Origins (Page 46)

ou my own coursing through my veins.

Father stepped toward me menacingly, and even though he thought I was a monster, I was the one who felt fear. "Y were both dead to me as

ou soon as you sided with the vampires. And now, to come in here and ask forgiveness, as if what you did could be excused with an I’m sorry. No. No." Father stepped away from his desk and walked toward me, his eyes still darting to the left and the right, except that now it was as if he were the hunter, rather than a hunted animal. "Y know, it’s

ou a blessing your mother died before she could see what a disgrace you’ve become."

"I haven’t turned yet. I don’t want to. I came to say good-bye. I’m going to die, Father. Y did ou what you set out to do. Y killed me," I said. Tears

ou sprang from my eyes. "It didn’t have to be this way, Father. That’s what you and Jonathan Gilbert should write in your false history, that it didn’t have to be this way."

"This is the way it has to be," Father said, lunging for a cane that he kept in a large vase in the corner of the room. Swiftly, he broke it in two on the floor and held the long, jagged end out toward me.

Quickly, without thinking, I sidestepped Father and yanked his free arm back, sending him tumbling sideways against the brick wall. Father screamed in anguish as he hit the floor. And then I saw it. The stake was protruding from his stomach, blood spurting in all directions. I blanched, feeling my stomach rise to my chest and bile fill my throat.

"Father!" I rushed over to him and bent down. "I didn’t mean to. Father …," I gasped. I grabbed the stake and yanked it out of his abdomen. Father shrieked, and immediately blood gushed like a geyser from the wound. I watched, horrified, but also entranced. The blood was so red, so deep, so beautiful. It was as if it were calling to me. It was as if I’d die that second if I didn’t have the blood. And so, unbidden, I moved my hand to the wound and brought my cupped hand to my lips, tasting the liquid as it touched my gums, my tongue, and my throat.

"Get away from me!" Father hoarsely whispered, pushing himself away until his entire back was pressed against the wall. He scratched my hand in an effort to bat it away from the wound, then slumped against the wall, his eyes closing.

"I …," I began, but then felt a shooting, stabbing pain in my mouth. It was worse than what I remembered about being shot. It was a feeling of tightness, followed by the sensation of a million needles sticking into my flesh.

"Get away …," Father breathed, covering his face with his hands as he struggled for air. I pulled my own hands from my mouth and ran my fingers over my teeth, which had become sharp and pointed. Then I realized: I was one of them now.

"Father, drink from me. I can save you!" I said urgently, reaching down and pulling him up to a sitting position against the wall. I took my wrist and brought it to my mouth, allowing my newly knife- sharp teeth to easily rip the skin. I flinched, then held the wound toward Father, who backed away, blood continuing to gush from his wound.

"I can fix you. If you drink this blood, it will heal your wounds. Please?" I begged, looking into Father’s eyes.

"I’d rather die," Father pronounced. A moment later his eyes fluttered shut and slumped back on the floor, a pool of blood forming around his body. I placed my hand on his heart, feeling it slow until it stopped.

Chapter 32

I turned my back to the estate and began walking, then running, on the dirt road into town. Somehow, I felt that my feet barely touched the ground. I ran faster and faster, but my breath stayed the same. I felt that I could run like this forever, and I wanted to, because every step was taking me farther and farther away from the horrors I’d witnessed.

I tried not to think, tried to block the memories from my mind. Instead I focused on the light touch of the earth as I quickly placed one foot in front of the other. I noticed that even in the darkness, I could see the way the mist shimmered on the few leaves that still clung to the trees. I could hear the breath of squirrels and rabbits as they scampered through the forest. I smelled iron everywhere.

The dirt road changed into cobblestone as I entered town. Getting to town seemed to have taken no time at all, though normally I traversed the same distance in no less than an hour. I slowed to a stop. My eyes stung as I glanced slowly from left to right. The town square looked different somehow. Insects crawled in the dirt between the cobblestones. Paint flaked off the walls of the Lockwood mansion, though it had been built only a few years ago. There was disrepair and decay in everything. Most pervasive was the smell of vervain. It was everywhere. But instead of being vaguely pleasant, the scent was all-consuming and made me feel dizzy and nauseated. The only thing that countered the cloying scent was the heady smell of iron.

I inhaled deeply, suddenly knowing that the only remedy against the vervain-induced weakness was in that scent. Every fiber of my body screamed that I had to find the source of it, had to nourish myself. I looked around, hungrily, my eyes rapidly scanning from the saloon down the street to the market at the end of the block. Nothing.

I sniffed the air again, and realized that the scent–the glorious, awful, damning scent–was coming closer. I whirled around and sucked in my breath as I saw Alice, the pretty young barmaid from the tavern, walking down the street. She was humming to herself and walking unevenly, no doubt because she’d sampled some of the whiskey she’d been serving all night. Her hair was a red flame against her pale skin. She smelled warm and sweet, like iron and wood smoke and tobacco.

She was the remedy.

I stole into the shadows of the trees that flanked the street. I was shocked by how loud she was. Her humming, her breathing, each uneven footfall registered in my ear, and I couldn’t help but wonder why she wasn’t waking up everyone in town.