Destined For An Early Grave Outtakes - Cat meets Gregor, Page 1Jeaniene Frost
Destined For An Early Grave Outtakes - Cat meets Gregor
Hi everyone! As I promised on another thread, here's the deleted scene from the flashback in DESTINED FOR AN EARLY GRAVE where Cat meets Gregor for the first time. The events in this scene are slightly different than the book. In this, Cat doesn't yet know she's a half-vampire, because this takes place a month before her sixteenth birthday. In the book, as you know, Cat met Gregor right after her birthday and already knew about vampires. Aside from that, everything else is pretty much the same as in DFAEG. Someone asked before if Gregor had bitten Justina into playing along when he first came to Cat's house. Yes, he did (he had to have drank Justina's blood to dreamsnatch her later in DFAEG). Gregor also mind-controlled Cat's grandparents. This scene doesn't show that, but readers may pick up the hints. The scene ends right where the flashback in the book starts, for reference. Oh, and I have no idea if the forum censurs will *bleep* out any bad language in this, lol.
This scene was cut because my editor didn't want the flashback to be too long and because it didn't really show anything new. You see more of Gregor being controlling and more of Cannelle being a beeyotch, but I think both those things were safely covered in DFAEG .
So, here it is. It's unedited, which means please ignore any spelling/grammar errors.
Licking Falls, Ohio
April 4, 2001
I shaded my eyes against the late afternoon sun glinting through the branches. Soon it would be dark. That relieved me as much as it bothered me. No one else could see in the dark like me, but I wasn’t supposed to let anyone know that.
“Joseph,” my grandmother called from the front porch. “Go get Catherine, it’ll be supper time soon.”
“She’ll be along,” was my grandfather’s reply. From the sound of it, he was still working on the old Chevy. “She can smell the food, I tell you.”
Another conversation I’d unwittingly eavesdropped on, even a few acres away. At least this wasn’t anything embarrassing. Hearing them discuss erectile issues or his bowel movements in what they thought was the privacy of their bedroom would scar me forever, I was sure.
I left the tree I’d been sitting in to run further into the orchard, away from the house instead of toward it. I didn’t have much time until I had to get back, but I loved the orchard. Especially at night. Natural sounds surrounded me instead of the chatter from my family, and it felt peaceful. Often I’d sneak out here when everyone at the house was asleep. It was one of the few times I could relax.
After about thirty minutes, however, I headed back toward the house, walking at a fast pace. It was getting chillier out. March could still produce snow on occasion. Maybe winter wasn’t done with us after all.
I was almost to the house when I heard the man’s voice, low and cultured, with a French accent. It nearly made me stumble on my way up the front lawn. No car was in the driveway and this was rural Ohio. If you were a Southerner, you were still considered foreign here. I also hadn’t heard him arrive, but then again, I had gone to the edge of the 20 acre property. Too far away for even my ears.
When I came inside the house, my grandparents were already seated at the dining table, which was set for five instead of four. My mother was in the kitchen, her hair out of its normal tight bun and hanging messily down her back. That, in addition to the tall man with his back to me, was unusual, but my grandparents seemed relaxed so they must know what was going on.
“Sorry I’m late,” I began, moving to help my mother with the heavy cast-iron pot she was removing from the oven. “I lost track of time.”
The stranger turned around and faced me. This time I did stumble over my own feet. His arm shot out to steady me, making me blink at how fast he’d moved. My grandparents sat serenely as if nothing was occurring, and my mom just brushed by me to place the stew on the table.
I stared at the hand on my elbow and the tall man connected to it with mild shock. Golden hair combined with darker strands gave it an ash blond color, and his eyes were grayish green. A scar ran from his eyebrow to his temple and his skin was as pale as mine. But his skin hummed with a taut vibration that made me tingle where he touched me.
“Who are you?” I blurted, pulling free and rubbing my arm briskly. The pins-and-needles sensation left it as soon as his grip was released.
“I’m Gregor,” he said, looking me over in the most unusual way. My Chemistry teacher studied items in a Petri dish in the same manner. “I’m an old friend of your mother’s.”
My eyes bugged at that. Mom didn’t have old friends. She didn’t have new ones, either. She stayed as solitary as I did and only ventured into town when absolutely necessary. I did a quick estimation of his age. Slight lines around the eyes, that scar didn’t appear new, and he appeared to be in his early thirties, like my mother.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, could this by my father?
“Mom?” I asked hesitantly. “You know him?”
“Of course, Catherine.” Her reply was almost mechanical. “He’s an old friend. We’ll talk about it after dinner.”
Oh my God! Was this the man I’d been denied the slightest knowledge about? The one whose mere inference caused her to fly into an ugly rage? The way he was examining me looked like someone appraising what was his, that was for sure. My chin lifted and I went to the sink to wash my hands. Talk after dinner, would we? I knew what my first question would be - where the hell have you been all my life?
