Title: Chapter One
Author's Notes: I have decided to start reposting this story, and hopefully finish it.
"Father, you know it is for her own good. They will kill her," Drayton said grimly as his father gently stroked a finger on his daughter's smooth cheek. He nodded and sighed.
"I know that. I just wish there was another way," he murmured, as he looked to the sky as if it held all the answers.
"Raithos, enough of this," Zarroiya said sharply in her grief, tears sparking her eyes. "We will get her one day and bring her back where she belongs, with us. But for now, it is best," she continued, voice softening. Raithos nodded and kissed his wife's cheek swiftly before there was a slight waver and he was gone silently, moving through the folds of space to get to the mortal orphanage.
"Mother, we will get her back," Drayton said firmly, taking his mother's hand as her firm expression wavered. "I will make sure of it." She smiled, a heartbreaking smile, and put a finger on the bottom of his chin.
"That is a big promise for boy barely aged five," she told him, lifting his face so he looked directly into her eyes. "But I trust you will come through when you need to." His heart swelled at her faith and he threw himself at her in a hug, knowing he would fulfill his promise if it was the last thing he ever did.
Ivory reached out a hand to gently touch his shoulder to stop him from walking away and gave him a hug, curling her arms around his neck and inhaling the scent that was simply Daniel.
'Drink,' whispered a strange voice inside her head and her mind clouded for a moment, but she was startled out of it by his touch. He reached around her and briefly returned the embrace before parting from her, eyes lit with happiness and confusion. As much as she enjoyed hugging him, it was an awkward thing, for neither quite knew what to say afterwards. "Well, I'm going to miss you," she said softly. "Have a good Christmas." He smiled, the smile that clenched her heart and gave her butterflies.
"Same here," he said and they stood awkwardly for a moment before Ivory turned and boarded her bus.
"Sit here, Ivory," Challen called. The two girls were best friends and had been since kindergarten when they discovered they both liked Hello Kitty and were made fun of because of their names. They were far past that fad in their life, but they were still best friends, bound together by a sisterly love formed in the youngest years of their life. "Daniel seemed happy."
"Didn't he?" she asked, smiling as she stared out the front on the bus at his retreating back.
"You know you're only thirteen and it's just puppy love," threw in their friend Kelsey, who was quick-witted and sarcastic and actually quite mean. But, for some reason veiled to everyone but Kelsey, she was actually nice to the two girls. But no one else.
"Daniel's fourteen," Ivory corrected. "And how would you know what we feel?" She was always defensive of her boyfriend and the relationship they had, considering it was attacked so often by so many. Kelsey held up her hands, fingers spread, in defeat.
"I know that, I was just teasing," she said, smirking. They spent the rest of their hour long bus ride together with playful banter and whatnot, though Ivory never completely removed her mind from Daniel and his lingering scent on her clothes.
Kelsey got off before either of them, at the very first stop, and so Challen turned her back on aisle to continue talking solely to Ivory. "So, what do you think you're going to do for Christmas? I'm going on a cruise and I think my Daddy's planning to surprise with a trip to Orlando this weekend. I'm not sure but I saw him looking at websites and he's been a lot nicer to me." Yes, Challen was rich and pretty as pretty could be in eighth grade anyway, but she wasn't as snobby as she could be.
"Ivory, are you listening?" Challen demanded, peering into her smoky gray eyes intently.
"Yeah, dad's surprising you with Orlando, going on a cruise, what am I doing?" she summed up, leaving it hanging in a question. Challen rolled her eyes and grinned.
"You could've just said yes."
"I know but that was a lot more fun." There was a pause and they both giggled.
"So, what are you going to do, anyways?"
"Anyways isn't a word," Ivory taunted, but teasingly, as they had had one teacher who had insisted they talked in perfect grammar and such.
"Grr," she said, arching her eyebrows. "Grr you."
"Thank you. I'm so happy I think I'm gonna cry," the other girl said, fluttering a hand in front of her face as if to stop tears. "But, seriously, I think I'm just gonna lay around, maybe go to a few friends' houses, talk on the phone. Then for Christmas Eve, go to church–" here she scrunched up her face in obvious dislike–"and then," she paused and grinned and Challen groaned as Ivory broke into 'To Grandmother's House We go'.
"I wish I never told you that song," Challen groaned, rubbing her forehead. "Anyways," she continued, "you're going to their house for Christmas, not Thanksgiving."
"But there's still going to be pie," she said, the grin still spread across her face. Challen shook her head as she stood up, backpack swinging over her shoulder.
"I gotta go," she said and blew her a kiss as they pulled to a stop. "Merry Christmas, my dear." She rolled her eyes but nonetheless blew a kiss back.
