No! This can’t be true! I tried to deny Adam’s words in my mind. How could this be? The biggest betrayal of my life was a lie! I lifted my head from the journal as silent tears burned my eyes, and violent rage flooded through every part of me! How could this be? I thought to myself. I wanted to deny the truth, but I knew that I couldn’t. Aodac didn’t kill Cahol. It was Adam! It was always Adam… everything was his fault! How could he?! How could we all have been so wrong about him? None of us knew him. None of us had a clue as to who he really was! He betrayed us all. Cahol… my beloved… Aodac didn’t kill you… I thought in utter anguish. How could we all have been so blind to who Adam really was?
Hatred swam through my mind, coursed through my veins… hatred gave me strength when I was ready to die from the pain that followed revelations unmatched. Adam’s betrayal was far worse than Aodac’s had ever been! Aodac had never betrayed us! I was consumed in utter shame and agony… I had condemned Aodac to a suffering he had never deserved! I had brought utter ruin to Cahol and Aodac… I had destroyed them both! Everything was my fault!
I would have given anything to go back in time and rip Adam apart for his betrayal in that one moment when the reality of the truth had hit me like a freight train. I was torn apart and reassembled in that one moment. I was broken by grief; I was knit back together with rage.
How could this have happened? How could I Have been so stupid? How could I have been so blind?! How could I have been fooled by such a simple trick?! How could I have been so easily manipulated?
The silent tears were like fire as they burned my skin. I wanted to kill this boy in front of me! I wanted to kill the ghost of Adam! I wanted to kill myself. It was all my fault! Cahol would be alive right now if he had never found me! Aodac would have had the mortal life he had always wanted, and he would have died from age by now if he had left me on the street! Why didn’t they leave me to die all of those years ago? Why did they save me from the piranhas on the street when I was a child? My God, please let me die! Please let me be with Cahol again! I silently begged to myself.
“Francesca?” The sound of Alan’s voice was a slap across my face; it jolted me out of the despair in my thoughts and brought me back to the reality that I wanted to deny.
“Huh, what?” I asked with a ring of disdain in my voice and a slight shake of my head.
“Can I ask you a personal question about something in that journal?” He asked me in a sheepish kind of voice.
“Huh?” I grunted in dismay.
“Well, it’s something that I’ve wondered about since the first time I read it, and only you have the answer.” He explained in a rush.
I couldn’t believe it… the sound of his voice, he actually sounded pleasant. He actually sounded like he was asking a girl if she would go out with him, and not like he was holding us captive with our lives at stake. He sounded like a curious little boy in that moment. Good. I thought to myself. Let him drop his guard… It will make killing him that much easier for me.
“Sure… why not?” I said in a cordial voice as I slightly shrugged my shoulders.
“What did you and Cahol do in your room?” He asked me with a funny look of curiosity on his face.
“What? When?” I asked in surprise. That was certainly not a question that I would had expected Alan to ask.
“Well, after Aodac brought you back to the house after they threw you out. You locked yourself in your room and wouldn’t let anybody but Cahol in… What did you and Cahol do?” Alan asked in that same sheepish voice.
“Oh, nothing.” I said as I waived the question off with a casual shrug of my shoulders. Aodac looked at Alan and then turned to me. I am sure that Aodac had also wondered about the answer to that question.
“What do you mean by ‘nothing’?” Alan pressed the question.
“We didn’t do anything.” I answered him. “At least, we didn’t do anything dirty.”
“What does that mean?” Alan asked in a flustered voice.
“It means that we weren’t having sex as Adam speculated.” I said in answer to his question.
“Oh.” He said in a small voice. “So, what did you do?” He asked me with even more curiosity in his voice.
“It’s really nothing.” I said as I tried to shrug it off.
“Please tell me. I have wondered about it for years.” Alan almost begged.
“Ok… ok… I’ll tell you if you really want to know, but don’t expect any great big revelations from it.” I said in a placating tone.
“Yes, yes… I really want to know. Thank you, Francesca.” Alan said in a chipper voice as he sat forward on the edge of his chair. Aodac leaned in closer to me with the same look of intense curiosity on his face. They made me think of someone that was finally going to get an answer to one of the great mysteries of the world, and the answer was for them alone.
