A Bad Idea

Well, okay, I knew that I should have been proud of myself because I’d made it through alive. And that’s all I could have asked for. It had just started out as a simple question, you know: what was up with the hottest, most dangerous guy in school and was he going to kill me? I had my answer now, only I wasn’t so happy about it.
Because I had killed him.
And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care.
***
Zac Hunt was your typical high school bad-boy. He had the dark hair, the cocky smile, the leather jacket…he even had your black motorcycle. If he wasn’t a vampire, he’d probably have an array of tattoos decorating his pale skin; or piercings. Or both.
At the time, I hated to admit that he was actually attractive, but of course, all vampires are. It’s how they lure their pray in, obviously. Since they’ve been around forever—and I do mean forever—people have gotten used to them. It doesn’t make them happy, but still, they’ve adapted to the fact that there are mythical creatures who roam the night and thirst for blood. I could only wonder what would happen if people knew about the wizards. Or the werewolves. I imagine that wouldn’t go over very well, but who am I to assume?
You’re probably wondering why I don’t group myself in with the mundane, average, everyday humans, correct? Well, it’s simple, really. I’m not immortal, but I’m no delicate flower. My dad was an angel once upon a time, but he turned in his wings and pretty little halo when he met and fell hopelessly in love with my mother, since a long distance relationship between heaven and earth just wasn’t realistic. They started dating, got married, and produced the most wonderful bundle of joy the world has ever known.
Aria Orfiel.
Hey, I’m not being conceited; it’s true. I’m a hybrid, which is unheard of. Especially an angel hybrid. I’m, in all honesty, one of a kind. I know all about the dark forces of nature and the creepy crawly things that occupy the night. Hell, I’m sent to take care of them…and not in the friendly, “how do you do, would you like to stay the night, are you hungry can I get you anything to eat?” way. Nope. I’m here to kill them.
Of course, I don’t do it unless there is a reason to. Most night-dwellers keep to themselves. There is the odd, rogue werewolf and the vicious vampire, but I can take them easily. I may not have had any training, but I know what I’m doing. It’s in my blood. Or, rather, my father’s blood. Whatever. He is determined that he was only allowed to be dispatched from heaven to be with my mother because I was supposed to be here to eliminate all the dark things in the world. So, basically, my role as super-awesome mythical murderer was self-appointed. But at sixteen, I was already saving more lives than brain surgeons. And that was just me killing off the worst of the worst.
You know, the funny thing about my family is that my mother is completely oblivious to who she married and what her only child is. Ignorance is bliss, I guess, because my mother, Lena, is a happy woman. I never really wondered or questioned if my father, Raphael, would ever tell her. I don’t think her fluttery, hair-brained nature could take it.
Anyways, I’m getting way off course. This is not about my messed up, complicated history or anything like that.
It’s about my messed up, complicated mistakes.
***
It started on Wednesday during six period math. Ugh. I wanted to kill myself.
Mr. Blake was rambling on and on about limits and fractions and other crap that went way over my head—and would never be relevant to me anyways—when, low and behold, the door to the classroom opened and the most gorgeous piece of eye-candy I’d ever had the delicious pleasure of looking upon strutted into the room. The room went dead silent as everyone feasted upon his outrageous beauty, and I ignored the signs as I, too, invested in a little ogling.
“Ah, Mr. Hunt, the transfer student. We are honored to be graced by your presence,” Mr. Blake said loudly and sarcastically, obviously immune to his chiseled, sexy appearance.
“As you should be,” the new student said confidently. He walked right up to Mr. Blake and slapped a form on his desk. “I’ll be expecting this filled out by the end of class.”
Mr. Blake turned bright red and I could tell that this new kid was going to suffer at the mercy of his relentless vengeance if he didn’t cut it out right now. Only, I didn’t think the new kid cared. “Go to your seat, Mr. Hunt.”
The kid looked around. Typically, the only seat open was the one behind me, which I was greatly disappointed in because I knew I wouldn’t get to drink in his hotness as much as the other girls in the classroom would. I wasn’t one of those flighty chicks who flocked from guy to guy, but I could appreciate a handsome face when I saw one.
I only wished I could appreciate this new kid’s handsome face straight on.
The kid walked down my aisle with swagger to his step and I grinned girlishly to myself. Jeez, I was such a tard.
He passed me to take the seat and then it hit me. All my senses started screaming at me, telling me to rip out of this chair and get the hell out of that room. He was dangerous, he wasn’t human. Though people knew of a vampire’s existence, it was thought that they only came out at night because that turn-to-ashes-at-sunrise thing was an honest to God belief in this day and age, even though it was a bunch of bogus bologna. Vampires loved to come out in the day and pretend to be normal. I don’t know how they resisted the call of blood, but as long as they covered their skin and made a point to stay inside, they could walk around just like the rest of us. Actually, they prefer to drive tinted cars, but you get what I’m saying.
Because he took me off guard—and because my first natural instinct is to murder any danger to the human race—a loud hiss escaped my mouth and I cringed forward away from him, wrenching the desk into my gut. The class turned to stare at me as my blonde hair whipped from behind my ear and covered my face. I struggled to get my emotions under control, to keep from turning around and driving my pencil through his heart…and to keep from bolting from the room.
