Into the DarknessbyEmeraldKitten©
Lei jerked awake with a gasp. Her green eyes grew wide as she took in her surroundings, knowing for a fact she had no clue where she was. She quickly realized she was restrained; her wrists tied with silk scarves to the headboard of the four-poster bed. Lei shut her eyes for a moment, trying to get her bearings. Each beat of her heart caused her head to throb, and she was relatively sure that her heart was beating a lot slower than it should have been. Especially in her panic.
The creak of a door made her eyes come open again, and framed in the light from the hallway stood a man. A very tall, very large man. Lei wracked her brain trying to figure out why she would be tied to a bed with a stranger, but not much from the evening came back to her. Had she been drugged? One of those date rape drugs? Had he raped her? Her clothes were still in place, albeit a little dirty. She looked like she'd been drug through the streets. Maybe that was why her head pounded so dreadfully.
"How do you feel?" His voice was deep, slightly gravely.
"Like I've been dragged through the streets. Where am I? Why am I here? Who are you?"
The man approached the bed and smiled, holding his hands up in front of him to halt her words.
"You've been through a lot this evening. Relax, please."
"Relax? Are you serious?" Lei struggled against the ties that bound her.
"Please, let me explain."
The man frowned, as if she confused him. He pulled a wingback chair up to the side of the bed, and picked a tray up off of the nightstand. She hadn't even noticed him carry it in.
"First of all, I'm Draven. I saw in your wallet that your name is Lorelei. There was a...misunderstanding this evening." His eyes flashed as he spoke.
"Oh, yes, a misunderstanding. That explains it all."
"You were meant to be a host. Now you're going to turn. It's just a matter of time. I do apologize."
"Turn? Turn into what? What is a host?" Lei's arms jerked upwards, straining against the material that bound her.
"A vampire, my lovely. And a host is someone we bring to the house to feed upon. However, the one that snagged you last night is new, and he got carried away. He's been berated, and is under surveillance as we speak."
Lei's lashes fluttered as she blinked rapidly, trying to puzzle everything together. A vampire? There was no such thing. Was this some elaborate prank? Even more, the severity of her situation was sinking in, and she had the urge to scream. The man seemed to sense her new attitude.
"There's no sense screaming. We're too far out in the country for anyone to hear you. How do you feel?" Draven offered her a roll.
"My head is pounding and I think my blood pressure is low. My eyes burn." Lei struggled to sit up as she spoke.
"That's all normal. The worst part will be when the hunger kicks in. For now, you need real food in your system. Eat some of this."
Lei took the roll from his hand and nibbled on it, chewing thoughtfully. Vampires were a thing of myth, a thing in history. There was no way this guy was for real. And he certainly didn't really look like a vampire. He didn't look...dead enough.
"Why do you keep looking at me like that?" Lei finally broke the silence.
"Because you aren't acting how you should. By this time you should be writhing in pain, miserable because of that hunger eating your gut. You're turning slower than anyone else ever has. And, you still have your own mind. Usually at this stage, the victim falls in love with the one who changed them. Are you in love?" Draven's brow furrowed.
"No sir, I am not. Thank you very much. I don't like that writhing in pain part. You could have left that out." Lei shuddered. "What else do you have over there?"
"An apple. Some cheese."
"Give it all to me. I need my strength." Lei again grew quiet.
Lei considered lying. She considered playing coy. Then she decided to be her usual honest and open self.
"You can't. There are too many here that would catch you. And believe me; you don't want to be alone when the hunger strikes. You will not like what you become," He leaned forward intently. "You won't be able to stop yourself. And you will kill someone. Kill them. And when your hunger is sated, are you going to be able to live with yourself? After you've been a vampire a while, the fact you're killing someone doesn't really faze you, but for some of us, it never stops feeling wrong."
Lei swallowed hard. "Are you one of those? Does it always feel wrong to you?"
"Yes." Draven's voice was little more than a whisper.
"Is that why a host is necessary? So you aren't really killing them?"
"Not for a while anyway. It's always kinder to kill them eventually, but I'm never the one that does it. There are a handful of others who won't do it either."
"So why am I not turning yet? Why is it being so slow?" Lei sat back against the headboard.
