April closed her eyes and waited. Count to ten, she thought. She could hear the man coming closer to her, and willed herself to relax.
“Steady, April,” Derek said to her from the earpiece. “Steady.” April nodded, though she knew he couldn’t see, thought about opening her eyes, then let the thought fall away when she realized it didn’t make a difference—she was already in the dark.
Even though she could feel how close he was to her by the way the heat radiated off of him and transferred to her own skin, she still gasped as the man grazed his teeth against her neck. She felt her body tense as her eyes flew open and her hand instinctively reached for her back pocket. The man quickly pulled back and stared into her eyes, his eyes a startling bright, neon blue.
“April,” he said. “Just don’t think. Everything is alright, okay?”
Then something strange happened. Her body was tingling—this warm, numbing sensation that started through her hands and spread throughout her entire body. Her hand fell limp to her side and the man bent his head to her neck again, but instead of the feel of his teeth he placed a light kiss over her pulse. What a loving gesture, April thought vaguely. She felt her body start to sway, and the man wrapped his arms around her to keep her from falling. She sighed. She suddenly couldn’t remember what she was there for…what she was supposed to do.
“April! What are you doing? Snap out of it!” a voice hissed in her ear. “Damn it, idiot girl. You’re in danger! Use your head.”
Danger? April tried to hold on to this thought. Danger from what..?
“April! In your right back pocket is a wooden stake. You have to use it. Kill him quickly. You’re running out of time.” April felt herself being pulled from her serenity. She felt herself frown as she reached out and patted her back pocket.
“April. Kill him. Now.”
April hadn’t even noticed her eyes had reclosed.
She opened them again, quickly. Her eyes locked on the ceiling. She breathed slowly. Adrenaline started surging through her. Reaching carefully into her pocket, she discreetly pulled out the stake. She raised her arm to hold the vampire to her, and he–too lost in sucking her energy to comprehend–made a sound of approval. She tried not to fall under the monster’s control again. In a quick movement she had her left hand clutching the stake at his back. April plunged it down, and felt it lodge into his heart. The man stilled, then slouched against her, his breathing labored. She dug the stake deeper into his chest then roughly pulled it out, and pushed the vampire away from her.
“No!” He gasped, eyes wide, reaching for her as he stumbled back and fell to the ground. April stared down at the corpse, the neon glow quickly fading into the darkness of their surroundings, and suddenly wondered, who was this vampire?
Then April heard a door behind her open. She heard a soft click as suddenly the room was filled with light, and a man strode in wearing camouflage pants and a tan shirt. He wasn’t military. He smiled at her aloofly.
“Sorry I didn’t try to help you sooner. I didn’t realize you were losing control of yourself until it had already started to happen. I’m just glad you listened to me.” At her puzzled expression, he tapped the headphones in his ears. “Your haziness. Temporary. It should start to dissipate soon.” April blinked. She slowly looked around and let her eyes rest again on the ceiling.
The familiar ceiling.
With widened eyes she looked down at the dead vampire. His once beautiful and youthful blue eyes now held horror–dead horror–and as much as she hoped, he didn’t turn to dust. He just laid there staring up at her, with a dead look of betrayal.
“Derek,” she spoke, “you knew.”
She refocused her attention to the living man staring at her. “You let me come here to kill him. This is why you armed me. It wasn’t for a combat buddy system. You wanted him dead.”
She saw Derek square his shoulders. “I figured he would fight to live if I did it.” He walked to the corpse, moved his hand to pluck a band from the vampire’s ring finger. “He wouldn’t suspect you. Here,” he held out the ring. “I’m sure you want this.”
April took the ring but didn’t take her eyes from his. Derek narrowed his eyes and looked away.
“He had to die, April. He was one of them.”
“He used to be one of us.”
“But then he wasn’t.”
April stood silent. Derek sighed.
“We lose what we love. It happens. Sometimes it has to,” he said softly. Then, more firmly, “We are on a schedule. We still have more hunting tonight.”
April said not a word.
Derek shook his head. “I’m leaving. We have duties to uphold.” He paused at the doorway, “April.”
April clutched the ring tightly in her right hand before unclasping the necklace from around her neck and slipping the ring on the chain to dangle with its twin. Then, after what felt like ages, she turned around, and followed Derek out of her home.
copyright Marie Meyers, 2013