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Chapter 29: Fixing Nora & A Sort Of Meeting
I was adrift on an ocean, buoyed by the right to left motion of the waves. The rhythm of the sea made everything seem there was order in all the chaos of the moment. I managed to open an eye to see the blue sky above me. I felt as if I could drift up and light on the clouds if not for the life preserver that kept me safely in its confines. A life preserver named Ryo.
I turned my head and could see his face above me. He wasn’t looking down at me, but stared straight ahead as the waves threatened to rock me back into unconsciousness. I told myself I wasn’t on the ocean, but was being rocked back and forth by Ryo’s stride as he carried me down an unknown street. This thought was interrupted by the pain that was in my closed eye, spreading out behind it and across my face. It was going to be an awful bruise. One thing I could say for Amanda is she has a powerhouse punch. And horrible tasting blood. I could still taste it lingering in my mouth and on my teeth. I was going to need a whole freaking bottle of mouthwash to rid myself of it.
My head pounded from where I’d been hit with the metal chair, and my arm, back, and shoulder throbbed with a dull ache that seemed to be growing rather than diminishing. Trying to still it, I turned my face towards Ryo’s chest. His natural scent was earthy and it made me think of lying on cool, green moss awaiting the morning dew.
I closed my eyes and dreamed of indiscernible lovers naked in a fog, wrapped in the flesh, turning over and over in a shallow creek bed. One of them had a tattoo that read “loveless”, the other looked remarkably like me. It wasn’t my dream. I didn’t want it. I wanted Haru. I wanted to open my eyes and see that I was wrong. Ryo hadn’t carried me out of the school in his strong arms, it had been Haru. But when my eyes did open, I was laying on a velveted divan in a strange room and Haru wasn’t here. No one was, but myself and a shadow in the corner, sitting on the floor away from the sunlight that tried to peak through the curtains.
I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t. It hurt too much. My head, my eye, my whole body felt as if it couldn’t move without sending a wave of pain through me. The shadow got up and walked towards me. Coming into the feeble light, I saw the hairless chest, tattooed and toned, before his face came into view. Ryo, his long black hair covering one eye, tried to smile, but he too seemed to be in some form of pain, or perhaps just indecision.
“Nora,” he spoke softly. “It doesn’t appear you have had a good day.”
I shook my head and looked around the room the best I could. I knew I wasn’t home, or at Haru’s, or even the Winston house where Ryo had taken up residence. The room appeared too feminine and girly for any of those places. Pink and violet dominated the walls. Unicorn artwork and sculpture, interspersed with walls and walls of books filled up the empty spaces. A chandelier was decorated with dangling multi colored streamers giving one the effect a rainbow was overhead.
“Where am I?”
“You’re at my master’s house. Against my better judgement maybe, but we’re just going to have to trust you. “
“You can trust me.”
He frowned. “We’ll see.”
He then reached under my head and carefully removed the pillow I was resting on. As he began to put it on I realized it wasn’t a pillow at all, but his ruffled white lace shirt. He buttoned it halfway and started to roll up the sleeves.
“Why am I here?” I asked .
“It was the safest place to bring you. Move over.”
At first I didn’t understand what he meant, so when I didn’t move, his dark, smoldering eyes met mine. In a low serious voice he whispered, “I need to sit beside you.”
With a little effort, and quite a bit of pain, I slid over so he had room to sit beside my stretched out form on the divan.
“It seems your life is in serious jeopardy,” he said, taking the seat. “Teachers and students alike want you dead, while rookie vampires attack you at Haru’s. I’m sure they know where I live, so this was the best place to take sanctuary. No one knows where we are.” He let that sink in for a moment before continuing. “I didn’t even know until today. The master believes in moving around…often.”
“Is your master here?”
The look on his face told me he had disdain for not being his own master, to having to answer to another. “Will I meet him?” I asked.
“Then why did you bring me here?”
“Nora Williams, you ask a lot of questions of the one who just wants to help you.”
