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The first thing Melody noticed was the sound of snoring. At first she wasn’t really awake, so she thought it was the end of a dream, because she was sure she could remember her car going into a tree and a vampire saving her life. It seemed so utterly impossible that even when she was awake enough to open her eyes that she couldn’t quite believe that she could hear snoring. Being able to hear someone snoring, when it wasn’t something she would normally hear in her bedroom, could mean only one thing. Her dream hadn’t been a dream. Slowly, breathing deeply in an attempt to stop herself from panicking, she sat up and stared down at the vampire who had saved her life.

It was a surprise to see the vampire, who Melody thought had told her his name was Rex, sleeping on the floor. Part of the surprise was due to him still being asleep, because she didn’t think it was possible for a newly created vampire to wake up before her creator, and part was because she couldn’t understand why he hadn’t shared the bed, as it was more than big enough for the two of them. Shaking her head, unable to believe that the vampire had not only saved her life but had also given up his bed, she slipped out of the bed. Her first urge was to look at herself in a mirror, even though she wasn’t certain she would be able to see herself. Vampires weren’t something she knew a lot about. It had never once crossed her mind she might become one. Maybe that was the same for everyone who was changed.

Quietly, not wanting to wake Rex, if that was his name, wandered across the bedroom. At least she thought it was a bedroom. It had a bed in it. Shrugging, she pushed open the door, and found herself glancing back at the sleeping vampire. For a few seconds, maybe even as long as a minute, she stared at him, wondering who he really was. The longer she looked at him the longer she found herself thinking she recognised him, but she couldn’t be sure where from.

Melody had only taken a couple of steps away from the door when she realised where she’d seen him before. Biting hard on her lip she turned back. He hadn’t changed at all in the time since the photographs of him and her mother had been taken, because he hadn’t died. The vampire who called himself Rex was the boyfriend her mother had lost when he disappeared, only his name wasn’t Rex then, and she knew that he saved her because of who she was. As his eyes opened and he stared at her she couldn’t work out how she felt.

“How are you feeling, Melody?” Rex asked, breaking the silence before she was anywhere near ready to talk.

Stalling, she shrugged, trying to find her voice. “Better than I would be if I was dead, I guess,” she replied, unsurprised when she whispered. “I was going to find a mirror. I wanted to look at myself, see how much I’ve changed now that I’m a vampire.”

“You remember what happened then?” Rex asked, and Melody nodded. “I wasn’t sure you would. The crash was pretty bad and you didn’t quite seem all there when I was talking to you because of the blood loss.”

“The memories are hazy, but it’s there.” Melody tried to work out how she felt about being a vampire. “I suppose I should thank you for saving my life. Being a vampire wasn’t a part of my life plan…” She shook her head. “Neither was crashing into a tree and dying, so this is better.”

“I know what it’s like to be a newly turned vampire. I think we all do, even though some choose to ignore that memory and move on, because for them it’s easier to let go of their human life. For others it isn’t.”

“Rex…” Melody trailed off not sure she wanted to know the answer to her question.

“I’m not surprised.” Rex smiled. “She always was silly enough to keep pictures of me, even though I always assumed she’d move on because that’s what people do when someone disappears. It’s always likely that whoever it was is now a vampire and that’s exactly what happened to me.”

“Why did you stay?”

Rex sighed. “This is my home. It always has been and it always will be. Being a vampire isn’t going to change that, although I think when I finally lose them all it’ll be time to move on.” He shrugged. “What we really need to be talking about is the next step in this process. You need to feed and that means we need to find a willing donor. Animal blood will be fine once you’re a little older, but at this stage in the transition you really do need to drink human blood.”

For the first time since Melody had woken up the reality of being a vampire smashed into her. “Okay.” Breathing deeply she tried to ignore the nausea and simply accept what needed to be done. It wasn’t as though she could go back in time and change things. “How do we go about that?”

As Rex ran his tongue along his bottom lip he shrugged again. “I’ll be honest – I wasn’t thinking about today when I asked if you wanted me to save your life. All I knew was that you were dying and if I was in that position I’d want to be given the option. When I was changed I wasn’t given a choice, which is what happens to most vampires, so as much as I wanted to save you I would have accepted it if you’d said no. This isn’t a lifestyle I’d force anyone into, because it isn’t easy, and there are days when I hate being what I am.”

“If you weren’t a vampire you wouldn’t have been able to save my life, so I can’t help being glad that it happened.” Melody smiled at Rex for the first time. “The first thing I need to do, Rex, is go home, and I want you to come with me. You need to help me explain what happened to Mum and Dad.”

Rex shook his head. “I can’t.”

“You can.” Melody bit her lip. “I know it’s not going to be easy, not when everyone thinks you’ve been dead for decades, but I need to tell them what happened and I don’t think I can do that without someone beside me. They’re human, Rex. Going there alone, a newly changed vampire…” She trailed off, because she knew she didn’t need to spell it out to him. “Please.”

“What are you going to say?”

It was obvious that he was procrastinating, but she didn’t blame him. What she’d asked of him… Melody wished things were easier, but she wasn’t going to walk away from everyone and everything that she knew without telling them why. Of course that might mean leaving Rex behind, if he really was determined to stay close to home, because she couldn’t, not when her entire future had changed more than she thought was possible. The plans she’d had for the rest of her life were ashes. Her vampire life was the phoenix rising from them and she knew she had to do what was right for her.

