Fallen grace, p.14
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       Fallen Grace, p.14

           Jessica Cartwright
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  “Of course it was Alex,” I replied. “Why would I make up a story like that?” I was hoping that he was referring to me being a vampire but knowing he wasn’t.

  “You know that’s not what I mean,” he said fiercely walking past me and over to the sofa in my room. He sat heavily, placing his head in his hands. His face was obscured but I could tell his distress. I hesitated briefly at the door before closing it and joining him on the sofa. My nerves were on edge sitting this close to Alex. The heat between us was strong and there was tension in the air. Underdressed in my pyjamas, I couldn’t believe that this was the second time Alex had intruded on me in a state of undress.

  “Alex,” I said softly, forcing myself to place a hand on his arm. The electrical current surged through my body and I fought to keep myself in check. The feelings were even stronger now. “Alex, please look at me.” I pleaded, needing him to look at me so that I could attempt to explain my reasons for ruining his life. He lifted his head, the pain showing on his face.

  “I am going to try to explain as best I can what happened tonight and why I am here. But I need to start at the beginning and explain a few things for you to understand. For me to do that you need to listen and try to wait until I finish before you shout or ask questions or storm out. Ok?” I negotiated.

  “Ok,” Alex said flatly.

  “What you heard earlier is true. I am a vampire and so are Lucas, Katherine and all of the house staff. Vampires do exist and there are more than you think. You come from a very long line of vampires, the Sempre family who are quite important to our race. Lucas is the head of the Vampire Council. The Vampire Council controls the vampire race and make sure that we remain unknown. As a protector I work for the Council, eliminating rouge vampires, providing protection to other vampires and fighting the Acelades. The Acelades are another ancient vampire family. Their sole purpose is to destroy the Sempre family. Your Grandfather asked me to come here and protect you. You are at great risk because of a prophecy that Benedict Acelades, the head of the Acelades family is trying to fulfil.” I finished, holding my breath trying to read his response.

  “I don’t understand,” Alex said confused. “My family is some all powerful vampire family and they are fighting with another family the …Acclode.”

  “Acelades,” I corrected.

  “The Acelades and now these Acelades want me for some prophecy?” Alex continued.

  “Yes. I know it’s a lot to take in,” I replied

  “A lot to take in is an understatement,” he answered. “What makes the Acelades think that I have anything to do with the prophecy?”

  “Well, the prophecy states that a time will come when a child is born of vampires but is not a vampire. That’s you. This child will grow and age with the sun. At the same time another child will be born of vampires and have powers beyond compare. This is Benedict Acelades granddaughter, Scarlet. If these two should meet and their souls be found to be the other’s half they will form a union unlike the world has ever seen. This union will cause the death and destruction of the human world and allow one family to rule all vampires and humans alike.” I stated the prophecy clearly.

  “So what, you’re going to scan every girl I meet to make sure she’s not this Scarlet vampire?” he asked incredulously.

  “Of course not,” I smiled. “I will know Scarlet Benedict far before she gets close enough to you to ask you out. Besides, for the prophecy to come true, you and Scarlet need to consummate your relationship by the time you are 18.”

  “Consummate? Just how old are you?” Alex asked.

  “I didn’t write the prophecy and I’m not that much older than you. I’m eighteen,” I countered.

  “Eighteen? Just how long have you been eighteen? Or do you age like me? How old am I?” Alex thought aloud.

  “Calm down Alex. You age just like a human. I don’t age but, believe me when I was human the word consummate would still have been too risqué for me to say.” I consoled him, trying to make him laugh.

  Alex smiled and looked at me. I could feel myself being drawn to him like nothing else mattered in the world. I felt as though I could stay in this moment with Alex forever. It was unbelievable to me that I hadn’t realised Alex was my other half earlier. He moved towards me slowly and grasped my hand in his. I felt my body surge with love and anticipation. Our faces were now only inches from each other. The hesitation was clear on Alex’s face. Leaning forward I closed the gap between us and our lips met. At first, our kisses were soft and slow. Alex sat next to me, our legs touching, still holding my hands in his, our fingers intertwined. Slowly, the intensity built up and Alex took control, his hands moving around my waist pulling me closer to him. His mouth moved from my lips across my jaw and down my neck. Every kiss burned my skin and sent electrical currents through my body overloading my system until I was sure I could take no more.

