There are somethings about being in this coven that are obligatory.
General deceitfulness seems to be one of them. ((reposted.))
3. prologue III, chapter three.
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“I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? See thou to that.”
We stuck together, Wallace and I. We were inseparable, but also incomplete. Wallace was contented, now, knowing that he wasn’t alone. I was in despair. I could not believe that this was all there was to our existence. That we were doomed as hunters for an eternity. Then I met Leinna.
She was ancient when I met her, and even more so now. I saw her and I was intrigued. She moved differently then the rest of my vampiric brethren I had met. Calm. Collected. Civil. It was a lovely break from the barbarians I was so often surrounded by. When she saw me, I found out much later, she was intrigued as well. But then we just spoke, words of passing, I had thought. Then we spoke.
Leinna was perfectly vile in every sense. Beneath her shimmery skin, behind all her beauty, she was hideous. I could sense she was putting on a show in an attempt to make me believe ether wise, but I had always been quite perceptive. I saw right through her. Disgusted, I turned away.
But she tracked me down, impressed by my perceptiveness. She began to prod me for any information about myself I was willing to give up. I yelled at her, screamed for her to go away, but Leinna persisted. I went to Wallace, assuming he would help me get rid of her. Instead the two of them struck a cord, her lust for power and his eagerness to dominate unhealthily mixing. He joined her coven that night, and I followed him because I was too afraid to do anything else.
That night we hunted. I watched as Leinna killed and drank an innocent man. Horrified, my eyes took in the show as Wallace followed suit. They stared at me when they were done, blood dribbling from their mouths. Innocent blood. In my human years, the bile of my stomach would have risen to my throat. But now, with their cruel, burgundy eyes settled in on me, it clicked.
This was who we were, who we are. What we do and how we live. So I stooped to their level, gorging myself with the man’s blood. Leinna laughed, saying she would make a proper daughter out of me yet. I cringed inwardly. I didn’t like the air of familiarity between us. The blood stuck in my throat, moving thickly down. My eyes rolled, and Leinna interpreted it wrongly. I felt sickened.
This was the life I chose.
Harold and I went hunting that night, he for the occasionally misguided hiker, and I for the wildlife. I hated the wildlife, but it was all part of the plan. Damn stupid plans. Vegetarianism was not going over well for me, though I had months of practice behind me and possibly years of torment before me. I turned enviously golden eyes on Harold as he finished his own hunt off with a balding man in his late fifties. It was so unfair.
Back at the house, things were going almost as well as my vegetarian diet. Collins was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most obnoxious human on the face of the planet.
Every where we turned, she was peering cautiously at us; she was ogling at Harold, she was staring with disdain at Ariel’s bubblegum hair, she was pestering me during my Rosary, she was speculating Judaism, she was inquiring about the taste blood left in our mouths. She was unbelievably bossy, too. Apparently Wallace had her under the impression that she is queen and we were her subjects. It near about killed me when, my first night at the house, she had taken it upon herself to boss Leinna. For a moment I saw anger flicker in Leinna’s bloody eyes, then I felt her desire to kill her right then and there. I almost wish Leinna had murdered her.
I wish I had murdered her, actually.
And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, not by a long shot. Ariel was plotting to viciously attack Collins’ hair when she least expected it, and Leinna was positively murderous. Harold was more than uncomfortable around her. He quite literally ran from her when she entered the room before her human eyes caught his presence. I couldn’t blame him. He felt almost guilty when she looked at him, like he was betraying Wallace, betraying me. I had carefully assured him otherwise, and he believed me. It didn’t change the fact he couldn’t stand her stare.
The only ones unaffected by her utter horrendousness were Asher and Wallace. Asher had reached the point where he just didn’t care what anyone did, as he liked to put it, ‘many, many moons ago.’ Leave it to Asher to not only refuse to see the bad in people, but also refuse the good. I had a feeling she peeved him just as much as the rest of us, but he had more restraint. More patience. The man really needed to let loose one of these days.
I suppose Wallace didn’t mind because he actually seemed to enjoy her and all of her obnoxiousness. He would tease her and rub her stomach, which made her look like a whale, and dote on her hand and foot. It made me sick, the way she stared at him with starry eyes. Harold had laughed at me when I had confessed that one, and Ariel had launched into a speech on hypocrisy. I had tuned her out angrily.
But finally, finally the most glorious day of Collins’ existence came. She finally popped that little hybrid sucker out. It had been a home birth, of course, since none of us were really sure that the baby would even look human. Ariel and I had bets that it would look exactly like a baby rat, a reflection of its mother’s ugly being. We were both far, far from the mark.
My nephew was beautiful. He was tiny beyond belief, weighing just a touch over four and a half pounds, and brilliantly red eyed. His features, though slightly squished, were all sleek and delicate. It was unsettling, how something so hideous could create something so beautiful. So lovely. Wallace had grinned when I had sauntered in the room, dragging Harold behind me for support. Overly joyously, he handed over the baby.
“His name is Parrish,” said Wallace. “Parrish Leander.”
