August 2003, two years previously.

Oregon.

David took another swig of his bottle of Bud , not even seeing it. Empty lager cans were littered at his feet, he barely registered them. Daisy's party had been lame , she had clung pathetically onto his arm all night, parading him around like a pet poodle, completely heedless of the fact he had made it painfully clear he did not want to be there, although admittedly ,the alcohol had been a welcome distraction. Daisy did not care. He doubted she cared about anything other than stroking her own ego , he was merely something to flatter her vanity. It was funny, he reflected, less than a month ago that had not been a problem. Daisy was hot, blond, popular and perky, she may have not been the most riveting conversationalist but he wasn't all that concerned with hearing her speak, and yes , the fact she was head cheerleader and had flexibility that rivalled his own came in very handy indeed. He had treated her pleasantly enough, he had manners if nothing else and while she was his- he fully intended to be chivalrous , but he assumed neither of them were under any delusions, they looked good together, helped boost each others status and had fun but the line stopped there. Everything had been about fun, nothing in life was serious and it was all a big party till college…..until last month. After that fateful night where he had learned the "truth" from his parents, a truth he still couldn't accept ,he'd downed enough alcohol to rival tonight and worked his aggression and tension out on Michelle the gymnast , who also incidentally happened to be Daisy's best friend. It was extremely unfortunate that tonight, when Daisy moaned about him being different lately, Michelle had happily informed her why. The stupid night had ended up with him getting slapped in the face, a catfight in the pool, and numerous high fives from his mates, yet he did not care. He did not care that he'd hurt Daisy, he did not care that the entire school would be talking about him and he certainly did not care how his parents would be feeling about all this, in fact he ceased to care about anything at all. So now here he was, having retired from the party, finishing his drink and going home. He let the empty bottle fall carelessly to the floor and fumbled around for his car keys. After some great difficulty he managed to unlock the door and fell inside, sprawling across the soft leather seat.

"Stupid Bud," he muttered. Clearly that had tipped him over the edge, although the lager, shots of tequila and Jim Bean had probably joined in the fun.

For the first time in a month he smiled. His vision was misty , which echoed how he perceived the world, everything was spinning yet he was not surprised, it was just the world falling off its axis, his world, it was amazing anything actually still existed at all. They lied to me, he thought bitterly, with renewed vigour. They raised me, let me believe in hopes and dreams and it was all a lie. They let some monster turn me into a freak, I would have rather they let me die. Now I will be hunted my entire life. They had not understood , they had declared he had been safe for seventeen years and as long as he stayed out of trouble nobody would find him now. It did not matter, now he knew he would always be looking over his shoulder, terrified that something would be out there, waiting for him, or others he loved. The safest thing is to not care about anyone. Screw his parents, they had ruined his life, let him a live a lie, and yet the strange part was he could not decide whether he was more angry that they hadn't told him in the first place or that they had come clean now. Yes, he had questions, as he'd become older he wondered why he never got colds or flu, he never broke bones, and it took a lot to bruise, he'd never so much as even had chickenpox or a tummy bug before. The odd scraped knee healed within minutes, he had the endurance level of a horse and was a star on the football field and if somebody tackled him, they visited A and E , but he'd just presumed he was very strong and learned to hold back on the field, unless it was an important match of course. It had been fun a while and had its perks, he always won Daisy every prize at the fairground, had no fear of injury and had countless football trophies at home ,but he had started to suspect something was wrong, in a way he must have instinctively known or he wouldn't have held back his strength in order to blend in more, which is why he had finally badgered them for answers... he'd never expected the truth. He'd expected them to laugh it off and quell his fears, squashing his doubts forever, he still could not accept it, any of it. They should have told me at first or not at all. Instead they let me enjoy life, live it a certain way, have fun and then dropped this bombshell on me. I can never be the person I was. At this age I was safer not knowing. They have destroyed my life. Daisy, football, high school , them, none of it matters, none of it matters at all. He gripped the steering wheel with enough force to bleed colour from his knuckles, furiously gunned the engine and pressed down on the accelerator.


Present

Ree's house

Cathy marched into Ree's study with no care for graces or tact. She furiously slammed the chestnut door, eagerly awaiting a shocked reaction. He remained nonplussed. He was wearing a black Ralph Lauren suit and holding a heavyweight paperback in his hands. He glanced up at her through his lashes, looking amused by her brazenness. Dylan was close on her heels, looking ashen.

"I'm sorry Sir, she just marched in here. You said I was not to harm her so what could I do?"

Ree said that? Now she was the one shocked.

He fixed glacier eyes on Dylan. "I am aware what I said. Catherine is a guest, she is welcome in here. " He crumpled his face in disgust. "You, however, are not. Get out."

