Heyo. Thank you all for clicking that little link and coming into my story. It's been sitting in my computer since November (ie: Nanowrimo) half done, but I've been busy with a lot of other things, such as my fanfiction stories. My sister has finally convinced me to put this up here, and I know that she's probably right, and I will get the encouragement to finish it once someone else has read it besides me. I don't know how often I'll update, but I do have quite a bit written, so it should be fairly constant.
General disclaimers: This story is about vampires. Yeah, that's right. So, if you're not into the whole dracula/fang bit, I don't suggest you start with mine, although it probably is more like vamp lite then, say, Bram Stoker. Also, we are rated M for a reason. I adore a good sex scene, and with such sexy fanged type men, this story is guaranteed to have a couple. There's also a little bit of swearing, but nothing a la Training Day.
I'm also sorry that this prologue is only kind of like what the story is going to be like. Some parts capture the tone of the rest of Kate's story, but I've tried rewriting itand rewriting it, and it still doesn't sound right. Weirdly enough, it's a bit too dark for the rest of the story (and I know after you read it, you're going to think, 'Dark? That was pretty damn vanilla.') but I assure you that the rest of it hops along in a pretty upbeat type mood.
So, enough of my finger-babble. On with the tale!
My life was not exactly normal, even before the truly weird stuff started happening.
My parents died when I was six. Now, I'm not saying that it's okay at any age to have your parents die, but I think that six is probably the worst; you're old enough to know what's happening, but not old enough to understand it. All I remember from that night is being carried in my father's arms, and tucked away in the safe room, alone, as my father tried to go back and get my mother.
It was the firemen who found me, crying, shivering, locked in the only room that didn't burn to the ground. My parents didn't make it back. To this day, I still cannot go into a dark space without freezing up.
There were only little things that I remembered about my parents. My father's laugh, his accent when he said my name. I remember my mother's hair, shiny gold that I used to wrap around my fingers before I fell asleep. All was destroyed in a matter of hours.
I was taken in and eventually adopted by Nona and Pappy, also known as Marie and George Lemke. George and Marie actually weren't related to me at all, except that George was my father's lawyer. Their two kids had grown and moved away, and they wanted another child. They used to tell me that was a little angel, just like my parents, only I was kept on earth to give joy to them. I never told them, but sometimes, with my pale skin and grey eyes and blonde hair, I felt more like a ghost than an angel.
Some of my fondest memories are of Nona tucking me in at night. She was a large woman, with grey hair that I always though resembled a brillo pad, except it was softer than silk. She had many laugh lines, and a few stress lines, but it just made her seem all the more beautiful to me. After she pulled the covers right up to my chin and flicked on my special night-light, she'd always smooth the hair back from my face and whisper, "Our love for you stretches for miles."
"To the moon?" I'd ask drowsily.
"To the stars and beyond," and she'd kiss my forehead, and I would be content to sleep another night.
Pappy was the best prosecuting lawyer in the city, if not the state. He had a reputation that stretched as far away as New York. He had been invited to join several big firms from several major cities, but always declined, saying that he wanted to raise me in a small town. His routine every evening was always the same. He would come back from work, and throw his briefcase in the corner, toe off his shoes and sit in his big leather chair. Nona would come up behind him and massage the back of his neck, while I sat on the couch beside them, usually watching TV or doing homework. Then we'd go in for supper.
Now, if Pappy was the best lawyer in the state, Nona was the best cook in the world. We'd always have mostly the same thing every night, steak, potatoes, a salad, and two different vegetables. It was my favourite meal, and they had no problems giving it to me every night. However, if I were feeling sick, or tired, or even just grumpy, she would make this soup that made me feel simply astounding, as if I could leap walls.
I was a bit of a loner at school, mostly because I had extremely sensitive skin, especially to the sun. I would have to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, and on sunny days, I wouldn't venture into the schoolyard at all. Instead, I would sit in the library and read, or play chess against some of the other students who stayed indoors. I had fairly average grades and the worst things the teachers said about me on report cards and such was that I didn't participate much in class, and mostly kept to myself.
High school was a little easier as I actually didn't have to go outside during breaks. I even found a little group of acquaintances that I hung out with on occasion.
Then, when I was fifteen, a particularly vicious form of pancreatic cancer struck Nona. She was dead within a year.
I remember the funeral, because it was so sunny, and I felt so sick, and I was sure I was getting sunburnt, and I couldn't believe that God would make such a nice day for such a sad occasion.
