just got my vamp
He is beautiful. It's not a word she makes a habit of attaching to guys, but in this case there's simply no other adjective that will do.
Part of it is the pale skin, almost bloodless without being eerie; the dark, deep eyes and black hair to match. Part of it is that he is more graceful than any teenager has the right to be. Beautiful.
And she notices. Everybody does. Her attention should be nothing special. And yet—every once in a while there will be something to indicate that he notices her as well. A brush of hands when they share a desk in class, lingering a half-second too long to be accidental. A flickering glance; the rare occasion when he catches her staring and offers a level black gaze of his own. Then, rarer still, a brief smile.
They are thin, those smiles, with only the barest glimmer of perfectly white teeth. Still, she collects them like her younger self collected seashells and polished stones. She holds them inside her chest, looks back on them when she needs a warm memory to push her through the day, treasures them to an extent that it almost embarrasses her.
Her friends tease her about it. He could have any girl in school, they say. Boys like him do not associate with girls like them, just barely above "grime between floor tiles" in the social hierarchy, and even that only by virtue of being some of the better singers in the school choir.
He's out of your league, they say.
She nods and says nothing, pretending to agree while holding ever more tightly to those fleeting, precious memories.
Then one day he speaks to her.
"You're Cathy, right?"
She nods hesitantly and clutches her books to her chest, not trusting herself to speak without saying something foolish. This is a daydream, surely, as delicate and insubstantial as a soap bubble, and she will not pop the bubble before its time if she can help it.
"Thought so. My name is Eli." She knows that already.
He stays quiet for a time, eyes flickering up and down her (admittedly short) form. She feels like she's being appraised for something and tries not to squirm.
His next words are a request: "Would you like to go out with me sometime?"
Her mouth forms an idiotic O shape before she can stop it. Frantically she racks her brain for a witty, confident response.
Nothing surfaces. Her brain is clearly not destined for thoughts of a witty or confident nature. Lost for anything at all to say, she retreats into the safety of autopilot and nods again.
He smiles at her then, a real smile, showing off every one of those brilliantly white teeth, and her heart rockets into her throat.
Is this happening?
She tears through her clothes for two hours before the appointed time and has no luck in finding an outfit that is both stylish and casual. Despite all her attempts at preparation she still ends up raiding her sister's closet (and makeup drawer) five minutes before the doorbell rings.
Luck is with her, for once. Both parents are out of the house, and her irritatingly beautiful older sister is away on Spring Break, so there is nothing to taint his opinion of her except herself. She straightens her blouse, takes in a calming breath as if preparing to go onstage, and answers the door.
There he stands, a vision in understated black.
He offers a "good evening" like a gentleman of old while she plays nervously with her fingers. Eventually she gathers the courage to ask where they are going.
A slip of a smile and a toned arm, bent at the elbow, are offered in lieu of an answer. She takes them.
He takes her to a forest on the very outskirts of the city. She knows of it only because her Girl Scout troop used to camp here, but he bypasses the old lodges in favor of moving deeper into the dark green.
They end up in a bright clearing, cool with the chill of a winter that stubbornly refuses to vanish. A glittering stream pulses quietly down the middle of a wide expanse of grass, which is dotted with wildflowers she can't identify. Some of the trees overhead have blossomed as well; a cascade of pale blooms rain down on them as the wind picks up.
"It's beautiful," is all she can say.
He sits down beside the water with an almost boneless sort of grace. Her movements to follow him feel clunky in comparison, even though she knows the thought is ridiculous. Who ever notices how other people sit?
"This place is special to me," he murmurs, staring at a spot in the distance. "I haven't taken anyone here in a very long time."
Does this mean she is special to him as well, then? She can't hold back the blush.
He notices, of course, and grins. "You have very pretty skin," he remarks, completely out of the blue.
She gapes, because nobody says things like that to near-strangers; certainly not any boy she's ever heard of. It doesn't feel true anyway. She has acne just the same as anyone else. He's undoubtedly teasing her.
Still, the comment presses that button inside of her that only this particular boy seems able to press, and more blood rushes to her face.
He's staring now.
She swallows hard. "Um…thank you."
"You're welcome." Those dark eyes never leave her own.
