I glanced around the exquisite courtyard in an attempt to calm my restless mind. I could not overcome the terror that consumed me despite my endeavors to conquer it. Try as I might, there was no comfort in the terrace that I once found so pleasing, before I was ill-favored by the king, before I was imprisoned in the tower that bordered it.
As I surveyed my surroundings, I observed the glint of a sword reflected by the sun’s warm rays. I was bewildered, not afraid. How, on such a dreary day, could there be anything but foul, rainy weather? Indeed, I was puzzled.
King Henry appeared unconcerned with the day’s events, and welcomed me to inform him of my thoughts. I could have slapped him, right there and then, but I refrained from doing so. He anticipated my actions, and flinched. When he realized I was more sophisticated than that, he laughed; a lovely laugh that encouraged you to join in. But I could not. I was the condemned.
When the time came, he escorted me to the block and lowered me down kindly. The brave, independent woman that resided in me stood back up and kissed him full in the face. His wrinkles creased and I could almost detect the makings of a tear in his eyes. But he was the king, and disregarded his feelings. He set me back down again, less kindly this time, as if to make up for the kiss. I swept my hair up from the stone, in a last stab at elegance and pride. The executioner raised his arm for the fatal swoop. I closed my eyes. I was not afraid. I was not afraid. Please, God. I am not afraid. I am ready.
I strolled into 5th period with the same confidence that I had possessed since the day I was born. Girls stared up at me in such amazement that it was surprising, as they had seen me for quite a long time before now. Boys gazed at me with vast eyes that reminded me of deep summer pools. I had grown used to them, yet it still astounded me that they could always find some new fascinating spectacle to gossip at. First, it was my little growth of a finger that I often contemplated having removed because of the whispers that rippled around the classroom in never-ending waves. Next, it was my black hair and pale skin that was unheard of in Florida. When would they realize that I was just like them? Of course, though, I wasn’t.
I didn’t know who I was, but it was not Arianna Westfield. The words froze on my lips when the inevitable, ‘So, tell me something interesting about yourself’ question arose. There had always been something strange about me, but I could never for the life of me figure out what. And I knew I could never tell anyone if I did. I overlooked these thoughts for the moment.
I sat down in my previously assigned seat and opened up my English book. It had been designated for homework last night, but no one read it beforehand. Mrs. Wells could always be found in the teacher’s lounge sipping coffee for at least ten minutes after class started. Unwittingly, she allowed us time to complete any homework we had not finished. I wasn’t in the mood today to read such a boring book, though. I slammed the tedious tome shut, and placed my head on the desk.
My best friend, Ashley, giggled loudly behind me. It seemed that Brad, the boy Ashley had her eye on, had just revealed his latest joke. There was no way I was going to listen to that much flirting; it was overpowering. But I was trapped in the devilish hold of frivolous talking, and had to join in somewhere.
I turned to my left; perhaps Katie would have something interesting to say. No, she was more interested in her boyfriend. Emma? Nowhere to be seen. Probably sick.
I condemned myself to a period of boredom, spent by torturously filling out paper after paper of reading comprehension. Suddenly, three minutes ahead of schedule, Mrs. Wells marched in. A pale, tawny-haired boy trailed after her hesitantly.
“Joey, come up and get a referral. You too, Brad, I see that book under your desk.” She shook her head. “It may not be the most stimulating book in the world, but it—” She broke off. It appeared that she had just remembered the unobtrusive young man that didn’t want to be seen anyways.
“Ah. This is Jeremiah Benieci, who is joining our class this year.”
The girls sighed with delight. Each and every one was longing for him to pick her as his lover.
“What about next year?” Some smart aleck in the back of the class was clearly too stupid to understand what she meant. I swelled with hate. I was always quick to anger.
Mrs. Wells gave the perpetrator a dirty look and returned to her teaching, despite the all-too-audible sniggers. She patted Jeremiah on the back, staring at him, and sent him on his way to one of the only available seats: the one to my right. But he stopped, looked up briefly, and snarled. I could hear the gasps from the fluttery girls, taken aback at his ferocity.
Jeremiah turned to Mrs. Wells, gesturing towards some point at the other side of the room. I followed his straightened finger, curious. Then, curiosity turned to hate.
