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Into the Night

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1 Into the Night on Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:34 am

Nine

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{ into the night }

{ 1. On the Corner of Dead and Crazy }

    If you were to ask me how I got to where I was now, standing back to back with a creature that I had once mocked, I could not give you a direct answer. Because, if I told you, or anyone really, that I was fighting a war alongside a vampire, then I'm pretty sure I would get called to a loony bin.

    But, I assure you that it is entirely true. I know; I wouldn't have believed it either. Vampires? Never in a million years would I have thought that vampires and the whole shebang were real. Come on, stuff like that doesn't happen!

    Even though we were standing there with an army surrounding us, I still found it hard to believe. It all felt very surreal, like it was a dream, but judging by the very real stench and the very real sensation of the earth shaking beneath my feet, this was in fact, very real.

    "Two against how many?" I asked as we looked around at the incredible army that had us backed up as far as we could go.

    I could hear my unlikely vampire ally counting under his breath. I could almost hear the smug grin that was on his face as he said, with utmost certainty: "Ten."

    "Hah hah. Very funny," I grumbled, rolling the heavy lead pipe in my right hand. This would be a good time to let you know that I was in no way gifted with super human strength or speed. No special powers on my behalf - just a regular old human being. Though, I did have a few items of choice that had come in handy in fighting our enemies.

    The hundreds of them that gathered now seemed to be waiting on a command. I had only ever met their leader once, and honestly, I would never want to repeat that experience again. So, then why, I asked myself, was I sneaking into their layer with the plan to meet with said leader again? Well, let's just add that to the questions that I couldn't answer just yet.

    It was an inconspicuous building that sat back behind the more busily occupied stores that huddled around it. Naturally, those stores were employed by our nasty monster friends. From just looking at it, the place could have been a regular, no-questions-asked storage facility. It's rugged brick exterior oozed with normalness. But inside? It was everything but normal. The hallways were splattered with old and faded blood stains, like there had been battles here before. Or maybe a rebellion among the ranks that had been squashed with the deaths of the rebels. Everything was grey. Grey carpet, grey walls, grey tile, grey everything. There were no windows, and the doors all looked like they had been broken more than once in the last month.

    We stood in what must have been the cafeteria. There were entrances to the large room in all directions, which had allowed our enemies to swarm us and encircle us in the way that they did. Their ugly faces were morphed, showing their true (albeit hideous) colors.

    "You ready?"

    I swallowed back a sarcastic response and opted for nodding affirmatively. Though vampires didn't need to breathe, I felt his back expand against mine as he took a deep breath. Or, maybe that was me taking a deep breath. Either way, I was pretty sure I'd meet my death in this fight. "It was nice knowin' ya," I tried to sound more optimistic than I was.

    "Likewise. And, you're not to shabby," he nodded. "For a human," he added with a chuckle.

    Then, before we could give it a second thought, we ran at our enemies.


{ Three weeks earlier }

    I was being followed. Don't ask me how I knew - I just did. My stalker, for lack of a better term, had been following about two yards behind me since I had left my work place about fifteen minutes ago. Sure, he tried to make it seem like he wasn't following, but I could tell by the eerie way that his (at least, I was pretty sure it was a him) footsteps made next to no noise compared to mine.

    Now, I don't normally walk to and from work. It was a half hour walk each way, but I couldn't get my car to start earlier, so this was the next best thing. Up ahead, I could see an area where there was a line of street lights that were either out or not working. I hurried, trying to get through the area quickly.

    When I reached the end of the darkness and finally stood in the halo of light that was cast by the street lamps, I dared to turn around to confront my follower.

    But he wasn't there.

    "Weird," I grumbled and turned on my heel to walk the last block or so home.

    "Hello."

    I drew in a sharp breath and backed up a bit, looking up where he towered over me (which was impressive, since I wasn't exactly short by any means). The man's face was shrouded by shadow, but the square of his shoulders and the shadows cast by his apparently fit physique told me that I wasn't going to make it out of this without a few bruises at least. "Hi," I leered at the man, not sure when he had gotten there or how I had missed him.