"Merry Christmas," she called at her friend as she turned and exited the bus, tossing her head subconsciously and catching glistens of light in her chocolate hair, tan arms also gleaming in the spark of sun not uncommon for winters in Florida, and Ivory did not know that was the last time she would ever see her friend.
Ivory examined herself in the mirror, frowning and leaned forward slightly to rub at a smudge of chocolate on the corner of her mouth. It eventually faded and then disappeared and she licked her index finger to remove the chocolate from it. Her sister, who was nineteen and already had her own cooking show on Food Network, had baked a Bavarian Chocolate Cake to celebrate coming home form college. She had been greeted in a flurry of hugs and kisses and Ivory had scrubbed unrelentingly at her forehead before she had been able to remove the violet imprint of lipstick.
Her face was thin and her nose was small, perking up at the tip in the smallest, attractive manner. Her eyes were large and rounded and gray, swirled with wisps of black, and her pupils were exceptionally small so she could see very well in the dark. Her chin was pointed in a feminine manner, though her brother claimed it made her look like a man. Her hair was long and sweeping to the middle of her back, dark and blue-black, tousled in a manner that made her attempts at brushing or combing her hair foolish. Her lips used to be incredibly pale pink but lately seemed to have a bluish tinge. She was not exactly attractive but she couldn't be called ugly either.
She was of petite frame and stature, unlike her tall, broad, family; in the case of the females in her family, voluptuous. But then again, they all had needed braces as early as they could and Ivory's teeth were appallingly white and straight, her incisors often the cause of her tongue being cut. But her blood appeased a strange emptiness inside her, soothing an ache she could never rid. She had never dared tell anyone for fear of being locked up. You did not enjoy the taste of blood. You just didn't.
She sighed and pushed a hand through her hair before crossing the room to her dresser and pulling on warm pajama pants and a sweatshirt. Even if it had been moderately warm that day the nights were always cold. And then there was the strange urge she had been feeling lately when the sky darkened and stars dotted the violet spread. She had wanted to jump out of bed and soar into the sky. But she couldn't fly and night was time for sleeping anyway.
The phone rang, startling her out of her thoughts, and she reached across her dresser and picked it up. "Hello, Caraway residence, Ivory speaking," she said into the phone promptly. "May I ask who is calling, and whom for?"
"Are you always this polite?" asked an amazed voice and she was a bit startled.
"Well, not really, but my parents taught me to answer the phone this way," she answered, flushed, and then backtracked. "Who are you?"
"Um, just a friend." The voice was male, sounding a few years older than Ivory herself, and suspicion snuck upon her, tackling her and engulfing her.
"How'd you get this number?" she asked. A torrent of thoughts swirled through her mind but she took a calming breath, trying to assure herself it was just a prank call and he had been thrown off track by her manners. Of course, a boy such as him wouldn't expect such polite behavior. "Tell me!" The phone was silent once again; there was muffled conversation, then a click. She clutched the phone to her ear for a few moments long before a louder click occurred and the dial tone buzzed in her ear.
When Ivory woke up, it was not in the bed she had fallen asleep in. But she did not notice for a moment as she sleepily gazed around her setting, stretching her arms above her head and failing despite her valiant attempts to stifle a yawn. Then she stopped, mouth open and arms high, as she caught sight of a little boy curled up in a bed a scant feet away. Her eyes widened and her mouth snapped shut as she wrapped her arms around herself.
The room was elegant, though she couldn't help but shiver at the sense of foreboding that clawed at her. The walls was jagged stone, the mortar rough, and the floor marble, smooth and cold to bare feet, as Ivory knew from experience. The furniture was polished mahogany, gleaming and dark and only adding to the dark atmosphere. The sheets of both her bed and the little boy's were silk and silver with silver pillows and a black comforter, the four feet on the bed carved into lion claws for decorative purposes.
Then, though she did not know why, she thought of Daniel. She would never see him again. And at the thought tears pooled in her eyes and she did not even try to trap them as the escaped and she drew her knees up to her chest and sobbed into her knees, rocking herself back and forth. She would never see his aqua eyes light up when he caught sight of her or study him shamelessly when he wasn't looking or call him at one in the morning and whisper things, giggling at the secrecy of it all, or just simply walk with him from class to class, even if one of them was going out of their way.
And she would never see Challen, or listen to her stupid jokes and find them funny. She would never run away from her aprents and go to Challen's house, sobbing, and get angry when Challen ralied with her parents. She would never tell her how much she loved her, like a sister.
She sobbed freely; let her feelings escape her as easily as trees dropped their burden of leaves in the fall. Suddenly a small hand was on her shoulder and she snapped her head up to look into eyes identical to hers. The little boy was kneeling in front of her, with blue tinged lips and pale skin and disheveled black hair.
