Convoluted (part 1)

The following is a short story I wrote. It’s not my usual style, but I think you’ll love how it ends! The rest of this story will be posted every Friday. Enjoy…

Alexa wandered to the forbidden area, hoping to have a few moments to herself at the previously mentioned waterfall. Her boyfriend, Clint, had suggested this romantic trip to the Grenada islands. She had been delighted to accept, then soon learned why she and Clint would not be engaged in any long-term relationship. He had appeared to want all the same things as herself: successful career, great home, fabulous car, living in the lap of luxury and corporate glamour.

The trip was a wake-up call to her. She had enjoyed Clint’s good looks and designer clothes too much to notice the front he had put on for her. The guy was far from successful. It became evident as they toured the six small islands of Grenada that, while he had paid for their trip over, he was expecting to mooch off of her income. She wasn’t even sure if the man had a job.

As she walked along a rarely tread trail that was surrounded by lush greenery, Alexa admitted to herself that she had allowed her shallow side to be duped. This experience was an eye opener to her in more than one way. Though she knew Clint to be real scum, she also knew that she had to take responsibility. She had let herself be blinded. In retrospect, she saw plenty of signs that Clint was using her as a free ride.

Alexa sighed and wiped sweat off of her brow with the back of her hand. The climate was hot and humid, making her skin feel sticky. She couldn’t even identify all the scents of flowers and plant life around her, but it was soothing. She was glad to be away from Clint and the others in the tour group. They were at the beach, absorbing yet more rays from the sun. Alexa had claimed a headache and stayed in bed until they had left. Then she had donned a comfortable, razor-backed tank top and a pair of khaki shorts. She didn’t have hiking shoes, but the runner shoes she wore sufficed.

The trail was somewhat difficult, especially since Alexa wasn’t used to this kind of exercise. She was a die-hard gym guru, but rarely spent time outdoors. She found it pleasant at the moment, but that had more to do with her solitude than her surroundings.

Their tour guide had pointed this area out when they had first arrived to the small Diamond Island, saying that the grounds were considered sacred and trespassing was a serious offense. Obviously, she didn’t care enough to heed the warning and found she was glad she’d followed her impulse to explore out here.

She had been hiking for a while and was starting to get tired. She chided herself for not bringing along any food or water with her. She was thinking of turning back when she heard the thunderous sound of a waterfall. She pressed forward, her goal close at hand.

When she finally emerged from the brush of long leaves and trees, she stared. It was spectacular, but she couldn’t place how this waterfall seemed so different from the others she’d seen in her lifetime. Maybe it was because it was so isolated, making it a peaceful spectacle of wonder.

Whatever the reason, she trudged forward through the mud, took off her shoes and socks, then waded into the knee-deep waters to sit on a large boulder standing above the surface. The water was cool on her legs, the sun shining on her back. The rhythmic pounding of the fall was mesmerizing. Alexa felt completely at peace for the first time in a long while. She’d definitely be breaking up with Clint when she got home, but this one moment made the hassle of the whole trip worth it.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting in the remote sanctuary when a noise alerted her. Alexa didn’t know exactly what the sound was, only that it wasn’t conducive to the nature around her.

She gasped and stood in the water, looking around her. Nothing. Trying to gain control over her erratic heart, she swished her way to dry ground and put her socks and shoes back on. As she stood, she saw the leaves shaking and wavering on the opposite side of the river.

Suddenly, a tall, strikingly handsome man appeared out of the foliage. They made surprised eye contact for more than a minute before the man blushed. He had black hair and icy blue eyes that were framed by dark lashes. His build was fit and trim, and he was wearing black slacks with a white, long sleeved shirt tucked in. The suspenders over the shirt stuck out the most.

He turned his head to the side and spoke over the noise of the waterfall. “Forgive me, madam. I was not aware there would be a woman bathing in this area.” He looked around. “Is your dress nearby? May I fetch it for you?”

Alexa’s eyebrows puckered together in a frown. “I wasn’t bathing. I was just getting my feet wet. And I’m not naked, for crying out loud.”

His flush deepened, but his gaze went back to her. “I assume the rest of your party is close by. Shall I escort you to them?”

Though he was acting strangely, she felt a surge of warmth at his concern. “They’re on the other side of the island. I’m sure I can find my way back.”

He looked at her as if she’d said her group was on Mars. “You cannot go back that way. There is nothing but dangerous animals and serpents.” He appeared to debate with himself then said, “You may come with me to my plantation. I will give you aid there.”

