Fallen grace, p.11
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       Fallen Grace, p.11

           Jessica Cartwright
 
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~10~

  I lay there writhing in pain, unable to move from the ground. I could feel the warm blood trickling from my stomach. The cut was deep and rough. The pain unbearable. I fought the darkness that sought to envelop me. They said William would come for me. What did that mean? How could William be here and not have returned to us. I summoned all my strength and rolled over, climbing to my knees.

  The fog was still dense and I couldn’t make out the house but I knew I could not stay here. They might come back for me. Crawling across the ground, I bit down on the screams that attempted to escape my mouth from the pain. I could see my blood pooling on the ground and felt the sharp jolts of pain from my twisted ankle. Blood trickled down my wrist and neck from where they had fed on me. I was dazed and confused. I couldn’t understand what had happened. All I knew was that I was in pain and William was near. Why would they use William as a threat?

  I had only managed to crawl a few metres when my arms gave way beneath me. Tears streamed down my face and I collapsed in exhaustion. I did not know how long I lay there but it felt like hours. I could feel my life seeping from me. My body continued to throb as the blood continued to exit my wounds. All of a sudden, I knew he had come.

  “William?” I called, not believing he was really alive.

  “Grace? What have they done to you?” His voice was familiar but different, harsher and pained.

  “William, please tell me what’s happening? Where are you?” I pleaded, struggling to sit. William stood away from me, his arms pinned to his body, his fists balled. His eyes were black and his face pale and drawn.

  “I can’t help you Grace,” William said through gritted teeth.

  “William, please, I’m badly hurt. Father is out there somewhere. Please, you must help. I don’t understand. William? William?” I cried out, trying to move towards him despite the incredible pain.

  “Grace, you don’t know what I am but I am not safe for you to be around. I have to go. I will try and find someone to save you.” William replied, his voice heavy with sadness and pain. I saw him melt into the fog and disappear.

  “William please, please help me. I think I am dying,” I sobbed but he did not return. I lay down on the ground and waited for death to find me. I saw the blackness coming and welcomed it.

  “Oh my dear, what have they done to you?” I heard him whisper as his hand touched my arm. I struggled to open my eyes. My vision was blurry at first but he soon came into focus, standing over me in his black cape and hat. I gasped and tried to move but pain seared through me. I cried out in a mixture of fear and pain.

  “Calm yourself my dear. I do not seek to harm you. Who did this to you?” He asked kindly.

  “I don’t know.” My voice came out as a whisper. I didn’t know who he was but I trusted him.

  “You have been gravely harmed my dear but, I can see you have fought hard to survive. I can help you live and seek justice on those who harmed you,” he continued.

  “William. They have William I must find him. He is alive and he is hurting,” I managed to choke out.

  “Was he with you? Did they get him too?” he stated with concern, looking around for William.

  “No. He came but went. He said he could not help me. I need to find him!” I pleaded with as much conviction as I could muster.

  “Calm yourself. I will do what I can to help you. Allow me to take you back to my residence and explain what I can offer you,” he said politely, making it appear as though I had an option.

  “Please,” I replied. He lifted me into his arms.

  “Who are you?” I asked, as he placed me into his carriage.

  “I am Lucas Sempre. I knew your father and I will ensure you are given vengeance.” He introduced himself with authority in his promise. It was then I knew that my parents were dead but William. William was still alive and I would find him. I knew Lucas would save me and I would never be the same.

  My alarm shouting from across the room interrupted my dream. I woke in a start, my breath gasping. I orientated myself to the present day. It was morning. The sun was streaming into the room. It struck the crystal goblet that was placed on my bedside table. It cast a colourful display across my wall. Eventually, my breathing returned to normal. I poured myself several glasses of blood before exiting my bed.

  I felt unsettled remembering that night. It had been a long time since Lucas had featured in my nightmare. Trying to distract myself, I focused my attentions on getting ready for school. I completed each task in isolation, shower, makeup and hair. Soon I felt I had regained control over my thoughts and emotions. I reached out my mind to Alex, who was still in his room walking around. I could only guess he was packing his bag. It was an awkward feeling knowing that he and Olivia had broken up yet having to pretend that I didn’t know. I wondered how he was feeling today. I knew I would not have to wait long to find out. I glanced at the clock and noted the time was 7:30am. Breakfast would now be served in the dining room. I grabbed my satchel and left the room. I could hear Alex still in his room and so I knocked lightly on his door.

