Chapter 1.26 – Everything Nothing

Warning: Allusion to suicide.

It had taken longer than anticipated due to her path being blocked by a fallen tree, but Melinda finally arrived at the cliff top. It was a crisp, clear night and she had a clear view of the stars. The end of the path was lit by a few lanterns; their bulbs dimmed from years of exposure to the elements. It had surprised her to find anything here at all. She didn’t think anyone would have ever come out here. It was so remote it was almost silent, just the gentle sounds of nature for company.

This would be a perfect place to watch the sky, to empty her head, to plan. She had the money her dad had sent her which she could use to book a hotel. She wondered if Lilith had meant it when she’d asked her to come back soon.

She took a seat on the sole bench and gazed up at the sky. It wasn’t quite eleven.

Melinda pulled her sketchbook from her bag. The light from the lanterns would be just enough to draw by. She flipped though the pages watching the many faces of Rose flit by like a morose cartoon, until a blank leaf lay before her. As always, she started with her eyes and then let her imagination fill the rest of the page, her movements swift and precise. She was a skilled portrait artist, a talent she had hoped to turn, somehow, into a career.

She carefully formed the bow of Rose’s lips with her pencil, listening to the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, the river rushing through the canyon far below and the soft footsteps that were approaching along the path.

Footsteps?

“Caleb?”
“Melinda?” He looked even more surprised than she felt.

“What are you doing here?” they asked, in unison.

“Stargazing,” they replied, in kind.

“Potato,” Melinda said.

“What?”

“Just something to break the stand-off.”

Caleb looked at her for a moment with the shadow of a smile. “May I sit with you?”

Melinda closed her sketchbook and scooted across. He took a seat beside her, gazing up at the sky. “It’s clear tonight.”

“Yes,” she replied, curtly.

He felt a chill that had nothing to do with the wind.

“You’re mad at me.”

Melinda folded her arms.

“Did Lilith not tell you that I said I was sorry? Because I am. I’m sorry, Melinda.”

“Being sorry doesn’t really change anything right now.”

“I understand.”

“I know you lied about what happened with April.”

“Do you?”

Do I?

“I didn’t think anyone else ever came up here,” he said to break the tension that was wedged between them.

She didn’t respond.

“I’ve been coming here for, well, centuries now. I like it. It’s a good place to think. Quiet.”

“It was quieter before you got here,” she snapped.

“Right,” he sighed, falling silent.

Melinda stole a look at him. There he was again, looking like a puppy who’d been kicked. She was surely her own worst enemy.

“What do you think about?” she offered, an olive branch.

“Everything, nothing. Mostly the latter.”

Melinda could suddenly see Lilith’s concerned face in her memory. “Does Lilith know where you are? Have you been home?”

He shook his head.

“Won’t she be worried?”

“She’s always worried.”

Melinda chose her words carefully, “Is that justified?”

He let the silence linger for so long that she thought he wouldn’t answer.

“I know what you’re asking. It’s not baseless,” he said finally, “but I’m still here.”

Melinda wasn’t sure if this was supposed to reassure her. “Is that because you don’t want to do it, or because you can’t?”

She stared at the sky, watching the stars twinkle. “If you haven’t been home, where have you been?”

He looked at her for a long while before answering. Getting the measure of her, she thought.

“First, I got blind drunk. Then I thought that wasn’t really helping anything, so I went to Del Sol Valley. I wanted to talk to April.”

“Why? Because you said you’d stay with her then you abandoned her?”

“Ah. She did tell you.”

“So, it’s true?” Melinda couldn’t explain why she suddenly felt like her world was falling apart. “Why inflict her? You had your drink. You could’ve swapped numbers and left to darken someone else’s doorway.”

He looked ashamed. “She was very persuasive; she wanted to stay with me for some unfathomable reason. The thought of having someone, who actually wanted to be around me, for eternity was beyond tempting. But still, I shouldn’t have done it. It was a moment of weakness that appears to be spiralling to chaos.”

“You could have told me this before. Why did you lie?”

“Lilith.”

“She’ll find out.”

He shook. “I know. I’ll have to tell her, at some point. I wanted to try and make this right with April, first. But The Pinnacles Estate was crawling with police, I couldn’t get anywhere near.”

“Sandy’s dead,” Melinda stated quietly. “April drained her.”

Caleb nodded, his face unreadable.

“She’s not there, anyway. We’re staying at the Old Davies’ House.”

“You’re at Marjorie’s? Mind if I join you when you go back? I really need to speak to April.”

Well, so much for my plan.

“Sure.”

“Did you know Marjorie?” Caleb asked.

“No. She’s one of April’s relatives.”

“Interesting. She always maintained that she hadn’t any family. We had no idea who to call when she died.”

Melinda gasped.

