In the few weeks that followed, Jace and I fell into a routine. After I had recovered from the incident with my parents, Jace had started going back to school like normal. He would leave in the morning when I was asleep, and I would wake up to him doing homework on the couch. Usually, he stayed awake until one AM or later, and we would talk, watch TV, or play board games.

We never talked much about each other. Jace never mentioned my parents or what happened that night. I never asked about his parents or the girl in the photo in the attic, who I had pretty much decided had to be Jace's sister. Our relationship was on a strictly need-to-know basis.

There was an ever present tension in the house, even if we chose to ignore it. My bloodlust was growing stronger every day, and I had had several more incidents where I almost bit Jace. I would start shaking, and my mind would go wild. Each time, he stopped me, and he had started pinching my neck every day or two as a precaution. Neither one of us wanted to say it, but we both knew that I wasn't going to get over the blood anytime soon.

Late one Saturday night, Jace was asleep upstairs. I could hear his steady breathing and the slow, resting beat of his heart from the kitchen, where I was washing dishes. To try and make up for all that Jace did for me, I washed the dishes and cleaned when he was asleep. It was the least that I could do, and I didn't really mind. Now, feeling the warm water wash over my hands in the dark stillness was actually relaxing.

I finished the dishes quickly, because it was just the two of us living in the house, and I didn't really eat. I looked up at the greenish-yellow number on the microwave. It was five AM. The sun would be up soon, but not soon enough. These nights always dragged on like years, and with just me, I got extremely bored. For a lack of anything better to do, I decided to explore.

Even though the house wasn't that big, there were rooms I had never been in. Jace had the master bedroom, and I had been in there plenty, to bring Jace breakfast or just to hang out. I stayed in the guest room, but there was another bedroom towards the end of the hall that I had never even opened the door to.

My plan had been not to pry into Jace's past. I swore that a long time ago. But curiosity blinds reason.

Peeking into the small bedroom, I quickly came to the conclusion that it was Jace's sister's room. It had to be. Who, other than a teenage girl, would have aqua blue walls and a zebra bedspread? One small window, similar to the one in my room, gently illuminated the furniture with the artificial, sickly glow of early morning streetlights.

Her desk was like mine used to be- a mess. I smiled nostalgically at the piles of books laid horizontally across books arranged vertically. Random knick knacks cluttered every spare bit of shelf space, and in the center, framed by towering heaps of binders, CD's and sketches, was a tiny bit of writing room for homework.

On the girl's dresser were some picture frames. Mentally kicking myself for my lack of conviction to mind my own business, I examined them. She really did look just like Jace, with deep brown eyes and dirty blonde hair. Every picture was of her with friends or family, having a great time. Her tenth birthday party, at the Denver Zoo. What looked like a Christmas card photo, with the whole family in matching sweaters and posed by a tree. Hiking with her parents and Jace, who was about fourteen or fifteen at the time. This last frame was light pink, with a name painted in curly letters on the top. Stephanie.

Through the walls, I heard Jace starting to stir. As quickly and quietly as possible, I ran out of the room, closing the door behind me. I stopped downstairs, where I could see the large front window. It was that time of morning where it was the darkest, right before the sun came up. It was about time I went to sleep.

Before I went to bed, though, I needed to take out the trash. Subconsciously, I had taken it upon myself to keep the house clean and neat, and this was part of it.

With the big bag in hand, I walked outside into the crisp outdoors. I was dumping it into the large bin, when I noticed a man standing in the middle of the street.

I automatically braced myself for the smell of fresh blood by holding my breath and concentrating on maintaining control. Any time I was around anyone other than Jace, the freshness sent me almost over the top. I had worked on adjusting to new things every time we ordered pizza.

But the smell never came. Cautiously, I took one deep lungful, trying to figure out what was going on. I should have left and gone back inside, but it was the second time that night that curiosity got the best of me.

