Blood’s Voice

a House Millar book

by Áine P Massie

Copyright © 2011 Áine P Massie

Editor: Nosha Orion

ISBN-13: 978-1463559274

ISBN-10: 1463559275

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, situations and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission.

Summary: Anya Millar had no memory of her life or an instruction manual on how to navigate the insane world of humans, biting, and reality. Instead, Anya has had to learn to navigate the world of love, life, and sanity with little other.

Anya must come to terms with who she is and her missing past, Nicholas must win back the object of his eternal love while dealing with new cravings in his silent heart, and Declán must learn to destroy the very creatures that his heart has unequivocally given his heart and blood too.

Published in the United States of America, Indie Aisle edition.

First publication: June 2011 by Geas Publications House Millar series: bk. 1

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to IndieAisle.com and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

1. Vampire – Fiction. 2. Guardian – Fiction. 3. Blood Kissed –

Fiction.

4. Polyamory – Fiction. 5. Supernatural – Fiction Library of Congress Control Number: 2011931852

For Muffin, Pooka, JM, Nosha:

Tá mo chroí istigh ionat

Life, all life, has meaning. Meaning and purpose, even in the cruel life that is not a full life as our kind have.

Knowledge, art, love, passion, and desire; to live … to experience all this simple world has to offer.

Motion, feeling, thought, desire... Evolution, longing, passion, fear...

In my realization of life and heart, I have come to a true crossroads, which is not to say that this reality has not called for or that I am not still in process of involution. I have stayed so long within this moment. Even now, standing at this place with choices and passions, the fervour and longings are drowned out by the greatest of evils, fear.

The sustenance that gives me motion and brings my views trembling to the forefront of my sensual centre is none other than that which also brings my greatest trepidation, life. The waters of life, increasingly difficult to manage, have become as alien to me as to nearly bring my being to seize.

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I have little memory of life, only since I awoke in what is now my home, but today has found my nerves stretched to their limit. Fear, excitement, fear… How to face this day? I remember winning the discussion that brought about today, I just cannot seem to find my resolve right now.

“Remind me again Star, why am I not going to school like a normal sixteen or seventeen year old if we are going for the ‘normal’ teen vision?” I made my best pout face and used my whining voice. Star, of course, laughed.

“You would be bored out of your mind and it would mean mixing with hundreds of human teens. What on earth would you do so close to them? They are not going to accept you easily; they don’t even accept each other without pain.”

By now, she looked at me as if I was five years old and a touch slow at that.

“Be that as it may, the only way for me to learn is to observe them. I want to learn about humans from humans.

You have taught me to walk and talk like a human, you have helped me learn to control my cravings, you have shown me so much … but if I’m to live in the human world I want to experience humanity not just hear about it. Can I please observe them? It won’t take long and then we can move on to college and a more adult world. I just want to do this one time.” I smiled. With unconcealed pleading in both my eyes and voice, I tried again, “Please?”

“Oh, could those eyes get any bigger?” Star laughed.

“Fine, but I’m telling you, you are going to hate dealing with all the petty parts of being a teen. You may be right though; it may be good for you to experience and learn from them.

Okay, go get the legal papers… and have you decided on which school?” She had a severely patronizing look but somehow humour still touched her eyes. “I’m still not sure about your control and your ability to not be noticed.

“Anya, dear, you are more lovely than any mortal, pale with a gentle luminous sheen to your skin and hair, standing nearly six-feet yourself. Add in your unnatural emerald eyes and the sumptuous way you move and maybe you can understand my concern.” She sighed, shaking her head indulgently.

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Now, after a week of preparations, I am off for my first day of, uh…, high school. I had been staring at my closet for nearly two hours trying vainly to decide what to wear on this day. I needed to blend in as best as I could but I did not truly know how to do that. Once I get there, I was likely to stand out as the “new girl” on top of my unusual appearance.

“Star! Help please.”

“Relax Anya,” she laughed softly, coming into my rooms quietly. “Let’s try things this way … let’s start by you taking a few deep breaths. I know you don’t truly need them but it does help to calm the nerves a bit.” She then proceeded to rummage through my things choosing a simple pair of jeans and a lavender silk wrap top that I liked quite a bit.

“Everything I own is expensive, designer clothes, even my jeans. Do you think this is subdued enough to blend in?”

Star simply smiled and reminded me, “This was your idea my dear, now let yourself enjoy the outcome.” Worry suddenly creased her forehead. “Anya, are you sure you can control your cravings, voice, and speed? I am really nervous about this as you will be on your own until three this afternoon.”

“I promise,” I said, raising my right hand, “to leave immediately if I start to feel that I cannot handle the stress or temptation. I will be very cautious and try to draw as little attention as possible.” I said this and knew in my heart that I would follow through, no questions.

Then the strangest look flitted across her face, some form of perverse humour. “Anya, I have a gift for your first day. I want you to wear this as a reminder of what you are attempting to accomplish in this life, not just for today.”

With that, she took out a small box and opened it. Within was a beautiful ring, it was silver colour and beautifully inscribed with the words “Harm none, love all” in both English and Irish. She took the ring out and gently handed it to me. “It will fit your thumb and spins so it will blend in with the local jewellery style but it should serve as a reminder to reign yourself in so that you are able to be the person you already know inside.”

I did not immediately accept the ring, raising my eyebrows in mild disbelief. “Um…”

“It’s titanium silly, don’t look at me like that. I know better,” she chided.

I put it on my right hand and looked at it for a long moment. “Thank you Star,” I sighed. “Truly. Thank you for everything!”

“Now, don’t forget to control your smile. Your eye-teeth are not that pronounced but still, no need to draw attention to them,” she reminded me.

“I remember. I will be careful.” Then, smiling more to myself than anything, I dressed and headed out to my Silver Impala. I truly believe that this is the key to learning about the world I live in. I again checked that I had everything on my list for my first day, as if I needed to, ha, and began the drive into town.

I pulled into the parking lot where the little sign said

“Office” and parked. With my nerves still not quite calmed, I took another deep calming breath and headed to the small office just inside the main entry of the high school.

It was a small room but nice enough – windows in all the walls, even the interior ones, along with glass doors that they had to ‘buzz’ you past. “Excuse me, is this where I pick up my schedule and sign in for my first day?” I inquired, not allowing my slight unease to slip into my voice. “My name is Anya Millar.” I made sure to use my soft, calming voice that seems to always soothe and reassure the other humans I had met.

“Oh, yes,” said a small dumpling of a woman with a start.

She was probably in her late forties with grey-tinged black hair and too much makeup on. “I’m sorry dear; I didn’t hear you come in. Let me see…” Darn, seems I was not loud enough to announce myself. “Ah, here is your schedule and a school map. You will need to go down to the third office, just down this hall here, to get your locker assignment and parking pass.” She kept looking at me with wide eyes. Yes, she noticed the subtle differences between us. “Good luck and welcome, I hope you like it here.”

