Dedication:

I dedicate this book to my parents, Amanda and Richie.

Chapter 1
Losing It

**Two years earlier**

I woke up to a bright morning with wind blowing in my face after a long unbelievable dream.

I've been having these weird dreams every night. I'd be talking to some beautiful people, kissing this guy that would appear in every dream, yet I never could get a glimpse of his face. I'd always be fighting various creatures that looked like werewolves, regular wild animals like mountain lions and bobcats, and this one creature I'd only have a quick look of.

My mom had opened my window just before she woke me up, fluffing out her sixties styled hair with her fingers as she left. Short and curled. Yawning, I stood, stretching in my long flannel pajamas.

My room was very clean. It felt like I didn't even really live here. I guess that's because we just moved here. I don't know. Maybe I'm too neat. There was a small twin bed with a big blue quilt, bland white walls, one small wooden window, a small two foot wide closet, a dresser with four drawers, and hardwood floors. I did have some pictures on my dressers so it seemed lived in at least. There were pictures of me, my boyfriend, my friends Madison, Ashley, Steph, and Tanner.

I quickly ran toward the bathroom across the hall and brushed my teeth. I would have washed my hair, but I woke up a little late. Instead, I ran back to my room, pulled out my make-up, and changed into the skinny jeans and low v-neck American Eagle shirt with a yellow undershirt.

As I combed my long sleek blond hair with one hand, I texted Gage, my boyfriend, with the other.

I really liked Gage. Even though we had only been dating for a month and a half, he was very protective and a little too controlling. All together though he was a great boyfriend. My first, anyway.

I always thought that I was too mature for my age, but I guess every teenager thought that. I was fifteen, but I felt so much older at times. Gage was a junior, sixteen, and already had his permit. He looked way older though. Like he was actually in his twenties. People kept saying he was only sixteen, but he didn't seem like it. He knew how to kiss for sure.

I ran downstairs and saw from my drowsy parents that it was only a few minutes after seven. They had just finished breakfast and were still drinking coffee. I groaned and dropped my book bag in agitation. I sat down and inhaled the aroma of scrambled eggs, fresh greasy bacon, and soft flaky biscuits that just came out of the oven.

Delicious.

I got texts from Madison, Ashley, Steph, and Gage who had just gotten up while I ate slowly. I didn't like being so fast and always having to wait, but I had a habit of going too fast. Especially in Gym. Madison used to be the fastest until I moved here a month or so ago. She and I became friends after a day of constant talking. Ashley... well, she wasn't the best friend in the world. She was a little bit of a whore, but she was nice when she really wanted to be. Steph is the fiery red-head of the school. She is fierce, full of attitude, pretty, and my best friend.

The thing that bothered me the most was my memory. I don't remember a single thing before I woke up in a hospital. My parents looking down at me, smiling, and glad I made it. Apparently I was in a coma for over ten years or something. The strangest thing was my dreams. They didn't even seem like dreams more like some far off memory.

Trying not to think too much about it, I brushed my teeth again and waited for the bus. When the bus finally arrived about ten minutes later, I sat in an empty seat listening to some soft rock on my iPod. The window was open and it kept making my hair fly around me like wildfire. My hair would be tangled and frizzy for sure.

I ran into school and by my locker where my friends Steph, Madison, and Ashley. Trying to ignore two teenagers making out on the other side of the hallway, I walked up with a smile. I hugged them all and tried my combination, nearly crying as I stared into the reflection of my mirror. My hair was horrible. Not as bad as I thought it'd be, but bad enough.

"I can't believe it's almost Valentine's Day! I can't wait to see what my boyfriend got me." Madison squealed jumping up and down with her brown hair pulled into pigtails bouncing in front of her face.

"It's only the first of February. That's forever away," Steph said bitterly with her red hair tucked behind her ears. She is just a little angry her boyfriend broke up with her for the school slut.

The two that were making out on the other side of the hallway loving on each other were them. Steph is probably trying not to punch them in the face. I wouldn't blame her if she did.

I wasn't really paying attention to their excitement and bitterness. I was busy looking at the mirror in my pale green locker while I was trying to brush through my tangled blond hair. I am always overreacting about all the little things.

"Janice? Are you listening?" Madison tapped my shoulder with her new French tip manicure.

"Huh? Oh, sorry," I looked back at the mirror. "My hair is a mess." I sighed defeated. Ashley and Steph started giggling like little schoolgirls.

"You're so stupid." Madison giggled. "Let me." I handed her the brush when she reached for it. My phone started ringing. I flipped it open and saw I had a new text from Kayla.

Tanner is getting beat up again.

I heard a body hit the ground then a moan following. I could feel my fears were dead on as I leaned to the right of my locker and saw some of the average punks I hated bullying Tanner. They kicked him to the ground and then his face. I heard a groan escape Tanner's lips as blood dripped from his nose.

"Oh, no." I ran over to them, "Hey! What the hell are you doing? Leave him alone. He didn't do anything!" I was in front of Tanner stopping their fists from getting closer to his face. Why were boys so immature?

"Oh! Hi, Janice. We're not hurting him." Kyle said in his stupidly slow tone. The other idiots backed behind him. They knew what Gage would do to them if they did anything that made me upset.

"Yeah, I can see that. Now go." They started running down the hall to their classroom, "And," They stopped, "don't bother him again." With that last word they ran down the hall with their tails between their legs.

I turned back to Tanner, grinning at my victory. He was appraising my appearance. I don't know why. I'm just wearing what every other teenager liked to wear.

"You okay?" I said handing my hand out to him.

"Um...yeah." He didn't grab my hand. He clung to his book bag the punks were trying to get into. He started walking off to his locker. He looked just as normal as any guy in this school. Why would someone bother him for nothing? He was just like the rest of us, what's so different about him? Normal dark red hair that was ruffled on his head like a model's and a handsome face that belonged to an angel.

He came to school the week after I did. He seemed nice and a little weird at first, but overall a cool guy. I don't understand why people were so mean to him. It wasn't fair to treat him so evilly. I always stood up for him whenever something happened to him. I don't think I can protect him forever, but I'll try. He's been my friend since I met him in Biology the first day. Tanner was always a sweet guy and he's been a good friend even though most people pushed him away, I kept him close. He's great to talk to. People just don't understand what kind of friend he was.

"Hey!" I ran up to his side trying to catch up, "If they give you any trouble just let me know. Sometimes it pays off to have the strongest and most popular guy as your boyfriend." I laughed lightly. He stopped and barely turned. I could only see the left side of his face.

"Thanks for getting them off me." He didn't look at me as he said this. He kept looking at his bag. He put the strap over his shoulder and walked to his locker running his fingers through his hair, nervously.

"You're welcome." I yelled to him.

I walked back to my locker where Madison, Steph, and Ashley were waiting.

"He's kind of cute for a geek." Ashley snubbed flipping her raven black hair in the air away from her face.

"He is really nice," I admitted, "I sit next to him in Biology. He's my lab partner. He's smart, too."

I felt arms wrap around my waist and someone's head to my neck.

"Hi, Gage." I said flirtatiously as he nibbled at my neck. I turned around and kissed his lips. The bell rang, "Oh, shit!" I grabbed my books and bag, closed my locker, kissed Gage bye, and ran to my next class, Literature.

The old literature room wasn't one of my favorite classrooms in the world. The walls were ugly olive green colored wallpaper, with uglier wooden floorboards. The desks looked like they've been here since the seventies. I walked to my desk as Mrs. Jones called roll. Luckily she didn't see my late appearance here. Her eyes aren't as good as they were in her younger days. As she called each name the student said here loud enough for her fragile ears to hear.

"Okay students," Mrs. Jones got out of her soft chair away from her desk to the front of the classroom, "Get out your essay from yesterday and pass them to the front." I looked through my black folder for my essay. Oh no. I can't find it. Papers hit my shoulder. I grabbed them and passed them to Tom in front of me. I kept shuffling through my papers. Found them, I thought. I pulled the paper out and handed it to Tom.

I exhaled sharply with relief. Mrs. Jones grabbed the piles of papers and turned to her desk.

Then I heard a loud noise like someone was beating a drum. Only I knew it wasn't a drum. It almost sounded like gunshots. I heard a scream follow and a loud distressed moan. I nearly fell out of my seat when I heard it. I thought I was in Iraq for a moment.

I gasped and tried to calm my shaking fingers, my fast heart trying to beat through my chest, and the shiver going down my spine as I stared across the room with wide eyes.

Mrs. Jones dropped her papers out of fright. I got up very slowly and cautiously to help Mrs. Jones pick up the papers. I was very nervous about that noise. The rest of the students were looking around nervously like myself. The door squeaked and my eyes ran to it, but quickly darting back, I tried to make myself think it was just my imagination. I had all the papers in my hand as I put them on her desk. Mrs. Jones walked slowly to the chair behind the desk. She apparently didn't think it was a gunshot or might have just been construction. The class didn't think so. From the way they wouldn't talk or move like myself. I was scared out of my mind.

The door started to squeak as it opened slowly making my heart quicken and my breath to stop. I stared at the man coming through the door.

I was like a deer that was about to get ran over. I wanted to move, but the person kept me paralyzed.

Tanner.

"Tanner?" I questioned, walking closer as everyone in his or her desks started backing away. Why were they...

Tanner pulled two nine millimeters up to eye level that stopped my thought. He pointed them at me and inside I just knew this was it. I knew I wouldn't be able to live a normal life with a family of my own because this was the end.

I closed my eyes letting a few tears escape waiting for the fiery pain the bullets would bring. I heard bullets being shot with loud pops knowing they would hit me. I kept myself frozen while he shot out those deadly little bullets. I felt the bullets brushing wind against my arms and head as they zipped by my body... but I didn't feel pain. I could hear shrill screams surrounding me, soft moans that quickly ended after a few more gunshots, and more tears escaping my closed eyes.

I opened my eyes when the shooting ceased, scared of what I might see. Everyone was dead. I let out a soft noise through my open mouth as I fell to my knees close to screaming at the top of lungs. I started crying harder and gasping louder in between sobs when I saw Madison, Ashley, and Steph bleeding to death eyes staring wide and blank at me blinking slowly then stopping all together. I started to reach my hands out to them but stopped myself. Oh, God! This isn't happening.... this isn't happening.... it can't be...

Tanner pulled the guns to his side and faced me. He was a completely different person. He was not the boy I once knew. His face held no remorse, no pain, and no emotion. He put a new clip into the guns like he was an expert. He must have been practicing and planning this day, that made me hate him more.

"Janice," He said quietly.

I turned my head away from him to the left with my eyes shut. My hands balled into fists on the hard floorboards. My nails dug into my palms oozing out a small drop of blood. I gasped softly as the blood began to pour. I could hear him sigh and walk through the door. I heard his footsteps fading.

I brought my head back up and opened my eyes that were certainly bloodshot. Everyone in the room was dead. I still couldn't grasp that it was true. I kept waiting for me to wake up, but this was no dream. I had to realize that it wasn't going to just go away. This was real life. I heard a few last raspy breaths, but they stopped shortly afterward. I closed my eyes as more tears started falling down my cheek… so much death. I can't stand it.... why? .... Why did this have to happen?

More shots were fired. After each single shot my shoulders shook, as the pain grew excruciatingly more unbearable.

"Please stop!" I screamed, "Please!" I mumbled not as loud.

My shoulders shook strong making my chest hurt. I reached for my cell phone in my pocket sucking up the tears and wiping away the snot. I pulled it out and dialed 911.

It rang silently.

"Hello, 911. What's your emergency?"

"My name is Janice Coleman. I'm fifteen. I'm at the East Ridge High School. There's been a shooting." I couldn't believe how calm I sounded. I was looking at a girl who was still sitting in her seat staring at me with tears and blood dripping from her right eye that was now gone. She was still alive with so much pain. She kept looking my way as I continued.

"Are you hurt?"

"No, but everyone else in my class are dead. Except one girl," I tried to hold back my tears as her eyes locked with mine, "The shooter is going to the other classrooms on the floor," A couple of gunshots stopped my train of thought. I started to cry louder as I unwillingly imagined what was happening, "Hurry. Please." My voice was getting inaudible as the pain grew.

"Okay, hold on miss. Ambulances and the police are on their way. They will be there soon." The girl dropped her head on the top of the desk as she let out her last breath.

"The other girl in my room is dead." I whispered. I hung up the phone and turned it to vibrate. The door burst open. I jumped but calmed myself when I saw who it was. I started to cry tears of joy, my heart warming slightly at the fact that at least one person I cared for was alive.

Gage stood at the door holding his arm around his waist with blood flowing slowly over his arm leaning against the doorframe. "Janice?" He groaned.

"Gage!" I screamed. I was filled with some happiness knowing he was alive. I hurried to close the door behind him and led him to the teacher's chair avoiding the look on Mrs. Jones's dead wrinkled face staring at the ceiling. He groaned as I sat him down on the chair. I pulled the chair out of view of the door, "Gage, are you okay?" I whispered as I took him to the window at the back of the room. I was just so happy he was alive. I would slather him in kisses right now if I could.

"Peachy. Are you okay?" He tried to get up.

"No, stay down. I'm fine." I moved my hand to his bleeding arm. He grabbed my wrist.

"Why didn't he shoot you?" He moved his hand to mine and held it.

"I don't know. Maybe because I stood up for him when he was bullied." I started thinking about it, but I stopped because Tanner was outside the door. I looked down at the floor and noticed a trail of blood leading up to where Gage and I were at. Dammit, Gage. I moved my body in front of Gage as Tanner came in. I gripped my hands on the chair's armrests standing in front of him with a confident and cowardly feeling of what would happen. I've lost too many people! I won't lose another!

Tanner walked in.

My heart was racing, I tried to exhale, but my body wouldn't let me breathe.

"Janice. Move," He pointed the gun to my face.

"No." I muttered, clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth together, stopping the vile words I wanted to say to him.

"Janice," Gage spoke quietly. I turned around and stayed in front of him as he spoke. "Let him by."

"No!" I argued as more tears trickled out of my furious eyes.

"I can't watch him kill you," He said this to me in the sweetest voice, even though I thought he would be angry.

"I can't watch him kill you, either!"

I was torn. I can't choose. Death for us both or death for him. I-I can't...

"I won't let you kill him." I said sucking up the tears to face death. "You can kill us both."

"No, Janice!" Tanner and Gage said at the same time. I walked slowly toward Tanner until the guns were almost touching the space between my eyes.

His hands started shaking very slightly. I could see the reflection of myself in his pain stricken eyes. My eyeliner and mascara was smudged all over my cheeks and underneath my eyelids. I looked at him for another moment waiting for him to put down the guns, hoping he'd see his mistakes. He bit his lips as his eyes were shiny and wet with tears.

He surprised me. He lowered his guns. He won't be able to escape this. He's killed countless people. He will end up killing himself or stay in jail for the rest of his life. I would visit him even though he killed my friends...but I don't think I could ever forgive him for that. A tear froze on my eye as if time had stopped.

Police sirens went off. They were here already.

He pulled away from me and pushed me back beside Gage. He pointed the two deadly black weapons at Gage.

"NO!" I screamed. I jumped in front of Gage. The bullet hit me. It felt painless at first until a second afterward. I gripped my arms around my belly as blood gushed over my arm. I fell to my knees, screaming my head off. The high-pitched screech echoed through the empty soulless room.

Tanner started to lower his guns looking at me worried, but he shot Gage multiple times as my head was turned to my chest. Gage didn't scream or fight back. He simply sat there...ready to die for me. I cried as I turned to see his head was nearly blown off.

"Oh, God!" I exclaimed. I turned back to Tanner as fast as I could. He was still frozen in place after shooting Gage.

Now...I've lost everyone...

"How could you do that, you crazy son of a-"

He pointed the guns at me and eyed me crazy like. This entire killing has made him crazy. It would make me crazy, too. I feel like I'm already traumatized from seeing strangers, my friends, and my boyfriend killed by a guy that was a very nice boy that I genuinely liked.

Who am I trying to kid? I am traumatized.

I started to cry as more blood poured over my arms. It hurt. My body hurt with the fire under my skin. His face turned gentle and smoothed over into a saddened composure. I turned away from him. I couldn't stand to look at him again. Not after what he's done to me. At least, I thought I couldn't. I saw dead bodies of strangers everywhere I tried to turn away. There had to be life in this school. Somewhere.

"Janice, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean,"

"Just shut up! You did mean it! If you didn't mean it, you would not have brought guns to school! Now do something before the police get you," I paused, "I'll visit you in prison." I turned to him, but kept my eyes to the ground, ashamed of what I'd say next, "I promise."

No matter how mad I was at him I couldn't help but give him a small smile under my tears. I did immensely hate him for doing this, but a very small part of me didn't, and that scared me.

A hand touched my chin. He brought my face up to his. My eyes were widened shocked as he looked into them and brought his lips closer. He kissed me just before I started crying harder. As he kissed me, I kept my eyes shut imagining it was Gage. It didn't feel right kissing another man while the one I loved just died by his hand. He wiped away the tears as his mouth parted and his tongue touched mine. I pushed him away. I breathed heavily, shocked looking down at the floor. I was so ashamed. I couldn't stand looking at him.

"I love you," He said quietly. He turned and walked out the door pulling the magazine out of the gun barrel dropping it on the floor at the door. I looked out the window waiting for him to come out. I was so scared for him, yet... I wished he would drop dead too. What would happen to him?

My phone started vibrating.

"Hello?" I asked uncertain.

"It's Detective Bartlett. Are you safe?" I could hear guns being loaded in the background and police whispering codes. I looked out and saw a man on the phone that must have been Detective Bartlett.

"Yes. The shooter is coming outside right now. He has no bullets in his guns. Don't shoot him."

I looked out the window again. Tanner was standing there with only one gun pointing it at a girl in his arms. Oh, Tanner. You idiot! He pushed her forward and started to shoot at them until he dropped the gun as they shot him to the ground. I thought he had no bullets…

Why did they shoot him? I told them... NO!

It was worse than killing yourself. I dropped my face into my hands and sobbed continuously until the paramedic came to me. I saw that lots of the other kids survived. He didn't kill everyone. One thing to be happy about, yet I couldn't stop crying even when they gave me the morphine as they carried me into the ambulance.

Chapter 2
Back to the Present**Present**

I looked into the small mirror that Skylar provided, so I could see my new hair style.

"I love it," I mumble, with no enthusiasm. However, I did like the black streaks he put under my blonde hair, it's just I'm not really for being happy today since...

"Come on, Alice. Give me a bit more enthusiasm. You are my best friend. You can be a little nicer," He turned the chair around so I could face him, then lifted my chin with his finger, making a face that made me laugh.

"I know Skylar. It's just... today is the anniversary of... you know," I tried to look past his very emo hairstyle that covered most of his eyes and forehead. Speaking of his eyes, it seems that he's put on a lot more eyeliner than usual. Was he going tranny?

"Oh, I know. But that was so long ago. You have to get over it, cutie. A hundred years is a long time to wallow in guilt," He said, comfortingly, making me smile once again. If he weren't dating what's-her-face I'd go out with him.

I got up and stopped at the bigger mirror framed in cheap plastic made to look like gold. I watched my much paler reflection. I much paler then I was two years ago. I've changed a lot from my all-American girl days. Now I wear heavy-duty mascara and eyeliner all the time and a nose ring stud with a lip ring to match, but I took out the lip ring before the haircut. I don't really wear it anyway.

After that shooting at East Ridge, my mother and father moved me with them to Chicago promising anything I want to "get me through this awful experience". I held them to it getting what I wanted when I wanted it, but that was mostly silence and a hundred dollars a week - give or take. The memory never went away. It still lay burned into my memory, unmovable. I preferred everyone to call me Alice, so when I first came to Chicago, that's what everyone called me. Mainly, though, I felt that Janice actually did die at that shooting. I wasn't her. Not anymore. She was long gone in hell with her friends and boyfriend. She now curses me with her memory like an angry ghost who wanted revenge.

"You look gorgeous!" Skylar yelled as he messed with my hair, using his fingers to brush through it from the roots. I couldn't help but smile. He was very good at cheering me up when it meant the most.

I turned around and caught his hands then I dragged him out the door. We were only in his bathroom, not at some fancy rip-off salon. We hurried out the front door when his father's snore stopped. He was sleeping on the couch because he and Karen have been having some problems.

It had been snowing since last week, but when we got outside, the air seemed to be chillier than ever with a bitter bite of cold air slamming against us.

"Damn, it's cold," Skylar, chattered through his gritting teeth. He reached his hand in the door and got our coats off the rack. I put on my black wool coat that fit comfortably over my horizontal striped green and black sweater and loose but warm jeans and put on my gloves. I rubbed my gloved hands together to build enough friction for heat, but I was too cold. I grabbed Skylar's hand trying to have his warm touch, but he was just as cold as I was. I let go and kept rubbing my hands. We walked down the busy street until we could find a cab.

While we were waiting at the bus stop, unwillingly, I heard some kids behind us having a snowball fight. I watched them for a while admiring how they were so innocent...so unlike myself. Their faces were turning a light pink from the cold. They were laughing, smiling, and enjoying themselves, while they could. I don't even remember the last time I was really happy.

My eyes wandered the area the kids had been playing and I saw a woman that I almost didn't notice. She reminded me of a woman in my dreams. Long blonde hair like my own, pale as I am, and eyes a lighter shade of green then mine. A gust of cold wintry and snowy air hit me, automatically I shut my eyes. When I opened them, she was gone. I faced back to road, scanning for a taxi, Skylar helped.

I felt the chilly wind of the cars punch the air out of me as they drove by. The cold air made my teeth nearly shatter from their chattering. Waiting for the bus was torture. I saw a cab down the street. I took hold of Skylar by the collar as I ran to the cab. Finally luck was on my side. Luckily they were at a stop sign, so we could get there in time. I pulled a twenty out of my pocket when we got inside the ugly yellow cab. The cab driver was an overweight fifty-year-old looking man with little hair on his head and dressed in tourist-like shirt with khaki shorts. Why would he be dressed in such a way? It has to be less than forty degrees outside. His head was turned to the right.

"Where to-," He turned and I saw his familiar face. Felix, "Oh, hi Alice. Skylar. Where you off to?" His gruff New York accent was so familiar but so different from the good ol' Chicago.

"The mall, Felix."

"All right," As soon as the light turned green he started charging us. I watched the machine carefully since we only had so much cash and our main goal was shopping. We sat in the cab with the usual awkward silence everyone experiences.

"So, how are your parents?"

I brought my eyes away from the window and saw his eyes looking into the rear view mirror. "I don't know, Felix. You know I don't talk to them much."

"Oh," He looked away from the rear view mirror and toward the road. It was only February the first and people were already giving candy to their valentine. We passed a lot of happy couples. Why is it, there is always love everywhere when you are depressed, but when you're in love, there's sadness? I groaned feeling urges again. I felt a burning sensation under the skin of my right arm. I rubbed it feverishly. The new cuts were starting to sting. Skylar turned to me and examined my hand against my arm.

"Alice," He remarked irritated, yet still worried with a gloomy attitude taking over once I reeled away.

"What?" I reeled away from him and stopped rubbing my arm even though it stung. It was hard to leave it alone. Why did I even do it? Because you want to diebut still live. You want to hurt yourself. My conscience, a.k.a Janice, answered. I shook my head ignoring her voice.

"We're here," Felix said quietly.

I looked out the foggy window and saw the full parking lot of the mall and the mall itself. Skylar got out ahead of me. I tossed the twenty to Felix and hurried out to join Skylar.

"See 'ya later, Felix!" I yelled to him.

"Good luck, kid." I think that's what he said. I couldn't hear over the honking.

I was at Skylar's side before he had gotten too far ahead of me. I had to run to keep up. We both entered the warm and toasty mall. I took off the coat and held it in my arms as we stepped onto the escalator. We were right behind a bunch of preps from school.

Our school was full of the typical types of people. Here the jocks and cheerleaders were all bark but no bite. I'm all both. They don't know that yet. If they bother Skylar or me they'll found out.

"Hey, guys look who it is. The emo Goths who always want to die an talk about ways to kill themselves and cut their wrists." They all started laughing at his pathetic excuse of an insult as he imitated cutting his wrists. "Emo Goths?" Please.

I laughed and Skylar joined. Why do we have to go to school with such dumb ass people?

They stopped. "What's so funny?" The first brunette whore asked.

"Emo Goths? Come on. That's pathetic. Why not 'Hey emo, cut yourself lately?' or 'Hey, fag, why are you wearing clothes that belong to fags like you? You fuckers are dumb as rocks," Skylar commented still laughing.

"Yeah, seriously. You should have come up with something that would actually hurt our feelings. I know you are stupid, but do you have to be that stupid?"

The girls looked at each other with puzzled expressions as the guys scratched their heads

"God, they are dumb! They probably weren't even able to listen long enough to pay attention." Skylar insulted.

The girls started whimpering.

"Oh, did I hurt your wittle feelings?" Skylar said in a little baby voice different from his averagely deep voice.

We reached the top of the escalator by that point. Skylar and I walked by them hearing scowls and curses under their breath. I chuckled and headed to the new Hot Topic store a few feet away. He went to the boys section to find some skinny jeans that we could share since we don't have a lot of money with us.

"Damn! They really raised the prices on these jeans." He said loud enough for me to hear on the other side of the small room.

"Hell, yeah! The economy sucks remember. Even worse than the Great Depression the news people say," I was too busy looking past the thirty-dollar necklace and earring set to really say anything else. We could talk freely like this because we were the only people besides the cashier and manager here.

"Wow. That does suck," He was behind me with a couple of outfits already in his hands.

"You already done?" He nodded. "Go try on the first outfit." I said simply

He left slowly to the small cholostreaphobic dressing room. As I grabbed a couple pairs of long sleeve shirts I started thinking of Skylar. What would it be like if we did date? I've been thinking about that for a while now. I just can't leave the questions alone. What if we kissed? If we were together? He came out and showed me the black skinny jeans and black vest over a white T-shirt. It was a hot look. Especially since he didn't have any scars on his arm.

"How do you like this?" He said modeling vogue.

I treaded closer and he looked confused. He wasn't sure whether to back away or lean closer. I was close enough to his lips to kiss him with mine. But I started backing away. My curiosity was getting ahead of itself. I dropped my eyes that had been staring into his hazel eyes, and my hand unconsciously brushed against his while I started to step away. He stopped me. He put his arms around me slowly and pressed his lips on mine. I kissed back because it felt so right, plus I've been wanting to do it for a long time. He didn't stop it either. I dropped the clothes in my hands and wrapped my arms around his neck. My tongue reached into his throat playing with his as we began making out in public. In a Hot Topic for goodness sake! If I wanted to I would start tearing his clothes off right now. Instead I stopped kissing him. I pulled away even though he continued kissing my neck letting his tongue trace over the hickey he left.

"Wait," I said barely pushing his body away. My voice was as weak as my will. "We can't. You're dating what's-her-face. I'd love to make out with you for hours and hours, but I can't do that to her even though I hate her for having you." I said this a little louder with barely any force behind it.

He dropped his hands with a defeated look on his face and bent over to pick up my clothes that I dropped. This was going to be a little awkward especially since the people that walked by were staring. I could have sworn I saw someone with a camera. I tried not to blush. I picked up some of it and put it on the counter. Well, at least now I know he's a good kisser.

The rest of the two hours we spent for trying on clothes were quiet. I didn't like it being so awkward between us. As soon as we got outside to a cab I saw an image of Gage's blown off head in my vision as we started putting the bags in trunks. I fell to my knees and started crying. I kept seeing this visions and nothing else. Who is doing this to me? The images kept coming back. Everyone's dead bodies surrounding me. What is happening to me? This hasn't happened in over two years. I'm seventeen. I can't be crazy, can I? Skylar shook my shoulders asking if I was okay and what was wrong. I couldn't answer. I couldn't stop crying. He picked me up and carried me to a soft seat of a cab or car I would guess. I couldn't see anything. It was like I was blind. I could smell the blood and aroma of the dead bodies. I almost wanted to drink from their wounds. Why would I want that? Someone has control over me. Someone is doing this to me.

For a split second I saw a pair of lips from a man with sharp monstrous teeth that was chanting some nonsense. I couldn't take it anymore. I screamed with all I had in me.

"STOP!" All of a sudden I could see everything again. I saw Skylar next to me with his arm around me leaning his head on mine. Was that a dream? Did I scream out loud or in my head? I don't understand.

What's happening to me?

I didn't move or try. I stayed in Skylar's arms with his hair falling on my head and face trying to wipe the tears falling down my face. I smiled then frowned as I saw the vision again. In my head I screamed stop again and it stopped. Someone is doing this, and I will find out who did it.

* * *

As soon as Skylar and I got to my house I tried to convince him what I saw was real.

"You were just dreaming. Don't make a big deal of it." Skylar protested as we walked through my vacant house up to my room.

"It wasn't a dream. Why can't you believe me?" I said as I turned back to him still trying to remember anything significant about the woman in my vision to see if anything reminds me of something.

"Because you're probably just reacting to the fact it's the anniversary of that shooting." He proposed.

"I'm not! If I were, it would have happened last year, too. It didn't happen that time. Why now?" I questioned. I didn't even know the answer. Skylar closed my door behind him as we entered my now black and purple striped room. It used to be just purple back when we first moved here. The room was a little messy with all my Cds scattered around my stereo, clothes hanging at the end of my bed, and computer chair with the bag of new clothes I draped over the chair. I took off my thick wool coat and hung it on my coat rack in the closet. The black silk comforter on my bed was over a hideous hot pink under the silk.

"I don't know. Maybe you're just naturally fucked up." He retorted.

I was about to speak, but my jaw was left open at a loss for words. I haven't always been this way. I used to be a good person. The shooting fucked me up. I turned away from him hiding my hurt face wrapping my arms around my body. I didn't like to show weakness, but I had a habit of doing it.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." He did mean it. He just won't admit it. I kept looking toward the wall. I felt arms wrap around my waist. I put my arms on his while he leaned his head on my shoulder. "I'm so sorry. Just because I don't believe you now, doesn't mean you won't be able to prove it to me." He kissed my cheek. We stayed in this position for a few minutes. I didn't want to escape this embrace.

My cell phone started ringing. He tried to let go of my waist, but I held on tightly to his arms. He chuckled lightly. I used one arm to grab the phone.

"Hello?" I said giggling as Skylar started kissing my neck.

"Hey, Alice. Is Skylar with you? It's Rachel." She responded.

Oh, yeah his girlfriend. I forgot about her for a minute - okay, I didn't. I stopped giggling and handed the phone to Skylar. I could hear the conversation.

"Hello?" He said still smiling.

"Hey, Skylar. It's Rachel." She sounded like she was trying to be seductive when her high-pitched voice just sounded annoying. Skylar's face froze just as mine did when I answered.

Skylar let go of me and went to sit down on a small black swing-like chair I have bolted to the ceiling. I stayed there eying him carefully.

"Oh, hey.... No it's not a bad time, just hanging out with Alice." More like making out. He got up and walked into the bathroom. I put my ear to the wall a few minutes later." Don't cry." I heard. Why the hell is she crying?

"Okay, see 'ya tomorrow." He said as he walked to the door. I backed away before he could notice I was there.

"Why is she crying?" I asked.

"You eavesdropper," He laughed, "Well, her dad was killed a few hours ago. They say it was by some kind of animal."

"An animal? How can you get killed by some kind of animal when you live in a city?"

"I don't know." He answered honestly after letting out a soft sigh. He walked over to the stereo and put in some My Chemical Romance. He turned it to Teenagers just before he unwillingly went to the bed, so we could start our Trig homework.

After a few hours of hanging out with Skylar doing nothing after finishing our homework, he had to leave before my parents got home. I was dreading tomorrow.

I hated my school. I hated it with a passion. All of the prep loving teachers, dickheads, and easy whores were enough without the fact of being an outcast. Although it gave me the fuel to just be myself it always got annoying with the paper wads and pranks. The reason I never take anything of value to school except my cell phone which I keep hidden in an inside pocket of my jacket.

Sooner or later I woke up with the sound of my mom's knocking on the door.

"I'm up, I'm up!" I yelled to her. I yawned and combed through my hair with my fingers as I headed to the bathroom in my shorts and tank top. I brushed my teeth and washed my hair then hurriedly dried it with the hair dryer.

