Corinne joined me and William for a game of cards. Rummy. We chatted amicably. When the round was over, she said goodnight. I picked up the dishes and started cleaning up in the kitchen. He surprised me by helping.
“Didn’t think you went for the domestic.”
“I don’t, usually, but if you try to clean all this rubbish by yourself, you’ll be at it until dawn.”
“Thanks. I was just going to put away the leftovers and get everything that will fit in the dishwasher. The rest can soak in the sinks until morning. Could you get the Tupperware down from that cupboard?”
He handed me the containers, then resumed bringing in dishes from the dinning room. I was so glad I wouldn’t have to cook tomorrow. Parties were fun, as long as you didn’t have to clean afterward all the time.
“I’m going to give Genevieve riding lessons.”
“Her mum okay with that?”
“As long as she keeps her grades up. I’ll be back living here full time once my class is finished.”
“Of course. You are only there for the class.” It sounded like an accusation.
“I’ll still come up often, and everybody is always welcome here. If no fight is going on, I’ll probably be traveling again this summer. I haven’t been to Europe, yet, and there’s an opera company that keeps asking me to join their summer series. I loved going on vacation every summer as a kid, and I still can’t stay home for the season.”
We worked for a while in silence.
“I can feel they’re going to need me soon,” I said.
“The tribe I’m supposed to protect. It’s a hunch, in my gut, that they are going to call me back soon. This niggling worry in the back of my head.”
“You know you have back-up if you ask. Every one of ‘em will join you.”
“I know. But I can’t expect them to go into uncharted territory and fight someone else’s battle. Besides, I was made for this, right?”
“How do you plan on getting to the jungle fast enough to help? Do you think they’ll give you advance warning?”
“I doubt it will be that easy. It took us five days to reach them from L.A. last time. I’ll have to take the normal route unless I suddenly gain the ability to teleport. I don’t get why they didn’t pick someone from their own tribe? They had plenty of strong, healthy people.”
“What did they tell you?”
“They said a prophecy picked me. My description was passed on a hundred years ago, when they last did the ritual. They had been waiting for me. Would’ve been nice if they told me that before changing me. I didn’t get a say in this. I might’ve even volunteered to help if they said why they needed me. Instead, I wake up in a hut the next morning to be told about my new powers and destiny. Even then, he was vague. I found out by accident that I’m so lethal. I thank God none of my friends startled me back then. I could have hurt someone so easily.”
“How did you figure it out?”
I sat on a bar stool and sighed. “A guy attempted to mug me. He tried to grab my purse, and I reacted. I had him in a headlock with claws at his throat in a blink. He started begging me not to hurt him. I made him pass out, then called the cops on my cellphone.”
I extended them on my right hand. “Two slashes at speed and the neck is severed through with these. The instinct always tells me to go for the throat. Hence the beheadings I seem to be known for.”
“I enjoy a good neck twist myself, when things need to be finished quickly, but I’d rather draw out a fight, though, just for the fun of it.” His eyes held a glint of glee, probably remembering a good fight.
“Would you kill anyone if you ended the curse?”
“I didn’t hunt indiscriminately before, Carys. I won’t hesitate to defend myself, if it ever comes to it.”
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
He sighed. “I’ve always made my own choices. The curse makes me see people as more than a meal when I’m stuck around them all the time without being able to feed. It took away my freedom. I hope you never know what that’s like, love.”
“Humans try to forget we can be monsters, but some can do it just as well as the real ones. Having a soul doesn’t prevent that. It always comes down to free will, and love.”
“What do you mean about love?”
“Love makes all the difference in a person’s actions. Caring about others, for others. Being selfless. Showing compassion. Someone that only has ‘love’ for their sense of self doesn’t care about the world around him or how he affects others. They cause hurt all around them without batting an eyelash. Love is an action, not a feeling. We have to choose.”
“You always have these deep thoughts?”
“Always. But, enough heavy stuff on Christmas night. Aren’t we supposed to be jolly?”
“Something like that. What now?”
“Did you watch the other movies I set out?”
“Yes, I did. Had to do something, with all you mortals asleep. You have good taste. I’m surprised you like movies that gory.”
I shrugged. “I’m just full of surprises. All the movies on those shelves are mine. I don’t own any I don’t enjoy. I wouldn’t have so many guy friends without liking war movies, or sci-fi.”
“Did I tell you how beautiful you look tonight?” He looked deep into my eyes.
“Not yet. This is a new dress.”
“It’s perfect. You’re so elegant, yet so warm.” His arm twitched like he wanted to reach out, but held back.
I blushed. Smiled. The man—vampire—was impossibly handsome when he was being sweet.
He glanced at the clock. “I should let you get to sleep so you can see them off in the morning.”
“Oh, wow, it is late. We’ll probably be on our own tomorrow. I think they won’t be back until the park closes. Goodnight, William. You’ll see to the lights?”
“Don’t I always? Sleep tight, kitten.”
I went upstairs, feeling sleepy now I was thinking of bed, and changed into a silk nightgown, washed my face, brushed my teeth. When I came out of the bathroom, I noticed a small box on the bed, and smiled, thinking this could only be from William. I was instantly curious of what he got me and opened the box to find a pair of earrings, each a dangle with three black pearls in succession.
I put them on and looked in the mirror. They really were gorgeous. I’d had no idea he would have such good taste (or cash), and black pearls were my favorite. I put them in my jewelry box, then snuggled under the covers and fell asleep with a smile.
First in a new series!
Carys Taylor has her life perfectly under control. Equipped with a nice inheritance, she goes where she wants, when she wants, pursuing anything that interests her. So when her old professor asks her to come on a research trip for his thesis, she's eager to tag along.
Until that ill-fated trip to the South American jungle changes her into a supernatural being. Now she's sprouting claws and stronger and faster than any human being in existence. The reclusive tribe calls her their Protector - but from what? And why now? Why her?
Carys is pulled into a world she never knew existed. Is she up to the task?