Chapter 4

Nick

As Nick closed the door to the bathroom he just looked at himself in the mirror. Leaning over the sink, he put his face right up close to the glass. He didn't look any different than he had that morning. But so much had happened that he had expected a physical change to his features.

Finding out that his girlfriend's father was Poseidon -the actual Poseidon. The Earth Shaker. Stormbringer. God of the freakin' sea! He'd known there was something special about her, but he just couldn't put his finger on it.

He undressed and stepped under the hot spray, letting it engulf him in heat and steam.

Feeding from Ravie had felt different than feeding from someone else. He could feel her the way he could never feel anyone else. He had lived off of blood bags and snack packs ever since he and Ravie had considered themselves a couple. He swore to himself that he would never feed from anyone he loved. Not after Nicole.

Nick and his twin were inseparable until that awful night.

Their bedrooms were right across the hall from each other. It was eight years ago and they were ten. He'd woken up because he could feel that something was amiss. That's when he heard it.

There was a strange gurgling coming from Nicole's room. He quickly scrambled out of bed and snatched up his blue plaid bath robe and darted across the hall and threw open his sister's bedroom door -and froze.

There was a man bent over her bed. Nick could see the pale face of his twin over the man's shoulder. Her eyes were closed and she was barely breathing. But when her eyelids fluttered, he felt that there was still hope for her.

Nick dashed across the room and jumped onto the man's back. Startled, he dropped the limp form of Nicole onto her giant mound of pillows.

The man caught little Nick by the scruff of his neck and yanked him back, catching his arms as he struggled to break free. Nick saw the dripping canines and the crazed look in the feral creature's eyes as he leaned close and whispered something in Nick's ear in a language he couldn't understand.

The next thing he remembered was dropping to the ground. Hard. He quickly scrambled to his feet and ran to Nicole's side, calling out for their parents to come.

Their mother burst into the room, hollering about how they're going to wake the entire neighborhood if they didn't keep it down. Then she noticed the scene that had unfolded in bedroom.

Nick was perched on Nicole's bed with her pulled into his lap.

"C'mon, Nikki. Please wake up," he whimpered as he cradled her and rocked them back and forth, tears streaming down his face.

The paramedics soon arrived and pried Nicole from Nick's arms and tried everything they could to save her, but it was too late.

They zipped her up in one of those dark blue bags and took her away.

After that night, Nick didn't speak or show any real emotion for nearly two years.

Nick could feel the sting of tears brought on by this dreadful memory and pushed them back. He refused to sit and cry like he suddenly felt like he wanted to do. He was determined to just try his best to put it behind him, for now at least, and get some rest.

With this resolve, Nick shut off the shower and, with a towel secured around his waist, he headed out to dress for bed. He attempted to towel dry his hair, but it didn't really work that well, so he decided that it would be fine if he just left it damp. Finding some boxers and some sweats that had seen better days, he slipped them on and sat on his side of the bed and tried to look at the ends of his hair. Failing miserably, he stalked back to the bathroom mirror.

No one could tell that there was blue in his hair, but that was just because he had kept it dyed to match the hair color he was born with. Ever since the day after the night of Nicole's death, the tips of his hair became blue. He had always wanted to keep it hidden from people, because he felt that it showed how abnormal he was.

Now that Ravie knows, he thought, I won't have to keep it hidden anymore.

With a satisfied nod, he turned and went back to the bed to see that Ravie was then facing him. For a moment. he thought he had woken her, and that she was just watching him stare at himself in the mirror; but then he saw that her eyes were still closed. He swept aside a stray strand of her long dark hair and pressed his lips to her forehead. Nick crawled under the covers and Ravie immediately scooted closer to him. With a slight grin, he Nick started rubbing random patterns into her back and she shivered slightly, and he pulled her more into his chest to keep her warm. He tightened the blankets around them and wrapped his arms around his sleeping love.

Lying there thinking back, he couldn't remember just exactly how he had become a vampire. He aged; he could eat and digest regular food -yes, even garlic. He could walk all over hallowed ground, though he never really believed in Christianity -or any religion really. He could walk down the street on a cloudless summer day without bursting into he had fangs that looked like ordinary teeth until he got hungry. Then they lengthened into fine points. He was rather pale, but then again, he'd always been a pale boy.

He didn't necessarily hate being a vampire. He had never killed anyone. He could just as well live on animal blood, but human blood had always tasted better. So he stole the blood bags from the St. Mary's hospital just a few blocks from his house. For a hospital though, they had rather poor security on that particular wing.

He smirked to himself then snuggled closer to Ravie and slowly drifted into a dreamless sleep.

When he woke, Nick had the feeling that someone was watching him. He didn't open his eyes, but he could feel that he had one arm around Ravie and the other under his head. He slipped his hand under the pillow and tightened a grip around the small bronze knife that he always kept there -just in case. With a firm hold on his blade, he snapped his eyes open only to see that Ravie had her hands folded under her chin and resting on his chest as she watched him sleep.