"I have no idea. This has never happened before."
"Are you the boss? Or whatever you want to call it?"
He surprised her with a quick laugh. "Yes, I guess you could call it that. Though we all live peacefully, sometimes it's necessary to have someone in charge. And that's when I step in, like with your situation and the one who bit you."
"Will I ever see my family again?"
"That's enough questions for tonight. Please, get some rest. No one is going to harm you. I'll be right outside the door if you need anything." Draven stood and made it to the door in record time.
As Lei watched the door close, she slumped. His leaving meant that no, she would never see her family again. Tears sprang unbidden to her eyes, and she dashed them away. From what Draven had said, it would be stupid for her to run now. She would wait until she turned and had a hold of herself and this...this hunger, and then she would go where she wanted. Then, she would see her family.
For now, she would rest, but in the morning, she wanted to call her parents.
The next two days passed in agony for Lei. Draven never came back into her room, and the young girl that brought her food and escorted her to the bathroom was no help at all. She answered no questions, and didn't really speak. No one else came in. She was bored, worried out of her mind, and she wanted some more answers. Finally, around eight o'clock that night there was noise from outside of her room.
Lei strained her ears and focused, and suddenly the sounds outside the door became clear.
"Draven, it's not safe. What is she?"
"I don't know Fredrick. And she's a mere girl, and half mortal at that. If she becomes dangerous, we'll just have to kill her. I'm telling you I doubt it."
"You're putting us all at risk. Just because you were made the unofficial leader doesn't give you right to put us in jeopardy. Either get rid of her or kill her. Do something. Or I will."
Lei gasped and brought her hand to her mouth. Their voices were as clear as if they were standing right next to her. Was that part of what she was 'gifted' with? She hadn't asked for any of this. And now this Fredrick character was a breath away from taking her life, or getting rid of her, whatever that meant.
The door creaked open, and Lei decided to play dumb. No need to show her hand just yet.
"You need to put something on that door. Those hinges are terribly annoying." Lei tried to sound haughty.
"Why did you gasp?"
"Pardon me?" Lei adopted a frown.
"Why did you gasp, Lei. I heard you." Draven strode purposefully across the room.
"I don't know what you mean. I yawned. Maybe that was it."
A strong hand shot out and captured her by the throat. Draven only applied enough pressure to make her struggle to get oxygen. He wanted her scared; off balance. He could read her that way.
Lei's eyes flew wide, and because of her wrists being restrained she couldn't even try and pry his hand from her neck.
"Why. Did. You. Gasp."
"Fredrick." She finally croaked.
Draven instantly released his hold, looking disgusted with the situation. The hurting her part, in particularly. How Lei knew this, she wasn't sure.
"You heard." His voice was flat.
"Yes. Why does he want me dead? The real dead, not the undead."
"Because you're the first to stay partially human. You're a threat to all of us. I don't even know how long to hold you here until it's safe. You might turn tomorrow, or you might turn in a year." Draven paced uncomfortably.
"How am I a threat? Because I could tell people? Who on earth would believe me?"
"More people than you would imagine. There are a lot of people out there who are believers. Moreover, there are more hunters than you could guess. They're the ones we worry about. What if you let something slip about us? They could wipe out our family."
"What are you worried for? You won't be the one to finish me off." Lei sat back against the headboard, defeated.
"I worry because I don't particularly like violence. I've only been a vampire for fifty years. I used to be a doctor. I used to save people. Now I kill them." Draven looked away from her and sat in the chair.
"Could I take a shower?"
"Could it wait? The women are all gone."
"I'd prefer to have one now. It's been three days."
"I have to come in with you. I can't trust you." Something in his eyes made him seem sad about that.
"At this stage in the game, the pope could watch me. I just feel gross."
"All right then, come on." His fingers moved nimbly as he untied the scarves.
Lei stood and took a moment to stretch, wallowing in the feeling of her arms extended straight up above her head. Draven watched her every move, expecting her to bolt. Lei actually managed to laugh.
"I'm not running away, I assure you. My shoulders hurt from being in one position for so long."