After brushing and teasing my hair the way I liked it I added hairspray until I was finally satisfied. I opened the door and reached for the hot topic bag and took some clothes out. There were plenty of options. I decided on a purple and black striped soft cotton long sleeve sweater with a pair of skinny jeans and a black belt. Then finally wearing converse shoes I added thick eyeliner and mascara with a hint of lip-gloss and eye shadow. After checking my hair to make sure I looked fine I grabbed my white bag that had my books and headed outside saying goodbye to mom and dad who were making coffee.

Walking to the mile away school wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. At least it wasn't snowing as bad as yesterday. I reached the school in fear, but kept my head high while I trudged up the steps and into the school. I silently go to my locker without being noticed by anyone. I liked it better this way. No one would bother me. Even though I wish I had my other life where things were easier, I was... well, happy here, the closest thing to happy at least. I didn't love Chicago, but it was nicer than the Midwest.

I heard a girl giggling and looked over to where it was coming from. It was Rachel and Skylar. I stared in complete despair when he reached her a red heart-shaped box and a daisy. I pulled my head away before they could find me staring. I opened the locker and found that little red cards had been stuffed into my locker that were scattered over the shelf. To think, most guys at this school called me a freak, emo, and many other names, yet some of them ask me to meet them after school to hook-up. I reject of course, but it is just so stupid to think about. There were probably ten or fifteen. I ignored them for now.

I smirked as I reached into my locker. I stared at the locker door instead that was covered in pictures of my favorite bands and pictures of Skylar, me, and some of Rachel. I did get along with her sometimes. I really didn't understand why she was prep. She liked the same things we liked. I think she just doesn't want to be excluded from everyone. I didn't blame her.

I picked up one of the hearts in curiosity and opened it. It said: "I have loved and admired you from afar. You'll never guess who I am... :) xoxo Your Secret Admirer" That one was incredibly sweet. I smiled and stuffed it in my bag. I was even more curious as to what the others said, so I shoved them all into my bag and closed the locker. Skylar just finished kissing Rachel when his eyes wondered and he saw me.

"Hey," He greeted while I walked by.

I looked at them and gave a fake smile. As soon as they couldn't see my face I snarled.

The whole day was not even worth thinking about. Class was the usual, teachers were being teachers, dickheads were being dickheads, and Skylar didn't talk to me again or look at me. For some reason we had lunch at the end of the day and since he was spending the day with Rachel I never saw him at our table. I groaned and went to the restroom. I wasn't hungry, so I sat in one of the stalls staring at the wall while I listened to music from my iPod. I kept the door locked and thanked God this stall was clean.

After constantly reading over the names, trash talk, and rumors on the wall I just, out of nowhere, started to cry. I didn't really know why I did but... oh... I am such a liar. I knew clearly why. Skylar. That simple. Two years of being around him, giving small hints of my feelings, and the constant teasing did nothing. Two years of wanting to touch him and kiss him the way she did had finally drove me insane. All I ever wanted was to be with him, but I knew with perfect brunette cheerleading Rachel that wouldn't happen.

Finally the last bell rang and I raced out of the school running down the street. I just wanted to go home. My make up was ruined, my ego damaged, and the solitary pieces of my heart were breaking into more pieces while some faded. When I reached my house I just slammed the door shut behind me and hurried to my room still crying. I changed into my pjs and hid under the covers of my bed. Why have I been having such outbursts lately? I kept sobbing like a little five year old under my covers and I just couldn't stop. I heard a knock at my door.

"Go away, Mom," I said gasping for air.

She kept knocking anyway.

"Just give me a minute, okay Mom?" I got up and checked my face in the mirror. I wiped at the make up and swallowed the huge lump in my throat. Even if there was something wrong I knew she would just send me to a therapist like she did for the first year. I opened the door ready to be scolded.

* * *

**Skylar**

"I wonder what is taking Alice so long." I mumbled, "She was supposed to meet me an hour ago. It's fuckin' five o'clock in the afternoon and I'm freezing out here," I shivered as I yelled chattering my teeth. She's probably still nervous to be around me and cancelled our plans... or worse... she is mad at me. I know when she is mad at someone she does everything possible to avoid them… and I was that someone. I sighed.

A kid walked up next to me and looked at me odd, "What are you looking at?" I asked him.

"A crazy person." The smart-ass kid laughed and pointed at me. I hate kids sometimes. Especially spoiled ones with no manners.

"Oh, is that right?" He nodded. I grabbed him by the head and started to give him a noogie. "What else am I, huh, punk?"

"Nothing," He said through the fakest whiny tone I've ever heard.

I let go of him and pushed him lightly into the big pile of snow next to us.

"Have fun in the snow." I started walking off with my mitted hands in my jacket pockets. I need to find out what is taking her so long. I heard lots of names from that kid as I kept walking. No offense to the kid, but he's a little weak for me. Ironically, his mom started yelling at him and then dragged him in the house lecturing him. I couldn't help but laugh.

Eventually, I got to her house. I walked around to the tree. I rubbed my gloves together as I grabbed one limb with my left and another with my right. I stretched my leg over one of the limbs. I put both hands on this limb and pulled my body up. I stood up on the limb, but it was a little sleek. I slipped and nearly fell, but I caught myself on another limb. I sighed with relief and began to climb again. I haven't been over in a while... and it doesn't help that it was snowing. We would always sneak out and go hang out in the middle of the night by climbing this tree. Good times.

One limb after another I finally got to her window. I knocked on it and no one answered. The window was already open. I leaned over to get my feet inside. I slipped in and saw that there was no shape in the bed, the lights were off, and it was dead quiet. The room was neat... too neat. She didn't like being so mandatory with cleaning... something was wrong here. I looked down the hall and there were no lights on, no anything. Usually her parents were at work right about now, but their cars were still here. I walked down the hall slowly as my heart started to race. I peeked through the parents' door and still saw them in bed.

"Mr. and Mrs. Coleman!" I screamed lightly. They didn't budge. I walked over to the light switch and flipped it on.

I saw their bodies on top of the covers covered in blood, completely dressed, and in the most inhuman positions, "Aw, shit!" I said holding in a mouth full of vomit. I put my hand over my mouth. Where are their heads? The urge to throw up was growing. Blood was even sprayed on the walls. I ran out and went to the phone and called 911.

Alice... Janice was gone and her parents are dead, "Where are you, Janice?" I screamed. It echoed through the halls of the empty house.

Chapter 3
Where Am I? Who Are You?*Janice*

I woke up covered in a thick cotton quilt that weighed down my frail body. I was in shock when I realized I did not recognize this bed. I looked around and saw four walls covered in faded red-flocked wallpaper, like we were in an old hotel from the early twenties, the years of the flapper girls.

I quickly kicked the covers off when I saw a cockroach the size of my palm on the cover where my leg was. I jumped out of the bed and looked around shaking slightly like the last time I was in a dangerous situation. I went to the window. An immediate instinct. It was boarded up with thick wood boards. I went to the door and it opened easily, but it my haste I ran into a stiff body. I looked up and saw a beautiful man with long black greasy hair with no shirt on just jeans. I screamed a bloodcurdling scream and backed away into the room and shut the door on his face. I pushed a nearby dresser in front of it as quickly as I could and surprisingly it wasn't difficult.

How the hell did I get here? The last thing I remember was opening my bedroom door to some guy... but I didn't know who he was. I guess I was kidnapped... but why? Why me? Why was I so important?

It was quiet for a long time and that man hadn't made any attempt to open the door, but I heard voices. Instead of panicking, I stayed quiet and tried to listen, but somehow they knew I was listening because they were suddenly quiet. I sat on the out-of-place rocking chair in the corner thinking in constant fear. What would happen to me? For precautions and a chance to get away I studied the room carefully to find anything that may help me. I saw something that glimmered under the bed. I hesitantly lied down on my belly to the dusty red carpet floor and examined under the bed. I saw a skeleton of a dead girl with a flapper dress on and jewelry all around her neck and hands. I crawled away back to the rocking chair. It looked very old, but I wasn't taking any chances, I'm going to die trying to get out of here.

"Where am I?" I shouted, standing, "Who are you? Show yourselves!" No one answered and I kept letting my eyes go around the room while I kept breathing too loud in absolute bloodcurdling fear, "Help! Anyone!" I screamed again as I got to my feet to the middle of the room, "HELP!" I shrieked long and loud at the top of my lungs, hoping someone could hear me and save me.

I heard a loud crash then a hand was on my mouth, stopping the scream, and a thick muscled arm was around my body, "Shhhh..." A man whispered. He put his finger on his mouth as he said this. I watched his face, my eyes getting wet more fear in my damaged heart since the shooting.

He was just as handsome as the last man, if not more. He had a flawless face with a really definite jaw line that showed off his beautiful face even more. I held my hands on his arms until he decided to let go of me. It seemed like he was listening for something. His hair was short and tousled around his face. His hair was kind of like Skylar's. He actually reminded me a lot of Skylar only he was a little buffer than Skylar in most places. He finally released me. I thought I was stupid for oogling him He was about to disappear until I grabbed his hand. He stopped. He looked toward me with the most beautiful sparkling blue eyes I have ever seen in my life.

"Why did you take me from home?" I asked gently, feeling comfortable and familiar with his essence around me. It was like I knew him… maybe someone I was really close to in a past life, or my dreams.

He didn't answer immediately. He kept staring into my eyes as I watched his blue eyes that seemed to be searching for something in my eyes. Maybe he was checking to see if I really was who he thought I was.

"I can't tell you. I am not permitted to. You'll have to wait for Joanna to tell you. She is the leader." He started to turn for the door, the dresser now on it's side pressed to the bed, drawers facing me.

"Wait, what is your name?" I held his shoulder, waiting for an answer, my eyes lingering up and down his figure, trying to realize how he was familiar.

"Eric." He disappeared through the door and the long haired man shut the door looking at me with hesitance.

I stood there very confused and hurting in the fear that made my stomach do flips. I must be here for a reason. Maybe I'm meant to help them. Either that or I'm meant to be their next meal. I shuddered at the thought. They must be cannibals or something. Maybe they are a cult.

I went to sit down in the squeaking rocking chair again. I sat there trying to ponder over what has happened in the past hour or so. Okay, I wake up in some insect infested crap hole with a bunch of handsome men who say that some girl name Joanna will tell me what is happening, I find a skeleton under my bed, and I think this guy named Eric is cute. Something was not right. Obviously I had that figured out, but this was just strange. I hope this Joanna did tell me what the hell was going because I was pissed off. It would really suck and be funny if I were on one of those reality TV shows I hated. It sure would be ironic since I hate them.

I started thinking of Skylar with an ache in my heart, but I just remembered I was going to meet him at three. I started feeling around my pajama shorts. I felt my phone in the back pocket. I started dialing Skylar's number, but before I could press the dial button someone punched me in the face making my whole body fall to the ground while I still felt the momentum of the punch. Boy did it hurt. The phone fell in front of me. I tried to reach for it, but someone's heel crushed the screen. My chin was lying against the carpet as I stared at the crushed phone feeling all hope gone.

"Oh, get up, Janice. You should know that won't help anything by calling the police." I looked up and saw a beautiful pale skinned - not incredibly - woman with long blonde hair, a long black trench coat with tight black skinny jeans, black boots, and black leather gloves. What was she? A goth who wanted me to join in her little vamp-wannabe group? Although she looked familiar...

"How do you know who I am?" I asked slurring the words a bit because of my possibly broken jaw.

"Don't you remember your dear sister Joanna?" She bent down in front of my face, so I wouldn't have to look up.

I groaned as I touched my cheek.

"Don't worry that will heal in a few minutes."

"How is this possible? You can't be my sister and there is no way my broken jaw will be fixed in mere minutes. Neither one is possible." I slurred, sitting up holding a hand to my face, trying not to cry and show vulnerability.

"Isn't it?" She asked, one eyebrow rising, "You think you're human, don't you?" She started to laugh, and watched my face, "Oh my God! I can't believe you Janice. You were human at least until your seventeenth birthday last year in December. Let me guess you think that your name is Janice Coleman, too? You're wrong. Your real name is Katherine Octavia Sinclair."

"You're lying. You have to be." I said with little hope. That name did sound strangely familiar.

"I'm not." She pulled something out of her pocket, "This is a picture of us a day before we became vampires" She handed me the picture. There were two sisters standing next to their parents smiling and happy, "We were changed over a hundred and fifty years ago, during the Victorian times. I was twenty-one and you were seventeen. We were traveling to a secret place where we hid our mother and father's anniversary present the night before. As soon as we got the present and were on our way back we were attacked and nearly drained of blood by two new vampires. Their creator gave us his blood and kept us alive. Well, close too alive. We still have a heartbeat, but we are technically dead. Our temperature is around the average 80.6, which means we should be dead or dying. After only a few days of being with our creator he abandoned us to go fight in a past war. I took care of you the best I could, but one day you lost it. We were in Russia at the time. You slaughtered hundreds of people when you lost control. You used this sword."

She walked to the dresser in front of the bed and opened the bottom drawer and pulled out a sheath with a black handled sword inside. If I'd known there was a sword in there, I would have gotten it out earlier. Damn.

She pulled it out slowly, "This sword is tainted with their blood. When you finally became normal again you remembered all the horrible things you did. You cried every night after it. You were depressed all the time. You have no idea how hard that was to watch, and one night you didn't wake up. I found a note next to you. It said that you were going to put yourself into a coma as long as you could until you could forget what you did." A blood red tear slid slowly down her cheek. She wiped it away. This seemed like it was true. I started to see some images of what she has told me, "The next morning I woke up early and you were gone. I looked everywhere for you. I asked everyone in the village. No one knew what happened."

I interrupted her. "Vampires can't come out in sunlight, can they?"

She laughed showing no fangs like I pictured, just ultra white teeth. "Dear sister, don't tell me you believe those myths we started ourselves. Well, not us, but in general. Vampires."

I was about to say something smart, but I knew better. I held my hand to my jaw again and realized it was no longer broken and the pain was gone. She didn't notice apparently because she continued after handing the sheath to me with the sword in it. She's lucky I believed her, or else I would have killed her with it and ran.

"You like it? You made it yourself. Your own design. Great craftsmanship if I say so myself. You were quite the blacksmith," I smiled for a brief moment. "Well, at least I haven't lost the ability to make you smile." She smiled herself. I pulled the sword out and admired the perfect lining. I slid my finger along the edge. It has dulled since the last time I used it.

"Is this really true? Am I really a," I paused for a moment, thinking whether I should kill her or not, "vampire?"

"Yeah, but it didn't kick in because...well, how do I explain it? We vampires have a stage where we become human every thirty years or shorter than that. It's complicated. When we become human again we age back to two or three years earlier. It's a weird thing that has happened to me, so don't feel alone. It lasts until we are back to the age we were changed. Then we stay that age until some odd years have passed."

"That sounds fucking retarded." I muttered with a straight face.

"I know, but that's how it is. I really hate how stupid it is, but we can't change it now. Now for the rules."

"There are rules?" I questioned.

"Yes. Number one: You can't reveal to humans we exist. Number two: Don't feed on humans in public. If you do, do not kill them. Number three: Do not get into trouble with the law. You do and you'll be screwed because you'll end up starving yourself in the jail cell. Number four: Most important. Do NOT kill other vampires unless you are in a civil war or if they have broken one of the many rules. Which is what we are in now. Some betrayed us. Anyway, there are many other rules, but I don't have the time to tell you all of them," I listened carefully and had a million question flowing through my brain.

"We're in a war? With who?" I said in a low voice I wasn't sure she could hear. This could help me figure out my dreams and what they mean.

"With a horrible creature. Similar to us. They drink blood and they were once are allies. They are said to be kin to our ancestors. Vampire ancestors anyway. They are called,"

"Joanna!" A man's voice screamed interrupted her next words. He burst into the door. "They are here!" It was the man with the long black greasy hair.

"Where?" She asked with urgency.

"In the lobby. They used one of our fellow brothers to be transported here. They killed him shortly after they arrived. They are here for her." He nodded to me, "They know about her. Nathaniel and his men are holding them off. We have to hurry. Is she ready?"

"I think so. Come Katherine. We must fight." She reached her hand out and I grabbed it quickly running with them. We were in the lobby downstairs in seconds. There were creatures everywhere. They looked like dinosaurs almost, only much more dangerous and smaller. They were almost human-like except the large claws on their feet and hands and they were very misshapen. They were mostly skeleton. They were covered in a hard stone-like skin to protect them. It looked strong. The man that I assumed was Nathaniel was holding a sword much larger than any man could surely handle, yet he carried it with ease using a single hand killing one by one. Before he swiped at one of those things he cut his hand on the sword to cover it with blood. After one swipe of the bloody sword they would fall into pieces.

Two were starting toward me and Joanna had run ahead to fight while I stay scared and unsure of what to do. I pulled out the sword getting ready to fight for my life and began to remember images of myself fighting these things. I slowly slid the sword across my hand feeling anther person take control of me and let the blood fall slowly down the silver sword. I looked up with confidence at them getting closer. I didn't know I could have such confidence in what I was doing. I ran past them slicing the sword across both of their heads with a simple flick of my wrist. I ran to Nathaniel after the things fell. Nathaniel had one that was going for his back while he was dealing with two others in front of him. I hurried to his back and cut the monster's clawed hand from reaching his back. I stood behind him.

"Thanks," Nathaniel said straining against the claws he held away with the sword.

"Didn't think you'd be saved by a girl, did you?" I yelled as I fought back the monster.

"Definitely not." He said before he jumped into the air and landed on the monsters' heads. He slid the sword one last time against his hand while some blood dripped onto their heads and they screamed shook with pain. He put them out of their misery.

I wasn't paying attention and one of the monsters knocked me against the lobby desk. I hit my head fairly hard on the concrete top of the desk and the glass around the small frame of the counter top window. I blacked out for a short moment but opened my eyes and didn't feel the sword in my hand. I searched everywhere around me and couldn't see it. Until I saw it a few feet away. I tried to crawl toward it, but there was a glass shard in my leg. I gasped when I touched it. It was in deep. I tried to drag myself over. The monster was heading my way. My eyes were wide as I dragged myself harder against the carpet. I wouldn't make it in time. I kept going anyway. I screamed as the pain worsened at the forced dragging my leg was withstanding.

I stopped and closed my eyes letting out a final yelp as it held his claws up ready to cut me into pieces. A second or two passed and I wasn't dead. I opened my eyes and saw Eric, Nathaniel, and Joanna in front of me. They had just destroyed the last one. I breathed heavily as they all put their equally dangerous swords back into their sheathes. They turned back to me and my eyes were wide.

"I need some answers." I said in an even voice through gritted teeth.

"I'm ready to give them." Joanna said simply walking forward. Eric grabbed my sword and handed it to me as Joanna pulled the glass out of my leg roughly.

"Ow!" I groaned.

"You have to get used to the pain. You'll go through a lot in your life. You already know what pain is, remember." She held my once scarred arm.

"I know." I tore away my arm and glared at her. She wrapped my leg in bandages and Nathaniel went back to talk with his troops. I looked around at all the damage we caused and the many vampires around. There must have been over fifty vampires with him. All of these vampires are trying to protect me. But why?

When I really looked around I noticed the bodies of dead vampires. There weren't many, but still death was near me as always. Why does death always have to find me? Why must everyone around me be sentenced to death?

5. Chapter 4

Chapter 4

I Think I Am Getting Used to This

**Katherine**

After we cleaned up the remains of vampires and those things, we all went to the den a few rooms away to relax. Now, I know why we are in a hotel, so everyone has a room to sleep in. All of Nathaniel's men were forced to bed for rest after they talked with the others and me for a few hours. I was more willing to talk to them then the others. They were all sweet. Eric and Nathaniel stayed with Joanna and I. Eric and Nathaniel eyed us very protectively. Are they our bodyguards or something? I walked over to ask her some of my questions.

"Joanna?" I said as I sat next to her on the old loveseat in front of the fireplace. "Are Eric and Nathaniel our bodyguards or something? Why are they still here?"

"They are here to protect us. They are apart of Roland's army and guard." She leaned her head back on the loveseat taking deep breaths as her chest slowly moved up and down.

The next question I needed to know, "How did this start? Was it them or us?"

"It was them," She said simply as she brought her head up looking at the fire. "They were killing humans and not avoiding the public eye like they are supposed to. We had to bribe a lot of people or kill them to get the surveillance tapes and burn them. It wasn't my favorite thing to do. When it got so bad they wouldn't stop when we, their allies, asked for them to stop we headed to our leader Roland on the council in Northern England. He is the leader of the entire race and the most powerful. He summoned us to bring them to him, but they would not budge. He gave up hope after years of trying to persuade them. He told us if they want to start a war then they can have one. He really did not enjoy waging war against old friends of his."

"I wouldn't want to either," I said as I brushed my fingers against the stray strand of hair in my face.

"It's getting late. Both of us should get to bed." She slightly raised her arms faking a yawn.

"Vampires sleep, too?" I asked sarcastically.

"Yeah, they do, smart ass." She giggled after I started. "God, I have missed you."

"I have a feeling the real me missed you too." I took her into my arms and place my head on her shoulder as I pressed her against me. It's good having a sister. Even though I was somewhat pissed off from being dragged from my past life… I liked having a friend in Joanna… a sister.

I let go of her with a yawn. I covered my mouth and laughed at how tired I actually was. We both got off the loveseat and walked slowly past the two men.

"Can I sleep in with you in your room? My room is infested with insects and... Um... skeletons."

"That is not your room. I will show you your room." She replied over her shoulder.

"Before you do, I have two more questions."

"What is it?" She turned to me after she stopped at a pale white door brimmed with gold flowers.

"When will I want blood?" I asked nervously.

"Not for a while, so don't worry. And your other question?"

"When will I see my friends again?" I started thinking of Skylar and everyone else with the same ache in my body.

"After you are completely safe from those things. Not until the war is over." She turned to the door and slowly turned the golden knob of both doors and pushed the doors wide open.

Inside was a redecorated hotel room. The old red carpet was replaced with a pure white carpet and the once red-flocked wallpaper was gone and traded with smooth wood. The bed was in the middle of the room and it was the most beautiful thing there. The bed was rimmed with black metal that had roses twirling around the canopy bars and around the foot of the bed. The white comforter was on top a thin black silk cover like the one I have at home.

"Whoa." Was all I said for a moment.

"You like it? I tried to make it based on what you like now. I guess I was right." She smiled and laughed briefly. "Eric will be staying with you to watch over you personally. Do not be afraid. He can be trusted."

"Where does he sleep?" I asked, as I did not see another bed.

"He is not aloud to sleep."

"Why not?" I said slightly worried.

"Because he is to watch over you at all times."

"Well, if he doesn't sleep he won't be able to protect me if he doesn't have any energy." She would have to admit I made a point.

"Well, when you put it that way," She said slightly defeated, yet it was like she was lying behind the small smile. "Eric, grab that leather sofa from my room and you can sleep on it." He ran off into nothingness and appeared with a sofa under his arm. He moved the dresser over in front of the bathroom door and put it there. He grabbed the dresser then placed on the other side of the sofa.

Joanna and Nathaniel disappeared and Eric and I were left alone. Feeling the slight awkwardness I decided to run to the bathroom for shelter.

"I'll be right back. I need to go to the bathroom." I said as his eyes only stared at me still searching for something… something that frustrated him and looked as if it caused him pain. I kept looking into his eyes and ran into the door. "Ow!" I put my hand on my forehead.

"Are you okay?" Eric said as he raced to my side brushing his cold fingers across the bruise.

"Yeah," I whispered as I looked up at his unmoving face. "Just being clumsy."

"You should be more careful." He whispered and let his breath brush against my face. I wanted to have that scent. I wanted to kiss him, but I knew better. I backed away nervously and slid by his body to the bathroom closing the door behind me, unwillingly, wishing I had kissed him.

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw how much I've changed. My face was clear as glass and smooth as silk. My blonde hair seemed perfect with the way it was – straight and flat on the sides with my bangs swept on the side of my face. I looked and felt perfect, but I'm not. I am flawed. The scars that caused an itching sensation under my skin were gone and so were the scars of my past. I no longer felt the urge to watch blood come from these pale white-skinned wrists and the veins underneath. I leaned my arms against the sink marble countertop and looked down. I decided to take a shower, so I could loosen the tense parts of my back and let the water sooth every part of my body.

The water was refreshing. The water released me from the stress and pressure I will be faced with in the future. But it could not get rid of the now remembered memories of the past. All day I felt like I was covered in blood just like how I felt in Russia so many years ago. I closed my eyes dreaming of happier time of the recent past. My first kiss with Skylar and the times I've had with him. I smiled so wrapped up in the memories not even sure if I'll ever see him again. I turned the knobs in the shower off and grabbed the white towel on the sink and wrapped it around my normal five foot six body.

At least I wasn't a small pixie like girl. The towel wrapped all the way around and then some. I saw all of my bathroom necessities were here. I grabbed my hair dryer immediately and started to comb as I dried my hair with the quiet hot air being blown from the small machine. In fifteen minutes my hair was dry. I grabbed a scrunchie from my bag and pulled my hair into a ponytail. I knocked on the bathroom door with my towel still on.

"Yes?" Eric asked like he was a servant. He was acting like he was distancing himself from me. To just make me someone that needed to be guarded and not befriended.

"Eric, could you grab that duffle bag? I need to get some clothes. Joanna said she packed my clothes into the bag."

"Yes, Miss Sinclair." He grabbed the bag in a blink of an eye and handed it to me.

"You don't have to call me Miss Sinclair. You can call me Ja- I mean Katherine." I started to say Janice, but I am no longer Janice. I know that. I grabbed the bag and closed the door.

"Still having trouble getting used to the new name?" He finally asked like a normal human being. I mean, vampire. It is a little hard getting used to the fact I'm not human. I let my towel drop as I slipped on my underwear and bra.

"Yeah. But other than that and almost being killed 24/7 by something, I love it here." I said sarcastically. I slipped into a pair of long black silk pajama pants and a skin-clinging purple tank top.

I brushed my teeth fiercely before I left the bathroom. I put my toothbrush back into my bag and came out. After I walked out of the bathroom I put my bag on top of the dresser and raised my arms yawning. I saw Eric was on the couch snoozing. He didn't look like he was having a good night's rest, though. He was shivering and looked like he was having a nightmare.

I turned toward the foot of the bed and grabbed my quilt. I picked it up and threw it around Eric gently. He stopped shivering and shaking, now he was mumbling. I bent down to my knees to his face and he was smiling. I caressed his face with the back of my right hand moving the hair out of his face. I smiled at his peaceful face and turned for the silk cover on my bed. I drifted to sleep easily on the soft mattress and I felt like I was floating on clouds.

* * *

**Skylar**

All I have done is sit in my room after school looking at a picture of Alice and me on the first day we met when we instantly became friends. I took the picture while we were under the gym bleachers ditching gym, so we wouldn't get pounded my dodge balls. I was trying not to imagine that what happened to her parents was happening to her. Are you okay? I kept thinking. Tell me where you are. Let me find you.

Rachel has called me over twenty times. I never answered. I didn't leave my room or eat or sleep. Except to forcibly go to school to hear everyone grateful that the 'freak' is gone. I can't go on until I see her and know she is alive and hold her in my arms like the first time we kissed in Hot Topic. She is my best friend after all. I should be worried, but not as worried as I am now. I'm worried enough is all I know. I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed a duffle bag and put a couple outfits inside with two of my parents' credit cards. I shoved my smooth pillow into the full bag and swung the black strap over my shoulder filling the weight of everything inside. I don't know where I'm going or what I might find, but I have to find her. I will die slowly if I never see her face again in person. I had a crush on her the first year she came and soon, even though I was dating Rachel, I fell in love with her. The way she would fight back against the people who would try to put us down, but still be kind to those who were made fun of. The way she wouldn't realize just how gorgeous she is and how many guys who wanted to get in her pants. Even the guys who made fun of her thought she was hot.

I pulled the rusty windowpane with all of my strength and jumped down. I landed on a giant pile of snow that eased the pain of the fall. I got up quickly wiping the snow off of me ignoring the vibration of the phone in my pocket. I trudged through the snow dragging my feet under the three inches of snow continuously growing higher from the heavy snowflakes. I had to think. Where would be a good place of hiding? Downtown alleyways? No, too easy. I know! The old hotel! I smiled at the thought I would see her there. Alice and I sometimes snuck into the hotel and hung out there pretending to run away. Just to see what it was like. It was pretty relaxing since it is technically a historic landmark that no one can tear down or visit since it was sort of dangerous.

I kept walking silently through the near abandoned streets of old Chicago, a place where it was prosperous during the twenties now a place for drug dealers to hang out.

I stopped in front of the old hotel Golden Stars. The exterior was fading with age. The weathering of the once bright red brick walls, now dull pink. The windows were broken when it first went out of business, now they are boarded up with large wooden boards. A perfect place for any abductor and abducted to hide.

I walked cautiously to the entrance with an assumption of what would happen. The doors were unlocked. Were they expecting me? I walked into a dark empty lobby. The walls were nearly knocked down, slightly covered in blood, and the floor was covered in remains of broken glass, pieces of wood from the lobby desk, and the fireplace was lit. Someone was in here and I was unarmed. I was doomed to death.

I felt a knife on my throat.

"Who are you and why are you here?" The man whispered quietly. His voice filled with anger, frustration, and… annoyance? Am I not the first?

I took a deep breath as he placed it harder against my neck, little room to breath.

"I'm Skylar and I am looking for the woman I love. Janice." I said her name slowly with a bit of happiness in my face even though I could die.

He froze. The knife was no longer pressed to my throat and I thought I was safe, but something hard hit my head. I blacked out with a groan slipping out my lips. I fell face first to the carpet.

What will happen now? I thought, falling deeper into the darkness.

6. Chapter 5 Chapter 5
You're Here! No!

**Katherine**

I was standing in front of these still nameless monsters and their leader. Their leader looked so much stronger than I imagined. His followers were coming toward me at full speed. Joanna and the rest of Roland's army were behind me ready to attack. I killed the monsters that weren't smart enough to avoid me and headed to their leader. I slid my hand across the blade and jumped forward aiming for his unprotected head. Just before my blade was able to pierce his skull he kicked me to the wall and pulled out Skylar's dead body from behind him.

"NO!" I shrieked. The others looked up at his dead body then looked toward me. I was on the ground with tears falling beyond trying to stop. I heard a voice inside my head.

"Kill him. Kill him for what he has done. Lose yourself and murder everyone here." I started to follow the command.

"Kill everyone?" I whispered, "Even my sister and allies?"

"Especially them." The dark voice whispered.

"No I can't!" I screamed.

"Do it!" He screeched. His shrieks burned my ears.

I opened my eyes and woke up in my bed sweating and gasping. I looked around the room making sure it was a dream. Eric wasn't here. I got out of bed and walked down the hallway slowly heading toward the sound of voices. I reached the lobby. Eric is probably just relaxing in front of the fire or something. I stopped at the end of the stairs and looked forward. Joanna and others were surrounding a couch looking down then back up. They were having a meeting or something.

"Why did you have to knock him out, Eric?" Joanna growled.

"At first I thought he was one of those things, then when I caught him he said he was looking for the woman he loves. Janice." Eric replied through gritted teeth.

I went rigid. I started walking toward them. "Is it Skylar?" I said aloud stopping what Joanna was about to say next.

They all turned away from the loveseat and faced me. I stood next to Eric and looked up at him. "It's okay he's my friend. He wouldn't betray us." With those words everyone else headed to their rooms except Joanna and our bodyguards Nathaniel and Eric.

I held my hand under his head. He groaned and I brought my hand back. There was some blood. As soon as I saw that blood I started to feel crazy inside like the monster inside wanted to come out destroy everything I hold dear. I tried to control myself while letting my lips move.

"Someone hold me back." I whispered. Joanna got a towel and wiped the blood off my hand as Eric held onto me. Joanna wiped it with bleach that she had in case of emergency. The smell completely ruined my appetite for his blood. I sighed in relief. Joanna put a wet towel under his head trying to stop the bleeding. His eyes opened slowly.

"Alice?" He mumbled.

"I thought he said your name was Janice?" Eric wondered.

