Blood Rose Ch. 04byicehead©
The door suddenly burst open, and Electra stood in the doorway. She looked very angry. "This madness has gone far enough!"
Annabelle instantly sat bolt upright, clutching the bed sheet over her unclothed chest. The man in bed next to her, Paul, frantically shrunk back against the headboard. When Electra's rage was such that even Annabelle was frightened by it, it was only natural for someone else to go into outright panic. "First of all, we still have a right to privacy in this country," Annabelle snapped. "Second of all, would you mind explaining to me exactly what you're referring to as madness?"
"Trust me, we will be discussing much, and we will be discussing it right now," Electra fumed, "but first I would greatly appreciate it if the moron in bed with you were not privy to our discussion."
"There are many things you have in abundance, Electra," Annabelle said, "but clearly, despite what your age would suggest, patience is not one of them. You could have had the decency to wait until—"
"Get. Rid. Of the moron," Electra barked, "And. Let's. Talk."
Annabelle gave Paul a glance, and he hurriedly began scrambling to get his pants on and then button up his shirt. "Can you at least tell me when I can see you again?" he asked. "I had a wonderful time tonight, and I—"
"Stop with your chitchat and get out!" ordered Electra.
Paul looked at her coldly as he began pulling his boots on. "If I may ask, do you ever let people finish their sentences, or—"
Paul was literally blown off of his feet by her ferocity. Now utterly terrified of her, he frantically pulled on his other boot and bolted out the door without stopping to look back.
"Honestly," Annabelle sighed, "was that really necessary?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe it was."
Annabelle scowled. There was a time when she practically worshiped the ground that this woman walked on. After the first twenty-five years, though, she started getting tired of having Electra trying to control her. She knew Electra didn't like the fact that Annabelle was trying to be her own woman.
"Annabelle, it's been thirty-seven years since I took you under my wing. I've taught you everything I have to teach you. And I've watched you pervert my teachings to your own pitiful liking. I've been patient, hoping you'll come around and accept the true reason I taught you the ways of Blood Rose, but even my patience has its limits."
"So I noticed," Annabelle said snidely.
Electra's lip curled into a snarl. "I'm fed up with your naïve obsession with physical pleasure. That's all you've ever used my teachings for. I've become quite concerned that the years I spent teaching Blood Rose to you were all utterly wasted."
Annabelle smiled, and arose from her bed, holding the sheet wrapped around her body. "Well you can lay your concerns aside, then. They weren't wasted at all. These have been the best years of my life."
Electra turned her eyes away and growled in her throat. "You are absolutely incorrigible."
"What I am," Annabelle declared, "is a free woman. That's what I was when you found me, and that's what I am still. You made the mistake of thinking you could change me into somebody I'm not. I am not your pawn, and I am not a soldier in your petty quest for power. I am Annabelle. And nothing you've done with me over the past thirty-seven years, not your Blood Rose techniques, nor your hours of intolerable combat lessons, can change that."
Electra frowned, and turned her back to Annabelle. "It's as I feared. You haven't a drop of warrior's blood in you."
"Fascinating deduction," Annabelle quipped. "You should have thought of that before you wiped out my family and made me a vampire." Electra froze for a moment, then slowly turned a pair of angry and surprised eyes to Annabelle. Annabelle found herself grinning widely at Electra's reaction. "You honestly thought I didn't know!" Annabelle realized out loud. "Yes, word does travel in our circles. I know all about how you deliberately infected my brother with the plague, and then killed the doctor before he could get the medicine to my family, thereby leaving me with nothing in my human life to hold onto. Very clever. Albeit sick."
For a long time, not a word was spoken. The two women merely stared eye-to-eye at each other. Finally Electra broke the silence by saying, "So what do you intend to do now?"
"What do I intend to do? I intend to do absolutely nothing. You're the one who should accept the fact that I didn't live up to your expectations, and find some other fool to become your damn lieutenant. Just get out of my house and don't come back."
Electra's scowl deepened, and she took five menacing steps forward, stopping just inches in front of Annabelle, staring her right in the face. "I ought to rip your bloody head off for that!"