He was pointing to the other vacant desk.
Mrs. Wells appeared to have given in, slowly beginning to nod her head. Then, at the last second, she shook her head violently, and snapped out of it. She stared pointedly at the empty seat beside me, and he bit his lip softly.
He hung his head while in view of the class, but as the attention was directed away from him, I could see him raise his chin high and proud, and I could see him perfectly.
He was beautiful. Everything about him, his nose, his ocher eyes that matched his glorious hair, his long, sinewy body, was gorgeous. But he was pale—too pale. Dark rings circled his eyes, and his high cheekbones gave him a slightly gaunt look. Still, a certain allure radiated from him in waves. They rammed against me, throwing me sideways. I grappled frantically for support, the slippery edges of my chair the easiest to hold on to. I narrowly avoided humiliation for myself, but my flailing arms knocked the books from my desk, causing a few to glance my way. My face burned with embarrassment, my complexion a never-ceasing curse. I could imagine how red it must be, but I didn’t obsess over that. I obsessed over him.
He noticed me watching him and twisted around in his newly claimed chair. Those eyes…I was entranced, incapable of thinking, and my heart pounded fiercely in my chest. The blood rushed to my head. I was leaning towards him, fighting the pulsating waves, longing to taste his blood on my lips—and then it was shattered.
Did I really thirst for his blood? Or was I insane? The word vampire sprang to mind. Those creatures of the night, feeding on the blood of others, destroying lives. That feeling was unmistakable. I had nursed a crush before, despite the subject’s obvious disgust, and this was not one. I had definitely craved his blood. It was disturbing, yet somehow, I remained calm. I returned to my thoughts from earlier. Is that my difference? Being a monster? Something told me, told me quite certainly, that I had never been bitten. That was how the legend goes. But I couldn’t recall the faintest memory of such a thing.
Then, something twitched in the corner of my eye, and my attention turned back to Jeremiah.
He had retrieved my books, stacked in a precisely symmetrical pile on my desk. But he hadn’t moved.
His pursed lips were definitely angry. Their thin line made me wonder if Jeremiah, too, wanted me. I must’ve been crazy with love, because how did anger translate into desire? Yet, in that moment when we looked into each other’s eyes, I felt a deep connection that I hoped he had sensed too. I tried to please him, to placate his noble air and make him laugh, but he stoutly refused to turn and face me. I would’ve thought he was paying no attention at all to me, but his hands, balled into fists, gave him away.
“And for homework, read…” A voice tuned in, and tuned out, like a radio whose knob was being twisted back and forth, back and forth. Mrs. Wells had been talking the entire time, and hadn’t yet realized she was boring her class. She was annoying me. I heard something about reading Chapter Fourteen, but I couldn’t even recall what book we were studying. All I knew was that the man of my dreams was sitting beside me, offended and alone. Completely alone.
As I walked to lunch, Emma ran up behind me, thinking me completely unaware of her presence, and vaulted up onto my shoulders. My laugh was genuine, because I thought it hilarious that still, after thirteen years, she didn’t realize I knew.
“Guess where I was!” She commanded me instead of asking me. Without waiting for a reply, she dropped down nimbly and answered herself. “At the beach…with Ethan!” I stopped, dropped open my mouth in a comical O, then cracked up. This was about the twentieth time she’d done this, and it got funnier the more she did. We skipped giggling to the cafeteria, my heart not really into it.
Once inside, I looked around, searching with a hopeful heart for Jeremiah. I finally glimpsed him sitting alone at a table with girls closing in on him. I sat at Emma’s table, but kept swinging around to stare at Jeremiah.
The girls drew near, but still he didn’t react. I saw one of them turn him around, sit on his lap, and straddle him. Something flicked onto my face. I wiped it away, and stared at it. It was a lone tear.
The girl whispered something in his ear. She was obviously the most forward of the group, because she attempted to kiss his lovely mouth. I flinched. When I had gathered my wits, I looked again. The girl was lying on the floor, crying. He was standing.
“Don’t call me Jerry,” he thundered. Everyone present looked up, bewildered. Jeremiah sat down again and stared at his food.