After a similar conversation with the security office, I had my schedule, locker, and map. As I entered my first class, Calculus, I made sure to pay careful attention to how my new class mates acted, moved, and most importantly, how they reacted to me. This was the hard part; I was still not good at reading human reactions. Sure, I was smarter, faster, more graceful, and intriguing looking to them but I was also something just off from frightening to most humans, this made it hard for them, at times, to interact with me. I just have to hope that I am right about this experiment.

I knew I was going to like this teacher, Mr. Dallas, when he handed me my book and sent me to an empty seat without making a big deal over my joining the class, even though I did not come in till after he had started class. I did not need the added attention!

The class went slowly as most of my new peers kept twisting in their seats to try to watch me. I already knew all the materials that I was to ‘learn’ in this class but the lectures were, thankfully, not what I was here to observe and learn.

As I gathered up my items and started to head out for my next class, Chemistry II, a small pretty girl came over. With a very timid smile she spoke, “Hi, um… my name is Skye. Do you need any help finding your next class? It’s hard being the new person.” Her smile had a slight nervous edge to it.

Poor girl, here she was trying to be nice while her natural instincts told her to stay away.

I worked hard to make sure that both my voice and my smile were soft, “Hello, my name is Anya. I have Chemistry II next, thanks.”

Her eyes widened but her smile did not falter, thankfully.

“Oh, I go right by there, if you’d like I can show you were it is.” Well, this made things easier at least. I had a tour guide so I did not have to pretend to search for my next class.

“Thank you. That would be great. I don’t know my way around yet,” I said laughing lightly. This seemed to put her more at ease with me. As we walked I noticed many of the children staring at me, but it was the whispers that caught my attention the most. Wow, where is she from? Look at the way she walks… Oh my, wonder if she’s in any of my classes?

Wonder if Skye knows her, she’s so brave… Huh, I have to hope that I will blend in to their minds better once the novelty of being the “new girl” is over. As we got closer, I started to hear some of the males whispering about things that they should not be interested in with me. I may be good at resisting temptation but somehow I do not think most of their comments would be very safe for them, or appropriate.

Huh, I wonder … do all males have such vulgar tongues when they think girls cannot hear them?

Skye left me at the door to my class with a smile and a wave. Good, seems I am managing well enough not to scare them all, and smiled to myself as I entered the classroom.

Third and fourth period continued like this, with usually one (or more) person offering to show me to my next class.

Moreover, while they all seemed a little staggered they did not seem to fear me. I was getting the hang of this! Then, lunch.

I was not sure what to do about lunch as I obviously could not eat but would ditching be too noticeable? Maybe I should get the food anyway but dispose of it when no one is paying attention? I can hear the children, more than a few are complaining that the food here “sucks” so maybe no one will be bothered by my lack of appetite. I proceeded to the lunch line hoping that my earlier acquaintances would not cause me issues over not actually eating. Hum, maybe since lunch is the length of a class I can ask to take a class instead or use the class time to read in the library.

It was not until I went to my last class that things got weird though. I had American Sign Language 3. As I entered that class, I started toward the teacher’s desk when a strange feeling gripped me. It was almost like some kind of pulling force. I tried to ignore it as I went and got my books and signature. There was only one open seat, between a seemingly ordinary looking boy, that I saw others call Declán, and a tiny girl that I did not know the name of yet.

As I sat down, they both looked vaguely uncomfortable with me there but there was nothing I could do about that.

Mr. Bert started passing out permission slips at the ends of our tables for everyone to pass down the line. The odd pull that I had already felt since entering was getting stronger but I could not figure it out, it was like nothing else I had ever felt … not thirst or curiosity. Then, while the boy, Declán, was passing me the papers, he looked me straight in the eye.

I knew then that it was he! Something about him gnawed at my mind, I just could not figure out why.

I tried to ignore the feeling but caught myself looking at him often, much more than was normal, for the work or for me. What was it about this boy that nagged at me and made me want to know him more?

After just a few minutes, they both introduced themselves, Declán and Kayla. Neither of them seemed to be more than just curious of me, thankfully. Now if I could figure out the strange pull that the boy had on me.

What did I look like to him? I could not seem to not stare every so often throughout the hour. I knew my gaze could be frightening or even hypnotic at times. I had to work hard to stop staring, that was just all there is to it! The poor boy seemed to notice my gaze but even when we were practicing, he would look just above my head instead of directly at me. Hum, common courtesy dictates at least minimal eye contact yet other then the first look … nothing.

Star was home when I arrived back from school. She was waiting; looking mildly over excited or perhaps nauseous would be a better description. “Well? You didn’t call or come rushing back, I assume that means things went well.

Yes?” Her eyes were pleading as she waited for my response.

“Everything went fine Star, relax. The same number of students started the day as ended it.” I winked and then stuck my tongue out playfully. “I managed to only slightly unnerve the humans, and yes, I listened carefully for their reactions. I am a bit nervous about one of the boys I met though; I am hoping you can help me.” I sighed hard trying to assemble my thoughts about the boy.

She raised one eyebrow curiously, “Anything, you know that. How can I help?”

“Well, um … in one of my classes I sit next to a boy named Declán. He is somewhat simple looking for a human but not unattractive. You know, not flashy or slovenly, but rather a quiet strength. As soon as I entered the room, I felt the strangest pull. I do not know how to explain it really, but when I sat next to him, I figured out that the pull was to him.

I kept catching myself staring at him; luckily this was ASL

class so looking at your practice partner is not considered rude.” I laughed but the sound was off.

“He has this draw about him. I am concerned about why. I do not want to become too curious or involved, this is supposed to be for learning only. They are much too transitory to become attached to really. Right?”

“A pull?” She looked thoughtful and the pause before she continued was downright painful.

“Do you mean his scent was more of a draw then the other humans?” She had a slightly worried expression now.

“No. Actually, I did not notice his scent over the others there really. This was different but I do not know how to explain it properly. More like a nagging curiosity and desire to know him better. Still, I am worried.” I truly was worried; this boy should not stand out from the others like, well, as he did. Plus, human lives are so short.

She started laughing; I think more at my face than my words. “Dear, you need not stress so easily – not if you want this to work. If he only intrigues you then that’s okay.

Maybe you knew someone like him before, you know …”

“Oh, hum … I didn’t think of that.”

“Not to mention, you are allowed friends. You can’t stay with them for more than a few years it’s true. And, while friendships in high school often do influence the people, they often do not last past high school or college. So, see if he’s interested in friendship, it’s not really a big deal at this point.” Star was always too calm.

“Okay, I’ll work on looking at them that way,” I said smiling happily. “It would be nice to be able to have friends even if they can’t know that much about certain parts of my life.” Still, I think it would be nice to get to know others like me, but Star insists that the others like me only see humans as food and that they would not approve of me living and interacting with them like this.

