Summary: There is a reason why La Tua Cantante is so tempting.
She felt like a piece of meat as people grappled for her attention. She was not used to so many people vying for her friendship and her affection. They seemed to circle her endlessly, making her feel more isolated than ever.
She quickly found that these people weren't really interested in her, but in the limelight she was bathed in for being a new student. This made her stomach twist in a way she couldn't name, knowing that she was still a nobody, even if everyone knew her name.
The girls that had sunk their claws into her arms first, dragged her around like a rag doll. They presented her to people like this was their item for Show and Tell. Each spouted off the random facts they had collected from her life like they defined her as a person.
They were just words, but with each one, the audiences would act as if some big mystery had been revealed and they didn't need to learn anything more to know her.
She was dismissed after that. They knew everything they needed to about her. The shiny new toy was already losing her shine. Most people ignored her, accepting her as a fixture in the background. There was one who spoke kindly to her, despite her disinterest.
And then there was the one who hated her.
She didn't understand what she had done wrong that first day when she walked into Biology. She could barely remember anything before that moment, but she could vaguely recall picking up her text book and taking the seat assigned to her.
As unused to the attention she had garnered her first days, so was she to blatant hatred. Background fixtures were rarely noticed and therefore people never felt the need to waste their energy on disliking her.
But this boy was different.
She had taken her seat and peeked at him through her hair, mumbling a shy—
It was all she had said—two tiny letters that formed one tiny word that should have meant nothing, but somehow meant something to the boy beside her.
When her eyes met his, she found herself locked in a dark glare. His gaze was murderous and she felt herself shrinking back as his lips curled up over his teeth. He was practically snarling at her with his nose wrinkled up in distaste.
She didn't dare breathe in the face of his ferocity and began to feel lightheaded from the lack of air as the seconds passed.
His teeth were almost dripping with saliva and her mind conjured up images of a rapid dog, foaming at the mouth. She flinched away as his eyes raked across her body with a roughness that made her feel rubbed bare.
He stormed out of the room seconds later without even a mumbled excuse to their teacher. She felt exhausted like his gaze had drained her of all that she had.
Despite his hatred, it was the most intense moment of her life.
From that day forward, the boy with fiery hair would do nothing but glare at her. She could feel his gaze burning holes into her like he was putting out cigarettes on her flesh. The feelings he stirred within her were too much to bear, leading her nights to end in tears.
She didn't understand why his loathing should hurt her so much. She felt pathetic and weak when she would wake each morning to pale cheeks stained with tears.
The feelings he created within her began to show on her face, which was now always blotchy and adorned with deep bags under her eyes. Her emotional outbursts wore her out, but the nightmares kept her awake.
The sleep deprivation made her sluggish and dimmed her wit, making it difficult for her to keep up with her classes.
"You're almost out of chances," one of her teachers had said. "If you fail the next test, you're out."
Despite her lack of energy, she did panic at this. She knew she wouldn't have a chance of getting the scholarships she needed to attend college if she failed this class. Her father made much too little as the Chief of Police to cover the amounts a university would demand.
She didn't mean to fall behind. It had just become difficult for her to remember things in her constant state of drowsiness. These days, she often found she was unable to recall simple facts that she would have known otherwise.
"You'll need a tutor," the teacher had said.
She felt completely useless and a little irritated that she needed a tutor. She wasn't used to needing help with her academics—the one thing she was supposed to be good at—and couldn't help feeling like a failure.
The following Sunday, she found herself alone with her books spread out in the kitchen. Her father was out fishing with his buddies and she hadn't really made any friends that she could hang out with. She talked to the one girl, who really only put up with her out of pity.
The knock on her door was faint but sure, as if the fist had met the wood with exaggerated care. She had no idea who would be at the door, but was relieved to have a break from the studying she was beginning to think was pointless.
She was astonished when she finally opened that door to fine the boy who hated her and only ever glared. Except at this moment, he wasn't glaring. He barely even glanced at her as he said the first words she had ever heard leave his lips.
"I'm here to tutor you."
His voice was soft, but contained a level of authority that made it anything but delicate. She wanted to yell at him, curse him, and slam the door in his face for all of the pain he had caused her by merely disliking her, but she couldn't.
Instead, she watched as he turned away and walked down the driveway to climb into his car. She followed wordlessly.