I was no mind-reader, but the shock in the room was pressing against my skin like humidity on a summer day. I straightened in my chair and pulled my hair away from my face just in time to see Mr. Blake compose his surprise and scowl at me in his usual, non-threatening way. He just wasn’t as scary as he thought he was. “Miss Orfiel, do you have a problem?”
Yes, and it’s only going to get worse the longer this blood-sucker is in the room. “No.”
“Is there something wrong with Mr. Hunt’s seat?”
“No.” He’ll only try and murder me the second he finds out that I’m some twisted version of Buffy the vampire slayer. No problem.
“Are you done disrupting my class?”
I repressed the impulse to flip him the bird and nodded like a good little student. He hated me the most of everyone else in the class, though I may be rivaling this Hunt kid if he continues to ruffle Mr. Blake’s feathers. Though, I realize as soon as I have that thought, that if Hunt tries any funny business with the kids at this school, I’ll put him in the ground for good.
“Good. Now, tell me, Miss Coldwater, if five x is equivalent to…”
I stared down at my notes the rest of the class period, blocking out everything Mr. Hoity-Toity had to say about calculus and whatever else junk he was supposedly teaching us. Instead, I was focused solely on the eyes of the deadly, sexy creature behind me who’s gaze was burning a hole into my skull.
I jumped when the bell rang, even though I had been anticipating it for the last five minutes. Gathering my things together quickly, I pulled my books to my chest and tucked a long lock of hair back behind my ear, zipping out of my seat and hurrying to the hallway. I wanted to make it seem like I was just going to go to class, but I was going to skip it, and if it took all hour to get some explanations out of Hunt, he was going to skip too.
I hid around the corner, still feeling the vampire’s eyes on me until I disappeared. I was going to stalk the guy until he was clear from other’s eyes. No need to call attention to the fact a vampire was roaming around the school acting like a student. If I could get him alone, I could ask what the hell he was thinking, and if I believed what he told me, he might walk away.
He was surprisingly daft for a vampire. I followed him as he wound through the hallways of school and out towards the back lot where the football field was. The wet weather made me instantly regret following through on my wonderful plan to creep after a vampire because it was going to be a big messy frizz ball once I was done out here. Fabulous. Despite the fact that I was who I was, I wasn’t some crazy buff who wore her hair in ponytails and accentuated her muscles with unitards. I was still just a regular girl, and the rainy drizzle was pissing me off.
“Where the heck are you going, Vamp Boy?” I muttered to myself, clutching my books closer.
He shouldn’t have been able to hear me. Vampires had good hearing, but I was at least a respectable one hundred feet behind him, and I was an expert at these things.
“I’m going to the one place on this campus that isn’t populated,” he answered me unexpectedly, his voice traveling loudly. My eyes widened in shock as the wheels in my head started to turn. I was different in situations like that because even in surprise I could work through the “oh-my-god-what?!” moment to think clearly. I had to. If I skipped one beat, I could die.
“Why?” I whispered, testing to see if he could hear me. I was full of adrenaline, and having the familiar feeling of it coursing through my veins made me on edge. Plus, I was curious to see how abnormal this freak was.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite make that one out,” he called back to me.
My steps almost faltered. What the hell? “I said why,” I replied in a normal tone.
“I don’t blame you for wanting to talk to me, Sunshine, but don’t you think this is a little much? Stalking an unknown person out to the most secluded place in school? Isn’t that dangerous for someone like you?” He disappeared around the corner and determinedly, I gritted my teeth and stomped around it as well a few moments later, halting abruptly when I saw he was standing just barely hidden.
My heart kicked up a notch when I caught sight of his unbelievable hotness. He was like, the epitome of hotness. Like, I’ve never, ever seen anyone—human or myth—that was as untouchably gorgeous as he was. I had to remind myself repeatedly that he was a monster; it didn’t matter how yummy he looked.
“Someone like me?” I demanded in the nick of time. It almost looked like I was ogling him again. Sigh; I wish I could.
He chuckled and his dark eyes sparkled with humor and…thirst. Ah, yes, that would be a lovely addition to eternal damnation. I almost feel sorry for the suckers; they never chose this lifestyle…oh, and pun intended.
I scoffed at him when he motioned a hand up and down. “Blonde and bodacious.”
“Hey, listen here, Vamp Boy, you don’t know who you’re messing with,” I threatened. I may be blonde, but I’m no thick-skulled idiot, and my curves were something that I was proud of, even if I wasn’t stick thin. Though the stereotype is true most of the time (see Paige Waters; god, what a retard), I am the farthest thing from dumb. Well, maybe not the farthest thing, but I’m smarter than most blondes.
Of course, I realized my slip the moment I uttered those words because he becomes stone-wall still and stares at me in surprise. I wondered how often he felt that emotion, as I continued to scowl.
“Vamp Boy?” he asked in a low tone.
I got chills because he sounded so lethal. “Yeah.” I’d dealt with vampires before; he did not intimidate me. Still, I prepared myself for the attack I knew was coming. The uncovering of their identities tended to severely annoy them to the point of a murderous rampage. Trust me; I’ve been there, done that. I wasn’t taking any chances with this odd ball.
“Vamp boy?”
“Okay, I know you’re not deaf because you had like, super freak hearing a second ago, but—.”