It feels like a full two minutes before he blinks and frees her from whatever spell had been cast, breaking the silence with a strange musing of "You could be the one, Cathy. You know that?"
It seems that he is deliberately trying to confuse her. She has never been one to be impressed by false "mysterious" acts and doesn't say anything.
All mysteries aside, however, when he walks her home and politely asks for a second date, she doesn't refuse him.
He is mesmerizing. It's another adjective she never imagined herself applying to a teenage boy, not when the vast majority of them ruin her faith in humanity on a daily basis, but it is all too true. As the weeks go by and they begin to spend more time together she starts to notice these things—like when he speaks and she hangs on every single word; when he reaches for her hand and she misses the sensation after he leaves; when he stares at her and she can never, ever look away.
Her friends, wide-eyed, beg for details of a seduction that never happened.
If you never even talked to him, then why did he ask you out? they demand.
It's a question she has been asking herself without really wanting to. What did he see in her that she couldn't? She is average in looks, she supposes; stringy brown hair and green eyes that everyone tells her are her best feature. Crooked teeth, though, and still so frustratingly short.
She isn't social, either. A handful of friends, but only two that she talks to outside of class and choir practice. That's the other thing, the one skill that she really takes pride in—a singing voice that she has painstakingly crafted over sixteen years to be the best that it can be. But her grades are so-so, and her social ranking is so low it is practically underground.
Why, then, does such a sought-after boy want her company?
She considers the possibility that the whole affair is some kind of cruel joke. The ruling class of any high school, she thinks, is not above such things. Maybe she is being played every moment she is with him. Maybe the point is to build her up as much as possible before letting her crash to the ground again.
She considers this but has a difficult time convincing herself that it's true. If he were really such a polished, flawless actor he would have been in movies a long time ago, and they never would have met to begin with.
The way he looks at her sometimes when he thinks she can't see, the sharp intensity behind his stares…that can't be faked. It would be an inhuman feat.
He is odd, though, in some ways. Now that they are closer—this week will mark their one-month anniversary, although she likes to pretend she is not the sort of person who counts—she can tell as much.
He doesn't eat much. When pressed about his favorite foods he simply shrugs and names something different every time. And when he does eat, he never looks like he's actually enjoying it.
Also, she is noticing that he is very cold. Not distant, but physically colder than the average person. Even as the springtime wears on and chases winter away for good, he traipses around like a walking cooler. A human air conditioner. Her classmates notice it too and begin to vie for the seat next to him during long, impressively arid bus trips.
There are other things, too, things that everyone generally writes off as part of his mystique. There's the ever-present charm that no one is able to avoid being swayed by, no matter their age or gender. Of course there are people like that, people who just have that knack with others, but with him it's more like a skill, something that has been honed for a long time until it is irresistible. She's seen it at work; it's borderline hypnotic.
Then there's the way he speaks, elegant and eloquent as a practiced politician; and the way he seems to know a little something about everything, a talent that should belong to someone far older—out of high school, at least. He insists that he reads a lot, when she asks, and it is an acceptable excuse. Somehow, though, she still has trouble accepting it.
They are somewhat off-putting, these admittedly insignificant little instances where she can't quite shake the feeling that something strange is going on. She occasionally asks him about the individual things, but can never quite manage to phrase the bigger question properly. The question she really wants to ask.
She doesn't know what that question is, but it is always there. Nudging impatiently at the back of her mind. Nibbling at the frayed edges of her thoughts.
It happens as the sun is beginning to slip behind the trees of their clearing. After he has shown up at her door with a long white flower and a "happy one-month" on his lips, along with a genuine-seeming smile. After she has more or less gotten over her amazement that he is the sort of person who counts and her relief that it's not just her. After he has leaned in to kiss her for the first time and she has swallowed her instinctive panic and just stopped thinking.
Sometime after that first thrill and the distant revelation that his lips are very, very cold.
He tells her the truth.
"I don't want to lie to you, Cathy."
He tells her who he is.
"I'm going to tell you my secret."
"But you must promise not to tell anyone else. And you must promise not to run away."
He brushes a strand of hair away from her face, whispers it in her ear:
There is a chill, like perhaps winter isn't quite finished with the world yet after all.
She breaks her promise less than one minute after making it.