“Very well.” I said in a casual voice. “I was almost catatonic when Aodac brought me back home. He had interrupted a vicious beating that a pimp was giving me and I had curled up in a ball waiting to die. I never imagined that a savior would ever come and then there he was. I had barely seen Aodac’s face through the tears when I collapsed and blacked out. My body had gone through more than my brain could process and I just shut down. I thought I died as I lost consciousness.” I said in a voice full of repressed pain from those memories.
“It was really that bad?” Alan asked me in a quiet voice.
“Yes, Alan. It was really that bad. I thought she died when she collapsed.” Aodac said. His voice was thick with agony and his eyes brimmed with unshed tears. He reached out and took my hand in his… he raised our hands and laid a gentle kiss on mine.
“I was in my room when I woke up. I didn’t know how I had gotten there, but I felt safe for the first time since I had been forced out.” I said quietly as tears fell from my eyes in a silent tribute to the agony within. “I had withdrawn so far into myself that I didn’t know the way back out. Cahol told me that Aodac had found me and brought me back home. I owed Aodac my life, but how could I face him after what I had done? I should have died.” I said with in a mortified voice.
“So, why wouldn’t you let anyone other than Cahol in the room?” Alan asked me in a dumbfounded voice.
“I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t handle it. I knew how much they loved me… I couldn’t handle that. Aodac would have wanted to wrap his arms around me and comfort me in my pain; he would have done anything to wash the memories away. I couldn’t handle that… his touch, his voice, his agony… I couldn’t deal with it. I had thought that Adam was my big brother. I thought he would have wanted to do the same, and I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t handle their anger… their pain… their sorrow… their regret.
“I withdrew into myself further. I locked myself away within my own mind. Only Cahol remained. Cahol, who hated me… Cahol, who couldn’t even look at me without glaring at me in hatred and resentment. I could handle hatred; I could handle resentment. And so, he alone remained.” I said quietly with my head bowed in regret and shame.
Aodac reached out and gently caressed my hair; I leaned into his intimate touch and shied away from the memories that were rushing from my subconscious mind into my thoughts to torment me once more. Aodac reached out and pulled me into a gentle and intimate embrace; we were the only two people in the world in that moment. I leaned into him; I buried my face in his chest and he placed a feather light kiss on my forehead.
“So what did you do in there with someone that you thought hated you?” Alan asked me in an odd sort of voice… it was almost as if he weren’t asking me that question, rather he was asking that question of himself.
Nevertheless, Alan’s voice shattered our private moment, and we were no longer the only two people that existed. I pulled my head out of Aodac’s chest and practically glared at Alan.
“Well… in the beginning Cahol just sat in a chair that was in front of the door and he kept everyone out, and I just laid in bed curled up in a tight ball. I would go days without eating. The thought of food made me ill and I would get violently sick. Cahol would threaten to force feed me after several days of my self imposed anorexia, and then I would try to force myself to eat a few bites of something just to keep him from the reality of the threat that he would touch me. I wouldn’t eat much… but what I did eat was enough to satisfy him and he would leave me alone.” I said in a quiet voice as the memories of Cahol washed over me and created a new sort of agony in the chasm that was ripped open in my heart.
“Are you trying to tell me that he was nothing more than a babysitter?” Alan asked me in disbelief.
“No… Cahol wasn’t a babysitter to me. He was my link to sanity. He was the rock that I could build myself up on and anchor myself to as I tried to climb out of the sand trap I was lost in within my own mind.” I said as I begged them both for understanding.
“Is that why you seduced Cahol?” Alan asked me sarcastically.
“That may have been a part of it.” I admitted quietly.
“What else happened in there?” Alan asked me in a coaxing kind of tone.
“Well, after a few months I got to the point where I would lay my head in Cahol’s lap and he would stroke my hair as I lay curled up around him in silence. I knew that Cahol hated me; however I knew that no harm would come to me as long as he was there… I knew that I was protected as long as he was there. There were times when he would read to me, or play a piece of music for me, but for the most part we just sat together in complete and utter silence. As I said, it was easier for me to be with the one person in the house that hated me rather than to be with the ones in the house that cared about me.