"It was. He calls me Alice when it's just me and him." I whispered.

A hand wrapped around my neck and pulled me to face him. I was inches from Skylar.

"I love you," He whispered.

He passed out and I never replied back. Why didn't I say the same? Joanna picked him up and carried him off.

"Where is she taking him?" I asked Eric.

"To a room near you and her, so we'll be able to hear if he is doing something he shouldn't." Eric said picking me up into his arms. He ran to our room and put me down on the bed. "You should go back to bed." He said laying me on the soft silk gently. He stopped for a second as his arms were on the bed looking at me. This position started to make me feel uncomfortable, but at the same time… perfect.

He leaned in closer. I didn't know what to do. Do I move and tell him to go to sleep? Or do I let him kiss me like he is planning on doing? He kept getting closer and stopped close enough I could taste his hardy scent from his breathing. He did nothing. I leaned in slowly with hesitation. He was still. I pressed myself against his hard lips and he did the same. Our mouths parted. I let out a gasp as his tongue reached into my mouth. And for some unknown reason he pulled away. I tried to put my hands around his neck, but he put my arms to my side and went to lie down on his couch.

"Good night, Katherine." He said sadly before drifting to sleep.

"Good night, Eric," I said feeling slightly rejected. I didn't know feeling rejected would hurt so much. Am I ugly in his eyes? Am I not as pretty as my sister? I literally threw myself at him and he did nothing but kiss me. A tear escaped my eye. I let out a heavy sigh as I lied down underneath the silk falling asleep.

Wait! Why did I even kiss him in the first place? I used to be absolutely in love with Skylar! I am… but Eric… he just… I remember him. I have memories of him… him smiling at me and kissing me…

What is that supposed to mean? Did I used to know him? Now I feel like a complete whore… just like the ones I hated. Talk about hypocritical. I don't even deserve either of them anyway. I feel so guilty! I wish I could take that kiss back… but still wish I didn't. I liked Eric. Something deep inside of me cared about him and makes me want to smile every time I see him. Oh, what am I going to do?

* * *

I woke up to the smell of a delicious food. I straightened my back still sniffing in the air. I opened my eyes and looked down. Bed in breakfast. There were pancakes; eggs, bacon, and something I didn't think would be there. I picked up the glass and tried to inhale the scent of the red liquid. I should smell human in the drink. I put it back down and went for the eggs first.

"Ah-ah-ah," Eric came to me. "You have to drink this."

I grimaced at him and swallowed the small bite of eggs. I reached for the glass and held it to my mouth, hesitating to swallow. I let a few drops slip by my tongue. As it traveled through my throat I tasted the vile liquid. I started to gag.

"That's disgusting!" I said as I was spitting up the liquid.

"You'll get used to the taste." Eric smiled. "Here's a trick. It's so simple a five year old could do it," Was he implying I was dumber than a five year old? "Just keep drinking for a little while and let your taste buds wallow in the taste and soon you'll be addicted to the stuff."

"I don't want to be addicted to something that came from another person. Especially what keeps them alive," I looked down at the half-empty glass and sighed.

"It's not from a person," He said quietly.

"Are you fucking kidding me? I can smell the human." I accused.

"Do not be angry with Eric," Joanna's soft voice said. "I told him not to tell you it was human," Joanna was in front of me with Nathaniel by her side. "You are always supposed to drink human blood when you first become a vampire again. That's the way things are." She came around the bed and put her hand on my shoulder. "Just drink."

She was able to help me think for a moment. "I'm sorry, Eric."

"It's okay. It was kind of expected," He smiled again holding back a chuckle.

I tried to contemplate what I should do. "What the hell," I whispered. I picked up the glass and chugged it down. I slammed the glass down to the table and still felt the taste of it in my mouth.

"That was the worst taste I've ever had slip down my throat!" I tried not to throw up what I needed to have to keep myself from killing Skylar. Which reminds me. We should send him back. "Joanna?" She turned and faced me. "Can I speak to you in private?"

"Sure," She shrugged and Eric left with the Nathaniel.

"Joanna, where are you going to take Skylar?"

"Back to his home, of course," She said simply.

"He'll keep coming back if we don't explain," I said.

"I'll have Eric and Nathaniel deal with him."

"No," I said interrupting. "I don't want them to."

"Why? You've known them almost as long as you've known me, my sister."

"How long?" I asked.

"Over ninety years," She said in a stern voice that reminded me of my father.

"Oh," Then I started to wonder. "Are you and Nathaniel together?"

"Yes. You and Eric were once together, but you forgot all about him when you went crazy in Russia. You even attacked him. He hasn't been the same. He didn't try to hurt you, but he defended himself against you and tried to soothe you back to your normal state. He failed, and he was scarred on his back from your attack to him," Joanna finished sadly. I guess she didn't want to recollect those horrible times.

I didn't know about any of this. I tried hard to focus on the memories she described to me, so I could see for myself. A yawn escaped my lips.

"You're tired?" Joanna asked.

"A little. Let me take a little nap." I said politely. This could lead me to dreams about my past.

She nodded and left with Eric replacing her spot. My eyes started to get blurry and my vision was fading into black as my head fell onto the pillow.

I saw everything.

I could feel the coldness of the snow below my feet, feel the snow that was coming down so slowly, and smell the blood of innocents. I kept watching from a distance while I saw myself with much longer hair than I had now. She only wore a Victorian dress – well remains of it – that was cut up with tears along her sleeves and torso. The clothing around the cuts was covered in blood, but the cut itself was nearly gone. I suddenly realized she was running with my sword in hand. Her sword. Villagers stared with eyes wide as she closed in on them. I ran as fast as I could to catch up. I screamed stop even though it did me no good. I heard other voices, however, behind me said the same. She stopped and turned to them. I turned, too. It was Eric and Joanna with Nathaniel. Eric started to walk forward.

"Katherine," He said shocked, softly. "What's happened to you?" I turned to the crazed girl he was reaching out to. She was shaking with her eyes crimson looking to him growling slightly holding the sword to a woman's throat as her children behind her stood crying and shaking scared. I wanted nothing more than to kill her right now to save the horror of watching these innocent villagers dying. My eyes could not bear to see it first hand. I've seen enough death already. I stayed focused on Eric. He was getting dangerously close to her. "Katherine. Love. Don't do this. I love you, and I don't want you to regret this for the rest of eternity." I gasped at his words. He loves me and I never knew.

He pulled her in for a tight embrace. She was stiff with her sword away from the woman's throat. The woman ran off with her kids shortly after. She wrapped her arms around his back, but then she pulled one arm back with the sword in hand and stabbed him deeply in his back. He let out a groan and slipped to the snow that was being colored red with his blood. I started to cry, shake, and gasp for air. I ran forward to try and touch Eric, but my hand slipped through his figure. She ran and killed the villagers one by one. I stayed by his side as Nathaniel and Joanna ran to block her attacks while I cried at seeing the blood of the villagers and Eric on my hands.

"Why?" I turned to Eric. "Why, Katherine? My Katherine," He fell face first into the snow with blood tears from his face. Hours later, when they were finally able to snap her out of it, the village was burning around her. She was horrified. She looked down at her bloody hands and screamed loud and horrified.

"Eric?" She said quietly as she sniffed the blood. She looked my direction and saw him. "Eric!" She shrieked. She dropped her sword and pulled him from the snow holding him in her arms crying blood tears also. "Please! Wake up! I love you! Please!" I stopped frozen as I scooted over away from them. When she said she loved him, I felt the same pain and realization. I started to see images flash through my vision. I saw images of us: our first meeting, first kiss, first time we had sex, and back to this moment. I love him. I finally realized.

I finally opened my eyes and saw a hand stroking my cheek. I angled my face to the body standing above me. Eric.

"Good morning, sleepyhead. Why did you go back to bed?" He asked moving the blonde hair from my face.

"Trying to remember things. I've learned a lot about my past," I threw a little hint in for him to see if he would understand.

"What did you remember?" He asked simply, apparently not getting the hint. I let out deep irritating breath, and started to think. I know, I thought.

"This," I said as I got onto my knees and wrapped my arms around his neck kissing his lips hungrily and passionately not stopping, even for air.

He wrapped his arms around my waist and pushed down against the mattress. He lied on top of my body kissing me from my collarbone, to my throat, and then finally to my lips. He stopped suddenly as I moaned his name.

"So you do remember me?" His eyes were closed as his lips lie inches from mine.

"Yes," I said with my eyes closed starting to lean my lips forward.

"How much?" He asked as his body started to disappear from the top of mine. I opened my eyes looking at him. "How much?" He asked again.

"Enough to know I love you. I had a dream when I was in Russia," His eyes fell. "I killed the villagers with no mercy. Even the children," My voice started to break and his face looked up to mine. "I did that after I betrayed you. I stabbed you. I hurt you," I wiped the tears from my eyes.

"You didn't mean to. You just lost control," He tried to defend my actions.

"You even thought it was actually me. I was standing next to you when you said, "Why? Why, Katherine? My Katherine." That hurt so much to hear when I realized I loved you. I can feel it deep inside me. I can feel the love growing each day I'm with you. This is not fake," I said while tears were forming in my eyes.

"I don't want to make you cry. I love you," He said so simply, yet I had to catch my breath because my heart stopped almost completely. "Let's just give it some time. Wait until we get to know each other again."

"Fine," I smiled. "I can live with that. We are friends. For now," I kissed him slowly on his lips slipping my tongue in to trace his lips. I pulled myself unwillingly away from his grinning face to the bathroom carrying my duffle bag with my clothes and toothbrush inside. I stripped down quickly to my bare naked body and I took a quick shower trying not to cry as my life kept getting more complex. I jumped out with a pure white towel that wrapped protectively around me.

As I looked into the mirror and looked into my green eyes I started to think. One of the things I liked to do most. In the recent years I always thought I had no real purpose on this God-created world. I do, but I am not God's child. I am now Satan's spawn. I guess I will never be able to die and see heaven or hell. I may not be the ideal Christian, but I am. I do believe in God and Jesus Christ, but I doubt I would be accepted into heaven. I have no respect for myself, I have had sex before marriage long ago, and I have coveted, and killed. It was against my will but still murder. If I ever die, I will burn in hell with the many dead I once knew.

Why was I thinking this? I shouldn't be thinking of such negative things. I shook my head left and right trying to get these pessimistic thoughts away. I reached for the hair-dryer and the small machine blew hot air into my wet tangled hair spreading it over my face like wildfire. I combed through it gently as the hot wind blew into my almost dry hair. "What about Skylar?" A voice in my head asked.

I stopped dead as I finished brushing through my hair. What would this decision mean for him? He said he loved me and he risked his life to try and save me, even though I did not need saving. I've always loved Eric even if I never knew, but Skylar has been there for me for so long. I hurt Eric so badly, miraculously, he still loves me and cares for me, and so does Skylar.

What do I do? Wait. I don't have to decide now, but when Skylar sees me again what will I say? He declared his love for me; I can't just walk up to him and say 'hi'. I had to stop thinking so much. I put the hair-dryer down on the counter of the black marble counter-top and looked through the duffle bag for something simple after slipping into my underwear and strapless bra. I found a small Hot Topic bag inside with some skinny jeans and shirts. I pulled a pair of the skinny jeans out and a nice black corset out with a jacket to wear over it. I zipped the black jacket up halfway leaving space to show off some of the corset I had underneath. I left the duffle bag in the bathroom and headed back into my bedroom where Skylar stood there looking at me.

"Skylar? What are you doing up?" I said slightly urgent.

"I just wanted to see you." He came closer and gave me a hug. I hugged him back. He pulled back and tried to kiss me.

"Skylar," He stopped leaning in. "We need to talk." I led him over to Eric's couch. We both sat down. I tried to be calm but my hand was shaking, "I need to tell you something, but you have to promise not to tell anyone. It is really important."

"I promise." He smiled holding my shaking hand.

"Okay," I took a deep breath, "I'm a vampire." I said roughly.

He started to laugh. "Funny. Seriously, what do you have to tell me?"

I looked at him seriously not changing any emotion only feeling a little hurt inside that he thinks I'd lie about that.

"It's true, I am a vampire. I'm not lying or tricking you."

He understood and started to look scared, angry, and betrayed. He let go of my hand and stood against the wall.

"I'm still the Alice you know. But my real name is Katherine Octavia Sinclair. I was turned in the eighteen hundreds in France. I know you must be a little freaked out, but I'm still your friend."

"You've lied to me all this time." He accused with anger in his eyes.

"No! I didn't even know until yesterday. You have no idea how hard this is for me."

"You, you, you! Is that all you think about?" He said fueled with enough anger and frustration to start a wildfire. Why was he so angry? Why couldn't he just try to understand?

"No!" I screamed through blood tears falling down my face.

"Then what do you care about?" He screamed through anger again.

Before I could answer three people burst through the door. Joanna came to me and held me in her arms. Eric and Nathaniel went to Skylar only Eric reached him first with icy blue cold eyes ready to kill. He pushed him against the wall by the collar of his shirt causing a dent to form in the wall.

"Stop!" I screamed through the tears that made my vision red. I held back the tears for a moment and looked to Eric who stared into my bloodshot eyes. I used all my strength to stop crying and say these next words. "Skylar," Skylar looked my direction. "Nathaniel will take you back home, and you will not ever come back. You will never see me again. Ever. You will never be put in danger because of me or have to see the face that you hate." I angled my face to Nathaniel and nodded to him. "Eric," I said softly. His face was looking to mine. "Come here." He gritted his teeth hard against each other before he finally threw Skylar to Nathaniel.

Skylar stared at my face probably seeing a girl he once knew gone forever. That moment I didn't care. I gave him a cold stare as he was carried out the room. Eric took me from Joanna's arms and pulled me into his letting me cry into his navy blue shirt staining it with blood. Joanna stayed with us comforting me the best she could without crying herself.

Soon Nathaniel was back and his long black greasy hair was wet from the rain I didn't notice. He left with a regretful look on his face as Joanna left with him. I stayed with Eric through the whole night only letting sobs escape my lips and tears escape my eyes. My best friend didn't care about me any longer. All he saw was a monster. He can be with his Rachel and be away from danger and myself forever. I finally stopped crying when Eric pulled me to my bed and put covers over my body.

I begged him to lie in the bed with me and keep me in his arms and he did. He lied down behind me through the night, but he fell asleep before I did. I turned my body around on my side to face him. His face was so peaceful not like the first night he was here. He was smiling and he was not shivering. He was warm to the touch. I traced his face with my index finger being careful not to wake him. He was so beautiful asleep. Like an angel. The lips of the angel were almost irresistible. I have tasted them before. I leaned my body closer wrapping his arms around my body pulling myself closer to him. I noticed the shirt I cried into was no longer on him. I looked to his chest and saw his ripped abs. Oh, dear God!

I closed my eyes finally feeling sleepiness and felt lips touch my forehead. I opened my eyes slowly and saw him looking to me.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to wake you." He whispered.

"You missed."

"I missed?" He questioned.

I put my hand to the back of his head and pulled him to my lips. He kissed back. The kiss ended when I let out a yawn away from his mouth. He pulled me against him as we both fell asleep in each other's arms.

7. Chapter 6 Chapter 6
Practice

In the dream I had tonight, I finally heard the name of the creatures. *Kareptons*. They were all attacking me while Skylar commanded them. I really didn't understand the dream, but I would not cry over someone who didn't care. I had to focus on the tasks I have at hand. It is my duty and responsibility to help kill the Kareptons. I opened my eyes and found no body in my arms. I looked around and saw Eric pulling an outfit out of my duffle bag.

"Hey," I said stretching my arms above my heads. He rotated his head to me and smiled. "Come back to bed." I said pulling the covers over for him to come in.

"Sorry, but you have workouts and practice to do today." He walked over and gave me a kiss as he put the outfit he found in my bag on my lap.

I examined the pieces of clothing and realized it was a blue tank top and black Capri sweat pants. I only wore this outfit when I did yoga.

"Are you serious?" I asked as I jumped out of bed and stripped down to my underwear.

"Yeah. But you have to practice and work out if you really want to defeat their leaders. Don't worry I'll work out with you." He kissed me again then looked away to give me privacy. I pulled the tank top over my head and raised the capri pants below my waist. He turned back to me when I pulled my hair into a ponytail. He ran to me and smiled as he picked me up and carried me down the stairs. We appeared in a room that appeared to be the basement. There were vampires already down here warming up with stretches and some were sparring.

"You know I can walk, Eric." I said as he put me down.

"You'll probably be dead by the end of these exercises, so I thought I should give you a little help at the beginning." He led me to a large mat where two highly skilled vampires were doing push-ups and sit-ups with no trouble even though they were assigned to do three hundred push-ups and sit-ups each. I could already feel the pain in my abs. Eric led me to the two vampires who got up immediately after seeing us and bowed to us. Why are they bowing to us?

"Nice to see you again, Eric. You too, Katherine." The unknown male vampire greeted.

"It's really an honor to see you, Miss Sinclair." The unknown female vampire said.

I whispered to Eric trying not to sound stupid," Who are these people?"

"They were your fellow comrades in the last battle we all participated in with the werewolves before we finally decided on a treaty. You are good friends with the man. His name is Trevor, but you don't know her."

"Ah." I said quietly. "It's nice to see you, Trevor." I said aloud.

"I know you do not remember me, and that is okay because I heard you are regaining your memory. I just got here last night. I see you and Eric are still as close as ever." He smiled toward us. I didn't need to force a smile because it was true. "Now it is time for your workouts. You think you are ready?"

"I'll try my best." I shrugged as Eric sat cross-legged on the mat. I joined.

For the next two hours we did grueling exercises that were so simple. While I breezed through the sit-ups, the push-ups were what really killed me. We had to do the push-ups with a cinder block on our back. I was sweating before we even got to ten push-ups while Eric didn't start sweating until he got to the hundredth push-up. I had to do much more than Eric because I was new and just starting out. After we had to run ten laps under five minutes. I was only able to run six.

"Wow. You really haven't practiced in a while, have you?" Eric handed me a bottle of water as I leaned my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath. I pulled myself up and chugged down all the water while Eric talked to Nathaniel.

"Well, I think it is good considering she was able to get close to finishing." Joanna voice came from behind.

I turned to see her looking at me carefully. I put my hands on my hips breathing heavily. That's the most I've worked out since... I don't know when. Joanna patted my back and I looked up to her.

"Well done. You better get some rest. The pain will be worse later. You'll get used to the workouts and become stronger after some time. We are not planning on invading their main colony anytime soon. We're still gathering all of our comrades across the world, we need them if we are going to defeat their entire race." Somehow her tone saddened.

"We're fighting to the death of their entire race?" I asked in-between my slowing breaths.

"Yes. It's the only way. Roland thinks it is because the leader has become corrupt. If he has, we will only kill him and his followers. If not, if the whole race wants nothing more than to see our blood shed, then we will fight to the death."

I looked down to the mat and wiped away the sweat from my brow. "Kill the whole race? Isn't that a little extreme? Maybe we can reason with them. We can try to plan a meeting between the leaders and see if there is some way we can co-exist." I looked up to Joanna with little hope that would be a possibility.

"Katherine." A vampire general came up slowly speaking in a low, deep, and angered voice. "This isn't like the human world. Two different races that want nothing more than to kill the other can't just sit down and try and solve their problems. That's just the stupid way of this life. Welcome to the vampire lifestyle." The corners of his lips turned up slightly with a quiet evil laugh come from his mouth. I kept staring at him as he walked away to spar with another general.

"Just ignore him." Joanna said quietly.

"He's right, though." I whispered. "I need to get out of the human world and acknowledge what I am a part of now. No matter how much I don't want to."

"Katherine." She said softly as she looked down to me.

"It's okay, sister. It won't be as hard as you think. There is nothing left for me in the human world anyway. I am a part of the vampire world, now." I straightened my back and walked to the sparring area leaving Joanna behind where she stared with worry.

Eric was there, walking slowly across from his opponent like what he would do if he were in a cowboy showdown. He leaned into a crouched position and leapt toward the unfortunate opponent in a single graceful movement. In an instant the opponent was facedown on the mat and Eric head was to his neck as if he was going to suck him dry. Instead he rose as the spectators cheered. I came closer and saw the man on the ground was breathing heavily as he got up with a look of shame. He saw me then he walked the other direction. I sighed frustrated and felt a pair of arms wrap around me. They pulled me against a chest I was familiar with.

"Eric." I whispered, wanting nothing more than to kiss him.

"Hello, Katherine. You ready to spar?"

I turned around and put my hands on his shoulder looking into his deep blue eyes. "Yes. You want to spar with me?"

"Sure. I won't hurt you...much." He leaned forward and brushed his teeth against my neck. I smiled and gave him a kiss as we walked to the mat. He stood on the other side looking at me intensely and seriously, yet still playful. I started to feel like I really knew him now. I just didn't want to keep my lips off him, honestly.

The adrenaline and animal intensity was coursing through my veins I'm sure he feels it, too. His heavy breathing and smile told me the truth. People began to gather. I laughed nervously as I just realized that I would really be fighting against Eric. This was bad. He is so badass at fighting. I should just concentrate on how I fought with Kareptons. The memory of Skylar returned. I grimaced. The whistle blew and I leaped into the air to where he stood ready to pounce him to the ugly hard blue mat...but he disappeared. I scanned the area for a few moments looking for him. I felt an arm hit me across the face knocking me to the mat. I got up immediately to see Eric looking at me smiling at my shock. I smiled back showing off my sharp teeth as I jumped him. Beyond my doubtful thoughts, I was able to knock him to the mat. I pressed my palms down on his shoulders as he looked up to me impressed. He smiled despite his coming loss. Waiting for the whistle to blow I made a mistake. I loosened my grip on his shoulders. This time he jumped on me reversing the positions of us two. I laughed in pain as I felt a strain in my back from landing on the hard mat. He was worried for a moment than he turned to the ref a few feet away. He blew the whistle and Eric raised standing above me reaching his hand to me. I didn't take it. I struggled to get up because my back still hurt slightly. I sat there a moment longer and the pain was gone. I sighed and took Eric's still waiting hand. Everyone was applauding as if it were a performance.

"You're way better than I first thought." It was like he was a god at fighting. Everyone respected him.

"Well, you were able to get me held on the ground for a few moments, so your getting better. I think you'd be able to take a few of those bastards down." I didn't laugh even though he probably expected me too. I had to be much more serious now that I have more responsibility.

"Well, I have killed a few Kareptons." I started to smile against my will.

"I know that...but I shouldn't be so worried." He stopped and turned to me holding both of my hands. He took a breath. "I was assigned to protect you just as Nathaniel was to Joanna. I have to tell you something very important about yourself and your past. I am not supposed to, but you should know about your early vampire years. You were–"

"Eric!" A man screamed. I jumped toward the direction of the voice. I saw a pale man. Many well-built vampires that were all dressed in dark clothing surrounded him while he wore loose black jeans and a gray short-sleeved T-shirt smiling at me. He had deep brown – almost black – hair, silver blue-like eyes, and pure white teeth, muscular and gorgeous.

"Hello, Roland." Eric greeted with a gallant bow.

Roland?

The man looked at Eric slightly amused and angry at the same time.

"Eric, you know I am supposed to tell her about her past." He started to grin. "After all, she is promised to me since I turned her into one of the strongest and most loved vampires in this world."

My mouth dropped. "Excuse me?"

*******I need to change the name of the enemy!!! any UNIQUE IDEAS???********

8. Chapter 7 Chapter 7
My Past

"What did you say?" I asked trying to reel from the shock.

"You are promised to me because I turned you." He said coming closer with a -somehow- awaited smile. His bodyguards watched him carefully while others were scanning the area. Eric tried to stay calm, but I could see the frustration and endurance in his eyes. I held his hand for a moment but released it when he didn't relax.

Roland walked up slowly reaching for my hand. Joanna was next to me giving me a nod of reassurance. I let him grab my hand while he kissed and caressed it passionately. His hand was firm and cold as were his lips. What was so strange was the bond I felt with him, like we were family or more. I guess that's because he changed my sister and I. He pulled back and smiled to me. He was attractive but I loved Eric. I only looked to him with no smile, just slight shock in my eyes. He chuckled at this and tried to lean in for a kiss. I gasped outraged and slapped him across the face expecting him to stagger back like in movies, but instead he had no reaction to it and slapped me back. I did stagger. It felt like a train hit my face at full speed. I placed my hand on my face not that surprised he would do it. Eric stood in front of me as I heard a monstrous growl come from his throat unlike his playful sounds earlier.

"Ah...I see. You have been moving in on my future bride-to-be. Well, guess I'll have to teach you a lesson." He's smile was gone leaving a face of a true monster.

"Hey, hey, hey!" I stood between them trying to stop these idiots from fighting. "Please don't fight or I'll have to kick both of your asses. Now first of all, what the hell do you mean I'm your bride-to-be? Second of all, what the fuck is wrong with you two? Thirdly, Why the hell did you slap me?"

Roland chuckled smiling crooked. "My bride knows how to handle herself. I'm impressed." I stared at him glowering. "By the way, I slapped you because of reflex action. I apologize."

Eric spoke next. "That's what I was going to tell you. I was going to tell you about the things Joanna didn't tell you."

"Ah, ah, ah. Don't ruin it. I want to tell her." He smiled and trotted over to my side. "Shall we?"

"We shan't." I said backing away into Joanna.

"Go. We can't afford to be on his bad side." Joanna whispered in my ear.

"You two would never be on my bad side." He grinned.

I exhaled sharply and turned to his side following him. Joanna, Nathaniel, and Eric started to follow.

"Excuse me." Roland said as if they were being rude.

Everyone walked back except the bodyguards who followed from a distance. I didn't want to be alone with him at all. I was afraid what he would try, but I can take care of myself. I stayed a foot away from his body but still trying to be respectful to the leader of our race.

"So what do you have to tell me?" I asked as we left the elevator that reached the roof. The roof was mostly a flat level concrete floor with a few pieces of furniture and a little shelter gazebo-like area.

"Many things. What would you like to hear first? Vampire past or human life?" He asked leaning against the door that led onto the concrete roof.

"Both."

"Well, as for your Human life, I found you very intriguing. I first met you at a banquet your parents were hosting. I was a well-known count back then. Still am, technically. You bumped into me while you and your sister were running for the exit to the gardens. I was amazed that even at the young age of seventeen you did not care what the snobs your parents befriended thought of you, even though they wanted you married soon you just wanted to be yourself. And you were so sweet to me when you first met me. I remember every moment that night when you walked into the ballroom." Was he declaring his love for me? I flinched as I realized that he was. Why was everyone in love with me? What was so damn special about me? "I talked to your parents for a long time trying to befriend them in every way, so I could have a shot at marrying you. Then I learned that I was not the only one competing for your beauty and independence. I first thought I should take out the competition, but that would raise too much suspicion and you would be scared of me just as you are now when I tell you what I really am. I would not dare scare you like that and lose you." He's literally spilling his guts to me about how he feels and I can't return the feelings...at least I don't think I can. "Anyway, a few days later I was able to persuade them to get me to meet you properly. It was the day before their anniversary. I sat in your father's office waiting for you to grace us with your presence. I was so impatient while I waited because I wanted to see you so badly." He smiled as he turned to me. I simply looked at him slightly confused trying not to hurt his feelings. I just didn't understand.

"Hey," He said interrupting his story. "Could you smile please?" I looked confused.

"Why?" I said starting to turn the corners of my lips up.

"Please, I miss seeing your smile." He said so seriously in a low...seductive tone.

I smiled showing my teeth.

"Oh, I've missed that." He flashed me a dashing smile. He was so sexy. "Now where was I? Oh, yeah. Anyway, when you came in you were kind of shocked to see me, but you treated me with courtesy, and your father left us alone to chat. We talked for a very long time about each other. We had such great chemistry. Then you had to leave a few hours after we talked for so long when your sister came to collect you. She looked very weary when she came. You told me goodbye politely and left with her. I heard a little conversation you both had in the hall. 'He's cute,' Joanna whispered and you blushed. I always wondered why exactly you blushed." I started to blush feeling my cheeks burn. He smiled feeling somewhat impressed with himself.

"Why did you leave us?"

"Huh?" He said quietly.

"Why did you leave us?" I repeated.

"Duties called and I answered. I chose a bad time to turn you, but it was to save you, you must understand that. We were in the middle of a war with our enemies, werewolves, but now we have signed a treaty of peace. I had to leave you with Joanna while I tried to end the war. I had a lot of responsibility."

"I just don't understand why you didn't just take us back. What were you embarrassed that you turned us and had to be burdened with us?"

"You don't understand!" He stood up with anger in his eyes. "If I took you back with how beautiful you look, everyone would want a piece of you! I would never want that for you!" He yelled. He took a breath. "I would never put you in danger." He whispered getting so much closer than before...what's weird was I didn't mind that much.

"Really?" I whispered. His face came closer as his hand played with my hair.

"Yes." He kissed me on the forehead as I closed my eyes at his touch nearly falling to my knees. "We should return to the others." He whispered against the skin of my forehead. I sighed and followed him to the door leading to the elevator. I can't believe what just happened. One moment he's a total jackass then he uses his charm on me and I am head over heels for him. When the elevator door opened Eric and Joanna were waiting while I was embarrassed that they probably heard every word, Roland was smiling at Eric as he glared at him.

"Well, are you done with Katherine? She looks tired as hell, so if you don't mind, Eric will take her to bed." Joanna said strictly.

Eric smiled and Roland growled silently. "Hope you don't mean that in the biblical sense." Roland said quietly glaring at Eric but turning to me with a smile.

"Well, we already have, but that was many years ago." He smirked.

I stared at him with a gasp of non-belief. Roland closed his eyes and laughed under his breath walking by with his bodyguards trying to hide his sadness that I could feel.

"I think I will stay here a while and...evaluate Katherine's progress. I will be staying with Katherine in her room." He said stopping to look over his shoulder.

"Over my dead body!" Eric screamed immediately jumping into action into an attack crouch.

"If you insist." Roland mumbled. Suddenly he had fire dancing around his hands.

"Stop it, you idiots!" Eric looked to me and relaxed his crouch while Roland laughed at my comment.

"Graceful, as always." He mumbled.

"Shut up. Now, first of all, what gives you the right to want to waltz up and say whatever you want and expect to get it?"

"A: I'm more powerful. B: I am leader of the race. Any other questions?"

"No. But why don't you go fuck yourself."

"Not as fun as it would be with you." He grinned.

"In your dreams." I scoffed as I walked to Eric's side.

"Every night."

My eyes began to droop and I could see nothing at all only everything around me begin to mush together and blur as I started to lose balance and my feet were no longer touching the level concrete floor.

"Katherine!" Three voices yelped with worry. I felt my body land in someone's arms but unsure of whom.

"Katherine." Eric said quietly.

"Katherine. Are you okay?" Roland added.

I couldn't speak or see anything. I just wanted to sleep.

"She is sleepy. Eric take her to her room and let her sleep, but let me watch over her." Roland ordered trying to hide his worry. I think everyone could tell that he was, even Eric. Especially Eric. A few moments later I felt my body was being carried and soon put on my bed. I wasn't asleep, but I wanted to...I just couldn't open my eyes.

"Wake up, Katherine. Please." Roland's voice said silently. He was worried? I probably just passed out without actually passing out. That doesn't make any sense. I felt a pair of lips brush against mine. My eyes opened and I saw Roland's face to mine, eyes closed. I closed my eyes and gripped my hands around his head, pulling him to me parting his lips with my tongue. He did the same pulling himself onto the bed. Suddenly, I felt like a slut from my school. I stopped kissing him and pushed him away. I sat up against the frame of my bed looking at his confused face.

"I'm sorry. I thought you wanted to." He got off the bed and went to the door.

"No, Roland it's not that." I sighed and looked down.

"It's Eric, isn't it?"

"Don't say it like that. I feel like I'm in a bad soap opera."

"I know the feeling. It is him though."

I kept boring a hole in the cover on my lap. That's all he needed to confirm the answer.

"Why?"

"I think...I fell in love with him a long time ago and I think I still am."

"I see." He exhaled sadly.

"But I do care for you...I love...you, too." I said quietly.

I could practically hear his heart stop for a second. He looked back to me with sincere love-filled eyes I haven't seen since the eighteen hundreds.