She runs away.
He doesn't follow.
In the safety of her own bedroom, door locked and curtains drawn, she wonders what has just happened. Whether it happened at all.
Is he crazy? Has she had the unbelievably poor luck to fall for a crazy person?
Worse: What if he is telling the truth?
That is something she doesn't want to think about, now or ever. Vampires do not exist. And even if they did, they eat humans. They do not take humans on dates to beautiful places. They do not smile wide, heartfelt smiles at humans. They don't hold human hands or speak sincerely to them.
They don't kiss like he does.
The whole thing is insane, and yet she still finds herself opening her laptop and doing some research, as if the validation of the internet will make any of this make more sense.
After an hour or so, when her brain is filled to the brim with old lore and more recent theories, all stated firmly as fact despite the countless contradictions, she lays back against her pillow and closes her eyes to sift through it all.
The ancient folklore described vampires as bloodthirsty monsters. After some time a new element was introduced—vampires could be suave, persuasive, hypnotic. They could convince their victims that all was well even as they drained the life from them. Newer still was the theory her friends always scoff at, the idea that a vampire could fall in love with a human.
The myths have changed over the years, but the bottom line is the same: Vampires are dangerous, no matter the choices they try to make. No matter what connections they forge.
Her eyes snap open.
Does all this over thinking mean she believes him?
It's still crazy. All of this is crazy. And yet…
Rifling through her memories with this new knowledge in mind, things start to make much more sense. Every strange happening, every little oddity that he has displayed over time can be explained by one piece of lore if not another. The puzzle pieces are falling together with alarming ease.
She wonders dimly about the state of her own sanity, if she can so easily accept that mythical monsters roam the world, and that she is dating one of them.
A small, nervous giggle wrests its way from her throat at the thought.
A vampire. She's dating a vampire.
But do I want to be?
Her smile fades as the implications hit home. If he is a vampire, then by definition he feeds on blood. If he feeds on blood, then by definition someone or something must die every time he is hungry. What if she is that something? What if she is food?
She considers the notion and ends up dismissing it with a shake of her head. If he only wanted her for food then why didn't he simply kill her that first night in the clearing, when she was alone and already trusted him so completely? He's had plenty of opportunities to harm her over the past month and he hasn't taken a single one of them. Besides, no killer informs his victim of that fact. Why would he tell her the truth?
Maybe he truly does only want her company. Maybe he has grown lonely over the years.
The years…that is another thing. She'll have to bring that up at some point. She will not date an old man, no matter how beautiful he appears.
She thinks about things for hours, uninterrupted. By the time the sun rises and she still hasn't slept, she has made her decision.
He is in the clearing, exactly where she left him, dark eyes fixed on the rippling water. He doesn't look up when she approaches.
"You ran away," he murmurs as she sits.
"Can you blame me?" she has to ask. He says nothing in response and she sighs.
"I have two questions for you."
He glances sideways, something like hope written in his expression. She bites her lip.
"Do you kill people to feed?"
His eyes darken, making her heart stop. It starts up again when he shakes his head. "No. I don't need too much to get by. I take what little I need and move on. It doesn't kill them; just leaves them with something like a hangover the next morning."
Thank God, she thinks. She can breathe a sigh of relief for that, at least. Relaxing slightly, she asks her second question.
"How old are you? Technically, I mean."
He blinks, then smiles a slow smile. "Around thirty. I wasn't turned all that long ago."
Thirty. Nearly twice her age, but odder couples have existed.
"Does…" He clears his throat. "Does this mean you will stay with me?"
Her heart is pounding. Somewhere in the back of her mind she notes that he can probably hear it.
It doesn't matter. She leans over to kiss him—her answer—and pushes the thought away.
Bizarrely, not much changes. They still go to school and hold hands and go on dates and everything else, the same as they always did. The only thing that's changed is the nature of his quick little grins in the hallways—they are now unusually mischievous, as if the two of them share some deep secret.
Which, she supposes, they do.
Meanwhile, other things have changed around them. Her social standing, for example, has received a ridiculous boost simply because she is now the girlfriend of the most desirable boy in school. People who once coughed insults behind her back or pretended not to see her hesitant little waves now smile openly and usher her to better lunch seats. She never accepts, of course—she's not stupid enough to think that these people actually like her—but it's still quite the adjustment.