“I didn’t know at the time that Cahol did love me. I didn’t know at that time that it killed Cahol inside to watch me suffer for all of those long months in my room as he watched me fight to crawl out of the place I was lost in. I didn’t know at that time that he was fighting with Aodac every day and silently accepting Aodac’s hatred and accusations just to keep Aodac away from me and to keep me from having to deal with something I couldn’t handle. I didn’t know at that time what I was putting Cahol through.” I said as sorrow and regret clung to my heart and my words. My head was bowed in shame and I wished for nothing more than a chance to apologize to Cahol for the torment that I inflicted on him for no reason. I was so horrible to him, and he loved me in spite of it.
Aodac bowed his head in shame. “I thought Cahol was using you when you weren’t in any shape to refuse him. I thought he was forcing you.” He said in a quiet voice that was full of self loathing. “How could I have been so wrong?” Aodac asked himself.
“You were jealous.” I said in a quiet voice as I reached out to caress Aodac’s face. “Jealousy can force a person to do terrible things to the people they love the most.”
Aodac held me close and kissed me in a tender moment of quiet intimacy.
“Is that it?” Alan asked me in a blunt tone.
“I told you nothing exciting happened. Cahol eventually talked me into coming out of my room and I tried to get on with my life; however I was changed inside and I couldn’t be the person they had known before I was forced to leave. It wasn’t long after that before I started to pursue Cahol, and you know the rest.” I said as I shrugged my shoulders as if the entire story didn’t matter; however the story did matter a great deal. I know that my story brought Aodac pain that he should not have had to remember. I know that my story made him think of that time and relive the hell I had put him through.
Aodac held me tightly to his side; I knew that he drew comfort from the feel of me next to him and I wished for nothing more than for Aodac to forget the pain of our past.
Alan looked at me for several moments with an unreadable mask on his face. What is he thinking about? I wondered to myself. I would have given anything to have a window into his mind so that I would know his thoughts.
Alan’s face broke into a slow smile. “I knew it.” He said in an elated tone.
“Knew what?” Aodac and I asked together in the same tone of curious surprise.
“I knew there was nothing sexual going on in that room. Grandfather Adam became convinced of it in his later years, but I never believed it.” Alan said in his superior and all knowing voice.
Alan’s ego was beginning to annoy me. I am going to take great pleasure in wiping that grin off of his face. I thought to myself.
“So, why all the mystery around it? Why didn’t you just let them in to see for themselves that there was nothing going on?” Alan asked in a slightly puzzled sort of way.
“I just wasn’t ready to face them at that time, and when I did finally come out of my room I buried the entire thing. I wouldn’t let them bring it up. I wouldn’t talk about it. I just pretended that it never happened.” I said in a tone that reflected that the answer should have been obvious to anyone.
Alan lapsed into silence after that. I didn’t mind his silence. It gave me time to reflect on my own thoughts. My mind was alive with a million different “what if’s” and “if only’s”. My mind was reminiscent of the life I had when I was mortal and the people who surrounded me with their love and unknown hatred. It was easy to reflect on the lies that had made up my entire life.
What if Cahol and Aodac had never found me on the street? What if Cahol and Aodac had left me on the street? What if Aodac hadn’t saved me from the beating that should have killed me? What if Adam had killed me and not Cahol?
If only I had been able to see through Adam’s lies… If only I had known the truth about Adam… If only I had been able to see through the lie and punish Cahol’s true murderer. Would I have turned Adam as I had turned Aodac or would I have killed him?
It is easy to see Adam’s hatred now, after reading his words… It is easy to see who Adam was when the veil was stripped from my eyes. He hated me for taking the life that he thought he was entitled to; he blamed me for Cahol and Aodac not turning him. Adam didn’t want to face his own reality… Adam didn’t want to accept that they were never going to turn him.
My God, what must Aodac be thinking? He was betrayed far worse than I ever was. Adam framed him and he has suffered greatly for my own stupidity as a newborn. I had ruined Aodac’s life. I punished Aodac for a crime he did not commit. I returned him to a hell that he had lived in for centuries out of spite because I knew he hated it. How could I have been so cruel to him? How could I have hurt him the way I did?
How could I have been so blind? How could we all have been so blind to the truth that surrounded us? How could I have been so easily manipulated? I was so proud to finally be a vampire. I was so proud that Cahol had turned me. I was overjoyed in my new life. I was so confident in my new abilities and my new senses that I never stopped to think about anything or analyze the reality in front of me. How could I have been so naïve… so gullible… How could I have been so stupid?