She didn't know why they needed to drive somewhere else to study, especially without her books, but she didn't ask. She could barely breathe again as she sat rigidly in the passenger seat. The car was silent and exaggerated the sound of the ragged breaths she sucked in when she found herself becoming lightheaded again.
The car was practically soundproof and without the radio to provide a background of white noise, she found she couldn't stand the quiet any longer.
"Um," she swallowed the saliva pooling in her mouth. "Why do you hate me?"
She hadn't meant to ask that. She didn't know what she had meant to say, but it never would have been that. She hated herself even more for that little slip of the tongue.
He stared at her, shocked for a moment that she had spoken, but didn't answer. He just stared at her for a while. In fact, it was so long that she worried they were going to crash. She wanted to warn him to watch the road, but couldn't bring herself to speak again.
Another fifteen minutes of uncomfortable silence passed before they finally came to a stop. She was confused about why he had brought them to the edge of one of the town's many forests, but again, couldn't muster the courage to ask…especially not after the last thing she had blurted out.
He stepped out without a word and began walking toward the trees. She watched as they seemed to swallow him whole. She wasn't sure what he expected her to do, until he reappeared a few moments later.
"Come on," he beckoned her forward with his hand.
Although she thought it unwise to follow him, she did as he asked. There was something about this boy that made it difficult to refuse him, despite the way he had treated her. She felt sick thinking about how easily she was letting him lead her when she stepped through the first pair of trees.
She was barely covered by the foliage when she felt herself being lifted and pulled over something hard and cold. She couldn't even scream as she was pulled backward, watching the trees in front of her fly passed and shrink in the distance. Glancing down, she recognized the black shirt he had been wearing and realized the pressure on her calves to be his hands.
When he finally released her in a patch of wildflowers, she managed to take a deep breath and scoot backwards. She stared at him with wide eyes. His were alight with mischief as he gazed back.
"What are you?" she choked out.
He bowed as he made the formal introduction, disregarding her question. She was stunned from the speed with which he brought her here and the fact that he was actually speaking to her without a glare in sight.
"What are you thinking, Isabella?"
"Too many things," the words tumbled out, the shock overriding the fear she would normally feel in his presence. She realized how strange it was for her to feel less afraid after the way he had brought her here.
He lowered himself to the ground, kneeling in front of her. The fear had returned the moment he moved, petrifying her in place. She could only watch as he leaned toward her, his face inching closer. He blew out a cold breath in her face and instinctively, her lips parted to breathe him in. Her eyelids fluttered closed at the smell of honey and lilac that accompanied the strange cinnamon taste now present in her mouth.
"What are you thinking now, Isabella?" he breathed onto her face again, forcing her to pull his scent into her lungs.
"Nothing," she exhaled.
She was vaguely aware of being lowered into the wildflowers, but was too dazed to care. Her tongue swirled around her mouth, trying to gather the delicious cinnamon flavor. It was only when it faded that she finally came to her senses.
She quickly slipped out from under him, scooting away like she had when he first set her down. This time it seemed that he wasn't going to allow her to crawl away from him. He grabbed her ankle lightly and slid her back beneath him, pinning her with his body.
She began to panic with their new position, feeling her heart ricochet inside her chest. He stared down at her, watching her chest move up and down. Somehow she knew he wasn't gawking, but listening to her frantic heartbeat. He shifted his attention to her face.
"You're beautiful when you cry," he whispered, caressing her bottom lip. "If I tell you I hate you, will you cry for me now?"
The tears slipped down her cheeks as he stared at her. She would have been shocked at how easily he coerced her to cry, if his glares hadn't been doing the same every night since she had moved here.
"I can feel it…the quiver of your lips," he smiled in wonder.
She froze as he leaned forward, brushing his lips on her cheek to steal one of her tears.
"Exquisite," he breathed, closing his eyes.
Without the hypnotic element of his gaze to trap her, she began to squirm beneath him. Her instincts were telling her to run as fear and anticipation made her body sweat. He seized her arms and when he opened his eyes, she realized how dark they were.
"Wouldn't do that, unless you want this to be quick," he gritted his teeth. "And I would rather savor this, if you don't mind."
"W-Why…me?" she choked out.
"Why me, Isabella?" he shot back, amused.
He swiped away another tear with the pad of his thumb.
"Every night, I've watched you weep for me. You cry and you cry and it's so heartbreakingly wonderful…especially when you whisper my name."
