Chapter 1.49 – Stay With Me

I had envisioned that I would make his acquaintance, ask him some questions, take my time. I’d learn all about vampires and make a solid decision, gradually befriending him and maybe, one day, asking him to turn me. I would be calm, rational, patient.

Like most of my plans, it went totally bum up.

“I know what you are,” she whispered to me, again. She was trembling, her fear finally bubbling to the surface. I tried to ignore that, lest she tip me completely over the edge her mother had already pushed me towards. I tried to focus on her words.

What you are.

What was I this time? Beast? Idiot? Weirdo?

I was fed up with her, fed up with everything. “You do, huh?”

He laughed at me in a mocking fashion and said, “Then perhaps you should know better.”

“Do enlighten me,” I said. “I read that the whole Vatore family was beheaded some three hundred years ago for being vampires. And it’s not a common name, Vatore…”

No it bloody isn’t. That threw me. “How can you know that?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I read about it.”

Now I was intrigued. She’d read about me? Had she somehow planned this meeting? “Where did you read it?”

We had never found any mention of ourselves; we assumed our story was lost to time. After cycling through various guises over the years, I had protested when Lilith had suggested using the Vatore name again. She wanted to completely disgrace the name with her reformed ways, she’d said. It’ll be fine, she’d said.

I couldn’t wait to tell her she was finally wrong about something. But that would mean I’d have to tell her I’d come here. Never mind.

“A book!” I said. “Encyclopaedia Vampirica?” He looked at me blankly. “Now here you are, named ‘Vatore’ with ice cold skin and no reflection.”

I took another step towards him but he had nowhere left to go. Being this close to him was like standing in front of the fridge with the door open, except it didn’t make me hungry.

“How did you manage to escape? Are there any others?”

For all she seemed to know about vampires, she was behaving incredibly recklessly getting this close. I had become fairly numb to my vampiric desire, my lust for blood. Heck, I’d lain with enough women and only slain a few of them. I’d hardly even taken a drink from the later ones, barely enjoyed their orifices. I had become pretty numb to everything.

At least I thought I had. Even though I wasn’t touching her, I could feel the flutter of her heart as if it were my own. It was deafening me; I couldn’t think, couldn’t speak.

Had she asked me something?

He couldn’t even answer me! He must be hurting so much, the poor guy. “Have you been alone all this time? Oh my gosh, that’s so sad! That’s such a long time to be alone. I understand what that’s like. Loneliness. I’m alone, too.”

“You understand?” I couldn’t understand my own thoughts let alone try and understand hers. The words tumbling from her lips sounded like nonsense. All I could hear was the incessant pulsing; my senses becoming completely overwhelmed with her. Was it because she was so beautiful? So young? So close?

“We’re not lonely anymore, Caleb. We have each other, now.”

So stupid? I could smell her blood. Divine. It was destroying centuries of carefully crafted control. I tried to laugh but it sounded like a choke. “You really don’t want to be with me, Miss Moss.”

“Call me April. Why not? Is it because you’re a vampire? I don’t mind that. I might want to be one, perhaps, one day. Then we can run away, start again.” I smiled, thinking of my friends.

Definitely stupid. Oh, the sweet voice of someone who didn’t have a clue. I had to get away from her. She was deluded. I shouldn’t have come here.

My voice was surprisingly calm, “Miss Moss, April, it’s been… interesting. Now please, let me past.”

I couldn’t move her, couldn’t touch her now. I was creeping past the point of rational thought. I could practically taste her, I couldn’t stop staring at her. I wasn’t sure I’d ever let her go.

“Why are you leaving?” she asked. I recognised that expression. Sadness. It didn’t suit her and yet I felt it was an expression she wore a lot. “I only want to talk to you, Caleb. I want to know everything about you, about who you are. Why do you want to leave?”

“You want to know who I am?”

“Of course! I’ve never met a vampire before and you seem so nice. Please stay with me.”