Then there is the matter of her friends. She feels herself pulling away from them, bit by bit. She hates it, but what can she do? It seems that all her free time is now occupied by him, and nothing she tries can change it. (Perhaps it's that she is not trying very hard.) Her friends are confused, then irritated, and she fears it is only a matter of time before they close her out completely.
Her family doesn't seem to notice that she is acting oddly, or they are pretending she isn't, and don't bring it up.
He says "I love you" on their four-month anniversary. She is so high in the clouds that she completely fails a Biology exam the next day due to an inability to focus.
He is beginning to occupy her every waking thought and she isn't even sure that she minds.
"I've been thinking," he murmurs, fingers tangled in her hair.
She smiles at him, feeling somewhat dazed. It is a happy feeling. They've been together a year and things are as perfect as they can be. "About what?"
"Don't take this the wrong way, but…" He hesitates. It's uncharacteristic of him and hot worry pools in her stomach.
"Cathy, you won't be around forever."
Her smile slips away to be replaced by a deep frown. "Of course I won't. I'm only human." It's something else she has been trying not to think about ever since he told her his secret.
"That is exactly it." He straightens up and takes her hand. She doesn't even register the coldness of his touch anymore. It's gotten to a point where she feels as if everyone else who touches her is running a fever. "Cathy, I've been thinking."
Twice. That's twice he has said her name in one brief conversation. This, too, worries her.
"You said that already," she points out, forcibly nonchalant.
"Right. Of course." His fingers tighten around hers. He's nervous. "I wanted to ask you something."
"You know I love you." She blushes. "And I promise I will always love you. But you are human, and eventually we will have to face the consequences of that."
She stiffens, not liking the implication. She can't help what she is.
"I'm not blaming you for anything," he says quickly, seeing her reaction. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. But—" He cuts himself off with a frustrated growl. "I'll just cut to the chase, I think. What I wanted to know was—Cathy, may I turn you?"
It's the overly polite way he says it, more than anything else, that forces the vaguely horrified laugh from her. He winces at the sound.
"Turn me?" she manages. "Make me…like you?"
"Yes," she echoes. "That's all you're going to say?"
"What would you like me to say?" he asks, confused.
She stands and begins to pace the length of her room, hands pulling at each other in her agitation. "I can't," she says wildly. "I'm going to college next year. I'm going to do something with my life. I want to keep growing. And what about my family? And I'm going to want kids eventually, I think, and I want—I like real food."
He laughs a little bit, sobering when she glares. "I'm sorry," he tries, but is overrun by her firm "I can't. I'm sorry, and I do love you, but I just…can't."
His face falls. "I thought you were the one," he says softly.
Ice solidifies somewhere inside her. "Are you going to break up with me because I don't want to suck blood for the rest of time?" she snaps.
"No! No, I—of course not. How could you think that?"
He looks genuinely hurt, and she feels guilty for losing her cool.
"Eli, I am sorry," she repeats.
He stands up and heads for the window, not looking at her. "It's all right. But I think I should go."
She nods, trying to ignore the grim feeling that something has broken between them. "Will you come back?" she can't stop herself from asking.
He does look at her then, with some of the warmth back in his eyes. "Of course. You'll come around eventually."
To her, it sounds like a promise. Some worried little part of her mind notes that to an outsider, it may have sounded like a threat.
Her history teacher is one of the odder ducks in the school. This week he has assigned them a paper on serial killers of the 1800s.
And here she had wanted to escape thoughts of blood for a little while.
He made his proposal nearly a week ago, and she hasn't been able to stop thinking about it since. Her mind keeps her up late at night with treacherous thoughts. Like: How bad would it be to live forever, eternally young and beautiful? How terrible would that be, really? And: It wouldn't make me a monster. He said he only takes a little.
She knows she's moving dangerously close to the edge of something irreversible and has been trying to fend off such thoughts for days. But they continue to haunt her, especially because he isn't helping. He acts as if nothing has changed. He isn't angry with her, bitter that she does not want an eternity with him. He is as kind and gracious as always, and she finds herself irritated with him for it.