  “Alex?” I called out softly, to no reply.

  “Alex? Are you coming to breakfast?” I asked louder this time.

  “What?” he called out. “Come in.”

  I took a deep breath, already feeling his scent burning down my throat. Opening the door I stepped in Alex’s room and noticed the change immediately. All of Olivia’s photos had been removed. Alex was moving around the room, collecting his scattered school items. He looked tired. He had large black circles under his eyes and his hair sticking out every which way.

  “You ok?” I asked hesitantly.

  “Huh,” he looked distracted. “Yeah, yeah fine. Just getting ready.”

  “Well, you look like crap and all of Olivia’s photos are gone,” I said bluntly.

  “You noticed that, huh,” Alex stopped and turned to look at me, his eyes full of sadness and another emotion I could not distinguish. Sympathy flooded my mind. I felt terrible for Alex and worse for the role I had played in his relationship demise.

  “Yup, so spill.” I called Alex on his deflection.

  “It just wasn’t working. I mean we live on different continents. How were we supposed to keep a relationship up? We’d only been together for a short while before I left so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Alex explained.

  “Ok.” I accepted his explanation. I knew he wasn’t being completely honest but I could give him this much privacy considering I was listening in on all of his conversations. His mind should at least be his own.

  “Well, are you coming to breakfast or do you want to stay up here and sulk?” I asked, trying to lighten the situation.

  Alex looked up and saw the grin on my face. His face softened in reply and he returned my smile, following me out of the room. Alex sighed as we got near the dining room. I could only imagine it was at the thought of having to eat breakfast with Katherine and Lucas.

  “Not looking forward to telling your mom and grandfather?” I asked.

  “Not really. Especially when mom has been telling me all along it wouldn’t work.” Alex sighed again, leaning against the wall next to the door. I made a quick decision and figured that a small change in routine would not put us at too much risk.

  “Ok then, we are going out for breakfast,” I said to Alex before quickly darting my head into the dining room.

  “Alex is taking me out for breakfast,” I called out to Lucas and Katherine who looked startled. I didn’t wait for their response before heading towards the front doors. Alex followed me slightly confused but looking relieved none the less. Alistair wasn’t ready for us when we exited the manor but we didn’t have to wait long. He quickly exited the car and looked concerned about his delay.

  “Sorry for the change in plans Alistair but I appreciate you brining my car so quickly,” I thanked Alistair, trying to alleviate his concerns. I knew that he hoped to become a protector one day and my recommendation would assist him greatly
.

  “It’s probably a good thing you haven’t had breakfast.” I smiled at Alex as I slid into the car. A look of mock horror spread across his face until he could contain his laughter no more and chuckled as he sat in the passenger seat. I nodded at Alistair in the rear view mirror as I drove down the driveway.

  Breakfast away from the manor seemed to revive Alex a little and by the time we reached the school, he was laughing as he recalled the way Tristan had looked when we arrived at school yesterday. He added that part of him wished that Tristan would be there again today. It was hard for me to believe that this last part was in jest given that Alex had just broken up with Olivia and I appeared to be the cause of this split. Pretending not to have picked up on this statement, I rebuked Alex jokingly for wishing Tristan on me. I informed him that I still had twenty four hours to come down with a serious illness that would prevent me from attending the ball.

  Due to our breakfast stop, we arrived at school a little later than usual. I saw Daniel’s car already parked in the lot. I pulled up next to them. They were still sitting in the car, music blaring through the closed windows. Thankfully my car was not too noticeably distinct from the others in the car park. The Kevlar plates and bullet proof glass would only be recognised by a trained eye and I highly doubted that any Creswick students had a background in security. I did a quick scan of the area before I exited the car and was satisfied that no threats were detected. The lack of vampire activity in the area, combined with the intent of Acelades to get Alex, was slightly off putting. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t at least have a surveillance crew in the area or at least a scout or two. I shrugged off these questions and focused on the task at hand. When the Acelades struck, I would be ready. The presence of a surveillance crew or scout would only have provided me with some amusement in the interim period and therefore could be dispensed with. That was probably the reckoning of Benedict. I was not only famous in the Sempre world; the $5,000,000 Acelades bounty on my head told me that.

