Chapter 1

Raven and Riley

"No. Not again," I whispered, watching as my snow white hands shook violently. "I don't want to have to feed again." I squeezed my eyes shut and pressed my trembling palms to them. "I don't want to hurt anyone else."

It was five-thirty in the morning, exactly half an hour before I had to get up and get ready for my first day of school, and I was being forced to deal with this shit.

You might be wondering what I meant by 'feed' and why someone would get hurt in the process. You might have already come to the conclusion that I'm a vampire and that I have to feed on humans. Hell, you might just be totally lost right now.

Well, I suppose I should start with that conclusion of yours, since it pisses me off.

I am not a vampire.

I do have to drink human blood in order to feed my hunger, but I am not a vampire.

I am a Levellua.

Bet you've never even heard that word before.

I guess I'll explain it to you, then.

A Levellua is a sort of house elf/werewolf/vampire hybrid, although we don't have a drop of Were or house elf blood in us, and we've never been turned by a vampire. We are our own species. Very rare, but very powerful.

Our masters tend to abuse our power, forcing us to do unspeakable things.

We have to do whatever they tell us.

We cannot disobey.

We kill for them, destroy for them, steal for them, breed for them.

We cannot disobey.

And I was lucky enough to get one of the worst masters imaginable.

Her name is Delilah Marie Lumberton. She's a rich, middle-aged woman who has been widowed several times. She inherited me three years ago when her last husband died a mysterious death, leaving everything he owned to the mean old bat.


Including me.

I had liked Mr. Randy Preston Smith. He was nice to me. He took good care of me. He actually cared about me.

Miss Lumberton did not.

Sure, she fed me and clothed me, gave me shelter, paid for my schooling, but she never cared about me.

She only cared that I did what she wanted me to do.

And usually, much to my annoyance, what she wanted me to do was steal money from her fellow rich old bats.

Thieving was far below my level of skill. I was more accustomed to killing. Even at the age of fifteen, I was an experienced murderer. I'd killed more people than your average serial killer...

And I'd gotten away with every single murder.

Killing didn't make Miss Delilah Lumberton any money, though, so she continued to give me these lowly thieving jobs.

I got to my feet with a sigh, crossing my large black-tiled floor to the oak double doors located several feet away from my king-sized bed. I opened one of the doors and exited the room, my bare feet making no noise on the cool white tile as I made my way to the bathroom next door.

I didn't even bother to turn on the light when I entered the spacious room, seeing as Levellua have night vision far better than a human's.

I closed the door behind me and ignored the mirror.

I always ignored the mirror.

I never liked what I saw.

With a sigh, I undressed, then stepped into the clean shower waiting for me in the corner of the room. I turned the water on, got it to just the right temperature, and closed my eyes, greedily soaking up all of the liquid's warmth.

I felt my trembling subside the slightest bit as I stood there, letting the water beat down on me.

I eventually washed my hair and shaved my legs and all of those kinds of things, then I turned the water off and got out of the shower quite reluctantly.

I then dried off and got dressed before finally forcing myself to step in front of the mirror.

And there she was, that beautiful monstrosity that was supposed to be me.

Her snow white skin almost seemed to glow in what little moonlight streamed in through the large bathroom window, and her hair was jet black, falling to her hips in one straight, silky wave.

She was slender and busty, her body having a perfect hourglass shape.

Some of the pale flesh that would normally be hidden by clothing was severely scarred. The marks were faint, but they were still pretty obvious, standing out against her alabaster skin.

My eyes then met hers, and I grimaced.

They hadn't changed since the last time I'd seen them, but that was to be expected, I suppose. The color wasn't even remotely normal, being a shade of blue that only one of my kind could have. This shade of blue was incredibly light. So light, in fact, that it was nearly white, almost resembling the color of ice with only the slightest tinge of blue making my irises distinguishable from the whites of my eyes. In essence, those blue irises were ice. Not because of their color or shape, but because of their coldness, the way they hid all of their owner's emotions.

I hated them.

I opened the wooden cabinet above the sink and took out the white container that held my saviors, a pair of blue cosmetic contact lenses.

