Book Three in The Elite.
THIRST. He wanted just one taste. I knew one would never be enough.
There's no backing out now. You've seen too much.
Even if I wanted to save you, I wouldn't be able to.
And I'm pretty sure I don't want to save you.
I want to own you, possess you, maybe even destroy you, but not save you.
I’m conflicted. The look of shock on her face mirrors my own perfectly. I told her before that there were secrets she was better off not knowing. At least if she wanted to live just a little longer.
What I hadn’t expected is that the choice would be taken away from me.
I always knew this wasn’t up to her. As much as I might have meant it every time I told her that I wouldn’t kill her today, I always knew that eventually I would. I always knew that eventually I’d take her life.
But it would be my choice.
Not hers. Or anyone else’s. Mine.
Now with her standing in front of me and the Mother, I feel like that choice has been stolen from me. Or maybe it was never mine to begin with.
I want to grab her, pull her over my shoulder and hurl her out of here. I want to take her somewhere, anywhere that she will be safe. Away from my world. Away from the Mother. Away from me.
Sinking back down into my seat, it hits me. She was never safe.
‘Will you eat with me?’ The Mother repeats. She’s not used to people not answering her, so I’m surprised when I don’t hear impatience in her tone.
‘Er. Sure.’ Farah crosses the distances from the door to the table, coming to sit opposite me.
We’ve done this before, countless times over the few weeks since I first stole my way into her life. But never with someone else here. And certainly not with the Mother. The one Vampire that I can’t refuse. If she wanted to take Farah from me, I’d have no choice but to relent. Or die fighting for her.
Would I do that? Fight for Farah? I’m not sure I would, even as my hand forms a fist under the table. I’m on edge, ready for a fight that I’m not sure is even coming.
‘I’m sure you have questions, Farah.’ The Mother’s tone is sweet. My teeth clench at the sound. I can’t decide if she’s actually being kind to a human or if she has some hidden motive. A secret agenda.
Either way, I don’t like this one bit.
‘Q-questions?’ Farah blinks in surprise.
‘I can’t imagine that Everette has told you very much. He’s a stickler for the rules.’
She’s right about that. I’d never tell Farah about our world, not until I know where this is going. If it’s going anywhere. Why end her life prematurely?
‘No. He doesn’t like me asking questions.’ She’s looking down at her plate, instead of looking at either of us, a nervous blush on her cheeks. I love that blush.
That blush will be the first thing to go when I kill her.
The Mother laughs. She actually laughs as if the idea of Farah dying isn’t haunting. Then again, why would it be? For her, a single, irrelevant human’s life is meaningless. Farah is meaningless. Only a few weeks ago, I’d have agreed with her there. I wouldn’t have hesitated to snap Farah’s dainty little neck if the Mother had asked it of me.
But now, her life is important somehow. It’s not that I want to keep her. It’s not that I plan on changing her. I still haven’t decided that, but I can’t bring myself to kill her yet. I want to give her the life she has begged me for.
She wants a long human life. It’s not something I can offer her. Either my desire to keep her by my side or my thirst for her blood will bring me to kill her. I just don’t know which yet. There is a third option, of course.
I could just grow bored.
That’s how I first thought this would end. That I would grow bored of her blood. Grow bored of her body. The idea is laughable. I know better now. I will never have enough of her. Even if I drank every drop of her blood, my thirst would not be quenched, and even if I fucked her for a century, I wouldn’t want to stop.
‘Everette, don’t look so stern,’ the Mother chastises, swatting at my shoulder with her hand. The motion pulls me out of my thoughts and I glance her way briefly before returning my attention to Farah.
‘He does that,’ Farah says shyly.
‘He does, doesn’t he?’
‘I think that under the circumstances, I should be given leniency.’
‘What circumstances?’ The Mother asks, giving me a knowing look. She’s doing this on purpose. She’s making my decision for me, and she damn well knows it.
If she answers Farah’s questions, I’ll either lose her or I’ll be stuck with her forever. I’m not sure which idea is worse. Do I want to share forever with Farah?
I watch Farah closely, trying to determine the answer to that question. I want her blood. I want her body. I even want her company. But forever? I’ve never considered sharing forever with anyone. That’s a level of commitment I’ve never even contemplated. At least not until recently.
‘Questions,’ I mutter under my breath. I know the Mother will hear me, even if Farah doesn’t. It’s not likely to be enough to convince her to hold her tongue however.
‘You knew my mother?’ Farah asks the question I know she’s dying to have answered. It’s been on the tip of her tongue since the Mother first declared that Farah looks just like her late mother.
Even I’m surprised by that one. It would appear that even when you’re centuries old, there are still things you don’t know. Not that I’d admit that to either of the ladies sitting at this table.
I’m tempted to rush to Farah’s side so I can cover her pretty, little ears before she can hear something that will get her killed, all the while, wondering if that is actually what I want.
Do I want her death? I think I just might. More than I’d like to admit.
‘This can wait,’ I say sharply. ‘She doesn’t need to know yet.’
I don’t even know what I’m talking about. I don’t know what secrets I’m trying to keep hidden, but I won’t let her sacrifice her life for mere curiosity. It’s absurd. Love would be a better reason. Lust would be better still.
‘Not today!’ I stand to my feet, causing Farah to jump slightly in her chair. The Mother on the other hand simply looks delighted that I’m making a spectacle of myself. She is clearly enjoying my discomfort in that way that parents do.
This is exactly like how human mothers show off their children’s baby photos.
‘Everette,’ Farah replies tersely, ‘what on earth is the matter?’
‘Do you not want to live?’ I ask her, my fist dropping down onto the table between us. I sound almost callous. As if I don’t care that her life hangs in the balance, and perhaps she thinks I don’t. She’s wrong though.
‘Yes. Of course, I do.’
‘Then not today.’ My voice is quieter now. Almost gentle. Full of fear that I’d rather not inspect.
She finally grasps my meaning. ‘You’re not going to kill me today.’
‘Not today,’ I say with a nod.
Her responding smile is so wide, so thankful that if I were human, I wouldn’t be able to breathe. She’s breath-taking.
‘You might not need to die today,’ the Mother says with almost lyrical laughter, ‘but I can still answer your questions.’
My eyes narrow. I have no idea what she’s up to. If we answer Farah’s questions, we’re practically writing her death warrant. I will need to kill her, and far sooner than I’d like.
‘NOT TODAY,’ I grit out.
‘You keep saying that like it means something, Everette. But you forget. Today. Tomorrow. It’s all the same. She has questions. We have answers. It’s about time we give them to her.’
I’m not used to being chastised by the Mother.
‘Usually, Everette, you’re so obedient. I don’t know what’s gotten into you. Now sit down and have a glass of blood, while I tell your beloved a story.’
‘B-beloved?’ I ask, sputtering.
‘Is that not what she is?’ she returns too quietly for Farah to hear. ‘You were about ready to strike me a moment ago.’
I don’t deny it. She’d see through the lie.
‘I suppose she is.’