Fern wasn’t sure how much time she had left, but as she jogged away her mind began picking holes in the plan. The second Brook knew she was gone, he’d start tracking her and being in the middle of countryside, there was nowhere to hide. Her thoughts fell to another question, why was she running away?
I’m not, she stated to herself, I just want a bit of freedom. I’ve been stuck with Brook for days now and I just want some time alone.
She reflected and a part of her didn’t buy that line of thought. Shaking her head, she stopped thinking and just enjoyed the fresh air hitting her face. She ran on, not mapping the area in her head and not knowing where she was going. Empty fields stretched around her, lone trees stood stark against the night time sky and sometimes the glint of a light flashed by.
Fern’s feet hit a road, but she didn’t stop, she carried on heading away from Brook’s house. Her shoes slapped loudly on the tarmac and the rustle of her clothes sounded like bugs against her ears. The wind snatched her breath and pushed against her chest, but it also seemed to be screaming her name.
She risked stopping and turned to look behind. The twisting road and surrounding fields were empty and yet, she could hear Brook’s voice. Her heart and breathing pounded and she had to quieten them both in order to hear.
‘Fern!’ his distant voice shouted.
She ignored it and got back to running.
Where are you going? Brook’s voice broke into her thoughts.
Nowhere, she answered back before she could stop herself.
It’s not safe for you out there. You’re going to get lost again, Brook pointed out.
I’ll be fine.
Another voice inside of her head piped up that maybe she wouldn’t be. Fern ran on, expecting Brook’s voice to call out to her again. She spotted something in the distance and ran to it. A for sale sign stuck out onto the road. She paused and read that a farmhouse was for sale.
She wondered how far away she was and called out Brook’s name in her mind. When she didn’t get a reply she called it aloud, but only the wind answered her.
‘I should go back,’ she muttered.
Looking around, she saw nothing that marked the way, just the road leading backwards. Fern waited a few minutes, calling Brook every now and then. Surely, he was following her by now? Smiling, she pictured him appearing around the bend in the road and jogging up to her. He would tell her off and they’d head home.
Too much time was passing and she began to get edgy. Pulling a face, she started walking down the road, hoping to meet him. She trailed her fingers over the rough evergreen leaves of a hedge row and sniffed at the country air. A sense of liberation wrapped around her and the vampire voice questioned why she was going back so soon, wasn’t the night still new? And wasn’t she getting hungry again?
‘Perhaps, I am…but I should find Brook first,’ she muttered aloud.
Why? We can handle it now.
Fern paused at the voice and looked around, even though she knew it was inside of her head.
‘Because it’s the right thing to do…I’ve already killed two people and this time there’s no Dacian around to save me….Dacian,’ she whispered.
Hugging herself as she thought about him and wondered what he was up to right now. It’s not fair I had to leave without saying goodbye! Would the blood link let him track me this far?
She tore a leave off a bush and crushed it between her fingers.
But there could be others, the vampire voice whispered.
‘Others? All the way out here? Away from the towns and cities?’
Sure, why not? Maybe we could find someone else to talk to? Isn’t Brook boring you? And he didn’t give us what we wanted last night, the voice sounded sulky.
Fern shook head and carried on walking back. She heard the soft growls and more words coming from the voice that had taken up residence in her head as well as her own, but she fought it away. She turned her thoughts to Dacian, now that he had popped back into her mind and focused on them as she walked.
A good five minutes later, she came to a stop and looked around, in the distance she could make out the shape of a barn across a field to her left. Ahead the road carried on cutting its’ way through fields which was all she could see to her right. She listened and heard the calling of an owl and the movement of sheep.
Brook? she shouted in her head.
‘I couldn’t have taken a wrong turn…could I?’ Fern whispered.
She sniffed the air and thought she smelt a hint of the ocean. She set off again only for the sounds of running footsteps coming towards her to halt her legs. Her heart leapt and she smiled, it had to be Brook. A dark shadow took form in front of her and she waited. The footsteps slowed and a caped figure walked down the road towards her.
Fern frowned, Brook didn’t have a cape? Did he? And he’d never seemed that tall before….too late she realised it wasn’t him. Fern darted off the road and used the shadows surrounding the hedge row to mask herself.
‘I won’t hurt you,’ a soft male voice with a twinge of an Italian accent spoke, ‘we heard you calling out last night.’
Fern clamped her mouth shut and tried not to let the words dancing on her tongue and in her head out. She focused on staying hidden and wrapped more shadows around herself.
‘We had debating coming to save you, but it seems there was no need,’ the voice added.
Fern looked up and saw him standing before her, watching her. She gasped and couldn’t help but take in his tanned skin and dark brown eyes. His black hair was short and thick, styled to give the impression of being longer. He was clean shaven and his sculpted face was just a little too handsome. He looked to be in his mid-twenties, but it was clearer he was alot older then that.
‘There’s no point hiding. I can see you. What’s your name?’
Fern dropped the shadows, but stayed where she was. Her eyes fell to look at the cape wrapped around him; the wind was moving the edges that hung just above the floor.
‘Don’t be shy,’ he said gently.
She looked up at him and opened her mouth, ‘fur,’ tumbled out.
‘Fur?’ he repeated, his face breaking into a laugh and soft breathy chuckle following.
‘What’s your name and what are doing here?’ Fern snapped.
‘I’m Raphael and my brood doesn’t live far from here.’
‘A family of vampires. We try to live together,’ Raphael laughed.
Fern bit her lip and stayed quiet.
‘Am I the first vampire beside your maker who you’ve met, Fur?’
‘No,’ she growled, ‘and it’s Fern.’
He grinned and offered his right hand. She looked at his open palm and saw a brown beaded bracelet with a small metal charm dangling from his wrist.
‘I won’t hurt you. I promise,’ Raphael purred.
Fern took his hand and felt it oddly warm around her’s. She let him pull her out of the small ditch and back onto the road. She looked around expecting at any second to see Brook rushing over to them.
‘I don’t think he’s coming,’ Raphael’s voice brushed her ear.
‘Whoever you’re looking for. Your maker, maybe?’
Fern looked at him and slid her hand out of his.
‘You’ve not been around long have you?’ Raphael asked.
‘We only got here last night,’ Fern shot back.
‘That’s not what I meant…’
‘Look, I’ve to go. It was nice meeting you.’
‘Are you going to go back and let him lock you up again?’
‘That wasn’t what it seemed and anyway it’s none of your business!’ Fern shouted and tried to shove past him.
Raphael grabbed her and spun them both around. He held her arm tightly, his cape flying out to show off the pure white shirt, black trousers and posh leather shoes he wore. Fern paused, her eyes caught on his bare throat and chest nicely framed by the line of open buttons. She swallowed and looked up at him again.
‘Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?’ Raphael asked sweetly, ‘we’d take care of you, teach you how to be a real vampire. Wouldn’t you like that?’
‘I’m fine, honest,’ Fern stated and tried to get her arm back.
‘No, I really don’t think you are,’ Raphael spoke smoothly, with a flash of his fangs.
Fern stopped her struggle and looked at the white sharp points poking out from behind his wide smile. Her eyes flickered up to his and she felt a wave of tiredness. Her eyelids fluttered closed before she could stop them and she felt her body sinking down.
To Be Continued…