He was looking at me so intensely. He didn’t look ancient at all; he looked very young, maybe a couple of years older than me. The way he was looking at me. Did I dare to believe it? Did he… oh my gosh. Did he want me? “Are you leaving because you don’t want me? Or because, maybe, you do?”

Oh goodness, I’d said it now. Stupid thing to say April. Stupid girl. Of course he doesn’t want you; who would ever want you?

He motioned me back. “Move.”

So he didn’t want me. No surprise. Still, that was rather impolite of him. I folded my arms.

“And if I don’t move, what exactly will you do?”

Violate you. Drain you. Pick an order.

I could hear Lilith, shouting in my head. Control yourself.

“Might you try to drink from me?” she asked.

Was there any point even pretending now? She knew what I was and she was looking right at my fangs.

“I might,” I admitted, feeling like I’d been steamrolled. Damn, I hated myself.

“OK.” She made no effort to move. “OK.”

We stood in silence for a while. I could have pushed past her, disappeared in a blur; I could have knocked her out if I’d really wanted to.

I could have. I probably should have. I wanted to look at her a while longer.

“OK Caleb. I’ll let you drink,” I said. “But when you’re done, you have to stay with me.”

This was insane. Drinking from her and spending the night? It was exactly what I wanted and therefore exactly the opposite of what I should do. “No, I can’t do that.”

His teeth looked so sharp. I tried to be brave. If nothing else, I needed to be a good host, right?

“You can. You didn’t touch your dinner, you must still be hungry, right? It’s OK. I really don’t mind but… gently, if you can.”

Holy hell. This was a genuine offer. She was actually willing to do this. My mind was in absolute turmoil. Lilith’s voice echoed amongst my own thoughts.

It’s not worth it.

“Do we have a deal, Caleb?” She reached for my hands and I found myself unable to stop her. She was shaking. Afraid. It sickened me how much I liked that.

I rested his hands at my waist, shivered. I told myself it was his cold touch and I tilted my head back. “If you drink from me, you stay with me, OK?”

It would be absolutely fine, I reassured myself. It would probably hurt, I might feel a bit woozy.

His hand moved swiftly from my waist to rest on the back of my head. His fingers laced into my hair, ice cold against my scalp. He was resisting. Perhaps now that he was this close he realised that I wouldn’t be very appetising.

Now I was this close I could tell she’d be delicious. I hesitated, her silky tresses tangled around my fingers. This was going against everything I’d worked for. It felt natural so therefore I definitely should not do it.

“I can’t do this,” I said to myself.

“You can,” she cooed, pressing her head into my palm, laying her throat bare, her pulse racing. “Don’t fight it. It’s OK.”

I wanted to protest. But as I opened my mouth I completely lost my mind.

Oh! That stings! I gasped and instinctively tried to pull away. He held me closer, tighter. The world was upside-down.

She tasted even better than I had imagined she would. I hadn’t had a fresh drink for so many years and I hadn’t been this close to a woman for just as long. My thirst was not the only long suppressed urge triggered by the softness and the curves of April.

He was touching me! That wasn’t part of the deal, but maybe that was part of the drinking? It was certainly making my heart race. It felt like he was taking a lot but I didn’t really know. How much blood did I have? How much could vampires drink?

After initially feeding greedily, I was now letting her drain slowly, savouring, wanting to keep her at this point as long as I could. I knew that I was playing with fire now, but the sound of her rapid breathing was driving me wild.

Oh goodness, I couldn’t see straight. I needed him to stop; surely I had kept up my part of the deal now? It was poor form for me to take back the offer of dinner, though. Wasn’t it? He must know what he’s doing, right? He must know when to stop. He wouldn’t kill me… would he? My heart was almost vibrating, the room was a blur. I watched the piano warp before me, felt his hand under my skirt.

Um, excuse me?

“Caleb! Stop! Unhand me!”

Her shout triggered Lilith’s voice somewhere in the fog. Control yourself!

I could do that. I could. I had to.

As I pulled back from her, she fainted. I caught her, gently laying her down on the elaborate marble floor.

“April, are you alright?”

