Read The Embrace Online

Authors: Jessica Callaghan

The Embrace


Chapter 1

I never expected to die this way. I always thought I would pass away as an old woman surrounded by my loving grandchildren. I guess you can never predict these things.

I had been thinking about my death for years. I knew it was coming, but I put it off until I knew I was ready. I wouldn’t let him in to my house and I wore my silver crucifix every night just to be safe. I couldn’t agree to leave my life behind until I was completely certain, and it took years to reach that point. If I’d allowed him an opening he’d have killed me long ago. I couldn’t let it happen till I was ready for it. Even though I knew it was going to happen, I still didn’t know what to expect. I never could until I went through it for myself.

We arranged it before hand of course. It was all planned out so that I could tie off any loose ends in my life before hand. The films make the whole process out to be so terrifying and yet romantic, full of excitement. They never tell you that it loses some of the thrill when you’ve been planning since you were a little girl.

He knocked on the door and I opened it to see him standing on my door step, an outsider for the final time. I couldn’t help but smile. He was so beautiful. He wasn’t like the books describe his kind. They’re made out to be cold and white like walking statues. He was incredibly charming, that part was true, but he wasn’t empty of life.  He had an aura about him which seemed to glow. I remember and seeing the glow for the first time at age 13, as he watched me through the trees. His glow never changed, in the same way that his looks never faded.  He had high, sculpted cheek bones and piercing blue eyes. The books got that bit right at least: his eyes could hypnotise.

He flashed me the extraordinary smile I’d seen so many times but which still had the power to take my breath away. He asked me the same thing he asked me every time he reached my door.

“May I come in?” He laughed at this and I couldn’t help joining in. His laugh was infectious, like music with a rhythm which catches you deep inside and forces you to tap your feet.

I answered this familiar phrase with something entirely new to me. “Of course, come on in.”

There was no turning back now. I had let him into my home. He had access to everything in my life now. If I refused him his greatest desire then he could come back whenever he wanted to take my life, whether I consented or not. I had no protection. He stepped over the threshold for the first time.

“I expected your home to be bigger on the inside” he said.

“You can’t even keep your criticisms to yourself on a night like this?” I said, as if I was talking to an old friend on any average night. He was behind me in a second. I had forgotten how quickly he could move.

“I have imagined this moment over and over” he whispered. “I want it to be perfect." So did I. After 8 years with him I finally got to be with him till the end of the earth. This night was going to change the rest of my life.

It took about an hour to make it “perfect." Eight years of planning and it only took an hour. He set up candles, put on romantic music and dimmed the lights. I tried to tell him that I didn’t need all of this fuss to make me comfortable but he wouldn’t listen. He never did when he thought he knew best, but I loved him nonetheless. I had loved him since before I could even comprehend what love was, and his little quirks weren’t going to stop that. 

He approached me and I saw the hunter in him break through. “Are you sure you want to do this, Louisa?” he asked, although I knew it didn’t matter. He was too close now and I could only say yes.

I locked on to his gaze and reached my hands up to my neck. I unclipped the silver cross necklace with one hand and caught it with the other. It had been designed to protect me in case he got too forceful, but it had never really been necessary. To me it was more of a token of love, a present from one lover to another, rather than a weapon.

I threw the necklace across the room. That was enough of a symbolic gesture for him. I’d invited him in and then thrown away my only protection. I was totally exposed to him.

He lowered his lips to my neck. My heart began to beat furiously and my breath caught in my throat.

“This might hurt a little” he murmured against my throat.

I closed my eyes and felt a sharp pain in my neck. It began to ease off and I wondered what all the fuss was about. Just as I got used to the feeling, the pain came back stronger than I could even imagine. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was beating so quickly it felt like it was going to explode.

I knew that his venom was already coursing through my veins. My body started to scream at me as the blood I needed to survive began to pour out of me. My eyes watered and my field of vision was covered by a searing white cloud.

Just as I was about to pass out he pulled away from me, holding me upright so that I didn’t collapse. My vision slowly returned but my body was still crying out in agony. I could barely turn my head and I felt as if my veins had been lit on fire, but I struggled through the pain to look at him.

He had my blood on his lips and his fangs were extended. I saw him for what he was for the first time: a vampire. I had always known, but I hadn’t seen his true form in front of me like that.

He held my head in his hand. I was delirious but I could still follow directions. He ran a fingernail down his arm to draw some of his own blood and pressed his forearm against my mouth. Every human instinct I had left fought back, but he managed to force a few drops down my throat. That was all it took.

His blood filled the gap where mine used to be and the sharp pains intensified. He took away his arm and I fell to the floor screaming, convulsing and crying all at once. The last thing I remember was him picking me up from the floor and holding me in his arms with a sombre expression on his exquisite face. That’s when I died.

I first met him when I was 13. I saw him watching me when I was sitting in my garden with my sister. I saw his glow, his eyes and then he was gone. That was the night my family was massacred. All I remember are the rivers of blood and then just as I was about to be killed I was saved by my glowing admirer. I found out later that his name was Gabriel, just like the guardian angel.

After that night he visited me every few months. He used to sit outside my bedroom window and talk to me or watch me until I finally fell asleep. He told me never to invite him in so that I would always be the one in control. I didn’t understand it, but I promised him I would keep my distance. I would have agreed to anything he asked me.

When I was 15 he told me what he was. When I was 16 he showed me how fast and strong he was. When I was 17 he told me he loved me. When I was 18 he offered to make me one of his kind. I wanted to, but I couldn’t do that while my mother was still alive. She couldn’t lose me on top of everything she had been through. Although it had been centuries since his own family had died, he understood.