I turned to Emma, saying, “Sorry, Em,” and made my way to his table, fully aware of the staring eyes that followed me. Jeremiah didn’t greet me as I sat down beside him.
“Hey, I saw you in 5th period,” I ventured. He still stared intently into the slop on his tray. “Remember?”
Jeremiah didn’t answer.
“Well, anyways, I’m Arianna. And if you need anything, or you decide to start talking, I’ll be here.” He grabbed my hand unexpectedly. I almost pulled away, but then I noticed him searching, not feeling. He came upon my little stub, and paused.
“Yeah, funny, isn’t it?”
Jeremiah shook his head.
“No…it’s beautiful…” he murmured. He dropped my hand and began feeling, exploring elsewhere. His slender hands fell to my chest, forever moving, seeking out my secrets, flowing with my curves. Normally I would slap the culprit, but this was different. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t even care. It was a perfect moment.
“Hey!” A shout echoed across the room. I turned. Josh, my boyfriend, stood up and sprinted towards me. Jeremiah didn’t notice. He continued his hunt.
Josh had reached us. He struck Jeremiah full in the face, and finally he halted. Slamming his hands against the table, he too stood. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. Emma motioned at me, as if saying, “Fighting over you?” and I nodded unhappily. I tried to run over to her, dodging the blows that came from the boys’ fists, but I was intercepted.
Josh grabbed my waist and held me tight; he was afraid of who I would choose. He was right to be scared: I had chosen.
My fists added to the hits raining down on Josh, and I struggled to be free of his enveloping grip. I was really starting to hate this kid.
When he refused to release me, I pushed away just far enough to have swinging room, and punched his face. Still, he restrained me painfully, my arms forced to my sides, and with blood dripping from his mouth, bent down and kissed me.
A sharp intake of breath echoed around the cafeteria. At first, I resisted his attempts, clawing at his sides, but when I tasted the blood, the sensation I’d felt in English returned, and I kissed back, licking it off his lips. Josh thought me merely enthusiastic, and brought me over to the wall, slamming me against it, until what had been slightly pleasant became excruciating. I almost collapsed with fright. I started shrieking through the kiss.
I heard Emma say, “Josh, stop, you’re hurting her!” He pulled away for a second and responded. Through the throbbing in my head, it was almost too faint for me to understand.
“Fine, we’ll take it to the bathroom where you can’t hear us.”
Jeremiah walked up behind him casually, as though unconcerned with the whole incident. His eyes said otherwise, burning a fierce red, encircled by black.
“You’ll do no such thing.” I cheered inwardly. Jeremiah kicked once, aiming for Josh’s groin. He made contact.
Josh yelled and fell to the floor, squirming in pain. Jeremiah laughed maliciously, then took my hand and led me back to his table. We sat down amid roars of approval. No one really liked Josh; he was a coward and a bully. The only reason I went out with him was because he had threatened to destroy my reputation somehow if I didn’t. He was a desperate man.
“Hold on,” I said, and Jeremiah nodded. I got up, and walked over to Josh where he was lying, sprawled on the floor. I twisted off the ring that he had, two months earlier, placed on my finger. I pressed my lips to it. He looked at me hopefully.
“I don’t think I want this anymore,” I said thoughtfully, and flung the cursed item at Josh, hitting him right in the middle of the forehead. Anger flashed across his face, and his eyes turned red, exactly as Jeremiah’s had been, for the slightest moment. It scarred my mind, but I pushed it back.
Jeremiah picked up his tray and dumped it in the trashcan up near the tray deposit. I watched his every move as I stood there. They were so graceful, a sort of loping stride that matched mine in every way but one. He moved with apparently no intent, no purpose, as though strolling down the sidewalk on a sunny day. I beat him to the seat.
“Thanks,” I said as he sat down opposite me. What else could I say? He had saved me from a life not worth living. For months now, Josh had pestered me about sleeping together. Each and every time, I had refused, and each and every time, he had sworn to get in bed with me. “I don’t understand,” Jeremiah said, a frown forming on his face. “Why did you sit with me?”
I shrugged. “Why not? Maybe you’re interesting.” My flirting was terrible. Just the opposite of his; although his was so subtle, he might not have been doing so.