Annabelle met her gaze squarely, not intimidated at all. "Too late for that, beloved teacher. You've already taught me how to defend myself against an attack like that. I don't pose any kind of threat to you, so you might as well just leave and forget about me."
Electra trembled in her rage, and finally turned and stormed off to the door.
But Annabelle couldn't resist twisting the knife. "You know what I'm going to do now with the things you taught me?" Electra stopped in her tracks and slowly turned her head around, a look of intrigue peaking its way through the thick sheet of anger. "I'm going to teach it to others. I'll find other vampire girls who have the capacity to learn the ways of Blood Rose, and teach them to use it too. Then they can pursue their own 'naïve obsessions with physical pleasure.'"
Electra cocked an eyebrow. "All right, you may do that." The change in her expression was such that Annabelle was surprised by it. She was expecting a worse reaction from her. "In fact, I'd even be willing to pay you for it. On one condition, of course."
Now it was Annabelle's turn to be perplexed. "All right..."
"Each new pupil you recruit, I want a chance to meet her, so that I might see if I might succeed with her where I failed with you."
Annabelle's mouth dropped open. "You can't expect me to—"
"You will still be free to live your own life, as you choose. Free from my influence. That is what you want, isn't it?"
She had her there. "Yes... yes it is."
"Then we have an accord. Goodbye, Annabelle." With that she began to walk off. After her first two steps, she paused, and said, "You know, I had such high hopes for you. I hope you understand how deeply you've disappointed me."
"I understand, Electra. And I could care less. Now please leave."
And with that, she was gone. Electra was finally gone. Annabelle closed her eyes and dropped the sheet from her naked body, letting herself bask in a feeling she suddenly felt more than ever in her life.
It was Saturday night, just after eight. Tyler Partrey was fairly confident he could move safely, as long as he did so quickly. Drago and the others probably wouldn't be prowling the streets for at least another hour. He just had to get out of the house; he couldn't just keep hanging around home in fear.
Pulling his beanie and his jacket on, Tyler hesitantly took a step out the door. Stepping out of his door had become dangerous since he had the misfortune of getting on Drago's bad side. Especially at night. Especially on a Saturday night. That was Drago's favorite time to be out. Unfortunately it was also Tyler's favorite time to be out.
Last week he'd gone over to the basketball court after nine, and it had been ten minutes before Drago and his little gang happened to come along. He still had a few of the bruises to remind him. This time he was going out earlier, and he just had to make sure he didn't stay there long enough to run into those jerks.
Peacefully as he could, he strolled down the street carrying his ball in his sports bag. He wondered who else he might find when he got to the court; there were usually a few other people from his school shooting hoops on Saturday night. It was always more enjoyable when he had someone to play against. Recently, however, the court had been unoccupied more often for some reason. Possibly because Drago had too many kids intimidated.
Of course, few people were as strongly on Drago's radar as Tyler.
Tyler felt uplifted when the court was in sight. There was a decent number of people there tonight, and several he knew well enough to know they'd eagerly let him shoot some hoops with them. He began moving faster to join the games being played—
Cringing, Tyler slowly turned his head in the direction of the call, already knowing who it came from. They were out earlier tonight, probably just to make sure they ran into him. They were getting smarter. In a way, anyway.
Gilbert Drago, Tommy Fisher, and Calvin Lance—the third being the one who had just called his name—were moving with a purpose in his direction. "Come on, guys," Tyler pleaded, "aren't you over it yet?"
"Do you hear this guy?" said Fisher. "He wants to know if we're over it yet? What the fuck is up with that?"
"Maybe Mr. Hero has a problem with English," said Drago. He roughly grabbed Tyler by the collar and pulled him up to stare him straight in the face. "Is that it, Partrey? Do you have a problem with English or something?"
"No..." Tyler grunted weakly.
"So what part of 'don't ever let us catch you out on the streets again' do you not understand? Ever means ever!"
"Drago, seriously," Tyler grunted, "you can't stay mad at a guy forever. You can only beat the crap out of me so many times, and I'm going crazy staying cooped up in my house."
"Hey, hey, did you hear that guys?" Drago chimed. "Now he knows what prison feels like! Kinda poetic justice, don't you think?"