Why didn’t I ask myself what I knew in my heart? Why didn’t I realize that Aodac never would have killed Cahol? Why didn’t I confront him when I smelled him in our lair? Why did I take his scent as proof that he was a murderer?
How could Adam have kept his true self hidden from us for so long? How could Adam have manipulated all of us so easily? Why didn’t anyone see beyond his whispered words and subtle manipulations? Why did we all trust him so easily? My mind was heavy with regret; tears ran down my face in a torrent river. I was the worst one of all. Everything was my fault.
I leaned away from Aodac and turned to look at him. He reached up and gently brushed the tears from my eyes which were weighted down with regrets. I smiled ever so slightly as I leaned into Aodac’s feather light touch.
“I’m sorry.” I said to Aodac in a voice that was turbulent with the emotions within me at that moment. “I am so sorry, Aodac… I have been so cruel…” I tried to say as Aodac reached out to place a finger over my lips as he shook his head.
“No, my sweetest love… do not blame yourself for the actions of another that manipulated you into doing what you did. None of this was your fault.” Aodac said to me in a whisper as he wrapped me in his arms in a fervent embrace full of forgiveness and love.
I remained in Aodac’s arms. I couldn’t pull away from the intimacy and acceptance of his embrace. He was the rock I had built on for so long ever since Cahol had been killed. I had built on him in hatred and then in forgiveness and love. Aodac was the rock that kept me whole. I couldn’t bear the thought of pulling away from him now. It would have felt like pulling myself away from sanity, and I knew I would surely fall into the depths of madness with no way out again.
We remained in our silent embrace for a long while. Neither of us were willing to release the other. Alan did not interrupt our thoughts. He sat across from us locked within his own silence, and neither of us paid him any mind.
Time seemed to stop for us. We were all that remained in our isolated existence. Time had vanished and left us lost in ourselves.
I remained lost in my own thoughts.
“AHHH!” Alan’s screaming pulled me from my reverie… “What’s happening to me?!” he screamed as he clutched his stomach and keeled over in gut retching agony.
“I told you that becoming a vampire is slow and painful, Alan. The blood has finally worked its way through your system and now it is killing every cell in your body.” I said quietly.
“What’s going to happen to me?” Alan screamed as he fell to his knees in front of us.
“By my estimate, my blood will take around twenty-one hours and forty some minutes to kill your mortal body and turn you into one of us. I warned you that the change was agony… You just didn’t want to listen to me.” I said in that same quiet calmness that infuriated Alan.
“You didn’t warn me of this!” Alan accused me in a fit of pain. “Tell me what’s going to happen to me!” He demanded in a shriek of pain and anger.
“Well… you will become a vampire if you can withstand the pain of the transformation.” I said in that same quiet tone of voice. I was indifferent to Alan’s pain; this is what he had killed to attain and I felt nothing for him.
“What do you mean ‘if you can withstand the pain’?” Alan demanded of me in a scream.
“You are vulnerable right now, Alan. You are open to many different threats. Traditionally, your Master would fiercely protect your vulnerable life right now as you go through the change; however you do not want my protection so I sit here helpless as I await my captor’s command. What would you have me do, oh kidnapper?” I asked in a scathing voice that was full of resentment and ill contempt.
“Make the pain stop!” Alan screamed at the top of his lungs as he glared at me in accusation.
“Alas, Alan… you ask for the one thing that I cannot give you. We all go through this. We all remember the pain. It is a part of us at our deepest core.” I said in a sad voice that swam in regret.
“MAKE IT STOP, WHORE!!!” Alan screamed at me in hatred.
I lost my tightly controlled temper then. I unleashed the contemptible tongue lashing I had longed to throw at him.
“I can’t you sniveling, whining, little coward! I warned you of what to expect, but Noooo…! You knew better than one who had actually gone through it! Stop your pathetic whining and suck it up! Be a MAN for once in your pathetic life!” I screamed in utter loathing at the boy that writhed in agony at our feet.
Alan glared at me with something that was more than hatred in his eyes. He didn’t say a word as he grabbed his gun full of wooden stakes and tried to shoot me. Aodac pushed me out of the way just in time to save my life at the expense of his own. The wooden stake embedded itself into Aodac’s heart. I held him as his body crumbled before me.
“NOOOOO!!!!!” I screamed in shock; the agony of reality sliced my heart open. I heard my own heart shatter in my chest as I laid Aodac down on the floor.
