From the moment they walked into the school, Olivia Carlsbad knew. The new kids, the impossibly gorgeous brother and sister, weren't normal teenagers. They weren't even human.
They were vampires.
Olivia leaned back against her locker, holding her books to her chest and resting her chin on them as she stared at the pair. The girl had long, pitch-black hair, pin straight, and a curvy figure most girls would kill for. She didn't walk so much as glide. The boy had similar features, dark hair that fell in his eyes and a rugged jaw line. While the girl wore an almost gentle expression, the boy scowled as he stalked next to her, glaring icily at the other students.
Olivia held her breath as they walked past her, turning away but watching surreptitiously. When their backs were to her, her gaze turned to a glare, and her hands clenched tightly on her books.
She didn't see the vampires again the rest of the day, but they were in her thoughts. She wondered where they had come from, why they were there, why they had chosen her school to attend.
And when she'd get to kill them.
* * *
By the time she was supposed to leave for the meeting that night, Olivia had worked herself into a fury over the vampires at school. She barely noticed what she was doing as she drove to the old warehouse district in town to meet the others. Anger and hatred seethed inside of her, an old, familiar feeling that had raged inside her for the better part of eight years.
That was bad luck for the vampire she happened to notice sitting on the bus bench. She knew he was one because of the way he sat; Olivia had been trained to notice the signs, and even moving at high speeds in a vehicle, she could recognize them.
She drove around the block and parked her car. As she walked toward the vampire, lightning flashed in the sky. She automatically glanced up. The night air felt damp, moisture threatening to drop at any moment.
That was okay. She'd make this quick.
As she walked, Olivia allowed her expression to morph from anger into fear and nervousness. I'm just a girl, she thought. All alone on this dark street with nobody to protect me.
She knew she looked the part. Her slim build barely hit 5-foot-2, and her blond hair reached the middle of her back, with bangs sweeping across her forehead. Her emerald green eyes were large and innocent-looking. When she pouted, people wanted to protect her, like a child.
Sometimes she hated how young she looked. She was pretty, but she wasn't beautiful. She kept her self-image up by beating her body into submission -- beneath the innocent exterior was a deadly machine. She might not look it, but she didn't need protecting.
As she passed the vampire, Olivia glanced at him. Dirty blond hair hung down to his shoulders, and as he turned his head to watch her pass, Olivia caught a hint of a smile. Another flash of lightning cracked, and light reflected from his eyes, like a cat's.
Olivia faced forward again, hunching her shoulders and picking up the pace. Just try me, dirtbag, she thought at the vampire. She knew he'd take the bait. No monster could resist a helpless girl on an empty street. Just like she couldn't resist a helpless monster on an empty street.
Out of habit, she patted the small object strapped to her forearm under her jacket sleeve. Her knife, a gift from Daniel, her first trainer. Its blade was ornately hand-carved from snakewood, one of the hardest woods on Earth -- and, to Olivia, one of the most beautiful. This blade had been there for her first vampire kill, and Olivia swore it would be there for her last.
She threw a quick glance behind her to make sure the vampire was following her. He was, silently, and closing in. An alley lay gaping ahead of her to her left. When she reached it, she let her purse slide from her fingers. Its contents spilled onto the sidewalk. She knelt and gathered them up quickly, as if she were worried, and cast a sideways glance at her stalker. Inside, she was smiling, her heart pumping with adrenaline.
The vampire was smiling too, probably thinking it was too easy.
Olivia reached for a tube of chapstick and knocked it farther away, toward the alley. As she knew he would, he suddenly appeared in front of her, leaning down to pick up the chapstick for her. She stood, gasping, and he handed it to her, smiling brilliantly. Up close, he had unearthly good looks: the shoulder-length hair, dark eyes and a killer smile. For a brief moment, her heart pounded at his smile, but she quickly suppressed it. It was all part of the vampire package: killer looks, killer habits.
She looked shyly up at him and said softly, "Thanks." He grinned at her.
"You know, you should be more careful. It's dangerous out here." His voice was deep and provocative. Even knowing what he was, Olivia still felt herself drawn to him. Like a spider drawing its prey to its lair. She hadn't yet figured out a way to completely block the effects of a vampire's seduction. The best she could do was not listen too closely and end it quickly.
"I like danger," she said in a throaty voice, turning to flirt mode. Then she frowned, trying to pull back the part a bit. She didn't want him to suspect anything. "I mean, it doesn't seem too bad out here."
His grin got wider. "Not with me here."
