Blood and FireWillow Rose
Nine Months Before the Halloween Block-Party
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Copyright Willow Rose 2018
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
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No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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Nine Months Before the Halloween Block-Party
The bonfire glistened in the darkness and lit up their faces. Kate let a sigh out and leaned her head against Blake's shoulder. The beer felt cold in her hand. She drank from it and closed her eyes. She felt good, finally. There were still four months till graduation. She still had time.
One of the girls started to dance. Kate chuckled. The buzz from the beer had set in, making her relax. It had been a rough few months, and her parents would kill her if they knew she was out partying with her friends instead of studying at home. After her grades had dropped drastically in her second grading period, they had barely let her go anywhere or do anything. She had to think about her future, they kept telling her.
Kate hadn't applied for any colleges. Her parents didn't know yet and she feared the day she would have to tell them. But she simply couldn't. Kate was sick of school. Student burnout her guidance counselor had called it when handing her the pamphlet with the girl on the cover who was rubbing her forehead and looked like she was in pain. Yes, Kate was burnt out. You could call it that, but the fact was, she was done with school. Once she graduated, she wasn't going to school anymore. Never again.
So, what was she going to do? Travel the world. That was her magic plan. She would apply for a job at the local Dairy Queen and save up for a trip around the world. Maggie Munson from down the street had done it and so would Kate. She simply couldn't sit still anymore. Twelve years had to be enough. What did she need all this education for anyway? She was just going to marry some rich guy like her mother had and spend the rest of her life taking care of their kids. This was it for her if she ever wanted to see the world, if she ever wanted to do something with her life before it was over.
"Are you warm enough?" Blake asked. "You want my jacket?"
"I'm fine," Kate said with an exhale. She wasn't going to think about this too much tonight. She still had four months. Four months could be an eternity.
"How are you going to tell your parents?" her friends kept asking her while busy making all their plans for their future and writing essays to go with their applications. "They'll kill you."
She knew it was bad. She knew they would be angry with her—no, make that furious—but it was, after all, her life, wasn't it? She was eighteen and old enough to make her own decisions.
"They're going to kick you out," Blake had told her earlier in the day when they ate burgers and drank milkshakes at Sophie's Diner.
"So, let them," she had said. "I'll come live with you."
That had made Blake laugh. They both knew he was going away to Duke next year, as was the tradition in his family. They had been dating for a year now and really cared for one another, but they both knew this was it. Once they graduated, it was over. They weren't going to see each other anymore. Their parents were very happy about that, but Kate and Blake not so much. She had begged him to go with her, to elope with her. They both came from families with money, but as soon as they didn't do what was expected of them, they both knew they would also lose all their privileges and the money. Blake wasn't ready to do that. His plan was to go away to Duke, then come back and marry Kate, but Kate didn't believe she could wait that long. Or that he would. She feared he would meet some girl at Duke who was ambitious like him and then marry her instead. Some career girl that his parents would love.
Kate finished her beer.
"You want another one?" Blake asked.
She nodded and rubbed her hands against each other to keep them warm. It had snowed the day before and the trees were covered in white. Blake reached into his bag and grabbed her another beer. He opened it for her and she took it, lifting it up toward her lips and drinking the sweet stuff, letting it drown out all her sadness and worry about the future, desperately trying to forget.
The girl was still dancing and now her boyfriend joined her. Kate watched them for a little while, trying to block out every bad thought without success. Blake suddenly moved.
"I gotta take a leak."
"Mmm," Kate said and sat up while Blake left, disappearing in between the trees.
He had exactly sixty seconds left to live.
Kate heard the scream but didn't really understand what it was at first. It sounded like someone yelling loudly from between the trees, and she wondered if the boys were just goofing around in there. Probably messing with Blake like they always did. Being boys. But as she looked back around the fire, she realized all the other boys from their class seemed to still be there. Blake was the only one missing.
