A wave of energy flooded the air, warping, twisting, turning, an invisible tsunami ripping through time and space. Around the globe it travelled, never losing pace, undetected by some. Others felt it pass through them. It left them reeling in its wake, shaken, energized…aware.
His eyes flickered open.
“Finally.” His voice was hoarse from disuse. Slowly he rose, muscles stiff, blood pooled unmoving in his veins. Each movement was excruciating, the only sound in the dark room his breath as he sucked air into disused lungs.
It took an age, but eventually he was on his feet, shuffling to the cupboard across the room. Dust covered the floor, motes rising up and dancing in the air as he dragged himself forward. With a slight groan, he leaned and opened the cupboard, pulling a metal flask from its depths, twisting the lid and raising it to his lips, gulping. The contents spilled over his chin and down his bare chest, the liquid cutting through the layer of grime covering him to reveal a glimpse of the symbols that marked his skin.
“Aaaah. Better.” Already he could feel the ambrosia reviving him—his dried flesh became supple once more, the blood circulating through his veins, sluggish at first, soon picking up speed, bringing color and life to his body. Moving easier now, he crossed the room and flicked the light switch. A single bulb dangled from the ceiling, casting the room in a yellow glow. His tattoos itched and he absently brushed his palm over them, soothing the ache. Soon, he promised them. Soon.
A door stood ajar, its paint peeling. With renewed vigor, he pushed the door open, reaching in a hand to flick on that light too. The bathroom was old, tiles falling from the walls, rust winning the battle with enamel in the old tub. The shower curtain had long since rotted away; now flakes of plastic scattered across the floor, crumbling into dust beneath his feet.
With fingers that trembled ever so slightly he turned on the tap, a grunt of satisfaction when hot water coughed and spluttered through the shower, settling into a steady stream. Stepping beneath the spray, he sucked in a breath as the water pummeled his skin like fine needles. It was always like this. The awakening.
Clean, naked, and dripping, he stood in front of the bathroom mirror, watching as his sunken face continued to fill out, his cheeks no longer hollow, his eyes no longer deep in their sockets. He raised a hand, traced his jaw with fingers that were no longer old and wrinkled. He was back. It was time.
Out in the street he stopped a young boy no more than thirteen years old.
“What time is it?” he demanded, gripping the boy’s wrist, as he would have moved on past.
“Hey. Let go,” the boy protested, tugging on his arm. Then he looked into the man’s eyes and froze, unblinking.
“What time is it?” the man asked again.
“Two o’clock.” the boy replied.
“The first of October.”
“Two thousand and sixteen.”
“Go. Remember nothing.”
The boy continued on his way, unaware of what had just transpired, a grin on his face and a spring in his step as he spied his friends waiting for him in front of the cinema.
The man continued to stand on the sidewalk, raising his face to the sky as dark clouds began to gather overhead. A boom of thunder rattled windows. The man smiled.
“I’m coming for you, witch.”
* * *
She should have been prepping Zak’s dining table. It was ready for its first coat of stain. Yet here she stood, the figurine she’d just carved clasped tightly in her hand, breath heaving in her lungs, horror creeping up and tapping her on the shoulder. What had she done?
Something was wrong. Georgia knew it, on a deep, intrinsic level. What it was, exactly, she couldn’t put her finger on, but she could feel it, like a darkness creeping into her soul, slithering through her veins, darkening her, changing her. And it scared the absolute shit out of her.
Ever since the showdown with Marius, where she’d ripped Veronica’s heart from her chest, it had niggled at her. The guilt. The knowledge that when she’d become a vampire she’d changed in ways she’d never anticipated. To take the life of another? The idea was abhorrent to her, yet she’d launched at Veronica, and, fueled by rage she’d sunk her hand into the woman’s chest, unrepentant in her actions, no hesitation. Veronica had never physically harmed her. Oh yes, the woman had been a first-class bitch and had been involved in the torture she’d suffered at the hands of Marius. Did she deserve to die? At the time, Georgia had thought so. Now, weeks later, she wasn’t so sure.
Tearing her unseeing eyes from the table back to the figurine in her hand, she trembled, a shudder ripping through her. It was a monster. Jaws open wide, long teeth protruding from the mouth, face contorted, clawed hands clutching…a heart. The face was almost unrecognizable. Almost. But Georgia knew who it was. Her. It was her. She was the monster. With a curse, she hurled it at the wall where it fell, rolling to a stop next to the two other identical figurines. She hadn’t meant to carve them; she’d returned to her workshop with the intention of working on Zak’s dining table. It was long overdue, yet here she was, a third carving that she didn’t remember making.
She glanced outside the open doors. Dawn wasn’t far off; she’d best head back. That was another thing that took getting used to. No more daylight. Switching off the lights and locking up the workshop, she checked her beloved farmhouse was secure before jumping in her truck and spinning the tires down the driveway. She arrived at Zak’s house within minutes, skidding to a halt with a cloud of dust, killing the engine and the boom of the stereo. Climbing out of the truck, she strode around the back of the house, following the sound of voices. It was Skye practicing knife throwing, being cheered on by Zak and his warriors.
“Hey.” Noticing her, Zak tugged her in close to his side, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. His warmth reached out and embraced her, weaving around her, making her feel safe…protected.
“How’s it going?” She nodded at Skye, who was throwing knives through the air and embedding them in the wooden bull’s-eye with amazing precision.
“She’s good. A natural.” Georgia eyed her sweet little sister, noting the change in her too. Gone was the cute, preppy look of pencil skirts, polka dots and high ponytails, in its place skin tight black jeans, a black tank and shit kicker boots. All that remained of the old Skye was the ponytail.
She rubbed at her head, a headache beginning to pound just behind her eyes. Zak frowned down at her.
“Just a headache. I’ll be fine.” She pulled out of his embrace, giving him a wan smile. “I’m going to head inside, get some sustenance. That should fix me right up.” She couldn’t bring herself to say blood, that she needed to drink blood. She’d been hiding from him her wavering thoughts on becoming a vampire. It was too late now anyway. There was nothing she could do about it. Once you turned vampire there was no going back.
“Georgia?” His head tilted to the side, his dark eyes zeroing in on her with laser precision.
“I’m fine,” she grumbled, hurrying inside. Heating her mug of blood in the microwave, she stood at the kitchen sink, gazing unseeing into the darkness outside as she sipped. As much as her mind protested her new species status, her body embraced it, the blood reviving her, bringing a flush to her cheeks and a sparkle to her eyes. Yet still the throbbing in her head continued.
“Better?” Zak pressed in behind her, his arms sliding around her waist, his mouth at her ear. She nodded, letting her head drop back against his shoulder. Best he didn’t know that she was changing, that something bad was happening in her. Pulling herself together she plastered on a smile, turning in his embrace and wrapping her arms around his neck.
“Much.” She tugged his head down until his mouth was on hers. This was still the same. The electricity, the thrumming of her body, the weakness in her knees, the way she came completely undone when he touched her. Breath hitching, she pressed herself closer, shuddering when he growled, the deep rumble vibrating through her. She didn’t protest when he teleported them upstairs to the bedroom they shared, smiled in sultry delight when he tossed her on the bed and followed her down. Oh yes, this, she didn’t mind at all.