A flash of surprise sparked across Dylan's features yet it was quickly masked. "Of course. Sorry sir," he rushed out but not before casting her a look of utter contempt.

"I think he's jealous he's no longer your butt boy."

The words were said before she could stop herself. Ree was no longer amused.

"Do not push it. Shut the door."

Any joviality had died, his manner was suddenly brisk and impatient.

Remember who you are talking to. He holds everyone you love in his hands. Don't bait him.

She did as commanded. "Sorry."

"No, you are not."

"I ….." she panicked, desperately trying to make it right.

"It is ok, I have no desire to hear your words of deceit, such things are better saved for Steve and David. Just remember who you are talking to, my amusement with your tantrums only stretch so far. " His face suddenly lit up and he tossed his book on the oak table. She supposed when you were so powerful , you had no fear of attack from household furniture. "Now I am incredibly interested to hear about your catch up with the divine Miss Rachel."

She gulped, at once realising why he had asked Dylan not to harm her and appreciating that her free pass was not going to extend very far.

"I did not get it, the necklace has gone."

To her surprise, he remained unfazed. "I expected as much. Your mood and empty hands alerted me to that fact. So where is it, or did you fail as miserably at retrieving that information as you did my necklace?"

"It is with Steve and David, " she snapped, bristling at his attitude. none of this is my fault.

"So why are you not there, getting my present? I deserve something. After all I am keeping you and your loved ones alive, the least you can do is give me what I ask in return."

Her previous worry and anger reignited at his words. "Because I can't fight them, the last time I tried I was burned to a crisp, or do you not remember?" She heedlessly invaded his personal space with no concern for safety "You promised me you would teach me about my powers but you are too bone idle to do that, maybe if you actually got up off your arse or stopped catching up on your reading you would have more success in finding the necklace rather than relying on everyone else to do it for you. This necklace is so precious to you yet you can't even equip your best soldier with a fighting chance! No wonder you've been "looking" or getting others to look for it for years, I'm not surprised, but never mind , why don't you carry on looking at your book, I'm sure you'll find all the answers you need in there."

Retribution was shift and unexpected. Ree jumped up and sent her flying through the air with a vicious punch to the mouth. She felt something shatter and realised it was her teeth. Blood rose in her throat and she choked on it and the bitter shards.

"Don't you ever speak to me like that again." He was calm , too calm. "Get up and get out before you have a date with my table, that won't end with the right kind of impaling."

She painfully pulled herself up, her entire mouth throbbing and burning. She swallowed heavily, wincing at the bitter, nauseating taste.

She left , feeling utter degraded, humiliated and terrified, she hurried out the room in much the same way Dylan had, scared to even cast Ree a backward glance, so sure she was he would be behind her with a stake, ready to end her once and for all.

She caught Dylan against the door, grinning like a Cheshire cat and she averted her gaze, determined not to let tears fall.


2003

Oregon

David wrenched the wheel of his silver Ford furiously to the side, pressing harder on the accelerator, techno pop blasted from his stereo, making a nice rhythm with the pounding in his head. The sky was alight with stars and the translucent moon shone brightly up ahead, mocking him. It would remain like this forever, alive, vibrant, untouchable, long after he and all his loved ones had succumb to whatever fate held in store for them. It was not right. How could the earth still be turning, the sky look as happy as ever, after what had happened? Is anything even existing at all? He rolled his windows down, rudely awakening anybody foolish enough to be sleeping in this horrid little word. Sharp bursts of wind dishevelled his brown locks, its wildness and anger spurring him on. He picked up speed, the wind helping him fly, not caring for something as trivial as speed limits. The alcohol in his system usually faded fast and he wanted to enjoy the carefree moment and ride his high. He briefly wondered if there were any shops he could sneak in to get some more liquor. He was now in the poor part of town, after all, and petty crime was not unheard of. Who is really going to miss a few cans of liquor?He studied the old grey slate rooftops and miniature houses with their peeling , chipped paint and smashed in windows. Nothing ever good came from riding your Ford down here, which is precisely why he was doing it. Behind his devil-may-care attitude he could feel the barely contained anger gnawing at his stomach , he wanted somebody to try to fight him, he needed an excuse to finally explode. He once again pressed down on the accelerator, praying for a fight, a crash, anything to bring him to life. If I'm really so indestructible, lets see just what my body can take.

He skidded furiously along the deserted back streets, jolting in his seat, and being thrown to the side every time he turned a corner , he was finally having fun. Super-freaks don't need seatbelts. It was as he turned the final corner to bring him out of the bad part of town, that it happened. He saw a brief white dress up ahead. Somewhere in his muddled brain he realised it was a person, a girl, a few years younger than him, he went cold, he saw her mouth open in an exclamation of terror and surprise, for the first time that night he tried to find the breaks, he was not quick enough. He felt a sickening bang and saw brown hair and blood splatter his windshield, and then his own body launched forward and he went sprawling through the glass. He landed in a painful heap at the other side, his face making full contact with jagged pavement.

