I've noticed a good bit of people losing hope that this will ever be finished. Don't lose hope, don't get fresh, and think of this as a good faith payment. Do you know how close I am to completing this thing? I can taste the ending on my fingertips, ladies and gents.

And please, for any status updates on this story please refer to my FFn profile, blog or Twitter. It will always let you know what's going on.

Livie79, the fabulous author of Glycerine (check it out), pre-reads for me and gives me lots of support, time and love.

Niko0921 (aka: Sharon) gives me honest thoughts from a reader's P.O.V..

I love these ladies. They are the best.

This is STILL suspense/horror. It'll never change.



I found solace in routines, those fragments of time offered to me so I'd keep my head and not float aimlessly through thoughts which I need not wonder. There were many antiques to dust, plenty of floors to mop and endless silver to polish. I never completed anything within a solitary day. It took a couple to complete one room, and while they turned their heads at my work, not believing any of it to be worth spit (even though it was the cleanest it'd been in a long time), I kept a map locked away in my head.

I knew where the hallways led now, and the shortcuts to take if I wanted to get somewhere quickly. They were unaware of my knowledge. They viewed me as simple and lowly, and I had no intention of correcting their skewed perception. I kept my mouth shut unless spoken to, and even then, I didn't offer a harsh word. I didn't want them to expect anything from me unless it be obedience. My time to escape would be soon. All I needed was the key to unlock my freedom, everything else was technical.

All the vampires who roamed these halls had the key to that freedom — a skeleton key, but I had yet to figure out how to get hold of one.

I observed the creatures of the house come and go from their rooms, and others I'd never seen before glide through the front doors. Some wore fitted suits with ties, their hair tidy and gelled with such refinement I imagined they were the CEO of some big-name company. Then I thought how appropriate it would be for a vampire to suck the life out of a business.

These new faces would stay for a long time, sometimes up to twenty minutes. They'd leave smiling with black bottles in hand, giving a small glance at me, the human girl staring at them with curiosity. While those vampires were interesting, the more fascinating (and frightening) were their opposites, those who didn't have an appealing nature.

Instead of smooth skin, they appeared rough and sand-like. Their hair was not tidy and their eyes were sunken, the width black as night as though they didn't have eyes at all, just holes. They had a twitch about them when they walked. Their clothes weren't nice or fitted like the others. The sleeves of their shirts were too long, concealing the pallor of their fingers, and the long, frayed ends of their jeans looked as though they'd been torn across the ground for years. Guards would allow them to enter the front doors of the house. The shaky vampires would disappear down the hall, and a few minutes later, they'd exit, stroking their black bottle. They never noticed me, never even looked up from that concealed bag of blood they carried as they tried to open it before reaching the front door.

I knew those dirty faces as Junkies after Jasper explained one night. Just as humans, vampires had to earn a living if they wanted a chance to be in a stable location, to blend and take part in what the current age had to offer. They posed as humans, and like us paid rent, car payments, utility bills. And also like us, they suffered financially, and good, filling blood didn't come cheap. Homeless creatures of the night didn't do so well. The poor were deprived of blood to the brink of starvation, and sometimes temptation became too much to handle, and they drank from humans outside of the house.

"Why is that a big deal?" I asked him. "You're vampires, isn't it all the same?"

He looked up from his book. He always read while I cleaned. "It's the law. We obey the law, unless, of course, we want to die or worse."

I wanted to laugh. They were already dead, but still I wondered... "What's worse than death?"

"Starvation. Madness. Desperate vampires are dangerous, crazy with blood lust and they'll do just about anything to get a fix."

"Why can't you drink from an outside human?"

"It's complicated," his red eyes flicked up from under his golden hair very briefly before returning to his book, "and you don't need to know."

I sighed and reached for the glass of water on the hall table, moving my tongue against the familiar chalky feeling clinging to my mouth. I knew it was the vitamins used to replenish my blood, and I needed all I could get since Aro had already begun to cash in on his part of the bargain I struck with him. I'd been in that sterilized room more times than I cared to count, but Jasper was always by my side cooling my anxiety. And even though the energy between the two of us remained easy, I always felt slightly on edge, like I walked a thin line of acceptance.

"He's still gone, you know," he said after a few moments of extended silence.

I looked up from the hall floor, but didn't stop pushing the wet mop in front of me. "Who?"

"Edward. He's still gone. No trace of him anywhere so I've heard from the enforcers. They've been out looking for him since he left."

"Why are you telling me this?"

A small dimple appeared on his cheek when his lips stretched into a grin. "I just thought you'd like to know, considering you were his favorite."

"He wasn't mine," I said. "And as long as he's gone, this place is better." It would never be better, but it didn't seem as heavy. When he was here, I could feel his mind everywhere, like some real-life Professor X. I knew he watched me through the eyes of others.

Jasper's smile grew a little, and I was reminded me of the company I kept with a flash of his teeth. Still, I preferred him over the others. "I couldn't agree with you more," he said. By that statement, I knew my assessment of him was right.

I grinned a little, too.

The rest is coming.