Melanie Nowak

Author of the Venomous Vampire series

ALMOST HUMAN

 

Almost Human ~ The Second Trilogy

Volume 1: Born to Blood

 

Contents

1.          Welcome back

2.          I’m starved

3.          Responsibility

4.          A sight for sore eyes

5.          Things change… again

6.          It’s a date

7.          Hello in there

8.          Not your average vampire

9.          Roses are red…

10.        I might actually have to be impressed

11.        Holliers!

12.        Unexpected guests

13.        Rose colored glasses

14.        Just one of the strays

15.        Mark of the coven

16.        Top of the Trop

17.        For the greater good

 

Chapter 1 – Welcome back

 

Mattie

Mattie’s trailer, parked outside of “Tommy’s Place”

A little bar, in a small town, Upstate New York

1 A.M., Wednesday morning in early November


Alyson shoved Mattie harder up against the kitchen counter of the motor home as she kissed him with an urgency and intensity that he knew she would not even try to control. She was such a petite and fragile seeming little thing, that her strength and boldness never ceased to amaze him. He returned her eager advances, but knew that she could feel his hesitation. He was fighting it. Not her kisses of course, but his ever increasing and incessant thirst for her blood.

It had been three years since Mattie’s change. Run down by a group of vampires, he’d been held and beaten. He’d actually managed to kill one of the vicious fiends, but he was still terribly out-numbered, and they’d managed to drag him into their hidden cave in the woods. They’d bitten him and drunk his blood, and then forced him in turn to drink theirs. At the young age of seventeen, just days before his eighteenth birthday, Mattie had died that night. He’d felt it, his mortal life slipping away amidst their laughter. Awful heartless demons, they’d had such fun with him as their venom gave him a head spinning high, and kept him feeling weak and off balance. Pain, pleasure, blood; in the end he had been so weakened and defeated, that he hadn’t been able to fight them or even try to resist anymore. He had only been able to pray for death… and his prayers had been answered. But it hadn’t quite worked out the way he’d thought it would. They had changed him. It was like a bad dream that wouldn’t end, and although he’d tried to block the memory of his change from his mind, he often re-lived it still in his nightmares…

They stopped hurting him and the venom they had infected him with kept him feeling hazy and high, but there was still pain. Different pain than that of their blows and their fangs. He felt that his head wouldn’t stop aching, although he couldn’t tell if it was from a very probable concussion he’d earned from trying to escape, or something entirely new. His sinuses felt full and heavy, and his eyes burned as though the very air was chlorine. A sharp pain in his upper jaw startled him so that he actually managed to sit up, pulling away from his captors as he cried out anew.

It was the blonde who realized first, that their evil fun had come to fruition. The woman was tall and statuesque with full long blonde hair and a confident and superior attitude; the others called her Lorelei. It was she who had enjoyed having sport with him most when they’d first captured him. Her prior refinement had fallen away as she’d roughly pulled down his pants with a harsh, cruel laugh and told him that she was disappointed in his apparent lack of arousal for her. He’d made a slurred comment about the fact that their audience of monsters having recently beaten the shit out of him might account for his loss of libido. He’d really wanted to insult her, spurning her rough advances with a bit more defiance, but he’d known it would only make things worse. He’d actually been very glad his body had seemed unable to perform for her, although he would have considered her extremely attractive under other circumstances. Those eyes of hers haunted him. A deep smoldering purple, they had burned with an inner fire that had seemed to beckon him and coax him to surrender his will to her own.

They were vampires, with eyes of various odd shades and fangs long and keen. They were all monsters certainly, but the others had been forthright, a known quantity; they weren’t like her. For the most part she had been far more subtle and insidious; while the others had been gruff and blundering, laughing with glee over his distress. She had seemed shrewd and purposeful… pure evil. She’d scared the shit out of him. He had thought that he’d known what these creatures were, but knowing couldn’t prepare him for the experience. Looking into those eyes had made him feel compelled to obey her every command, although his entire being had screamed against it. Looking into those eyes he’d known that she was in complete control of him, without pity, remorse or conscience; without a soul.

It was she who tried to calm him when his change began, as though he should suddenly take comfort from this inhuman thing who had earlier drawn blood from his very member that had refused to perform for her. She tried to soothe him with calming whispers as she smoothed his hair and hushed the others. “You’re one of us now, baby,” she gently cooed in his ear. He knew it to be true, even as his heart and mind rebelled against the very idea. A final jolt of pain raced through his head, from eye sockets to incisors, and when he unclenched his teeth and opened his eyes the world never looked the same again.

Even as he tried to decipher the odd colors and details of his new vision, he had only one thought going through his mind. They had not only killed his human body, but had damned his soul to hell as well. They had made him into a vampire and expected him to join them as a killer in the night. He would never give them the satisfaction. It did not matter what it cost him, his life was already gone. He knew he had to free himself of them, escape.

He somehow managed to look away from the burning violet eyes of his coercive suitor and he lied. Not with words but with body language, he put on a performance like he’d never done before. He stopped holding himself rigid against her and let his body melt into hers. He let his shoulders shake with the tremors of grief, despair and shock that he could hardly hold back anyway. She responded with seeming compassion, although he knew it was an act. Could she really think that he might believe she sought to care for him? He looked up with large and frightened eyes as if begging for comfort. She bought it fully. He behaved as though scared and suddenly understanding of his new situation, feelings not difficult to feign. He had nowhere else to go; he couldn’t fight her, he needed her; or so she should believe.

The others were bored and impatient. They told her it was long enough and urged her to bring him back to the master, but she hushed them and said that he needed another moment to adjust. That moment was all he needed. As she turned her attention to the others, he leapt from her loosened embrace. His body was sore and bruised, but the burst of adrenaline fed by fear was more than sufficient. He took off into the dark woods, headed he knew not where. They followed of course, but fed and lazy, it took them a moment of their own to realize his intention of escape; he had taken them by surprise.

They were all in pursuit, but it was the woman who came down upon him like a harpy scorned. She followed closely and he desperately dodged the trees and underbrush wondering how he would ever truly escape her. He put on a renewed burst of speed and blindly topped a rise in the rolling hills of the thicket, when he collided with a group coming from the other direction.

Four men, dressed more for Wall Street than woodlands, he didn’t even have time to try and imagine how they had arrived or what they might be doing there. He looked up at the man whom he had most forcefully hurled himself into, and let out an audible gasp as the man’s eyes turned from brown to bright red in a blink. Was the whole damn forest swarming with vampires?

There wasn’t even time for confrontation before his pursuers caught up to them. The men looked up at the group and Mattie was instantly forgotten. “Been looking for you. Got a message for your master,” the man exclaimed upon recognizing Mattie’s attackers, the word “master” practically dripping with scornful sarcasm. Mattie’s former pursuers reacted in outraged wrath upon recognizing the group. Mattie fled the scene as sounds of a rage filled melee struck his ears. He desperately hoped they all killed each other.

Vampire. His new persona. He didn’t like it, not one bit. Nightmares aside, the quality of his existence had greatly improved since that night, but had never become something he was entirely comfortable with. He had even sought to kill himself in the beginning, after struggling against his body’s painful demands for blood. He wouldn’t feed it. He’d rather burn himself to ashes in the morning sun. It hadn’t come to that though.

Although formally raised as Catholic, Mattie had never been a particularly religious young man. Like many, he’d only prayed in times of trouble and other than that, God was hardly given a passing thought. If he had ever doubted the existence of a divine intercessor, those doubts were erased one morning shortly after his change, in the wee hour before sunrise. Mattie knew now that there was a God. There had to be, because only God could have sent him Cain.

Cursing the Lord for not letting him die the night before when his body had ached and cramped to rid him of the last fluids and substances left of his human existence; and yet praying to God all the same, Mattie had found himself on the church steps awaiting the morning sun. Suicide might be a sin, but it had to be held in better regard than killing others for life. He’d spent the day sleeping in a farm shed, huddled under filth and straw, too tired and weak to decide what else he should do. The night brought some strength, but thirst came with it; thirst he used every ounce of will to deny, until death seemed his only option.

The solution was simple, just sit outside and wait. The rays of the morning sun would eagerly burn his unholy new body to ash and rid him of this unwanted, undead existence. Sitting on the steps of the church, Mattie scanned the horizon with fearful eyes, wishing that dawn would come and end the horrid anticipation.

Before it arrived, a motorcycle engine cut the pre-dawn silence with its annoying, incessant roar. Who the hell was out riding a Harley at 5 a.m.? Mattie wished for the sound to fade, but it got louder instead, until its source came into view. Mattie ducked his head and waited for it to pass, but instead it screeched to a halt before him. Couldn’t he be spared the humiliation of an audience for his departure from the earth? The man dismounted the bike and Mattie was forced to acknowledge the stranger.

Kind blue eyes that seemed wise beyond their years met Mattie’s gaze. The man was older than Mattie but still rather young, mid-twenties perhaps, with shaggy blonde hair and un-imposingly dressed in a t-shirt and blue jeans. He walked over and sat down on the steps next to Mattie as though he were an old friend. Mattie stared at the man in flustered disbelief that he should have to spend his final moments trying to rid himself of someone’s company.

The man didn’t bother to introduce himself or ask Mattie for his name. He looked at the horizon and then back at Mattie with a knowing glance. “There’s not much time left,” he said matter-of-factly with a soft British accent. “Shouldn’t you be getting indoors?”

“What?” was all Mattie could manage to say, with an irate tone of disbelief.

The man shook his head in dismissal. “You know well enough. We haven’t time for games.” He stood and held out his hand, as though to help Mattie rise. Mattie only stared. “It’s not all bad you know, and I can show you how to make it better.” Seeing that Mattie was un-inclined to take his hand, the man knelt back down next to him. “Tell you what. Give me a night. A single day of rest and a night of explanation. I’ll teach you how to take what you’ve got left and make it bearable. I’ve lived this way far longer than you’ve lived at all. If you decide that you don’t like what I’ve got to teach you, the sun will rise again tomorrow.”

