Temptation of the Moon
"My first vampire"
"We are getting married."
Ah, the famous words that propelled my world into hell and into the devil's hands. Quite literally.
My mother's idea of an end-of-the-summer vacation was a road trip to Nowhere city in the boonies of Nowheresville, where she was going to meet her fiancée. I had only learned of said fiancée mere minutes ago; this is why you never trust your mother when she says 'nothing' happened on her impulsive trip to Las Vegas. Apparently something had happened between her and 'please call him Matthew.' And now I found myself sitting in the car, staring at my mother in disbelief, and trying to ignore my younger sister's persistent wails. This was not my idea of a vacation at all.
"For god's sake, Kerry, can you please be quiet back there?" My mom asked exasperatedly.
Of course, Kerry didn't. If anything, my mom had only hit the up arrow on her volume button.
My eyes flickered to the back seat where eight-year old Kerry was throwing a bite-sized tantrum, complete with flailing arms and shrieks that could rival an ambulance's siren. Definitely not one of her worse ones. "Kerry," I simply intoned. Instantly, my sister quieted and fixed her eyes on me. "Good kitten," I purred at her.
I then directed my attention towards my obviously delirious mother. "Do you want to tell me that joke again? I might laugh this time around."
I could tell that she was getting a little irritated with me; apparently I didn't have the reaction she was going for. She alternated between glancing at the road and giving me dirty glares. "It is not a joke, Francesca."
Francesca was not something she usually called me, not because it wasn't my real name, but because it was my first name. For me, it was one of those things you would normally reserve for special occasions, the angry and violent kinds. I opened my mouth to say something, but surprisingly, found that I couldn't.
"It was supposed to be a surprise," my mom said quietly. "I expected you to be happier for me."
I said nothing. Nobody said anything for a long time. There was only the sound of cars passing us, and the click-clacking and beep-beeping of Kerry's Nintendo DS slowly lulled my heart rate to a calmer pace. I wasn't as angry as I was panicked. The last time my mom had been impulsive like this was the day my father had left us.
"You'll like him." My mom sounded pretty confident. "He's nothing like Richard." Richard was my father of the past tense kind.
"I already hate him," my sister said before I could.
"It's unanimous. We all hate him, let's go home." I shoved the ear phones back into my ears and turned up the volume. Jason Mraz was the solution to all of my problems.
Much to my dismay, I felt my mom rip out one of the buds from my ear. She said, "It's not unanimous if I don't hate him, you know."
I snatched back my other significant half. "The insane are not allowed to vote in this family." I drummed my fingers onto the passenger side's armrest. "You should have mentioned something, anything. I don't even know who this man is, and he's about to become my step dad?"
"I just thought you would have liked to have a father figure in your life after…" My mom's sentence trailed off, and she used a turn in the road as an excuse not to finish.
"What? After you drove dad away?" I scoffed. "You are the beacon of light in my life, mom. Such selflessness." I knew I was hitting a raw nerve there, but I was already nose-deep into licking my wounds. How could she think that I would react to her "news" with anything but anger? I thought about it for a second; this was a woman who bought me paint brushes and canvas paper for my birthday, and said that I was a prodigy waiting to happen. I hated art, couldn't draw a line even if I used a ruler, and it wasn't even my birthday! It was Kerry's. That was how much she knew me.
"You may hate it now, Mia," my mom said, reverting back to using my middle name, "but I know that you will be much happier—in time, all of us will be."
I scowled at the quaint little neighborhood she pulled into. All the houses looked the same, and all of them were stuffed together like a suburban lump. I looked at the street sign and a heavy feeling of dread (which oddly felt like nausea) came over me. Eden lane. This was where Matthew lived, and if my mom was really serious about marrying him, then this was where we lived too. Kerry and I exchanged disgusted looks.
"Correction, mom. You will be happier," I muttered. I watched helplessly as she parked in an empty but spacious driveway, surrounded by no doubt artificially planted trees. Everything about the place looked artificial, right down to the white picket fence that wrapped around the entire front yard. "Kerry, look. Your favorite. Barbie Ken's house." She hissed at the insult. My sister wouldn't even be caught dead playing with dolls. Well, I guess beheading them and then watching them 'drown' in the toilet bowl could count as playing with them.
My mom sighed as she took the keys out of the car's ignition. Our baby '97 Honda had been so loyal for so many years, and yet…
"I am doing this for all of us," she told me. Uh-oh. A heartwarming speech was coming; my hand flew to the car's door handle and Kerry immediately went back to playing with her DS. She continued, "I know it's been hard ever since Richard left, but you know what? Things happen for a reason. Maybe this is what we need—maybe, just maybe, Matthew is what we need. A fresh start for all of us. What do you say, girls?"
