BETRAYAL: THE UNFORGIVEN

JOURNAL ENTRIES

Entry One: February 16th

Some people say the soul leaves the body when you die and that in the end you’ll be led to an eternal resting place. Given immortal’s blood on my death resulted in an awakening. Now my grave will forever be empty as I walk the earth alive…but dead.

My name is Anna Holden. I’m what legends and myths call a vampire. It’s such a strange thing to write and even stranger to think about. To know I will never die in a natural sense fills me with questions I cannot answer. Am I eternal? What will happen to me when the earth no longer exists? It’s surreal and frightening to think about.

Sometimes I wonder if Tristan made the right decision by bringing me back. That night my human side died. I watched him drink from my veins. My soul drifted from my body. The farther I ascended, the more I sensed the presence of family. Mac. Betty. I yearned to join them, to tell them how much I’d missed them. How I wished to run to their arms and hold them tight. Tell them I loved them. But, I stopped. Something cold touched my lips. It was bitter on my tongue, but tasted so divine.

The thirst called me back to my body—Tristan called me back. I turned away from the light. Darkness enveloped me in its arms. Someone, some…thing took over me. It wanted more of his essence, more of him.

As I drank Tristan in, I felt him inside my veins, my mind. An awareness of him heightened and I saw images of his past. He’s killed so many to stay in this world. Remorse for the things he’s done has kept him in the shadows. I despised the sensations, and yet, they drew me in. They gave me a new understanding of him, a respect for the demon within. I know why he’s gentle, but he is also fierce.

I’ve wanted to ask how he learned to cope with the things he’s done, but he doesn’t know I’ve seen highlights of his past.

This journal will hold several secrets; the one’s pertinent to our existence, to my existence. I only hope when you read this, whoever you are, you’ll understand. This is my gift to you. These are my confessions.

In the beginning, I carried their disease, as Tristan still calls it. He refuses to use the word ‘vampire’. He says vampires are a work of fiction, that we’re merely possessed by some dark entity. It sounds ridiculous, but there is something inside me. Something dark. She speaks to me sometimes, especially when I’m hungry. If I don’t do as she says, she takes over my body and forces me to do her will. The only thing that calms her down is blood. It’s difficult to explain and even more so to understand, but I digress.

In the beginning, my eyes and hair were black. My heartbeat was slow, barely noticeable. I had an insatiable taste for blood and had no reason to draw a breath. But then this morning, on the anniversary of my turning, I woke with blue eyes. The roots of my hair have come in blonde, and I have begun to bleed like a woman should.

Now Tristan believes in the cure again. Maybe it’s true. Maybe there was some truth to Madeline’s madness. I wish I could talk to her, but the Elders locked her up at the old penitentiary. Maybe someday, I’ll find a way to sneak in. Until then, I’ll enjoy this warmth resonating through my body.

 
Entry Two: May 6th

We’ve turned the basement into a lab. We’ve been testing for a little over two months now. Tristan has drawn blood from me every day. Vials of it. My body is sore and I am weak, but I stay silent. How can I tell him to stop when he is so determined to find out why this is happening to me? It has become an obsession. Sometimes his temper flares, because we’ve had no luck in the research we’ve done. I don’t know how much longer I can take.

Vampirism or demon possession, or whatever the hell this is, has been around for thousands of years. I can’t imagine we’d find an antidote in a few measly months. And really, I can’t believe I’m the only one who’s ever been through this. But how the hell am I supposed to find out if we can’t ask anyone?

Tristan won’t let me out of the house. He won’t let me see or talk to anyone. I feel like I’m stuck in a hole I can’t get out of. It’s so frustrating to feel like a prisoner in my own house.

I’ve found ways to look like a vampire, but Tristan still won’t let me leave. I know he’s just worried, but he goes off with Gerard almost every night leaving me here alone. And during the day, I’m nothing but a test subject. This can’t go on.

Entry Three: May 26th

In the last two weeks, I’ve grown worse, or better depending on how you look at it. It’s a very peculiar thing that my humanity isn’t just coming out in me anymore.

Now I warm Tristan’s skin with my touch. His eyes have even turned blue when we make love. Neither of us have any idea what is going on, but it doesn’t matter. I love the attention he’s giving me. And it’s blatantly clear by the endless lovemaking that he enjoys feeling human again.

Entry Four: June 16th

Tristan’s been distant lately. I’m not sure why. Confusion? Fear? Whatever is going on with him, I wish he’d talk to me about it. I’m afraid someday he’ll get tired of all the failures in our research. I’m afraid he’ll give up and leave me. That thought looms over me like the fog outside my door.