Noticing his hand under the pillow and the quickened rise and fall of his chest, she grabbed his arm and hastily said, "Whoa, whoa. Easy, tiger. I'm not doing anything, there's no need to slaughter me."

"Ha-ha, Rae," he said. "Very funny."

"Yep. That's why ya love me," she retorted playfully.

When she tried to pull away, he tightened his hold on her and raised up to get a quick kiss. He squirmed and wriggled around until he had Ravie perfectly balanced on top of him. He swept her dark wavy hair to either side of her face and pulled her close enough to kiss again, this time giving it a little more heat.

Ravie ended their kiss and swept his bangs out of his eyes. "Why does your hair feel dry?"

He chuckled and said, "My hair is dry because I tried to wash out a bunch of hair dye." When she just looked perplexed, he added, "I wanted you to see one of the marks left from my particular creator."

"What do you mean?" she asked looking confused still.

Then he told her. Told her everything that happened that horrible night. He didn't realize he was crying until she slid her thumbs under his eyes and wrapped her arms tightly around him. That was the first time he had ever actually let it all out; he sobbed into her shoulder, feeling ridiculous the entire time, but there was no stopping those tears. She didn't laugh or snicker at him; she just held him close and let him take all the time he needed to get it all out of his system. She just stroked his hair and told him how sorry she was that he had had to go through such a terrible tragedy at such a young age. He was grateful that she didn't ask him anything, unsure that he could respond with a coherent answer.

Nick looked up at her and noticed that she seemed to be holding back from saying or doing something, but he wasn't sure what. Ravie wiped the tears from his face once more, but Nick caught her hand and held it to his face before pressing his lips against her palm.

He looked at her and could tell that she truly did love him. Not just with words, but with her heart. He hoped that she could tell that he felt the same way for her.

"Come on. I have to show you something. Get dressed," Ravie said suddenly.

She threw him a pair of jeans and a band t-shirt, grabbing another for herself. She grabbed herself some jeans and headed to the bathroom, leaving Nick staring after her, mouth agape like an idiot.

He got dressed and went to wait on her in the living room, wondering what she needed to show him so badly. She came from the bedroom carrying his jacket.

"Can I wear this? Mine's still wet from yesterday."

"Yeah. Remind me later, and I'll throw it in the wash for you."

"I'd do it myself, but somebody won't allow me to do anything for myself." Ravie looked at him pointedly and he just grinned back.

"So what are you showing me?" Nick asked as he tugged on his boots and laced them up. The playful tone left from her voice as she said, "You know how I sometimes draw the things I dream about?" He nodded and she continued, "Well, that man you told me about, I think I dreamt about him. And, with me being a demigod and all, sometimes things I dream about can actually be some sort of premonition, and I think that I drew him." She said all of this rather quickly and a little uncertainly. "I just wanted to be sure."

"Throw me the keys and we'll head over to your place to pick up your things."

She snatched the keys from the coffee table and dangled them at him teasingly. When he walked over to snatch them from her hand, she took his and just looked at for a second before lacing their fingers together. He gave her a questioning look and her cheeks burned red and she cast her eyes down.

"And, if you don't mind, I'd like to grab some more clothes and my school stuff." Ravie said this as though she'd actually feared that Nick would tell her that she wasn't as welcome as she thought. Personally, Nick wouldn't have minded at all if she'd decided that she wanted to move in with him. He was about to tell her so but she was already commenting on his unsaid opinion.

"I would, but my mom needs me and I'm not about to leave her alone with that abusive bastard."

"I didn't say anything, Rae. I was thinking it, but I never said anything," Nick told her, mainly to see what she would say.

"Really? Huh. We'll have to look into that later then, won't we?" She smiled up at him.

"I guess so," he chuckled and leaned down for a kiss. "Through the door, m'lady!"

Ravie snorted at his "chivalry" and headed toward the truck where his inhuman speed allowed him to already be awaiting her with the door open. "Ya know, I am fully capable of opening doors for myself," she said as she climbed inside. He just nodded and shut the door behind her and started the walk around to the driver's side, but he stopped to watch as she dove across the seat to unlock his door for him.

He rolled his eyes mockingly. "I'm fully capable of opening doors for myself," he imitated her. She laughed and scooted to make room for him.

"So, to your house to get clothes, your sketch pad and your school bag," he ticked off three fingers. "Anywhere else?"

"That's about it. Unless you have anything you need to do while we're out," she answered as they turned to go down 26th and onto First Avenue.

"Well, we could hang out at Mike's or Starbucks if you want."

"How about Starbucks? It's quieter there and we can talk."

When they arrived at her house, Ravie hopped out and said that she'd only be a minute. He just nodded and started fiddling with the radio. Giving up on finding any decent music, he settled for tapping out the drum beats of his favorite songs.

She was only in the house for a couple of minutes before the yelling started. Nick's sensitive ears picked up immediately. No, he thought, I won't go in until I know for sure that something is going on.

