Rick ran into view. I knew Rick. He was Christopher Parker’s cousin. Rick and I were great friends - we’d even kissed before, so why was he calling me Terri?
“Get your hands off my cousin’s girlfriend,” Rick snarled at Coral.
Poor Rick. He must be confused.
“I’m not going out with Christopher,” I called to him. This appeared to catch Rick off guard.
“You two are over?” he asked me.
“No, we were never together,” I replied, brow furrowed.
Rick glared at Coral. “Let go of her.”
Coral wrapped his arm around my waist.
“No, I don’t think I will.” He kissed my hair. The sensation was luxurious.
“Terri, get away from him!” Rick shouted desperately.
“Stop calling me Terri!” I yelled in annoyance.
“You made her forget her name?” Rick stared in disbelief at Coral. His voice was in my head again. You’re going to hate me for this when you wake up.
He started singing in my head. He’s gone mad, I thought.
Down into a trance you go,
Let the sleep embrace you.
You’ll be safer then, you know
And the sleep will help you.
The world dissolved into blackness
When I woke up I was lying on a sofa. The Parkers’ living room sofa, I realised.
‘What’s my dad going to think?!’ I thought suddenly, sitting up quickly.
“Aunt Roxy sorted it out. He’s not even mad,” floated Rick’s voice from somewhere behind me.
I turned around and saw him in the doorway. He was holding an ice pack to his face.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You almost went off with one of the most dangerous vampires in the country,” Rick replied grimly.
“My dove...” Christopher appeared in the doorway looking troubled. “What were you thinking?”
“I don’t know,” I whispered, frightened by their grave faces. “I just felt crazy and reckless... At least I didn’t go off with one of the nasty-looking guys...”
“No, my dove.” Christopher frowned. “That would have been better.”
“He would have drained you,” Rick said.
“Drained me?” I repeated, almost yelling.
“Yeah. That’s how he got his blue-green glow,” replied Rick.
“No!” I shook my head, tears welling up in my eyes, rejecting what I was being told. “Why couldn’t you have come over last night, Christopher?” I demanded in my distress over how tonight could have ended. “I needed you. I went crazy because you weren’t there.”
Christopher looked anguished.
Rick looked sharply at him. “No, you coward. Go and apologise. That’s horrible.”
“What?” I asked, mystified.
“He thought he’d rather you dumped him than tortured him like this,” Rick said.
Christopher sat down by me. “I’m sorry, my dove. Truly.”
“You thought what?” I did something I’d never done to Christopher before - I slapped him. I slapped him once, twice and then my arms were around his shoulders and I was kissing him. Tears flowed relentlessly down my cheeks as I kissed this stupid vampire I could never really hate.
I stroked his cheek thinking ‘I’m sorry. I love you, you know. Just tell me you love me too and everything will be okay. Oh, make the pain go away, Christopher.’
‘Oh, my dove,’ he replied, ‘when have I ever not loved you? If you can name a time and place, that was the time and place I was a fool.’
‘You are a fool,’ I told him, more tears coming. ‘A fool for loving a stupid human girl like me.’
‘Oh my dove, you’re not a stupid human girl - I’m the one who causes all the problems. I can’t be yours all the time because of a stupid thing called transformation.’
‘You can’t help that! I could have chosen not to kiss Rick.’
‘My dove, I don’t care that you kissed Rick.’His arms were about my waist now and he was pulling me closer in towards him.
‘But I do! And what about Charlie? I was so horrible to him this morning.’
‘Charlie is an idiot,’ Christopher thought savagely.
‘Don’t say that! He’s a lovely, decent guy...’
‘... who is making a mess of the relationship with our girlfriend,’ Christopher interrupted.
‘He can’t help me not loving him!’
‘It doesn’t help matters that he annoys you though.’
‘He can’t help that either!’
‘Sometimes, I just wish he’d get bitten by a vampire bat!’Christopher declared, ignoring me.
I pushed him away, sensing it was a powerful thing that he had just said.
Rick looked pale as he came and sat down in the armchair.
“Christopher, that’s a pretty strong thing to say.”
“What would happen?” I half-whispered.
“Charlie would ... die.”
“How would that help things?” I asked, alarmed. “I wouldn’t have a boyfriend...”