He smiled. “Shall we get back to business?” His manners were flawless, impeccable. I nodded, also smiling.
Jeremiah took my hands and twirled me over to his side of the table. He continued to investigate me, his willowy fingers shifting across my body, starting with my legs, moving upward, like a feather; that was how light his touch was. My breath kept halting in my throat. He flowed over my chest again, seeking out my every turn, twisting and revolving.
Jeremiah’s hands whirled up to my face and caressed the dips and rises on my visage. Avoiding hiccups, I held my breath, but my face turned purple and he chuckled. I flared up with anger, but when he stroked my cheeks, I couldn’t concentrate on my anger. It was hard enough to remember breathing. He touched my lips, trying to understand them. I understood his. He tilted my chin so I would look up into his eyes, still exploring my lips’ lines, and I nearly passed out. He hesitated ever so slightly, and we kissed.
I nearly screamed. All I could manage in actuality was a faint “Oh!” My head was on fire. I couldn’t breathe at all, and I pulled away, feeling faint. People turned away, appearing nonchalant, but everyone had been staring. I was still having difficulty forcing the air in and out. My heart stopped dead, and my fingers became numb. Emma made as if to get up, but I motioned awkwardly for her to remain.
It seemed as though Jeremiah was furious, but I couldn’t understand why. He stalked off, leaving me heartbroken as he went away to his next class. Ashley and Emma came up beside me and hugged me tightly, trying to console me as I wondered if Jeremiah thought me the reason for the painful kiss that had ruined my day. And week. And year. Probably my entire life, too.
I went to my 6th period in a daze, oblivious to the stares of my classmates that were directed at my never-ending flow of tears. Everyone pulled me to their locker after classes and just had to know what was wrong. The homework the teachers dished out was dumped incomplete into my tote bag. They didn’t notice, although the kind elderly nurse watched me, quite concerned as I limped past the office.
The rest of the day went by quickly. I couldn’t see anything because of the haze that consumed me. The parking lot was a deathtrap, and I knew it, but I didn’t care. As I walked out to my Taurus, I dropped my key that I was fumbling with, and I saw headlights headed straight for me. In my stupor, I could do nothing but kneel there, hoping to find my key, waiting for my inescapable death.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw tawny hair rushing towards me, but I didn’t care. I would rather perish than live with the knowledge of the true love that had been within my grasp, and taken so cruelly away from me.
Something slammed into me and I prepared myself for the end.
I heard the screech of brakes and the pounding of a heartbeat not my own. I was lifted bodily and thrown through the air towards the waiting arms of Alex, a boy I would have to thank later, if I ever got the chance. If I survived.
He lay me down gently and knelt beside me. Ashley ran up and pushed him away, trying to reach me and make sure I was alright.
Already a crowd had formed around me, all these faces looking down at me concernedly, but the only one I could see was Jeremiah’s. I noticed his hair was tousled, perfectly so, and I was swept up into his arms. His chest was cold and stony. I shivered.
Something trickled down the side of my face, warm and noticeably sticky. The same stuff was present on my chest. Ashley wiped it away from my face, and touched my ribs. I yelped with pain, and she winced, leaving me be. Jeremiah checked my pulse, pressing his finger softly to my neck. I gasped for air, and received none. I felt faint, and dark mists swarmed in front of my eyes, then…nothing.
My life flashed before my eyes. I could do nothing to stop it. I saw myself playing at my house with my sister, my life at court, all the romances, the romancers’ faces, and the time I spent staring death in the face, the face of the Plague. It was different now. There was no escaping this time. Death had me clutched in his hand. His unfeeling, evil, yet righteous, hand.
I felt the blistering cold edge of the sword cut through my skin. I was in agonizing pain, yet I was not dead. My head rolled off the block. I closed my eyes, but I could feel the hags wiping the blood off the wedge of stone. I heard the executioner walk away silently, and then my head was picked up by the hair and flung around roughly. I could not feel the pain any longer. I heard cheering through my dead ears. They thought me dead!
Voices sounded around me. I screamed piercingly, the nightmare still present in my unconscious mind. Footsteps moved hastily towards me, and I cried out yet again. They were coming! The last few seconds of my life were near, and I was going to waste them, for Jeremiah wasn’t here.