“But why do you want to help me?”
He stumbled over the answer. “Because…I…I believe Haru would want me to.”
I didn’t believe that was his whole reason, but I let it go. “Where is Haru?”
“He’s at your house making sure it is safe for you to go home.”
I closed my eyes. With my father’s passing, I wasn’t expecting things to get so complicated and dangerous. “I didn’t think it was going to be like this, “ I said.
“Things are a lot different for all of us.” He looked at me, a serious gleam in his eye. “Nora, this is going to be weird, but just bear with me.”
He reached out with his open palm and placed it against my bad eye. For a moment it rested there, just long enough for it make me feel uncomfortable, and then I felt the pull. It was a gentle tug at my skin, as if the blood in my body was trying to rise to Ryo’s touch. His hand moved in a slow, circular pattern, moving outward from the area of my eye, then spread even further by drawing straight lines across my face north, south, east, and west. It felt as if something within me was moving with his hand. It was a strange, almost sensual feeling, as if he were a magnet attracting steel, and moving it where he wanted.
“What are you doing?” I asked nervously, a hot flush coming over my body from my face down to my knees.
“I’m manipulating your blood.”
“You got hit pretty hard. Normally there would be a very bad bruise, black all around your eye. I think she popped a few vessels in your face, too. That could leave permanent discoloration, but I’m fixing that.”
“You’re healing me?”
He nodded. “Something like that.”
“Can all of you do that?”
“No. Just the Alpha’s.”
I knew this was his way of saying, if you want to get healed, I’m your only hope. I was glad that he was doing it for me, but I feared what the price would be.
“Where else do you hurt?”
“Nowhere,” I lied. “Just the eye.”
He sighed and gave me a look of exasperation. “Why don’t you want me to help you?”
I was afraid to tell him the truth, but he already knew.
“I’m not going to demand anything of you, Nora. I just want to help. No strings.” He held out his arms and made a show of checking up his sleeves. “See?”
“You’re not that generous.”
“You’d be surprised how generous I can be. Now tell me, where else does it hurt?”
I reached my hand up to touch the back of my head. I winced from the pain, as it pulled the muscles of my arm and shoulder in the process.
“Everywhere then, “ he said with a lecherous wink.
Before I could get another word out, he shushed me and put his hands on my head. I felt his long fingers move across my hair, entwining close to the roots, the tips of them touching my skull. There was a slight tug and it was almost exciting. With his fingers in my hair, he leaned so close I could almost feel his breath in my scalp. I closed my eyes and tried to think of other things.
His hands moved down to the back of my neck, across my shoulder and upper back. The whole while I felt the pull, could imagine the blood flowing inside of me at Ryo’s command. It sent a pleasant chill down my spine and made me catch my breath before it could get away from me. A knot grew in my stomach, an oddly sweet queasiness that embarrassed me. I didn’t want to feel excited by his touch and I demanded my body not to want this.
As if knowing my very thoughts, Ryo’s hands moved from my back to sweep down my arm, the warm rush racing after his fingers. The movement made me shudder in my skin, as his fingertips reached my hand. He stopped and for the very briefest of moments, his fingers laced with mine, before pulling away from me in one sharp motion, breaking the connection with the blood in my body cold turkey. The hot flush within me threatened to chase after his touch, but the feeling passed quickly.
“See?” He said. “That wasn’t too bad, was it?”
I dared to look at him. He was sweating, as if it had taken a lot of energy to heal me. “No, I guess not,” I replied.
He smiled weakly and sat there a moment, his eyes roaming over his handiwork. His close inspection made me feel a little naked and exposed, but I endured it. He got up and walked over to a bureau, where he picked up a large ornate hand mirror and brought it over to me.
“Go ahead, take a look.”
I took the mirror and inspected my face. I don’t know what I expected, if anything, but I gasped at my reflection. There wasn’t a single trace of bruising. In fact, my face looked as if it had never taken a punch. The skin was unblemished, except for a mark that was left behind behind acne back from the seventh grade.