Am I alright? I thought I was lying still but my head felt like it was rolling in circles. I could still see the piano etched into my eyelids. I couldn’t feel my feet or hands. My heart was pounding in my head.

“April?”

I hadn’t taken that much. Had I?

I scanned over her. She was a slip of a girl, a wisp. I could see the shape of her ribs through her sweater, the clear definition of her collar bones. Her breath was shallow, her skin pale, her heart beat rapid. Maybe I had taken too much.

“April?” I was suddenly, acutely aware that Sandy was only two rooms away and could walk in at any moment.

“Will stay me… now?” Did that make any sense? I tried to get up but I failed.

“No. I’m leaving,” he said, firmly.

I wanted to be elegant and refined in my response, but made a weird whining noise instead. “Why?”

“Why do you think?! I could kill you.”

I tried to focus through the soup in my head. “Nah! You… shilly.” Were these even words? Goodness. How embarrassing. I’d only had one glass of wine at dinner. Whatever must he have thought of me?

I remember thinking that Mother would be so cross with me for embarrassing her. I remember noticing that a patch of the ceiling needed to be repainted. I remember thinking that Caleb could probably see my knickers and that at least I’d worn nice ones.

The rest was just a dream.

She was losing consciousness. I didn’t know what to do.

“Carrreb… Cal…ub.” She reached out towards me again. “Stay me.”

“I can’t stay now! What the heck’s wrong with you?”

“We… together…” she mumbled and fell silent. The sentence lost.

“We together?!” I was angrier than I meant to be. Angry at myself for doing this, for still being there. “Do you think that vampires and humans can just live together? That I won’t just drink you dry?”

Isn’t that what Lilith thought, back then? What she’d always hoped for?

“There’s a reason why I’m alone.”

“Naw! Got me,” she slurred, her words so quiet I could barely hear her; a jumble of soft syllables. “Come ‘ere,” she whispered in a tantalising fashion, like she was about to tell me a huge secret.

Against my better judgement, I leaned in towards her. I felt her hot breath on my cheek, could hear her pulse racing.

“Take me with you,” she murmured.

“You want me to take you with me?” Oh this was ridiculous.

Her eyelids fluttered.

Holy hell. She was gorgeous. I would take her away in a heartbeat. Live happily ever after.

If she wasn’t the best thing I’d ever tasted.

If she wasn’t helpless and warm.

If I had a modicum of restraint.

I stroked my thumb over her lips. The heat of her skin rushed through me as I brushed my fingertips against her soft cheek, down her smooth throat.

“April?” No response. Well, no response from her.

I caught myself as I was grazing my teeth against the neat holes I’d made in her skin, begging myself to leave her alone.


Damn.

I really needed to get out of there, but I just couldn’t leave her.

I’d completely screwed everything up this time. Killed the daughter of the world’s most famous woman. In her own house. While pretending to be my sister. If I left her here they’d go after Dr. Vatore, it’d all be over for us both.

I should stay here and accept my fate.

Damn. Hell. Darn.

Should I go and fetch Sandy? Speed things up?

Hey, Sandy. I killed your only child. Sorry about that. Here’s a coupon for your facelift.

I brushed April’s hair back gently from her cool forehead. Wiped away the stain of a tear from her cheek and her thick layer of makeup with it.

Oh?

I wiped the other cheek, revealing another bruise, an older one. This girl barely left this house, had clearly never lifted a finger in her life. Why on earth would she be covered in bruises?

I sat back on my heels, looking her over.

The way her arm didn’t quite lie right, like it had been previously broken. The half-moon shaped scars in the soft flesh of her forearms. The more I looked, the more I saw.

Holy hell. Someone was doing this to her. Had she been looking to me for a way out? Well, I’d certainly given her that. If only I’d known. I could have… I would have…

Take me with you.

It was possible. I knew it was possible. When Nathaniel had died, Lilith had considered turning him post-mortem. A kiss of death, she had called it. But ultimately, she had changed her mind. There was probably good reasoning in that. So that definitely meant I shouldn’t do it.

