Lightly, I drew my finger up to my lips and bit down on it. It was a stupid habit. I know, but at least it was one of the few things that made me feel human. I was a monster… no, not a monster… a vampire. I was a powerful creature of the night, and although I drank blood I still had a conscious mind.
As long as I knew right from wrong and did the good of it all, I was no monster. My previous mistakes were only mishaps, things that could have made me a monster. It really was thanks to Durand and Reule that I was able to get this far. Even Lizbeth taught me a lesson with her death. Yes, I was no monster. I was still Naomi Roesia, inside and out.
Opening my door, I ran straight into a tall figure. It was hard yet warm like Durand's massive body, but it was darker. My heavily lashed eyes looked upwards, and I saw Felix grinning down at me. "Now, Ms. Naomi, just where are you off to in such a hurry?"
A wild grin stretched over his features, highlighting each and every tooth in his head. From the moonlight that poured into the hall, only his mouth and clawed fingertips were visible in a streak of pale silver. The sight of him was that of a nightmare in the flesh.
My chest pounded over and over again. It was like my heart wanted to rip free of its skeletal cage. Felix only grinned. He could hear my heart. I was positive of that. Why? I was sure because with every pace gained his fangs grew longer, longer, and longer until they gleamed in the moonlight like daggers.
"I was just going to see where Reule was," I answered and backed up against the door that Felix had closed for me. My hand gripped the doorknob loosely, sweat beading across its smooth surface.
The male ran his hand up to cup my jaw. Slowly, he drew my face towards his until we were inches apart, and I could feel his minty breath upon my skin. "You're lying, young vampiress. You were going to try to get out of here without my brother knowing." My eyes accidentally widened, showing off my surprise at his perfect guess. "Ah. That's what I thought."
Against his grip, I snapped, "What are you going to do about it?" This guy was freaking me out. Why did he always have to pop up at the weirdest of times? After Durand showed dominance over me, during the argument I had with Durand, and now when I was going to run away from Durand?
Felix explained, "I can get you out of here, Naomi. I can do it in a way where Durand won't come looking for you too."
Warning bells blasted, but I couldn't help myself from asking, "How?" The words had already escaped my mouth before I could even make them stop. My body had betrayed me.
The vampire traced until we stood in a large garden full of roses of all colors, including colors that shouldn't have been able to grow naturally. Blue roses, red roses, yellow roses, lavender roses, pink roses, and orange roses all bloomed around me at night. It was a gorgeous sight. Their green stems were dampened with glistening dew.
Felix drew one up, a bright red one with red tipped thorns to match, and handed it to me. "This was the one place that my mother and I were permitted to meet on King Reule's grounds," he explained. "Any other time, I was banished to the dungeon where I was forced to feed on whatever corpse the mighty king threw my way. My brothers would frequently meet me out here as well. As their numbers grew and I saw the love that my mother was allowed to give to them, I became enveloped with a rousing jealousy. Why was I forced to the dungeon whereas my brothers were permitted to be with my mother at any time? I'd never known my real father and had been led to believe that King Reule was that man. Hatred brewed within me, and I plotted my revenge against my father. The more he condemned me, the more hate I buried inside of me. Young Reule was just a baby when I sent the Thanatos demons inside of the city. He didn't have any idea what was happening and was told only the smallest explanations of my torture. He didn't know that I sent the demons to kill his father nor did he know that his father had killed my mother, thinking it was her idea at revenge for sending me into that dungeon for a hundred years."
I nodded my head, completely missing the point to his story. "Then," he added, "you came. You made a perfect distraction for Durand, and with you I can get the crown that should have been mine to begin with." It clicked then.
He was using me for his gain. Get the girl out of the castle then take over the place while the real king is away on a wild goose chase to find his lover. It was smart, but… Was I really going to betray Durand for Felix's gain? I knew I could do it for Aspen, Mom, and Dad. I just didn't know about the other part.
As little as I knew about Durand, he seemed like a nice guy, a little hot tempered, but a nice guy. Reule was cutie and hurting him wouldn't be on my to-do list. The others, well, they were the others. I didn't know too much about them.
Still, I wouldn't be hurting myself if I let Felix have his way with the kingdom he wanted so badly. Besides, maybe he could knock Durand off my case. The guy's stalking was super creepy, and I'd live my life a little more comfortably if I could take a shower without feeling eyes on me. As sweet as Reule was, I didn't know him either. I didn't know anything about these people. Losing them wouldn't hurt or harm me. I'd be okay without them. It wasn't like I was losing anyone in my family.
I bit my lip. Where was Naomi Roesia now? I wasn't thinking like myself. Then again, I was much different from the girl I used to be. Still, the old me wouldn't be endangering the lives of people to run back to the family that she didn't know would accept her or not. Would it be in vain if my parents just called the cops on me and the others die? I wouldn't have any backbone to lean on if I got rid of Durand.
Besides, the guy was being a prince to me with his clothes buying and kindness. Even though I'd felt the hardness of his desire earlier this evening, he hadn't reacted on it. He was a good man. Naomi Roesia wouldn't let a good man get hurt without a legitimate reason to it. I wouldn't let a good man get hurt without a legitimate reason to it.
