In celebration of reaching over 1000 likes on my Facebook page, and ‘Falling to Pieces going live on Amazon, both in paperback and Kindle editions, I’m posting Chapter One. Hope you all like it.
I fought against sleep, desperately trying to force my eyelids open. The crate I was inside jolted on a hard surface. I caught the words of apologies from the handlers before falling back into unconsciousness for a moment.
The crate was back on the move, disturbing me once again. I wanted to slam my fists on the wood at tell them I’d walk myself, but I kept falling back to sleep before I got the chance.
My bare feet pressed hard against the silk lining as the box tilted at an angle. On the outside it appeared to be an ordinary wooden cargo container, not unlike one you’d see if you shipped a large amount of wine over from foreign shores. The inside was a different story altogether, having been padded and lined with the finest Chinese silk.
The journey had been nothing but a pain in the ass, or arse, as I should say now that we’re in England. I hated with a passion being cooped up.
I recognised the clunk of metal connecting with the wood, gently easing the nails out to reveal my resting place. The highly paid handlers quickly moved to take me out of the box. They gingerly lifted me out before placing me on the bed. My eyes flickered open for a moment with the sensation of being lifted. I wanted to struggle against them and climb into the bed by myself, but the energy needed wasn’t available with the sun still in the sky. I settled into a deep undisturbed sleep as the men left my bedroom.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for the sun to set. I woke with a start, unsettled by my unfamiliar surroundings.
Flopping back down on the Egyptian cotton sheet, I wrinkled my nose at the memory of voluntarily climbing into the large wooden crate. Everything I needed I’d had with me, but there’s nothing pleasant about being nailed into a crate for any amount of time, regardless of the decor.
I squeezed my eyes shut, grimacing at the recollection of my father’s harsh tone. He’s not exactly my father in the traditional sense, but it’s an appropriate name for him because he made me into what I am today.
“Now, Teagan, you must remember not to fidget,” he chastised me with a stony expression etched on his face.
I’d considered telling him to go fuck himself. I didn’t want to leave America, but the electric pull of his possession forced me to follow wherever he chose to go. That was simply the way things were. The desire to be with my maker was too strong to ignore.
Like a good little fledgling, I’d smiled sweetly at him instead.
“Yes, father. You have told me many times of the importance of not moving around. I do remember the first time. Did I let you down then?”
The first time we’d travelled thousands of miles, the Wright brothers hadn’t even been born, let alone invented the airplane.
I remembered Thomas, my maker and saviour giving me the same instructions in 1853 when we’d boarded the ship named Washington, bound for New York.
Back then, I’d hung on to his every word like a little puppy.
Thomas had stroked my cheek with his cold fingers. His dark blue eyes were bright and glossy, gazing into mine with heart-warming sincerity.
“Listen to me my dear child,” his voice sounded so soft, almost a whisper. I raised my face closer to his.
“You must remember to keep as still as possible. If we are discovered in the crates we’ll be considered stowaways. There will be no way for us to hide from the sun.”
I’d nodded my understanding, completely at his command. I was so new at being a vampire that I shined and sparkled like a new pin to adorn him with a trophy child and a pet project.
Sweetly, he’d waited outside of my crate whilst I’d lowered myself down with my face turned up to his and my eyes wide with fear. Thomas had lowered his smiling lips to my pale cheek after I’d lain down.
“You will be safe now, my love,” he’d said.
I understood why we had to go. It was impossible to stay in Ireland now. My family thought me dead and it was best for everyone that they continued to believe that.
He straightened himself back up and turned to his servants, his expression changing to a business like quality, all gentleness vanishing.
“Seal her crate,” he barked at the highly paid men that were escorting us. The lid was nailed shut.
I slept for the majority of the first few days before one of Thomas’ servants released us. We were well into the trip by then and I’d run out of the supplies that had been placed in the crate with me. It took all the will I had to stop myself from draining the servant dry.
For six weeks, the servants would let us out of the crates to feed on the unsuspecting crew and passengers.
When the ship docked in New York, they were around one hundred passengers lighter. Of course, not every death could be attributed to Thomas and me. Some had been taken by disease or pure misfortune. If it had been nowadays, they wouldn’t have died from our feeding at all. The lack of food and nutrition onboard had made the humans weak, too weak to sustain blood loss.
I slipped off my bed, bringing myself back to reality, and walked into the bathroom, flipping the light on more out of habit than necessity. My vision was perfect in the darkness, after taking a moment to adjust anyway.
