He watched her quietly, hidden within the confines of the crowd in the streets as the petty humans conversed with friends or did their grocery shopping. She was with her brother, keeping her head down as was proper for a young, single girl of her age. It didn't matter how low she hung her head. Those golden, tantalizingly extraordinary eyes had caught his attention, and they would become her doom.

He remembered going to Ather, and now he regretted doing so. If it meant keeping this girl a secret for him to do with as he wished in his own time, he wouldn't have ever gone to Ather. He reminisced quietly in the sunlight about their conversation, and about how it had turned out…

"I want that child." She'd muttered upon first seeing the girl called Rachel, when he'd pointed her out in the crowd after the church she attended had let out for the day.

"And what if I challenge you for her?" Aubrey had asked coolly, knowing fully that if Ather chose this young lady that there was no way for Aubrey to defeat her. Ather wasn't one to give up. If she lost a battle, somehow she would win the war. He'd learned that many times over the centuries.

She'd smiled mischievously. "You know me so well, my child." She stroked his cheek absently. He knew she'd just heard his every thought, but he didn't care. "I want your help, not your challenge."

"My help?" Yes, he'd been very wary of her. Ather was like a child with an ant farm and a magnifying glass. She had this way of twisting everything around her to please her. Aubrey had no doubt that she would use him as she'd used so many others before him.

She nodded coyly. "Aubrey, I want her to be mine."

He hadn't fought her, as he'd thought he would. Maybe he was willing to be used, just to catch a closer glimpse of the girl.

Last night, he'd taken her the rose. He laughed about it now that it was over, remembering the expression on her father's face. But he sobered when he remembered her brother. Her brother, with golden eyes like hers and the blonde hair that had made them look so much alike. The resemblance between them had been uncanny, but what was it about the boy that had caught Aubrey's attention? Was it Power? Surely not. The child had felt…psychic somehow. Aubrey didn't completely understand it.

Tonight's the night. Ather had whispered earlier today. I will make her mine tonight, and I want you to be there with me. How easily he'd agreed to go along with her ruthless plans. But maybe some part of him wanted to see this human become a vampire, and take to the change.

So now, tonight—though he knew it not—he would find out exactly what her dearest brother is, and he would see the beginning of the one called Risika, who in a year eons from now would disgrace him in front of the entire vampiric community. But tonight, he would take pleasure in seeing her in human form for the last time.