Excerpt of Being Alive
*This is a recent excerpt from my upcoming novel Being Alive, about a troubled vampire who meets the woman he has imprinted with, just in time for everything to go to shit. Please ignore any random errors, this is a first draft solely. Copyright Shelby Lueders. Please don’t steal my words.*
Without bothering to check for Hadley, or ask for permission, I flagged down a taxi and pushed Scarlett in towards the leather seats. She did not hesitate. I slid in next to her and ordered off the address to my apartment. I was mad and she was scared, both of the situation at hand, and me. I could see it in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” I asked again as the driver sped around other cars. My urgency scared him into gunning down the packed Friday night streets; he would proceed to not look me in the eyes, fingering the fake gold cross around his neck and allowing his eyes to search the ground instead. Scarlett didn’t answer right away, and I knew that I needed to calm down. My emotions were running rampant. I was so ready to kill that man. I wanted to. I could have. So what stopped me? On any normal occasion, and as I have done before, I would have taken that greased up man out to the alleyway, had three sips of his gin-ridden vein before slicing his main artery with my index fingernail. I would really be that easy and I have done it before. But she is what stopped me.
I was more concerned about getting her home, getting her to safety, away from the bad men out there that want to take advantage of her. That beautiful face, innocent and sexy all at the same time, glanced up at me while on that man’s lap and someone connected with me, at a different level. She wanted me to save her–at least I was hoping.
And then I began to second guess myself. Perhaps she was so silent because she couldn’t believe the audacity of me kidnapping her. She was stunned! She was too stunned to ask where we were going, perhaps she had already guessed, or better yet assumed, that I was leading her to some secret lair where non-consensual sex would take place along with a dumping of a body in the Bay. Or worse yet, she knew. She knew all along. Had I not carefully wiped my mouth of blood from that last tramp? Was she secretly a vampire killer, raised by a vengeful family, father in particular, and was about to pull out a wooden stake right here in this taxi?
Speaking of, he came to an abrupt stop at my house, the shake of the breaks shaking me out of my fear. What in the glory of heaven was that? My mind has never gone on a subconscious rant such as that in about one hundred years. There is no possible way Scarlett knows what horrendous creature I am. It is not possible; I have been too well hidden, too careful to let one small girl get in the way of that goal. When I glanced at her as I threw some bills at the driver, his eyes averted to out the window and muttering something in a foreign language, she looked tired and sad.
“Would you like to come up?” I tried, “or would you like me to take you home.” I was definitely hoping for the former. She glanced out the window, taking in Alamo Square at night. The Painted Ladies turned off their lights and flowed back into the normal skyline, not looking anymore prominent than any other house. Some dogs were walked by young and bold owners, not afraid of the dark city streets. She then looked through the front windshield at my darkened house, and I realized that I should really purchase some outside lighting, but perhaps that would draw too much attention. I could almost taste her hesitation, her eyes darted towards me with a question of sanity. But something in those eyes changed once they fell on me. For some odd reason, a very bad choice really, she trusted me. With a firm nod, almost to herself more than to me, she opened the taxi door and spilled herself onto the cool cement sidewalk. She had forgotten she had been drinking all night. I had to hold back a chuckle at the pure adorable-ness of it all and using speed no human possesses, I was at her side just as she hit the ground. A small scrap on her bare knee was the only battle wound, but I tended to it all the same.
The taxi driver must have seen my come to her aid at my inhuman speed because as soon as her door was shut, he sped away, cross in hand, tears running down his face. I half-carried Scarlett up to my third-floor entrance; normally, in order to impress upon her, I would have bared her light weight in my arms and ascended those steep stairs, but I knew that those gimmicks would not work for her. She was not shallow and certainly did not require a man to sweep her off her feet. So instead I wrapped a sturdy arm around her small, but curvy waist and without her noticing in her slight drunken stupor, lifted her up the stairs one-handed.