"I love you, too." He said heartfelt as he left through the door leaving me in my room.

Great. I'm in love with two people. This is going to make things extremely complicated. I curled up under the covers trying to exclude the thoughts that seemed to haunt me about more information I have taken in so calmly, yet inside I just wanted to cry and cry until I lost my voice. I let myself cry into the pillow for a few minutes until I found sleep and my dreams.

* * *

I woke up with a huge headache in my head like I had a hangover. I dizzily got out of bed swinging my legs onto the floor. The next thing I knew over ten vampires surrounded me, Eric, Roland, and Joanna included.

"Get back to bed." Joanna urged.

"No. I'm fine. I'm not a helpless creature. I can tough it out." I stood up with weary eyes on me. I walked past them near laughing. I simply smiled as I grabbed my duffle bag and headed to the bathroom.

"Wait." Roland stopped me from closing the door. "Here is a dress. We are all going to the annual ball tonight in Northern England where I live. It will be just amongst us vampires, so no need to worry. Just put it in your duffle bag." He gave me a smile and left to stand next to everyone else. It felt kind of weird having everyone watching me. I ignored them all and hurried to the shower when Roland added we were leaving in an hour. I tore off my clothes as quickly as I could then jumped into the shower nearly falling on my ass. I washed through my hair then shaved my legs as fast as I could without cutting them. I heard the door creak open.

"Hey, Katherine, you done? We only have forty minutes to get on the plane." Eric reminded me as I rinsed the remnants of shampoo and conditioner out of my hair.

"Almost." I yelled over the water.

"If you need to go faster, I could help." Roland's voice said through the cracked door.

"No, thanks." I said lower after I turned off the water. I reached to the pole holding the curtain feeling for the towel, but I realized I forgot it. I let out an irritated sigh and poked my head out of the curtain to see Roland standing in front of me.

I forced a smile that could show my irritation. "Could you give me a towel?"

"What's the magic word?" He said smiling. He's enjoying this too much.

"Please." I growled.

He turned and grabbed the white towel on the sink and gave it to me.

"Thank you." I closed the curtain and wrapped the towel around my body. I opened the curtain and walked to the sink where the hair dryer was. Instead of drying my hair I put my hair into a ponytail and pushed Roland out of the door and locked it behind him. I turned back to my bag and pulled a pair of jeans and a black and gray striped, cotton sweater. I dressed as quickly as I could when there were knocks coming every few seconds with 'hurry up's' between every knock. We had plenty of time. I mean, it's only a ball or something, right?

When I was finally fully dressed I walked back into my room seeing impatient faces looking my way. Eric was holding my one bag in one hand, also giving me an impatient look. I took it and he held the dark bag the dress was in.

"What?" I asked quietly. I brushed it off and they led me outside. Roland came to my side and started to tell me a little of the rules and manners about this ball. "So, what ball is it? Is it important?"

"Important?" He scoffed. "It's one of the most important events in the vampire world that will happen for the first time in centuries. I don't want to ruin it for you though. It's a surprise."

"Oh, how much I love surprises!" I said sarcastically as we walked out the lobby door. I kept looking to him as he laughed. He looked so cute when he laughed, but it seemed like there was something more behind it. I ran into a stiff body. "Hey! What the–" I saw Eric, well, his back. He wouldn't move. I glanced around his back to see his face. He looked shocked and he was staring at something with hate in his eyes. I turned toward the direction he was staring and saw someone I didn't, yet somehow did expect to see. The person started walking toward us, while Roland stared confused the rest of us were wondering why he was here.

"Katherine." The voice murmured. "I'm back and... I am sorry." He stopped when Eric growled with fury.

"You know this human?" Roland asked aloud.

"Yes." I said trying to hide the pain in my voice. "Unfortunately," I added.

"Please, Katherine. I'm sorry."

"I forgive you, Skylar, but I want you to leave." I said so cold that I didn't even recognize my voice. It was the only way to protect him. To push him away.

"Katherine." He whispered gently with the voice that always soothed me. "Alice."

I stopped breathing.

"Alice?" Roland questioned quietly.

Tears started to fall and I treaded toward him slowly. I gripped my arms around him tightly and began sobbing. He pulled himself closer while I dug my fingers into his shirt. I didn't realize I missed him so much until I could smell his cologne that always sent a frenzy of shivers down my neck. He kissed my forehead and cheek telling me it was okay.

"I see we have another man competing for Katherine's heart." Roland mumbled to Eric.

"I can see that." Eric growled. I could hear the jealousy in his voice.

I almost forgot all about the people around us. It just seemed like Skylar and I were the only people in the world. I sighed and pulled away from Skylar wiping the last of my tears away. Looking back to his face. What was wrong with me? Why did I have to fall in love three times? Ugh! I'm no better than the whores at my school.

"You look so different. It's been a while since I've seen you. I've missed you so much." I told Skylar. I was being selfish. I'm putting him in danger. I wanted so badly to scream 'Run away, Skylar!' But I couldn't find my lips.

"Ditto." He said smiling again.

I sighed choking back laughter and the tears. I turned my head over my shoulder to say the words that would be Skylar's certain death. "Skylar's coming with us." I didn't ask. I told them. I was being the most selfish person in the world right now. How could I be so selfish! I hope I burn in hell for doing this!

Eric stared at me shocked. "Are you crazy? You know what will happen if you bring him."

I began to visualize what would happen and he was right. My face dropped.

"You're right. I'm sorry, Skylar. I was being selfish and putting you in danger. I shouldn't have done that. You should go." I whispered with my eyes closed.

"I can't! I love you too much. Turn me into what you are, so I can protect you." He screamed so sincerely.

Everyone gasped in shock. My heart collapsed.

"You want to be a monster?" I whispered. My eyes still closed.

"No." His voice came closer. His hands touched my shoulders. "I can't leave you."

"I don't know how to turn a human into a vampire. Even if I wanted to Skylar, I wouldn't be able to." I whispered through my shallow nervous breathing.

"I could." A voice spoke. I opened my eyes to see Roland standing in front of me.

"He could die, Roland. We almost did." Joanna cautioned. I knew whom she meant by we.

"I know, but I think I can do it." Roland said. He turned to me. "Is this what you want, Katherine?" He whispered.

It took me a long time to decide that, but they waited patiently. I didn't want to have him fight beside me, for him to always be in danger, not only from others but himself. But as selfish as I was when it came to the people I love, I couldn't let him go.

I took one deadly sigh and whispered, "Yes."

"Okay. Joanna, when we get on the plane go get some towels, Eric, some cold water, and Katherine...you might want to close your eyes. Skylar when we get on the plane I want you lay back in the chair and lean your head back. This is going to be very painful and uncomfortable." Roland ordered us.

Joanna and Eric were back before Skylar had gotten into the limo with us. I sat in the corner of the limo sulking from my decision. All of us were alert and ready for any Kareptons attacks, just in case. I watched Eric intently. He watched me while Joanna and Nathaniel had a heated argument over what Roland was planning to do. I felt guilt course through me. I was causing hurt between two people that love each other. I looked back at Eric until the limo came to a stop in front of a private airplane in an abandoned airport. We all got out of the black limo and walked slowly to the airplane while the bodyguards scanned the area for threats. I had one bag in one hand and two in the other to help everyone else with their baggage. I felt the two bags disappear when a familiar hand brushed against mine and grabbed the suitcases. It was Skylar. I smiled at him and we both walked on the airplane smelling delicious human food. My stomach growled at the smell when Skylar and I sat down in one of the reclining and comfy chairs.

We started to talk like we used to before all this crap started. He asked me about what I learned of my past and how I was feeling. I answered as honestly about my feelings as I could, but I did tell him about the things I remembered and the fact I was growing stronger. He looked happy about the news when he gave me his smile that made me want to smile with him.

"You ready, Skylar?" Joanna asked as she came up to us waiting in her dress that she has already changed into.

"Yeah." He kissed me on the cheek. " I love you." Before his lips could get far from me I pulled his lips to mine and whispered

"I love you, too." I whispered as he pulled away to follow Joanna. I stood up looking over the seat to see him heading toward the back. After a few moments Joanna was walking back and I heard a scream. It was Skylar's. I started to instinctively get up and run to him, but Joanna was sitting next to me blocking my way back there.

"He's supposed to feel pain. He'll be completely transformed by the time we get there, so you should get ready." She said quietly as she pulled me in for a hug, pressing me to her trying to calm me.

"Okay. I'll get ready." I moved around her slowly looking for my dress when I remembered that Roland brought it on. I peeked through the curtain where the screams were coming from and saw something that made me want to scream. I held my hand over my mouth stopping the scream.

Roland's head was to Skylar's neck still sucking blood while Eric cut his wrist feeding Skylar even though he kept spitting it up. It was a horrible sight. I shut the curtain and went to the bathroom where the dress was hanging on the shower bar.

I closed the door feeling all the fury in me that I could possibly ever feel and cried while looking down to the mirror watching my mascara run than fix back to it's original state. I punched the mirror cracking the glass while small shards fell into the sink and cut against my fist and arm. I hated being perfect. I hated everything about myself. I watched as the blood dripped into the drain and the cuts begin to close up. There was a knock on my door.

"Leave me alone!" I screamed. "I'm changing." I added through the tears. I tore off my clothes and threw the scraps of them out the door at whoever it was leaving me in my strapless black lace bra and matching underwear. I closed the door back and slipped on the gorgeous black gown. It was sleeveless, silk and smooth. I began to marvel at the beauty, but the door was pulled off its hinges and Eric was looking at me when he realized I was watching him give blood to Skylar. He pulled me into his arms and wrapped himself around me while I did the same to him.

"I am so sorry you had to see that. That's the process. That's why Roland didn't want you to see. He knows how fragile you really are. And don't you dare give me that 'I'll tough it out.' or I will go insane." He whispered against my ear while his breath blew my hair away and back to him making this seem like a perfect moment in my life. I dug my nails into his shirt biting back more tears. I wiped away the last of the tears and kissed him.

"Thank you." I hugged him once more than walked to sit next to Joanna who looked upset.

I changed my mind and decided to sit by myself two rows behind her. I sat there looking out the window seeing the clear crystallized blue ocean below us. It was so beautiful that I just wanted to dive in and swim with the dolphins. It was exhilarating to imagine the water thrash against my body, seeing the beautiful and peaceful underwater sea life of the reefs and fish swimming past me instead of away from me, and no dangerous creatures like sharks passing by just large and peaceful whales wailing loudly. I could literally taste the seawater in my mouth now. I leaned my head back on the reclining seat and started to close my eyes hoping to dream of that instead of wars, blood, or vampires.

9. Chapter 7 Part 2

* * *

"Katherine, wake up." Joanna whispered.

"What is it?"

"You need to get up. I need to do your hair before we get off for the ball."

"Is Skylar up, yet?" I asked ignoring her.

"Yes, but he needs to drink some blood, so we got our stewardess to donate some telling her he's lost a lot of blood instead of saying he was a vampire. She is really sleepy right now from all the blood she's lost, so she'll think it was just dream. He'll be back to normal when we land. Either go do your hair, or I'll do it for you." She smiled devilishly.

"Fine." I reached into my bag and got my brush and straightner and hurried to the other bathroom with a mirror. I brushed through my blond hair and black highlights that somehow stayed blended with the blond. I straightened my thin hair one handful at a time than soon brushed my hair into a side ponytail letting hair fall onto my chest.. I took one last look at myself and nodded impressed with it.

"Miss Sinclair?" A voice sounded outside my door. "It's me, Kate. The stewardess? We are about to land and we need you in your seat."

"Okay," I came out with my hair materials in my hand.

"You look gorgeous, Miss Sinclair." Kate complimented.

"Thanks." I walked by her and opened the back curtain seeing the three men I love and Nathaniel dressed beautifully in black tuxedos.

They all appraised me with smiles while Nathaniel walked by me to join Joanna. Skylar was the first person I noticed. He didn't look much different than the others. He was just as beautiful, but he didn't seem like he has changed. Eric was the next one I saw. Eric was the first man I met at that hotel and he loved me even when I didn't know about. I hurt him so much in the past when we loved each other. I still do, but I don't know if I love him more than Roland or Skylar. Then there's Roland. My first impression of him was 'He's a selfish jackass.' but he doesn't seem that way now. I felt like I did know him when we first met, but that's because he turned me into what I am today. He did it to save my sister and me. But he left us. He told me he did it so we would not be bothered or worse by other members of the council and the royal family. I believe him, its just I could have taken it. I would have fought back. But... if he didn't do that, I wouldn't have met Skylar, I wouldn't have been where I am today, and I would be married in a mansion right now if he did take me. I should thank him not be mad with him.

I stopped thinking when I tripped forward when we hit turbulence. I hit my head as I landed on the carpeted floor. It didn't hurt a lot, but I did feel a bit of a bruise. I felt arms help me up and the pain was gone. I looked around and saw the three beautiful vampires helping me up.

"Guys." I complained. "Once again, I'm not helpless." They let go of me except Roland. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder like I was already his wife.

"We have to act like we are engaged in front of the guests, darling, so please, be nice. I already told your other lovers, so don't worry about hurting their feelings." Roland whispered as we headed toward the large shuttle door. I looked back at Eric and Skylar before the door opened, and they simply smiled at me. I smiled back at them and turned back toward the shuttle door.

"Here comes the bride." I mumbled sarcastically through my smile as we walked out the door where the full moon was out and shining down on us, illuminating my skin. Lights were glowing from the ground while I had been looking up to the starry sky.

We were standing at the top of the stairs over top a hoard of people with cameras flashing and people cheering. I smiled embarrassed as we walked down the stairs. I wasn't used to being the center of attention. I was much more used to being an outcast. I didn't quite know what to do, so I just smiled as Roland's arm lowered to my waist. He stopped in front of the cameras and kissed me. I kissed back, but he pulled away and we kept walking to the black limo waiting for us. I took a small whiff and realized these people weren't humans but vampires. We were famous in the vampire world apparently. After all, she is promised to me since I turned her into one of the strongest and most loved vampires in this world. I remembered what he said. One of the most loved vampires in this world? Why was I the most loved when I haven't even known this world existed? That doesn't make any sense. When we got into the limo and everyone else followed, I asked Roland some questions that needed to be answered.

"Roland, why exactly am I famous?" I asked.

"Because you are engaged to me and according to what I tell everyone, you are one of the strongest vampires known to this world." He smiled in the same sarcastic way as always.

"Why did you have to drag her into your materialistic world?" Eric questioned simply controlling his anger.

"Because, lover boy, she is engaged–"

The next thing I knew Eric was flying across the small distance between us tackling Roland against the leather seats. He wasn't hitting him or attacking him, but he was just looking at him like he was going to rip his throat out. The limo swayed slightly as he jumped him. Hands tightly around his neck.

"She is not engaged to you. She doesn't have to be if she doesn't want your life. I've known her much longer than you have. I know what she wants and this is not it. You may love her, and she may love you, but she wouldn't want this life. Do what's best for her, not yourself." He was literally shaking from the fury in his voice. I could hear his teeth grinding together.

Roland didn't say anything. He actually was shocked that Eric had the guts to attack him. The bodyguards, amazingly, did nothing; they stared toward me like I was supposed to do something. I was wide-eyed as I looked to Eric.

"Eric," I whispered. He cranked his head to me with crazed eyes. Frightened feelings started to churn up inside me. I tried to keep the emotions from reaching my face as I spoke. "Let him go. You're scaring me right now." I took a deep breath trying to block out the tears. "Let him go." I whispered again letting my voice soften without breaking.

His face softened and his blue cold eyes molted into liquid. His fingers loosened around Roland's neck. He backed away slowly falling back into his seat while Roland's slow shallow breathing became normal again. Skylar just watched incredulously.

I got up and sat next to Eric leaning my head on his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around me pulling my body closer.

"I'm sorry, Katherine." He whispered against my face. He kissed my cheek and held onto me tighter.

"I, for one, am terribly sorry, Eric." Roland apologized, unexpectingly. I could hear Eric scoff under his breath. "I mean it. I'm sorry for you, too, Katherine." I turned to face him. His face was apologetic, of course, but it could be faked, so I would keep him on my good side. I looked away. "I really am sorry. If you really don't...want this life, I can tell them... everyone we are no longer engaged. I don't want you to be a part of a life you don't want. I should have known you wouldn't want this life. I'm fucking retarded and I apologize. Is that what you want?" I looked back to him. He was actually being selfless...I was completely shell-shocked. He actually meant every word he spoke. I took in a mouthful of air in disbelief and choked on releasing it.

"I don't want this life, but that doesn't mean I don't want you." I looked back from Roland's face to Skylar's then to Eric's. "I want all of you, but I don't know which one I want more. Right now, we can't focus on our situation. We need to focus on the fight we have ahead of us. We will figure this all out after the fight is over." I couldn't believe how wise, smart, and calm I sounded.

"You're right. We all have a fight ahead of us, and we can't deal with this problem right now. No matter how much it irks us to be around each other and share her." Skylar added. " I hate it as much as either of you, but it's the only way we can stay focused on the task at hand."

We all sat in silence while the limo drove slowly to our destination past small English towns and human townspeople looking bewildered by the amount of cars traveling behind the limo we were in. These were humans, so we had to be careful not to draw suspicion even though we already were. We sat in that limo for hours driving to an unknown place.

"Where are we going, Roland?" I asked him with a yawn as I lifted my head off of Eric's shoulder.

"We are going to a secret place where humans would have no luck of finding or getting to. Inside a mountain." He smiled at my dumbfounded expression.

"Inside a ...mountain?" I repeated stupidly. "How are we supposed to get into a mountain?"

"Katherine. There are many vampires with...special techniques. They can make these things easier than it would actually be. No worries, darling." Roland said like I was an incoherent ten year-old.

The limo came to a stop. Roland opened the door and got out facing a bare side of a mountain. I got out and followed standing a fair distance behind him scanning our surroundings. We must have been in the middle of a forest because there were trees all around us, the bare side of the mountain in front of us. I felt rocks below my feet and looked down to see gravel mixed with the lush green grass.

I brought my eyes back up quickly as I heard a loud grinding noise like someone was scratching their nails against a chalkboard. I covered my ears and saw Roland not moving just staring at the rock. I finally realized what he was doing. The bare side of the mountain began to disappear and be gone all together. To my surprise, the fellow vampires in the cars behind us were sitting there like it was a regular thing. When the rock was gone, Roland asked me to get into the limo and drive ahead. We all obeyed and our driver continued driving. I looked back at Roland through the dark tinted windows as we drove through the mountain

I expected to see bats hanging from stalagmites as soon as we entered the cave, but it was different. Inside it looked like a grand hall in a palace. The ground wasn't carpeted, but wooden. All of our cars drove through the hall moving with the turns and curves in the halls. I saw paintings of many beautiful vampires with different things about each. Some were paintings of the vampires in action, others were formal pictures with them and, what I guess would be, their families, and one picture I found shocking and interesting. It was of me and Roland. We were dressed in an outfit of fighting clothing with tears and shreds of clothing around us, me holding my sword and Roland with fire floating around one hand and another arm around me, and the Kareptons coming from all directions.

I stared at it angrily as we drove by it. But the one next to it caught my eye. It was of a beautiful woman similar to me, but older and she was pregnant. The painting looked extremely old. There was an inscription below by an unknown rambling prophet. It said, "One full moon's night you will find a young vampire girl of seventeen amongst humans. She is much more powerful than she will appear. Don't underestimate her. She will face many hardships and incidents as she comes to find out about herself and what she is meant to do. She will age into a beautiful and strong fighter and thy will have to protect her at all costs and her baby when she gives birth. She will fall in love with a man and defeat her enemies with him by her side. Whether she fails or succeeds depends on how strong she is. The time is not set, but it will happen...one day." She held a sword like she was ready to fight even though she was vulnerable and risking another life. I know I would never put my baby's life at risk if I ever did get pregnant.

There was a large Karepton behind her that looked like he was their leader, a man standing next to her with his face hidden only showing a side of his face while he faced the opposing Kareptons, a full moon illuminated above her letting snow cascade down to her giving a more mysterious look to it while the clouds surrounded the moon instead of blocking it, and snowy mountains in the background. It was amazing how detailed the prophet was when he painted it. He must have seen it. He had to have been very connected to the spirits or whatever.

The car kept going when we reached the end of the dark hall, and I saw a whole other world. It was like someone put a whole new small world into another with no contact with each other.

I saw another moon and another starry sky above us that I didn't expect. I half-expected to see the pointed and rocky ceiling with a group of vampires at the end dressed in dresses and tuxedos dancing to a radio. I saw rolling hills with a black concrete road leading to a large castle-like mansion on top of a far hill with small lanterns along the roads leading to the mansion. I eyed it in amazement with Skylar. Eric wasn't as amazed as we were with it. Of course, he's been here before, so he probably isn't all that excited about being there.

When we finally got closer I saw all the details I couldn't make out from a distance. The stone and brick used to build the castle were kept together with a mortar that hasn't been used since God knows when, the window frames looked like it was just wood painted white, lights were on shining upon us casting shadows of our cars, and a large fountain in front of it spraying water from a monument of –what looked like– three vampires standing victoriously above an ancient enemy. I had no clue what it was and I don't think any vampire around today remembers. There must have been six floors in the building because, not only was it wide, it was a great height, too.

The black limo door opened and I saw Roland there with a smile – for the cameras of course.

"Shall we, Miss Sinclair?" He asked chivalrously as he held out his hand. I felt like, even though it was a simple gesture, it was filled with so much trust and love. A weird thing to feel.

I took it and lifted myself off the leather cushion and onto the pale brownish-yellow stone entrance. I could see the shapes of people dancing in the large windows. I took a nervous breath and looked to Roland with a scared smile.

"Do you think they will like me?" I asked as we slowly walked up the small flight of stairs.

"I think they will love you." He said adoringly. It was nice not to hear his sarcastic tone for a change. His silver blue eyes seemed to bore into me.

Though it was not the best time, I started to think of my personal problems again. As we got closer to the doors, Roland stopped and turned to me pulling something out of his pocket.

"I was going to give it to you tonight and hope for the best, but I don't know who you will choose." He slipped a large diamond rig with a silver lining into my hand. "Just keep it, for now, and think about me. And one thing you should know. Watch what you think around some of the paparazzi and the others." He gave me a quick peck and turned back to the door just as it was opening.

Joanna and Nathaniel –arms hooked with each other– were following behind us with smiles. Eric and Skylar were acting like the bodyguards, close but watchful.

We walked in to see a man waiting to welcome us in the foyer.

"Oh, Roland, it is nice to see you've finally showed up." He saw me and froze.

"This is Katherine Octavia Sinclair. She has finally come back." Roland finished.

"K-Ka-Katherine." He stuttered embarrassed and looked down to the floor. "I am so sorry for being rude." Some vampires turned with open mouths and started whispering that it was actually true. I had come back.

"It is okay. No big deal." I tried to brush it off but he kept apologizing.

"Oh, Rick!" Roland exclaimed. "You don't need to act like your begging for your life. She is a kind and merciful person. She won't kill you now get back to work." Roland said as he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward another room.

"That was a little harsh." I whispered.

"Sometimes I have to do that so they won't embarrass themselves or their guests." He, unfortunately, brought back his sarcastic tone. "Now, let's dance." He pulled me into his arms as he twirled me into the ballroom. Skylar stayed close, but not too close. Except Eric. He didn't stay around long. He almost immediately went to greet old friends of his after saying goodbye to me.

The ballroom was enormous. A humongous chandelier in the middle room that seemed to blur as Roland was spinning me while the orchestra played in the corner of the elegant room. Candles were lit all across the room. They didn't really use any electronic items, apparently.

When we stopped spinning I started to feel slightly dizzy.

"I'm sorry. Did I spin you to fast?" His sarcastic tone rose up again trying to hide his desired laughs.

"Yeah." The room began to wobble around with my buckling legs.

"Let's go outside and get some air then." His tone lost a little sarcasm, which made me a bit happier.

We walked across the dance floor moving with the crowds of people that were blocking our way. Roland finally led me to a balcony. I leaned against a stone pillar looking at Roland's eyes boring into me.

"What?" I asked starting to feel a joke coming on. I looked away from his eyes when he didn't answer. I saw a figure on the corner of the balcony not paying any attention to the fact we were out here.

I started to walk closer when I thought I recognized his smell. Skylar? I hid behind the closest pillar to him and listened while Roland simply watched from where I left him. I felt a small gust of wind and realized Eric was where I once stood watching.

"I know where they are!" Skylar screamed in a whisper. "Will you keep your promise and let me and Alice, I mean, Katherine go free and alive? Good. Are you still going to turn us back to humans? Great. Call again in an hour and I'll let you know the location. Bye."

I came out from behind the pillar just as he was turning. He gave me an I-hope-you-didn't-hear-that expression. I nodded sadly.

"What are you trying to do? Betray us all? Betray me?" My once ecstatic voice had become much more depressing and cold. Is that the only reason that he came back? To betray my whole race? To betray me?

"No. I just want our lives back to normal. The way they used to be."

"So you think if you betray the vampires the Kareptons will let you go without a price? They are liars, they started this war, and now you want to betray me by siding with my enemy!" I could feel the stinging blood red tears begin to form in my eyes. "Then go ahead. I am sick of being hurt by you when you know it hurts me the most! I am so sick of seeing your face now! Go! Join your new family because I don't want you a part of mine!" I gave one last breath and left him there with drops of my blood tears on the stone balcony going back to Roland.

Eric and Roland led me back inside avoiding the eyes of the guests as they led me upstairs. We walked through the pastel wallpaper covered walls passing many doors and large polished windows. I was still crying. I was worried I'd get blood on the wood paneled floor.

Roland stopped at one door after we walked through a couple of hallways and turning a few corners. He opened the door to see a couple making out on the bed.

"Mrs. Broderick where's your husband?" Roland said politely. I coughed choking back my laughter. Damn.

"Um...I'm going to go." She whispered to the pale, lipstick smudged face of the waiter whom she was kissing.

"That would be best." Roland quietly mumbled as she ran past us. Roland eyed the waiter.

"I'm going to go, too." He said quietly.

"Yeah...and," The waiter stopped next to us. "You're fired. Jack, you know not to mess with guests. Go to Rick and tell him what you've done and don't lie. I'll be listening." He smiled and Jack hurried down the hall. I could hear the thuds of his feet hitting the wood.

"Wow." I mouthed. The tears stopped falling.

"It's rare, but it happens." Eric scoffed.

"What are you going to do to him?" I questioned.

"He's going to be punished." Roland answered. "The penalty is not that severe if you didn't know the rules, but he did, so...let's just say he will be in pain for a while."

I didn't ask any further questions. I was afraid of the answers I might get.

"Go ahead and sit down, Katherine." Eric gestured to the bed.

I dragged my feet across the carpet to lay my body on the thick covers. I sat up against the frame of the bed pulling my knees up leaning my head against them waiting for the crying to start again.

"I just can't believe he would betray us. I thought he was..." I let out a sigh.

"He didn't betray you." Eric admitted with a frown. "As much as I hate him right now for making you in pain, he was trying to protect you. He was willing to betray an entire race of vampires to keep you safe. He really loves you." I looked up to him.

"I know, but..." I couldn't come up with anything to say. I broughtmy head back to my I had an epiphinay. "Shit!" I screamed. They both looked toward me.

10. Chapter 7 Part 3

"What if he goes to the Kareptons...right now? Oh-no." I got off the mattress and ran to the door with Eric and Roland heading downstairs to try and find him. He wouldn't do it. He wouldn't, right? I skipped a step or two, watching my feet, down the stairs trying not to draw attention as we scanned the room desperately trying to find Skylar.

I closed my eyes and took in a mouthful of air trying to find Skylar by his smell. I was very familiar with his smell, so I should be able to find him. I could smell a small hint of his cologne in the air about twenty feet away. I saw him near the orchestra with his phone in his hand like he was trying to figure what he should do. He kept flipping the phone open then closing it again. Eric was next to me.

"Eric, do you have my phone?"

"Yes." He pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to me.

I dialed Skylar's number. It kept ringing for three rings. Skylar just looked at it shocked with widened eyes. He put the phone to his ear.

"Hello." He said quietly afraid of what I had to say.

"Hey, Skylar. Go to the foyer at the foot of the stairs." I said feeling a bit happier hearing his voice again.

He moved slowly across the large ballroom and through the stone archway that led to the foyer.

"Are you still angry with me?" He whispered.

"Yes." I said quietly as he turned for the stairs. "But I am very forgiving remember." I let myself laugh for a moment.

He faced the stairs and raised his eyes up to mine. He closed his phone and treaded quickly up the staircase to be a foot away. I was scared to hug him at first because of the paparazzi, but I gave him a quick hug of apology.

"I'm sorry for–" I covered his lips with the palm of my hand.

"You really should apologize, but I guess I can understand why you would do it. I mean, if it was the other way around, I probably would have done the same thing." I smiled.

"You know what," Eric interrupted. "I am tired of this teenage drama." He said in his joking voice that lightened up the atmosphere. He grabbed my hand. "Let's dance." I nodded with a smile and waved to Roland and Skylar as Eric led me to the dance floor.

"Wait here." He said with excitement. Why is he so excited? He ran over to the director for the orchestra whispering with the same excitement leaving me in the middle of the ballroom.

While I was waiting for him to come back and dance a few people greeted me with respect and introduced themselves. Most of them were counts, duchesses, and members of the council. They were all quite polite. I kept looking past each of their shoulders to see what was taking Eric so long and each time I would see him still talking to them. I never paid attention to their sucking up. I can tell when someone is trying to get on a person's good side.

Finally, after twenty minutes of royal torture, Eric made his way back to me. He gave me a quick hug then shifted his eyes to another direction with a nod. The lights in the room got dimmer. A large spotlight rested upon Roland next to the orchestra who had a microphone in hand smiling. I guess this was my surprise, but I yet to learn what the surprise is. Maybe he's finally telling them we're not engaged, I thought to myself. My smile slowly faded into a frown when I realized I should be more careful about what I think. I scanned the room quickly before Roland spoke a word. No one looked suspicious.

Then I saw her.

A tall woman with long, sleek, pure, raven black hair and a red draped dress cascading down her hips like water falling down a waterfall, deep curves around her breast and her lower back, a satisfied grin crossed her face, and her bright blue eyes burned a hole into mine.

I was scared at first but realized that I shouldn't be. It's just one thought he will announce anyway. Her evil grin started to fade. So I wouldn't blow any more secrets I focused on Roland.

"I have an announcement to make. An important announcement. Katherine Sinclair and I are no longer engaged," There were mumbles of surprise with gasps left and right. "But that doesn't mean we don't still love each other. We are still close, but let's not let that ruin the night. We kept this little charade that we only listened to the classics go on long enough, so to give Miss Sinclair a little treat we have gotten a large DJ Booth with many, many songs that she and we enjoy." I let out a small scream of my excitement as Eric stood next to me holding my hand. Everyone applauded and the first song that played was a party song I was familiar with, Misery Business by Paramore. Un-expectantly, people were cheering, singing and dancing to the song as if they were performing live.

"Surprise!" Roland yelled over the cheering as he appeared in front of me. He gave me a peck on the cheek.

"I can't believe you did this! Thank you," I gave him a quick hug. As I pulled back he smiled.

"I'm not the only one who helped." Roland's eyes traveled over to Eric.

"Thank you, too, Eric." I threw my arms over his shoulder and took joy in the embrace for a few moments.

"How about that dance?" He whispered against my cheek as he pulled away. I nodded and smiled.

We started to jump up and down and sway our hips to the music. Out of fear I glanced over to where the woman was to see if she was still there. She was walking toward us with the same grin. My heart started to race when I stopped swaying my hips and focused on her. I felt Roland's and Eric's eyes move to her as their bodies stopped. She stood before us, her eyes moving from me to Eric then to Roland. Roland came to her and embraced her with a hug.

"Oh, Priscilla, I haven't seen you in so long. I've missed you." Roland said as his arms came back to his sides.

"It's always a pleasure to see my dear brother." her voice hissed. Oh, my God. They're related?

"Katherine, this is my sister. Priscilla Hathaway." Roland introduced. Priscilla had a quick emotion flash on her face then off. A look of surprise, like she didn't expect I was Katherine Sinclair. She replaced it with the same grin. She seemed kind of fake to me.