As comprehension dawned on Mattie, something extraordinary occurred. In his mind, it was as if a light suddenly flared before him. A blinding flash that came into existence in his mind and then settled down to burn with a strong even glow. It wasn’t anything real or tangible he was sure, but it teased his vision like the kind of bright spot that would dance before his eyes after the flash of a camera. It was this man. He was a vampire, and somehow that bright mark in Mattie’s mind was connected to him. Mattie didn’t know what to make of it all, but stood from the steps, in confused awe. The man got back on his motorcycle and turned to Mattie again in invitation. “By the way, name’s Cain; and I don’t know about you, but I’m not all that eager to be dust just yet, thanks. Don’t make me wait on you. Hop on, sun’s coming.”

So he did. Mattie climbed aboard the motorcycle and they sped off, away from the coming dawn. Cain took him to an ordinary house in the middle of an ordinary neighborhood. It seemed rather odd and quite a relief, considering the possible resting places Mattie had thought they might be heading towards. With the shades drawn against the morning sunlight, Cain had him sit at a comfortably normal kitchen table and then handed him a full glass of what could only be blood. Thus, his education as a vampire began.

Animal blood, purchased from the butcher, fed Cain’s thirst and would sate Mattie’s as well. Cain became his mentor, his provider and protector. Cain taught him everything. How to recognize other vampires by their marks that he could now see in his mind and how to avoid them from seeing his own, were among the first lessons taught. The glow that Cain had revealed to Mattie when they had first met, was Cain’s own mark. Mattie learned to recognize and decipher the complex meanings of each vampire’s unique mental aura, including his own, and became aware that Cain’s mark revealed the young looking man to be very old indeed. Cain was an elder vampire, having survived for over three centuries, and he was quite a strong and powerful creature. His mark brought respect and fear from others of his kind, and Cain said it could keep them from harming Mattie as well. That was when Cain taught Mattie about the venom.

A vampire’s saliva contains powerfully narcotic venom. Injected with the fangs, it helps to soothe and calm the victim, preventing them from putting up much of a fight. Mattie had felt the effects of this when he’d been bitten by his captors again and again, and in retrospect, he understood it well. With this venom also came a mark. Each vampire’s mark was unique, and once bitten it carried over to the victim for a time. Mattie’s own mark revealed to Cain that he had been turned into a vampire as a group effort, as his own mark was currently tinged with the signature of every vampire who had helped to make him. Soon that would fade and only Mattie’s own unique mark would remain. When it finally did, with some trepidation, Mattie reluctantly allowed Cain to bite and drink briefly from his wrist; thus marking Mattie as one of Cain’s own. No other vampire would seek to harm him now – he was visibly under Cain’s protection for the few weeks that the mark would last.

 Cain showed Mattie how to restrain his vampiric urges and subsist without ever hurting others. Cain taught him how to survive in a way that was acceptable to his human heart and mind, as well as his new vampiric body. It gave him hope, and although he couldn’t have his life back, with Cain’s help he could forge a new one. He could have back his sense of self, his peace of mind, and best of all… Allie.

Mattie’s family could never accept him now, he wouldn’t even try to explain or ask it of them. It was probably better to leave them with their current beliefs – he was long missing and presumed dead. Secrecy was of the utmost importance; his personal safety depended on it. His family and friends would have difficulty understanding and accepting his change anyway; but not Allie. She would never let him come to harm or turn him away. Alyson saw through people and never took them by their appearance. Her own wildly shorn blonde hair streaked with various shades of purple and pink, paired with her blunt and straightforward attitude, often made an odd first impression for people; but Allie didn’t care. She knew that anything that really mattered about a person showed through from the inside. She was his best friend, his lover, and his confidant. She would understand and accept him no matter what he had become. He’d known it would be so, and she was the only person in whom he could confide his change without fearing her rejection. He had been right. But it wasn’t easy.

For three years so far he had been a vampire, and for three years Alyson had stood by his side. She was bold and strong, fiercely devoted, his lover and his truest friend. She was supportive of him, but also often seemed to be supremely unconcerned by his new physical state. In the beginning she’d pressed him for details. She’d wanted to know everything, how it had happened and what it was like. He couldn’t bring himself to tell her though. It wasn’t anything he ever wanted to recount for anyone ever again. It was a closed chapter in his mind to be buried and forgotten. Instead he fed her curiosity with explanations of practical concerns. She needed to know just how he survived; he certainly didn’t want her to ever think him a murderer!

He’d never mentioned Cain. He wasn’t sure why, but he had felt that he’d needed to keep his vampire life separate from Allie as much as possible. She was his human friend and lover, and while he told her as much as he comfortably could about the changes in him, he really didn’t want her to dwell on them. For the longest time he had refused to unsheathe his fangs for her. He wouldn’t let her see him like that. During normal activity his new needle-like eye teeth were safely hidden away up in his sinus cavities, and his eyes were their normal human blue. Only when he willed it, would his fangs emerge and his vision change to the spectrum that would show him the warmth and blood within his prey.

Mattie rarely ever changed. He hated it. Cain would force him to shift back and forth to his vampiric visage now and then, so that he might become accustomed to it, but it wasn’t something Mattie ever wanted to get used to. He certainly didn’t want to do it in front of Alyson. He didn’t want to be a vampire with her. He just wanted to be Mattie.

Allie knew the practical things, every daily detail of his routine modern vampire life. She knew what could kill him and what wouldn’t; how he could see others in his mind long before they came into view, so that he’d plenty of time to steer clear and avoid them.

However, for all her knowledge of vampires, Allie didn’t know what it was like, not really. She couldn’t understand what it was to feel aching cramping pains that forced him to desire blood as much as he detested it. She found it cute and almost arousing when he tried to apologetically explain that the soft musky scent of her body drove him wild with longing not only as a man, but as a predator as well. She trusted him, fully. She’d no fear of what he had become, none at all. In fact, she found it erotic and exciting.

In the beginning, he had tried to explain how difficult it was for him to endure, and that she needed to be careful when being close with him. Intimacy was pleasure and torture intertwined. She should realize that he wasn’t infallible and that as much as he had loathed the idea of drinking her blood, he had to admit to himself that in reality he also wanted it more than he’d ever thought possible. She was unafraid. She thought he could handle it. “You wouldn’t bite me.

It was Cain who had given him a simple solution to his complicated needs. If he really needed to drink, then he should allow himself to. Early on, Cain had tried to speak to him about drinking from humans without hurting them. He’d maintained that although he sorely hoped that Mattie would continue to live off animal blood, he was not so naïve as to think that the boy would never be tempted to move on to better fare. Mattie had spurned the conversation, insisting it to be unnecessary. To drink from a person was unthinkable, morally disgusting and not something that he would ever even consider. Cain had let it drop, but had begged Mattie to promise that he would come to Cain with questions or problems before letting his vampire nature overcome his resistance.

Mattie visited Alyson often, but as his vampiric urges became harder to endure, he finally had to admit defeat. Feeling broken and embarrassed he had returned to Cain one evening to confess his nearly unstoppable longings, and ask what might be done. Could he never trust himself to be intimate with a human again?

Once more, the lessons started. Just as Cain had taught him other practical skills to survive, he taught Mattie the art of drinking with control. The blood lust was difficult to deny and would never be entirely squelched, but when handled with control, it could be sufficiently fulfilled without harm to the victim. Mattie was to continue his regular diet of animal blood to keep his thirst in check, but if he greatly felt the need to drink from another, he could do so – with great care. He needed to learn how to judge how much could be taken from someone without ill effect, and how to stop himself from drinking and withdraw when that point came. It wasn’t easy.

Cain had offered his own wrist as a willing subject on which Mattie should practice. At first Mattie was hesitant to do so, but then he thought of Alyson. What if at some point he was completely overcome with the need for her blood? What if, even just once, he couldn’t hold back and he let his fangs penetrate her sweet flesh? What if he began to drink her blood and found that he could not stop? Unthinkable! He must practice until he knew that he had full control and could stop at will without harming the one he drank from.

Cain assured him that the venom that he would inject with his bite would soothe his victim’s pain, and make the experience as pleasurable for them as it was for him, if handled properly. He also was warned that once felt, the effects of the venom could become rather addicting. It was truly a drug and one that some humans craved terribly once sampled. A symbiotic relationship of give and take was possible, but limits must be known and set. The health of his subject must be put before all, or he would be no better than the monsters that had drunk from him on the fateful evening that his life had been lost.

The next time that he had been with Allie, he had thought that he would still try to resist. He’d hoped that he could spend time with her and make love to her, putting his vampire needs aside. It was useless though, as he’d suspected it would be. He spoke to her hesitantly about his longing to taste her blood. He assured her that if allowed to do so, he would not hurt her and would be careful to only take a very little. He mentioned the venom as well, giving some small details of how it had clouded his mind and lessened the pain when he had been bitten.

Allie wasn’t offended or afraid. She had reacted in just the way that he had known and been almost afraid that she would. She loved the idea! To her it seemed exciting and erotic; something daring and risqué. She had no fear for her safety; her trust in him was complete. She was aroused at the mention of the venom, and was impatient for him to change before her so that she might finally see his face in vampire form.

Mattie finally did as she asked, and shifted to let her examine his new alternate identity. She knew he was uncomfortable and at least she had the grace not to prolong his embarrassed agony. She spoke with wonder as she described for him the new orange hue of his eyes, which she teased brought out the reddish highlights in his strawberry blonde hair. After a moment, he embraced her, and she squirmed impatiently as he readied himself to pierce her throat and taste the blood within her delicate veins.