Pappy saw that I wasn't feeling well, and took me into the back of the limo reserved for the mourning party.
"Why?" I sobbed into his chest, as he stroked my hair with his gentle fingers. "Why did Nona have to die? Why does everyone have to die? And why is it so God damn sunny?"
He lifted my chin with his finger, so that he could see my tear streaked face. "It was Nona's time," he said softly. "We all have to die at one point." A slight smile made his grey moustache twitch. "And as for the sun, well, Marie wouldn't be having it raining when she was going to heaven. She'd make sure that everything was right set and proper."
I laughed a little through my tears; the words sounding exactly like Nona.
"And she still loves you," he said. "Our love stretches for miles."
"To the moon?" I asked with a shaky smile, basking in the memories of younger days.
"To the stars and beyond," he said, and kissed my forehead. "Now, let's see if we can't keep you out of that sun. You're looking a little burnt."
After that, I practically grew up in the courthouse. I'd walk there after school everyday, sit on the back benches while Pappy did his job, and did my homework. I didn't excel at any particular subject, but I did find that I had a bit of a knack for computers.
It was during my first year of community college that I met my best friend. I was walking towards the courthouse, my head down, trying my best not to be touched by the sun on any bare skin, when a harried looking girl about my age stumbled on the sidewalk, cursing her high heels. She was dressed in a navy business suit, and had her copper coloured hair pulled back into a French twist that was slowly returning to its natural curly state.
"Those things can be tricky," I said, as I helped her gather the few papers that had tumbled from her file.
"Thanks," she replied and stuck out her hand. "Ann Picket."
I shook it. "Kaitlyn Kafelnikov. And if you ask me how to spell it, or if my middle name is Katherine, we're not allowed to be friends."
She laughed and tried to smooth her red hair back into place. "I like you, Kate."
"An anomaly, I'm sure." We walked up the stairs into the courtroom.
"Probably not," she said. "John says I like all types of strange people."
My gaze flew to her left hand, and sure enough there was a gold band with three small diamonds inset in it.
"You're too young to be engaged," I protested. "You're, what, seventeen?"
She laughed again, one of those pretty tinkling laughs that made people smile without knowing it. "I'm twenty, but thanks. John and I have been dating for nearly four years now. He proposed three months ago."
"Congrats." As soon as we came into the shade of the building I stripped off my leather gloves and stuffed them into my pocket. People always seemed to give me strange looks when I walked around in the middle of summer with gloves on.
Ann was no exception. She gave my attire a slight look down, taking in my blue jeans, long sleeved striped shirt, and sun hat. She raised a copper eyebrow. "Cold?"
I shook my head and made a bit of a face. "I'm really sun sensitive."
She nodded sympathetically and pushed open the oak doors with her back. "Me too. It comes from being a red head. I can be out in the sun for maybe a minute before my nose goes bright red and starts peeling."
I looked closely at her nose. It didn't look red and peely at all. Rather the opposite, her skin was creamy ivory dotted with freckles. Unlike mine, which was as pale as paper. And while some people longed for pale skin, mine only made the permanent blue circles under my grey eyes stand out like bruises. Damn those Scandinavian ancestors of mine.
"So what are you doing here?" I asked. "You're still too young to be a judge."
"No, I'm here as a sit in on the Defence council." We began weaving our way through the mob of lawyers and clients towards courtroom A-4.
"Oh?" I took off my sun hat and held it in my hand. I wished I could do fancy styles with my hair like Ann, but it was rather limp and horribly, horribly straight, not to mention being dishwater blonde. I kept it either in a ponytail or a messy bun, depending on the weather. Today it was a ponytail. "For which case?"
"The People vs. Vern McAlester."
I nodded. "That was the man who supposedly slept with his secretary when he knew his wife was about to come in so that his wife would shoot his mistress and he could collect on her life insurance."
She nodded, obviously impressed. "That's right. Have you been watching the media coverage of it?"
I shook my head. "My Pappy's on that case."
Her hazel eyes narrowed slightly. "Who's your Pappy?"
"Oh my God," she exclaimed, nearly dropping her files again. "You're George Lemke's daughter?"
"He's, like, my idol!" she said, her eyes glittering with excitement. "He's a genius on the floor! If he was a defence lawyer, I'd give my left leg to work with him."
"Would you like to meet him?" I asked.
"Would I ever!" she exclaimed.
