"Get back here, you worthless girl!" A man's booming voice rang throughout the house. The girl didn't stop to look back. Her tears ran down her cheeks as she opened the door and burst through.
"You ungrateful brat!" A woman yelled, her voice almost as terrifying as the man's. A young girl, around the age of ten or eleven in her nightgown, peeked through the door, a bear in her right hand.
"Arra, where are you going?" She asked, lip quivering as her sister ran through the rain. Arra managed to look over her shoulder, just to catch one last glimpse of her younger sister.
"I'm sorry; I can't stay here any longer!" She called. "I'm so sorry, Ellen!"
"Fine, leave!" Her mother shrieked at the top of her lungs, shutting the door to keep Ellen inside.
Arra kept on running, not caring that it was freezing cold and she was soaked to the bone. Ever since they've moved to France, her parents have been more and more unbearable. Her running was cut short when she ran into someone, causing her to fall backwards on her behind. "
"Ow," she said.
"Oh, my apologies, miss," a man said, helping her up. She stared at him in astonishment; he had bright orange hair, pale white skin, a scar running down the left side of his face, and he was wearing a red cloak. She has seen many people with pale skin and cloaks, but they never had orange hair or scars.
"Yeah, sure," she replied, keeping her eyes on his face. "What's up with your face?" That caught him off-guard. She reddened. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to sound rude."
"It is alright. Most people are put off my appearance. Now, may I ask you why you were out in the rain?"
"Oh…" She looked around hoping for some lie she could feed him. "I was playing tag with my siblings!"
"At this hour?"
"Um… Yeah; we like going out late."
"Perhaps, I should take you home," he offered, holding out his hand.
"No!" Arra said immediately. She closed her mouth and remained silent, fearing she gave him too much information on her home life. "I mean, the night's young! I don't want to turn inyet!" He raised his eyebrows at her, showing he was not convinced.
"Okay, then," he said; if she didn't want to tell him anything, then he had no right trying to force it out of her. "At least allow me to take to fiancé's house so you could get warmed up."
"Like I'm going to trust a complete stranger," Arra said sarcastically crossing her fingers and staring at him with her emerald eyes. He smiled.
"You may think I am a stranger, miss, but I am not," he said, raising his fingers to reveal to her his ten scarred fingertips. She gasped loudly when she saw them, and involuntary, raised her own to compare.
"You're a vampire?" She asked in disbelief, looking from his fingers to his face.
"Are you full or what?" He nodded. "I'm only half. My mentor, Mika Ver Leth, left a few months ago for some trial up at Vampire Mountain. I stayed with my parents when that happened."
"Ah, yes, I know Mika Ver Leth. My mentor is Seba Nile."
"What's your name?"
"Larten Crepsley," he replied; he thought he was going to give him a fake name, but he found he couldn't.
"Arra Sails," she told him.
"Well, Miss Sails, will you now take me up on my offer?" Larten offered her his arm, and Arra took it, with her frown fading into a smile. "Are you sure you would rather come with me? Is your home not acceptable?"
"I'll never go back," she growled, kicking a rock beneath her feet.
"You were abused," he concluded. She said nothing, but he knew it was the truth. "Then, you must come with me." She huffed. "What?"
"I'm not a lost puppy."
"Of course you are not. You are far too beautiful to be a lost puppy."
She blushed; this guy sure knew how to charm the ladies, didn't he? But, he was just humoring her. He had a fiancé.
He led her through the now vacant streets of the city to a large house with an iron gate around it. He chuckled when he saw Arra stare up with huge eyes.
"Never see a house this big before?" Larten asked.
"No," she said, shaking her head.
He opened the gates and took her through the front door. The inside was even bigger, and the candles were shining brightly.
"Vur, is that you?" A woman's voice came from another room.
"Vur?" Arra whispered to Larten.
"It is a fake name," he replied. "Do not tell her and do not mention vampires in this house; she does not know of my bloodline." Arra nodded; she would hate to ruin his relationship with this girl because of her stupidity.
"Yes, Elizabeth, it is me," Larten called out. Elizabeth came into view. She was a slender woman with blonde hair tied neatly in a bun and wearing a long powdery blue dress; she had a book in her right hand.
"Who is she?" Elizabeth asked when she saw Arra, who was still clinging to Larten's arm. Arra noticed it and immediately wrenched it away.
"My name is Arra Sails," she replied. "I'm sorry if I'm being an inconvenience."
"I found her in the rain," Larten explained to his fiancé who kept her eyes on Arra. "She comes from an abusive home, and is need of someplace to sleep."
"Oh. Oh, of course," she said, putting her free hand on her heart to express her sympathy. "Of course you can stay." She dropped her book and put both hands on Arra's shoulders. "Vur, I have unfortunate news."
"And what is that, darling?"
"My sister, Hannah, has come down with some sort of illness. I must go to her."
"I understand," Larten replied.
"You two stay out of trouble. Joseph will be here in the morning to serve."
"Thank you," Arra said, bowing to Elizabeth. Your hospitality is much appreciated."
"You are quite welcome, Miss Sails." She kissed Larten gently on the lips. "I will be back in a couple of days." Elizabeth smiled at them and went into the carriage, which took off.