The week progressed much the same way. Declán still intrigued me but I was not sure how to get to know him better. I was staying on the fringes of society at school but finding myself truly fascinated by these children.

That Friday Skye nervously invited me to go on the group outing the next day. “A, uh, a group of us are going to the indoor water park near here. I was wondering if you wanted to join … er, us. You could meet more of the kids that way and maybe have a little fun.” She smiled with true warmth, which still surprised me, as she invited me.

“Sure. Thank you. I would love to go but are you sure your friends will want me tagging along?”

She ignored my question as she continued, “Some of us are going to car pool there, but you can meet us there if you’d rather.”

Man I wish I could understand the odd face she keeps making. What is she thinking?

“Oh, I could drive a few people if you want. I don’t mind, I have room for four in my car.” I smiled as softly as I could while still showing proper excitement.

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Wow, that would be nice. Maybe Declán, Kayla, his sister, and I could ride with you? Would that be okay? That way we could show you where it is too.” She truly looked excited now. She was practically bouncing in place.

I could not help but laugh, “Sure, but are you sure they will be okay with riding with me?”

“Declán is my boyfriend so he doesn’t get a vote,” she giggled. “And Kayla is his sister so she usually rides along with him for outings like this. It makes their mom a little less jumpy if she has him there, like he’s going to protect her or something.”

Hum, he is dating Skye. I hope she will be agreeable to me wanting to get to know him better. Girls seem to have a thing for being territorial about ‘their’ guys. However, I am not trying to interfere in their relationship, so she should be okay with it. I hope.

“Okay, where should I meet you and when?”

“We’re meeting at the school parking lot at nine and then heading out. Is that cool?” she asked.

“Sure, I will be there.” I could not help smiling in response to her smile and to her enthusiasm. Now, shopping for proper attire for tomorrow and to prepare.

That night I went out hunting to make sure I was satisfied before heading out with three humans in my car …

for a day out with who knows how many teens …

As I pulled into the lot to start this adventure, I noticed a dozen teens and two other cars. Skye waved at me as I parked and got out of the car.

“You made it!” she squealed as she bounded over but stopped further away than seemed normal for the other teens to talk with each other. Still, if she was afraid she was doing a great job of controlling it, or she was truly unaware of her fears.

“I said I would be here,” I murmured, allowing excitement to leak into my voice but remembering to keep my voice soft still. My voice, when loud, tended to enthral and practically mesmerize them.

This is something that Star had warned me about early on – the fact that my voice was more dangerous than others of my kind, that if I wasn’t careful I would damage them as they would not be able to deny me anything. This ability is something that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands or even in mine if I am not very thoughtful in its use.

Skye started to reach for my hand but dropped it back and motioned for me to follow her. Curious. “Declán, Kayla, our ride is here, look. This is Anya.” She led me over to a small group of teens dragging Declán and Kayla out of the grouping.

Declán I knew but I only just then realized that the girl who sat on the other side of me in ASL class was his sister.

Interesting.

His eyes widened and then narrowed just the tiniest bit.

Hum, he looks almost suspicious of me. Maybe I am misreading him. I hope.

Kayla just looked down and fidgeted with her bag. She seemed the very shy type; I hope she is not so uncomfortable that she cannot enjoy the outing.

I went with the other girls to change into our bathing suits. That was not a pleasant experience, more than one of them seemed truly uncomfortable with me. I did not know how to make them more comfortable though.

Of course, I did not know what to expect or how to swim

– per se. Not that physical things were hard but rather that I had never seen it done (not that I remembered any ways).

Once we got into the day, I always let the others do things first so that I could see how they were done. I did not want to show off my physical skills but I also did not wish to make a fool of myself. At my theoretical age, I should know how to do all these things after all.

Not long before we were to leave, Declán asked if he could talk to me alone. “I would like to talk to you privately, if you don’t mind.” His gaze felt as if he could look through me, gentle yet penetrating.

“Okay, why don’t we walk and talk then?” I tried to keep my voice light and my face untroubled. “What’s on your mind?”

“Well, you seem to be becoming fast friends with Skye and I just want to make sure that she’s… safe,” he said cautiously.

“Safe? I do not understand.” He could not know I was dangerous. What does he mean safe?

“Please don’t misunderstand me; I have no problem with you as long as you do not intend to use her in any way.” He looked very stern, more like someone’s father than a boyfriend.

I allowed my face to show how puzzled I was as I responded. “Um, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Skye has been very nice to me since I arrived and then she invited me to join your group for today. I very much appreciate her kindness. I do not intend to hurt anyone, her included. Is that why you always look at me so oddly? You worry I’m going to do something bad to your beloved one?”

He could not doubt my sincerity unless he was immune to my voice – I did allow myself a little leeway in this case. I just cannot imagine why he would be so protective of her when I am around his sister just as much.

“Skye has just gone through a lot and while she never lets it show I don’t want her to be let down or hurt.” He said this with such conviction that I had to truly wonder what had been done to this sweet, gentle child.

“You have no need to worry, I promise.”

“I’m sorry; I’m not trying to chase you off just I worry about her. That and well, um …” He looked very nervous now. “Well, please don’t be offended but you’re not like the other girls here.”

“I am sorry if I unnerve you a bit. Being ‘normal’ is something I am still learning. You see,” I sighed; maybe if I give some explanation it will calm him. “I was in an accident and have no memory from before waking up. Star has been working hard to help me but…” This was easy; I did not even have to lie.

He blinked hard a couple of times and then something about him changed. He softened, a lot. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I had no idea!” As he looked down at his feet, he mumbled, “Now I feel really bad.”

“No worries, honest. I do not remember anything so I cannot miss it. But please, have a little patience with my oddities; most teens do not have to learn to be teens.

“Oh! Please do not tell everyone, I do not want pity from anyone.”

He looked up abruptly, shock flitting across his face before he could compose it. “I won’t tell, promise. You have full amnesia? Wow! And Star is your mom? Or …” he trailed off nervously.

“Star is my, um, adoptive mother. She is wonderful and I could not imagine life without her.” I smiled ruefully as I continued this discussion. “My parents died a long time ago but, of course, I cannot remember them at all so Star is all I know.”

Just then, Skye and Kayla found us talking. The look that crossed Skye’s face made me concerned that she might not like me being around Declán so much.

“Declán, I think we upset Skye, she looks odd, annoyed maybe,” I said dropping my voice slightly.

“I’ll talk to her. Her last boyfriend cheated on her so she gets a little tweaky about pretty girls around me … though, in this case, she’s the one that introduced us.” He laughed lightly and went to take Skye’s hand, pulling her to his side and sliding his arm around her waist.

“Found you, finally. And what have you two been up to?” She looked like she was honestly worried about me being alone with him.

Pooh, this is going to be hard as I still feel the draw to know him and she is my friend now too. I do not want to be an issue.