Do something to make me angry with you! she pleads silently. Do something to remind me that love can't possibly last forever.
But he is not respecting her wishes, however vehement they are. She is loathe to admit it, but he is practically a part of her now. It sounds sick, and in some ways it probably is, but she knows she will not be able to leave him.
She knows that if nothing changes, she will say yes.
A happy eternity should not terrify her like this, but it does, and she has no idea what to do about it.
It is two AM and, as her insomniac tendencies would have it, she is still very much awake. Awake and aiming to distract herself by working on her history paper. Writing papers at ungodly hours is, she knows, a generally bad idea, but at this point she scarcely cares that the essay may not even be legible in the morning. Any diversion will do.
Finding a well-known serial killer from the nineteenth century is a surprisingly difficult task. It's not that there weren't any, but more that there are few such people with substantial backgrounds that she can find. She knows that most of her classmates will be researching Jack the Ripper if only for the lack of any good alternatives, and at this point she has a feeling she might end up joining them.
But then she finds something. An incident that occurred in 1849 and has popped up in several old newspaper articles. Interested, she clicks on one such article and reads through it. Then another, and another.
The first article documents the beginnings of a horrible case. Young girls vanishing one at a time, petite green-eyed things all. First from one town, then another. A few of the girls were never found. The others usually turned up within a few days, bodies mutilated and eyes ripped out.
She winces at the image, glad there are no photographs to go along with the grisly story.
The second article is much the same. Within a few years more than two dozen girls had gone missing and/or been murdered. The authorities were left scratching their heads—there were never any forced entries, and the amount of time that went between killings seemed almost entirely random. Nothing mentions the fate of the missing girls.
The third article, however, is from the beginning of 1850 and has a headline that boldly proclaims "Notorious Murderer Finally Captured." She flies through the story. Apparently the killer was discovered one night in the town next to that of the most recent victims. He was spending time with the mayor's daughter at that point; for whatever reason the girl panicked and went to the lawmen. They managed to catch him as he prepared to leave town.
She leans back in her chair and is marveling at that long-ago girl's courage when something catches her eye. A fourth article attached to the third. Wondering if it documents an execution, she clicks on the link and reads.
"Murderer Escapes!" the headline blares.
Her eyebrows arch upward.
There are few details; all she can glean is that the killer was in custody one moment and the next he was gone, leaving behind three dead security guards. The article concludes with a description of the man in question and a plea for anyone with information to step forward.
There is a name this time—Elijah Carter—and a photograph. She scrolls down apprehensively, wondering what the eyes of a homicidal psychopath look like.
She finds herself looking at a picture of an impossibly beautiful young man with long black hair and a thin, white-toothed smile. Like the edge of a razor. Like the grin of a lunatic.
A lunatic with intense, knowing dark eyes.
A lunatic who is all too painfully familiar.
She bolts to the bathroom as her dinner comes back up. When she's emptied her stomach, she leans her head against the porcelain and sobs dry, hacking sobs.
What a flawless actor he is.
She doesn't sleep that night, of course. How could she possibly? She spends the twilight hours typing away feverishly at her computer, putting together the puzzle pieces like she did the night he told her the truth. Or rather, what she believed to be the truth.
What she finds is enough to make her heave again.
The next city over has been abuzz with the news, although it hasn't reached a national audience yet. She wishes with all of her being that she paid more attention to the papers. Not even a five-hour drive away, girls have been murdered. For over a year now. Vanishing and then turning up days later with missing eyes and horrific wounds.
He lied to her. He was always lying to her. She chokes on more tears as she remembers the hope she had for them. His sweet, innocent, tortured-soul act had been exactly that: an act. But she had fallen for it and fallen hard.
She had been considering saying yes. Staying with him for an eternity of love and happiness.
The thought now makes her want to scream until her throat bleeds.
What is she going to do? Go to the police, she thinks first.
With what evidence? her panicking mind demands. What are you going to tell them? That your boyfriend is an immortal serial killer from the 1800s?
It sounds insane even when she knows it to be true. She would be locked up in a mental institution for the insinuation alone. And no one will back her up anyway. Her entire school loves Eli. Her family has even gotten used to him. She doubts they would ever believe her.
What has she gotten herself into?
And a better question: Can she get herself out?
