Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(16)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(16)
Author: L.H. Cosway

The slayer gazes at me with amusement. “Doesn’t the art we have in our homes say something about us?” he asks. “So surely this picture represents a certain side of you, probably the side that thinks it’s a good idea to hang around vampires.”

“It holds a lot of meaning for me yes,” I say quickly, “but I am not about to enter into an art discussion with an intruder in my apartment. Now, I don’t care if you’re ready to leave or not. You have exactly thirty seconds to get out of here or I’m going to start screaming, and believe me I’ve got a loud one.”

“You believe them to be harmless, don’t you?” says the slayer.

“I’m not naïve,” I tell him with derision. “I know that they are far from harmless. I was there last night. I witnessed what a vampire is capable of.”

“Yes but you think he was just defending himself. If you had any sense you’d be running a mile, but no, I saw you go into that cesspit of a night club today. You’ve been brought under a thrall I’m sure, bet you didn’t know they could do that, did ya? The vamps can mess with your head, make you believe in things you wouldn’t normally believe in, hell, they could even make you forget who you are if they really wanted to.”

I laugh. “I know a lot more than you think. And I’m not under any sort of “thrall” as you say, that doesn’t work on me.”

The slayer smirks. “It doesn’t work on you,” and then he laughs. “Oh, is it that easy? You just say it doesn’t work on you and it doesn’t. All humans are susceptible to their tricks, love, they are predators, and we are their prey.”

“Laugh all you want, but I’m telling you the truth, you could bring a vampire in here right now and get him to try work his mojo on me and it wouldn’t happen. I’m immune. Why do you think I was being chauffeured home by a vampire last night? They’re keeping me sweet because they want to know why their powers don’t affect me.” I tell him, pleased with myself only for about half a second before realising that perhaps I shouldn’t have revealed so much information to my intruder.

He appears shocked for a moment, then says, “That’s impossible. Nobody has ever been immune to the compulsion of a vampire. It takes years of training to withstand them even just a little bit.”

“Well I’ve had no such training,” I reply. “I never even knew vampires existed until last night.”

“Then how did you come into contact with them?” he asks, seeming genuinely interested. Though I have to question his motives.

“I was in the night club the other week, stuff happened, they tried to compel me and it didn’t work. Ever since then I’ve found myself with some new, strangely persistent friends.”

“Oh I’m sure they’ve been very friendly,” says the slayer. “They’re only interested in you because you pose a threat. They need to discover why you’re immune to their compulsion so that they can make sure this ability of yours will never be replicated. Don’t you know what this means? You could help us fight the vampires, if we could figure out how to simulate the resistance you hold then it might change the way we hunt forever. No longer would they be able to compel us to stop fighting with one glance of their eyes on ours.”

“Hold up. I never volunteered to help you. Besides, I don’t think this is something that can be replicated, I think it’s unique to me and me alone.” I tell him, though I have no clue how unique my ability is, I just don’t want this slayer thinking I’m the answer to all his problems. I have no intention of becoming his lab rat, and I’m unsettled by the look of the zealot in his eyes.

“Don’t you want to help defend humanity?” he says, and I hold in my laughter at his use of the words that make up the name of the organisation to which he is so dedicated.

“Is that the DOH’s maxim?” I ask him, not able to hold back on laughing now. “Sounds like the tag line to a cheesy action movie.”

“I see you’ve already been swayed by them,” he replies with distaste. “And you know very little of the race to which you are aligning yourself.”

“Look, I’m not aligning myself with anyone, whatever friction there is between vampires and slayers is none of my concern. But if I were to pick a side, I’m not sure it would be with a group of people who set out to destroy an entire race, even if they are a race of predators. Would you shoot a lion just because its nature is to kill? It’s the way of the world for one species to prey upon another, you’re extremely gullible if you think that a group of men with a mission is going to change any of that.”

The slayer looks at me intently, and he seems slightly taken aback. “No,” he says. “I would not shoot a lion under normal circumstances. But if that lion were to murder my entire family then I would not bat an eyelid before killing it dead.” The look in his eyes is murderous right now, and as his words sink in a realisation hits me, and I feel unendingly guilty for it.

“Did - did a vampire kill your family?” I ask cautiously. He seems very worked up all of a sudden.

“My reasons for doing what I do are none of your business. Now, will you at least consider assisting us?”

“I don’t know.” I tell him, and the guilt I feel prompts me to add. “I’ll think about it.”

“That’s good enough for me,” he replies, instantly much more upbeat. “I’ll see myself out,” he continues, and walks toward the door.

“Wait, aren’t you going to tell me your name?” I ask hesitantly.

“My name’s Finn Roe,” he says.

“I’m Tegan.”

He shakes his head. “I already know that, love,” and shoots me a charming smile before sliding out the door, closing it easily behind him.

Chapter Ten

Bringing Him Back To Me, If Only For a Moment

After the slayer leaves my place I sink down to the floor, my legs curling beneath me. I hold my head in my hands and rub at my temples. I’m falling deeper and deeper into this pit of surrealistic crap. Every hour that passes I become more heavily involved in a world I wish would just fade away. I grab one of the chairs from my kitchen table and shove it up against my front door after I’ve turned over all the locks.

No more unwanted guests are entering my home. I go into my bedroom and lock that door as well. I undress, get into some comfy pants and a t-shirt and throw myself into bed. I lie there and scowl at the ceiling for a half an hour, angry at the injustice of the world. Why should I have to make any big decisions about helping slayers to kill vampires, or helping vampires to do I’m not sure what, or allowing Marcel to work magic on me. All of a sudden, going back to college doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

I pick up my phone and text Amanda. “How did things go with Lucas?” I ask her, because I’m fretful as to whether he might do some scary horror flick shit with her again. It takes about ten minutes for her to reply. “Still with him, going great!” Jesus. I really am sick of caring about how foolish she’s being, whatever happens it’s her own funeral. Literally.

