Chapter One

There is only so much crap one person can be fed. Unfortunately, I have the misfortune of knowing this seemingly small fact all too well. Being told the same hope lifting lines can become a bit of a bore, especially when they exit the mouth of child psychologist, Patricia Poynter. I can almost hear the false chirp of her voice now.

I'm Sure they'll love you

Sure. They'll love me. Some strange family are going to love and welcome a small scrawny looking, bizarrely silent fifteen year old in to their lives. I don't buy it. probably because I've been with seven of these 'Loving' families, and not one of them found me to their liking. Patricia always seemed to overlook telling them a small habit of mine. By accident, she assures me.

I don't buy that either.

Patricia is not only a child psychologist, she's also my social worker. The orphanage not only want rid of me, they think I need to be sectioned. But hey, the way I'm going, I'm not far from thinking myself to be a nut job anyway.

Of course the orphanage always knew I was different to the other children in their care. I'm not stupid. on the eighth of May fifteen years ago, I was left, a mere newborn baby, upon the doorstep of Peachings House. An orphanage. I was nothing more than a statistic to the human population. I bore no name, no identity, and there was certainly no clue as to who had abandoned me in the early ours of that oddly cold Wednesday morning. The only thing I had been blessed with was a small blanket I had been wrapped in, and the symbolic stamp burnt in to my twenty four hour old chest. It seemed I was not off to a good start.

It still amazes me when Patricia tells me how she came to meet me. She'd heard of the child staff were scared of at Peachings. She had been eager to talk to the trouble maker, suss out the problems. What she hadn't counted on, was a three month old child hovering above her crib, wailing because she was teething. I'd never really been sure why Patricia had stuck by me, especially after I had bitten her whilst my first teeth were still emerging. The fanged canines finally appeared at the age of six and a half months. This was not just a child being an early bloomer.

Patricia was convinced it was something else. By the time I was five I was being sent for routine tests. I was seen to be ill, my DNA must be mutated in some vulgaric way. To them I was a freak of nature. It was discovered that my thirst for blood was no hobby, it was not for enjoyment. It was survival; what kept me alive. I was starved of it for days on end, just to observe how long I could live without the liquid. Sometimes up until the point I slipped in to comas.

I do owe my life to Patricia. many times over in fact. If she hadn't pulled me from the laboratory when I was thirteen, I doubt I would be around to this day. Although, I often wonder if things would be better if I had wasted away. Do I really have a quality of life? Forced to forever suck and consume the blood of those who try to love and care for me? I must have been a bch in a past life to have ended up like this.

The question on my lips? What kind of a person am I? Not human, that's for sure. I can tell you that for no pennies. I dread to even think the answer, to breath it, let alone speak it out loud.

And so, the cycle begins again as Patricia drives me to another house. Another prospective family. The eighth so far. Apparently Molly Claxham is taking bets on how long it will be before I'm brought back to the orphanage. Good for her. Glad she has the time on her hands. I can't say I'm particularly bothered by that. I must admit, I enjoy the change of scenery. Beats staying in the isolation room at Peachings. It's for my own good apparently. A new home for a few weeks a the most should let me have some fun. Relax. [bTaste[/b something new, something refreshing.

I spend a moment wondering if Patricia has mentioned my urges to these poor saps. I then remember I'm kidding myself. I wonder if she's scared of it herself. Why avoid talking about it in front of others? This isn't some small drinking problem that can be hidden, it's not your average teenage attitude problem. For God's sake, we're talking about my lifestyle. The survival technique that nature cursed me with at birth. We're talking about the thirst for human blood!

"I don't suppose you've told them what they're getting themselves in to." I said, my eyes wandering curiously up at the large detached house my social worker had pulled up and parked her car at.
"They know all about you." She smiled, brushing a few strands of curled blonde hair from out of her face, tucking them neatly behind her ear.
"I bet you didn't mention my problem." I muttered whilst sweeping my tongue over my teeth, flicking it across the sharpened canines, alternating between the two.
"On the contrary, I think you'll find I did." Patricia replied, unbuckling her seatbelt and stepping out of the car. How very odd. I really am quite amazed. And she seemed so open about it too.