Definitely shouldn’t try to save this beautiful, vulnerable girl who knew I was a vampire and still wanted me for some reason.

Definitely.

Shouldn’t.

What the heck. We were both screwed anyway.

I didn’t realise that I tasted so bad. I guess monster has its own kind of flavour. I could feel something stirring inside her as the black fluid trickled down her throat but I didn’t know if that was enough, if there was anything else I needed to do. Lilith had been careful not to give me details. She likely thought I’d go out slaying and turning random women on a whim if I knew how to do it.

As I struggled with the strangest feeling of déjà vu, I got a heady waft of Merlot long before I heard the click of high heels approach from behind me.

Time was up.

21 thoughts on “Chapter 1.49 – Stay With Me

  1. So we finally get to see how things went down when April was turned.

    “He wouldn’t kill me… would he?” Oh, April… maybe that is the question you should have started with. I mean, the first couple of sentences alone, her being like lalala, I’ll make his acquaintance and learn more and make an informed decision, and maybe ask him to turn me… Why would you assume that a vampire would give you that option? But I guess we’ve seen plenty of April never anticipating that things could go any other way than what she wanted, always getting her way after kicking up a fuss. Which is interesting, considering Sandy never did give her anything she actually wanted. I still think Mona put it best when she described April as a special cocktail of spoiled and broken at the same time (or something to that effect).

    But man, it’s so sad to get these reminders of how deeply engrained her self-hatred is. Her life is literally at stake here and all she’s worried about is that she’s probably unappealing to him, him not wanting her. I don’t know if there’s any way April can ever come out of that mindset of hers, though. She’s in so deep.

    Oh, and unpopular opinion time (yay), I feel like Caleb actually did manage to have a surprising level of empathy here (for Caleb, obviously, haha), putting two and two together about her wanting an out, about what may have motivated her.

    Aand, surprise surprise, Lilith indeed did not tell him the consequences of turning someone after they’d been drained dry, like I thought. [queue obligatory Lilith rant even though she does not appear in the chapter] She basically just told him he shouldn’t put his hand in the fire without explaining that the fire would burn him. Same old, same old. Now she’ll stomp around him her dark form acting all high and mighty, because once again, she was “right” and has the “moral ground.” *grumble grumble* She’s so preoccupied with her high horse that she completely forgot all horses still shit.

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    1. Human April was very much ‘lalala’ naïve about everything, existing in her sheltered little bubble, letting her imagination go wild. Vampirism and the burning urge to ‘get what she was owed’ from Caleb turned her into the lovely, emotional trainwreck she is today. Now she has her man though, bound to him for all eternity. It’ll all be smooth sailing from here. Surely. 🙂

      I get giddy with excitement at your random Lilith rants. I’m sure Lilith will be very calm about finding out all this information. Not like she has a deep-rooted hatred for this practice or anything.

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  2. April! She’s completely screwed 😖
    She asked for it herself, unable to understand the consequences.
    Caleb was her handsome knight on the white horse. A way out of hell … and the direct path to yet another hell.
    Two lonely and unhappy souls (does Caleb have a soul at all?) The total destruction for both of them.
    One almost feels sorry for Caleb as he battles the temptation. After getting to know that cocktail, we know it’s doomed to fail.
    April is manipulative and self-destructive to a degree similar to madness 💔

    Should I now understand it as April is dead and thus an empty holster? A zombie? A reflection of what she once was?
    Maybe we have another explanation for good … because what really happens when a human is turned into a vampire after being drained?
    Was it Caleb who transformed Seth with the same effect?
    So many questions that still lack answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She walked right into the lion’s den and the lion just ripped her apart…

      In a way, yes April is an empty holster. She’ll be influenced a lot by Caleb’s will now. Hopefully Lilith will answer a few questions next chapter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. …Well, hell.

