Darren finally pushed me away, making it look very much like I had kissed him intentionally and whispered, "You can stop now," before returning to his position on the couch. At this moment, I despised him. I turned to face Daniel, cringing.
"You're not going to believe me, are you?" I realised.
"Not going to believe you about what?"
"Being forced into submission. Please, Daniel, it's true that you belong to the vampire who changed you, I wouldn't lie."
"Taylor, you know it's not true. A person is too strong for that."
"They're not, though. And I'm not hypnotised, either. I truly belong to Darren."
"Well, I can see that."
"No, that's not what I meant! Daniel, I know it's a really horrible thought, but Darren has more control over me than I'll ever be able to help, than anyone will ever be able to help."
"Taylor, stop lying to me! There is no way that a person can belong to another."
"Daniel, listen. Would I have kissed Darren of my own accord? Or if you don't believe that I was forced to submit to him, couldn't he have hypnotised me?"
"Taylor, drunken vampires can't hypnotise."
"Oh no! You're kidding, right? Daniel, I don't know how to prove that Darren made me kiss him."
"Then don't try. Admit you kissed him because you wanted to."
"That wouldn't be an admission; that would be a lie. You have to believe me, Daniel. I love you."
"Don't say those words. They're poisoned and tainted coming from you."
"What if Darren hypnotised me to think I had to submit to him?" I asked, clutching at straws.
"It wouldn't make sense because earlier you told me how you thought he wouldn't do such a thing."
"And I would kiss him when I adored kissing you?"
"Well, I don't know, do I? I have to look at the evidence; I can't be one of these pushover guys who ignores what his girlfriend does behind his back: that's a sure way to end up vulnerable and helpless."
A tear crept into the corner of my eye. "Daniel, today... tonight, was wonderful. I wouldn't cheat on you. We had ... such a great evening and I really felt special in your arms. It was the first real happiness I'd felt since I'd become a vampire. I want to be with you."
"Taylor, just be quiet. The act isn't working."
The tear rolled down my cheek. "It's not an act! Please, believe me!"
Daniel shook his head. "You know, I may have been more forgiving if you'd just confessed you loved Darren," he said quietly, turning and heading out. I followed him.
He ignored me as he reached the door. Wordlessly he opened it and left, closing it behind him.
I started to cry. I sank to the floor and sobbed at the injustice of the world.
I barely had enough strength to pick myself up and head to my room. Before I got there, I said something to Darren who was still in the living room. "I hate you. You've ruined my life again."
I woke up with a tear in my eye. I had been dreaming about Daniel. Right now, I hoped Darren was in agony. He deserved it.
I got up and walked to his room, finding him clutching his head and groaning.
"Having a nice hangover?" I asked.
"Tay, thank goodness! Could you... help me ... out?"
"Yesterday, I would have said yes. Today, I'm going to say no."
"No. Why should I? You ruined my life. I really liked Daniel and you go and make me look like a cheat."
"Tay... I'm sorry... I was really drunk, ... didn't know ... what I was doing."
"You think I'm going to forgive you just like that? Let you nearly drain me after you've caused so much pain in my life?"
"Tay, you know how painful ... a hangover is. Do I ... really... deserve it?"
The implore in his eyes annoyingly tore at something deep within me.
I crossed my arms. "Don't take advantage of the fact that I'm a nice person."
"Tay, I'm really sorry ...and I don't expect you to forgive me... but if I don't drink your blood, ... some poor human's ...going to be brought to the brink of death."
"Oh, you jerk!" I strode over to where he was lying and sat down next to him, furious.
"Thank you so much."
He sat up, struggling to do even that and bit my neck. I winced as he drank, as the blood flowed out of my body and into his mouth. Soon, the room was spinning and my vision was blurry. I felt very light-headed and quite dizzy. I also felt quite sick. When Darren stopped drinking, I fainted.
I woke up to find something wet being moved across my forehead. It was a tea towel. Darren looked anxious as I grimaced. I was lying down and I couldn't get up.
He wordlessly passed me the bleeding wrist of an entranced business woman. I took it and began to drink, quenching a thirst which burned my throat, the blood giving me the strength I needed to sit up and rejuvenating me.