When she heard the second scream, the realization hit her with the weight of a freight train.
She jumped to her feet and ran through the trees to look for him, while the rest of the party continued dancing, chatting, and drinking, not knowing something was going on, something terrible.
She took a few cautious steps, then called out his name.
She used her phone as a flashlight and shone its light on the bushes and
"Blake? Are you here?"
Her light landed on a part of the snow that was no longer white; then she gasped when realizing it was blood. Was it his? Her heart dropped in fear and she stumbled backward when she suddenly saw him, saw Blake's face in between the bushes. He was crawling toward her, reaching out his hand, his face ripped and bloody.
"K-K-a-ate?" he stuttered, gulping up blood.
Kate's heart stopped, and she stood frozen and stared at him as he tried to pull himself closer to her, when suddenly something grabbed him by the leg and pulled him back. Kate watched—without breathing—Blake disappear back in between the bushes and watched as the bushes moved but heard nothing but a rustle.
"Blake?" she mumbled when she was finally able to breathe again.
Kate took a step backward as the rustling continued. The bushes moved, and she saw something emerge from between them. A set of very fierce eyes were looking at her. Before it—whatever it was—leaped at her, Kate turned around and started to run. She could hear the beast behind her as it took off in pursuit. Kate ran so fast she dropped her phone, then stormed out from between the bushes. She could see the bonfire in the distance and even feel the heat coming from it. She could hear the music and the chatter and laughing, but she could also hear the beast behind her, hear his steps, and feel him literally breathing down her neck.
"HEEEEELP!" she screamed and jumped into the clearing, storming toward her classmates.
The couple that was dancing stopped. Someone dropped his beer into the snow. A couple, engaged in a kiss, parted their lips for the first time all night. They all stared at Kate, who ran toward them, screaming at the top of her lungs.
Seconds later, they all scattered into the night.
It was game night. I absolutely hated game night. But my mom loved it and so we all had to attend.
"Game night is family night," she would say, chirping.
Every freaking Saturday night. I found it hard to cope with. I would much rather be upstairs in my room, watching videos on YouTube, or binge-watching my Netflix series.
"I'll go first," my mom said as we had set up the game. We were playing Pandemic, a game my mom had just bought recently on Amazon because she thought it looked fun.
"It says here that the person who has most recently been sick should take the first turn," I said, reading the instructions.
My mom looked annoyed. "Well, that's not fair."
"You just say that because you're never sick," I said and looked at my brother and father.
Because you are all freakin’ vampires, I felt like adding, but I didn't dare to. So far, I had been very good at keeping it from them that I knew what was going on, that I knew they had recently turned my older brother Adrian into a vampire as well, but it wasn't easy. I felt constantly scared that they might find out that I knew. What would they do to me then?
"I'll go first," I said. "I had a cold two weeks ago."
My mom snorted, annoyed. No one was more competitive than my mother at game night. It worried me because the last thing I wanted these days was to fuel my mother's anger. I was terrified of her and stayed in my room as much as possible. My parents’ sudden decision to homeschool me didn't make things easier. Every morning, I would watch my friends take off for school and envy them desperately. Meanwhile, my mother was watching over my shoulder constantly, whether I was doing my work on the computer or reading. I had to take many bathroom breaks to be able to breathe properly.
I moved my piece to Beijing, then drew a card. My mother's emerald eyes lit up.
"Look at you, spreading diseases already. My turn. I will draw a card," she said and pulled a card from the pile. "Aha, New York City, yeah. Let's get you infected."
I sighed. "Mom, you're supposed to prevent the infection from spreading, not encourage it."
She looked startled. "But the game is called pandemic? We will spread diseases, right?"
"No, Mom. The idea is that there are already diseases spreading and you need to stop them. The whole game is about finding a cure. You win when you cure the four diseases."
She sat down. "But where is the fun in that?"
"Here," my dad said and handed her a card. "I can give you an epidemic, will that make you feel better? You can spread it anywhere you like."
