DarkLove: The Rebirth

I

Her hands felt something soft beneath her body. At least she was safe and not left abandoned in an alley or ditch; unless she was wrapped in something soft and left in either location. The voices still flooded her mind; gradually they became echoes in the distance. Her eyes opened and everything was blurry, but they adjusted as her surroundings came into focus.

Moonlight peaked through the numerous leaves of trees that formed the large clearing. Crickets hummed a soft melody filling the air, an owl hooted as it took flight from its home. She sat up and looked around, seeing shadows of the tree branches and the mansion that haunted her dreams for years behind her.

“Hello?” She called

There was no answer. She stood up unsure what was going on, was this real or was she dreaming?

“Sebastian? Tonya? Is anyone out there?” She called again

A figure rose up from the ground in the distance. Slowly it began walking towards her. She tensed up, if this person was an immortal there was no place to hide or run. Either way she’d loose. The figure got closer; it was a young woman, dressed in brown sandals, blue jeans, and white short sleeved ‘peasant’ top with a blood stain over her heart.

The woman smiled “Hello Rae.”

Rae took a step back, looking at the woman was like staring into a mirror.

“Who are you?” She asked

“You know the answer to your own question.”

“Charlotte…” She paused; “Why am I here? What the hell is going on?”

Charlotte held up her hand to stop her from unleashing a pile of questions. Rae got quiet and waited.

“I wished for you to find your way back here. Please trust my family Rae, they’ll help you any way they can. Most of all trust yourself; it’s up to you to finish what my family started.”

Rae nodded as Charlotte and the forest began to melt away. She sat up, beads of sweat running down her forehead.

What a dream…” She thought to herself

She looked around the soft colored room and got up. Before walking out the room she heard Sebastian and a girl talking.

The front door had flown open, Melanie walked in seeing Sebastian sitting on the couch reading. She wore a long blood red leather coat, over blue jeans and black tank top. He put his book down on his lap as she glared at him.

“What the hell were you thinking?” She asked

“Don’t you ever knock?” He replied

“Stop avoiding the bloody question!”

“Calm down; I didn’t force her, she came here on her own free will.”

“Let me guess your parents and the council have no idea we’ve found her or she’s here.”

He nodded and she growled balling her hands into fists. She began pacing back and forth, unsure of the consequences that would follow, once the council received the news.

“I swear Sebastian you never think things through!”

“I’ve just gotten lucky.”

“I hope it hasn’t run out.”

Sebastian laughed as Melanie left, the door slamming behind her. Rae came downstairs looking curious.

“Hey how are you feeling?” He asked

“Like I got hit by a truck; how long have I been out?” She replied

“For two days, well three if you want to count tonight.”

“Damn…”

Her cheeks turned red, she stared down at the floor.

“Don’t worry; werewolves smell a lot worse.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

He offered her a half smile and she laughed.

“Upstairs at the end of hallway, is the bathroom. Go get cleaned up and I’ll have Tonya bring you a change of clothes.”

“Great.”

She walked upstairs and into the bathroom. The circular lights turned on making the black and white marbled counter top and floor glow. There was a large white porcelain tub behind her with black towels and washcloths hanging next to it on silver hooks.

The running water broke the silence, she started to undress. Her clothes formed a small pile on the counter as she eased into the tub. A sighed escaped her mouth, as she leaned her head back on the edge of the tub. After a few minutes she grabbed a bar of soap and a washcloth.

There was a knock at the door; she heard it open and close. As the water drained, she stepped out of the tub. Her eyes lit up to see a pair of dark blue jeans, purple tank top and black hoodie sweatshirt. After getting dressed, Sebastian was standing by the front door waiting as she came downstairs.

“That girl sounded like she really cared about you.” She commented

“Melanie?” It amazes me that she and Tonya are sisters. Those two are day and night. Melanie cares; she just has a weird way of showing it.” He replied

“I look forward to meeting her.”

“Be careful what you wish for Rae. It might come true and you’ll see my point. I’m going to open the club, would you like to come?”

“Sure.”

They had stepped out of the house, he locked the door.

“Hello Sebastian.” A female voice commented

He tensed up “Shit. I’m going to kill Melanie.” He muttered beneath his breath. Slowly he turned to face his parents. “Hey mom, dad, what are you doing here?”

Lisa and Chris walked up to their son and Rae. Both wore black cowboy boots, matching jeans; she wore a dark pink tube top with a black duster over it. He had on a gun metal long sleeved buttoned shirt.

“When were you planning on telling us?” His father asked

“Tonight…” He replied

“Good answer…” Lisa commented

Sebastian sighed “Rae, I’d like you to meet my parents, Lisa and Chris.”

Rae smiled and extended her hand, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“It’s nice to meet you too Rae.” They replied

“Melanie called Mercedes. The council will be coming at the end of the month.” Lisa continued

“Sounds fair enough; anyway we’re going to open Dark Palace.” Sebastian chimed in

They began walking and Rae waved, “It was nice to meet you.” Once they were a good distance away, both of them relaxed.

“Wow; they took that better than I imagined.” She commented

“I came to realize, long as I’m honest with them, everything falls into place.” He replied

They stopped outside the detached garage, he opened the doors. He walked inside, she heard him get into a car and the engine started. Slowly his ‘Opel Manta GT-E’ pulled out, she got in and they drown down the dirt road.

“This is a sweet ride.” She said

“Thanks. I take good care of her.” He paused; “Tell me about you Rae.”

“I was born and raised in the Bronx. My parents died when I was nineteen in a terrible car accident, the settlement money went towards me and my best friend Sam to open my photography studio. We’ve had jobs at weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, sweet sixteen, and a few shoots with babies. It was weird stepping into the spotlight, being the center of attention. I enjoy what I do and the critics of the art world love it too.”

“I’d like to see your studio sometime.”

“Sure.”

