Blood Rose Ch. 06byicehead©
17 years ago...
The sharp whoosh lasted only a split second before the dull thump of the arrow piercing the target sounded. The barb had struck precisely on the little heart drawn in red crayon on the drawing of the human-shaped figure mounted on the wall with the very cartoonish-looking set of dripping fangs drawn on the otherwise blank face area. Little Kaeli started to bounce up and down with excitement, but stopped as holding the bow made it a cumbersome gesture. The curved length was almost as tall as she was, and still a bit heavy for her. But nonetheless, she was getting results, and that made her happy.
"Kaeli, you are getting good!" Nell said after she finished clapping her hands. "You're gonna be a great hunter someday!"
"Nell, I want a smaller bow," Kaeli complained. "This one's so long and it's heavy!"
"But you're doing great with it," Nell beamed down at her. "And when you're old enough to actually hunt it'll be just the right size for you."
Kaeli turned her eyes down, and nodded, still not sure really wanted to wait that long. She knew she wasn't old enough yet, but she still wanted to be out there killing vampires with the others. With Daddy. She had a right to, after what happened to her mother...
The garage door came rolling up and the headlights of the truck flooded in. As the truck rolled to a stop, Kaeli came bounding up to it, still holding the bow in her hands. "Daddy! Daddy!" she shouted, bouncing as best she could while still holding the bow with a big smile on her face. "Look look look! I got it right in the heart! Daddy look!" Her finger had almost more energy than the whole rest of her body as she pointed to the target she'd been practicing on. Her father hadn't even gotten out of the truck yet.
The door opened and he stepped out first, taking her by the shoulders and moving her out of the way of the others as they got out and went around to the back of the truck. "I saw it Kaeli," he grinned. "You're doing great! Vampires of the world beware when you grow up!" She giggled at that.
The rest of the team pulled the tarp off what they where covering in the back of the pickup, and split up to carry off the bodies of the two dead vampires they were transporting to the incinerator. Kaeli got a very clear look at them. Both had been riddled with bullets and finished off with an iron stake in the heart. This had clearly been a good night for the team, coming home with two vampires eliminated. Quite often they got none.
Her dad performed the now useless gesture of turning her head away from the bodies being carried off. "I already saw them, Daddy," she said matter-of-factly. "You don't need to hide them from me. I think it's great that you got two of 'em!"
"You do, huh?"
"Yeah! They deserve it, 'cause of what they did to Mommy!"
Her father's eyes lowered. "Kaeli, come with me," he said. "We need to talk about something."
He took her by the hand and led her over to the worn and torn couch that decorated the far side of the garage. She sat down and looked up into his face with worry. He never had anything good to say when his eyes pointed down like that. He sat down next to her and said, "Do you really understand how your mother really died?"
Kaeli nodded. "The vampires killed her."
He sighed slowly. "In a sense, that's true. But actually your mother killed herself."
Kaeli fell dead silent. "Why?" she managed to squeak out when she found her voice again.
"Because she'd been bitten, and we didn't get an antidote to her in time. She was turning into one of them. So she killed herself before that could happen."
He put a hand on her shoulder and looked her straight in the eyes. "Listen, Kaeli-Cat, you have to remember: vampires are evil. They're living sins against God. They may look like people, but they're nothing but abominations that feed on people's lives to sustain their own unholy existence. And that's what your mother would've turned into if she hadn't stopped it. Always remember, it's better to die as a human than live as a monster. Your mother knew that, and everyone here knows that. If what happened to your mother happened to me, I'd do exactly the same thing she did, and so would everyone else here. And if, heaven forbid, it happened to you, I'd trust you to do that to. Do you understand?"
Kaeli hesitated a moment, feeling the tickle on her cheek of a tear, and weakly nodded. Her father brought her head to his chest for a warm embrace, and her arms wrapped themselves around his midsection.
"Here," he said then, removing the sparkling golden crucifix that hung from his neck. "This belonged to your mother. I've been wearing it since she died, but now I think she'd want you to have it." Kaeli lowered her head to allow the light chain to loop around it, coming to a rest around her neck. She hoisted the golden weight that hung from it in her hand and studied it carefully. "Never lose faith, Kaeli-Cat. As long as you wear this, God will be watching over you. So will your mother. And no matter what, so will I."
