

“How do you know that’s what he would’ve done?” I asked. He eyes flicked to the pulsing arteries on my throat then back down to his fist resting upon the countertop.

“Because that’s what I would have done.” He whispered shamefully. How many girls had boyfriends that told them outright that they would like to kill them and satisfy their dire hunger with their blood? Oh, right! NONE! Because not many girls have boyfriends that are vampires!

“He should’ve been satisfied with letting you drown but when he caught your scent; he was ready to dive in after you and I had to stop him.” He told me. I couldn’t fight the smile that came to my lips.

“Did you kill him?” I asked plain as the nose on my face. He raised an eyebrow at my rather boorish question.

“Of course not. It’s not my job.” He replied as if he thought I should have known this.

“Well then, how did you stop him?” I inquired. He smirked roguishly.

“Before the witches’ cursed me I was pretty well known in the vampire world. Something of an idol if you will. I told him I’d been hunting you for some time and that you were mine. I told him that if he got anywhere near you that I would kill him without a second thought. After a short contemplation he decided it would be smarter to find food elsewhere.”

I grinned. “So you were a badass?” I asked. He reached out and curled an arm around my back. He pulled me closer in a blindingly fast and slightly disconcerting motion. With his lips at my ear he whispered,

“I was a total badass.” His lips moved from my ear to my jaw and then to my lips. I couldn’t just stay frozen like he probably would’ve wanted. I had to react. My heartbeat picked up double time and my skin burned with pleasure. I couldn’t get used to his kisses. I doubt anyone could.

One of my arms twisted around his lower back and the other wrapped around his neck and my fingers twirled through his hair. I pressed my body tightly against his and the kiss deepened.

Suddenly I was pushed away and I just barely caught onto the edge of the countertop before I fell. When my head stopped spinning and my eyes focused, I saw Blake clutch his arm around his mid-section and fall to one knee. His breath came in painful gasps and his gaze was cast downward so that his hair shadowed his eyes and I could no longer see them.

It rather reminded me of the fits Zero Kiryu had in Vampire Knight when he was devolving into a level E. (Yes, I am an anime freak.) However, in the real world vampires weren’t separated by five different levels. In the real world, all vampires were once human.

“Blake?” I whispered, taking a step closer. His head snapped up and his irises were once again huge and rimmed with red.

“Don’t!” he shouted desperately. I froze where I was. He fell down on both knees and the hand that wasn’t holding him together came crashing down upon the floor. The granite tile cracked and he pulled his hand back, effortlessly carving deep scratches into the stone.

I now realized that I knew nothing. I didn’t even think that the Hunger inside Blake could ever be this agonizing. I didn’t know how he ever had the strength to suppress it and the will not to let it control him. I didn’t know anything. I may have the gift of Knowing as my father always called it but I didn’t know a thing about the burning hell Blake had to go through every single day.

Against his orders, I inched forward. A terrifying growl split the air making goose bumps rise on the back of my neck.

“Leave!” He snarled. I stopped but I didn’t make any move to leave.

“But I-”

“Go away!” He screamed cutting me off. I looked around the kitchen, knowing that if I didn’t want to die here that I should start running for the door as fast as I possibly could but all I did was back away a few yards.

“Promise you’ll call me in the next few days. There’s no danger over the phone.” I said, foolishly putting my life in danger every second I was standing here.

“Fine!” He gasped as his body convulsed in a spasm of Hunger induced pain. This was crazy! In all the vampire books I’ve read and all the movies I’ve seen this never happened. Not of this degree. Something was terribly wrong. This wasn’t what I had wanted! Not at all!

“Promise me.” I said backing towards the living room. He didn’t answer so I stopped retreating. I heard a crash as he kicked the base of the counter in frustration and restraint.

“For God’s sake Zoey, I promise! Now get the hell out!” He cried. That was all I needed to hear. Why he didn’t just say that in the first place? I’ll never know.

I spun on my heel and raced towards the exit. I wrenched open the door and fell into the blinding sunlight. The door shut on its own and I heard a series of clicks as it locked. I jumped into my car and stuck the key in ignition. I backed out of the driveway and started driving down the long, forest enclosed road at about fifteen mph over the speed limit. I had to tell Phoebe all about what had happened.

It didn’t look like Blake and I were going to Domain after all.




I pulled into my driveway and saw another vehicle. It was an old Chevy pickup truck, originally blue but then painted black. I parked my car behind the black truck and turned off the engine.

I opened the door and heard the television. Phoebe must’ve gotten a ride home already. I put my keys on the hook and rounded the corner into the living room.

Lounging on the couch, I saw Nate in his baggy black jeans and Bullet for my Valentine T-shirt that had the sleeves ripped off. He had his steel-toed boots resting up on one edge of the couch and his red, purple, blue, and green spatter-died head resting on the other. All in all his appearance was very cool and I only just noticed how muscled his bare arms were.