"Is this what you mean by propaganda, Mia?" Kerry asked innocently. I choked on air.
"It's those darn spelling words of the week," I explained.
"Can I at least have your word that you'll be on your best behavior?" My mom looked at me and only me. I looked back at her, baffled. Just who was the one that wasn't on her best behavior? Not I.
Before I could make any empty promises, thank goodness, I heard a knock on my window and jerked back instantly from the door. Very creepy. I looked up to find a relatively handsome man staring doltishly at me, or rather, at my mom. Said doltish man started waving like a maniac.
I groaned. "My jokes about Ken the Barbie are going to haunt me, aren't they?" He was dressed in tight fitting, work-out t-shirt that read "BE SAFE," even tighter fitting jeans, and he sported tawny, blonde hair that was messy in the way that only salons could consider 'messy.' I looked back at my sister in horror while my mom sprang out of the car like a chicken. "Kerry, it's mom's Christmas present to you come true."
She spat at the window. Actually spat at the window. Ken, err, Matthew looked highly disturbed. Well, more surprised than disturbed, but definitely weirded out. Good. Run, home wrecker, run. Then, before my stomach could revolt anymore at the situation I was in, my mom pounced on the man, and they swapped spit like they were teenagers at a make out party. My mom's hands wrapped around his neck, and his hands ran through my mom's blonde hair. My sister screamed. Or maybe that was me, I couldn't really tell. I opened the door, causing it to bump into my mother rather violently.
"Whoops!" I exclaimed, dripping with sarcasm, "so sorry." I lied. The only thing I was sorry about was almost seeing a live porno right in front of my eyes.
Matthew cleared his throat and gave a pretty convincing chuckle. Ho ho ho, so charming you are. "Come on girls, I'll help with the bags." His voice was amiable and clear, kind of like what you would expect to hear on a radio talk-show.
I gave him a nod, and then motioned for Kerry to get out of the car as well. Before the horndogs decided to get it on again. I reached over to the driver's side to pop open the trunk, and then got out myself.
Compared to the baking heat of California, Vermont was refreshingly cooler, which was probably due to the fact that there were trees everywhere. It was all one, big arboreal world here. I guess once you really looked at the place, everything didn't look so artificially planted. In the distant horizon were promises of verdant woods and wonderful, clear skies that weren't blocked by tall buildings for miles and miles.
After we had dragged all of our luggage into the new house, Matthew presented us with gifts. Kerry's large, brown eyes lit up like the Fourth of July; bribery always worked well with her. He handed her a doctor's kit, complete with kid-friendly scalpels and needles. She nearly split her side with glee. Oh, kids. They were so easy to please.
Then, he held out something shiny and black for me.
"My god, is that the latest iPod?" I squeaked, making frantic grabby hands at it.
Matthew nodded, obviously satisfied that he had broken down my morale. "Yeah, your mom told me you're always listening to music—"
"Instead of listening to me," my mom interjected. Why must she speak?
"—So I thought you probably wanted to upgrade your mp3 player," he finished with a smile, looking at the old iPod I was clutching in my hand. The one that I've had for nearly two years. The one that decides when it wants work and when it doesn't.
I took a look at the sparkling, brand-spankin' new iPod and did something that I was probably going to regret later on. I gave it back to him. Even Kerry looked at me in disapproval. "Thanks, but no thanks. My dad bought me this one," I said, brandishing my poor, dysfunctional mp3 player in the air.
"Mia, don't be rude. He's giving you something nice," my mom scolded. Again, why must she speak?
Matthew's smile faded, and truth, I felt a little guilty. But still, he was a home wrecker. "Well, that's okay. I'll keep it just in case you ever want it. I can understand how your dad's gift might be valuable to you."
"Gee, thanks ever so much for understanding," I said cheekily, taking my sister's hand. "Can you show me where our room is? I want to put my stuff away."
"Oh… Sure." He dropped my mom's hand to pick up our things.
It was then that my sister decided to show her loyalty to me. With a pained expression on her face, Kerry handed back her doctor's kit. She simply said, "I don't want it."
"Kerry!" My mom cried. She turned towards me. Of course. "Mia, look at what kind of example you're setting for your little sister."
Sensing that trouble on the first day wasn't going to swing in his favor, Matthew quickly stepped in to mediate. "It's fine, honey. Kids these days only want electronic toys. I'll get her something better next time."
Kerry showed him what she thought of that by sticking her tongue out at him. I loved the kiddo, but I had to show my duties as a daughter, sometime. "Down, kitten."