    I wasn't sure what this guy's plan was, but I dipped my hand into my purse, ready to pull out some pepper spray in case he tried anything.

    "There's no need for that," the man informed me. Almost immediately, I felt like I had been completely disarmed. And not in a physical sense. It was like this guy was dipping into my mind and telling me to trust him.

    I hated mind games. Trying to hold on to the last sliver of my own will that I had left, I took another few steps away from this guy. "I don't know what you're playing at, but I'm warning you - I won't go without a fight!" I warned, trying to make it look like I had done this before. Which I hadn't, but I had taken a semester of kick boxing at my university last year, if that counted for anything.

    Almost immediately he raised his hands in a gesture for me to calm down. "Whoa there, Nelly, there's no need for that aggression. I'm not here to hurt you," he said in a tone that bordered on amused.

    "What?" This guy was making no sense. First, he follows me on my walk home, and now he was trying to convince me that he meant no harm? Yeah, no, not buying that one. "You're a pretty bad liar."

    "No, really," he insisted. "At least, not anymore," he added, and I could have sworn I saw him crinkle his nose in distaste.

    Oh, so now he wanted to insinuate that I was gross? Smart move, dude. "You got a problem?" I challenged.

    Out of nowhere, it sounded like someone was running away. I turned toward the sound (and looking back, I'll never figure out why I turned away from the huge guy that I was sure was harboring malevolent intentions), but saw nothing. When I turned back to the man, he was gone.

    "Hello?" I called out. Wait, no, bad idea. What if he came back? Shaking my head, I jogged the remaining distance home, where I would do everything but forget the weird encounter that I had tonight.



AUTHOR'S NOTE::
This is something that I just had the random inspiration for this morning. So yeah. Not sure what I'm going to do with it. Or anything really |D but it felt really good to be writing again, so I hope that this becomes more than just a random thing.

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2 Re: Into the Night on Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:42 am

Dude, I want more. I wanna read this. The first part especially sounded like a book.


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3 Re: Into the Night on Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:02 am

Nine

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Well good news, Jo. I've got more. AND HERE IT IS

{ into the night }

{ 2. I Almost - but not Quite - Die }

    I spent the next day doing my best to forget about my unwanted follower. But, that was pretty difficult, since I hadn't really been able to sleep because of the nagging worry at the back of my head that wanted to check to make sure that the doors were locked every ten minutes. It was probably for the better that my roommate was out working a night shift, because I irritated even myself.

    And, the sleep that I had gotten was filled with nightmares of being chased by large, demon-like creatures. I gave up on trying to sleep at about four in the morning and opted to see if there was anything on television.

    The answer to which was a big, fat, hairy: no. The only things on were some teeny bopper movie about vampires, infomercials, and reruns of Spongebob. None of which were too entertaining.

    At about five, my roommate slipped quietly through the door of our two bedroom duplex. I thought that I looked rough, but it looked like it had been a rough night at the clinic (she's a veterinarian - one of the best in the state).

    "Yo," I called from the sofa, clicking off the television.

    Charlene leapt ten feet out of her skin, "Dammit Nessie!" Her purse and coat dropped to the floor and she kicked her shoes off. "What are you doing still awake?" she asked, sitting down on the opposite end of the sofa and kicking her feet up on my lap.

    I shrugged and pushed her feet off of my lap, "I couldn't sleep."

    Charlene looked like someone had swapped me for someone else. "You? Miss three naps a day couldn't sleep?" she asked incredulously. "Did something happen? You do look a but tense..."

    Tense probably meant that I looked like someone had taken a steamroller to me, then mashed up the remains, but I let it slide, because Charlene didn't exactly look like the freshest bunch of roses, either. Heaving a sigh, I explained the whole situation with the man following me. The more that I thought about it, the more that little details seemed to stand out. Like how he seemed to shift attitudes when there was that weird noise off in the distance.