His bespectacled face was turned toward the television and if I didn’t know better I’d say he was watching Angel.

I set my hands on the back of the couch and cleared my throat noisily. He jumped and abruptly sat up.

“Hey Zo.” he said with a wide smile. I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Hey. That your ride outside?” I asked. He jumped up off the couch and walked around to stand beside me.

“It’s Asher’s. He lent it to me this mornin so I could get to my job.” he said his Tennessee accent twanging adorably as he said the word ‘job’.

“Oh how nice of him.” I said sarcastically. It was so easy to talk to him. Nate scoffed.

“Nice? Yeah right. I gotta pay fer gas and everythin’,” he said sulkily.

“Speaking of jobs,” I said leaning back against the couch. “Shouldn’t you still be at the roller rink?” I asked suspiciously.

He grinned sheepishly and shrugged. “So I took off an hour early. What’re they gonna do? Fire me?” He said.

I rolled my eyes at him. “That’s exactly what they’re gonna do.” I replied. He smirked.

“So what if they do? I’m only sixteen. I don’t need a job yet. I plan on gittin famous soon anyway.” He said matter-of-factly.

I raised an eyebrow. “Famous? Really? Doing what?” I asked. He crossed his arms over his chest superiorly.

“Well in my band of course.” He said.

“Oh of course.” I repeated mockingly. He looked down at his boots and said, “We just need to find someone who can actually sing. All the people I’ve got now can only scream. It’s a valuable skill in a screamo band but we need a real singer.” He explained.

“You sing well.” I said. I saw his cheeks grow red.

“Yeah well the bassist is a girl and she wants a girl singer. I would say she could sing but she sounds like crap. Plus I’m more of a backup.” He said sadly. I made a false pouty face and his expression brightened.

“I hope you can find who you’re looking for.” I said.

“Hey, weren’t you in chorus or something?” He asked, though I was positive he already knew the answer.

“Yeah, in the eighth grade.” I said, hoping he wasn’t thinking of asking me the question I thought he was thinking about asking me. (Does that make sense?)

“You were a really good singer.” He admitted sheepishly. I blushed.

“Thanks.” I mumbled a bit self-consciously.

“So could you like maybe consider, if it were convenient and all, being the lead singer in my band?” He asked in a desperate tone.

“Well what would I have to do?” I asked. He grinned.

“Nothin’ much. You’d just hafta learn the lyrics, come to rehearsals. That’s all.” He said. I nodded.

“I’ll think about it and let you know when I decide.” I said.

“Yea!” Nate exclaimed. For him, statements like ‘I’ll think about it’ mean yes. His expression suddenly grew somber.

“What happened to your arm?” He asked glancing at the bandage on my left forearm. My fist clenched. I couldn’t tell him the truth.

I looked down at the ground and didn’t have to try that hard to make my voice sound depressed. “I’ve just been having some issues lately and I haven’t actually found a good way to deal with them yet.” I whispered. I could sometimes come off as the girl who could cut herself. Nate made a sympathy noise in the back of his throat and he took my hand in his. He pulled me closer until my head was resting on his chest and he wrapped his arms around my back in a hug.

He was warm. It was the first thought that popped into my head. After all of Blake’s hugs the warmth coming from his skin was very comforting as was the steady thumping of his heart.

Nate let his head fall over my shoulder and I felt the ends of his punkish hair tickle my ear. “Are you sure it don’t have nothin to do with the vampire you’re dating?” He asked in a whisper.

I nearly choked on the breath I was taking. I jerked away from him. “What are you talking about?” I asked in disbelief. How could he know? How could he possible know?

“Where’s Phoebe?” I asked all of a sudden, frantically looking around.

“She’s upstairs, changing.” Nate said. I nodded sharply and started towards the staircase. Nate followed after me.

“So did you cut yourself to feed him or something? Or!” He paused dramatically, “Did he bite you?” He exclaimed. I winced.

I should’ve known Nate would see right through everything. Though he didn’t look it, or sound it, Nate was top of the sophomore class. Not to mention top of freshman class and eighth grade and seventh grade and every year since the forth grade.

It was hard having a best friend that was so quick he could practically read minds. I squinted my eyes at him. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” I said.

There was a thumping on the staircase and Phoebe came skipping down the steps. Her bright seventies makeup was removed and replaced with moonbeam foundation and midnight black eyeliner. I raised an eyebrow at her.

“Well hello Elvira.” I hissed accusingly. She grinned nervously.

“Can I talk to you for one minute please?” She asked. I nodded. She grabbed my hand and pulled me upstairs away from Nate. We reached her room and she shut the door. She spun around to face me.

