Black Hellebore - Maya Shepherd - ebook
Opis

"Do you know what makes black hellebores so special? ... They are beautiful to look at, but their sap is poisonous, even deadly. You remind me of them."School is pure torture for 17-year old Lia, as she is a victim of incessant mobbing. As the daily attacks on her become increasingly more cruel and violent, she seeks relief in the more notorious nightclubs in town... Here she can be someone entirely different: someone strong and free.At "Exit", she runs into Orlando, a vampire. At first, she is nothing but another plaything for this creature of the night, but everything changes as he finds he cannot drink her blood. To him, she is as poisonous as the sap of the Black Hellebore.

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Maya Shepherd

Table of Contents

Title Page

Black Hellebore

Novel | E-Book

Copyright ©2013 Maya Shepherd

Other books by Maya Shepherd: | The Scarred Girl

For my soulsister

“Once I was cold,

Promise

Black Hellebore

Novel

E-Book

Copyright ©2013 Maya Shepherd

Cover: The Cover Collection

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted, with the exception of a reviewer who may quote passages in a review, without written prior permission from the publisher.

Facebook: Maya Shepherd

Blog: www.mayashepherd.blogspot.de

Twitter: Maya Shepherd

English Translation by Bellinda Zabcic

Other books by Maya Shepherd:

The Scarred Girl

For my soulsister

Sabrina Stocker

“Once I was cold,

And for me there was no warmth.

Once I was hungry,

And for me there was no nourishment.

Once I was sad,

And for me there was no comfort.

She took me in,

She fed me.

She clothed me.

In her arms I found comfort.

I cried till blood ran from my eyes

And she kissed them away.”

(from the book of NOD)

––––––––

- Prologue -

Her feet are bloody and blistered from the scorching desert sand. The sun beats down mercilessly on her unprotected head, while the skin of her naked body begins to flake. Her parched lips are cracked and torn. She seems to be close to death – but things are not always as they seem. She sheds the dead sheath of her old skin with a reptilian ease, only to re-emerge in full bloom.

Even in her current state with her flaking skin and features burned beyond anything recognisable as human, any man who would glimpse her for just the fleetest second would fall for this creature without any thought or reason. As if in the grasp of an impossible mirage, he would fall to his knees before her burned and blistered feet, ready and willing to do her bidding – whatever that might be. But she would pass him by without a single glance while his entire being would beg for her to notice him, cringing in the dust like a dog eager to please his mistress. There will never be another man worthy of the blood red gaze of her eyes.

Betrayal is man’s most loyal companion. She left her first of her own free will because he wanted to break her will. He wanted to own her whole being as one would a slave. The second, who would no longer walk this Earth without her, cast her away in fear of becoming her minion. She had taken him in when he was lost and lonely, had given him sustenance, warmth and even a love that could have lasted through the ages. But he had preferred the company of the unworthy because he had recognised her immeasurable beauty and power. He knew he would never – could never – be her equal.

It would have been so easy to snuff out his life, but she is the mistress of time itself. Her life is longer than that of any other – why then should she end a life she could toy with for centuries to come? Patience is a virtue only few can call their own – but she is the mistress of time. She can wait. She will remain in the shadows as a silent observer and will wait until he begins to feel safe once again, because he would never be able to forget her. Nobody, who has ever met her, was ever able to forget her.

Driven by hatred, she continues on, setting one foot in front of the other, day after day, night after night. She has eternity at her disposal, enough time to devise the most brutal revenge, and it shall come as an utter surprise. Nobody will see it coming, which will make it that much more cruel and merciless.

She will destroy every last one of his disgusting creations, until the last of his creatures are gone. They are weak and without hope. So much different from the children she will bring into this world, glowing with the beauty and power she will bestow on them. Her children will be the true masters of this Earth, perfect to the last detail and with the brains they will need to rule and think – not just to carry around a pretty face.

As she finally reaches the edge of the Red Sea, her feet bring the water to a boil at every step. It bubbles around her blistering skin as if it were touching red-hot coals. Her form is obscured by thickening veils of rising steam with every step she takes deeper into the water. Like an evening mist it begins to spread towards the land, diminishing only as she turns and walks back towards the shore. The setting sun makes her hair glow like red flames around her head, creating a startling contrast to the emerald green of her eyes. Gone is the flaked, blistered skin, replaced by a velvety suppleness, smoother than that of a newborn child.

The goddess of life has awakened, as young as the Earth, and she will only cease to be once the Earth herself fades and dies.

––––––––

- 1. Lia Green -

She tries to make herself as small and invisible as possible on the hard chair, staring straight ahead with empty eyes. The first few chords of Metallica’s “Nothing else matters” come from the earphone slyly pushed into her right ear, with the volume turned low enough that only she can hear the music. She had meant to use the other ear to listen to her history teacher droning on about the effects of the First World War, but instead she hears that quiet and cruel voice once again in the overcrowded classroom – and not a word of what Mr. Atkins was saying. Her seat in the last row allows her to see her classmates look around at her inconspicuously – at least that’s what they think they are doing - only to turn back to each other and whisper. Although the music prevents her hearing every word of their quiet conversations, she can feel their mean glances burning into her. These hateful looks feel like a noose around her neck, tightening just enough to become uncomfortable and sometimes hard enough to make her gasp for air – but never enough to actually squeeze the life out of her.

It is this horrible burden that makes every day a struggle, an inner struggle with herself to go to school. She already had to repeat a year once before because of absenteeism. If she didn’t make it this year, then Scarborough Grammar School would most definitely expel her for good. Her dad had made the situation abundantly clear. He didn’t care why she didn’t go; he simply demanded that she did. He said he didn’t insist on good grades, a simple pass would do. More than once he had explained that he didn’t much enjoy going to work either, but it had to be done. Lia was less than convinced about that, considering how much time he spent at work. She could practically count the hours he spends at home each week on the fingers of one hand.

