I woke up feeling lonely. I absent-mindedly wandered to see what Darren was up to. He turned out to be sitting on his bed, reading. When he heard me, he looked up and put the book down.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured.
He stood up and in a flash he was in front of me. I was startled. How had he done that?
He reached out to stroke my hair as if we were lovers. I shivered and stepped back.
Darren looked sad and wistful. “Was there something you wanted?”
“No,” I said, sighing.
I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze, feeling less uncomfortable than I had before. “Why did you really do this?” I asked.
“I wasn’t lying when I said I was lonely.”
“There must have been more to it than that. Was it a desire to punish someone the way you had been punished?”
Darren looked shocked and hurt. “No! I would never do this out of vengeance.”
“Then what was it? What was your motive?”
“Don’t you remember what I said to you before I went out to hunt?” he asked quietly, turning away and walking back to his bed.
I frowned as I thought about it. “You love me?” I asked dubiously.
“It doesn’t matter. Just go back and watch TV. Hey, try and run away if you really want. Just know that nowhere else will you be safe. Not even your own home.”
“I hate you,” I muttered.
“I’d rather spend the next hundred years living with a rat.”
“I’d find killing you extremely pleasurable.”
Darren sounded exasperated as he sat down. “I know. Just leave me alone for a bit. Then you can hurl all the insults you want at me.”
“You’re not worth even that.”
I wandered back and settled down to watch TV again. I was so bored I was almost tempted to go back and annoy Darren some more. I hoped he was upset.
I was extremely restless. I stood up, switched the TV off and left the apartment for some fresh air. It was going to be a wonderful day. The sun was shining dimly as it began to rise, the sky was cloudless in the pretty dawn colours and a breeze rustled the leaves of nearby trees from time to time. I hated the fact I couldn’t feel the sun or even the chill air on my cheeks and longed for my heart to start beating again.
I kicked the stone that made up the balcony and the rest of the building. I was frustrated. With life, with Darren and with myself.
“Should’ve taken him up on his offer to snap my neck,” I muttered to myself.
I heard footsteps behind me and didn’t turn as Darren came out to stand beside me.
“You know, things aren’t that bad,” he murmured.
“Which planet are you from? One where converted vampires fall in love with the vampire who changed them? That’s what you hoped would happen, wasn’t it? That I’d fall head over heels for you. Well, this is the real world, where love can be unrequited and people can hate you even though they’d probably love you if they solely based their judgement on personality.”
Darren smiled to himself. “You know, that’s what I was thinking too.”
I realised he was referring to my hostile feelings towards him. I stamped my foot in annoyance. “You obviously don’t have the perfect personality if you give someone the Kiss of Death.”
“So are you saying you’re perfect? You want Roger to love you.”
“Just give me a chance, Tay.”
“Don’t call me Tay. It sounds affectionate and a bit patronising.”
“Okay then, Taylor. Let me take you out somewhere. You might grow to like me.”
“I don’t want to grow to like you. Hating you is quite sensible.”
Darren sighed. “I know I threatened you and was really horrible but I’m not like that really. I never kill to feed and I’m usually gentle. I’ve even had pets before. Cats are great companions but they have such short life spans...”
Part of me felt sorry for him and wanted to like him but I couldn’t help recalling how much he’d scared me on our first encounter.
Darren cringed. “I don’t know why it was suddenly so easy to get my temper up yesterday. I’m sorry. Don’t you remember the car journey here, though?”
I shrugged. “I do but it’s not going to change the fact you gave me the Kiss of Death. How does anyone cope with the fact that they’re dead before their time, that there were things they wanted to do with their life they can’t and, now, to continue their existence, they have to drink blood? How did you feel?” I turned and looked him in the eye.
“Scared and alone. The vampire who converted me deserted me and I had to learn everything I know now by myself. Sad. Nothing could console me; nothing was there to console me. I just had myself and the terrible knowledge that I was a bloodsucking monster.”
“And you change the girl you love?”
“I thought it wouldn’t be so bad for you since I’d always be there to help you. I thought it would make us closer.”
“You know I probably would have gone out with you if you’d asked,” I mused. “You’re not bad-looking and your heart’s in the right place, even if you have a funny way of showing it. And maybe I wouldn’t have reacted so badly if you’d told me in the right way. But, at the moment, we’re just stuck in this situation where I hate you and you love me and neither of us is very happy.”
“Do you want to die?” Darren asked, so quietly I could barely hear him.
“Are you offering to kill me?”
“I guess. If you’re really unhappy and truly believe you’d be better off.”
“How would you do it?”
“It would hurt, wouldn’t it? I suppose the end would be painless, though.”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Well of course I am. It’s scaring me that I’m even considering this.”
“Let me ... let me show you how I feel first and then, if you still hate me and you’re still depressed, we’ll do this.”
Darren leant down and gently brushed his lips against mine. For the briefest of moments, it felt like I was flying and then he stopped, frowning.
“You’re crying. I guess that means you’re really serious. It was... nice knowing you, Taylor.”