“I swear to God Zoey I didn’t tell him anything. I got a ride home with him and he just started asking all these questions about Blake. At first I just thought he was looking out for you but then he asked why he didn’t go to our school and how well we actually knew him and why he was dragging that girl out of the rink with an expression on his face that clearly said he was about to suck her dry.” She hastily said before taking a huge gulp of air. I shook my head at her.

“Why didn’t you just lie?” I asked incredulously. Her eyes widened pleadingly.

“I tried Zoey but the guy’s a freakin’ genius! He told me he could tell I was lying because my pupils were dilating!” She cried. “He said that Blake looked like a vampire. He said he looked like he was about to take that chick and rip her freakin’ throat out.” She said.

“Why didn’t you just tell him he was insane?” I asked. She growled in exasperation.

“That’s what I told him but he just said ‘that’s probably true but I know a vampire when I see one’.” She said her voice deepening slightly as she attempted to imitate him.

“So he found out completely on his own?” I asked severely. She swallowed noisily and nodded. Wow, he was good.

“But how could he figure it out so fast? I don’t care if he has an IQ that’s somewhere in the ionosphere.” I asked. She shrugged.

“He’s one of us Zo. We all believed in the supernatural long before we met Blake, and hanging around Colten and Malick all the time. Suspicions were bound to come up.” She said. I sighed deeply and leaned against the wall by the door. This was all too insane. Perhaps the blood loss was getting to me.

“So what happened to that girl? Did Blake…” She trailed off. I lifted my eyes to hers.

“He fed off her.” I muttered. He eyes widened.

“What?” She exclaimed. I nodded slowly. “I saw him. That’s the third person he’s fed on in two days. Something’s wrong with him Pheebs.” I said. She suddenly grabbed my left arm.

“I can see that.” She whispered looking down at my bandaged arm. “What happened?” She asked seriously. I pulled my arm away from her hand.

“My arm just got in the way of a sharp knife. It’s nothing.” I said and even I could hear the lie in my voice. Her eyes became intense.

“It’s me Zo. Tell me what’s wrong. Please.” She said.

“He just seemed so hungry. He told me it hurt, trying to restrain himself.” I mumbled under my breath. Suddenly she flicked my nose.

“Ow!” I cried, my hand coming up to cradle my nose. “What was that for?” I asked angrily. She ignored my question.

“Zoey, you idiot!” She shrieked. “You have to stop giving your blood away all willy nilly!” She said.

“I know!” I said. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked furious with me.

“So what about Nate?” I asked. She still looked angry but she replied, “There’s nothing we can do about it. He knows so do whatever.” I sighed and turned back towards the door.

“So let’s go induct him into the club shall we?” I said. Phoebe smiled reluctantly. We both went downstairs and found Nate sitting on the bottom step. He jumped up at the sound of our approach. Phoebe and I stood side by side before him. He smiled nervously.

“So, you’ve figured it out have you? I’m dating a vampire.” I said without hesitation. He hopped up into the air excitedly.

“HA! That is so cool!” He exclaimed. I grinned at him.

“You’re not allowed to tell anyone though okay?” I said slowly. He nodded and then seemed to realize something.

“What about Colten and Malick?” He asked. Phoebe and I exchanged furtive glances. I looked back to Nate.

“Well they kind of already know.” I admitted sheepishly. “And the Six Chicks.” Phoebe muttered to me. Nate’s eyes grew incredibly wide behind his glasses.

“What?” He asked. Phoebe and I smiled awkwardly.

“Yeah.” I said. “They’re all Vampire Hunters.” Phoebe said. Nate stared at us with his mouth slightly hanging open.

“Vampire Hunters?” He repeated slowly. Phoebe and I nodded.

“Yeah they like totally tried to kill Zoey’s boyfriend. Twice.” Phoebe said. He continued to stare at us.

“But don’t tell Malick or Colten you know any of this ‘cause it’s supposed to be a secret.” I said. He nodded slowly.

“Okay. Makes sense I guess. If there are vampires there’s gotta be someone to fight ‘em right?” He said. Well he took that well. I shifted from one foot to the other and Phoebe crossed her arms over her chest.

“There’s more?” He asked disbelievingly. Apparently, both Phoebe and I were sporting guilty expressions. “What is it?” He asked.

“Well, I’m a Hunter too.” I muttered. “Sort of anyway.”

“Yeah. Yeah. And I’m a witch.” Phoebe said hyperactively. Nate grinned brightly.

“A witch? Really? You mean like for real or like a practitioner?” He asked. Phoebe set her hands on her hips then held them up in front of him with her palms in his face. Suddenly flames sprang from all ten fingers like they were all tiny little candles.