“Yes, I was just asking about how her adjustments to our lovely town are going. But as she is new and at times seems a little shy, I thought I’d quiz her without the rest of the school watching.” He laughed as she turned pink in the cheeks and looked away.

Something nagged at the back of my mind. Somehow his words were off, not a lie but not the truth either. Hmmm…

“Actually, he is being modest. I think I was boring him.”

I shrugged and trying to not put too much interest in the conversation we had, I turned to Kayla.

“So, you two are siblings?”

Declán and Kayla both smiled as she answered, “Yes, twins.”

“That’s cool. You must love hanging out with him. It must be nice to have family around like that.” I wonder …

Kayla giggled, turning an interesting shade of red. Hum, good thing I do not hunt humans.

“He is my big brother, by all of ten minutes. ASL is our only shared class but yes, I like having him at school with me. It’s nice. Do you have any brothers or sisters?” She looked with true interest.

“Oh, I do not have any siblings. We are a family of two, just Star and I. But, I think it would be fun to have a bigger family. Somehow, I just do not think that Star is going to want to adopt again. I am enough of a handful for her as it is.”

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an only child

… no one to get into trouble with.” Kayla laughed at the last part, winking at her big brother.

Declán nudged her in the side laughing too.

Skye joined in the laughing but seemed a little off. “I know how you feel Anya; I always wanted an older brother or sister, so I’ve decided to borrow Kayla.” She smiled a huge grin at the thought. “Two for one deal.”

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When I arrived home, I could immediately tell that someone had been in our home. Someone like me! Sitting in the middle of my bed was a note on expensive, ivory parchment and a deep blood red rose.

Dearest Anya,

Please accept our deepest regards on your recent entry into our area. We are pleased to have new blood move into the area but we are concerned that you have not availed yourself of our company.

To clear things up we would like to formally invite you to “Tea” tomorrow. We will send someone to pick you up at your home at noon.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Young

I read and reread the note pacing anxiously in the front room waiting for Star to come home. I had never met another of my kind.

Star came in the front door catching me mid-pace. She looked very worried as she took in my appearance and then stiffened.

“Oh Star, I am … um, what do I do? Who is Nicholas?” I choked out not able to hide my panic and fear.

“Who has been here? And what do you mean ‘who is Nicholas’?” she demanded, not relaxing her defensive stance.

I handed her the note that I had already read over a dozen times as I paced the floor in my panic.

“I found this sitting on my bed when I came home from my outing today. I was having a good day till then!” I went back to pacing as I could not seem to calm myself as I grew more and more worried about other blood drinkers coming here, looking for me, expecting me to go with them tomorrow.

“Oh, that Nicholas. I didn’t expect him to contact you so soon much less in such an invasive manner.” She sighed and reached out to take my shoulder to stop my pacing. “Anya, try to relax. A couple of towns over, there is a small family of vampires. They are not like most others, they are more like you. They hunt animals not humans. Why he’s being so cryptic in his efforts to get to know you though I’m not sure.

He’s always been a bit into theatrics though.” She had a slight smile now and her eyes had lost all the panic.

“If all he wants is to meet me why the nerve wracking method to get my attention then? He could have just stopped by or sent me a letter in a less threatening manner.”

Relaxing is not the easiest thing to do after everything else today, sigh.

“Dear, Nicholas is not a bad person; he’s just … overly dramatic.”

After taking a few deep breaths to steady myself I turned to fully face Star. “I am not sure about going to an unknown vampires home, alone. I am no warrior and I do not even know their rules or guides.”

“Anya, I would be the first to worry but I’ve met him and his father-creator before. They are not going to harm you, though they may try to adopt you if you’re not careful,” she half laughed at the ending.

“Adopt!”

“Don’t worry, truly. I’m sure they just want to get to know you and since they cherish human life. They may just want to know your diet. They’re like you on that point though so they shouldn’t have a problem. Just remember to control your voice, it will affect them if you command or persuade. But if it will help you relax, you should be able to just talk your way out of trouble if a problem did arise.” She was always so soothing to my nerves.

Before she could blink, I had her in a hug.

“Thank you for everything! If you are certain this is safe then I will go. Though, I may have to have words with this Nicholas person on proper note sending etiquette.” I could not help smiling even though worry still sat with me.

“Easy now, remember you are stronger then I am.

“So, if you are not going to run away or panic any more tonight, you wanna tell me how your human outing went?” I could see the curiosity burning in her eyes. Yes, this part of the evening would take a while.

I rushed around the house all morning fretting about everything from what to wear to would I make it home again.

After rummaging through my closet for the fifth time, I decided on a light, green silk wrap dress with matching heels.

I like how my strange emerald eyes react when I wear any shade of green; I just have to hope that my eyes do not unnerve my host too much.

Star had explained before that those who drink human blood have devil eyes while those few that love humans and hunt animals instead retain their eye colour, just it is always strangely accented. This thought left me wondering what their eyes would look like. Hum…

I heard the car pull up outside and the door close … the soft brush of someone’s feet on the path up to our door and then a soft rap, rap on the door.

I looked at Star and swallowed hard mustering my courage, headed to the door, opening it wide.

“Hello.”

In front of me stood a young man of maybe twenty; well, physically any ways. He was not human though so no telling how old he actually was. He was about six-two, icy pale skin

– much lighter than mine – with rather fascinating auburn and blond hair down to his shoulders, and the most enchanting blue eyes – like the clear blue in snorkelling areas around ocean reefs.

“Hello, my name is Nicholas.

“I hope you don’t mind that I came personally instead of sending someone.” He smiled gently and offered me his hand. I stood there for a moment looking at him, a little startled to be honest.

He laughed gently, still with his hand out, “I won’t bite,”

he said with a wink, “honest.”

Nervously I extended my hand to his. He took it gently and bent to kiss the back of it. He then looked over my shoulder to Star, “Don’t worry Star, she won’t be out late.

We would just like to meet your … daughter but you know how mother is about non-vamps being at the house. Please don’t be offended.”

“Oh Nicholas, don’t worry about me, I know you wouldn’t allow her to come to harm. And yes, I do remember how nervous Amber gets about me. I don’t take it personal.”

Star came over to give me a good-bye hug and then patted Nicholas’s shoulder before he led me to the passenger side of his car.

“Wow, nice car! You don’t worry about standing out as much as Star insists we do,” I murmured. The car he had led me to was a gorgeous midnight blue Shelby with white race stripes.

Nicholas laughed loudly as he closed the door and appeared in the seat beside me. Hum, he was not watching his actions here. Truthfully, our drive is secluded, but still.

“My apologies Anya, when we are not being viewed we revert to our natural actions. And, I figured since I was going to pick up one of our own… I didn’t need to pretend to be normal or common.

“I can tell from how Star was that my note caused some tension for you; that was not my intention. I promise to be more conventional from now on.” His voice was so intriguing I could not manage to not be drawn in by it. I wonder what my voice sounds like to him. Do all vampires have such enchanting voices?