"Oh, Miss Sinclair. Nice to make your acquaintance, Katherine." She curtsied.

"No need for that Priscilla." Roland added.

"I don't like being the center of attention. Please don't curtsy to someone that is of no real importance." I whispered as she rose.

She gasped with disbelief. "Don't you know..." she turned to Roland. "Haven't you told her, yet?" she asked.

"No. That reminds me. Go around and tell the council members to meet in the dining hall after the ball is over and everyone else leaves. Understood?" Roland ordered.

"Yes, brother." she curtsied us goodbye then walked off into the crowd, somehow, avoiding being bumped into speaking to a couple people then going to others.

"Katherine?" Eric asked.

"Hmm?" I mumbled tearing my eyes away from her back to him.

"You don't like her, do you?" Eric added with a smile.

"Well, I don't know her very well, but there is always that first impression." I smiled.

"Yeah. Well, you shouldn't judge on first impressions. They could be different," he whispered.

I nodded knowingly then started to glance around the room. "Where is Skylar?" I asked.

I then saw Priscilla twirling her hair between her fingers laughing with a wide smile in front of him flirting. That really pissed me off. "You know what, Eric. Fuck first impressions. I'm going to kick that bitch's slutty ass." I started to stomp my way over there when Eric grabbed my shoulder.

"You do know there are plenty of paparazzi around here to make your vampire life a living hell." Eric warned. He did have a point.

"Fine. I'll just 'talk' to her." I grabbed his hand. " And you could stop me from doing anything else." I started to calm myself as we walked over to them. When we reached them I let go of Eric's hand. Before I spoke I realized that I kind of felt like a pimp. I have three great guys to myself and that is a little selfish. Maybe I should let some of them go. The selfish side of me didn't want to let Skylar go, but maybe she's his soul mate. Who knows?

Instead of starting out as a total bitch, I took a deep breath and said a few simple words.

"Hey, guys." Skylar stood before me like he felt guilty. Priscilla simply stood there respectfully. She probably doesn't even know anyway. "I see you two have finally met."

"You," she pointed between Skylar and I. "both know each other."

"We're good friends." My eyes traveled to Skylar for a moment.

Eric interrupted trying to set a friendly feeling in the atmosphere. "Hey, how about we go dance? All of us." I guess he was going to be the peacemaker of us all. We all nodded in agreement and headed to the dance floor.

The next two hours came and went. It was mostly a blur. All I remember is dancing to song after song after song. The crowd began to disperse, but we all kept dancing until only a hand full remained and the cleaning crew started to come around us. When the music stopped we all looked around realized we were the only people left along with some members of the council.

Roland disappeared after Priscilla came over and introduced herself. He probably went to the grand dining hall.

"It's time to go." Priscilla whispered. Skylar, Eric, and I followed her as we walked across the trashed ballroom into the foyer. I suspected we would go across the foyer into dining hall, but Priscilla led us to a bookcase next to the staircase.

"What are we doing? Checking out some books?" I questioned. Priscilla looked at me coldly then turned back and mumbled some non-sense like she was doing voodoo. When she stopped the bookcase lowered into an almost unnoticeable platform and a secret archway was revealed.

In the archway was a tunnel with a flight of stairs leading to a wooden door; torches were along the stonewalls. Priscilla grabbed one of the torches and treaded slowly down the dusty gray stairs. One step at a time I could hear the click-clack of her heels hit each step. Skylar and Eric followed with me last. As I reached the second step the door closed behind me leaving only the glow of the torches reflecting off my skin and the stonewalls.

I walked wearily while I heard voices arguing with each other. I heard squeaks of mice, too. I watched the floor nervously until I hit another body. It was Skylar's. We reached the door and the voices were so much clearer now. Priscilla slowly opened the door and we all came in and gathered around with the many others.

It looked like an old study. It had one large table in the center of the room with maybe fifteen chairs around it, paintings on the four walls surrounding us, the council members sitting in their chairs eyeing us respectively, and Roland at the head of the table gesturing for us to take the four empty seats next to him at the table. We weren't stupid enough to disobey. We all go to our seats as eyes stared into mine. I hated being the center of attention. It annoyed me.

I burned a hole into the wooden table trying to avoid eye contact with them. They were all still arguing tearing their eyes from me.

"What about the painting? What about the prophet's message? The likeness is unbelievable." A member of the council stated. The message kept repeating in my mind. "One full moon's night you will find a young vampire girl of seventeen amongst humans. She is much more powerful than she will appear. Don't underestimate her. She will face many hardships and incidents as she comes to find out about herself and what she is meant to do. She will age into a beautiful and strong fighter and thy will have to protect her at all costs and her baby when she gives birth. She will fall in love with a man and defeat her enemies with him by her side. Whether she fails or succeeds depends on how strong she is. The time is not set, but it will happen... one day." I brought my eyes back up as they all looked back and forth between the painting and me.

The painting was the same one I saw in the halls when we first arrived. The painting with the pregnant woman that looked like me; only older like in her twenties.

I was awestruck as I gazed into the woman's face that was so much like mine, and her eyes that were the same shape and color as mine.

"That may be, but who knows? She could not be the one chosen for this destiny. She is not ready for this responsibility. She needs years of training. Anyway, the prophet was rambling when he said this and shortly after he died of a heart attack!" A female member with evil crimson piercing eyes said coldly.

"She is." Roland whispered with such power and authority everyone stopped their lips and stared at him.

"He's right." Eric agreed. "You should have seen her when she first fought the Kareptons."

"She fought the Kareptons!" The same female member said breathless, if that were possible.

"She did. It was when we first brought her to stay with us. She didn't know anything. She was scared. Then, all of a sudden, she is able to kill over ten Kareptons in a few mere minutes. How can you explain that?" Eric insisted standing out of his sit, leaning his arms against the table with a face that looked like he didn't want to be messed with.

"Calm down, Eric." Roland soothed. The council's faces were unchanging. They were simply listening trying not to show emotion.

"You should probably keep your hounds on a shorter leash." A male member mocked. Eric and Priscilla grew more tense around me.

"It's not the hounds' fault. It's the manners of the visitors." Roland smirked.

"You have no right to talk to me that way!" The male member screamed outraged.

"I have every right." Roland said still calm. In one swift motion he was beside the man with one arm around his throat and his other hand in front of his pale old wrinkly face. I always thought vampires were all young and handsome. Apparently there is always an exception. Roland's hand started to turn red. Soon after, his hand was surrounded with flames. "Remember who is your leader, Benjamin. You might be dead if you betray me. You may look older, but I am stronger and wiser and you will listen." The old man's face was fumed with anger, but it was controlled by the fear.

Roland released him and came back to his seat beside me. He looked at me with weary. He didn't scare me...much. I smiled a little smile back for reassurance.

Roland turned back to the council.

"I know she may not look strong but she is. Much more powerful than any of you. Almost as strong as myself. She will be ready." Roland announced.

I stood up.

"I have a question." I said.

The council already started to murmur.

"How am I supposed age? I can't because I was changed at the age of seventeen. I can't grow older, can I?" My eyes wondered aimlessly around the room then back to Roland.

All the council members began to laugh as if I told a really good joke.

"Silence!" Roland bellowed. They all quieted immediately. His eyes traveled to the same old man from earlier.

"To answer your question, yes we can't change. But when we... get pregnant or have children– " He quietly murmured.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a second! I have to get pregnant to age. I'm sorry, but I am not going to have sex and get pregnant. Not now." All the words spilled out of me in a mush.

"You will be married first, of course. We have all decided who you will marry, so you and Roland seem to be the perfect match."

"Um..." I choked back a hard unamused laugh. "You think you're going to decide my future?" I asked. My voice suddenly sounded deeper and more demonic. It sounded like the monster in my head. It wanted out. Priscilla, Eric, and Skylar stared at me in horror while Eric and Priscilla knew what was happening. A growl escaped my lips and my body lurched forward to the old man.

My hands gripped his throat and my mouth opened wide ready to bite into his throat. The fellow council members simply stood and observed in fear. I did not pay much attention to them; I was only focusing on the old man's throat. 'Don't do this' I told the monster. I could see through its eyes. I could hear its thought and plans. It hesitated when I spoke. My teeth...its teeth lied inches from his throat. Even though his blood was not as inviting as a human's blood I still wanted to sink my teeth through his thick fleshy neck.

Roland and Eric grabbed my arms and pinned me against the wall hard enough to crack the ancient stone.

"Breathe, Katherine!" Eric screamed with his palms on my shoulders, face barely an inch away. I tried. I sucked in a deep mouthful of oxygen fighting against the monster's continuous clawing of my brain.

Finally after minutes of deep breathing I had full control of myself. I lost control... again. Just like Russia. They are right. I'm not ready. I fell against the wall to the gray stone floor staring blankly forward.

"I did it again," I mumbled. Eric and Roland got to their knees beside me. Skylar joined. "I–I did it again." I stuttered. I kept repeating that same sentence until angered voices broke out.

What is happening to me? What have I done?

11. Chapter 8

Chapter 8
New Life

"See! She is not ready!" The crimson-eyed female screeched. "She attacked one of us. She's better off dead."

"Don't say that." Eric threatened with a deadly posture.

The woman staggered back into her seat.

"Don't threaten my wife!" The man next to her yelled.

Chaos broke out while I lied against the wall. Roland left me to calm everyone down. He didn't help matters. Priscilla and Skylar kneeled next to me watching the chaos grow. I put my hands to their shoulders lifting myself off of the floor. My back sweating as my breathing slowed. I was winning my fight against the monster. Sweat rolled down my eyes and off my brow.

"Stop!" I screeched. I used all of my strength to let out that sound. I fell back slightly at the loss of balance, but Skylar kept me up. The chaos disappeared and eyes were, again, on me.

"Stop all of this arguing. This is what they want. The Kareptons want us to lose control and turn on each other." I took a deep breath and continued. "We can't give them that satisfaction. We have to put our trivial problems aside and deal with the bigger problem. Them." I finished releasing a mouthful of air.

They all stood with surprise. I did sound very wise and that, again, felt strange.

"This meeting is over." Roland ordered. "You can all leave. As always don't release any of this information to anyone or you will be punished." With that last word they all began to leave the room. I collapsed out of energy against Skylar. I didn't black out; my body just lost its strength. I have to toughen up, if I'm going to get rid of this...thing in my head.

"Al– Katherine? It's me. We're taking you to Roland's chambers. He and Eric are going to be standing guard while we sleep." I was off the stone ground and in his arms. My arms were fixed behind his neck. Eric, who seemed so much taller from this view, pulled me from his arms and carried me through the dark tunnel, up the stairs, and to Roland's chambers with Skylar and Priscilla trailing behind us. Roland was leading us.

"I'm fine." I said when we reached a door and my vision became clearer. I tried to maneuver myself out of Eric's hold. "Let me walk and stop treating me like a damsel in distress. I'm not one."

He chuckled. "You are one, right now. So stop trying to be tough."

"I have to learn to be tough. If I'm not, I'll die." I retorted.

Eric stopped laughing. This apparently became serious. I shut my mouth and looked down closing my eyes, pretending to sleep. I cracked my eyes open when Eric's head was facing forward to take in the surroundings of the room.

Roland's chambers.

First, we passed by, I guess, a sitting room that was simply a few paintings on the off white wallpaper that covered the ancient stone and some old fashioned patterns on the sofas. It wasn't like something that would be ugly, it was vintage and beautiful as were the paintings. The room blurred by quickly until we reached a room with a high ceiling.

I already felt dizzy. I wish they would just let me down. I tried one last time to nudge myself out of this embrace. Mission failed. I rested myself back into his arms and looked around the large bedroom. The walls were adorned with numerous painting of relatives, I would guess, along with a small higher-leveled platform with a large king-sized bed with a transparent curtain-like canopy hanging above the frame of the bed, brown vanity end tables on both sides of the bed, a light brown vanity dresser across the room next to a little living room like setting a few feet away from the bed, and a stone arch leading to a walk-in closet. I awed at its beauty. But that one painting with Roland and myself from inside the mountain hung on one of the walls. I did not glare at it, I simply was just curious to why it was painted. I gave it a look of curiosity and a little anger.

"Didn't think you'd be too happy about it." Roland smirked. "But I like the painting. I'm keeping it up there, so don't complain." I turned my head to him and forced an unamused smile.

"Yay." I whispered. Eric gave a smug grin as he traveled over to the bed. Slowly he brought his arms down to the bed bending his back forward letting my body fall onto the soft, thick, and cotton comforter.

I dragged myself across the covers on top of the pillows leaning against the headboard.

"Well, good night, Katherine." Roland said. He turned his back on me.

"Wait." I whispered.

They all turned back to me.

"I'm sorry to mention it, but will I have to?" I questioned, knowing they would know what I was talking about.

Skylar was, of course, clueless. Eric and Roland kept looking toward me in silence.

"Yes." Eric answered.

"I don't want to, Eric. I love you all." I whimpered, blocking the tears.

Eric's eyes had a slight glimmer to them as if he were about to cry, but he looked away and inhaled a large breath. Roland was similar, subtracting the near-tears part. Skylar was going to try and be the tough guy. I just gazed between the three of them while I waited for their response.

"I think we all know." Roland joked dryly.

"Okay, I've had enough of this." Skylar finally spoke. My heart fell.

I had to speak. "Skylar? What do you…"

"I don't mean you. I mean I am tired of all this drama and the soap opera theme that seems to be happening a lot with you." I chuckled feeling my tears disappear.

"Thanks for brightening the mood, Skylar. That really helped." I smiled. He smiled back. I saw Roland and Eric exchange eye contact filled with some worry.

I eased myself off the bed and walked over to them. I give Skylar a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He left the room while I did the same to Eric and Roland. I turned and strode to my bed with ten small graceful steps. As I slipped my feet under the cover, I saw them at the door giving their last wave and smile.

"Good night." I whispered as they closed the door. I know they heard it. Roland pulled his head in with a smile. His hair falling across his face as he looked at me with his head tilted as if he was being secretive.

" 'Night, Katherine." He whispered with that rare tone of sincerity and kindness in his voice.

I smiled trying to hide the pain behind it. After his head was out of view I felt the pain and anger of the decision growing harder to decide. Frustrated I pulled the covers over me, staring at the ceiling trying hard not to think. I sealed my eyes shut tight until I heard a voice.

"You will lose one of them. You better choose who you want soon, or you're going to have a broken heart." A demonic voice sounded.

I opened my eyes immediately and saw a reflection of my self. Me. Her hair falling against her face almost touching me.

"You will lose one of them. Choose. It all depends on who you are willing to save over the other." Her lips moved slowly as I watched her. I was close to screaming.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Someone who can kill you, but won't because they're having too much fun messing with your sanity." she chuckled demonically.

"What do you really look like? Why are you hiding behind a mask? Are you afraid?" I said gritting my teeth.

She frowned, seeming displeased. "I have to go, unfortunately. Business. We'll talk again soon. You interest me. We will talk."

"Whatever you say, Karepton." I narrowed my eyes into hers while she mimicked it. She shriveled away into a blur and the room was empty. I closed my eyes ready for sleep to takeover me.

"You will lose one of them. You better choose who you want soon, or you're going to have a broken heart."

I couldn't get that out of my head. I turned my body on its side and closed my eyes trying not to cry.

* * *

She messed her way into my dreams, too. I was having a sweet and cute little dream at first. I was in a field under a tree on top of a thick burgundy blanket with a baby cooing. I was lying on my back staring at the sky as the baby giggled. I turned over on my side and looked at the baby. The baby was so beautiful, so young and innocent like those kids were in the park in what seemed to be so long ago. The baby simply smiled and cooed at me as I brushed my fingers across its forehead.

"You're so beautiful. You're mine," I whispered. It laughed and I laughed with the baby.

My back went rigid all of a sudden. Something was wrong. I got on my knees and picked up the baby in my arms holding it while I looked around. I had to keep this baby safe. I just had to. There wasn't an answer to why, it was a necessity I guess it was a motherly instinct. I gazed at the baby once more and realized that it was my baby. Same green eyes, but the hair looked brown or black; I couldn't quite tell. Where was the father? I looked around again. I saw nothing but rolling hills on the horizon. The baby started to cry.

I shushed her. "You have to be quiet." I brought my left hand to brush her face, to calm her, but I saw a ring on my marriage finger. Whose was it? Mine? Than who's my husband? My head started to hurt. It felt like someone was hitting my nerves with a sledgehammer. I let out a scream trying not to let go of the baby. I held back the screams of pain while I tried to calm her. I couldn't. I set her down on the blanket as I screamed into the blanket. It hurt so much. My tears stained the blanket.

I went rigid again and I crawled over to the baby holding it. The sky had become a deep red orange as if it was time for sunset. I hugged her a little tighter against me. Something came into view. Some weird blur came in front of me. A purple cloud like thing blurred in front of my eyes. My eyes widened slightly and my mouth cringed into a small smile as I saw what was coming out. A sword materialized in my right hand while I held the now sleeping baby in my left. I had to do this quietly.

Kareptons sped out of the portal toward me. All the motivation I needed was keeping the baby safe. I was ready.

They surprised me. They just stood from a distance, but they still kept their eyes locked on me. I was confused. I still was ready. There were eight Kareptons on each side of the portal. The portal began to shrivel. Someone was coming through. I brought my eyes back down to the baby's face. It was still, unbelievably, sleeping despite the growls from the angry Kareptons. Three men with black bags over their face and hands chained from the front came out of the portal, unwillingly. I stared waiting for answers. Another man came through holding a large sword with a blood red hilt.

My eyebrow arched as I examined the man. He wasn't a Karepton, but if he was, he must have taken the shape of a human or what he used to be, unless he was always a Karepton. He wore a mask only letting his eyes and mouth be seen. The rest of his body was covered.

"Who are you?" I asked with no fear in my voice. Only because I was trying hard to not show fear.

"I know you, you know me. Don't pretend you don't." His voice sounded demonic.

"Maybe if you showed me who you really are and used your actual voice, I might figure out how I know you." I said letting the baby grab onto my shirt. I didn't acknowledge that the baby awoke.

"Katherine! Don't listen to anything he says!" Skylar's voice exclaimed. It came from one of the men with bagged heads.

"Skylar?" I questioned.

"And your other lovers." The man smiled.

My heart nearly collapsed when I realized what he was going to do. My eyes widened.

"Please. Don't hurt them." I said near tears.

"I guess you're not as tough as you thought. That's why I try not to love. It only becomes a weakness." The demonic voice quoted.

My bottom lip began to tremble. "Sometimes it's worth it... to be with the one you love. No matter what the next day brings."

The left corner of his mouth turned up slightly. Slowly he walked by the men I loved and took off the mask of each. They were cut up and bruised. I was in enough pain to kill me. I just can't take it. Not much longer. The headache was gone, but this was so much worse.

"I said you'll have to choose one day, so this dream is a little practice. I will kill all of them right now and see which one gives you the most pain inside. Whoever gives you the most pain will come back and stand beside you."

"First," I interrupted. "Why do I have a baby and a wedding ring?"

"It belongs to whoever you love most. The one that gives you the most pain inside. Which one would kill you to see dead?" He said simply.

"Why are you doing this?" I cried.

"Because I have to," he whispered. "So you can see who you are meant to be with. They are not really dying. Just pretend they are. You will only get one and you will lose two others. One will die. The other to another woman. It just depends on who you choose. Don't you see that I am trying to help you."

"It's hard to." I glared at him.

"Katherine? Katherine? Wake up." Eric said.

"Oh, darn." The man said sarcastically. "I guess we'll have to pick this up later."

"Do I have to leave the baby here with you?" I looked down at the baby. I didn't want the baby being hurt by him.

"No. Because it isn't real."

In that instant, the baby was gone and everything was black.

My eyes flashed open and I felt hot and sweaty. I saw Eric standing over me beside the bed with Roland and Skylar. Dammit! Why am I so special and I have to be in love with everyone? I closed my eyes and wiped my hand over my brow.

"Are you okay, Katherine?" Eric asked concerned. I let out a groan and lifted my head off the mattress sitting on the edge ready to get off the bed, but I couldn't. I was too tired and I felt restless.

"I just feel fucking agitated." I rested my elbows against my knees and brushed my hands through my hair. I could still feel that Karepton in my mind. He can change form into anything. It will definitely be dangerous.

"Why?" Skylar asked.

"Because I think the leader of the Kareptons wanted a little chat with me. At least I think he's the leader." I let out a sigh thinking of that beautiful baby.

"He talked to you?" Roland asked nervously. He has never shown his nervousness.

"Yeah." I answered.

"About what?" he questioned.

"Um..." I let out a deep sigh. I can't tell them. I'll lie. "He just bothered me. He took form of me. He can change his form into any person. He's deadly." I warned.

Roland considered this for a few moments.

"Why doesn't he just kill us now? Why all these little games?" I asked.

"Well, if I know my friend right, he loves to play games, and now he's playing with you. He must like you a lot. Or he wants you dead." Roland said.

"I think it's the dead part." Skylar joked. Eric and Roland glared at him. "What? It probably is. I'm sorry for being blunt, but it's true. I mean, you are destined to kill the race after all." He sure did know how to be blunt. I looked away from him and back to the shiny, polished, wooden floor.

I slowly stood up from the bed and put on a pained smile.

"Okay, where is the bathroom? I need to take a shower." I asked.

Roland pointed to the door in the far right. As soon as I passed them my smile faded into a large near tears frown. The door closed with a silent thud behind me. I let out a depressed sigh and started to tear off my clothes as I stepped over to the shower. I stepped into the shower naked trying not to let tears hurt my eyes. Before I turned the faucet I grabbed a damp washcloth and wiped away the eyeliner and mascara. It stayed off, too. I looked so different without it on… I looked beautiful, but still it was strange.

The warm water fell against my forehead and into my hair. I combed my finger through my hair letting the water fall onto my back soothing my sore muscles and relaxing some of my fears. This shower made me feel less agitated. I leaned my face forward against the wall letting the water only hit my back. I felt saddened missing that baby in my dream. The sadness I felt made me feel... weird. Maternal even. I'm getting mentally older by the minute. Maybe that's how it works in this world. Maybe once vampires have babies they don't have to go back to fifteen. That's probably how it works. I lifted my head up and squeezed some of shampoo onto my right palm then rubbing hard into my scalp while the water ran on my hands and through my hair.

"I'm not ready for a baby. Right?" I asked myself in a whisper through the water trailing down my face falling down my trembling lips. A part of me wanted a baby, but the other part of me, the selfish side, didn't want one until it was convenient. I hated that selfish part of me.

I closed my eyes letting the remnants of the shampoo get washed away. I turned the faucet watching the water slow its speed from the showerhead until it stopped completely. I grabbed the towel hanging over the curtain and wrapped it around my body stepping onto a soft towel on the white tile next to the shower. I stood for a moment shivering feeling goosebumps form on my arms. I pulled my damp tangled hair onto my shoulders feeling drops of water fall slowly down my chest and my back.

I grabbed another towel and squeezed my hair against the towel drying and rinsing out most of my hair. Afterwards, I threw the towel on the side of the sink and searched through my duffel bag that was left by the door by one of the guys for an outfit and my hair-dryer.

I found the hair dryer first and set it by on the edge of the sink while I searched for something to wear. I found a gray tank top and jeans along with underwear and a bra. I left them beside the bag while I turned back to the sink. While the small machine blew hot air into my nearly dry hair I combed through it with my fingers since I didn't want to look for my brush that I probably left on the plane. After I was fully dried, I pulled off my towel leaving myself bare naked while I walked to the pile of clothes I left out. I put on the purple underwear and white bra swiftly and nearly screamed when I heard an unexpected knock on the door. The tank top was in my hands. I held it against my chest.

"What?" I asked.

"Katherine, we need to meet with the council." Skylar answered barely cracking the door with myself on the other side.

"Right now?" I asked, almost whiny.

"Sorry. Just hurry. Roland and Eric went ahead. I had to chase Eric out, though." he chuckled. I let out a small laugh.

"Hang on." I said pulling the tank top over my head. I reached down and picked up the pair of light blue jeans. Before I buttoned the jeans I used on of the large rubber bands on my right wrist and pulled my smooth hair into a ponytail letting my bangs hang in my face. After my jeans were on I slipped on a pair of shoes and hurried out the door bumping into Skylar.

"Whoa." he said quietly as he steadied me. "You okay?" he asked. He looked into my eyes as he said this. I nodded. "You're not wearing eyeliner?" he quoted incredulous.

"Yeah. It looks like you aren't either. I guess being vampires are changing us." I said.

"Probably for the better." he added. His hands were still gripped on my arms. I was still being held by him. I would have loved to stay in this embrace, but we had a meeting and I didn't want to get his hopes up if I didn't pick him. But what if I do? I closed my eyes and leaned my lips to his. Our lips touched. It felt right, but it felt wrong, too. My eyebrows furrowed together as I continued kissing him. This was getting complicated. First time I kissed him, it felt right, now it feels wrong. What is with my stupid brain? I stopped kissing him and opened my eyes. He wasn't expecting it. He probably knows what's coming next.

Now for the heart breaking. I looked down.

"I'm sorry. I thought you wanted to." he apologized.

"Don't apologize." I said still not looking at him. This was going to hurt both of us. "I-I don't think..." I let out a sigh trying to continue.

"Don't think what?" he asked using his index finger to lift my chin up.

I pushed it away. I took a deep breath. "Us." I said strained. I didn't want to do this.

I could feel his eyes burning into my face while I looked down.

"Look at me, Katherine." he commanded. I brought my face up and saw hurt in his eyes. I tried to turn my head, but he locked my face between his two hands that were gripped with his hands. There was no way I wouldn't be able to see and feel his hurt. "What do you mean?" his voice started to break. My eyes were blurry with tears.

"I mean..." I sighed. "I don't want to hurt you." I took a deep breath and wiped away a single stray tear flowing down my cheek. "But I don't think... Okay, I love you. I really do, but I think... I love one of them more." I let out a gasp as more tears escaped. He stood, staring at me dumbfounded. He was hurting just like I was. I closed my eyes then. "I'm sorry." I apologized. My voice sounded strange, strangled. I dragged my eyes immediately down to the floor trying to toughen up and swallow my tears back to walk out of the room.

"And you had to say this now?" he asked sarcastically. He was trying to brighten up the mood between us like always. We could still be friends, of course. That sounds like something girls say in movies, so I decided to keep my mouth shut about that.

I chuckled. "Sooner rather than later. Right?" I said wiping the tears off my cheeks before they reached my shirt.

He laughed.

"Maybe we should go." I suggested when I felt a little better. He nodded with a smile.

As we walked, I had a thought that calmed me but angered me, too.

"You know, Skylar, I think Priscilla likes you." I said.

"I know she does. She's sweet and beautiful." I had a small pang of jealousy, but got over it. Knowing he'd be happy with her made it stop. I smiled.

"You should ask her out. It's not like we're going to attack the Kareptons any time soon. It will take a while. Who knows? You could be meant for each other." I smiled nudging his arm with my elbow as we made our way down the stairs to the open secret entrance. The foyer was empty except a few vampires roaming through the room. I guess they were the guards. I knew for sure there were probably a lot more around here.

He grinned, if he could've blushed, he would. "Yeah. Maybe."

I nodded hopeful. We strode through the tunnel letting the voices of the council and the glow of the torches lead us. Then a voice spoke.

12. Chapter 8 Part 2

"Good job, Katherine. You were able to let one go. Impressive. Now only two remain. One is dead meat, no matter what, but what about the other? Which will be dead and which will survive?" The demonic voice in my head asked. I felt a small pain in my head. It was in the same place like in my dream. My head. Only half the pain. I fell to my knees holding my hands up to my temples. I didn't scream, but I wanted to.

"Katherine! Are you okay?" Skylar yelped. We were right at the door. The door burst open with, obviously, Eric and Roland. I shut my eyes and tried to relax. I gripped Skylar's shoulder bringing myself up.

"I'm okay. Just a... very painful headache." I rubbed the back of my hand to my forehead and stood straight showing no pain as it dulled. I smiled showing my teeth as I walked by them. Priscilla stood staring at me with a small smile forming at her lips. She knew why, but didn't say anything. She was in a pair of dark jeans and a fitted formal lavender silk blouse. Everyone else was in something similar; wearing formal clothing. I suddenly felt under dressed.

"Now, we have some... unnecessary decision making to get to." Roland quoted through clenched teeth. I went by Priscilla's side leaving Eric and Skylar to go to their seat while Priscilla and I stood.

"What does he mean?" I whispered barely audible.

"Sit down. He'll explain." she whispered just as inaudible. She led us to our seats. We sat down than Roland continued. She seemed much more polite than last time we were at our throats. Despite the small minute of hate we had for each other, I thought we could probably be good friends. Best friends, even.

"I understand that Mr. Kale wants to say or should I say... advice on our decisions on what is to happen in the future or what still lays as unknown." Roland mused. He had irritation clear in his tone while he glared at his fellow council members.

Skylar was off in a corner with Eric. He looked like he was sulking, but then–while Eric's lips moved up and down–he had a sudden look of realization cross his face. He looked away from whatever he was staring at and looked to the back of Priscilla's head at her long slick black hair. He noticed my eyes on his face and felt a sudden twinge of guilt. I gave him a small smile that I hope showed him that he shouldn't feel guilty. He smiled curving only one side of his face in embarrassment. I turned back after returning Eric a smile while he gave me one. Skylar probably told him with heavy sarcasm about me breaking his heart, unless he was too proud too admit it than Eric would have figured it out.

"Gregory." Roland added with a questioning sound to them. "Are you not going to say what you wanted? If you are too cowardly to, than please keep your mouth shut." His normal jackass attitude seeped into his words making me giggle. Priscilla nudged me with her elbow as if I had offended someone or been rude.

I quieted. The man I guess was Mr. Kale stood shakily. I remembered him. The old man from yesterday.

He was nervous and, obviously, afraid to do anything. But he straightened his exposure into a handsome serene mask and brought his eyes around to the council members and me.

"As we saw last night," he started with a little anger. He was miffed that I tried to kill him last night. I would be, too. "Katherine," He wasn't willing to be proper and call me Miss Sinclair like everyone was. "is unstable. She could ki-" Roland held his eyes with a dangerous composure.

"Get on with it!" Roland whispered impatiently, yet still sounding like a scream.

"Anyway," Gregory continued. "I just don't think she is the safest way. Shecouldbe the beautiful woman in the destiny, but the prophet was rambling when they recorded what he was saying. And he was dying from a heart attack and seizure. He painted the painting when he was declared insane a week before. Do you really think it was very accurate?" he snubbed. I felt a sting of truth that could be in this make me feel instantly, unwanted.

I looked down to the table. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and saw Eric behind me. He could feel my sadness from my slump into my seat and the sigh I tried to suppress. I nodded and he backed away a few steps, but I could still feel him behind me, watching me.

Eric was the sweetest, smartest, sexiest, and strongest guy I have ever loved that has loved me back. I felt guilty and I felt like a whore and a slut. I had three great guys and now have two who were amazingly brilliant and could get anyone they wanted, but instead chose me. I stopped thinking fearing I would cry if I started on Roland's qualities.

Priscilla reached her right arm across the small space between us and rubbed my arm trying to soothe me. I had forgotten she read minds. I smiled tentatively then brought my eyes back to Gregory who I decided, due to my irritation with him, to nickname asshole because of his feelings and questions of my 'existence'.

Some council members were murmuring in agreement still.

I let out a hard laugh and unbelievingly felt the need to scream at them and break their necks. I knew the neck part was the demonic voice trying to convince me to do as he thought right. I wouldn't have minded to let my anger out on them by screaming, but I want to show them I am stable enough to deal with anger and suppress violence. I really used to despise violence back a few weeks after the shooting. We were about to move to Chicago and it was my last day at that school that gave me nightmares for so many months. Sometimes it still did. Everyone at school that survived gave me the most apologies. I thought I didn't deserve them. What had I been or done? I was just a traumatized fifteen-year old. There were plenty in the world. I wasn't unique... At least I thought I wasn't.

I tried to focus onthe meeting and get out of thought, but it was such an emotional memory and experience. I tried to focus on the meeting and get out of thought, but it was such an emotional memory and experience that I just couldn't forget. Maybe this world, this...vampire world is whatwould be better for me. Mentally, physically, and health-wise. Who knows what lies in the future? I turned back to asshole.