The car stopped and they got out and walked inside. A group of servers had dispersed to setting tables with silverware and appetizer plates. Rae walked over to the bar seeing a woman and man her age. Both were dressed in all black. She had light red hair tied into a ponytail; his dark brown hair was spike up. They had brown eyes and gaged ears.

“Are you a friend of Sebastian’s?” The woman asked

“I am; it’s a long story.” Rae replied

She pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

“It’s been a long time since he brought anyone to before opening. Well anyone outside of his family.” The man added

Sebastian appeared beside her, placing a menu in front of her.

“Are you hungry?” He asked

“Starving…” She paused; “Just a hamburger and fries please.”

He nodded and walked back towards the kitchen. The man and woman exchanged smiled and then turned to Rae.

“Even more scandalous, he brings a mortal here.” The man commented

“God Bryan, go call the paparazzi…” The woman sighed; “I’m sorry my brother is milking this for all it’s worth. I’m Abby by the way.”

“Rae…”

The women shook hands. Bryan covered his mouth, muffling a scream. His eyes widened with excitement. Abby gave him the ‘get to the point look’ and he took a deep breath.

“Not Rae Turner?” He asked

Rae laughed “Guilty…”

“This night gets better and better! A celebrity… I loved your last exhibit. But you probably hear that all the time about your work.”

“It means a lot. At least I know that I can continue to amaze the public.”

Music started to play, people began to walk in. Abby and Bryan started taking orders and mix drinks. A man took a seat next to her, dressed in black boots, pleather pants and blood red buttoned shirt. His dirty blond hair was tied back as his grey eyes met hers.

“It’s been a long time, since I was able to get in. Past few times the bouncer said they were at capacity. Catherine and Armand took good care of this place.” He commented

Rae felt a shiver travel up her spine, hearing someone mention Charlotte’s parents.

“How do you know them?” She asked

“That’s personal love. But I will say we’ve had a long history.” He replied

The voice in her head said something was wrong. Bryan came over looking concerned.

“Rae everything okay honey?” He asked

She nodded, waving her hand causing the man’s stool to tip over. Bryan winked, but gasped to see the man standing behind her. He quickly wrapped his arm around her neck; she screamed feeling the sharp edge of the knife. The music stopped, Sebastian made his way through the crowd growling. The man tightened his grip around Rae’s neck.

“Is this your future bride? Your savior?” The man asked

“Let her go Damien.” Sebastian said through gritted teeth

“And go back empty handed? I don’t think so.”

“Damien … back away from her now!” A female voice shouted in a thick British accent

The man turned around with Rae in front of him, seeing a teenage girl sitting on the bar. She wore black combat boots, dark blue jeans, black tank top, and long blood red leather coat over it. Her hair was braided falling past her shoulders.

“Melanie; how delightful to see you again.” Damien began

“I wish that I could say the same. But that would be a lie.” She replied in a sarcastic tone

“I always loved that feisty attitude.”

“Bullocks! Let her go. Whoever you’re working for will kill you once you bring her back.”

“Doubt it…”

She laughed, as she jumped off the bar and walked up to him. A smile formed on her face, her blue eyes glowed sparks of gold. Damien tensed Rae squeezed her eyes shut. He gradually loosened his grip and Rae fell to the floor. Sebastian picked her up backing away from Damien and Melanie.

Her fingers gently brushed against his cheek. He smiled as she pressed her body against his. Rae watched Melanie’s hands, slowly going up his back. Her nails stabbed him, drawing blood. She kicked him, sweeping him off his feet.

Raven appeared and threw Damien over his shoulder. The music began to play again and people continued to dance.

“Rae, are you okay?” Sebastian asked

She nodded “Who the hell was that lunatic?”

“Damien; it’s been years since he went into hiding and picks tonight to come out.” Melanie replied

“Rae you’re wish came true” Sebastian muttered under his breath “Rae meet Melanie; Melanie be nice.”

“When have I ever been mean?” She asked

Rae extended her shaky hand, Melanie brushed it aside. She looked confused, Sebastian put his hand on her shoulder, she looked up and he smiled.

“Come on…” She signaled for Rae to follow

She followed Melanie upstairs into the office. Rae sat down on the couch as Melanie shut the door behind her.

“I’m sure Sebastian has told you all about me.” She began

“Only the good things…” Rae replied

“I find that hard to believe.”

She joined Rae on the couch; she smiled showing her small fangs.

“You remind me so much of her. She, Tonya, and I were really close as kids. Do you… what do you remember?”

“Bits and pieces; when I went to the mansion it triggered an overload.”

Melanie moved closer to her.

“When Damien had me in that chokehold, I remembered; she was hiding underneath your bed when he turned you.” Rae continued

She felt her eyebrows lowering, but kept her composure.

“It was my choice; our laws forbid anyone under the age of eighteen to be turned. Life at home was horrid. My sister and I were very rebellious.” Melanie replied

“Believe me I’m not judging. How did you get Damien to let me go?”

“It’s a gift. My father always made my mum smile even when she was having a bad day. After he was turned, he’d leave his victims smiling. We joked that they died happy.”

“That sounds creepy, but a little funny in a weird way.”

Melanie laughed, Rae relaxed a little bit. There was a knock at the door, Sebastian walked in and sighed in relief.

“Wow Melanie, a whole thirty minutes and she is alive.” He laughed

“Such little faith…” Melanie muttered

“I need to get home.” Rae suggested

“With Damien out there; it’s too dangerous she should go back to the mansion.” Melanie interrupted

“No Mel. Come on Rae I’ll take you home.” Sebastian chimed in

Melanie glared at him as he and Rae walked out. The club was still crowded. They left and began walking. There was silence between them, besides the honking horns, sirens, and the roaring of motors. She looked up at him, out of the corner of her eye. He was staring straight ahead, but quickly glanced down at her. Their eyes met and they smiled as the stopped at the end of the block.