“I wouldn’t,” Christopher cut me off.
“Wouldn’t die? But Charlie would? Christopher, darling, that’s... things aren’t that bad,” I said, quite shocked.
He frowned. “Sometimes, it seems that bad.”
“Careful what you wish for,” Rick murmured. “It may come true.”
“Christopher, you don’t really feel that way, do you?” I asked. “’Cause I’d rather be hypnotised to love Charlie more than you than see a part of you die.”
“If only you could be hypnotised to love Charlie,” Rick mused.
I frowned. “Look, has anyone evertriedto hypnotise someone to affect their heart?”
Christopher stared at me. “We are not messing around with your subconscious.”
“Sorry,” I muttered.
Christopher looked pained. “My dove, love is a strong emotion. Changing that would be like ... changing your conscience.”
“You want a part of you to die,” I retorted. “Now tell me my idea is harmful.”
“We could try...,” suggested Rick.
“So you’re going to induce a trance deep enough to potentially make her lose her memory, are you?” challenged Christopher.
“Well, make up your minds, because neither of you has fed and it’s been two nights since I last offered,” I said bravely.
“Isn’t she amazing?” Rick asked, shaking his head in wonder.
“Yes, and she’s mine, so the decision is no, we are not going to try.”
“Isn’t it her decision?” Rick put in.
Christopher looked at me, pain in his eyes. “My dove, I don’t want anything to happen to you...”
“What are the risks?” I asked him.
“Well, from trance induction they include memory loss, enhanced suggestibility (i.e. you’ll be more open to every vampire’s suggestions) and potentially insanity. While from messing with love you might suffer heartlessness, a loss of love for someone, a gain of love for someone unexpected and a complete change in personality.”
I bit my lip. “I guess that’s a no, then.”
Christopher smiled, looking relieved.
“Thank you, my dove.”
“Right, so which of you wants my blood?” I asked playfully.
“It’s unnecessary for you to ask,” Christopher said. “You’re mine.”
“I won't take it because of my outrageous conduct last night,” Rick added.
“Oh, that's not necessary,” I told Rick.
“It's fine,” he smiled. “Anyway, Christopher hasn’t had you for four nights, and you are his girlfriend.”
“Fair enough,” I said, and made myself comfortable before gazing into Christopher’s eyes.
A quarter of an hour later, Rick was telling us how he’d saved my life.
“So, I put her in a trance..,” he said.
“Singing very well,” I contributed.
“... and kicked Coral. I somehow got him on the floor and sat on him. Keith, the vampire on the door at The Black Dove, came to help me keep him down while I had to use most of my powers, and Keith had to help me, to get him into a trance. Keith chained him to a stool at the bar while the police came, thinking they were arresting me for attempted murder, which isn’t really too far off, and he got taken away. I told Terri to remember her name and her relationship with you, Christopher, and Keith drove us here. I put you, Terri, on the sofa, went to get myself an ice pack and clicked my fingers in the doorway.”
“Thank you so much,” I murmured to Rick.
My previous feelings of annoyance, sadness and anger at Rick had completely dissolved since I’d woken up on the sofa. Now I was just grateful.
“You’re not mad I hypnotised you again?” He looked hopeful.
“Of course not. It was completely necessary.”
I smiled. He smiled back.
“I’m sorry for last night,” I added. “You were only doing what Christopher asked you too. I see now that you could never really be a bad person.”
I gave a smile that I hoped could convey to him the extent of my gratitude, as well as the warmth of friendship.
“You’re really brave, you know that?” I told him, inspired in the moment.
I couldn’t look away. There was nothing more I wanted than to continue pouring forth this flow of emotions.
Rick looked slightly uncomfortable at the intensity of my gaze, though quite flattered too.
Christopher’s chuckle broke the silence.
I turned to face him, the moment broken. I felt my brow furrow in confusion. What was funny, I wondered.
He chuckled again.
Rick fought a smile too.
“Rick would like you to stop looking at him in awe because he thinks you look like he’s proposed again.”
I laughed. “Do you remember that time you were imagining me in wedding dresses, Christopher?”
“Yes, my dove.”
“Oo, am I invited to this wedding?” Rick asked. Christopher nodded, smiling.
“Potential best man there,” I said to Christopher. We all laughed.