Yes, my savior was indeed a pair of colored contacts.

I carefully put them in before even worrying about getting dressed. They made my eyes a more normal shade of blue, so of course I wanted to put them in quickly. I didn't have to stare at the irises I hated so very much if they were hidden behind contact lenses.

Once they were in place, I put the white container back in the cabinet, then proceeded to brush my teeth and hair. After that was all done, I wandered out of the bathroom in all my naked glory and headed to my bedroom, where I dug through the drawers of the oak dresser I had pushed against one of the walls and pulled out my clothes.

Soon enough, I was exiting my room again, clad in a pair of simple black jeans and a nice black T-shirt. Black had always been my color. It allowed me to blend in with the night, and even during the day I felt safer in black than in bright colors.

It sounds stupid, I know, but it makes sense to me, and that's all that matters. Who cares what everyone else thinks?

My simple black sneakers made no sound as I strode calmly down the curving marble staircase that led into the pitch black, marble-floored entrance hall. Another staircase was located across the expansive room from the one I had used, mirroring it perfectly. My pace quickened when I heard a familiar voice call from the open double doors to my right, the doors leading into the dining room.

"Servant girl?" Miss Lumberton said questioningly. Her voice was quiet, but we both knew I could hear it. "Servant girl?" she repeated, her voice sounding closer now. I stiffened at the name. 'Servant girl.' That's all I was to her. She never said my name. Not unless she was showing me off at a party, anyway. 'My Levellua's prettier than yours.' Really, now. Rich women could be such children.

"Yes, Miss Lumberton?" My voice was smooth and emotionless, just like it always was. I didn't really feel emotions. Irritation is about the closest I got to an emotion, and I only felt that on incredibly rare occassions. I had also never smiled. Not once in my entire life have I smiled. Never have, probably never will.

"Why are you leaving so early? It's only six o'clock, and school doesn't begin until seven-thirty." The woman entered the room as she spoke. She really isn't as old as I make her out to be. She was probably in about her mid-thirties, having married sixty-year-old Mister Smith for no more than his money and his fancy house. How very Anna Nichole Smith of her.

Her long, dark brown hair was arranged in a neat coiffure at the back of her head, the fancy hair style matching her elegant green gown nicely. Her eyes were a slightly lighter shade of brown than her hair, holding more distaste than I could possibly describe. She was shorter than me by several inches, but I was somewhat tall for a girl, anyway, nearly reaching 5'9. Her skin was a light tan color, unlike my pasty flesh. It suited her more than it could possibly suit me, though, so I didn't really care.

"I thought I should begin running in the morning again. I feel like I'm getting out of shape," I lied. I was one hell of a liar, but then again, all Levellua were. We had to be if we didn't want our masters to know that we needed to go murder an innocent jogger at six in the morning. Most of my species tried to hide the fact that we ate humans. It made us seem less glamorous, and if our masters thought we weren't glamorous enough, they'd get rid of us. Or at least try to get rid of us. The most they usually succeeded in doing was pissing us off and making us torture them until they freed us. Being free was what all Levellua wanted most, although we usually weren't willing to sink as low as torturing our masters to get it.

"Ah," was all Miss Lumberton said before turning and striding casually back out of the entrance hall. "Come home right after school," she called over her shoulder. "I have something I need you to do." Then, she was gone, and I was free to grab my black backpack out of the closet to the left of the front door, sling it over my shoulder, and walk out of the house.

I quickly walked up the street, wondering how it could be so damn hot when the sun wasn't even up yet. The summer had been oddly hot here in Ohio, and because it wasn't quite fall yet, the temperature was still sweltering.

I was making my way to the bad part of town, where all of the drug-dealers and prostitutes lived and worked, deep in the west side of the city. I had decided that snagging that innocent jogger would be more trouble than it was worth, seeing as I would have to hide the corpse and make sure nobody found it, so I planned to eat someone nobody would miss instead.

I found this somebody in a back alley when he attempted to mug me. I sniffed the air around him, picking up faint traces of alcohol, but no drugs or anything too dreadfully harmful. Before he had time to use that stolen gun of his on me, I had my retractable claws extended to their full two-inch length and embedded in the side of his neck. I tore through his jugular vein with ease, quickly ending his life.

