Vanessa woke up on the couch in Byron’s condo. A very worried Rylie had sighed with relief when she woke up. “Byron, she’s awake!” she hollered.
Byron whooshed into the living room and Vanessa looked up, “Byron no, Rylie…”
“I know everything.” Rylie intervened. “It wasn’t exactly a secret after Byron brought you here and his hands were covered in blood.”
“How long was I out?” Vanessa asked.
“Just a day.” Byron answered as he brought her a glass of water. “Drink this, it’ll help wake you up.”
Vanessa knew her throat was a little dry, but after sitting up and taking the ice-cold glass of water, she found herself guzzling it as though she hadn’t had water in a year.
“Slow down, you’ll throw it up.” Byron chuckled.
“It’s just so good.” Vanessa mused as she licked her lips. She rubbed her head, “What the hell happened anyway?”
“A vampire attacked you. One that no longer has a connection to humanity.”
Vanessa furrowed her brows, “No connection to humanity? What does that mean?”
“The vampire that attacked you was once human. Over time, if they haven’t drank from a pure blood, they lose their connection to what they once were. Reduced to that of a rabid animal…” Byron’s eyes grew distant, “It almost happened to me.”
Vanessa’s eyes widened, “Say, what? How would that have happened to you?”
“I was once human. Malik bit me. If he hadn’t allowed me to feed from him, I would’ve suffered the same fate.”
“Is this something you only have to do once?”
Byron shook his head, “If we don’t do it once a month, we will deteriorate.”
“Does Malik allow that to happen?” Rylie asked.
Vanessa turned to look at her friend, “I’m sorry Rylie, I know you’re here, I’m just…”
“Processing? I get it. I am too. When Byron told me he was a vampire and that we were in a club full of vampires, I would’ve laughed in his face if there wasn’t blood on his hands and his fangs were elongated.” Rylie chuckled.
Vanessa turned to Byron, “You have fangs? Like…that’s a real thing?”
Byron rolled his eyes, “I’m a vampire, V. Fangs are part of the package.”
Vanessa’s eyes lit up as though she was a nerd at some comic book convention, “Can I see?”
Byron reluctantly closed his eyes, then opened them. The ice blue shade in his eyes turned to a sapphire blue and his fangs did elongate. Vanessa eagerly reached out and touched one, but pulled back when it sliced through her finger like butter. “Ouch!” she cried out.
Byron’s face returned to normal, and he grumbled, “Idiot, what did you think it was going to do? These were made to cut through flesh.”
Rylie handed Vanessa a tissue to stop the bleeding. “You know V, she can’t resist bright and shiny things.” She teased.
Vanessa stuck her tongue out at Rylie and then turned her focus back to Byron who looked troubled. “You okay? Is it my blood?”
Byron shook his head, “I have no desire to drink from you, Little V. It holds no temptation for me.”
“Then what’s the matter?”
“Back to Rylie’s question from before, Malik doesn’t allow it. But when he turns someone, he thinks he’s doing them a favor. Giving them a better life. But some can’t cope with the disease of being undead. They would rather check out than remember what they once were. They run away and as their humanity slips, so does everything that made them, them. Including their scent which makes them difficult to track.”
“The one that night, he came to me in a form of fog too. Do you all do that?” Vanessa asked.
Byron nodded, “We can if we want. The vampires that lose themselves do it as a way of going with instinct. Predator sneaking up on the prey and devouring at the right moment.”
“Did you kill that vampire?”
“Did he hurt me? Why was I out so long?”
“The presence of a rabid vampire is draining. They consume your energy so you can’t scream or run. It’s a way to paralyze you in a sense. When you lose energy like that, you passed out and your body has been recovering.”
Rylie patted Vanessa on her back, “I was so worried about you, but Byron assured me that you were just drained and your slumber was charging you back up. I’m sorry this happened to you, V.”
Vanessa knew all too well that ‘sorry this happened to you’ wasn’t just about the attack, but what happened to Byron and why he had to go away. Vanessa being an empath, Rylie learned over time she didn’t need to say much and Vanessa would know what she meant. Nothing about this was fair or natural. Vampires exist and Vanessa had to go with it to keep her brother in her life. She went to ask about Malik when there was a pounding on the door. Byron closed his eyes and frowned as though he were expecting a knock like that.
“Who could that be?” Rylie asked.
Byron looked between the girls, “It’s Malik, he’s here to serve my death sentence.”