David did not care, with no thought for himself, he pulled himself up and ran to the girl, for the first time properly seeing his victim. She was younger than he had first thought, no older than thirteen at most, she was wearing considerable make up, the reason for his mistake and she appeared to be going or returning from a party. A party at this time? She's only a kid. The streets are deserted. What was she doing out here?

Her curly dark hair was matted with blood, her pretty white dress, much too proper than what you'd expect to see around here, frayed and splattered with dirt and red. No, no, no! This can't be happening. Be alright, please be alright!

His crash through the car had jolted him to dire sobriety, he did not need to check to see his wounds were already healing, all he would be left with were a few cuts and scraps. She would not be so lucky.

He desperately grabbed her frail white arms, knowing even as his hands made contact she was stone cold. His fingers frantically scrabbled for a pulse, a heartbeat, anything. She was motionless . Wake up, please wake up. As usual nobody listened to his prayers. Hot tears stung his cheeks. What have I done? He dimly heard trance and realised the stereo was still going, it snapped him into action. This part of town was always deserted, except for a few petty criminals and this girl, but the continued noise, not to mention his car, would attract attention. The only reason it had not so far was that when people heard noise here, they turned out the light and shut the door. He acted quickly .

David raced to the stereo, swiftly shutting it up once and for all. He paused, regretfully looking at the innocent girl. He saw it all happening in slow motion , his parents finding out what he had done, being so disappointed and sickened, Michelle and Daisy and all those fools who looked up to him being appalled, jail, the life he had once thought lost forever irretrievable .

I can't help her. She's already dead. All I'll be doing is killing myself with her in the process. It's not my fault, I had just had my entire world turned upside down, it was under extreme circumstances, anybody would have been entitled to drink after what I had just learned. No judge or jury is going to believe that. I can't do this to my parents, they believe in me, think I'm destined for something, not killing an innocent child. It was an accident.

His brain desperately gabled for excuses but he knew there was none to be found. I killed her. I've acted like a complete jerk and I've hurt someone who had every reason to live. He did not know what to do. Fear gripped him cold and uncompromising, he could not mentally survive jail or seeing the disappointed, accusing looks on everyone's faces. I need to get rid of the body. Guilt gnawed away hungrily at him. What about her family? They deserve to know the truth.

She might not even have family or a decent one at that . She should not have been out here at this time alone, if I had not got her, someone from the neighbourhood or something even nastier might. Why was she so stupid? She never should have been out here alone! There is nothing I can do for her now, but I can save myself and think about my family for once. I've been so hard and selfish with them but now I can make it right. I am not going to prison.

He cast her one last regretful look, a better idea than disposing of the body beginning to form.

I'm scum and a coward. Why was someone like me ever chosen for anything important? If someone else found out about what was going on with the world and that creatures exist they might be able to stop it, they might act, try to change things. How could I ever help anyone or be any use? I'm selfish, I've always been selfish, just a shallow pathetic waste of space. These powers are wasted on me. I should have died when I was a baby.

He went to his car, and unsurprisingly, selfishness and cowardice won out again.


Present

Ree's house.

Cathy shut herself in the serene bedroom Ree had appointed her and flopped on the bed, wrapping her arms around herself to cocoon her body. It was the same one she had recovered in when Ree had so carefully taken care of her. Things were different since she had been butchered by Steve, especially with Ree, he had given her this room for one, and not made her sleep with him like she had been previously forced to do. He never touched her inappropriately, made lewd comments, or even kissed her, in contrast he had been the perfect gentleman, waiting on her every whim, his touch friendly and reassuring, his manner gentle. Her eyes fell upon the bookcase to her right, despite the fact she had no time or desire to read, he'd brought her favourite books, a small TV was to her left, cosmetics and designer perfumes littered the mahogany dressing table with the Victorian mirror.

Just like Steve. She smiled at the thought. Both vampires had held her captive, although with Ree she was at least given the illusion of choice, and both tempted her with presents and home comforts when she cooperated , yet punished her severely when she didn't. Her hand went to her mouth and she winced involuntarily. Her teeth were already growing back and her mouth was heeling, soon the pain would vanish yet it was the fear that still lingered. However much they dressed it up or put airs and graces on, both men were monsters and she would not forget it.

I have traded one monster for another.

Something deep within her niggled at that. Difference is Steve never hit me for speaking the truth. He may have wanted to at times but he didn't.

