I fervently believe that Rayne has “Biggest Blood-sucking Jerk Ever” tattooed on his forehead. It really saddens me that he cannot see it. The thing is, I don’t like ‘proper’ vampires, that is, the suck-me-dry type of vampires. They are vile and vicious. However, I hate the ‘I’m-trying-hard-not-to-suck-blood-from-human-beings-but-can’t-help-giving-them-that-hungry-look’. And the, ‘oh, since I committed myself not to drink from flesh, I’ll just get some in a bag, like juice!’ Hypocrite much? Totally.
Rosa told me to give Rayne credit for at least trying. I just rolled my eyes at her. I don’t have anything against trying to go against one’s nature. All I’m saying is that you can never shed who you really are. As for Rayne, I know his roots go deep. And yeah, maybe I was a bit defensive at how he looks at the girls, like that of a shared stealthy secret.
After I heard the knock, I pushed past him towards the living room. Even though I know Rosa could handle whoever it was at the door, and that Zaria chick seemed high on testosterone, I couldn’t push away the feeling of unease from my mind. All my life I had been raised to defend what I cared for, which usually was little.
“And for the record,” I said, “there is nothing between Rosa and me. We’re just friends, but I doubt you’ll understand that.”
“Come on, Jay. Aren’t we mates?”
I could hear the sneer behind his words, the smirk on his face.
“You don’t get to call me Jay,” I spun around to face him. “Maybe the girls trust you, but you need far more than looks, a built physique, and a cold and distant personality to get my trust.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Should I let you shape-shift into me so that you can take a look at my clean conscience? Maybe shifting into me will better your scrawny appearance.”
“I’ve fought vampires twice your size many times before,” I said, leveling my gaze with his. “You don’t want to mess with me.”
He tilted his head sideways. “Tell me Jayden, how do I know this is the real you? What proofs do I, or anyone, have that this is your real appearance. Maybe you’re a shape-shifting vampire, or an ogre, or werewolf? Hm? To my knowledge, shape-shifters start changing appearance a couple of years after they’re born. As a child, you have no idea about what is happening with your abilities, you have no consciousness of what you’re going through. What if, as a child, you fancied remaining a human and-”
Rayne never finished his sentence because my fist had hit home, just as his words had with me. My clenched fist burned with pain as the bones of my fingers slid into place, readying for more pounding. Rayne, in the meantime, was gathering his scattered senses from the floor and scrambling to his feet. He barred his fangs at me and lunged for my throat. I swung my arm once again, seeking to connect to his jaw, but he darted out of reach and flung his leg. His leg collided with my left side. I crashed on a low table but quickly leapt to my feet cut the distance between us in two strides. I had Rayne against the wall, my forearm serving the purpose of a barricade to his throat.
“You’d wish you take that back!” I shouted, applying more pressure to his throat. I wouldn’t be satisfied unless I heard the snap.
Rayne’s knee crashed into my gut, my pressure lessened, and he administered a deadly blow to my head. I crumpled to the ground, holding my head from spinning. Rayne growled, coming towards me with threatening, measured steps, as if he was trying to intimidate me and force me to withdraw from this fight. As if. I twisted my leg and hooked it behind his ankle. His feet flew from beneath him and he fell to the floor with a thud! The next moment, I held him down by the throat with my left hand while I punched his face with my right. Rayne twisted violently with enough strength that he threw me over. I rushed to my feet, and he had done the same. We circled each other like predators.
My pulse quickened. Involuntarily, I had let my heart shift into another creature I had shape-shifted before. My mind was alerted by the danger the situation posited, so I was unconsciously slipping under another’s skin. I didn’t know who, all I knew was that I thought it was someone strong enough to destroy Rayne. I felt the jarring pain of shifting bones and muscles, of new skin crawling over my pale one, and of my eyes turning the world into a hue of yellow. My next attack was going to be deadly.
As I leapt into the air, toward Rayne, my throat let a guttural growl. I crashed on Rayne but he tossed me aside, albeit with some difficulty. I crashed onto a bookcase.
“What the hell is going on here?!” Rosa’s voice rose over the commotion.
“Seems like a fight to me,” Zaria suggested.
“I know bloody well it’s a fight,” Rosa retorted. “I meant, why are they fighting.”
“Who is fighting?” The voice of Reynard drifted into the room.
I looked at him from the pile of broken wood.
Reynard’s expression was that of surprised horror. His mouth hung open, making him look like a dimwitted fool, then of anger as he charged at me with hatred in his eyes.
“Reynard, wait!” Rosa shouted.
Reynard’s paws were inches from getting me when Rayne held him back.
“You little shit, how dare you shape-shift into me?!” He shouted, straining under Rayne’s arms.
I shed Reynard’s from my skin. My usual goofiness returned. “How inconsiderate of me, I thank you, Reynard, for letting me borrow your form. It was unconscious, you see, I was under immediate danger and attack and I only thought of becoming the most violent thing I’ve ever met.”
Reynard scoffed and shrugged Rayne’s hold. “Did he just insult me by calling me violent?”
Rosa shrugged; there was a playful smile on her lips.
“You better watch your mouth kid,” Reynard threatened. Then he turned toward Rayne, “place one finger on me again, and you won’t be left with any.”
Rayne raised his arms in peace. “I don’t want problems with the vulpelage. This is your territory after all.”
“Yeah, be sure to remind your clan.” Reynard’s voice was accusatory.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Reynard came to tell me some news,” Rosa said. “That concerns your type and ours.”
“I always knew you weren’t very smart about whom you keep around you Rosa. First the shape-shifter, then the witches, and now this vampire.” He said vampire with contempt.
Zaria rose to her full height, indignant, and was ready to lash out if it wasn’t for Chloe, who pulled her back.
“What news concerns the vulpelage and the vampires?” Rayne asked, this time there was no friendliness in his tone.
Nobody spoke for several minutes.
“A vulpelage was found dead on the outskirts of Reynard’s forest,” Chloe said, “a terrible fight had broken out, a bloodbath. There was one corpse, a vulpelage with two orifices on his chest. He had bled out or...”
"Suck dry," I finished Chloe's sentence. "Which makes me curious, do vampires enjoy all type of blood?"
Everybody ignored my question. It was too tense. And I was trying to do everything I could to get back at Rayne for what he said. He re-opened the wounds of my insecurities.
“We all know what creature leaves those marks,” Reynard said.