Everything had happened so fast that I completely forgot to think about what was going to happen the minute we crossed my threshold. I tossed the lights on, brightening the room immensely, almost blindingly once we entered. I could have seen clearly in the dim-lit room, its only source of light being the light pollution that strained against the glass windows. However, walking and visiting in a dark home may be customary for vampires, I am well aware it is not for humans. Therefore, I would actually paying something for my electricity bill this month.
Perhaps I over did it with the lights. Every single one was turned on and cheerfully illuminated the house, glowing fiercely out the windows at the world, drawing the utmost attention to us. And for once I did not care. I was too obsessed with watching her nervously out of the corners of my eyes as I desperately tried to tidy some random corner of the house that was definitely already tidy enough. She floated around my apartment. Glancing out the windows thoughtfully at the skyline across the way, hearing ever so softly the sound of a barge out in the distance. Cars hummed their incessant song as their tires rolled down the asphalt, cameras flicking at the dark square. I could tell she couldn’t get comfortable. Trying to find pieces in the silence that were not awkward or uncomfortable. And I was at a loss as how to help. Instead I busied myself with the kitchen; pouring two tall glasses of crystal water and some gourmet crackers with spreadable cheese I bought because the younger woman at the grocery story insisted I needed it. I emptied her of her life force in the back ally after that and then felt obliged to buy her product. I thought of this as I walked it over to her. A normal vampire would laugh at such a tale, but she would be mortified and in disbelief of such a horrendous tale. I realized I had stopped half way in the two rooms with my plate of murderous cheese when she came up next to me.
“Are you okay? Is that for me?” She asked, eyes darting downward in a thirsty glance. She too understood the pains of being hungry.
My eyes shot up at hers, so brightly blue in all of this florescent lighting, they themselves could replace all electricity around the globe. They smiled at me and I followed her back to the couch where she relieved me of my hosting duties and devoured the snack in a way that rivaled me devouring my nightly snacks. I thought of this while she rambled about the man at the bar, whom I had thankfully already forgotten about until she decided to bring it back up. She talked about leaving Hadley behind, and then about having her as a roommate, how she always seems to be awake and out, “She’s not a homebody.” Then somehow the topic changed to her picking this university, this city to spend a good portion of her life in. How the south just wasn’t the same anymore after what had happened. She danced around the subject, but I was fortunate enough to already know what she was speaking of. The time I killed her boyfriend.
After what seemed like ages, and I could go on, she yawned largely, a very cute gesture that matched her tired eyes and looked around the large living room in search of a bedroom. I hadn’t thought about actual sleeping. As a vampire, I can enjoy the beauty that is sleep, however it doesn’t restore my body in the way it does for humans. Instead it is a dream-filled space, another realm where I am in control. I can connect with the past in these times, or sometimes the future. Speak to other vampires as if leaving a voicemail. Many vampires spend their lives “dreaming,” while others still hate the feeling and will never close their eyes again. Me, I enjoy it from time to time, but I do spend many hours at night awake.
“You can take my bed, I will camp out on the couch.” I said with clarity, this was the only option. Her eyes pierced mine, searching for lies. Cross my heart and hope to die I wanted to say.
“Okay,” she said slowly, “Come tuck me in then.”
And I was reeling. Tuck her in? What did that even entail? Was a bed time story a must as well? Or was this some sort of invitation. An inviting phrase said in just the right way to make my lower abdomen twitch with anticipation, but also cause a cloud of vagueness to wash over me. She did not clarify, instead, simply stood up, taking my black throw blanket with her and she padded barefoot to my room. I prayed that it was clean.
I took this as a gesture for me to follow her, but I was extremely self-conscious at the moment. Could I really follow this woman who smelled so enticing into my bedroom and not ravish her? Did I have that self-control. More than half of me wanted to pin her down to that bed, make every sexual fantasy of her’s reveal themselves and come true, and then gorge myself on that lustful blood. But that would mean killing her, as I often do with those that taste too good for me to control myself. And she is at the peak of ripeness and taste.