Doesn't matter, both of them are monsters and they are both going to pay for what they have done to me. I just need to bite my tongue with Ree and do all he asks to keep my family safe but one day and the second I get the chance, he is ashes.

A light tap at the door broke her out of her thoughts.

"May I come in?"

Ree? She wearily pushed herself into a sitting position. Showtime. Time to play nice. "Of course."

Ree entered, looking apologetic. She fought not to roll her eyes.

"I'm sorry," he moved to sit beside her on the bed, " that was completely uncalled for. I should never have lashed out like that, I lost my temper and I took my frustrations out on you. After all you have been through lately with Steve, I should have known better. Here I am trying to show you I'm not like him and I treat you the same way. " His fingers tenderly went to her mouth. "Thank god you are healing. Forgive me?"

How gullible does he think I am? What does he want? She faked a smile, "naturally. I should have known my place, I spoke out of turn. I am the one who is sorry."

Ree's smile was a lot more genuine than hers had been. "Please, do not say what you think I wish to hear. I admire your gumption, it was one of the things that made me recruit you in the first place. Also, you were right. It would be unreasonable of me to expect you to be able to take on Steve and go looking for the necklace after what he did to you. You are still shaken, vulnerable and weak."

"I'm not weak!"

"In spirit, no, but you lack focus, training and the skills needed to do the job properly. "

Then why can't you do it? "By the time I learn those things Rachel will tell Steve I know it's with them and it will be this stupid treasure hunt all over again!"

Ree chuckled. " I see you share my frustrations. How do you think I feel? I've been looking for it since before you were born. Calm yourself. They have nowhere else to hide it, they have been playing yo-yo with it between them and Rachel, and they have no other friends. They won't expect an attack from you, Steve will think he has beaten you and you are too scared to go back. They underestimate you, I never did."

Ree's words inflamed her. "If Steve thinks he has cowed me he is an idiot! " She almost wanted to storm in there and kick his arse now, even contemplating such a notion.

"See there's that spirit again." His hand lightly brushed her shoulder. "Now, I think it's time I lived up to my end of the bargain and give you something you've wanted for such a long time…"

Cathy went cold. "I…."

"Join me in an hour. We are going to train."

She let out a breath she had not even been aware she was holding.

"Rest first, you must be shattered, and then come to the training room. You're going to love this, I have one last gift to give you. " He winked. "Sleep well."

Vampires and their gifts, unless it's a stake with your name carved on it I'm pretty sure I can do without it. She turned away from him, lying down and listening to the creak of the door to confirm he had gone. Then she looked at the china clock, anxiously counting the hour down and dreaming of ways to kill him in his sleep.


August 2003

Oregon

Once in his battered car, David went on autopilot. The streets were deserted which was a good thing yet up ahead a kaleidoscope of dazzling pink and orange was illuminating the sky, he did not have long. He steered his silver Ford behind the manicured lawns and neighbouring English style houses to the quaint bungalow he called home.

He peered in the colourful yellow draped windows, no light escaped them. Good. My parents are asleep, let's get this over with.

Stealthily entering the blackened garage, he parked his wreck of a car, and then headed into the house in search of a cloth, bucket and water.


Present

Ree's house

Cathy approached the spartan training room with dread. The last time she had received a surprise from Ree it had resulted in him threatening the lives of everyone she held dear and bending her to his will, she hoped this time would be more pleasant. He greeted her as she entered, still dressed to the nines in his suit, looking immaculate. Hardly what I'd class as training wear. Her eyes caught some peripheral movement, with a jolt, she realised he was not alone. A girl, about her age, if not a couple of years older, stood a few feet away, she was sultry , dark and emitted danger. Just now, her black lips curved into a disdainful pout and she felt catlike eyes appraising her.

"This is what all the fuss has been about? She's nothing more than a low rent Barbie." Her voice dripped with open contempt

Woah! Cathy bristled. Who the hell is this girl? I've never even met her before yet she speaks like she knows me. I should go over there and show her exactly how Barbie I am ! She didn't. It wasn't just that the major bitch was with Ree and he'd quite obviously brought her here for a reason and walloping his guest might not be quite the welcoming introduction he'd imagined, there was something about her, something old, cold, and so primal Cathy already felt a chill. Not that she needed her to know it.

Keeping her eyes fixed to Ree, Cathy presented her back to the girl. "Whose the Adam Family's extra?"

Ree laughed jovially, thoroughly amused. "I knew you girls would get on so well. Now play nice. " He beckoned for Morticia to approach him, Cathy watched her movements warily , she even moved like a cat. "Mary, as you know, this is Catherine, Catherine this is Mary, my great- great- great-granddaughter."

Ok definitely a good job I didn't wallop her one! "She seems older," Cathy commented, not realising how satisfyingly insulting that sounded.