The meal passed awkwardly. My mother barely spoke, only answering direct questions in a monosyllable. Clearly, she was uncomfortable about having Gregor here, but she didn’t act angry or confrontational, as was her norm when upset. My grandparents talked amongst themselves, seemingly oblivious to the tension, and Gregor kept his conversation directed at me. How old was I? When was my birthday? What grade was I in? Did I have any hobbies? Had I met any unusual people? Have I ever been to a dance club?
The polite interrogation was starting to wear on me. It was all I could do not to snap, “They have paternity tests, if you’re not certain!” Something about him made me nervous. It wasn’t just the very odd reaction I’d had to him touching me, although that sensation I chalked up to shock at meeting my potential father. He moved differently. His eyes followed everything, and the air around seemed to be charged. You’re just freaking out, I told myself. There’s nothing weird about him. You’re the only bizarre one at this table.
When dinner was over I stood, practically snatching up everyone’s plates and clearing the table. Like someone possessed, I rinsed them and had the dishwasher running within five minutes. Gregor watched me the entire time, as if he’d never seen anyone do dishes before. I was seized with anxiousness. My illegitimacy had been a painful stigma ever since I was a child. What would I say to this man who’d contributed to that?
“I’m taking a shower,” I announced, finding a way to delay the inevitable. “I’ll be back down later.”
Even though I didn’t want to, I couldn’t help but sneak a glance behind me as I climbed the stairs. Yes, Gregor was still staring, and yes, he seemed to see right through the thin excuse.
“I’ll be waiting, Catherine.”
It was spoken so softly I almost thought I’d imagined it. But I hadn’t. Now he was smiling, and it was pleased and…chilling.
My reprieve didn’t last long. Right after my shower, my mother hustled me outside onto the front porch with Gregor. My grandparents were inside watching TV, as if they didn’t know or care what was going on. Their apathy baffled me, because Grandpa Joe hated the scorn from my illegitimacy almost as
much as I did. A change had come over my mother that held my attention. She seemed relaxed and cheerful. Those were two words I’d never before used to describe her. And she was smiling.
“Catherine,” she began with a glance at Gregor, “I’m going to tell you about your father now….”
Ten minutes later I sat transfixed in disbelief. Good God. Somewhere along the way, my mother had gone completely crazy. My father was a vampire she’d been dating who was killed when he was set upon by well-intentioned Marines? There was an entire undead subculture existing side-by-side with humans? And I wasn’t completely human myself?
She’ll need inpatient psychological therapy, my first thought was when she finished. And medication. A lot of it.
“Mom, sometimes our minds make things up to help deal with things in our lives we don’t like,” I started out hesitantly. “I’m learning about it in school –”
“She’s not lost her wits,” Gregor interrupted. Oh yeah. I’d almost forgotten about Mr. Strange since she told me he wasn’t my long-lost father. “You’re half-vampire, but you needn’t worry. I’m going to take care of you.”
Crap, he was nuts, too.
“I’ve waited to tell you this until I thought you were old enough to understand.” My mom tried to take my hand, but I pulled away. “I know I’ve been hard on you at times, but it was just so no one else would find out about you. Still, you’ll be sixteen next month, so it’s time you know…”
“Seeing is believing,” Gregor interrupted her shortly, standing also. “Look at me, Catherine.”
I turned around – and screamed.
Gregor’s eyes glowed a bright shining emerald, as if lasers flicked on in his gaze. His smiled revealed two curved fangs in his upper teeth, and he was elevated in mid-air. A faint breeze came off him, blowing his hair. Then suddenly, I was grasped in his arms, my legs kicking at nothing while he laughed. It was a joyous, frightening, knowing sound that silenced my scream. This wasn’t an act. This was real.
“Haven’t you always known there was something special about you?” Gregor whispered fiercely. “All your life, that you possessed something no one else had? I’m going to take you away from here, Catherine. You’ll come with me, meet people you’ve only read about, experience things you can’t imagine -”
“I can’t go anywhere,” I said breathlessly while my mind reeled. “I have school tomorrow.”
Gregor laughed again. He dropped down from the dozen feet we were suspended and spoke low and intimately in my ear.
“I’ll teach you everything you need to know, ma chéri.”
The way he caressed the words while almost nuzzling my ear made me shiver. I hadn’t been in such close proximity with a boy before, let alone a man. It made me nervous on top of shocked and confused.
“Mom?” I asked hesitantly.
“You have to go with him, Catherine,” she answered. “He’s a trusted friend, and he’ll take care of you. There are things I can’t protect you from if you stay here. Don’t worry about school; I’ll take care of it. You can call me whenever you want. You’ll be all right.”
This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. Yet the arms imprisoning me weren’t my imagination. The very big, tall body next to mine wasn’t a hallucination. I had to go with this…man, creature, vampire? Leave everything I knew behind? Sure, I’d wanted to get out of this town, but never in all my imaginations did I think it would be this way!