She immediately retreated. She looked up at me and gave me a toothy smile. Aww…
I ruffled her mop of curly dark, dirty-blonde hair good naturedly. Despite being sisters, we looked nothing alike. She had pretty, doe-like brown eyes and curly blonde hair whereas I had boring, dull gray eyes and straight dark, brown hair. The only thing we had in common were our dimples. A present from my dad.
"Let's go; I'll show you two to your room," Matthew said.
He sounded pretty deflated. Way to make me feel like the bad guy, err, girl, here. Kerry and I followed him past the polished kitchen, an even more polished, bachelor-like living room with what I spied to be a huge, flat screen television, and into a room that, I could tell, had been freshly painted pink. Nice. I actually, really liked pink.
Kerry, on the other hand, looked just about ready to puke. "I don't like pink."
Matthew got down to a crouch so that he was at her height, which was nearly impossible because of how tall he was. "What color do you like, pumpkin?"
That pleased Kerry, being called pumpkin. My dad used to call her that all the time. She cracked a smile at him and cocked her head as if she was deeply contemplating the decision. "Hmmm…I like brown."
"Brown?" Matthew's eyes furrowed. "Why brown?"
"Because mud is brown and I like mud."
"Ah." And that was that; no further explanation was needed. He looked at me with a crooked smile. "You two are really something—let me guess, you like orange?"
"The fruit, yes. The color, no."
"Do you mind the gratuitous pink?"
"Nah. I actually like pink a lot," I replied honestly. When he gave me a wide and genuine smile I almost liked him. Almost.
"Okay, girls, why don't you just relax for few hours? I've got a pool in the backyard, and I believe my XBOX 360 is in the living room…"
Kerry jumped at the offer like a firecracker. "Do you have War Bandits?"
"You like War Bandits?" He looked a little stunned. My sister loved violent war games. Grabbing at the opportunity to win her favor again, he took a hold of her hand and led her downstairs. Traitor!
I sighed, then flopped onto one of the beds, grateful for anything else other than a car seat to lie on. There were two beds in the room, one for Kerry and one for me. Both of them had matching pink bed sheets and pillows. I almost wanted to laugh. Matthew wasn't an entirely bad guy, and he was probably sincerely trying very hard to win us over. I got up and looked at the bookshelves that he put in for us; he had even christened it with a few selections of his own and some that he probably thought I would enjoy.
I shook my head, running my fingers across the books' spines. Perhaps I was a little too quick to hate him; he was just a good guy that my mother had brought in at an extremely bad time. Kerry and I were still trying to get over the hurt that my father had left behind when he disappeared without a word, and I was going to be a senior this coming school year. Being away from my friends was something I wouldn't be able to handle. I barely had any to begin with.
I decided to go exploring. The house was something out of an Ikea magazine. Everything was furnished smartly with bursts of random, modern art here and there. The walls were hung with black and white photos, which were all varied in subjects; one was of scenic African jungles, another was of a gentle baby elephant, and yet another was of an orchid.
"It's like a museum in here," I murmured to myself. Opening the door to the backyard brought a relief of fresh air and I inhaled greedily. Vermont's nighttime descended much quicker than what I was normally used to; the darkness completely settled over the entire sky and the clouds hung thick with the coming rain. With my eyes closed, I breathed in the promise of rain, reveling the rich, earthly scent that the wind brought to me.
I snapped my eyes open, gasping now against the cool night air. "Who's there?" My eyes scanned the entire backyard, but all I saw were tall rows of trees and nothing else. Even the water in the pool seemed eerily calm; not a single ripple disturbed the perfect plane of blue.
My legs, however shaken they were, found themselves walking out into the open. "Hello?" I cried. Was I going crazy? I thought I heard something that sounded suspiciously like a growl. A stray animal, perhaps? But I was certain that I had heard a voice saying something…It wasn't just a growl. I was suddenly very cold, and the flimsy green cardigan I had on was proving to be useless.
"Is somebody there?" My voice echoed.
I gasped and whirled around in fright, but realized that it was only my mom. "Oh, god, mom. You scared me! I thought I heard something."
My mom looked at me skeptically. "Are you alright, Mia?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," I lied, even though every part of my body was probably quivering. "What is it, mom?"
She walked towards me and gathered me into her arms. "Honey, I know this is difficult." My mom then proceeded to smother me with her breasts.
"This is only a vacation, right?" I didn't know why I even asked; I already knew the answer.
She searched my face with her eyes, trying to read me. "You're truly not happy for me?"
Oh, no. The guilt card. "I am. But I would have been even happier had you told me about this sooner. I didn't want to leave home, mom. My friends…"
"You can make new ones here!"