Mary's eyes narrowed into vicious slits. "Granddaddy," she batted her eyelashes mockingly, "can I play with it yet? "

"Take your best shot!"

Mary crackled with derision. "One thing you should know about me- I was never very good at looking after my toys, all my barbies ended up broken."

Cathy stepped forward, warningly.

"Now, now, girls," Ree stepped between them, "lets keep this civilised, shall we?" Mary and Cathy eyed each other suspiciously. "Catherine is a very dear guest who has more than proved her loyalty, and Mary, well Mary is the reason you do not resemble ashes."

What? Ree said magic healed me after Steve attacked me yet I thought he was my saviour. She saved me?

Mary smiled, enjoying Cathy's shock. "Oh yes, when she was a crumpled, snot covered, snivelling mess on the floor. You don't remember me , do you? You were catatonic, it really was quite pathetic."

"You're a witch?" Cathy's senses told her something was off about the girl, and not in the way she or Ree were different, her aura, her power, it was something she'd never known before.

"I'm the witch," she lowered her voice to a whisper, "if you want you can attack me now."

Cathy shook her head. I've never met a real witch before. What can she do? Can she curse me? David always said witches were just humans who learned witchcraft yet I can practically taste the power coming off her. I wonder what her blood tastes like? What it would do to me? A witch related to Ree, how interesting. Did he force her to learn the craft? "What do you mean you're the witch?"

"She means, "Ree interjected, "that unlike the majority of witches, she was born with the power in her blood."

A born witch? Impossible! There is no such thing.

Ree studied her reaction. "You appear confused."

"David told me there were no such thing as a born witch."

Mary laughed, "David is an idiot! He knows very little, he believed your stupid lies , didn't he? I tried to make him see sense when Steve kidnapped you and he begged me to help you but the lovesick fool wouldn't listen to reason."

Cathy was taken aback. "You know David? You are the reason he was late coming to find me?"

"I told him he should have just let you die, bet he's really wishing he listened to me right about now."

Ree held up a hand to pacify them, "Lets not stray for the matter at hand." He turned to Cathy, "there isn't usually such a thing as a born witch, power in the blood gets diluted over the years so most blood lines do not have the strength to sustain the power. Magic is taught to the right people, not inheritied...in most cases. My blood line is the exception."

Mary's smile flashed a warning, "and I'm the last of the bloodline, which means I'm the most powerful witch you're ever going to meet and the only chance you have of tapping into your powers and keeping yourself alive so you better be nice to me."

Struggling, Cathy tried to take in all this new information.

As usual David is wrong, what else has he been wrong about? She stopped David coming to find me, she was working with Ree all along. Is Ree a witch too, is that why he is the most powerful vampire? If Ree does not have healing powers, what powers does he have? Mary is his most powerful weapon and if he cares about her, his greatest weakness! I will continue to watch them together, look for any traces of affection. Does he care about her or is she just another tool to help his goals? Does she love him? Why is she helping him? Love, family loyalty, fear, what? Why does she appear to hate me? She saved me, admittedly on his orders. She regained focus. Save schemes and questions for later, right now she's your best chance at getting stronger.

"Thank you for saving my life, both of you."

Mary shrugged. "I was simply doing as ordered, I much preferred you as toast."

"Mary!" Ree chided, sounding like any great-grandfather. He once again turned to Cathy. "Mary can help you awaken your dormant gifts, as can I, but first you need to help yourself. "

What does he mean?

"Dylan!" At the order, Dylan entered, pulling somebody along behind him. The boy was young, around sixteen with short brown hair and kind eyes and when he saw her they sparked recognition. Sam! His wrists were bound with taunt rope that bit viciously into his skin, his pale blue T-shirt was ripped, his jeans shredded and muddy, it was clear from the state of his attire and pale blue mark over his eye, he'd attempted to put up a fight, however brief.

Ree smiled amiably at him. "I believe you two are already acquainted."

Oh god Sam! She struggled to recall the last time she'd seen him. After he helped me escape, Steve caught me again and he avoided me and then I went to Richmond's and never thought or heard of him again.

Dylan roughly flung him on the floor.

"Thank you, Dylan," Ree waved a hand dismissively, ordering him to leave them.

She noticed Sam was shaking slightly, not that she could blame him. She could hear his heartbeat from here, thudding like a steady drum, spurring her on and drawing her closer , his pulse joined in the enchanting chorus, her eyes flicked to his pale neck, the delicate blue veins so clear, so inviting, gracefully dancing over his skin, containing such delightful treasure inside. One bite was all it would take and she could bask in the glorious nectar.

Stop no! It's Sam. Sweet, kind Sam, who tried to help you remember?