“Holy s***!” Nate gasped, and he stumbled backward off the last step and fell onto the hardwood floor. Phoebe giggled and the flames went out.

“Language dear Nate.” I said sarcastically.

“That’s incredible!” He said. “Have you always been able to do that?” He asked. Phoebe shrugged.

“I didn’t know, but ever since I was born I could do magic.” She said. Nate stared at the both of us in wonderment.

“But you cannot tell anyone. You cannot tell Colten and Malick that you know.” I repeated forcefully. He nodded.

“Of course. I completely understand.” He said, sounding a bit like a loyal follower.

“Good.” I said. Phoebe nudged me with her arm. “So I guess we’re not going to Domain after all?” She asked. I glanced at her.

“You can go but I’m not much in the clubbing mood. Plus my date kinda went off the deep end.” I muttered. Suddenly Phoebe flung her arms around me in a sympathetic hug.

“Oh Zoey!” She cried. “I’m so sorry that your boyfriend wants to drink your blood. But if you’re not there then I can’t be there. A party without Zoey is like a Zoey-less party and we will not accept that.” She said. She sent a chastising in Nate’s direction.

“Right Nate?” She said. Nate jumped up off the floor and bowed low before Phoebe and I.

“Of course Milady.” He said in a false English accent.

“Oh dear.” Phoebe said, laying her head on my shoulder. “He sounds just like Sebastian Michaelis.” She said. I gasped.

“My God! You’re absolutely right.” I said. Nate straightened out of his bow and grinned at us. (F.Y.I! Sebastian Michaelis is from the anime Black Butler)

“So I shall leave you. Have an amiable day.” He said, sounding more like how the guy who was top of class for seven years should sound. He spun on his heel and left.

“Oh dear.” Phoebe said again as we heard the door close and his truck noisily start up. She began fanning herself with her hand. “Maybe I am into skater boys. Especially ones who know their anime.” Phoebe recovered from her swooning, jumped down off the stairs, and made her way over to the living room. She plopped down in her recliner and beckoned for me to follow suit.

I sat down on the couch and gave my attention over to the television. From what I could tell The Chiller Channel was somewhere in the middle of the second season of Angel. Surprisingly Phoebe wasn’t paying attention to the TV; instead, she was staring at me. I sighed and turned to look at her.

“What?” I asked warily. She frowned.

“So Blake’s biting people and willingly taking blood from his girlfriend. I may not know him that well but that doesn’t exactly sound like the Blake I met. What’s up with him? Seriously?” She asked.

I shrugged. “I have no idea. He just has some major issues. A weird cursey hex thing that Clay’s witch relatives put on him for killing Clay’s sister and now his soul and morality is all deteriorating and he’s having some wacky multiple personality disorder. First he’s Anton, then he’s Blake, then he’s the freaking Terror of Romania, then he’s Blake again and by the Gods above he is giving my brain serious whiplash.” I said in one run-on paragraph. I was starting to sound like Phoebe nowadays.

“So it’s like Angel only now he’s Angelus?” Phoebe said quietly. I felt like getting angry with her for this analogy but this is how Phoebe thinks. It’s how she can make a connection. I sighed deeply and stared broodingly at the wall.

“Yeah it’s like that. Only not at all like that.” I muttered. I heard Phoebe’s recliner squeak loudly as she turned all the way to face me.

“Then what’s it like?” She asked. I sighed again.

“The curse was that he would have a soul and a sense of morality and guilt and remorse and all those other messy human emotions until he drained the blood of someone he loved.” I said tonelessly.

“Meaning you?” She inquired.

“Yes. Meaning me. This was my fault.” I whispered angrily.

“Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Phoebe said and she jumped up off the couch and came to sit down beside me. She gently wrapped her arms around my shoulders and hugged me. She was warm too. Just like Nate. Everyone was so warm compared to Blake.

“So what’s going to happen now?” She asked. I shook my head sadly.

“I don’t know. He told me to leave him alone. He said he’ll figure this out on his own and he doesn’t want me near him because it just makes it harder.” I informed her.

“Well at least he’s still retaining some sense.” Phoebe said. I laughed.

“You should’ve seen him like an hour ago; completely off his rocker. Beating the walls and with the hysterical laughter and all you would’ve thought he was some loony from the local mental hospital.” I said. “But then he was Anton.”

“So he’s Blake now right?” She asked, nonplussed. I shrugged. “I don’t know who the hell he is now. He said he’d call me in the next few days.” I said.


“Hey Blake. I thought you wouldn’t come back.” Came Scarlett’s silky voice. They were once again in the candlelit room Scarlett lounging on the red velvet sofa. Blake’s back was against the door and he was glaring at Scarlett with raging hunger in his eyes.

“It--was--too--hard. I can’t kill but I can’t stop feeding either.” He said between sporadic breaths. Scarlett smiled endearingly at him.