I didn't bother looking at the man, instead just beginning to lap the blood up from his neck, fighting the urge to let my fangs sink into his flesh like those barbaric vampires did to their prey.

Soon enough, the man's body was completely drained of blood, and I was full. I wiped my slightly bloody hands off on the man's black shirt, picked up my book bag from where it had fallen to the ground beside me, then exited the alley calmly after being sure there was no blood staining my mouth, face, or teeth.

This feeding only took me about fifteen minutes, so I still had a lot of time to kill.

I wandered clear across town to my high school, then plopped down on the sidewalk by the front doors and spent the rest of my time reading a good book I had tucked away in my backpack. The Passion by Donna Boyd. Lots of lies about werewolves, but interesting nonetheless.

Forty-five minutes later, people started arriving, so I decided to get up. I shoved the book back into my book bag and took out my schedule before slinging the black bag back over my shoulder. I unfolded the wrinkled white paper and almost thought about thinking about maybe smiling. Choir. I had Choir first period. Choir was sooo much better than something complicated like Chemistry or Algebra.

I refolded my schedule and stuck it in my back pocket, turning toward the doors that led into the school. I entered the building, walked up the long, high-ceilinged hall, went through another set of double doors, then turned left and headed right to room 002, the choir room. I had been in the school's choir during my freshman year, so I already knew where the room was.

I walked into the semi-large room and sat down in the soprano section, then began waiting for the class to begin in half an hour. With a sigh, I pulled The Passion out of my backpack and began to read again until something caught my eye a few minutes later.

A new guy. No, let me rephrase that. A gorgeous new guy.

He had messy, longish blond hair and pretty brown eyes. I didn't really like brown eyes, but they seemed to suit him somehow...

I'd never seen him before, so he must've been new to the school, not just the class. He didn't look the slightest bit nervous, though, which was actually a little bit surprising. Weren't most new kids at least a little bit scared on their first day at a new school?

Huh. Brave human, I thought, cocking my head at the boy and watching him with cold eyes over the top of my book as he sat down to my left, right next to me, in the bass section. I felt my eyes widen ever so slightly.

He had actually willingly sat next to me. Nobody did that. I had always been considered that weird, nerdy, seriously intimidating badass that not even the toughest or friendliest people were daring or kind enough to go near. My murderous aura didn't seem to be driving this guy away, though. What the hell was wrong with him?

I sniffed the air inconspicuously as he set his navy blue backpack down on the floor beneath his chair. He was definitely a human. My nose never lies. So what made him brave enough to come near me? My answer came in the next ten seconds.

"Hi," the boy said with a goofy smile. "You don't mind if I sit here, do you? I just thought you looked kinda lonely, so..." He trailed off, shrugging and leaving me to fill in the blanks.

Not brave. Just stupid.

My icy gaze went back to my open book. "Not like I own the chairs here," I stated with a shrug. "Oh, and just because I'm alone doesn't mean I'm lonely," I added coldly. "Sit somewhere else next time."

I was trying to make him go away. I really, really was. But what do you think that dumbass did?

"Oh...Sorry." He began to stare at the ground instead of me sadly, obviously feeling dejected, but he wasn't moving.

I sighed, and in an unnatural act of kindness, I introduced myself. "I'm Raven Guthrie." Hey, I might not be bored and lonely, but he might be. At least at the moment. God, this kid was actually making me seem nice.

The boy's goofy smile returned as he looked over at me. "I'm Riley Valentine. I just moved here from Indiana."

"Nice to meet you," I replied, my voice still cold as could be.

The boy fell silent, obviously realizing that I wasn't the chatty type, and soon, the bell rang, signaling the beginning of class.

We warmed up, sang a few short songs, and at eight-thirty-six, having sung straight through our sixteen-minute-long homeroom, we were freed by the bell. We were given numerous forms as we walked out the door, the teacher telling us that she found explaining the rules of the school to sophomores pointless as she shoved paper after paper into the hands of her students.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I went to History, then French II, then lunch, followed by English II Accelerated, Algebra II Accelerated, and Chemistry. Finally, after several long hours, it was time for tenth period, which, in my case, was filled by the best class this poor school had to offer...