    "Ness, that's not cool!" Charlene cooed, scooting over and pulling me into her motherly embrace. She was only two years older than me, but she the way that she acted, it was like she was my mother. "Did he see where you live? How far did he follow you? Are you sure that he was gone when he went poof?" Her words ran together in a waterfall of questions that seemed to have no pause for breath and no tangible separation for each word.

    Squirming our of her tight grasp, I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them. "I'm not sure. I didn't feel like I was being followed the rest of the way, but maybe I was?" I didn't like the thought of putting Charlene in danger from the stranger who seemed like he was out looking for a meal when he spoke with me. "I'll go outside and check," I offered. Really, anything would be better than sitting around. Not that I was particularly keen on going back outside.

    But, hey, at least the sun was starting to rise, right?

    Charlene pursed her lips as though she wasn't sure about my idea of checking around. Not that I blamed her - that creepy dude could still be there. He could be waiting for me to be stupid enough to look outside. "I'm not sure, Nessie..." she mumbled, toying with the end of her shirt. "What if...?"

    "I know," I stopped her. "What if he's still out there, right?" Charlene nodded, eyebrows knitting together with worry. "I won't go more than five feet from the door," I offered. I pulled open the drawer in our coffee table and pulled out a flashlight. "I'll just swing the beam around, and if it catches nothing, then we're good."

    "Well, alright," Charlene agreed a bit grudgingly. "But I'm going to be right behind you so that I can pull your sorry ass back in if someone tries to attack you," she added, play-punching my arm. I agreed, and we went to the front door.

    Slowly, I stepped outside. One, two, three steps. That was plenty far for me, so I clicked the flashlight on and slowly moved it around to see if there were any creepy crawlies lurking in the shadows. At first, there was nothing. Just a normal early morning in a small neighborhood.

    I heard the thing before I saw it. It was like a big something crashing through the bushes that separated our lawn from the one of the guy next door.

    "What was that?" Charlene squeaked. There was a moment's pause before she lunged forward and grabbed my arm, then yanked me back into the house. The screen door slammed behind us as a large dog raced across the front yard.

    I stumbled, not prepared for Charlene's strength, and fell backwards. I remember hearing Charlene gasp and try to catch me as my weight plummeted for the ground, but it's all pretty vague. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I tried to get my arms underneath me to cushion the fall to no success, and the back of my head slammed into the tile of our doorway.

    I was out like a light.

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4 Re: Into the Night on Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:04 am

Nine

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{ into the night }

{ 3. Maybe I Should be a Little More Observant }

    After being followed home from work at eleven o'clock at night, being unable to sleep, scaring the daylights out of my roommate, and falling and hitting my head on tile hard enough to pass out, I thought that this week could not possibly get any worse.

    Of course, the week took that thought as a challenge, and proceeded to steadily get worse from there. And it was only Wednesday afternoon!

    I sat in a local cafe, eating a chicken salad - and minding my own business, mind you, as I browsed the internet. I had nearly forgotten about my weird experience two nights before, but it seemed that I wasn't going to be allowed to do that.

    On the opposite end of my relatively small circular table, the bar-style chair scraped against the flooring to the little cafe and someone took the seat. No one ever joined me. Ever.

    Over the top of my laptop, I peered at my visitor. I felt like he should be familiar, especially with a face like his, but all I could think of was that he was someone who was going to be trying to make a move on me.

    "You're in danger," he warned in a low voice.

    I stared at him. Danger? Aside from still recovering from my concussion I had gotten when Charlene had yanked me back into our house when a large doberman-like dog had raced across our yard (I think it had scared her more than it had me), I couldn't see how there was any danger in my way. "Right," I muttered, rolling my eyes for added effect.