Tyler tasted blood after Drago's first blow to his face.
"Hey, do we need to do this with an audience?" Lance pointed out, gesturing toward the crowd at the basketball court who hadn't quite noticed what was happening yet, but were likely to at any moment.
"Yeah, you're right," said Fisher. "Let's take him somewhere a little quieter."
Fisher and Lance took hold of his arms and dragged him along as Drago led them into a nearby alley. When they stopped moving, Drago turned back to him and said, "Now let's see, where were we? Don't tell me, let me think... oh yeah!" WHAM! "We were right about there!"
Tyler hung his head miserably. This was really his own fault for getting mixed up with these assholes in the first place. Man, being the good guy sucks.
While Elizabeth was on her way to Annabelle's mansion, two things were fighting for precedence in her mind: whatever was going to happen when she got there, and the phone conversation she just had with Sylvia. The first thing she'd noticed was the uneasiness and tinge of guilt in Sylvia's voice.
"Uh, hi Elizabeth, it's Sylvia."
"Sylvia, hi. What is it? Something wrong?"
"Well, something just came up recently... you promise you won't be mad?"
"Well I can't honestly promise anything like that..."
"Elizabeth... Nathaniel asked me out."
At that point Elizabeth had been a bit surprised at her own lack of distress. "Oh, well... that's okay."
There'd been a moment of silence after that. "Is it also okay that I said yes?"
"Actually... yeah, I think it is."
"Really? I... I kinda thought you'd be hating me right about now."
"You know, I kinda thought I would too. But I'm not."
"Wow... this is going a lot better than I was expecting it to. I know how you feel about Nathaniel and all..."
"Well some things have changed in the last few days."
Elizabeth had paused there. She wasn't sure Annabelle and the Blood Rose were things she exactly wanted to share with her friends just yet. "Well, maybe I'll get into that some other time. Have fun on your date, and I'll see you on Monday."
"Um, okay, bye."
She hadn't really thought about it until now, but her sexual fantasies about Nathaniel seemed to have faded in the last few days. The world that Annabelle had introduced her to was just so much more fascinating. She had been so quick to give her virginity up last night—
She smelled blood.
A moment later she knew what direction it was coming from. She could sense four people in an alley across the street, and at least one of them was bleeding. She ran across the street and peeked into the alley to see what was going on—
—and saw three thugs beating some poor sucker to a pulp.
Elizabeth knew the general rules of being a vampire, and the first one was to keep contact with humans to a minimum. But to turn her back on this would go against everything her heart was screaming at her to do right now. There was no getting around it; she had to intervene.
"Hey, what's going on here? Why don't you leave the poor guy alone?"
Their attention was immediately gotten. "Check out the hero chick!"
Elizabeth folded her arms and looked at them coldly. "I think you guys should get lost and don't bother him anymore."
"Ooh hooo!" said one of the three as they began moving away from their victim and towards her. "You hear that? She wants us to lay off Partrey. What do you suppose that means?"
"Sounds to me," said another, "like she wants all our attention to herself. Is that it baby? You afraid we won't share?" He started reaching for her as he said the last part.
She slapped his hand away. "I'm warning you guys. Get out of here before you regret it."
The three cretins laughed. "Man, this night just keeps gettin' better and better, don't it?" said the third one.
The first one quickly took hold of her wrist. "Don't be scared, baby, we know how to treat our women..."
Elizabeth grabbed his arm with her free hand and threw him hard into the ground. She then threw a punch to the faces of each of the other two, sending both of them landing hard on their asses. "I'll tell you one more time: get fucking lost."
The three of them scrambled to their feet and took off running.
Elizabeth now turned her attention to the guy they'd been pummeling. He looked about her age, probably the same year in school that she was. His face was pretty bloody by now. He had on a black wool beanie and a blue and white polyester jacket, with the string of a sports bag holding a basketball clutched in his hand. He looked like a kid who'd wandered into the wrong 'hood. He looked up at her with what mostly looked like bewilderment.
She tenderly reached a hand down to him. "You okay?"