She looked up at him with her tear-filled eyes. "I'll never take it off, Daddy. Never."
He smiled warmly back at her. "Good girl," he said, bringing her to him for another loving embrace.
Elizabeth let out a breath as her head breached the surface of the pool, looking up into the star-filled blanket of night sky above her. She'd always loved to swim before, but was amazed at how much better it felt without the wet cling of a swimsuit, which was Annabelle's only rule about the use of her pool. Skinny-dipping only. Elizabeth wasn't about to complain. She was beginning to wonder why swimsuits were ever invented in the first place. What purpose did they really serve?
She took a breath and bobbed her head under again, gliding around through the water like a mermaid. She'd never been so happy to have Spring Break, which allowed her all the time she wanted to enjoy the hedonism of Annabelle's world.
Annabelle had taught her a particularly mind-blowing technique the other night: They prepared early, both her and Annabelle having a drink of a concoction that included a mix of both of their blood with a few particular herbs. Then later they both bit into the palm of one hand and put their hands together, mixing each other's blood, and began focused breathing together.
Elizabeth had begun feeling a weird sensation running through her; everything in her body began feeling as though she had two of it. And then when one of the boys, Zachary, came along at Annabelle's behest, dropping his drawers and sliding his length into Annabelle from behind, Elizabeth could actually feel his cock even though there wasn't one inside her. To make the encounter even weirder, when Elizabeth began rubbing her own clit, Annabelle responded, "Oh yeah, do that faster!" Their two bodies had become one, sharing every sensation the other felt in the most intimate way possible. And so when another of the boys, Nicholas, joined in by entering Elizabeth, she nearly passed out from the delirium of twice the sex. The experience of feeling both Annabelle's orgasm and her own almost on top of each other was something she didn't think she'd ever forget.
And then there was what happened last night, when Katrina, who was the oldest girl there except for Annabelle herself, had her ninety-sixth birthday. Not that the age really mattered that much, since as far as anybody could tell she still looked twenty, but Annabelle nonetheless saw it as an occasion to throw a party. And of course, by Annabelle's definition, it's not a party until everyone is naked and on the floor.
What ensued was largely a blur now; eight girls, five guys, no clothes and no rules. She could clearly remember sitting down on Julian's face, giving his tongue access to her waiting sex, and leaning over to make out with Rosanna who was riding on his lap. She could remember sitting next to Charlotte, watching her getting fucked on all fours, and feeling the leap of excitement when Rodrigo pulled out of Charlotte, knowing that she was next. She could remember sitting backward on Zachary's lap on the couch, watching Noemi and Miko lying side by side on their backs, taking turns getting mounted by Nicholas, while Monique and Katrina fought over whose turn it was to suck Sebastian's cock. She actually lost track of the number of times she got off.
And then it got even better. Just when all the guys had shot off and everybody was running out of steam, Charlotte stood up and began chanting a few arcane words in a strange, echoing voice. Whatever spell she cast had immediate effects, as suddenly everyone became twice as energized as they were before. The girls all became twice as wet, the guys all became twice as hard, and everyone became twice as excited. Elizabeth didn't remember anything coherent after that, aside from lots and lots of screaming.
In truth, all these sexual escapades and Annabelle's Blood Rose lessons had been allowing her some temporary piece of mind, and the time off of school was welcome as it allowed so much more of them. Her activities at the mansion were making it so much easier for her to not think of Tyler. Giving him her number on their date may have been a mistake; he'd been calling her repeatedly since then and it had taken all of her willpower to not answer. He was just a human, after all, and she had no business getting involved with a human. So why was it so difficult to get him out of her head?
Her head emerged from the water just as a splash came from the diving board, and Rosanna popped her head up and pulled her hair out of her eyes. Katrina came and sat down on the edge of the pool, dangling her feet in the water. "Hi Katrina," Elizabeth chimed. "Do you know if anyone else has a birthday coming up?"
Katrina chuckled through her teeth. "I think Monique's is next month," she said with her mild Russian accent. "And if I know Annabelle, you can bet she'll celebrate it the same way."
Elizabeth shivered. "How did I ever live before I found this place?"
Katrina shrugged. "I can't imagine. I've known her for almost forty years, and she throws me the same party every year. Not that I'm complaining."
