6 Months Ago
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” the nurse handed me the final paperwork while I sat in my father’s room. My father was connected to life support, tubes coming out of his arms, chest, and mouth. He didn’t even look the same anymore. There was no light in his eye, no golden glow on his skin. He had been here way too long, and his beard was tangled in the wires.
The few longing tears dripped down my face. Dad’s body was still warm, the machine did its job, but unfortunately, his mind couldn’t keep up. Cancer had gripped hold of him, taking him by the neck and strangling the life out of him. It came hard and fast, already flowing in the bloodstream.
My father, John Durham, was a writer. He never made much money, but he did what he loved. I admired that about him. He took a second job just to raise me when my mother left us both in the cold. She had become mystified with the thoughts of magic, realms, crystals, and the sort. She got intermingled with a group of women who believed in that sort of thing, and the rest was history. I was too young to understand; I didn’t even remember the sound of her voice or the look of her eyes.
Dad never mentioned her, not even a picture laid in our home with her in it. He had long lost her once she turned her backs on us. Dad just continued with his writing, and the weekends he spent at the bar, bartending. Now that I was older, I felt like I needed to stay with him. He had no one, his parents died long ago, and he was an only child. I loved him; I swore I would never love a man as much as my own father. Not in that sick romantic way, just a way that a daughter could only love a father.
Not once did he raise his voice at me; he always explained my punishments when I was a child. I wrote my emotions, and it became an extraordinary skill to learn. I took up his passion and began writing my own books. Dad liked the action, adventure, and sci-fi novels while I geared towards romance. The type of romance that doesn’t exist in this world. The kind of romance that will never exist to any woman, the kind that makes you sick with longing. My dad believed in love once, and look where it got him?
I loved to imagine the perfect man. Doing creative writing exercises was always fun; the perfectly handsome man falls for the nerdy girl and teaches her about life. Yeah, that kind of romance. That sort of thing doesn’t exist.
Gazing at my father one last time, I notice his gaunt cheeks. It wasn’t him; his spirit was no longer there. He told me not to cry the day before he landed here. He said I wasn’t allowed to and that death was the next great adventure. I only laughed at him, telling him I wouldn’t. It was a lie. I cried like a baby when he gasped for breath.
Now we are on day four, and there is no hope for him to return to me. Rubbing his hands once more, the nurses quietly walk in. One with a paper in hand for the death certificate, even though we all know his mind is gone. The nurse nodded to me, asking if I wanted to press the button to turn the machine down. I shook my head sadly, kissing my father’s cheek. The room grows dark. The nurses call out the time, and I grab the bill that I know I will never be able to pay.
Despite the storm growing inside me, the weather was sunny. If only some sort of deity could realize what a terrible day it was and reflect my mood with the weather. Crossing my arms, I decide to walk back home. I needed all the money I could get; saving fifty bucks and walking it sounded like a good idea.
My steps continued to be heavy; I stopped paying attention to the noises around me. It was just me, my thoughts, and the heartache. To lose a father and have it hurt this much, how would it be for one of my characters to lose a loved one? I’ve never been one to write a tragedy, but with my mood, it might be time for one. All the manuscripts sitting in my room still sit. All of them are happy-loving endings. Adding a random book of tragedy didn’t seem too bad.
I pull my bag over my shoulder. Gripping it tightly, I pass by a darkened alleyway. A flick of glitter was thrown in the street. Stopping, I glance down at the sidewalk. I thought it was glitter; it was just here. Glancing down the alley, I saw nothing. My mind was playing tricks, my emotions were churned in my chest, and now it was playing with my head. I’m getting sucked into one of my father’s fantasy worlds.
The flick of glitter slung out at my feet again. Pulling out my cell phone, I turned on the light. Nothing was in the immediate area where glitter could be thrown out. Behind a trashcan, there could be something, maybe a child trying to start trouble. Walking three feet in, moving the can, a creature that could only be created by my sorrow stood flicking his wings. He was small, with dark hair and clothing to match his wings.
I rubbed my eyes; indeed, I was dreaming. Smelling too much disinfectant was messing with me. Little rings floated about my ears. The little fairy turned, showing off a pair of dark wings. It was completely black except for tanned skin. Backing away, I knew this had to be trouble. You don’t just walk into an alley, and a creature that is so out of this world is friendly to you. It was the classic trope for a novel.
Backing away, not looking, keeping my eyes glued to him, so it did not jump me in surprise, I bump into a soft body. Gasping, I turn to find a woman dressed in a dark purple cloak. Hands were hidden, but the look on her face was familiar. Her eyes, they were like mine. Purple in color. “It’s been a long time,” the youthful hand reaches for my cheek. The voice was deep and sultry, the epitome of beauty. “You look just like him. Except for your eyes.” Her fingers trail my cheek, too stunned to move.
“W-who are you? How do you know me?” Her dark red lips curved to a smile.
“Figured he wouldn’t keep a picture of me. Why would he when you have my eyes looking into his soul every day?”
“Y-you are my mother?” My hand slapped my chest. She had been gone for so long. If I ever met her, the questions I had were all written in a notebook, one so carefully tucked away under my pillow. My heart knew never to ask my dad about her, but she was here. Why did she leave me? Leave us?
