Disclaimer: abusive, vulgar
The walk from the cottage through the deserted country lanes of rural Windenburg had been slow and painfully silent. Seth seemed calm and content, taking in his surroundings as they strolled, but Faith couldn’t stand it. There was too much to talk about. She stopped him on the path, but it was he who spoke.
“You look good enough to eat tonight, Faith.”
She stumbled. Was that a compliment or a finely-veiled dig at her? He was smiling; he didn’t look like he was harbouring a grudge. He was probably joking around again. But what if this was his way of saying he intended to return the favour with those carnivorous teeth of his? She wouldn’t blame him, but… ouch.
“Seth, about last night—“
“Ah, yes. We should clear the air,” Seth said softly, taking her hand. “I’m beastly when I’m dehydrated. Rest assured that it won’t get that far again.”
“No, I mean… OK yeah, you were kind of a dickhead,” Faith laughed. “You’re lucky I didn’t blast you across the room or something when you showed me that stuff with Chloe.”
“Yes, lucky,” Seth sighed. “So, if I wish to please you, I should submit to being abused and dined on, or accept that I may be violently attacked should I dare to explain my position or defend myself?”
Faith almost choked, “What? No! I didn’t mean that!”
“It’s all right,” Seth muttered, “I’m familiar with your disposition. In choosing to pursue you, the onus was all on me. I was good as asking for it—“
“Seth, oh my fucking god. No. That’s not what I meant!” Faith cried. “None of this is your fault! I literally fed on you ’til you snapped; you were totally justified to defend yourself. This is all my fault. Fucking hell! Why am I such a fuck up?!”
“Stop,” Seth said gently as he caressed Faith’s palm, her wrist, gliding his fingertip around the fastening on her leather cuff. “What’s done is done so let’s put it behind us, yes? Don’t let your issues ruin yet another night, Faith.”
“Why do you put up with me?” Faith asked in a small voice, fighting back tears.
“For my sins.”
Faith smiled, looking at the floor. “So, what’s the plan?”
“I have -ahem- borrowed a boat so I thought we could head out to the bluffs. The seals have come ashore this week, there are a number of interesting birds currently nesting on the isle, the blossoming trees are quite something to behold and I can see that I am boring you immensely.” He laughed, looking at her feigned expression of interest. “Perhaps you need to trust me on this. I’m sure we’ll find something to amuse you.”
Faith nodded, hoping that ‘something’ involved fewer clothes. “So why are we at the pub?”
“Why for dinner, of course. Head on in, find your dish. I’ll wait around the back. Wouldn’t want to cramp your salacious style.”
Faith laughed but as Seth started to walk away, it dawned on her that he was serious. “What? I can’t go in there! My face is all over the news! What if someone recognises me?”
“I’ll be listening and will intervene immediately, if required,” Seth assured her.
“But… what if you’re outnumbered?”
“Faith. Do you honestly think that a group of,” he paused, listening, “five unarmed humans stand a chance against me? I won’t let them, or anyone else, hurt you. You have my word.”
There is no other option.
No other viable option.
Who in hell could that be? If it’s Seth with another ‘gift’…
“What are you doing here?”
It took Faith mere minutes to locate her prey, have an obligatory vodka tonic and lure him outside. His friends catcalled to her as she led him by the hand, but no one had recognised or challenged her. She was bitterly disappointed; not only was she not as famous as she’d thought, but she’d quite wanted to see Seth storm in and take out five humans on her behalf.
Seth was waiting around the back, lying on top a picnic table, gazing at the sky, seemingly lost in thought. Or listening carefully, she thought.
Faith wasn’t sure if it was fresh air, or the sight of her boyfriend that caused her prey to snap to life, but his drowsy willingness suddenly gave way to apprehension.
“Who’s he? Is this some weird threesome? Because I’m not into that.”
Seth guffawed and waved his hand. “Ignore me; I’m not even here.”
The guy stared at Seth for a while, until his face clearly showed that he wasn’t registering the presence of the vampire any longer. He turned back to Faith, once again wearing a smitten smile.
“Can he see you?”
“See who?” the human asked.
“He can, but he cannot comprehend me,” at Faith’s look of awe, Seth scoffed, “It’s only you that resists me, Faith. Everyone else is most amenable to mind-meddling. He very much comprehends you, however, so might I suggest that, for the purposes of not appearing mentally unsound, you will your thoughts to me?”
I thought you couldn’t hear them.
I can when you choose to allow it, Seth projected back, his growl inside her head more an electric sensation throughout her whole body than an actual sound.
Are you doing this? Faith thought. Making him all compliant?
No. That would be your allure.
“It really does exist,” she murmured, forgetting herself. She shook her head. “I’m not crazy, honest, I just—“
“I can deal with a little crazy,” the human said, pulling her closer.