“Honestly, you couldn’t come up with a more suitable name than Vamp Boy?”
I gaped at him, unable to help it. Usually when I revealed to a vampire that I knew what they were, they went ballistic. Here he was concerned that I didn’t give him a good nickname in the hour that I’ve known of him? What kind of vampire was he?
“I—,” I stuttered. How humiliating; I never stuttered.
His eyes danced again. Jeez, that was going to get on my last nerve. “You’re name is Aria, I know, you don’t have to tell me. And let me guess, Aria, you followed me out here because you need help with the calculus homework.”
“Um, no,” I said flatly, regaining my composure as I looked up at him. I never noticed before now but he was tall. The sound of the rain echoed into the cement corridor under the large wall of bleachers where we stood, making it smell like dank moss and reeking of darkness. Hence, the vampire standing before me with a confused look on his face.
“No?”
“No. Actually, I followed you out here because this is my school and I really can’t have any mythical creatures lurking in the halls, waiting to attack some poor freshman loser in the wrong place at the wrong time,” I informed him, relieving an itch on my nose while I spoke. The adrenaline running through me was making me tense, and I just kept waiting for the moment that Vamp Boy here would go wacko on me. It’s really easy to kill a vampire during the day; I’d just have to rip his clothes off and force him to remain in the sun for about half a minute.
It was too bad the clouds were thicker than the pasty veil they usually were.
So, pretty much, I was screwed, no matter what.
“Lurking? You make me sound like a sex offender prowling on small children,” he said amusedly instead of releasing the wild, blood-thirsty shriek I expected. I couldn’t help it; my jaw dropped again. I was dealing with such an anomaly that I didn’t know where to start with this guy. “That hurts me, Buttercup.”
“Okay, we need to settle a few things here. My name is Aria and you know it. Not Buttercup or Sunshine or anything else equally hideous,” I corrected him fiercely. “Secondly, I don’t know what game you’re playing here, Vam—.”
“Do not call me vamp boy,” he said in a growl, sounding closer to a monster than I’d heard him yet. “It’s extremely unflattering. Call me Zac.”
I glared at him. “Yes, well, I make a point not to get to know my enemies on a first name basis since most of them are hell-bent on ripping my head cleanly off my body.”
“Believe me, Beautiful, if I wanted to rip your head off your body, I would have done so by now.”
I gritted my teeth and fought against the urge to make the first move. I knew he wasn’t harmless, but he was acting so senile and gentle for a vampire that I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck was wrong with him. Vampires have tempers, and they aren’t particularly fond of me. It’s not really a general rule, but I figure that if they’re cussing and cursing and threatening me while I take care of them, they don’t really like me.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked in irritation.
He smirked confidently and leaned towards me a little, intruding in my personal space. Though I didn’t appreciate it, I was not going to move from this spot until I was through with him. “Aria Orfiel, the daughter of the angel Raphael and a mundane human. You slaughter my kind and other creatures of the night that threaten lives and tell yourself it’s for the good of humankind.”
I pursed my lips, not wanting to relay my shock. “And…you’re okay with that?”
He shrugged. “I can’t really do anything about it, can I?”
“What kind of vampire are you?” I demanded again, awed and annoyed. He should be charging me now. He should be snapping at me with his teeth.
“The kind, apparently, that baffles teenaged girls who kill monsters.”
I reached up with one hand and pressed it against the side of my face. “Ugh, this is just too weird.”
“Would you prefer a blood bath? I really don’t want to tear you apart; I quite like your spunky attitude, but if you insist…” Still, he made no move towards me.
I looked at him and furrowed my eyebrows. “I just can’t…”
“Look, Aria, baby, you don’t have to say anything. I dazzle, I know, but it’s okay. I’ll see you tonight.” He winked and started to back away from me slowly.
I scowled at him, but could not repress my curiosity. “What’s tonight?”
“Our date. I’ll pick you up at eight,” he grinned, and then—as if he’d vanished into thin air—he was gone. I stared at the empty space where he was just standing for a few moments before shaking my head. I couldn’t believe the mess I’d gotten myself into. I knew without a doubt that I had to go on this date tonight with Zac Hunt, even though my dad would find out, and he’d feel the reeking darkness of vampire on me when I got home as it was.
How does Vamp Boy even know where I live?
In my couple years of defending the humans, never did I once ever—EVER—consider dating an enemy of mine. It just didn’t make sense, because one of us would end up killing the other. Yet here I was going out with the hottie of all hotties on a date. And he was a vampire. Who I was supposed to kill.
Well, whatever it was not, I was going to wring some information from his extremely kissable looking lips if it was the last thing I did.
***
“I’m home!” I called out as I burst through the door. I’d walked home instead of taking the bus, so I was a little later than usual, hoping that the damp breeze would carry away the smell of Vamp Boy on my clothes. I didn’t particularly want Dad to know that I was going out with a vampire—for my own selfish reasons, not because I actually wanted to, of course—because he would get all crazy-protective-parent on me and I was plenty old enough to take care of myself.
When silence greeted me, I sighed, because it meant that both my parents were working late at the store, which they owned a couple blocks down from our quaint little home. I guessed it was for the best because when they worked late, they worked really late, and that would allow me to slip out with Vamp Boy without being chastised by my father.