  Gently, Alex leaned me back onto the lounge and moved his body so he rested over mine. I could feel his hesitation as he tried valiantly to hold his weight above mine unaware that despite its appearance, my body was like a solid rock. He ran his fingers through my hair staring intently at my face. Both our breaths were ragged. Alex’s lips returned to mine and he kissed me hard, our bodies touching across every plane. My hands moved down his back and I could feel his heart racing.

  The sound of his blood pumping through his system started filling my head in stereo. My body reacted to his presence immediately. I could smell the scent of his blood, a delicate blend of rust, salt and musk. His veins began to appear like a blue print on his body and my eyes were discerning the best vantage point to attack. The heat from his skin reminded me of the warmth that would spread through me as I drank his blood. I could feel the killer in me taking control in a way I had never experienced before. I gathered my strength and pushed Alex away. Confusion swept across his face as I leapt from the sofa and crossed the room to the large windows over looking the estate. Cool night air flooded into the room as I threw open the windows dissipating the tension that had built up in the room.

  “You need to leave,” I ordered Alex, my back still facing him.

  “What… Grace, did I do something wrong?” he asked, worry filling his voice.

  “No, but I might if you don’t leave right now,” I whispered still struggling from control. My muscles were burning and the poison in my fangs was refusing to retreat.

  “What does that mean? You think being with me is wrong somehow?” he demanded, anger replacing the worry.

  “Alex, I really don’t have the patience to deal with this right now. Go back to your room and we can speak in the morning.” I said clutching at the window sill. I grasped it so hard that the wood crumbled in my hand.

  “Look at me Grace. Damn it! I don’t understand you at all. Do you not want to be with me? Because if that’s the case, I’ll leave right now and I won’t bother you again. But I want to you look me in the eye and tell me.” Alex shouted.

  My heart ached for Alex. He had been through hell tonight and I was only making it worse. I knew I needed to tell him to leave, that it had all been a big mistake and that I didn’t want to be with him. If he truly was my other half, I had to do what was necessary to make him safe and happy. Being with me right now was doing neither of those things. Even as I ran through this scenario in my head, I knew I would never make my argument convincing. My only chance was to let him see the killer in me and hope to god that he realised we would never be together. I swallowed hard and turned to face him.

  I watched his expression closely despite the distance between us. My vampire sight allowed me to see his face clearly and I watched for the signs of horror and disgust to appear on his face. I had worn those same emotions the first time I saw my transformation. The face Alex would be seeing was not the Grace he knew. My eyes would be black pools, completely devoid of emotion. My skin would appear like white granite as my muscles prepared for conflict. Blood would have pooled at my lips making them full, with a blue ting
e around the edges. My expression was hard set and unreadable. I raised my arm and opened my palm to show Alex the crumpled window sill all the time searching his face. He stood still watching me, his eyes moving over my body and face slowly as if he were committing me to memory. Without breaking his stare, Alex started walking towards me.

  “Alex, you need to leave. Now!” I growled, not understanding why he was not as disgusted with me as I was.

  “Grace. What has happened to you?’ he asked, still walking towards me.

  “Nothing happened to me Alex. This is what I am. I’m a vampire, a killer. This is what I really look like. Now you can see why you need to leave. You’re not safe to be around me.” I snarled, putting my hand up as a barrier between us.

  “No, this isn’t you,” Alex argued, standing in front of me. “If you were really a killer, you would have killed me instead of pulling away. Those boys at the ball would be dead. You may be a vampire but I don’t believe you are a killer, Grace.”