“Look, buddy, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I can certainly take care of myself.” As she spoke, she looked up to realize that the sun was already beginning its descent. Her hike had taken more than two hours and it would be dark in about forty minutes.

Alexa didn’t catch exactly what the guy said, but thought she’d heard him say something about a bluestocking. “I don’t know much about birds.” She gestured to the sky. “It’s later than I thought, so I guess I’ll take you up on your offer. I’ll just stay at your place for the night, then go back to my hotel tomorrow.” At the disdainful look on his face, she added, “If that’s okay with you.”

In response, he beckoned for her to cross the river. As she sloshed her way in the water with shoes on, he said, “The name’s Benton, by the way. James Benton.”

“Sounds like James Bond.” She stood next to him and noted that he was about six feet tall. She was five nine herself, so wasn’t intimidated in the slightest by his height.

“Who?” He stared at her strangely.

It was her turn to look at him like he was insane. “Forget it.” She waved her hand in the air. “My name’s Alexa. Why don’t you just lead the way, hmm?”

James shook his head and pivoted on his foot. Though he was handsome, she felt no attraction to him. He seemed too arrogant. Besides, she was on the island with another man. It would be poor taste to ditch Clint now, even if she was planning to break up with him.

The hike down wasn’t too much trouble and it was only thirty minutes before they approached a large house that was surrounded by farmland. It looked like James harvested sugarcane or something similar.

A black woman opened the door before they reached it. She held a gas lantern against the nearly dark sky. Alexa smiled at the lady who looked to be in her mid-thirties. “Is this your wife?”

Both the woman and James stared at her as if she had an extra head. “Okay,” she said slowly. “Sorry I was being presumptuous.”

James shrugged it off and brushed past the woman into the house. Alexa followed, noting that the woman bowed her head as James walked by.

The woman looked at Alexa disapprovingly. “I be Tessa, the ‘ousekeeper.”

Alexa nodded politely. James had wandered into the front room and Tessa told her to join him in the parlor. Alexa took in Tessa’s ragged dress that looked like it was made out of curtains, looked around the house made completely out of wood. There was no wallpaper or plaster or even a light-switch. The entire interior was lit by candlelight.

“Forgive me for being rude,” Alexa said to James as he lit a pipe, “but are you Amish or something?”

He looked puzzled. “I’m Presbyterian. I’m from England originally.” She didn’t know how to respond, so just sat on a settee and pulled her sodden shoes and socks off to dry. “I’ll be having company over in a few minutes. Shall I see if Tessa has an extra outfit for you?”

“Ah…no, thanks. I’d prefer wearing my clothes, and they aren’t very dirty.”

He sent her a curious glance but didn’t say anything. They sat in awkward silence for some time, and then a knock sounded at the front door. Alexa heard Tessa shuffle over the creaky wooden floors and greet whoever was there. Tessa stood in the doorway to the parlor and announced, “Yer friends be here, mastah.”

“Send them in.”

Three gentlemen who appeared to be the same age as James came in and stared at Alexa. Before she could say anything James stood. “Gentleman,” he greeted. “This is Alexa. I found her stranded by the falls and brought her home.”

“Just for one night,” Alexa stated as she stood and smiled at the men who were still staring.

England, 1816 (Part 2)

Leisha woke with a startled gasp. The intake of air immediately drew dirt into the back of her throat. Realizing that she was covered and surrounded by earth, she forced herself to not give into the reaction her body wanted. Instead of coughing, she held her breath. Feeling the dirt invading her lungs made her eyes tear up with bloody tears. Trying to ignore that discomfort, she took an inventory of the rest of her body.

She could feel residual pain coursing through her stomach and limbs, but it was manageable. More than anything, she felt weak and shaky. Keeping her eyes closed, she pushed her hands up into the dirt. Pressure from the soil increased on her face while she tried to dig her way out. As fatigued as she was, she had to take several breaks before her hands finally reached air. The excitement helped her to use what little energy she had to pull her torso above ground. Once there, she fell forward and coughed out as much dirt as she could from her lungs. It had been painful to hold in, and just as painful to discharge it from her body.