    The man groaned and looked sideways out the large window on the other side of the cafe. For a moment, he looked a lot younger and softer than he had before. His intense blue eyes flicked back to me, and suddenly I regretted sitting in the more secluded back corner of the cafe. Maybe he was the danger. "I cannot stay long," he sighed. "But take caution," he warned again. With that, he stood and put his hand on my forearm. "Trust me," he urged.

    I gulped and nodded, just hoping that he would leave me alone. There was something unnerving about the intensity of his blue eyes and the stillness that he held himself with. "Alright," I managed, but my voice was rough and squeaked, betraying my discomfort with the situation.

    He nodded, and just like that, he was gone. I tried to watch where he was going, but when he turned the corner towards the bathrooms, I sighed and turned my attention back to the internet.

    Somehow, it wasn't as distracting as it was before.

    With a sigh of frustration, I shut my laptop and shoved it into its bag. I stood and shrugged the bag over my shoulder, trashed the remains of my no-longer appetizing frappuccino, and hastened out into the overcast light of the afternoon. If I was lucky, I might catch a cab back to my place, but something made me rethink that idea, and I walked the three blocks from the cafe to my house at a brisk pace.

    When I got home, I kicked my shoes off, dropped my bag by the sofa and went straight for the bathroom. I stood at the sink and splashed my face with warm water from the faucet, taking a moment to take in my reflection. My hazel eyes blinked back at me, looking haunted and confused. There were dark circles under my eyes, and my unruly blonde hair stuck out in every direction from the ponytail that attempted to contain it.

    "What is going on?" I asked my reflection, not expecting an answer. Which was good, because no answer came. Admittedly, the night at work that I had been followed on my way home hadn't exactly been the most normal night, but there were always weird people that would come in during the later hours.

    The group that had wandered the small store for a little over an hour definitely pushed the boundary of weird, though. Patting my face dry, I sighed and turned from the bathroom and collapsed on the couch. When that weird group had left, I hadn't thought anything of it, but the more that I thought about it, the more that it seemed that I should have been paying them more attention.

    And, the more I thought about it, the more that my head hurt. I winced and forced myself up. Making my way for the kitchen, I had to lean against the wall as a wave of dizziness passed over me. Okay, so not entirely recovered from that concussion. Charlene had told me to take it easy, but it was hard for me to sit still for too long.

    I dug through the freezer, hoping that we had a bag of frozen peas somewhere. Fortunately, we did. Wrapping them in a thin towel, I trudged back to the living room and sat back down on the couch, holding my make-shift ice pack against my skull. The relief was immediate.

    As nice as the sensation of cold was against my throbbing skull, it couldn't hold off the memories of Monday evening.

    It had been about eight in the evening when the trio came in. As was normal, I greeted them, welcoming them to the small and not that frequented store. We sold clothes, but were a smaller chain than popular names like Kohl's and Maurice's.

    The trio consisted of two men and a woman, and they browsed the clothes while talking in low voices. I made a note of them in the security log, I recall, so that Loss Prevention might check in to make sure that they weren't stealing anything. But aside from that, I didn't pay them too much attention.

    They bought some black pants and t-shirts, paying with cash. The woman was the only one who spoke to me, but I could feel the eyes of the men on me as I rang up their items. It was like they were buying for a whole community of people. All sorts of sizes and well over fifty items. But, whatever, it was less for me to clean up at the end of the night, so after bagging their clothes and giving them the change for their over three hundred dollar purchase, they left and I all but forgot about them.

    But now, I questioned it more. For the three of them, the large sizes that they bought seemed peculiar. And why all black? Sure, it was early spring, but who would want to suffocate in all black once the weather got warmer? And what was with the way that they would look at me? Like I was the gazelle that a group of lionesses was tracking?

    I shuddered, remembering the malicious curl of the woman's full dark red lips as I thanked them for shopping. It wasn't like I hadn't encountered her type before: pretty, with perfect waves in her dark hair and minimal need for makeup, since her eyelashes seemed to be naturally full and luscious. Fit and rocking the curves to her body. But, I couldn't shake that she may not have been one hundred percent meaning it when she thanked me for my help as the three left.