"Know whatcha mean," Rosanna said. "Ah used ta get bumped ev'ry now 'n' then when ah really wanted to, but 'round here there's hunks ta keep me company anytime ah want."
Elizabeth was aware of Annabelle's approach several seconds before she heard her footsteps, or heard her voice. "Elizabeth!" She came walking out in one of her fancier red evening dresses. "If you can bear to leave the pool for a while, we have a visitor. And she's especially interested in meeting you."
"Yes, you. Why don't you come out of there and towel off. She's waiting in the living room in the east wing."
Elizabeth shrugged, and clambered out of the pool. After toweling off, Annabelle handed her one of the red silk kimonos which Elizabeth wrapped around herself, and followed Annabelle back into the house. They navigated the winding hallways that Elizabeth was still getting used to, until they reached the door to the room that Annabelle referred to. As Elizabeth approached that door, her feet began slowing almost involuntarily. She could feel the presence of the person waiting on the other side, and somehow it was filling her with a childlike sense of dread. She was slightly grateful that Annabelle was the one who performed the task of turning the knob and opening the door, but then Elizabeth still had to follow her through and meet the person inside the room. Steeling her nerves, Elizabeth slowly stepped inside.
Sitting on the leather sofa facing away from her was a woman with a head of blood red hair, finer than any she'd ever seen. As Annabelle approached the woman arose from the couch, still with her back to Elizabeth, allowing her to see the woman's black coat and red evening dress. "Electra," Annabelle said, "I'd like you to meet my prodigy, Elizabeth. Elizabeth... this is Electra Rose."
Slowly the woman turned, and looked at Elizabeth with her sparkling violet eyes. Elizabeth found herself utterly unable to say anything, overwhelmed with an all-consuming fear of the person standing before her. Something about her just felt so... wrong. She had to suppress her urge to shrink back in terror when Electra came walking her direction.
"Well isn't this a pleasure," Electra purred in a silken voice tinted with an elegant English accent. With each step Electra took, drawing ever closer, Elizabeth's heart raced faster. When she was within touching distance, Electra gently slid her fingers through a handful of Elizabeth's hair. Elizabeth shivered at the brush of Electra's fingers against her face as she did this. "Such a beauteous thing she is."
Elizabeth stared up wide-eyed at this woman who stood several inches taller than she did. She desperately grasped for her voice, but when she found it a muffled squeak was all that escaped her throat, at a loss for anything to say. Annabelle chuckled. "Don't worry. Electra has that effect on a lot of people."
"Come, let me have a look at you," Electra purred, tilting up Elizabeth's chin just slightly and staring straight into her eyes. And staring back into the luminous violet orbs before her, the overwhelming feeling of dread that this woman was giving her only escalated. She didn't even bother trying to probe into the person behind those eyes, because what she was getting from them already was terrifying her enough. But she could definitely feel Electra probing into her. She tried to blink, to break the intrusion into her psyche, but Electra's hypnotic presence was so strong she could hardly move at all.
Suddenly the violet eyes staring at her shot open in absolute shock. "Merciful Blood of Dmitrius!" she gasped.
"Electra?" Annabelle said, stepping forward with a curious look.
Electra took a step back, just barely giving Elizabeth the tiniest bit of breathing space back. A wild grin spread across her face. "Spirit of the Old Ones have pity, this is almost too good to believe! Annabelle, I don't think you realize what you've found!"
"What are you talking about? She can't be your fabled Chosen; you already found him."
Electra's eyes never left Elizabeth, no matter how long Elizabeth waited for them to. "You said her name was Elizabeth, did you not?" Electra mused. "I believe I've heard of this girl before."
For a second Elizabeth's curiosity was able to overpower the numbing fear that Electra's presence was filling her with. "F-from who?"
Electra paused a moment, the chilling grin on her face widening. "From your brother."
Elizabeth's pounding heart suddenly skipped a beat. "How... how do you know Anthony?"
Electra's hands clasped behind her back, and she began slowly moving around behind Elizabeth, sizing her up like a car she was considering purchasing. "I suppose Anthony never spoke to you about who made him into a vampire, did he now?"
"He never told me much at all. He came home, he turned me and our parents, and then he just sort of disappeared."