“Do you trust me?” He asked

She nodded; he picked her up in his arms. Her arms wrapped around his neck. He began walking his pace increased; the buildings and street lights started to blur looking like streams of a rainbow. “Beautiful…” She thought to herself. She leaned her head against his chest, he held her closer to him.

They stopped and she looked up seeing her apartment building. Its brown exterior flowed in the moonlight. He put her down, she turned to him smiling.

“Thank you Sebastian.” She said

“You’re welcome.”

She walked inside, the dim light bounced off the white walls as she walked into the elevator.

“Do you think she’s ready?” Melanie asked

Sebastian turned to see her walking up to him. He groaned burying his head into his hands.

“You followed us?” He replied

“Relax; if anything did happen between you two… I would’ve run.”

He sighed and began walking. Melanie caught up with him. Neither of them spoke as they blurred down the street.

II


Unlocking her door she felt relieved to be home. She turned on the lights, as her keys fell onto a black table. It leaned against the light gray wall, as she passed the living room. A large black leather chair sat in the corner by the window. Next to it was a matching desk chair and desk; with her laptop sitting on top.

Black and white photos were spread out on the wall behind her bed. It was covered with dark purple sheets and black comforter. The entrance to her closet was on the right. She walked in and got undressed; her dirty clothes flew into a brown wicker hamper. Clothes lined one side and a large shoe rack on the other.

She came out wearing a dark pink t-shirt and black sweatpants. As she fell onto her bed, she stared up at the ceiling. The nightmares and feeling of something missing started to make sense. She was beginning to feel more human. Stepping through the open door into a new world, vampires intrigued her. “No regrets…” she thought. Her eyes began to get heavy; in the past she fought to stay awake. Tonight the war ended and she fell asleep.

The next morning she woke up to someone knocking at her door. She got out of bed and looked through her peep hole. Her vision adjusted to the bright lights, and unlocked the door for her best friend Sam. She stood Rae’s height, fair complexion, blue eyes and dark green hair. Her arms wrapped around Rae pulling her close.

“You’re alive! I was so worried!” Sam cheered

“I am. I’m sorry that I disappeared.” Rae replied

“You’re okay and that what matters.”

Rae nodded “Nice dress by the way…”

Sam wore a short sleeved blue dress with brown cowboy boots. Rae invited her in, the door shut behind them and locked.

“Is everything okay?”

“I’m great. For the first time I slept through the night.”

Her jaw dropped as she sat down on Rae’s bed. Rae walked into her closet.

“The nightmares stopped? How?”

“I saw a specialist.”

“You finally took my advice. So was he cute?”

She felt heat rising in her cheeks, thinking about last night. Immediately she began to browse through her clothes.

“Yeah; he was a little older and really cute.”

“I’m glad his treatment worked for you. Are you up for that appointment at three?”

“Sure; it’s an engagement shoot.”

“Yep; are you ready yet?”

Rae came out wearing a blood red dress with black knee high boots. They left the apartment and took the elevator down to the lobby. A black ‘Lincoln MKX’ was parked out front as the girls stepped outside. Sam walked ahead and opened the door for her friend. She slid across the dark brown leather seat. Same got in and shut the door.

The car pulled into traffic and they sat in silence, until Rae’s phone rang. She looked to see an e-mail with ‘It’s Sebastian’ in the subject line. After unlocking her phone she opened the e-mail.

Rae I wanted to apologize for letting everything come out all at once. I know that this is a lot to take in and understand if you’re afraid. Come by the mansion tonight, there is a lot to discuss. –Sebastian

She hit reply and began typing. “Sebastian, I’m still in shock. It’s a lot to take in and I need some time to think. I will come by the mansion this weekend. Thank you for understanding. –Rae

They got out of the car and walked through the glass doors of the studio. Light wood lined the floor with large navy couches on the right; creating the waiting area. Sam waked behind the oval shaped desk checking e-mails and voicemails.

“Ashley e-mailed us; she and Crystal will be here at three. They are going for a hair and make-up appointment before coming here.” Sam commented

“So we just need to set up.”

“Yeah we have some time to kill.”

She walked down the hall or ‘memory lane’. Newspaper articles, photographs, and awards covered the white walls, chronicling her journey into the art world. As she walked into her studio the lights came on. A large table sat in the center of the room, there was a large camera bag and two cameras sitting next to it.

There was a roll of backdrops across from it with two black bar stools in front. Sam walked in carrying her laptop and put it on the table.

“Should I take out the prop box?” She asked

“Sure. They’ll probably want to get creative.” Rae replied

“I’ll get it. And I ordered us lunch and Gina should be here soon.”

“Hello? Anyone here?” A female voice called

“We’re in the back Gina.” Rae called back

The door opened and Gina walked in. She was average height, dark complexion, brown eyes and curly black hair.

“Y’all ready for another long day?” She asked

“Bring it on.” Rae replied

“That’s what I like to hear. Now you have the engagement shoot at three, Andrea and RJ Campbell at four to discuss a joint exhibit. And another appointment at five with Ms. Leeds to discuss the catering orders.”

“That’s right. Call Maria Vega and see about reserving her hall.”

“No problem.”

She walked out; Sam followed and came back with a large cardboard box. It lifted from her arms and landed on the table with the equipment. The backdrop changed to blue as Gina came back into the room; holding a clipboard and pen.

“I spoke to Ms. Vega. She said once there’s a date call her back. Said and I quote she’d be happy to have you again.”

“She always liked having me. Have the Campbell’s called to confirm?”

“Andrea e-mailed to confirm. Her little brother claims to be your number one fan.”

Sam snickered “How adorable!”

“He’s sixteen; I’m not a cradle robber.” Rae sighed

“The media would have a field day.” Gina added

They all burst out laughing until the office phone rang. Gina ran out to answer.

“I’m going into my office.” Rae commented

“I’ll bring you your lunch when it comes.” Sam replied

Rae walked out and across the hall. The lights turned on as she sat down behind her dark wooden desk, in a light brown leather office chair. Her hand jiggled the mouse of her computer waking it up and logging on.