    And, I'm straight as they come, so then why was it that the woman had left more of an impression on me than the two burly men had? Was it because I was so used to seeing them around? Or was the woman's presence just so much more profound? Like she was radiating energy that just drew you to her?

    I sighed and closed my eyes, trying to fall asleep. My shoulders shrugged, and finally, it seemed that I was going to drift off.

    Someone knocked on the door. And not a polite knock. It was pounding and impatient.

    I groaned and sat up. Who the heck could possibly be at the door? "Charlene?" I called, just now remembering that she should have been home. I was far from her keeper, but Charlene had a sort of schedule about her day, and Wednesdays were typically her only day off, so she usually spent them lounging about and doing household things like laundry or sitting on her bed with a bag of Doritos and watching a movie or tv show.

    But I didn't hear a response.

    Frowning, I walked to the door and peered through the peep hole.

    There was no one there.

    Figuring that it was one of the neighborhood kids ding-dong-ditching, I trudged back to the couch and sat down. "Charlene?" I tried again. "You here?"

    Nothing.

    I stood once again and made my way to her room. The door was open, so I looked in.

    No Charlene.

    Someone pounded on the door again. Longer than before, but just as hard. I turned and went to the door and opened it this time to look outside.

    No one was there.

    But there was a small package on the doorstep.

    I bent over and picked it up. There was no name or label on it, so I carried it inside and set it down on the coffee table and stared at it before digging through the drawer for a pair of scissors.

    It was a thin box, like iPad box size, so I didn't think that there could be anything too terrifying in there. Cutting it open, I peered inside. There was mostly that Styrofoam packing noodles in there, but in the middle of them all was a piece of paper.

    "Really?" I grumbled, taking it out to look at it.

    The wording on it was hand written; swoopy writing with the letters connecting, but it wasn't quite cursive. And all it said was:

    If you ever want to see your friend again, you will do as we tell you.

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5 Re: Into the Night on Fri Oct 04, 2013 5:05 am

Nine

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{ into the night }

{ 4. I Really Hate Headaches }

    I spent a long time just staring at the letter. I remembered all too well being followed, and the warning from the strange man earlier in the cafe. Had this been the leading events that would lead up to this? Had he been wrong? Had it been Charlene that was really in danger, rather than me?

    I sighed and set the letter down and dug through the packing noodles. There wasn't anything else in there. It seemed like it was a waste; sending an entire box just for a letter that could have been sent in an envelope.

    Then, something caught my eye. Writing on the box on one of the thin sides. My stomach dropped as I read what it said:

    Your first order is to not open this box.

    "Well shit," I grumbled, swiping the box onto the ground in frustration. The noodles went flying everywhere, but I couldn't be bothered. What would happen? I had failed to follow the first order.

    But then again, what if this was just a stupid prank? What if I was just making something out of nothing? With a sigh, I slipped off the couch and picked up the box, then proceeded to attempt to gather all of the packing noodles so that I could just throw the mess away.

    When that was all taken care of, I sat back down on the sofa and held my not-as-cold anymore ice pack to my head. It wasn't long before I began to doze again, and soon, I was asleep.


    When I woke up again, it was dark outside, and the house was quiet. I sat up and was pleased with the lack of a prominent amount of throbbing in the back of my head. It would be a few more days before I had really recovered from my nasty fall, according to Charlene, but I was feeling so good that I practically forgot that I was supposed to be taking it easy.

    I had slept a bit longer than I had anticipated, but that never hurt. Not really. I'd just stay up and watch a few episodes of some show. Probably one that Charlene had been pestering me to watch, like Dr. Who or Merlin. With all the time that I had, I had intended to get to watching them before, but other things had always come up.

    I got up and popped a bag of popcorn and pulled a can of Orange Fanta from the refrigerator, then sat down and started up the first episode of Merlin.