  We stood there staring at each other in silence. A war for control raged inside me. I knew I didn’t want to kill Alex. Never in my existence as a vampire had I wanted to kill a human, and especially not Alex, my other half. He was a part of me but the ruthless animal in me could only think of how sweet his blood would taste and craved it uncontrollably. Alex placed his hand on my arm. His innocence struck me. He had no idea how much danger he was in and only wanted to ease my pain.

  “Grace, do you want to drink my blood? Would it make being around me easier?” he asked. His voice filled with compassion for my current state. His generosity sobered me instantly. I could feel the muscles in my body relaxing, the poison receding from my fangs and the pools of blackness draining from my eyes. Dropping the broken window sill from my hand, I collapsed against the wall exhausted.

  “No Alex I don’t want to drink your blood. I don’t do that,” I sighed, finally meeting his gaze.

  “What do you mean you don’t do that?” he queried.

  “Drink human blood. I don’t drink human blood only animal blood. After feeling what it’s like to be feasted on, I would never do it to another person,” I answered honestly.

  “Oh,” Alex said surprised. “I didn’t realise, sorry.”

  “There is no need to apologise. You weren’t to know. But I really must insist that we part for the evening. It has been a big night for both of us,” I informed him as I made my way towards the door.

  “What? I couldn’t possibly sleep. I have so many questions,” Alex countered.

  “Alex, you don’t have to sleep but you do need to go. I have to feed and complete an incident report for tonight. I will be here tomorrow to answer your questions I promise.” I finished, smiling at Alex in the door way.

  “I am going to hold you to that Grace,” Alex grinned, kissing me lightly on the cheek as he exited my room.

  I was keyed up and needed to feed. I quickly dressed in my black sweats and runners, jumping swiftly from the window and landing silently on the ground. As I ran through the estate grounds, images of my night with Alex flashed through my mind sending my adrenaline racing. I had never had trouble focusing on hunting before but as I made my way through the forest, my mind continued to wander. Disciplining myself to concentrate, I located a herd of deer and fed quickly. The blood soon flowed through my veins and I regained some focus. There was a definite need to put some distance between Alex and me. I couldn’t risk losing control or worse, allowing Katherine and Lucas to notice that Alex was my other half. There were specific rules in place to prevent protectors from engaging in relationships with their targets, especially when the target was a member of the Sempre family. I remembered the outrage when Katherine and John commenced their relationship and he was no longer her protector and had established himself as a favoured protector of the Council. At least Alex did not understand what it meant to find your other half. His behaviour could be passed off as simple infatuation, provided I could control my actions. I certainly did not want to be removed from Alex’s protection. There was no one else I trusted and I would not miss my opportunity to strike out against the Acelades.

  Returning back to the manor I completed a perfunctory incident report and forwarded it to Marius. By protector standards, the night’s incident was fairly minor. Alex had never really been in danger from Tristan and his friends however, the fact that Scarlet was so nearby, was concerning. I really should have documented the events for Marius to comment on and I was sure that he would have questions for me in the morning. But, the exhaustion was gnawing at me. I knew that Alex would be ready early tomorrow with unlimited questions and I was unlikely to forget the events of the night to discuss with Marius. I fell into bed, my mind still racing, despite my exhaustion. My thoughts continued to return to Alex, sending my adrenaline racing. I focused on my breathing, willing myself to calm down so that I could return to sleep. At some point during the night I slipped into unconsciousness and my dreams returned. I was running again and my fear was intense. The pain was still unbearable as they tore into my skin but the worst was when William left me. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes and could not wake despite my protests to reliving this experience.

  The morning was a blessing. The sun came streaming through the windows and chased the evening and my dreams away. I was thankful it was Sunday and we didn’t have to attend Creswick Academy today. Alex and I needed some more time to organise our story about last night and I felt more in control of Alex’s protection whilst we were at the manor than when we were outside. Still feeling a little groggy, I had a cold shower to recharge my system. Dressing in dark denims and a ruby red v neck sweater I slipped into gold ballet flats and replaced my cross around my neck. I allowed my hair to fall around my face after a light blow dry and kept my makeup simple.