I smiled. Parrish. He felt, oddly enough, durable in my hands. I had expected him to be fragile, like little Elizabeth had been when she was born. I had definitely not expected this hard little lump of granite flesh. Most certainly vampiric, I thought with a low chuckle. Behind me, Harold was eying the baby up, peering over me easily. Sensing Harold’s uneasiness with the fact it was even possible that Parrish was here, I grinned, passing Wallace back his son.
“He’s an angel, Wall.”
I didn’t need to pretend. Parrish had a… magnetism about him. Even barely an hour old, he already had us all under his spell. Harold’s eyes were wide. With what, I wasn’t sure, but I thought fear might be a good guess. He wasn’t the fatherly type. I was positive he was imagining the horror of little stone cold babies coming forth from me. I understood his fear, not being too motherly myself.
I left quickly after I had squealed appropriately. It was common knowledge between Wallace, Asher, and I that now that Parrish was born, we would be leaving. I still didn’t know exactly where we were going, just that it was why we had all been dieting. I had personally thought the anti-human regimen Leinna put me on was punishment, but Wallace, Asher and I had compared stories and discovered she did the same thing to all of us. It felt good not to be singled out.
Leinna gathered us up herself soon enough. I had been sprawled on the floor of Wallace’s study, reading up on some psychology nonsense to pass the time. Suddenly, there was searing pain on the palm of my hand. I screamed involuntarily, pressing the now white-hot flesh to my icy stomach futilely. I glared at the raised scar there, the crescent that adorned my hand. Fuming, I answered her call by stomping down the stairs.
Asher was already there, treating his leg to excruciatingly tender movements. Wallace was in the corner with a hand deftly snapped over his bicep. All of us glared at Leinna with amber eyes. She smiled apologetically, arranged regally on her usual perch, the wing back chair away from the window. Her business suit and symbol were familiar, but the glint in her eye wasn’t. I was suddenly wary of her, and would have run had my hand not stung.
“I’m terribly sorry, dear,” she said to me, sickly sweet. “It’s the only way I know to get you here in a hurry.
Wallace mumbled something about her not being sorry at all. Mentally, I willed him to shush. He did, though I’m sure it had more to do with Asher’s silencing glare than me. We all looked to Asher like a father, Leinna like a mother. It was the way things went for us. In our near dangerously dysfunctional family. I sat down carefully in Asher’s seat, facing the window.
“I think you all know why you’re here,” Leinna said, staring at me. “You especially, Eleanora.”
My eyes rolled in my sockets at her formality. It was ridiculous. Leinna stared me down for a moment, unsettling me. I wrapped my arms around me, shivering slightly. Leinna turned away, focusing in on Asher instead. I stared at the beams above my head, counting the dark spots in the wood. My head was in another place entirely as Asher, Leinna, and Wallace discussed the trip she was sending us on soon. I paid attention when our leaving date was set.
Tonight, January twenty first.
I leapt to my feet, throwing out my arms for balance. Three pairs of eyes watched me, one pair shocking red, the others warm gold. I glared at them all.
“We just got here, Leinna. I just now am getting to see Harold. I won’t leave tonight,” I growled.
Leinna looked shocked a moment. Puzzled.
Then the pain began.
My hand was burning as if she had passed me a hot coal. I screamed, scratching blindly at the inflamed skin. No thought passed though my head; all I could think of was the burn. Venom was quickly filling my mouth in my rage, and my scream morphed into a roar. Leinna kept her gaze coolly on me. I acted without thinking, throwing the first blow and knocking her from her perch. She reacted, of course, violently, laying a bite in my right palm to match my left. I screamed again, pulling at her hair and kicking and slapping every inch of her I could reach. Wallace and Asher sprang to their feet, wrenching us apart. I slunk to the far side of the room, cradling my hand. Leinna sat back down with exquisite grace; her venom as well as mine drizzled on her corners of her mouth.
Wallace cast me a disappointed gaze and Asher a concerned one. I kept my eyes down, unwilling to let my temper escalate further. Both my hands were aching deeply now, from the throb of my punishment and the new bite; I wasn’t sure which was worse. As I retreated to lick my wounds, I felt the hate rush through the room as a blatant reminder. A reminder of who we were, and what drove us. What we were consumed by, day after day, night after night.
“Tonight,” repeated Leinna. “No exceptions. You knew this was coming, Stirling. You ought not have left us for the Dakotas if you wanted time with your precious Harold.”
Furious, I left the room before springing again. No one stopped me, and no one was surprised when Harold intercepted me at the foot of the stairs, scooping me up and planting a kiss firmly on my lips. All my anger left me in that moment, and for a second, I couldn’t recall why I was so angry in the first place. He pulled away, pulling me to him and carrying me upstairs. Harold was absolutely rigid as he kicked open our door, then nudged it shut. He laid me on the bed there and stared at me blankly for a moment, his head cocked to the side, then he lay down with me. Pulling me to him, he laid another kiss on me in a single, hasty movement.
Apparently, he was just as displeased with me leaving as I was.