“Did you see the black rings under her eyes?” a loud whisper comes from the desk in front of her, while Tracy, the owner of the obnoxious voice, twirls a blond curl around her brightly pink polished fingernail. A cloud of her overbearing perfume engulfs Lia, making her eyes water.

“She looks like she’s 40, for God’s sake”, counters Sarah, Tracy’s BFF, while casting a contemptuous glance over her shoulder at Lia, who quickly looks down and pretends to be busy with her notes, shuffling some empty sheets around. The perfume is strong enough to give her a headache. “She’s a total psycho anyway, and even the boys only want one thing from her!” Tracy hisses with contempt in her voice and a triumphant look at Lia. She knows very well that Lia can hear every word and it makes her feel powerful.

There is a moment of silence, and Lia begins to hope that this may be the end of today’s torture, while trying to fight the tightness in her throat. But no, Sarah has more she needs to say. It takes her a few seconds to find some detail with which to get Tracy’s attention once again focused on her.

“Just look at how cracked her lips are, who knows what she’s been doing with THEM half the night! What a SLUT!“

Sarah notes with satisfaction that her ploy has worked. Tracey giggles.

“Nobody would want her as a real girlfriend anyway. She’s all used up.”

“You never know what kind of disease you’d get from her!” Sarah eagerly agrees, nodding solemnly.

“Never cared for what they say

Never cared for games they play”

Finally, the bell rings for break time. While the others jump up and leave the classroom in a hurry, Lia stays put. Only after the last of her classmates have left the room she finally gathers up her things under the watchful eye of Mr. Atkins.

“Liandra, do you need some special invitation to leave?” the teacher’s nagging voice spurns her on.

“I just had to finish up my notes.” Lia mumbles without looking at Mr. Atkins.

“I doubt that somehow. You probably didn’t hear a word I said during the last hour with those earphones in.” He pauses for effect and waits for Lia to finally look at him with those piercing green eyes to be sure to have her undivided attention.

“I don’t expect for a second that you might show some interest in the material I’m teaching, but it would be nice to show some respect and at least pretend to be listening. We both know that history is not exactly your best subject.”

“Yes, Mr. Atkins”, is Lia’s sheepish response with an apologetic little smile. But the teacher is not so easily appeased.

“The kind of attitude you have is not going to help you pass the year, you know!”

Lia nods, gathers up her things and finally escapes from the room and Mr. Atkins’s disapproving frown.

Her two best friends Lindsay and Mike are impatiently waiting for her in the hall. They had all originially been in the same year, but everything had changed when Lia was held back to repeat the last year.

“You always take so long! No wonder we can never get good seats in the lunch room. Do you really want to sit next to the bins forever?!” complains Lindsay and rushes off ahead without waiting for an answer. But Mike gives her a reassuring pat on the shoulder and peers at her worriedly through his thick horn-rimmed glasses.

“Did the others give you grief again?”

But Lia shakes her head looking dejected. Something is going on every single day and Mike knows it well, so he gives her an encouraging little smile.

“C’mon its lunch time and you’ve got half the day behind you now.”

Lia tries to smile back but can manage only a halloweenmask-like grimace.

As Lindsay had already predicted, the lunch room is full to the point of bursting as they arrive and there are hardly any tables left. While Lia is still dragging her feet along the hallway, Lindsay rushes forward to claim their table. The table is actually meant just for two people and stands in the very back of the room in the corner, directly behind the bins, which of course is why nobody else wants to sit there. It is the official loser table but Lia doesn’t mind sitting there at all, as long as everyone leaves her alone. Lindsay on the other hand has not given up hope of one day claiming one of the sought after tables by the windows.

Lia quickly heaps a large ladle full of what is advertised as potato gratin onto her plate. She then grabs her favourite Lemon Cola and shuffles over to the cashier. One distinct advantage of arriving late is that there are no queues in front of the cashier, where she could once more become the focus of her fellow student’s nasty remarks. She makes a bee line for her table without looking at anyone, while trying to ignore the loud conversation and laughter all around her. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t let them get to you. Stay calm. She repeats her mantra in her head over and over until she reaches her table without being noticed. She looks back to see where Mike is and watches helplessly as he gets caught by the extended leg of a boy named Bradley. The milkshake on Mike’s tray topples over and splashes onto the floor, while Mike’s thick glasses slip off his nose, and he crashes down right smack into the thick pink puddle. The lunch room erupts in nasty laughter, while Mike, whose face has gone beetroot red, scrambles around on the floor looking for his glasses, without which he is as blind as a bat. Although Lia feels a terrified sweat breaking out all over her body, she rushes to his side and fishes his glasses out of the milkshake mess, while Lindsay, who has also appeared at his side, leads Mike down to their table. Just as Lia is about to straighten up, Bradley appears in front of her with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. Lia feels a lump in her throat, which she desperately tries to swallow... she knows what’s coming.

“Hey Green! My pants got splashed. Don’t you want to suck me dry? I hear you are really good at that.” He already has the crowd going, and there are laughter and cat calls all around, but Bradley feels he has to give it a little more: “Or do you only do it with teachers for better grades? We all know why you are always the last out of the classroom, right?”

Lia wants nothing more than to slap that horrible grin right off his face, but instead she simply turns around and scuttles off back down to her table by the bins. It doesn’t matter that her grades are shot, which obviously means that Bradley’s accusation couldn’t possibly be true. Nobody cares about the truth, all they care about is laughing at her. Some do it because they like hurting others and some because they don’t want to become the target of Tracey or Bradley’s mean games themselves.