He breathed in the heady scent of her closeness and found the courage to break her skin with a fervent prayer that the control he had been taught would be enough to safeguard her precious life. His fangs pierced her throat and as her blood touched his tongue he knew that this very moment was the sole purpose for which he now existed. The ecstasy of it was frightening. Thick, rich, sweet and strong, her blood seemed to speak to him of all the amazing qualities he knew her to possess, and of dusky and enticing unknown mysteries as well. It was Alyson; sharp and sassy, kind and loving, free spirited and fun, all refined and distilled into one potent and intoxicating fluid that he had no idea how he could bring himself to pull away from.

As he withdrew his fangs and closed his lips over her small wounds to fully drink, he truly understood the danger of losing himself in this new existence as a vampire. He understood how his life could easily become a never ending, no matter how often fulfilled, desperate quest for warm, pulsing human blood.

Then another urge invaded his already clouded mind. To drink all of Allie’s blood and bring her death was unthinkable… but what if he gave her his own blood in return? What if he changed her so that she could join him, as a vampire? The idea seemed so unlike anything that he would ever consider, that it seemed alien, from an outside source. This was Allie! She was his best friend since childhood and more recently his lover; not someone he would ever consider doing something so awful to! He didn’t enjoy being a vampire himself, why would he ever consider inflicting it upon her? Yet the urge was there, just as the craving for her exquisite blood kept him from ending his feast.

He could not let these urges rule him. He would be carefully conservative in sampling her blood and he must never entertain the notion of ending her life, no matter how tempting it might be. Maybe it would have been better to burn in the morning sun of the dawn, than to know this and understand that he must deny himself of it for the rest of his nights.

Alyson had clung to him in a dizzy swoon and uttered a soft moan in his ear that forced him back to awareness of the situation. Even at twenty years old, she was such a petite young woman; she couldn’t possibly have much blood to spare. He had to stop… now.

That first time was the hardest. He had forced himself to stop and had withdrawn from her long before he would have done her any real harm, but it had been a sobering experience. Never would he underestimate the need for full control of himself. Never would he forget that with each drink of her precious blood, he held her very life in his hands. Responsibility, control and utmost care became his priorities.

Mattie had always been a conscientious and careful sort. It was one of the reasons that he had always found Allie so alluring. Being three years his senior, Alyson had always seemed amazing to him because she was so carefree and vivacious. He’d always felt that because of her age perhaps, she must know something that he didn’t; because she always seemed confident that things would work out. She never worried much for the future, and she lived her life as though each last minute change or unforeseen setback should be taken in stride because it still fit into a larger plan.

Now, his experiences as a vampire and the sudden maturity and responsibility that his ordeal had brought, seemed to have aged him beyond the three and a half years that had gone by. He still looked seventeen, but at the chronological age of twenty one, he had very much come to suspect that perhaps Allie really didn’t have any larger plan. Maybe her life really was as random and chaotic as it looked, although she still seemed to breeze effortlessly through it.

In fact, his relationship with Allie had changed over the last three years just as greatly as his outlook, and not just for obvious reasons. The obstacles of his new vampire nature had given him new perspective. He had begun to see himself as the more mature and responsible one of the couple. It was Mattie who struggled to be sure that her longing for his venom would never overcome his common sense to limit the drinks that he should take from her. It was Mattie who constantly urged her to take careful precautions when venturing out alone late at night; and it was he who worried how she would pay her rent, when she insisted on taking long weekends off from her barmaid position so that she could spend time with him. Alyson was responsible and practical to a degree, but never as much as he thought necessary, and it didn’t bother her a bit. If he wanted to waste his time worrying, that was his choice. He should know all too well that life was short, and she was planning to thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

Things were becoming difficult between them. Alyson had no reservations about letting him drink her blood whenever he wished, and she was all too fond of the venomous high that would accompany such a drink. He on the other hand, wanted to drink from her as little as possible. He enjoyed those drinks immensely, but they reminded him that he was no longer human, and even after all this time that still bothered him terribly. His cravings for her blood were cruel reminders of the normal human life that he had lost. He would never have the things that he had grown up taking for granted. He would never finish school or have a real career, not even the option to take over his father’s camera shop as his parents had so hoped he would. He would never get married in front of family and friends, settle down and start a family of his own. He could never have children now. Just as his body would no longer age or change in any significant way, it could also no longer reproduce. Every aspect of the future that he had expected for himself had been taken away, forever lost to him now.

He had tried to divert his sorrow by spending time with Allie, but she was starting to want the venom too much. He didn’t like to see her that way, euphoric and almost delirious, begging him for more. It was beginning to affect their relationship and rather than have it tear them apart, he had begun to see her less and less often.

He decided to travel and use his new freedom to distract his mind from his losses. He would come back to see Allie every weekend at first, but as his travels ranged farther, his visits became fewer and further between. It hurt him to be away from her, but he was unsure what else he could do to keep from destroying her. Whenever he was around she would drop everything; her friends, her responsibilities. She didn’t want to go to work or even leave the apartment; she only wanted to be with him to share body and blood.

He worried for her terribly. Not only was he terrified that he was losing her, but that she was losing herself as well. She worked in a bar late at night, and yet seemed to have no concern for personal safety. Even now, at the age of twenty three, she had no larger goals or ambitions that he could tell. She lived only for the moment, and for the next visit from him.

Although Mattie hadn’t felt the need to spend time with other women, he insisted that he and Allie should have an open relationship. He refused to acknowledge the pain of it in his heart, because he knew it was best. He wasn’t human, he couldn’t fully share her life, and if he wasn’t going to be around, then she should at least have the freedom to see others. Being the free-spirited sort, Allie had no problem with the arrangement. On a rare occasion, Mattie would seek the company of another woman, but they always seemed to pale in comparison to Allie. It was Alyson he loved. He knew she dated other men, but she dropped them immediately if she thought she might have a chance to see Mattie instead. At least he knew that even if other men replaced him in her bed, no one else replaced him in her heart. He only hoped she wouldn’t be hurt by another in his absence. The one saving grace that gave him peace of mind for her safety and happiness while they were apart, was Ben.

Like Alyson, Ben had been Mattie’s best friend in life. Together with David, another mutual friend of theirs, Mattie, Alyson and Ben had done everything together; including venturing out at night to hunt for vampires. It had begun as a silly excuse for the teenagers to sneak out at night and meet to relieve their boredom. Allie was the only one who truly believed in the creatures, claiming to have actually seen one as a child. They would hang out behind the convenience store drinking and laughing and pretending to scan the dark parking lot for evidence of the undead. Clearly it hadn’t worked out very well. Mattie had fallen victim to his present circumstances, and their friend David had been truly killed by vampires soon after. Only Allie and Ben remained unscathed.

Ben was level-headed, a loyal friend to Allie and as protective of her as Mattie was. He hadn’t known of the secret romance that had newly blossomed between Mattie and Alyson shortly before Mattie’s change, but he had remained as close to Allie as a brother throughout. Unfortunately, Ben was not accepting of Mattie’s new vampire state as Allie was. He refused to believe that Mattie was still the same person inside. He wrongfully thought that Mattie’s soul and essence had departed with his death, and that this body was only the empty shell of his friend, now inhabited by a demon. Mattie couldn’t claim to know anything about the state of his immortal soul or the true mechanics of what had happened to him, but he felt that he was still the same person that he’d always been. At least he hoped so.

Mattie had seen Ben shortly after becoming a vampire, and been shunned by him. Ben was stubborn and resolute; Mattie knew that he had little hope of changing his friend’s wrongful opinions. Rather than submit himself to further rejection, he had avoided Ben thereafter and instructed Allie to never reveal the fact that she knew Mattie’s true fate, or still saw him regularly. Better that Ben should believe that Allie thought Mattie dead and gone. At least that way Alyson could still keep Ben as a friend without problems between them. Ben kept her grounded in reality when she wasn’t spending time with Mattie. Although Mattie was very hurt by Ben’s attitude toward him, he still regarded Ben as a good person, and he was grateful that Ben was there to take care of Allie for him. She needed someone like Ben to lean on when Mattie couldn’t be there.

Still, knowing that Allie had Ben looking out for her was little comfort when Mattie was far from home and alone. He always had Cain as a friend, but Cain spent much of his time acting as a mentor to other young vampires as well as Mattie; vampires with dispositions and attitudes that Mattie didn’t particularly care to be subjected to, if given a choice. Cain traveled a lot and sought to end the killings that most vampires could not, or would not avoid causing. He tried to teach control and educate other vampires about the use of animal blood for survival. It was often a thankless and difficult endeavor, but Cain felt it was his divine purpose. Mattie was certainly not one to argue. If it weren’t for Cain, Mattie himself would never have survived. It was a shame most vampires thought him a nuisance rather than be grateful for Cain’s advice.

Mattie was very appreciative of all that Cain had done for him. Although Mattie was unhappy to have lost his human life, Cain’s teachings made his new life bearable. In fact, in some ways it would be a liberating adventure, if he didn’t agonize over his issues with Alyson. Mattie may have lost a lot, but he had gained an incredible amount of freedom. Not only was he free from the responsibility of school and pleasing his parents, he was free from the aging and illness of human life as well. He worked odd jobs here and there for money now and then; there was always a supermarket or gas station that was willing to add him to the night shift when needed. Cain, who was fortunate enough to be rather wealthy at this point in his life (death?) also regularly gave him money for travel and necessities without a second thought or complaint.

It could actually be a very comfortable life, if his cravings for Alyson’s blood didn’t complicate things. Ironic that it was only really Alyson that he longed for. Other humans just didn’t entice him the way that she did. The idea of trying to drink blood from another held no interest for him. Not that his body wouldn’t be glad for it, but he couldn’t help but find the idea ethically disgusting. He certainly couldn’t bring himself to ever think that he would share something so intimate as drinking blood, with a perfect stranger. His relationship with Alyson was his greatest dilemma.