Her eyes lit up to see a reply from Sebastian in her inbox.

Rae I do understand, but time is slowly becoming our enemy. I look forward to seeing you this weekend. And please see the attached invitation below to our Mascaraed Ball, held at Dark Palace. The council will also be there and we’ll meet with them. I hope to talk again soon –Sebastian.”

She felt heat rising in her cheeks again. It brought back last night, him holding her in arms close to him. Sam walked in, seeing her friend staring blankly at the computer screen.

“Lunch has arrived.” Sam commented

Rae snapped back to reality to see Sam sitting across from her. She slid a plastic box filled with a chicken salad sandwich and fries.

“Thinking about that cute doctor?”

“Yeah…”

“You should ask him out for coffee or something. Never know you might have stumbled upon an eligible bachelor.”

“A guy that cute has to either be married or gay.”

“You’re such a Debbie downer. Get over your fears and call him and after he says yes; you’ll thank me later.”

She sighed, “No regrets…”

“That’s the spirit!”

At three Gina knocked on Rae’s office door.

“You’re three o’clock is here.” She began

“Head into the studio and take out any props for a wedding. I’ll go meet with our clients.” Rae commented

Sam nodded; they got up and walked out. Gina led Rae to the front to see to two women sitting in the waiting area. Both had dirty blond hair, blue eyes and were athletically built. They wore ‘Converse’ sneakers, blue jeans; one wore a white t-shirt the other wore black.

“Ashley, Crystal, how are you today?” Rae asked

They stood up and smiled extending their hands.

“We’re great.” Ashely replied straightening her white t-shirt

“Thank you again for doing this for us.” Crystal added

“It is a pleasure. We always love doing raffles at my exhibits and I love meeting fans.” Rae continued

“Thanks again.” Ashley chimed in

“C’mon let’s get started. So I see you want to keep this casual.”

They started walking down the hall and into the studio. Sam had taken out a veil, top hat, and a fake bouquet of red roses. She spotted plastic champagne glasses and took them out of the box.

“Crystal, Ashley you remember my co-owner and best friend Sam. She’ll be helping out today.” Rae said

“It’s good to see you. We weren’t sure if you want to use any of these props. They’re totally optional.” Sam added

“Maybe…” Ashley replied

“Then step in front of the backdrop and just act natural.”

Sam adjusted the lighting, Rae put on a larger lens on her camera. As she looked through the viewfinder, the couple embraced and smiled. She took the shot; soon she fell into her own world, just her and models. At one point Sam handed them the top hat and veil, along with the champagne glasses filled with ginger ale.

By a quarter to four, Rae led them into her office. They sat down; Rae connected her camera to her computer. The monitor turned towards them as all the photos from the shoot appeared on the screen.

“Rae these are amazing.” Ashley commented

“Thank you. You two were great models.” Rae paused; “Choose five photos you would like on the cards. Don’t worry about them fitting; I can resize them to make it look like a collage. The rest will go into a small album for you to take home.”

“There are so many to choose from.” Crystal sighed

“Pick them out by number.” Rea suggested

“Okay, number one, thirty, forty, one hundred, and eighty.” Ashley continued

Rae smiled “Perfect. Everything will be done by next week. Before you leave give Gina your address and we’ll deliver it to you.”

They all stood up and hugged, she followed them out to the front desk. Both waved as they left the studio.

“Not bad; and right on time.” Gina commented

“I’ll go clean up the studio. I wouldn’t want to interrupt any quality time with your number one fan.” Sam laughed

“Funny…”

She rolled her eyes and sat down in the waiting area. A black stretch limousine pulled up out front, the back door opened and a young woman and teenage boy got out. She was tall, curvaceous, blue eyes and blond hair with pink highlights running through it. He was taller than her, short brown hair and green eyes.

As they walked in, Rae felt something about them. It wasn’t evil, but pure. Gina gestured to Rae who stood up and walked over.

“Andrea and RJ welcome to Turner studios.” Rae began extending her hand

“It’s an honor Ms. Turner. And please call me Andy.” Andrea replied

RJ stood in awe of the artist he admired since he was ten. Rae held back a laugh seeing his cheeks turning red.

“Ms. Turner it is a pleasure to finally meet you.” He spoke slowly

“It’s nice to finally meet my number one fan.” Rae replied

She led them over to the couches and gestured for them to sit. Gina sat next to her with a pen and clipboard.

“Thank you for agreeing to this joint exhibit.” RJ continued

“Your welcome. Now we need to discuss a date and the catering arrangements.” Rae replied

“To start where is this going to be held?” Andrea asked

“At Vega Hall on forty second street. What date?”

“We wanted to have it the first weekend in February.” RJ chimed in

“Oh; make sure to call Maria back afterwards.” Rae whispered to Gina

She nodded as she continued writing.

“We were also thinking of showing RJ’s photos first, followed by my paintings and your photos last.” Andrea paused; “Would you object to having skull string lights running throughout the hall?”

“No.” Rae replied

“It’s her trademark…” RJ sighed

The three women laughed, sensing RJ didn’t like the idea, but knew he would be overruled.

“I’ll take care of the catering arrangements and invitations. Then I think the most we need to worry about is getting our collections to the hall to display.” Rae continued

“That sounds good to us.” RJ smiled

“Well I think that covers everything. Thank you so much for coming by.”

“Rae? Could I get a picture with you?” RJ asked

“Sure.”

Andrea took RJ’s cellphone and he stood next to her. Slowly he wrapped his hand around her waist. The flash went off and Andrea saved it.

“Thanks so much Rae.” RJ commented

“Again it’s no problem. I’ll see you two in February.”

They waved leaving the studio; Gina took her seat behind the desk and began making phone calls. Rae stretch hearing her back crack. She looked out to see it was dark outside and the street lights came on, Sam came up beside her.