Lia sits down with her back to the room and tries to slow her breathing. Usually, she would just pop in her earphones and turn the music up as loud as possible, but she can’t do that now with Lindsay and Mike in front of her. Instead, she does her best to get rid of the voices in her head by concentrating fully on her friends. Mike’s pearl green school pants are a mess of pink splashes, which he is unsuccessfully trying to wipe off with a napkin. All he is doing with the rubbing and wiping is making the mess even worse, so Lia reaches out to stop his hand.

She mumbles – like so many times before: “Leave it alone! I’m so sorry!” Mike and his thick glasses, wild hair, and his strange love for classical music would not have been one of the most popular boys in school anyway. But she knows that his torture had escalated only after he had become her friend. And Mike knew it too, although he always stubbornly rejected the notion, as he does now as well.

“It isn’t your fault that they are all brainless morons. Don’t worry about it.”

Lindsay sees it all a little differently. She gives Lia an inquisitive look over her salad plate, peering through her long black bangs.

“You look like crap, Lia. Were you out again last night?”

Lindsay asks her that same question at least once a week these days, and embarrassingly enough she had to nod practically every time.

“When will you ever learn that you can’t go out partying when you have school the next morning?!” she whispers in exasperation, sounding like the worried mother Lia had never had. Trying desperately to pre-empt the inevitable next question, Lia shrugs her shoulders and absentmindedly begins picking her fork into the yellow and beige mess on her own plate.

“Did you go home on your own?”

Lia shakes her head and feels more than hears Mike taking a sharp intake of breath next to her.

“Do you at least know the guy’s name?” is Lindsay’s disgusted next question, after which she shakes her head and stuffs a slice of cucumber into her painted violet lips. It isn’t the first time that Lia feels embarrassed about her own behaviour, and she keeps telling herself that she won’t go out on a school night again – or better yet – that she won’t go out partying at all anymore. Most importantly she tells herself that she won’t take some stranger home with her or go back to his place without anyone knowing where she is... But she has never been able to stick to her own resolutions, and as silly as it sounds – it’s almost like she has to go... She simply can’t hold herself back, and afterwards she always feels like she just didn’t try hard enough. She has no answers, doesn’t really know why she does what she does, especially since she knows full well that she will suffer for it the next day in school.

“I need to take my mind off things”, she faces Lindsay with a stubborn look. After all, that was a better explanation than letting on that she had no control whatsoever over her own body.

“You know, other people find themselves a hobby and go swimming after school, or play in a band or something. But I guess that isn’t exciting enough for you. You always have to be something special, don’t you? And that you drag us down with you in the process. Well, you obviously don’t give a damn!” Lindsay explodes angrily, simply voicing what Lia already knows. There is no excuse for her behaviour, and nothing she could say would ever matter as long as she can’t get a grip on herself. The puppy dog look in Mike’s eyes, enlarged by his thick glasses, nearly strangles her with guilt. 

“Why don’t you look for a nice boy, who is serious about you?”

Lia sighs. “I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone.”

“With that constant mucking about, she’s ruined her chances of being taken seriously anyway“, says Lindsay, giving Mike a dirty look across the table.

“That’s bull and you know it! There are plenty of boys who would be with her in a heartbeat. They just might be too shy to say something.” He turns to Lia and puts his hand on hers with a smile.

“You’re a great girl, and anyone who knows you, knows that. And people who can’t appreciate you for who you are don’t deserve you anyway!”

Lia is so moved by Mike’s kind words that all she can do in her embarrassment is stare straight down to the ground. That was so Mike. Good and kind Mike, always loyal, but thankfully he’s not her type, so she can’t break his heart. At least not more than she was obviously already doing. Lindsay’s derisive and angry snort pulls Lia back to reality. Her eyes are full of hatred as she stares at her two friends’ clasped hands.

“Nobody ever says something like that to me! But I guess a girl would have to behave like a complete slut to get any attention from guys around here!”

Her drink spills across the table as she angrily pushes back her chair and marches from the lunch room. Mike’s troubled gaze follows her to the door, but he just doesn’t get the reason for Lindsay’s angry outburst. He sighs and turns his attention back to Lia, who has crumpled into her chair and is the picture of misery.

“I know she doesn’t mean it like that...” she blurts out when she sees the way he is looking at her, because she knows those would have been his next words. And maybe Lindsay really hadn’t meant it, but the only problem is that she is right. It doesn’t matter what she does, or how many strangers she sleeps with; Mike will always think she’s great. It was a thought that made her feel really bad, something she really didn’t see as a compliment at all.

Mike spent the rest of the lunch hour talking about the concert of a pianist he had attended, whose name Lia had never heard before, and which she would immediately forget anyway. Mike’s words drone on, while she is miles away, trying to prepare herself for the torture, which would undoubtedly start again right after lunch and would continue all afternoon until the end of the school day. When the bell rings and lunch time is over, she returns to reality with a jolt and notices that she hasn’t eaten a single bite of her lunch.

The only thing empty is her Lemon Cola, not a drop has been left. With a heavy heart she says goodbye to Mike in front of the cafeteria, because he, unlike her is now off to an hour of chemistry in the lab with Lindsay. Lia, on the other hand, has to go back to her classroom on her own. She quickly sticks the earphones back into her ears to listen to Metallica. All she has to do is turn it up loud enough so that she can’t hear the snide remarks and bitchy giggles from the others.

As she steps into the hallway, there are so many students rushing up and down that she is overwhelmed by it all, and leans back against the wall some way away from her classroom. Across the way, a copy of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” catches her eye. There is nothing she would like more, than to just start screaming, opening her mouth and just scream. Instead, she presses her lips together and remains silent.