“Why did you leave? Why are you back?” The questions poured from my mouth like lava. They were hot, almost hurtful. I had just lost my father only to gain a lost mother who may or may not have good intentions. Scratch that; she does not have good intentions.
Her relaxed posture only prickled my skin in irritants. This woman had left me, just a baby, and she dared show up… now.
“I’m here because I need to pay my debt,” she roamed her gaze to the streets outside. Little children giggled at the park across the street; street vendors were selling food, trinkets, and the like. All of those things were more important to look at than the daughter right in front of her.
“If you are looking for money, I haven’t got any. In fact, I need money.” Shuffling my bag over my shoulder, I went to leave only to have the little dark fairy pull at my leg. My mother huffed, her shoes clicked towards me.
“Money?” she scoffed. “If only it were that simple, but unfortunately, payment is collected in another way where I live now.” Her index finger brushed my jaw. The long painted claw nicked my chin. I pushed her away harshly.
“You will be able to pay your debt with your body.” Jumping away harshly, strode back to the light, away from the alley only to be jerked around by an invisible hand.
“Now hold still, I’ve got just enough for one last trip,” she severely spoke while a green sphere collected in her hand. My eyes dazed, watching the orb dance in her hand, she threw it above us only to blind me.
Darkness fell upon me while I shielded my eyes until I heard the soft songs of chirping. The rough hand was gone from my arm. I was stranded in a forest with my mother, nowhere to be found. My bag hung loosely at my shoulders while I turned to gaze in wonder. The sky was not the usual blue but that of deep purples, blues, and shades of pink. Small forest creatures, rabbits, chipmunks ran up the stump of trees while I stared absentmindedly. How did she get me to some random forest?
Trees swaying, the light was blocked by a shadow hovering over me. The warm air suddenly felt cold while I clutched to my bag. Gradually turning was none other than a random passerby, or so I thought.
“Greetings,” the man spoke. His skin was flawless, not a scratch or raised indention, freckles, or moles on his body. Angelic was the term I would use, but the darkness I felt standing before him was anything but. Hair was in a perfect place; not a single strand hung over his brow. “You must be Odessa,” his hand reached out to shake mine; reluctantly, I followed, watching him with wary eyes. Hands were colder than mine, but it was nothing but a summer day here.
If I was to be debt repayment, or so my mother says, he could be the one looking for me, and I have just made a grave mistake while I was lost in my thoughts. “How do you know my name?” The man chuckled, now roughly grabbing my wrist, tying it together.
Yep, made a wrong move.
My bag fell from my shoulder while I wrestled him. “Hey, let go!” I tried to pull my arm again, but his grip was more potent than that of my own father, and he was pretty intense.
“Rayvenn Hart is your mother, correct?” I bit my tongue, not wanting to speak another word to this man. He tugged tighter on the ropes while I continued to pull. “Rayvenn Hart had a debt to pay; the payment was her firstborn child.” A smirk played on his lips as he tugged me forward. “You belong to the Duke now, one of his blood bags.”
“B-blood bags?” I squealed. “There must be some mistake! What are you talking about?” Pulling again, I only landed back on my behind. Heat entered into the man’s tone, growling at my defiance. His teeth became the focal point because now I was staring at two very sharp fang-like teeth inches from my face. Surely not. This can’t be happening.
“There is no mistake,” he seethed. “Your mother sold you so she could become a witch of a worthless coven, and now here you are. Her own flesh and blood sold for slaughter.”
My eyes shut, body shook uncontrollably. My own lips began to tremble while he laughed. “Don’t worry, you won’t die right away. You have many years of pleasing him, a fresh young thing like you. Who knows, you might get lucky and be a pleasure, mate. Then you can really live the high life for a time.”
“No!” I screamed, pulling at the ropes; it was a fruitless endeavor. He dragged me with such force my own pants began to rip on the roots below. Barely breaking a sweat, he pulled me to my feet. “I suggest you play along like a good blood bag; you will last longer. Maybe get out on good behavior when your blood begins to sour.”
How could she? How could my own mother sell me to a vampire? That is what he was, right? Vampires had teeth, large fangs that sucked the blood of humans. They were to be nothing but monsters to frighten children and keep them out of the dark at night, but this, this man was anything but a man. He was a monster, and there were more of them.
I was to be used, and from the sounds of it, I would be used for many years. They will suck me dry only to keep me alive long enough to fill their stomachs again. Trying not to bite my lip, my lip wiggled in despair. Dark clouds filled my mind.
My life was great, my father loved me, and I loved him. He homeschooled me, kept me happy, showed me how to navigate life. So many fun-filled vacations learning about my country, and it was all for nothing. I wouldn’t be able to see any of it again.
I stumbled to my feet but quickly fell again. My knees were scraped, and hints of metallic blood hit the air. A large breath came from the vampire in front of me. My heart stopped, clutching my knees so I could somehow hide the smell.
His back turned, “My name is Master Enoch; you will regard me as such. We will be seeing much more of each other,” he smirked.