Of course it exists, Seth transmitted. Do you think Caleb would ever get his leg over without it? He needs all the rose-tinting and clouded judgement he can muster.
Does it only work on humans?
No. Seth laughed. But it doesn’t work on me, if that’s what you’re asking.
This guy is so into me, Faith thought, smiling at the human who gulped, his shyness evident. And he has such kind eyes…
Seth sighed. You really are your own worst enemy.
Are you gonna watch? Faith asked, pulling the human closer and kissing her way from his willing lips to his jaw, his neck, wondering to herself what effect this might be having on Seth.
Might as well, came the unbothered-sounding reply. The sky is too overcast for star-gazing.
Faith had had no prior intention of actually seducing this human but, knowing Seth would be watching, she worked her hand unsubtly into the guy’s jeans as she worked her fangs into his jugular, tapping the vein.
She couldn’t see from this angle if Seth’s face was giving anything away, but the tell-tale compression and thudding at her temples began to increase.
As she drank, spurred on by the liquor that burned her throat and blissfully blurred her senses, she gradually began to forget there was anything else in the world. It would be so easy to Just. Not. Stop.
“Still not bothering to mesmerise,” Seth’s voice cut through her trance. “I can’t say I blame you. Who wants to drink from a numbed human when they can wrestle with one in the throes of fear or passion? Ian here must be quite the experience, somewhere between the two extremes; finding you both incredibly arousing and utterly terrifying.”
Something in what Seth had said struck a chord and it took Faith a while to realise exactly what. She gently extracted her fangs and rounded on Seth. “Don’t tell me his name!”
The expression on Seth’s face was pure amusement. “Ah. Why not?”
“Because…” she paused, trying to put her thoughts into some sort of sentence. Because what? Because it gave him identity? It made him real? It made it all real? “It’ll make it harder,” she whispered, wondering exactly what she meant by that.
She clearly wasn’t the only one surprised by this answer.
“Make what harder?” Seth asked. “Him? I think he’s about at his limit there, Faith.”
“No, I mean,” Faith began, but unable to speak the words, she thought them. It’ll make it harder to… carry on. Y’know. To the end.
“Oh, I see,” Seth said, dragging the emphasis on the vowels. “Harder to kill him.”
With the words spoken so bluntly, Faith found herself defensive. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? What you want me to do?
Seth smiled in his usual, reason-abating fashion. “Do you want to?”
Faith hesitated. Ian was clearly oblivious to everything that was going on, holding on to her as he swayed and trying to nibble her ear. Faith tugged up the side of her dress that had started to slip and muttered, “I thought you’d make me.”
“I’m not going to make you do anything.”
“Who are talking to?” Ian slurred. “You’re so beautiful, but you are cuckoo!”
Faith caught the guy as he stumbled against her. “You know what?” she said to Seth, as casually as she could muster. “I think I’m done. So, if you want him, be my guest.”
Seth shook his head. “I’m sated. I’ll spare you the details, shall I? Lest they displease you.”
Faith winced. “You’ve already hunted?” she muttered. “Without me?”
Seth climbed from the bench and swaggered over, grinning. “You sound almost disappointed, Fledgling.”
Was she disappointed? Maybe he was joking, again. Wasn’t hunting the whole point of this date?
Or had she got it all wrong?
“That I’d drag you along on a frenzied murder spree?” Seth finished. “Interesting. Why would I do that?”
Faith scratched her wrist, suddenly feeling stupid. “You said I should embrace what I am.”
“Is that not what you’re doing?” Seth asked, gesturing to Ian. “Faith, you’ve told me that you find my hunting methods repulsive, that you don’t want to watch me kill someone; you even requested that I change the way I hunt, I do recall and then dropped me like a hot potato when I refused. Hell, only last night, you freaked out over my treatment of Chloe and that was one of my kinder ones. I’m hardly going to subject you to rampant bloodshed now. It would have you running for the hills. Wouldn’t it?”
Faith felt about two inches tall. She had said all those things, but…
Seth was remarkably calm, “Are you definitely done?”
Faith nodded and Seth beckoned the human towards him. Ian swayed as he pivoted on the spot to face in Seth’s general direction.
“What are you doing?” Faith asked. “I thought you didn’t want him?”
“I don’t,” Seth replied coolly. “I’m simply ensuring that he won’t remember you.”
“Holy shit,” Faith whispered, in awe. Seth merely raised an eyebrow in response and Faith watched as he waved a hand before Ian’s eyes, lightly fluttering his fingers and instantly rendering the poor guy even more dopey and mute than previously.
“Wait!” Faith cried and Seth paused, looking slightly irritated. “His friends will still remember me, right? Won’t they ask about me?”
“Good point,” Seth muttered, in concession. “Ah, murder is so much less complicated. Right,” he flexed his fingers and waved his hand again, manipulating Ian in a gentle oscillation. “How about this; he’ll remember you, but he’ll tell his friends that he came to his senses when you demanded payment for your lousy hand job?”