“No…” The word came out as a pitiful half sob as I lifted Aodac’s head into my lap.
Aodac looked up at me with eyes full of love. He raised his hand to brush the tears from my eyes as he tried to speak.
“I love you, Francesca… I have always loved you.” He said as blood gurgled out of his mouth.
“Aodac…” I said through the sobs that racked through my body, “I love you too…” I reached over and pulled the stake from Aodac’s heart, just as he had done for me long ago.
“We will watch over you; we will protect you.” Aodac said through a mouthful of blood.
“Aodac… Tell Cahol the truth. Tell him what really happened.” I begged as I leaned down to kiss him. “Ti’amo entrambi.” ‘I love you both.’ I said into Aodac’s chest.
“We love you too…” Aodac said with his final breath; there was a faint smile on his face and tears still brimmed within his eyes, though they no longer shone with the radiance that was Aodac’s soul.
Grief and anguish consumed me as I choked back the sobs that raked through my body. I turned to Alan; all I allowed myself to feel was the hatred within for the boy that lay ten feet from me.
“YOU BASTARD!” I screamed at him. “I’ll kill you for this!” I promised with conviction coursing through me, lending my voice the strength it did not have.
“No, whore! I will kill you if you don’t make this agony end now!” Alan screamed at me with the same look of loathing on his face that I had on mine.
“Oh, I’ll make it stop alright!” I said as I rose from Aodac’s burnt skeleton… I moved toward him as a hunter stalking its prey. He fired a stake at me and I side stepped it quickly…
“You’ll have to be faster than that to kill me, Alan.” I taunted him.
He shot another stake at me and I swatted it aside like a bothersome fly.
“What’s the matter, Alan… Can’t you catch me?” I leered at him from across the room.
“Die, whore!” Alan screamed as he shot another stake at me.
“No!” I leered at him which only provoked him to be even more reckless.
“I said ‘DIE’ bitch!” Alan screamed as he shot wildly at me.
“I am not the one that’s going to die tonight.” I mocked him with a snide sneer in my voice.
I stalked toward Alan again. All of my senses were in hyper drive and I knew that I would taste his bleeding throat as he died.
“I have taken everything from you! I have taken everything you love! Die!” Alan screamed as he loosed his last stake toward me.
I reached out and caught it in midair; I snapped it in half like a toothpick.
“You will die!” I said in a deathly calm voice as I reached Alan and snatched his empty gun from him. I broke the thing into little bitty pieces and threw them throughout the room.
“Your blood will taste exquisite as I drink every last breath from your body.” I said in a whisper in Alan’s ear.
He tried to grab hold of me; I think to try and hurt me with his bare hands. He had no strength within him to hold onto to me.
I brushed his hands off of me as if they were unwanted dust.
“The pain will leave you when you die, Alan…” I crooned in his ear. “Do you wish for death to find you on swift wings? Do you wish for the pain to end?” I baited him.
“YES! Please make the pain stop!” Alan begged me with contempt born of need.
“Death will come soon enough, Alan. I promise you that death will find you soon.” I purred in his ear.
I looked at the skeleton that had been Aodac only a few moments ago. Aodac had been reduced to the same end as Cahol. I knew in my heart that I could not survive without my two knights. They had been the rocks that had tethered me to life. The tethers were gone. The time had come to end what had begun so long ago.
I left the room to get some rope. I returned to find Alan writhing on his knees two feet from where I had left him.
“You cannot run, Alan.” I said quietly. “The pain will stop you before you take a step.” I assured him with a lilting ring of confidence in my voice.
I bound Alan’s hands and feet together so that he wouldn’t be able to fight me too much as I moved him from the small parlor we were in. I gagged him so that I wouldn’t have to hear his screams and useless taunts.
I dragged Alan to a special room upstairs. This was a room I had designed with the idea in mind to make other vampires. There was a simple bed within the room that was made of a hard metal and chains that could bind even the strongest vampire. The Council had gifted me with those chains when I had left their company years ago.
I chained Alan to the bed with those shackles and I assured myself that Alan could not escape me and the future that awaited him with the coming dawn.
I locked the door to his room on my way out.
Alan would never get away from me.
I had great plans in mind for Alan that I had to see to fruition.
However, at that moment I had other work that needed to be done.