  I made my way to the sofa and opened my laptop to check my emails. As expected, there was an email from Marius requesting that I be available to converse this morning. I was drafting my reply when there was a knock at my door.

  “Come in,” I called, knowing that it was Alex at the door from the sound of his footsteps down the hall. Alex entered the room, his eyes immediately surveying my body. I could feel his heart rate increase and refused to meet his gaze until he was standing beside me, his hand brushing my leg.

  “Are you coming to breakfast?” Alex asked, clearly intending on accompanying me.

  “Hmm, I assumed that since you now know about us it would no longer be necessary to continue the façade. I don’t enjoy the taste of dirt and enjoy choking my food back up even less. How about you go and have some breakfast whilst I finish up here? I am sure that Katherine would enjoy some time with you on your own after last night,” I answered as I sent my email to Marius informing him I was available.

  “You choke your food back up?” Alex asked incredulously.

  “Of course,” I replied “Our stomachs don’t process food and anything besides blood tastes like dirt…. You really do have a lot to learn about our ways. Be kind to Katherine and Lucas. They will be concerned about you but also possibly relieved that they no longer have to pretend.”

  “Ok,” Alex said slowly. I could feel his hesitation.

  “I will be here when you finish Alex to answer your questions as promised.” I smiled hoping that he would leave before Marius called.

  “Great,” Alex said enthusiastically. “Want me to bring you back some blood?”

  I grimaced at Alex’s poor attempt at humour before waving my hand, dismissing him. He left the room chuckling to himself. The door had barely closed when my phone rang.

  “Good Morning Marius,” I answered.

  “Good evening Grace,” Marius replied, clearly from a different time zone. “I received your report. Now I would like your real impressions.”

  “The events of the evening occurred as described in the report. Three humans attempted to attack Alex and I responded as required. During my defensive action I observed puncture wounds on one of the humans. I
t is my assessment that Scarlet had bitten him and was using her ability to control thoughts to access his observations of Alex and his level of protection. There are no indications that she is in the area or has penetrated the Manor. The staff have been briefed and the manor has been locked down.”

  “I am sure Katherine is impressed with that development,” Marius quipped. “What occurred after the incident?” he asked.

  “We returned to manor after giving our cover story to those at the Academy. They appeared to believe our story. The humans were not able to speak at the time of our exit nor, do I believe that they will disclose being assaulted by a girl.” I continued.

  “I am assuming Alex had questions,” he stated.

  “Of course he did. There was no choice but to disclose the reasons behind the night’s events and the true reason for my presence in the manor. Of course Katherine was displeased with the action however, there was no reasonable explanation for the events and Lucas directed me to speak with Alex. I feel that this has caused him to have more questions than answers. But at least now my duties as a protector are easier to fulfil and I am able to implement all safety measures required without impediment.” I reported.

  “I have already spoken with Lucas this morning. He explained the situation Grace. There was no other action you could have taken. Alex’s life is more important than the lies that he has been told. Lucas was aware I did not agree with his handling of the matter. I endorsed your actions as did Lucas and he agrees that Katherine will realise the necessity eventually,” Marius commented.

  “Katherine’s feelings are of little concern to me. Alex’s safety is my only focus and that being said, I would like your review of my assessment,” I requested.

  “I agree with your assessment Grace. I find it highly probably that Scarlet will use any means necessary to get to Alex. She is fast running out of time and she knows that he is being protected. Despite the bravado that the Acelades show, they are not unreasonable enough to charge into a situation without assessing the risk. They need Alex alive to fulfil the prophecy and unharmed would always be preferable.” he assessed.

  “At this time I am happy for Alex to remain at the manor. However I do not believe that school is advisable, at least not until I have the opportunity to survey the area again. Given the increased need for security I will make the necessary amendments to my class schedule to ensure that I am in all of Alex’s classes. This is the second attack in a week. The Acelades are clearly aware that their time is running out and that I have arrived so their chances for obtaining Alex are limited. Moving Alex at this time would give them a great opportunity to attack and I am sure they are expecting us to take that action,” I stated.