“Yes. Sad.” Caleb agreed, then he noticed that Melinda was gazing upwards where a hundred lights were streaming through the darkness.

“Look! It’s started!” she gushed.

“Shooting stars?”

“Meteor shower. I know you’ve probably seen hundreds of them but, oh, isn’t it an amazing sight?”

She pictured her father watching from his observatory. She wondered if they’d ever stargaze together again.

Caleb glanced at the sky and then at Melinda. “Yes,” he replied. His voice did not hold the same enthusiasm.

“You’re not even looking.”

He forced his face skywards again, but found himself preoccupied with why in that moment something about Melinda had looked so familiar.



April and Faith walked back along the road towards the bar in silence, leaving the car, and its sole occupant, behind them. Faith had been in a bad mood all evening. It was unusual for Faith to be so quiet for so long and April couldn’t bear it.

“That was—“

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Faith said, holding up her hand. “I think I might actually be sick.”

“Fanny!” Called a familiar voice.

Ugh. Could this night get any worse?

Faith turned to see Will staggering up the street towards them. “Fanny, Fanny, Fanny.” He grinned, swaying in the breeze.

“Now I will definitely be sick,” Faith said.

“Ignore him,” April muttered, trying to tug Faith towards the path. April was not great at interpreting the emotions of others, but even she knew that when Faith was quiet, she was on the brink of blowing up. And when Faith blew up, she did stupid things.

Will was just the kind of stupid thing she would do.

Faith shrugged off April’s grasp. “Are you ever sober?”

“I dunno what happened.” He slurred, “I’ve only had one beer.” He held up three fingers then looked at them, confused. He shrugged. “But don’t you worry, I can still give you the ride of your life. Just this way, m’lady, into my truck. You can join in too, Whatever-your-name-was.”

“Piss off, Will,” Faith spat. April threw her head back, wishing Faith, for once, could just control herself.

He swaggered up to Faith, blocking her path, “You don’t want me to piss off. You know I’m the best you’ve ever had. Can’t fake those guttural moans.”

April waited for Faith’s retort, but it didn’t come.

Oh no. Think, April.

“Go away, dickhead,” April chimed in.

Will smirked at her, “Feisty. Just the way I like them.”

“Leave us alone,” Faith said, defeated.

“Fine. Your loss.”

He fumbled around trying to unlock his truck. “Hey, has your ugly friend finished with Paul? Or is she still trying to figure out which end to fuck?”

Faith moved towards Will, but like a shot, April had a hold of her. “He’s not worth it!” April hissed. “Please. Let’s just go.”

“You’ll be back, Fanny!” Will called after her as she stormed off down the path, “You can’t resist me forever!”



Contemplating the vastness of the universe together had dissipated the tension. It was almost three in the morning when Melinda suggested they head off. “We should go and see Lilith. She will want to know you’re OK.”

Caleb doubted this. “I want to see April, first.”

“Fine, but then I’m walking you back home.” To make sure you get there, she thought.

“You don’t trust me, either. I can understand that.”

Melinda felt violated. “You can hear my thoughts, too?!”

“No. Your face is very readable.”

“But you can hear Lilith’s?”

“Only the intrusive ones.”

“Intrusive ones? What do you mean?”

He looked a little guilty, like he’d said too much. “I’m sure you’ll find out.”

They walked on in silence for a while.

“How come you can’t hear mine, if Lilith can? Aren’t you the same sort of age?”

She thought about what Lilith had said: You’re too new. You have to lose a lot of your humanity to achieve that kind of void.

“Have you not been a vampire for very long? I guess three hundred odd years is not particularly long for a vampire. How old is Lilith, then? I thought she was about the same age?”

“Depends who’s asking her, but officially, she’s three hundred and twenty-one.” He shrugged, the corner of his mouth twitched. “I guess I’m just not as much of a… what did you call me now? A monster as she is.”

Melinda stopped in her tracks.

Maybe her friends were right; she was about to give everything up and she really didn’t know anything about Lilith.

He back-tracked swiftly when he saw her face. “Lilith’s harmless now that she has her surgery. She won’t hurt you, Melinda. But back in the beginning she was a ruthless hunter. The lives you destroy will break you, over time. Cause you to lose yourself.”

“She destroyed lives?”

“There wasn’t any other way. There had to be sacrifices.”

“Right, sacrifices,” Melinda said, her mind racing. Does that include you?

23 thoughts on “Chapter 1.26 – Everything Nothing

  1. Aw this is… the word that comes to me is uplifting but uh I think I’m going to unsettle people by saying that. Anyway, I’ve been silently shipping MC so I like this moment!

    Sorry Caleb, I’m happy we’re going to finally peel Lilith’s face but the way you speak of her its as if you’ve never profited off her decisive and driven personality. Get off Lilith’s back. You don’t get to call her that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uplifting. Bloody hell; it must’ve been low if this has brought it back up.