Jeremiah! All the memories flooded back to me, the terrible moments right when the car was about to hit me, the heartbeat I felt against my chest as he held me to him. I reached up and felt my face, then my neck. It was still attached to my body. The terrifying dream was over.
And that was all it had been: a dream. Albeit one that felt so real. My keen hearing picked up deep arguing tones, debating if I was fine or deathly ill. I sat up and opened my mouth, determined to prove my health, but a strong hand lowered me soothingly down. I closed my eyes and sensed a weight lowering itself onto the cot.
It was Jeremiah’s voice! I struggled to rise, but a hand pushed me back. It held me firm, with no intention of giving way.
“You need to rest. You’re injured.” I opened my eyes and looked straight into Jeremiah’s. They told the truth.
“No I’m not,” I argued. “You're just saying that to keep me out of trouble.”
A fleeting smile crossed his lips. “No, but what could you do about it, anyways?”
I took a furtive look around the hospital room. There were at least three doctors on duty, keeping watch over their territory. My imaginative mind transformed their already squashed faces into those of Rottweilers. I shuddered. “Nothing.”
He chuckled. “Don’t tell me. You're picturing them in Victoria’s Secret costume. I do that too, sometimes.”
Shaking my head, I said, “Not quite. Think guard dogs.”
Jeremiah doubled over, quivering with mirth. Finally he could stand it no longer, and laughed so loud, the physicians stared at us like we were crazy. Which, in fact, we were.
He could barely speak. “Bulldog…in French…lingerie…” he spluttered. My brain conjured up the image, and I too laughed.
Suddenly, I stopped. “Does my mom know I was hit by a car?” I asked. Jeremiah halted his delight, and frowned.
“You weren’t hit by a car.”
“Then explain how I have…” I studied the doctor’s report. “Two bruised ribs and a fractured wrist.” He pulled the chart away from me and examined it thoroughly.
“Don’t forget the concussion.”
I nodded sarcastically. “Thanks for reminding me. I really needed to be told that I’m worse off than I originally thought I was. Completely necessary.” I paused, realized my mistake, then glared angrily at Jeremiah.
“Change the subject, huh? You never answered my question. Does my mom know I was hit by a car?”
Now it was Jeremiah’s turn to glare. “I told you, you weren’t hit by a car.”
“Just answer me! Does she—” I broke off. “Hold on, what do you mean I wasn’t hit by a car? I saw it coming, and then it slammed against me!”
He stared into my eyes, trying to control the anger that he knew was soon going to burst out of me. And it was. But he managed to restrain it, a feat that filled me with awe, replacing the fury. “I mean the car didn’t touch you. Something else did.”
“Then what...” But I already knew the answer.
I didn’t want to believe him. I couldn’t. That would make me have to accept something that I didn’t want to accept. But I did.
“You, you, hurt me?”
“No, Arianna, I saved you. That car would’ve hit you. I pushed you out of the way.” So I was wrong. He didn’t hurt me. I was relieved slightly. But it still didn’t make sense. That meant he was hit instead of me. But as far as I knew, he was healthier than I was. It was too confusing, and I just wanted to lie down and rest.
“You do that.” Jeremiah said strangely.
“Do what?” I asked, a defensive tone creeping into my voice.
“Lie down. Rest. Think about everything that happened today. Think about me. Your life, your mom, your friends, your injuries. Give up on the world for just one day.”
I stifled a sob. That was exactly what I had in mind. But first, I had a mystery to solve. And he would not stop me.
“Who are you—No, what are you? You knew exactly what I was thinking! Tell me how, and tell me now!”
He stared at the sheets for a long moment, then looked up and angled my chin so that I would be forced to meet his gaze.
“My name, you know. I’m Jeremiah Benieci. That’s all that I want to tell you as of now. Maybe, someday, you’ll learn the answers to the other two. And maybe, someday, you’ll learn the answers to the three regarding yourself.”
He pressed the call button for the nurse despite my protesting, and said sweetly, “I think we need another dose of anesthetic, please.”
I yelled out. “NO!”
“Make that two.”