“Wait,” I murmured.
“You don’t want it?”
I shook my head. “The kiss was ... nice. I still don’t like you very much but I don’t want to die anymore.”
Darren nodded. “That’s good. Shall we go inside, now?”
“Give me a minute.”
Darren nodded again and disappeared inside his flat. I sighed and then burst into tears.
You weren’t meant to fall in love with someone you hated! You weren’t supposed to long to be with them! What was wrong with me?! And had I honestly almost asked for death? I was frightened and upset. Nothing should make me feel like that! I wished this nightmare would end, that I would wake up, panting and sweating but alive and safe.
I didn’t notice someone come up beside me until a concerned voice asked, “Are you okay?”
The voice was low and unfamiliar. I looked up to find myself gazing into amazing blue eyes. It was a boy a bit older than me with wonderful reddish-brown hair and a handsome face.
“Um, yeah, I’m fine,” I replied, wiping the tears from my eyes.
“You don’t seem it.”
“Well, surviving is good but being happy is better.”
“I’ll be happy in a moment,” I lied.
“No, you won’t.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s my emotions.”
“I’m sorry, too: I can tell you’re lying.”
“Got it in one. Well done.”
“You are? But... Oh, why am I surprised?”
The boy’s brow furrowed. “You shouldn’t be?”
I shook my head. “But if ... you can read my mind, why can’t I read yours?”
“Is there a reason you should be able to?”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“The reason being...?”
“Oh, I’ve been turned into a vampire.”
The boy laughed. “I’ve never heard anyone come out with it so straight before. Me too.”
“Well, how d’you answer if a dozen hundred years ago seems like yesterday?”
“Whoa, you’re old.”
“And you’re young. Was it yesterday you were turned?”
I nodded. “Yeah. Um, how come you can read my thoughts but I can’t read yours?”
“Hm. Men’s superiority over women, perhaps?”
I glared. “That’s rather chauvinistic, don’t you think?”
“It would be if I wasn’t joking, yeah.”
“What’s the real reason?”
“You can’t read the minds of guys you find handsome?” he asked, winking captivatingly.
“You tell me.”
The boy chuckled. “I think you just admitted you find me handsome, though that could be because I’m hearing your thoughts.”
Damn. I couldn’t think straight, that was it.
“Oh and you just told me with your thoughts that you can’t think straight. You’re funny. I’m Matt.”
He held out a hand.
“Matt? There were people called Matt in the 9th Century?”
“Well, no, I was called Matthias then, but I’ve adapted my name to fit the times. Who knows? In the future, it might be M.”
I took his hand cautiously and shook it. “Taylor.”
“I know. So what were you crying about?”
“Being a vampire,” I murmured, knowing it was probably useless to lie.
“But being a vampire is great! You live for two millennia, really get to see the world, never age a day, and don’t have to spend money on food ... Am I selling it to you?”
“Okay, what about being psychic, able to hypnotise...? Still no?”
I nodded. “I don’t like the fact I have to drink blood.”
“But it tastes so good! Don’t you think?”
“No,” I muttered, hoping he wouldn’t see the memory of drinking Roger’s blood.
But Matt saw everything and grinned. “Don’t lie to me.”
“There should be a rule against reading minds,” I muttered.
“Ah but then where would be the fun? And it’s useful too. If you like someone, you can see if they’re right for you and you can avoid heart-break if they’re wrong for you and hypnotise them to like you if they’re right. I mean, sometimes,” he said in a quiet, conspiratorial tone, leaning in towards me, “they even like you back.”
He stood straight again. “Isn’t that great?”
I was shocked. “No, that’s not great. I would never hypnotise someone to love me! How would their love ever compare to real love! And that’s so wrong.”
“Oh, you’re moral.”
“And you’re amoral. How can you be so... complacent?”
“You’re... ugh!” I said in annoyance.
Matt laughed. “I’m ‘ugh’? And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s supposed to mean I’m so annoyed at your blasé attitude that I can’t form coherent sentences!”
“It’s a shame you’ve got the death pallor. Otherwise you’d be flushed with rage, which could be quite amusing.”
“Go away. I don’t talk to unprincipled people.”
“Do I count as ‘people’ if I’m a vampire?”
“People are rather... civilised, though, aren’t they? Oh dear, are you saying I’m civilised?”
“Oh, you’re not. All right then. See you 'round, Taylor.”
“Hope you don’t, jerk,” I muttered.
“Oh, is it too much to ask for a drink?”
“Yes!” I couldn’t believe the guy’s nerve. I was glad Darren wasn’t like that.
“You know, I’d have liked to be the one to change you. Do you reckon you can change a vampire into your vampire?”
“I don’t care. Why do you wish you changed me?”
“So I could own you, of course.”
“You can’t own a person!”
“Well, technically you can...”
“Leave me alone!” I shouted, furious and astounded by how much I could hate a person and how a person could be so apathetic about moral values.
And with that, Matt turned and walked away.