The hallway begins to empty slowly until only her class remains, and the others spot her at the end of the hall. Lia silently curses her stupid teacher, who can't even make it to class on time for a mid-day lesson!

Her throat feels dry as she turns down the volume of her MP3 player, so as not to be surprised if any attacks come her way. She will have to be ready and cannot risk not being hear what was going on around her. She can already feel the first mean glances coming her way, and can feel the palms of her hands getting sweaty, as Bradley and Tracey followed by their posse start walking towards her.

“Do you think you are better than us, or why do you keep yourself apart, huh?” Tracy spits at her with a passive aggressive undertone in her voice. Her curls seem like poisonous snakes, writhing around her head, while she fixes her penetrating gaze on Lia, who stands in front of her with her head cast down.

“Or... maybe you are afraid of us?” Bradley gives her a wicked smile as while he rests his back directly next to her on the wall. He is now concentrated fully on Lia, just like a predator who is toying with its prey.

“My brother saw you in one of those clubs last night...he says you went off to the toilet with three guys at once.”

“Slag!” is Sarah's quick response to that revelation, and she quickly looks to Tracey for reinforcement. But Tracey only has eyes for Bradley, who is now openly leering, as he stares at Lia’s body. She inwardly curses the knee-length skirt and the much too tight white blouse of her school uniform. Many times she had asked the teacher in charge for a larger size uniform, but she had been adamant that Lia’s uniform fit just fine.

Tracy doesn't like the way Bradley looks at Lia at all, and her mind is racing to find something clever to say. “Not only a slag, but a stupid slag! With the amount of fellas she’s doing it with, she could earn a fortune!”

“Maybe she just needs a manager.” Bradley gets more up close and personal, while Lia tries to inch away from him like a frightened rabbit.

“I wouldn't give her more than a tenner” pipes up pudgy Phil, who in reality would give his right arm just to see a naked woman in real life, and not only on his PC.

“You couldn't be more wrong, Phil. But that is not much of a surprise. After all, we all know that you have no idea about women that are not made of rubber...”

The posse dutifully starts its synchronised artificial laughter, just as Bradley expects them to. Only Tracey remains silent with her arms crossed in front of her, and her face scrunched up in an angry grimace. With that, Bradley leans down, bringing himself face to face with Lia, with very little space between them. He runs his hand over her hair, which is tied in a tight pony-tail. A single strand falls in a soft wave onto her face, which is consumed by the dark rings under her eyes. As Lia turns her face away, Bradley grabs her chin and turns it violently towards him.

“Just look at these lips; so naturally full, unlike our darling Sarah who’s had them done by her uncle, the doctor. Miss Green, on the other hand, can probably drive some men crazy with hers, right?!”

He doesn’t really wait for an answer from Lia, but rather presses his hand firmly against her breasts, as Lia’s ribcage rises and sinks in a shaky panic. She makes no attempt to defend herself against Bradley’s degradation, just standing there, like a helpless deer caught in the headlights, unable to run away. Her classmates have all gone very quiet, silently watching the scene unfold.

“I knew it, that’s more than a handful! I can always tell when it’s a hot one. I’d give you two hundred.”

His broad grin suddenly disappears when his hand is swiped from Lia’s breast.

“I’ll do it for fifty, Bradley. Right here and now, or are you too chicken?” Tru interrupts, and before Bradley can come up with anything to retort, she is on her knees in front of him unzipping his trousers. Surprised, Bradley starts stumbling backwards away from her while the others around them start smiling.

“You don’t want to back out, do you? Are you afraid that everyone will see how small your apparently ‘huge dick’ really is?!”

Phil starts grunting with laughter, and is immediately shut down by a hostile stare from Bradley

“You have no idea what you are talking about little bat. I wouldn’t touch you in a hundred years.” Bradley replies dismissively, straightening his shoulders defensively. Tru is not intimidated in the least, as she gets to her feet and squares up to Bradley, who is only mere centimetres taller than her. Tru suddenly seems unusually strong to Lia, as if nothing and no one could stand in her way. Just then, her math teacher finally turns the corner in to the hallway, carrying a huge pile of papers. The show is over, and Bradley throws Tru one last withering look before heading to the classroom with his posse.

Tru then turns towards Lia, inspecting her face with her warm brown eyes.

„Are you ok?”

Lia grabs at her green school blazer.

“Thanks for your help.”

Tru waves her hand dismissively, smiling for a moment, but then giving Lia another serious look.

“You have to fight back!”

Unmoved, Lia shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t have a chance against a whole group of them.”

“Then you have to fight back even harder. If you don’t defend yourself, they will never leave you alone!”

Lia is the last one to enter the classroom, following behind Tru. She sits in the back row, once again listening to her music, while Tru sits in the front row, staring blankly out the window. Lia gets yet another assignment back with a D- on it. Mr. Atkins is right; it’s not looking likely that she will pass the year.

––––––––

- 2. Orlando Moundrell -

The ground vibrates as the bass-heavy music penetrates his ears. The colours of the neon lights fly over the people on the dancefloor as the crowd at the bar, engulfed in soft, dim lighting seem to melt together into one big mass.

Orlando steps towards the over-crowded bar; he only needs to look at the back of the young barmaid to make her immediately turn around, stop anything she may have been doing and cater to his every whim no matter what that might be. He notices her delicious little goosebumpy shiver as he orders “one Bloody Mary”. A nervous giggle escapes her before finally getting on with her work.

He feels the inquisitive stares of all manner of different women on him from all angles. Most of them are of course single ladies looking for love, or are simply on the lookout for a little dirty adventure. But even the taken women are making no attempt to hide their interest in him, the eyes of some of them wandering towards him over and over while in mid-conversation with their partners, and others even watching him while they kiss someone else. No matter where he goes, he is always the centre of female attention.