Finally he had been forced to re-examine the idea that he had originally deemed morally offensive. Alyson most probably had more experience with the daily needs and concerns of a vampire than any other human could. She understood how he lived and was unafraid of his vampire nature. In fact, she had embraced it more than he ever would have expected. What if he were to offer her such an existence for herself? Surely no one else could be better prepared or educated in making such a decision. He had been a vampire himself for quite some time now, and although he often wished he had his old life back, being undead certainly had its advantages. He better understood this new existence now, and what it entailed. It wasn’t as repulsive to him as it had originally been, and he could see where it would be a lifestyle that someone like Alyson might even enjoy. If Alyson were to become a vampire like him, the problems in their relationship would disappear. He would no longer have to worry over craving her blood; he could drink it freely without hurting her. He also would be able to dismiss her addiction to his venom, a vampire’s only addiction was blood. He would teach her to live off of animal blood as he did, and they could be together without difficulty… forever.

Mattie was never one to rush into a decision though. He promptly consulted Cain about the idea. He didn’t even get into the specifics of his relationship with Allie; he had always kept such things private. He only told Cain that he was considering asking his very best friend to join him as a vampire, and wanted to know Cain’s thoughts on the idea. Although Cain had admitted that he would never advise such a thing to another young vampire, he recognized that Mattie was cautious and responsible. If Mattie truly felt that his friend could endure such an existence, and would in fact embrace the idea, then Cain would teach Mattie how to do it properly.

Changing someone into a vampire was a delicate procedure not to be done lightly or without care and precision. If not done well, the subject might truly die, to be forever lost; or worse, reawaken as the undead with a variety of neurological disorders ranging from slight mental retardation to brain death, making them little more than a true zombie. Mattie himself was extremely lucky to have come through his change without difficulty, and he was terrified at the possibility of causing such handicaps to Alyson. He paid strict attention to Cain’s direction. If Alyson agreed to join him as a vampire, Mattie must make absolutely sure that he could do it right.

After repeated instruction and discussion with Cain of options and possible problems that could arise, Mattie felt confident that he could offer Alyson immortal life as a vampire without fear of disability. The next time that he had gone to her, he had broached the subject as delicately as he could. He loved her, he wanted to spend his time with her, but her human nature caused him to worry that he would eventually harm her in some way. If she truly loved him and wanted to be with him for always, he would give her the option to do so, as a vampire by his side.

He was a little surprised by her reaction. Alyson was always an impulsive sort and he had fully expected her to jump at the idea, finding it provocative and exciting. That was why Mattie had made certain to ponder the possibilities fully and to prepare himself well before offering it. However, Alyson was actually hesitant over the suggestion. She didn’t seem to reject the idea, but she was not eager for it either. She told him it was an interesting thought, but that she wasn’t quite ready for it yet. Maybe he should ask her again in a few years she joked, before she started looking old.

Mattie tried not to be disappointed and to examine why her attitude had changed. At first he worried that perhaps she had met another man that she was hesitant to leave. After spending some time with her, Mattie came to discover that another man was the problem, but not in the way that he had thought. It was Ben.

Mattie knew that Ben’s mother had died shortly before Mattie had become a vampire, and that Ben’s father was often consumed with his work and was seldom around. After having lost his mother, then losing Mattie and even their mutual friend David, it was only natural that Ben should become much closer with Alyson. He didn’t really have anyone else. As far as Mattie could tell, their friendship was still purely platonic, and Ben always had plenty of girlfriends to distract him, but none who became close with him the way that Allie was. Ben and Alyson leaned on each other, and without Mattie around as much, Ben was a very large part of Allie’s life. As much as Mattie had always felt that he and Ben had needed to watch out for Alyson, she felt that she was ‘taking care of’ Ben as well. He was all she talked about during their visits, as though she had nothing else in her life. They must be spending a lot of time together and she felt guilty to leave him alone.

Mattie could understand how she must feel, but he also had difficulty summoning much sympathy for Ben, considering the fact that Ben had completely shunned him upon learning that he was now a vampire. How could Allie be so close with someone who had hurt him so? He tried not to let it bother him; it had been his own idea that his problems with Ben should not affect Allie’s relationship with their friend, but it still hurt. Ben may have lost people dear to him and feel alone in the world, but he could not possibly be as alone as Mattie! At least Ben was still human! Mattie had just as effectively lost his own family. They were alive and well, but he could never risk seeing them now, not like this. Ben was going to college for a degree in law; he was smart, good looking and had the opportunity for a very promising future. Mattie felt that he had nothing but Alyson. If Alyson was at all inclined to join him as a vampire, then Ben would just have to deal with it!

Mattie felt guilty to do so, but he gave Allie an ultimatum of sorts. He could not continue their relationship this way. It was just too hard, and it was unfair to both of them. He loved her dearly and didn’t want to lose her, but he could not bear the idea that his visits were physically harming her, or at the very least having an ill effect on her life. He was offering Alyson immortality as a vampire and the opportunity for them to be together. If she didn’t want what he had to offer, then he would have to stop seeing her and move on.

He did not expect an immediate answer, this was not a decision that he wanted to rush. She should have time to think about it with a clear head, unaffected by his venom and able to truly assess what she wanted in life. He would leave her for six months. It was a long time but he felt it was the only way to be truly fair to her and let her decide what to do, without coercion from him. If she wanted to be with him, she would have plenty of time to put her affairs in order and prepare to leave her mortal life to join him when he returned. If she chose to retain her human life instead, it would certainly crush him, but they would spend a week or so together and then say their goodbyes and part ways.

The time away had been agonizing. He had traveled all over the country trying to distract himself from wondering what she would do. With the use of a bank account thoughtfully provided by his dear friend Cain, he purchased a motor home and tried to prepare for the next chapter in his life. He didn’t know whether it would include Alyson or not (although he prayed nightly that she would choose to be with him), but he wanted to be ready to begin his new life immediately, whatever the outcome.

Now he had finally returned. The time had come, and he had returned for the visit that would change the rest of his nights. When he found Alyson at the local bar where she worked, he had been thoroughly surprised to find Cain there as well. Apparently there had been some problems with vampires in his home town while he had been away. Cain had arrived to try and educate these new vampires and stop their vicious habits. Alyson, having a knack for getting herself into trouble, had become somehow involved in the situation, and she and Cain had become friends. It was a little startling to see these two very important people in his life whom he had worked so carefully to keep separate, now quite suddenly seeming to be fast friends.

Mattie was glad to hear that the local difficulties had been handled for the most part, and that Cain was preparing to leave. Mattie would have his time alone with Alyson and if all went as he hoped it would, he would change Allie to be a vampire like himself. Then they would go to meet with Cain next month at a house he owned up near Buffalo, N.Y. Mattie had promised to meet Cain there on his own, but he was very much hoping that at that time he would be bringing Alyson with him, to help her adjust to a new existence as a vampire.

Cain had just left them alone in Mattie’s new motor home, and as he did, Alyson had practically attacked him with kisses. She was hard to read – he still couldn’t really tell what her decision was. She wasn’t distancing herself from him by any means, she seemed as affectionate as ever and perhaps even a little more possessive than usual; but that could just be reaction from the long time that he had spent away. She had even told him that she didn’t ever want him to stay away for so long again, but he knew it was only that she’d missed him. He couldn’t convince himself that it meant that she had decided to spend eternity with him.

At the moment her prime concern seemed to be devouring him with kisses and enticing him to drink her blood. He was unsure if her invitations for him to drink were intentional. She said nothing about it, but although her addiction to his venom should have faded with his absence, he knew she very much enjoyed being drunk from by him. She didn’t ask for it though. She kissed him passionately, and now and then she would break from his lips to kiss his own neck, tilting her head so that her throat was impossible for him to ignore.

Mattie hadn’t drunk from any human but Alyson, ever. He’d thought about trying it now and again while he was away, but had never actually followed it through. Now, her bared throat was more tempting to him than he’d ever imagined it would be. Just the scent of her made the vampire within him rise up and impatiently beg to be released. Her blood beckoned to him like never before. It was becoming almost impossible for him to control. Finally he couldn’t wait any longer. He broke from her lips as she pressed herself against him, gasping for breath. “Allie, I need to…” He couldn’t even complete the request before the change overcame him. His vision blurred and shifted as he felt his fangs unsheathe and bare themselves. She immediately realized his need and pulled the collar of her shirt quickly away from her throat to give him access to her tender skin.

For the first time in six months he felt his fangs pierce through flesh and his venom coursed into her quickly, as though eager to claim a victim for itself and mark territory for him as a vampire once again. As his viscous fluid moved through her, claiming every pore of her that it could reach, she became his, marked and glowing with his signature in every other vampire’s eyes. Her blood was for him alone; and what intoxicating blood it was.

Mattie crushed his lover to him as her blood began to fill his mouth. It was thick, rich and rewarding as he remembered, but even so much more than that; it seemed to hold some new enticing quality that thrilled him as never before. How had he kept himself from such ecstasy for so long? Worse than that, how could he ever give her up? Turning her now felt like an overwhelming need. Her blood somehow lured him to want to change her more than ever before. He began to drink and prayed for the millionth time that she had made the choice to join him.

Cain’s teachings plagued his mind, and he forced himself to err on the side of caution, only taking a very little amount of blood from her. He knew that he would most likely get to drink from her again soon and wanted to be sure that he didn’t take so much as to make her weak. Besides, just as he found this first drink after so long a hiatus to be intoxicating, he knew that Alyson would be feeling the effects from his venom even more strongly than usual. She wasn’t as used to it as she had been, and he didn’t want her to be so inebriated with it that they could not spend the night in conversation when their initial physical needs were satisfied.