Just as she was pulling the rest of herself from the fresh grave, she felt the hunger pouncing within her mind. “Not yet,” she murmured to herself. She forced herself to stand and move through the gardens toward the large estate that the Baron owned. Her body felt heavy and it seemed a long journey before she made it to the french doors that she knew lead into the library. Of course, the doors were locked. Leisha had no patience for stealth and with an aggravated grunt, kicked the doors open. The glass shattered as the doors caved in the wrong direction.

Leisha stepped through and walked through the library to the hallway. She heard the servant’s heartbeat long before he entered the corridor with a pistol in hand. The scent of his skin and the sound of his heart brought the hunger forefront to her brain. Leisha grabbed her head and gave a small cry. Using breathing techniques she was able to quell the overwhelming urge to rush at the elder man and devour him. “He’s not the one we want,” she whispered.

Once she felt in control of her body again, she opened her eyes to see the servant pointing the pistol at her. His hand was wavering and he had a look of uncertainty on his withered face. One look into her eyes and the blood drained from his face. He seemed to be paralyzed as she moved past him and up the main stairway. It took all the control she could muster to not reach out at him when she came near him, but she was able to do it.

One agonizing step at a time, she made her way up the stairs. She had a general idea of where the baron’s rooms were, but still had to peek her head in some doors before she found it. His antechamber was immaculate, but she took no time to look around. The knowledge that her victim was so close and breathing deeply in the next room pulled her like a magnet. Laurence Chadwick didn’t stir when she entered. He slept on as if there were no worries in his world. That would change soon enough.

The hunger lashed out within her mind and before she knew it, she was straddling him. Leisha forced herself to take control again. Even if for just a moment, she wanted to be aware of his fear and his pain.

The baron started at her weight atop him. “What the hell?” he muttered and tried to rise.

Grabbing his hands and pinning them beside his head, Leisha leaned down into his face. “I came back for the honeymoon, dear husband.” The dirt and thirst made her voice sound scratchy, but it only helped with her desired effect.

Laurence could not see in the dark, but Leisha saw his face. It was utter terror and panic shaking his cheeks, making his lips quiver. A cruel smile formed on Leisha’s face. She’d never allowed the hunger to rule her body. It seemed too cruel and inhumane. But Laurence made her more irate than any human had ever managed.

“You got to have your day with my fortune,” she crooned. “I hope you celebrated, because now is the time to pay the devil his due.”

Leisha could hear him whimpering, begging for her to let him go, but it was too late. The hunger was taking over her body and the only thing she was aware of was the distant sound of a man screaming and his flesh tearing.

England, 1816 (Part one)

Leisha gave a discreet glance at the clock on the mantle. It was nearing midnight, and she would soon be giving her excuses to the Baron.

Looking up at him, she could see why Ptah had wanted her to investigate him. Baron Laurence Chadwick was indeed handsome, with aristocratic features, a thick head of dark hair and a tall frame. He also knew how to manipulate his way through social settings. Leisha had been sent to play the part of a rich widow and enter his circle to see if he would be a suitable recruit for the vampires. Leisha was relieved to discover that he was not. After one meeting with him and she could not stand being around him.

Trying to pretend interest in his courtship for the last month had left her feeling irritable. Luckily, Leisha had just discovered that the Baron was hiding a mountain of debt and would not be able to contribute financially to Ptah. This was the last night she had to endure the Baron’s presence, and then she would be free of his narcissistic companionship.

“Don’t you agree, my dear?”

Bringing herself back to the conversation, she blinked. “Sorry?”

Annoyance flashed in his brown eyes before it was quickly masked. “I was just listing off the ways in which you and I are compatible.” He walked over and sat next to her on the settee. “Shall I again compliment you on your many talents, your beauty?” He trailed fingers down her back. “Are you going to make me confess what you do to me… again?”

Stifling the urge to roll her eyes, she smiled coyly. “You flatter me Baron.”

His fingers settled over her lips. “I insist that you call me Laurie.” His smile was confident.

Pulling back, Leisha stood. “As I was saying, Baron, you flatter me. However, I have finally decided that I shall stay a widow and not remarry.”

The heat rising to his cheeks could have been embarrassment. After all, Leisha had been very direct, especially to an Englishman. However, she could tell by his pulse that he was angry. It looked as if he were trying to decide what to say, when he stopped and smiled sheepishly.

“Of course, darling. I cannot blame you for that.” He winked. “But you cannot blame me for trying to snag you either.” He made a perusal of her body in the finely tailored dress. “Any Englishman would want to try and get you into marriage.”