      Another vote for the so-called ‘Wimpy Vamp’ romance. I think the AC Trainwreck is still the people’s favourite, though.

      Indeed. Is she a monster or just a woman trying to survive?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol don’t get me wrong. I’ve never liked Caleb. Even deeper with what he’s doing to Mel now. ugh. But these two fit. I’m waiting to see who’s influence is greater though. On the flipside, I want an LA… 😶

        Like

  2. Well that was a lot more cheery than I expected. The part with Caleb and Melinda was actually kind of sweet. Yes, I guess after 300 years, shooting stars wouldn’t have the same kind of appeal. Looks like she might remind him of his younger self.

    Ugh, Will. That’s all I have to say about that part.

    Something tells me that when Caleb rocks up at the house with Melinda, April is going to have a mealtdown.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah yes, hitchhiking and picking up random one-night drains from the bar. These two have got to find a better way of staying fed. xD And does Will not remember Faith biting and draining him? Or does he just not care/actually like it? On the flipside, they do have one offering himself up on a silver platter…

    Caleb and Melinda together are… er… well, they’re a thing. xD The more I read about Caleb and Lilith, the more dysfunctional they seem to be. At this point, maybe splitting up and going their separate ways is the best thing they can do for both of them. And sorry Caleb – Lilith is still my favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He likes them feisty. Plus, he’s now getting drunk on one beer thanks to his lack of blood so it’s saving him money. A win all round, really.

      A thing, are they?

      I think the Vatores define dysfunction right about now.

      Like

  4. “You can join in too, Whatever-your-name-was.” #swoon

    What a catch.

    I’m planning on binging a bunch of chapters so I’m going to keep my comments to a minimum but Caleb, do not come for my girl Lilith like that. Last time I checked, she didn’t turn a teenage girl because she was “lonely.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. None of the fine men in my story doing it for you? Huh, I’ll have to try harder.

      I really don’t know how people can binge this, but enjoy! I’m gonna respond to all your comments as if I haven’t already read them all, so as not to get spoilery. How many chapters did Ferosh binge in this session? Ooh the suspense…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Was Mel adopted?
    Funny thing about Caleb. He seemed to have more to talk about with Mel than with April. It’s been suggested he fell for April’s pretty face. I find it sad that even after three hundred years the guy can’t look past pretty face and wants a pretty girl to spend the eternity with, not one he has something in common with.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Caleb: mimimimimi
    Mel: not buying it

    Another 10 for Mel 🥰

    Duuuude Will, I wonder if there is *anything* not nasty about this guy
    Faith is either really desperate or just has the worst taste in men ever

    Like

  7. Oh, yeah. Mel being her usual sweet self and giving another chance to the wimp who messed up and now is so sorry. How sweet. I hope if my theory is right and turning someone makes you feel really protective of them, that getting to meet April again will make Caleb grow some spine. At least he´ll have someone to try for. Also, sacrifices. The one thing that I still can´t fathom is what made Lilith turn around. If she´d been a hunter, what made her stop? I´m definitely looking forward to that reveal.

    So Will´s back and still recovering, but his usual self. Good to know the bite works as it should. Hopefully, it will still get a little more inconspicuous with time.

    And Faith… Faith feeds my theory. I´ll say it already because why not? I suspect her of being something akin to a succubus. Because if “scared” is something you can “feed on” then her behavior lately would suggest she does the same with “flirty.” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So you want the wimp to grow a spine… be careful what you wish for. Why did Lilith stop hunting? Maybe she just really likes the taste of congealed blood bags.

      More Will! Everyone loves Will.

      Interesting theory. She certainly has her preferred methods.

      Like

      1. Should I be careful, now? What problem could a spine possibly cause? Caleb seems to be a walking disaster but that disaster is related to something that doesn´t have any bones in it, either. 😉
        Uh-huh. Or maybe she got cold feet after her cat ran away. Maybe I´m giving the beastie a bit too much credit here, though. Who knows?

        Meh. Will´s been a good lab rat, but he´d make a better dead rat. Or a prison rat, if Faith would think that more amusing. Whichever, so long as he stops gloating, I´d cheer. PX

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Being a wimpy bag of jelly might be the only thing keeping in him the game. Or maybe growing a spine means he’ll then have two spines and become extra spiny. Maybe, maybe. I know, do I count? 😆

          Like

  8. Was starting to wonder if Caleb and Mel would become a thing—stargazing and all. So he really does like April. Hm.
    And I wonder if this means Lilith played a big role in the vampire wars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, ‘Wimpy Vamps’ vs ‘AC Trainwreck’. A question that divides readers across the comments; who will Caleb choose? And perhaps more importantly, why the heck do they want him?

      Liked by 1 person

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