  “Moving Alex at this stage would be an unnecessary security risk especially as we have not prepared a safe house for this event. At this time the protector assignment is still unofficial. I am sure that Galen would delight in using this as evidence against Lucas in an attempt to over throw him at the next Council meeting.” Marius said.

  “Galen would most certainly use this,” I confirmed. “Not only is he desperate to lead the Vampire Council but his hatred for me is still strong after nearly two hundred years. It would not be advisable for him to learn about Lucas using a protector for his own means.”

  ‘Then it is agreed. Alex will stay at the manor and away from school until such time as you deem it secure. You will need to submit reports every 48 hours on the current situation so that I may monitor it without raising the alarm of Lucas and Katherine any more than necessary,” Marius directed.

  “As you wish Marius,” I replied.

  “Now what is your assessment of Alex?” Marius asked. “Is he likely to agree with these conditions or attempt to flee to England?”

  My stomach flipped at this question. I was unsure how much information I should provide to Marius and felt torn between my duty as a protector and my fear that I would be removed from the assignment. Taking a deep breath and I considered my reply.

  “The boy has an infatuation with me which is of some assistance in this matter. He has ceased his relationship with the English girl and the chances of him returning there are low. He appears willing to remain at the manor as long as I am present. And at this stage I feel that continuing this charade would be most beneficial to the assignment.” Almost sure my attempt at being nonchalant was failing.

  “It is not surprising that he has developed an attraction for you Grace but I could not possibly ask you to jeopardize yourself for this mission.” Marius replied in a fatherly tone that I knew well.

  “Do not misunderstand me Marius. I stated that the boy was infatuated, not that I intended on commencing a life long relationship with him. I am happy to encourage him to spend time with me for the sake of his protection and will ensure that once the assignment is over he is left with a clear message that our lives will not meet again. Is that acceptable to you?” I asked, hoping that my directions came across objectively.

  “Provided you are happy with this arrangement Grace, I would not second guess your judgement. You are the most gifted and skilled protector I have ever known and I am sure you will complete this assignment impeccably,” Marius complemented.

  “I will leave you to speak with Lucas about the details we have discussed, as I can hear Alex finishing breakfast and I need to brief him again on our cover story before he calls his friends. At last count they had left twenty four messages. I would also like to request more information about Stephan Elsink if you have any. After accessing the Council records, I have obtained no more information about Stephan apart from his initiation to the vampire world with Ms Vanessa Chelanto,” I concluded.

  “I will attempt to find some more information to try and ease your concern Grace. However, Lucas has vetted him and I believe his judgement.” Marius replied and ended the call.

  I closed my laptop and returned it to my satchel which was placed in my wardrobe beside my knife. I wondered briefly if I would ever find William’s knife. Having it would make me feel as if I had part of him and part of John. Shaking these thoughts from my head, I returned to the lounge. Now was no time for reminiscing, Alex was about to learn about the responsibility that comes with knowledge.

  “Come in,” I called out before Alex had an opportunity to knock. He entered the room with one eyebrow raised in my direction. The sight of him caused my body to respond. He was wearing dark distressed denims and a fawn, long sleeved t-shirt. His hair was falling slightly into his face and his eyes sparkled.

  “I have really good hearing,” I replied. “It comes with the territory. I can hear everything that happens in the manor and on most of the grounds.”

  “Really?” Alex asked astonished at first and then embarrassed. No doubt he was recalling his conversations since I came to the manor.

  “Don’t worry. I only listen to what is relevant to my assignment,” I lied. “After this many years I have learnt to train my hearing to only respond to cue words because otherwise it is like living in a shopping centre at Christmas time.” I smiled seeing Alex relax noticeably as he made his way over to the lounge where I was seated.

  “So, what else can you do?” he asked.

