I stared at Genevieve, so small, so vulnerable, so incredibly human. I could reach across and crush her and just like that she would be gone, the fragility of life had never been more obvious to me. I crossed my arms over my chest as a single flare of fear spasmed through me. Gen had no memories; except the ones I’d managed to give her through some of my blood, and now I was forced with an impossible situation. Yet again I wished that I could sense what she was thinking-- and not for the first time. I hated that our connection had been broken when she had lost her memories, and yet a fragment remained barely allowing me to sense her emotions; emotions she was now trying to hide from me-- did she feel like her emotions or thoughts weren’t important to me? A surge of my own emotions filtered through me; anger, frustration, fear, anxiety-- I was a cocktail of feelings that had been bottled for so long, threatening to explode. I thought of how deceitful Claire had been-- of course she had known that my Father was coming to visit their Manor; of course she had known he would find us here-- and after all the time we’d managed to stay off the radar? This was not chance. He had planned it. Now? Now I had to choose whether to turn my broken wife who might never remember me or to leave her and face the music probably losing her in the process. Which was the lesser of two evils? In the back of my mind I saw Topher and the mark that he had put on my beloved. I hissed through clenched teeth. Damn Nephilim… Would turning her be enough to remove it? I mean technically speaking, a scarlet woman could only be set free from the curse by dying...
Gen stared defiantly back at me repeating she was not afraid. God-- I wish I could have her confidence! But then she didn’t know my dear Papa like I did, she barely even knew who I was. We’d been arguing for the last ten minutes but gotten nowhere-- even as I had just explained to Gen that I would have to face my Father, and to answer questions I didn’t want to or even know how to explain…
“I can’t lose you!” I hissed through gritted teeth, trying without success not to look like a weak man as tears began to roll down my face.
“And you won’t!”
I sighed and closed my eyes. “I don’t deserve someone like you.” Correction I didn’t deserve anyone… I was the biggest of hypocrite of them all. How many had I hunted? How many had I killed? How many had begged for mercy and I had shown none? Too many. I heard Gen walk across the floor towards me. I wished she had been like everyone else and run away from me… then I would never have fallen. To love, well I had often been told growing up, was the greatest weakness of all-- so cliché. Thanks for nothing Father. Yet again I wondered if my Father had ever known what love was.
“Of course you do!” Gen whispered as her hands went around me in a light embrace and her heart pounded like a trapped bird, hitting my chest-- begging to be released; and I could; I could release her-- but would it kill her?
I moaned. “My little bird…” I had called her that from the beginning-- when I had first seen her in the parking lot of Acroft High and she had begun to walk towards me-- the hunter. I hadn’t meant to really, to draw her in but I had been so curious by how she seemed unafraid. I’d followed her closely after that, somehow comforted that she was friends with my sister-- my sister who hated me; who would kill me if harm fell on Gen.
“I haven’t fed on you in over a month...before you would only have had to take some of my blood and you would turn.” I breathed in her scent; roses and vanilla. “This will take longer, and be more painful.” My own heart ached, I would probably feel more pain than she would, if this didn’t go well, if I lost her now after just finding her. “I don’t even know how much more so, but it will be.” I wanted to scream, throw things… destroy this suite of rooms, anything to let out the tension building inside me. “I feel so selfish for even asking this of you.” I had been born this way, born to be a monster; to this life of stolen pleasures and blood. Was I selfish for wanting someone at my side? Yes-- even more so since she was so incredibly human, she shouldn’t have to choose to die.
“I don’t care.”
My heart lurched, neither did I. Sebastian had been right; Genevieve was my own brand of personal drug-- and I wouldn’t be cut off… I couldn’t be-- not now. Silence stretched between us fluttering, alive; vibrating around us, threatening to implode as both of us tried to keep the bottled lids on the emotions we’d been holding in for so long.
“If you are selfish then I am more so.” Genevieve’s small voice broke through the veil of vibrations. “I want you. Nothing else understand-- just you. Dammed be everyone and anything else.”
I’d never felt so humbled nor elated in the same moment. Gen sagged in my arms, her temperature spiralling, she shivered despite how warm she felt, muttering things under her breath. Again I worried that this was happening at the wrong time, that I should wait-- but couldn’t if I wanted to hide her from Father. “My little bird?” Lava boiled in my veins, the heat of a hunger that needed to be satiated, a rage that was not mine swept through me and I froze as Gen turned her face up toward my own. Our faces hovered so very close together, but I could not move. The rose tattoo I had been born with twitched-- no, I must have been imagining it-- yet the only time that happened was when Marissa was near, and it had been so long since I had let love into my heart that it hadn’t been since we were children I had felt that nearness of my twin. “Marissa?” I mentally sent through our link. Nothing. I must have been imagining it.
I looked down at my wife, she was here, alive, bright and warm; so warm. I leaned down and kissed her. She tasted sweet, like the dessert wine Father used to have made back at Steinheart Manor. I breathed her in, she was the boiling crucible and I was Mount Everest. I forgot about anything and everything else as I continued to kiss her, biting my lip and spreading my blood through her mouth. Her pulse quickened if that was even possible… I lingered on kissing each part of her cheek, jaw and neck. I paused, my canines fuller exposed as I swallowed. “Whatever happens. I love you. I’d follow you into hell itself if I had to-- to get you back.”
In my arms Gen shivered, her thoughts most likely the same as mine… Topher. “Remember that my little bird and not what is about to happen." I growled, then bit down-- and became lost in the euphoria that accompanied feeding. I was soaring high, powerful, unstoppable.
Again my rose and thorn tattoo quivered, once it had moved in time to my sister’s heartbeat, now it throbbed on my arm as if she was shaking me. “I forgive you brother. I’m so so sorry.”
What was happening? I felt confusion, her confusion, sorrow; her sorrow and an intense hunger; Marissa’s hunger, coursing through me. My grip on Gen tightened, and I wept; I wept for Genevieve and the situation we were in now, and I wept for Marissa, for all the years that I had not been apart of my sister’s life and I continued to drain Gen, pulling her closer, tighter in my arms-- till I could hear her bones snapping and her body felt weightless. I cursed. “FRICK.” What had I done? I dropped her, letting her fall backwards onto the bed. I stared in horror at her lifeless body, wishing I could kill myself instead of see her lying there so still, not breathing.
“Marissa?” I sent again across our telepathic link-- but was only met with silence. I needed her now-- why wouldn’t she answer.
“Be strong brother.”
I hissed. I should just grab my phone and call Marissa; it was less work than trying to communicate telepathically over such a long distance. I reached into my pocket, but as I did Genevieve’s corpse sat up and screamed. “He’s here.”
I jumped-- as the words pushed themselves out of Genevieve’s grey lips; terror flooding my heart. God-- that could only mean one thing… Father was here.
“Run.” Whispered a voice in my head-- Marissa’s voice or my own?
I had to keep Gen out of Father’s reach, I had to… “Claire!” I screeched as I fled the room not even casting a last glance over my shoulder at my dead, transitioning wife.