I needed blood, even though I wasn’t hungry, so that I wouldn’t wake to find myself covered in her’s the next morning. Bounding to the fridge in one leap, my feet hitting the ground without a sound, I threw open the metal door and hounded for the white basket in the back. Every good vampire knows to keep bags of blood available for such an occasion, or travel. Baring my fangs, I sliced into the harsh plastic with one rip and tossed my head back, squeezing the cold, thick liquid down my throat. It tasted sterile, as hospital blood tends to, and usually a quick round in the microwave would allow for some original taste to return. However, I did not have that luxury at the moment. The one minute it takes to heat up a donated bag of blood was one minute not spent in bed with Scarlett. How could I make that sacrifice? The cold and tasteless blood would have to do. After two bags, I was gorged. I was the kind of full humans get on Thanksgiving, a tradition I’ve only participated in a very few times.
Stuffing the new depleted plastic bags into the bottom of the trash can under other garbage, I was ready for her.
“What took ya?” She asked playfully when I entered. She looked dwarfed by my king-sized bed. Laying in the exact middle with my charcoal gray comforter wrapped around her, her blonde hair spilling around the black pillows is how I found her. I already needed more blood, but it was too late for that.
“Are you all tucked in?” I asked from the doorway. She laughed at this, snuggling deeper into the sheets. “Do you not know how to ‘tuck someone in?'” My silence gave my answer.
“Alright let me show you.” She kicked her legs and they popped out of the now rumpled covers. She had taken off her dress, revealing just a pair of panties and a bra. I almost slumped to the floor. “Come here.” She demanded. I came. There was no hesitation on my point, I was at her bidding.
“Lay down.” Another command and I did as I was told. As I slipped into my now familiar bed, it was ridden with her scent, clinging to the dark fabric, teasing me to no end. She must have noticed some effect on me because a giggle escaped those perfect lips as she pulled the covers up over my body, still fully clothed. She noticed this just too late, and whipped the covers back.
“What’s wrong?” I asked startled that I was about to be kicked out of my heaven, or worse that al of this was some crazy dream and I would look up to find Alexie staring down at me.
“You’re still dressed!” She exclaimed and forced me out of bed. Instead of letting my take care of my own derobing, I was forced to stand there and let her small hands remove my articles. I was helpless.
Slowly she worked over my shoes, tied tightly over my large feet. With a laugh as I stumbled she got them and my socks off. Then she moved over my belt and I gulped, fangs piercing my own lip as the buckle was undone, the button, and then the zipper of my jeans. In one fluid motion the pants were down, ripped off of me. I casually stepped out of them, and one step closer to her.
Then there was the task of my shirt. Her hands were cold as they found the hem of the t-shirt I had donned. Looking my straight in the eyes, she pulled the shirt slowly up and over my head. The minute I was free from my fabric, I clutched onto her. My brain had disconnected from my body, it was running its own show at this point and I was in for a ride. Her hands found my chest and we were silent. Deep breaths rocked our lungs, filling the room with air as we stared at each other, daring the other to make the first move. This was all on her. If it was up to me, I would have thrown her unto that bed already. But I had to go slowly, I knew that I had to go slowly. I did not know where this knowledge stemmed from, but I trusted it.
“Ezra.” She whispered and leaned in, one millimeter a minute. I needed to kiss her. I figured she too wanted a kiss, something to solidify the feelings we both have been sharing. But then I started to panic. Perhaps she is too drunk to realize what she is asking me to do, the joining of two people with sealed lip stamp of approval.
“Scarlett,” I whispered back, but my tone different from hers of lustful. I was concerned.
Her eyes opened when she realized I was not going to kiss her and I saw hurt swirling around those blue pools. I had done something wrong trying to do something right.
“Let me get you into bed,” I said and pulled the covers aside. She climbed into where I had been laying like a small child and allowed me to pull the covers up to her chin. I leaned down to retrieve my pants, realizing I would need them in the morning. With a soft smile I began to make my exit, but I was stopped by a soft voice.