  “Hey there, we were beginning to think you might be ditching today,” Daniel informed us as he and Lauren exited their car.

  “No. Just stopped for breakfast on the way,” I replied as I exited the car.

  “Were you mugged on the way?” Daniel nodded towards Alex, who had also exited the car.

  “I had… I had a bad night,” Alex stammered.

  “Are you alright?” Lauren asked raising her head from Daniel’s shoulder, her eyes full of concern.

  “Yeah, fine,” Alex said as he turned and started his way up to the school.

  Lauren looked at me questioningly. I shrugged, feigning ignorance and followed Alex up to school. I could tell that Lauren did not believe me and I was sure that she would interrogate me at the first opportunity. Almost gratefully, I made my way to biology. I easily made my way through the mill of students wandering towards their morning classes. My mind wandered as I made my way to the lab. The distraction cost me as I almost bowled over Tristan as we both attempted to enter the lab at the same time. Our bodies meet in almost full contact. Tristan was forced back as I failed to control my strength. Thankfully, my reflexes were faster than his and I managed to pull him towards me so it appeared I had borne the brunt of the collision. Tristan allowed his arms to linger around my body far longer than necessary. I fought every instinct not to body slam him away from me.

  “You’re blocking my way,” I said finally gesturing towards the door.

  “Oh. Sorry.” Tristan said, not sounding at all convincing. “I just wanted to give you a chance to recover after I swept you off your feet.”

  Swallowing the fury I felt, I smiled at Tristan, extricated myself from his arms and walked into the classroom. I spent the remainder of the lesson snapping away pieces of the bench in an attempt to release my frustration. Tristan spent most of the lesson casting glances in my direction, until he was instructed to keep his eyes to the front of the room unless he desired detention. I made it out of the door and into the corridor before the last bell rang signalling the end of the period. I did not want another repeat with Tristan. I was not sure I had the self restraint necessary to control my reaction. As I expected the minute I entered math, Lauren started firing questions at me about Alex.

  “What happened after you left movies last night?” she asked.

  “Nothing, we went home and went to bed,” I replied.

  “And this morning?” she continued.

  “I don’t know. He looked like that when he came out of his room this morning so we ate breakfast out. I thought it would cheer him up but obviously not.” I shrugged.

  “And you’re not at all concerned?” Lauren asked incredulously.

  “Well. Of course it’s not good and clearly something has upset him but I am sure he will tell us when he is ready. I really don’t know him that well so I wouldn’t like to push,” I replied honestly.

  “I guess,” Lauren agreed half heartedly.

  “I bet he had a fight with Olivia,” she said a few minutes later, clearly finding Alex’s current disposition more interesting than the algebra we were supposed to be focusing on.

  “Possibly,” I replied noncommittally.

  “Hmm… well I guess we will find out at lunch anyway. Daniel spent all morning with him. No way he didn’t find out,” she mused. Finally the bell sounded for lunch and I was free from having to discuss the matter any further.

  As we approached the cafeteria, I could see Alex and Daniel standing at the doorway with their backs towards us.

  “So, she has no idea?” I heard Daniel ask.

  “No. I mean she knows we broke up but I didn’t tell her that it had to do with her. It’s not her fault that Olivia is crazy. Besides, we have to live together. I don’t want to weird her out,” Alex replied. I could feel my pulse quickening and was glad that we were still far enough away for Lauren not to hear.

  “Well, I am sure that she and Lauren spent the morning analysing the demise of your relationship.” Daniel smiled patting Alex on the shoulder.

  “I doubt it. Grace doesn’t seem like the sort of girl who gossips,” Alex disagreed.

  “Excellent,” Lauren squealed, clapping her hands together excitedly. “Alex has obviously told him what happened.”

  I looked at her, raising my eyebrow.

  “What? I like gossip!” She shrugged.

  “Hey there.” She smiled greeting Daniel and Alex who turned to meet us.

  “Hello ladies,” Alex greeted us.

  “Lauren, Grace shall we?” Daniel said holding open the door for us.

  As we collected our lunch, I could see Lauren and Daniel whispering conspiringly across the salad bar.I looked at Alex who saw them whispering and shook his head. He looked at me and smiled.

  “Daniel never has been able to keep a secret from her,” he said as he caught me staring.

  “Oh,” was all I could think of in reply.

