What Lies Inside by J.L. Myers @BloodBoundJLM

9 Oct

CHAPTER TWO

The alley door to the club burst open and suddenly Kendrick was standing there, his face stricken, golden-brown hair damp with sweat and plastered to his forehead. I felt relieved and mortified all at the same time. He’d never accept me now.

My eyes shot back to the boy who had torn me from my victim, the boy who had faltered in killing me. The damp and stained asphalt in front of me was empty. The boy had vanished without a sound.

Kendrick’s eyes darted around. Yet he somehow missed poor dead Joel crumpled in the shadows. He knelt to cup my face with his hands. “Are you okay? Tell me what happened.”

Certain that blood stained my cheeks, lips, and chin, I struggled to force my tear-stung eyes up to meet his. Fear swooned beneath my ribs and my heart fluttered. My victim, the unknown attacker, and Kendrick seeing the disgusting creature I had become; it was all too much. Sobbing, I lifted a shaking hand in the direction of Joel. “I killed him!”

Kendrick’s eyes didn’t reveal the fear I so dreadfully expected. Instead they softened as he got to his feet. He crossed the alley and crouched before Joel, raising a finger to his throat. “He’s not dead.”

A wave of relief washed down my entire body, as cool as the water of a breaking wave. I began to stand. But before I could make my way to Kendrick, he raked tense fingers down Joel’s chest. His nails cut like knives through Joel’s shirt, leaving scarlet ribbons across his skin.

“Kendrick, stop!”

Joel stirred, his eyes darting past Kendrick to settle on me. Mortal fear contorted his face. “Keep that psycho bitch away from me!”

Kendrick shook the guy aggressively, forcing his attention from me. He spoke in a low and commanding voice. “You were attacked by a rabid dog. We saved your life.”

Joel’s face dropped before his eyes rolled back in his head. Then as quickly as he’d come to, his body slumped, unconscious.

“What happened?” I cried, panic threatening to drown me. “What’d you do to him?”

Ignoring me, Kendrick took Joel by the ankle and swung him over his shoulder, as if he weighed no more than a rag doll. “Amelia, I need you to stay here. I’ll be right back.”

Swaying with body-draining confusion, I stared after Kendrick as he walked up toward the street. Cars flashed by, and his footsteps were audible even as he rounded the corner. What the hell is going on? Kendrick was lean muscled, not a body builder. How did he lift Joel like that? With my eyes frozen on the street, I began pacing, needing to move to keep upright. Why isn’t he scared of me? How can he be so freaking calm? And what the hell did he do to Joel?

Kendrick bounded back down the alley, shoving his iPhone into the pocket of his checkered shirt. Remembering the blood staining my face, I frantically tried to wipe away the evidence.

Unmoved by my appearance, Kendrick collected my hand and pulled me in the opposite direction of the street. “Your mother is frantic. I need to get you home.”

“What? How do you…”

“Caius called,” Kendrick said, cutting me off. “They guessed you were coming to find me.”

I planted my feet, and almost tripped on a crack in the sidewalk before yanking Kendrick to an abrupt halt. “Wait,” I demanded. “What’s going on? What happened back there? And why aren’t you terrified of me? I attacked the freaking quarterback. I tried to kill him!”

Kendrick turned to face me, hand squeezing mine. “I could never be afraid of you, Amelia. None of this is your fault.”

A shocking revelation hit me like a cold hard slap to the face. “You knew?”

Kendrick smiled and pulled me into a hug. “Yes. I’ve always known.”

“But how?” I pulled away. “How can you know that I’m a…”

“A vampire?” He clasped my hand and pulled me forward, continuing to walk. “Because,” he said in a soft and gravelly voice. “I can pick my own.”

A sickening shiver ran down the length of my body, chilling me to the bone. Kendrick was a vampire? My initial instinct was to pull away from him. To run screaming, back up the sidewalk to the busy street of partygoers and music-pumping cars. But this was Kendrick, a reasoning voice inside my head whispered. He would never hurt me. Trying to hide my fear, I asked, “You kill people?”

“No,” he replied, almost looking offended by my question. “And you don’t have to, either.”