    Before I knew it, the sun was rising.

    Stretching, I turned off the tv, yawned, and took my trash to the trash bin. I was beginning to feel the concussion again, but it wasn't nearly as bad as before, so I just took an ibuprofen and went to my room to get some sleep before I had to head to work at one.

    I didn't get to sleep this time. I didn't think that there would be any visitors at six in the morning, but as soon as I got myself tucked into my bed, the unmistakable sound of someone forcibly knocking on the door shattered through the house.

    I groaned and flung my covers off of me and rolled out of bed.

    At the door was a man that looked like the one from the cafe. I frowned, considering not answering and pretending that I hadn't heard him knocking.

    "I know that you're there."

    I nearly jumped ten feet out of my skin. How could he know that? Reluctantly, I opened the door. "What do you want?"

    "You're in danger," he repeated, making a move to enter my home, but then stopping with an uncertain look on his face.

    I looked at him skeptically, "Yeah, you said that earlier." He started to say something, but I cut him off. "All I've had is trouble, and I'd rather not have some guy trying to scare me. So good day." I slammed the door, but he stuck out his foot to stop it.

    "Listen to me," he urged. "You're in danger!"

    "You keep saying that, but you aren't being very specific!" I shouted, swinging the door open to yell at him.

    He sighed. "You're in danger, but I can help you."

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6 Re: Into the Night on Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:00 am

Nine

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{ into the night }

{ 5. It's a Big World After All }


    "I'm a what?"

    Of all the bombshells that could have been dropped tonight, the latest information seemed to be the biggest one. Through the whole thing, I had been just nodding along and working to convince myself that my visitor was just a loon who was convinced that he lived in a fairy tale. But now, he was dragging me into it.

    "The Princeps," he repeated. "It means Leader."

    "PRINCESS?" I nearly screeched. There was nothing royal about me.

    An amused smirk appeared on his face, "No, princeps." He made sure to enunciate a p at the end of the word. "It's Latin."

    "Look," I started, leaning forward with my elbows on my knees and my hands clasped under my chin. It was a near mirror of my visitor's own posture, only his hands moved around, aiding in making sense of what he was saying. "I can't even get a group of classmates to come under my lead for a group projects; what makes you think that I can do anything of the sort with the type of..." I floundered, looking for a word that would properly encompass the range of things that had been described to me tonight. "Of things," I said, for a lack of a better term. "To come under my command, or to even waste their time listening to me?"

    His intense blue gaze bore into mine. He was examining me, like he was evaluating my question. "Well, I've listened to you," he stated carefully.

    "More importantly," I added, stomping on his statement impatiently. "How on earth am I supposed to believe a single word you've said? I don't even know your name!" I protested. With the amount of attention he paid me while I spoke, I had to fight the rising urge within me to believe what he was saying. No. I couldn't let myself fall for his charming routine. I couldn't let myself believe those pure blue eyes that stared deep into me like they could see my very soul, all exposed and vulnerable. I steeled my will against whatever he was trying to do to me, and to my surprise, he averted his gaze and sighed.

    He stared down at his hands, which hung between his knees now. "My name is Caleb, if it helps," he offered, peeking up from his slouch. It was weird how just this one timid gesture seemed to shatter everything that I had built this guy up to be in my mind. "And you're-"

    "Vanessa," I cut him off, not wanting to know if he did know my name already. "But my friends call me Nes, or Nessie," I added. By "friends" I meant Charlene, since she was really my only friend that I had any sort of contact with anymore.

    Silence stretched after I said that for a painful amount of time. I didn't want to be the one to break it, but the longer that I sat there, the more that I found myself believing the things that Caleb was saying. Vampires, werewolves, witches, the whole nine yards, and that was just the tip of the ice berg. Apparently, those were the docile ones. Thinking back on the legends I knew, docile was not the word I would associate with any of those three things. But, according to Caleb, if I was going to believe that that was really his name, those were the least of our - no. There was no "our" about it - those were the least of his problems. I was not about to get myself dragged into this world of chaos and dispute because, hey, I was not going to die this young.