* * *
I awoke to find my mother standing above me, looking concerned. I saw a flash of light and then a man, not one of the doctors, towering behind my mom. He smirked, and brushed my mother’s hair away from her neck. Bending towards her, his lips parted and gleaming teeth pressed up against her skin. I screamed, extending my free arm to knock him away, and my mom suddenly pushed him.
“Not here, Austin. Besides how do you think she feels, seeing us together? She doesn’t even know yet!”
“Sorry, love,” he murmured. “When I see your beautiful face, I just can’t hold myself back.” I mimed gagging, but that wasn’t the best thing to do.
“Oh my God,” my mother gasped, truly in fear for my life. “She can’t breathe. Call the doctor!” I sat up, making sure to breathe evenly.
“Mom, I’m fine. I’m talking, aren’t I, so what more could you want?”
Mom began a lecture about the niceties of asking about a person’s health, of which I absorbed approximately twenty percent.
Then I noticed Jeremiah in the background, and that dissolved to zero. He pointed at me and then at him, and then to the window. I gave him the go-ahead, and he lunged for me out of the shadows and busted through the window in one short, refined move.
As we soared over the freshly mowed grass, I heard my moronic mother cry out. She must have seen what had happened. A one-eyed deaf dog could have understood. Although, what does deafness have to do with that? Jeremiah was completely silent, and the window had shattered noiselessly.
“No. No one saw me ‘kidnap’ you but you and me. All your mother saw was you shift slightly, then disappear.” I was amazed at this second show of psychic ability. Then, shock set in.
“Oh no! My mom must be terrified! She’ll freak out and call the police! Besides, I still have—”
“Two bruised ribs and a fractured wrist. Plus that concussion you were so upset that I mentioned. Yeah, so? My friend can help with that.” He kept running, hefting me onto his shoulders.
I shook my head. “I don’t want somebody else’s help! I want my mom’s doctors.”
He tilted his head back towards me somewhat, all the while keeping his pace. “I’m afraid I can’t allow that. I can’t let anyone discover us. You’re sticking with me.”
I pounded his back as hard as I could, but he sprinted even faster, heading to a forest I’d never noticed before. It was now or never.
I pulled back with my hands, ignoring the shooting pain snapping up my arm from my wrist. Jeremiah continued dashing through the trees, but he began to choke. He slowed down as we arrived in a clearing. He threw me down and snapped his fingers, as though demanding something.
A rope fell, hitting me on the head. Jeremiah snarled at the foliage above our heads, and then bound me securely to a tree before I even knew what was happening.
“You have to promise you won’t try that again,” he told me. I didn’t reply.
“Can’t you trust me?”
I exploded with the injustice of it all.
“Can’t you trust me?” I retorted. “You rescue me from a speeding truck with the injuries a speeding truck would have given me, and you expect me to not ask questions? You won’t even tell me what happened, or who us is! And now, now you tie me to a tree!”
He nodded. “I agree. This is unfair. But you seemed like you were about to run back to your mother and tell her everything. And I couldn’t let that happen.”
“I won’t,” I promised, and I wasn’t lying. “So can you let me go now?”
“Yes.” And he released me. I was surprised. I expected to have to beg for my freedom. Then I remembered, He can read my mind.
Jeremiah took my hand and led me to the center of the sunlit clearing. He stepped up on the flat stump, and helped me up, then took my other hand.
“Just let go,” he murmured. He let go of my hands, and instead one held my waist, one hand deep in my hair. We rose up into the air, and his face pressed to mine, and strangely enough, I was completely calm. The extreme pain that I had felt last time had disappeared, but I didn’t know if it was forever. I just concentrated on breathing in and out, over and over.
Our feet lifted off the ground, we shimmered in the sunlight, because of a moment so pure and filled with love. My heart kept pace with his, and my breathing did, too. The shadows in the forest were chased away, and we glistened more brightly. I saw the birds in their nests turn away from the sight.
Jeremiah and I kept ascending, and subconsciously, I saw the trees part to allow us through. Then slowly, we sank onto the newly connected branches, still locked in our sweet embrace.
* * *
Someone shoved me roughly aside, and helped Jeremiah up. I stumbled to my feet, still groggy from our moment together. Then the shouting match began.