Still keeping my voice soft as I always do, “Why the cryptic note? You could have just stopped by and asked or left the note in the door.”

“Oh, well, the invitation was for you and I was just a little curious about you. I’ve never heard of one such as Star taking in one of our kind. I promise I didn’t go through your things, I just wanted to see your area.” His smile never faltered though his eyes did touch with shame slightly as he explained about my room.

“Well, I would prefer if I was in my room. I do not like the idea of anyone in my room without me or at least permission. I hope you can understand.”

He nodded.

“So, where are we going?”

“My home. My parents are awaiting us so that we can all get to know one another. My mother is Amber and my father is Jonathan. Mostly they are curious and a little nervous.”

“Nervous? About me?” What could make them nervous?

“Yes. You see, we don’t allow the hunting of humans in our territory and you are close enough that you fall into that area. Also, we’ve never had one like us in the area but not be the least bit interested in meeting us; it’s more than a bit disconcerting.”

He was already pulling up to a large home in the woods.

I went to open the door but the look he gave me halted my hand. Seems he is insisting on playing the gentleman. I nearly giggled aloud at that thought.

“Now, please try to not be too nervous. We are merely curious about you. Especially given that I knew you before yet you know nothing of yourself even now.” He looked puzzled as he led me to the door.

“Wait,” I stopped, certain I looked just as taken aback as I felt. “What do you mean you knew me before? You know who I am from before I woke up at Star’s?”

“Yes,” he said matter-of-factly. “We were once friends but something happened to you after you left for a while.

From what I have been able to gather about you before I left you the note, you don’t remember anything from before.”

He waited patiently as I gathered my thoughts, trying to unscramble them from the jumbled chaos they had suddenly become.

“But come, meet the family. We have plenty of time to discuss the past,” he added with a coy smile as he reached for my hand to pull me to the door.

Waiting just inside the door were his ‘parents.’ They seemed a nicely matched couple. He was maybe six-feet tall with straight black hair and remarkable blue-white eyes. The woman was much shorter with soft curves, cream-colored blond hair, and light, almost tan eyes.

“Anya, this is Jonathan and Amber, my parents. Mom, Dad, this is Anya.”

Jonathan extended his hand to shake mine gently.

Amber did the same.

Amber spoke up first, “I know this is probably a bit worrisome for you but we just wanted to introduce ourselves.

Please, come in and make yourself comfortable.”

“I am a little concerned that you moved in with one of the bloodless ones instead of seeking out one of your own but Nicholas says you seem to have no memory. Is that right?”

Jonathan looked as if he could see right through me as he waited for my response.

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Fascinating!” He gave the lightest of nods to Amber and Nicholas.

“My first memory is waking up on my bed at Star’s. She told me that she found me and knew immediately what I was but that she did not know why I was alone or why I had no memory.

“You said you knew me before and that we were friends?

Please, do you know more?”

Nicholas laughed lightly and began to talk faster than I was used to hearing others speak, “Well, I do not know where you originally come from, who your creator was that is. You never wanted to talk about him or her. But, I’ve known you for about,” looking at Jonathan now, “what sixty years?”

“Yes, I believe sixty is about right. I still remember the last time you brought her home for the ‘first time,’ ”

Jonathan smiled with deep humour glinting in his eyes. “I swear, the way you two always act around each other.”

Amber reached over to put her hand on my shoulder. “I know this must be confusing for you dear but please try to be patient. We have missed you and had wondered what happened that you never came back and then Nicholas stumbled on your scent last week.

“That and we were concerned about if Star had taught you to be again a human lover or if you had reverted to how most of our kind feed.” She seemed as if she was concerned she might have offended me. “We can easily see that you must be as you were before, happily,” she added quickly.

“You see, not only were you his friend but we do not allow the hunting of humans in our territory.”

“Ah, Star was right about you worrying about that. Why did you not just talk to Star though? She is very good to me and has helped me, though she, I believe, thinks I am insane for choosing to attend high school.” I could not help the smile that spread across my face now. “She thinks I am not capable of dealing with teens due to the temptation.”

“Ah, that sounds like something you would do.”

Nicholas was smiling so hard it looked like his cheeks should be in pain.

“Yes, well, I have no memories and I figure that if I am going to live in the human world I need to learn not just how to coexist but how to interact with them.”

“That is an unusual goal, only Amber works within the human world on a regular basis. We interact but not living and working with them all the time. Do they not react to your inhumanness?” Jonathan was so wrapped up in his curiosity that I think the house could have exploded and he would not have noticed.

Laughing softly, always working to keep my voice under control, “No. Some of the children at school do look at me a little oddly, not quite comfortable but I have already made a few human friends and yesterday I even got to attend an informal outing at the indoor water park.” Looking at Nicholas now, “That’s where I was when you dropped off the note.

“It is not as hard as you might think but that may be because I have no preconceived ideas about how things should be.”

“Wow, just fascinating.” Jonathan and Amber said in unison, shaking their heads slowly.

“Do you mind if I ask something of you?” I waited, hoping they would not mind me doing the questions.

“Of course, my dear. What would you like to know?”

Amber spoke first.

“Well, you seem to know Star, and she said she knew you all, but why is she not welcome here? She has been wonderful and she even worked hard to teach me how to control my cravings and a great respect for human life. I do not understand.”

Amber again spoke, which made me happy, as she was whom they said had the problem over ones like Star. “We do not dislike Star, don’t worry so. I just am not comfortable around the bloodless ones. She is not a problem, and, we wanted to learn about you without risk of you deferring to her.

“I do find it interesting that she is who you ended up with as a mentor though. The idea that one not of our kind would take you in and teach you is truly exceptional.”

Nicholas interrupted, “I am just glad to see that she picked up on your voice abilities and that you have so fully learned control. It’s a drastic improvement from before.” He winked and smirked at me. “That is why I came personally to pick you up. While I can’t resist when you use it I have enough practice from before that I can at least call you on it,”

he added, laughing again. “Course, you always got what you wanted while I was telling you that you weren’t being fair but still.”

“You are able to resist? Really?” I felt my eyebrows raise and pull together. “Star said others like me would be affected just like humans.”

“Well, I can resist enough to speak up about what you are doing but not enough to not give in, no matter what you say. It never really bothered me as you were always able to talk us out of trouble,” he added with a homey laugh.

There was something so familiar and soothing about being here with him. I wished I could remember him, as he seems to remember me. A friend that was like me?

Someone that could understand me and know me? Wow!

“Well, we have eons to catch up Anya.

“Why don’t we let them get to know each other dear …

without ‘adult’ interference?” With that, Jonathan and Amber excused themselves and then it was just Nicholas and I.

“Come on, let’s go for a walk,” Nicholas said as he again extended his hand to me.

I could not help giggling a little as I took it and he pulled me out the back door toward the forest.

“So…”

“So, you want to live among the humans not just near them? That’s different.” I could see the curiosity burning in his eyes though he kept his voice controlled.

