I used to think vampires were amazing. Childish, right? I learned my lesson the hard way. It doesn't help that I'm in high school...and the new guy doesn't help.
When I woke up, the world was covered in a foggy haze.
“Emmy?” I heard a voice calling my name, a note of panic evident.
I blinked rapidly and a face swam into focus.
Reality came back like the edge of a knife: sharp, brutal. The haze faded; I could now clearly see the twinkling stars above, the moon ducking behind windswept clouds, the graffiti-ridden walls around me.
I was on my feet in the next instant, staggering backward on stiff legs. He came toward me, hand outstretched, panic written all over his face, luminous eyes widened in alarm.
“Emmy, please, listen to me.” His voice mirrored the desperation on his face, which had been thrown into shadow by a lone streetlamp across the street. I backed away further, flinching slightly at the rusty soda can I crunched underfoot.
Once stung, twice shy. That was me. I’d been taken in once. Never again.
“I can explain–“
"Spare me the lame excuses, please," I snapped. I lifted up my hands and examined them. They still looked the same; same pale fingers, same “M” on my left palm. But then, what did I really expect? Being inconspicuous was key to this life. I hastily glanced down at the rest of me. Still nothing.
“Emmy–“ I held up my hand, sparing him a cold glare, and he fell silent, watching with what seemed stifled frustration as I reached up and ran my hands over my neck in a hasty search, until I found what I’d been looking for.
Two small bumps. Two small bumps that any girl would have taken as a hickey. Any girl but me.
My suspicions confirmed, I finally looked up and met his gaze. He seemed to have frozen, his frantic eyes hooded in the half-shadows on his face. My insides gave a heart-thumping lurch.
“How could you?” My voice cracked. “I /trusted /you…” Tears welled up in my eyes. He took a small step forward, eyes pleading.
“Get away from me!” My voice echoed down the deserted alley. A pigeon that had just alighted on a nearby wall blindly took off in startled flight, its wings a flash of white against the dark sky.
He stopped again, and a pained look passed over his face. I wasn’t falling for it. I’d seen it before too many times. Forever regretting, never amending. That was his new forte.
“Emmy,” he tried again, shaking his head slightly, “you don’t understand–“
“Don’t understand what?” I snarled back. “I should have known better than to trust you. He was right, all along. And I didn’t listen to him. And now–now–" I gulped and took a deep breath as a shudder passed through me at the thought of what lay in store ahead. Stepping over a ripped trash bag, he advanced closer. Now he was only a couple of feet away. I took a step back reflexively and felt my back hit the alley wall behind me.
Great. A dead end. I couldn’t back away any further; I needed another means of escape. I didn't want to be here, with him, any longer. Already my mind had begun to absorb the harsh realization of what had just occurred; it screamed its panic inside me.
But I knew there no way out. At least, not one that didn’t involve garlic. And quite possibly, a sharp stake.
“I’m not going down like this!” I clenched my shaking hands into fists. His eyes widened at my suddenly-violent rebuttal.
“You hear me? I’m going to find a way. I’m not walking around for eternity with you.” I lifted my chin defiantly. /Where there’s a will, there’s a way/, I told myself, albeit desperately. I couldn’t help the feeling of despair that washed over me again. I knew well enough how this ended in my heart; I was just being stubbornly delusional.
His anxious look slipped away, and his face fell, the dark contours sharpening, eerie in the darkness. “You honestly think I gave up just like that, Emmy?”
I swallowed again, feeling bile rise up in my throat. I flattened myself against the dank wall behind me. But he didn't have to come any closer; his words alone were enough to root me to the spot in horrified fascination. And in truth, running away from him was not going to affect my situation in the slightest.
“You think I enjoy this?” he intoned softly. I caught my breath, mentally willing him to stop, because I would keep listening 'till he did.
The dark shadows in the alleyway shifted, casting his face into full darkness. Receiving no answer, he continued. “I tried everything, Em, everything. Even that crazy mythological stuff.” His eyes bored into mine. It seemed like a curtain had been drawn behind them. A very thin curtain that didn’t hide the pain I could see if I bothered to look hard enough.
But at that moment, I couldn't have cared less.
I shook my head defiantly, doing my best to ignore him, heart hammering like a funeral drum in my chest. I didn’t want to hear what I knew he was going to tell me. I wanted to hold onto that last shred of hope buried deep inside me ever since I’d felt those two bumps on my neck.
The two bumps that, had I been lucky, would have been a hickey. But they weren’t. They were the dark herald of my new life. A life I despised mere seconds after entering.
The life of a vampire…