Felix broke my train of thought. "What would it really hurt if you lost Durand? You're only a fledgling. I won't affect you." Why did those words feel like a lie? "Take your time, Naomi. Just call for me when you've decided to agree."
After a rush of wind, I was standing back in the hallway, but Felix was nowhere to be seen. Shivers crept up my spine. That guy was completely weird.
Slowly, my gaze went from the darkness of the wall in front of me to drift to the damp rose shimmering in the moonlight. I had been holding this thing the entire time without realizing it. The petals shifted, and I watched the living flower's petals reach up to the moon. She spread out her vibrant red layers then basked in the moon's beacon gaze.
This place… was very strange. The men of the household could mind control the servants. They all drank blood. Flowers bloomed in the dead of night. Hallways and doorways appeared out of nowhere for servants to weave in and out of them. People spoke to me mentally, and I could hear them as if they'd whispered right into my ears. Yeah, it was very, very strange.
My attention went back to the rose and then the figure that was leaning forlornly in the windowsill. Delray had a maid draped over his lap, and a cello leaned against his leg that was still in the mansion. He looked exactly like one of the vampires of ancient legacy. He was the image of darkness and unfeeling sorrow as he petted the woman's fire red hair.
Heart freezing over, I reminded myself that blood drinking was a natural part of their life and my own. It's just the sight before my eyes betrayed me. The maid was so limp. She looked to be dead. As reclusive and watchful as Delray was, I didn't expect him to kill a woman without a purpose to it. He seemed like a strategist not a murderer.
Although as scared as I was, I couldn't tear my eyes away from Delray as he murmured a lulling song to the female. His lips hardly moved, but the sweet melody moved me and apparently so did the woman in his arms.
Her hand reached up and ran slowly down his face, but he didn't move his attentions from the moon he was gazing up at so lovingly. She looked like she was being controlled as her middle finger pressed against the smooth surface of his skin then lazily flowed until she was skimming the silk of his shoulders, finally halting her trace when he reached a ring on his left ring finger.
I wondered just why Delray, claiming to only be nineteen, would be wearing a wedding band on his left hand, but there was no way I was going to interrupt this beautiful yet melancholy moment he was having.
He was just as handsome as Durand while having much more of Felix's attributes. Gently waving in the moonlit air was his dark, black-brown locks. His body was made with broad shoulders then trimmed down to his powerful legs covered up in black dress pants. The man looked very much like the weapon his two older brothers were, but his attitude was much different from Felix and Durand.
If Felix would have been holding the maid, he would have been over her, and if Durand would have been doing so, he would have been standing up with her. Felix was more aggressive in his feedings whereas Durand was gentler. Delray seemed to be the median of the two older males.
Making a note of the blood dripping down her neck and from the corner of Delray's mouth, I left the two of them alone. The scene made me think of so much. Hunger was a driving force when it came down to being a vampire, but why did we drink without knowing what it did for us? Surely, there was more to being a vampire than drinking blood. What exactly in living blood caused us to have our preternatural senses?
I made my way into the library to find Liza sitting in front of the fireplace with Durand beside her on the couch. Attempting to ignore the smug look she gave me and the unreasonable jealousy that the sight had wrought into me, I went to one of the many bookshelves to examine some of the interesting novels that Reule had shown me before.
His remembered voice chimed, We've got all kinds of books, Omi. We've got some on werewolves, faeries, ghouls, druids, and even vampires. You should check them out some time. There's lots of cool stories about my family in here.
Even as he'd told me all of those things, I didn't really feel the need to research my new species, but now the tides had changed and my curiosity had sparked a flame. Drawing out one of the books on vampires, I felt Durand's presence behind me.
His large hand covered my grip on the book, and he leaned down to whisper, "May I help you study, Naomi?"
Inwardly, I grinned at Liza's loud huff and escape to the hallway, so I turned to nod. "Teach me how to be a vampire, Durand."
The male cracked me a heart stopping grin before tracing me back to the couch. He stretched his arm across my shoulders to press my body against his. It was strange at how perfectly I fit against his body. It was like he and I had been made for one another.
My instinct thrummed at the closeness and studying vampires had suddenly become second interest to studying Durand. His body was warm against mine and felt perfect. In the bend of his arm, my body relaxed while my conscience was wracking my nerves.
Half of me wanted to get away from him while the other half needed me to bond with him. Gritting my teeth mentally, I allowed the touch. Being this close to him made my pulse race and my body weaken. Although my heart wasn't in for the closeness, my instincts were.
I raised my eyesight to him and saw that the book was no longer in his grasp. He was just gazing down at me as if I was a goddess. He looked awestruck. "Naomi," he breathed. Before I knew it, he had me pinned to the couch.
Shyly, I peered out from beneath my hair to see his desire flashing throughout his golden eyes. I wasn't ready for this kind of intimacy, the kind that he was wanting.
The scene was surprisingly romantic as I tried to distract myself from his attention absorbing body. The fire crackled lightly in the darkness. The couch was warm beneath my body. He was warm on top of me.
