Chapter 14

Disclaimer: Still not mine

The pain was hard to get a grasp on. I couldn't tell if it was hot or cold, just that it was at one extreme or the other. And even though my eyes were open, I couldn't see anything. It was as if the sensation of the venom was overpowering all of my other senses.

"Get your fucking hands off of her, you Bastard!" Peter yelled.

So, I could still hear.

Not that it mattered when I was burning from the inside out.

What did it matter that I could hear the scuffling of a fight beside me? When a gal was in the middle of bleeding to death from a gaping hole in her neck, she didn't really care about the fistfight next to her. Really, don't mind me guys, I'll just stand here and quietly bleed out while you two beat the snot out of each other.

Why the hell was I still standing? Jasper wasn't holding me up any longer. Peter wasn't either. I was free to faint, which I so desperately wanted to do. But the pain wouldn't release me. It held the blackness at bay, keeping it from rolling over my mind. I was stuck fully conscious of every millisecond of agony as my legs collapsed underneath me. At least I didn't feel the impact with the ground as I came to rest.

The grunts and cracks of fists meeting hard-as-granite skin suddenly halted.

"You weren't supposed to be the one." Peter's tone was resentful.

"Had to be done," Jasper ground out. "If I didn't act one of the guard would have. She was losing her temper. If she's that mouthy calm, she was going to say something unforgivable while angry."

"Still should have been me." Peter's voice came from just beside my ear.

Oddly, I still couldn't see him though. It was as if a sheet of white gauze had been placed over my eyes.

The fire was spreading further through my body though, and it was becoming harder to follow their conversation.

Jasper snorted. I wanted to slap him for that. I was lying on the ground, dying, and he was laughing. Asshole. "And shove Aro out of the way? He would have loved that…"

Suddenly the pain exploded in my body. It seemed to be hopping along my limbs, the venom nipping at my wrists then my ankles and thighs in quick succession before finishing the circuit on the other side of my neck.

The wave of pain built in strength to an all-encompassing level, wiping out everything else. Until finally it was just me and the pain. There was no time. I alternated between drowning in the pain and floating in it. Neither was bearable. It ate at every molecule of my being. It consumed every part of me.

And then…there was suddenly no pain.

I lay there, suspicious of this development. The pain was all I had known for an eternity. How could it have possibly just ended? Just like that? With no warning?

And when had my eyes closed? I cracked them open, intending to scope out my surroundings. But with one glance at the array of colors dancing in the sunlight streaming through the window, I jack-knifed to a seated position, my eyes open wide. I had never known there were so many different colors on the spectrum. And the dust motes. They danced so captivatingly in the light.

"Pretty, isn't it?"

A growl filled the room as I spun to crouch on the bed with my back to the wall. The growl confused me for a moment, since the creature facing me was smiling. Then I realized that it had come from me.

"Who are you?"

The edges of his smile faltered but held.

Before he could answer the question, I realized that I had a more important one to ask. "And who am I?"

He sighed and settled back into the chair he was seated in. "Your name is Thomas."

Odd, I didn't feel male. My gut instincts screamed the opposite. I glanced down at myself, doing a quick check. Huh. I was right. So this stranger had to be wrong.

I looked up to find him smiling at me. "People call you Tommy for short. I like it. Seems to fit you. I'm Peter."

"Thomas is a boy's name. I'm not a boy."

My voice startled me. It was wrong. Too musical. It wasn't my voice.

But how did I know that? I couldn't know whether my voice was wrong if I didn't know who I was.

"It'll come back to you. Or not," he explained with a shrug.

I narrowed my eyes at him. He held himself in the chair with careful ease. He wanted to give the appearance of relaxation, but we both knew that he could leap out of that small wooden chair, cover the bedroom and be on me in the blink of an eye if he wanted. His arms, neck and even parts of his face were covered in scars. No matter how hard I tried to ignore them, my eyes continued to drift in their direction. He was a fighter. He was deadly.

He was a threat to my continued existence.

The thought triggered the ghost of a memory.

He had been there. He was there when I died. When I became whatever I was now. I held my arm up to the light, turning it back and forth to watch the refraction of light shooting off my skin.

Knowledge rushed through me. I was a vampire. I was an unnatural monster. And it was all his fault.

"Now, Darlin', don't be like that," he chided quietly.

I shot a glare at him, baring my teeth. I wanted to rip his throat out.

That thought triggered another image. A beautiful cascade of deep red, pouring from the neck of some faceless prey. I was thirsty. My throat burned.

The vampire across the room stood slowly, holding his hands in a non-threatening manner as me moved. "Char is bringing home some take-out for you. She'll be back any minute. We'll want you to be outside when they get here. The Major won't want you tearing through his house in your mad dash toward your first meal."

I watched him for a moment, trying to judge the honesty of his words, his expression. But the burning in my throat was too distracting. He was offering food. I would follow him until he proved untrustworthy. Then I would tear his throat out.

He sighed again. "I ain't gonna hurt you, Darlin. I don't want to hurt you."

Of course he would say that.

"Just follow me. Jasper's in the living room. Don't attack him. He's a scary lookin' Bastard. All covered in battle-scars. But he's the head of our coven. You can't challenge him."

He may be the head of Peter's coven, but he sure as hell wasn't anything to me.

"He's stronger than you, Tommy. Don't test him."

Peter's voice held an interesting little note of desperation to it. I almost wanted to test this Jasper just to mess with Peter.

"Don't even think about it," Peter growled.

I felt an answering growl rising in my chest.

A chuckle interrupted the moment though. I twirled around, fear and an instinct to protect myself shooting through me as I realized that another creature had snuck up behind us. He was leaning a couple of doorways down the hall corridor, a smirk plastered across his face.