What I did smell was something entirely new. It smelled like blood, but like blood would smell to a human if they had better senses. Metallic and bitter, not honey sweet like Jace's. It wasn't unpleasant, but it wasn't intoxicating either.

It was definitely blood, but not human blood. That meant only one thing.

There was another vampire on our street.

He slowly turned around to face me, and with increasing horror I realized who it was. My heart skipped a beat, and I lifted my shaky hands up to my face to stifle the strangled scream coming from my mouth. I thought I had gotten over what had happened to me, but memories that strong can't just be forgotten. Lost in a whirlwind of pain and confusion, I dropped to my knees. This man was the one vampire who I had met before.

He was the vampire who had changed me.

When I looked up again, he wasn't in the street. I whirled around wildly to see him right behind me. Everything was the same as the night he changed me, although now I could see this horror story unfold in perfect clarity rather than a blinded blur. His stubbly, grimy face, which I now saw was covered with flecks of dried blood. His eyes, such a dark maroon that they looked like bits of gleaming obsidian implanted in his skull. His breath still smelled rancid and sour, although now I could tell that part of the scent was blood.

He grinned shrewdly, revealing stained teeth encrusted with black and red. "Hello. Mia, isn't it?" he stated, with such a soft, sickly smoothness that I had to suppress a shudder. I didn't answer him. Trying to appear strong in the face of the monster who ruined me, I attempted my best glare, but I imagine it came out more as a strangled grimace. He continued, "I believe we've met before."

"Cut out the shit, asshole," I spat, glowering from the pavement where I was still sitting. He quickly yanked me up by my hair and held me there, so that I couldn't possibly look away from those black eyes, those abysses of death, even if I wanted to.

"Now that wasn't very nice. It seems like you need to learn some respect. Remember who has the power here. You may be a vampire, but you're still just a little girl!" He slapped me across the face. It would have hurt, but it paled in comparison to the feeling that I was growing accustomed to these days; the blood all over him was starting to painfully arouse my instincts, shooting daggers of adrenaline through my veins that burned there if not acted upon.

The vampire brought his hand to my face again and I flinched, expecting another blow. Instead, though, he gently caressed my neck, sliding his clammy fingers almost imperceptibly over the lumpy, white scar where he bit me.

"I really did do a good job on you, didn't I? A nice, clean bite," he whispered. "Nice" and "clean" were not the words I would have used to describe his damage. With a shaky breath, I recalled the torn, dangling flesh and blood crusted down my neck and onto my collarbone. Not to mention the fact that it left a giant, grotesque scar on my neck.

"I must thank you, though," he continued. "Your blood was delectable. Perfect really. Sweet, but with those bitter notes that make for a really memorable feed. And that wasn't even the best part. The way you struggled made it all that more enjoyable."

"You're disgusting," I stated flatly.

"You can deny your urges, but we both now they're still there. You know what it's like. When you're on the hunt or about to feed, we take pleasure in the suffering of our prey. We are predators, and our instincts make that impossible to forget. Each squirm sends shudders of pleasure through you. Every moan makes the blood taste so much sweeter. And if you are lucky enough to get a scream…" He closed his eyes briefly. "It's an orgasm of pure bliss."

I can't listen to him. No. No. No.

But wouldn't it be great just to try some?

No.

"What do you want from me? You've already ruined my life for a fucking meal, you bastard! What else is there?" I pleaded, desperation lacing my voice. Thankfully, I wasn't hit again for my language. The vampire looked me over for a second, searching for something.

"No. You're not ready yet," he mumbled.

"Ready?"

"Don't worry, darling. I have a feeling it won't be too long now."

"What? I… I don't…" I shook my head.

"You really don't get it, do you?" I stared at him blankly. "You've never tasted human blood. I don't know how, but you're completely clean of blood. Do you know what that means?" Another blank stare. "It means you're technically still in transition. Not a full vampire yet. You think you're doing so great, abstaining and all that, but it's nothing. Just one drop is all it takes, and blood becomes all you can think about. That's when the true beast comes out."

