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Tess’s Fall to the Nightland
I allowed a dark curtain of my hair to fall into my face as I walked down the street, burrowed deep into my winter coat. I suppose that not telling people when your birthday was, while having upsides like no dorky hats or songs, had its downsides, too. Like having to work the lunch shift and walk home in the snow, freezing my buns off. I should've just taken the damn lemon, let it break down, and guilted mom into buying me a better car. But no. I had to go and say I would get my own car.
I slid on a patch of ice and cursed whoever was listening that obviously hated me. A laugh broke me out of my string of swears. I looked up to see a hand offered to help me up, so I took it. When I was up, I stole a quick look at his face. Dark skin stood out sharply against his pale winter clothes and his dark hair fell to his jaw messily. And his eyes...what was that in them?...it was so...
"Whoopsidaisies." He was helping me up again and I giggled-Since when do I giggle, I chastised myself-moving off of the patch of ice.
"I noticed you staring at your shoes. Are they that interesting?"
"Oh. Um, no. Thinking."
"Do you need a ride?"
"A ride?" I looked around. There weren't any cars.
"My bike is in the alley."
Oh, look at that smile, he's so sweet to offer me a ride... "Sure," I nodded and he went into the alley I had just passed. He came out on a motorcycle and I knew that I visibly cringed. He held out his hand again and I took it immediately, unthinkingly. Gotta work on saying no to him. Him...who is he? "I'm Tess."
"Johnny." He gave a small tug and I took a hesitant step forward, then sat on the bike behind him, my hands awkwardly on his sides. He grabbed them, pulling me forward so that I was pressed to his back. I sucked in a deep breath and felt him clasp my hands together in front of him. "You've never ridden before."
"That was an observation, not a question. It's really obvious," he laughed.
"So, where are we headed?"
"Um...503 South Main."
"You sound like you're not sure."
"Usually I just have to remember the number of houses to walk past. It's right."
"Five-oh-three, then." He kicked his foot down and I held on tighter as the bike sped off. I shut my eyes tight, trying not to watch everything and forget that I was riding on a deathtrap with a complete stranger. What was I thinking? He could be some kind of homicidal maniac and I... "You okay?" Oh that voice...Even over the rush of wind, there was something in it that calmed me.
"You're burrowed in tight there, Sparrow." One of his hands patted my iron-locked grip and I frowned.
"You're supposed to be steering!"
He laughed, a rumbling I felt more than heard, and I opened my eyes when the bike stopped. We were in front of my house. "You okay?"
"I can't move, I think my heart is still back at that patch of ice," I admitted. He started laughing again and uncoiled my grip effortlessly, then got off the bike and helped me off. "Thanks so much for this, by the way."
"Not a problem, Sparrow." He pushed my hair back and looked at my face. I tried to shy back, but his grip held me so that he could stare into my blue eyes. I frowned.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm just trying to see you.” He met my eyes with his own. Dark, so beautiful, like jewels…mesmerizing.
I sat down at the desk in my bedroom and looked around the room, confused. I had just been down there, outside. I looked in the mirror at the blue eyes daring me to guess what had happened. “You’re going crazy,” I scolded. I shed my large coat and scratched my stiff neck, laying on my large bed and curling up. Just a...quick nap before dinner...
A hand covered my mouth and my eyes snapped open while I started kicking and turning, trying to toss whoever it was away from me. I mentally scolded myself for dropping out of my karate classes so young when the fight ended quickly with me on my back. My arms were pinned above my head by only one of their hands, their other hand over my mouth while my legs were held tightly between my mysterious attackers. I looked up at them, but the night...Night? Where's my room? I left my light on.
"Tess Sullivan, welcome to the sidhe." They clearly seemed to think I would be impressed. I let out a muffled complaint against the hand. The next moment we were standing and I was staring at a dark girl my height with gorgeous eyes the color of fall leaves. Turn this way red, turn that way, yellow. Pretty.
"What's the sidhe and why am I here?"
"It's the fairy realm. The vampire was going to kill you." The vampire...was going to kill me...so the girl with leaf eyes brought me to...the fairy realm?
“Why’s a vampire after me?”
“Because he’s hungry. And you have blood. Humans, you have to explain everything to them.” She turned and started to walk off, so I followed her.
“Hey! You can’t just leave me here! Why is he after me though? Who is it? What about my parents, where are they?” I settled into a pace beside her and she frowned at me.
"Your parents are fine. The vampire is after you because he thinks you're pretty. The one with the bike from earlier."
My heart sank. Johnny? No, he was so sweet and his eyes had been so... "You're wrong."
"I'm wrong? He even marked you so he could find you if you weren't home." She grabbed my arm to stop me and touched my sore neck. I hissed in pain and she started walking again. "If he does not find you and kill you, his bite will change you into what he is. A bloodthirsty corpse. But the court can cleanse you of the dark ones and their influence."
I stood there, frozen, trying to take something in, but I couldn't even begin to absorb it. I hit the ‘Deny’ button on my internal CPU. This is ludicrous. Vampires and fairies and a fairy court to cleanse a vampire bite? I live in the real world! I have an after school job! I'm failing Chemistry! "And if I don't believe you?"
"Then say good-bye to your life. To everything that you used to be." Well there's always that.
"And if I do believe you?"
"Then you can come with me and there are fae on the Seelie Court trained to get rid of the demon he has placed in you. But we must hurry."
“Who are the Seelie Court?”
She groaned and turned, glaring at me with those leafy eyes. “We are the good fairies. That other side, the Unseelie, they evolved into what you and yours refer to as vampires. You’re idiots, all of you. Romaticising their glamour into something beautiful. Not even an ounce of Sight left in all of the Christendom...” She paused. “Well do you want to be a beast or not?”
I'll still be human, this will all go away! And if she's a nutball, then what's the worst that could happen? She waves a stick over my head? "Let's go." My response made her smile brightly and we started walking again. And walking. And walking. I was about to ask how much farther when we were surrounded by tall figures in white cloaks. A strange language floated around me, between them, then they raised their staffs and the ends touched above our heads. Oh, look, they're waving sticks over my head. They are nuts. But then the one that had led me all this way pulled a dagger from a bag around her hips. "Hey, wait. What's going on?"
"We are cleansing you." The dagger swung and I ran, not looking back. My lungs burnt and my muscles ached. Something was dragging me down. I kept pushing forward, but fell. The earth was soft under me and warming quickly. I looked up at the pinking horizon, weariness pulling me under. Something scooped me up and carried me away and then there was darkness.
When I woke, there was cold and quiet all around me. I was in a stone room. I sat up and saw Johnny leaning against the wall. "What did you do to me?"
His eyes opened, his lips grew into a smile, fangs slipped, and I nearly swooned. So sweet, I bet he's the one from before sunrise. Of course he was. He cares about me. "Well, you were supposed to be dead,” he teased. Oh, that's right. I was dinner. Dinner... The thought made my stomach ache and I licked my lips, feeling my tongue slide between my own long teeth. "Come on, Sparrow. The first is always the best."
An hour later, a woman lay in an alley, dead, and I stared at her. A necessity to the feeding, he’d said. We couldn't let them live, or they would turn, he had told me. His bite had proven that much. He nudged me gently and I broke my gaze from the woman and turned to him, nodding silently. Goodbye, Teresa Sullivan.