Moonlight peered in from the few open windows to highlight his face and my breasts. Durand's hand lightly swept over my skin, feeling every inch of its exposed surface. His touch wasn't rough or harsh. It was soothing like balm on a sore.
I wanted to be touched by him, but it was forbidden. I didn't know him. This wasn't me. Although I frequently flirted and flaunted myself, I had never truly considered myself easy. Of course, I had been called a slut before, but I'd never allowed any male entrance to my core. Now, I was gazing up at this magnificent stranger and desiring something that I'd read about, watched on television, and daydreamed out. I felt weak.
He could do anything to me right now. He was in the perfect position to do so, but instead of acting on that, he asked, "May I take off your shirt, Naomi?"
Eyes wide, I looked up at him. Blush covered my face, but I nodded. His calloused hands worked my shirt up and off me until it slithered to the floor. Shy once more, I peered at him and watched his awe at my body. He looked at me like he was seeing a female for the first time. It sent waves of desire through me.
His hand pressed down on my hip, and he nuzzled my neck. "You're so beautiful," he breathed against my skin. "I want to make you mine forever." The vampire's hand ran up to trace against the fabric of my bra.
Face flaming I looked down, down to where his knee was between my legs. "How can you say that when you don't even know who I am?" My heart berated my rib cage, but I couldn't stop it. It was going crazy at this unfamiliar closeness.
Durand leaned his hardened lower half against me and explained, "Men love their mates with the first meeting. We cannot live without them after that." His dampened lips touched my collarbone. "Naomi, it all sounds like a fairytale, but you made my heart beat. When you came to the club, I felt a presence, but it wasn't an enemy. My instinct hunted for you, and when I saw you, you were like looking at the sun for the first time. I felt like I was alive. All I wanted to do was touch you, feel what life felt like. When we danced that first night, as unromantic as it was, you made my heart beat."
My head went back to the club and when Durand's silhouette came to me asking to dance. His body had felt cold that night. He didn't feel alive that night. Now, he felt very much alive. If I had been dead for thousands of years and some chick had woken me back up, I'd want to screw her too.
He had a point. Vampires weren't like humans. Reule had shown me that they died after some point in time. He'd explained to me that they lived like humans until their body was at its strongest then they died.
"Why didn't you ask me if I wanted to become a vampire?" I wondered, hand unconsciously slipping to his neck.
The man looked down with a sad grin. He was ashamed. I guess that he should be for what he'd done to me. "I didn't ask because my enemies were on my trail. I would have dated you, Naomi. I would have been the perfect lover, met your family, and stolen your heart, but they were so hot on my ankles that I had to change you. It was for your protection. Felix had done some researching and found that they'd figured out that you were my mate. I had to keep you safe."
A sad smile cracked my features, and I ran both of my hands down until they were planted firmly on his shoulders. "Will I be able to see my family soon?" I asked, breaking his moan at how good my hands felt on him.
He looked at me with a look of fierce protectiveness gleaming in his eyes. "Naomi, it's not safe enough. If you got out, my enemies would hunt you down and kill you. Then, I would be forced to go to war with them. I'm keeping you here until you're safe to go out alone, but you will always have a bodyguard from now on."
My lips twisted to a look of disapproval. He was going to keep me away from Aspen, Mom, and Dad. How could he? He had his family around him at all times. That was so unfair.
I moved myself upwards, and he allowed it. His back bowed to give me distance from him, but our hips still touched. The heat between us was like a forge. I wanted to give up and into it. I just couldn't let myself do it. How could I? He was going to hold me away from my parents.
"Durand, I like you. I really do but keeping me away from my family isn't helping that," I attempted to explain, but he only placed himself in a way that I felt trapped beneath him. When I tried to back off this time, he moved with me, coaxing that oh so distracting part of my anatomy. "I'm not like you. I can't think the way you do. I'm human."
He cut me off. "Human no more."
"Okay," I sighed. "I still think like a human. I don't know anything about this life. I don't know what it's like to have the big bad wolf huffing and puffing at my front door. You can't keep me away from my family. If you do… I-I'll hate you forever."
Finally, he had a reaction to that. So, he didn't want me to hate him. That was a start. Maybe, I could get the best of both worlds: my family and this sexy vampire.
He flashed his fangs, growing angrier. "Hate me is what you may say now, but you will live forever, Naomi. You will learn to forget about this because it's just a small moment in your vast future." The vampire adjusted himself, and I wound up wriggling so much that I tumbled onto the library floor.
I backed up with my legs sprawled out in front of me and my arms behind me. He stepped closer, and I backed up more. I backed up until I was pressing myself against the wall.
"You may not understand me, Naomi, but you will. Locking you up will help you understand," he snarled and snagged my hip. In an instant my hands were pressed against his chest, locked between our bodies.
I squirmed, but again he became a giant manacle. "Locking me up will only make things worse. You think I'm confused now, but you're just going to make me hate you!" I screamed.
He didn't seem to hear me at all. The vampire just traced until we were someplace cold and damp. Iron bars were all over the place, they decorated each and every empty cell. Tossing my shirt at me, Durand snapped, "I will be back down here later on to feed you. Don't even look like you're trying to escape, or the punishment will be even more severe."