Lei made her way to the bathroom and turned on the water. The hotter the better. She had street grime and dirt caked to her legs, even though it was apparent someone had tried to wash her up the night she arrived. But a bleeding, unconscious burden wasn't exactly the best candidate for the royal treatment.
Draven had followed her in, and he looked everywhere but directly at her. After putting the lid of the toilet seat down, he sat upon it, looking more than a little uncomfortable.
"Why aren't you dark and brooding and terrifying? Why have I never seen you once with blood dripping off your chin? Why am I not scared to death of you?" Lei was a little self-conscious stripping, but she could already feel the steam from the water and it carried her worries away in wisps.
"Because vampires are portrayed at their worst for the fear factor. It's not all bloodlust and death. We're...normal, for the most part. We just have different desires. I would love to be able to work still. I enjoyed it." Draven released his breath in a whoosh as the shower curtain finally closed.
"Can I call my parents? I can promise they're worried to death, and they have probably called the authorities."
"No." It pained him to have to give her that answer. There was something about her that intrigued him. Something that made him want to protect her.
"No. No I can't call, or no they aren't worried?"
Lei paused with a handful of shampoo. She was finally wet, with dirty water swirling to the drain around her feet. She bit her bottom lip and raised her arms, applying the shampoo. She would kill to have a razor. The thought caused her to choke back a laugh at the morbid thought.
Suddenly, the shower curtain pulled from the wall about a foot, and Draven's face poked into the opening.
"They don't remember you."
"What do you mean?"
"We...blocked them. Removed everything about you from the house. It's safely in storage, in case the day comes you can go back. As far as they know, they never had a daughter."
Lei's hands had stilled, and shampoo stung her eyes.
"They...just forgot about me? Just like that?"
"Lovely, not just like that. If it were up to them, they would search to the ends of the earth for you. We did a version of mind control on them. In effect, we erased their memory. We can reverse it, if the time comes. They were frantic. But this is much more...humane, yes?"
Lei stuck her face under the water to get the shampoo from her eye, and to mask the tears that slipped from beneath her lids. She was raw; open. Draven could hear every thought in her head, and it killed him. Not sure what else to do, he stepped one leg into the enclosure and pulled her to his chest, out of the spray of water.
Lei dropped her head to him and sobbed. Tears fell unrestrained, and his shirt and front of his pants were quickly soaked from her wet body. Draven caught himself swallowing hard, feeling emotional. How anti-vampire can you be? Her entire body shuddered as she sobbed, and the last three days were released. Draven gently held her with one arm and stroked her back with the other, willing her to stop crying, and to stop thinking such dismal thoughts.
He could only hear her half the time- but once she was full vampire he would hear everything until she learned to block him. Lei sniffled and sobbed harder, shaking her head back and forth, in disbelief that this had happened to her. What about her friends, her job? Draven decided to experiment, and he opened his mind to her, and willed her strength and courage. He mentally comforted her, explaining that her friends had also been controlled. So had her co-workers and boss.
Somehow it made her cry harder. Maybe it was the fact that she was so insignificant that she could be erased from a person so completely, in such a short amount of time. Maybe she was just tired. Maybe she was hungry.
Lei laughed thickly through her tears. "I am hungry." More sobbing.
Draven quickly closed his mind to her. It was best he did that before the he caught up with the fact she was naked and trembling in his arms.
"Come on sweets, let's get you washed up."
Lei stood mostly motionless while Draven soaped up a sponge and washed her. She sniffled and hiccupped occasionally, but had turned mostly silent. He put the sponge in her hand and ordered her to wash her...womanly parts. He wasn't ready for that. He stayed half in, half out of the shower, concerned her mental anguish would give way to physical impairment and she would pass out. Lei sniffled some more, and finished rinsing off.
Draven stepped out of the shower and grabbed her towel, then stepped to the far side of the room, out of her way. Lei wrapped the towel around her body and stepped out, looking at herself in the mirror.
"Eek. I look like death warmed over. No offense. Could I get some make up?"
"I'll have one of the women get you some. I don't know anything about that stuff." Draven shuffled to the door.
"Is there any gel in here? Mousse?" She opened the cabinet door, and let out a yelp of delight.
"Thank God. I won't have to be ugly for long."