Ree smiled, impressed. "It's starting," he whispered to Mary.

What's starting? "What are you talking about?"

Mary chuckled, "You don't know how the vampire blood works do you?" Seeing her confusion, she laughed again, more joyously this time. She looked at Ree, who was sharing her amusement. "She's so green, it's almost endearing."

"What do you mean?" She was starting to get scared.

"When you change, your body shuts down and you transform into something more primitive, it's not a death so much as a transformation, evolution up the food chain as you will. What you may not realise is it takes time for your new organs, brain, particles to adjust, to fully develop and register the impulses driving them. When you're a baby, you're hungry but you don't crave solid food, only milk, you crawl, not walk, basic impulses are there but you're not fully functional yet, it's the same for vampires. You know you're hungry, you have new thoughts, startling reactions but you're still growing, developing, evolving. The thing is a vampires evolution process is much shorter than a humans, usually around a month." She paused innocently, " how long ago is it that you were changed?"

Around a month. I don't understand what is she on about!

"What my granddaughter is trying to say," Ree explained, easing her misery, "is our blood is a living thing working its way through your system and changing your every particle and old notion of self and soon the transformation will be complete. When that happens your cravings for living, warm blood will get stronger, blood bags won't suffice, your senses will heighten to the point where words won't register, being in the same room with a human will be a pleasure and hell, all you will hear will be the noisy beating of their heart, their pulse, beckoning you to them like a beacon of light, especially when hungry, and when a human is afraid, it just makes it so much palatable. The only thing to make the incessant noise and torture go away is to rip their throats out."

Oh no! He means I've not finished changing yet. It's going to get worse. I don't even know who I am anymore. I can't even live with the guilt that I've got. Steve's blood is like a poison or virus sweeping its way through my insides. Mary is wrong it's not a mere transformation, I'm dead. The girl I used to be is dead. My thoughts may not be my own, I can't trust my own head, I am but a shell with something old, bloodthirsty and vicious taking its place. She felt like someone was walking over her grave. Her stomach filled with ice.

"Fear not, it means it will get easier for you to be like us. The feelings you wanted gone, they won't matter. Nothing will matter but lust, food and fun."

No wonder Steve enjoyed being a vampire so much, he's practically the poster boy. This is not me! I don't even drink alcohol or dance, I'm not fun. Rachel would have been better at this than me.

Rachel does not possess your lust for power or cunning. You are right, you weren't fun, you were plain and boring, now you're not. You're wild and carefree. Dangerous. Exciting. This has always been in you, it just never had a chance to shine before. You shyed away from it, hiding in your shell. Embrace it, you know you want to. Give yourself over to it. Become all you ever wanted to be. Just let go.

No! I'm not hurting innocent people. Especially not Sam! No, no, no. It comes at too a high a price.

Gently, Ree laid a calming hand on her shoulder. "You hear it, do you not? The primitive part of you is telling you to do what is right, you should make things easier on yourself and stop fighting."

Part of her wanted nothing more, but she'd started down this road with a mission , one that she wouldn't allow herself to get side-tracked from. Somehow Ree had to die and if she let herself go completely she might not care about Rachel, her family, or even completing her mission anymore. Ree will have won.

"Cathy," Sam looked up at her, pleadingly, "please don't. I want to go home, just like you did, please let me go home. I helped you. Please do not let them hurt me."

She faced Ree, " I can't do this."

"This boy is nothing more than a traitor, he left you in Steve's clutches. He is a pathetic human yet helped Steve hold you captive when you were one of his own kind."

"He helped me!"

"Did he? You know how we found him? After Steve sent you to Richmond's, you remember that, when Steve sold you into sex slavery to be tortured and torn apart? Sam found out what had happened and calmly went home, back to his family, his life, completely unperturbed by your distress."

"No!" Sam screamed, "that's not true. Steve ordered us to go when David came I_"

Ree viciously backhanded him. "Be quiet. I have not finished talking."

The scent of blood invaded her nostrils.

"Did you hear that," Ree pressed on, "Steve ordered him to go and he did, he just left, letting fate decide what became of you and David."

"There was nothing he could have done, he was human."

"As were you, yet you went back to Richmond's to save Ice and Liola, would he have done the same?" At mention of Ice and Liola she stiffened, he knew everyone she had ever been in contact with. "He worked for Steve, your enemy, the man you hate. Steve is quite fond of him, I hear. How would it feel for him do you think if he heard you tore his throat out?"

"He'd kill me," she whispered.

"Not if you had power to defeat him , and the only way you're going to get that is to drink a living humans blood."

His eyes flicked in annoyance to Sam, who was struggling on the floor, little droplets of red escaping from his mouth and staining the wood. "You wanted to help her once , here is your chance. Your blood is the key to defeating those who will ever oppose her."