“You’re,” I had to stop, lick my lips and try again because my mouth was dry. “You’re really a vampire?”
Gregor’s face creased into a smile. “Yes.”
“And I’m…” Deep breath. “I’m not completely human, because my father was a vampire? That’s why there’s something wrong with me? Why I’m not normal?”
“Oui, that is so.”
He hadn’t let me go yet. I didn’t know if I should ask politely, push away, or just stand there stupidly.
“You, ah, have your fangs near my throat,” I said with a self-deprecating laugh, trying for humor instead of demands. “Should I play the fainting female or the hysterical one? I feel like an actor who doesn’t know my lines.”
He didn’t smile again. The light glowed brighter in his eyes, and he leaned in to whisper against my shivering neck.
“I’m not going to bite you, Catherine,” he answered. His hands dropped and I took a quick step away, wondering if I’d imagined him whisper, “Not yet.”
“Passengers, please observe the Fasten Seatbelts sign and return your tray tables to their upright and locked position,” the flight attendant intoned in her falsely cheerful voice. “We’ll be landing in Paris in about twenty minutes. Thank you again for flying Air France.”
I glanced to my left where Gregor sat. He’d been sleeping since just before dawn. Normally I’d have slept as well, but my mind was whirling.
After the incredible pronouncement of my parentage, I was marched upstairs to pack. Or at least, my mother told me to. Gregor followed, took one look inside my closet and then crisply announced that I wasn’t taking anything with me. The disdain in his expression made me give an embarrassed look at my outfit, seeing it through his eyes. Compared to his upscale shirt, jacket, pants and shoes, I suppose I did look a little grubby. Then I was shuttled out the door with barely a goodbye to my mother and grandparents, speeding away to the airport before you could even say white trash. First flight, non-stop from Cleveland to New York. Next stop after a two-hour layover, Paris.
Gregor barely spoke to me the entire time, talking instead in French on his cell phone. In the air, he used the on-board phone until he’d decided to nap. It was just as well. I didn’t know a single thing to say. Oh, I had questions. A thousand of them. I just didn’t know if he’d answer me.
When we stepped off the plane in the afternoon sunlight and he didn’t burst into flames, there was one mystery dispelled. At the gate, he was greeted by two pale-skinned men with dark sunglasses and equally thick accents. They each gave me an appraising once-over that made me uncomfortable. Gregor didn’t bother to introduce them. He simply grasped my shoulder and propelled me toward the exit. A car was waiting, and I turned to him in surprise when we climbed in the back and left the others standing there.
“Aren’t those men coming with us?”
Gregor said something in French to the driver and then turned his attention on me.
“They’re collecting my bags and following afterward. Don’t concern yourself. I have everything arranged.”
In other words, zip it. I bit back a frustrated sigh and reminded myself that my mother said to trust him. Since she didn’t trust anyone, Gregor had to be really something. I wondered why he was interested in me. Was there a Vampire curriculum I had to learn? Would I meet other half-breeds like me? A friend would be so nice to have. Maybe here, I wouldn’t be considered weird. Maybe here, no one cared I was illegitimate. The thought cheered me.
Certainly it looked different. I’d never been in a big city, and Paris was magnificent. The architecture, countless people, buildings…I was dazzled. Soon I forgot to ponder my predicament and became engrossed in the sights as the car sped by.
“It is beautiful, non?” Gregor said. He wore a trace of a smile when I looked back at him. “You will see more of it soon, in a way few others ever get to.”
But he only gave me a secretive grin and refused to elaborate.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at a tall, imposing building of dark gray stone. Gregor nodded at the structure and the driver hurried out to open my door.
“This is my home here, Catherine.”
What should I say? Looks cozy? It didn’t. It appeared large and intimidating, much like the man next to me.
“H-how many people are staying here?”
He held my gaze. “Just us and a few of my staff.”
Oh! Immediately I felt uncomfortable and sought to allay my rising fears. This guy is how much
older than you? He’s big, blond, handsome, and he’s probably got ten girlfriends. You’re fifteen, ugly, and backwoods. Hell, he’s might just be fulfilling some promise to your long-dead dad and can’t wait to unload you.
“It’s nice.” Thank God my voice didn’t waver. “How long will we be here?” I didn’t ask what I really wanted to know.When can I go home?
Something snapped shut in his face and he gestured to the open door. “As long as it takes. Now, come inside.”
Left with no other option, I took the hand offered to me and went into his home.
A woman with rich chestnut hair and full curves waited just inside. She smiled when she saw Gregor, clasping his hands and kissing both his cheeks.
“Cannelle, all is prepared?” he asked, drawing me back when I made to walk away.
“Oui,” she replied, dissecting me with her gaze. “Is this she? Tres es le enfant!”