  “I’m guessing you pretended not to know and now you think that Daniel is going to rat you out?” he guessed.

  “Kind of, I just don’t want Lauren to be upset with me. I really like her.” I replied honestly surprising myself.

  “Don’t worry,” Alex said placing his hand on my arm sending currents of electricity through my body. My head was swimming in his scent. I felt my vision go blurry and my fangs filling with poison. Forcing my resolve to return, I focused my efforts on not smashing the bowl into pieces I held in my hands. Swallowing hard, I placed my salad on Alex’s tray and walked over to the drink area. Once away from him, my head cleared even if my arm continued to tingle where his hand had been. I grabbed two sodas as Lauren came over to me.

  “You’ve been holding out on me,” Lauren stated as she grabbed a soda.

  “I know, I’m sorry,” I apologised.

  “It’s fine. I’m impressed actually. I wish I could keep a secret. Alex is lucky he can confide in you,” she said.

  “Well I wouldn’t call it confiding,” I said slightly emba
rrassed, looking over at Alex and Daniel who were waiting for us.

  “Not yet, but he will.” She smiled knowingly, walking towards the boys.

  “I… ah…” Finding nothing to say, I walked towards the boys as well, feeling a little exposed.

  Thankfully, after finding out the source of Alex’s discontent, Lauren soon became consumed in the Fire and Ice Ball again. The rest of the day was spent listening to Lauren alternate between gushing over her plans for the ball and questioning me about mine. I managed to convince her that a hairstylist was coming to the house to prepare me for the event. She agreed not to come to the house to take me with her to her appointment. I was certain however, that after doing my own hair for almost two hundred years, I could make myself presentable for the ball.

  I was feeling exhausted by the time the final bell rang and was very happy to see Alex already waiting by the car for me. He smiled at me as I approached with Lauren, still chatting, next to me.

  “Hey there. Has she managed to talk you out of coming to the ball yet?” he asked nodding, towards Lauren.

  “I am just trying to make sure that your date is the belle of the ball tomorrow night. Well, after me of course,” Lauren replied, with a cheeky smile.

  “Come here Grace. Let me get you away from that obsessed ball feign.” Alex joked, wrapping his arm around me and pulling me towards him. I allowed myself to be guided because, unlike with Tristan, I liked the way it felt to be in Alex arms. My body felt like it was on fire; Alex’s scent was so thick I could almost taste it. After a couple of seconds, I righted myself, stepping slightly away from Alex. But, not before I saw Daniel raise his eyebrow at Alex. The interaction was not lost on Lauren either. She smiled knowingly and looked at Daniel.

  “Well, we better get home. Katherine and Lucas will worry if we’re late seeing as though we bailed on breakfast this morning.” I was trying to break what was fast becoming an uncomfortable moment.

  “Yeah, I guess your right,” Alex agreed and made his way to the passenger side door. We said our goodbyes to Lauren and Daniel, making plans to meet them tomorrow at the entrance to the ball.

  As I entered the car I looked over to see Tristan standing by his car. His face was full of fury as he looked at Alex and me. Trying to pretend I didn’t see him, I quickly entered the car out of his line of sight. I sat back in my seat and took a deep breath. Immediately, I knew it was a mistake. My lungs were filled with Alex’s scent and it took very once of my control not to lean over and sink my teeth into his delicate throat. I fumbled trying to get the windows down to dilute his scent. Alex was looking at me. I quickly started the car and pulled out fast throwing him back in his seat. Driving faster than I should, swerving in and out of traffic I allowed the air to rush into the car. Slowly the poison receded from my mouth. I was able to take another breath. I inhaled shallowly, not sure if the scent would be diluted enough and not sure my control would hold in this tiny cabin.I could still smell Alex but it was nowhere near as strong. If I tilted my head to the side, I was able to feel the breeze from outside the car.

  I knew Alex was staring at me. My driving must have been frightening him. At the very least it was not very human. That was reason enough for me to slow down. I eased my foot off the accelerator and pulled out of the fast lane.

  “Sorry,” I said with no further explanation.

  “About what,” he asked innocently. Clearly, he was going to make me explain my behaviour. Another lie to make up made me feel weary.

  “That we will be home in enough time for you and Katherine to have a long talk before dinner,” I replied, hoping that I could direct the attention away from me.