“How did it go?” She asked

“We’re all set. Gina, call Mr. Ming and check on the status of my collection getting framed. I’m going to edit those engagement photos.” Rae replied

She walked back into her office, the door shut behind her. Sam sat next to Gina and began checking Rae’s Facebook page and Instagram. She laughed to see RJ had already uploaded his photo with Rae on his Instagram page.

“He couldn’t wait to share it with the world.” Gina commented

“Nope; he can cross that off his bucket list.” Sam added

By eight, she had finished the engagement photos and placing them on a card template. Sam would put the rest into an album. There was a knock on her door, Gina walked in.

“What’s up?” Rae asked

“Ms. Leeds is on the line and wants to discuss the menu for the exhibit.” She replied

She picked up the phone and began talking with a very cheerful older woman. By six, she finally hung up and leaned back in her chair stretching. Hearing her bones crack, Gina walked in again with a huge smile on her face.

“Did I miss another appointment?”

“There is a really hot guy asking for you. Says you two know each other. Girl have you been holding out on me and Sam?” Gina replied putting her hands on her hips

Rae laughed, “Hot guy huh? And no I’m not holding out on you two. I know he has friends… so be nice…”

She got up and walked out of her office to see Sebastian sitting in the waiting area.

“Hello Rae.” He began

“Hey Sebastian; welcome to Turner Studios.” She paused; “I see you’ve already met Gina and my best friend Sam. Go on home girls, I’ll lock up after showing Sebastian around.”

“We’ll see you tomorrow. It was nice meeting you Sebastian.” They said together

“You too ladies.” Sebastian replied

They left and Rae locked the doors, the lights went from bright to dim.

“What are doing here?” She asked

“Since time is against us, I figured I could educate you about our world. In exchange you could show me around your studio.” He replied

She smiled “Sounds like a fair trade. I’m a little rusty on my vampire history. Come on…”

He followed down the hall to a locked door. She gently turned the silver knob and the lights came on, revealing her collection of framed work.

“Rae this amazing.”

“Thanks. Most of these are older photos. The latest collection is being framed for an upcoming exhibit.”

“What do you know about vampires?”

“That they’re nocturnal and feed on blood.”

“So far so good…”

“Is there any truth to the necklace of garlic or crosses?”

He shook his head, “No; those older movies portrayed us poorly. It was hilarious at first, because victims tried, and then the look of shock on their faces; when they realized it had no effect on us. We only feed on the evil, never the innocent. And never drink the last drop, if you did you’d die.”

She bumped into him; he had stopped at a photo of the Statue of Liberty. Heat rose in her cheeks and her head immediately faced the floor, her hair concealing her face.

“I’m sorry.”

He turned and lifted her head with his hand beneath her chin. Their eyes met and he chuckled.

“It’s ok. I really should be more careful.”

A smile formed on her face, he began to massage her shoulders. Her eyes slowly closed as he stepped up to her. He leaned down and pressed his lips against hers. Goosebumps popped up all over, feeling his cold hands on her face.

Slowly he stepped back, her eyes slowly opened. There was a long silence, but then she used her powers to pin him against the wall. She pressed herself against him and then kissed him more passionately. Her tongue parted his lips and began to get tangled with his.

He stopped leaning his forehead against hers. Lips still puckered, her face relaxed and eyes opened to see him. In a quick motion, he picked her up, legs wrapping around his waist. Her back was pressed against the wall as he began to kiss her again.

His lips left hers, traveling along her jaw line and then to her neck. She moaned her hands massaging his back. Gradually his fangs grew and scrapped against the skin, a voice in the back of his head made him stop again. Her boots touched the floor; she opened her eyes to see him sitting down on the floor. She sank down beside him, leaning her head against his shoulder.

“Was that a deal breaker or does that make us even?” She asked

He laughed, “We’ll call it even for now.”

A thought crossed her mind, there was something more. She decided not to ask him about it. At the mansion, Melanie passed back and forth in the study, Raven and Tonya watched her.

“She needs more time? That is something we don’t have.” She muttered to herself

“Melanie we literally turned this girl’s glamour life upside down.” Tonya commented

She stopped and turned towards them, hands on her hips.

“Don’t you have anything to say about this?”

“No. I’m not getting in the middle of your arguments again.” Raven replied

“Good answer…” Tonya whispered

Melanie huffed and sat down next to Raven.

“I have a feeling she’ll be here by the time of the ball.” Tonya commented

“I hope you’re right.” Melanie sighed

She got up and walked out of the room. Tonya and Raven exchanged looks and then ran after her. Raven stopped and then turned to her.

“Let me go after her.” He suggested

“Better you go. The next thing would be us fighting out front.” She replied

He walked into the garage to see her sitting in her silver ’77 Porsche. Before starting the engine he got in buckling his seatbelt.

“Where are you going?” He asked

“I’m going to get him and Rae; bring them back here to start her training.”

“Mel… slow down…”

“Raven… I can’t just sit by and watch hunters gathering each day. And with Damien back in town that is icing on the cake.”

“You’re not alone in this fight Mel. This is our fight too.”

She sighed and then started the car. Raven looked at her confused.

“I have to open the club. Or we’d have some angry customers on our hands.” She laughed

He shook his head as the garage door opened and they pulled out. At the studio, Rae was locking up, Sebastian waited for her outside. The alarm beeped armed as the door shut behind her and locked. They started walking down the street, his hand brushed against hers, slowly their fingers intertwined.

Neither of them spoke as the stopped in front of Rae’s apartment building.

“Thanks for walking me home again.” She said

“You’re welcome. I’ll see you this weekend?” He replied

“I’ll be there.”

She hugged him tightly and made her way inside. He hesitated, but then blurred down the street to hunt for his first meal.

The next morning, she sat at her desk e-mailing the engagement cards to a friend who printed her photos. Her phone rang, playing ‘We are Family’; Sam’s ring tone.

“Rae… spill… where did you meet that fox?” Sam asked

“We met at Dark Palace. He’s one of the owners.” Rae replied

“Is he going to be our new client?”