Larten shut the door and turned to Arra, who was shivering.
"Do you want to take a bath?" He asked. She nodded, teeth chattering. "This way." He took her upstairs into a room where a large basin was in the middle.
"Thank you. I can handle everything," she told him. He nodded, walking off.
He was almost downstairs when he realized that there weren't any towels up there. He grabbed a bundle from the cupboard and walked into the room, thinking that she couldn't have possibly gotten undressed that fast. However, he was wrong.
She was undressing, her dress almost all the way off.
"What are you doing?" She shrieked, closing her dress before he could see anything. His face had gone completely red.
"I am so s-sorry!" He stammered. "I realized there were not any towels, and so I went to get some, and… Oh, just take them, please!" He dropped the towels on the floor and left the room.
Larten kept himself downstairs in his favorite chair, trying to tell his heart to calm down. He had just walked on a girl he just met, and what's worse, his heart was going crazy! He was engaged, and now he was being disloyal.
"No, this is normal," he said to himself. "I am fine. I am fine."
"Larten?" Arra asked from upstairs.
"Y-yes?" He asked.
"Do you have anything for me to wear?"
"Damn it. Coming!" He grabbed a nightgown and undergarments from Elizabeth's drawers. He gently tapped on the door, and she opened it. Her towel was wrapped around her body, water dripping from her pale shoulders. He didn't look at her as he handed her the clothes.
"Thanks," she said.
"You are welcome." He stepped outside, waiting for her.
Moments later, she emerged, her hair tied up into a long ponytail, wearing a green nightgown that matched her eyes.
Arra followed Larten downstairs, and they each took a seat in an armchair by the fire. He got up to make tea and a plate of sweets. He set them on the round table in the middle of the two chairs.
"So, Larten," Arra spoke first, breaking the awkward silence, "since your fiancé isn't here, can we talk about vampires?"
"I suppose we can," he replied before taking a sip of tea. "What do you want to know?"
"How long ago were you blooded?"
"About fifteen years ago. I only became full two or three years prior to today. How about you?"
"Six years ago. So, he will take a while to blood me fully."
"That probably will be the case."
"Unless…" She said, looking to him with her big eyes, "you blood me." He coughed on his tea.
"Miss Sails, I do not think I should be the one to do that; I do not know you that well." Though I feel like I have known you all my life, he thought.
"Oh," Arra said, the disappointment not hard to detect in her voice.
"I am sorry," Larten said. "I truly would like to help you, but I do not believe it to be my place."
"N-no, I understand," she told him. "Is being a vampire hard? I mean, have you gone to a trial?"
"One. And it is hard. I was put to the test to so many vampires, and I lost every single match. I came into the Mountain full of cockiness; I learned my lesson. When you go to a trial, make sure you are not too confident in your abilities, because someone will prove you otherwise."
"I don't have any confidence in myself. I mean, Mika did praise me often when we would practice, but I don't think I am strong."
"You were strong enough to leave your home," he told her. "That takes a lot of strength, if I do say so myself."
Larten got out of his seat, and opened the curtains. The night sky was beginning to lighten.
"I am afraid I have to head off to bed," he said, closing the curtains and turning to face her. "Dawn is approaching."
"Oh. What should I do while you sleep?" Arra asked, feeling nervous that she would be all alone in a big house.
"Whatever suits your fancy." He pointed to a large cupboard a few feet away from where they were sitting. "There are some stuff in there; hobbies that Elizabeth enjoy indulging herself in."
He was about to go upstairs, but he was stopped by the sound of crying.
Arra's hands were gripping her knees and tears were spilling onto to them.
"Arra," Larten said, stepping toward her. "Are you alright?"
She pulled down the shoulder of the dress to reveal red marks. The marks made by her parents over so many years.
"I just started thinking about it, and I just started sobbing," Arra said, kicking her legs. "I am so weak, aren't I?"
"No, no. Not at all." He kneeled down next to her armchair, gently pushing hair out of her teary eyes.
"I'm weak," she said, ignoring his answer. "I'm weak, I'm ugly, and I'm just a disgrace!"
"Arra, you are none of those things," Larten told her firmly, thumbing away her tears. She ran out of the room and upstairs into the first room she could find which happened to be his and Elizabeth's room. She flung onto the white bed with pink flowers and sobbed into a giant soft pillow. Larten sat next to her, feeling extremely sorry for the girl.
"Arra, you must not think such horrible things about yourself. From what I have seen, you are a strong, beautiful, honorable young woman." Then, she did something that completely surprised him; she threw herself into his arms, sobbing into his chest. When she came to her senses, she quickly pulled away, mumbling her apologies over and over again until she was silenced by Larten, who wrapped his arms around her and held her protectively.
"La…Larten?" Arra asked with uncertainty.
"Shh," he shushed her, stroking her long black hair with his fingertips. "Everything is alright, I promise."
"You promise?" She asked with a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"I promise," he repeated. For some reason I feel as though I have to protect her. I do not know why; I just have to.
And with that, she fell asleep in his arms, and he stayed with her, thanking the Vampire Gods that Elizabeth was out.