Twilight and its characters are owned by Stephenie Meyer. Thanks to arfalcon for her guidance.
~~The Black Cat~~
Like the falcons I used to command, I dive from the tree, taking down my prey in one fell swoop.
Instead of biting swiftly, I indulge my darker side and hold the man still for a few moments, delighting in the way fear speeds up his heart. His blood is rushing inside his body like a swift flowing river, making him all the more palatable. I nip at his wrist and suck lightly, my actions leaving no doubt as to what I am.
"Why?" he asks, still struggling to break from my restraint, his breathing labored.
"Because." I pause and cock my head to the side, staring at the throbbing artery in his neck. "Because, my good fellow, you just happened to be walking along this path and I just happen to be very thirsty."
His eyes widen when he realizes his fate and he begs for mercy, babbling on about his wife and children.
I show him none.
My skin shudders with the sense of recognition. As it was when I was human, I prefer to keep my own company, so I'm grateful for this special gift of awareness.
But today, something feels different. I want to see. I need to know.
Against my better judgment, I follow the pulse of energy to which my mind and body are leading me.
I find myself in the village of Wantage. I can't help but smile at the irony that has led me to this aptly named place.
Twilight has faded into a cloudless night and I make my way silently through the deserted village. It's small, no more than a quiet place to seek shelter for the night before continuing one's journey to Oxford.
Candlelight glows through windows of scattered cottages and I think of the people inside, sitting around a fire after a hard day's work. Relaxed. Off guard.
I'm suddenly thirsty.
But the call of the unknown presence is stronger, so I continue to follow its pull.
My skin is tingling by the time I reach the last cottage on the road. I glide around to the rear, the tug almost unbearable now. A female voice lures me to the open window.
I look inside and am struck dumb by the scene before me.
She is naked, sprawled out in a tub of water, feet propped up on one end, head resting against the other. Her long raven colored hair spills over the sides and onto the floor. The fire in the hearth flickers brightly, lending an incandescent cast to her face. Her eyes are closed and she is singing a song in a language I believe to be Welsh.
She's not human. She's vampire.
Her eyes open and she turns her head toward the window, looking directly at me.
"Noswaith dda," she says, her voice soft and lilting.
"I don't speak Welsh," I say.
"Well then I shall speak English," she says. "I've been waiting for you, cariad. I felt your presence and called out to you. I'm glad you've come." Her words fall from her lips like musical notes and she holds her hand out, inviting me in.
Climbing through the window, I approach her cautiously. I can see the black of her eyes and it reminds me of my own thirst.
"I am Catrin," she says. "And you are called—?"
"My name is Alistair," I say, bowing, forcing my eyes to remain on her face.
"You travel alone, Alistair?"
"Yes, I am nomadic."
She simply nods her head, her wanton gaze raking over my body.
I haven't lain with a woman in many, many years—all my cravings have been channeled into bloodlust.
But seeing this immortal female laid out in front of me has awakened long dormant desires.
"Why do you bathe?" I ask. Our kind has no need for it and I'm extremely curious.
"The warmth of the water, it feels good on my skin. Do you not find it so?"
I remove my coat and throw it on the chair beside me.
"I don't recall; it's been too long," I say, circling behind her, my fingers sweeping through her soft hair. I raise my hand to my nose and breathe in her scent, the aroma exciting me further.
"Then won't you join me, Alistair?"
I don't know when such an opportunity will present itself again, nor am I sure if I will ever feel such an unbridled need to slake my lust. Within seconds, I'm unclothed and straddling her in the cramped vessel.
"You are very beautiful, Catrin," I say, my face inches from hers. She smiles lazily and wraps her arms around my neck, pulling my lips to hers.
Her mouth tastes sweet and warm and I want her in ways I've only fantasized of taking a woman before.
She breaks the kiss and in one quick movement she flips us over. Now I'm the one who is submerged; I'm the one being straddled.
Leaning down, she speaks into my ear. "Dwi isio ti, cariad. Do you want me?"
My hands drag down her slippery back, pulling her closer.
"Yes, I want you," I say. "Very much."
She laughs, dark and husky and using my chest as leverage, raises herself up and onto my waiting desire.
I grip her hips and with water splashing wildly around us, I watch her ride me, wondering why I had denied myself the pleasures of female flesh for so long. Wanting to feel more of her skin, I sit up and wrap my arms around her, holding her close. Our eyes lock and our movements become slower and more sensual. I reach down and stroke her where we are joined and she soon shudders and falls against me. With a growl, I empty inside her.
We are still wrapped around each other, her chin on my shoulder when she whispers, "Rwyf i newydd-anedig."
I pull away and look into her eyes. They are as black as pitch and my ardor becomes as cool as the water in which we're sitting.
"I don't understand what you're saying," I say, frowning. Her fingers creep up my arms, then trail across my shoulders before pausing at the base of my neck.
"Rwyf i newydd-anedig," she repeats.
Her hands move up and encircle my throat. "I'm sorry," she says.
A chill creeps up my spine and I try to move, but it's too late. She squeezes.
The door to the room bursts open.
"Release him!" a male voice shouts.