“What?!” Faith spluttered, escalating rapidly through all three anger levels.
Seth motioned Ian away. The addled human wandered back towards the front of the pub, bumping into the fence and looking confused as he did so.
“All right, down to the marina we go—“
“Lousy hand job?!” Faith shouted. “Lousy?! Nothing about that was lousy!”
“Shall we call Ian back and ask him for his review?”
“Of course he’s going to say that it was shit now that you’ve screwed with his brain!” Faith screeched. Seth tilted his head as if he found her outburst amusing, which did nothing to quell her rage. “OK, so you think I’m shit at sex, whatever. Instead of teaching me what you like, you’re just gonna make everyone else think I’m bad too? Just to ridicule me about it?”
Seth laughed. Laughed. He extended his hand towards her. “Not quite what I had in mind, no. But then, I wasn’t aware that you aspired to be the Wondrous Wrist of Windenburg. Come here.”
“Are you laughing at me?!” she cried. “Is this all just one big joke to you? Am I just one big fucking joke?!”
“At the moment, yes. Are you finished?”
“We’re definitely finished!” she screamed at him. “You know what you can do, Seth? You can take your fucking boat and stick it firmly up your fucking ass!”
“Ah, adding a chronic fissure to my growing list of wounds,” Seth said playfully.
“You can stick the fucking seals up there, too,” Faith huffed.
“Now that’s simply cruel. Come here; I won’t ask you again.”
“Why?” Faith shouted. “Want a lousy hand job? How about a crappy blow job? Go fuck yourself; you’d probably enjoy that more than my lousy efforts!”
Faith turned in her heels to storm towards the path but she didn’t get far. She felt herself being compelled into Seth’s arms with so much force that it almost knocked him backwards. He shook his head, took a moment to compose himself, while she took the opportunity to justify her rage.
“How dare you,” she hissed. “I told you not to control me!”
“You tell me to do a lot of things. If I obeyed all your commands, I’d be running in circles, weeping from every orifice.” He looked directly into her eyes; his joviality gone and his tone leaving no room for argument. “Listen to me.”
She just about fought the urge to spit in his face. “I don’t give a shit about anything you have to say! Lousy fucking hand job!” she shouted again. “Why would you say that—“
“Why do you think?” he hissed. “Watching you flaunt him, right in front of my goddamn eyes? It hurt, Faith.”
Faith’s fight instantly abandoned her. He was jealous? That wasn’t what she expected to hear, and Seth looked like he’d couldn’t believe he’d admitted it; he appeared shell shocked, dazed.
Realising she once again had the upper hand, Faith gathered her senses. “Good,” she snapped. “Now you know how I feel about you fucking Chloe. Let me go.”
Seth held her fast, his words barely above a whisper, his eyes regaining the colour they’d lost with his earlier confession. “I didn’t violate her, Faith. There are very few things I won’t do, but that’s certainly one of them.”
“Then why the hell would you make me think you did?!” Faith ranted, struggling against his hold.
“You know why,” he asserted, inclining his head towards the pub. “To test you. To push you. To incite a reaction. We are playing the same game here, Faith.”
“You’re an asshole,” Faith mumbled.
“Then so are you,” he stated, laughing as she opened her mouth to protest, then promptly clamped it shut as she conceded. She could feel Seth’s psychic binds loosen around her as he gently stroked her cheek. “You’re stubborn, hot-headed and you will likely drive me insane,” he murmured. “But you’re also so much more than you think you are, Faith. You’re showing me things I haven’t seen before, teaching me things I didn’t know about myself and that really is some feat.”
Faith was silent. His hold on her was completely broken, her head blissfully free of any compression; she could walk away, leave him stewing and missing her. But how many times could she do that? Why did she keep doing that? Pride? Her tapered high heels had sunk into the soft earth beneath her feet; an anchor point, as if they had made the decision for her to stay put and, for once, to listen.
He leaned towards her, seeking a kiss that she stoically refused to engage in.
Having someone around when I’ve been alone for so long is… taking some getting used to, he whispered, from inside her mind. You are so often out of my control and that is, frankly, infuriating. I have a lot to learn, and unlearn, but we’ve barely scratched the surface. We could be something amazing together. Something utterly terrible. I will allow you to walk away but, know that, I’m not going to give up on you. I will pursue you. I will fight for you.
As he let go of her, the loss of his firm embrace and the associated promise it held caused the last of her resolve to snap. She returned his kiss with a fever, clinging to him in her desperation.
He gently nudged her away, fixing her with one of intense stares of his. “So, I take it that you are staying?”
“May I remove the boat from my behind?”
Faith snorted inelegantly as her laugh bubbled up through her tears. She looked like she was seriously considering this before she replied, “Fine, but the seals stay up there.”
“Twisted,” he growled, finding her lips again.