He would come and go but he always promised to be there until I agreed to stay with him. My mum passed away when I was 21 and Gabriel came running. He was tuned to my emotions and he knew I was upset. I died two months after my mother.

After Gabriel took away my human life, I spent a few days going through the transition. I didn’t know how long I’d been unconscious but I knew the moment I woke up that I wasn’t human anymore. I felt strong and powerful even though I’d lost a tremendous amount of blood. The thoughts in my head were fighting for priority, causing an extreme migraine.

I had to find Gabriel. Looking in the mirror I was shocked by what I saw, stunned that my reflection appeared at all as the old myth insisted vampires were free from reflections. I looked like an old lioness, formidable yet somehow still defeated.

“It’ll pass.” I whipped around to see Gabriel at the door. He was looking at me with worry in his eyes. “You need to feed and then it will pass." 

I stared at him. Neither of us moved for a long time. I sorted through the thoughts running around my mind. Everything that had ever happened between us ran through my mind in one stream: the moment in the garden; the feeling when he found me and saved my life; our first kiss; when he told me he wanted me to be his for eternity; and of course when he killed me. At that moment I hated him and loved him more than I ever had before. He was everything to me but he was responsible for this pain.

I burst into tears and fell to my knees. I had no idea what to do but I had chosen my path and I had to stick to it for eternity. 

I felt so weak crying in front of him. I had never felt like that before. Gabriel was my safety net, my sanctuary. Whenever I had a hard day I could talk to him about it. I had cried in front of him more than a hundred times over the years, but for some reason the tears I shed now chilled me to the very core of my bones. It felt dirty and wrong for someone of my strength and power to be showing such vulnerability.

He stared at me for a while longer, his stare almost burning holes into my skull.  I suppose it was better that way. If he’d rushed to my side and wrapped his arms around me in a gesture of comfort I may have snapped. I didn’t need to be babied when I wasn’t even alive. I gathered myself and looked up at him, pushing my feelings of shame somewhere deep inside my mind.

“I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel these human emotions anymore." I’d only been dead for a few days but the word human shot off my tongue with a feeling of disgust. Gabriel still stood silently in the doorway, refusing to answer my questions. This just irritated me even further.

A blinding rage hit me and I grabbed a nearby bottle, throwing it at his head and screaming, “Answer me.”

Quick reflexes are all part of being a vampire and even my improved aim couldn’t match Gabriel’s years of experience. He ducked out of the way with ease and kept his expression smooth and calm, as if nothing had happened.

The rage passed and we returned to an uneasy silence. Now that the rage had disappeared, there with nothing inside me. No emotions, not even love or fear or regret. Nothing. I think that scared me more than my moment of rage. I may not have liked debasing myself with my weak show of tears but feeling nothing at all was the opposite of everything I knew. Humans experience emotion every second of every day. I had never been void of emotion like this. I was a sociopathic killing machine bred for death and destruction. I was never going to be a human again, and the loss of my former life hit me for the first time.

Gabriel came to my side without me even hearing him. It would take a long time for me to be able to match the skills he had acquired throughout his centuries as a vampire. I was a baby in comparison to him.

He leaned down and kissed me on the cheek. The kiss was tender and loving but I felt as if he was patronising me. The strong emotions came flooding back but rage was replaced by something else entirely. I turned my face to his and kissed him full on the lips with a passion unlike anything I’d felt before. If I’d been human I would have said he took my breath away, but obviously it was too late for that.  Still, he took something out of me.

He kissed me back with vigour. I pulled him backwards onto the bed that only moments before had held my corpse. As we fell we broke the kiss and I stared into his eyes. They were different now. They still had the blinding intensity but they had taken a different quality. I had once seen Gabriel as my true love whose eyes melted my heart. Now I saw his as my partner, the person who would teach me how to live my life. It was different, not unpleasant, but different. He wasn’t so otherworldly anymore.

He seemed like a streetwise kid who’d grown up too fast but who could quite easily be made vulnerable again. I don’t know what he saw when he looked into my eyes. He told me once when I was human that my eyes had the purity and innocence of an angel. Of course he laughed at this, pointing out how far he was from angelic, but I didn’t know how he would see me now that I wasn’t a human anymore. The thoughts were beginning to pile up and the migraine was returning.

I kissed him again to make the voices go away. I began to undo his shirt buttons but he grabbed my wrist with all his strength. I stared him down with my full intensity, silently questioning his motives. He bent down to my ear and began to whisper, “I would love to, Louisa. I really would, but we only have a few hours and you need to hunt before sun rise. We have so much to do."

I wasn’t happy. For the few hours of my vampiric state I’d been swinging between emotions and I thought that being close to him might bring me back to earth, as it always had before. Being turned down was not pleasant, but I knew the dangers of the sun and I had to obey him. If I didn’t, my life beyond life wouldn’t last very long. 

I pushed him away from me and sat up straight like a petulant teenager.

“Where are we going then?” I shot at him.

He looked at me with a menacing grin. “You’ll see” he said.

Despite my anger I couldn’t help but be excited. I had been opened up to a world of possibilities and this was just the first new experience. My sour mood began to soften and I let Gabriel lead me through my blacked out bedroom window. He jumped down to the ground below and looked up at me, expecting me to follow. I did and landed not so gracefully by his side. I didn’t even have a moment to prepare myself before he sprinted off in to the woods.

“Supper time” he called to me, releasing that booming laugh as he went. Despite my anger I was desperate to follow him.

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