The Vampire's Bride
Chapter 2: One Year Later
Angelica Davies forced the smile to remain on her face as she turned on her porch to face the man behind her. "Thank you for taking me out tonight Jeffery." The man smiled and nodded, barely contained longing evident on his face. It was obvious, even to her, that he wanted her to invite him inside.
Instead, she offered him as warm a smile as she could muster and escaped into the house- alone. She dropped her bag by the door and took a few deep breaths before stripping off her coat and laying it on a nearby chair. Picking up the stack of mail lying on the table in the hall, she rifled through it as she headed into the kitchen.
She clicked on the light, and immediately something caught her eye. A rose, a beautiful crimson rose, sat in the middle of her dining-room table.. She sighed, leaning against the frame of the door. This was the third week in a row she had returned to find mysterious flower placed about her home.
It was always the same, a single, perfect rose and always the same, deep red coloring. At first she had been flattered, thinking perhaps someone she knew had decided she needed a bit of happiness, but when she questioned her acquaintances none of them knew anything about the mysterious gifts. She had eventually called the police on the advice of her friends, but they could do nothing without proof.
She had slowly grown accustomed to seeing the flower when she returned home. It was always there, no matter how carefully she locked her doors or checked her windows. No other contact had been made, no letters, no phone calls, nothing. Just the flower, every day without fail.
She set down the letters she still held clutched in her hands and picked up the delicate blossom, careful of the thorns. She caressed its velvet-soft petals for a moment, before placing it back on the table. She would leave it there until tomorrow morning, and then she would throw it away, the same way she did every morning.
Turning her back on the flower, she made her way to her bedroom. She ignored the bed and entered the bathroom, shedding her clothing as she walked. She turned on the taps and pinned her hair up as she waited for the tub to fill. She finally settled herself in the lightly scented water, closing her eyes and sighing with contentment. Only then did she allow herself to think about Jeffery.
He had been quite insistent that she go on a date with him. Finally, mostly to stop his constant requests, she had agreed. The restaurant had been nice enough, but Jeffery had been dull. He had talked of nothing but work, the one topic she had not wished to discuss. She had nodded and smiled at the appropriate moments, picking listlessly at her food through the entire meal.
But then again, she had not had much interest in food for nearly… Well, a year. Since Alex had walked out of her life. It had been today too… She realized with a start. This was the anniversary of their separation. She released something caught between a sob and a laugh. It was ridiculous that she should feel this way, especially since the separation had been his idea. She had only been married to him for a year, and they had been divorced nearly that long.
It had been foolish. They had been swept away in a whirlwind romance, marrying almost before they knew each other. His impeccable manners, tender kisses, and declarations of love had fooled her into believing that he was something he was not. When he asked her to marry him she had immediately said yes without thought to the consequences. They had lived together for almost a year and even then she had known something was wrong.
It wasn't just that he refused to make love… She coldly reassessed that thought. They had never made love; they had had sex. Nothing more. His refusal to sleep with her, even on their wedding night had hurt her, though she had never let him see her tears. She knew he must have a reason, and she had naively believed any explanation he handed her.
Foolhardy, she knew now. Trusting so thoroughly, only to have her heart broken was a mistake she would never make again. She shrugged off the feelings of melancholy. It didn't matter anymore. Alex was gone, and this just happened to be the day he had left. She had a life of her own now.
After she had left the bathroom that night, she had discovered the heart-wrenching note that lay on the bed, each and every word sending a searing bolt of agony through her heart. He had given no explanations, merely told her that his lawyers would be in contact to finalize their separation. She had very little memory of that night after that moment. She had opened a bottle of liquor she had stored away in the cabinet and drunk herself into a weeping, broken stupor.
Her lips twisted into a grimace. She had wasted more tears on her traitor of a husband than he deserved. She had long assumed he had been hiding an affair. His refusal to sleep with her, as well as his frequent nightly trips all made perfect sense now, though he had never confirmed her suspicions. He had never told her where he was going, merely explaining it away by saying he had stopped for a drink after work. What a fool she'd been.
