Memories (Completed)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 18
18

I leaned in and my fangs penetrated soft skin. Blood began flowing into my mouth. It tasted just like it smelled. Metallic and coppery. Yet, it also tasted like carrots, from the nutrition that the rabbit got. It was easy to swallow, like honey. It was like swallowing water. It refreshed and got rid of the thirst.

The little animal in my arms stopped moving once my teeth had penetrated its warm flesh to reach what was inside. I kept drinking, feeling how my body strengthened. Feeling how my brain received oxygen again. Feeling how my senses sharpened. Feeling how the blood left a prickling feeling in me. I kept drinking until nothing came out.

I tried to suck more out of the little thing, but there was nothing left.

I forced myself to pull away before I devoured the whole animal. My fangs slowly retreated from the warm flesh and I licked the sweet blood off my lips. I pulled away and look down at the small creature in my hands. I froze.

The creamy brown that had been the rabbit’s fur had turned chalky white, along with the skin. The hazel eyes turned ice blue, almost white, with a tan ring around them and yellow goo began oozing from the rabbit’s eyes, mouth, nose, and at the neck where my fangs had roughly pierced the skin, leaving two tiny wounds.

My eyes widened in horror and I almost dropped the limp body. I could feel my fangs on my lower lip and could still taste the sweet flavor of blood. The astounding part was that I wasn’t on the verge of puking.

“Max—Jeff—anyone,” James said nasally, “take it away. The venom is oozing out.”

When referring to anyone of the gang, James usually spoke in a harsh tone that implied that his words were an order and not a suggestion. Though, when he talked now, it sounded like he was pleading. It was unusual.

I glanced over at him from the corner of my eye. I couldn’t bring myself to look away from the creature in my hands. This was what Violet had been talking about. This was the horrible thing that came from being a vampire. Only that, there was no turning back now. James, Violet, and Andrew were pinching their noses and trying to get away from the blood. They all had a disgusted expression on, from either the rabbit or me. I couldn’t tell the difference.

Jeff stood up and walked towards me. He looked down at me and took the rabbit from my hands without a word. Then he left the room.

I stared at my bloody hands for a moment. Then I brought them to my lips and licked my finger. I accidentally poked one of my fangs and was startled. The tooth was pointy and resistant, but it was still delicate all the same. When I hit it, it felt like a doctor doing open heart surgery and poking the heart. It hurt like hell.

James reacted when I brought my hand close to my mouth. “Don’t,” he stopped me. He took hold of my wrists and turned me so that I was facing him. He looked into my eyes and his, now silvery-gray, eyes widened. “Oh, God!” he exclaimed. He jumped to his feet and took a step backwards as he tried to get away from me.

I panicked. What had he seen that startled him? It’s not like James to be startled. He’s mellow and has seen everything. It must have been big if it surprised him.

Everybody else seemed to think so too. As if they’d been called, they rushed towards him.

“James!” Viv exclaimed, trying to get his attention. All he did was stare in horror at me.

Soon they picked up what had startled him. They all stared at me like statues with wide eyes and their jaws dropped.

“Holy Isis!” Max exclaimed.

“What the hell?” Andrew added.

“That’s not normal,” Violet chimed in.

I was still acting by instinct, and right now, it told me, “Stay put and wait for my signal.” I watched as a different look of horror struck each of their faces.

“Quick, get her a mirror,” Scarlett hurried Max.

“Will she even show up?” Max responded, though he searched.

“Don’t be such a jackass,” Violet insulted. “Just find one.”

“Check in the closet,” Viv helped. She rushed into another room and Max walked through a different door.

“God, I think we need a bucket for her!” Scarlett exclaimed, running in the same direction Vivian had.

“Do you even know why she’s like that?” Jeff asked James in his cool, always mellow voice.

James didn’t answer. He just remained frozen in place. His aristocrat features seemed chiseled and that only made him look more like stone. My panic was beginning to turn into fright.