“That I crashed into a tree, because I slipped on a patch of ice that I didn’t know was there, and you saved my life.” Melody shrugged. “I’ll tell them that you asked me if I wanted to be a vampire, that you checked more than once that I was certain, that you didn’t do this out selfishness but because you were truly thinking of what I might want. Once that’s done I’ll pack up what I want.” She studied Rex. “Would you ever think about leaving?”

“Leaving to go where?”

“On the south coast there’s a place. It’s called the Donor House and that’s where I want to go, because I think it will be the best place for me to learn how to be a vampire without having to fed from anyone who’s unwilling.”

“I’ve never heard of it.” Rex shrugged. “Honestly I’ve kept away from other vampires since I left my creator. So many of them are… well, they’ve embraced what they are in a way that I never could. My vampiric siblings are like that and that’s part of the reason I left. I knew I could never be like them, I didn’t want to, and walking away from that seemed the best option, even though it meant I made more mistakes than I would have liked when I was younger. You do, in time, get used to being a vampire, but it’s not an easy life and, as I said, not one that I would force on anyone.”

“Apparently the vampires at the House aren’t like that. They’re the same as you. One of my friends has applied to be a donor and Nick’s going to come here to interview her.”

“Nick who?”

“Nick Reeves. He’s one of the creators of the House. From what the website said he’s the one who choses the donors and he’s very picky about getting the right people there. Only donors he truly believes are capable of accepting the vampires for who they are get given a place.”

“I haven’t heard that name for a very long time.” Rex surprised Melody by smiling. “From what I know of Nick he is the sort of person who’d do that.”

“What you know of him?”

“Leaving my creator behind wasn’t something I did straight away, Melody, even though I probably should have done. I was never going to be able to let go of who I was when I was still human. That’s something he wasn’t ready to accept. He spent a lot of time trying to convince me to stay, so I did have a chance to learn something about what I’d become. One of the vampires my creator talked about was Nick, because Nick was his vampiric brother, and he’d done what he could to keep in touch. It didn’t matter that the two of them were so very different. What mattered was that Nick was on his own a lot of the time, and being alone can be hard for a vampire. Knowing that is part of the reason my creator wanted me to stay with him so badly. Had I been able to let go of my humanity I might even have chosen to stay with him, but I couldn’t, so the decision I ended up making was to walk away. When I did I came home. This was where I wanted to be, and if Nick could survive being alone I knew I could too… especially as I wasn’t really alone.” Rex brushed a hand through his hair. “I was watching over the people I’d cared about in life. A couple of times before I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. With you…”

“Having to change me doesn’t mean you weren’t in the right place at the right time.” Melody nibbled her lip. “This could have been one of those things that was meant to happen, so you weren’t alone any more.” She studied him. It was hard to believe he had been alone for so long, because she didn’t think she’d be able to deal with it as well as he had, but it seemed unlikely he was lying to her. He wanted her to trust him and lying to her would just make that impossible for her. “How likely is it that I will do something stupid if I go home alone?”

“Some vampires have more willpower than others. I had none, to begin with, and it’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now. For you it’s likely to be different. As you woke before me I’m not entirely certain what to expect from you. My creator did talk to me about what might happen if I chose to do the same thing he did, and he said that vampires who wake before their creators can be problematic, which may well have been the case for those vampires who accepted what they were. I doubt it will be the same for us.”

“Then I might not need you to come with me.”

“Might doesn’t mean you should go alone.” Rex sighed. “I don’t want to talk to your mum, Melody, but it looks as though I don’t have a choice. The last thing I wanted was for them to know I was alive. Finding out the truth… it’s going to change things for them. You being a vampire is going to change things too.” Their eyes met. “One thing you have to keep in mind is the fact they might not be able to accept what you’ve become. I hate the thought of that happening. I just don’t know how they are going to react when you tell them I changed you, or when I tell your mum I’ve been a vampire for the last thirty years.”

“Why didn’t you tell them before?”

“At first it was because I didn’t trust myself to get close to them, because I didn’t know how it might affect me. Like I said it took me a long time to gain the willpower I needed not to make mistakes I will always hate myself for. Then it was too late. Their lives had changed, they’d come to accept that I really was gone for good, and I couldn’t bring myself to shatter that. You’re the only reason I am willing to do that. I want you to have a chance to say goodbye. I know how hard it was for me not to have that chance.”

“I honestly don’t want to make things harder for you than they already are.”

“You aren’t. In the end it’s my decision to make, and I don’t want you to go alone. Someone needs to be with you, because it’s impossible to know how anyone is going to react, and you are going to be the biggest danger to your family if something does go wrong. Pain always makes it harder to cling onto the belief you don’t want to hurt anyone.”

There was so much pain in Rex’s eyes that Melody half wanted to give him a hug. Obviously things hadn’t been easy for him. Bringing it up wasn’t going to do either of them any good, but that didn’t stop her from being curious about what he’d gone through. “Some day I hope we can talk about what your life has been like.” She smiled at him. “Thank you, for being so understanding. Even if things do go wrong I have to say goodbye. I can’t walk away without telling them what happened.”

Wow!

Date: 2016-12-17 12:01 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This was lovely. Sometimes it's hard to find the right thing to do.

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The Many Worlds of K. A. Webb

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