The bath water was growing cold, so she stood and wrapped a towel around herself, drying her hair as well but leaving it trailing down her back, clinging to the dampness of her skin. She tread softly into the kitchen, setting a kettle of water on the stove to boil while she changed. Still barefooted, she returned to her room and changed into her satin pajama top and bottoms, the fabric clinging to the wet spots on her skin she had missed with her towel.
Left to her thoughts, she couldn't help but feel a sense of loss. She wanted to ignore it, but it was nearly suffocating in its intensity. She paced until she could no longer bare the loneliness. Walking into the kitchen she began searching for the sleeping pills she had used for nearly two months after Alex had walked out.
She had told herself she wasn't going to use them again, but she needed quite desperately to get some sleep tonight, and this was the only way it was going to be accomplished. Shaking out a few of the pills, she swallowed them, then drank a glass of water. As she moved to place the glass in the sink, she caught sight of the rose, still laying on her tabletop.
She moved over and picked it up. At least someone cared about her, no matter how estranged his or her interests were. Tears slowly filled her eyes. Oh god… She had said no more tears, but tonight she couldn't help herself. Alex was gone. She had loved him so much, and he had been cheating on her the entire time. When he had left her heart had been ripped from her chest. She managed to find her way to her room, and collapsed onto the bed, hugging her pillow to her chest as she sobbed her heart out yet again, until the sweet oblivion of sleep claimed her.
Dark. It was so dark. And cold. She was running, but from what? And why did she feel so terrified? Her breath was coming in harsh pants. All she knew was she had to keep running; had to get away from whatever was chasing her. Had to get away before it caught her. It was coming, closer, and closer still. She could hear it chasing her, feels its harsh breath on the back of her neck. She ran, faster and faster, but still, it caught her. Dragging her back into its shadowy form as the feeling of suffocation cloaked her.
Angelica jerked awake with a gasp of panic, looking frantically around the room, but the noises from her dream didn't stop, even though she was wide-awake. She tossed the covers back from her legs and hurriedly reached into her bedside table for the gun she kept there. She certainly didn't want to use it, but she wasn't leaving her bedroom without some kind of protection. She set her feet on the floor silently, then stood, clutching the gun as she padded across to the door, reaching for the handle before opening it silently and edging out into the darkened hallway beyond.
The light in the kitchen was on and she edged around the corner, leveling the gun at the center of the room. No one was there. She spun, but before she could turn, the gun was wrenched from her hands and she was down on the floor, pinned by a hard, male body. "Angel?" The quiet, confused whisper had her eyes flying open.
"Alex? What the hell are you doing here? It's the middle of the night! You scared me to death! I could have shot you!" She scrambled out from under him, as he was no longer pinning her, merely holding himself astride her. She stood, straightening her clothing as she glared at her ex-husband. He looked tired, she noted, instantly annoyed with herself for the observation. Why should she care if he was tired? He wasn't her responsibility any longer.
"What are you doing here?" She asked again as he stood and raked a hand over his face and into his hair. "And why are you skulking around like some kind of criminal?"
"I thought you were someone else."
"Alex! I live here! Who else would I be?" He glared at her as if she was the one that had done something wrong. "What are you doing here?" She tried again, attempting to settle herself.
"I came to tell you something."
"And raiding my kitchen is going to accomplish that? Couldn't it at least have waited until morning?"
"No!" He barked. "And if you'll let me explain what I'm doing here instead of yelling at me, I might be able to tell you why!" She blinked, slightly taken aback, then dropped into a chair near the table.
"Reasonable enough… What did you want to tell me?" She waited silently as he paced the kitchen seeming not to know where to begin.
"After we were separated a year ago I went away to do some training to learn how to… better control myself. A week ago, when I came back I found out some bad things have been happening around here lately. Murders, disappearances, stuff like that." Angelica nodded. Newspapers and magazine headlines had screamed the news in bright, gaudy colors from every street corner. The recent run of crime in the city wasn't news to anyone.
Alex continued to pace and against her will she noticed the way his jacket pulled taunt over his shoulders as he walked. Shoulders that had gotten broader since she had last seen him. He had let his hair get longer too, she noted, watching the play of florescent lighting against his dark locks. He paused and took a breath.