It was just turning four-thirty, so I ventured upstairs and plopped all my school books down onto my unmade bed and sidestepped over the disarray of clothes covering my carpet completely to get to my closet. Once there, I scanned my choices, wondering what one wears when going on a date with a blood-thirsty monster who seemed determined to play the nice guy. I mean, how was I supposed to hate him when he grinned at me and called me buttercup and sunshine? I liked it a lot more than I let on.
I settled on a pair of dark wash denim and a dark blue shirt that fell just off the shoulders. It was mobile enough to let me kick butt if I needed to, but it was also very acceptable for a first date. The only date. I wasn’t going to feed my attraction to his delicious eye-popping beauty anymore than I had to, because vampires were dangerous and to get romantically involved in one of them would only bring one of those several vampire romance novels to life.
And I mean, please, it’s so cliché. Vampire boy, human girl. Love at first sight. Yeah…not. That was not how life worked. Besides, I was half-angel so technically, I wasn’t human either. It doesn’t give me license to go creating another vampire love story.
As the evening wore on and I waited for Vamp Boy to show up—wondering if he would—I started to feel restless and on edge. My stomach knotted and I attempted to clean up the house to get rid of the anxiety building up, but it was a lost cause. I was way too fidgety to eliminate the feeling. The feeling was telling me that something big was going down tonight, and that’s why it made me so nervous. So, I packed my vampire killing gear up into my old backpack, intending on using it at the first sign of trouble. And trust me, I knew trouble when I saw it coming.
I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but at eight o’clock sharp I turned around from where I was sorting through the various papers on the dining room table (I had a messy family) to see Vamp Boy leaning up against the wall next to the door, looking extremely sexy in his leather jacket and faded jeans. I felt confident about my clothing choices once I saw what he was wearing, but rational thought came later. All I could think about at the moment was how much I wouldn’t mind kissing him.
“Hello, Aria,” he said, flashing me a dazzling smile. Hmm, how does that saying go? He’s magically delicious…oh yes. “Wow, I must say, you clean up well. You almost look as good as I do.”
I managed to scowl at him, but only barely. “Gee, thanks. Now where are you taking me?”
He pushed away from the wall and walked towards me gracefully. Oh my. It seemed like the few hours I spent away from him did nothing for my resistance. In fact, it felt like I was more susceptible to him than ever. Brilliant. Fabulous. Wonderful.
Not.
“That would ruin the surprise, now wouldn’t it?” he replied, stopping a few feet in front of me, his eyes penetrating my gaze. Holy crow.
“Um, I hate surprises,” I said, cursing myself for adding the “um” in there. Gah, this creature was turning me into a silly, uncoordinated girl. I needed to be on my A game if something was going down tonight, and by the feel of things—though they were nearly suffocated by the feel of Zac’s presence—it was going down.
“I think you’ll like this one. Are you ready to go?” he extended his arm out towards me and I stared at it incredulously for a moment before turning my back on him—going against complete instinct to see how he would react—and jotting a quick note for my parents. We had school tomorrow, but they were never too concerned with how late I stayed out because I was a pretty reliable student and daughter. The only secret in our family was the fact that me and Dad weren’t human.
“Now, I am,” I told him after writing the note and turning around to face him. His arm was still extended my way, and the offer was nearly impossible to resist—considering I wanted to touch him like I’d never wanted to feel anything else against my fingertips in my life—but I sauntered past his arm and to the door. I reached for the knob and smirked to myself.
“You coming, Vamp Boy?”
I could feel when he was suddenly standing behind me. And I mean, right behind me. I sucked in a surprised breath and spun around because my instincts were warning me against his close proximity. It was a strange thing, because I wanted him closer to me and as far away as he could get at the same time. His darkness spurred everything in me to run away as fast as I could, but his face and eyes—though irritated now—begged me for a chance.
Why was I considering it?
He grinned at the way my heart sped and the alarm in my wide blue eyes. “Right behind you, Sunshine.”
I snatched my backpack up from off the ground, slung it over my shoulder, and threw open the door. “Well, then, let’s get going,” I said, less harshly than I wanted to sound.
He flicked off the light switch before I could make a move towards it and motioned for me to go first. “Ladies first.”
Trying to keep my cool, I stepped out into the dimming twilight, my eyes widening again when I spotted the sleek black vehicle leaning up against the stone fence surrounding my tiny home. I stopped in my tracks abruptly and twirled around to face him again, glaring. “I cannot get on that thing.”
He rolled his eyes and passed me as he shut my door. My senses told me to cringe away from him, but I didn’t want to. “It’s the bike or my back, baby. Pick one.”
“I’m not your baby,” I muttered, narrowing my eyes. “I barely even know you.” The words hit me. I barely even knew him. What the hell was I thinking, going out with him in the first place?
His answering smile hypnotized me so that I forgot I was about to turn around and dart back inside. “I intend on changing that by the end of the night. By the way, what’s up with the backpack? I mean, I know girls have a thing with purses, but it’s a little much, don’t you think?”
I grumbled to myself and stalked past him towards the motorcycle he owned, knowing there was no way in hell I was going to jump on his back for any sort of transportation. I may be finding myself dangerously attracted to this monster, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
I stopped in front of the vehicle and whipped around to see Zac still standing where I left him, smiling amusedly to himself.