Tyler was having a bit of trouble grasping what had just happened. No one had ever bothered to rescue him from Drago before, let alone a girl this pretty. She looked like something out of a dream, with long black hair and hazel eyes just shy of looking like gold. He was almost afraid to accept the hand she was tenderly extending to him, for fear that she might turn out to not be real when he tried to touch her. Almost.
He took her hand and rose to his feet. "Thanks," he said meekly. "I'm... not really used to being saved by a girl. Or by anyone, for that matter."
"Well," she said, "happy to be your first." She paused a moment, and then chuckled at herself.
Tyler suddenly realized he was talking to this girl with a bloody face, which probably wouldn't be making a good impression. "You don't, like, have a handkerchief or something on you, do you?"
She reached a hand into her pocket, felt around, and then pulled out a tissue, which she handed to him. "I've got this," she said.
"Thanks," he said as he took it from her and proceeded to wipe his face clean after taking his beanie off. In the middle of wiping the blood off his face, he paused a moment when he noticed the strange way she was staring at his face. "Something wrong?"
Whatever trance she was in, she suddenly snapped out of. "Oh, sorry. It's nothing." He eyed her suspiciously as he continued wiping himself off. "Maybe you should see a doctor or something," she said.
"I've been beaten around worse by those guys." Feeling he'd gotten his face fairly clean enough, he put his beanie back on his head and stuffed the tissue into his pocket—and was slightly baffled by the way her eyes seemed to intently follow the bloody tissue until it disappeared from view.
"So, um," she stammered, as if desperately trying to find something to say, "how'd you get mixed up with the, uh..."
"Well, it's kind of a long story."
She hesitated, then shrugged. "You can bore me I guess."
Tyler sighed. "Well, I worked my way into their social group about a year ago. Looking back on it, I don't know why now. I guess at the time I thought it would make me cool or something. And it was okay for a while, but then the way Drago kept pushing everybody around started to really bother me. I kept quiet about it until Drago started talking about how he was planning to knock off a convenience store at the end of the week. So I tipped off the cops, and they were there waiting for Drago and his cohorts when they showed up. Now they've been riding me ever since they got out of prison."
"Wow... guess being a hero isn't what it's cracked up to be, huh?"
"Yeah, tends to get some people pissed off." She actually laughed at that. "You got some nice moves there," he commented. "You take classes or something?"
"No," she said, a bit hesitantly. "Just naturally tough I guess."
"Really," Tyler grinned. "Be still my heart! Tough and sexy!" She smiled a bit coyly at him. "Hey, I haven't seen you around school. Do you live around here?"
"I... I go to a private school."
"Oh yeah? Which one?"
An odd look of distress started coming over the girl. "Oh my god, what am I doing? I shouldn't be here!" She suddenly turned and began running away from him.
"Hey wait!" He ran after her until she stopped at the opening of the alley.
"I'm sorry," she said, "but I really shouldn't be standing here talking to you like this."
To say Tyler was confused at this point would have been a gross understatement. "Why not?"
She didn't answer; she only looked at him apologetically.
"Look, though I might have a small knight-in-shining-armor complex that feels a little bit stepped on, as a living breathing human being I do want to thank you for saving my ass. So let's start again: I'm Tyler. What's your name?"
The look on her face could have said a thousand words if he could only identify what those words were. She seemed to be wrestling with some very strongly conflicting emotions. After a long hesitation, she finally said weakly, "Elizabeth."
"Okay, well, do wanna go for coffee or something?"
Her distressed expression intensified. "I-I'm sorry, I can't... do this, I have to... I have to go." And with that she just ran off.
It was no good. She was gone. Tyler was alone, and basketball had suddenly lost all its appeal. A million unanswered questions were running through his head right now. At the forefront were where this girl came from and what the hell was bothering her so much. He couldn't be sure he would ever find out.
But I definitely know I'm in love!
Elizabeth ran. She wasn't really sure where she was going; at least not for the first four blocks. She'd come way too close to emotional bonding just now.
No, wait, I think that actually was emotional bonding.
There were many times when being a vampire had its upsides. Right now it sucked. It had just severely crippled her chance at a potential friend. Contact with humans was supposed to be kept to a minimum. That was the rule. And at the moment she realized she was starting to like that boy, she realized she was violating that rule.