And so our friendship started. I eventually met John Irwin, and the three of us got along quite well. They never made me feel the third wheel, and I was excited to have two real friends.
John was a cute guy. He was taller than both of us, which wasn't hard, as we both only reached five and a half feet. He had messy curly brown hair, and bright brown eyes behind wire framed glasses. Not only that, but the man was a super genius, and was currently working on his Masters of Mythology and Folklore.
Life was going really well. I graduated from college and, with help from Pappy, opened a computer store downtown called 'Kate's Komputers'. It was a late night computer retail and repair store, and after hiring a few people to help me run it, it gained a fair amount of respect.
Then Pappy had a stroke. He was rushed to the hospital, but was announced dead on arrival.
I was utterly devastated. It was quicker than Nona's death, and as such, I had trouble coping. I vaguely remember sitting in the hospital for hours, just staring at one of those supposedly cheery hospital paintings, not saying anything, just being numb. John and Ann took me back to John's apartment, where they held me as the dam broke in my mind, and I bawled. I cried for my Pappy, my Nona, and my parents, who I couldn't even remember. Why did everyone I love leave me?
After a while, the pain subsided into a dull ache that lodged itself in my chest. I moved through my life as though I were wading through mud.
On my twenty-first birthday a couple of weeks later, I was called into Gordon and Lemke, Pappy's firm. Ann came with me to lend support.
"Hi, Kate," Gordon said, in a kind tone. "How are you doing?"
I gave him a small smile. I rather liked Gordon. He reminded me of those pictures of Santa Claus, with a huge belly and a bright red nose. But his look had tricked more than one defence council into thinking he wasn't a hard-hitting lawyer. "Fine," I replied.
He nodded. "I've called you in here so I can read George's will to you."
I gave a brief nod and sank down into a chair, my gloved hands clasped over my black suit pants. Ann sat beside me.
An hour later, I had to be hauled out of the room by Ann, because my legs didn't work any longer.
I knew we were well off; Pappy was a lawyer, and a good one. But the real surprise to me was the fact that he was holding onto a trust account that my parents had left in my name, that could be accessed when I was twenty-one. In that trust fund was money. A lot of money. After taxes, my entire income came to around one hundred and sixteen million dollars. It was then that my legs stopped working. Heck, my brain stopped working, and I think my jaw was resting on my lap.
I was officially a multi-millionaire. Which only made me wonder: who were my parents?
"You should buy yourself a rubber suit," Ann told me one night over s'mores from the microwave and a bottle of red.
"What?" I asked. I was feeling the effects of the wine, but not nearly as much as Ann was.
"Well," she explained after licking the gooey marshmallow off her fingers, "you're rich, and you're an orphan, living in a house that makes you wallow in your memories of misery. Wasn't that how Batman started out? You should put on a costume and go kick the butts of bad guys!"
"I don't think that would work," I said, drunk seriously. "I can't shoot a gun, and my thighs look horrible in tights."
Ann sniggered, and I chortled, and then we burst out into insane, sidesplitting laughter.
The next morning, sober, wandering through my childhood home, I realised that Ann was right. I would never be able to move on while living there. The memories were too strong; memories that made me break down and cry all the time, wondering why all of my parents were gone. I knew I couldn't stay anymore, so I used my wealth to buy myself a new house. I was looking forward, not back.
It was a simple place, a one level, two-bedroom complex in the middle of St. Bastion's suburbia. It was fairly indistinguishable from the neighbours' houses, but I loved it regardless. I often ran my index finger over the walls, the tables, the doors, everything, knowing it was mine.
I kept Kate's Komputers, one because I didn't want to leave all my new employees in the lurch, but mostly because I simply needed something to do with my time. We had a fairly consistent clientele, mostly women who realised that sometimes a female perspective was the better one. It was glorious. For the first time in months, I felt as though I could breath again. The knot of tension and loss that had always seemed to be in my chest started to disintegrate, and I started to relish the happy memories of Nona and Pappy.
John and Ann married in a small, beautiful church. I was Ann's bridesmaid, and only cried once when they exchanged vows. And, to give Ann her due, my bridesmaid's dress wasn't horribly hideous. It was actually quite a nice dress, simple, and was a pleasing peach colour. The reception was held in the new home they had recently mortgaged. For a wedding gift, I bought it for them, (although I did threaten to hold them up for rent if John kept teasing me about the water-works.)
A year later, when my life was finally starting to settle, it uprooted itself again.