  “First things first, we have some things to take care of,” I said, taking control of the situation. “I am not sure about you but I have received quite a few messages from Lauren since last night and I’m sure she has had Daniel calling you as well.” I continued after seeing Alex nod. “The main reason we can maintain our lifestyle inconspicuously is that we ensure our identity is kept secret. It is reasonable to assume that after last night any normal human would call their friends and speak with them. I am sure, if you had not experienced last night’s revelations, you would have already spoken with Daniel today. So what we need to do is call them and reassure them that we are fine and make sure that they believe our story.”

  “Ok. And then, questions,” Alex said.

  “Yes then questions.” I sighed, already feeling exhaust
ed by the day ahead. “Alex, I know you have a lot of questions but you mustn’t rush this phone call in a haste to interrogate me. Part of being a vampire and especially being a Sempre is responsibility. You need to put the good of our race before your own desires.” I lectured him.

  “Sure,” Alex replied, sitting on the lounge next to me. Having him in such close proximity made his scent swirl around me. I swallowed hard focusing my brain on the task at hand. I dialled Lauren’s number and placed the phone on speaker.

  “Hello. Grace? Oh thank God you called. I have been so worried about you. You just left so quickly last night. I mean I know that you were shaken up but I’ve been fretting all night!” Lauren rushed out her words jumbling each word over another.

  “Lauren, Lauren calm down. Alex and I are both fine,” I said calmly trying to ease her concern.

  “How can you be alright? I mean Tristan attacked you, not to mention his slimy friends! I can’t believe them. The school will have to kick them out!” Lauren continued.

  “Lauren, you need to stop,” I said.

  “Sorry, I was just so worried,” Lauren replied waiting for me to start.

  “Lauren, Alex is here with me. We are so sorry that we haven’t called earlier but last night was just so hectic as you can imagine and this is the first time we have had to call you.”

  “Hey Grace, Hey Alex. So what happened last night?” Daniel chimed in.

  “Hi Daniel,” Alex replied.

  “Ok. So last night,” I took control of the situation. “I know it was crazy but Alex and I just had to get out of there. It was all so overwhelming. Alex and I were just outside getting some air and Tristan and his friends came over they were so obnoxious, leering and making cracks at us. He started just making comments but then they took it further. He tried to make a pass at me and thank God Alex was there. He stepped in and Tristan tried to fight him. I screamed and Alistair our driver came running. He helped Alex stop them, but unfortunately not before they had landed a couple of blows on me.” I recounted our false events of last night.

  “You must have been so scared,” Lauren sympathised.

  “It’s ok,” I replied.

  “She was amazing,” Alex said. “Those guys were unbelievable.” He smiled at me and I could hear Lauren whispering to Daniel about us.

  “Anyway, we aren’t going to school tomorrow obviously. I’m not going back until they can assure me that Tristan and his friends won’t be there and I’m only going to feel safe if I have the same classes as Alex. I don’t want to be walking around the school on my own.” I laid the groundwork for the changes if and when we returned to school.

  “Of course,” Lauren agreed. “I’m sure having Alex there would make you feel better. Maybe we can come over tomorrow after school? You and I have so much to catch up on,” Lauren said knowingly.

  I could feel Alex shift uncomfortably next to me as I averted his gaze. There was no way I wanted to speak with Lauren about Alex and me. I needed to keep things as low key as possible and having her gush about us wasn’t going to help. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt Alex any more than absolutely necessary when I left.

  “We will see Lauren. Alex’s Mom and Grandfather are pretty freaked out about what happened but if they are ok then sure,” I answered noncommittally.

  “Ok guys, we will call you after school tomorrow. Be good.” Daniel chuckled.

  I ended the call and sat back on the lounge rubbing my temples. Lauren was not going to let this go. I was very aware of Alex sitting next to me. His legs barely touching mine were sending electric waves through my body. His eyes were watching me carefully as I rested my head.

  “What’s wrong?” Alex asked.

  “This is getting complicated,” I replied.

  “Why?” he questioned.

