“Sweet dreams, beautiful.” Nikoli murmured, kissing her shoulder, inhaling her scent with a groan.
The urge to feed on her was lessening the more he was around her. Nikoli watched Leila as she slept, having little need for sleep himself, listening to her even breathing and the steady beating of her heart. The thought of the Elders coming to possibly take this away from him pained him and he didn’t know how to bring up leaving to Leila. He would of course want her to come with, but how would he explain the need to leave to her? Now that Jessa had found him, it was inevitable that the Elders would soon follow. He was running out of time and he didn’t know what to do. It had been nearly one hundred years since he had come back to his original hometown. He had missed Sky Valley. There was hardly any crime and it was more of a peaceful retirement community.
He never needed to worry about being bothered, though. People tended to keep to themselves. Georgia was a beautiful state with wonderful scenery, many hiking trails, waterfalls, overlooks, bodies of water to fish or swim in and the peaceful serenity of nature that he craved. Nikoli had always been the kind of person that needed space, alone time if you will. It wasn’t that he was antisocial or anything, having quiet time gave him a tranquility that nothing else had ever been able to provide. If he was scared or angry, going for a walk in the woods generally got him through it.
“You’re so perfect,” he whispered, knowing that she was unable to consciously hear what he was saying, “I hope I get to keep you.”
His words were tinged with an inexplicable sadness, a longing for something that he hadn’t even hoped for until he started dreaming of Leila. She rolled over in her sleep, a small smile curving up the corners of her mouth. Nikoli stroked Leila’s soft supple skin, his pupils dilating and his blood pumping harder in his veins. He was enjoying the warmth her body gave off, the scent of her wafting tantalisingly towards him. It was driving him insane and he was having a hard time not thinking about blood since he was hungry. Giving her a quick kiss he hopped up and got dressed, looking at his watch to see that it was a couple of hours away from sunrise. It was the perfect time for him to feed, with nearly everyone inside, safe in their own beds. He could go off by himself with little chance of running into anyone during his hunt for live blood. Taking one last fleeting glance at Leila, he kissed her goodbye, inhaling her scent once more for the road and wrote her a note, then making sure to lock the door as he left.
The summer night air was hot and humid notice the ground still wet from it’s most recent rainfall and his old army boots splashed in various puddles as he picked up speed, the wind breezing by him as he ran. He had enjoyed his time in the military during the civil war, albeit brief. It gave him something to focus on and all the free blood he could ever want. Nobody seemed to notice him as he fed off of freshly killed corpses. The thirst at that time was all consuming for him and he had a hard time controlling himself without feeling as if he were going to go on a killing spree. Logically it made sense to him to drink from the fallen. They were already dying and he wasn’t killing anyone. It felt more humane to Nikoli.
Sometimes he wondered if he had caused any person or death but he had remembered he had always been so careful about not becoming a killer. There was always the possibility, he supposed, that he had made a mistake. He had only fed off those that were already on their way out of the world. Once again, he found himself thinking about Shamus and how they had fought side by side during the war. Maybe then, he could find out why Shamus had been destroyed. He missed his friend terribly. Shamus had always had his back, protecting him like a brother would. He had been turned by Jessa some years after Nikoli and her had met. She had said that she felt like he needed a “bromance,” believing strongly that Nikoli and Shamus would get along “famously.” It turned out to be a really great thing for them both. Shamus had a mentor and Nikoli had something to focus on other than bloodlust and destruction.
“How I miss you, old friend. I wish you were here to help guide me through.”
Suddenly, Nikoli caught a whiff of a mountain lion off in the distant woods and tuned into the beat of its heart. He smiled as he imagined the deliciousness of his meal and the thrill of the hunt. He was also picking up the scent of something else in the vicinity, possibly it’s prey, but couldn’t identify the species. As Nikoli neared the location of his target, he slowed his pace, not wanting to frighten off either prospective meal. His eyes adjusted quickly to the dimness of the forest, granting him access to a view of the mountain lion beyond the trees. He was about 30 feet away, crouched down amongst some fallen trees, stalking a black bear who was fishing in a nearby river.
Nikoli watched the mountain lion carefully, waiting for his moment. He had never feed from a bear before, intimidated by its size. He would have a hard time compelling a bear to stay still long enough for him to feed due to how tall it was. So, he instead stayed focused on the big cat. The hackles on the back of the mountain lion’s neck stood up as it slowly turned it’s head to look behind him towards the vampire, focusing his blue green eyes on Nikoli. The giant cat licked it’s lips and stared him down, never taking it’s eyes off of him, sizing him up. Nikoli used hypnotic suggestion on the animal, knowing it wouldn’t hold long on such a powerful animal.
The big cat lay down slowly, tamed, but still calmly eyeballing Nikoli as he took a swift step towards it. Not hesitating for even one second, Nikoli pounced on his prey and began to feed quickly, connecting with the animal’s mind, feeling it trying to resist the compulsion he was under. It’s memories were violent, fearful and gorey. He looked up swiftly, surveying his surroundings, trying to make sure the bear was still in the river fishing, which he was. It didn’t appear to be having much luck though, however and began to look around, searching the area for an easier meal. Nikoli finished quickly, not draining the cat, but drinking just enough for him to feel satisfied. He mesmerized the cat to slink away after closing the wound and to look for smaller prey. Since Nikoli had taken some blood, he might not be strong enough to best a bear. He wanted to give the mountain lion a fighting chance. He watched as it scampered off relatively unscathed, before he took off, energized by his feeding.
As he was leaving the wooded area, he noticed a shadowy figure watching him from far off. Nikoli’s eyesight was usually exceptionally good, but he couldn’t even make out any features or details aside from the long black cloak and a long, dark staff grasped in a pale hand. A growl nearby startled him briefly and he tore his gaze away from the figure for just a split second, but it was long enough for whomever it was to escape without a trace or sound for Nikoli to trail. Rushing over towards the last place he had seen the mysterious cloaked figure, he was shocked to discover that there was no evidence of anyone even being there. No footprints or imprints in the dirt, and weirder still, no smell to lend any clues to the identity of the creepy stranger. As he pondered this conundrum, he suddenly had a horrifying thought that sent him scurrying through the woods.
Bursting through the trees, paranoia metaphorically grabbing him by the manhood, he practically flew to Leila’s house. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were wild as he made it to Leila’s apartment in less than a minute at full speed.
“No!” he shouted, racing to the door.
His hands curled into tight fists, panic seizing him when he saw that the chain on the door was snapped in two and the door jamb was broken, splintered wood littering the carpet by the doorway. He searched the house, tears burning angrily against his eyelids as he found no trace of his beloved. The next thing he noticed was the scent of Lavender mingling with the scent of Vanilla, overwhelming his senses. The blood beneath his pale skin boiled hotly against his cool flesh as he raced off into the night with one vile name on his lips.