“Well, come on, then,” I insisted in irritation, motioning to the bike.
“Are you always this irritable or am I just lucky?” he asked with a grin as he came forward and swung a leg over the seat.
“Do you always have to respond with a question?” I shot back at him as I took my seat behind him. Hesitantly, I wrapped my arms around his torso, expecting to feel repulsed by the darkness he carried with himself. I was surprised when I found nothing but a hum of pleasure and an eager voice in my head begged me to hold on tighter.
“Do you always insist on ignoring them?” he countered with a laugh as he backed the bike up and started the engine.
“Just go,” I sighed exasperatedly. His laugh was thrown back into my ears when he suddenly took off down the street, leaving my hair whipping behind me.
It was a shockingly comfortable ride to the…to wherever he was taking me. The darkness within the night was more tangible than usual because there were many more vampires walking around than there was during the day. Because they weren’t hurting anyone, I felt neither obligated to leap off the back of the bike to confront them, nor did I desire to. I really hated that I wanted to stay exactly where I was all night long.
Zac zipped along the dark streets, the shadows from the buildings thinning as he drove farther away from the center of town towards it’s outskirts. The last of the veiled sunlight hit my exposed skin and warmed me, creating a contrasting sensation from the chilly wind swirling around me.
“So where did you say you were taking me?” I shouted hopefully over the wind.
“You don’t have to shout, Buttercup, I can hear you just fine,” he replied loudly so that I could hear. He was clearly smirking. “And nice try.”
“Fine. How much longer ‘til we get there?” I muttered, scowling at the ridiculous nickname.
“Guess,” he challenged. I questioned my sanity for the millionth time since I met him. Why was I doing this again?
Instead of guessing, I remained silent and kept my eyes trained on the road over his shoulder, trying not to let irritation rule again. I hated the feeling, but with Zac around, it seemed ever present.
He drove for about another fifteen minutes before he started to slow and turn onto a gravel road that led down to the lake I used to visit everyday in the summer with my friend Ella, until she moved two years ago. She had lived close by and we took advantage of the swimming options while I practically moved into her home during June and July.
Zac kept the motor running until we came to a willow tree by the shore when he turned it off and skidded the bike a halt. I extracted my arms from around him immediately and hopped off, trying to put on my tough front again. Vamp Boy couldn’t know that he made me forget what I was supposed to be.
I threw my backpack against the base of the tree before I whipped around to look at him. “Why did you bring me here?” I asked him, my voice quieter than I thought it was going to be.
He dismounted his bike and walked past me towards the edge of the water as the moon began to rise. It was full tonight, and I suddenly wished that I had brought my werewolf stuff too; they weren’t exactly in full control on nights the moon was a whole pale circle in the sky. I would just have to hope that they decided to wander a little farther from town tonight, seeing as how most of them are friendly enough, despite their hostile nature.
“I’m talking to you,” I said softly as I approached Zac where he was standing on the sandy stretch along the water. It was amazing how still the lake was, and how each star in the sky was reflected flawlessly back towards the heavens with the silver circle of the moon from the mirror the lake had become. Zac’s face looked white in the light as he gazed mournfully at the sky and his serious expression—the first one I’d ever seen on his face—took my by surprise. My stomach twisted in unease.
I didn’t like it.
At all.
I may be an angel hybrid who killed dangerous creatures in her free time, but I was still very vulnerable, and in that instant, I was close to feeling frightened.
I never felt scared.
“Why did you bring me out here?” I asked Zac again, determined to get an answer this time.
He sighed, but did not look away from the stars. “It got you out of the city,” he admitted, sounding almost embarrassed.
I rolled my eyes and cross my arms over my chest as I sat back on my right heel. “Oh, gee, really? I hadn’t noticed that, Sherlock.”
His eyes narrowed and he looked at me sharply. “No, Aria. It got you out of the city.”
I suddenly realized that he wasn’t joking around—he was actually being extremely sober about whatever this was. “Why would I need to get out of the city?” I asked warily.
He grimaced, and I knew I’d asked the million-dollar question. “That’s not important.”
“Like hell it is,” I hissed back at him, dropping my arms and clenching my hands into fists. “Listen here, buddy, I don’t normally hop on the back of a random stranger’s bike, much less a stranger who is a vampire. I can kill you, have you forgotten that?”
He turned around so that he was facing me and my heart picked up it’s pace. Curse his uncommonly handsome face. I wanted to gorge myself on his deliciousness, but that simply wasn’t possible or justifiable. I was wounding my own dignity.
“I am not some random stranger, Aria,” he said fiercely. “I know you, more than anything else in this world knows you. It’s weird and I know it’s on so many levels of wrong, but it’s true. I wouldn’t have revealed myself if there wasn’t a reason, but there is now and I need you to trust me.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the phone here, Vamp Boy… “You’ve been stalking me?” I asked, stepping away from him. I had not ruled out using my trusty vampire slaying kit at this point, and if he made a move or confessed some creepy, obsessive love for me, I was so out of there.
Not that I would get very far; vampires are faster than any vehicle could go and all I had was his bike.
He shook his head and laughed bitterly. “No, not stalking. Protecting.”
I stared at him blankly as I stopped dead in my tracks, his last word hanging in the air. I was afraid of what it meant and it was several, brain-blocked moments before I finally found the words I wanted to say. “Why would I need protecting?”