With Kendrick forcing me along at a ridiculous speed, we covered most of the way home in silence. Betrayal clouded my emotions. Mom and Uncle Caius had lied to me all these years. Even worse than that was Kendrick’s betrayal. He was my best friend. The same boy I’d known since grade school, the only person to befriend me when we moved to Anchorage, Alaska. When he’d left for private school, our friendship had grown stronger, with every weekend spent together. He’d taken me hiking and snowboarding. He’d even taught me how ride a motorbike—because one day I would have my own. We’d ironically watched supernatural movies in my room until the break of dawn on countless frosty mornings. I’d always felt drawn to those types of movies and shows. I’d always felt different, like I didn’t really belong, except when I was around Kendrick. But I’d never fantasized about actually being any type of monster. Normal would have been just fine. And Kendrick had known this entire time that I would one day become what he already was…a vampire?

My mind spun with everything that had happened tonight, flooded by endless questions. How did this happen? Why did this happen? My thoughts shifted to the boy who had interrupted my kill. Who was he? And where did he disappear to? In the end, I settled for what I hoped would be the simplest question. “Kendrick,” I said, receiving a questioning look from him. “How did this all happen? How did we become…” It felt ridiculous to say the word out-loud, “vampires?

Kendrick’s silvery-blue eyes stared ahead as we passed under draping maples, their leaves littering the sidewalk. “I was born this way, a Pure Blood like your uncle, as was my mother and grandfather and so on. We’re considered royalty, the only ones among vampires able to procreate. The truth was never hidden from me. I knew what to expect.”

After a long nervous pause, I dared to ask, “So, I was born this way, too?”

Kendrick shook his head and slowed his pace. We had just rounded a familiar corner lined with parked cars, and were closing in on my house. “No. Well, not exactly. I think I should let your mother explain. She’s waiting inside with your uncle and Dorian.” We crunched over the snow-littered driveway and mounted the front steps. “Are you ready?”

Instinct dared me to bolt. But I couldn’t. It was time to learn the truth of how this all began. “I think so.” I paused and pleaded with my eyes. Kendrick had always taken my over-reactions with a light heart. He could diffuse my volatile temper, usually with just a single word or look. Right now I needed him, his support and undying loyalty. “Will you stay, please?”

Kendrick slung his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

Once inside and within the comforting curve of Kendrick’s arm, we entered the living room. A few glowing lamps and a crackling open fire spread a warm hue over the space. Any other time, the setting would have been inviting. But the brooding tension of everyone inside was palpable. I sucked in a nervous breath and followed Kendrick to the couch.

Mom sat across the room in her usual spot, a green armchair. Her back was straight and her shoulders were drawn back. Uncle Caius was at her side with one hand resting atop her shoulder. She had been crying, even more than before. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, the delicate skin of her face blotchy.

Dorian was perched on the arm of a matching couch. It bordered the wall closest to the entry and sat squared before a black-painted coffee table. The muscles along his bare arms and neck were taut, and his hands were curled into fists. His wary blue eyes shifted to me. They were rimmed with dark lashes, matching his hair. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way. Your fangs, they ugh, just…surprised me.”

I forced a smile and dropped down beside him, reaching over to squeeze his knee. His muscles twitched. I pulled my hand away, as fast as if I’d reached into the naked flames of the open fire. No matter what he said, it was clear he still feared me. “It’s okay,” I said, trying without success not to feel wounded by his reaction. “I would have flipped out, too.”

Uncle Caius cleared his throat from across the room. “It’s time, Lamayli,” he directed to our mom. The shadows of the room emphasized his grave expression, while darkening his salt and pepper hair.

Mom took a deep, chest-raising breath then exhaled, clutching her hands together. “What I am about to say isn’t easy. Nevertheless the time for sheltering you both has come and gone. Do you remember the story I told you of how your father died?”

I nodded, and beside me Dorian did too. From a young age Mom had explained our father’s death as a break-in that went horribly wrong. She had described him as a heroic man who had challenged the intruder to protect his family. The tragic result was his death.

“Well,” she went on. Her hands were clutched so tight that her French tip nails dug into the backs of her hands. “The details of that story are not entirely correct.”

