I barely made it two blocks before they caught up to me.
There were five of them, three men and two women, and they had me completely surrounded before I could even cry out. The two men who’d captured Mom had blood dripping from their chins, and one of the women had blood smeared across her cheek and down her very tight shirt. All of them had their teeth bared at me, like wolves holding prey in their midst. All of them had fangs like wolves, too. I wondered briefly if this was some wild dream I was having. I had watched Interview with a Vampire a few nights back.
But there was no possible way this was a dream. I rarely remembered my dreams, and the ones that I did were always silly, and generally school related. Nothing like this, not even my nightmares as a child had been this bad.
“Such beautiful red hair,” a man said behind me in a slightly French accent, and I felt someone touching my hair. I spun around, slapping away the hand of a tall man who would have looked distinguished if it hadn’t been for the fangs and the blood dribbled down his collar. I swallowed as his dark eyes stared down at me, and he reached up to finger my hair again.
Even though I was terrified, I swatted his hand away again. I heard several deep throated growls behind me, but the man trying to touch my hair only chuckled.
“She’s a feisty one, that’s for sure,” he said, again with the hint of an accent. There was another growl, this time from a single throat.
“We haven’t fed yet, Henri,” a woman said. “Are you going to stand there playing with the food?” She sounded angry, and the man turned his head ever so slightly to glare at her.
“You will find someone else,” he said firmly. “I think I’ll keep this one as a pet.”
I was so terrified, it took me a moment to realize they were talking about me. I didn’t know what they meant by calling me food—vampires didn’t exist, right?—but I knew that I didn’t want to be anyone’s pet, least of all the man who had just helped murder my family.
“I’m no one’s pet,” I spat at him. The man smiled at me, his mouth opening wide to reveal vividly white teeth and fangs. Then he reached out and slapped me so hard I was thrown to the ground.
I cried out, first when his hand slammed against my cheekbone so hard I thought my face would shatter, then again when I was unable to react into to keep my head from cracking against the pavement. I groaned, feeling a bruise blooming across my cheek, and looked up at the man. He was still smiling, like he was enjoying this, though there was a terrible, angry glint in his eyes.
“You will address me as Duke Henri,” he said, “and you will only speak when spoken too.”
I swallowed hard. He said it so casually, as though he had done this so many times before it was automatic. I nodded quickly, and turned my gaze to the cement. There was a little bit of blood on the white pavement, and I reached up to my head and felt hot, sticky blood where I’d hit it. I shook, from the cold and from the sudden lack of adrenaline as I realized how rapidly my life had gone from idealic to worse than a nightmare. I thought of my parents, Dad probably dead somewhere downstairs and Mom in my bedroom. I remembered the look of pain and fear that crossed her face as the men had bit into her neck, draining her of the blood in her veins.
The man, Duke Henri, grabbed my shoulder and yanked me painfully to my feet. I cringed, but didn’t cry out. I couldn’t. I felt numb inside, like all my emotions and reactions had shut themselves down.
“Carry her,” Duke Henri said, waving at me dismissively. The next instant one of the other two men lifted me up and dumped me over his shoulders, like a sack of potatoes. I grit my teeth, letting myself hang limp against his back.
Then, something began bothering me in the back of my mind. At first, I thought it was my own emotions coming back, but as I bounced against the man’s muscular back it continued to grow. It was a riotous mixture of anger, hatred, and hunger, and it continued to grow until I couldn’t think about anything except the strange emotions. At that point, I knew they couldn’t be my emotions. I wasn’t hungry, and while I did hate the Duke and the man who was carrying me and was angry that they had killed my parents, I knew I couldn’t feel emotions that strongly.
And they continued to grow until my head throbbed with a headache. I moaned, feeling nauseous, and was grateful when the man dumped me into the trunk of a dark, expensive-looking sedan, locking me in the quiet, emotion-free darkness.