She giggled. God, she sounded so genuine she even irritated herself. "How can I thank you for helping me?" She flipped her hair over her shoulder, deliberately flashing her neck at him. His eyes automatically darted to her throat. He licked his lips and tore his eyes away. A wave of disgust washed through her, and she carefully choked it back.
"Why don't you let me show you?" He stepped into the alley. She glanced into it but couldn't see much; shadows filled the space. She had better not go too deeply in or she might be in trouble.
"But I hardly know you," she said in a tone of voice that let him know she wasn't really worried about that.
"You said you like danger," he said, taking another step back. "Let me show you how much you can really love it."
Olivia made a show of biting her lip and looking up and down the street, as if she were nervously considering his offer. Then she stepped into the alley after him. She followed him a few feet in, then stopped. It was dark, but she could still see. She slipped her left hand under her jacket sleeve and wrapped her fingers around the handle of her knife. "Well, what did you want to show me?" she asked in what she hoped was a seductive voice. Believe it or not, she wasn't generally in the habit of seducing men.
"This," he whispered and bent over her, as if to kiss her. Olivia didn't give him the chance to go for her throat.
"You're wrong," she whispered back, feeling the warmth of his breath on her neck. She pulled out the knife. "It's right here." She shoved the knife into his chest, right where his heart would be.
He gasped and stumbled backwards, his hands clawing at the blade stuck deep inside his chest. His eyes, now glowing like molten silver, stared at her in astonishment. "What..."
She smiled as he collapsed to the ground, his legs kicking in agony. "Surprise!" she said softly, a grin stretching across her face. She knelt down next to him, staring into his eyes. "This is what you deserve."
The silver was fading, and small bursts of flame had begun jumping from his skin as it shriveled into ash. The light in his eyes went out, and a moment later he was nothing but a pile of ash on the ground. Olivia grabbed her knife from the top of the pile and wiped it on her sleeve, tucking it back into its sheath. She stood and kicked at the ash pile, sending some of it flying. "Guess it just wasn't your night."
The burning anger inside her was momentarily sated, and she hummed a little as she strolled back to the car. She felt refreshed, almost ... cleansed. Of course, she was going to be late for the meeting now, but that no longer mattered. She had done her small part in making the world a better place.
One vampire at a time.
* * *
Ten minutes later, Olivia turned her blue Toyota into another alley a few miles away from the first one. The buildings on this street were dark, rundown and mostly abandoned, which made it the perfect spot for a secret meeting. The alley opened into a small courtyard parking lot between the buildings, and Olivia parked her car between five others.
She cursed as she got out of the car. The others were already here, which meant she'd be hearing about how late she was. It didn't matter what she'd been doing; Raina would still use it as a reason to criticize her.
She scanned the area for movement as she strolled to a door set into the wall. They hadn't been discovered yet, but no way was she going to be caught off-guard by a vampire ambush. Once she was satisfied she was alone, she knocked on the door: two taps, a pause, and two more taps. A slot in the door opened, and a pair of blue eyes stared out at her.
"The time has come," a deep voice grumbled through the opening.
Olivia sighed. "For blood to run and the execution to begin," she finished. The door opened, and she stepped inside, pushing her bangs out of her eyes. "Really, Gunther? You couldn't tell it was me?"
A heavy sliding sound followed as Gunther slid a massive wooden bolt back into place against the door. "Rules are rules," he replied, following her as she went up the stairs at the end of the entrance hallway. The stairs were dark, but both had been up and down them so often they didn't need a light. "Besides, you never know. They could be using you to try to get inside."
Olivia nodded in agreement, even though he couldn't see it. If she'd been coerced in any way, she'd use a different reply to the test sentence and the others would know something was up. Olivia's personal favorite plan was to finish with "For you to get a watch." It was an old joke her father used to say when she was little. Though she doubted it would still make her giggle if she were caught by a vampire.
She glanced at Gunther over her shoulder, his large silhouette dark against the dim light coming through the window in the stairwell landing. Gunther Bjorstrand was blond, blue-eyed and enormous. His parents had moved here from Sweden before he was born, and Olivia could still remember a time when they were closer in size. Of course, that was when they were five. Now, towering over Olivia by at least a foot and twice as wide, he looked like a bodyguard or a linebacker. Looks were deceiving, though; he was quick on his feet and good with any weapon handed him. And he almost never lost his temper, something Olivia definitely couldn't say about herself.
"Am I the last one?" she asked, even though she knew the answer.
Gunther nodded. "We've been waiting for you. Raina's getting impatient."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "When is Raina not impatient?"
That prompted a sigh from Gunther. "You're not going to start anything, are you? It took forever to clean up after last time..."