“Max, I found one!” Viv called. She ran back into the room and handed me a mirror.

I looked over at her and then back at the mirror. Hesitantly I brought the mirror up to look at myself.

I couldn’t see anything out of order. Just the regular vampire traits. The chalky skin, the flawless beauty, the red lips, the enlarged fangs, the blood red eyes. There was nothing out of order.

“I don’t see the problem,” I managed to whisper. “Why are you all so worked up?”

“Lumex,” James said unfreezing. “Your eyes,” he said in a hushed voice.

I frowned. “But don’t they change colors when you feed?”

“Yes. They most certainly do,” he said wide-eyed. “But not blood red. It’s either gold or silver, but not crimson!”

“Well, you have to admit that there aren't many normal things about me,” I mumbled bitterly.

“But of all things!” he exclaimed. “The less predictable and maybe most dangerous thing had to happen to you!”

“You know what?” I said. “Just tell me how to pull back these things.” I pointed at my fangs. “Then, we’ll train, and after that you can discuss with me all you want.”

“She’s not mad yet,” Scarlett whispered to Violet. “Make a break for it!”

James ignored them and ran a hand through his hair. “Just try to pull them back slowly. Don’t cut yourself.”

I relaxed my jaw and visualized my fangs retracting into my gums. I felt the smooth surface of the tooth gently slide back into place. Replacing them were two pearly white straight teeth. I licked my lips and tasted blood.

My head began spinning and my stomach twisted uncomfortably.

“Scarlett,” I said trying to keep my voice even. “Either give me that bucket or go get me another bunny!” I reached for the plastic red bucket and stuck my head in it. I gagged and felt a thickening in my throat, but nothing came out.

James gathered my hair in his hands and rubbed my back. “This would probably be the best time to start running,” he mumbled.

“Right,” I agreed, lifting my head. “Training. Running. Cool. Get my mind off this.” I completely lifted my head from the bucket. “Gotta get used to blood or I'm going to have to carry around a bag with me.”

Andrew chuckled. “A vampire afraid of blood,” he said. “Could this get any more ironic?”

I shot him an extremely dangerous look. “I don’t know. Wanna try me?” I narrowed my eyes. “If you want ironic, just wait until you see the loudmouth vampire that was drained by his friend.” I heavily emphasized the word “friend.”

He raised his hands in defeat. “Alright. I get it.”

That was too easy. He had something under his sleeve.

I took my hair back from James and stood up swiftly. “What are we doing first?” I asked, shoving away the sickness in my stomach.

“C’mon,” Violet said leading the way outside. “James went already. Andrew, you can teach her next.”

“Too bad,” he said. “I wanted to send her home crying.”

“What are you going to teach me?” I asked. “I didn’t have time to go and buy a textbook. There’s no cheat sheet now. You’ll just have to think really hard.” Then, I said cutely, “It’s not hard for a human, so there shouldn’t be a problem.” I blinked twice. “Unless, you lied about being a vampire….” I let my words trail off and smiled.

“Don’t provoke me, Cockcrow,” he warned.

I rolled my eyes and resisted the urge to tease him that he couldn’t hurt a fly, let alone a human, and much less a fully awakened vampire. “Don’t make me say what I want to say or do what I really don’t want to do.” Andrew choked out a laugh.

We walked outside into the woods. Then we hiked a couple of miles away into an open space. There was little grass around and some fallen leaves were crunching under our shoes.

“What exactly are you teaching me, Andrew?” I asked, looking around.

Andrew stopped at the center of the meadow and stared ahead. I waited impatiently for him to talk. Then he disappeared.

Like Spiderman, I sensed danger from behind me. I tried to evade it, but it hit me at the center of the back. I fell to the ground and looked up.

You son of a bitch!” I yelled. “What the hell, Andrew?” I jumped to my feet. I sprang towards Andrew with my hand in a fist.