I know Gerard would understand what we’re doing here, but Tristan won’t tell him. All I want are answers, but there’s nobody I can turn to. If I could just talk to Madeline, I might learn something new, but Tristan won’t let me. I guess that’s why I’m writing this all down here.

As I look at Tristan now, I know he holds on to this dream of being human, and I don’t blame him. But I don’t know if I can keep this up. I don’t know how much longer I can donate vials of my blood for research. I’m fatigued and nauseated. I’m hungry all the time, but the very thought of drinking blood makes me sick. I crave real food. The demon inside me is angry. She tries to overwhelm me, but I’m still strong enough to silence her. I fear soon she’ll break free and lash out at Tristan, or do something worse to someone else.

I stash a low supply of rations here in the basement. I eat one meal after Tristan gets home, usually before dawn. He says if anyone saw me eat or even smelled food on my breath, they’d take me to the Elders. So, here I hide. Until we know for sure why I am the way I am, I’m a prisoner in my own house.

Without proper nutrition, I’ve grown weak. I’ve blacked out a few times. He says that I’m malnourished, that I need both types of food in order to survive. Maybe he’s right. But I can’t imagine washing down a meal with a glass of blood.

Entry Five: July 5th

I’m losing control of the demon. I hunger for human food one minute and blood the next. If I don’t curb whatever I crave at the time, the demon takes over my body, my mind. She throws fits that I can’t stop until I’m forced to drink blood. That’s the only thing that calms her down.

Tristan hates the tantrums I have, but he also helps me through it. He knows how much I struggle to keep the darkness locked up, but he doesn’t know why.

The reason I’m so weak…oh God, I can barely bring myself to type this out. I’m…pregnant. Or at least I think I am. I’ve missed two menstrual cycles. My body is tender. I’ve been getting sick every morning for the past few weeks. And these dizzy spells grow worse.

 Tears of joy come to my eyes at the thought of being a mother. But beyond words, this scares the hell out of me. It’s not that I don’t want to have a child, but this dark world wasn’t made for them. Children shouldn’t even be possible. But here I am–the only pregnant vampire in existence. What the hell?

I don’t know what to do. Should I tell Tristan? Should I run far, far away and hide? I don’t know how this news will affect him when he already keeps so many secrets. They harden his heart. And now that he’s been made an Elder in the collective, I fear this news might send him further into desperation.

After centuries of being alone, he’s found a family with them. He belongs with them, and I hold him back. I’m not just a prisoner anymore. I’m a permanent fixture in this house. I might as well be made of stone like the broken angel on the walkway.

I’ll end this entry, for Tristan eyes me from across the room. He always senses my worry. It’s a good thing he can’t read my mind, or else he’d know about everything I have kept from him.

Chapter One

Tristan sat on the stool in front of the microscope, forefinger curled against his lips, deep in thought as usual. The frown on his face was nothing new. He’d carried the same dejected mien since they’d built this lab. Hell. Since Anna could remember he’d been a serious man with stern eyes. Not that she blamed him after all he’d suffered in his life, but he could lighten up once in a while.

Do you hear me, Tristan Ashfield? Lighten up.

No grin. No response. Not even a glance her way. He couldn’t read her mind. That was a good thing since all she could think about was the baby.

As much as she loved the idea of being a mother, a cruel outcome was inevitable. There would be no light in this child’s world. No friends to play with at the park. No grandparents to spoil him or her. Not to mention chaos would ensue if the collective ever found out.

Vampires would come from all over the world to see Anna. They’d touch her, poke and prod her. They’d envy her ability to heal and conceive. She’d be a freak show. They’d treat her like some alien lifeform that landed on earth then capture her. Dissect her. Find out how and why this could happen to some…thing that was different from everyone else. They’d take away her baby.

Anna’s gut churned. Maybe it was time to leave this place. She and Tristan could find some abandoned cabin somewhere in the woods and hide away for eternity. But to abandon this home on the coast put an ache in her heart.

She and Tristan had shared so many memories here. They used to snuggle up on the couch in front of the fire and tell stories of their past. They hadn’t done that in a while. Not since she’d told him about the chance she’d had to become a pediatrician at Jack’s practice. Tristan told her how good she was that she wanted to help people, when all he’d ever done was take life away. At one point he’d been a soldier. War had brought him endless supplies of blood. He’d taken out villages of women and children. Death had followed him around like a plague.