There was silence for a few moments, and all that could be heard was the flickering of the streetlight at the other end of the road. "Oh."

"But how have you stayed pure this long?" He smiled wickedly, and I knew he was about to bring up the one person I had wanted him to stay away from. "It's the boy, isn't it?" I blushed and looked away. "It is! How… touching. Young love."

"It's not like that. Jace is just… a friend."

"A friend who gives up his house, time, money, and risks his life to take care of you?"

"Yes!" I shouted angrily.

"More than a friend judging by your tone."

What exactly was Jace to me? We started out as friends, but he was so sweet, and I loved the way his eyes lit up whenever he saw me. Maybe it was the start of something? Either way, I couldn't let this man get to me.

"No. Just a friend. I didn't even really know him before all of this." I tried to sound nonchalant.

"If I eliminate him, I think you'll finally embrace yourself. How does that sound to you?" he asked.

"Leave him out of this. Whatever you want with me, he has nothing to do with it. Just don't hurt him. Please-" He brusquely threw me onto the ground.

"If you love him so much, all you have to do is bite him. He'll be a part of you forever after that." Seeing my horrified expression, he rolled his eyes. "God. Girls. He'll be fine. It's you I'm interested in. Go home, but don't tell anyone about this meeting. Especially not "Pretty Boy" Do you understand?" I nodded frantically, eager to get away from this man. "No one! By the way, my name's Russ. Don't forget it."

I scrambled up and sprinted inside, glancing over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't being followed. As I ran, I heard the vampire's eerie voice yelling a final message to me before he vanished into the night.

I slammed the door behind me. Leaning back against the door, I broke down. I hyperventilated erratically and fat tears rolled out of the corners of my eyes.

Why did this all happen to me? How much longer was I going to be plagued by the shadows of my past? The shadows of the present were dark enough without old problems getting in the way.

After a minute, Jace came down the stairs in his pajamas and ran straight to me. "Mia, what's wrong? What happened?" I just shook my head, looking somberly at the floor.

I wish I could tell you.

"Mia, I can help, just-"

"You can't help! I was just… something just startled me." I tilted my head up to look him in the eyes, but instead of seeing those rich brown orbs, my attention snapped straight to his neck.

And just like that, the vampire was in control.

"No, don't. Control yourself," Jace said, but I was hearing it through muffled ears. I was fixated on the constant lub-dub beat of his heart.

With every muscle in my body tense and pumping full of boiling hot power, I pushed myself onto him. He stepped back, directing me toward a couch in the living room, and with me still pressed against him, he laid back on it. I was now crouched on top of him, every part of my body stiff as a rod and hard as a brick.

The man's words were now in the front of my mind. We are predators.

Now, I recognized all the feelings I was having. When Jace fidgeted just slightly beneath me, I reveled in the ecstasy. It was glorious. I needed him. I wanted to stab my teeth into his skin and hear him gasp in pain. I needed his screams and futile struggles. I would drain him as fast as possible, before my chance was gone. No one else would ever get a sip of my prize, because there would be nothing left when I was done.

I was just starting to lean in for the bite when Jace pinched my neck and I slowly regained consciousness, becoming myself again. It was beyond the point of shame; I had been living with that for weeks. Now it was just exhausting. I melted weakly into Jace's warm body and just laid there, crying slowly. He wrapped his arms around me and just let me cry. He didn't try to figure out what had happened.

All the while, my mind replayed again and again the events that had transpired. Everything Russ had said about me and blood. More than anything else, though, his very last sentence, yelled as I was running away, echoed throughout my brain, bouncing around endlessly in my skull and consuming my thoughts.

"I will be back to claim what's mine."


Here's the chapter! I finished typing it at almost midnight, so please excuse any typing errors. I did try, I promise.

So what do you think? Pretty intense, right? I hope so. Let me know, because I would love your feedback. Tell me what you liked and didn't like, what you think will happen, what you want to happen, etc. Please?

Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Sam