I stopped, feeling better. I sat up and left the room. I took a shower and changed, angry at Darren and at the world for giving me such a hard time.
I drank some milk before going to my room to sit and let my temper dissolve into boredom.
The doorbell rang. To my surprise, Darren called me to come to the door.
I got up and wandered over to where Darren was standing looking mystified by the appearance of Roger on his doorstep.
"Er, hi," I said, not knowing how much Roger remembered of me.
"Hey. You're ... Taylor, aren't you?"
"I'm Roger. Um, this is going to sound really random, but ... would you like to go out with me?"
"Um... I don't know you," I said, guessing he'd forgotten everything.
"I know and ... that's why this is really weird but I couldn't help but notice you every time you went out. I've seen you in town and in the park, and you always seemed really nice. You're pretty too."
I was very confused. Did stuff like this normally happen? I'd become so immersed in unreality that I didn't know what was real anymore.
"And you're asking me out on a date?"
Roger nodded, looking slightly nervous.
"Okay, then," I said, wanting to annoy Darren and feeling like I might as well try to get some happiness out of my existence.
"So, shall we go out for a meal?"
"I'll pick you up at 7."
"See you then."
Darren was frowning slightly as he closed the door. "I hope you come up with a good reason as to why you can't eat anything."
"Oh, I completely forgot! I probably will."
"It's good you're getting me back for last night. I really deserve this."
"Yes, you do. Because of your actions, your love for me will always be unrequited. Hope you enjoy depression."
"I'm sorry you're depressed."
"I'll live - oh wait, no I won't, because someone gave me the Kiss of Death."
Darren nodded. "Yup, I deserve every hurtful thing you can think of to say to me."
"I absolutely despise you and was sorry you didn't have a worse hangover," I said happily.
I went back to my room feeling satisfied.
That evening, Roger arrived at my door in casual clothing and we sort of matched since we were both wearing jeans and jumpers.
I followed him down to the ground floor where a blue car was parked.
"So, where are we going?" I asked.
"To an Italian restaurant. Do you like pasta?"
I got into the car and remembered the first time I'd met Roger. He seemed as if he'd been more in love with me then than now, but I was glad there was a feeling of slight awkwardness between the two of us in case he discovered I was a vampire again.
"So, what sort of things do you like?" Roger asked.
"Um, I like listening to music and I'm a great lover of books."
"Yeah, I like reading too. What type of books do you like?"
"Hmm. Romance novels, fantasy, mystery, that sort of thing; you?"
"I quite like crime and detective stories."
"Oh, that's cool."
There was an awkward silence. I wondered why I couldn't hear Roger's thoughts, not that I wanted to be intrusive - I was just curious about why there was silence.
"So, do you like animals?"
I nodded. "Yeah, especially the cute, furry ones."
"Me, I'm a sucker for dogs, particularly puppies."
"Ah, I'm more of a cat person. Kittens are just adorable."
"What about big cats?"
"I love those too! I like tigers and cheetah cubs are really cute."
"I think lions are quite cool, though I wouldn't like to go near one."
"Me neither but I'd want to approach a tiger or some sort of cub to pet them. That sounds crazy doesn't it? They'd probably bite me if I tried."
"I can sort of see where you're coming from, but that's probably 'cause I've always wanted to feel a wolf's fur."
"Yeah, that would be cool."
We suddenly stopped in the middle of a big field. I hadn't really paid attention to anything outside the car so I had no idea where we were. It certainly didn't look like a place where you'd find a restaurant though.
"Here we are," Roger said.
My brow furrowed. "Is this some kind of romantic surprise?"
He shook his head, opening the car door. I followed him to a random spot in this meadow and looked around. The sky was an array of beautiful colours as the sun was beginning to set, and the trees were silhouetted against the blazing expanse. It was quite beautiful but I was bemused.
"Um, there doesn't appear to be a restaurant around here," I said.
"No, we're meeting someone first."
"Pardon? I thought this was going to be a date."
Roger shrugged. "There was a change of plan."