Andrew stopped my attack by grabbing my fist as it came to hit him in the stomach. “Lesson one,” he said, “never let your guard down.”

“Never let your guard down?” I exclaimed. “I'm always on my guard!”—inside anyway.

“Then why didn’t you try and evade the attack?” he challenged. “You should have been on defense mode at the moment you sensed danger. You should have used your brain.” He let my hand go. “You have to understand that even your friends can turn out to be your enemies.” Andrew stretched out his hand in an odd friendly gesture. “Truce?”

I raised an eyebrow suspiciously and shook his hand.

He tsked, shaking his head. Suddenly he bent down and flipped me over. I fell with a thud and the air was knocked out of me. Andrew bent down over me and shook his head disapprovingly. “What did I just say?” His bangs moved away from his eyes and I saw the pleasure in his eyes. He sighed. “Just think of this little saying. It might work for you. ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Remember that that’s what people do. Especially when it comes to fighting against you.”

“Bastard,” I mumbled under my breath as I sat up.

“You have to understand that even James could be your enemy,” Andrew continued with his lesson as I stood up. “Everyone can deceit you. Especially your friends and family.”

“Is that all you have to teach me? Because I think I’ve learned it.” I shot him a dirty look as I rolled my shoulders backwards, assuring that there wasn’t any permanent damage.

The corners of his lips twitched as he held back a laugh. “Jeff,” he called. “I need a cheetah. You’ll be our referee, so you can do it half and half.”

Jeff grimaced. He stepped away from Violet and Max and moved into the woods. A minute later he came out on all four paws with spots on his body. He had grown a tail and ears and his blue eyes had rounded.

“I'm ready,” Jeff said. “But I think that an eagle would have been better.”

“No,” Andrew responded. “The talking birds just freak me out. Plus, this way you can climb trees.”

Jeff looked over at me. I was watching him stunned and didn’t even try to hide it. “I’ll teach you how to talk in this form on Friday,” he said to me.

I forced a smile, though my eyes were still startled.

“Okay, Lumex,” Andrew continued. “I think that the best way to learn is through demonstration. So, let’s go.” Andrew looked up and narrowed his eyes.

“This is getting interesting,” I chuckled.

He ignored that, but I could see humor in his eyes. “Okay,” he said, looking down at me. “You see that tree?” He pointed west at an oak tree. I nodded. “Jump onto the second branch. Just jump, use your vampire strength. I'm going east. To that tree.” He pointed to the other side of the space.

“Sure.”

I studied the oak tree. It could probably hold me. Though, the second branch was so high. It was good that I didn’t have a problem with heights. The question was: can I get up there? Is all my strength in place? Will having witch magic and shape-shifting abilities come between that?

I made my way over to the large tree. I stopped by the trunk that was obviously larger and thicker than me and looked up. Closer up it looked bigger. About 150 feet for the first branch and then another 200 to the second branch.

I bit my lip. It was really high. I'm not that strong. I brushed the trunk with the tip of my fingers. It was moist from the humidity. I was going to slip and fall.

“Just jump, Lumex!” Andrew called from behind me.

I looked back with a cold expression on my face. “I would if it were so easy,” I mumbled bitterly.

I wet my lips and sighed. I looked up again and tried jumping. As I slightly crouched and felt power run through my legs. I shot up like a comet and caught on the first branch with my hands. I grinned and pulled myself up. There I jumped again with extra force and landed on the second branch on my feet.

I faced Andrew a hundred yards away.

“Okay,” Andrew said. I was amazed that I could pick it up. All of my senses had sharpened. I could hear people over at the school, see miles away, I could even feel the trunk under my feet. “Jeff calls when we start. Once it begins you have to give it your all, because I'm not holding back.”

“Don’t worry,” I grinned.

“Alright,” Jeff called. “I want a clean fist fight. Andrew, you have an advantage in size and powers so I don’t want any powers. I don’t want any biting whatsoever.” He looked at us. We nodded and he said, “Alright. Go!”