Kendrick’s hand found mine. Dorian slid off the arm of the couch to sit beside me. Apparently he was more consumed by Mom’s words than his need to keep at a safe distance.

“There was an intruder,” Uncle Caius spoke firmly while squeezing Mom’s shoulder. “Though he was not a man committing a break-in. He was not even human.”

Gaining visible strength from Uncle Caius’s touch, Mom sat up even straighter. “I was pregnant with you both at the time. Your father fought heroically, but the creature’s strength was too great.”

Hearing our mom talk about our father and seeing the sparkle of tears in the corner of her eyes tugged at my heart. She never mentioned him. Over the years she’d always refused to answer any of our questions. We had never even seen a photograph. The only sliver of information we had was that his surname was Athobry. Now I knew why. The memory of the man she had loved so deeply, and lost so horrifically, was just too agonizing to relive.

“He died protecting us?” Dorian’s strained voice emerged beside me.

“Yes sweetheart,” Mom nodded. “But it wasn’t enough to save us. The creature was a rogue vampire consumed by bloodlust. Not unlike the thirst you experienced tonight,” she said, eyes shifting to me in a way that turned my stomach. “He turned on me next. I was left for dead and bleeding out. If not for Caius, we would have all died there.” She glanced up at our uncle with a look of adoration. “He gave us new life when the only alternative was death.”

Mom’s words spun through my head, painting bloody images of that night. I saw the fanged monster. His chin was covered in blood, his burning red eyes prowling for more. The thing nightmares were made of. I could see my mom with a ballooning belly. She was screaming over a lifeless body. The father I’d never known. I imagined him as an older replica of Dorian, with dark hair and chiseled features. Tacky, dark blood coated him. Yet something more than the visualization bothered me. How could Uncle Caius have saved us? A conflicting theory edged its way into my mind. It was the only explanation that could work in with everything Mom was claiming.

“You’re not really our uncle?” I searched Uncle Caius’s dull, silvery eyes for confirmation.

He shook his head, pursing his lips. “No, Amelia. I am not your biological uncle. Though I have always cared for and loved you both,” he said glancing from me to Dorian, “as I would my own flesh and blood.”

“But how could you save us?” Dorian questioned.

Uncle Caius clasped his hands in front of him. He walked forward, casting a long shadow as he perched on the edge of the coffee table. “In the vampire community, murder is against the law.”

Bile spiked my throat at the word murder. I had almost killed Joel to fulfill the thirst raging inside of me, the bloodlust.

Caius caught my worried expression and took my free hand in his. “Breaks in our laws are closely monitored. I had been hunting the assailant and caught up to his scent. I forced my way inside, but it was already too late. Your father was dead, and your mother was hanging between life and death. I had only moments to act, to make a decision.”

“A decision?” Disbelief colored my tone. “You considered letting us die?”

Uncle Caius’s expression rippled with guilt. But his voice wasn’t the one to offer insight.

“He went against The Council,” Kendrick explained. “Turning children into vampires has long been outlawed. They are much too difficult to control through the initial bloodlust.”

Kendrick’s knowledge and words shook me. I wanted to blame someone for the monster I was becoming, to seek vengeance for this curse. But I couldn’t. We were all still alive and breathing because of Caius. He had gone against their laws to give us new life. He was our savior and our creator. And he had been there since that first day, catering to our wants, doting on us like any wealthy and caring uncle would. He was family. The only living family we had.

“It was a risk to disrespect The Council,” Uncle Caius added. His eyes glazed with a look of distant memory. “But I couldn’t leave your mother to die like that. So with only moments to spare I tore you from her womb and infected you all with my blood. Even then, death could have claimed each of you. Only half of those infected live, while the others reject the change and die.” Pride stole the glaze from his eyes. “But you were both fighters, so strong, so determined to live.”

“But why is this bloodlust,” Dorian’s voice caught over the word, “only occurring now?”

I remembered Mom and Caius speaking cryptically, after discovering me gnawing into the bloody steak. You knew there was a chance even after all we did, Caius had said. “You did something to us,” I stated accusingly.