She was unfazed when he took his lips from her throat and mumbled an apology over his abruptness. In fact, rather than be disappointed in him, a lazy smile crossed her lips and she gave him a throaty little laugh. “I been waitin’ for that,” she confessed, closing her eyes as though to savor the heady feeling of his venom now coursing through her system. Mattie wasn’t as put off by her obvious fondness for the venom as he used to be. He’d been trying very hard in these last months to better accept his vampire nature, and right now, anything that made Allie want him, seemed like a good thing. At the moment, she was very happy to see the vampire in him as well as the man. He wouldn’t disappoint.

Alyson only paused for a moment, and then gave him a mischievous little grin. She reached up to grasp his collar and pull his face down to hers for more kisses. He tried to wrap his arms around her, but she seemed impatient to try and pull the clothes from his body to pursue other endeavors. The smell of her blood still tempted him, but he forced himself to become human once again. After a moment of struggle, he scooped her up into his arms and headed for the bedroom.

She snuggled her face into his chest for the ride, but once they squeezed through the doorway she stretched up to sharply nip his throat with her teeth. Surprised, he jerked away from her. “Ow!” She laughed as he threw her onto the bed. “That hurt,” he scolded as he rubbed the spot.

She looked at him with an arched brow. “What are you, gettin’ soft on me? If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.” Allie slipped off her shoes and socks and then stood up on the bed. She looked a little dizzy from the venom at first, but kept her stance wide and soon got her balance. She smiled down at him, seeming to love the fact that she was now taller than he. At 5’9” Mattie was not a very tall man, but pretty much everyone towered over Allie’s barely 5’2” frame.

She undid her belt, roughly pulling the leather from her jeans. Mattie watched her with a smirk as she held it by the buckle and tried to crack it like a whip in front of her. It didn’t work very well, but he thought she looked really hot with it all the same. Disappointed with its performance, she lashed it back and forth on the bed in front of her a few times and then tried again. It came pretty close to his face in the small room, but rather than back away, Mattie reached out and caught the end, pulling it away from her. He tossed it to the floor as she pouted at him. “No weapons,” he said with a disapproving chuckle.

She grinned and spread her arms to show off her toned and sleek little form. “I am a weapon,” she warned seductively. “But I’ll try to be gentle.” He laughed and removed his shoes as she swiftly stripped off her jeans and kicked them at him. “Didjya miss me?”

Mattie pulled off the Mexican tunic that he wore, as well as his t-shirt underneath. He watched her in satisfaction as her eyes played over his bared chest and the room seemed filled with the scent of her longing for him. “Dreamt about you every day,” he answered quietly.

“Is that right?” she asked as she took off her own shirt, twirling it over her head a few times before tossing it into the corner. She wore a little purple bra made of satin and lace. It matched her tiny g-string panty and was very feminine and petite. Not the kind of undergarments one might expect for her to wear, judging by her usual ripped jeans and large t-shirts. Somehow, that made the intimate apparel that much more exciting.

She stood there on the bed, her fingers trailing lazy winding designs over the tops of her thighs. Mattie watched as one of her fingers seemed to trace the tattoo that was drawn across her right hip. It was a picture of a small blue and purple kite, with a large A inscribed upon it. It flew up over the top of her thigh to her hipbone, it’s string winding diagonally and intimately downward to eventually spell out his name in bold script. God, he loved that ink. He loved that she had wanted it there. No matter if they were apart at times, enduring an open relationship, or (Heaven forbid) if they eventually parted ways; that ink proclaimed that she wanted a part of him with her always. His name was inscribed upon her intimately, even if his weren’t the only eyes to ever see it.

His gaze was distracted from the spot, by movement just a bit above it. Allie wore a silver belly button ring with a tiny little chain of gems that sparkled and swayed back and forth with her movements. Mattie gazed down to the tattoo once more. His eyes were glued to her fingertips and her purple lacquered nails until they finally left her thighs to reach behind her back to her bra-strap.

She smiled at having his complete attention as she unhooked the back of her bra. She slowly stripped herself of it and then held it up before him by one strap with thumb and fore finger. She deliberately opened her fingers to let it fall to the floor as a thrown gauntlet. “Why don’t you come and see if you can make those dreams come true?”

He smiled as he eyed her pert, perfect little breasts, and then started towards the bed. His heightened senses taunted him with the mingled aroma of her arousal and her blood. As he reached the edge of the bed, she quickly lifted her leg to place her foot on his shoulder, holding him at bay. She nodded her head towards his jeans. “Are you gonna take those off for me, or are you playin’ hard to get?” She gave him a little shove back from the bed with her foot, making her wobble precariously before finding her balance again. Yes, the venom was definitely having an effect. Her words were strong and confident but he could hear the slight slur in her voice. He wondered if it would slow her reflexes at all.

Mattie laughed as he unbuttoned his jeans. “I’ll take them off. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna play easy.” Allie was a brown belt in Jui Jitsu. She was deceptively strong for her size and knew how to use leverage to her advantage, something she loved to flaunt with him. They often sparred in the bedroom, wrestling and trying to pin each other amidst laughter, teasing licks and kisses. Allie usually won. Of course there were plenty of times when he let her, but she knew that he usually didn’t have much of a choice. He was far stronger than she, but he could never hold her for long. She was fast, limber and she knew the moves. More often than not, she was in complete control. He only won when he played dirty.

Allie took off her panties and used thumb and finger to slingshot them at him. “Good. I like a challenge.” She watched him as he removed his jeans, and after a moment, his underwear as well. She grinned at his full erection. “Good to see you’ve still got an appetite for more than just my blood.”

He met her eyes and gave her a sincere smile. “You’re not just flesh and blood Allie. You feed my heart; my soul.”

She watched him tenderly for a moment and then frowned. “Do you still have a soul?”

“I don’t know.” He furrowed his brow in thought and then shrugged. “At least I’ve got you.” He dove for her legs and took her down onto the bed.

“No fair, you totally distracted me!” she accused him as she wriggled and tried to squirm out of his grasp. He lost his advantage of surprise quickly, and she soon had him flat on his back. Her knees pressed into his thighs and she held his arms pinned as she leaned down over him. The chain from her belly button ring tickled him as her nipples barely brushed against his chest.

He tried to kiss her but she leaned up and kept her lips out of reach. She gently moved against his body teasingly until he thrust his hips upwards to try and take the bait. She wouldn’t let him have her yet though. Instead she tilted her own hips upwards and gave his thighs a little dig with her knees. “Mercy!” he begged with a laugh.

She leaned down to whisper against his cheek. “Never.”

Mattie made a bold decision to embrace the advantages at his disposal rather than shun them as he usually tried to. “Then you leave me no choice,” he whispered back, with a slight growl in his voice as he shifted into his vampire state. His fangs unsheathed, he went for her throat. She was surely surprised by his change, but quickly realized her vulnerability and avoided the bite. As she tried to shift her weight and minimize her exposure to his fangs, he lunged up and rolled her off of him, onto her back. Now it was he that pinned her. He smiled down at her as he got a firmer grasp on her wrists and stretched her arms up over her head. She was apparently pleased to see him incorporate his vampire nature into their play, something he was normally loathe to do.

“Remember when I said that I dreamt about you?” he asked. She gave him a small smile and a nod. “They all end like this.” Before she had time to reply, he thrust himself between her legs as he bent to drink from her throat once again. Penetration for flesh and blood together as his heart rejoiced at being one with her once more.

Alyson; nothing could give him satisfaction, peace and serenity like being with her. She was complete fulfillment like he had never known elsewhere. As much as she ignited his desires and put a fire in his veins, it was also only she who could give him the calm and contentment of being home. A physical home, he no longer had, but being with Allie meant that didn’t matter. United with Alyson, he felt right. Without her, he was a wanderer with no place in particular to go; lost.

He had been a shy sixteen when she had initiated him into manhood. Alyson had been eighteen at the time, and although petite and even sometimes still childish, to him she had been all woman; always. Knowing and patient, she had led him into leadership. She taught him how to ride and then she gave him the reins. He loved that about her. She was strong and independent, but she wanted him to be strong too. She liked him to take command, although she rarely made it easy. Now that he had matured and spent some time away from her in the world, he valued her even more for her sassy spunk and her honest and unapologetic attitude.

Their love making was always playful and at times rather rough, but for a long time it was all he had ever known. Fierce but familiar, she knew just how to please him and he had learned exactly what she wanted, although he would often tease her before giving it to her. Mattie had been surprised and disappointed during the few intimate encounters he had shared with other women. They were all sexy; beautiful and voluptuous with long flowing hair and demure, alluring attitudes. They were very unlike Allie, and possessed characteristics he had thought he wanted in a woman. They aroused him with romantic feminine wiles, but once in the bedroom, somehow they just couldn’t excite him the way that Alyson did. Lovely, shy, demure and submissive, they just didn’t ignite his desire as he had expected them to. No one could compare to Allie.

He did his best to hold back his passion and prolong their tryst now, even letting her regain control. She loved to tantalize and torment him, bringing him to the brink of passion, only to leave him in frustration as she sought a new position to begin again. It had been too long though, he couldn’t last. He pinned her beneath him once again and did his best to build her passions to match his own. She writhed and moaned, pressing herself strongly against him and he let control disintegrate into ecstasy. Her nails dug into his back and she cried out with such utter abandon that he couldn’t help but wonder if any other man had the privilege of such complete and unself-conscious familiarity.

After the final throes of passion shuddered through him, he smothered her cheek and neck in kisses. Keeping his thirst for her blood in check was no easy feat, but he managed to pull back from her throat and roll aside to give her some air. Thrill and excitement faded to become content satisfaction. He lay there looking at the lovely curve of her cheek and the full beauty of her still-moist lips as she tried to catch her breath. “I love you Allie,” he told her quietly.