Olivia grinned, turning to continue up the stairs. "Depends how I feel. And whether Raina's being a bitch." And if Raina's usual mood were any indication ... well, Olivia couldn't make any promises.
"Great," Gunther muttered from behind her, not sounding at all reassured.
Olivia squinted as she stepped from the darkness of the stairwell into the lamp-lit meeting room. It wasn't a lot of light, but anything seemed bright after the stairs.
"So nice of you to grace us with your presence, Olivia," Raina Montagano said frostily. She sat in her usual place, the center of the room, her head held high and her brilliant red hair cascading down her back. Tall and slim, she was the complete opposite of Olivia, beautiful and Amazonian where Olivia was cute and childlike. That was potentially part of the source of their antagonism toward each other. That, and Olivia wanted to be the leader of this little gang, and Raina didn't want to give it up.
After a moment glaring at Raina -- and choosing nobly, for Gunther's sake, not to reply -- Olivia took her seat next to her best friend, Mariko Kawaguchi. Mari shouldered her in the arm and gave her a wide grin. "About time, slow poke," she whispered. Short and petite like Olivia, Mari had moved to the United States when she was five. She and Olivia had studied martial arts together, and Mari had a black belt in karate, which she put to good use on assignment. Her quick moves had more than once gotten Olivia out of a tight spot.
Olivia smiled back and leaned back on her elbows, taking in the rest of the gang while blocking out whatever Raina was blathering on about.
To Raina's left was Carl King, the newcomer to the group. Olivia didn't know him very well -- he'd only moved to town six months ago -- but he'd been in the "business" before he came here and had been welcomed to the team. His well-built arms and fighting style made Olivia suspect he might have been a boxer in another life. His dark skin shone in the lamplight as he smiled at Olivia.
On Raina's right was Michael Scherer. Olivia's heart skipped a beat as she took in his dark eyes, the perfect lips, the unruly natural curls falling over his forehead. Usually he kept it short enough to be rid of the curl, but he hadn't done it lately, and Olivia was dying to wrap those curls around her finger. Unfortunately, that would probably never happen. Michael spent most of his time in silence, watching and listening, taking in everything. He had never shown any romantic interest in her -- or any of them, much as Raina had tried to snag him -- and Olivia had decided long ago that she would just have to watch and drool from a distance.
A gang was really what they were, though none of them would use the word. It had such negative connotations. They didn't run around wearing certain colors and participating in drive-by stakings. They just killed vampires. "Organization" was preferable. Or team. One big, happy, slaying team. They were known on the streets and to each other as "The Executioners," a name they had given themselves. It sounded scary; that was what was important.
With a wistful sigh, Olivia tore her attention away from Michael's good looks and back to Raina's words.
"I've got nothing," Raina was saying. "Have any of you got any news?"
Shrugs traveled around the circle, but Mari's face flushed, and she raised her hand, as if she were in class. "Well, actually..."
Gunther's eyes lit up in the boyish excitement that he was good at. "A new club we can storm?"
Mari bit her lip. "Um, not exactly."
"Wait a minute," Raina broke in, shooting him an exasperated glare. "Gunther, how many times do I have to tell you? We do not storm clubs. Or any other vampire lair. That's just a recipe for disaster, and you should know that, after last time..."
Carl leaned forward, looking intrigued. "Last time?" He hadn't been around during that incident, but Olivia was surprised nobody had told him about it.
She shook her head, raising an eyebrow. "Earlier this year, we got word about this club on the south side. Exclusive."
"Fangs only," Mari translated.
Olivia nodded. "And we were so excited, we didn't plan our attack very well. Just kind of did a ... um..."
"Run and gun," Michael finished, his first words of the evening. He gave Olivia a small smile, then leaned back against his wall.
Olivia smiled back. "We barely got out with our lives."
Gunther tsked and looked indignant. "It would have worked, if you would have let me go in first."
"Yeah right," Raina sighed. "The only thing that would have happened is you would have died first, Gunther." Raina folded her arms across her chest, eyes blazing. To Carl, she said, "We went rushing in, and of course the vampires were on us in a second. We barely got out alive."
"The only reason we survived is because of Michael," Olivia added, throwing a glance in his direction. He raised an eyebrow and shrugged it off. "He stayed outside as watch, and as soon as he heard Raina screaming, he circled around back and came in from behind." Raina gave Olivia an icy glare, and Olivia smirked. Her pulse raced as she recalled that wild night.
"Michael started going at them from behind," Mari continued, "and they thought they were surrounded. Half of them ran. We got the ones that were left."
Carl's eyes were wide, and he returned Mari's grin.