"But..." he gulped. "We think she is most definitely strong. There's no lie about that. She may need a little discipline, but she could be the one." Asshole fellslowly back to his chair and I saw a smirk on Roland's face that was sitting next to me. He gave me a sidelong smile while Eric and Priscilla shared a smile.

"Well, now that that's decided." Roland stood. "We can get to what really matters." he sounded like he was belittling them.

The next few hours they spent at that table involved battle plans, battle plans, and more battle plans. They said they had spies that were masked as traitors on enemy lines to get a layout of the land. I heard all of this from Eric when I left faking a painful headache. I didn't want the demonic... thing in my head to hear their plans if he was with the Eric could say anymore I asked himto change the subject when the voice laughed evilly in my head.

"Let's talk about something other than the stupid war. Okay?" I asked. I was in my room and Eric came to check up on me. I waspropped up against the headboard pretending to rub my temples with throbbing pain. I hoped I was convincing.

"Sorry."

I suddenly felt a little curiosity that would be a good subject.

"Eric?"

"Yes?" He looked up.

"How did you...become a vampire?" I asked wondering if I brought back bad memories.

He simply smiled."I was born a vampire."

"How's that possible? Once you're dead you can't change because you stay the way you are when you died. This world is confusing, there's so much I don't know about." I said absentmindly

"Howdid Earth come to be? Howdo humans exist?How was everything created? No one really knows."he said softly."Maybe it's because we are kind of human in a way. Some of us grow old and die. I know it sounds strange compared to other stupid myths and stories, but we are simply different because of our appetite, strength, and little things about our senses. We arestill human have a faint heartbeat. Very, very faint. But we still have one." I didn'tquite believe that. He saw that.

Istared intohis face as he tried to findthe words.

"Come closer,"he said quietly. I scooted over to him slightly. He saw thatI was going to be difficult so he tore off his black blazer and white T-shirt leaving his chestbare. Itook the short momentI had to ogle at his perfect ripped and pale chestuntil he gentlyplaced hisstone hands around my face and brought it to where his heart was supposed to be.

"I don't hear anything." I whispered.

He shushed me. "Listenvery carefully. Don't breathe. Don't make a sound. Just listen."I could hear his breathing stop only letting small barely audible breaths while mine froze.I could hear it.

Thump, thump, thump

I couldalmost not hear it, but I did, like a whisper from the other side of the world. Amazing. Ibrought my eyes up to his with a smile when he let go of my was beautiful,and like many other men characters in books I used to read continuously while I was first depressed in Chicago.

I read romance novels, crying as I read. I never borrowed books from the library. I was afraid I would stain them with tears, so I bought them instead. I read Shakespeare's work likeAMidsummer's Night, Romeo and Juliet, and many others including the very popularTwilightsaga. I'm not obsessed with the book's characters like many other adolescent girls. I enjoyed the writing.

I got out of the unnecessary thoughts that were circling my head at themoment and looked back up to Eric who was bare chested and sitting in front of me on a bed. "Oh, stop thinking about that!" I mentally screamed at myself. He smiled down at me.

I can't keep doing this little game that's keeps tearing my heart. I can't keep hurting myself like this. I have to choose! But not now... I won't ruin today. He kept smiling down to me as I grinned up to him. I looked down thankful I couldn't blush.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked lifting my face up.

"Yes, what are you thinking about, dear Katherine?" The Karepton asked chuckling. Eric did not hear.

I grimaced and sighed. I pulled the rubber band out of my hair letting it wave against my back. I pulled some hair forward brushing my fingers through them, so I could cover my face.

"Don't shut me out." Eric pleaded. He put a hand gently on my shoulder while another cradled my face. I kept my eyes down feeling his breath pushand pull my hair with his unnecessary heavy breathing. The conversation was much more intense. No humor...just us. "Tell me what is wrong, Katherine. I love you and I need you to tell mehow I can help you."

Was I really that see-through? That clear to understand?

"Yes," TheKarepton answered smugly.

Not talkingto . I let out a sigh. Would you just get out of my head?

"No." he laughed. "I'm having too much fun."

ASSHOLE! I mentally screamed. He simply laughed and kept quiet for a few moments as I tried to find the right things to say.

"I should tell everyone." I started. I sounded hoarse. "Get Roland, Priscilla, and Skylar. I'll tell you."

"Thank you. Was that so hard?" he asked with a smile. I rolled my eyes. He kissed my forehead then trailed down to my eyelids then finally my waiting lips. He merely gave me a peck, but that wasn't enough for me. I locked my fingers behind his neck and kissed him earnestly until he pulled back with a pleasured gasp.

I frowned.

He smirked. "Sorry, dear." he emphasized dear to irritate me. It was working. "You need to get your story together while I get them." I grabbed his T-shirt tightening my grip, so he wouldn't leave, but when he noticed he simply shrugged and headed toward the door without a shirt ready to turn the knob when I threw the shirt aiming for his head.

He turned a fraction of a second before it him and caught it. I grunted disappointed. He laughed and left the room quickly pulling the shirt on. He pulled the door shut behind him.

With Priscilla in here, I'll have to tell the truth about everything or she'll just say it.

"True. Maybe you should kill yourself."Jackass joked in my head. Men get on my nerves sometimes.

"Oh, shut up." I said aloud. "I'll kill you eventually." I giggled, smiling darkly.

There was nothing in my head.

"Nothing else to say?" Nothing. "Good. Keep it that way." I pushed my hair behind my ear and sat there waiting for them to return.

"I'm sick of your attitude." The Karepton growled. "Where is the oldyou when you were fifteen?" his voice turned slightly gentle.

I felt pain at the reminder.

"Wait... how did you know about that? Do I... no. No! No!Is that you, Tanner?" I finally realized.

It was quiet.

I could hear footsteps a few feet from the door. But before the door could open the same purple looking haze appeared in front of me. He came through running toward me. I shrieked as he grabbed me and hurled me over his shoulder. My face pound against the thick black suit he was wearing. It was harder than I realized.

Before I could pass out I saw Eric and Roland at the door staring wide-eyed.

Then everything went black.

13. Chapter 9 Chapter 9
Tanner

**Tanner**

I can't believe I just did that. I actually passed into their wretched territory. I took her. I am the leader of my race, well, my part of the race that will not kill the vampires, but if the real leader finds out I will be utterly ruined.

"You did it for her." I reminded myself. I was never human. Ever. She made me feel human when I met her in that high school. When I went crazy. I didn't kill her, which took me a lot of my mental strength. She was confident that I would put the gun down, though. I've been waiting for her to turn ever since and so were Roland and that horrible Eric.

Eric made my skin crawl. I hated that bastard.

Katherine's soft snoring stuttered quietly. When I appeared back in my chambers of my hidden castle in northern Russia. One of the guards burst through the door.

He looked at Katherine in my arms stopping in the middle of his normal report – which he was speaking in Russian. He kept asking me in shock making his Russian sound like baby talk. He was asking why I had the enemy.

I ordered George to leave in Russian.

He stood straight as he bowed then left closing the doors.

I really don't enjoy speaking in Russian. I'd rather teach them English, but most refuse to learn. Almost all of my Kareptons are Russian instead of European like most vampires expect.

I carried Katherine soundlessly to the bed. Of course when she wakes she will not know where she is or how far away we actually are from her castle. She'll be frightened.

If she remembers how I was, maybe she will see me for who I was to her, someone that loved her and protect her. I don't want to kill her. I'd soon rather kill myself than that, but if it comes to a fight... I don't know what she might do.

Will she hate me?

She is supposed to kill me and my race, but would she? Could she? For me?

Her eyes slowly fluttered open. She looked around curiously until she saw me without my mask on. She staggered back into the wall. Pillows were on both sides of her.

"Katherine," I started.

She threw a large pillow at me making my head jerk back. She's gotten stronger. I lurched forward and grabbed her wrists. I didn't hold tight enough to break her wrist, but it helped keep her still.

"Why do you want to kill me, Tanner? What have I ever done to you? I was always nice to you!" she screamed, thrashing back and forth in my hold.

I gasped. "What do you mean? I don't want to kill you! Who told you that?" I bet she could hear the despair in my voice. Why would kill someone I love?

"You may not want to kill me, but you sure do want to kill my race. I just didn't know what you were back when I was a naive little girl. I'm not stupid." she assumed. She glared at me. My hands tightened around her wrists and she winced.

"I don't want to kill you or your race. I'm following orders. I'm not the leader of the Kareptons, but I am the next in line for king. I am more like the chief General of the Army. I guess, that's what you could call it. Lots of my fellow Kareptons don't want to go at war with your kind, but what the king says, goes." I searched her face for fear. Confusion? Hate?

She simply smiled.

"Why didn't you just say who you were?" I let go of her wrists and brushed my hand against her cheek. "I've missed you so much since I thought you died." she wrapped her arms around my back interlocking her fingers around me. I hugged her back not hesitating for a second. I always wanted to embrace her like this. She was just so clueless about her vampire life and she had no idea someone was watching her every shift in weight and her every smile. I learned to fall in love with her. It turned out to be as easy as breathing. A necessity just like I need oxygen.

"I love you." I blurted out after I brushed my lips against her hair.

She stiffened.

I pulled my face back and looked at her.

"What's wrong?" I asked. Then I realized what it was, who it was. "Oops. I'm sorry." I said chuckling. She slowly started to smile. "I'm just making things more complicated for you. I apologize." she brought her eyes back down to the covers at her hands. She nervously swiveled her thumbs back and forth.

"It's okay. It's my fault." she confessed. "I'm too likable!" she joked.

"What's so special about me anyway?" she asked me.

I smiled and looked at her as if it were obvious.

"Your beauty, intelligence, kindness, and you are pretty damn good at fighting." she bit her lip to hide her smile.

"That much?" she seemed shocked.

"There is more. Should I list more?"

"No, thank you." she commented gruffly.

My cell phone started to ring.

"Excuse me." I said backing away. I hadn't realized how close we actually were. "Hello?"

"Sir?" A Russian accent asked. At least this one knew English. "We have some bad news."

"What kind of bad news?" I asked critically.

"One of the guards called him. He's on his way. He's going to kill her." he said gravely.

"Damn. Do you think you could gather our troops in five minutes?" I asked urgently.

"Already done."

"Okay." I sighed relieved. "Take them a few miles from the vampire's mountain, and tell them any traitors will be killed."

"Yes, sir." I hung up, and brought my eyes back to her confused face.

"What's happening?" she asked. She probably already knew but wanted it to be confirmed.

"The leader is coming. We are leaving."

"That will make you a traitor. You can't." The concern in her voice was unnecessary.

"I'm willing to betray him."

"For me?" she asked unsure.

"Yes. For you." I leaned in closer aiming for her lips, but felt her reluctance so I brushed my lips along her cheek.

I lifted her in my arms. "Hold your breath," I whispered in her ear when she leaned her head against my shoulder. She inhaled a mouthful of air. I chuckled and summoned a portal. The dark purple haze appeared and I ran through it holding onto her tightly as we appeared in a deep forest with snow pouring and the ground covered.

"We're back?" she asked.

"Yeah. We're back." I answered brushing my hand over her hair taking a giant leap into the air over the trees. I could feel the gravity disappear as if it didn't exist. I was flying weightless across the field of trees into a clearing where my troops waited. Katherine was asleep in my arms. She must be exhausted.

I landed quietly on the soft snow.

The troops and colonels brought their eyes to me.

"Welcome to Northern England, my men!" I bellowed. Katherine's snores weren't disrupted. She was sleeping like the dead. I laughed out loud. How ironic.

The troops of Russian men were replaced with their true forms. Their Karepton form. They all howled and yelled with encouragement and angst. They were all on my side. The side that were with the vampires. We were the only ones who could help them without cowering before our crazy son of a bitch leader.

Katherine would just have to explain. The 'council' won't be too happy that I took her in the first place, but it was necessary for us.

Eric will simply try to kill me once he has her behind him, but Roland, I could convince. He was an old and dear friend. He has to understand.

As the howls and screams continued, I realized that Katherine was back to where she started. Three men.

Poor Katherine. I would apologize, but I don't want to. Why would I, really?

She was asleep and she looked as beautiful as ever. The glow in her face as the snowflakes fell on her cheek not melting. I brushed them away with my fingertips, and, unable to resist, I pulled my face closer to her and pressed my lips gently to hers.

She didn't move. I pulled back and continued to watch her protectively through the night.

* * *

I didn't want to leave Katherine alone, so I woke Katherine up and headed toward the face of the mountain that was the entrance. I knew the vampires would come here to find out what the noise was, so I might as well beat them to the punch. I set her down to her feet and we headed down the almost invisible road to see two vampires at both sides of the entrance.

"They'll kill you. Are you sure you want them to take you?" she asked, her eyes wide.

"I'll explain to them we mean no harm." I said simply, shrugging.

"You know they won't believe you." she said flatly.

"That's where you come in." I smiled. "You back me up on my story. Understand?"

She nodded and embraced me one last time as we started to walk forward. She gripped my hand as we got into their sight. The two vampires stared awed and shocked. They could smell the Karepton in my blood. I tried to soften my normal hard composure I had for enemies.

"Katherine?" They bowed obediently as Katherine rolled her eyes. One of them asked examining us until he saw our hands. "Is he the one that took you?" the same one asked.

She chuckled. "Well," she murmured.

They looked at me harshly.

"Leave him alone." she ordered just as harsh. "Get Roland. And Eric," I twitched at his name. "And Priscilla, and Skylar. Along with Joanna and Nathaniel. We all need to talk."

"Katherine. It would probably be best if we took him and you to the castle."

"Why?" she asked. "So the council can judge him simply by what he is like they almost did to me? No. Bring Roland and the ones I mentioned. Only them." she emphasized, growling.

"Yes, ma'am." they answered. Just like that, they were gone.

"Are vampires always like this?" I joked.

She laughed quietly. "Only most of them." she whispered, still laughing.

A few moments later I saw my dear old friend Roland and the glaring Eric with Skylar standing close to Priscilla. I haven't seen Priscilla in a while. It's nice to know she finally has someone. She was always incredibly lonely since the tragic death of her parents that were killed by Kareptons. I'm still surprised she is my friend. She smiled to me. At least someone was happy to see me. Eric, however, was not as exuberant. The woman that I guess was Joanna and Nathaniel stood behind Roland clinging to each other nervously.

"Hello, Tanner." Roland greeted reaching for my hand. "It's great to see you again."

I didn't entirely trust this gesture. He was probably pissed off at me for taking Katherine away. Better for my health if I don't shake his hand. I know all too well what he can do with his powers. I kept my hands by my side, unsure.

"Roland." I said simply bowing.

"So are you going to explain why you took her?" Eric tried to say politely. I could tell he tried. He was gritting his teeth and balling up his fists trying. I might have done the same if I was as crazy as he was. Crazy in love. I mentally imagined being as crazy in love as him and laughed in my head. No doubt, Priscilla heard. She was chuckling at the thought up image.

"Yes." I paused. "As long as you promise me protection from the council."

"In exchange?" Roland quoted.

"For information and Katherine." I answered. "You know I can help. My troops and I are waiting for orders. We are on your side." Eric laughed.

"What's so funny, Eric?" Katherine asked, shocked. Eric stopped laughing and looked back to Katherine. "It's true. He wants to help. I know him. I knew him back before I even knew about this crap and you. When I was fifteen. During that shooting." she finished sadly. A blood red tear started to fall gently down her cheek. I lifted our hands that were intertwined to wipe away her tear. She smiled to me then glanced back at them.

"Eric, I'm sorry." Katherine apologized.

"Why are you apologizing?" I asked her. "You hurt his feelings. Whoopty doo." she stared at me hurt. She jerked her hand out of mine. "I'm sorry. I really am. But no matter what you will have to hurt people in the future. I care about you a lot, but that's what is going to happen."

She inhaled a huge mouthful of air. My guess, she's trying not to cry. I brought my eyes down to my feet and sighed.

"Deal." Roland answered finally breaking the silence. I looked back up.

"But Roland..." Eric interjected.

"But nothing, Eric." Roland ordered with his dangerous voice. "We need him. He has been to all the forts, secret hideouts, castles, armories, and, most importantly, he knows battle plans and formations. He might as well have been the king who betrayed his people for all the knowledge we could get from him."

"Priscilla can get all of the information out of his head. She's probably doing right now. We don't need him." he said grimly.

"Eric!" Katherine yelled irritated. "Stop being immature. This is to help us. Don't think about what you think is the 'new' competition." she probably didn't notice the hurt that crossed Eric's face, but the rest of us did. She could've but she didn't stop. "Stop being so petty about these things and think about what might happen if we don't have his help." she finished with fury in her eyes. This must be an every day thing for her, fighting for what she thought was right… always yelling to be heard. She gazed back into Eric's eyes. Her face softened and her eyes started to shine with unshed tears. She swallowed and closed her eyes.

"Maybe we should head to the castle." I suggested. My voice was wary as I spoke to Katherine.

"Yeah." she was able to choke out. She smiled up at me with her green eyes locking onto mine then letting go too soon. "Let's go." she said.

* * *

The castle was much more extravagant than I thought it'd be. I was taught that vampires were monsters who only drank blood whenever they had a chance. But I always thought that couldn't be true. We were probably perceived the same way in their eyes. Unlike vampires, we actually looked the part of 'monster'. Unless we changed into our human form, but most preferred to be what they were born as. I was in Roland's chambers with the others while Katherine slept. She nearly collapsed when we walked through the foyer. My troops were accommodated with the large guest rooms. I ordered them to stay in the rooms and not make too much noise. We don't want the council to be suspicious when they come back and smell our blood.

She didn't snore, so her low breathing didn't bother us. Eric watched her with pain-stricken eyes. I couldn't observe him much longer without being sympathetic because he was in pain. She didn't like seeing him in pain, and no matter how much he makes my skin crawl, I should apologize.

"For what?" Priscilla whispered to me. She was sitting next to me on the pure white sofa with Skylar snoring by her side. His arm was around her waist, but she was able to lean close to me without waking him.

"For making Katherine-"

"She had to. She has to go through a lot more in the future and she has to get a thick skin. You may have hurt her, but it was for her benefit. Apologize if you want, but it would do no help for how he thinks she feels about him. He's already heart-broken."

"Now, why did you have to tell me that? I can tell. I have eyes and a brain." I said instantly feeling guilty.

"Just thought you should be confirmed of his thoughts."

I sighed heavily.

"Hey, Eric?" I said. He didn't look at me, but he stiffened. "I'm sorry, man." I started out with a simple apology. "For how she-"

"Why are you apologizing to me, Karepton?" Eric asked, his voice filled with acid that burned just from hearing it.

"Because she hurt you."

"Oh, you're turning soft? Thought so. She does that to people. She did that to me when I first met her back in Russia so many years ago. Back when Rasputin was rising in power. Those were bad times, but she made it worth while." I couldn't even tell if he was talking to me anymore. "She was beautiful, smart, and a damn good fighter. Back before that incident."

"Incident?" I asked curiously.

"Something involving," he sighed as if the memory was too painful, "death, rage, and craziness."

I waited watching him. His eyes never left Katherine's figure. She turned on her side restlessly. "She was... we were together then, and she started to have some bad nightmares. They were so bad she started screaming in the night. I slept with her always watching her waiting for her to start screaming and crying. I'd comfort her and try to help her sleep, but she couldn't stop dreaming of whatever was bothering her. She never told me what she was scared of, but she..."

"She?" I repeated after a moment of quiet.

"She went outside walking around with her sword and that kind of scared me. I followed her with Joanna and Nathaniel. We were nervous because the fact she was walking away with her sword and she didn't stop when I called for her." he closed his eyes. His voice began uneven. "We finally got to her and she was shaking, crazed." Priscilla went rigid next to me and closed her eyes as she silently hummed to herself. "She was attacking a small village, literally in the middle of nowhere. I tried with all of my heart to get her out of her... state. But nothing helped." he opened his eyes and finally looked at me. "I'd rather not go into the details. If you really wish to persist it further then you can talk to Priscilla. She just saw the memory." he brought his eyes back to Katherine.

I turned my head to the left and leaned my head against the arm of the couch. I yawned quietly instantly curious and sorry for bothering about that 'incident' with Eric. I could kind of understand where he's coming from. That's how I felt when I went insane during that shooting and I'm sure Katherine felt the same toward it just like Eric felt toward her.

I only pretended to be dead at that shooting because it would be an easy way to get away from Katherine, so she'd be safe from me and my fellow Kareptons. If they knew about her surviving that gunshot that should have killed her... she would have been killed.

Because of me.

I don't think I'd be able to live being the reason the person I love most dies... I don't know what would happen to my heart.

Great. Now I sound like a little sensitive adolescent fifteen-year-old girl that thinks she's in love with a jackass. Ha.

I chuckled quietly and heard a soft melodic laugh next to me. I nudged Priscilla in the chest. It hurt. I probably have a bruise now. I tried to stop thinking as I dreamt. Dreamt of my past and my hopeful future.

14. Chapter 10 Chapter 10
Nightmares

**Katherine**

Another nightmare. Same situation as the night before only this person wasn't Tanner. It was the leader. The king of the Kareptons. I never saw his face, but he killed them. He killed Tanner, Eric, Roland, and Skylar. It hurt so much to watch. I couldn't even hear the baby crying in my arms.

"So Katherine," his similar demonic voice asked. "Which one gave you more pain?"

I couldn't answer. I was busy screaming in between sobs and breaths until I was crumpled on the floor clinging to the baby for dear life.

He grabbed me by my left wrist holding me in mid-air shaking me, growling. I had dropped the baby on the floor who was still crying and wailing for me.

"Answer me!" he screamed with his foot just above the baby's head.

"Katherine?" Eric began to call for me. I couldn't see him. I was just trying to get out of the Karepton's hold.

"Get away! Get away from me and my baby!" I screamed. I could finally see. I woke up with tears on my face, sweat on my chest and my forehead, and my hands pinned above me to the pillows by Eric and Tanner.

"It's happening again." Eric whispered. Tanner looked at him and his eyes grew wide.

"What?" I asked blurry-eyed reaching for any part of him. Just to reassure him that I'm safe and that I love him. Finally I was touching a pair of familiar lips. I wiped my other hand over my eyes and saw Eric. "What's happening again?"

"What happened in Russia," I twitched before he even said Russia.

"It's happening again?" I said furiously, but I still sounded weak and scared. I remembered the blood that tainted my hands. Human and Eric's. "No." I muttered backing up to my bed gripping onto the covers. "No. No! I won't let that happen again!" I closed my eyes sobbing, trying as hard as I could to not think about anything. I felt an arm touch my shoulder. That set me off. Whoever it was, they were going to be attacked by me.

"Yes. Finally!" the demonic voice screamed.

"No. No. No!" I screamed. My eyes flashed open and I backed away into the bed. It was Joanna who touched me. I would've killed my own sister. I jumped onto the covers and held on tightly to the mattress. "I won't hurt anyone again. Except the Kareptons." I was merely rambling now. I was going crazy. I opened my eyes.

Tanner and Eric started walking closer. I growled softly still holding onto the mattress trying not to attack them. I would lose against Eric in a normal battle, but now I was a savage. Tanner stopped watching me nervously and carefully, worried, but Eric... kept coming closer. I gritted my teeth and started to think of my baby. I felt myself become calmer, only very slowly.

"Katherine." Eric's voice seemed to help the soothing of my anger. I didn't know where he was but he was close. "You won't do it again. I promise." his hand started to slowly and cautiously hold my hand. Terrified and quiet gasps filled the room.

My first instincts were to jump him and suck his blood dry then start on the others. I didn't want to do this, and I don't know why I wanted to do this. Someone would be pleased about that. These are people I love. I kept reminding myself that I loved these people and I couldn't hurt them. I just couldn't. I can't.

After a long moment of getting myself together I opened my eyes and saw Eric sitting next to me showing no fear. It seemed easier then to breathe and look at everyone. Joanna started to walk to us easily trying not to set me off. When she finally reached the bed I gave her a hug whispering to her that I was sorry for nearly attacking her. She said that she understood. Nathaniel sat on the floor next to her watching me. He and I may be friends, but he didn't trust me with the love of his life. I did understand.

I turned back to Eric. "I don't want to be a monster. I don't want to hurt you again." I grabbed his hands and held them between us. "I promise I won't. Not to you." I smiled lightly then trailed my eyes to each face in the room. "Not to any of you. I promise."

"Even if you don't keep it, it won't matter. We all love you no matter what you do to us." I smiled feeling my anger and my wants to kill evaporate when Tanner said this.

"I think we should let you get dressed and have a few minutes alone." Eric stood up.

"Wait." I whispered. "I want to talk to you. Alone."

"Okay. First get dressed then tell me to come back in. We'll talk then." he kissed my forehead, breathing cool air against my hot skin.

When everyone was gone I found a note on my duffle bag. It was written in neat black script. "We have practice today, so get a comfortable outfit because we'll be working for a long time. Don't worry. We will pin you to the ground if you try to kill anyone. Love, Roland." Great. My muscles have grown stronger maybe it won't be all that bad. I put on some deodorant and pulled my hair up into a ponytail before I looked for clothes. I stripped down to my underwear and stifled through my bag for that outfit I wore last time for practice.

When I was dressed I cracked the door open and asked Eric to come in, so we could talk. He came in leaving the others behind. Before I shut the door I said, "Guys, go ahead. We just need to talk. We'll meet you down there." After they were all gone I closed the door behind me and brought my eyes back to Eric who waited patiently.

"So what did you want to talk about?" he asked.

I ran to him and embraced him crying tearlessly. "It's so hard." I wailed, trying to keep my voice down. "It's so hard to be under all this pressure, with defeating the Kareptons… and you. I just don't know how much more I can take. Because I'm going to have to break your heart or someone else's, and I don't want to." I took a breath ready to start again. I needed to get all this out of me. But before I could continue his index finger was on my mouth.

"I know it's hard for you. I'm sorry. I really truly am, but this is what must happen."

"Why does it have to?" I asked still sobbing.

"It's your destiny." his voice was pained. He wanted to be as angry and sad as I was, but he had to be strong for both of us.

My voice softened. "I'm sorry. For everything." I pressed myself harder to him trying to keep him safe and stop his hurt.

He didn't say anything. He simply held me. It felt so right. We were like two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. But there were two others that seemed the same way. Why couldn't they just morph together to be all the things I love? I just wanted one person to love. I didn't want all this confusion and anger in my life. I guess reality, no matter how fake it seems, is a bitch.

"I love you." Eric said suddenly.

"I know. I love you, too." I replied. I brought my eyes to his, facing him. I do love him and he loves me. Why can't it be that simple? The answer popped into my brain. Love is complicated.

"I know." he said. He kissed me and kept his lips on mine for a few moments. His kisses were as sweet as he was to me. He just knows me so well. He knows when I want to be left alone, when I want to be comforted, and when I am sad. But he can't read my mind.

"I wish love was simple." I whispered in between kisses.

"Love is never simple." he pulled back. "There are always complications." he paused and gave me one last kiss. "We should get down to the basement."

I groaned.

"What?" he asked.

"Why do we always have to practice in a basement?" I questioned.

He laughed. "I guess that was all that was left." I smiled as we left the room down the stairs while I followed him blindly to down the stairs to a big metal door a few rooms away from the foyer. We faced a huge gray metal door that was covered in locks. I gazed up at Eric confused. He smiled.

"This is just a cover up." he said. He turned the knob and the door opened with no trouble. Odd. This castle has lots of secrets.

"How many other secrets are there in this place?"

He smirked as we started down the candle lit hallway. "Plenty."

"Will I see them all?"

"You already have, but I'd love to show you again. Tonight after practice?" It felt like he was asking me on a first date.... I liked that.

"Yeah. If I don't faint." I joked.

"I'll carry you." He answered simply.

I laughed as we neared the end of the hallway taking a turn through an arch. When we entered the arch my mouth popped open into an "O".

The whole basement looked like a boot camp/YMCA that you would see army buffs working out in. There were rock climbing walls, dueling arena, and other things to help us train for the war that relied on me. I trailed my eyes across the basement again and saw an area in the far corner where the 'gifted' vampires must have gone to practice their talents on - what appeared as - rabbits and smaller animals. I immediately felt sorry for the poor creatures and was unconsciously moving toward the vampires to stop them. Eric grabbed my arm pulling me back against him. He looked at me sternly slowly shaking his head.

"Why are they doing it on them?" I asked, near tears.

"They are just animals, love. They are already dead when we find them. Some are alive because of the vampires that can heal, revive, or kill with a simple touch, but only if they want to." He informed.

"You'll need to explain everything about this world you haven't told me. I feel so stupid all the time. Promise you'll talk to me about it tonight."

He nodded.

"So what am I doing first?" I asked nearly petrified looking around the room again.

He chuckled. "Whichever you want. Just talk to the general over there at rock climbing walls. He'll give you a routine to follow." He started to turn away.

"Where are you going?" I asked gripping his hand.

"I need to practice with my group and help tutor some new recruits." He kissed my forehead. "Good luck."

"Good luck to you, too." I whispered as he sped away to the dueling arenas.

I turned toward the rock climbers that were ascended above me and walked up to the general that looked very bulky with his large muscles popping out of his T-shirt and jeans. He was disciplining a recruit who had immaturely pulled a rope, dragging the person attached to the hard ground face first. Ouch.

"You will be in a war with the Kareptons, and you will have only each other to rely on! You can't be so reckless! If you continue to be so reckless, you might end up killing yourself or your comrades!" He lectured. No one bothered to watch. My guess, this was a normal thing.

"Excuse me." I said politely to the general.

He turned to me for a second and muttered. "Hang on." He started to continue his lecture, but he went rigid and slowly brought his face back to me.

I waved with a small smile. He grinned crookedly with apology in his eyes.

"Miss Sinclair!" He exclaimed. His eyes widened. "I'm sorry for being so rude."

"Oh, not you, too!" I groaned. "You guys don't have to give me special treatment. I am just like you. I may have a destiny," I emphasized the word destiny sarcastically, "but I am a normal person. So to speak." I added.

He stared with mouth open and eyes wide.

"What?" I questioned looking at the mens' faces around me. Where were the women? I asked myself angrily. "I'm not some spoiled diva royal brat." They continued to stare. "Now what am I supposed to do?" I asked.

His mouth started to sputter, but, eventually, he got out a sentence.

"Well, first, you have some rock climbing to do." He pointed above me.

"Freehand?" I asked excited. I've always wanted to do something like this.

"If you wish." He answered.

I stared at him. "Don't give me royal treatment. Am I supposed to?"

"Yes. You're experienced, but these other imbeciles around me aren't." I chuckled and felt anger and embarrassment come from the men around me. All of it angled to the general.

"And what's your name?" I asked stretching my legs.

"General Kale." he answered and I thought of the asshole from the council.

"Oh, are you his...?"

"Son?" He recognized the hate I had and chortled, "Yeah, he has that effect on people. You ready?"

"Yeah." I smiled excitedly. "So I just have to reach the top?"

"Under a minute." a boy's voice added.

"Oh, boy." I muttered.

"Begin." General Kale said.

I ran and jumped onto the wall grabbing the rocks. I wouldn't get seriously hurt if I fell, so I had nothing to worry about. I pulled myself up with my hands as I reached for the next rock. Rock after rock I felt the burn in my arms. I looked up while sweat dripped off my face. How do vampires sweat? I screamed mentally. I felt so weak. Not physically, at the moment, but I felt I was a disappointment. I can improve, but I have to hurry if I want to defeat them. I focused mostly on where my hands were at, so I nearly fell when I hit my head against the rocky ceiling.

I heard a few claps and cheers come from below. I tried to find General Kale's face that was so far away.

"How long?" I asked hearing it echo through the room.

"Thirty point two-five seconds. It could be improved, though."

I began to climb down as fast as I could. My foot slipped off a rock a few times. When I reached the floor I asked the general a question.

"What's the best time?" I gasped, high-fiving the guys that held their hand up.

"Four point five seconds at human speed or close to it anyway. Vampire speed, however.... is zero point twenty-two." I cringed. No way would I beat that. "That record was set by the fastest vampire in history, so you don't have to feel like you should prove something." I smiled embarrassed when a guy threw me a water bottle. I recognized some people that had come over. Some of the vampires I met at the hotel only a few days ago. It felt like weeks or months.