"Angel… I know some of the people that have been dying. A lot of them were friends of mine from a long time ago. Recently I've been getting phone calls- weird ones. I'm worried that I might be the next target." He said it with such a blank expression that she could almost believe he was joking. "But I'm worried that whoever is doing this might… come after you as well."
She shook her head. How could what he be saying be true? "Have you called the police?" He nodded, turning to face her as he gave her an appraising look. It suddenly struck her how utterly ridiculous this seemed. She was in her kitchen in the middle of the night, speaking to her ex-husband on the anniversary of their separation. The day after the anniversary of their separation… She corrected, looking at the clock mounted on the wall.
"They can't do anything." Alex's voice brought her back to the conversation and she struggled to remember where she had allowed her train of thought to wander. "There's no evidence to link the calls I'm getting to the murders."
"Then it might just be a fluke." She insisted. He narrowed his eyes at her and stalked over to where she perched on the edge of her chair. She drew back into the seat as he placed his hands on the arms of the chair and leaned in toward her.
"You cannot treat this as a game Angel…" He told her, almost angrily tightening his grip on the wood of the chair as he effectively trapped her. "I won't allow you to take this lightly, nor will I." She wanted to laugh at the sheer insanity of what he was saying. She couldn't possibly be a target. She couldn't. She was finally getting her life back on track after all the misery she had been through, and now this?
She stared up at him with scared, vulnerable eyes. He stared back and for a moment they were both silent, feeling the mutual current of lust arch between them as if no time had been lost. But time had been lost, and she wasn't willing to repeat the aching heartache that had come after he had left her. She looked away, but he seemed strangely reluctant to allow her to move.
He cupped her cheek, caressing it with his thumb as he moved her back to look at him. He lowered his head slowly, giving her time to turn away or push him back. The safe, sensible person inside her screamed that she force him to leave, but she had never had any choice where Alex was involved. She had always been his and this was just another reminder of her inability to resist him.
He kissed her lightly at first, a gentle feathering of his lips over her own, as though to reacquaint himself with her taste. She responded just as carefully, merely allowing the gentle pressure of lips. Alex's hands were clenched so tightly on the chair that he thought he might be gouging the wood. He had to go slow, to make her trust him again, but to be separated from her for so long and to have her in his arms again when he feared she might reject him… To go slowly would be torture indeed.
But he would. He had trained himself, and his body for the past year. He was now in complete control of himself. He wouldn't pose a threat to her ever again. When he had returned, he had assumed that he would have a lifetime to woo her back into his arms, but he had never dared to think that the city might be in such chaos. Vampires he had known for years were suddenly dying, and he didn't know why.
They were the members of his race that were closest to him, and their deaths had come too closely together for his to simply write it off as a hoax or mere coincidence. When he had found out, he had immediately worried- not about his own safety- but about Angelica's. He was terrified that whomever was doing this would come after her as a way to get to him, and he could not allow that to happen. No matter what had occurred between them, he desperately needed her to trust him- if only with her safety- until the danger had passed. The difficult part would be convincing her that she needed his help.
He pulled his lips from hers with a reluctance that ripped holes in him as he gazed into her wide, innocent eyes. He caressed her cheek, tracking the way her tongue moved unconsciously over her bottom lip, as though she was determined to recapture the taste of him. He barely- barely- resisted the urge to lean over and reclaim her lips once again and continue kissing her until she was quivering with desire. He took a breath and stood up, putting more distance between them.
He cast his gaze around the kitchen, desperately searching for something to hold his attention, other than her slumber-soft features. His attention landed on the bright red- blood red- rose settled placidly on her dining room table. He froze, his gaze caught by the seemingly innocent blossom. "Where did you get that?" He croaked.
She seemed confused for a moment. He had just kissed her, so lightly and tenderly that she had almost felt as though she was floating, and now he expected her to concentrate on something else? She frowned. Why had she allowed him to kiss her? After everything he had done to her, all the pain and anguish she had been through, she had melted against him as though nothing had happened between them. She pushed herself out of her chair and turned away to face the table, keeping her face hidden from him. "Why do you care?" She asked shortly, forcing herself to act6 as though the kiss hadn't affected her, hadn't turned her inside-out and made her wish for things that could never be.