“What do you think you’re doing? You could’ve given us away! And to bring that…that girl here,” The young woman speaking paused. She appeared to be my age. And worse yet, Jeremiah’s. I felt a surge of jealousy. A fiery monster reared up inside of me, wanting to claw her to pieces.
I thought about her choice of words. She had put such nasty emphasis on the word “girl”, it was frightening. “You must be out of your mind!”
“I think, or really, I know, she’s one of us.” Jeremiah stated. “And if she is, she’s not so different from you, girl.”
I could see clearly now, just in time to watch the girl slap him. And see her. Her face was horrendous, and I wanted to force a mirror in front of it, let her glimpse a fragment of her ugliness, and then it hit me. She wasn’t deformed. She was mutilated.
Every crease on her features, each wrinkle, was a scar. One slid down across her eye, while another chopped off the side of her cheek. I stared rudely, but I couldn’t help it. Two of her fingers were missing.
Jeremiah made as if to return the favor, then stopped at her torn cheek and caressed it carefully, as though contemplating every twitch of his fingertips.
“Juliette,” he began. Juliette. Named after that famous lover. “Please don’t be angry. I had to bring her; those doctors at the hospital were just about to find out that she defies all they’ve ever known!”
She shrieked. “How dare you assume everyone you meet that you know, you know aren’t one of us, is right for you! Have you stopped once, just once, and thought about anyone besides yourself?”
Juliette threw his hand off her face, and stalked away. He called after her, “There was a stalker following her!” I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Well, that was quite a welcoming party,” I said brightly. Jeremiah followed Juliette, but not before giving me a look that would have shamed Brad at Angelina’s mom’s funeral. Brad Pitt had nothing on Jeremiah.
“Hey—wait! What about me? I don’t know where I am!”
He ignored me and left me to fend for myself.
The minutes ticked by, and it grew dark. I imagined myself at home, snuggled up in my blankets, dozing off to sleep without any cares in the world. My eyes closed until they were just slits, and I was totally relaxed.
“Arianna, wake up…Arianna…wake up…now…”
My eyes flickered open. Shadows circled me, knives extended at my throat, and I screamed. The daggers retreated until they were glimmers in the gloom. I struggled to be free of the vines that had, unbeknownst to me, secured my arms and legs to the branches.
But no one had tied me! The vines had grown to accommodate the shape of my body, no knots involved. I screamed again, afraid of whomever or whatever was surrounding my little nest.
“Help me! Help me, please!”
Something snickered in the darkness, and my voice was replayed back to me, but fainter, almost like an echo.
My heart almost quit, right then and there, but I held on for my life. The shadows came closer, until I could see their faces. There were women, like Juliette, and there were men, like Jeremiah. Children appeared, watching curiously with bright crimson eyes.
They all had the same beauty, and yet the same gauntness; even the children. Their large eyes smoldered in the night with barely any light to reflect off of them.
When I paused my hysteria enough to look at them, instead of continuing their natural path, the people shifted their glances and crossed their feet, moving out of my sight. Someone stepped out of the crowd and into my line of vision. At this disturbance, the men muttered to themselves, and the children backed away. I stared; Jeremiah had returned as my savior.
His shock of tawny hair shone, standing out in the sea of black and blonde. He came closer and closer, then—
I nearly tumbled over with fright. He kneeled beside me, gazing concernedly into my eyes. For what seemed like an eternity, our picture remained. It was almost romantic—him stretched across me, myself staring at him adoringly—except for the multitudes of possibly murderous hordes observing it, each and every face plastered with a thirsty look. And they weren’t thirsty for Dr. Pepper, if you know what I mean.
I could sense the intensity of their burning eyes, boring holes in me. Jeremiah, it seemed, could too. He wrapped his arms around me and lifted me to my feet. He ushered me along, shielding me from the inquiring glances. I smiled, thinking of my new bodyguard, protecting me from the supernatural paparazzi.
dont make fun of this i know it sounds like twilight yes it will never be published and no i dont like it that much but i couldnt very well put the book im working on here because someone would undoubtedly steal it
· Sat Jan 10, 2009 @ 11:22pm · 0 Comments