After I finish editing Violet (I wanted it to happen before the end of the year, but that's looking more and more unlikely the more I type this blog), the plan is to finish and publish a Thirst Within novella, a 1.5 type of thing, before finishing Part 2 - The Vampire Within.
But because that may be a little ways ahead in the future... here's a part of Chapter 1 (draft!) for your reading pleasures. All material is subjected to copyright laws, and is subjected to change. I tried to hide it because of Part 1 spoilers. But it was impossible to read - so STOP READING NOW if you don't want to know what happens!
Love it? Hate it? Tell me in the comments!
THE VAMPIRE WITHIN
The Thirst Within Series #2
Chapter 1 (Partial — Unpublished draft)
The vampire sits across from me with an air of tranquility that I know he does not possess. His dark hair is unkempt, making him look like a young guy that I know he is not. His words pierce my soul as he brands me with the most unwelcome declaration. He says that I… that I’m….
I am Charlotte.
As in, Charlotte, his dead vampire wife.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” I whisper, my voice breaking because I’m crying. I almost believe him, but I don’t want to believe him.
This vampire, Corben, happens to be the brother and maker of my vampire boyfriend, Thierry, who is very inconveniently one thousand miles away in New Orleans. After concluding a week-long visit to my Aunt Marie in the town of Galena, three hours away from Chicago, I got stranded at the Chicago airport while waiting for my flight home. A freaking snow storm in April delayed all flights. And Corben, who lives up here, picked me up and brought me to his house. Then damn it, I found out I’m attracted to him. And then… other things happened.
But now he’s saying that over the last day this ridiculous pull I’ve felt towards him hasn’t really been my fault. That some of it belongs to him, and I’m just feeling what he feels. But some of it is me. Or rather, the ghost of the vampire within me.
“I don’t remember being someone else,” I say defiantly. I don’t want to be her; I refuse to. In the last six hours or so I’ve developed a completely unfounded hate for this Charlotte person. Well… not completely unfounded. I suspect (okay, I know) that my aversion stems from jealousy. I’m jealous of her. Because Corben loves her even though she’s been dead for who knows how many hundreds of years. And he doesn’t love me.
Well, according to him, I’m her.
I can’t believe I’m jealous of myself.
“I understand, and I believe that you don’t remember being anyone else,” he says, not looking at me. “It’s a blessing, actually. I wish it were still two days ago and I didn’t know for sure. It was much easier to pretend to live when you weren’t around.”
Oh… fuck you! I hiss in my mind, knowing he can’t hear me. Life was much easier without me, was it? Well, guess what, I didn’t ask you to pick me up from the goddamn airport!
Corben’s eyes darken.
Ah, shit. He can feel my surge of anger. Well, then. I stand up, fully intending to leave his living room after I say my bit.
“I’ll be gone soon, and you can go back to pretending,” I spit out venomously. I want to hurt him back. It’s my defense mechanism. “And if I ever remember my supposed past life or not, guess what? It doesn’t matter. I already have a life here”—I’m alluding to the fact that I’m with his brother, no less, a fact that I know bothers him, because if he really believes what he claims, then deep down he probably thinks I belong to him or something—“and regardless of what you say, even if it’s true and I was her, I’m not her anymore.”
“You are not her anymore,” Corben agrees quietly, still sitting on the sofa across from mine. His voice is cold, and it halts my rage.
And faster than even my newly fixed eyes can follow, he moves towards me in a blur—and I’m in his arms, pinned. One of his hands is at my back pressing me against him; the other behind my head aligning my face with his. He looks down at me. His lips are an inch away from mine.
“If you were really her,” he whispers in that icy voice, “I wouldn’t able to resist you, while having you this close to me.”
His unfeeling manner wounds me. A sharp pain spears my chest, but at least I’m not crumpling in his arms. Because I can’t move. Not because I’m afraid for my life—I can’t move because if I do, I’ll wrap my arms around his head and crush my lips against his.