He ignored my question. “You know, it’s not very easy to be around you; your blood is actually highly repulsive.”
Damn my curiosity! “Should I be…offended?”
He chuckled, and for a second, his eyes sparkled, bringing back a semblance of the cocky vampire I’d met during seventh period. “No. It’s probably a good thing…” His face hardened. “It’s probably why you’re still alive.”
“Why is my blood repulsive?” I asked, trying to push back the jumpy feeling his last comment left with me.
“You’re half angel, Aria,” he said with a hint of black amusement. “You are goodness and light: the soft flame of a candle, or the spark of happiness in someone’s eyes. I am all that is horrifying and dark: the demon who inspires fear, or the blackness of the unknown at night. It didn’t surprise me when you cringed away after I passed your desk this afternoon; I repulse you too, don’t I?”
I looked away from him. I knew what he was talking about; that overpowering urge to runaway because of the darkness that leaked from his very being. And yeah, I was repulsed by it. But by him?
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully, cautiously.
He looked back out at the water and the moonlight hit his face full on, making it glow pure white. His lips were red in contrast and his eyes darker than the surrounding trees. I stared at it, transfixed by how beautiful he was yet again.
“Why do I need protecting, Zac?” I asked more forcefully, recalling my earlier question. It wasn’t easy; his face was extremely distracting.
He pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at the glassy water. “They’re looking for you.”
For the first time in my life, a finger of fear trailed down my spine and I wrapped my arms around my torso. This was so unfamiliar to me, and I hated it. So many things were unfamiliar to me today.
“If you don’t mind my asking,” I laughed once, but I wasn’t amused. Not at all. “Who is looking for me?”
“It’s why I came to your school today; why I registered. To be close to you. Vampires have mates, Aria, and many of them aren’t particularly happy with you. You’ve killed their other half and now they’re after your blood.”
“But I repulse them.”
“They won’t drink it; they’ll merely spill it.”
I shrugged, even though the prospect of more than one vampire at a time scared the bejeezus out of me. “I’ve dealt with vampires before, Zac. You should be more worried about them.”
He took a step closer to me, raising an eyebrow. “Should I? I’ve been protecting you for years, Aria. Years! You don’t know the things I’ve done to ensure you aren’t killed by my kind. You don’t know how many werewolves I’ve murdered before they could come after you, or how many witches I’ve bribed to leave you alone. You’ve become extremely important to me and I’ve fallen in love with you; I can’t let you treat this as if it was any one of your other missions. You know this is different.”
“You love me?” I squeaked, my eyes bugging out of my head. I was insanely incredulous of this tidbit of info because I barely knew the guy and he was professing his love for me. Instead of running away, like I thought I would—like I said I would—my heart hammered at the words and I had the urge to touch him again.
He groaned. “You’re missing the point. What I’m trying to tell you is—.”
He broke off abruptly as I stood on my tiptoes and closed the distance between our faces—what little of it there was—and placed my lips squarely over his. The darkness I usually felt coming from him changed as I kissed this surprisingly sensitive, sexy vampire with enthusiasm. He no longer felt dark when we were connected; and his lips were warmer than I thought they should be.
Dad would probably be disappointed if he knew that his only daughter was making out with a hottie that was a vampire, but I wasn’t going to let a little guilt trip stop me from getting what I wanted. And even if his confession should have unnerved the average human—I didn’t care what he called it; protecting me for years without my knowledge is still stalking in my book—but he cared about me. No one—vampire or human—besides my parents had ever told me they loved me.
And yeah, okay, maybe my extreme attraction to him begged me for this, but I wasn’t worried about him biting me because he told me my blood was gross. This was something I never did. Seriously. I never did this. EVER.
But, man, let me tell you something…
His lips were very, very, very kissable. Oh, so kissable.
Zac looked shocked when I pulled away a few moments later, but his expression was quickly broken by a grin. “Just couldn’t resist me, eh?”
I rolled my eyes, but smiled. “Don’t let it go to your head.”
His grin disappeared and he reached over to tuck a piece of my blonde hair behind my ear. “You’re in danger.”
“I can take them,” I insisted.
Anger flashed in his eyes, and I could see it even in the dark. “No, you can’t. They are coming in packs, and I don’t even know how many.”
I raised my eyebrows at him as I took a step back to relieve my senses of his darkness that grew thicker with his anger. “How do you know so much already?”
He smiled without amusement. “You killed my mate when you were eight, Aria. It’s how I found you; I came back to avenge her death. But when I saw you, sleeping, the night I came to kill you…I couldn’t do it. I know so much because I know the vampires whom you’ve angered. It’s not going to be pretty; I think you should leave town.”
“Duh, Zac, that wouldn’t make any sense! They’d just follow me anyways…and, I’m sorry,” I said sincerely. “But I wouldn’t have killed her unless she was more dangerous than the usual vampire.”
He waved his hand. “I’m over her now, it doesn’t matter. We need to—“ I gasped as he spun around and crouched low in front of me, forcing me to move backwards until my back hit the willow tree his bike was resting against. My stomach knots from earlier twisted sickeningly again and worsened. I had a feeling I was going to get to face out whatever it was right now.
I was taken off guard again when I heard Zac making a strange noise.