"But you do," he replied innocently. "Right before you pass out from exertion, you choke out my name in this breathy whisper—"
"Stop it!" she cried out, unable to hear anymore.
He smiled at her and it might've been tender if it wasn't so crooked and his eyes weren't so dark. He leaned forward, his lips pressing to the side of her neck and his tongue peeking out to taste her sweat. She jerked unexpectedly, causing him to growl.
A wave of heat washed through her at the sound and he grinned wickedly as he inhaled.
"Humans. You're such interesting things. Even in fear, the most innocent of touches can make your body quiver in…other ways," he breathed over the wet spot his tongue made on her skin, illustrating his point.
"Innocent?" she squeaked out.
"I suppose you have a point there," he conceded as he nipped at her skin with his lips, careful not to create any open wounds just yet.
She whimpered and he watched the skin bruise, wondering if the sound she had made was out of pain or pleasure. With the fresh mark on her body, she began to struggle again, her survival instincts coercing her to keep fighting.
One of his hands trailed down her side, carefully avoiding her breasts to stop at her hip. Filled with panic over where his hand could be headed, she moved more frantically. His thumb shifted to the bone jutting out of her hip and he suddenly pressed down hard.
She bit her lip harshly, trying to keep herself from screaming. She squeezed her eyes shut at the pain and was therefore surprised when his mouth connected with hers. She gasped, allowing his tongue to enter through her parted lips. For a long moment, she was frozen in shock, until his tongue touched hers.
She could taste the cinnamon again and it was so good, so very good. A flood of desperation and pure need overwhelmed her, and she was clinging to him. Her fingers raked through his hair, making him growl as she practically clawed at him.
In that moment, she felt no fear, just a need so basic and animal that she could scarcely recall her name, not to mention why she should be trying to get away instead of trying to crawl her way inside of him.
Her desire for him had always been there—he knew this from the way her body had reacted to him—but she had given into those hidden feelings so abruptly. On some level, he knew there was something to the quick change, but he too was overwhelmed.
Her nails scraped roughly across his scalp, surely making a couple bend back from the pressure. He wanted to treat her with the same level of force, but knew she was much too brittle. With one hand skimming down her thigh, he used his other to rip at the collar of her shirt, exposing a pale shoulder.
All he could hear was the thrum of her heart beating inside her chest, pumping the blood through her veins and dragging the heat down between her thighs. One of the veins in her neck was pulsing beneath her skin, captivating him while she nibbled on his earlobe.
The world was gone and there was nothing but the thrumming, her breaths, and her teeth.
She felt lost in a sea of heat and cinnamon, being pulled and pushed in all directions, unable to break the surface. There was something wrong about all of this, her mind hissed, but she just couldn't stop.
Each wanted to consume the other, but when she reached down and grabbed him with her hand, he lost the restraint.
A growl erupted from his chest and his teeth sank into her flesh, making her cry out. Blood so sweet and perfect pooled onto his tongue and he lapped it up hungrily.
The blood was everything he imagined it to be, but as the tingles of pleasure quickly turned to stabs of pain, he realized there was something very wrong.
He released her neck with only a little taste in his mouth and on his lips, but the damage had been done.
She watched him writhe on the ground in agony, his eyes glazed over. His body shook and he whimpered at the force of the spasms. His skin grew impossibly paler as her blood spread through his system with a chill that almost burned.
And then it stopped. He was still like a statue made of glass, his eyes wide open and vacant. With her left hand applying pressure to her neck wound, she reached her other to lightly caress his cheek. The moment her skin connected with his, he shattered into millions of tiny pieces.
She stared at the jagged chunks of iced skin, watching them glitter in the sudden sunlight.
She wanted to say she hated him, but somehow she knew she didn't. She could still taste him on her lips, in her mouth. She could even almost feel his hands on her. Her chest felt heavy, like his weight was still pressing her down. All of it was too much and yet not enough. No matter how many times she brushed her teeth or how many showers she took, she found she couldn't cleanse her body of him.
Knowing he was gone made her feel empty somehow. She knew he had planned to kill her. He would have devoured every last drop of her blood. For reasons she would never quite understand, he had failed.
But somehow, in those brief moments before he died, he had managed to take her life.
Her fingers drifted to the tiny sliver of him she had kept, knowing, but also not, that it was a piece of his heart.