My heart beats rowdily, sending tremors between our chests pressed together; letting him know exactly how much I’m failing at this resisting test thing. Unfair, I think.
“But as you can see,” he continues, his voice frightfully calm, “we’re perfectly alright….”
Yeah, right. Perfectly alright. Like I’m not falling apart like an unstable chemical compound. And him…. I feel his restraint, the effort it takes him to maintain our current position. Play out this little show of his. The feeling is welcomed, and I close my eyes relishing in it. He wants me.
With my eyes closed, I can’t do anything but feel his hands pressed against my back and my head. And smell him. He smells like angels ought to smell. He smells like… happiness. Home. Just kiss me already, jerk, I think. The only reason I haven’t leaned forward and done myself the favor is that he’s so damn intimidating.
He lets me go and my eyes fly open—I am able to detect a hint of unbalance as he stumbles back, his expression almost lost. My heart dances as I briefly see his eyes clouded with the passion that emanates from him. He resumes his previous position back on the couch while I just stand there, feeling an intense cold where he was touching me a moment ago. The absence of him is painful; I collapse on the sofa across from his again. Everything I said—fuck it. How I have a life without him and how everything will be fine once I leave his house and go back home. I have no control. I am his.
“Sorry,” he says, and he sounds breathless.
“We’re perfectly alright…” I whisper, almost sarcastically, shaking my head.
“Do you believe me now?”
It was a test. Damn you, Corben.
I look into his eyes, not giving in so easily. His eyes are pained but determined. I detect a little regret for what he just did, because he must know how toying with my feelings like that was not the gentlemanly thing to do. But now I know he just did it to prove something to me, what I kept denying. What he also denied for the longest time.
He doesn’t want to believe, but he wants to believe. That his dead wife is alive and is sitting across from him. That she only looks different on the outside, but that her soul is intact inside the body of the seventeen-year-old in front of him. As if waiting for this human girl to suddenly recognize him and start blabbing away in a sweet voice how much she missed him. As if the human girl didn’t have memories of her own, a life of her own. A love of her own.
But this is wrong.
I breathe deeply to clear my head.
Even if I’m reincarnated, so what?
Corben, I can only be one person at a time. Not two. It’s just me. Not your wife.
A little wisp of emotion flutters in my belly as I consider that I may have been this gorgeous man’s wife. Then I swat it angrily aside. It’s her blood talking. I’m spoken for. By his brother, no less.
“Corben,” I say softly. “I’m not saying I don’t believe you. But I’m a different person than what you expect.”
“You are who you are,” he concedes vaguely.
“And that person is me.” It sounds stupid, but I don’t really know how to express what I mean. I’m saying I’m not Charlotte—at least, not the one he knew. I can’t remember a thing. “I’m Tori.”
“Victoria,” Corben says, and my insides squirm.
“Yes,” I struggle to answer. It’s a shock to hear my given name on his lips. It confirms that he’s known me longer than I’ve realized. “Victoria Elise Green. Born in 1995, not… whenever. From Eldridge, Iowa. Uh, recently from New Orleans….”
“Yes, I know. Trust me, I know.”
I look back up at him. “I don’t remember anything different.”
“I don’t expect you to,” he says. “This is as strange for me as it is for you.”
“No,” I argue. “This is way stranger for me. You’re saying I’m someone else. Someone else! Your dead wife! I don’t feel a thing close to her.”
“Plus, you already suspected. You’ve watched me my entire life! While this is all news to me.”
“You’re right, Tori. Please don’t cry.”
Shit, I’m crying again. I wipe my eyes angrily. Of course I don’t want to cry. But I can’t help it. Actually, at the moment I welcome the anger I feel. It replaces the feelings I’ve been harboring towards him that I shouldn’t be feeling.
What the hell does this all mean? What am I supposed to do? I wish I could forget him. I want to. But I don’t know if I can. Not right now, when I’m sitting so close to him. A vision of him pinning me to his strong chest again invades my thoughts. Except that in the vision, I stand on my tiptoes determinedly and kiss him deeply. He would respond and kiss me back. I know he would. His lips… how do they taste? They were so soft on my hand, only a few hours ago when I….