"This isn't just all about us starting over anew," I snapped, "some of us don't want to. You know, I'm beginning to think this is all about you starting over. Fine. But don't drag me into this."
My mom was quiet for a second. "I'm sorry you feel that way," she finally said. I scoffed and half-turned away. "Anyway, dinner's ready."
"Fine. I'll be there." I watched her walk back into the house angrily. When I was sure she couldn't hear me, I yelled, "I hate you!" My voice rang in vain. Only the trees rustled in reply, but the sudden sound of leaves whispering with the wind surprised me, so I ended up running in after my mom. So much for that.
Dinner was of epic proportions; Matthew grilled up ridiculously big, juicy steaks and lobster tails, and my mom made a nice tomato soup to go with the cheese sandwiches that my sister had begged for. But I was too angry to eat, and only managed to swallow down two steaks and a bowlful of soup.
"You kids are starting to make it seem like I don't feed you," my mom commented as she spooned up some more soup for my sister.
"You don't," I pointed out.
Matthew chortled, but my mom didn't think my joke was all that funny. She said, "Nonsense, I cook all the time."
Now it was Kerry's turn to laugh. "Mia already told you that boiling water didn't count."
More laughter from everyone, except my mom.
"My two daughters, the class clowns," she said dryly.
"Well, I'm sure their new classmates will also appreciate their humor," Matthew said.
I choked on the piece of steak I was working on. New school? Nobody said anything about a new school. I put my fork and knife down slowly, and looked at my mother. She knew exactly what I was thinking and for a moment, our eyes were locked. "Mom? New… School? I thought this was supposed to be a vacation?"
"Maggie, you didn't tell her?" Matthew asked, perplexed. "I thought we agreed that you would tell them before their summer vacation started."
"And I thought we agreed that this wasn't going to be permanent." I could feel my voice getting higher and higher with each word. "You didn't tell me about a new school! You didn't even ask me to come here! You were never going to, were you? Because you knew I would never be okay with this."
"Francesca Mia Locke, if you don't calm down I swear…"
"No!" I nearly screamed. "I will not calm down; you have no right to tell me to calm down. Who would calm down in this situation? You're taking everything from me! My home, my friends, my life!" I could feel a sob bubbling at my throat, but I couldn't let her win. Kerry, however, had already beaten me to the punch. She was already wailing at the top of her lungs, and Matthew was patting her awkwardly on the shoulder. I shook a finger at him and shoved down the tiny feeling of guilt that threatened to surface. "You never told me about this stranger, and now he's going to be my stepfather. He's going to be Kerry's stepfather. You deliberately kept us in the dark for the sake of your own happiness." The words were out there. I couldn't take them back now.
My mom let out a shuddering sigh. "Francesca, I am warning you."
I got up from my seat, pushed back my chair, and cringed at the sound of wood scraping on wood. "I'm going out for a walk."
"You are not!"
I snorted; as if I'd listen to her at this point. I ran out of the kitchen and made a mental note to thank Mathew later for holding my mother back, and for trying to console my baby sister.
"Francesca, don't you dare step out of this house! You don't even know the neighborhood!"
Without another word, I was gone as soon as the door slammed behind me. The cold hit me unmercifully and I shuddered, almost tempted to go back inside the house. My pride would have never allowed me to do such an intelligent thing, especially in my haze of anger, so I found myself walking aimlessly farther and farther away from Matthew's house. It wasn't long before I saw something white-blue arc across the sky and heard the unmistakable quiet grumble of thunder in the distance.
It only took seconds for the rain to come, lightly at first, but as I walked onwards, the rain became so intense that it soaked me to my bones. My long hair, now wet, plastered itself to my face and neck. I shivered uncontrollably, out of breath. I came across a lonely-looking park, and decided to hide underneath the trees for a bit. My teeth chattered almost painfully, and every time a windy breeze came, I was reminded of how drenched I was. And how cold I was.
I looked around me, confused. It finally registered that I had no idea where I walked and absolutely no idea as to where I was. Did I really go that far? I tried to see if I recognized anything, but obviously it was a lost cause. I had been much too furious to notice anything, and even worse, much too angry to stop. Now I felt scared more than anything else.
I heard a twig snap and what sounded to be leaves crunching beneath somebody's footsteps. I half-yelped and immediately covered my mouth with my hands. Oh, god. I was going to die as karma for being a terrible daughter, wasn't I? I was going to be raped and murdered right here in some place I didn't even know. I saw myself on the news, or rather, a 'have you seen this person' picture of me, since I doubted that they would be able to find my body. Images of my mom and Kerry crying flashed in my mind's eye.