“You mean me or do you mean my ten thousand pounds a year?” She wanted to snicker when he clenched his jaw and gave her a false smile.

“Let us not discuss those dreary kind of things.” He stood and went to the decanter at the sideboard.

Watching him pour, she wondered why he didn’t ring for his butler to serve them. When she saw his hand shift lightly, she realized he was going to put something in her drink. A real smile crept on her lips for the first time that night. She would play his game, and give him the surprise of his life when she didn’t die.

Accepting the brandy from him, she took two large swallows.

The Baron’s smile was broad as he sipped at his own glass. “It is a shame you decided to deny me, dearest Felicity.” He walked closer until his face was directly in front of hers. “I have been lusting after your body almost as much as your fortune since we were introduced. For it to end tonight will be… tragic.”

Feeling free to deliver a scathing retort, she opened her mouth, only to gasp at a sudden pain the started in her chest and quickly traveled to her stomach. It was intense, like acid running through her system. Maybe that’s what he had given her. Shaking her head at the thought, she knew she would have tasted the acid as soon as it touched her lips. “What did you give me?” she mumbled.

He straitened with a look of satisfaction. “Quite simple, really. Glass crushed to a fine powder. The wench who sold it to me promised that it would work thoroughly on anyone.” He studied her. “I’m surprised it worked so quickly. I have to admit, I was planning for a bit more drama to ensue before we finished up.” He walked over to his desk and pulled a paper out of the top drawer. He held out the document for her to read. It was a marriage certificate, dated two days ago.

“Bastard,” was all she could get out before her body doubled over at the cramping coursing through her whole body. Leisha had never though t of ingesting glass. She wasn’t sure if her body could repair the damage quickly enough for her to not bleed to death.

“Genius, right?” He said pleasantly. “I have the document and three witnesses say that you and I married in secret just the other day. We have been so happy, but then tonight, you will disappear. I will wake in the morning to search for you, but to no avail. I will go to your solicitor to demand to know where you had your funds sent so that I can find you.” She felt his hand stroking her hair. “This will probably be one of my finest performances of all time.”

Violent shivering took her over and she couldn’t bring herself to speak, but she lifted her gaze to him and glared. Her eyes spoke of the murderous revenge she would have.

It seemed to affect him, because he paled slightly and licked his lips. “Well,” he whispered, “I was going to taste that body of yours, but you seem too put out. So I supposed I’ll have to save myself for a mistress to give me comfort, hm?” He bent and picked her up. He walked swiftly through the patio doors and into the gardens. It took no time to get to the spot he had previously arranged.

There was already an open grave at the base of an oak tree awaiting them. Unable to speak, Leisha screamed her fury and clawed his face. Just as blood sprang to the surface of his cheek, he dropped her with a girlish cry. She fell into the hole, driving the air from her lungs. Before she could recover, she felt pellets of dirt hitting her in the face.

“That will leave a scar, you bitch!” Laurence yelled.

Struggling past the dirt and pain, Leisha made herself stand. Laurence didn’t take well to that and swung his shovel at her head. Darkness engulfed her before she could even react…

Look for part two next Friday!

Leisha’s Wedding Day – Africa, 30 AC

Leisha could not have been any happier. Her life felt euphorically complete as she snuggled up to her new husband in their new hut. Her father had helped Tafari build it as a wedding gift. Not many in the village were so fortunate as to have their own home when so recently married. Leisha had felt like royalty when her father had told her what his gift to them would be. The place was small, with only one room, but it was much more than she had ever dreamed.

She sighed as she thought of their wedding earlier in the evening. Since her father was the village shaman, he was able to marry them. It had been a simple ceremony, but the celebration afterward had lasted well into the night. She knew that her fellow villagers cared more for the drinking and dancing around bon fires than celebrating her marriage. She was not very loved amongst them, but she still had felt important as the guest of honor. She had, in fact, glowed with happiness. She laughed softly to herself as she realized she still glowed with that same feeling. She was free to love and be truly happy.

Tafari stirred from his light sleep and opened his eyes. Leisha gazed into his beautiful silvery blue eyes and grinned. “I believe I am in heaven, dear husband.”

He smiled back. “Is that where we are? The gods have favored us to give us a paradise to retire in together.”

She giggled like a little girl, then flushed at her silliness. Tafari stroked her cheek. “I love your fair skin, and how easily you blush. It is so very becoming.” He chuckled. “I did not realize that taking your virginity would make you blush so.”