With trembling hands, the barmaid places the blood-red drink down in front of him, spilling a little in the process. The red liquid runs down her finger, which she then sticks between her bright pink lips, pleasurably sucking off the liquid under Orlando’s watchful eye.

“I’m sorry, you make me really nervous. I’m Sindy!” she says, while seductively tracing her lips with her thumb.

“My mistake, I had better go then I suppose. You have a good night Sindy”, he says grinning at her, and while Sindy pleads for him to stay, he steps away from the bar, finding a table from which the entire dance floor is visible. It only takes one glance for him to spot the women who would go home with him without any hesitation. He can spot them by the way they dress, their frequent loud laughter, and the way in which they shake their hips. He doesn’t even need to make the effort of chatting someone up, because it wouldn’t matter what he said. He could, for example, say “have you ever seen a purple cow?” and they would go weak at the knees and answer every question with “yes”, ready to do anything he asks.

But it is even easier than that, because the women come to him, one after the other.The ones that are not yet completely drunk will try something like

“Hey, I noticed you from over there”, and then mostly go on to tell him much more about themselves than he wants to know. Others, who have had more to drink than they can handle, will hang on his shoulder and whisper heavily into his ear “Is it hot in here, or is that just you?”

Sometimes they will even try and be funny and show a little individuality when they provocatively say “Do you know what I really don’t like about you?”

If he wasn’t asked the same thing several times a week in clubs, he might actually be surprised by the question, but he rolls his eyes and answers anyway; “What?” to which the women pull a cheeky face and answer; “That you are wearing clothes.”

He gives them nothing more than a plastered on smile for all their efforts. He is not interested in women who throw themselves at him and offer themselves up like a lamb to the slaughter. He is looking for something much more innocent and pure. These women are just as easy to spot. They are the ones, who, for mere seconds will shyly stare towards him, until his gaze meets theirs and they quickly look away. After that, he keeps his ice-blue eyes fixed on their back, until their entire body starts tingling and they can no longer suppress the urge to look at him. He has won.

Even now he is scanning the room for today’s lucky lady. It takes a moment for him to realise, but then it hits him like a ton of bricks; something is different somehow.He is not getting the attention he is so used to.Quite the opposite actually; everyone in the room is turning their head toward someone else. Even the women are running their fingers over their sweat-moistened necklines while unintentional licking their lips, watching a person who is - not him. He has never experienced anything like this, and it deeply disturbs him. Who can possibly be more irresistible than him? Who can captivate the crowds even more than he can? He scans the club eagerly, following the glances of the other people and then finally, he sees her. Her long blonde hair falls like silk down her bare back. Her naked behind is covered only by a tiny black strip of material. She is wearing scarlett-red platform heels, and her movements are elegant yet sexy. Nobody else, neither here nor anywhere else can compare to her. They know that too, which is why they keep their distance from this mysterious beauty. She is one of a kind.

She’s standing on the very full and squashed together dancefloor, in a spot of her own, nobody daring to step anywhere near her.No matter how hard he stares at her back, he cannot move her like he does all the others, he is not even able to turn her around to look in his direction, if even just for a split second.

From the moment he saw her, he knew he had to have her. There is no doubt about that, but the only problem is how he will manage to do it. Never before in the many centuries he has been alive has he had to ask himself how he would be able to get a woman to notice him. It was always like childs play; completely effortless. He would never have dreamt of thinking that he would ever in all his years come across a woman who would be a challenge for him. But then again, the word ‘woman’ does not do her justice. She is not like the others; she is like a sparkling diamond in the rough. It’s her or nobody, at least tonight.

Orlando knows that if he doesn’t approach her now, she will never notice him. His head is spinning trying to think of what he could say to make her his. How ridiculous! The man who could effortlessly have five women on each arm at once, has to think about how he will get the attention of one! Even though his thoughts are muddled and he is still unsure of what to say, his strides are strong and self-assured as he steps on to the dance floor, making his way confidently towards this beautiful stranger.

He hesitates for a moment outside of her self-proclaimed circle of solitude, into which nobody has yet dared to venture, fascinated as he observes a single drop of sweat dripping down her perfectly curved spine all the way down into the cleavage of her bum. How he would love to catch it with his finger. As soon as he steps toward her, entering her domain, she swiftly swings around to look at him, staring at him as if to find out who could dare to encroach on her space. Everything he had planned to say is suddenly gone. The look in her eyes would have hit him like a bolt of lightning even from where he had been on the other side of the room. And now, standing so close to her, he is simply lost for words. He is standing there like an idiot staring at her, unable to look away, unwilling to look away. Her intense eyes, which are focused on him, would make his blood boil, if that were an option at all.

He knows not if they had been looking at each other for seconds or for minutes, but as she walks past him off the dance floor, the sweet smell of strawberries lingers in the air. Intoxicated by her scent, he inhales sharply and then quickly spins around, just in time to see her leave through the back door of the club. There is no more time to delay as he squeezes his way past all the sweaty couples, and towards the exit. He concentrates on her sweet scent and the rhythmic sound of her footsteps on the cobbled street along the narrow alleyway behind the club. Under bright neon signs, the city is alive with people, and the crowds make it hard for him to navigate. A taxi drives off from the corner of the overcrowded street, and the blonde hair that is waving out the window is sign enough for him to follow it. He jumps into the middle of the street, the sound of an angry car horn ringing in the street, and hops into the next taxi which he has forced to a stop. The fact that the taxi is already in use becomes irrelevant when he flashes a £50 note to the driver.