  “Because they know about us,” I sighed.

  “I doubt they know that you’re a vampire,” Alex said incredulously.

  “They know something happened between us last night and you know Lauren won’t let up until she has all the details.” I corrected Alex.

  “Is that so bad? Why don’t you want people to know?” The hurt was clear in his voice.

  “There are rules Alex. Rules that govern what I do and what we did last night is in direct violation of those,” I explained.

  “Oh” Alex answered.

  “Anyway enough about my problems,” I said sitting up and attempting to redirect the conversation to a more cheerful front “You said you had some questions?”

  “About a million!” Alex smiled instantly distracted from our previous discussion. His face lit up at the prospect of getting his answers and turned on the sofa to face me directly. He placed his arm carelessly over the back of the lounge, his fingers reaching through my hair. It seemed so casual but sent my body into chaos. I focused on my breathing, freezing my body, to ensure I maintained control. Once I had calmed my instincts I turned to face Alex.

  “You are unlikely to get your answers if you continue distracting me Alex. My self control is not that strong,” I informed him.

  “Sorry,” Alex replied sheepishly. His grin suggesting he was quiet pleased to cause this reaction in me. “So, you don’t drink human blood but what about the others?”

  “Other vampires drink human blood. Those who are part of the Council or aligned with the Council have access to the Sempre blood banks. Obviously this was not always the case. But since we have understood how to harvest blood that is how we feed. In the past it was necessary to feed on humans, however, this can be achieved without killing them provided you have the necessary restraint and if they have been plied with liquor. So I am led to believe,” I answered.

  “What about those vampires that aren’t with the Council?” he queried.

  “Unfortunately, the members of the Acelades family, as well as some rouge vampires enjoy feeding on humans without restraint. It is regrettable and we attempt to minimise it as much as possible,” I said, my voice toned with disgust.

  “If you don’t drink all their blood, how do you make new vampires?” Alex quizzed.

  “Well, a decision can still be made to transform a person into a vampire. This can happen if a vampire falls in love with a human, if a human loses their family to vampires or any other number of reasons. If this happens, then a vampire must apply to the Council to seek approval for the transformation. Obviously, there are some who complete the transformation without this approval. However it does help to maintain the numbers and allow us to keep somewhat accurate records. New vampires are also born like you and Katherine. It is rare, but it does happen. No one really understands how we are able to have children as our bodies aren’t alive. But, it appears that some couples are able to have one child provided that one of the parents is a made vampire,” I stated.

  “I don’t understand. If you have to seek approval from the Council, why do you say they feasted on you? Don’t they explain what’s going to happen before you decide to become a vampire?” Alex said puzzled.

  “I was not brought to the Council for transformation. There is a specific exception in the vampire law that when a human has been attacked by a vampire not of the Council, a decision can be made by a Council member to complete the transformation if they feel that the human has information pertinent to the Council’s protection. I was created under this exception.” I explained.

  “So, who made you?” Alex asked the question I had hoped to avoid.

  “Lucas was the one who performed my transformation,” I answered.

  “But why?” he pressed.

  “My story is neither interesting nor representative of how we live. I’m sure you have lots of other questions that relate to our way of life,” I redirected.

  “I find your story interesting,” Alex continued.

  “Well I have no intention of reliving my past Alex. Please respect my wishes.” I said softly. There was no way I was strong enough to go through my story with Alex this close to me. I didn’t want him to know
about William and how I couldn’t help him. Even as I sat here, sadness came to my eyes. Alex reached out cupping my face with his hand.

  “I’m sorry Grace. I won’t ask you again,” he promised. His hand lingered a few moments. “So, I know you’ve got ultra hearing. Do you have any other super talents?” He changed direction of the conversation, removing his hand.

  “I don’t know if I’d call them super talents but there are certain improvements when you become a vampire. They basically fall into three categories: speed, strength and senses. We become incredibly fast, very strong and our senses are improved. Our bodies become attuned for hunting and all that entails. Protectors like me train these senses to gain all the benefits we can from our improvements. These are necessary when come up against certain threats like Scarlet.”