“Possibly I gave him a tour of the studio yesterday.”

“Was that all that happened?”

Rae blushed, kissing him last night. Most people would think that it’s crazy, kissing someone you just met. It was only a onetime thing; it’s not going to happen again. On the other hand, she felt comfortable around him. Compared to all the single famous and non-famous guys she went out with; which ended up in disaster, between the paparazzi or they turned out to be assholes. It only boosted their egos; they could say “I dated a famous artist.”

“Nothing else happened; we kept it strictly professional.”

“Whatever you say; not that I believe you. If it were me, I’d be all over him.”

“After a few drinks and a wild night in an unknown hotel. And also the paparazzi having a field day; assistant to famous photographer caught with unknown male companion.”

Sam sighed “Anyway Gina called me this morning. The hall is booked and Ms. Leeds spoke with the Campbells.”

“Good. Were they okay with it?”

“They agreed to the menu.”

“I’m glad.”

“Anyway I’ll be at your apartment with the car service by seven.”

“For the Tim Burton exhibit at MOMA; I can’t wait. See you later.”

“Bye.”

She hung up, grabbed her red messenger bag and house keys. The door locked behind her and she took the stairs down to the lobby. People walked up and down the sidewalk, she joined them, walking two blocks to a small ‘AC Moore’. She knew the store like the back of her hand, after picking up a red basket; she began walking toward the scrapbooking isles.

A small white album, extra page inserts, and some seasonal stickers filled her basket. As she walked up to the registers, a chill ran up her spine. Someone was close by, but she didn’t want to start looking behind her. An older woman in her mid-fifties, smiled as Rae walked up to her register.

“Did you find everything you needed?” She asked in a southern accent

“I did. Thank you.” Rae replied

“Great. Do you have our rewards card?”

“I do.”

She opened her messenger bag and took out her wallet. The card flew into her hand, she handed it to the cashier. She scanned it and then began to ring up her items. Everything went a little faster paying with the company credit card. After leaving, she began walking home, looking behind her. The feeling still remained as she tried to blend within the crowd crossing the street.

Her apartment building appeared in the distance, sighing in relief, the feeling was gone. She had walked into the lobby as two women appeared sitting on the stoop. One redhead and the other had blond hair. Both were dressed in brown leather corsets, blue jeans and brown boots.

“Is that her?” The redhead asked

The blond nodded, “Damien knows better than to lie. She sensed us.”

“True, but she’s still mortal. I’m surprised that they didn’t turn her the night Damien failed.”

The redhead conjured a pair of black sunglasses and placed them over her green eyes. People walked passed them, no one noticed them.

“So what’s our next move?” The redhead asked

“Crystal and Marcus told us to watch her. So we’ll follow her, see where she leads us. She’ll probably think we’re the paparazzi.”

They flashed not disturbing anything around them.

Sam was seated in the back of the stretch black limousine; she had hired to take her and Rae to the museum. The window was open, letting in a cool breeze. She wore a capped sleeved gold cocktail dress and black heels. Her hair was tied back into a ponytail and draped over her shoulder. The car door opened and Rae stepped in. Sam’s eyes lit up and her jaw dropped.

Rae wore a strapless two layer dress; a black lace pattern went across the chest and around the skirt. Her hair was curled and a small black rose beret held a section of hair back.

“Wow you look beautiful.”

“Thanks. Designers have suddenly decided that I need to be wearing their clothes to events.”

“And that is one of them?”

She nodded, “Gucci…”

“Damn; I remember in the beginning you didn’t want anything to do with them. You’ve grown up so fast.”

She rolled her eyes as the car pulled away from the curb. At the mansion, Tonya was walking downstairs when she stopped half-way. She gasped, eyes widened.

Her vision was slightly blurry, but she could make out Rae walking through the front door with Sebastian. Both were wounded, Sebastian was healing; Rae’s clothes were torn and dirty. Her body was covered with bruises. Then the scene changed, to Sebastian’s bedroom, Rae lying on his bed, and him biting into her neck. Everything faded away and she continued to walk downstairs.

Sebastian was walking up the dirt path seeing the Tonya in the distance. He met her half way.

“Hey what’s wrong?” He asked

She sighed, “Well I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

III

“With you, let me have the bad news first.” He replied

“I had a vision. Something bad happens to you and Rae, but it’s also the night you turn her.” She continued

“That explains the other night…” He muttered

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s nothing. Does Melanie know?”

Tonya nodded and began to twirl a lock of her hair.

“She knows; it happened after I got turned. No one knows about what I saw tonight, except you.”

“Where’s Rae now?”

She shrugged and he groaned in frustration.

“Where’s your sister?”

“Her and Raven opened the club. They had a lead that Hunters were crashing the party.”

“I’ll let them handle it. C’mon we’ll take my car.”

Rae and Sam followed the large crowd of guests into a small room; servers were passing around finger foods. Small chandeliers hung in the room, white walls glowed, and high tables were covered with black table cloths.

“I’ll grab a table, you get us some wine.” Sam whispered

“Sounds good to me…” Rae replied

She maneuvered through the crowd towards the open bar on the other side. Her eyes lit up to see Abby mixing a martini in a shaker.

“Hey Abby how are you?” Rae asked

“Hey Rae; I can't complain. What can I get for you?” Abby replied

“Two glasses of white wine.”

Abby nodded and turned to the small mini fridge and took out a bottle. She uncorked it, took out two glasses and began to poor.

“You’re not working at the club tonight?”

“I’m there part time. Unlike my little brother who lives at that place. I also work with a catering company and get to do events like this.”

Rae laughed, “That’s cool. I guess I’ll see you later.”

“Have fun.”

Grabbing the two glasses she once again made her way through the crowd. She found Sam waiting at table near the door. Sam took her glass.

“Cheers…” They said together

Sam’s smile gradually disappeared, Rae looked at her concerned.