Lei felt better. Between the shower, getting pretty, and crying her heart out to mister captor, she was ready to go. As she gelled her hair, the natural curls bounced back.
"Your hair was straight." Draven spoke from the doorway.
"Yep. The beauty of a flat iron." Lei flashed a smile, and Draven felt it down in his gut.
"You look different. Better."
Lei lifted her eyes, and their gazes met through the mirror. Suddenly there was a spark of attraction; a sliver of tension wound its way between them. Lei felt her face flush as she realized she was clothed only in a towel, and Draven's entire front was soaked from her body. She swallowed hard, trying to control her thoughts from going down that road straight to the gutter.
It was a lost cause. His tight-fitted black tee-shirt already showed off his muscles to perfection, but add to that it was wet...it clung to him like a second skin. His jeans were also wet on the front, but they were more loosely fitted, so she couldn't get a good look at anything. He stepped to the side and the light caught his belt buckle, and Lei quickly averted her eyes, and focused on just herself in the mirror.
Draven had heard bits and pieces of her thoughts, and it was just enough to know that she found him attractive. Well, it was a two way street, and he sure as hell was attracted to her. He'd noticed the minute she was brought in, but he'd been fighting it. She wasn't 'his', so to speak. But he wanted her to be. The thought jolted through him and he shook his head to clear it. What was he thinking?
"I think I trust you to stay here. I'm going to go change and I'll try and rummage some cosmetics for you. There are all kinds of clothes in the closet and drawers. Help yourself. Then I'll take you on a tour of our little town." Draven spun on his heel and left the room.
Lei let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, and headed for the bedroom. True to his word, there were drawers and racks and more drawers full of any kind of clothing you'd be able to imagine. She almost wondered if this stuff was from victims...but she pushed the thought aside. She found a pair of panties and knocked the thought away of how unsanitary that must be, and then came across a pair of jeans.
She threw on the bottom articles of clothing, and started worrying about a bra. She was rather large chested, and nothing in these drawers was going to be big enough for her. Did these bras belong to first graders or what? She bit her bottom lip, then finally came across a red tank top with a built in bra. It was going to have to do. In the closet, she rummaged for something to put over her cami, and finally settled on a black button down shirt. Perfect.
About that time Draven reappeared holding a small silver bag. He held out his hand and offered it to her.
"It's one of the girls' emergency kits. She said you could keep it."
"That's not necessary. I'll buy my own once I'm allowed out. Tell her I said thank you." Lei sat down and unzipped the bag, eagerly rummaging through its contents.
"You can do that yourself. You'll meet her shortly. I've asked her to help you get your bearings. Give you lessons, things like that. Her name is June."
"Is she nice?" Lei applied concealer under her eyes then dusted her face with powder.
"Very sweet. She's been a vampire for about twenty years. She knows what she's doing." Draven propped himself in the doorway.
"Hmm. Ya know what's funny? I am not completely offended by all this. Disbelieving, yes. Hurt that I can't contact my family, yes. Why isn't this weird to me?" She lined her top lid with black eye shadow, her bottom lid with liner, and got out the mascara.
"I have no idea. You're adapting better than anyone ever has, but neither are you fully one of us. You don't make sense." He gave her a shrug.
"Well, let's be off. I'm as pretty as I'm going to get. I'm anxious to see this little town you've got going on." Lei turned and headed towards him.
Draven was taken aback. She was beautiful when she was without make up and dirty, and now she was simply gorgeous. Her eyes seemed a paler green than before, and they stood out in stark contrast to the dark make up. She was a little on the bigger side, but all curves; all woman. Draven inhaled deeply through his nose, trying to get his wits about him, but all he could smell was her soap and her arousal. He closed his eyes for a moment and worked to get her out of his olfactory system.
Finally, he opened his eyes and turned, offering her his arm.
"We are out in the country. This building used to be a plantation house, and then it was turned into a bed and breakfast. There are several guest houses- what used to be slave quarters- and there are about a hundred of us that live here."
"Wow." Lei's hand grasped the inside of his elbow as he propelled her forward.
"Everyone has a job, be it gathering food or damage control. Typically, we go far from here for our food, but your maker didn't listen well. Just what were you out doing the other night?"