The intrusion distracts Catrin just enough for me to wrench her hands from my neck. She snarls and bares her teeth, but before she can bite, she's yanked away from me. Instinct drives me to where she is lying on the floor, the unknown male already holding her down with his body, suffocating her shrieks with her discarded clothing. Between the two of us, we rip her apart and throw the pieces into the fireplace. I stare at the flames as her remains crackle and smoke and after a moment of regret, I'm filled with rage.
I was a fool to allow my lust to govern me. This is why I choose to be solitary. It's so much easier.
I gather my clothes and while dressing, I finally take a look at my savior. He's slumped against the wall, head in hands, muttering incoherently.
"Thank you," I say warily. He may have saved me, but I've learned my lesson: Trust no one.
He lifts his head from his hands and rests it against the wall behind him. His hair is fair and when he looks at me, I see his eyes are neither red nor black—they're topaz. I've never encountered a vampire with eyes of such an unusual shade. This night is becoming more and more perplexing.
"You're welcome," he says. "I've heard rumors of her existence, but I never believed she was real."
"Who was she?" I ask.
"They called her Y Cath Du—The Black Cat. She was a vampire with an insatiable thirst for blood and sex. Human or immortal, it mattered not to her."
"Right before you entered, she said something to me in Welsh. Did you hear it? Do you know what she said?"
He nods. "Rwyf i newydd-anedig. I am newborn."
"Newborn. That would explain her strength."
"It would." Rising to his feet, he starts toward me and I jump up, assuming a defensive posture. He stops, raising his hands. "I only want to introduce myself. My name is Carlisle."
"Alistair," I say.
"Well, Alistair, I must be going. I was on my way to Oxford when I passed by the cottage. Something made me stop—I believe it was her presence. Very odd, I've never felt that way before."
"Again, thank you," I say. He turns to leave and I remember I want to ask him about his eyes.
"Before you go, may I ask you a question?"
"Your eyes—I've never seen such an unusual color. How is that possible?"
"I'm not surprised you asked. It's not typical for one of our kind, is it?"
"I didn't think so, but I tend to keep to myself. I thought perhaps I'd missed something."
He laughs. "I can assure you it's quite rare. I don't feed on humans, Alistair, I drink animal blood."
"Animal blood? Whatever for?" I ask, my nose wrinkling in disgust.
"It's a long story," he says, sighing. "After I was changed, I was so full of loathing for myself and what I had become that I vowed to never take a human life. I tried to destroy myself, but to no avail. As you can imagine, my thirst was unbearable. I was stumbling through a forest, poised to give in to my deplorable nature, when I came across a herd of deer. I was so thirsty and I could hear the blood coursing through their veins. Without further thought, I attacked. My thirst was quenched and I prayed it would sustain me; it did. My conscious was clear and I slowly began to accept what I was. I decided to devote my existence to the saving of human lives. I studied medicine and with great effort learned to acclimate myself to human blood. That's why I'm on my way to Oxford—the city is in need of physicians."
I stare at him in amazement. "I must admit, that is the most incredible story I've ever heard. And the most disgusting. Animal blood? I can't begin to imagine how foul…" I pause, shuddering in distaste.
Carlisle throws his head back and laughs. His amusement is contagious and I find myself laughing along with him.
"Don't be so quick to judge, Alistair. Would you like to go on a hunt with me? Experience it for yourself?"
For a few seconds, I think about accepting. It might be nice to share a bit of companionship with someone, if only for a few hours. But my distrustful nature wells up inside me, making me doubt his sincerity.
Trust no one.
"Another time, perhaps," I say.
"Very well," he says. He pauses before speaking again. "May I ask you a question now?"
I don't want him to, but since he did save me from Catrin, I nod my consent.
"I'm curious as to why you prefer to be by yourself. Don't you ever feel the need for companionship? Love?"
"I don't," I reply. "I was the same when I was human, preferring the company of my falcons over people. I suppose some qualities are not lost in the transition. The only time I've ever felt the need to seek companionship was tonight—and you see how that turned out."
"Fair enough," Carlisle says. "Well, I won't keep you any longer. Alistair, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He reaches out to shake my hand and I eye it tentatively before taking it.
We climb out the window and make our way back to the road.
"I hope we might meet again in the future," he says. "I plan on staying in Oxford for several years, so if you're ever in the city, please seek me out. You'll know where to find me."
"I will," I reply, but we both know I probably won't.
Carlisle turns one way and I the other, taking flight to the cover of the woods.
As I navigate through the thicket, my ears detect the sound of life. Crouching behind a bush, I see a solitary stag walk into a moonlit clearing.
Springing from my hiding place, I overpower the beast quickly and without further thought, I clamp down on its neck and gulp the hot liquid spurting from its throat.
It's foul, it's acrid and I spit most of it out, but surprisingly, what I do manage to get down seems to quench my thirst ever so slightly.
But not enough to convince me to give up the sweet, delectable taste of human blood.
Still, I'm happy I tried it. Carlisle would be pleased. He'd probably laugh if he found out how I sputtered. If our paths ever cross again, I'll make sure I tell him.
Now that I think of it, I've always wanted to visit Oxford…
The following Welsh phrases were obtained from a variety of online translators, so if any readers are from Wales, please forgive me if I butchered your beautiful language.
Noswaith dda – Good evening
Cariad – Sweetheart, love
Dwi isio ti – I want you
Rwyf i newydd-anedig – I am newborn
Y Cath Du – The Black Cat
Thank you for reading.