Well it's been a while, but I've been getting reviews on this story so I decided to upload a few more chapters. Honestly guys, it's bee like three years since I've even TOUCHED this story, so I'm just going to put it up here for kicks and giggles, even though I'm not too fond of it anymore. Thank you all for reading, I love getting comments!! Love, Rivett

Chapter 25

When I regained consciousness, I instantly felt panicked, despite my resolve not to lose nerve no matter what happened. I was scrunched against the thickly padded walls of the asylum prison, my legs cramped against cold linoleum. I winced, looking up at the harsh fluorescent lighting, the humming bulbs crackling slightly every so once in a while. My clothes, to my extreme horror, had been changed into gray scrubs, soft and cottony. I tried to move and took a deep breath as I realized I'd been placed in a straightjacket, my arms bent tightly around my torso.

I pulled, and realized that it was no ordinary straightjacket. The cloth was harder, thicker, and the chains that held it were much stronger than normal. I realized with dull panic that this had been specially created for a vampire of incredible strength. Specially created for me.

It was incredibly hot in the cell, and I began to shudder with a restricted, panicked feeling. The bulbs clicked overhead, making me close my eyes tight and concentrate solely on breathing in, out. I was angry at how shaky my breath was—who was I, this sniveling, terrified coward? I was falling right into Dante's plan to destroy me.

So I shifted and pressed my face against the cold linoleum, happy to feel something against my cheek. My hair fell into my eyes, sticking to my face, and although I could not sweat, I could feel the heat and static pull it to me. I instantly resolved to get a haircut as soon as I was freed of this constraining prison.

It was no doubt that I would be here for weeks, months, maybe even years. Because my only sustenance of life was currently in the clutches of the enemy, I was sure that I wasn't going to be getting any visitors anytime soon. They didn't have to feed me, or anything for that matter. I could live for years without any attention at all.

Years. The thought made me shudder, and I was instantly ashamed.

I closed my eyes, breathing in and out, in and out. I figured I had plenty of time to think about my situation, so for a while I let my mind wander off, thinking of Plum, of Adah, and how they were holding up. I silently prayed that Adah would have the sense to stay out of things when she realized I wouldn't be coming home. What good would it do for us both to be locked up?

As the hours ticked by, I tried to remember the sweet scent of Plum's blood, the way that it had pulled me to her instantly, even in the first moments we'd met.

How strange it seemed now that I had managed to run into her, and how coincidental it had been that we'd both been forced to take a bus to Chicago, a mode of transportation that was strictly off limits with our social status.

For me, it had been a series of errors that left me without a plane ticket, without a car, and with no other option. I'd sent my car over to Chicago only a few days earlier for when I arrived, but when the flight was suddenly cancelled, I didn't have the time to buy or rent another, and so I'd been forced to board that dreadful, cramped bus for who knows how long. I remembered how a strange, sweet scent had cascaded over me every so once in a while, making it momentarily impossible to concentrate on anything but its seductive pull. I thought that I had just been hungry, just desperate for anything, but when we had finally reached our destination and my senses had cleared from the heavy stink of the bus, I realized that it was something special.

And then she ran into me, although if you asked her I'm sure she'd say that I was the one to collide with her perfect form. She seemed so put off, and yet instead of being irritated I was instantly pulled to her, her scent that washed over me in such an alarming swiftness that it left me lightheaded. It was then, in that moment that we locked eyes, that I knew she was my Beloved.

It almost seemed unreal, as if I was hallucinating. Even as she walked away I tried to tell myself that she wasn't anything but another bratty human girl, much like the ones that hung on me from day in out. But as the wind blew her scent back to me, almost knocking me down with its hidden familiarity, I knew that I wasn't dreaming.

And so, as they drove away, I bounded over to the street and memorized her license plate, calling up my contacts as soon as possible and getting her address. It only took me a moment to realize that her father happened to be one of my colleagues, the very one that had persuaded me to come down to Chicago. What luck, I thought. What coincidence.

For the rest of the evening I had battled my senses, telling myself to wait until the Thanksgiving Ball our company had been invited to, knowing that she would be there. But I couldn't. I couldn't get her fragrance out of my head, and I ached to see her, to touch her. She was my Beloved, my only. How could I stay away from her?

I wasn't surprised when she didn't believe me, and I was actually slightly pleased at the sass she gave me. She wasn't an idiot, so she was naturally skeptical. I wasn't offended, even when she laughed. It was only halfway through our first conversation that I realized I really should have waited—she must have thought I was a lovesick nut, which was not what I wanted to show her, not at all.

But touching her skin made feelings flare up in me so hard that I couldn't get away from her. Even after I left her room and returned home, I felt exalted. She really was my Beloved. Her skin called to me in a way that no other human's did, and yet, I wanted to wait, wanted to have her give me the consent to taste her sweet blood.

But I caved, even as I had slowly begun to gain her trust. Later I felt guilty for biting her, feeling her wince with pain, watching her eyes grow wider with more and more terror. I knew that something momentous had happened between us that night, and for a week I was terrified that she would try to get as far away from me as possible, and that I would never be able to see her again.

Fortunately for me, her Father could not leave me alone. How he wished for our companies to merge, but if I were to allow that, he would have found out of my secret. I couldn't pretend to be a shut-in banker if I had to go to his meetings every month. Eventually he would notice my lack of age, and the more I talked to him, the more I realized how smart he was. Having an actor would not have been an option. And so, I refused.

So, knowing I wouldn't cave, Copperplate took a new stance—his wish for me to merge with his daughter. I was quite surprised when I got the call asking for me to take care of her, for she had become "rather ill", while the Copperplates went to see Turandot. They couldn't have set it up better for me.