She watched the blood glitter like little rubies, the gentle tapping lulled her into a hypnotic state. The drums were pounding again building to a deafening crescendo.

Steve's little puppet. The key to obtaining the power to defeating my mortal enemy. Is Steve really fond of him? I cannot imagine him being fond of anyone. He seemed to care for me a little once , yet it was all a lie, a dream I was rudely awakened from when he sold me to be torn apart. He saved me yet I refused to be sucked in again and then he turned me, left me in dark of the facts regarding my length and consequence of transformation , simply understated it by saying I'd have urges for power, was cold and uncaring after I turned with no care for affection or mentoring , messed with my head, played with my emotions and brutally tortured me, nearly killing me in the process. He definitely doesn't care for David or he would have informed him of my plan, he didn't care for Ice and Liola...yet he cares for this guy. This insignificant spec of human life. Interesting... how would he feel to learn I killed him? Drained him of blood like sucking the juice out of a strawberry. She tilted her head to the side, deep in thought.

What am I thinking? This is wrong. I said I'd never kill innocents remember?

He worked for a vampire he's hardly innocent.

He helped me escape and he's a kid! I want to hurt Steve but I can't use an innocent to do it. No!

Sensing her indecision, Ree softly persisted. "You want to, I can tell you want to. "

"It's wrong," she whispered, desperately fighting herself. She needed the noise to stop. She could feel her teeth protruding, her animalistic instincts being awakened by the sound of his yammering little heart. So fragile. One moment is all it would take, one fleeting moment and he's gone. It's over.

Mary rolled her eyes. "She's pathetic. I'd be a better vampire."

At this, he grinned. "I don't doubt it. Catherine," he'd taken to calling her that when either showing chivalry or getting exasperated, the way a parent would when in danger of losing patience, "define wrong. You are no longer bound by silly moralistic conventions. Are you a vegetarian? Do you think it's wrong to eat cow, pig, duck?"

It's not the same! "I'm not personally killing them."

"Someone is. Just because you pretty up death on a plate to avoid thinking about where it came from makes no difference, it's still getting slaughtered for your dinner. Are humans so different? Most of them shy away from death, refusing to think about the process of how bacon ends up on their plate but nature requires everything serves a purpose. Do animals not feel pain, have feelings too? Do people in Japan, China and Thailand not eat dogs and cats? Do hunters not go and shoot stags for sport? You have heard of bear-baiting, fox-hunting, gladiatorial games, people have bayed for blood since the dawn of time for their own perverted pleasure, is that not worse than what we do? We are eating for nourishment and to ensure our survival, like lions and tigers- we are predators, do you scorn them for doing what they must? Humans may think they are top of the food chain, yet they are no better than anything else in this world and must submit when faced with evolution."

He has a point. Who is to say it's wrong? Is it not just survival? If I'm not eating humans, other vampires will. It's hypocritical to think humans have more right to life than a bird or sheep. Everything bleeds, feels pain, has family. If anything humans are the better prey, their blood is more sustainable and they have more of a fighting chance, however small. Humans and wild animals provide challenge and deserve to be knocked off the food chain, fair is fair, everything has its hierarchy and place for so long.

Ree sighed, "I can see reality still troubles you. Lets make this easy," she scarcely finished processing the words before Ree slammed his fist into Sam's face, smashing his nose and breaking bone.

Sam screamed at a pitch high enough to shatter glass. Ree did not pause. He grabbed his knee, bent it at an unnatural ankle and yanked. Snap! Crunch!

His screams turned to tears.

Oh god! His heartbeat had picked up and his nose was flowing as freely as red wine. Her own stomach knotted, painfully screaming in need.

"Leave him alone. Please! Stop it!"

"Only you can stop it. Drain him now, end his suffering, grant him mercy, satiate your hunger, accept your place in the food chain, get revenge on Steve and the strength you need to tap into powers and live... or see him die in unbearable agony, slowly, before your very eyes and I promise- I will not let you drink a drop."

Ree grabbed Sam's face and hammered it into the wooden floor. Splat! Even Mary turned away.

The burning started in her throat, like tasting soup that was too hot. Her teeth pulsed with sensitivity, it reminded her of the time she'd been stricken with flu as a child, everything focused on the sea of red sweeping its way across the floor like a crimson carpet and the relentless pounding of her head.

Within a second she had a hold of Sam. To her distant shock, his eyes showed something akin to relief.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, "I simply do what I must." The next instant her fangs blissfully sunk into his tender throat.