“C’mon baby. You’re a vampire. This is what you do.” She said. He slid down the door until he was sitting with his knees pulled in against his chest.

“But I promised her. I promised I wouldn’t drink human blood again.” He whispered. Scarlett slid off the sofa and advanced towards Blake on all fours.

“Who baby? Who did you promise?” She asked, reaching her hand up to touch his face. He caught her hand by the wrist before her fingertips could brush his skin.

“A girl. And don’t call me ‘baby.’” He snarled, turning his head away from her. She pulled her hand back and simpered.

“Oh Blake you’re so mean.” She sighed. He reached out and caressed her neck, sweeping back her long burgundy hair in the process.

“You’re pretty.” He whispered. She smiled. Her glossy red lips parting to reveal her white teeth.

“I know.” She replied. He leaned forward and removed his hand from her neck. He looked her straight in the eye and swallowed hard, almost every ounce of his concentration focused on not ripping into her throat.

“I need you to know that I might not be able to stop this time. And if I kill you I’m sorry.” He said. She smiled.

“It’s okay. If a vampire ever killed me, I’d want it to be you. And that was meant as a compliment.” She said obliviously. She obviously didn’t know the overwhelming danger she was in. He opened his mouth wide, exposing all four fangs, and he bit sharply into her neck. His teeth sank through her skin and reached her sweet blood. He felt guilty all the while though the guilt was drowned out by the taste of her blood.




I sprung upright in bed. My sheets were tangled around my feet and the back of my shirt was drenched with cold sweat. It had been a whole two weeks since I last saw Blake and now I have this dream. I took a deep rattling breath and glanced at the digital clock on the bedside table. The angry red numbers glare at me. 4:57am. far too early to get up but I don’t think I could possibly get back to sleep despite how tired I am. I haven’t been sleeping that well the past week. I’ve been worried about Blake. He hasn’t called yet like he promised he would.

I sigh. I know I should just call him myself but for some unfathomable reason I can’t make myself dial his number. I groan loudly and swing my legs over the edge of my bed. I stand up and rummage through my closet until I find a pair of jeans and a plain white fitted t-shirt. I slip out of my pajamas and put on the clothing I picked out.

I looked at my reflection and grabbed a misplaced brush from a drawer on my dresser. I yank it through my hair and place it back in the drawer though it belongs in my bathroom. I dart across my bedroom and silently find my way through the semi-darkness into the bathroom across the hall. I can hear Phoebe’s breathing through the walls.

I quickly brush my teeth and then leave the bathroom. I make my way downstairs as silent as a shadow. I shove on my shoes and leave the house. I don’t lock the door behind me. Phoebe can take care of herself I’m sure. I mean she’s gone up against ravenous vampire boyfriends and teenage super-heroes.

I start walking down the silent streets. Even more silent then the day three weeks ago when I first found out I was a Hunter. Somehow, in what seems like no time at all, I round the corner onto Prescott Street. I half expect to see Blake appear but he doesn’t. I’m all alone. I glance over at the houses on my right. Rural looking houses that are spaced on one acre each. 124 and 125 Prescott Street. Home to Malick Jacoby and Colten Fullmack. I consider knocking on one of their doors but then I remember it’s only five in the morning. It’s still practically dark out.

I sighed and sat down on the sidewalk. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes. Why is everything so confusing? I dig in my back pocket, searching for my cell phone and then I remember I left it on my nightstand.

I suddenly punched the pavement as hard as I can. I can feel frustration and anger boiling inside me threatening to explode. I punch the ground several more times and on the final punch, I saw the cement crack. I gasped and fell backwards on my butt. Did I do that? I looked at my hands and sighed. Both sets of knuckles were bleeding profusely.

I glared at my hands as the blood dripped down my fingers. Then I realized there was no reason to be angry with myself for bleeding. Nevertheless, as I watched, the scrapes healed. I guess I am a Hunter after all. I glanced down at the new scar on my left forearm. I had cut myself so that Blake could feed on me. I was so stupid. I guess some things, even for a Hunter don’t heal. I looked at the other scar. The bite. Blake’s bite.

I exhaled sharply and tried not to think about him. I should just call him. But that didn’t seem to be enough. I wanted to see him face to face. I wanted to know how he was doing.

I frowned darkly at the cracked sidewalk. I did that. That’s kind of cool. I stood up and took in my surroundings. Prescott Street was just as deserted as all the others were. Why did I take a walk? What did I expect to gain from it? I could’ve thought just as much in the safety of my own home. My house just seemed far too cramped for my extensive and slightly disturbing thoughts.