I could hear the distinct sound of footsteps now, and as I dreaded, heavy breathing. The footfalls sounded much too steady for it to be that of any animal. It was slow, deliberate, and infinitely torturous. My back was flattened against the tree, and I felt the wet bark bite into my skin. I grimaced from both the numbing cold and the tree's surface. I held my breath and waited for him, or whoever it was, to pass.
But a voice hissed, "I'm too hungry to play hide and seek, little girl."
My mouth betrayed me, and a gasp escaped through the cracks of my hand. I whimpered, holding my wet palms closer against my mouth, almost sure I was bruising it.
It was of no use; within an eye blink he was already in front of me. I yelped as he effectively trapped me, slamming both of his palms onto the tree on either side of me. "Prey that doesn't run… You made it too easy for me. Too… boring."
Before closing my eyes tightly shut, I caught a glimpse of his face; a monstrous twist of human features and something I would never forget: fangs. I shuddered uncontrollably when a tapered finger touched me, leaving a trail of deathly chill on my cheek. He growled softly and moved in closer. So close that I could smell him, a mix of nicotine and something earthly, like rotten wood. I felt his breath on me, on my neck. He was smelling me. "You smell delicious."
"No," I half sobbed, half moaned.
"Ohh, the lamb speaks," he murmured, lips against the skin on my collarbone. "Shh, hush now."
I knew that if I didn't do anything he would definitely kill me—well, if I fought back, he could probably kill me anyway, but I had to do something. Anything. Willing my body to follow my mind, I kneed him as hard as I could. He made an angry noise at the back of his throat, and backed off just enough for me to tear away from him. Adrenaline pumped through me, coursed and rushed through my blood like a storm.
I ran. I ran as fast as I could. Densely covered trees blurred past me, wet strands of my dark hair whipped into my mouth and eyes, and my lungs begged for some respite. I didn't care. I didn't stop.
However fast I ran though, I would learn again and again later on, that he was much, much faster. And a thousand times stronger. He snarled viciously, pushing me violently down onto the ground, and again trapping me with his body. The impact of the fall had me reeling in pain and my head spun, but blissful unconsciousness didn't come. I wanted nothing more than to pass out; at least then, I wouldn't be able to feel a thing.
I turned away from him, but he yanked my face towards his. It was then that I made the mistake of looking into his eyes, a perfect, lethal blend of wine red and glittering black. In them, I saw my own fear-filled ones. "Now this," he said quietly,"this is more like it."
He grabbed my hair and roughly yanked the strands towards his face. He inhaled deeply, rolling his eyes upwards. "So good."
A cry escaped from my lips. "Get off of me!" I struggled, attempted to kick him off, but I wasn't strong enough.
"Shut up," he hissed. Still holding on to my hair, he used it to lift my head upwards and then slam it back down. Repeatedly.
I groaned. My vision blurred, and I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness. I heard a horrific snarl and a tear slipped from my eyes. I was going to die.
But nothing came.
It occurred to me that this was probably what death felt like. Nothing. I couldn't feel anything, couldn't see anything—
"Wake up," somebody ordered me. The voice was deep, soothing. And very male. I felt him shake me gently. "Can you hear my voice?"
I wanted to say yes, but my body was in too much pain to comply. My mouth felt dry and the taste of blood made me feel sick to the stomach. I wanted him to speak again; his voice made me feel safe. Convinced me that I didn't actually die. Or maybe he was an angel sent to guide me through my passing?
I forced myself to speak and immediately regretted doing so afterwards. "Are you... an angel?"
A deep rumble came from his chest. Laughter. "No."
Confusion settled over me, but I decided not to bother with it. My head felt too clouded to form a coherent thought. I felt him wrap his arms around me, but I didn't struggle. I didn't feel threatened. His presence was different from the monster's. I weakly tried to open my eyes, but it was incredibly painful to do so.
"Don't worry," he murmured, holding me closer to his chest. It was infinitely cold. "I won't hurt you."
"I know," I whispered feebly.
"Just sleep. I will take you home," he assured me.
I gratefully listened to him and let the darkness wash over me.
Author's Notes: thank you for reading my first vampire novel! I'm writing this as an attempt to reach 50k words for NanoWriMo. If you don't know what that is, I encourage you to go check it out and participate! Hopefully, because the contest ends by the end of the month, I'll be incredibly motivated to churn out chapters fairly quickly, so check back often for chapter updates! Again, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any feedback.
I'm in search for a beta-reader, so if you feel like you'd like to take a spork to your eyes after reading my story, let me know! LOL.