I inspected myself in the mirror whilst removing the clothes I’d been wearing for days, discarding them on the floor. I’ve got ginger hair. Ok, maybe not ginger, I’m somewhere in between red and blonde. It irritates the hell outta’ me.
If my hair colour was red or blonde I suspect I’d be a bit happier. I’ve bleached and dyed it before, only to wake up the next night and find the mane is back to normal, stuck in purgatory between the two colours and ramrod straight. I even shaved my head once, the whole damn lot, but I woke to find the tresses had re-grown back down to my waist.
At least my transition couldn’t affect the pallor of my skin. I’ve always been pale with freckles scattered about most of my body. A consequence of being Irish I figured.
As a human, my oval shaped eyes were a dark blue, but since the change they’ve become cyan speckled with flecks of violet, as if my body couldn’t decide what it wanted.
“For goodness sake, Teagan!” Thomas bellowed from the doorway of my bathroom.
I continued my gaze into the mirror.
“What alarms you about clothes?” Thomas asked.
I viewed him out the corner of my eye—he’d turned to face away from my exposed body.
“Well, Thomas, this is my bathroom and my bedroom. Are you afraid of knocking?”
I selected the mascara from the contents of the bag next to the sink. I unscrewed the lid and began applying the gloopy black substance to my eyelashes whilst trying to act as if he’d gone.
“Well, I didn’t want you to become—over hungry.”
I stomped past him,making no attempt to cover up my nakedness, back into my large bedroom.
“Fear not, father. I’m going out now.”
“By yourself?” His voice was high-pitched with incredulity. “You won’t have any idea of where to go. We’re not in Montana now, Teagan. You don’t know London.”
I rolled my eyes in another direction, unwilling to look at him. I pretended to inspect the crimson pattern on the feature wall as I pulled on some jeans, not bothering with underwear, I was too hungry to mess around. I’d selected the décor for my room while we were still in Montana, and I was happy to see the decorators had pulled off my vision to perfection.
“I’m well aware of where we are, thank you very much, father. You know I prefer to feed by myself, without any of your corrections.” I snatched up the green silk shirt, the material slithered over my skin sending the nerve endings to alert. I was a little excited at the thought of tasting new blood, English blood.
“I’m sorry, Teagan. Of course, I forgot, you can’t take constructive criticism. I only endeavour to help you improve yourself,” he said, his voice tinged with sarcasm and his eyes narrowed with severity.
Thomas’ Italian leather shoes spun on the thick red pile carpet as his slim figure, a blur, flashed out the walnut door after swinging the heavy wood back hard on the hinges.
I raised an eyebrow as “dick-head,” escaped my mouth without consideration.
I slumped down on the California king bed. Actually, I had been behaving like a sulky teenager. Thomas had given me everything anyone could ever wish for. He’d saved me from a sad existence. There were some things in my human life that I felt I’d missed out on because I had to leave. It caused me pain to even think about those things, and I never talked about them. But I knew that everything he did and continues to do, he does for me.
The move to London had annoyed me. I had no idea why we’d come here, and I’d never been offered an explanation of any kind.
Our lives in Montana were remote and lonely. It wasn’t as if I had left anything that I loved behind. I should have been grateful for the streams of people and the bright lights of the city.
Huffing at my own behaviour, I slipped my feet into green ballet style shoes. I filled my nostrils with air as I stepped out into the hallway, trying to sniff Thomas out. The house was huge, so it took me a while to trace him to the drawing room.
I hovered by the door while he pretended not to realise I was there. His eyes remained firmly on the book he was clutching with white knuckles. He sat in a salmon coloured winged back chair next to the intricate stone fireplace with pinched lips and a stiff posture.
“Father,” I said quietly, my voice cutting through the silence like a knife.
“What?” he snapped, not bothering to grant me a glance.
“I’m so sorry for my behaviour. You’re right. I’m acting like an adolescent. Can you forgive me? We could start afresh.”
“You know I will,” he said, his eyes meeting mine finally as he softened his expression. “Can you forgive me for bringing you to London?”
“It’s not so bad.” I smiled while waving my hand around the plush room. “Any chance we discuss our new beginning later? I’m so hungry.”
He shook himself, as if he had forgotten that I hadn’t eaten in days.
“Of course, my love. I suggest you go to Hyde Park. It’s a few minutes walk, if you head south you can’t miss it. I shouldn’t think you’d encounter any problems.”