“What?” Rae asked

“Tristan Morgan…” Sam whispered

“Rae, Sam how are you two ladies this evening?” A deep voice asked

Tristan looked as if he was Michael Angelo’s latest creation. The man was flawless and a model who Rae and Sam met two years ago at ‘Fashion Week’. He and Rae dated for a year and a half, the relationship was great. It turned sour after she caught him making out with fellow model while in Europe.

Sam had to nurse her friend back to life. And it took a long time before Rae was able to return to the world and work.

“Tristan we’re doing great. I never pegged you for a Burton fan, even though all my efforts to get you to watch failed.” Rae replied

His brown eyes looked hurt and he ran his hand through his short brown hair.

“Who got you into those movies? Or did they figure what’s one more pretty face?” Sam added

“You two are hysterical. It was good seeing you.”

They giggled as he walked away, tail between his legs. Soon the doors to the exhibit opened, everyone began to walk in. Rae and Sam separated between ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’. Blond and redhead appeared, keeping their eyes on Rae.

“Go take care of the limousine driver. I’ll get her to leave.” Redhead whispered

Blond flashed and redhead continued to follow Rae. The feeling she had felt earlier made her stomach clench. She couldn’t tell where it was coming from, too many people, once the room began to clear, she left.

She walked outside and spotted her limousine. The blond appeared and walked up behind her. She grabbed Rae by the shoulder pulling her close.

“Scream and I’ll kill you.” Blond whispered

The redhead joined them and walked over to the limousine.

“Get in and let’s talk.” Red suggested

She opened the car door and they all got in. Rae sat across from them looking confused.

“Who the hell are you?” Rae asked

“We’ll get to that shortly.” Red replied

“First a ride around the block...” Blond continued snapping her fingers

The car started and pulled away from the museum. Rae tried to remain calm watching her captors exchange words. An eyebrow raised as Red examined her neck.

“No marks; she’s still mortal.” Red sighed

Blond groaned, but then looked concerned that the car stopped. The sunroof opened and Rae climbed through. A hand grabbed one leg, pulling her back. Using her powers the door shut slamming against the hand.

She rolled down onto the street. Hopping to her feet she started running. At that moment it didn’t matter where she was going. “Just get far away.” She thought to herself.

Elsewhere Sebastian and Tonya were parked outside Rae’s apartment building. He had gotten out and looked up and down the street.

“She was here recently.” He muttered

Tonya rolled down her window.

“Abby texted me; Rae is at MOMA for the Tim Burton exhibit.” She shouted

He blurred into the car and sped off. Rae found herself at Rockefeller Center. She took out her phone from her black clutch, to see a text from Sam.

Where are you?

I’m heading home. Got a bad vibe…

Be careful…

“Easier said than done…” Rae sighed

“You didn’t think it was going to be that easy. Or did you?” Blond asked

“It would be stupid to say no now.” Rae smirked

Blond growled and conjured an energy ball.

“This is what I don’t understand. You’re supposed to be a reincarnated vampire royal. They find you and you’re still mortal. That was their biggest mistake. No quickness, elevated senses… nothing! Pity I’m killing a celebrity.”

She laughed, Rae stood up feeling a zap of energy. Blond threw the energy ball, Sebastian and Tonya pulled up, leaping out of the car. The attack gained speed, slowly the moon’s light shined upon her. She dodged and appeared standing a few feet away.

“What the hell?” Tonya gasped

Rae gave Blond the finger and started running. Sebastian handed her his keys and ran after her. As she ran down the street, streams of rainbows flew by. “How could this be happening again?” She thought.

She stopped in front of Central Park and sat down on a bench. It was weird, she didn’t feel tied, out of breath, and wasn’t sweating.

“What’s happening to me?”

A hand pierced the shadows; she reached up grabbed and pulled. Her eyes lit up as she flipped Sebastian onto his back.

“Oh shit Sebastian! I’m so sorry.”

He got up, brushed himself off and sat next to her.

“Don’t worry about it…”

His eyes looked at her neck and sighed in relief. No bite marks, but sensed a power within her, it wasn’t there before. Tonight she had the speed and strength of an immortal. She leaned her head on his shoulder, sniffling.

“Sebastian what’s happening to me?”

“I’m not sure. You weren’t bitten… no one forced you to drink?”

“No…”

The thought of drinking blood made her stomach clench. She sat up and wiped tears off with the back of her hand.

“How do you feel?”

Silence as she stared up at the bright moon. He looked concerned as she stood up and ran.

“Rae!”

He chased her into the woods and found her hiding behind a tree. A deer had stopped to feed.

“Rae what are you doing?” He whispered

“Quiet… you’ll scare it away.” She hissed

“You’re not serious. Rae you’re mortal.”

“Then why do I crave blood?”

“Rae… let me take you back to the mansion. We’ll figure this out.”

He called Tonya to come and pick them up. She leaned against him as they began to walk towards the entrance. Rae was shaking as Tonya pulled up. The doors unlocked and they got into the backseat.

“What happened to her?” She asked

“I’m hoping you would have an idea. I’ve never seen anything like this.” Sebastian replied

“Besides having speed, what else happened?”

“She’s craving blood; almost tackled a deer to feed.”

“What!”

“I know what you’re going to ask next. And the answer is no.”

They had gotten onto the highway leaving the city. Rae stared out the window, sweat running down her forehead and cheeks. Sebastian guided her to lie her down on his lap; she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

“She’s like a newborn; can’t control urges and impulsive.”

Their voices became muffled as she drifted into a deeper sleep. The urges subsided and an hour later, she opened her eyes to see Sebastian carrying her inside the mansion.

“How are you feeling?” He asked

“Still craving blood…” She replied

“Tonya’s taking care of that.”

He let her down and walked her into the study. Sitting on the couch she curled up in one corner.

“When did you start to feel different?”

“Right before that bitch launched her attack. I looked up and saw the full moon. Then I dodged the attack and ran.”

