But of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,
Thou shalt not eat of it:
For the day that thou eatest thereof
Thou shalt surely die.
Genesis 2:17


"For the third time, Jenna, I can't go," I insisted, shoving my Statistics book into my locker. Normally, undergrads didn't get lockers since they were mostly reserved for upperclassmen in the grad program, but because I was a Pre-Med student, they made an exception. Good thing too, because I had enough books to build a fortress around the campus. Four times.

"Yeah, okay, but you haven't given me a reason why yet," Jenna, my best friend, said, glaring at me.

"You know how my parents are," I muttered, grabbing my Organic Chemistry book before shutting the door. The noise had my head rattling, making me sigh again.

I was going to have to feed tonight.

It wasn't that bad, though. It had been two months since the last time I had fed—a new personal record—which was almost three times as much as the twins could go, making it a definite win. It was just exhausting, feeding on humans when I was half-human. Because I refused to drink most humans dry, it took longer for me to get enough blood to satisfy me, which sucked—pun not intended. Occasionally, I made exceptions, of course. I had been alive for over two hundred years now, and while it was considered wrong by human standards to kill criminals, I found that it worked best all things considered.

Besides, unlike the human judicial system, I made sure the humans I bled dry were guilty without a doubt—another thing that took time.

Jenna rolled her eyes and gave me one of her signature looks, pulling me from my thoughts. "It's a trip to Venice for God's sake, Aryn! A spring break, all-expense-paid trip to Italy. You're 19 already. How long are you going to let them ruin your life?"

I sighed again. This time, it was because I didn't like lying to Jen, though. "Just give up, okay? Venice would be great, especially with you there, but as long as my parents are paying my tuition for school, I'm going to listen to them."

"Fine," Jenna grumbled. "I can't believe canoe rides with my best friend and hot Italian boys is too much to ask for!"

"They're not canoes, my dear, they're gondolas," I corrected, chuckling. "Go with Ellie if you want someone to ogle at guys with. I'm sure she'd love spending time with you."

Jenna cringed at the thought of our semi-stalker friend, Elaina Jennings. "It's not the same, and you know it. Besides, Ellie mainly likes you, which only proves my point more."

"And what point's that?"

"You should come!"

Another sigh. "I'm sorry, Jen."

"But the delicious Italian boys, Aryn. Delicious Italian boys!" she persisted.

I groaned, entertaining the idea of telling her exactly how 'delicious' the boys would be to me, but the thought alone had my canines elongating, mouth watering. I swallowed dryly and banished the thought as quickly as it came.

All of a sudden, I got a whiff of mutt, making my muscles tense. At the same time, Jenna whistled. "Speaking of delicious boys," Jenna whispered, biting her lip. "I swear he gets more attractive every time I see him."

It was my turn to roll my eyes. I didn't even have to look to know who Jenna was talking about. With his stench, it'd be impossible not to know.

Kyle Quinn, future alpha of the Quincy Pack.

"Honestly, Jenna, you could do so much better than him," I said.

Jenna gave me another look. "Oh, shut up. Even you can't deny how attractive he is, whether you hate him or not."

I gave the mutt a quick look-over—partly to humor Jenna, mostly to make him angry—and noted that he was wearing his soccer jersey with a pair of faded jeans. Generic, all things considered, just like his smell: dirt and gravel. Boring. "I've seen better."

Jenna rolled her eyes. "I'd like to know where because it doesn't get much better than him around here," she said. "Of course, Venice would have better."

I shook my head and ignored her. Since Kyle's awful stench brought me back to my senses—even the headache from being so thirsty was gone now—I decided to give him a pass and not anger him more, choosing instead to head into the bathroom without looking at him again.

It smelled like Clorox Bleach, sodium chloride and sodium carbonate making me wrinkle my nose. I accepted it, though, because the alternative was the smell of rot, and that was never my favorite.

Jenna, of course, followed me in, going straight to the mirror to play with her makeup. She didn't have much on—a quick sweep of eyeshadow a shade or two darker than her skin tone, a line of eyeliner around her eyes, and some lip gloss that didn't even tint her lips, only made them shiny—but that didn't stop her from checking it after every class.