I waited for Andrew to make the first move. My senses were on high alert and I didn’t need for them to tell me that Andrew was dangerous. Very dangerous. He was two hundred fifty pounds of dangerous muscle. It was a big difference of weight and probably strength too. And not to mention the skills and experience. I might have been trained as a hunter in two lives, but he’s been practicing killing for millions of years.

For a moment Andrew and I were having a staring contest and then he was gone. I opened up and tried to feel him. For a minute I couldn’t feel a thing, but then I sensed him.

I jumped off the branch and did a complete flip and landed crouching on the ground. I looked up and made a mistake. I jumped back up when Andrew jumped down towards me. I tried to catch myself on the branch of a high tree, but slipped.

I went feet first down and crashed through branches. At the same time Andrew came and began fighting. I evaded every attack as we fell and then jumped up high. I landed safely on a branch and jumped branch by branch up the tree. I could hear Andrew coming from behind me and when we were far enough I jumped onto a different tree.

We faced each other, trying to figure out the next move. I attacked this time. I did a high front flip and then as I reached Andrew, I stretched out my leg and kicked him in the center of his chest. He fell backwards and landed flat on his back on the ground. I followed behind him and landed lightly in a crouch.

When he sat up I jumped onto the first branch of a pine tree, hoping that the million branches and spiky leaves would camouflage me.

Andrew turned to look at me startled. “Where did you learn to do that?” he asked.

I shrugged. I turned towards James without looking away from Andrew. “Was I an acrobat or something in a past life?” I asked.

“Not that I can remember,” James answered, his voice cracking slightly.

Andrew got up and disappeared. I ducked as he threw a punch for the back of my head. I got up, evading another punch and kick, and kicked him in the stomach. He managed to hit me in the shins.

“What happened to your skills?” I mocked. “I'm,”—kick—“killing you.”

“Look who’s,”—karate chop—“talking.”

We were jumping onto branches and hitting and evading. Andrew landed on a thin branch that broke under his weight. I followed him and punched him in the face.

“You hurt like wood,” Andrew hissed. It was surprising that he would admit it. Then he smiled. “That’s good.”

“Well then, you better try harder,” I said. “I'm not going to hold back,”—punch and kick—“I'm going to kick your ass.”

“Lesson’s over,” he said leaning away from my dodge kick. “I don’t need to really teach you anything.” He jumped off the branch and I followed him.

“I thought you were going to send me home crying,” I mocked. We landed gently on our heels, even though we were hundreds of feet up in the air. We were like birds descending from the sky. Graceful and beautiful. “Did you finally figure out that I'm better? You have to stop being such a snob and embrace the truth at the moment it is proven.”

“I'm a snob,” he said. “So bite me.”

“If I did I’d consume your blood.” I loved fighting. I felt so in control. Fist fights are much more dangerous but they bring a blissful adrenaline rush. Meanwhile, trash talking made me feel strong.

“Like I'm too thrilled about that,” he snorted.

Jeff suddenly jumped down from a tree. He was still in his half form. “You guys went deep into the forest,” Jeff said. “We have to go back. They didn’t follow.”

“I know,” Andrew said. Then he bent down. I watched him, waiting to see where he’d jump to next. His head snapped to look at me. “Well? Get on,” he ordered.

“As if!” I snorted.

“Now look here, Cockcrow,” he argued. “I promised Violet that running would be hers. I'm not going to risk having a twig slit my wrist in the middle of the night because you don’t want to be carried.”

“Au contraire,” I said. “It’s you that I don’t want to be carried by.”

“I'm the one who has to carry you. Stop complaining!” He leaned on one leg and it seemed as if he were going to stand up. “So, we can either do this the easy way, or the hard way.”

Oh, God no!

“Alright!” I stopped him. “I’ll get on! You don’t have to pick me up!” I walked over and jumped on his back.