Ah! I shake my head, trying to dislodge the thought and the ensuing guilt. Fuck this confusion!
My system is a mess, a product of the small amount of vampire blood that courses through my veins. Only a few hours ago I had an accident—I fell in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan, hit my head against some large boulders and got thrown around by the waves, battering my body against the rocks. Corben saved me and then healed me by feeding me his blood. His blood is actually part Charlotte’s, his maker. Allegedly the same person I used to be. A person that loved him.
And now she’s trying to get out.
“I hate this,” I bemoan.
“Do you think I want to feel this way?” he asks in a low voice.
“Whatever,” I say, attacking him again to disguise my hurt. “At least she’s not alive to judge you.”
He narrows his eyes at me and I register his slight flare of anger, but he doesn’t explain it.
I immediately regret what I said. I know he loved his Charlotte—he still does, her memory—and I feel terrible that I talked about her not being alive in such an offhand manner. I try to make my voice sound affectionate.
“How did she die?” I ask, taking him by surprise. I don’t want to dwell on the issue, but I’m so curious. I want to know so many things. I want us to keep talking, and not leave this room.
His pause is so long that I think he’s not going to answer. But at length he says, “She… she was killed.”
“Oh.” I chance a look at him. The pain in his eyes is so terrible that I want to comfort him. I dig my hands in the folds of the couch where I sit, planting myself firmly in place to refrain from running to him.
“She was murdered,” he clarifies, his voice small and full of ancient sorrow.
Oh, wow. Murdered.
For the first time I feel a speck of sympathy towards this mythical creature known as Charlotte. Despite the many people I’ve lost in my life, none of them have been murdered.
“Oh. I’m… so sorry. I wouldn’t know… what it’s like, to lose someone like that,” is all I can say. Inside I’m burning with questions. How? Who did it? Why?
He looks towards the fire, a faraway look in his eyes.
Okay, I don’t want to know anything else.
Okay, I changed my mind.
I try to steer the question away from the circumstances of her death. Focus on her supposed reincarnation. Me. If it’s true, is this the first time?
“Has she…. Did she ever…?” I don’t know how to form my question. He’s not looking at me, and I feel silly. “You said you felt when I was born… what did you feel?”
He looks back at me, and I think I see the pain lift from his eyes.
“It was… an invisible pull. A faint throb in my being…. I can’t explain it well. It was your presence, while you were carried by your mother. When you were born, the faint throbbing suddenly spiked. It came to life. You had been born.”
“So you could feel this… throbbing… while my mother was pregnant?” I ask. “Even though you said you were in New York?”
“Yes. It got stronger towards the end of her pregnancy.”
“But did you know right away what it was? That it was me… a person, I mean?”
“I recognized it.” He takes a second to continue, while a hundred new questions form in my head. His gaze darkens a little. “I had felt it before,” he adds.
Have I had many other lives?
“What do you mean?” I ask him.
I’m already wondering if I was ever an important historical figure, and how would I feel if found out I was a Nazi, when he shakes his head and closes his eyes.
“The first time was about five years after she died. I felt a sort of humming one day. A quivering inside me. I realized I had been feeling it for some time when I first acknowledged it. It got stronger, the pulse. I had no idea what it was, but it felt like her.”
He takes a deep breath.
“And?” I prod.
“It lasted a few weeks… and then it stopped.”
I don’t understand, so I just look at him.
“The same thing happened seven years later. And then eight years later. Then five years later….” He shakes his head, and I feel the pain he emits. “I could tell you, each of the twenty-two times. Sometimes it would fade away after a few weeks, sometimes after a few months. It would get stronger as time went by, but eventually it would fade away. Almost as if she were here for a little while and then would leave me all over again. After a few more times, I figured out what it was.”
I think I know what, but I don’t say it.