I quickly descended the stairs after Chemistry ended, reaching the cafetorium, the combination cafeteria and auditorium, in under a minute due to the closeness of the room to my ninth period class.

I breathed deeply as I entered the room, my sensitive nose easily picking up the faint scents of rosin and polished wood, both of which were hidden beneath the stench of that mystery meat we had had for lunch. I hadn't bothered to buy lunch after catching a whiff of the stuff. One never knew what they put in the food here to make it smell that awful.

I dropped my backpack on a nearby red and black lunch table before heading toward the stage located across the room from the door I had walked through. I silently walked up the stairs, my feet making soft thudding noises once I reached the wooden floor of the stage.

I almost managed to feel sad when I found out that we weren't playing today. Almost. I still couldn't get myself to feel anything...

I spent the period listening to the orchestra conductor as he rambled on about his goals for the orchestra this year, hinting at the possibility of going to a state competition.

Fifty minutes later, at exactly two-thirty, the bell rang again, now signaling the end of the school day.

I could have taken the bus home, I could have flaunted my natural beauty and enticed a perverted senior into giving me a ride home, but I did neither of those things. Why bother with the germ-covered seats of a school bus or the flirtatiousness of a teenager thinking he might just get lucky sometime soon when I could just walk home? I wasn't a lazy person, so I was fine with walking.

Well, I was until that annoying human, Riley, found me...

"Hi, Raven!" he greeted me energetically when I walked out the school's front doors.

"Hello, Riley," I replied quietly, continuing on my way down the sidewalk. The human was not to be deterred, though, immediately following me when he realized I wasn't going to stop.

"I was hoping you would come this way," he stated, his ever-present smile growing into a full-on grin.

I was beginning to get annoyed. "Why?"

"Because if you walked out this way, it meant that you were more than likely walking home, which meant that I could get to talk to you and walk home with you," he explained quickly.

"Why would you want to walk with me?"

"Because...because you seem like someone that could use the company."

He was lying. The hesitancy in his voice gave that much away. But what was he hiding? Then it dawned on me...

He was the lonely one.

He had clung to me, thinking I was lonely, too, and, needing someone to talk to, he refused to let go even after figuring out that I was fine on my own.

And so, in my second act of kindness for the day, I replied softly, "Okay."

Riley talked all the way to my house, and I actually answered some of the questions he asked.

"What's your favorite color?"


"Oh...Mine's blue! What's your full name?"

"Why does it matter?"

"It doesn't, really. I just wondered..."

"Oh..." I paused for a moment, then answered, "Raven Anne Guthrie."

"That's a pretty name."

Most girls would have blushed or squealed or found themselves speechless because of such a sweet compliment coming from such a sweet guy, but I wasn't most girls. My response was a simple, stoic, "Thank you."

My companion was silent for several seconds, then he said, "My full name is Riley Alexander Valentine."

"You have a nice name, too," I told him, gazing down at the sidewalk emotionlessly.

The blond boy smiled. "Thanks."

And then we were there, standing at the wrought iron gates that led to the path that went up to the stairs of Miss Lumberton's large mansion, what was supposedly my 'home.'

"Thank you for walking with me," I said, trying to seem truly grateful, although it was quite hard for one like me to do. My pale fingers closed around one of the recently-painted and -cleaned bars of one of the large black gates. "It made the trip seem shorter."

"You're welcome. Maybe we could walk together again sometime." Riley's goofy grin was still in place as he looked down at me, standing about two inches taller than me.

"Yeah. Maybe." Then, without another word, I pushed the lightweight gate open and walked onto Miss Lumberton's property. I saw Riley's smile falter a slight bit when I turned back around to close the gate, but I didn't comment on it. I simply latched the gate, then walked up to the large white house, feeling Riley's sorrowful brown eyes on my back until I entered the mansion and closed the door behind me, leaving the desolate boy alone in the heat of a humid August day.