And then, as I lie back in bed I remember what I’d planned to do when I got home before I was accosted by Finn. I get up and go to sit on the floor by my wardrobe. My eyes bore into the darkly shaded wood, I allow them to linger on the flowers engraved into the handle of the bottom drawer for a number of minutes. I trace the outline of the petals with my fingertips, almost daunted by the box that lies within.

Slowly, I open the drawer and remove the old brown cardboard shoebox. The moment I open it I fall into a dreamlike state, lost to the world in my fascination with these inanimate objects. First I pick up the guitar plec, I rub my thumb over its smooth surface, savouring the very ordinary texture of plastic. Matthew always used this when he played his guitar, it was his favourite one, and it feels as though it’s been moulded by his persistent use, shaped so as to accommodate the movement of his fingers.

For a long time I don’t look at anything else, I remain sitting on my carpeted floor with a piece of plastic between my thumb and forefinger, as though merely touching it could give me a high akin to euphoria. Well, it’s not the object so much as the memories it brings rushing back to me, those are what I’m after. All of the times I ever witnessed Matthew using it are in my head now. In the living room of a friend. At a house party. An open mike night. In this very bedroom.

My hand brushes over his book of poems and song lyrics, I have only ever read the first few pages. Once I got to the fifth poem I began to feel guilty, like I was intruding on his most personal thoughts and feelings. I want so much to read all of it, but what I have read is so dark, it troubles me. I didn’t know how far gone he’d been. And now, looking back on it all, I feel like a blind idiot for not having noticed the signs of his depression.

Taking in a deep breath of courage, I flick to where I left off the last time. The next poem is entitled “A Darker Shade”, and it’s written in very neat hand-writing, which is odd in itself because the other few that I have read were practically scribbled across the page. The pen having been stabbed into the paper with a brutal force. The poems held exclamations of anger, feelings of loneliness and sorrow, references to things in his past that I didn’t know about. Let’s just say his family were not exactly the nicest of people. But this poem, it’s like a sea of calm compared to the tornado of the previous pages. There are only two short verses, I read the first:

No one knows it, but I do.

No one sees it but me and you,

And I don’t know if anyone would believe it.

But when the day turns to night

And all I see is a speck of light

Darker shades come out to take my soul away.

His words literally take my breath away. Not only because of their eloquence, but because they are so completely apt to what I am going through right now. Seeing and knowing things that other people can’t. My heart hurts to wonder what it was he was feeling when he wrote this. What had been happening in his life? And was it happening when I was with him? I read the second and final verse, which is shorter than the first, only two lines:

So if I should act a little strange today,

Well you should know that I cannot control these mysterious ways.

I would kill to know what had been going on in his head. What kind of demons had been whispering in his ear? I touch my finger to the page, and let it drift over the indentations made from his pen. Matthew’s hand had created those marks, had written those words on this paper. His heart had still been beating in his chest, he had been breathing in air, and he had been living. Sometimes my brain hurts as I will it to be so again. Will him back to life.

I hesitate before turning the page, and then falter, my hand falling to my side. I don’t want to read this notepad full of words all at once. If I can drag out my consumption of his poems it will feel as though I still have some essential thing left of him. Something new. Something I have not yet discovered about him. I flick the thick set of pages with my thumb, wondering how many there are, two-hundred perhaps. Does that mean I have two-hundred more instances whereby I can experience his existence? Two-hundred completely unknown things about a man who is gone from this earth. I determine to make them last as long as I possibly can. Because once they are gone, he will be gone as well. Never ever to be new again.

I close the book over and place it back in the shoe box. I don’t dare to touch his last note. The very last thing he had written. It’s wrapped in some shell paper and I look at it for a long moment before dragging myself out of my trance. Carefully, so as not to damage a thing, I place the box back inside the drawer and close it over, handling it as one would a new born baby, with a mixture of love and fear.

On Sunday I wake up to the sound of my phone ringing, but I simply put my pillow over my head and refuse to answer it. That’s basically the pattern of the entire day. My phone rings and I ignore it. Again and again. There are knocks on my front door on at least two occasions but I ignore those too. My body is lethargic and my mind is comatose. I might be suffering from some kind of delayed shock, because I feel as though I’m in a waking coma. But I’m also being stubborn, seeing as I’m determined to ignore the vampires and the slayers until they fade away.

It’s not until nine o’clock that night that I finally bring myself to get out of bed, and that’s only because my stomach is screaming out for sustenance. I stumble into the kitchen and put a ready meal in the microwave, which is probably one of the single most depressing things a person can do in life. Such living dead that you cannot even bear to enter into anything more complicated when it comes to food preparation than to stick a box into another box and then hit a few buttons.

Standing there, watching the food spin around and around inside of the microwave, I regret having spent all day sleeping and wallowing in my own self-pity. My h*ps are as stiff as a board and my left arm has a perpetual ache because I’d been sleeping on it. When I hear the beep I retrieve my irradiated food, grab a fork and sit down in front of the television. The only halfway decent thing on is Murder She Wrote so I settle for the adventures of Angela Lansbury. She’s on the set of some music video shoot where somebody I’m guessing is going to get shot or stabbed or murdered in some way.

I know, I know, what a God-awful way to spend an evening. Eating a ready meal and watching a murder mystery re-run from the eighties. Jesus, even hanging out with the vampires would be better than this. I mean, some horror fans would even be ecstatic to discover that the mysterious beings actually exist.

When I’m finished eating I go to my room to get my phone and check if any of the people who called me today left messages. There are two. The first is from my dad, and he sounds tired and regretful. I sit back and listen to his pre-recorded voice speak to me.

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