That night, when she finally let go and allowed me to take her properly, I felt as if things had bloomed right in front of my very eyes so wonderfully that it had to be fate. She accepted my proposal, and I left with a full stomach. And then, only weeks later, how could things turn so sour so quickly?

After the night at Fang, I felt as if I were on the top of the world. Even with the unfortunate crossing we had with her parents, it never occurred to me that she would leave me so quickly. I didn't know what to do when the locket broke. Her locket. Made for her, only. Her protection, her bind to me.

And so I left, and nearly starved. Starved like I will soon begin to again.

I find it odd that even though I have taken her thrice without consent, she still seemed to become so much more binding to me afterwards. If I'd had only moments more with her before she was taken from me, I'm sure that I could have finished. She would have been mine, and Dante would have been out on a limb, his plan foiled.

But no. I waited. I waited and what did I get? A Halfling that is only half mine. I still cannot understand what Dante did to enable Plum to give herself to him without turning, but I wouldn't put it past him to somehow find a way. He's been after me for so long, and I have to say, he's finally done it. He finally got me.

The days and weeks blurred together as I gradually began to feel the strength leave me. I spent countless hours staring at the ceiling, counting the tiles, feeling as if I slowly was going insane. My stomach ached more and more, the old, hungry feeling creeping back into my bones with frightening swiftness. I began to talk to myself, sing, anything to keep my mind off the doom that seemed to hover above my constrained body. I lay perfectly still, always, because I knew that if I moved a muscle I'd go positively insane trying to break free of my restraints.

I had been in the cell for a few months, or so I assumed, when my strength bottomed out. I lay weakly on the linoleum, my eyes fluttering as I tried to stay awake. Most of the days I slept, with boredom and weakness dragging me down into the bottomless pits of slumber. but lately I'd been having nightmares where I would thrash in my sleep, waking in a panic that would not subside for hours. At times I felt as if I was going to snap as I tried so hard not to move. It was immensely hot all the time, and most of the time I felt as if I were suffocating, although I didn't even really need to breathe to live. I only needed blood, which, needless to say, I was without.

Insanity seemed to take over me for a while, and I had flashbacks of my life, hallucinations playing before my eyes like a sick movie. I remembered my old life, my human life, felt the soft pulse of my heart against my skin, ran in the fields of our old farm, flirted with girls, felt myself blush. I saw Adah again, alive and crying, pleading with me to changer her. I heard as clear as a bell the shrieks that came from her during her days of transformation, and saw the sickening look of peace that reflected in her eyes when finally she silenced, her body cold and lifeless.

I tasted blood of those I had taken years and years ago, saw their frightened faces as I lunged, feeling their bodies go slack as they realized their fate, that they were to die in my arms. Most of them in my dreams were young women, women I had destroyed decades ago. Once, on a particularly bad night, I remembered the set of small twins, a boy and girl that Adah and I had taken down in a dark alley. They had only been eight or nine years, and I had never forgiven myself for ending their small lives. I awoke, shaking madly, their small screams echoing in my mind. I gagged, nothing to throw up, and rolled on the floor, gasping, groaning, trying to shake the memories from my mind. Never had I been so weak, and my neck ached terribly, even though it had been forever since Felix had snapped it.

Even more time passed, and I began to weep like a woman, tearless sobs racking my limp form every time I awoke from a frightened sleep. Even after two years of being abstinent from Plum, never had I been so bad off. I felt as if the chance that my bindings would vanish, the door to open, I would not be able to even crawl out. I was stuck in this asylum, and finally, I fit the part. I had gone insane.

I was near slipping into a long-standing coma when, suddenly, one day, the door swung open. I blinked harshly, looking up, my vision slightly blurred from staring into the shivering lighting above for so long. There was the click of leather shoes on the flooring, and suddenly someone had me around the shoulders, lifting me like I was a limp doll. My head fell against my chest, and gasping, I groaned as I heard zips, pops, and the final, satisfying click against my back. I nearly passed out as my arms were freed, hanging like dead chickens against my torso. I shook my head, trying to right myself, but I couldn't focus.

The jacket was pulled of my form, making me shiver in the sudden freedom.

"Ah," I tried to speak, but my tongue was swollen against my mouth. I was humiliated; when had I become so pitiful? If it was Dante standing before me, I knew he was reaping the spectacle of my weakened body and, to my shame, mind.

The hands against my shoulder let me go and I slid to the floor, my legs jelly. I gritted my teeth, trying to stand, but flopped against the wall. I looked up and narrowed my eyes slightly as a thin, lean figure came into view, blond hair curling around sharp features. The smell of silver and roses, a strange combination, washed over me as I frowned at the casually leaning person.

"Come on." It spoke, the voice low and somehow familiar. I raised my eyebrow, shaking softly.

"Go where?" I whispered, my voice too weak to make a normal sound. Furrowing my brows, I reached up and touched my chin, feeling the long, curly mess of a beard. I was taken aback—just how long had I been imprisoned?

I realized suddenly that the man had me around the arms again, pulling me to a standing position. I slumped against him, panting and ashamed, but he held me firmly and, for the first time in ages, walked me out into the small hallway.

"Go where?" I asked again, this time a little stronger, my legs careening to the side as I slumped heavily against his frame. For a thin man, he was quite strong. I was barely aware of his face turning to mine, pale, silvery eyes regarding me with an unemotional expression. After a moment of woozy staring, the man's lips turned slightly up.

"To dinner."