“Yes. They are fascinating and I don’t want to just hide at the house all the time, so I figured I should learn how they interact. As I said, Star thinks I am crazy for choosing high school to start but as I am forever sixteen or so, I thought it a good place to begin.”

“Well, I can see both sides to this one and frankly, I am not sure how you are able to manage so close to them on a daily basis.” He looked a little awed as he continued, “Isn’t the temptation dreadful?”

“No, not really. Mostly their scent is delicious but I just don’t see them as food. They are people, fascinating, thriving, bizarre beings and I want to live in their world.

Honestly, when Star told me that I lived by drinking blood I was revolted. I could not imagine killing a human even before I knew one. Star says that others of our kind will not approve of me because of this attitude.” I could not help the sadness that leaked into my voice.

“Also, I wear a reminder in plain sight to remind me of my vow if the temptation starts to get to me.” I held up my right hand so he could see the ring.

“You wear a ring to remind you to not harm the humans?” He was looking more than a bit confused as he examined the ring on my thumb. “And that works?”

“Well, it’s just something to keep the thought in the foremost part of my mind. It does not stop me; it just reminds me why I am doing this. So far, so good.” I smiled trying to stifle a laugh.

“Huh, you have the most bizarre life now don’t you.”

“Eh, better this life than living as a murderer, yes?” I hoped he was not offended by my wording.

“True, true…” he trailed off, deep in thought now it seemed.

“Not to change the subject but do you mind if I ask you a little about me?”

“Huh?” Nicholas said as he struggled to pull himself out of some train of thought. “Oh, um, sure. What do you wish to know?”

“Well, I’m not going to ask a lot as I am not the same person, obviously, but I would like to know if you know what happened to me. How I ended up alone, with no memory.

Do you?” This is my one connection to my past, oh how I hope he knows something.

Nicholas motioned to a natural stone formation that made a nice bench area, and motioned for me to sit with him.

“I don’t know what happened to you or how an immortal can have their memory erased as yours obviously has been. I do know why you left us though.” The sadness in his eyes made him look truly ancient suddenly.

“You were not technically part of our family; you preferred to live on your own. You maintained a home and such separately. We were best friends and we each spent as much time with each other as we did at our own homes.

“As I said before, you did not discuss who made you but after many years you decided that you needed to seek out your creator. Sadly, you never told me who that person was, nor did you tell me why you wanted to find your creator.

“You never returned. I had hoped that you had just lost track of time and that you would return. I, however, feared that something bad had happened to you. I was never able to find out anything from others we encountered either.

“Anya, you have been missing for nearly three decades!

We were friends for about thirty years before that, and you were not completely new to this life when we met.” The sadness did not lift; he looked like he would cry thought he didn’t in the end.

“I have been missing for thirty years? Truly?” I could not wrap my head around the concept. What had I been doing for the last thirty years? How can I not remember? A growl slipped through my teeth startling Nicholas.

His eyes going wild as he jumped back. “What!”

“Sorry, it … I-I am just more frustrated now than I was before. It did not bother me when I had no idea of a past.

For all I knew it was some glitch in the transformation –though Star was certain I was not new to this life. But to know I have a past but even my past, sitting right here with me, can offer no clues as to what happened … to where I have been … Grrrr, it is so… maddening.”

Nicholas still stood in the same defensive stance looking as if he thought I was going to attack him.

“Nicholas, why are you looking at me like that?” I pleaded as I slowly reached my hand out to him.

He blinked hard a couple of times and relaxed his position, thankfully.

“Um, oh. Sorry. You know how your voice has extreme persuasive abilities … why you always keep your voice soft?”

I nodded.

“Well, when you get upset and raise your voice it has severe effects as well.”

I looked down; I would have blushed as the human girls do if I could have.

“I am sorry. I did not mean to let my temper get the better of me. I have never been angry for Star, or anyone else for that matter, to have mentioned my anger being a problem.”

“You are the only one I have ever encountered whose voice can influence as fully or deeply as yours does. It’s one of the reasons I worry about you spending the next year in high school and then if you are planning to continue to college, surrounded by impressionable humans.

“As long as you remember to keep your voice in check I think you should be fine though. Just, be careful with the human males. Your beauty is likely to cause them enough problems, your voice could land you with more than one obsessive admirer … or on more than one humans ‘hit list’.

“Ha-ha, not funny.” I said, rolling my eyes at him.

I made it home about four in the morning. I was worried that Star would be put out but Star was curled up on the steps inside, waiting for me when I arrived.

“Good morning Star.” I grimaced; I could see the annoyance in her eyes. “Sorry I am so late. Nicholas and I got to talking and simply forgot the time.” I hoped she was not going to stay angry.

She sighed heavily, “I’m not mad really, just concerned.

You didn’t call. You have a cell phone you know or did you forget? So, tell me how things went with Nicholas and his family?”

Folding my arms across my chest, “You never told me that we had neighbours like me much less that they had known me before. Nicholas has photos and paintings from years ago with me in them. It was fascinating yet frustrating to be able to find out so much and yet so little.

“He met me about sixty years ago but I left about thirty years ago and neither he nor his ‘parents’ has any idea what happened to me during that time. None of them have any idea how my mind was erased so completely either.

“He says we were best friends and I felt so comfortable with him. It is so nice to be comfortable with someone other than just you.” Rolling my eyes, I continued, “Oh, and he thinks I am just as nuts as you do for wanting to attend high school.”

Star’s face and posture had relaxed by this point and she finally started talking again. “He knew you before but doesn’t know what happened? Hum… I had not wanted to tell you until I thought you were settled more into this life.

I’ve known them for probably two decades now. Amber is very unnerved by me, sadly. It’s not uncommon for blood drinkers to be uncomfortable with us bloodless immortals, as they call me. Still, Jonathan and Nicholas never had an issue. I keep hoping she will relax.

“So, have they talked you into joining them?” She looked truly worried that I would so easily leave.

I worked to make sure my face showed the compassion and love I felt and said, “No silly. They did not even try to talk me into any such thing. Nicholas was surprised that you would take one of ‘us’ in and that I would chose to stay with you. He says I always maintained my own home before, alone.

“Oh, I did learn one thing that is very worrisome though.

While we were talking early, I got upset and lost my temper, not with him but due to frustration of the thirty year gap …

and well, he quite literally leapt into a defensive stance as if I was trying to attack him. He said it has to do with the persuasion power my voice has, that my anger, when verbalized, is nearly the same as being physically attacked. It seems it is frightening even to others like me.” This was a fact I was not happy about, at all.

“Huh, well, that’s good to know, I guess. You will need to be watchful. I wonder how a human would react if he, a vampire that knows you, reacted so strongly…” Her musings were not comforting!

“Well, this gives me lots to think about. A human outing and an old vampire friend all in one weekend,” I could not help but find this amusing.