The house I was stood in front of didn't look bad. Actually, it looked like some kind of stately home you would pay for a tour of. 'Cept a little smaller I guess. My eyes rested upon the red oak door, two topiary bushes in pots on either side. How quaint. Whoever lived here was getting severely overpaid, that's for sure.

"You know what?" Patricia beamed at me.
"Let me guess. They're going to love me?" I mocked her, rolling my eyes when she chose to ignore the comment. I watched as she fumbled around in her bag, feeling my jaw drop when she produced a set of keys, placing them in the lock of the door.
"You guys, I'm home!" She yelled, stepping in to the house with me following behind her, quite bemused to say the least. Good lord! I'll be living under the same roof as Patricia Poynter? The world really does think I'm bonkers.

Despite my initial shock, I closed the door behind me, stepping away from it as I eyes her hanging her coat on the banister. She turned, beckoning me to do the same. I shook my head, mumbling something about being cold, and remained in the same fixed position, frozen.

"Dougie, Jessi!" Patricia called up the staircase. "Come down here."
"She brought it home with her." A girl laughed as she tumbled down the stairs. The boy following on from her said nothing.
"My kids." Patricia beamed, placing a hand on each of their shoulders.
"I'm Jessi." The daughter smiled falsely. "I'm just thrilled to meet you."
Yeah sure you are. Call me an 'it' again and I'll cut a smile for you. Ear to ear. I smiled back. Patricia nudged her son rather indiscreetly who just smiled amusedly at me. What? Something on my face? he stepped forward, hesitating before taking my hand, squeezing it slightly.
"Dougie." He spoke quietly.
"I'm Claire." I looked down at his hand in mine, swiftly pulling it from his grip. No one touches me. Ever.

I don't like this. The whole set up is uncomfortable. Patricia knows I don't like it. She knows I can't deal or cope with other people. New people.

"So, why don't you all find something to do while I get Claire's things from the car." She smiled. Oh yeah. Thanks Patricia.
"I'm hungry." I mumbled, glancing up at her.
"Dougie will fix you something. Won't you love?" She looked up at her son who nodded and grabbed hold of my hand again, leading me through another door. No freaking touching! He let go immediately. Wow. Talk about psychic. Pfft. I didn't mean food hungry either. I meant blood hungry. I sat down at the table as I watched Dougie open the fridge. He moved his long blonde fringe away from his eyes, scanning the contents of the large container in concentration, biting down on his lip. He couldn't have been much older than me, and he wasnt much taller either. His blue eyes seemed to flash with some kind of recognition before he grabbed at something, closing the fridge door.

I gasped, jumping slightly when he slapped two pint bags of blood on to the dining table. Lifting my eyes slowly from them to his, I was more concerned over the fact there were two rather than how he knew I'd needed them.

"Saves you biting me and then finding I'm not your usual." he shrugged as if trying to answer a question I hadn't yet spoken.
"Why wouldn't I - ?" I found myself beginning to ask.
"You, me. We're one in the same I'm afraid." Dougie replied, his eyes narrowing upon me. "Why do you think there's a second packet. Like I'd let you drink two of my bags.."

His bags?

I didn't speak again. I found his tone cruel, sarcastic and undermining. rather like my own really. He hadn't given me a great first impression of himself yet. He simply smirked at my silence and pushed the bag of liquid towards me. I shook my head. This was stupid. I'm starving here. Why am I turning it down?

"You need it." he stated.
"How would you know?" I snapped.

Note: Lack of blood may cause over reacting.

"Because if you're anything like me, you'll attack. Now drink that before I find you gorging on Jessi or Patty in their sleep." Dougie scowled, growling his words. This boy meant business.
"Why did you call her Patty?" I asked, only ever picking up on the small, probably inferior details.
"Oh. She's not my mum. Me and Jessi have the same dad. That's about it." He shrugged, tearing a small split in his packet with his fingernail before placing is lips to the tear, the dark red substance leaking slowly from the orifice. He closed the gap in the plastic with his index finger and thumb before continuing. "She just treats me like her son. A ten year old son to be exact. She doesn't seem to realise I'm sixteen and not in the slightest bit interested in being related to her."

He must be great to live with.