No wonder he frowned. Hundreds of years of being alone and miserable, not knowing what to do with eternal life would drive anyone mad. To have so many deaths on his conscience couldn’t be easy to deal with.

She sighed. There were other things they could’ve talked about. Simple things, like when his birthday was and what was his favorite color.

Anna inhaled a quick breath. She’d known him her entire life. How could she not know the date he was born? If she were to ask him now, he’d probably tell her she wasn’t focusing on their research and he’d be right. She couldn’t concentrate on anything. Not with the growl in her stomach and the worry eating at her like piranha on flesh.

This baby was a miracle, but also an abomination. What if it came out looking like a demon with a tail and black wings? What if it had horns on its head? What if he or she had glaring red eyes and sharp teeth that gnashed? Anna shuddered.

Tristan looked up from the microscope. His eyes burned a rust-color as he caught her stare. The corner of his mouth lifted into a half-grin that sent a chill up her spine.

Did he read my mind? She shook her head. No. If he had, he’d already have confronted her about the pregnancy.

The telepathic link between them was confusing. Though he didn’t ask her about the thoughts going through her head, her emotions never went without notice. Right now, with her hormones all out of whack, he noticed.

He rose from the chair. He strode toward her, brows low against midnight eyes. Sleek black hair strung down his pale face to his shoulders as he stopped at her desk and looked through to her soul.

“What are you writing?” His deep, smooth tone sent goosebumps over her skin.

She closed the laptop. “Just a journal entry about the tests we ran yesterday.”

“I would like to read it. Maybe there is a clue as to why our formula worked today.”

Her heartbeat soared. “Our formula works?”

“For a little while.” He held out his hand. “Come see what happens.”

She slid her palm onto his. His touch was gentle as he helped her to her feet. He led her to the microscope he’d been looking through for the past hour and motioned with a nod for her to sit.

She tightened the lab coat around her and sat on the stool. He placed a single droplet of her blood onto a clean slide. As he followed with a droplet of his essence, she peered through the scope.

Ever since they had begun working on this cure, his erratic dark cells consumed hers in seconds. This time a pinkish hue blended through the black. They were becoming living cells—human cells.

“This is remarkable!”

“Yes.” He sighed. “Unfortunately, the effect does not last.”

As she observed, darkness attacked the cured cells. Infection spread fast leaving nothing but black. The discs became erratic again—hungry for more of her blood.

Anna leaned back from the scope. “What a shame.” She offered a smile in hopes he wouldn’t take this failure hard like he always did. “But, this has never happened before. It’s a step forward.”

“Maybe.” His short grin faded. “It is so strange. How is this happening?”

“How did you alter the formula?”

“Formula? No,” he said with a shake of his head. Anna shrank in her seat as she stared up into his eyes. There was that soul-searching, mind-reading gaze of his. She hated that look. She never knew whether to cower in a corner like a frightened cat, or take him in his arms and console him. “This happened before I administered any solution,” he continued. “I used only our blood, blood I extracted from you today. What has changed?”

The answer was obvious. The change was linked to the baby inside her. This was the perfect opportunity to tell him. He deserved to know he was going to be a father. The words were on the tip of her tongue, but they wouldn’t come. Why couldn’t she just open her mouth and say the words?

She swallowed apprehension. “I…I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“This is frustrating,” he said with a growl. “If we could just find the key, we would be rid of this darkness forever.”

She took hold of his cold hands. Warmth radiated through her body and his chill faded. Natural skin tone blended through his fingers as she lifted his palm to her cheek.

“Maybe if you touch me long enough you’ll—”

“—Anna.” He lowered his hand from her face, but she held tight so he couldn’t let go. “We have united many times without results.”

“But look at you.” She gazed up into his dark eyes. A hint of blue blended through the black as he stared down at her. He was so beautiful. “You’re healing faster every day and all I have to do is hold your hand. Maybe if we make love…”

“Gerard will be here soon. I dare not let him find me like this.”

She stood before him. She slid her arms around his waist. With her body pushed tight against his, desire grew into a longing for his touch. “It’s been weeks since you’ve touched me. I don’t care if it heals you or not. I just want to be with you.”

He pried her arms from his torso. He turned away, but she caught him again. No way was he leaving now. Didn’t matter how much he struggled, she would not let go. No matter what, she’d never let go.

“Anna, please. Stop this.”

What was this desperation in his voice? Why was he so adamant on keeping her at an arm’s length? Was he scared? Frustrated? Or maybe…her heart dived to the floor.