Ivory felt a sort of kinship to this little boy and she studied him for a moment. "Are we related?" she asked him, forgetting for a moment he could probably barely speak. He grinned at her and nodded.
"You sister," he said, cheek dimpling in such a cute way she would have exclaimed – "aaw!"– if not for the graveness of the situation.
"No I'm not," she said indignantly, forgetting herself, and then flushed. "What's your name?" she asked, absently reaching and brushed a strand of black hair from his face, which had left a crease while he was sleeping.
"Corbin," he said proudly and the grin widened. "I remembered!" He was obviously excited and it was infectious and she smiled and reached out and ruffled his hair.
"That's very good, young one." Ivory froze and immediately, without a thought, pressed herself closer into the wall and drew into herself, legs and arms tucking as close as possible to her body.
"There's nothing wrong," Corbin chirped, slipping off the bed and running over to the man who had entered the room. "This is our father."
"My father is not the same as yours," she said stiffly, staring at her socked feet, feeling naked under the two gazes on her. "My father would never kidnap anyone." She thought of Daniel and Challen again and her lower lip trembled as she continued in a softer voice. "My father would never pull someone away from everyone they loved." The man exhaled in a sigh and he crossed the room to kneel before her and she felt the compelling order in her mind to look into his eyes. Though she didn't want to, she eventually lifted her head a fraction of an inch and she was shocked to find he had the same eyes as the little boy; the swirled gray orbs she also had, with exceptionally small pupils.
"I understand this is difficult for you and I am sorry it had to be done this way," he said softly. "I feel you deserve to know why you were brought here and why it has to be way. The only thing I can tell you at the moment, as you need to meet the rest of the family before I tell you the whole story, is that you did not know you were adopted because I requested it be that way. I did not want you growing up with two empty spaces." Ivory's eyes widened briefly at this, thinking of the emptiness that was only filled by blood.
"How do you know that?" she demanded, eyes narrowing as she spoke. "I never told anyone that, least of all you."
"You shall find out in due time, my dear," he said as he stood up and for a moment he stared at her with an expression of unfathomable affection and relief. "You were my first daughter," he said wistfully, "and I never got to see you grow up. That is the only thing I truly regret out of this whole mess." He sighed faintly. "You will be allowed to contact this Daniel once you have settled in. However, if you choose to stay in touch with him, he can be the only one."
She was silent as she pondered this, musing if contact with Daniel was worth laying her near lifelong friendship with Challen to rest. But she knew it was, even as she questioned it, and she found herself nodding. Once she was older she could find Challen and try to repair the broken friendship. And if it didn't work, well then, that was that.
"I am thirsty," she said tentatively. He reached into the knee-length coat he wore. She took a brief moment to size him up. He, like the room, had an ominous presence. His skin was even more washed out than hers and his face, pointed in masculinity, seemed hardened, as if no longer made of flesh. His hair was silk trim curls, black and fell in layered waves to his shoulders, enhancing the colorless skin of his face. His sweater was gray, bringing out his eyes, and his pants were creased and black, masking his legs well enough so that she did not know what kind of shape they were. He wore a black trench coat with a high folded collar, brushing his knees and unbuttoned, and it only seemed to increase his presence tenfold.
"Drink this," he told her as he handed her a glass flask, corked and holding a thick red liquid. As soon as she uncorked it, a recognizable scent filled the room. Most would call it an odor but to her it smelled heavenly and that scared her.
"This is blood," she whispered.
"Do you not desire it?" he asked, studying her and tilting his head a fraction of an inch.
"If you don't drink it, give it to me, I'm thirsty," Corbin whined and Ivory wondered what kind of lunatic this man must be, to raise a child who enjoyed the taste of blood. Then again, she did too…
She sighed and lifted it to her lips. Instantly it scorched her throat like when she drank boiling tea but it didn't hurt. Forgetting instantly what she was drinking she tilted the bottle up higher to get more. A firm grip stopped her from taking a third gulp and he took it back. She hissed at him without thought and then, remembering her situation and that she was drinking blood, she shrank back and handed the liquid to him with a trembling hand, though she felt weary after the drink.
"I'm sorry you have to feel such self-hate," he said quietly as Corbin took a small drink, "but I hope all will be clear within a few hours." She nodded and licked her lips, which were wet with blood. He inserted the cork back on the flask and tucked it back inside his coat. "Corbin," he said, dropping to his knees, "stay here with Ivory and I will come back later with Mother and them all." Corbin nodded, eyes bright, and he crawled into the bed with a smile on his face as the man left and he willingly let Ivory pull him into an embrace and the two drifted off to sleep together.