I started off in the opposite direction and turned the corner to the right onto West Water Court. It took me about five minutes to walk down West Water and then I turned left onto Sunset Boulevard, where my house was. I reached my house and stared at the front steps leading up to the doorway. I looked at the second step and saw the place where Blake’s hand had crushed the rock.

I sighed and stomped up the five stone steps and wrenched the door open. I stumble into the living room and collapse on the couch. I feel really tired but if I go back to sleep the dream will without a doubt come back. I glance over at the clock on the windowsill. 5:22am. I lay down on the couch and stare out the windows at the gray dawn.

I don’t remember falling asleep but suddenly Phoebe was shaking me awake. “No! No Blake stop!” Someone screeched. Phoebe jumped back away from me. Apparently, the person that screeched was me.

“Zoey are you okay?” She asked. My eyes regained focus and I saw her in a large purple t-shirt and her fluffy Happy Bunny pajama pants.

“What? What happened?” I muttered, looking around. I was in my house, in the living room, on the couch. “Oh.” I sighed, rubbing my eyes with the heels of my hands. I looked over at the clock 10:41am.

“Did you have another nightmare?” She asked. I nodded and sat up. “What was it this time?” She inquired.

“It was Blake again. He was at the Blood Bar again sucking on some chick’s throat. The same girl as the last dream.” I said. Phoebe frowned.

“Maybe you should stop by his house and see if he’s alright.” She said. I nodded rigorously and jumped up off the couch.

“Right. I’m gonna do that.” I said, walking hastily toward the front door. Phoebe stared after me with concern painted over her face.

I grabbed my keys off the hook by the door and left the house. I got into my car and stuck the key into ignition, not even bothering to buckle my seatbelt. I pulled out of the driveway and started down Sunset Blvd at fifty miles per hour; ten miles per hour over the speed limit.

I must’ve zoned out on my way to Blake’s house because the next thing I knew I was rushing down the winding road that lead to his house. I pulled into his driveway and turned off the car. I stared up at his house. It looked the same, but somehow different. It was like I was seeing it for the first time. I sighed and opened the driver’s side door.

I walked through the dark green grass up to his door. I paused at the door and took a deep breath, attempting to steady my heart, which was pounding so hard I thought it might break my ribs, and with a trembling hand punched in the number on the key pad at the left side of his doorway. The little green light didn’t come on and there was no series of clicks that meant the door had been unlocked. I frowned. I can’t believe it! He changed the code.

I made a sound in the back of my throat that sounded like something between a groan and a growl and angrily crossed my arms over my chest. I tried punching in another eight-digit number. It didn’t work and I kicked the door in frustration, which did nothing to help but did make my toe hurt. I stared bleakly at the key pad and chewed on my bottom lip. I reached out my hand to enter another code.


To my utter surprise, the locks popped open and I was able to open the door. I rushed into the semi-darkness of Blake’s house. None of the lamps were lit and I could barely see but somehow I made my way through the living room and he wasn’t there and the kitchen was deserted. I found my way up the stairs and started down the hallway towards Blake’s bedroom, (couch room) from which I heard heavy death metal playing.

I pushed open the door and saw Blake lying on the black leather couch wearing a gray sleeveless t-shirt and a pair of rough looking jeans. He had the crook of his right arm covering his eyes and a half-empty jug of White Lightning in his left hand, which was dangling over the edge of the couch. I glanced at the floor around the couch and saw several empty bottles of different kinds of alcohol. Three bottles of Everclear, two bottles of Wild Turkey 101, and a bottle of Goldschlager. I was just reading the labels. The only thing I’d ever heard of was White Lightning and I knew a couple of shots of that could get a person pretty messed up.

I stepped closer to him, careful to avoid stepping on the glass bottles. I looked around the room. It looked like a mini-disaster had struck. CD’s and books thrown across the room, bookcases transformed into broken piles of splinters, large holes punched into the walls. The whole nine yards.

“ ’Lo Sweetheart.” I heard Blake mumble though he kept his arm crossed over his face. I took that as an encouragement and stepped closer.

“You didn’t call me.” I said flatly. He took a long pull on the jug of White Lightning and then dropped it back to his side.

“M’sorry.” He slurred, still not removing his arm.
“H-how are you doing?” I asked unsteadily. He grinned at me, exposing his pointed canines.

“Awesome.” He said, and he didn’t seem to be using sarcasm. I glanced down at the empty bottles.

“I didn’t think vampire’s could get drunk.” I said.

“Well I disproved that theory.” He replied. He took another long drink from the jug and drained it.

“Since when do you drink?” I asked, though I wasn’t really curious.

“Since now.” He answered.

“Why?” I asked. I was getting kind of angry that he wasn’t looking at me. He dropped the jug on the floor and sat up, his arm dropping from his face. He looked up at me with a drunken smile.