I sighed and hid my face. "That's not what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to work together to stop the diseases from spreading."
"Work together? But…but how will I win?" my mom asked and looked to her husband for help.
I glanced out the window while my mother continued her rambling about how she thought the game was about killing the most people the fastest and not saving them and how she thought the name of the game was misleading and she was probably going to write a letter to those who had created the game and let them know how she believed it should have been.
I stopped listening when I spotted Jayden coming back from his usual Saturday run. He and his mother ran up the street, into the cul-de-sac, when they ran into Jazmine and her parents and stopped to chat. I watched them curiously as they spoke, gesticulating widely like something important was going on.
"Robyn, are you even listening?" my mom said. She looked out the window and spotted them as well.
"What are those people up to now?" she asked.
"It looks like something happened," I said, as I now spotted Amy's parents walking toward them too, Amy shuffling along behind them, a bag of homemade cookies in her hand.
"That's odd," my mom said and tilted her head. She turned her head like an owl and looked at my dad. "Maybe we should go out there and see what’s going on?"
I didn't waste a second. The prospect of going outdoors and—even better—seeing my friends, made me ecstatic. I stormed into the hallway to grab my coat and put on my boots, while my mother took her time getting properly dressed for going outside. She wore long sleeves but didn't seem to care much whether she got cold or not since she hardly ever wore a winter coat. I figured it was part of her “condition,” as I liked to call it.
I didn't wait for her to put on her hat and sunglasses before I rushed into the cul-de-sac, where my friends and their parents had gathered, all of them with very serious faces. Jayden's mom was doing the talking.
I approached them, heart in my throat with joy. I missed my friends so terribly and hadn't been able to speak to them in two weeks since the night we had helped Melanie Peterson escape the vicious claws of my vampire family.
I could hear the sound of my mother's high heels clicking behind me and shook my head in sheer embarrassment while approaching my friends. Why did my mother insist on wearing high heels even in the snow?
Jayden spotted me and smiled. I smiled back and mouthed a Hi. My eyes met those of Jazmine and then of Amy as well. They all smiled, relieved, when they saw me. It was no secret they were worried about me and the fact that I was left alone in that house, the only human in a house of nasty bloodthirsty vampires.
You okay? Jayden mouthed.
I nodded, biting my lip. I looked into his deep brown eyes and felt myself getting lost in them. I missed him most of all. Even though he was dating Jazmine, and we could never be together because of our parents, I couldn't help myself. I just loved him so deeply.
Jayden's mother stopped talking when she spotted my mother, Camille, arriving elegantly, forcing her way through the snow in her high heels. There was a lot to be said about my mom, but she was always stylish, no matter the circumstances. I could tell that her presence filled the others with awe and fear. Her beauty, combined with the cold air that always surrounded my mom, made it hard for people even to breathe when close to her.
"What is going on here?" Camille said, looking at them over her sunglasses. "Are we having a neighborhood meeting and no one remembered to invite us, ha-ha?"
Jayden's mother, Claire, cleared her throat. "No. We were just talking about what happe
ned last night."
"What do you mean?" Camille asked.
"A bunch of kids were attacked in the park," Briana, Jazmine's mom said. "At night."
"Huh? Really? What were they doing in the park at night?" my mom asked. "Haven't their parents told them to stay away from that place? You'd think they’d know better by now. It is, after all, only a few weeks since that last girl was attacked."
"Melanie Peterson," Claire said. "She has a name."
"Yeah, well. I can hardly go around remembering all the names around here, now can I? Besides, she disappeared."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Claire asked.
Camille shook her head. "Oh, nothing. I just…well, found it strange that she disappeared like that. That's all. I mean, first she tells all these stories about being attacked by a wolf, and then she just disappears like this, puff? How do we even know if we can trust her?"
"Well, maybe something scared her away," Claire said, slightly growling while looking directly at Camille.