I nodded letting my smile reach my eyes.
I threw the front door open after descending the stairs. The air, still quite warm and doused with pollution, served as another reminder I no longer lived in a countryside location.
Skipping down the front steps I took in the scene on the street. The houses around me glowed thanks to the streetlights lining the pavement. All of the houses resembled the one I lived in, painted a clean, creamy ivory colour. The doors and railings wrapping around them were painted black in stark contrast. They were rowed neatly with bevelled triangular carvings in them, tall, proud and narrow structures.
I couldn’t believe the cleanliness of the streets. I’d always imagined London would be dirty for some reason.
As directed by Thomas, I reached the edge of the park within a few minutes and took a path lined with globular street lamps casting a white pearly light.
Spotting a bank of trees, I walked over to them pressing the length of my body against the bark and laying my cheek against the roughness. I closed my eyes and breathed in the earthy goodness. I’d already been missing the countryside, just in that short walk.
The traffic noises from a nearby road drowned out my thoughts, so I concentrated on blocking them all out. My brain finally cut out the background noise. The lapping water of the river running parallel to the park and the wind rattling the soft leaves and grass soothed me. It made me feel at one with the nature surrounding me despite being in the middle of the city.
My eyes snapped open as I became aware of the vibration of footsteps, too clunky and unrefined to be an animal.
As the human came closer, I could hear their ragged breath and a heartbeat pumping the delicious blood through their veins.
My eyes found him—a stout man, short, fat and bald. His suit was grey and crumpled. His whitecollar hung open, the tie swung with his movements having been loosened off, leaving his fleshy neck exposed.
He started to pass where I stood, and in a blurry flash I snatched his large body and extended my fangs. I forced him against the tree as my newly revealed teeth stabbed into his neck. My mouth filled with sweet, rich, sticky liquid, tinged with the taste of alcohol.
He groaned for a second before the venom provided anaesthetic relief.
I wrapped my arms around his huge waist and shifted his body gently down to the grass so I was kneeling beside him. I pulled my teeth out of his neck whilst placing my hand over his mouth.
The man’s eyes flew wide open for a split second before the make-up of the venom had a chance to convert in his blood stream. When he flinched, that told me the process had completed. The poison from my fangs had wiped his memory of my attack forever. I moved my hand from his mouth to his cheek so fast any human would fail to notice.
“Are you ok, Mister?” I asked him frowning.
“A cyclist knocked you flying and you fell unconscious for a moment or two.”
“A cyclist knocked me over?” he echoed in an uncertain tone, swallowing hard. “I feel a bit dizzy.”
“Well, you’ve had a shock. Here, let me help you up.” I rose with grace from my place beside him and extended my hand. I didn’t want to draw this out for longer than I had to. I was eager to explore the city.
He grasped my hand with no consideration for our weight difference, probably a good thing because I didn’t want him to take notice of my considerable strength.
I began brushing him down trying to stifle a giggle, my actions reminding me of a mother inspecting her child before sending him off to school.
“I’d go home if I were you, see how you are in the morning,” I advised. He nodded, blinking rapidly and glancing around.
“Um, thanks,” he said before sluggishly ambling away.
I walked a few metres to sit down on a wooden bench. I wanted to bask in the warmth of being full and satisfied. My head dropped back and rested on the backrest. My eyes were half open as a smile curled the edges of my lips.
Without warning my whole body jerked, every muscle became tense. I realised instinct had positioned me on the pathway in a crouch, ready to pounce.
I swished back into the tree line where I’d come from, my blue and purple irises alert, ready for what created the magnificent aroma that I was breathing in deeply.
‘What is that?’ I’d never smelled anything like it before. It was indescribable because it was so many things. Open lilies, baking bread, freshly cut grass, all intertwined to create something wonderful.
I focussed my attention back on the path, honing my vision on the delectable source of the scent.
The aroma came from a man walking purposefully through the park.
How could a human smell so divine? He certainty appeared to be just a human, but then I supposed I did, too. His shoes tapped across the walkway. Though, to me, each gentle footstep seemed to magnify into great big booms. My attention belonged solely to him.
He stopped in his tracks, his eyebrows knitting together creasing his perfect olive skin.
My nails dug into the bark, exposing the flesh of the tree.
He snorted in the scented air just as I had been, like a cocaine addict simply unable to stop filling his nose. He glanced around before he continued his liquid movements down the path past the tree that I clung to for support.
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