  “Don’t worry,” he laughed. “I would have driven away that fast from Tristan too if I saw him looking like that.”

  “Yeah, well he probably thought he was in with a chance after biology today.” I shrugged.

  “What do you mean?” Alex asked loudly, turning in his seat to face me.

  “I just meant, well, I was walking into biology today and we kind of ran into each other. He caught me as I fell backwards.” I stumbled out, surprised by Alex’s reaction.

  “Really!” Alex spat as his hands balled into fists, his knuckles white.

  “It wasn’t like I meant for it to happen and neither did he,” I responded, a little put off.

  “I’m sure you didn’t. I don’t believe HE didn’t mean it for a second,” Alex said harshly, looking out the window. I was already regretting bringing up the topic but I certainly did not want to leave it like this.

  “It doesn’t even matter Alex. Truly, it was a non event. Besides, how exactly do you think Tristan meant for it to happen? Do you think he was waiting down the hall to line me up and knock me to the ground?” I asked hoping he would realise how ridiculous he sounded but also a little concerned that Tristan might have actually done so.

  “Well when you put it like that,” Alex said, I could see his fists releasing. “It does seem unlikely.”

  “Exactly. Now I would really rather not spend another minute talking about Tristan. Ugh!” I smiled at Alex, hoping he would relax.

  Alex seemed to relax as we drove home but my mind was distracted. I couldn’t keep testing myself like this. I needed to feed and I needed to feed properly. Being around Alex all the time was testing my self control. I needed to be up to the challenge of any threat from the Acelades. Alistair was still making his way up to the front steps when we arrived at the Manor. He looked confused, checking his watch, wondering how he was late. I exited the car quickly, not waiting for Alex to open my door.

  “Don’t ask,” I said to Alistair as I passed him. “Meet me in my room in ten minutes,” I continued in a voice low enough that Alex would not hear. He gave a short nod and entered the car as if the exchange had not happened. Alex and I walked up to the door and were greeted by Michael.

  “Ms Katherine would like to see you, Master Alex,” Michael informed us as he closed the door.

  “I’ll bet it’s about this morning,” Alex replied, looking helplessly at me.

  “Well, she didn’t ask to see me, so I think you’re on your own for this one.” I smiled in return and started towards the stairs.

  “Gee, thanks!” Alex said laughing as he turned towards his mother’s sitting room.

  I quickly made my way up the stairs and into my room. Changing out of my school uniform, I selected a pair of charcoal pants and a fuchsia sweater, completing the outfit with a black silk scarf and ballet flats. I had just finished wrapping the scarf around my neck when there was a knock at the door. I made my way quickly across the room, opening the door to find Alistair waiting nervously on the other side.

  “Please come in and sit down,” I invited him, gesturing towards the lounge area. I seated myself in one of the arm chairs and waited for Alistair to do the same.

  “I will make this brief. I need to leave the manor tonight for a short period of time. It is nothing for you to concern yourself with but I have some things I need to take care of. I will wait to leave until after Alex has gone to bed but I will need for you to guard him whilst I am gone. George will cover the exterior and you will be responsible for the interior protection. I will be available to return during this time and will not be too far away so I will hear your call should you deem my assistance necessary. If there is any sign whatsoever of another vampire or another disturbance in the area, I expect to receive that call immediately. Are we understood?” I asked.

  “Of course Grace. It would be my honour to be permitted to protect Alex. Might I ask exactly where you will be and for how long you might be gone, just so that I can prepare myself fully?” Alistair quickly added his last remark in response to my shift in body posture. I was not used to being questioned. My orders were generally followed without requiring a reason but given the circumstances, I could understand Alistair’s need for information. This was by far the most important protection assignment he had ever conducted and the assigned protector appeared to be rel
inquishing her responsibilities for a personal errand.

  “Whilst not pertinent to my request for your assistance, I suppose my location may be of use for directing any distress calls. I will be in the forest of the estate and I do not expect to be hunting for more than one hour before I return. I am sure you are aware of my… let’s call them unique dietary needs and given the attacks that will most likely ensue in the near future, I need to be at full strength,” I replied in a matter of fact tone.

  “Of course. I would expect nothing less from the great Grace Kennedy,” Alistair responded.