“Follow that taxi”, is the only thing he can manage to shout in his excitement. The cars glide through the light traffic on the streets next to the Scarborough Port, past all of the brightly lit yachts and motorboats. They drive past all of the lit up signs, the fast food restaurants, discount outlets, souvenir shops and boutiques by the beach. There is a thriving atmosphere, full of life, but Orlando is blind to it all. He is fixated on the taxi in front of them, and desperate to keep as close to it as possible. Soon after, the taxi turns away from the South Bay, and into an affluent residential area, lined with red brick houses. He is surpised to find himself on the very familiar Manor Road, close to the Italian Gardens at its end where Moundrell Manor, his current abode, rises above the scenery. His breath catches in his throat as he sees the slim legs of the icy blonde stepping out of the taxi and disappearing through a gate and up a driveway overgrown with ivy.

“Stop the car!!”, he shouts as he almost crushes the taxi driver’s shoulder, and the taxi comes to a screeching halt.

He presses another £50 note into the driver’s hand and gets out of the car. The driveway is dark, with no end to it in sight. He pushes through a small opening by the gate, sand-coloured gravel crunching beneath his leather boots. Treading carefully, he follows her sweet scent up the dark driveway. The building is clearly outlined against the dark night, but not a single light is burning inside. It is a large property, typically British, sporting white wooden beams and brown windowsills. A cozy veranda leads to the front door made of heavy teakwood. Next to the house, there is a garage, on top of which there is a built-in extension, decked out with large windows. The chiffon curtains are billowing in the wind, and behind them, a pale silhouette can be seen.

He was too slow; he missed his chance to speak to her. The front door is open a crack, did she forget to close it? Though unused to hiding, he sneaks past the perfectly trimmed bushes and across the veranda. There are still no lights on in the house, but he finds one of the red heels she was wearing earlier placed in such a way as to prop the door open. Is this a coincidence? No, it looks like an invitation! Does he dare? His shoes squeak loudly as he walks across the dark wood floors of the entrance hall. He has never shied away from taking risks.

The second shoe is lying like a homing beacon at the bottom of the stairs. He can still feel the heat from her body in the carelessly abandoned heel.

Quietly, he climbs the rosebouquet-lined staircase, almost tripping over the almost non-existant piece of fabric that she had worn as a dress, as he reaches the top of the stairs. He can see without a doubt that she has left him a sugary sweet, yet dangerous trail to follow. Never before has he experienced something so highly erotic. With every step he takes, the old wooden floors give away his presence. The tiny thong made of black lace that he finds in front of one of the large white double doors is the crowning moment for him. With a powerful push, he enters the extension room above the garage.

Her body shines against the cool moonlight, making her skin look soft and milky white. He wants to taste her, fill himself with her. He would rather turn to dust on the spot than not be able to have her. Time seems to have stopped, with only the sound of her breath breaking the silence.

As she turns towards him, there is neither shame nor surprise in her eyes. Naked as the day she was born, she stands in front of him, and in this moment she is the most beautiful and desirable thing his age-old eyes have ever been given the pleasure to see.

No words are needed from either of them, they both know why they are here and so their lips meet naturally and effortlessy, as if detached from their bodies. His rough hands glide over her soft, supple, naked skin, fondling her firm, full breasts and tightly gripping her soft, round butt. Orlando’s clothes come undone and fall to the floor, as if on their own.

He stands before her in all his glorious manhood as the pale moonlight makes his snow-white skin melt into the colour of the white painted iron bedframe. He needs no further invitation, and so he enters her, momentarily engulfed by a searing heat. Through his passionate lust, he can feel an otherworldly fire building. All reason is lost in her wild moans, and he is a slave to her immeasurable will. Incomparable to anything else and yet its her striking eyes that he can’t help but remain fixated on.

Exhausted, he falls back, while she straddles him like a queen on her throne. He has been submissive to her every wish. Fatigue spreads over him and he falls into a dreamless slumber.

Orlando awakens several hours later, and he realises it is seven thirty in the morning. How could this happen to him? He has never fallen asleep at some woman’s house, what makes this one so different? One look at her perfectly formed body is enough to answer that question for him. Her golden hair is falling in soft waves over her naked breasts, that only a few hours before he had been nuzzling like a baby. He wants to start over again, go another round, and then keep going over and over again, but sunrise is coming, forcing him to leave.

As he sits up, his head starts spinning and his eyes glaze over with some kind of blackness. He feels incredibly weak as if all of the power had been drained out of his body. Her blood will make him stronger; just one bite will be enough to make her forget the whole night. It’s a real shame that he has to take such a one of a kind experience from her, but it is as much for her protection as his own. He doesn’t usually play by the vampire rules, but there is one rule that not even he would dare break, and that is to always keep your true identity a secret.

No one can ever know what he is, because not only would that mean the death of the person who discovered his secret, but also the death of him.

Orlando gently strokes the soft, pale, delicate skin on her throat. It almost pains him to have to ruin this perfect surface with a bitemark. There will only be two tiny dots to be seen, but that is enough to mar the perfection. He softly presses his lips on her slim neck, and then he pierces her tender flesh with his fangs. Blood flows into his greedy mouth, causing him to recoil quickly, coughing and gagging. It burns in his throat and not only robs him of his wits, but also of air as he struggles to breathe. The blood burns stronger than any hard liqour, it almost seems as though his throat is being engulfed with some kind of strong venom. Tears fill his eyes, as he sinks to the floor drenched in sweat. Like a fish out of water, he gasps for air and strains his body until the burning slowly starts to subside. In shock, he pulls himself to his feet. He has no explanation for what has just happened. It deeply unsettles and unnerves him. There is no mark to be seen on her swan-like neck, not even a pin prick sized hole, all the while the fire is still burning dimly in his belly. He doesn’t have any time left to question it; the sun is rising and the break of day forces him to flee. He stumbles unsteadily out of the room. Good thing Moundrell Manor is not too far away, as he would not have had enough time to survive a drive across town.