I said hi to everyone, but I had to get back to the routine. I didn't want to be a slacker.

"Okay, first," The second trainer of the 'gifted' vampires area started. This general was a woman. "We need to find out if you hold any special powers now that you're a vampire again. You might have a new power, so let's see if you do." I recognized the woman. The hate-filled crimson eyes belonged to the council member that didn't believe in me.

"How are you going to find out?"

"Well, I have that power. I can sense if someone has a gift, but I can't tell what it is or what area it belongs in. But when I sense a strong strength inside you or around you then you have a gift. If not, then you're a normal vampire, so let's hope." she finished smoothly. It almost sounded like a lie. I definitely did not want to let anyone down or let them think I can't do something. She reached her long pale fingers to my temples, rubbing in circular motions closing her eyes. It felt.... sleep inducing and very relaxing. My eyes started to shut, too, and all I saw was blackness.... it made me feel alone. I snapped out of it.

"What the hell?" I exclaimed pulling my head away from her hands as my eyes opened back up to the real world. Her hands were still on my temples.

She grunted in frustration. "You can't be thwarted by the blindness power I possess.... impressive. Next." she said stiffly as she stood and walked away. She was lying.... just to calm me. That bitch.

Roland took her place.

"Hello, love." Roland greeted. "My turn." He whispered exultantly.

"What are you going to do?" I asked nervously when he gripped my hands.

"Sorry, but I will have to do some of my own very dangerous and strong powers, so I apologize if I hurt you. Understand?" I nodded and his hands that were entwined with mine became hotter. I cringed at the pain, but I couldn't release my hands. Soon his hands were fire, and my hands were being burned.

I tried not to scream while I tried to find some way to get rid of the fire, but a soft scream pierced through my lips. I saw Roland's eyes turn sorrowful and his whispers of apologies. I could hear the angry whispers of Eric's berserk anger and despair come from him while Tanner and Nathaniel held him back. Tanner saying some unfriendly words himself.

I couldn't take the pain anymore, I shrieked like a banshee.... and then Roland's firm hands on mine were gone. I looked up and saw him rammed into the wall just behind him. I didn't see anyone do it. He slumped to the ground and was sitting still absolutely shocked. The whole room was completely silent as I rushed over to him with his bodyguards right behind me, surrounding us.

"Are you okay? Did I do that?" I asked him bringing his face up to mine. He gave me a peck on the lips.

"Yes you did. I am so proud of you!" he proclaimed.

"You're proud I threw you against a wall without moving my hands?" I asked not-so-proud of myself.

"Yes." He said like he was insulted by my reaction.

"Why?"

"Because that means you have mental powers that can hurl a person through the air and not be able to block it. God, I love you!"

He kissed me again. He stood up against the wall and narrowed his eyes while Tanner and Eric ran over to us pushing the bodyguards aside.

Eric pulled me into his arms and hugged me while kissing my hair. He looked at my hands with worry, but his worry disappeared when he saw the burns were no longer there. Tanner was about to hug me next, but Priscilla jumped in before him with giggles absolutely excited as she said how cool it was that she wasn't the only freak with mental powers. I giggled with her and smiled as everyone made a big deal out of me throwing a vampire into a wall. I guess it was something since he was supposed to be the most powerful vampire in our world. I smiled harder as Tanner criticized his good friend, Roland, about getting beat up by a girl.

"I'll let her beat me up anytime, old friend. If you know what I mean." I pretended not to hear that or see Tanner's surprised face.

"Well, how do you know she'll choose you?" he asked, making a point. I didn't even know. I had another boy's heart to break. What was I supposed to do? Which one will find another woman and which one will die? Most importantly, who will be mine?

I frowned. I walked away from the large group of people and sat in a corner with my knees propped up leaning my elbow against my knee, my hand to my neck while I closed my eyes thinking of nothing. I opened my eyes when I felt Priscilla sitting next to me looking so beautiful and graceful in her simple skin-clinging gray tank top and jeans. I pouted while she tried to comfort me.

"I know it must be hard especially since you're such a pushover, but you'll have to choose amongst them eventually," I stared at her angrily for that comment, but she continued, "but that doesn't mean you have to hate yourself for that. You are lucky to have someone that loves you. Three guys in fact! A lot of the girls here hate you for that, so don't give them the satisfaction of hating yourself and granting their wish now."

"Thanks for the pep talk, Priscilla."

"No problem."

"But it will get harder later, so shouldn't I..."

She cupped her hand over my mouth and sighed laughing.

"Will you just shut up and get back to practice?" she released her hand and hit my nose with her finger playfully. She stood and lifted me up by my arm.

"Fine." I groaned while Skylar walked over.

"Hey guys. Why are they making a big deal out of you throwing Roland..."

I shrugged. Priscilla waved goodbye to me and held Skylar's hand as they walked away. I was happy for them but envious, too. They only have each other.... I have three others and myself. Great.

After a few other gifted vampires tried their powers on me, the day was over and night had come. They said they learned I had several extraordinary powers.... I wasn't afraid of talking about these things because I haven't heard that other voice in my head for a while.

I had a few mental powers including a mild healing power like fixing a broken finger, the throwing-a-person-across-the-room-with-a-thought-thing, and a power that block out other powers, not all, but enough. It was a fun day, I guess.

"I believe we have a date." Eric whispered to me after I took a shower and changed into a more comfortable outfit like jeans and a nice T-shirt. He was dressed the same way. He brushed the back of his hand against my cheek playing with my hair.

I smiled. "I believe so." He kissed me and took my hand as we walked through the halls sneaky-like.

"Um... why are we being so sneaky?" I whispered when he silently stalked up the staircase with me tagging along.

"Because we are supposed to be resting and taking this time seriously, but I think we've had enough seriousness for a while." He smiled and picked me up in his arms when we reached a large glass window next to the round staircase we were climbing. I giggled quietly as he ran quickly up the stairs. Everything around us blurred together like when you're in a car and you are going really fast, only I'm in a tank's embrace. Someone that can't be destroyed as easily.

He stopped and we were in a bright beautiful room. The walls and floors were a dark gray stone, the room was practically empty except the extravagant large and wide couch that looked like a bed with large pillows and a silk blanket by the even larger window with long blood red curtains draped around it, and a small coffee table in front of the couch with candles and my favorite flowers, red lilies. I gasped as I took it all in. It was the most romantic setting I've seen in a long time.

"You remember?" Eric asked standing closer to me leaning his head to my neck wrapping his arms around me.

"Remember what?" I asked trying to concentrate when he kissed my neck making my mind mushy.

I could feel him smile against my neck. "Think about how I have it set... do you remember now?"

I thought about it and I realized something that brought a memory of us on the same couch in a different setting.... kissing.... breathing heavily.... and us saying I love you to each other.... and clothes disappearing.

I smiled and I could tell he knew.

"I remember." I whispered. I did remember everything. Everything about that night...

"Do you remember this?" He said pulling away. I turned around and he was on one knee with a ring in his hand.

"Oh, my God..." I whispered.

"I love you, Katherine, and I don't care how many other men you love or care for. I would die for you. I've looked for you for decades, fearing you were dead... And when I saw you at that mall in Chicago looking the same way I remember you... you have no idea how much strength it took me not to simply run up to you and kiss you. You saw me, but you didn't recognize me. That nearly crushed me... I didn't know how you got in the United States, but even though you didn't remember me I was so happy that you were alive.

"When I told Joanna she cried with joy. You learned to love me... because something in you remembered me. When you first kissed me at the hotel... I knew I couldn't and wouldn't go another day without you by my side. So I am asking you to remember me when you have to make that choice and remember how much I love you and that I want to marry you. So, Katherine Octavia Sinclair.... will you take this ring and promise me you will remember me when you have to make that choice?"

15. Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Love isn't Simple

He stared at me his big blue eyes full of adoration. I could believe every word he said... hell, I would have said, "Yes! Let's get married now!" I did love him and I would definitely have him as my husband but I had to remember the other two.

I could feel my eyes tear up with joy and sadness. I got on my knees, so I could be at eye level with him. I began to smile.

"Yes. I will remember you and I will take this ring." I held my hand out and he slid the ring onto my marriage finger. "I love you." I reminded him.

He took my face into his hands and kissed me urgently not holding back when I tangled my fingers into his hair. He stopped for a short second.

"I love you too." He reminded. We stared into each other's eyes for a moment until his lips found their way back to mine after trailing his lips from my neck playfully up to my lips. I wrapped my arms around his neck as he picked me up with my legs around his waist. He continued kissing me as we made our way to the couch. I heard him gasp with laughs from us both while his hand moved to the bottom of my shirt. He pulled it off with ease and I reached for the bottom of his, but it was already gone.

"Did you plan this?" I whispered jokingly when his lips traveled to my collarbone.

"Oh yeah. It was all apart of my plan. Plan to butter up Katherine and then have sex with her." He replied with a sarcastic tone to his voice. I laughed when his breath tickled my skin and his hand traveled to the button of my jeans.

But he froze before he could reach it. I heard him cuss under his breath as his body disappeared from atop mine. I sat up and saw him throw my shirt to me when he was dressed. I put on the shirt and was about to ask what was wrong but he dragged me behind the door and held his hand over my mouth when it swung open.

"I could have sworn I saw someone come up here, Rick." A man pleaded.

"There is no one up here now get back to the kitchen and clean up." Rick's voice was familiar and I realized it was the same Rick that greeted me in the foyer. When their footsteps were gone Eric sighed in relief and let my mouth loose.

"Sorry about the interruption." Eric apologized smoothly. "Where were we..." he trailed off.

I was happy that we were alone, but I forgot the main reason we were here. The secrets and talking was the primary objective, but the romantic stuff was distracting not that I was complaining.

"I actually just wanted to talk, but you old romantic! You had to distract me..." I said jokingly.

He smiled trying to hide his disappointment. "Well, what did you want to know before I distracted you? How did I distract you again?" He asked walking to me caressing my cheek with his lips that traveled to my ear.

"Nice try." I muttered. "Now I really have some serious questions." I sat down with my legs folded on the couch waiting for him to sit next to me.

He was being stubborn. He sat down in front of me on the ground at arm's length. "What do you want to ask?"

"Some things I don't know about vampires and our way of life. I don't know most of the things about myself or how I'll live in this vampire world so let's start there." I proposed.

"Well, we vampires are very strong creatures... but once we reproduce we lose strength because we give some of our immortality to our children causing us to age or weaken. Everyone will do it eventually, unless they never have children."

"What if a girl is turned at a young age like two and she's never able to age or have her period or whatever?" I asked mystified.

"That is against the rules. If that happens we would have no choice but to destroy it and the maker." he said darkly. It seemed to disgust him.

"That's horrible! A little child..." I whispered.

"It's very rare that it happens, but it happens. I know." he said his voice sounded vulnerable.

"It happened to you." I assumed.

"No." he corrected. "I've had to... execute a... a little girl and my sister." His voice was cracking. He was about to cry. I could feel it coming. He bent his head down and was wiping his fingers under his eyes leaving his hands bloody.

I crawled over to him wrapping my arm around his shoulder. I brought his head to face me. He was crying. He reached out and held my face with one of his hands wiping his thumb on my cheek. I was crying, too. His pain was my pain.

"You don't have to tell me what happened." I whispered as he tried to recollect himself.

"Thank you," he said.

"What about the kids?" I asked trying to change the subject. "Are the kids officially immortal or not?"

"The children are immortal. Once they reach eighteen or in some cases twenty they stop aging. And the process begins again."

"I was created, so that whole thirty years as a vampire and the few years of being human is my destiny until I give birth to vampires?" I questioned slightly confused.

"Yes. Created vampires become human about two to three years before their actual age. In your case you start when you're fifteen." He said smoothly. His voice wasn't as vulnerable now.

"What about you? How old are you?" I asked.

"I stopped aging at eighteen."

"When do male vampires begin to age? They don't give birth or get pregnant so what about them?" I joked.

"They start to age once they have.... um.... impregnated a female." he explained awkwardly.

"What is the rate of aging?"

"The same speed as humans. When we finally reach a hundred years of age

"Oh." I murmured. "How can we be killed? I know Kareptons can be killed with our blood but what about us? Are we killed by their blood?" I was so full of questions at this point.

"Well if their blood is on us for too long then yes we would die, but the main way they slaughter us is..."

"Eat us?" I blurted out accidentally.

He laughed. "No. Any other way people die. Cutting off our heads, stabbing us in our hearts, and our poison."

"Poison? We're pretty easy to kill." I joked flatly.

"It used to be poison but the only poison that could kill us is gone and extinct." he explained, showing no impatience.

"What about all those rumors like Count Dracula, the prince being a vampire?"

"Oh, I had the pleasure of meeting him shortly before he died. A quick pleasure. I executed him."

"Why?"

"He kept showing off his ability to drink blood without gagging and spreading rumors, so we started a whole story that never happened. He was pretty funny though. He kept screaming I will kill you!" He mimicked a Romanian accent with his voice to perfection.

I snickered and let out a yawn.

"Time for bed." Eric stated. He brushed my hair back and stroked under my eyes.

"I'm sorry. I'm really sleepy. Are all vampires so sleepy?" I yawned again with my hand over my mouth as we stood.

"Well you've just become a vampire again, so you will lose human needs around a few months. I've never really felt any human needs except a nap or two and hunger... but you look like a human who hasn't slept in days." He picked me up into his arms and I closed my eyes drifting for a few moments in his very comfortable embrace. Too soon he released me and placed me on my bed in Roland's chambers.

I barely opened my eyes to watch Eric sit down at the edge of the bed watching me carefully while he lightly traced his fingers up and down along my leg, sending a flash of desire and adoration. He smiled softly when I shivered a little at his touch. I pretended to sleep until he started to trace my leg again. I squinted my eyes open and watched him until I found sleep.

"I love you," he whispered. Screw sleep! I opened my eyes and brought my body up placing my lips on his. He smiled against my lips, but I continued to show him my love.

"I love you, too." I said clearly against his still lips. My breathing had become erratic and my almost silent heart was pounding harder and I could feel each beat urging me to lean forward and let him take me.

He kissed me again, abruptly.

"Now please go to sleep." He said faintly.

"Fine." I muttered remembering how sleepy I actually was.

I flopped back to the mattress absorbed in it's softness and comfort. I buried my face against the pillow and felt Eric's body leave the bed.

That triggered my senses to get out of bed. Where is he?

I heard faint angry whispers from what seemed like a room away. I got out of bed and walked without any sound to the door leading to where the voices were coming from. I cracked the door open. Roland, Eric, Tanner, and Priscilla were arguing and Skylar was fast asleep on the couch.

"What were you thinking?" Roland's angered voice bellowed.

"That I love her," I recognized the slight vulnerability in his voice, "and that there was no reason why I shouldn't tell her how I feel and show her..."

"Silence!" Roland's voice was in pure fury now.

"Roland, don't be angry. He is just as in love with her as you if not more. Either way, you should be happy for her. If she picks him or you or Tanner, she will still love all of you. She is going through a lot with this too." Priscilla calmed him. Her eyes flashed to me for a second and she knew I was there, but she wouldn't tell them. She wanted me to hear what they had to say.

"You're right." He sighed.

"So what do we do if she picks me the Karepton? Will that mean peace?" Tanner wondered. "I'm serious." he added when their stares turned angered.

"I don't know. Maybe. Or not." Roland said. "Let's think realistically, if you don't mind, Tanner. You know how your leader is so don't taunt this decision."

"I mean it! He has a fondness to... Karepton children and their mothers whether they are human, vampire, or Karepton."

Eric started to laugh. "You really think he'll let her live once she becomes pregnant? The moment she turns pregnant he will attack. Until then he is leaving us alone while he prepares. So we must prepare, too."

"Then why did you try to have sex with her tonight?" Tanner scowled.

Eric stopped laughing. "Because I love her and I know how to use a condom. We've had sex before. We're not idiots." I noticed that Roland and Tanner went rigid and felt uncomfortable, as they were mad.

I didn't want to hear anymore arguing. I was tearing friendships apart because they loved me. Well, I hated myself at that point.

I crawled under my covers of the bed. Why was I always within temptation? No. Why was I the temptation? I am like the forbidden fruit that Eve ate in the Forest of Eden. I am the forbidden fruit and I could cause you to lose your way of life... why can't they see that?

"Because they love you." Priscilla's voice said softly with anger. "Didn't I tell you to stop hating yourself?"

"I wasn't..."

"Don't lie to a mind reader, Katherine." Priscilla said stiffly.

I sighed. I was clearly disadvantaged.

"I'm sorry. I just can't help but blame myself. I mean, Tanner and Roland were friends and now they are screaming at each other. Over me!" I said diminished of most of my energy.

"For you." Priscilla corrected. "They love you! Now stop trying to throw it away! Love isn't something you find just anywhere!" She stalked forward to the bed and was staring angrily at me. I sat up and stared back.

"You have no idea how bad my life has been! I had to see children murdered, almost kill someone I love.... I even tried to kill myself when I was human!" I yelped through the tears. "I wanted to die for so long! What is the worst you've been through you psychotic bitch?"

I was literally screaming at her and I didn't realize it until she slapped me across the face. The slap echoed through the room while my head stayed stunned from the slap.

"You don't know me." Priscilla stated. "You don't know my pain." She turned around and strode out of the room while I fell to the covers burying my head into my hands.

I was such a monster. Priscilla was just trying to help me, and I act like a little spoiled brat and yell at her. What's happened to me?

I finally closed my eyes and wished sleep would take me and let me have a dreamless night for once. Just this once.

* * *

My stomach growled, my head hurt, my arms were sore, and my brow was sweaty. I luckily didn't remember my nightmare last night, but by the sweaty forehead I could tell it was a bad one.

I opened my eyes and saw the boring ceiling. Why can't I wake up to something better? Oh, yeah.... I don't deserve better. Great. I'm depressed again.

I got out of the bed and felt my empty stomach growl again. After I took a quick shower and changed into a pair of blue jeans and a black T-shirt I went looking for the kitchen. No one was in the room that was filled with arguing last night except Skylar who was still snoozing away. I rolled my eyes at his sleeping figure and left the room walking down the hall trying not to draw attention to myself, but failing because of my recognizable face and bright blond hair.

Usually, while I walked down the large hallways hugging the wall, servants would stare and smile, others would simply gawk. It gave me a bit of a paranoia feeling until I reached the stairs where Rick was with some men that were new.

He turned hearing me step behind him.

"Oh, good morning, Miss Sinclair." Rick said less scared than the last time we spoke. The men began to whisper excessively and excitedly when they heard my name. Apparently, Roland has tried his best to make me a legend. Great. Love you Roland. Rick continued. "You look beautiful. Are you looking for Roland and the others?"

I smiled. "Um... no. Actually I was looking for the kitchen. I'm starving. I haven't eaten since God knows when."

"It's right by the ballroom. Do you need help finding it?"

"No." I said. "I can find my way." I left him when he turned back to the men who I could feel staring at me with wanting eyes. I treaded across the room to the empty ballroom after I flashed them a smile.

It looked so dull without any decorations or people there. It's just empty. I tried not to pay too much attention to that as I hurried to the large archway at the end of the room.

I entered the archway and headed down a small corridor to the room with no hesitation, but I saw something that made me stop.

This wasn't a kitchen... at least not a human kitchen. There wasn't a fridge, oven, etc. There were dead animals in the corner of the room bloody, ripped open; some vampires sucking blood from their wounds while others had glasses filled with the blood. The sight was horrifying and not exactly what I pictured when I was thinking of pancakes and milk with toast.

I tried to compose myself once they realized who I was. One offered me a glass and I was mentally jumping up and down thanking him again and again, so I wouldn't have to drink from their wounds. The thought of it was disgusting and disturbing.

"Thank you." I thanked as I took a quick sip. It was better than I thought. "So who are you?" I asked the man who had given me the drink.

"Edward." He said sternly. I guess he was either a servant or a general. His deep auburn hair was short, but he ran his fingers through it with no trouble. He was beautiful just like every other vampire I have seen.

"Well, thank you, Edward." I smiled at him and finished off the cup. "Goodbye everyone." I said politely to the people in the 'kitchen' as I left.

When I reached the door the halls were empty. I felt incredibly bored. It seemed that I had no work to do today and nothing special so.... now what?

There had to be something fun to do here. Maybe if there isn't I can go spar with some novices and pros. That sounded fun. Nothings more fun than beating up some men. I grinned.

I found the door to the basement and saw a lot of vampires already there. Didn't I wake up around six? That's ridiculous!

"Hello, Miss Sinclair." General Kale greeted from beside me.

"Hello." I mumbled. "Same routine?"

"Yes, ma'am. Good luck. I'll be waiting at the bottom." He said as he pointed to the large rock-climbing wall.

"Hopefully I'll beat my last time. I might. I feel extra buoyant and strong today." I said a little more excited since it was fun and painful the first time. "After I'm done with that, though, I was wondering if I could spar with some other vampires. Can I fit that into my routine?" I asked jokingly.

"Yes, you will, Katherine." He reached for his stopwatch in his pocket once we reached the wall.

"Begin." Another voice sounded.

I felt so much more buoyant after I drank some of that blood; less tired. I never felt like resting even when a small burn locked into arms when I climbed the wall nearly three times faster than I did the first time. I didn't even stop at the top. When I was done I went ahead and started to find my way down. I felt so much more... what was the word?..... Successful. Stronger.

I wasn't breathing erratically or too loud. I wasn't really exhausted. Not a sweat. I'm addicted to blood like drug addicts are to their own personal stash of heroin or meth. Blood just makes me feel so much stronger and more apart of them.

But, of course, I'd have to realize that I shouldn't let myself get too carried away and too focused on myself. I could lose control... I had to remember that... but at the same time all I wanted was blood.

General Kale stared at the stopwatch with approval.

"Five seconds!"

I exhaled and smiled happily.

A hand reached down to my butt, making me reflexively turn around. I punched the guy in the chest playfully, laughing.

"Hands off the butt." I warned, keeping the playful tone in my voice.

"It was a high five." he pleaded, still laughing.

"More like a low five." Someone muttered.

"Ha-ha." I mumbled sarcastically. "Very funny. Just don't grope me!" I said over-dramatically, chuckling.

Everyone started to laugh. I felt so much more comfortable here. I felt like I belonged here, like this is where I have always belonged. These vam-... people are my friends. The human world I once lived in seemed like a distant dream of a dream even though it was merely a week or so ago. It certainly didn't feel like a week.

"General Kale?" He turned to me. "Where are Eric, Roland, Priscilla, and Tanner?"

"They are out and about. I think they went to make a quick stop in Russia than Nepal. I'm sure they will be back later today. You'll be doing loads of work while they are gone. Roland's orders. He said it's time for you to really work out."

"Any other message from the others?" I asked, secretly already knowing the answer.

"Eric said he loved you and good luck." He said as if it was typical and natural. "Roland and Tanner also extend their love. Priscilla says she's sorry for last night."

I felt guilt immediately wash through me. I'll apologize, too, when she gets home.

"Earth to Katherine?" A boy asked waving his hand in front of my face that was staring unseeingly toward the floor.

"Hmm?"

"Time for workouts... then you and me... sparring." he laughed and started to follow a small crowd of boys to an empty large area covered with an ugly blue plastic mat stretching from where we stood and to the end of the room.... that was about a quarter mile away.

When General Kale blew his whistle – that was pissing me off with each whistle that blew in my ear – I was cursing him to the fiery pits of hell. Whenever I barely wobbled when trying to crawl – without my knees touching the ground – across the mat with a hundred and seventy some pounds on my back, he'd whistle it right in my ear.

"Why are your legs buckling?" he'd shout. "Is that sweat? You're weak!" It made me hate him more and it made me want to prove him wrong. I guess that's his strategy: Make us hate him and want us to kill him and prove him wrong.

Smart man.

I pursed my lips together when he whistled in my ear again. I was pretty close to the edge with him. I held my position while he walked over.

"Why did you stop?"

"Because you whistled your stupid whistle and that means – from what you have screamed at me – to stop." I scoffed ruefully.

"Don't be such a smartass. Keep going. I was just whistling at you to stop, so I could tell you that you're improving," he corrected in a low and furious tone.

"Thanks." I said my voice strained from the weight of the man on my back.

I kept running to catch up with the others that were tripping and stumbling over their own feet. I felt better knowing I could at least stay stable. I smirked at them as I sped by them. I didn't want to push it, so I slowed down a touch.

"Will you please stop patting my butt? It's a bit distracting." I said scornfully.

The man on my back chortled and I growled fiercely at him.

"Fine."

"And don't even think of accidentally grabbing my breast."

He said nothing and I guess he took my warning seriously.

"Smart." I muttered.

Finally we were finished with that exercise and were onto sparring, what I've been waiting and anticipating for.

I didn't get the first battle because I promised to be treated equally among the recruits, so no first turn for me. I watched some very interesting battled, though. Some were quite entertaining, especially, the one where one tried to the other's ear off. Everyone was cracking up at that one.

To be truthful to myself, I missed Eric and Roland, Priscilla and Tanner and not necessarily in that order. Joanna and Nathaniel, too, who I haven't seen in forever. General Kale was a few feet away and I wondered if he knew.

"Katherine." He greeted courteously.

"General Kale, do you know where my sister, Joanna, and Nathaniel went?" I asked worried. I haven't seen them since the dance and I was concerned.

"Oh, you mean Mrs. and Mr. Calesseon? They went away for little trip. My guess, they wanted some happy time together before the war started. I hear they went to New Zealand or Australia. Not sure." He explained. What? I didn't even know they were married! That is great for them though.

"Thanks. I haven't seen them for a while and I was very curious about where they had gone, but I didn't want to ask."

"Katherine?" A voice asked. I turned my head to see Edward. I smiled at him. "Time for sparring."

"With who?" I said anxiously.

"Me." He pointed to himself pressing his thumb to his chest.

"Hope you're good. You'll need to be to beat me." I lied eagerly.

"If I lose to you, we still have weapon sparring. Our swords are over there with the general. You ready for a little fight that will end incredibly faster than you thought possible."

He smirked looking as cocky as I felt.

"We'll see about that." I grinned and went to one side of the mat.

Edward waited on the other side of the mat in a white T-shirt and jogging pants grinning as he bared his teeth. He looked like a human almost. After all, we all did. We still had a faint heartbeat that is inaudible to human ears, we were technically still human, but we had immortal blood in our veins that made us stronger and faster and better with skills that humans find impossible.

I could hear the shallow breathing of Edward and myself as we readied ourselves for the fight. I was sure I could take him down. I've seen Eric's fast movements when we first fought, so this should be easy as long as I focused on him. Maybe he was better... maybe he wasn't. I was just as good as Eric, so I could... I was sure I could.

A whistle blew me out of thought and I immediately pounced forward where Edward was.

I landed on nothing except the mat. What the hell? Again! I got back up and analyzed around me until I saw.... Oh, God!

There was a Karepton with Edward in his hand barely breathing with one of his arms gone. I could see his hand hanging out of the Karepton's mouth. They must have disguised themselves as one of us. Dammit!

"Kareptons!" One screamed.

"There are more!" Another yelped.

"Everyone grab your weapons! You know how to fight them! Now go!" I ordered running to get my sword. The general was throwing out the weapons to the recruits while I stifled through them to find mine.

"Katherine," General Kale started. I kept looking but listened, "we have to help keep these recruits alive. They might not survive. Just do what you do, and we'll both protect them until Roland and the others return."

"How much longer until they get back?" I stood and saw there were over fifteen Kareptons around the room attacking each vampire they could. Edward was still in that one Karepton's hand.

"At least half an hour." He finished.

I left and started to worry. I held the end of the sword to my hand and sliced it slowly across until blood dripped onto the sword. I closed my eyes for a moment and flashed them open when I heard a scream. I had no fear or worry now. I began to run between each vampire and Karepton who were fighting, killing Kareptons or aiding those who needed an advantage with the Kareptons.

''Our blood kills them! Use your blood!" A recruit yelled reminding the rest who had forgotten.

I finally reached Edward's body that was on the ground nearly lifeless, but he was still breathing.

Most Kareptons in the room were dead or being killed as I took each breath. A larger Karepton appeared from a purple smoke like fog and simply stood there staring down at us. We all stopped where we were because each Karepton was dead. A recruit next to me was anxious and almost ran forward, but I stopped him.

"Go find some vampires with healing abilities and get back here. Go." He nodded and ran around the room asking everyone.

"This was a warning for you all. Just to see what you have ahead." his deep demonic voice was the one that was in my head. I could tell. He looked down at me. "Until you are pregnant, Katherine, we will stay away but send warnings to remind you. I can't speak to you through your mind anymore because you have become much stronger, mentally and physically. If we weren't enemies, I'd be impressed. For now, goodbye." He slowly evaporated into the same purple like fog as he laughed evilly. That's when everyone began to react.

Edward was still on the ground barely breathing, but the recruit brought back some people.

"Come on, guys! Do something." I pressed, as I eyed each one who did nothing but stare.

One snapped out of it. "I think I can help him."

"I think we both can. I have a mild healing power, but put together I think we could save him." I told him.

He got onto his knees next to me putting his hand on Edward's chest. He gazed at me then to Edward. I put my hand next to his on Edward's chest. I didn't know how to do it, but I concentrated on healing him when I felt a sudden harsh force run through my hand and into Edward. He gasped loudly and his body arched forward with his chest inches off the ground, screeching.

I backed away on my knees while the other vampire helping did the same. Edward suddenly stopped moving.

"Didn't we help him? Why did he die?" I asked the person who placed a hand on my shoulder.

"You did." A familiar voice sounded.

16. Chapter 11 part 2

"Roland?" I muttered. I raised my eyes to see him looking down at me. His unmistakable smile greeted me with a warmness that didn't involve his sarcasm that ruined the feelings I felt with him.

"I missed you, too." He said seductively, lifting me off my feet and into his embrace with my head buried in his chest.

"I missed all of you."

"Are you okay?" He asked lifting my chin up with his index finger.

"Yes. Those Kareptons weren't that difficult to defeat." I said proudly.

"Well, let's check on Edward. I think he is alright." He kissed me for a quick moment then let go of me. Another pair of arms held me gently against their body. The person kissed my forehead, my cheek, then my lips.

"Eric. I missed you." I whispered as I kissed him once more.

"I was only gone for a few hours." He sighed with a smile. "Well, you didn't miss me for too long, I hope."

I smiled embarrassed. I waved to Priscilla as she hurried by to help Edward. Eric left, too. I watched them and stood by nervously biting my thumbnail. Arms wrapped around me and I knew who this was. I turned and kissed Tanner. After the kiss I hugged him happily, glad to see him again.

"I guess you missed me." Tanner said.

"I guess I did. Well, you and I haven't really been together since we got back from Russia, so how about tonight we go explore the castle and just talk." I proposed.

"I'd love to. However, right now we have some business to take care of." He pointed down to Edward who was squirming at their touch.

"What's wrong with Edward?"

"He's starting to turn into a Karepton." Priscilla said quietly. People around us gasped in shock and started to mutter. "When he was being eaten and trying to get out of its mouth he cut it and it's blood somehow got into his blood system. He's turning very quickly."

"Can't we do something to help?" I wondered.

"Yeah, we can." Priscilla answered handing me my sword that was on the ground.

"No. No. I'm not doing that. There has to be some other way to help him. I'm not going to kill him and tell myself that it was for the safety of everyone. I won't." I backed away watching Edward start to change.

I saw his bone poke through his skin, and I heard his high-pitched screams. The skin began to stress over the bone until it finally broke through gushing blood. His eyes rolled up and down and started to bleed. My lips quivered and I couldn't do anything but shake slightly gripping my sword. Everyone watched me and waited for me to do it.

"No! I won't." I grabbed my sword and took off toward the staircase leading back upstairs. I still heard his screams even as I got to the stairs. They didn't stop. Servants stared down the staircase leading downstairs while I ran off.

I stormed off feeling my eyes tear up. I blinked and used my vampire speed to get me to my room, so I would barely notice anyone. I finally got to the bed I would eventually cry into.

I don't think I can do this. I don't think I could kill someone that I knew. I know I can't. I propped my knees up and laid my head against them closing my eyes.

"I'm sorry you had to see that. I wish I could have killed him, but he was just like lots of others I've seen. I couldn't do it just like you." Tanner said quietly soothing me. I raised my head and saw him seat next me petting his hand on the back of my head.

I knew Tanner was such a sweetheart and that's one of the many things I liked about him. His dark red hair was short and looked very smooth with his manly exposure. In his face there was, however, this softness and kindness about him. I knew that. He is probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me.

The best thing was I never flinched from his touch. I remembered what he did at East Ridge, but I barely thought of it now. It didn't matter. It still hurt to think about, but it wasn't as important as it used to be.

"I know. I haven't seen any of your troops around. Are they avoiding my people?" I joked.

He laughed. "They don't like it here. They were taught to hate vampires, but I'm teaching them otherwise or else they wouldn't be here. They are warming up to you, though."

"Oh, don't I feel special. Everyone somehow warms up to me. How and why?" I asked, confused. At least I stopped crying.

"You are very... well, sweet and real. You make everyone feel welcome and loved, I guess. That's just me," He smiled. I smiled back feeling warm inside.

"Thanks for being so sweet." I said.

Suddenly I had a funny thought. I giggled.

"What's so funny?" He asked putting his arm around my waist pulling me to him.

"I just... realized how much of a soap opera my life really was. Death, love triangles, conspiracy, and feuds." I laughed again. "You know what the only bad thing about a soap opera is?"

"The over-dramatic break-up scenes?" He guessed.

"No. When you're in one." I said quietly.

"True." He muttered. "I've been in one for the past hundred and thirty years. You'll be fine." Tanner said jokingly.

"Tanner. Tell me a little about your past." I wondered. "Only if you feel like talking about it." I added.

"Well, first," he stood and headed for the door and locked it, "so no one interrupts our conversation since no one ever feels like knocking around here." I giggled at that remark.

"Only a couple here and there." I agreed.

"Well, where do you want to start? When I got assigned to watch you at school?" He questioned.

"You were assigned?" I said curiously.

"Yes. We had just found out from a spy that was with the vampires you were there, so my leader got me to go since I was the strongest. I never thought I'd fall for you." I blushed at that while he continued, "I got there with false parents then started to be an outcast that you never really noticed. Well, I was glad about that at the time. I constantly watched you to see if your vampire blood would be awakened but it never did. I waited for a long time. A year and a half."

"Sorry. Maybe I should have just turned then and let you kill me. It would save a lot of time now." I joked dryly with no humor.

He stared at me through angry eyes. "How could you say that?" He asked softly with anger under the softness of the whisper.

"I was just joking. You can go on with the story."

He scoffed and continued with his face still furious.

"Well, as I kept watching you I found things I loved about you after the first week. We were lab partners in Biology and even though I looked eighteen I pretended to be fifteen to watch you more closely no one really noticed. They just stayed away because of their instincts that told them to keep away," He stopped and laughed, "I was honestly surprised when you spoke to me in Biology. You were so nice and so... beautiful. You had no vampire blood yet, but you were as beautiful as they were. Usually Kareptons and myself are disgusted by the beauty of you vampires, yet I held no disgust, hate, or jealousy. All I felt was warmth in my face when I saw you." I smiled as he did.

"But... I remember something." I added. "After I was taken to the hospital the doctor told me I was one of the luckiest patients he ever had. He said I should have died from all the blood I lost but I lived. Why?"

"You see," He started, thinking, "When you vampires turn human your vampire blood only awakens when you are on the verge of death, which makes the blood heal you, or when you are being attacked."

"So I healed myself?"

"Yes." He answered simply.

"Why..." I looked down to my knees, "why did you bring a gun to school anyway?"

He blinked and shut his eyes.

"I really hate myself for doing that." He sighed. "I knew I'd lose control. My leader told me to kill you now even though you were human because I found out that Gage was a vampire posing as your boyfriend. He didn't care about you. He just wanted prestige for taking you back to Roland and being rewarded. He sacrificed himself to save you. He knew I cared about you, so I tried to pose as the depressed suicidal killer. I knew I couldn't just turn into a Karepton!" He exclaimed. "If someone survived, there would be no stopping them from telling what they saw. They wouldn't be believed, but still…" He opened his eyes that were gleaming.

"I'm sorry that I caused you such..." I swallowed the lump in my throat and closed my eyes, "pain. I wish I was never born."

He grabbed my face with both of his hands and held my face. My eyes flashed open and his were filled with tears that were slowly falling. My mouth quivered while I reached to wipe them away.

"How could you say that? I love you and I don't know what my life would be if you weren't here. Don't regret being born when you are so loved. I don't want you to go. I don't want to lose you like I almost did. I might lose you to one of them but I'd rather it be that way than you dying," His heavy breaths blew in my face while he kept trying to get the words out. "I don't... I know... I won't survive that pain," his voice was uneven and he was so close. His hands fell from my face and I took the chance the hold him in my arms to hug him.

"I'm sorry. I won't ever die on you. I promise," I let my face bury into his chest and my tears to come, "I never want to hurt you. I don't... I know I don't... and so do you. I-I..." I couldn't speak anymore. I did nothing but cry into his shirt that was being stained with the blood red tears I cried.

He quietly shushed me as he brushed his fingers in my blond hair. He stopped crying and pulled my entire body into his arms letting him hold me as he cradled.

"I'm such a cry baby. I cry about everything bad that happens." I giggled with a smile. Joking always make the tears go away.

"You have your moments." He whispered moving his head to kiss my cheek. I sighed.

"Yeah...." I trailed off resting in his arms while my eyelids became heavy. I yawned and cuddled into his chest feeling his heart beat quietly.

"Tanner?"

"Yes?" He muttered.

I really wanted to know this. I had to know. I opened my eyes and got to eye level with him.

"Can you really turn a vampire back into a human?"

17. Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Who Do You Love?

Will You Fight For Them?

"What?" Tanner questioned, staring into my eyes frustrated. I could tell he just wanted me to sleep without questions.

"Can you? Skylar was offered mortality for himself and I a week ago, so is it true?"

"Partially," He said, "It only works seventy percent of the time. Not very effective." The reason I even asked was because I secretly wanted to call and ask for it, so I could leave... but I knew I couldn't leave the vampires to protect themselves. They needed me.

"What about your past? Before you became the next heir and why you are. Are you related to him?" I asked.

"Let's not talk about my past. It's not something I really want to remember. It's hard enough to have the memory. I'm sorry. You look tired as hell anyway. Go to bed and I'll stay with you, I promise." He kept kissing me until I realized he had picked me up and slid me under the covers of the bed simultaneously.

I sighed. "Why is everyone faster than me?" I whispered, my voice was low and sounded hoarse. My eyes were barely open, too. He was simply blurred in my eyes.

He laughed and kissed my forehead. Tanner started to hum a soft sweet melody that I could imagine being played on a piano or violin.

I wasn't all the way asleep when I heard Tanner's and Roland's voice.

"I thought you were my friend!" Roland growled.

"I am." Tanner said simply.

"Then why," Roland's voice got lower but I heard it, "are you trying to steal Katherine away from me?" his voice was vulnerable and quiet.

"I love her just as much as you. If you really love her than you should let her have whom she wants. It will hurt but it's the way things are. You will, of course, be angry but what about her?" Tanner's voice was not angry just calming. He was trying to make Roland understand that what I want is important.

"I know she just wants this to be over. She doesn't want to kill anyone or anything. She just wants a family and to be happy, but I don't know who with," His voice was making feel guilty. I didn't want to have to feel guilty all the time and they were probably just doing this intentionally. Damn them! They're making this really hard for me.

I opened my eyes and arched my back forward glaring at them.

"If you guys are going to keep deciding my future can you do it in the other room? I don't know why you are arguing right in front of me. What is wrong with you guys?" I got out of the bed and walked out of the room and down the hall. I was thirsty.

I was still in my T-shirt and jeans and I knew my hair was a train wreck, so I combed my fingers through it a couple of times while stumbled down the hallway to the foyer. A couple of Tanner's Kareptons were down here and they greeted me with smiles and waves. I guess there were no vampires awake or else they wouldn't be down here.

"Sorry guys, I'm thirsty. I'll talk to you when I come back from the kitchen." I was walking down the very hall that led to the basement. I slowed down, as I got closer. A vampire was coming out and they were lifting a carrier or something.

I finally saw Edward. He looked horrible, but he was dead so he should look really pale, but… not this. He was bloody and gruesome. There was a black cover over his body and once they saw me they covered his face. I frowned and knew this was my fault.

"No!" A female's voice called out. A red headed woman ran up to Edward and kept clawing the covers trying to get to him.

"He's not dead! He can't be! He's my husband, I won't let him go this easily!" She screamed, her eyes were blood red from all the tears she was shedding.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Wales." She froze with her hands on the cover while the man behind her spoke, "I really am but we need to burn the body. He was infected with the Karepton blood and if we don't he'll come back and he won't recognize even you. Please." One of the council members who were behind her pleaded.

She let go of the covers and let him go. She saw me and whimpered. She frowned angrily and stormed toward me.

"This is your fault! Why didn't you stop him from being eaten?" She punched my arms and chest weakly with her small fists. She was in so much sadness she couldn't even hurt me, "You could have stopped them! You-you could have...." She dropped to the floor and cried into her hands while Edward was taken outside.

"I really am sorry." I told her trying to be strong for her, "I should have been paying attention when they came. You have every right to blame me." She looked up at me with her red hair falling over her face. "Let me take you to your room."

"No." She stood up. "I need to tell my son myself. Thank you anyway." She swallowed and wiped the tears away trying to hold herself together as she left the hallway.

"I can't believe it." I muttered. "Why am I so stupid?"

After I chugged three cups of blood I headed back to the foyer and sat on the stairs. I bent my head over into my hands that were folded on my lap and cried. It is always my fault. I'm not fast enough or strong enough! How will I ever be able to fight the Kareptons? Let alone find out whom I am destined to be with! I love Eric, Tanner, and Roland, but I can't fight for them! I can't even go a day without crying!

I could feel someone sit beside me and after a small moment I realized who it was.

"Are you okay?" Eric politely asked putting his hand on my head.

"No." I mumbled.

He picked me up and held me in his arms while I stared at him waiting for the lump in my throat to be gone and tears to dry up. He had taken me to his room and we were just on the couch.

He brought his blue eyes to me, "What's wrong?"

"Edward is dead.... because of me. If I'd been paying attention..." He covered my mouth with his fingers quietly shushing me.

"It's not your fault. It's everyone's fault. None of us were paying attention to their scent. Everyone will be on high alert from now on." he tried to comfort me, but I didn't want to be comforted.

"He had a wife... and a son." My bottom lip quivered as I spoke. "He had a life... and now he's gone.... and they are left alone to face it by themselves."

He grabbed my shoulders and made me face him.

"Why do you keep blaming yourself? Everything is not your fault! You need to stop casting blame on yourself!" He was breathing heavily trying to get me to understand what Priscilla tried to tell me. He stared at me and I stared back biting my lip. "It's not healthy." He whispered softer.

"I know. Priscilla said I shouldn't blame myself."

"Then why are you?" He questioned.

"Because I don't deserve any of this." I answered. "I don't feel like I should be the one here... the one who has everything. The one who... has someone she doesn't deserve that loves her," I caressed his cheek, "The one who has to protect a whole race... the one who had to go through so much to get back to this life... the one.... the one that doesn't know who she wants." I knew I'd cry, but I bit back the tears, "The one that isn't strong enough to go a day without crying."

"Katherine..." Eric said speechless. "You deserve happiness. You deserve it. I promise you that you will live a life of happiness. Even if it kills me. You won't be alone to protect the world. I... We will all be here behind you... to support you." He brought my face up to his and kissed me. "You will know who you want when the time comes. You will know eventually. Just stay strong... for me." His lips hovered over mine and I closed my eyes trying to swallow all he had just said.

"I love you." I told him. At that moment... after all he had just said... I truly did.

"I love you, too." He said as he kissed me again. Now I knew I could not picture my life without him. He was my lover, my friend, and the person who would always be there for me. I couldn't picture my life without Tanner either. Roland was someone I really did love, but I didn't want him like I wanted Eric or Tanner. I knew deep down he would not take this well. He'd be furious.

"Now, please go to bed. Roland and Tanner are arguing in your room, so sleep here in my bed and I will sleep on the couch." He kissed me once more and pointed me to his bed.

When I reached the bed I waved to him, "Good night, Eric."

"Good night Katherine." I pulled the covers over me and closed my eyes. "My one and only love." He whispered.

I smiled and tried to rest for the day to come.

"Wake up, Katherine." Eric whispered slightly rocking me back and forth with his hands.

"Huh?" I mumbled pulling the covers away from my face, stretching my arms out.

"It's time to get up. We have more practices today. Time to get out of bed and work." As Eric finished the sentence that made my eyes droop, I groaned.

"I'm sorry to sound lazy, but I am tired." Eric backed away disappointed in me, and I opened my eyes wide and threw the cover off me with a louder annoyed groan, "Give me a minute to get dressed, you idiot." He grinned at me. I grimaced as he kissed my forehead.

I rolled my eyes and started to get out of the clothes I was in. I was only in my underwear while I dug through my duffle bag for something I haven't already worn. Nothing. I guess I'll change up the outfits or something. I exhaled sharply and grabbed some loose jeans and a tank top. I guess it will have to do. I used the rubber band I had to put my hair up into a tight ponytail, so I could exercise more easily without worrying about my hair falling in front of my face.

I turned for the mirror that hung on the wall across from his bed and stared at myself. Good enough, I guess.

"You look fine. It's just practice," I turned and saw Priscilla in a pair of Capri sweatpants and jacket over a tank top, "Sure most of the guys are thinking how nice your butt is, but hey, boys will be boys."

I gave a half smile and walked up to give her a hug.

"I'm sorry for what I said." I mumbled into her shoulder.

"I know," She whispered.

"I really am sorry." I said again.

"I know, but.... not to sound pessimistic, but I've felt.... like something bad is going to happen. So be on your guard and practice hard today."

"Did you see something, Priscilla?"

"No," she closed her eyes, "I just keep seeing images flashing through my brain. Disturbing images. Like it's a warning signal of something to come. I just feel... uneasy about it. I might just be getting a new power."

"Well... maybe. I'm starting to remember a lot more of my past, memories, and fighting techniques." I could feel my smile widen all the way to my ears.

"Well," she sniffed for a second, "um... I think you forgot to put on deodorant. Roland and Tanner want to talk to you, too." she added.

I sighed. I made my decision. I've narrowed my choices, but would I be able to live with it? I loved him. I loved Eric and Tanner, too. Roland is different from Skylar. Roland was the one that saved me... the one that made it possible for me to meet Tanner and Eric. Roland loved me more than there were stars in the sky, and he gave me this engagement ring I had on my hand next to Eric's. I want to be the coward and run away.

"Let me put on some deodorant then send Roland in." I ordered solemnly.

She nodded, understanding. She left with the plain expression on her face and despair behind her blue eyes. She knew I might break her brother's heart.

"Sorry," I whispered as she left. I grabbed the deodorant and threw it in my bag near the door after putting it on. I sighed holding my face in my hands trying to breathe evenly.

I have to do this. I need to realize only one person can be the one. I have to be strong and...

"Oh, I am so stupid." I mumbled feeling a lump in my throat, tears form in my eyes, and my stomach twist into a knot.

A hand brushed my cheek and I froze almost immediately feeling a shudder go through my chest.

"Are you fine? Why are you crying?" Roland's voice was very soft and warming. I knew I would have to break it to him now... I'd have to admit what is wrong with us and try to get it fixed. It could get better between us.

"I'm not fine." I swallowed. "I need to talk to you."

"About what, Katherine?"

"About us." I finally said.

He froze and kept his eyes on me swallowing hard trying to keep calm.

"Like what?" Roland whispered. I could literally feel his heart break because mine was too.

I started to fidget. Quickly rubbing my hand against my arm and then through my hair. He grabbed my arm roughly and stared at me with wet eyes.

"Are you saying you don't love me anymore?" He growled furious. I didn't blame him for being mad. I'd be mad, too.

"No! Of course not!" I exclaimed, my voice getting higher, "I still love you, but it's just the way you act!" I shouted. His eyes widened and his face full of shock. His hand that was tightly clasped around my wrist let go and dropped to his side. "You act so... so sarcastic all the time! You don't act serious when we're around others, only when we're alone. I really like that, but I just wish you could be more like..."

"Eric." Roland assumed. "Or is it Tanner?" He was so cold and no longer the warm man I loved.

"Would you stop that?" I screamed.

"No." He answered. "I am who I am. Either you love me for me, or you want me to be something I'm not. Do you love me for me?" He asked. He was so still and his tears had frozen away from the cold anger in his face.

When I really started to think about what made me love him.... I couldn't think of anything. I loved him, that was obvious... but I couldn't come up with the reason why.

I knew why. I only loved him... because it was unconditional love... like with family... he saved me and I could never repay him for that.

My eyes started to flood with more tears and I tried to choke out these next words.

"I do love you..." He smiled, "but I know why I don't love you more than them. You saved me," I gave a weak smile then looked back to my hands, "I would never be able to repay you for that. No matter how long I'd be alive or you... I wouldn't be able to. I thank you for that, but I have to let you go," I swallowed the lump in my throat, "I will always love you. Just know that and be happy. I will always be your friend and always be there for you." I was afraid to bring my eyes up to him. I was afraid of how he'd look at me. I was scared he would hate me and call me a whore or worse.

He said nothing. He turned for the door and I reached out for his shoulder, but he shoved me roughly onto the bed away from him. I stared at him as he left.

"Roland, I'm sorry." I said as I curled into a ball wrapping my legs in between the sheets. I didn't cry... I couldn't stand crying anymore. I sat there waiting for lightning to just strike me dead.

A hand touched my waist. I didn't care who it was now.

"Please just leave me alone, whoever is there." I mumbled with a broken voice.

The choice I made may have sounded easy, but it wasn't and I will always have a place in my heart for Roland. The person left and I tore off the ring Roland had given me in anger, but just as I was about to throw it, I stopped.

I couldn't just throw it. I gazed at it with a broken smile and red tears then put it back on my finger.

"Are you okay?" Priscilla questioned, putting her hand on my shoulder.

I shrugged it off. "I'm sorry for hurting Roland like that. I can't get rid of this ring... so if he wants it back he'll have to kill me for it." I joked dryly.

I flashed back to the memory of how we first met and felt my eyes tear up. I closed them, but all I saw was his face... his warm smile greeting me as I ran by him in the ball room... his smile at my blushing when I first talked to him.

"You do love him, Katherine. You love him so much." Priscilla told me.

"I do... but I made my decision. I just pray to God that he will find someone." I felt so fucking bad... God! What the fuck should I say to him? I do absolutely fucking not want it to be awkward between us. I just wish I could change what would happen to them, so neither of them will die... I want them to live happy lives.

"One will die, the other will find another woman, and the last will be mine." I whispered, too much in thought, dazed.

"You shouldn't listen to that son of a bitch," Priscilla whispered as she pulled away, "He could be lying. I have never heard his thoughts, but he is most likely lying."

"You've never heard his thoughts?" I asked her curiously.

"No. Never. He is probably the strongest man I've ever seen," She growled, frustrated, "I've tried every single time we patrolled the Karepton's perimeter, and I keep failing. I can read everyone else, but not him... he can resist almost every power vampires have. It's aggravating how he can't feel anything."

My eyebrows lifted in soft surprise... Oh, shit... I'm fucking screwed. He will kill me... he will kill me.

"You are the one in the prophecy. You'll be able to kill him. I know you will." She comforted me.

* * *

It didn't get any better between Roland and I. He would always avoid me except in meetings where he would support my ideas at least. During practice he would fight roughly with me when we would duel against each other. He'd actually hurt me. That kind of scared me, but deep down I knew I deserved it. I guess the moral of my life is "To love, you must cry. To live in love, you must live in pain." So true for me. So true it wasn't even funny.

Eric would occasionally threaten to hurt him, but I pressured him not to. He would, of course, deny, but he agreed for the time being. Tanner was the same way. That hurt the most. I've talked to him about letting it go and being friends with Roland again, so he will try and be a good boy.

I got a surprise of a lifetime at practice today though while with Priscilla practicing my powers.

After fixing a few broken bones in a rabbit or two she told me something that made me accidentally break the rabbit's other leg.

"What?" I gasped, "I... I'm... um... am I ready?"

"Yes. You're more than ready! We have been constantly practicing for a month and a half now, and you have grown increasingly stronger both with your powers and physically," Priscilla grinned and looked around me, "Roland thinks you're ready, so he's bringing you with us on the mission. Do you want to come? If not, we can bring someone else."

"Um... I know I'm ready, but I'm just really nervous. I can fight. I can kill all of them... I just don't want to let anyone down," I turned and waved at Roland with a half smile. He simply waved and looked back at the female general he was talking to. I breathed deeply and frowned.

"I think you just killed your rabbit," Priscilla whispered. I dragged my eyes back to my lap and saw the rabbit on my lap.

"Oops," I mumbled. I checked its pulse, "I think I did kill it."

Priscilla chuckled and took the rabbit, "It's okay. Rabbits die all the time. Mostly because of newbies."

I laughed.

"When do we leave?" I questioned.

"In eight hours at midnight. You better do what you need to before we leave. Bring everything you need and don't forget anything important," She handed me my sword and waved me off. I wasn't sweating a lot anymore and my need for food decreased major over the past few weeks. Now I just get thirsty for some blood. It may sound bad, but that's just the nature of my kind.

I must admit human blood is much more... appetizing, but I don't want to turn into some cannibal savage I don't recognize.

"Priscilla, are there any bottles of blood around here?" I started to laugh at what I just said, "That sounded so weird," I laughed again.

"No. There is some fresh blood in the kitchen though." She answered giggling.

"You want to come with?" I asked politely.

"No. I'm going to keep practicing my powers then duel Skylar. He has gotten really strong for a new vampire, but I'm going to see if he can beat me," She chuckled, excited, anxious, and sexually, "I can't wait." She chuckled as she left for the mat where Skylar was waiting with a smirk on his face. I laughed softly and waved to her as I headed for the door.

"And where are you going Miss Sinclair?" Eric asked jumping in front of me.

I smiled, "Getting a drink. Want to join me?"

He put his arm on my shoulder and nodded kissing my forehead. We walked up to the foyer and into the kitchen where they had just brought some more blood in.

Fresh blood that made my mouth gap open and my throat burn. Twilight can burn in hell. They had it easy. These vampires and this world are so much more terrifying than 'glitter glow sticks'. I laughed at myself. I can't believe how much I hate Twilight now that I have lived in the world of vampires.

I can just imagine walking up to Stephanie Meyer and saying "Yeah. I don't glitter like diamonds, but we do have powers and I can tell you, you are about to wet yourself. Oh, there it is." God, I crack myself up. Good thing I was laughing in my head and not out loud. That would be strange just laughing out of context.

"You packed?" He asked when I had gulped down my third cup of blood.

I nodded. "I just need to get my bag and sharpen my sword. It's gotten dull, so I better-"

Then out of nowhere Eric grabbed my face and slowly and softly kissed me sucking on my bottom lip. I bit his lip playfully, caught up in the moment.

"What was that for?" I muttered under my breath when he pulled away softly from me still holding me in his arms.

He pulled my left hand up to us not moving. He rubbed his index finger over the ring.

"For letting me still have a chance for your love, and for you becoming the girl I remember and fell in love with," a smile appeared on both of our faces and like every time we were like this the world dissolved around us. It was just us in each other's arms. I kissed him once more than pulled away trying to be serious.

"I need to get ready and sharpen that stupid sword of mine. Sorry," I was at arms length from him, so his lips might not invite me back in.

"That's another part that came back. You always find the strength to pull away. Damn," he muttered, kissing me once more than waving to me as he ran up the stairway.

I sighed feeling my thoughts scramble and my hormones controlling most of them. I grinned. Biting my lip, I hurried up to my room, grabbed my bag, and came back down with Tanner, the Kareptons in their human form, and a large group of vampires in a circle with their supplies. Roland was in the center.

I came and joined them as Roland began to describe the plan for our invasion on one of the largest forts in the Karepton's land in the most secluded part of Siberia where it was always hidden from human eyes with the heavy snowfall.

This would be my first official mission that wasn't training or just for practice. Some of us could die, and I would be putting everyone in danger because of who I was. The Kareptons here must have family, and I could be putting their whole life and family tree on the line. I could be the reason for the deaths of children, women, and men who don't deserve it.

I guess that's what comes with a new life... especially since I am the hope of a whole race. Sometimes life just sucks.

Priscilla stood next to me and put her hand on my shoulder glancing at me worriedly. Sometimes having a friend that reads minds can be good, but sometimes it's annoying. No offense.

She half smiled and chuckled. She mouthed 'I know.'

We left the castle in a couple large SUVs and soon we were at Roland's large private jet. Joanna and Nathaniel were waving to us at the foot of the jet.

The...they were coming? Mm-my sister?

"Priscilla, why is my sister coming?" I wondered, feeling my anxious voice break.

"She is one of the strongest vampires in the world. She has dealt with plenty of those Kareptons. We need her," Priscilla persisted, calmly.

I pursed my lips angrily and nodded resistant as we walked up the stairs to the jet. I didn't want my married sister to come! I wanted her to have a possible happy life. More nervous than I could ever be, I smiled anxiously at Joanna and Nathaniel. I headed into the bathroom and changed into an outfit that Eric told me would protect us from being caught easily. Soon I was asleep in one of the chairs while some recruits were talking about how many Karepton trophies they would get and what their rewards would be. How could they not be as nervous as I am?

I stared out the window as the sun disappeared into snow. I hope I don't fuck this mission up.

* * *

"Joanna, you're my sister and I love you to death," I started while sitting next to her on the jet, "but you're married to Nathaniel and you two could start a family eventually... I don't want either of you to lose each other,"

I really didn't want her to die or be here because I loved her to death. She could get killed, and I don't want to have it be my fault like everything else.

"You have to understand, Katherine. I love Nathaniel, but I love my job, too," She grinned, "Anyway, you'll need me to keep you safe. You are incredibly important, so I must protect," She grinned and wrapped her arm around me comfortingly, "You're my sister and I don't want to see you die or have to live with seeing Eric and Tanner miserable for the rest of eternity."

I chuckled. Roland appeared just beside us and looked down to me with respect.

"Miss Sinclair, we are only twenty minutes away from the destination, so will you get ready?" Roland asked calmly.

"I am ready, Sir." I answered respectfully. He nodded and continued walking along the aisles.

My regular sized bag was safely secured to my back with my sword at a reachable location. I reached toward it nervously. This trip was almost over and it felt too.... too easily done.

"Relax, Katherine. We're almost there," She comforted, "Let me by. I need to talk to Nathaniel."

As she walked around me and down the aisle I stood up and started walking down the aisles and out the side windows. Something... wasn't right. It was snowing so heavily I could barely see anything but white out in the darkness. I stopped at few empty seats and closed my eyes trying to listen outside of the airplane blocking out the sounds of the chatter.

All I could hear were the wind gusting and the snow whistling in the wind, but I kept trying to listen knowing that there was something out there.

I could feel it. I could see through its eyes. The Karepton's eyes. It was on top of the plane! It knows I can see it! I knew what he was about to do... especially with the other ten who were clinging to the wings and other parts of the plane.

I opened my eyes and ran to the cockpit.

"Open up! Please! Hurry!" I kept pounding on the door, but they kept telling me to stop. Everyone was behind me in high alert not knowing they were out there except for Priscilla.

I grabbed the edge of the door and pulled it over with all of my strength still yelling at the pilots. They just stood afraid and watched. When I finally got through when two Kareptons were at the window staring at the human pilots.

"Watch out!" I shrieked, but it was too late. The Kareptons had punched through the glass and their large inhuman fists went through their bodies spraying blood across the walls and me.

They disappeared and I was beginning to be sucked through the window. My body was flying toward the broken window.

"Close the door!" I screamed. I had to save them.

As a last resort I grabbed one of the pilot's seats and grabbed the wheel. I reached for the mic.

"Damn it! Close the door and buckle up! There are more all over the plane! I'm going to take those motherfuckers down with us!" I yelled into the mic. I began to feel the plane tip down and I could hear the Kareptons falling off the plane and some screaming, as we got closer to the ground.

"How do you like this you fuckers?" I began to scream as the plane hit the ground.

It happened so fast. My body flew through the window and I was really surprised the plane didn't crush me. I flew at least a hundred feet away from the plane and I could hear the dire crackle, explosions, and screams. I reached for my sword and ran fueled with adrenaline toward the remaining Karepton. I killed every single one of them that was left and nearly died when I realized the whole plane was on fire.

"NO!" I shrieked. I cut a large whole in the side with my sword screaming, "Eric! Joanna! Tanner! Roland! Nathaniel! Are you okay?" the smoke filtered my lungs, but I kept yelling until I finally heard a few screams.

Roland was throwing water from his hands to extinguish the fire. I didn't know he had that power also... strange. I couldn't think of that now!

"Katherine, you moron!" He lectured.

"I'm sorry! I had to kill the Kareptons somehow!" I retorted looking for Joanna, "Don't you fight with me Roland! Joanna!" I added still looking for her.

"We're here!" Joanna staggered further with ten others behind her, "Everyone is okay. Some are mostly burned, but they'll heal," All the fire was subsided and Joanna helped the rest of the group outside with Nathaniel. Eric was among them, but I didn't see Tanner.

"Where is Tanner?" I questioned. Joanna shook her head.

"I couldn't find him."

"Did you look everywhere?" I asked persistently.

"Yes. He could have went through a window or out there somewhere," she suggested.

"Then go look! Hurry! It's not safe out here!" I ordered trying to be optimistic and hope we will find him. I coughed tasting the sulfur and smoke in my throat.

"Are you okay?" Eric came up to me examining me closely.

I pushed his arms away, "I'm fine. Even though I almost killed us all. I probably killed Tanner," I started to tear up feeling my heart begin to collapse at the thought, "It was just the only thing I could think to do at the time. If I'd known..." I groaned, "Damn it!" I wiped at my tears.

Eric held my shoulders forcing me to look into his eyes, "It's okay. He'll be alright," Eric said, "He knows how to handle himself."

I knew that was true, but I couldn't help but worry. This decision was getting harder every day.

"Miss Sinclair," Roland said sternly. He waited and I knew then he wanted me to come to him, so he can further lecture me about my stupid actions.

"I know that it was a stupid stunt, but it seemed to be the only decision at the time," I tried to explain, but knew I deserved the lecture he was going to give.

"I understand that Miss Sinclair, but you still put everyone's life at risk. Poor Tanner is somewhere around here in this barren wasteland because you wanted to crash the plane," I hung my head low, disappointed in my judgment, "however, you destroyed the remaining Kareptons in desperation to find everyone else," I lifted my head and saw him give the first smile I've seen in days, "You have shown great trust, but poor judgment. Try to think more of the consequences next time."

I was so overjoyed at hearing that, but kept myself calm in front of Roland until he waved me off to heal a few major burns from the Kareptons.

Still... I couldn't be happy at all while Tanner was out there alone. I would run off right now to search for him... but I knew they wouldn't let me because they needed me to help them. Tanner... but Tanner could have been grabbed by the Kareptons... they could have recognized him! They could be torture... no.

I started to sprint forward but Priscilla grabbed my wrist. Luckily for Priscilla, we didn't bring Skylar with us. He would have died in that fire.

"Don't go, Katherine. We need you here," She whispered.

"But what about Tanner? He could have been taken!" I tried to get her hand off of my wrist, but she wouldn't, "I need to find him! It's my fault he's out there!"

"Getting yourself lost doesn't help him," she reminded me, "Saving him, however, and trying to kill the enemy is a much better way to find him."

I could literally feel my eyebrows dig into the corners of my eyes while trying to not think. I wanted to not disappoint them, but still Tanner was... oh, God knows where. Oh, God! I turned my head where I was going to run earlier, but I dropped my head.

"I'm so sorry Tanner," I murmured before I turned for the campsite.

"It'll be okay," Priscilla put her arm around me and walked with me to the campsite where we would rest for the fight we had ahead.