She turned to give him a broad smile and he knew that their physical reunion had pleased her just as well as it had him. “I love you too babe.” Her words were slightly breathless and had become even more muddled and unclear, showing him that the venom most likely had her head spinning. He felt an odd mixture of pride and resentment, that his vampiric venom could please her so well. As much as he enjoyed exciting her, he sometimes couldn’t help but wish that the man he was could be enough. He loved her completely. She needed no outside factors to turn him on, she herself was all he desired. Didn’t she love him the same?   

Allie lay on her back with her slight chest heaving as she gasped for breath. “Oh God Mattie.” She had to take a moment before she could say more, and he realized that she was thoroughly enjoying the high his venom had given her. He wanted to accept that, unfazed, but somehow he still found it a little disturbing. Now that the initial burst of passion had been sated, he didn’t need the ‘vampire’ in him to excite her anymore. He’d like to just put it away and forget it; to just be Mattie and Allie, like they used to be. She finally turned to him and spoke again. “I missed you so much! There is just nothing like being with you!”

Although he felt the same, it seemed for different reasons. Mattie eyed her with a sinking heart as he rose from the bed. “Yeah,” he barely answered, despondently.

She outstretched her arm and wiggled her fingers. She wanted him to throw her a towel. He took a wash cloth off the top of the laundry basket on the floor and tossed it to her as she spoke. “What’s the matter? Don’t tell me that wasn’t the best sex that you have ever had?!? What, did you find some mega-talented whore to replace me while you were away?”

Mattie rolled his eyes with a grimace as he pulled on his briefs. “Allie, you know that no one could ever replace you. Being with you makes me feel like I’m alive again. It’s the best.”

Allie eyed him quizzically. “Just because I’m alive?”

Mattie gave her a discerning frown and put on his jeans. “Do you really love me?”

She looked incredulous. “You know I do.”

“Not just because I’m dead?

Alyson sat upright in the bed and brushed the sweaty bangs back from her forehead. “Mattie, what is with you tonight? You’re acting all weird. Aren’t you happy to see me? Didn’t you miss me at all?”

“Come on Allie, you know I did. The past six months were the hardest I’ve ever had to endure; and I’ve endured a hell of a lot.”

“Yeah… well now you’re back. So lighten up,” she told him.

“There is no light in my life lately; not without you,” he quietly insisted.

She spread her arms and raised her eyebrows at him. “Here I am.”

“Yeah, for now.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked.

“You know exactly what I mean Allie; your decision. You haven’t told me.”

She lowered her eyes and spoke quietly. “I told you I didn’t want you to leave again.”

“That’s not an answer and you know it. I know you hated my being away but that doesn’t mean you want me to change you.” He watched her as she sat silently and avoided his gaze. “I thought maybe you’d tell me right away; instead you act like I never even asked you. Does that mean it’s something that I don’t wanna hear?” She didn’t seem inclined to answer. Her continued silence fueled his frustrated fears. His words lashed out at her with contemptuous hostility. “What, did you want one last high and a good roll before you broke the news?”

She looked disgusted with him as she tossed the washcloth onto the floor and tried to blow off his question. “Crude much? Cut it out.” She began searching for her clothes, finally gathered them and started to dress.

He watched her, arms crossed and unwilling to take his eyes from her until she answered him. She wouldn’t, so he continued. “Don’t act like you haven’t spent the past six months agonizing over it!” She looked away from him, her mouth a hard line. He shook his head with a little huff of disbelief. “Then again, maybe you haven’t.” Once again he felt his anger rise. With it, his eyes itched to change to their vampiric spectrum. He refused to acknowledge his body’s’ desire and instead poured his irate feelings into words flung at Allie with disdain. “You don’t even have an answer for me do you? You just gonna decide on the fly like everything else in your life?” She turned back to him resentfully with a hard accusing glare. “This is a little important for that Allie.”

“It’s complicated,” she retorted through clenched teeth.

“No it’s not! Allie, I love you. I want us to be together. I don’t know how to put it any simpler. I wish I didn’t have to ask you to give anything up for that to happen, but there’s no other way that it’s gonna work. If it’s too much to ask, then just tell me. Don’t lay there and go on about how great I am, because I can’t say that I’m proud of drugging my girlfriend into submission every time we make love. Making you high doesn’t make me great, it just makes me inhuman.

“You idiot! That’s not why I think you’re great! I’m not gonna say I don’t like it, but give me a little credit! I made you a man long before you had fangs honey, or don’t you remember? You think seducing virgin boys is a hobby of mine, or you gonna admit that maybe there’s a little more going on here than just feeling good? I love you too, stupid! You’ve been gone too long, dealing with assholes out in the world. This is me you’re talking to. You could show a little insight.”

Mattie lowered his eyes, chastened. “I’m sorry babe, it’s just… well, I’ve been waiting so long to hear what you were gonna say, and then I finally come back, and you haven’t really said anything. I guess it’s making me a little nuts.”

“Well, take it easy,” she admonished him.

Mattie eyed her silently for a moment and then finally asked, “So what have you been thinking?”

She chewed her lip for a moment before answering. “That I really hate it when you’re gone.”

“Yeah?” he asked with a slight smile.

“Uh-huh.” She gave him back a lop-sided little grin. “And that life pretty much sucks.”

Mattie tried not to let his voice betray his hopefulness. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“What does that mean?” he forced himself to ask.

She took a deep breath and sighed. “Mattie, I want to. I do…”

He could feel her hesitation and it deflated the slight hope that had been building. “But?”

“Well, I can’t leave right now.” Her voice begged for understanding but he just couldn’t give it to her.

“Why not?” She shrugged and tilted her head a bit trying to find the right words. He already knew. Sore subject. “Ben.” He stated bluntly. She gave a hesitant little nod. “He’s pretty important to you, huh?” She gave another little nod. “More important than me.”

She reprimanded him quietly. “That’s not fair.”

“You’ve been spending an awful lot of time together.” It wasn’t even a question, but she answered anyway.

“Well, yeah. I see him every day. We do like everything together.”

“Everything?” he asked, forcing his voice to be flat and neutral.

“Sure. You know Ben and I are close.”

“M-hmmm. Guess I’m lucky I’m addictive, or it’d be no contest huh?” he mumbled sarcastically.

“What?”

“Well, I know he’s got more to offer you in every other respect.” She gave him a very odd look. “You sleeping with him?” It was barely a question; he was resigned.

She surprised him by looking completely incredulous. “Ben?!? No! Did you get stupid while you were gone? What is wrong with you? Why would you think I was sleeping with Ben?”

“You’re not?” He dared to hope that she hadn’t been won away from him after all. He knew that Allie and Ben had been fast friends since early childhood. In many ways she had often seemed closer to Ben than Mattie, until their physical romance began. Mattie always feared that it was only a matter of time before Ben surpassed him in that arena too.

“No!” Allie insisted.

“Really? You’ve never…?”

“Never.”

“Oh. I was just checking. I mean, he always seems so important to you, and I know it’s not something you’d really want to tell me. I always wondered.”

“You imbecile! If you wanted to know, you shoulda just asked. You know I’d tell you. I tell you everything.”

“I guess I was afraid to find out.”

Allie dismissed it. “Ben and I are only friends. Close friends, just like always. I have been dating other guys though, you know that right? I mean, we agreed that we would.”

“Yeah, I know. But not Ben.”

“No. That doesn’t make him any less important to me though. He’s like my brother, and you have to cut me a little slack if I feel like I can’t just abandon him right now.”

“He didn’t have any trouble abandoning me,” Mattie pointed out acidly.

Allie slumped her shoulders with another sigh. “Is that what this is about? You’re pissed because he’s still my friend and not yours? Mattie, you can’t know how much I hate this crap! All the sneaking around and the hard feelings. You’re the one who told me that I should pretend like I thought you were dead, and that I didn’t know he saw you. It was your idea that I should just ‘let it go and try to keep my friendship with Ben strong anyway’. Isn’t that what you told me?

I’ve gotta tell you, I’m glad that I listened to you, because I don’t know what I would have done without Ben these past three years; but if it was up to me, I could’ve killed him that night I found out he’d seen you and didn’t tell me! Sometimes he can be such a stubborn prick, I know that. The way he treated you was so shitty. He talks about you like you’re some kind of demon or something. He is so fuckin’ thick headed it’s like talking to a wall!”

“Wait a minute… he talks about me?” Allie became suddenly quiet and looked down at the floor. “When did he talk about me? I thought he didn’t know that you knew? You’re supposed to think I’m long dead and gone, how is he talking about me to you?”

“He knows,” she quietly informed him.

“What? When did this happen?”

“Just a few weeks ago actually. I didn’t mean to tell him but… well, things were getting out of hand around here and he wanted us to leave.”

“Leave and go where?” Mattie asked.

“Vermont.”

Vermont?” he repeated incredulously.

“I know. It was stupid. He just wanted to get out of here for a while. The situation was pretty intense. I didn’t want to go because it was getting close to Halloween and I wasn’t sure when you’d be back. This place was crawling with bloodsuckers, and they weren’t all that friendly if you know what I mean. I was worried about you. I didn’t want you showing up and I’m gone. Then you’d be hanging around waiting for me and who knows what kind of trouble you might have gotten into. I needed to stay.”

“So? So you told him? You couldn’t have made up something else? Like you had to work or something?”

“Mattie, I miss work to go to rock concerts, you really think he’d believe a sudden sense of duty? He knows me just as well as you do, you know. Nothing else would work. He knew it was a guy, and that it would have to be someone pretty damn important. Besides… he saw my neck.”

Mattie became very still. “What do you mean?”

“My neck, the bite marks. He knows.”

“He knows that I…” A sick sense of shame and guilt washed over him. “Allie how could you? How could you let him see? Oh God, no wonder he hates me!”