After drinking one of his blood reserves, Orlando feels a little more like himself. Upon his arrival at home he was met with the familiar and comfortable daytime silence. He has no idea what had happened to him. Had anyone seen him, his confusion would have been plain to see and that would have prompted questions; questions he has no answer for. He is confused about the entire night; it scares him but also intrigues him. Her glowing eyes are the last thing he sees in his mind before falling asleep. He will never be able to forget those eyes and would recognise them in a crowd of millions: emerald green and brighter than the sun, yet cold as ice.

––––––––

- 3. Lia Green -

Birdsong can be heard through the closed window in the dark bedroom. A cool breeze wafts gently over Lia’s naked back, making the thin strands of hair laying over it dance around. Well rested, she opens her eyes and lets out a powerful yawn, then swiftly pulls the thick blanket up to her neck. What time is it?? Did she forget to set her alarm? A quick glance at her clock reveals that it’s only shortly before seven, so she could easily sleep another ten minutes. It’s a miracle that she woke up at all without the help of her alarm clock’s shrill screeching, but the fact that she is in the mood to immediately get up is even slightly worrying. Normally she would pull the pillow over her head in an attempt to drown out the noise of her alarm clock, just looking for some excuse to not have to go to school again. She usually has a headache and her stomach turns just thinking about all the torture she will probably have to endure that day from classmates. But right now she feels oddly free and can’t wait to see her friends; especially Lindsay. She has something to tell her! Her lips curve into a smile.

The harassment she has to face from the others doesn’t seem half as bad right now. She is, after all, only in school for a few hours every day. With her eyes closed, she sees ice-blue eyes and hair as dark as night in her head. The skin on her neck prickles with excitement as she thinks about the many kisses and touches experienced last night. She is surprised to find that she doesn’t feel the usual shame when remembering what happened the night before.

Feeling enlightened, she swings her legs out of the bed, and walks barefoot over to her white closet, swinging the doors open. Her closet is split into two halves. One side is neatly lined with pearl-green blazers and skirts, along with the white shirts that make up her school uniform. Next to those there is a thick down coat for cold weather and a worn brown leather jacket, which is the last surviving piece of her mother’s possessions; the only proof remaining that she actually existed, because the rest of the house is devoid of any photo, or a single item that belonged to her. Ever since she took her first steps she has been searching the house from loft to basement for something, anything, without any success. She doesn’t even know if she looks like her, but asking her father is pointless, because he falls into what seems like a trance, and just stumbles over his words trying to express how beautiful she was, but that she had left them. He has never made much sense when speaking of her mother. Its like talking to a wall, so much so, that Lia would like nothing more than to take him by both shoulders and shake him until he finally answers the many questions that have always burned inside of her.

In the other half of the closet, Lia keeps her casual clothing, which consists of long black and grey tops and dark jeans. In the bottom drawer she keeps a few mini-dresses bunched up and out of sight. She cannot remember when she went and bought them; they were just always there. Some mornings she feels so ashamed of herself that she pulls out one of these dresses and cuts it up in a violent rage, but somehow there are always more.

After washing herself in the bathroom and dressing, she stands in front of the mirror on the old-fashioned dressing table in her room, and traces the embroidery of the school emblem on her blazer. It is a white lighthouse on a green background representing Scarborough which was once a fishing town.

She brushes her hair and thinks about tying it in her usual ponytail, but then she decides against it. Why can’t she just wear her hair open like every other girl? Let the other say what they like! She was not put on this earth to always worry about what others will say about her. She skips down the wooden staircase with a spring in her step and walks into the kitchen. To her surprise she sees her father, who is leaning casually against the counter reading today’s paper and checking out the stock market. “Good morning daddy,” she says with a smile, which is met with an irritated glare. There hasn’t been a ‘good’ morning in a long time, and the last time she called him ‘daddy’ was when she was five years old. He clears his throat.

“Good morning Liandra. Maria made fresh pancakes this morning before she went shopping.”

Maria is their Spanish live-in maid, cook and everything else. In short, she is the kind soul in the house. Lia smiles.

“How kind of her, but I am not hungry at all! Could I have some of your coffee?”

Mr. Green puts his paper down, taken aback by his daughter’s strange behaviour. “There is still a whole pot, help yourself.”

Lia sits opposite her father with a cup of coffee and glances happily out of the window at the snow-covered garden, where she sees a bird searching for food on the icy ground.

“How is school going?”

“Oh, it’s getting better, I am working on it. When you really try hard you can achieve anything!”

In shock, William Green chokes on his coffee. This girl sitting across the table from him can hardly be his ever pessimistic, depressed daughter. But before he has time to question her sudden change in attitude, she is already up and around the table, gives him a kiss on the cheek and leaves the room. He doesn’t know what to make of this. He had always hoped that she would come around and her attitude would change, but never could he have anticipated such an immediate and unexpected change in her.

Cold wind blows in through the window of her old VW Golf as she drives on the bare Manor road towards Scarborough Grammar School. Her father would love to buy her a newer, faster and generally better car, but Lia knows that it would be a waste of money, because it is a guarantee that within one day of having it, it would be covered in scratches and old chewing gum stuck to it by her classmates if she left it in the school’s parking lot. It doesn’t matter on the old Golf, as she lost count of the scratches on the black finish a long time ago, even though she purposely parks her car a few blocks away from the school. But she will not let that spoil her good mood today and so she turns on the radio and cranks up the volume when she hears Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”, one of her absolute favourite songs.