“Are you…growling?” I asked him. Oh my god. He was like an angry puppy.
He didn’t answer me and I suddenly realized that he was hearing something I couldn’t yet. I guess it was a good thing that the vampire who decided to stalk me had super-freak hearing. Lucky me.
I never saw their approach, but their anger made their darkness so immense that it fanned out for miles and I could feel them coming. Each leap or bound they took towards me, it got thicker. I’d never felt so much darkness this heavy before and it made me feel weak which is why I slumped against the tree. It bothered me; what if it hindered me incapable when they finally arrived?
I bent down to retrieve my holy water squirt gun out of my backpack. If there was one myth that was true about vampires, it was the holy one. They couldn’t set foot in a church without being set ablaze, and their bodies singed and melted in response to water that had been baptized.
I’d learned how to make holy water independently when I realized how much of a hassle it was to keep filling up my water gun at the church I never went to anyways. How sad is that? I’m half an angel and I don’t even go to church. The same couldn’t be said for my parents; Dad visited the church religiously.
Haha; pun intended. Again.
Everything happened so fast, and I felt weaker the closer they got to me and Zac. I was barely able to hold up the squirt gun properly by the time they finally appeared.
There were four of them, and each bore resemblance to the next with furious grimaces on their faces. The moonlight glinted off their pale skin and illuminated their blonde hair. One—a woman—looked older than three younger boys. My eyes widened when I realized what this was.
How awesome. Some people have all the luck; what are the chances I kill an angry vampire family’s father?
Fabulous.
The older woman sneered at Zac and her voice carried from the several yards away that she was crouched with her children. “Nice work, Hunt. You led us right to her.”
“Don’t listen to her, Aria,” Zac snarled quietly. The hairs on my arm stood on end, even though I could tell he wasn’t mad at me.
“Aria. What a pretty name.” The woman laughed sourly. “What a pretty shame. She is beautiful, Zac.” She crept closer, her boys following behind.
I pressed myself feebly against the tree and tightened my grip on my squirt gun. If only they were in range; I could shoot ‘em all down.
“Make one more move towards me and you’re all going down,” I threatened. Unconvincingly, might I add. Their darkness was making it hard to breathe, let alone talk. I sounded delicate and wispy, and for the first time ever, I feared that this could end badly for me.
“Ooh, I’m so scared,” one of the boys mocked with amused laughter. I gritted my teeth together; he was going to be the first to go.
I wasn’t sure what happened then; the woman was suddenly gone and so was Zac, leaving me to fend for myself against a tree. I’m sure I looked pathetic because the three boys snickered as they advanced
Oh sure, let’s all laugh at the incapacitated vampire slayer, that won’t piss her off. You know, boys, when I find out how to move, y’all are dead. Uh, again.
I decided to try and lure them into a sense of false security, because I didn’t really have many other options at that point.
“Violence is never the answer,” I said, struggling to make my voice louder. I heard an enormous crash come from the forest to the right and I assumed that’s where Zac and the crazy lady were battling it out. For a brief moment, my heart swelled a little. Zac was fighting for me.
“Right, and I’m not a vampire,” one of the boys snorted, making the other two chuckle.
It was weird to hear their banter, because they didn’t seem very concerned with killing me off as quickly and efficiently as possible. Their darkness spoke otherwise, as did their eyes, yet they made no move towards me.
So I was trapped against a tree because of five vampires in the area with nothing but a squirt gun filled with water. Dad didn’t even know where I was, so it wasn’t like he could come to my rescue—not that I would want that; I’d never live it down. And, to top it all off, one of said vampires confessed his love to me, while the other four were hell bent on my demise.
What a contrast.
Ugh.
Worst. Date. Ever.
I’d have to talk to Zac about how to show a girl a good time, because this just didn’t make the cut.
I raised my gun and pointed it to the boy in the middle. “Do you want to die?”
“I’m already dead, dimwit,” he shot back, pulling his lips over his teeth. Here comes the rage I’ve been looking for all afternoon. Yay.
I knew I didn’t have the strength to do this all on my own, and by the sounds I could hear Zac and the woman making, hidden in the trees, he wasn’t going to be available to help me anytime soon. Besides, why would I need his help? I was Aria Orfiel, angel hybrid extraordinaire. If it was anyone’s help I needed, it was God’s.
God.
I turned my eyes towards the stars peeking through the willow branches high overhead and started to move my lips in a silent prayer. I was his messenger’s daughter, right? Was it wrong of me to ask for His help? I was going to die; it was my only hope.
So I tried.
“Amen,” I whispered, closing the prayer. The three vampires were kneeling in front of me, their hands clasped over their ears as I prayed, their lips forming curses that were not being heard. A sudden warmth surged through me and I felt stronger. Accordingly, the vampires at my feet shied away from me, screaming in agony. I smirked to myself as I took a step away from the tree and raised the unceremonious squirt gun.
It was almost too easy.
The three boys were easy to take care of. My presence alone rendered them immovable, so all I had to do was hose them down and watch as they squirmed and screamed, melting and scalding before my eyes.
My own strength came back once they stopped kicking and their gaping mouths ceased to remind me of suffocating fish. I thanked God and added a meek promise to try to make it to church on Sunday as I retrieved my backpack and brought it over to where the corpses were.