"Yes, I remember. As I recall, I told him it would be best to leave after he said you did not belong with us."
Elizabeth had been consciously avoiding turning her head to look at Electra until that point. "Are you saying that you..."
The feeling of Electra's breath on her ear sent a shiver down Elizabeth's spine. "As Annabelle said, you are a fast learner. Yes, it was I who made your brother into a Child of the Dark. As you are Annabelle's protégé, so Anthony is mine."
Elizabeth turned an accusatory gaze on Annabelle, who appeared no less stunned than she did. "Did you know this?"
Annabelle shook her head. "So her brother," she said to Electra, "is your vaunted Chosen One?"
"Why do you think she adapts to Blood Rose so quickly?" Electra purred. The gentle caress of Electra's fingers in her cheek made Elizabeth's breath all but stop. "This one is kin to the Chosen. Had she been firstborn in her family, she could well have been the Chosen herself. As it is, her brother is the only one I've encountered whose potential is greater than hers."
For a few breathless seconds, the room was silent. "Elizabeth," Annabelle said at last, "would you give us a moment?"
It took a few more seconds for Elizabeth to find the capacity to move. As soon as her feet could run she hurried to the door and threw it shut behind her. She ran down the hall into the lobby, finally stopping when she could lean with her hand on the stair rail, gasping for breath with a hand over her pounding heart. She felt as though she'd finally managed to wrestle free after having her head held under water.
Elizabeth recalled the first time she met Annabelle, and in a way it had felt similar to this. She did get a feel for the power that Annabelle had, and when she came close to her it felt like wading into a warm pool. Electra's power had the same kind of feel to it, but rather than just a simple pool, Electra's power was like a lake she was drowning in. And the water was tainted with poison.
After a few minutes, the doors opened and Electra emerged, striding purposefully in Elizabeth's direction. Elizabeth's muscles, that had finally, blissfully relaxed after leaving her presence instantly tensed all over again. Each step that drew Electra closer Elizabeth prayed would be where she stopped, but she stopped only after coming within arm's length, and said four words that sent a chill through Elizabeth's blood: "I'll see you again." With that Electra turned to the front doors and was gone.
As soon as Annabelle appeared again Elizabeth had to fight off a nearly overwhelming desire to clutch her by the shoulders and let off her shivers. "That actually went better than I hoped," Annabelle mused.
"What did you talk about in there?"
"Oh, just old business. She seems to have taken a much keener interest in you than I expected."
Hearing that made Elizabeth shiver all over again. She fought back her fear and revulsion to ask another important question: "Did she mention anything about when I might get to see my brother?"
Annabelle had been half looking at her and half looking towards the doors that Electra had just left through until then. Now her full attention focused on her. "No, not exactly, but I'd expect it will happen soon." Elizabeth was both excited and terrified to hear that.
"Come on," Annabelle said, placing a hand on Elizabeth's back, "let's go fetch the other girls. We have another guest coming tonight."
"Another one? Like Electra?"
"Not quite," Annabelle grinned.
It wasn't until Kaeli was standing in front of the gate of the mansion, actually looking at the grandiose and ominous house, that the reality factor of what she was doing started to sink in. It seemed like such a clever plan when it formed in her mind; how could it suddenly seem so stupid now that she was actually about to do it? Of course, if she hadn't known from the start the plan was dangerous, she probably wouldn't have refrained from telling Dorian about it. Moreover, based on what she heard at the club Electra herself was likely to be here tonight; this could very well be a trap.
For more than a few seconds she seriously considered aborting. Even after she buzzed the intercom and heard Annabelle's welcoming voice and the metallic click of the gate unlocking, the idea of not going in didn't seem like such a bad one. If she wanted to, she could still make a run for it and forget about the temporary insanity that led her to come up with this daredevil mission in the first place. But when she thought it over, the ties that Annabelle had to Electra made this place too valuable a target to pass up.
She finally made up her mind to do this. She was going to step inside under the pretense of friendship, let herself get bitten, excuse herself to a private room, treat herself with an antidote, and activate a tracer signal for Dorian and the others to follow and then let them in to wipe the place out. She pressed her back against the gatepost, whispered a prayer, crossed herself, and with a deep breath stepped through the gate.