“Helps with the cravings.” He said moodily. I nodded, though I didn’t exactly understand how alcohol could help.

“Oh. Okay.” I said. His eyes were still black as pitch. He had obviously not fed recently, on anything. “Have you been eating?” I asked in a shaky voice.

“Eating?” He said confusedly, as if testing the sound of the word coming out of his own mouth. “No.” He answered. I sighed.

“You’re not gonna get the human blood out of your system without drinking the animal blood.” I said sternly. He glared up at me with his black eyes. Like pools of dark ink.

“I can’t. I just can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t!” He growled at me. I took a step back from him.

“Can’t? Or won’t?” I asked. He kicked the small wooden table that was by the couch and it skidded a few feet before toppling over with a loud thump.

“I don’t know. Every time I try to drink it, I can’t. It makes my stomach hurt just smelling the stuff. It’s gross.” He said, his nose scrunching up in distaste. I sat down on the couch next to him and he uncharacteristically rested his head on my shoulder and sighed.

“Blake, you have to eat something. You can’t just starve yourself.” I said, reaching my hand up and brushing his hair out of his face.

“You’re right. I should-I should do that.” He mumbled, the scent of alcohol wafting into my face. Suddenly I felt his teeth against the base of my throat. I spun out of his grasp and jumped up from the couch.

“When I said you had to eat something I didn’t mean me!” I cried. He nearly bit me! Again. At first, he’s completely fine, drunk but fine, and then he’s trying to tear my throat out. I stare at him wide-eyed and brushed my fingers against the crease above my shoulder. There’s no blood.

“Blake?” I asked, looking at him still sitting on the sofa. He covered his ears with his hands and glared at me.

“Do you have to talk so loud?” He whined. I crept closer to him.

“I’m sorry.” I said, dropping my voice to a whisper. I heard an exasperated growl escape from his mouth and he slid off the couch to the floor, causing the bottles on the ground to clink around.

“Blake you are getting way out of control.” I tried to make my voice sound strong but it broke against my will. He shook his head.

“No I’m not. I’m-I’m fine.” He said, though anyone could clearly see that he was fighting himself still, the alcohol didn’t seem to be helping anymore.

I crossed my arms over my chest in disbelief. “You’re not fine.” I said defiantly.

He crushed his hands over his ears. “Too loud.” He moaned. I walked closer and crouched in front of him. I gently pried his hands off his ears.

“What’s happening to you?” I asked. I was getting even more worried about him. He hadn’t called me, he was drinking some pretty hardcore alcohol, and I was having dreams about him feeding on some tramp named Scarlett.

He shook his head and bit down on his bottom lip. I brush my fingertips against his cheek and he flinches away from my touch.

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” I say as softly as I can manage.

He pulls my hand away from his face by the wrist and holds onto my arm with a near death grip. I felt his fingernails dig into my skin. “You already know what’s wrong.” He says.

“So I do but I don’t know how I can help.” I whispered.

“You can’t help. Why aren’t you afraid?” He asked. I shrugged and tried to ignore the pain his grip was causing me.

“I am afraid.” I whispered. His grip loosened and I saw slight indentations where his nails had pressed into my skin.

“You are afraid…of me.” He murmured, as if this possibility had never occurred to him.

I slowly pulled my arm back and nodded. “I’m scared of you, but I’m not running away. Tell me what I can do.” I commanded. He took a deep breath and winced, pressing himself back into the couch. .

“Tell me please.” I begged. He pushed himself away from the couch and advanced on me. I backed away; there was something in his expression that was undeniably predatory.

“Zoey you have to understand that I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to be a monster. But my head is throbbing, my stomach feels like its on fire, and I can smell people’s blood everywhere. I can hear hearts beating in other houses. I can hear the blood calling to me and I can’t shut it out. It’s too loud.” He sobbed.

Instead of leaving him alone to get better, he only got worse. This is terrible! I couldn’t help but hate myself. I couldn’t help but think this was all completely my fault. I had awakened a bloodlust inside Blake that would only grow more dangerous over time. I had turned Blake into a monster.

I shook my head, trying to shake those morbid thoughts right out of my head. “I don’t understand. My blood should’ve gotten out of your system days ago. Anton should be gone. Your hunger should be gone. This doesn’t make any sense.” I said. He looked down at the carpeted floor and I swear there was shame in his eyes.

“Blake, what’s been going on?” I asked, and I couldn’t fight the suspicion creeping into my voice. What spread across his face was something between a grimace and a grin and the expression reminded me of a small child that had gotten in trouble.

My eyes widened, “What did you do?” I asked, not even trying to hide my accusation.

“Well, I’ve kinda, sorta been feeding on someone every other week. L-last week and-and the week before.” He admitted hesitantly.