I rummaged through the pack until I found my pure white-gold medallion that Dad had given to me, pressing it against lifeless body number one.
“In God’s name, go to Hell,” I murmured vindictively. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly traditional, but it was effective. I pulled the medallion away as the body went up in flames. In a little less than two seconds, the corpse was completely gone; not even a pile of ashes remained to tell the world of it’s existence.
I finished off the other two in much the same manner, hurrying as best as I could because even though Zac was a vampire, I didn’t want him to die. Strange but true: in a day, I’d learned to care for something I was designed for destroying.
I grabbed my backpack and slung it over my shoulder, leaving my empty squirt gun near the edge of the water as I raced towards the loud sounds. I didn’t have holy water on hand, and the lake would take to long to convert, so my only choice at killing this crazy lady was a stake through the heart. Yes, that myth was true too.
“Zac!” I called, running through the underbrush. It was a lot darker in the trees than it had been by the lake. “Zac!”
I followed the reeking feel of their darkness and cringed the closer I got. The woman must have been very angry because that was some strong reek-age.
I broke into their little fight as I busted through a line of trees into a smaller clearing—well, recently cleared. The woman looked at me and smiled widely, exposing her glistening teeth in the dark. I never noticed how small she was before, but her darkness choked me. She had so much anger in such a tiny body. It was insane.
“Hello again, Aria. Such a pretty little killer,” she snarled, curling her lips back and crouching back down.
“What are you doing here?” Zac shouted at me as he charged the woman and held her back. “Get out of here, Aria!”
I don’t know what happened. I really don’t. One moment, I was pulling my wooden stake out of my backpack and running full speed at the crazed lunatic Zac was holding back and then the next, I was on the ground, wailing. The darkness had come in such a powerful surge that it swallowed everything in me and I fell to the forest floor, crying like some blubbering five year old without a binky.
But that only lasted for a moment.
Because then I lost consciousness.
Swell.
***
My head felt like it had been bashed against the side of a cliff for a couple hours when I woke up. My body felt very stiff and when I rolled over, my face touched the rough dirt of the forest. I couldn’t believe how noodle-like my limbs were and how weak I was. I could hardly even pick my head up off the ground.
When I finally managed to prop my chin on the dirt and look around, I realized that I must not have been out long because it was still night. I saw Zac still struggling with the woman. I quickly did the math and told myself that I honestly couldn’t have been unconscious for more than a few minutes.
I needed to finish this.
I somehow dragged myself off the ground, my hand clutched in a death grip around the wooden stake I held.
I grabbed a second one out of my bag.
I couldn’t tell which figure was who, but I guessed the woman was the one with her back to me. Once I reached the snarling, snapping vampires, I raised the stake over my head and brought it down and through the one with their back to me.
I gasped when it was Zac’s voice that howled in pain.
He dropped to the ground and I brought the second stake to the woman’s chest, pushing the wood through her heart. I cried out as I did so, in relief and pain. She fell back, screaming until I whipped my medallion out of my pocket and pressed it against the bare skin of her leg.
“Go join your sons and husband in Hell where you belong!” I shouted at her. She was a monster. Because of her, I killed Zac. “In God’s name, you will burn.”
And she did.
***
I pulled the stake carefully out of Zac’s chest, tears welling in my eyes. Jeez, I never cried—unless you count that strange wailing before I passed out. How could I care so much when I hardly knew the kid?
But maybe I did know him.
He had kept me safe for so many years, when I’d given my safety to the credit of my badass mythical creature murdering skills. It was him; he was the reason I was still alive. I couldn’t ask for anyone’s help to keep him here because God’s name would only hurt his ears, and no one else would be willing to help a vampire.
“Zac? Can you hear me?” I asked. He didn’t answer. Oh, for the love of all that’s holy, why did I have to be the one to kill him? Why did I kill him?
I held my breath when he stirred in my arms. “Zac?” I questioned. “Zac? Are you still alive?”
His eyes remained closed, but he murmured just loud enough for me to make out the words. “I’m a vampire, Aria, of course I’m not alive.”
I brushed his hair from his forehead and his eyes opened. I grinned and pushed away the tears. “This is enough…but how?”
He smiled back at me and I moved back as he sat up, the hole in his chest closing as he moved, he winced, but the smile couldn’t be erased. “You missed my heart. Nice aim.”
I couldn’t help myself; I threw my arms around his neck. “Oh, I’m so sorry!”
“Relax,” he chuckled and patted my back. “I’m plenty durable.”
“Still,” I said as I pulled away, almost blushing. I never did that either. “I don’t want you to die.”
He opened his mouth to say something cocky—I could just tell—but he snapped it closed and jumped to his feet. “You ready for round two?”
I sighed and felt the darkness start to push in on me again. Yay. Round two.
More vampires.
“You know, if this is your idea of a date, we have some major things to discuss once we finish this,” I told him casually as I picked up the stake that had been lodged in his back.
He laughed. “Maybe we’ll have time to catch a late movie. That is, if we can kill off half the vampire race.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“We’ll see.”
“Zac?”
“Yeah?”
“Thanks.”
He grinned at me. “No problem.”
I smiled and tried to stand my ground as the darkness of the coming vampires pushed in. I was sure of one thing:
This was one date I’d never forget.





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