She looked back at him and noted her was still staring at the rose in a sort of fascinated horror. She moved to pick it up, but he stopped her, grabbing her wrist before she touched the bloom. "Don't!" She flinched, pulling back her wrist and rubbing at the red mark he had left on her pale skin.
"What is wrong with you?"
"Where did you get that rose?" Alex forced himself to speak calmly, curling his hands into fists at his sides to keep from reaching for her again. Whatever barriers he had crossed during their all too brief kiss had been put firmly back in place and he wasn't sure if she would answer him. But then, perhaps he was overreacting and this urgency that was welling up inside him was only a misplaced emotion.
She glared at him, still rubbing her wrist, though the mark he had placed there had already faded. "I've been receiving them for weeks." She reluctantly offered. "I'm not sure who's sending them to me."
Alex's wheezing breath had her gaze flying to his face as the blood drained from his cheeks, leaving him pale. He instantly crossed the kitchen and scooped her into his arms. However, this time she didn't allow the attraction zinging between them to cloud her judgment and she shoved against his shoulders. "Alex! What are you doing?"
Alex refused to loosen his hold on her, not even for a moment. His worst fears had been realized. He might not have arrived back in time to save her. She might have… He shoved the thought away because even the mere conjuring had his heart racing and a headache pounding behind his eyes. He pulled back just enough to look down into her stubborn, angry eyes. "You're in danger. We have to leave. Now."
"Are you kidding?" She said, wrenching away from him, though he could have easily kept her in his embrace. "What do you mean, danger? Is this about the flower? Alex, I've already talked to the police about it and they said-"
"Forget the police!" He hissed impatiently. "They don't understand. Angel, you're marked! If you remain here you'll die!"
"Marked? Alex, what are you talking about?" She took a step toward the phone, reaching out for the receiver. "Maybe I should call someone to come and get you."
He was at her side in the time it took her to extend her hand. He placed his own over the phone, keeping her from calling anyone. "Angel… Please." His eyes pleaded with her to believe in him. "I'm not crazy, but I'm terrified that if we stay here any longer you'll be hurt. You have to leave, at least for a while, until I can ensure that you'll be safe."
"You can't possibly expect me to pack up and leave just because you think that some murderers that have nothing to do with me have made me their next target! You haven't even told me why you're here! Apart from practically assaulting me in my own house as well as insulting my intelligence, all you've done since you've arrived is pretend like nothing's changed between us!" She stopped to take a breath and noticed the way his eyes were darkening before she continued. "Alex- you left me a year ago! No calls, no explanations, only enough of a note to let me know that your lawyers would be in touch- all of this for an entire year! And now, for the first time since that night when you walked off and left me alone, believing that you were going to be there when I got out of the bathroom, you show up in the middle of the night and expect me to trust you?" She scoffed quietly. "You've got to be crazy."
So, anyone getting bored yet? This chapter may have been a little confusing, but I tried to make it as clear as I could without giving away any of my major plot twists (and there will be several)! I've decided that this story may not have very many chapters in it, but considering the chapters I'm cranking out have almost five pages of text to them, I don't think that's going to be much of an issue.
On to the bad news: I told you that I had chapter two nearly finished when I first posted the story, and that much was true, which is basically what is allowing me to make a second addition to my story. However, I don't even have a start on chapter three, not even one sentence typed so far (remember what I said about my writing jumping around). If you think the wait for the second chapter was long, you might go insane before I finish the third one. Hold on though, it will come eventually- promise.
Thanks so much to my only reviewers so far: it was really nice of you both to take the time to read and review my story. I love the positive encouragement! It really gives me a reason to keep writing and not abandon the story.
Lastly, for any new readers out there… Please review! I'll say it again, I love positive encouragement, but despite that the number one thing I want to know is- what am I doing wrong? I'll even accept criticism, as long as it's the constructive kind!
Thanks for reading! Don't forget to review!