She goes to school in the morning exhausted and terrified. She fails to mark an answer to any one of her tests. Her grade average is going to plummet. She doesn't care.
She misses choir practice for the first time in years. Her old friends, the ones she never really sees or speaks to anymore (all for Eli, and isn't that a terrible thought), eye her worriedly. She doesn't notice. She has far bigger things to be worrying about.
Somehow she manages to avoid him the entire school day. When fourth period rolls around and she sees him coming towards her she panics, runs for the nurse's office and lies through her teeth about a cold. The nurse believes her, maybe because she looks so haggard and her every step sways faintly, and she is allowed to go home.
She doesn't go home. She goes to their special place in the clearing, curls up beside the familiar stream and waits. He'll come. She knows he will. She knows him.
At least, she thought she did.
Habits, however, do not lie. He is there the minute school lets out, kneeling beside her and asking with such real concern if she is feeling well.
His eyes are shining with sincerity. If she hadn't seen the photograph she would never be able to believe that he could be a monster.
As it stands, she locks her jaw in place and meets his gaze levelly.
"What's your name?" she asks, fake-casual. "I mean, is Eli short for anything."
"Yes," he answers, seemingly confused by the question. "Elijah."
"Oh. Is that so?" Her heart is pounding. She is more scared now than she ever has been of anything before. What is she doing? Why is she allowing herself to be alone with a murderous madman?
"It is," he replies, still politely perplexed. His hand reaches over to brush some hair off her cheek, another habit; she fights with every fiber of her being not to jerk away in disgust.
"You have such beautiful eyes," he says quietly.
Bile rises in her throat. He's used the same compliment many times before over the past year, and it always made her blush. (He probably liked that, she thinks; all that delicious blood flowing to her face at his every word.) Now, knowing what she does, it takes on a despicable new meaning.
"You said this place was special to you," she says lightly, swallowing down the urge to be sick. "You said that you hadn't taken anyone here in a long time. Who was the last person you took?"
She thinks she spots something in the depths of his expression, like something closing off and hardening. It's gone in the time it takes her to blink.
"Her name was Grace," he says eventually. "And I loved her. Not like I love you," he adds, too quickly, "but still. She hurt me very badly and I never saw her again. That was a long time ago."
He looks away and sighs, the very picture of a wounded soul. Her hand tightens into a fist.
"Why are you asking these things all of a sudden?" he asks, turning to face her again. "Is there something wrong? If this is about me turning you, I truly didn't mean to imply that-"
She can't take it anymore. One more second of this hideously forced innocence and she'll crack.
"Carter." She spits the surname in his face, like a curse.
His eyes widen briefly before settling back into their normal state. "I am not sure what you-"
"Don't," she snaps. "Don't you dare give me that. You lied to me. Thirty? Bullshit." She laughs harshly, feeling somewhat unhinged. "You're an old man. A murderous, sick, disgusting old man. Was Grace special too? Did you make her feel good like you did me? Did she love you like I did?"
There are tears now, blurring her vision so that at first she cannot see his reaction. She likes to think that he is stunned, completely shocked that one of his chosen sheep could call him out like this. At the very least, her last action on this earth will be a brave one.
Or a foolish one. No one ever knows the difference anyway.
"You've hurt me, Cathy," he says in a very quiet tone. "I thought you were the one."
"Oh, God," she groans, standing now and fed up. The anger is shoving aside her fear, and she wants to keep it that way. "Enough already with this 'the one' crap. What does that even mean?"
He looks up at her with eyes so full of hurt she almost feels terrible, before she catches herself.
"For many, many years," he tells her, "I have searched for a soulmate. Someone to love me and be loved for all of eternity. So that I do not have to walk this earth forever…alone." He sighs. "I have always been partial to girls with green eyes. They are beautiful to me. So I tried in the old days. Girl after girl. Getting close to them, gaining their trust and their love…it took time, but I was willing to wait. To be patient.
"In the meantime, of course, I still needed blood. I would feed off of other girls from the next town over, so as not to draw too much attention to myself, and when the time was right I would make my offer."
"To turn them," she says numbly, recalling his protests that murder wasn't necessary for vampires. Another lie, or does he simply enjoy the killing?