“Mattie, he doesn’t hate you, he’s just angry at the world and you’re an easy target. Besides, he was mad at you long before noticing my neck, he only just saw it. It’s not like he knew all along. I couldn’t help it, he figured it out and I wasn’t gonna lie!”

Mattie just sank to the floor with his head in his hands. How could he possibly defend his actions? He’d spent the last three years confident in the knowledge that Ben had been wrong about him. He was not a monster. He was still a good person and although becoming a vampire was a burden, he hadn’t thought it had changed him; not really. But now, being forced to admit to Ben that he had drunk Allie’s blood… repeatedly… Even this very night, he had drunk the blood from her body as though it were foreplay; like the crucial balance of her life was some sort of game. How could he ever face Ben again? How could he ever try to convince his old friend that he was still a good person? Ben was right. He was no better than a blood sucking corpse.

“Mattie, relax. It’s not like I didn’t let you. Hell, most times I ask you to! It doesn’t change anything. So he knows, big deal.”

Mattie risked a hopeful glance at Allie’s face. “Ben was okay about it?”

Allie wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Well, no. Not exactly.”

“What did he say?”

“He called me a blood whore.” Mattie’s mouth fell open as his heart and mind tried to compromise between anger that she should have been so insulted, and shame that it was he who had earned her the unkind image. She saw his distress and tried to soothe him, blowing it off like it hadn’t hurt her a bit; although coming from Ben he knew it must have wounded her a great deal more than she would ever admit. “But don’t worry about it, really. It’s all been dealt with and done. He had his little hissy fit and now it’s over. He knows, and I don’t have to feel guilty like I’m lying and sneaking around all the time. It’s a good thing.”

“A good thing? Allie, a little over three years ago Ben was my best friend. I would have died for him. Now that I have, I spend half my time wanting to strangle the guy. Every time I see you I have to listen to how great he’s doing in school, and what fun you two have together. Now I’m getting treated to what kind of insults he’s been heaping on me and the woman I love. I just can’t take it anymore.

I always thought Ben was a good guy. I guess he still is, but there is no way that we will ever be able to get along with the views he’s got on my situation. I’m sorry if that puts you in the middle, but it just does. There’s no way around that. I know that you want Ben to do well and be okay, but you’ll have to forgive me for saying… he will; with or without you. Ben doesn’t need you Allie. He likes to lean on you it’s true, but he doesn’t need you. He’s got a hell of a life going for himself, and I’m sure he can manage to live without you. I can’t.”

Allie just sat there and stared at him for a long time. He was starting to feel like a heel for putting her in such a situation, and he knew he was exaggerating. He could live without her. He’d been seeing less and less of her and doing just fine. It hurt. He wanted her, but it wasn’t like his life depended on her. She knew it too. She didn’t say anything though, she just stared at him thoughtfully.

Finally he couldn’t take the silence and his conscience couldn’t let his last statement stand. “I’m sorry. That’s not fair. I know I have Cain helping me out and even if I didn’t, I know I’d manage. I didn’t mean to try and corner you like that. I just love you so damn much Allie and this whole thing is making me crazed.

The only person you are responsible for making happy, is you; end of story. So you have to be the one to decide. What’s going to make you happy Allie? I left because I wanted you to have a chance to think about it without me. I love you so much, I just couldn’t torture myself and you, by hanging around waiting to see what you’d choose. I don’t know if that helped you figure things out at all, but it is a decision that you have to make. It’s not the kind of thing you can just ignore and hope it goes away, or works itself out.

Our problems are real. I can’t keep taking your blood all the time without hurting you, and you know that the venom is messing you up. It’s not healthy, for your body or your mind. I know you hate all the sneaking around, and even if Ben knows now, it’s not like we can have a normal relationship.” He blinked back tears and tried not to sound full of self-pity, even if he felt life had dealt him a cruel hand. “Like it or not, I’m a vampire. Keeping secrets kind of comes with the territory and it’s wearing on us both. We can’t keep this up and you know it as well as I do. So please, think about it. I’ve gotta get out of here for a little. I’m going for a walk.”

She didn’t say a word. She didn’t even look at him. Fine, let it sink in. He picked up his shirt and tunic, slipped on his shoes and left the bedroom. He pulled his t-shirt over his head and tossed the tunic onto a chair in the kitchen. He didn’t want to wear it. He’d rather be numb outside in the cold. He headed for the front door. “Mattie.” Her voice was quiet but it froze him in his tracks. He stopped with his hand on the door latch and his back to the bedroom. “There isn’t anything to think about really. Please don’t go.”

She was coming up behind him. Her bare feet hardly made any noise on the carpet, but he could smell the unique musky scent of her body getting stronger. It made his thirst rise within him again and his fangs seemed to press against his gums in anticipation of release. He clenched his eyes shut and tried not to breathe her in. She stopped right behind him and pressed herself up against his back. She put her hands on his shoulders and snuggled her face between them. “I want to Mattie.” Her words were smothered into his back where he could feel the warmth of her breath through his shirt. She sounded like she was crying, but it might have only been because she was mumbling against him. “I’ve known all along that I wanted to be with you always. Didn’t you know that? Was it ever really a question in your mind? I’ve always wanted to; to let you change me into a vampire, take away the restraints of life and set me free. God it’s all I think about sometimes. I want to, I do. It’s just…”

He gently pulled away so that he could turn and face her. “What? If you knew all along… if you wanted me to do it, then why are you putting me through all of this?” He held her shoulders now and forced her to look at him. She was crying a little. It melted his heart and he softened his hold on her. Allie rarely cried.

She peeked up at him through her long lashes, looking timid as he’d never really seen her before. “Don’t you get it? It’s not just Ben. I’m scared. I’ve never really been scared of anything before. Not like this, this never ending anticipation of something so different and frightening. It feels so weird. Like if I want it so bad, then why do I keep putting it off? Why does it give me such flip flop feelings in my stomach, and give me cold chills up and down my spine?

It’s death Mattie. Maybe it’s not real death ‘cause I know I’ll still go on, but still… It’s voluntarily asking for death. You can’t imagine what that’s like. You didn’t know. You didn’t have a choice. I’m choosing this. Is that wrong? Is it like suicide? I don’t think so, but what do I know?”

She gave him a little smile and continued. “I think it’s gonna be great. I’m excited and inspired by all that we could do. Think of it, the freedom! We could go anywhere, do anything! We’ll have eternity to explore the whole world if we want! Eternity, God Mattie, I can’t even really wrap my mind around that! Can you imagine how awesome it could be?”

Mattie gave a little laugh with a shake of his head. “It’s all I think about. I’ve done so much already, traveled and seen so much. But it’s felt so empty. I want to share it with you. Being with you and seeing it all together, that would make it awesome, instead of lonesome and scary. Showing you… everything.”

She questioned him with open curiosity. “How could you ever think for even a second, that I wouldn’t want that?” He just watched her patiently. “I guess I just had a hard time taking that first step. Saying it out loud and knowing that once it’s done, I can’t take it back. Not that I’ll want to, because I won’t. I really think that once it’s done, I’ll be happy. It’ll be great. It’s just making the decision that’s hard, knowing that it’s so important. I’ve screwed up a lot of important stuff in my life.”

Mattie took her more fully into his arms and gave her a little kiss on the forehead. “No you haven’t.”

She looked up at him with a sad little chuckle. “Yes I have Mattie. You think I don’t know how irresponsible you think I am? Do you think I don’t understand why you and Ben worry so much about me? This is important and I didn’t want you to think I didn’t know that. You said that you thought I put it off because I was just gonna decide on the fly and jump into an answer, but don’t you see? It’s just the opposite! I didn’t answer you right away because I wanted to make sure it was right. It feels right, but that’s how I always decide stuff, by gut instinct. For something like this, that just didn’t seem good enough. I’ve been turning everything over in my head since the night you left; going over everything, and trying to be responsible and meticulous like you. You are so careful about things.”

“I thought you hate that about me.”

She moved back to look at him better and took his hands into her own. “Are you kidding? I love that! It’s annoying as all hell sometimes, but I still love that about you! I need some of that in my life; to be a little more like you. That’s why I was trying so hard to think everything through and make the right decision. I don’t want anybody to be disappointed in me, least of all you. This is an important choice that’s all mine to make, and for once in my life, I don’t want to screw it up.”

“Allie, it’s your life. No matter what you decide, it’s not wrong, it’s a choice. We’ve talked about all of your options for the future, what you’d be giving up and what you would gain. You’ve always been so adamant that you didn’t want kids, and I know that losing the family you have isn’t an issue. But if you’ve got reservations, let’s talk it out. I don’t want you to do this because you feel like you have to, or you think you owe it to me or something, because you know that you don’t. But please, don’t be scared.”

“Can you blame me? When you got turned, it was so awful that you wouldn’t even tell me about it!” she reminded him.

“I was attacked! It was a terrible and traumatic experience for me. This wouldn’t be anything like that!” he insisted.

 “I know it was scary because you didn’t know what was gonna happen. You didn’t want it. But still, the details, what it was like to… change. You would never tell me what that was like, even now. God Mattie, I barely even get to see you like that ever. You act like it’s this awful secret and a terrible thing, then I’m supposed to want it? And I do want it, really, but you can’t blame me for having a few reservations.”

He stared at her for a moment, feeling bad for accusing her of taking this lightly. “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s not something I like to talk about, so I know I haven’t said much. But if we’re talking about changing you, I will tell you everything. This will be so much better for you than it was for me. You don’t have to be afraid, because I’ll be right there with you. It doesn’t have to feel new or frightening, because you’ll be prepared. I’ll tell you everything; exactly what to expect, how it will feel and what will happen, what it’ll be like. I’ll know what to do and how to make it easier for you. This isn’t random or unexpected like it was for me. I’m here to guide you through everything. Allie, you have to trust me and believe that I can do it right,” he assured her.