„Last night a little dancer

Came dancin' to my door“

The others stare at her in disbelief; they could never have imagined such a thing. Lia the weakling, the one who lets everyone bring her down and humiliate her; the scared one who always hides in the back of class, she is suddenly no more. She still sits in the back of the room, but now she is sitting up straight with her head held high. For the first time in a long time she is in the right frame of mind to listen to what Mr. Atkins has to say, instead of eavesdropping on the constant bitching between Tracy and Sarah in the row in front of her. No matter how loudly people want to pester her, Lia does not care today. Her thoughts let her drift into another world; that head of black hair is all over her naked body and when she comes back to reality, a joyful smile sweeps across her face.

Mr. Atkins has also noticed the change in her. He is not used to anyone really paying attention in his class. When his eyes meet hers again and again, he stumbles over his words. Meanwhile they have reached the year 1914 in today’s lesson. In November of that year, Germany had dug a series of trenches on the western front, and thus the trench warfare began. Mr Atkins falls silent and looks around eagerly to see who else is paying attention. To his dismay, nobody is, but he is in his element, and therefore enthusiastically continues with his lesson.

“Something quite unbelieveable happened in December.” He isn’t expecting anyone to be listening well enough to actually raise their hand and contribute to the lesson, but sure enough, Lia raises her hand, much to his irritation and dismay.

“Yes Liandra?” he asks, almost timidly. All of a sudden he doesn’t seem much like the mean little dwarf that he did the day before. Lia now sees him rather like a man who suffers from serious confidence issues due to his short stature.

“December saw the beginning of the Christmas Truce.”

His eyes light up and he seems almost euphoric as he claps his hands together.

“Exactly right, could you please explain to us what that means?” His voice almost breaks in his excitement and growing enthusiasm.

“There was a short ceasefire between the German and British soldiers in honour of Christmas celebrations. According to some accounts there were even fraternisations and brotherly gestures made.”

At first Mr. Atkins seems happy with the answer, but then he pulls a more serious face.

“Yes, but all that just to continue with the same war once Christmas was over, inhumanely using soldiers as nothing more than cannon fodder.”

He drifts off into another one of his monologues, but now he is doing it with a much happier expression than Lia ever saw on him in the last year. Maybe she just never realised, but Mr. Attkins’ joy is infectious. History is much more interesting than she thought, because you can learn a lot from it that can be useful in modern day life. Mistakes made in the past don’t have to be made again. Why did she never realise that before?

Before Mr. Atkins lets everyone leave the room, he wishes them all a happy Christmas, as it is the last history lesson before the winter break. He also pleads with them to follow the example of the historical Christmas Truce and forget any grudges or feuds they may have, if even just for the holidays.

Lia doesn’t hang about like she usually does, but quickly gathers up her stuff and tries to squeeze her way out of the classroom with everyone else. Of course Tracy can’t help but say something about the massive change in Lia.

“What’s your game? How cheap of you to suck up to the teacher in front of the whole class!”, she says in the most patronising way possible, to which Sarah immediately jumps in and starts imitating Lia in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. “Yes Mr. Atkins, whatever you say Mr. Atkins!”

Bradley starts roaring with laughter, and as usual joins in on the mockery; “May I suck your dick Mr. Atkins?”

“You are such a slut!” Tracy chimes in again, flinging her hair carelessly over her shoulder, not awaiting any answer from Lia.

“Says you! Why don’t you reign in Bradley and get him to close his mouth before he starts drooling.”

The room falls into a dead silence, broken by a single powerful laugh. Tru pats Lia on the shoulder and gives her a cheeky wink, then walks past her towards the exit.

Even Lindsay and Mike are positively gobsmacked as Lia heads out with the others. It lifts Lindsay’s spirits so much that she grabs Lia by the arm and pulls her playfully towards the lunch room. They are so early that Lia can reserve a seat by the window for them. She bravely ignores the stares from the others and instead looks out the window, watching the leaves falling from the trees. The snow on the concrete floor reminds her of her late-night lover’s ice-cold skin.

Mike can’t hide his concern for Lia and brings her a fruit salad and a Lemon Cola, but she is still not hungry and just pokes her fork around in her salad while continuing to stare out the window with a smile on her face. “Isn’t it amazing? Fresh air! No smelly bins!” Lindsay sighs, and sinks happily down into her seat “It’s a completely different way of life!”

“A lot seems to be different today, you look fantastic Lia,” Mike adds, sharing in Lindsay’s enthusiasm. Lia is slightly taken aback, but then realises how true his words are. The dark circles under her eyes have disappeared, and her hair has a healthy shine to it, rather than its usual dull, matted texture. Lia smiles feeling embarrassed but Mike continues, as if he hadn’t already said too much, making more of a big deal of it.

“Not that you aren’t always beautiful, but today you just seem even more beautiful than usual. You seem so free and relaxed; just happy.” He gushes, a wry smile plastered on his face.

At first Lindsay pouts angrily at Mike’s words, but when she looks at Lia she smiles too.

“I’m afraid to ask, but can it be that you have finally and truly fallen in love?”, she asks curiously, pushing her pink streak of hair behind her ear, all the while fixated on Lia with her sky-blue eyes.

“I wouldn’t call it love, but I can definitely tell you that I have met an amazing man.” Her voice beams with pride. Finally she has spent the night with someone and doesn’t feel ashamed for it, even though she probably should feel just as bad as all the other nights. A very girly giggle escapes Linsday:

“Easy! This must be your dream man if he can manage to bewitch you like this.” She is the only one in the world who uses the word ‘easy’ so liberally. That makes her truly unique.

“He is better than a dream man, because he is real!” Lia retorts cheekily, when Mike suddenly stands up, noisily pushing his chair aside with a face like thunder.