When he heard the shatter of breaking glass, he jumped out of the truck and strode right through the front door. He smelled it before it before he saw anything. Blood. Knowing the house as well as his own, Nick headed straight for the living room where it seemed everything was happening. Ravie intercepted him in the hall, telling him that he needed to call the police. That Randy was going to kill her mother otherwise.

"No. You go outside and call. I'll take care of Randy," Nick told her, excited to actually have the chance to do something about that scar he had left across Ravie's back the time he had whipped her with the buckle end of a belt. There was an impression of the buckle right between her shoulderblades.

"Okay, but don't kill him. I can't have you being sent to prison with a manslaughter charge." Ravie headed out the door, dialing 911 on her cell.

Nick darted into the living room to find an unconscious Mrs. Armstrong lying in a pool of blood. Randy stood not two feet away from her with a grimly satisfied look on his face.

Disgusted, Nick grabbed him by the front of shirt and slammed him into the wall. When he felt the pressure build in his gums, he allowed the canines to elongate and showed them to Randy with a malicious grin. The horrified look in Randy's eyes brought upon him a satisfaction that he had never felt before.

"I should kill you for everything you've put Ravie and her mother through," he growled. "But, only because Ravie asked me not to, I won't. For now." With that, Nick sank his fangs into the fat blue vein pulsing deliciously in his neck. He had only swallowed a couple of mouthfuls when Ravie screamed.

Nick jerked around to see Ravie staring at him with a mix of anger and horror. He half expected her to run away from him as he dropped Randy unceremoniously onto the floor. But she just punched him in the arm, "I told you not to kill him!"

"I wasn't killing him. I was only taking enough to knock him out. When the police get here, he'll be tied up in a kitchen chair with a good sized knot on his head."

Randy groaned in the floor and Nick struck him with enough force to leave him unconscious. He looked to Ravie who was wearing a surprised expression. Like she didn't really think he would hit Randy.

"You know of anything around here that we can tie him up with?"

By the time the police showed up, Randy was slumped in the corner bound at the wrists and ankles. Nick had stopped the bleeding from Mrs. Armstrong's head wound and she had started trying to shift around. The paramedics lifted her onto a stretcher and loaded her into an ambulance.

Nick had no idea what Ravie had said to the police, because there were three police cruisers and one ambulance. Two officers were talking to the paramedics; two were loading the unconscious, but slowly waking, Randy into the back of a cruiser; the last two were asking questions to Nick and Ravie.

"So what happened exactly?" asked the shorter and more plump of the two.

"Well, uhm. When I walked in, Mom and Randy were arguing again, so I went straight upstairs to get some things for school in the morning," Ravie explained. The taller one was eyeing Nick as if he was wondering who might win in a fight. Nick tightened his arm around Ravie.

"What happened to Mr. Spindle?" the tall one asked Nick.

"I walked in and saw Mrs. Armstrong go down, so I punched him in the head. Then Rae and I tied him up. Just in case." Tall-and-Thin scowled at him. Nick turned to Ravie.

"The ambulance is about to leave, Rae. You should go with your mom and I'll meet you up there with your things. And coffee." Ravie looked to the officers like she needed their permission. Short-and-Fat nodded.

"Thanks, Nick." She bounced up on her tip-toes to peck his cheek. "See you in a bit. Love you." She turned and trotted to the ambulance to haul herself inside to take her mother's hand.

Nick strode back into the house and up the stairs to Ravie's room. He went about her space, gathering up her sketchpad, clothes (why she hung her pants, he would never know) and stuffing them as neat and tidy as he could inside her Batman backpack. He slung the pack over his shoulder and headed back out to the truck.

He was lucky enough to find a parking space close to the hospital doors leading to the ER. At the front desk, Nick requested the room number for Kelly Armstrong and was directed to the Intensive Care Unit; room number four. He knocked twice then let himself inside to find his girlfriend sitting in a chair next to her mother. Noticing that she had tears streaming down her cheeks, Nick set their drinks on the table and went to her.

"What'd the doctor say?" he asked as he wrapped a loving arm around her shoulder.

"They said that she's stable now, and that, had you not stopped the bleeding when you did, then mom-she -she wouldn't have-" Ravie sniffed and buried her face in Nick's chest.

"I know, baby," he whispered, "She's fine. She'll be okay." Ravie wrapped her arms around his waist and let out a great sniff.

"They're charging Randy with attempted murder. They say that he could get the life sentence." Ravie's whispered words were so muffled against Nick's shirt that, if he weren't a vampire, he wouldn't have heard them.

"You haven't eaten anything today have you?" she asked with concern. "Well, I mean besides Randy. Do you want to go somewhere?"

Nick felt his ears redden. "No, I'm okay, babe. I'll just run back to the house and grab a snack pack. Maybe a cookie or two," he added the last bit with a grin; an effort to cheer Ravie up. It worked. She looked up at him with a grin. He knelt down to kiss her gently.

"I'll be right back," he said. "You want anything?"

"No, I'm good, babe. Thanks."