“But, I need to get ready for school,” I murmured with a wink, “and focus on being ‘normal’ before I head out.”

As I bounded up the stairs to my room, I called out to Star, “Have a good day!”

The party of three was waiting for me at school when I pulled in, Skye and Kayla both waiving for me to join them.

There was still a slight edge to their smiles but they were, I think, getting used to me now.

“Hey Anya,” said Skye.

“Hi, guys. How was the rest of your weekend?”

“Oh, the same as always, we hung out together.” Kayla smiled nervously as she answered.

Skye, I think wanting to shift the conversation for some reason, spoke up again, “And what did you do yesterday?”

“Me? I went and hung out with an old friend.”

Declán raised his right eyebrow at this news but did not say anything. His face left me feeling uncomfortable so I scrambled to expand my answer a bit.

“Someone who knew me from before the accident managed to track me down.” I shrugged.

“Oh? Cool! Maybe you can bring him or her,” Skye looked very curious now, “along next time we all go out.”

Hum, I wonder if Nicholas would want to meet my human friends. He said he does not usually hang around with humans but he is completely committed to not harming them. I wonder …

“I can ask him. Nicholas is not in school here so I do not know how he would feel about hanging out as we did Saturday. He would only know me, but if you do not mind another extra...”

I liked the idea of bringing him along, but would it be safe. Well, he can always say ‘no’ if he does not want to or is troubled about his or their safety.

“Cool!” Declán said. “It would be nice to level the oestrogen out a bit, bring in some more testosterone.”

I could not help but join in the burst of giggles from the oestrogen department. “Silly boyo!

“So, does that mean you already have some new outing in mind?”

“Well, there is a party this Friday night. Maybe you would like to join us. We can go as a group… you can bring your ‘friend’ with you.” Skye was giggling by the end.

Sigh. “He is purely a friend, Skye. Trust me. Anyways, if we are going as a group… do you want to meet there or you want me to pick you up again?”

They all looked at each other for a moment and in unison said, “Ride together.”

“Do you three practice that?”

“Nope,” Declán replied. “But if we all don’t get a move on we will be late for class. Come on girls, go-go.”

“Alright, alright, come on Anya,” Skye said and we all went to our various classes.

The nock at the door was not a true surprise as I could smell him but it was unexpected.

“Come in Nicholas.” I could hear the smile in my voice as I know he could.

“I didn’t catch you at a bad time did I? You know, I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself here.” His sumptuous voice rang through my room and my ears. I idly wondered how my human friends were going to react.

“No, no, I was actually hoping to hear from you soon.”

“Oh really, why?” he asked as he came over to sit next to me on the floor.

“Well, for a few reasons. First, I like hanging out with you. And, of course, there is the fact that I am supposed to be inviting you to go out Friday night to a human party.”

– Blink – Blink – “To a what!”

“You remember the friends I told you about before?

Declán, Skye, and Kayla?”

“Yes…” His voice was strained, his posture tense.

“Well they invited us to a party Friday night. I hope you do not mind that I mentioned finding a friend from before the ‘accident.’ ” I had already explained the accident and amnesia excuse I had given to them. It was true enough.

“Anyway, they said I should bring you with. I know a human party is probably not really your thing, but you never know, it might be fun.” I was not real hopeful that he would want to go but it was worth a try, right?

“You want me to go to a human party … with you and your human friends? Really?” His eyes were wide and searching as they probed my face.

“You don’t have to. Nor will I be upset if you don’t feel comfortable with the idea. No worries, really…” I trailed off silenced by his strange look.

“Anya, relax, please. I’m just surprised you would want me to meet your humans, that’s all.”

“You do not feed on humans, so why would I not? I mean, I know what you said and your eyes back up your words. Declán is actually excited at the thought of balancing out the oestrogen with another male too.” I thought of his face when he had said that and could not help but smiling, again.

“That’s not what I meant. I would never endanger one of your friends! It was more the thought of you being willing to introduce me, to share your humans. That and aren’t you worried about what they will notice if they see me next to you?” His face was a strange mixture of confusion and intrigue.

“What they would see?” I was trying hard to understand but. “Are you meaning the fact that our features are so similar?”

He nodded tightly.

“We hardly adhere to the common vampire lore. While we are both pale and our features are too perfect, we have common enough eye colours, we both know how to move more like them so our grace is not too strange. Not to mention, even if they did suspect such a thing of us … we do not have large fangs hanging out or dress anachronistically.

I do not even have the silly coffin that seems so common in their myths.

“Besides, I do not speak loud enough for them to be affected by my voice or for them to really even hear the unusual ring.” Yes, I was certain that having a pale friend would not be a problem, other than possibly one of them developing a crush on him.

“True. Well, I suppose you can count me in then. Your friend Declán is not the jealous type I hope. I have a bad habit of turning heads.” He did not look like that was a fact that made him overly pleased. Interesting.

“Well, he is dating Skye so just make sure you are thoughtful when interacting with her. His sister is Kayla, so I would say be considerate of how you relate with her as well, he is a bit protective of them both.”

“No worries, I do not get romantically involved with humans.”

Just then, a very wary look crossed his face. “Star has warned you about getting involved with one of them, hasn’t she? Romantically, physically I mean.” He was suddenly on his knees towering over me.

“Um, we have never really discussed romance or intimacy. She mentioned that she is not like us on that point and left it at that. Why?” Now he had me worried.

“For most of our kind love is the only lasting bond we make. Friendships are often transitory things, though not always true. However, if a human falls in love with one of us, they can become consumed by the power and near obsession it causes. It is often the same for us though truly loving one not of our kind is unheard of.

“The most dangerous issue comes in that our passions are more than a mortals body can handle. Accidentally killing one of them is a real concern. And … once you start into that desire path you will crave it, always.” His whole form seemed to freeze in pain as he explained this to me.

“I am not trying to date any of them, though there is something strange about Declán … an odd pull that he has on me. Even so, why would I get involved that way with one of them, I will never change while they will age and die?

Somehow it seems foolish to get that attached to beings with such ephemeral lives.” I had not considered dating one of them, though I had heard the boys at school whispering about me.

“Okay, just please keep it in mind.” He physically relaxed finally as he said this.

“So yes, I will join you and your friends for the party.

Happy?” he added with a soft smile.

“Yes, they will be excited to hear the news!”

“Good.” He looked around quickly and leaned in to whisper, “Do you think we could go out for a while though, there are a few things I want to discuss, but Star is here?”

“Sure, where to?” I whispered right back, feeling a little silly and more than just a wee bit curious.

“Jonathan and Amber are out on a hunting trip so I thought my house would be a safe place to talk.”

“Okay, let me just tell Star I’m going out. She is still nervous about me disappearing I think.

CHA

H PT

P E

T R

R TH

T

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R E

E

“Anya dear, there are a few things from before that I thought you might be interested in. When you did not return, I took over maintaining your funds for you. I kept hoping that you would return and well, I figured that you would want your life back.”

