I do not own the copyrights to Big Valley
Sequel to Early Halloween Fun
Note: Doing this because of Halloween. It is for the sake of the story I have Nick knowing Adam Cartwright, though Adam is not actually in the story- only mentioned. (Thanks to my beta reader for helpiong me, but all mistakes are my own)
My name is Jalana and I'm a vampire -not by choice. It's dark; it's always dark - or at the very least very cloudy- when I am out. Sitting on the roof of the Barkley's barn; actually, it's the roof to the barnyard, but who's getting technical.
Anyhow, I am having second thoughts of coming here. Elaina said she'd made a deal with Nick, said I was allowed on their land. I could hunt off their cattle if I stretched my feedings into a pattern that would not ruin their business and even Nick was at my beck-and-call. Nick jumping at the snap of my finger? That's a picture I am having a hard time imagining as everything I have seen, or heard, in regards to the short-fused Stockton rancher does not match with someone bending to someone else's will just because they snap a finger.
I came this crisp fall night because I'd been doing so well, but now I am rethinking the wisdom of my decision of hoping to see that particular rancher - not to mention time frame. Snapping a finger is not something I end up having to do, I think Nick must have sensed something was not right because I heard his footsteps come out of his own accord. His eyes are darting around as if he were some wild hare trying to shake wild dog off his tracks. His feet stop as he turns and sees me sitting on the roof.
The wind is not moving and the dust under his feet moves very little. His voice is the only sound near me as the cattle have been rounded up elsewhere. "Who are you? Did Elaina send you?" Nick should have been nervous he told himself, but something about this woman seemed….out of place…or at least not what he'd expected. Was she picking at a strand of hay? Is that what she was tearing apart?
"Name's Jalana, and yes, Elaina said I had permission to come and hunt. I promise I only drained an old cow your men were talking about putting down anyway." I know my voice sounds tired - and makes the man's face contort in confusion. He is most likely thinking, 'Is that even possible?'
Nick found himself braver than he thought he'd be when the time came to keep the deal. "You sound exhausted." Nick folded his arms across his chest.
"I am. Switching diets is not very easy." I gave a soft half-hearted chuckle knowing I was right; he was shocked with my state of being.
"Switching diets?" Nick was confused, and found Jalana interlocking her fingers instead of messing with the straw. The moon barely giving enough light to see the outline of her features.
"Animals instead of human, Martha says it takes time to adjust. I promise I was doing so well; it's the only reason I came." I am not surprised when he asks Martha is. When I tell him it is the wife of an old military buddy of his, but that I cannot say who unless he promises to keep his mouth shut because while she was fortunate to have been cured -for the most part, due to the way she was turned- her condition still fluctuated.
"I promise." Nick was surprised when Jalana told him it is Adam- Adam Cartwright.
"Well, I'll be." The man then asked why she didn't come down.
"I don't dare." The words are spoken slow and halting, a fact not missed by Nick.
"Why not?" Nick was pretty sure he could guess the answer considering what she'd just said, but figured it was safer to ask than to assume.
"I might bite you. You look really nice and smell really good. I think I might not want stop with biti…" I shock myself by being so forward and stop the train of thought. I can feel him holding back a grin of his own. However, he does not hold back the surprise over the idea of a vampire with a conscious because I can read the 'uh' in his eyes, but his words are real polite when he started speaking again.
"Well, that's real considerate of you, Ma'am." Nick found himself smiling in spite of what… who…he was talking to. "Elaina and her cohorts, Alice and Jasper, sure didn't seem to have an issue with it, even seemed to enjoy it."
I can't help it - drained or not - I bust up laughing and fall onto the dusty ground now knowing full well how she'd gotten the deal made. Of course, the laughter died quick enough as I sat up and sighed. "Oh, Nick you're so gullible at times. Should have known it would be something like that to get a deal made for me to be here. Guess once you hear the truth you'll want me gone." Unconsciously, I lowered my head wondering if my kind could cry.
"Jalana?" Nick was shocked by this vampire's actions that did not match what he'd been told -or witnessed the night he'd been bitten therefore, he forgot he was supposed to be afraid. "Are you all right?" He stepped to the fence only to find her on the opposite side of the barnyard in a flash, her eyes taking on the look of an injured animal more than anything else. Sitting up on the fence he - contrary to his reputation - actually thought before he spoke. It was the fact that she'd moved so quickly that got him to simply sit there and talk softly instead of the typical loud manner he was so well-known for. The biggest question in his mind was Will she respond?