Thinking of the pleasure she had shared with him earlier made her blush a bright red. Tafari laughed some more, a carefree, deep belly laugh.

“Tell me that you are turning red from pleasure and not from shame,” he teased.

“You know I enjoyed it,” she stated as she wrapped her arms around his neck and burrowed deeper into his arms.

“Yes, I noticed,” he said huskily. “Just thinking about all those sounds you made makes me want to have you again.” He stroked his hands down the length of her. “I feel like you are a magical instrument and that I am the only one who knows the secret of your wonderful music.”

Leisha’s heart began a more rapid pace as he began to nibble lightly on her ear. “Yes,” she purred. “You are the only one, Tafari. My love.”

He began to stroke her with his fingers and proceeded to pluck a melody from her that lasted all through the night.


Cleaning up the bloodbath – Russia, 1493

Their numbers were now dwindling. After proving to be so strong and powerful after a thousand years of existence, the vampires were dealt a degrading blow of humility. They had all been trained warriors, with reflexes that could beat any predator that walked the earth. Until now.

Leisha drew in a deep breath and ignored the smells of carnage, death, and smoke that filled her lungs. She shared a glance with Ellery, and knew they shared the same thought. The vampires had been too conceited and self-absorbed to see the reality. That reality was that the immortals could be just as fast, just as well-trained, and just as determined as the vampires had been.

The only consolation the vampires had was that the immortals had suffered just as severely as they. Ptah repeated it every time he saw one of his vampires show a look of defeat. They walked together through the night to a nearby cave. They would sleep and recover there during the day and then return home to their lair the following evening. Their group being less than half of when they had arrived to battle.

Leisha could not keep the image from her mind as she walked with the others. The image that scorched her brain while she was decapitating her opponent during the battle. She had just taken his head and was seeking another to fight with when she had spotted Tafari. He had looked more the part of a feirce warrior than anyone she had ever seen. The black immortal’s stature was large, his presence dominating as he sliced his way through his foes as if they were merely human with no powers. It had been a beautiful sight.

Leisha was unable to contemplate what it had been like seeing him for the first time in a thousand years and had continued with the battle. She had not seen him again, and was certain he had never caught a glimpse of her. She sighed as she walked, unsure of what she was feeling. Perhaps a bit wistful, wishing that the past had been different. She would fantasize every so often about her and Tafari living out their lives together with a dozen children around them and dying together in their old age.

But it was not meant to be, so Leisha just allowed the fantasy every once in a while, but never told anyone about them, not even Ellery. Ellery did not even know about Liesha’s life as a human, and it was just as well. While her past did have an affect her attitude towards killing humans, she was a vampire and did not want to pull anyone else into the unrealistic desires of her heart that would never be. Of course, she was certain that Ptah probably knew what Leisha felt. He even used that knowledge to manipulate her. That was another sound reason for her to keep her personal thoughts to herself. She certainly did not need anyone else trying to mold her to their will.

Victor walked alongside her just as they were reaching the caves. “You fought very well,” he said.

Leisha smiled. “Coming from a great warrior such as yourself, that is a great compliment indeed.”

He nodded and smiled back. He looked like he was about to say more when Ptah began to speak to them all.

“We encountered many losses this night, but we are not defeated,” he said in his usual silky steel voice. “It will take some time to rebuild our army of vampires, but we will prevail. I will teach Victor the ways of converting humans into vampires, and he will help in selecting an elite group to join us.” The vampires murmured in surprise. Ptah had never shared his secret with anyone else. It was a great honor to Victor. “We will be great and strong again. When we are, we will seek out the immortals and study them. We will discover their weaknesses. Once we have, we will annihilate them completely. We will never concern ourselves with them hunting us down again!”

Everyone cheered at the proclamation and settled themselves for the day. Once darkness settled again, they would all scatter in different directions to feed. Leisha lay awake in the cave for a while, then rose and stealthily wound her way towards the entrance. She was the only vampire who could venture into the sunlight without getting burned, and she enjoyed that time. It almost made her feel human again.

She walked for a while around the frigid countryside, not noticing the biting chill in the air. She had come so far in her long life. She had fought off a debilitating depression and found a sense of purpose among the vampires. Yet still, she felt…. incomplete. She realized that day that she would always feel like that. The only time she had ever felt complete was when she had been with Tafari, and he was forever lost to her.