  “What about transforming?” Alex asked animatedly.

  “What about transforming?” I laughed. “I’m not an Autobot!”

  “Well, I don’t know. Aren’t you supposed to be able to turn into a bat or something?” he countered.

  “The movies don’t get everything about vampires right Alex. I mean you’ve seen me outside during the day haven’t you?” I answered.

  “How do you go out in the sun?” He set off on a new direction.

  “The sun doesn’t burn us like people think. It is very uncomfortable at the beginning, don’t get me wrong. The sun burns your eyes and your skin which is probably why most vampires chose to only go out at night, but you build up a tolerance. Provided you feed regularly, the effects of the sun are minimal after about a decade,” I replied.

  “A decade? You say it like it’s a week,” Alex said.

  “Well, when you’re immortal a decade is like a week in a really, really, long year,” I shrugged.

  There was a soft knock at the door and I could hear Sienna standing outside. By the gentle swirling I could hear I knew she was carrying a fresh pitcher. No matter how well Alex appeared to be adjusting to all this information, I doubted that he was ready to see me drink blood. Nor was I willing for him to see me at my weakest. I walked to the door and opened it slightly. Sienna appeared slightly startled at not being allowed to enter my room. I simply shook my head at the offer of blood and was thankful that I had fed heartily last night. In a low voice I informed her that Alex was in my room and that it would not be appropriate for him to see my feeding no matter how civilised it was presented. I thanked Sienna for her thoughtfulness and organised to attend the kitchen when Alex retired for lunch.

  “Who was that?” Alex asked after a failed attempt to see around the door from the lounge.

  “Sienna,” I replied providing no further explanation.

  “What did she want?” he continued.

  “She was bringing my breakfast,” I answered.

  “But I thought…oh,” My explanation dawning on Alex. “I don’t mind if you eat in front of me. It’s not like a dog or a kitten is it?” his resolve shaking.

  “Don’t be ridiculous Alex. I am not going to eat in front of you and no I don’t eat domestic animals so Duke is safe.” I snapped mostly out of shame.

  “I’m sorry Grace. I didn’t mean to offend you,” Alex said remorsefully.

  “It’s fine.” I dismissed him walking to open a window.

  “Seriously Grace. I’m ok with it,” Alex said valiantly.

  “No you’re not and I wouldn’t expect you to be either. I will never feed in front of you, not even from the supply they keep in the house,” I stated strongly.

  “Why not?” Alex questioned.

  “I’m not safe to be around when I’m feeding and it’s not something Katherine, Lucas or I ever want you to experience,” I replied.

  “Where do you feed then?” He continued with a line of questioning I was not all that happy to pursue.

  “I hunt in the forest to feed, ensuring that I don’t impact on the wildlife to a great extent. Your grandfather has been kind enough to import some animal blood for me to have in the house if I am unable to hunt due to security reasons. Due to my diet, I need to eat more frequently than others. I tend to get irritable when I’m hungry,” I explained.

  I walked over to the sofa where Alex was seated and placed my hand lightly on his shoulder. My palm tingled at the touch of his skin and I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation.

  “Let’s go outside,” I suggested, feeling claustrophobic in my room. “I’m sure Duke would like some attention and Martha loves any excuse to serve food on the patio.”

  “Sure. Sounds great,” Alex replied.

  Alex and I strolled outside and were met by Duke bounding up to us from George’s shed. The smile that spread across Alex’s face at the sight of his dog was heart warming. Duke planted a paw on both shoulders and licked Alex’s face, his tail wagging manically. The next few hours were spent with Alex and me lounging on the patio and Duke frantically playing fetch. Alex’s questions seemed endless. It was as if he were trying to learn all of the ways of the vampire world in one day. Finally Martha provided a reprieve with the provision of lunch. I absented myself from Alex whilst he enjoyed his lunch and attempted to stop Duke from stealing his club sandwich.

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