“Miscarriages,” he says, confirming my guess.
I cringe internally. All those babies… that she killed. I blame every single one on her, somehow. She was trying to come back. She entered the womb somehow. She killed them.
“So every few years?” I ask.
“Sometimes twenty years, sometimes one. It never lasted more than a few months. Until eighteen years ago.”
My heart hammers in my chest when I realize he’s talking about me. No. I don’t want to be her. For a second I’m angry that she actually made it. Then I realize the stupidity of my thought. Another miscarriage would’ve meant I wouldn’t be here. Damn her.
“Every time it was so painful for me. The hope… and then the silence. But last time… it was different. Weeks went by and I still felt it. And then months. And then you were born.”
“But you didn’t believe I was her,” I say.
“After centuries of that fractional hope, knowing full well that I shouldn’t hope, I had imagined that Charlotte might be reborn, somehow. I had researched reincarnation; but nothing had really convinced me. So I didn’t want to hope… but unfortunately, I did. Against my better judgment I had expectations. And when I saw you….”
He doesn’t finish, but I can feel the disappointment that he’s reliving. All his dreams were crushed.
Ouch. To know I was such a source of disappointment.
“But yet you… you kept watching over me?” I take a defensive stance, because I’m hurt. I’m sad and angry that he experienced such a letdown when I was born, but hopeful that he had some feelings for me, enough that he watched over me.
“Curiosity,” he says with a hint of a shrug, like that explains it.
I frown. “But you never approached me.”
“I didn’t want to interfere… to be a negative influence in your life.”
“Why watch over me, then? Why send Thierry to meet me?”
His eyes narrow as his anger flares again momentarily. “I didn’t send Thierry to meet you. He—I told him to watch over you when you moved to New Orleans. And that’s it. He’s the one who went against my wishes, and just had to interact with you!”
I wince. Oh—Thierry. He sought me out; he cornered me like a beautiful predator traps its defenseless prey. He found me at the mall, he found me at the theater. He imposed his friendship on me, time and again. Why?
“So if you’re wondering why you’re sitting here talking to me,” Corben continues, “why I came into your life after seventeen years of silence, well… the answer lies with your beloved Thierry.”
His words cut me. He sounds upset. So he never really wanted to talk to me. It sounds like if it were up to him, he would’ve preferred to stay away from me, and never have to interact with me. Just remain in the sidelines of my life like a creepy stalker. And for what? Curiosity, he said.
I’m upset too.
I guess we’re more connected than I care to admit, I note briefly, before erupting at him.
“He befriended me when I needed a friend,” I bristle, defending Thierry. “Why do you say it like it’s a bad thing? So what if you didn’t want to be a part of my life, and he did? Why even watch over me if you hated me so?”
“Damn it, Tori!” he cries, holding his hands out, fingers splayed in sign of exasperation. “I didn’t hate you. I never have, not even when you were born. On the contrary. I watched you grow up. Who could hate a child? I felt a connection with you. I kept watching out for you but tried to keep my distance. Yes, I never approached you. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I’m a freaking vampire!”
Halfway through his chiding I lowered my head, and now I swallow thickly in something like shame. I can’t respond, so he continues.
“I didn’t want to interfere in your life. I hardly did. And when I had to, I made sure you never found out. Except, well….”
I look up at him.
“When your parents died.”
It was him.
“You!” I exclaim.
He looks at me questioningly, almost afraid of my sudden outburst.
I jump to my feet and approach him in a heartbeat, ignoring the little pain that sprouts in my chest when he flinches away from me. I bend to his eye level and put my hands on his face. He freezes at my touch, but I don’t care. The fireplace roars to our side, and I see its fire reflected in his tortured green eyes, pulling me in.
My mind dives past fractured memories of my short time in New Orleans, bypass Illinois altogether; and Nana, Grandpa, my youth, everything blurs, all the way back to that day. I finally stop, reliving the day that took my parents. My memory eye zeroes in on my savior, and it’s him; it was him.