He was never going to let me leave. I saw my one opportunity to escape and took it, slipping out the window of the top floor. He owned the building, but no one had ever seen me – not the real me, anyway. They only saw what I wanted them to see, what he wanted them to see.
The moment he realized I was gone, a frightening storm rose up from nowhere. It was supposed to be a clear night, but he was angry, so angry I feared he would do anything to find me. I hated the rain, thunder clouds and lightning even more. Heavy rain pelted my coat, causing my lungs to fight for air as I skittered along the back alleys.
I had to find shelter…somewhere…but no one would help me if they saw my true form. They assumed I’d be fine on my own, just set some milk out and throw me a fish head. Idiots.
A young man with stringy hair burst out of a back door, slamming it behind him. I watched from the shadows as he emptied the contents of a large trash can into the dumpster. He didn’t see me. He was angry. He reeked of it. So, what? I was pretty pissed, myself.
I slipped into the back door of the 24-hour convenience store behind him, plastering my body against the wall. He made so much noise as he stomped along, muttering under his breath, he wouldn’t have noticed me if I’d tapped him on the shoulder – not that I could have in my present state.
Two more warm bodies loitered on the inside, moving aimlessly, so I easily slipped past them. Before shifting, I needed something to wear. I could feel him scrying for me. It wouldn’t be long now, and I had to feed before challenging him.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” What a stupid thing to say, I thought, but it would have to do. I snagged the stupid T-shirt with my teeth and dashed into a dark corner to shift.
“Where’d you come from?” The man behind the counter frowned, a confused look on his face as he addressed me. They were so unaware of the world around them, sometimes I actually felt sorry for them. It was sad the way most of them walked around in that fish bowl, so vulnerable and gullible, certain they were the master species. Ha! Hilarious.
I smiled, effecting the most alluring voice I could muster. “The storm came up so suddenly, I just slipped inside. I hope you don’t mind.”
His gaze traveled the length of my skimpily dressed body. The T-shirt fell to mid-thigh, and my legs in this state were especially long. I was also barefoot, of course, and still a little wet.
He continued to stare, dumbfounded. I gave myself a nice, sweet name that I’d always liked, then sauntered over to him. “I’m Lisa. Please excuse my rather unkempt appearance. I ran in to get out of the unexpected storm.”
Finally, his trance was broken. “Oh, oh that’s, you’re, uh, it’s fine. I, uh, yeah, I’m Bruce.”
“Hi, Bruce. I’m really embarrassed. My boyfriend pissed me off and I, well, here I am running around in the rain half-dressed with no shoes.” Well, at least part of it was true.
Bruce glanced down, then back up within seconds. “I’m getting off work in a few minutes. I’d be happy to drop you off somewhere if you like.”
“That’s very kind of you, Bruce.” Now, don’t judge me...or do. I don’t much care, but I just want to let you know I don’t run around accepting rides from strange men often. Let’s just say I’ve got a sixth sense for human nature – you know – determining good from bad. Bruce had some of both, but more important than anything, he smelled delicious! Of course, the fact that I was starving probably accounted for some of that, too.
I made myself scarce until time for him to get off work, then planted my bare bottom in his pick-up.
“About that, I don’t really want to go back to my place, Bruce. I don’t usually do this, but I just feel right about you. Does that make sense?”
“Do you live far?”
He appeared to be surprised at first, but quickly let me know he did not. About an hour later, we stepped into his apartment. Not much clutter, neat and tidy, just the way I liked it. A twinge of pain struck me, piercing the spot right where my heart was supposed to be, and I almost had second thoughts. It was too late. I could feel Abel getting closer. Bastard. Why can’t he just let me go.
“Nice place.” Pretty weak thing to say, but one of those necessary social graces.
He stood in the middle of the floor, then turned to face me. “Thanks. I, uh, do you want something to drink? You hungry? I should have asked if you needed me to stop somewhere on the way.”
“I’m fine. You’ve already gone above and beyond. So, tell me about yourself, Bruce.” I didn’t care about him at all, but I actually was hungry, I needed a place to stay out of Abel’s hellish rain, and I wanted to be sure no one would come in and interrupt us once I started feeding. I traced the perimeter of the small room, sliding my index finger along his furniture, taking special care with the photographs. They always told so much about a person, and his let me know exactly what I needed - there was no significant other in his life. Excellent.
I placed one knee on his worn couch, making sure the hem of the T-shirt I didn’t have to pay for, by-the-way, rose just enough, then slid down on the seat and crossed my legs.
Bruce’s shocked expression confirmed that he was getting quite a view, so I started swinging my legs and winked my index finger at him to upset him more. Ha! So funny. If only he knew what was really going on in my head.