My voice remained unheard as my hands jostled the bag of blood in my hand, squeezing and releasing absent-mindedly.
"So.." Dougie decided to strike up conversation again. "I hear you were dumped in a basket."
"I..." I was speechless. no one ever, not ever in my small insignificant existence had actually said anything like that to me.

Of course I knew what had happened, but it's not as if I want a stranger knowing. When Patricia said the family knew, I thought she'd have been talking about my favourite films, my interests... I hardly expected them to have told them the way I was abandoned.

"Just drink." Dougie grumbled dismissively, and left the room. How rude. Ignorant! Something tells me I'll want rid of this household before it wants rid of me.

I got up myself, leaving the blood on the table, and ventured out of the kitchen. Dougie was wrong about me. I could go another day without anything of my vulgar lifeline. Perhaps he is the reason Patricia was so interested in my in the first place. She was curious of her own step son, so she used me as a guinea pig for the tests. That does seem to fit.

I noticed Dougie seemed to be a lot more at ease with the habit. he'd accepted it by the looks of things. I may have done it I lived in the same environment he did. I mean, come on... Where the hell did he get bags of fresh blood to put in to his fridge. His FRIDGE!

"Patty gets it from the hospital." I heard Dougie say. I turned, seeing him sat on the living room floor. how did he-? "I just can. I've not met anyone who could last more than two days without blood."
"What can I say?" I smiled sarcastically. "You spend eight years in a lab being poked, prodded and starved of the thing that keeps you alive, there's bound to be some side effects."
"Ah, sarcasm. You feel threatened by me." he lay back, hands clasped behind his head.

What an arrogant, obnoxious, selfish piece of..

"Piece of what?" he smirked up at me. "I would like to know. You've intrigued me."
"Shut up." I muttered, wincing as my canines sharpened and lengthened by half a centimetre. Did I forget to mention I hadn't actually mastered control of that. I'd found it all depended on mood, controlled by strong waves of emotion if you want Patricia's technical terms.

I was sent hurtling back down to reality when I felt a buzzing in my jeans pocket. I groaned, pulling out my phone, staring at is incredulously. Who the hell would be calling me? Only Patricia rings me. And that's when she want's to know how I am. I thought she was the only one to have this number.

"Oh for God's sake!" Dougie snatched the mobile from my hands, staring at the buttons before blindly pressing one. Speaker phone. Oh the joy.
"We're reporting live from Peachings; home for the rejected, waiting to talk to..." Oh, great. Molly Claxham. "We're bringing you live audio footage of the Basket Baby's release from captivity. Will her savage nature get the best of her again? Or will the new family accept her for the blood feasting beast for what she really is?"

I looked to the floor, knowing full well that Dougie was staring at me directly. I allowed myself to ignore the phone call, in fact, ignoring everything that surrounded me seemed a pretty good idea at the time. It was okay at the home. It's easy to pretend nothing ever bothers you, that you're immune to everything single torment someone wants to dish out to you. But humiliation, in front of the one person who knows that this life is like. Humiliation in a place I might fit in to one day. The tears aren't so easy to hide.

Everything changed.
Everything changed when he spoke.
When he stood up for me.

"She has no savage nature." He hissed rather menacingly. I hadn't foresaw this side of him. "And she's no beast." He sank to a whisper, still loud enough for me to hear. "If I ever lay eyes on you, I'll make damn sure I let you know how good the inside of your jugular tastes."

I don't think I cared much that he had been a little over the top. In fact, I was grateful. For, as soon as he'd finished, we heard the dial tone.
"Here." he pushed my phone in to my hands before whispering in my ear. "There's nothing wrong with who you are. It's natural."

How in the hell is it natural? Seriously, is he retarded?

"Natural for our kind." He spoke.
"Stop doing that! It's like you're reading my thoughts!" I shrieked. he simply smirked and went to walk out of the room. Jeez. May be I've pissed him off. And I didn't even get to say thank you.
"You're welcome." Dougie laughed lightly, pausing at the doorway, turning to face me, a small smile curving his lips before frowning at me, rather sadly. "You have no idea who you are do you?"

What in God's name is that meant to mean?

"No." I replied. "As you, yourself stated earlier, I was abandoned in a basket."
"Come with me." he held out his hand. "I won't bite." he smirked. Oh yeah. Clever, that was real funny, that was. "I want to show you something."