Nick had no idea what was so funny about Elaina -and her friends- and while he wanted answers he knew Jalana's condition was far more urgent. He talked to this stranger as the hurt animal she was acting like; finally he was able to get close enough as to see just how serious Jalana needed to drink. "I have an idea, I'll be right back." He raced to the back porch of the house. Silas had asked Nick to dump out a bucket full of blood that had come from some rabbits Audra and he had been working with just a few hours ago - it had only made it to the porch; he hoped it was still there.
"Praise be!" He grabbed the bucket and raced as fast as he dared back to Jalana. "Drink this."
I want to argue, but know I need something and so I drink. By time I drain the bucket I am more coherent though I still feel week.
"Good grief, Jalana, how long has it been since you ate?" Nick asks - abhorred at the fact this gal stilll could not stand.
"Besides this and your old cow?" I ask still leaning with my back against the barn. The night air beginning to feel even chillier than it had been when the conversation first had begun.
"Yes." Nick's voice grew firm and took on the well-known Barkley tone of 'you will tell me or else.'
"Six months. I was trying to just avoid the red stuff." I am shocked when the one called Nick cares enough to ask if I could use more, I want to deny the need but am compelled to answer honestly. "Yes, but, I can't drain any of your cattle, they're all contracted to be sold. I heard your brothers talking as they were heading into the house tonight."
"Then …" I am horrified when I see Nick pushed back his collar and roll up his sleeves, "…take some of mine from whatever spot is the best."
"Nick…I can't…" I am shocked a man with such a well-known short fuse would still step up to the plate and risk his life for someone he does not know. That's precisely what he'd be doing if I bite him. Somehow I manage to tell him that but he only barks an order for me to do exactly that. Finding I have no strength to argue, I consent only I make him promise to pull me back if he starts to get even the tiniest bit dizzy.
"I promise." I sink teeth into his flesh, how Nick does not flinch is beyond me.
The night wind picks up and begins to blow gently as I manage to pull away from Nick of my own accord, and he begins to bandage up his arm with his dark bandana. It is then I find there is enough strength in me to stand. The man has me sit down on an overturned bucket and asks me once again about Elaina, Alice, Jasper and myself.
"Elaina is a prankster, she likes to play jokes on people. She has so many books on my kind - the real facts not the horror stuff everyone repeats around campfires, I figured she knew all about my …condition." It is then I take a deep breath -or at least I think I do- and Nick patiently waits as I tell him about Alice and Jasper. Closing my eyes I take the blame myself "I'm so new at this and I didn't know coming here would…" I try again, "be…." I find myself turning away.
I can tell Nick's temper is rising, and I think it is directed at me, so I turn to leave only he gets me to face him. "This is not your fault Jalana. You had no reason to think the change in diet would affect you so bad. I could accept the prank, heck, I was a teenager once. They really did a good job at it truth be told. But, Elaina letting you come here? Without knowing all the facts in regards to your condition? That's just plain wrong and going too far." He stopped as he hears footsteps and hides me in a room full of harnesses and saddles.
"Well, hello, big brother, does mother know you are out tonight?" Heath chuckled as Nick shut the door.
"No, and why should she?" Nick forgot to stay in the shadows and realized his mistake too late.
"What happened to your arm?" Heath began to move forward only to have his brother bark it was nothing.
"Nick, I was just concerned." Heath's face twisted in confusion -he wasn't sure what to make of his brother's snapping over his question -which was sharper than he'd ever heard it before.
"Sorry, Heath didn't mean to yell. Don't worry, my arm is just fine. Just got poked is all." Nick then told his brother he was leaving early on the business trip he'd planned: in fact, he was leaving that very night.
"I'll go with you." Heath turned to the house only to be told no by his big brother; this was one trip he was making alone. When his younger brother tried to protest Nick threw out the temper bullheadedness he was known for, and Heath backed off - even if it was reluctantly. It was only when the blond cowboy was inside did Jalana step out.
"What trip are you making?" Jalana asked quietly as a coyote howled somewhere off in the dark.
"I believe we're making a trip to your century to give someone a taste of their own medicine." I went to argue with Nick only to find I was too stunned to have any chance at getting the upper hand.
"So, how do we get there?" Nick slid his arm around Jalana and grinned as she gave him an embarrassed smile. She could only find enough voice to tell him to hold on…tight.