"Want some?" she asked, holding the lip gloss out to me

As much as makeup fascinated me—some people did their makeup like it was an art, and it was incredible—I didn't like wearing lip gloss because it felt heavy and waxy on my lips. Besides, as a vampire, even as a half vampire, I had heightened senses, meaning that I'd feel every shift of the makeup on my skin as the day dragged on, not something I wanted to deal with right now.

Jenna shrugged, going back to playing with her eyelashes, and I stared at our reflections, thinking.

Unlike Jenna, who had dark skin, dark hair, and beautifully shaped almond eyes, I had naturally purple hair and big, light blue eyes—traits I had inherited from my grandmother. It was funny, in a way, that I, a half-breed, was the only one of the grandkids to show any signs of the Imperial Gene—a gene passed down to the women in the Kross Family that showed they were the original Sovereigns. There was more to the gene than just abnormal hair and eye color, but Grandma had yet to tell me what it was.

Jenna finished up, using a paper towel to get rid of the excess lip gloss, and turned to me. "Ready to go."

I rolled my eyes playfully. "Only took you ten years."

Jenna swatted at me. "Whatever. Just go."

I snickered but did as I was told, opening the door and slipping into the hallway.

They still had plenty of time before our next class, so we walked slowly.

"As I was saying," Jenna said, breaking the silence, "Venice is a big place. Plenty of guys that're better than our star soccer player."

I groaned. "Drop it, Jen. I'm not going."

"Aryn~" Jenna whined.

I picked up my pace, choosing to ignore her, and stepped into the room.

"Good morning, Ms. Kross," Professor Shortcake greeted, sending me a wrinkled smile. Technically, his real name wasn't Shortcake—it was actually Barnett or something—but because he was so short, towering a whopping 4' 10", with strawberry-blond hair, everyone called him 'Strawberry Shortcake,' or 'Shortcake' for short.

Today, as if emphasizing just how short he really was, he was wearing khaki pants he had to keep rolled up at the bottom, with a brown sweater vest over a long-sleeve button-up. His shoes were polished and shining, overcompensating for the lack of hair on the top of his head.

I returned his smile half-heartedly, not in the mood, before taking my seat at the front table.

"Hear me out, Aryn," Jenna continued as soon as she got into the room, ignoring Professor Shortcake's greeting. "Just tell your parents that, as a place of a completely different culture, Venice would help broaden our minds."

I sighed for the umpteenth time and continued ignoring her, laying my head on the black tabletop.

The truth of the matter was that, while my parents really wouldn't want me to go to Venice, it wasn't because they were worried I'd be too busy having fun. On the contrary, the main reason I couldn't was because of the other Sovereigns.

The Sovereigns were the three most powerful vampire clans in the world. My family, the Kross Family, was one of them, placed here in the States; the Huang Family was somewhere in China, hiding near Beijing; and the Duarte Family were in Italy, smack-dab in the middle of Venice. As part of an old treaty, if one Sovereign wanted to go into another's territory, not only did they have to get extensive permission from the owner of the territory, but they also had to stay with the residing Sovereigns during their stay. It was to keep visiting Sovereigns from trying to sabotage any of the others, which made sense, but none of the other Sovereigns even knew I existed. Half-humans were considered dangerously powerful since they seemed to have all of the benefits of vampires with none of their weaknesses. I didn't understand why they thought that way, though, since I wasn't nearly as strong as my older brother and sister. I could snap steel in half, break apart concrete, but Vulcan could do that in his sleep. At any rate, whether it was true or not didn't matter, what mattered was that if I was going to be introduced to the other Sovereigns, it'd have to be with at least one of the twins.

And Vulcan or Ceres on a human trip was a horrible idea.

The headache was coming back.

A sudden whiff of wet dog caused me to lift my head up, however, just in time to see Kyle take his seat at the table next to me, talking to another mutt.

How humans could find these dogs to be so much more attractive than other guys at Arlen University had always been lost to me. Everything about Kyle Quinn was generic: the dark brown hair, the tanned skin, the brown eyes, even the definition on his arms and shoulders was something all werewolves had—the only reason he looked more defined than the rest was because he was the next in line to be alpha, which, given the number of werewolves in the States, was another thing that was a dime a dozen.

He really wasn't anything impressive at all.

"What are you looking at?" Kyle demanded in a growl, pulling me from my scrutinizing.

