Asher's eyes lingered on my poor excuse for a room. I watched them take in the drab walls with paint peeling at the edges, a carpet the colour of mould and a single uncomfortable mattress in the corner. One wardrobe door was still open, showing a clothes tumbling out onto the floor with some shoes lined up neatly underneath. I rubbed my arm uncertainly, hating having him see this.
'I, uh, don't have much,' I muttered.
'Why not?' he enquired.
'My parents,' an uncomfortable cough. 'They don't care for me much.'
'Hmm, well we will have to change that.' He said this last part so quietly I wasn't sure if it had meant to be for my ears.
'MIA!' my step father's angry voice drifted up the stairs and my heart flipped, the familiar sense of dread crawled along my spine causing my stomach to churn sickeningly.
'I'm sorry,' I apologized. 'I have to see what he wants, I won't be long.'
Asher simply nodded and I shut the door behind me, leaving him in there in a vain attempt for him to not have to hear what was going to follow.
'Sorry,' I kept my head down as I entered the living room, not daring to make eye contact. I knew what he would look like however; a coffee stained vest top barely covering his vile stomach, protruding over the waist line of his tracksuit bottoms. His hair, sparse and silver would be greasy and unwashed and it would match the colour of the stubble that lined his chin. Cold blue eyes would be looking at me, mocking and contemptuous.
'Jan's out,' he began, referring to mum. Of course "Jan" would be out, it was all she ever did. She didn't really care about me, or she wouldn't leave me here alone with this vile pig. My cheeks blushed suddenly, panicked that he had somehow read my thoughts. 'So I'm gonna need to get some dinner.'
'Of course,' I nodded. 'What would you like?'
He laughed suddenly, causing me to flinch. It was a horrible, throaty sound that allowed the fear to grow within me.
'I'm not letting you cook it, you're fucking useless.'
His words no longer offended me, I had grown accustomed to them.
'I'm going to the shops,' he went on. 'But while I'm out you can clean this place up, it's looking like a shit tip.' His discarded beer cans scattered the carpet, empty crisp packets stuffed within them. At least five empty glasses stood on the coffee table, surrounding by plastic boxes; the remnants of his Chinese last night.
'Who's the guy in your room?' he suddenly asked and I felt myself begin to panic. I had thought I had successfully managed to sneak Asher past him.
'There is no guy in my room,' I spoke too quickly, without thinking. My eyes were still trained on the floor, so it wasn't until I heard the short, sharp growl that I realized he was angry. He stood up and made his way over to me. I could smell the foul stench of body odour and fags emanating off him and I tried my best not to gag.
He grabbed me roughly by my chin, jerking my head upwards.
'How dare you lie to me?' he spoke slowly, incredulously. Without warning, he slapped me across the face. Pain exploded in my cheek, my vision blurred for a fraction of a second, before I clasped my hand to the sore skin. My eyes stung and a lump had formed in my throat, but I refused to cry in front of him. I refused.
'Get him out of here before I return, or you'll be sorry.' He turned round and headed into the hallway, where the door slammed shut moments later.
I stood there for a few seconds, completely numb, my hand still rubbing where he had slapped me. My eyesight had gone blurry and it wasn't until I blinked that the first tear spilled out, cooling my flaming cheek.
Asher appeared out of nowhere.
'Are you okay?' he murmured, placing one pale hand on my shoulder.
I nodded, sniffing. 'I'm fine. I'm used to it, sorry you had to hear that.'
'He shouldn't treat you like that, it's not fair.'
'Hasn't anyone ever told you? Life isn't fair,' I tried to laugh, but it came out broken and disconsolate, sounding more like a strangled cry.
He turned me round gently and took me into his arms, stroking the back of my head. His leather jacket was surprisingly cosy and I nestled against his chest, suddenly incredibly grateful that he was there.
'You don't deserve this,' he went on. 'I could give you so much more. There's a whole world out there to be explored, you shouldn't be here.'
His words didn't register, I only allowed myself to think of nothing but him, right there, in the moment.
'I can help you,' he pulled away slightly to look me in the eyes, gently wiping a stray tear that had begun rolling down my cheek.
He bent his head slowly, as though he was going to kiss me, but instead headed for my throat, where he spoke in a whisper, his cool breath grazing across my skin.
'By doing this.' A short, sharp pain flared in my throat, but disappeared seconds later. I didn't even struggle. I somehow knew that this was coming, it was my time to go. I was only grateful that it wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. His hands gripped the top of my arms quite tightly, in an iron grasp, while I just stood there, allowing him to drain the life out of me.
However, he pulled away before I was even unconscious, bright red liquid contrasted sharply with his white skin. I didn't really understand what was going on, until he had brought his own wrist up to his mouth. In one quick jerking motion, he had pierced the skin and was letting the blood run freely.
My stomach rolled at the sight of it and I swayed ever so slightly on my feet, only now feeling very out of it.
'I...have to drink that?'
'If you want the suffering to end, then yes, you do.'
Of course I was suffering. My life was shit, with no one to care for me. The only person that did was Hailey, but I couldn't rely on her forever.
There's a whole world out there to be explored...
I brought his bleeding wrist to my mouth and began to drink.