“What?!” I shrieked, my voice shooting through at least three octaves. He clapped his palm over my mouth.

“Please, don’t do that again.” He said. I yanked his hand away from my mouth not taking care to be gentle.

“No! You can’t tell me what to do!” I said just as loud. He flinched as the sound of my voice grated against his eardrums.

“I knew it! I knew all along and I never said anything because I was too afraid to admit to myself that you were turning into a monster!” I yelled at him. I slammed my hand into my mouth. I can’t believe I just said that!

His eyes widened, “H-how do you know?” He asked.

“I’ve been having dreams Blake! You’ve been feeding on some red-headed trollop and I’ve been dreaming about it!” I shouted.

“Just like Vera.” He whispered. That’s strange. My grandmother’s name was Vera. On my dad’s side. I ignored the statement. I was too pissed off to think about my dead grandma right now.

“You promised me Blake. You promised you wouldn’t drink human blood again. You promised you’d try to get better. And you’re just sitting here trying to keep yourself drunk enough that you won’t feel anything.” I could feel anger and panic rising in my chest; anger at how cool he was being about this and panic at the thought of what would happen if he didn’t stop.

Blake jumped up off the floor now and I sort of shrunk back, seeing as he was like six inches taller than me and his expression was probably a whole lot more agitated that mine.

“It’s not like I forced her to let me drink from her. She does it willingly. She even seems to enjoy it.” He finally retorted. She enjoyed it? That was surprising. I thought I was the only one weird enough to enjoy being fed on by a vampire. I quickly regained my feet and my anger flared back stronger than before.

“Who seemed to enjoy it?” I asked and I winced at the tone of my voice. Had I really become the jealous girlfriend? But I had to ask. I had to know what her name was just to know for certain if the girl Blake was talking about was the girl that was in my dream.

I saw a slight smile yanking at his lips. How could he be smiling AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!? “Zoey it is so not like that. Scarlett may have a thing for me but I love you.” he said gesturing at me like it was clear to see why. AHA!!! It was her. I was dreaming about things that had actually happened. Things that I shouldn’t know about. I was so infuriated that I didn’t even hear when he said he loved me despite some of my more obvious flaws.

“Scarlett? Well that’s a beautiful porn name!” I complimented sarcastically.

“Are you really that upset about me having one little sange sac?” He asked placing both of his ice-cold hands on my bare arms and looking me straight in the eye. What the hell did sange sac mean? Something or other in Romanian. I have a feeling this isn’t the time. I’ll remember to ask later. Like a lot later.

The passion in his eyes had my brain temporarily scrambled. “I-I…” I stuttered quietly. Suddenly his lips crashed against mine and though his lips were like ice I felt a nearly overpowering heat rush through me.

He had never kissed me like this before. This kiss was heated, passionate, and somewhat violent. My arms fell limply to my sides and I felt like all my willpower was suddenly siphoned out of me. His arms wrapped around my back and squeezed me tight. I felt his tongue slip into my mouth, his pointed teeth skim across the inside of my bottom lip. This was definitely a million time more intense than any of our previous kisses.

Suddenly it was all over. He was gone and I stumbled backwards and fell onto the floor. My breathing was erratic, my heart was hammering faster than a hummingbirds and I could barely think. I looked up to see where he had gone. He was collapsed on all fours his body heaving with spasmodic gasps.

“Are-are y-you okay?” I asked. He looked up at me and I saw that his irises were once again black and rimmed with blood red.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I can’t stop. Nothing I do is working.” He sobbed. I crawled over to him

“It’s okay. We’ll fix this I swear.” I tried to be gentle though I was still sort of angry with him. He shook his head and leaned toward me.

“Zoey, I will always love you. I need you to know that. Despite all that I‘ve done, I love you more than anything in this world.” He whispered. I squeezed my eyes shut and felt him press his lips against the arch of my throat. I thought he was going to bite me but I didn’t feel his teeth against my skin. Actually, I didn’t feel anything. I opened my eyes and he was gone. I was in his house, all alone, in the dark. I got up and searched around his room. He wasn’t there. I turned off the stereo and went downstairs. I searched the whole house and he was nowhere to be found. I checked the garage and one of his cars was gone. The Corvette. He had left. He left me. This time seemed to be final. More final than any time before.

I had found the most amazing person in the universe and I had loved him. He loved me back and now he was gone. I had almost been killed so many times in the past month, but that didn’t matter because I had gained something incredible. And now it was gone. Does my life suck or what?

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This book has 1 comment.

TheHiddenOne said...
on Jan. 5 2013 at 10:51 am
TheHiddenOne, Ticonderoga, New York
0 articles 1 photo 17 comments

Favorite Quote:
Heal the past; Live in the present; And dream the future!!

Omg please right more its so goods!!!!