Chapter One

There was blood chocking him, the copper smell of it filling his nose. Ryan struggled to remain conscious even as his legs gave out beneath him, sending him crashing to the cold, snow covered ground. One hand clutching the gaping wound at his throat, the other pushing frantically at the ground to lift himself, but his strength seeped out with the crimson spurts staining the snow. He collapsed weakly into the icy depths, eyes closing despite his efforts to fight it.

"Hey!" Cool hands clutched at his shoulders, rolling Ryan onto his back. His hand fell away from his throat, the blood spilling freely now. "Kid, open your eyes!" The urgent voice demanded Ryan's attention, but the darkness enveloping him was too comforting to resist. "Fight it! Open your eyes, now!"

His eyes flickered open, dimly focusing on the pale face hovering over his, the piercing sapphire eyes capturing his. "I need you to drink." Something warm dripped onto his lips. "Now." Ryan's lips parted and the warmth filled his mouth, trickling down his throat. He gagged, unable to swallow. Hands caught his face. "God, you're ripped apart."

His head was gently turned, baring the full damage of his throat. Warmth dripped onto the wound, filling it. Ryan's eyes flickered shut again, blood pooling in his mouth and dribbling down his chin. Suddenly fire spread down his throat until his whole body felt enflamed. His body tensed, beginning to thrash in the snow, but strong hands held him firmly down.

"It's going to be okay," the whisper assured as darkness finally claimed him.

There was something stabbing his arms, restraining his movements as Ryan jerked away, a scream on his lips and sweat drenching his body. Eyes frantically searching the unfamiliar room, his mind slowly recognized the IV's and machines connected to his body. His hand felt his neck but found no gaping wound.


Ryan turned his head towards the young female nurse standing over him. "Where am I?" His voice cracked, reminding him how dry his throat was.

"Hey there. I'm your nurse Jennie, and you're in Union General Hospital. You were brought in last night. How do you feel? Do you know your name? We were unable to locate any identification." Jennie peered down at a clipboard, scribbling down readings from the machines.

"My wallet is in my messenger bag…." That he no longer possessed. The memory of the messenger bag being thrown as he fled for his life through the trees and snow filled his mind, so clear that he could almost hear the sound of it crashing to the ground.

"I'm sorry but nothing was brought in with you."

"My name is Ryan. Ryan Roberts. How did I get here?"

"Your chart says that someone called in a report to 911 of a person unconscious on the street. When you came in you were dehydrated and anemic. There's a note here that the doctor plans to run some tests to find the cause of the blood loss."

"My wounds. I was attacked." Ryan pushed himself into a sitting position and peered down at his body. His arms were clean other than the IV's. No cuts, no gashes.

"There's nothing in your chart about an attack. Are you sure?"

"The guy who found me." Ryan felt like he was going to hyperventilate as memories rushed back. The running, the snarling, the teeth.

"Mr. Roberts, can I call someone for you?" Jennie's voice snapped him back to the present.

"No, I'm alone. I mean, I don't have any family local. How long do I have to be here? When can I leave?"

"I'll find the doctor for you. Just sit tight, all right?" She patted his shoulder before leaving as quickly as she had appeared.

Ryan dropped his head into his hands, jaw clenching. What the hell happened? What brief images he recalled didn't match up. What if he was losing his mind?

"You look better."

Ryan jerked, startled. That voice. He stared at the ark haired man leaning casually in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest. The piercing sapphire eyes are what drew him. "I remember you. You were there."

"I'm surprised you're able to remember anything. You were almost gone when I found you."

"I don't understand what happened."

With a heavy sigh, the man pushed away from the doorframe and crossed the room to stand at the side of Ryan's bed. "What do you remember?"

"I was attacked. There was… something there. It was so fast. I was on the ground before I even realized what was happening. I don't know how I got away. It's all bits and pieces after the first bite."

"I don't know how you made it as far as you did with the wounds you experienced. There was a tremendous amount of damage. I didn't think I could bring you back."

Ryan ran trembling fingers down his throat. "How did you? Why did the wounds disappear? This all feels like a nightmare."

"It's a long story we don't have time for right now. When they release you, come down to this address. I'll explain everything to you. For now, just don't say anything about what really happened," he said, pressing a folded sheet of paper into Ryan's hand. He turned to leave, but Ryan caught his wrist. "I don't even know your name. Why should I trust you?"

"You shouldn't, but I did save your life, so I think you're safe enough to come talk with me. And my name is Dylan," Dylan replied, a wry smile playing at his lips and amusement gleaming in his eyes. "It's not like I'm going to kill you, right?"

"I guess not."

"Then I'll see you on the outside. I left a bag of clothes for you by the door, since yours were pretty much destroyed."

"Hold on, my clothes had to show the wounds and blood? Why didn't the doctors see that when I came in?" Ryan felt a throb begin to take hold of his head. Dylan gently pushed him back down on the pillows.

"They had to disappear when you arrived. You'll understand. Just get some rest for now. Your doctor should be making his rounds soon."

"I'm afraid to close my eyes. I keep seeing that thing… the teeth," Ryan whispered, shivers racing down his body.

"I can help you sleep if you want," Dylan offered and leaned over Ryan, his eyes locking with Ryan's.


"I have my ways," Dylan murmured. "It's time to sleep." His sapphire eyes seemed to glow as he spoke, drawing Ryan in, and suddenly everything faded away.

Dylan straightened as Ryan's body went limp, his eyes closed and a peaceful expression falling over his face. He was still very pale from the blood he had lost, but he seemed otherwise healthy. Dylan touched the faint marks on Ryan's throat, barely noticeable now as anything but years old scars. Those would never fade completely.

"Did I do the right thing saving you?" Dylan dropped his hand and backed away from the bed. What kind of life would he have now?

Dylan stepped out into the hallway and quietly eased the door shut. The hospital was bustling with activity, but that wasn't unusual. What was unusual was the increased security personnel roaming the halls. Searching. Dylan glanced back at the door. As long as Ryan remained silent on what had happened, there was no reason for them to suspect him as anything other than someone who had simply fainted.


Dylan turned towards the voice. "Thanks for handling that business last night, Jason."

Jason's forehead creased, his eyes worried under his eyeglass lenses. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

"I didn't have much choice. I'm sorry I had to involve you."

"Don't worry about that," Jason objected, shaking his head. "I'll drop by tonight with the package. Just be careful."

"Always. Keep an eye on him for me?"

"I'm heading to his room now to complete his paperwork. I'll have him out of here within a few hours. Are you sure you want to take on this?"

"Too late to turn back now, isn't it?"

"It's always too late when it comes to this kind of thing. Any idea who's responsible?"

"I've got ideas but nothing solid yet. I didn't see it. He's lucky I was close enough to smell the blood. I don't know how he was able to escape."

"Let's hope he feels lucky after he knows what's been done."