    I shook my head and rubbed my face, then peeked through my fingers to see if Caleb was showing any signs of discomfort. Of course not. He was watching me expectantly. Almost like...

    Almost like he had done this before.

    "So...what are the things that are the real problem?" I asked nervously. I didn't want to believe him. But I did, and there was no denying that. And I needed to get Charlene back. Or at least discover if she was really safe and this was all some big prank.

    Caleb stood up suddenly and looked at the door. "I'll have to explain some other time. It's no longer safe for me to be here," he said in a hushed voice.

    "Hey!" I protested, standing up and blocking the path to the door. "Not so fast. Ever since you followed me on my walk home from work the other night, nothing has been solid in my life and I am not about to be left for however long it's going to take to brew on this information and come up wi-"

    "Followed you?" he questioned. "I never spoke with you until the cafe," he said slowly, almost as though he felt like he was the one being pranked now.

    "Then who-?"

    Caleb shushed me and looked over his shoulder. "I have to go. I will be in contact with you soon, Vanessa, in the meantime, I suggest staying safe in your home. They can't get you if they have no permission to be in your home."

    "Like vampires?" I asked. "But you said-"

    "No, vampires can come and go from a place as they please," he explained impatiently. Now I felt like a child who was being chided for not being able to tell the difference between two similar things. "And they should stay away as long as you smell like me..." he added quietly and a bit guiltily.

    I narrowed my eyes at him, "Like you?" I didn't like the way that he held himself now. He was inching away, like some force was opposing him and trying to get him to go in the opposite direction. The direction towards me.

    "Yes, because I'm a vampire as well," he informed me hastily. Right. He had mentioned that he had ties to the vampires. So they should be no big deal. Cool. Nothing wrong with that.

    I sighed, "Just go. And don't get yourself killed." I waved him off, and without a moment of hesitation, Caleb was gone. However, my headache was back, and with a groan, I sat back down on the chair that I had been sitting in before. The house seemed so quiet now. I looked around and slumped my shoulders.

    There were some new items in my home that hadn't been there before. A new dagger-like blade laid on the table. Caleb had said that it would be handy in warding off unwanted visitors. Funny how he had been the unwanted visitor that I had wanted to ward off when he showed me that.

    But he knew that, didn't he?

    It didn't seem fair that Caleb got to know so much about the world that was so carefully concealed from the regular human life I had spent twenty-two years knowing so well. It didn't seem fair that he seemed to know almost everything about me. He had known that I was going to attempt to stab his dormant hand with the blade that now laid innocently on the table. But it wasn't innocent, and we both knew that. Though he had cleaned the blood from the blade, and though we had wrapped his hand, it felt like so much more had happened.

    There were so many questions that had been raised by the explanation that I Had been given, but the more I thought about it, the less that seemed to make sense. Why hadn't he moved his hand away? From the moment that he had pulled that dagger from his jacket, there had been an expectant gleam in those too-pretty blue eyes. And if he was a vampire, then he certainly would have been fast enough to avoid having the blade cut through the skin between his thumb and index finger.

    But he had moved, hadn't he? I thought to the moment, and as I had brought the blade down, it seemed like things went in slow motion. His hand jerked to the right and the blade narrowly missed it's opportunity to be stabbed through from the back of his hand to the palm and to have it impaled into the wood of the table.

    The mahogany wood, which Caleb had been so indignant about me putting a new indent in as he plucked the blade from it with his left hand and laid it carefully on the table. It occurred to me that before this, I had never handled a dagger, and that I Had never wrapped a wound. Now I had done both. And Caleb had been careful to instruct me on the proper technique for how to wrap his injured hand.

    "Well hell."

    He had done it to teach me how to tend to a wound.

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