I had to choke back the hatred and angst when I realised that the sign was referring to Danielle.
“We must warn others you see.” Smee explained with a lop-sided grin.
We went inside, and thankfully, they didn’t lock us in, which I was half-expecting. I reached out for Danielle, and Oliver handed her over to me, reluctantly. There was apology in his eyes, but his thoughts were blank.
I hugged her tightly, but Joe stiffened when he saw her.
‘Look at her closely, Beth.’ Joe thought, and I did.
‘Are you trying to tell me that this isn’t Danielle?’ I wondered.
‘No; look closer.’ He thought so I did.
That’s when I noticed – she wasn’t breathing. That didn’t mean anything because vampires don’t need to breathe.
She wasn’t moving, but that didn’t mean anything either, because she always stayed still when she slept.
I gently prised one of her eyelids open, just to check that she was alive, when I saw that her eyeball had been gauged out of the socket. I checked her other eye, and it too, had been gauged out.
I felt sick; we were too late.
“We’d like to leave now, if that’s okay.” Joe murmured to John.
“Of course – it was such a shame. She was beautiful. Beautiful things are often deadly. Such a waste” John muttered, leading us back up the corridor.
We climbed up a vertical ladder, walked through the door, and out onto the street.
“I can’t believe it.” I muttered, feeling numb.
“We’ll go to talk to Sally and Dougie – they’ll want to know.” Joe said softly in my ear.
I let Joe drag me toward our house, give up half-way, pick me up, and then carry me to his black Jaguar.
I was in a trance-like daze, and couldn’t rid myself of the hole inside my chest. I felt empty; I was empty without Danielle. That was two Danielle’s and Hayley’s that I’d loved and lost now...
When we arrived, I was still in a bit of a daze, so he carried me effortlessly to the house, and in to the living room where Sally, Dougie, Charlie, Rebecca, Jordan, Sammie, Freya, Finty and Emily were waiting; for what, they had no idea. Our constant absence? The Vamdeveri? I couldn’t be sure because they weren’t sure.
“You’re alive!” Sammie cried, running over to hug us, me now standing on my own two feet.
“Is it all good news then?” Sally asked smiling.
“We were two late... They killed her... Her eyes...” I mumbled, and Joe had to explain for me, because I had started crying.
“At least the Vamdeveri won’t be bothering us again for the next century – I can see that. Unless, of course, we do something that will make them change their minds.” He said solemnly, and quietly.
Sally wrapped an arm around my shoulders, and patted me gently, to try to calm me down.
I calmed down, slowly, and was finally able to breathe properly; I excused myself, and went home to rest.
This, apparently, was a bad idea though, seeing as home just reminded me of Danielle even more.
I curled up on the floor of the nursery, and cried my eyes out, and wished that sleep (or the dear Lord – I wasn’t fussy) would take me. These thoughts of course, were silly, and I was ashamed for even thinking them; conscious of Joe listening in the other room – he had followed me home. Of course, he wouldn’t trust me to be alone in the house with all the memories with me.
I might get up to something that I shouldn’t – or more to the point; something that I should.
He’d always told me how suicide was difficult (almost impossible) for a vampire; I had always accepted his theory without question, now though, I wondered how difficult… I wondered idly if it would be more difficult that refusing Amanda’s blood? I don’t think so… But then remembered Joe listening to my every thought in the other room – block him: my only solution.
It shouldn’t be that difficult to kill myself… How deep into my wrist? How many slashes along my neck? Would the fire hurt, when it burned through me? How long until the flames licked all the way up my body t o kill me? Who would try to stop me? Joe? Sally? Sammie? Jordan? Charlie? Rebecca? Dougie? Finty? Freya? … Emily? Sweet little Emily – sure she could be a pain and over the top at times, but she was like the little sister that I’d never had. She was lovely – how could I do that to Emily? No. I would keep struggling on for Emily and Joe’s sakes.
‘I need to be with her. She needs me. I need her.’ Joe kept repetitively thinking and it was starting to get on my nerves.
In the end I walked into the living room, and I think it shocked Joe that I had come from the place that he least expected me to be. Of course, I was never logical about things – things I do and think have always shocked him, and I suppose they always will…
‘Are you alright?’ I thought to him, not trusting my voice to hold steady.
‘Yes, are you?’ He thought back, pulling me over his knee, by my hand.
‘Yeah – I think. It’s all happening so fast. I suppose…’ I thought, distracted by the single tear that was in the corner of his eye.
‘Sorry – I need to be strong for you.’ He smiled weakly, wiping the tear away with his sleeve.
‘No, none of this selflessness from you now; it’s my turn.’ I half-grinned at him.
‘Oh no…’ He complained, and he was suddenly kissing me with a force of impossibility that I thought it would surely crush me with its intensity.
When he finally let me pull away, I was in a daze and was slightly confused as to why he had kissed me like that… and then all the memories came flooding back to me.
He was grieving just the same as me, but he was a man and could hold himself together better, but I was determined to do the selfless thing, and so he would not see me shed another tear that week.
“And that was for?” I asked, though of course, I already knew.
“For every time you have been upset because of me.” He whispered in my ear.
“Don’t try to take any of this upon yourself; it wasn’t you anyway, it was the Vamdeveri. They’re the ones that should be apologizing right now, not you.” I informed him, and he groaned and told me to stop being silly.
“I’m not being silly.” I sounded like a little toddler being stubborn.
“Yes you are.” He murmured, touching my lip, and then pulled my face back to his.
Something was very, VERY, VERY wrong. I could smell it; I could even taste it, in the atmosphere. Something was surrounding us, and they were trying to get in, to us... to me.
Joe was on his feet, then, and looking out of the window in an unseeing gaze... reading the future, trying to find out what they’re going to do. Me? I was trying to read their mind, hearing their thoughts, hoping that I could tell if they meant us harm or not...