Tears welled in her eyes, but she blinked them back. “Don’t you love me anymore?”

“You know I do,” he replied with furrowed brows. “Why would you ask such a foolish question?”

“It’s been weeks since you’ve shown me. I want to be with you.” She tucked her fingers under the bottom of his shirt. As she slid her hands up his abdomen, his muscles tensed. “I miss your body.”

A shade of ice blue encircled his pupil, resilient against human skin. A grin crept across his face as he inspected the dark hairs growing on his forearm. Stubble took over the smooth skin of his face.

He lifted his hand and massaged his cheek. By his teeth-baring grin, he enjoyed this unusual transformation.

Anna’s heart leapt to her throat. He’d never dramatically changed like this before, not even when they made love and never with just a touch. This was frightening and wonderful at the same time.

His body jolted. He drew in a quick breath as if he’d come up for air after a long dive under water. He exhaled long and slow and then drew in another deep breath. He clutched his chest and gasped as if he couldn’t draw in enough oxygen.

 “My heart races. I have not felt like this in…how?” His eyes watered. “How is this happening? What are you doing to me?” He shoved her hands down to her sides then stepped back. His glaring eyes turned a bright shade of red. Hair retracted on his face leaving it smooth as silk. All the color drained from his body and he became his angry, despondent self.

She held out her hand, but he stepped back. “Tristan, come on. Stop acting like you don’t want my touch.”

His back pressed against the wall. “Stay your distance.” He never wore fear on his sleeve, but it was clear that this human experience terrified him.

Her heart ached. If he refused to be near her, what would she do? She loved him. More than anything, she wished to console him and make him understand, even if she had no clue how his appearance changed so fast.

Her stomach roiled. Nausea crept up her throat. “Oh god.” She covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m going to be sick.”

Dizziness swept over her. Her knees weakened and she slumped to the floor at his feet. She hunched over and heaved, but there was nothing inside her to come up.

She groaned. Being dizzy and hungry and ill at the same time was the worst feeling in the world. All she wanted was to lie down on the cool stone until the sensation passed, but Tristan scooped her up in his arms. He carried her up the stairs and down the hallway to the bedroom.

“Why are you sick again?” he asked as he laid her on the bed.

“I don’t know.” She didn’t want to lie, but the truth would be too much for him to handle. He was already in turmoil. This news would just make things worse. “Maybe I’ve been working too hard.”

“You did not replenish after the blood draw today.” He pressed the back of his hand to her temple. “You are feverish. Let me bring you sustenance.”

“I don’t want blood.” She swallowed hard. The very thought of consuming the thick red liquid sickened her. “There’s a package of crackers on the top shelf of the closet.”

Tristan arched his brows. He rose from the bed and disappeared behind the closet door. When he emerged, he held the package she’d hidden for emergencies.

“Oh, thank God.” She grabbed them from his hand and ripped the end open. Like a starving child, she shoved four of the salty saviors into her mouth then swallowed them down. She didn’t hesitate to eat three more, even as Tristan watched her with curious eyes.

“What has changed in you?” He spoke softly as if he’d thought the words but never meant them to come out.

Afraid he’d see she was lying, she kept her eyes on her snack. “I’m tired.”

“Then rest tonight.” He shook his head. “I will return to check on you later.”

She caught his hand. “Stay with me. Hold me in your arms. Let’s talk about our dream of walking together on the beach at sunrise. Or anything, as long as you’re with me. Please? I need you.”

“Gerard is on his way.”

“You go off with him every night.” She hadn’t meant to raise her voice, but he had to understand how much she needed him here. “He can wait a little while longer. Can’t he? At least stay with me until I fall asleep.”

“You know why I go with him.” As color blended through his hand, he jerked from her grasp. He balled his fists as he backed toward the door. “I promise once we find what we are looking for, I will dedicate all my time to you. Until then, I must keep up with my duties as an Elder. They cannot know what we are doing here.”

“Tristan.”

He turned away and left the room. Damn it. She rolled to her side. She wiped tears from her cheeks with rigid fingers as she gazed at the boarded up window.

Maybe it was time to go see Jack. He was the only person that would help her through this, the only one who might understand what she was going through. That is, if he agreed to meet with her. The last time she saw him was on her death and resurrection. No telling how he’d react. Once he realized she was more human than vampire, maybe he’d be okay. Maybe. And since Tristan was so wrapped up in his duties as an elder, he’d never know she went anywhere without him.