He nods. "Yes. Many refused. In fact, most of them did. They were attracted to my…abnormal countenance, but there was a limit to how far most of them were willing to go. It was a time of deep religious paranoia, as I am sure you know, and the poor sweet things feared for their immortal souls."
"So you killed them." Her voice is flat.
"Unfortunately," he says with a tinge of regret. "It could not be helped. They would have all turned on me in the end, like my darling Grace did. She was my one mistake—I knew she suspected me, and yet I could not bring myself to do what needed to be done." The corner of his mouth quirks up. It is not so charming anymore. "I took care of that after I escaped prison, of course. Hell hath no fury like a vampire scorned."
"Dear God," she croaks. "And—and the eyes? Was there a reason for that?"
"Not particularly." He smiles a full smile now, displaying every one of those suddenly threatening teeth. "As I told you before, I am so partial to pretty green eyes. It seemed a pity to waste them."
Her knees give out. She sinks to the forest floor, trembling violently, all bravado gone. "Do it then," she whispers. "Make it fast. If you ever felt anything at all for me, make it fast."
Tears are coming again and she can't stop them. He is at her side immediately, wiping them away with infinite care.
"Shh, Cathy, why would you say that? I could never kill you. When I said you were the one, I meant it. I can see that you are confused now, but in time perhaps-"
Perhaps she could come to accept a killer? It's the worst insult she has ever heard, and fury makes her brave again.
"Go to hell," she chokes out, and slaps him across the face.
He looks at her with something akin to wonder before returning the favor.
She blacks out and is thankful for it.
She awakens in a dank, cold place. It's too dark for her to make out any details. Her arms and legs are in shackles, old and rusty enough that they rub her wrists raw when she struggles; she is apparently chained to a wall. In someone's basement, more likely than not.
It's so cliché she would laugh if it were a movie scene. But this is not a horror movie; merely her life, which has grown terrifyingly similar to one, and she does not even consider laughing.
Chills race down her spine as the voice registers.
"Eli," she croaks, "what are you doing? Where am I?"
"Quiet, love," he says gently. Breath ghosts against her neck. He's so close she can feel the chill coming off his skin.
She struggles once more against the chains with no luck. "What are you doing?" she demands again, surprised her vocal chords still work considering everything.
"I'm doing you a favor," he tells her, sincere as always, and strokes her face. She does jerk away this time, and pulls a muscle in her neck for the trouble.
In the darkness she can barely make out the image of him shaking his head. "Another upside to being a vampire is that you don't have to worry about such insignificant injuries. Once you have learned to control your strength, you will truly be a force to be reckoned with."
It is then that she realizes what he plans to do, and her brain freezes.
"No." She begins to babble. "Nonononono, just kill me. Just kill me."
"It is…not fun, at first," he continues, ignoring her. "The bloodlust is worst in the beginning. You will probably kill a handful before you learn to calm yourself around humans. Of course, you might turn out like me and take pleasure in the killing for its own sake."
She is begging and panicking and he chuckles, a dry, shuddering sound. "But even if you aren't, rest assured I will love you the same. No matter what you do or do not do, I will love you forever. I promised you that long ago, do you remember?"
Right now she is trying valiantly not to think about anything at all.
"I may play with a few over the years," he says, "but now that I have found my soulmate I will never love another again. I expect nothing from you except for the same courtesy."
"I will never love you," she grinds out. "I will never love you." It rises to a yell that echoes against stone walls. "You're a monster and I hate you! I'll hate you until the day I die!"
He sighs. "'Until the day you die'?" he repeats. "My love, you forget that you never will."
There's no time to prepare or plead or even to scream before the points of two sharp white teeth press through her skin and into her blood. From that very first moment she can feel the wrongness of it, the way her heart pounds through her chest, the changing.
She is changing and there is nothing she can do about it.
In the distance, over the sound of her blood pounding horribly in her ears, she can hear him speaking.
"You will come around, Cathy. In time, I promise you, you will come around."
She does scream then, until her throat tears itself open and bleeds like she once imagined. She screams until her voice has worn itself out, and even then she continues to scream silently, mouth open in a wordless O.
She screams until the morning comes and there is no longer anything left of Cathy.
Something new has stolen her place.