"Trouble in paradise already, Peter? Not having the honeymoon you envisioned?"

That voice. That smirk. I knew this guy. He was…he was the one responsible for me turning into a vampire. Not Peter. Rage flared up, accompanied by pressure at my temples.

Suddenly the smirking asshole was on his knees, holding his head and groaning in pain. I smiled, knowing intuitively that I was doing that to him. And that was only right. He had killed me. He should be in pain.

A firm hand grabbed my elbow and yanked me around. Peter was glaring at me. "What the hell are you doing to him?"

Before I could answer a wave of desolation swept over me like a tidal wave. It was my turn to hit my knees. I gripped my head, lowering it until I was in a fetal position. If I could have cried I would have been sobbing. I was so alone. I needed to find a way to end it all. To commit suicide. Where was a stake when a vampire girl needed one? Why did sunlight have to turn me into a dicso ball? I could use the pile of ash myth at a time like this.

"Cut that shit out, Jasper! Don't you think you've done enough!" Peter yelled.

"She's another damn Jane! What the hell have you done, Peter? You just had to go and mate with a fucking Jane?"

Jasper had lost his focus. The suicidal tsunami was washing away, leaving anger in its wake. I listened to his words with confusion. Until the mate part. Then I jumped to my feet.

"Hold on a second. What's this about mate? I am no one's mate. Certainly not his."

Peter placed a hand over his still heart. "That hurts, Babe. It really does."

I glared at him. "We don't even know each other. You can't think we're mates. I don't even know what the hell a mate is, but I'm sure I'm not yours."

"I don't think you're my mate. I know you are." He tapped his head. "My gift. Foreknowledge. Yours is the ability to inflict pain just by lookin' at someone." He shot a grin at Jasper. "Told you her gift would be fuck-awesome."

The grin was full of pride. Like he'd taught me to do that.

"Well I'm not about to hop into a relationship with you just because you say so."

Peter shrugged. "I can wait."

"You'll be waiting forever."

He grinned. "Good thing we're immortal."

I glared at him, ignoring the quiet laughter from behind us. "I won't give in. You'll tire of the wait eventually and leave me. You'll have a very boring eternity just watching me, waiting for me to give in."

He shrugged. "Not like we'll be doing nothing. You think you know everything there is to know about being a vampire already? Can you read minds? Emotions? See the future? No? Have any idea how to hunt for yourself? How to blend into humanity enough to live a semi-normal life?"

I clamped my mouth shut. We both knew I had no answer for him, and we both knew I was unwilling to admit that.

His lips twitched into that annoying smirk once again.

I growled at him and gave him a shove. "I don't like you."

"You'll learn to love me."

"No I won't."

"Yeah, you will. Now come on, your dinner is almost here. I can hear him screamin' for mercy."

Once he mentioned it, my ears caught the sound of screams, far off but moving closer. The burning in my throat roared to life, drowning out all other thought.

"Come on, Sugar. Let me show you how it's done. And then we can discuss the rest of our lives."

Ha. I'd let him show me how to hunt. And maybe how to do a few of those other things. But no way in hell was I going to stick around long enough to get duped into any mating nonsense.

He sent me a look over his shoulder. "I think I'll save shielding thoughts as one of our last lessons."

I stomped my foot. Asshole. But…that was a cute grin.

And then I could hear a heartbeat and smell the blood coursing through the body. Heaven. Heaven was just out that door and a few hundred feet away. I pushed at Peter's back, trying to get him out of my way. He was between me and my prey. He was a threat to my prey. It might be easier to take him out before we cleared the hallway. Less room for him to defend himself.

He whipped around, holding his arms out in front of himself. "Now Darlin', how am I gonna teach you how to hunt if you kill me first?"


I trailed obediently after Peter as he led me toward my first hunt, Jasper's laugh grating on my last nerve.

"I refuse that label." I crossed my arms, tilting my chin defiantly.

Peter pulled me into his body, chuckling deeply. "Oh? And what would you call us then? If mates is such a foul term?"

I frowned at him. I didn't appreciate his mirth at all. I was serious and he was laughing at me. After a couple decades together he should know better.

"If you don't wipe that stupid-ass grin off your face I'll be calling us History."

Peter laughed, tightening his hold on me. "I love that mouth. So sweet."

"How about my foot up your ass? Would you love that too?"

He cocked an eyebrow, that damn smirk still plastered to his face. "Kinky."

I blew out an unnecessary burst of air. Then I felt my lips beginning to twist. In another second I was grinning. Then I was laughing. I couldn't help it. I could never maintain a proper temper when Peter was giving me that mischievous smirk.

He darted in, pressing a quick kiss to my lips before pulling back. "So, if I'm not your mate, does that mean I can go out and find myself a girlfriend?"

A growl ripped from my throat, completely involuntarily. "Only if you want to watch me tear her to pieces."

Okay, I hadn't meant to say anything.

"What's the problem, Darlin'? If we're not mates then there shouldn't be any problem with us going our own ways at this point. You're trained. There's no reason to stick together any longer."

"You're mine," I growled.

"Tsk, tsk. That's awfully close to the 'm' word, Sugar," he said, a smile in his voice.

"Oh, bite me."

"Already have."

I threw up my hands. "Fine. Fine, we're mates. Are you happy now? Can we just leave already? Jasper and Charlotte are waiting for us."

"Sure thing, Sweet-cheeks. Anytime you're ready."

AN: So, this is the end. Really, it's the beginning, at least it's where the idea for this story started. I saw the biting scene first. Then flashes of the end scene. Then the driving scene from the first chapter. That's the genesis of the story. So then I was stuck trying to figure out the crème filling. Sorry it took so long. Real life insisted on butting in.