He took out an expensive leather briefcase and handed it to me. “Inside you will find all your financial records, access codes, cards, et all.” He winked. “Hope you don’t mind but I invested here and there for you so you actually own more than you did.” The grin spreading across his face was too precious.

“I own things? Money? Huh.” Weird, all I have had was what Star had given me, not that she thought much of money herself.

He was laughing again, “Yes silly. You are rather wealthy and have a couple of homes around the country and even a cottage with land in Ireland.”

“I do? Wow. Thank you, truly.” I did not know what else to say. I have been missing for nearly three decades and all this time he took care of my affairs for me. Wow.

“Well, it’s not mine to keep Anya. And it was the least I could do for you.” He looked down as he finished his thought. Weird, why would he do that?

“Nicholas? Is something wrong? You keep giving me the oddest looks tonight and now you are staring at the floor, again. Did I do something wrong?” I was becoming truly confused; a feeling I greatly disliked.

“It’s complicated Anya. Honestly, it no longer applies, at least not for you it doesn’t.” He was still not meeting my eyes.

I took his face in my hands and gently raised it until he had no choice but to look at me. “Nicholas, what is it that troubles you so? Please, tell me?” I cheated by allowing my voice to be strong enough for its power to work on him.

“That’s not fair Anya. You know what you are doing.”

He seemed to be struggling to break the ‘spell’ of my voice.

With conviction and wistful longing, I whispered,

“Please.”

His eyes unfocused as he finally spoke, again. “I don’t want to tell you but you leave me no choice. I was honest, but misleading when we spoke before. We were best friends, but we were more than that. We were not lovers in the traditional couple sense but we were more than just friends.

“We shared a different bonding. I have spent thirty years without you and now that I have you back … the cravings for continuing it are becoming nearly painful.

“Please don’t make me continue telling you this way.”

He whispered his plea, “Please.”

“I’m sorry Nicholas, truly. I should not do that to you.

Speak only what you choose. Forgive me, please.” I was very careful to control my voice so that no command or persuasion was had. I dropped my hand and now it was me that looked down, ashamed.

“It’s okay Anya. I should not have brought it up in the first place and you wouldn’t have felt the need to push for answers. But, it’s too late to take it back.” Nicholas took my hand as he continued.

“We shared something that most vampires do not ever share; we shared… blood.” He finally looked me in the eyes as he whispered the last word.

“We what?” I blinked hard trying to make his words make sense and failing.

“We are able to feed in a cycle from each other, it’s just very uncommon. You see, you share more than you probably can imagine. The weaker of the pairing gains strength though the stronger one is not weakened in the process.

“It does not satiate thirst nor is it filling but it well … it sort of bonds the souls in a way that goes beyond lovers or family. You do not remember me at all but I cannot forget you,” he choked. Taking a deep breath to steady himself he continued.

“What makes it even worse is that I can feel the power of the blood within you and I know that you have done the same, in your absence, with a much more powerful vampire.”

He looked devastated, as if he had been lied to and cheated on all at the same time.

I didn’t know what to say. We fed off each other.

“Wha... why? Why would we have done that? And what do you mean you can feel the power of my blood?” I could not wrap my head around his words. I was dazed into stillness.

Nicholas now put his hand under my chin to raise my face to his. “I am not trying to make things harder for you.

Honest. This is just very hard for me to explain much less justify why I am even telling you now.” He took another deep breath. “The why we started doing it is not the point.

With no memories the explanation would make no sense to you anyway, trust me.” A faint smile crept into his eyes.

“The thing is, I can feel the difference and that makes it even harder to know that you not only have forgotten me and everything from before but … that you joined with another.

You don’t remember but we had always sworn that we would not do that with anyone else.” He sounded so miserable by the end.

“Ok, so let me try to understand. You are not upset that I might become involved with someone in a romantic sense or even physical sense but rather you are upset because it seems that in the decades I was missing, of which I have no memory, I joint fed with someone more powerful? Did I get everything correct?” My voice was flat, dead. I was beyond confused at this point. Beyond whether this is true or not, beyond why I would have done that, I was struggling with a sudden craving to do exactly what he was describing with him.

“No, please understand, I am not angry with you. You’re right, I have no idea what happened to you while you were gone nor do I know what would have led to you making such a choice.

“I’m not angry, I’m …” He shook his head slowly, sadly.

“I’m envious of whoever it was.” Shame took his face again.

“Not of the power, of the joining, the … I can’t explain it. You have to experience it to understand. I wish I could…” His eyes were alight with a strange driving fire. The look ignited a strange passion in me, making me truly crave this exchange with him.

“You should go home Anya, before…” He walked to the window looking outside, turning completely from my sight.

“If you think that is the right thing.” My heart quietly ached now. I didn’t want to leave him, not now, not like this.

“I don’t want to go away with you still upset with me though.”

“Oh, Anya, I’m not upset with you.” He was still looking out the window. “I’m upset with myself. I promised myself I would not bring this up with you. I cannot expect you to understand. I cannot hold you to an agreement that you did not make.” He put his hand against the window frame, standing with his shoulders rolled in sadness.

“I will still go with you Friday if you want me to but right now I need to be alone, please.” He turned and I could see the misery in his eyes as he asked me to leave.

I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay right there, find some way to make things better for him. What kind of a person was I that I would betray someone so good?

Slowly I walked to Nicholas, grasping his shoulder.

“Nicholas, I am sorry for the pain that I have caused and am causing you. I cannot take back whatever it is that I did. I am acutely sorry for this. I will go if that is what you want but please do not give up on our friendship. I cannot explain it but I - I need you too.” I stretched up to kiss his cheek quietly and then turned to leave.

Once I hit the door I ran, ran faster than I ever had, that I could remember anyway. Ran to be away from his pain …

ran to forget … ran to remember. Nothing helped.

I did not go home that night or to school the next day. I did not answer my cell. Once I grew tired of running, I found a quiet place to sit and think. How had the evening started off so well and ended with the breaking of a good man’s heart? Is there anything I can do to make things better? To fix the pain that I caused before, in my other life.

The following night I returned to Star, not sure what to say to her but knowing that I must have caused her worry.

“Star,” I called as I entered our home.

“Oh, there you are!” Her relief was so thick in her voice it distorted her words. “Where have you been? Nicholas came by early this morning trying to find you. He said you had left upset because of something he said but he wouldn’t tell me what it was.

“He was very upset that you had not come back after you left his house and he has called me again and again. He even tried going up to your school but said you weren’t there either. What happened? Where were you? What is going on?”

She finally stopped long enough for me to get in a word.

“I’m sorry I worried you, truly. I just didn’t know how to deal with what he said and how much pain he was in when he asked me to leave. I should have called or at least sent you a message to let you know, I just needed time.” I hung my head as I tried to find a way to explain what was wrong.

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Blood's Voice