    I’m very curious to see how Lilith will respond to this. Because Caleb losing control is (partially, I’m giving the guy some slack as he really can’t help himself because he never learned how to) on him. But Caleb not knowing what would happen if he drained and turned someone is squarely on Lilith. He might have made a different choice if he did know. Whether that’s better or worse is something we can speculate on.
    But Lilith kept that knowledge from him. If she can see his memories, then she should be able to see the thought process that made him reach this point too, right? I’m honestly wondering how much she’ll blame him, how much she’ll blame her “parents”, and how much she’ll blame herself.

    Oh, April. You’re literally about to die and your strongest thoughts are still about whether you’re appealing to Caleb and if he’ll stay with you. That is just heart-breaking. Also explains why she was so obsessed with finding him and him becoming her boyfriend.
    Well, she got her wish. She’s bound to him for all eternity now, or until Caleb dies. Hoo boy. This will be fun. I’m remembering the “make me” comment from April now when they were on the couch. Holy hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure Lilith will be totally fine with her brother carrying out this archaic practice on someone. And she won’t blame him at all, of course.

      She was flailing around in a tornado of jealousy; a bound vampire without her spouse, completely headless. It’s OK though. I’m sure that now he can experience her emotions and most private thoughts that he’ll learn to love her and protect her in return for her servitude. That their marriage won’t just be a burning toilet of despair.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No one’s really the bad guy or the good guy in this. They all had a part to play in this tragedy, Lilith, Caleb, April and Sandy. April was so desperate to leave her mother’s grasp that she would resort to anything, including asking a vampire to take her away even though he was a stranger. She pushed Caleb over the edge to the point he couldn’t control himself. He could have left instead of lingering around, but he chose to stay and things got out of control. He did feel some sort of remorse for her, in that he didn’t want her to die, and was willing to save her with the kiss of death. Caleb has the mindset of a child (due to Lilith’s control) and he never really had enough knowledge to make a good decision, he just made a decision he thought was right at the time, not knowing the consequences. Yet Lilith will blame him for being an idiot when she is the one who helped him become the way he is.

    Now April has replaced one monster with another. She was so desperate to get away from her mother’s abuse and control that she thought Caleb would be her savior when now he is just another abuser and controller, but in a different form.

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  5. This was sad and tragic and strangely beautiful at the same time. Lilith’s voice was pretty loud and clear in the middle of the chaos in his head and yet he didn’t listen. In her flashback chapter Lilith convinced us that Caleb is practically incapable of bonding with anyone almost as if he didn’t have a heart because he was turned too young. But what we see here suggests it isn’t so. Or was this all just a selfish act? Did he do it for her or for himself? I’m not 100% sure. With Caleb it is very easy to mistake childlike curiosity for sympathy. In this situation just like when he met Mel’s mother. Was it sympathy or simple curiosity what made him act? Did he really want to help them or was he just curious what would happen if he decides to interfere with their lives? I can’t tell. Lilith definitely muddled everything for me to see Caleb clearly.

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  6. “Hey, Sandy. I killed your only child. Sorry about that. Here’s a coupon for your facelift.”
    Lol. She’d absolutely take that and never talk about it again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. …never mind. This is a monumental disaster. And… there´s a whole new collection of puzzle pieces about Caleb… but first, April.

    April, I think I understand. She´s just looking for a way out of her gilded cage and she doesn´t know any better. Simple as that, really. She´s got no idea what she´s getting herself into and worse, she might think she does because she has her inaccurate book. Plus, some of her weird, unhealthy trains of thought that have been ingrained in her don´t help anything, either.

    Caleb, though…? I just want to say you do an amazing job at writing a mind that alien. He´s just… really an outlier.
    “I recognised that expression. Sadness. It didn’t suit her and yet I felt it was an expression she wore a lot. ”
    He starts with seemingly reading emotion completely mechanically, yet an instant later actually shows a negative reaction to it, all his own. It seems like him not caring isn´t the problem. More like the more intuitive forms of communication, the nonverbal ones, are… a foreign language to him? More socially inept than unable to empathize, is what I would (very tentatively) deduce. But isn´t this a challenge of a jigsaw.