"And you didn't think to tell me?"
"Sorry. We had a nice chat, though."
Suddenly, there was a blur of movement in the corner of my eye and I turned to see, standing there looking triumphant, the guy of my nightmares, Matt.
"Matt? What are you doing here?"
"I set this whole thing up," he said proudly. "Aren't I clever?"
"Oh no! Does that mean Roger's hypnotised?"
"And you're going to make me yours?"
"Yup. And Darren won't know a thing."
"No, you can't! I won't let you!"
"Oh, you won't have a choice. Sorry about that. At least you'll finally be happy. No Darren to ruin your life - I heard he made it look as if you cheated on a vampire rights activist. As if you would do that. But... it was a mystery that you wanted to be in a relationship with someone from the VRS. They're such dreamers, don't you think?"
"No, actually. I was truly in love with Daniel."
"Then why go out with the boy next door?"
"I don't really like him, I was just miserable and I wanted to annoy Darren."
"He must be a really bad owner."
"I reckon you'd be worse."
"First impressions aren't always accurate."
"Good thing this is the third time I've spoken to you, then."
"Oh well, you don't have any say in this."
He turned to Roger and murmured "Sleep."
Roger went into a trance and then Matt instructed him to go home and forget this happened, while releasing him from under his power. I shivered as I imagined how being under Matt's control must be... before remembering that soon I was going to be.
"Matt, you don't want to do this," I said as Roger drove away. "Make me yours, I mean. I could be yours in a ... different way."
He raised an eyebrow. "1) I'm psychic, 2) you hate me and 3) you'd say anything to save yourself. Do I need any more reasons to not trust you?"
"I bet you'd love a girlfriend, though," I said nervously.
"Perhaps, but not one who was acting that way so I didn't make her mine."
"What if I ... truly like you?"
"I don't know. You don't like me, so I don't have to consider it."
"But you were saying last time, that I was secretly in love with you," I pointed out.
Matt laughed. "I was trying to annoy you. I know you think I'm handsome, but you're definitely not attracted to me."
"I never told you how much I liked your eyes," I said, looking into them and hoping to lose myself slightly so my act was more convincing. They were a wonderful sapphire colour. "Wow, they're dazzling... The stuff of dreams. Ocean depths I'd adore falling into."
"You like poetry. That's sweet." I could tell he wasn't falling for it.
"What about the fact I couldn't think straight upon our first encounter?"
"Natural effect of vampires, darling."
"You sure?" I asked, closing the gap between us and allowing the indigo depths of his irises to mesmerise me.
His eyes began to change colour, going through various shades from indigo to pale blue including the colour of the sky alternately at dusk and during daytime and the almost purple colour of bluebells.
"You know, it's really captivating when you do that," I said, and I was telling the truth.
"Well, your eyes are doing the same, just with different hues of green."
"I feel like I'm falling through sky," I murmured.
"Really? I'm floating through a leafy canopy." I was surprised that Matt sounded as fascinated as me.
I leant up and, quite intentionally, kissed him. Our eyes closed as I felt a strange sense of belonging.
‘If only you could really feel this way,' Matt murmured with his thoughts.
‘I am, aren't I?' I replied.
‘Nah, you're just inspired by the moment.'
‘Oh.' I was slightly disappointed that this was artificial and then confused because surely disappointment meant I wanted to love him and therefore did.
I was gently pushed away. Matt's expression was wistful now.
"You must be flattered by all the male attention you're getting," he said.
"It's more bemusing than flattering, actually."
"What, you can't see why a guy would like you?"
"No actually. I've never been particularly interesting to a boy."
"Well, you're a vampire now. It could be your striking looks or the feel of your thoughts that appeal to people now."
"How do my thoughts feel?"
"Warm. Soft. Extremely tender, even when you're angry or upset. I'd like them to only be that way for me. I'll teach you how to block your thoughts and then I'll ensure you only reveal them to me."
"That's a bit possessive, isn't it?"
"Of course. Making you mine is as well."
"Please don't do it."
"I have to. Else you'll slip away from me and I'll never see you again. Now, sleep."
I blacked out, entranced.