“I do. I know how careful you are. I know you wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.” She stood up on tiptoe and gave him a soft kiss. “I want it Mattie. I do.” It felt as though a great and oppressive weight was lifted from his chest with those words. Tears rose in his eyes as he smiled at her in love and relief. She smiled back and squeezed his hands. “Could we really talk about everything? You’ll tell me every little detail?” she asked.

“Yes. Of course I will. Aw Allie, I didn’t know you were so freaked about this, the mechanics of it I mean. I just figured that since I’ve already pretty much tested the waters, it was just a question of what you wanted. I never thought you’d be scared of the actual process. I should have realized. You should have asked me.”

“I did ask you! Mattie I have been asking you about it since day one! You’d never tell me!”

Again he felt bad. She was right, she had asked him and he’d changed the subject every time. “It was hard for me to go through once. I didn’t really want to explain it, and have to remember it again. I thought you were just curious. I never realized it was because you wanted to know for yourself.”

“Mattie, since this happened to you, you don’t think I’ve been playing around in my mind with the idea of joining you?” He thought about that sheepishly. He felt stupid. He’d been so worried about shielding himself from reliving the experience, that he’d never realized the source behind her curiosity. “You sure you know how to do it? There’s no way I’d end up like one of those zombie things right?”

He answered immediately, hoping not to betray his secret fears. “Of course not! Allie, I’ve gone over every little detail a thousand times. I know what I need to do. I know how to help you and to make it as easy as possible for you.” It was true. He’d spent over a year going over every scenario and trying to prepare himself, so as not to let her down. It was still a frightening prospect though. He needed to push away his doubts and be firm for her. He was more prepared than any other vampire sire could have ever been. It would work, it had to. “All you have to do is listen to me and do as I say. I know I can do this. Trust me.”

“I do.”

“Allie, are you sure you want this?”

“I do.” She repeated the words with such deliberate certainty, they almost sounded like a wedding vow.

He smiled and on impulse bent down on one knee in front of her, still holding her hands in his own. “I don’t have a ring with me or anything but, Allie… will you be my corpse bride?”

She chuckled. ‘The Corpse Bride’ was a movie they’d watched together not long after his change. “‘Till dust do us part?” she added.

“Well, yeah. Something like that.”

She eyed him seriously for a moment before taking a deep breath and speaking. “Forever is a really long time Mattie.”

“Yes, it is. But Allie, no matter what happens, ever, I will always love you; truly.” She looked a little skeptical and uncertain. He knew she loved him as much as he loved her; but it was also true that they tended to get on each others’ nerves if together for too long an uninterrupted time. That was why their arrangement of spending every other weekend together had worked so well for so long. He couldn’t help but want to spend every moment with her when he was around, but she didn’t like to feel smothered. She valued her freedom.

The venom had changed that a bit. He’d started feeling terribly guilty because the venom caused her to cling to him more than she ever had. He knew it was an addiction, but he loved the way she treated him for it all the same. She suddenly wanted to spend every free moment with him, desperately craving his intimate attention, and he ate it up. That was when he’d realized it was going too far. That addiction would be broken when he changed her into a vampire. She wouldn’t need him for venom anymore. He sorely hoped she still needed him at all.

He tried to ease her uncertainty. “I know what you’re thinking. I’m not that unrealistic. I know that you love me, but I also realize we may need a break from each other now and then. Like you said, eternity is a really long time. I just hope you’ll always come back. And I do hope it’ll take a couple of decades before you get too sick of me.”

She smiled sympathetically. She always denied it when he accused her of wanting space, but they both knew it was token protest. “Space is nice, but I could never get sick of you Mattie. Hey, we won’t have to worry about you taking too much blood from me anymore. You’ll be able to drink from me as much as you want right? It won’t hurt me once I’m like you!”

She looked thoughtful for a moment and then continued. “Remember in ‘The Corpse Bride’, the wedding vows? How’d it go? ‘Your cup shall never be empty, for I shall be your wine.’ That line sticks in my head ‘cause it’s pretty, but I always thought it was kind of odd. Seems fitting now though, huh? I’ll be your wine…” Her eyes suddenly seemed to light up with new comprehension. “and you’ll be mine! I’ll be able to drink from you too, won’t I? I’ll have to, to change, right?”

Mattie tried not to let her see how that idea affected him. He’d always tried not to admit to himself how much he had enjoyed being drunk from. When dealing with his attackers, everything was sort of a blur that he had mostly blocked from his thoughts. He didn’t really remember that much about being drunk from then, although he vaguely recalled the venomous high that it had brought.

After his change though, he had allowed Cain to drink from him now and then. It had been a practical necessity. When he was newly made, he had needed Cain’s mark to help protect him from other vampires. Cain’s drinks from him had been fairly brief and always from the wrist, but Mattie could not deny that the experience was always pleasurable. And that was from Cain, a dear friend surely, but certainly not someone that Mattie was at all sexually attracted to in any way. What would it be like to have Allie’s fangs at his throat? The very idea caused him to shiver.

He shyly glanced up at her from the great attention he had been pretending to pay to the carpet. “Yes, that is how it’s done. I’ll drink from you, more than I ever have. Then, at the brink of death, you drink from me and my blood will save you; change you. We’ll have to do it over and over again until our blood is thoroughly mixed and you have just as much vampire blood in you as I do. It’s only when someone doesn’t get enough vampire blood that they have a problem and come back… wrong. We won’t take that chance. It may take a while, but we’ll make sure it’s done right.”

“Yeah. I’ll do whatever you say.” Allie seemed rather aroused at the idea. He found that reassuring. She wouldn’t have a hard time with it. She would do as he said and let him make sure it was done right. “And once it’s done, we can always do it again, right? Whenever we want? Drink from each other I mean; be each other’s wine,” she added with a little chuckle.

“Yes. As much as you want.”

“Cool. I accept. One corpse bride, coming up.” She seemed suddenly pensive. “But you know, in that movie… they didn’t end up together.”

“Yeah, I know. But we have something that they didn’t… a never-ending story.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was decided. After months of anxious anticipation and dread, Alyson had made the decision that he had secretly feared she never would. Mattie was overjoyed to hear her say those words, “I do.” He might never get a true wedding vow out of her, but bonds of blood would run deeper than any marriage certificate ever could.

Allie; there weren’t enough words to describe the deep current of love that ran through his heart for her. Who needs a heartbeat when you have love of such magnitude? He had spent years trying not to let himself love her too openly. She was so strong, beautiful, sassy and smart. Why would she ever want to tie herself too tightly to him? They spent countless hours loving, laughing and sharing secrets together; but when it came down to commitment, he knew better than to expect much. She loved him, but she loved her freedom too. She had an itch for independence and frankly he was surprised that her friendship with Ben had kept her rooted in their tiny college town for as long as it had.

This was permanent though. No matter what happened in the future (and he refused to look too deeply into the future) he would always be Allie’s sire. Some night in years to come she might want to part ways with him to go off on her own, tired of his careful, mundane, imitation human existence, but they would always share that unbreakable connection. He would give her the gift of immortality and be forever linked to her through that bond. Things would be different now. He would be the one to show her new things and lead her into new experiences. It was the birth of a new stage in their relationship. He hoped it would keep her from leaving him too far behind.

He pushed thoughts of losing her far into the deep recesses of his mind where he could pretend such an outcome was an impossibility. She was here now, and she was his. Gone was the resigned fear that eventually some other, more interesting man would come steal her away. Mattie knew he was fairly handsome, but it was in an honest, good old boy, unassuming kind of way. He couldn’t compete with the charming, polished, magazine cover image that guys like Ben seemed to possess; he didn’t even try. He’d grown up in Ben’s shadow. Mattie was the ‘good friend’ that could always be counted on to have your back, give an honest opinion, and keep the peace when necessary. He was the guy that girls came to when they wanted to know what Ben was looking for in a girlfriend. ‘Would you introduce us? Could you give him my number?’

Mattie was really a pretty quiet and private person most of the time, so he had been happy to let Ben have the attention, but being off on his own sure had made the world seem a different place. It was funny how being changed into a vampire was really what had turned Mattie into a man. It was almost as if the very act that had forever confined him the shadows, had also forced him to figuratively step out into the light.

Ben was no longer a part of his life. It was very bittersweet that he didn’t have Ben to confide in over this new adventure, and yet Ben’s absence made the adventure his. For once in his life, Mattie was forced to focus on himself. Strangest thing, he wasn’t even really sure who he was. That was another reason that he had kept himself from leaning too heavily on Allie.

Alyson was wonderfully supportive and he was ever grateful that he could always come home knowing she would thrill to his presence. That was fairly new for him. When he had been human, privately he had always worried that Allie would quickly tire of him as a lover. He had suspected in the past that Alyson had wanted to keep their relationship a secret from their friends because it had added to his allure. The secrecy had brought excitement to what he suspected might have otherwise been a rather dull relationship from Allie’s point of view. Becoming a vampire now lent a mysteriousness to his character and added an intriguing new dimension to their trysts. It was something that kept Allie longing for his interest.

Once he changed her, the dynamics would shift again. It was time for him to figure out and reveal the man he really was, without leaning on mystery or artifice to boost his appeal. He could only hope that when the intriguing secrets became mundane knowledge, and the fascination she had for him as a vampire faded, their love would be strong enough to remain.

 

 

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 ALMOST HUMAN

  ~ The Second Trilogy ~

 Volume 1

 Born to Blood

 by

 Melanie Nowak

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the authors imagination, or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living, dead or undead, is entirely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 by Melanie Nowak

Cover Art by Melanie Nowak

WoodWitchDame Publications

 

This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, by any means without express permission directly from the author.

 

For information address:

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WoodWitchDame@aol.com

 

BORN TO BLOOD

ISBN: 0-9824102-3-9

ISBN-13: 978-0-9824102-3-3