  “Greatness is not a term I neither care for nor deserve Alistair. Do not grant a person a higher rank than they deserve. We are only as good as the assignment we are currently completing. When you are a protector, you will learn that.” I chided him, then stood and walked over to the pitcher of blood that had been placed on my bedside table. Alistair took this as his dismissal and left the room silently. I drank until the pitcher was drained but still did not feel satisfied. I knew that I would feel better after feeding tonight and used that knowledge to calm my muscles which were tight and twisted from the day’s events.

  I found Lucas in his study, dressed as usual in a suit. Today’s suit was navy blue accompanied by a cream shirt; his tie, which had obviously been discarded some hours earlier, hung on the back of his chair. A pile of papers sat in front of him and he appeared deeply absorbed in their contents as I approached.

  “I wish I had a personal assistant that was as good at his job as you are Grace.” Lucas greeted me not looking up from his desk.

  “Good afternoon Lucas. Still trying to run every facet of the business I see,” I replied, taking a seat on the armchair, facing his desk.

  “What can I say? Old habits die hard I’m afraid. It is rather difficult to trust managing directors these days,” he admitted, sitting back in his chair.

  “Well, I pity the misguided fool who attempts to cheat you, Lucas.” I complemented him honestly.

  “Thank you Grace. Now, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” he asked.

  “I just wanted to inform you that I will be leaving the manor briefly tonight to feed in the estate forest. Alistair will run interior protection whilst George will be stationed outside. It will be late when I leave and I will make sure that Alex is asleep before I do,” I informed him.

  “Is that all?” Lucas asked me looking a little confused.

  “Yes,” I stated.

  “I must admit I am a little befuddled as to why you would need to inform me of your movements but you obviously find it pertinent to the assignment. You should know that I would never disagree with a protection decision you make Grace. I hope you are not seeking approval to feed from me?” he asked.

  “I just want you to be fully briefed on my plans Lucas. I know I stated that I would not leave Alex but I feel it is necessary for me to feed properly so that I have adequate strength to meet an Acelades attack,” I responded.

  “Well, in that case, I hope you find some good game out there.” Lucas smiled kindly at me and returned to his paperwork.

  It was not until much later that night that I got an opportunity to see what game I could find. I had spent the afternoon listening to Alex recount the ‘things don’t always work out’ speech he had received from his mother. I laughed hysterically as he attempted to imitate her. Dinner was mostly occupied by Katherine’s excited ramblings about the Fire and Ice Ball the next evening. After dinner, Alex and I had watched a movie with Katherine before I claimed exhaustion and took an early exit to bed. On my way I went via the kitchen where George and Martha were eating supper. I briefed George on my plans for the evening. As I looked out my window now, I could see him making his way to below Alex’s window. After waiting for Alex to fall asleep, I had changed into my black running suit. Alistair was posted outside his door and George was almost in position.

  I made my way quickly down the stairs of the Manor and out into the night. As I entered the forest, my body felt alive and the adrenalin was making my nerves tingle. The hunter in me had taken over and I was scouting the area for prey. It did not take long before I became aware of a pack of wolves who were watching me as I made my way through the forest. Their alpha male was closest to me on my left and appeared to pick up on my animal like hunting techniques. We stalked together through the forest for a short distance before coming across a herd of deer resting in the forest. I allowed the wolves to have them as their prize and continued on alone.

  There was a heavy mist in the forest. It clung to the trees and my clothes like a damp breeze. I could feel the animals around me and waited until I could single out the one I wanted to find. I took my time approaching it to make sure I was in power. I did not want to waste time unnecessarily on a chase. The coyote was stalking its prey and was unaware of my approach, until it was too late. My attack was quick and fatal. I sunk my fangs into the beast, immobilising it with my poison. The blood flowed into my mouth and I could feel its strength and power. The muscles in my body responded and absorbed every molecule. I fed twice more whilst I was in the forest, my thirst finally satiated.

  My body was better for having fresh blood. My muscles relaxed and responded more easily as I glided through the forest. The haze in my mind lifted and my senses were sharper. I ran back to the manor, enjoying how the dampness of the fog felt cool against my skin which was warm from my recent feed. I nodded at George as I leapt silently up the front steps and slid through the oak door. Alistair gave me a small nod as I passed him on the landing. He made his way upstairs to where his wife Emma was waiting. The clock in my room informed me that it was almost three. I quickly changed into my nightgown and slid into bed. Within seconds, I was asleep.

 
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