    Other than that, I get my answer about the mysterious sentence and it sure suddenly makes a lot of sense. She´d invited him once. The second time, he may have been thinking if it isn´t the way he´d turned her speaking, but she /did/ invite him the first time, of her own free will. Not that it changes much from our point of view, but I know some vampires get a bit particular about that.

    Now he probably really should have gotten out of there when he thought he should, or better yet, even earlier. Then again, a human knowing not only about your condition but your family directly, the source of that information too, that´s a huge loose end. That certainly didn´t help any, either. The rest of it… well. Lilith did say “You will drink, eventually.” That´s pretty much what it looks like to me. I still half blame him for the draining part, but only half. I´m sure the being starved thing did its part.

    The wrong turning part… that´s on Lilith. In my eyes there´s no buts or ifs about that one. Caleb should never have known it could be done, that it would work. If she already considered it with Nathaniel (and why did she, considering everything, do that) then why for goodness´ sake did she speak about it in front of her half-rogue brother? Honestly. And even worse, when she did, why didn´t she explain why she decided against it? Knowing that one shouldn´t do something is a pretty weak motivation not to. Knowing exactly /why/ that´s a bad idea on the other hand… that may have made a difference.

    Now of course, from a vampire´s perspective, it´s sort of lucky she did do what she did, because that /had/ been the most effective possible cleanup once there was a corpse, the safest way to avoid an info leak and the subsequent hunt. But that sort of look at the big picture, well, that´s just heartless, isn´t it? XD

    …and then there´s the bit where Caleb feels déjà vu and I wonder if I even wanna know why. Who am I kidding, of course I do. :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Disaster indeed.

      Yes, poor April was woefully unprepared for her meeting with a vampire and incredibly naïve.

      I do a great job at writing an alien mind. Um, thanks, I think. 😆 Yes, social ineptness is what I’m aiming for, and the general aloof/coldness that can be interpreted from missing or misinterpreting cues.

      You know vampires, all about those invitations.

      Yes, April was a loose end and, likely, fascinating to someone who’s lived in a form of social isolation. The fact that she was ‘gorgeous’, in his personal space, willing and smelled delicious probably didn’t help his fight for ‘sobriety’, no.

      No ifs or buts about the blame being all Lilith, you say. Shall I hold you to that?

      Maybe we’ll find out, one day. If it should ever become relevant…

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      1. I mean, of course you do a great job at writing the normal ones, too. But writing someone who is just that different, that… hard to grasp from any sort of human standpoint – that takes some serious skill. Mad props, definitely. O.O

        Yeah, to Caleb who wasn´t much exposed to society in general, much less the modern one, someone who wouldn´t react to the knowledge that he was a vampire with immediate revulsion would have been a revelation in itself. All the other temptations piled onto that, probably.

        *groan* You are already good enough with that back and forth thing. Making a character completely hateable, then relatable, then hateable again. That´s actually why I said before that you´d totally fool me, as well an author should, mind, just to introduce another plot twist. But you know what? With all the info you gave here? Yeah. Try me. XDD Just to reiterate, we´re talking about how it is her fault that Caleb knew he could turn April even though she´d already died. /That´s/ what I´m totally blaming Lils for.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Aww, thanks.

          Yes, likely him being kept from modern, more accepting society was a motivation for his isolation.

          Hah! I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself. We’re all only an action or two away from being hated or loved in any situation and it’s an idea I like to play with.

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          1. As in Lilith thought that it would be safer to just let him believe everyone would hate him, still. *facepalm* So in her efforts to keep everyone else safe from him, she completely sabotaged her own original project of actually helping him adjust and develop. And she wonders where her dreams went. Pffft.

            Don´t be sorry, it´s really fun. 😀 I like to look at characters from all angles. Not that I always succeed. But your way of storytelling does help… it might not be enough for Lils at this point, though. :p

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hey, I didn’t even mention Lilith. 😆 But while we’re here; she probably knows where her sweet, naïve teenaged dreams of ‘preserving life and living peacefully with humans’ went; crashing into reality canyon.

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