Hmm. He wasn’t moving as fast as I expected. In fact, he just stood there, frowning. He wasn’t gay, married, or even seeing anyone. Damnit. What the hell? I realized he wasn’t looking at me anymore. He was looking over my shoulder.
I turned, but didn’t see anything. “Something wrong?”
“Uh, no. Of course not.” He rubbed his palms on his jeans, then finally came over and sat next to me – a bit too hesitant for my taste, but not enough to stop me.
I was starting to feel faint, so I didn’t waste precious time with small talk. “I really appreciate you bringing me to your place.” Yeah, I know that was small talk, too, but I kind of had to say it to prime him.
“Oh, it was nothing.” He glanced down.
I dipped my head and pressed my lips to his, placed my palm at the nape of his neck, then stopped kissing him just long enough to whisper in his ear. “Sleep.”
My incisors elongated the moment I spoke the one-word incantation, and I immediately sunk my teeth into his carotid. I’d been told it didn’t hurt the meal, but then again, he couldn’t even cry out if it had.
Hot, slightly sweet nectar slid down my throat, familiar…too familiar. I couldn’t let go until…I slumped against him, unable to keep my eyes open, vaguely aware that something was distinctly WRONG with his blood. Tainted. Bespelled?
“Thanks, Bruce.” Oh, hell! I woke to the voice of my captor. I would have known that voice anywhere – Abel.
I lay on the sofa as both of them stood, looking down at me.
“Who, what is she? Vampire? Witch?” Bruce asked. He reached up and touched his neck where I’d bitten him.
Abel turned slightly, enough to give the poor man the ‘look’ that only he could give, the ‘you wouldn’t understand if I poured it into your limited skull’ look. Truth was, I was all of those things, yet none of them – at least I wasn’t limited to just one, and I could only do as much as Abel allowed. As far as I knew, I was the only one of my kind left – an anomaly. Abel was the closest thing to me in this world.
Placing his hand on Bruce’s shoulder, Abel tilted his lips, those lips I’d come to crave, and Bruce slumped, falling to the floor as if he’d been folded up and gently placed there. There was no need to say anything. When he woke, he wouldn’t remember any of it, not even meeting me.
“What am I going to do with you, Sheba?” Abel lifted the amulet from his chest and held it toward me, the bane of my existence.
“How did you find that?” I’d been extra careful about getting rid of it this time.
“Same way I always find it. Although I have to say dropping it in the toilet was a first for you. It will always surface, and I will always find it, the same way I will always find you.” He sighed, beckoning for me to come closer, and my traitorous body migrated in his direction of its own volition.
“You could just act like you didn’t find me and let me go.”
“And I would have to answer for that. You were placed in my care as an alternative to a place much worse, and I take that very seriously because I don’t want you to end up there. Without my intervention, would you have been able to stop yourself?”
I looked down. He knew the answer, and he knew I hated admitting it. “No.”
“Do you really want another life on your conscience?”
Once again, he knew the answer, and he knew I didn’t give a damn because there was no conscience to consult. The only thing I really cared about was the look on his face when I screwed up, but I wasn’t about to admit that. I chose to glare at him instead. Annoying questions like that didn’t deserve a response.
Shaking his head, he beckoned for me again. “Is it really so unbearable being with me?”
“No. It’s not being with you that’s unbearable.”
I took a few more steps toward him, then glanced down at Bruce’s inert body. “Wait. His blood…”
“A simple spell. I tainted it with my own, and we both know the effect it has on you.”
His blood… “Speaking of that, I didn’t finish feeding.”
“Soon as I get you back home. Now, stop stalling.” With that, he spoke the incantation and once again I was lost in a sea of lavender. The golden twine acted as bars for my eternal prison, and I slept in my cocoon, nestled against his chest.
As if part of a dream, I heard Abel whisper, and once again I stood on two feet, facing him. We were home. He controlled my ability to leave or use my powers while he wore the amulet. The curse made sure of that. The last one-hundred years proved it.
Without another word, he sat, and I wrapped myself around him, our bodies fitting together perfectly…familiar. I framed his face with my hands, sinking my teeth into him immediately. There was no other taste like him, a rich, intoxicating taste that rendered me unconscious every time he allowed me to feed. I purred softly as I drank from him.
He knew everything about me, every life I’d taken, every last unforgivable act I’d committed, yet he treated me with patience and kindness beyond my capacity to understand. I hated him for that, and I hated myself for loving him.
As for my freedom, there would always be tomorrow, and one day I would find a way to destroy every chain binding me, including Abel, but he knew that, too.