Andrew stood up and uncomfortably held my thighs for support like James had. “Fair warning,” he added. “If you don’t let me go and get off when the ride’s over, then I’ll rearrange your pretty little vampire face.”

“I'm grossed out already,” I said hugging his neck with more force than needed. I really didn’t trust Andrew. “You don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Good.” Then he turned to look at Jeff. “Where are they? I can't smell them.”

“South. That’s where their presence is coming from,” Jeff shrugged his animal shoulders. “Unless you differ.”

“South it is,” Andrew said. He got in a racing position.

“Hold it,” I stopped them. “They’re southeast. That way.” I pointed over at some bushes. “I can smell them. Plus I can hear their hearts—the non-vampires, I mean.”

Jeff frowned. He looked over south. “Who’s out there then?”

“I can't sense anyone. It’s probably just a mistake,” I said. Just to be sure, I stretched out my senses south.

“I'm not so sure,” Jeff narrowed his eyes. “Let’s go so Violet can take over and then come with me and Max to check it out, Andrew.”

Andrew nodded and began running. The adrenaline rush did come, just not like before. It was the regular adrenaline rush I got when riding. With Andrew I was really scared about hitting trees. He could probably let me go and evade the tree while I hit it. Good thing that he didn’t.

Andrew came to a stop and I easily regained control of my body. I got off Andrew’s back quickly and stumbled once.

“Are you okay?” Viv asked.

“Yeah,” I answered. “I just need a minute to cool down.”

“Max,” Jeff whispered. I looked at them from the corner of my eye. They were going to see what the thing was.

“Violet—let’s start,” I said. “I need speed.”

She smiled. “If its speed you want—I'm your girl,” she said. “But,” she added, “if you want me to run with you,”—she shrugged innocently—“too bad.” She lifted her arm and stared at a watch. “I have about twenty minutes to get to my photo shoot. Next time I’ll join you, but now James will go with you. You took too long with Andrew.”

I looked up at James who had moved next to me. He smiled, flashing a set of perfectly straight teeth.

“Okay, Lumex,” Violet continued, looking north and wrinkling her nose. “You and James are going to run to Clearwater and then give Scar a call. After that—I don’t care. Do what you want. Session’s over.”

A smile curled onto my lips involuntarily as I found humor in what she said. “Yes, Violet.”

“Alright. Listen. This is what I want you to do,” Violet began rushing, “first of all, get in a stance.” She positioned herself as if to ready to begin a race. I copied. “James,” she ordered, moving her hand as a gesture to hurry. “Now extend your senses to the outside world so that you don’t crash and die.”

I looked over at James and smiled mockingly, my senses already open. “Can you keep up?”

“Shouldn’t I be the one asking that?” he responded with the same humored and playful tone that I had used.

“We’ll see,” I said, turning away.

Violet looked one last time at her watch and then said so quickly that I could barely understand, “I gotta go. You gotta go. Bye. See ya. ‘Night. Later!” She ran.

Well, okay.

I ran in the opposite direction. I left behind the old Lumex again.

I looked over to my right where James was easily keeping up. He flashed me a smile that made my heart stop. He revealed two perfect fangs that glistened in the sunlight. They overthrew his aristocrat features, making him look like a fallen angel.

We’ll be hitting the highway soon, James said. Follow me after it.

I gave him a thumbs up and then looked ahead. I could see a brighter light ahead and I could hear motors. In a few minutes we reached the open road where cars were passing by. I felt my legs quiver as James ran through the busy highway, evading every car that came. I didn’t stop, but my heart stopped all the way until I reached the other side.

Are you crazy? I exclaimed. You could have gotten hit!

Vampires don’t get hit by cars, Lumex, he replied. I sped up to reach him. You just have to keep running. Leave everything behind and let some of the animal instincts take over. Don’t overdo it.

I know. I looked over to the side where we were passing cars. My eyes widened as I saw a child look directly at me and then watch us run away.