I rolled my eyes. Here I was, trying not to start a fight. "You should work on that stench of yours," I said conversationally. "It's making my eyes water."

He glared at me. "Coming from a leech."

I whistled. "Wow, mutt, that must have hurt, coming up with such an original insult. Don't waste the little brain power you have on me, though. We still have Organic Chem to get through."

"You better watch your mouth, Parasite," the guy sitting beside Kyle grit out.

"Be careful, puppy." I snickered. "If you lose your temper here, I might make an exception and put a collar around your neck."

Anger lit up in Kyle's eyes, the color shifting from brown to more auburn. I watched with mock interest as he slammed his fist on the table. If he hadn't held back, I was sure the table would've splintered into pieces.

"Aryn! Kyle! That's enough!" Professor Shortcake yelled, standing in between us. "I want to see both of you after class!"

Kyle relaxed, the smell of adrenaline dying down as he plopped back into his chair angrily, and sent me a hidden glare before turning to the professor.

I ignored him and laid my head back down on the table, waiting for class to be over.

By the time Professor Shortcake finally ended class, I was half-asleep.

Jenna nudged me, pulling me from my daze, and stood up. "Good luck," she whispered. "I'll wait for you outside the room."

I waved her off, completely forgetting for a minute that I had to stay to talk to Professor Shortcake, and shoved my books into my bag before heading up to his desk.

"You wanted to see us?" I said politely enough, wanting to get this over with.

Kyle snorted, and I glared at him. He returned it with an innocent shrug.

"Actually, Ms. Kross, it's about Science Day that's coming up next month. I've noticed that neither of you have turned in a proposal for an idea yet."

"We still have until Friday," I said slowly. I didn't like where this was going for some reason. "Why?"

"Because, I've decided to choose what you're going to do," he said matter-of-factly, "and who're going to do it with."

I raised an eyebrow. "Then, why do you need…" I pointed to the mutt, voice fading.


He nodded once. "Exactly."

Kyle tilted his head. "Exactly what?"

Professor Shortcake turned to Kyle with a determined expression. "You and Aryn are going to partner up for Science Day."

"With her?" he asked incredulously. "You've got to be kidding me, Professor Shortcake."

"This isn't exactly a walk in the park for me either, dumb dog," I snapped, crossing my arms. I could feel the headache worsening. "You're not exactly my first pick."

He snorted. "At least I'm better than a cold-blooded leech."

"Do you wanna take this outside, mutt?" I hissed.

"Cut it out!" Professor Shortcake barked. "This is exactly why it'll be good for both of you. You two are always arguing, and I think some much-needed bonding time will help. And what better reason to force you two together than a project that's worth two-thirds of your grades?" he said smugly, like he planned this. If I had been any other vampire, I would've drank him dry for that look alone.

"But, Professor Shortcake, we—"

"No 'buts,' Mr. Quinn. I expect a project proposal by Monday next week, and an elaborate plan by the Wednesday after," he said. "You both may leave now."

I stalked out of the room, meeting an excited Jenna. "What?" I snapped at her annoyingly happy expression.

Before Jenna could answer, dog-boy interrupted. "Be at my house tomorrow by six. No exceptions."

I scoffed. "Why your house?"

"Because unlike a family of parasites, my family with at least try to be civil," he retorted.

"That explains why they're a dying species," I muttered coldly, just loud enough for him to hear.

"Whatever," he growled, refusing to give into my taunt. "Six. Tomorrow. Don't be late."

I hissed under her breath, seething, and turned to Jen, who was grinning like an idiot.

"You and Kyle!" she cheered. "That's awesome!"

"Yeah, if being stuck in the same room as a temperamental mongrel is awesome," I grumbled.

Jenna didn't let that phase her, gushing about how this was the chance for me to spend some time with Kyle, maybe I'll grow to like him, and I rubbed my temples, trying to ease the pounding.

I was going to kill myself before Science Day came. I could already tell.

Blah Blah Blah:
So, I've been editing this story for the past few days because I think it has potential, but I wanted to know what all of you think: should I do the whole thing in third person, or do you like it as it is? I was thinking of changing it completely to third, but it felt wrong, so I went back to first person when we were in Ryn's PoV... Let me know, okay?(: