Chapter 1.46 – Walking Disaster

“Try to think fast thoughts,” Caleb instructed, unhelpfully.

Melinda shrugged. “Such as what? Cheetahs? Bullet trains?”

“No, not of fast things. Just of speediness, generally.”

It didn’t make any sense. They’d been out here for ages and they were getting literally nowhere. Melinda tried to think of speediness and ran forward a few paces at a disappointingly normal speed. She heard Caleb laugh.

“This is pointless,” she sighed.

“You can do it,” he said and disappeared, materialising along the path a second later.

Such a show-off. He was thoroughly enjoying being better than her, and she didn’t really care that he was, but she was getting annoyed at this purposeless game. She wasn’t getting it, so why didn’t he just let her give up?

“I don’t think I can do it, Caleb,” Melinda shouted up to him, hoping she still sounded friendly. “Shall we head on up to the cliff now? We’ll miss the eclipse if we’re not quick.”

It was like talking to a rock. The black blur raced back towards her. “We have loads of time. I’ll get us there, don’t worry. Try again. Fast thoughts.”

Melinda tried not to get irritated. It was clearly very important to Caleb that she played along and she knew she wasn’t annoyed with him. She was thinking of Lilith, antagonising him and April. Thinking of Faith’s comment back in the kitchen and how Lilith had reacted.

If Lilith was always like that, then the way Caleb was, it made sense to Melinda now. He’d been whittled away, just like April. And like April, he needed support. He needed a friend.

Melinda had always thought she was a good judge of character, but she’d been reading Lilith wrong this whole time. She felt foolish, betrayed; she should have seen it sooner. Instead of guiding them to a safe option, she’d led the three of them into a trap. April had finally escaped Sandy and ended up right back under the thumb of another controlling woman.

Melinda tried to put it all out of her mind, be present. Her dad would tell her that anger didn’t solve anything; he would encourage her to be calm, to be rational, to look at the bigger picture until she saw the solution. What was the bigger picture? Were they going to be reliant on Lilith until she crushed them all? Would they end up out on their own, hunting? Hiding April forever?

Would Caleb come with them? What would happen to him if they left him behind?

The rage was swirling around like a mist, strangling her with its wisps. She could feel the shimmering sensation on her skin and tried to calm herself.

Be present. Calm. She looked up at Caleb’s expectant face.

“Can you be any more specific?”

“Not really.” He thought for a moment, then swung his fist towards her face. He’d barely lifted his arm however before she blocked him.

“Caleb?! What the heck?!”

“Holy hell! Those reflexes, Melinda! When you do that, how do you do it?”

“I don’t know! I just do it, I don’t think about it.”

“Hmm. Maybe thinking too much is the problem then. Try running and not thinking about it?”

She groaned. “This is a waste of time.”

“It’s not. I know you can do it,” he said, brightly. She took in his eager, smiling face. Bigger picture.

She remembered how he had looked the first time she’d seen him, in his living room. Pathetic.

The first time they’d sat together at the cliff. Like a puppy who’d been kicked.

He was like a different person now, a happy person. This might be pointless and weird to her, but to him?

She stretched and repositioned herself to try again. “OK, I’ll try not thinking.”

Easier said than done, but she tried to silence her overactive brain for a few moments and ran a few obligatory paces.

She stopped, sighed. “It’s no good.” She turned back to him. “I just can’t… wow.”

Caleb was whooping and cheering some distance along the path. In a blink he was beside her.

“I knew you could do it, Mellybean! You’re not as fast as me, but you’re still pretty good!”

“Did you just call me Mellybean?”

He looked perplexed as he studied her face. “Oh. Can I not do that? I thought it was alright, as we’re friends now. I’ve been presumptuous, haven’t I?”

Melinda couldn’t stop herself grinning. She threw her arms around him.

“No. You’re right, we’re friends. You can call me Mellybean.”

She felt him freeze in her embrace like no one had ever hugged him. Probably very few people did and with reactions like his, likely never unexpectedly.

“I’m sorry.” She tried to unwrap herself, but something was keeping her close against him.

“Thank you,” he said.

“What for?”

“Just being you. You’re amazing.”

It was such a lovely thing to say and yet, like a switch, she felt the anger coming back. Why would Lilith ever want to hurt him? Why would anyone? He was so sweet. So fragile.

So much like April.

Her lips had already grazed his before he realised and he hastily pushed her away.

“No, Melinda. I didn’t mean it like that.”

It took her a minute to register what had happened. “Oh my goodness. Of course you didn’t. I’m sorry; I don’t know what came over me.”

“I like you, but not romantically,” he explained. “You’re not hideous or anything—“

“Please stop talking. I know. I’m so sorry. I’m bang out of order.”

“It’s OK. We all make mistakes, right? We can forget it.” He nodded, assuredly. “Shall we go to the cliff now? I’ll race you.”

Caleb might have been able to just push this aside and carry on, but Melinda was mortified. She couldn’t be alone with him now. She couldn’t even look at him now.

“Sure! The cliff! Race me!” Her giggle was strained, her voice much more high-pitched than usual. “Eat my dust!” she screeched and zipped off.

“Wait! Melinda! The cliff is that way!” Caleb shouted after her, pointing in the opposite direction. She mustn’t have heard him. She had vanished into the night.

He pursued her along the path, but couldn’t see her at all. It was all eerily familiar, losing track of those eyes in the pervading blackness of the Forgotten Hollow forest. Darn it, she was faster than him after all. He followed Melinda’s trail in circles for a while before it dawned on him that she was trying to avoid him.

Could he do anything right? Lilith was always saying it, but clearly it was true. He was a walking disaster. All these years later, all this work and he was still, at his core, just a womanising rat. Except now he was targeting women he wasn’t attracted to and he wasn’t even aware that he was seducing them. How had he had gotten worse?

He followed the faint, floral scent of Melinda, the only thing he could detect of her, until the path opened up into the clearing outside Marjorie’s house. There were numerous paths from here that she could have taken, but his attention was captured by the light that was on in the house.

It didn’t make sense for Melinda to go in here, but then not a lot else was making sense right now. If he followed her into an empty house, into what appeared to be the bedroom, he was definitely sending the wrong message; their friendship would be completely ruined.

He should go home. Lilith would eventually forgive him for disobeying her and she’d help him figure this all out, help him to apologise to Melinda. Or she’d castrate him, as she’d often threatened. He would consider that an acceptable solution, right now.

He was still gazing up at the lighted window, catching a glimpse of someone moving around inside, a flash of blonde hair.



April could feel herself burning up as she absorbed the words on the page. She had never read a romance novel; she always thought they’d be a bit sappy, a bit floaty, all soft gazes and whispered words. She didn’t realise they were so juicy. She found herself skimming the actual story parts, her eyes hungry for the more lustful details.

Either Marjorie had a very wild imagination, or Caleb was an amazing lover. She chose to believe the latter, slowly blending herself into the story. She imagined him breaking into her room, pinning her to the bed, whispering into her ear…

Not All Roses with the intruding vampire. I’ve never been one for breaking into homes,” he looked around, “other than what I’m doing right now…”

“Caleb!” April hastily stuffed the book under the pillow. “I was just… I’m not…”

He smiled at her. She smoothed her hair, fanned her face. Oh gosh, was she bright red? How did he know which bit she was reading? Was it obvious? Was she thinking out loud?

“We can take them with us, if you like,” he said, seemingly oblivious. She felt rather disappointed that he was making no effort to pin her to the bed; her embarrassment turning to frustration.

“Why aren’t you with Melinda?” She scowled at him. “Was it too cloudy to see the moon?”

“We didn’t watch it, but we did race. Turns out she’s good at it; I’ve got no idea where she’s gone. Come on; you shouldn’t be here.”

April narrowed her eyes at him. “Oh, so now you care about me?”

“What do you mean? When did I not care about you?”

“Only every time Melinda’s around,” she huffed. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think something was going on.”

He was silent. She could sense him looking carefully at her face. She turned her head away.

“Are you jealous?” he asked.

April could feel the inner brat crawling to the surface. She tried to beat it down; be mature, don’t get jealous, no tantrums. She failed. “Why would I be jealous of you choosing a moonlit walk with Melinda and her lack of bra over a night with me, your girlfriend?!”

He paused, repeated her question to himself, carefully. “Is the bra bit relevant? I don’t know. Why would you be?”

“Because you’re mine, Caleb! Mine!”

“Yes, I am,” he agreed, “and you’re mine.”

He’s lying.

She whimpered, “Why don’t I believe you?”

He growled, exasperated. “How can I be messing everything up so badly that you don’t even know how much I care about you?” He took her hands. “I do, OK? I do care.”

April looked at him for a while; envy chewing away at her insides. What else was he messing up? “Are you… are you and Melinda… did something happen?”

“No! We’re not! It… didn’t.”

That was a strong protest. He’d answered just a little too quickly. That pause was a little too long. April couldn’t see him, or hear him, through the green mist that had descended, the images that flashed through her head.

“April?” he said softly, his face mirroring hers. “Talk to me. What are you hearing?”

“I can see you. You’re… you’re kissing her,” she whispered. “You’re out there, kissing her when you should be with me. Kissing me.”

He pulled her to him. He watched her eyes go wide before they fluttered shut, felt her smile, her soft lips caressing his.

“Please don’t ever think that I don’t want you. I really, really do.”

She nodded, but her mind was still racing. He didn’t deny kissing Melinda.

“You still don’t believe me.”

No, she didn’t. It felt like he was trying to make amends for something. She kept telling herself that she was irrational, she was getting jealous over nothing.

His voice was quiet, almost pleading. “How can I prove it to you, April? I’ll do anything.”

Anything? She opened her mouth then closed it. Then opened it again.

He wasn’t like this in the book or in her imagination; there he was confident, passionate, dominant. He’d want her so much, there would never be any doubt. He’d take her without any hesitation, make her his. Like last time.

That isn’t what happened last time.

You broke him once…

She sidled up to him, pressed her lips behind his ear, muffling herself so she could deny saying it if he laughed at her.

“I really don’t think sex will help things right now…”

“You said anything. Don’t you want to make me happy?” she asked.

“I do, but—“

“So what’s the problem?! Am I that disgusting?”

“No! Damn it April! Would you just listen? There’s something you should know—“

“I don’t want any more excuses, Caleb! I’m done with excuses!” April screeched. “If you’re not interested then just… just… piss off! You clearly don’t give a shit about me, about what I want. Enjoy the rest of your sad, lonely existence without me.”

April folded her arms and turned away, inviting him to leave. From the corner of her eye she could see him, locked in conflict with himself.

Don’t fight it.

All the light went from his eyes and the air went from the room, choking her on her own recklessness. She watched him fade into his dark form; the fine cracks appeared on his skin, his eyes lightened to that piercing blue. The change penetrated more than skin deep. He suddenly felt unfamiliar to her. Distant.

“Caleb? What’s happening? You’re scaring me.”

23 thoughts on “Chapter 1.46 – Walking Disaster

  1. I wonder if Caleb is so insistent on training Melinda and happy when she pulls it off because there’s finally something in someone else that he can identify with. He’s terrible at emotions and reading people, but this is so simple that even a toddler would understand it. They’re both fast. They can both do this very specific thing that nobody else in their circle can. Even for Caleb, that’s enough to bond over. I wonder if this is the first time that he’s truly found something relatively positive of, well, himself, in someone else.

    My gods, April. Ironically, in her jealousy-filled tantrum about Caleb not caring about her and not giving her what she wants, she never once considers what Caleb might want or need. It’s such a stark contrast with Melinda indulging him with racing all night even though her heart isn’t in it, because she realizes that it’s important to him. Dear gods, and she must have hit a raw nerve or finally broken through his composure to make him slip into his dark form.
    Aaaaargh a cliffhanger?! No! xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely. Finally he feels like he has something to offer someone else. And in return he gets a friend! Oh… where’s she gone?

      Travis always threw himself on the coals for Sandy, so April feels that Caleb should do the same for her. That’s love, right?

      Caleb doesn’t slip into dark form easily. It’s a conscious effort and as he’s said previously, he probably shouldn’t do it…

      Like

  2. Obviously what will ensue now is a night of passionate yet gentle lovemaking that will totally not be disturbing and will satisfy April so much that she will let go of all of her insecurities, right? Oh, and Will will definitely not show up at Marjorie’s house. Ok, I think I got it.

    You know it’s funny (or, you know, incredibly sad) that in that conversation between Caleb and April, Caleb, who is the one who actually has predetermined limitations on forming relationships and empathising with people, is actually the one who has more of a perception of how the other person may be feeling. April is so screwed up she literally has less awareness of other people than an emotionally stunted vampire who is biologically incapable of forming relationships. I realise this is mostly Sandy’s fault, but still…

    Aww man, the incident with Melinda will make Caleb think he cannot simply have friends. But he so desperately needs friends. Oh man. Why do you do this to me Snuffy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Obviously. Here begins the heady romance section you’ve been dying for! Prepare yourself for gentle caresses, sweet nothings and tangled sheets. The pivot point, the salvation, the awakening. Ignore the dark form, that’s probably irrelevant.

      Caleb might not be able to feel what April is feeling, but he has learned enough over the years to try and understand it. And he wants to feel, he wants to understand. April on the other hand, not only lacks empathy but also experience and a desire to change. And why would she? Just like Mother, if she stomps around enough she always seem to get what she wants…

      Why do I do this to you? You do realise I read your previous chapter half a dozen times and still could not comment, right? 😭 Caleb desperately needs friends, yes. But Melinda is a sensible girl and she cares a lot for her emotionally challenged vampire buddies, she’ll help them figure it out. It is a lot to carry on her tiny, bird-like, braless shoulders though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Caleb and Melinda together 🥰
    They seem so natural and without filter …. then it all ends in an awkward situation.
    Why!? 😧
    I can see that this has happened to Caleb over and over again. It’s part of his curse that makes him so insecure about himself.
    He just wants a friend.
    Lilith is wrong if she thought it was the safe choice.

    No one understands Lilith’s agenda. Now Melinda has also come into doubt about her intentions. Lilith is the executioner and Caleb the victim.
    But one has to ask oneself for whom Caleb is the victim?

    I do not understand that Caleb thinks that the fair-haired illiterate is the only one. She is so engrossed in herself that she is almost blind and deaf 🙄
    Caleb bounces around helplessly to be seen and heard, but he does not have a language that can penetrate April.
    They are each other’s imperfect mirror image.
    I get desperate to stand on the sidelines as a witness 😖
    Now April has pushed Caleb all the way to the edge and I dread what’s going to happen.
    Definitely not something happy 😰

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    1. Yes, Caleb has been here before. He sees any failure in a relationship as his doing, his lack of understanding. Melinda needs a moment to compose herself, but she’s not one for giving up on someone who needs her. She knows Caleb needs her, and he’s not the only one.

      It was a long, dark road that brought Lilith to today and even though her intentions were good, along the way something has gone awry.

      The storm will soon be over…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jesus April, it’s not cool to pressure someone into sex. If he is about to cave in to her manipulation and have sex with her right now just to “save his relationship” well… that is rape. Complacency is not the same thing as consent. She’s now worse than Will in my eyes – at least he hasn’t physically or emotionally forced himself on anyone yet. And poor Caleb, always someone’s victim.

    I have suspected since the beginning that Melinda may have had a thing for April at one point and this chapter definitely reinforced that idea. Hopefully she eventually will find someone that can give as much goodness to her as she gives to everyone else, and not just someone with major baggage that needs her help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree, whatever happens next, April is out of order here. Ouch, worse than Will is a huge insult. April, are you listening? She probably isn’t.

      April had to keep Melinda around somehow and encouraging her little crush certainly seems to have worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh I’m honestly concerned for April now. But she mentioned that it happened before. Maybe it’s not that bad? Maybe it’s to her flavor? I’m being hopeful, but Idk it’s AE after all!

    Mellybean though. She keeps giving herself away, putting herself last in any situation. This tension is getting to me. I can’t comment at all xD

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mel is such a sweetheart. She puts herself above others and tries to be a friend to Caleb. But why try to kiss him? She was thinking of April just before she kissed him. And in a previous chapter, there was a flashback of April kissing Mel to get her to be quiet. But then Mel seems to have expressed thoughts of not really liking April but then staying her friend because she was just doing it to help April. I’m not really sure what is going on with Mel. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding between her and Caleb. Maybe Mel has been hanging around April so much that it is messing with her head.

    Oh, man. April and Caleb, major dumpster fire. All I can do is sit back and watch their volatile relationship blow up and munch popcorn. Yeah, not sure where this is going with his dark form. Does he turn into his dark form and they have some weird, freaky vampire sex? Is that what he’s not telling her? Or maybe he’s just going to rip her throat out? Ahhh, the suspense!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melinda is surely the least on fire of all of the burning disasters, but even she isn’t perfect.

      It’s never good when you see a vamp’s dark form in AE. Weird, freaky vampire sex is surely all vampire sex? These guys and gals are all cold and dead. How much weirder can it be?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nothing helps a sexually frustrated girl more than a good juicy novel. 😏

    For a moment I was sure that in her fit of jealousy April would ask Caleb to kill Melinda to prove he cares only for her.

    The jury is still out for Lilith. She is controlling AF, but I still don’t have all info about Caleb, so I’m gonna assume he really needs the supervision for some reason.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Who doesn’t love reading juicy literature written about their boyfriend by their great aunt? HOT.

      I mean, that might have been a better option than… the next chapter.

      Hee hee. You’ll see. 😐

      Like

  8. Oh, my. I think this thing with Caleb finally made my puzzle pieces about Melinda finally snap together. And they´ve all been there all that time, too. Thing is I finally realized exactly /how bad/ Melinda has it for April. And that´s a huge problem, isn´t it? Poor Mel knows she´s being used. “Because I´m an idiot” she thought when Lils said how she cared about April. She knows it, but she can´t help herself anyway. I wonder how much of it is because she´s been abandoned before so now, being needed this much by someone, even if their feelings are completely incompatible is just something she can´t very well resist. Worse, even April knows she´s hurting Mel. She´s realized a lot of things in the sun, hasn´t she. At least it doesn´t seem like she´s been leading Mel on, lately. But still. And now Mel just projected April onto Caleb and lit a fuse. (But it does make me think a wicked little idea. Was that pure projection or does Mel actually play for both teams?)

    The fuse, though, is really short. The following situation is very bad, but very obvious and unavoidable. Caleb hasn´t had much practice keeping secrets and, (oh the irony) he knows enough to feel guilty about what happened with Mel. Thus, April´s jealousy gets fed to the point she can´t fight it anymore. The fear of being abandoned just too much. And I suppose her telling Caleb to leave, after he´d already had such a bad night led him to throw all caution out the window. Something tells me /this/ stint in dark form won´t be as brief as the last one and we´ll get to know exactly why it should be. Big ka-boom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, hopefully a few pieces fall in place here. Melinda most definitely has the hots for April, even though she definitely doesn’t want to. It could be projection, it could be Melinda struggling with her sexual identity, it could be something else entirely.

      I know you know what’s coming next and I tried to write it a few ways, but you’re right about it being unavoidable. The way the characters are and the way the situation is, the events just couldn’t have realistically gone any other way. This is a huge culmination of guilt, jealousy and… something else. Caleb’s options here were to lose April (of course, he’s not got the capacity to understand that April’s threat is an emotional trap so wouldn’t call her bluff) or lose himself.

      Ka-boom indeed. 😓

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      1. Ah-ha. So /purposeful/ vagueness. Okay. 😀

        Yeah, well, it´s a good bluff though, isn´t it? I mean, we know she really, really doesn´t wanna be all alone, but one could think all these feelings of rejection might actually be even more painful. The fact Caleb is, for his own reasons, objectively acting kinda weird ain´t helping, either.

        Hey, don´t sweat it. I´m pretty sure starting the story out with child abuse weeds out the easily offended readers. PX You´re fine. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Surprisingly a lot of people gloss over the abuse, the general story disclaimers and the hundred mentions of ‘dark humour’ then seem surprised when it all gets so, well, dark. There are three points so far in the story where readers become disillusioned and drop like flies: when April retaliates against Sandy, the next chapter after this one and one in book two. But I don’t mind; if I try to please everyone I’d please no one, myself included, so I just write what I like and to hell with everyone else. And oh, I *do* like dark. 😁

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          1. …they do, huh? It feels weird to me, but what do I know. I love your stance, though, you´re so right. And I´m totally here for all the dark. Might get sad at some point, you probably know which point better than me at this stage, but I´m here for all of it.

            Also, one little detail that escaped me before. That small inner voice that says “Don´t fight it.” is so strangely… hanging in space there. I think it sounds in Caleb´s head, but can´t be completely sure even about that much. Better yet, I have to wonder whose voice it sounds like. Maybe it sounds like Seth, because we know Caleb´s little secret about proper meals and I´m sure Seth takes every chance he gets to instigate the boy. Or maybe, maybe it sounds like April. “Mesmerizing is a precursor to mind control…” This teensy, tinsy little thing, it´s so fun how huge it could possibly be.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “I´m sure Seth takes every chance he gets to instigate the boy” now why ever would he do that? 😉😇 But yes, I guess the truth in that line comes from who might have originally said it and why.

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              1. Hmmm, I can think of several interesting reasons and am not sure which of them might apply, but that would probably be a bit off topic, here…

                Liked by 1 person

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