2003

Oregon

Numbly, David stared at his hands, the blood long since gone after that fateful night, yet forever tainted. The soap and water may have cleansed the car, but some things could not be washed away so easily. Disposing of the evidence had been easy, too easy. He'd snuck into the scrapyard while it was still deserted and crushed his car as easily as if it were a fly, even the CCTV did not pose much of a problem. There were advantages to having advanced speed, and stealth and fear was a very good motivator for calling certain skills into effect. Days after the event, the girls parents had appealed on TV, calling for any witnesses, he'd listened while the young couple sobbed, grieving the death of their only daughter whose only crime had been to sneak out to go to her first party. His own mum had tutted in disgust, claiming it was an unsafe neighbourhood yet he thought he'd seen the flash of suspicion in his father's eyes as he enquired what happened to his car, his own claims that it had been missing since he left Daisy's party did not even ring true to his own ears, nevertheless, he reported it missing, knowing nobody would ever trace the remains of it and if it was stolen who was to say he was even driving it? No witnesses could attest to that fact, there was no way to test for DNA, he was in the clear. Safe. Free.

My dad can't know anything, nobody knows anything, I'm just being paranoid. I should be lying in that grave not that girl. What was her name? Alicia. Alicia Moore. No matter how hard he tried to forget it , he knew her name and face would forever haunt him until the day he died. He could not shake the nightmares, tears, or the feeling that, deep in his gut, he knew there would be retribution for such an act, karma would get him. Every day lived in fear, waiting for someone to call or put two and two together. He did not want to ever get behind the wheel of a car again.

I should be in prison. What have I done? I can't help anyone. If I had any backbone I'd turn myself in and take my punishment like a man, all her parents want is justice and peace. I killed a thirteen year old girl.

What would my parents think if they knew the truth? The way they would look at me. They think I'm a miracle, somebody special, destined for great things, all I'm destined for is hell. How can I help anybody? I can't even help myself.

He downed his lager, the alcohol may have got him into this mess yet it was the only thing that drowned everything out.


Ree's house

Present.

Sam's blood stained Cathy's hands like a bad dye job. She watched, in morbid fascination, as his eyes dimmed and filmed over, the inner light forever extinguished by a touch of her lips. The surge of power she felt scared her. I've taken a life, I shouldn't feel like this.

Shouldn't you? Are you sure?

She could tell that Ree shared her joy.

"Good girl. How do you feel?"

Like I'm finally living. "Less parched. Do we train now?"

"No, now we complete the process. Give you what you need to access your powers." He suavely rolled up his sleeve, sinking his fangs into his own wrist. "Mary?"

Sighing, she produced a steak knife and leisurely drew it over her own bare arm.

What are they doing? "Are we doing a blood pact? Promising to be best friends for life? Making daisy chains? Don't get me wrong, it's awfully sweet of you to offer but-"

"Believe me," Mary got out sourly, "I know how well you treat your "friends" and as far as I'm concerned you aren't important enough to lick up my shit, let alone drink my blood. It's a waste of good quality."

So I wasn't entirely wrong. "You want me to drink you?"

"I don't want your infected lips anywhere near me, but he does," her dark gaze transferred to Ree, "and I'm nothing if not dutiful."

Once again, Ree gave a clearer explanation. "Blood is everything, it's power, life-force ,what drives us, makes us who we are and is of greater consequence than any "soul." Now you have fed off the strongest meal there is- human blood, you have greater power, but by taking my blood, and Mary's blood which is laced with the potency of magic, you gain even greater strength and awaken any psychic tendencies you might have, her magic , my power and Sam's life-force combines with Steve's vampire blood and your own DNA and opens doors you never even dreamed could exist."

"The blood will fuse with my own and stick to the cells?"

"Naturally it will take more than one transfusion or sample, the power will pass out of your system but if we keep giving you a taste of it, some of the potency will stick, adapt to your own cells and take hold, like a virus mutating. It will spread through and infect the cells, multiplying in much the same way the vampire blood did, after a week if you keep your strength up by taking human blood straight from the vein, your cells will adapt and evolve into a much deadlier organism."

A week? I don't want to wait a week! I want to kill Steve now! "For a guy who wants this necklace so much you are being awfully patient."

"It pays to be. Has your impetuousness shown you nothing? Let them believe we have given up the fight, let them grow comfortable and do as I say and we will be victorious. Like you say, they have it , there is nowhere else to put it, let Steve think he cowed you, let them both underestimate you and you will force them to pay for that mistake dearly. Now, " he held out his wrist, "drink."


A/N.

Sorry for not updating sooner, I was planning to re-edit the whole thing as there are parts I'm not happy with and want to change and expand upon, mainly in book one and I didn't think anyone was reading so wouldn't notice but thanks to some brilliant reviews I've decided to finish the story first and then re-edit when complete.

Thank you so much if anybody is reading and please review if you have time.