James noticed my uneasiness and said, They can't see you. They’ll think that they’re hallucinating. Relax.

But he looked at me—directly at me. And he’s still watching. I looked back again and met a pair of hazel eyes. We were two miles away from the car, but he was still watching and I could still see him. It wasn’t a good sign.

If it makes you feel better, I know a way to lose the car. My head snapped to look over at him.

I'm fine. I smiled sweetly. Don’t worry about it.

For the rest of the trip we ran in silence. Every now and then I would laugh joyously. Somehow running was much more exciting than riding motorcycles. I had never been a sporty kind of girl, but running was in my nature and I loved it. By the time we reached the beach, I promised myself that I would do this at least three times a week.

The beach air slapped me like cold water. I was pulled in by the sound of the waves crashing on the shore and invited by the soft, warm sand. We slowed down as we stepped onto the soft sand. I looked around. It was almost empty. The only people here were a couple of college graduates, I imagined, who were packing up their things. It was a school night for one, and it was also five o’ clock.

“I love that you chose here,” I said. I looked over at him and then back at the crashing waves.

“I thought you’d like this place.” He disappeared and reappeared behind me. He hugged my waist and pulled me closer to him. For the first time, he was warm. I relaxed in his arms and leaned against him. Gently he placed his cheek against my head and took in a deep breath.

We remained there for what seemed like seconds and then James pulled away. I moaned in disapproval. I turned around to look at him.

He had a phone out and was pressing it to his ear. “We’re here, Scar,” he said once she answered. Then he frowned. “No.”—Scarlett talked—“Well then what was it?”—Scarlett responded—“Did Andrew attack?” he asked. Scarlett spoke. “Well then who did?” James began pacing. “But they ate already—” He stopped pacing. “What are they going to do with the bodies?” He snorted. “I'm not there! You take charge!” He listened to Scarlett complain. “I know that you’re not that team, but you’ve taken care of enough to know what to do.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Yes. Burn them. Just keep the smell in control.” She mumbled something. “Yes the fire too!” he exclaimed. “You know what? Just ask Jeff. He used to be on Harold’s team.” She talked on the other side of the phone. “Sure. Use that. I don’t really give a damn right now!” He shut his phone and sighed.

“What happened?” I asked. I bent down and picked up a handful of white sand, then let it slide between my fingers.

James dropped down next to me. “Max and Jeff found a couple of panthers near where we were.”

So that was what the thing had been.

“And…?” I glanced at him.

“And Max got hungry and decided to eat. He shed blood and Andrew lost control.” He ran a hand through his hair and threw his head back. “They ate and now they don’t know what to do with the bodies.”

I grimaced. “They found panthers? Like Florida panthers?” I asked. He looked at me and shrugged.

“Lions and any animals related to them are like vampires. Black Moon shape-shifting history says that that is how shape-shifters tell the different between creatures.” I stared puzzled and he continued. “For example, vampires and witches—completely different creatures have a different life force. Vampires have lion-like life forces and witches have, I believe, deer-like life forces.” He stopped and his expression switched from the one of a teacher giving a lecture to a boyfriend sincerely telling his girlfriend that he loves her for the first time. “But it’s nothing important.”

Now it made more sense why Jeff had confused Andrew and Violet with some regular animals. It was an honest mistake. I wonder if I’ll go through that when I'm fully awakened as a shape-shifter…. I let the thought trail off and concentrated on James.

He reached out and stroked my cheek. I stared into his gray eyes hypnotized. I was aware of the fact that we were leaning in closer to each other. I went with it. In a second his lips pressed softly against mine.

First the kiss was gentle and sweet, but then it turned hungry. With every kiss, the next became more intense and hungrier. And we were falling into each other. I was pressing James to me with unnecessary force and he was doing the same.

Suddenly, James began panting. He kissed my mouth, my nose, and moved to my neck. I felt something sharp brush my jugular. My eyes widened. But I offered James my neck for him to feed on.


 


 

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