“I begged him to,” Mom cried, wrapping her arms tight around her waist. “I was eternally grateful for our second chance at life, of course I was. Still I would never have chosen this life for either of you.”

“Up until now,” Uncle Caius said, releasing my hand to move back to Mom’s side. He patted her shoulder in an effort to calm her down. “The ancient remedy I gave you and Dorian staved off the transformation, culled your thirst. We hoped it would halt the turning process completely. Though we have all witnessed it tonight. The effects are diminishing. You should expect your thirst to become stronger, and your strength and speed to increase.”

“You may also develop an allergy to the sun, like me,” Mom interrupted.

Caius cleared his throat and Mom looked up. There seemed to be a warning in his eyes. “We do not know that yet, Lamayli.” With a sigh he looked back to Dorian and me. “In the end, you will both become full-fledged vampires. It is only a matter of time.”

A wave of dread washed down my body. This is only the beginning? I had already lost control once. I thought of the disappearing boy again. If not for him, I would have killed Joel. It was only a matter of time before I did it again.

Kendrick cleared his throat and squeezed my hand. “Ms. Lamont, Lord Bathory,” he said looking at my mom and uncle, “there’s something we need to tell you.”

Instantly my stomach lurched. The metallic taste of Joel’s blood reared up my throat. I knew what Kendrick wanted to say. He was going to tell them. Tell them I’d attacked and almost killed a guy from school. Shallow breath caused my lungs to ache. I couldn’t bear for them to know. Couldn’t bear to see their staring expressions, seeing the monster I was fast becoming. “Kendrick, don’t!”

He squeezed my hand again, which did little to calm the nerves searing through my body. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “They’ll understand.”

Throwing Kendrick’s hand aside, I jumped to my feet. “Understand!” I shrieked. With a single bound I cleared the coffee table, smacking my knee before backing up to the wall. My body cast a menacing shadow. It grew so large that it covered Dorian and the framed, family portrait above his head. “How will they understand that I almost killed the freaking quarterback!”

Floored by my own lips’ betrayal, my hands shot up to cover my mouth. My eyes scoured the room. Dorian sat as still as a statue, eyes wide and face a sickly shade of green. Kendrick looked ready to step in and restrain me, with one arm braced against the coffee table.

Within my chest my heart was leaping. My hands curled into fists at my sides. The need to bolt was drowning me, but I couldn’t move. Fear kept me frozen stiff.

Mom rose to her feet and walked slowly toward me. With shaky arms outstretched, she looked like she was attempting to soothe a wild animal. Uncle Caius stood watching, not quite on edge, but in quiet preparation. It was clear nobody was about to let me flee.

The feel of being caged like an animal shattered my fear. Mobility flooded back to my limbs. I went to run, but Mom’s arms, so gentle and yet so strong, curled around me. “It’s alright, Amelia. It wasn’t your fault. All these things you’re feeling are normal. Being a vampire does that, everything’s heightened.”

Screaming and grunting, I thrashed against her. Mom’s grip held tight, never giving an inch. Long minutes passed and still I was trapped. With exhaustion smothering my need to escape, the weight and conviction of her words began to sink in. I suddenly stopped struggling and hung my head. “Mom, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear…”

“Shh,” Mom soothed, loosening her grip around me. She ran a hand down my back, smoothing my long, blond hair. “It’s alright.” When she released me, I saw her face. It wasn’t filled with the sorrow and fear of earlier, but the strength and resolution of a woman now in control. “Amelia, I promise you can learn to control this.” She turned to face the others. “You will experience this, too, Dorian. And we will all get through this, together. But not here.” Radiating control with her shoulders drawn back, Mom moved back to her seat beside Caius. “We need time and seclusion, and the removal of temptation until you are both in control. We leave for the cabin, tomorrow.”

What Lies Inside

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – YA Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG-13+

More details about the author

Connect with Jessica Myers on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://bloodboundnovels.com

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One Response to “What Lies Inside by J.L. Myers @BloodBoundJLM”

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  1. What Lies Inside – Book Tour Schedule - October 22, 2013

    […] October – Excerpt at Xecellent […]

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