"And that," Raina finished, "is why we never just storm into a situation. We got lucky." She shot a pointed look at Gunther, who smiled and shrugged unashamedly at her. She turned her gaze to Carl, and he nodded, holding up his hands.
"No storming. Got it."
Olivia turned to Mari. "What was your news, Mar?" That caught the attention of the rest of the gang. Olivia thought she knew, but she'd let Mari be the delivery girl.
"Well, I was in the bathroom at school today, and this girl walked in." Mari leaned forward, raising her eyebrows and pausing for suspense. Raina rolled her eyes and motioned with a hand for Mari to get on with it. Mari smiled and continued, "Anyway, she was totally vamp. And I don't mean her outfit."
The others sat in stunned silence for a moment. Finally Gunther said, "Vampire at school, huh? That can't be good."
Raina shook her head, drumming her fingers on her lips thoughtfully. "No, it's not good. We need to find out who she is and why she's here."
"I saw her too," Olivia spoke up. "She's not alone. There's a guy, too. Probably related, by the looks of it."
Mari shot her a surprised look that clearly asked why Olivia hadn't told her. Olivia shrugged and raised an eyebrow. Mari hadn't told her either.
"Two of them. Great." Raina pursed her lips. "Okay, we need to get more information. First, do they know who we are? Second, are they made or are they born? Third, are there more of them?"
Carl shook his head. "How do we do that? We can't just walk up and ask them. 'Hey, dude, so are you here to kill us all, or just enjoying the scenery?'"
Michael spoke up. "Chances are they don't know about us. We need to talk to them, see if they let something slip."
"I don't think the guy is a good idea," Olivia said with a shake of her head. "He seemed... angry. The girl looked more approachable."
Raina was nodding. "Okay, recon is good," she admitted, if a bit begrudgingly. "Who wants to do it?"
Mari held up her hand again. "Let Olivia and I try it." Olivia nodded her agreement.
"That's a good idea," Gunther said, smiling. "You two are definitely the least scary."
Olivia glared at him. "Gee, thanks."
He winked at her, and her glare melted into an eye roll and a grin. She turned back to Raina, who was obviously hoping someone else would volunteer. But everyone seemed in agreement that the task would fall to Mari and Olivia, so she sighed. "Fine. Do it tomorrow. We can't waste time on this."
Olivia gave her a mock salute. "Will do, boss."
Raina ignored her, pushing herself to her feet and brushing off her pants. "If no one else has anything to say, then we're done."
The group members looked at each for a second, and when nobody spoke, the meeting broke up. Olivia hung back as the others left, waiting for Michael as he casually picked himself up off the floor. When he saw her standing in the doorway, he stopped, his hand hovering over the lamp he'd been about to put out. "Hey."
She smiled at him, willing the fluttering in her stomach to go away. "Hey," she returned. "I was just... waiting for you. I didn't want you to walk out by yourself." Great one, Olivia, she scolded herself. Question his manhood, then expect him to swoon over you.
Michael didn't seem to take offense. He shrugged. "Thanks, but I'm fine. Go ahead without me."
Olivia fought to keep the disappointment off her face. "Oh, okay." She turned to go, but stopped when he called her name. She turned back to him, and he crossed the small room in a few strides so he was standing a few steps from her, looking down at her intently. "Yeah?" she squeaked.
He reached out and brushed the sleeve of her jacket with his hand. "You've got vampire dust on you."
She gaped at him, scrambling to think of something cool to say. She wanted to say casually, "Oh, yeah, I thought I'd get in a quick kill before the meeting." But instead, what came out was, "Oh. Thanks."
Oh, thanks? Come on!
He gave her a faint smile and pushed a dark curl away from his forehead. "Be careful, okay?"
Olivia nodded. "You too."
"Always." He'd already turned his back to her and was walking back to the lamp, so she made her escape.
Once in her car, she banged her forehead against her steering wheel in frustration a few times. "You idiot!" she hissed to the steering wheel. "Way to charm him with your sparkling wit." Throw her in a room with a bunch of killer neck-suckers, and she was a bad ass. But a few words from the love of her life, and she was reduced to a quivering mass of Jell-O.
She grumbled to herself and started the car. The first drops of rain splattered her windshield as she pulled out of the parking lot. The clock read 11:30. Great.
Her parents were going to kill her. It was a school night.
Author's note: Okay, I originally wrote this story nearly 10 years ago as fanfiction (very loosely based). It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either. I liked the overall result, so I'm now going to rewrite it as original fiction. I anticipate a lot of things changing, hopefully all for the better. I hope you like it! (Oh, and if you see any strange, out-of-the-blue names, please let me know. I'm changing some names, and I should catch any I miss, but you never know…)