Tonya walked in carrying a silver old fashioned ‘Coke’ shaped bottle. She handed it to Rae. Her nose hovered over the opening and she inhaled the strange aroma. Immediately she began drinking, as if she spent days out in the dessert without water.

“Slow down…” Tonya laughed

She finished, sighing in relief; feeling the blood running throughout her body.

“Feeling better?”

Rae nodded, “Thank you. But I think Sebastian and I came up with a theory.”

“Charlotte said Rae would be born with a portion of her powers. We think the full moon caused Rae to have our abilities. So this should end by dawn.”

“It makes sense. Werewolves in the past only shifted during the full moon. Now they have control to shift whenever they want. Maybe you could work on that tonight? Before an innocent animal gets slaughtered.”

The empty bottle flew out of Rae’s hand and followed her out of the room. He looked at her with a smirk. Wheels began to turn and she stood up, kicking off her flats.

“Show me…”

“C’mon… beware that dress will get ruined.”

She followed him passed the conference room. The door next to it, he opened and they walked downstairs. Black mats lined the floors on one half of the room; punching bags hung from the ceiling. There was a small shelf with boxing gloves and punching mitts.

He walked into a closet and handed her a pair of Capri sweatpants and gray t-shirt. She signaled him to turn around. With his back towards her, she slipped on the t-shirt and unzipped her dress and then put on her sweatpants. She folded her dress and held onto it.

“Okay…” She whispered

Slowly he turned and she handed him her dress. He cleared the top shelf and laid it across. He put on a pair of punching mitts, she got into fighting stance. The slap of the mitt broke the silence as she began to punch.

In the city, Tonya had opened the club and sat down at the bar talking with Abby and Bryan.

“That guy has been checking you out since you opened the club.” Abby commented

Tonya looked over her shoulder to see a guy in his late twenties. He stood 5’11, semi-muscular build, with short dirty blond hair. His hazel eyes glowed in the dim light as he sipped on his beer. She turned back to them with smile.

“Go on honey. If you don’t want him, I’m going to be all over him.” Bryan said

She got up and walked over to him. His smile got bigger, she sensed that he was a mortal; no magical aroha surrounded him.

“Hi.” She began

“Hey I’m Edmond.” He replied

“Tonya…”

“Nice to meet you; you’re not from around here. Where are you from?”

“London…”

“Cool. How long have you lived in the city?”

She was about to say forty years, but stopped herself before telling him the truth.

“Four years. It has been an adjustment, moving from the London countryside to the big Apple. I don’t even know if people around here still call this city that.”

He laughed “I think its tourists. But I’ll make an exception for you. Could I buy you a drink?”

“Thanks.”

They walked over to the bar. Edmond pushed his way through the crowd with Tonya right behind him. Abby saw them and went over.

“What can I get for you two tonight?” She asked

“I’ll have a bottle of Ying Ling. What about Tonya?” Edmond replied

“A glass of red wine please…” Tonya added

“No problem.” Abby continued

“This is a sweet club.” He commented

“It is. I heard it’s been open since the seventies.”

“Wow; looks good for forty.”

She laughed as Abby brought them their drinks. Their glass and bottle clinked together and took a sip. He handed Abby money and she thanked him for the tip. She led him over to a more quiet area of the club and they sat down at a table.

“Tonya, where do you work?”

“Here… I’m one of the co-owners with my sister and brother in-law.”

“That’s awesome, but has to be a lot of work.”

“We manage. What about you?”

“I work as a paralegal at a law firm.”

“Do you have an interest in becoming a lawyer?”

“No; I had friends who went to law school and told me not to. It’s a lot of stress and even tougher to find a job after graduating; if you haven’t begun interning during your third year.”

“It’s a dog eat dog world.”

He nodded in agreement. They had finished their drinks and a slow song came on. People coupled off, he offered her his hand. She took it as he led her out onto the dance floor. Placing his hands upon her hips, he pulled her close, her arms wrapping around his neck. Her head rested upon his chest as they swayed back and forth.

Back at the mansion, Rae and Sebastian were sparing. He was impressed she picked up on moves quickly and was able to keep up with him. At one point she got down and kicked him sweeping him off his feet.

“Not bad.” He commented

“Thank you.” She bowed

She offered her hand; he grabbed it and pulled her down beside him. They laughed as he leaned up on his arm, their eyes met. He leaned in and gently pressed his lips against hers. It wasn’t just a one-time thing, though she secretly wanted it to happen again. She pulled him on top of her.

Please don’t hold back…” She thought

Her hands slipped underneath his t-shirt and pushed it up and over his head. It got tossed over his head and landed on the floor, crumpled up in a ball. He picked her up; her back was pressed against the wall, her legs wrapped around his waist. Their tongues parted each other’s lips, he broke the kiss; his lips traveled along her jaw and down to her neck.

A moan escaped her mouth, she leaned in and placed kisses upon his shoulder. He suddenly growled, and saw her biting into his shoulder. She didn’t draw blood, it still felt good. He held her hands above her head and took off her t-shirt. She tried to move her hands, he tightened his grip. A rush ran throughout her body as he ripped her sweatpants off and snakes his fingers inside.

They entered her, she hissed with pleasure. It started slow and then gradually increased until her body shook and a cry escaped into the room. Using her powers, she unbuckled his belt, unzipped his pants, stripping him down to his boxer shorts. “Back pocket…” He whispered. A small silver object flew into his hand. Her feet touched the mat briefly, but he picked her up and slowly entered. He moved slowly, she began to meet his thrusts.

Her hands were released and she began to massage his back. His speed increased and soon he threw his head back, fangs extended. Both feet were back on the mat again, both of their t-shirts flew into her hand. She handed him his, he kissed her as a ‘Thank you’. Both sat down on the mat backs leaning against the wall.

“Sebastian…”

“Huh?”

“Why did you hold back before?”

She looked up to see him deep in thought. He sighed and then looked down at her.

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