“Sorry, I cant do anything about that,” he explained.
“It’s okay. I’m..wow, Ryo..this is amazing.”
He smiled brighter than I’d ever seen him before. “I’m pleased you like it, “ he said. “But this doesn’t mean you can go picking fights all summer, okay?”
I laughed. “Okay. But this time wasn’t my fault.”
“Well, I think the girl will think twice before assaulting you again. Her neck is definitely going to bear a mark. I guess Haru is teaching you well.”
I blushed and realized this was the first time Ryo and I had laughed together. I’m not sure how I felt about that, but at least the tension that had been in the room was now missing.
“Well,” he said, “I sort of lied when I said I expected nothing in return.”
The tension returned and I froze. I should have known. I should never have trusted him.
“Unfortunately, you cannot know where the master lives. I’m sorry, but those are the rules.”
Before I could even reply and say I would never reveal the location, his hand shot towards my chest, and he placed his palm flat against the skin between my breasts. I felt nothing but the hot rush through my body, moving like a mixture of electricity and blood, somewhere between pain and pleasure, and then I was in darkness, unaware of my fate.
I woke in familiar surroundings. Both of my eyes fluttered open to be greeted to the sight of Asian rock bands and anime characters on my bedroom walls. Some had been there previously, others looked new, including the sketch I had made of Haru. My computer was on and streamin “Heartache”, a song by the Japanese rock band One Ok Rock. The strange thing about it was I had been dreaming about that very song.
Ryo had been in the dream, healing me as he had done in real life. Except here he was telling me it caused him such pain knowing that would be the only way he could touch me. To have me only in a dream. Perhaps that sounds vain on my part, but one does not control the nature of our dreams. I began to wonder if it was even me in the dream. Maybe I was dreaming I was someone else, like the girl he had liked long ago. The one Haru had accidentally killed while trying to turn her. Before I awoke Ryo had been leaning over me and saying in a sing song voice, “They say time takes away the pain, but I’m still the same,” directly referencing the song that I awoke to.
Fully awake, I now looked around my bedroom. It was crowded. My beloved Haru, sat on the floor beside my bed, as close to me as he could possibly be without sitting on the bed itself. Chi sat in the chair at my desk, her long legs straddling it in the same way Haru had done on nights he watched me sleep. Luhan was at my closet, rifling through my clothes, nodding his head in approval at some, shaking his head in disagreement over others. Ryo stood at the open window like a statue, his back to me and looking out onto the night. He was definitely one who liked the nocturnal hours because he seemed to be taking in deep breaths of the cool air and exhaling it slowly as if he were practicing some form of vampiric meditation.
“Hi,” I muttered, trying to address them all at once.
Haru got up from the floor and leaned over me, planting a long kiss upon my cheek. “Baby, you’re awake,” he sighed, the relief in his eyes belying his worry. I wasn’t sure but I think it was the first time he had ever called me baby or any other pet name.
“I’m home,” I replied. “I missed you.”
Through I didn’t think my injuries had been that bad before Ryo fixed them, Haru looked on the verge of tears. “I missed you, too.” He wiped a tear that was forming in the corner of his eye. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to watch over you. I never should have made you go to school.”
“You didn’t make me. I wanted to go.”
“You didn’t learn much though, did you?” Said Ryo without turning from the window.
I turned my head in his direction. “I learned nearly everyone is coming under a dark power. I learned, or I suspect , that those who attacked the house last night are new vampires, as none of them showed up for school today in the daylight. I learned it’s never too late to patch things up with your friends and that sometimes help comes from the unlikeliest of places.” I stared at the back of his head, wishing he would turn around and face me. “How’s that for learning, Ryo?”
He shrugged his shoulders but did not turn around. “Whatever.”
Chi spoke up. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you, Nora. Luhan and I both were distracted and we didn’t realize the attacks would come from humans under the influence.”
I wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easy. “What distracted you?”
“Your teacher, Miss Lazenby.”
“She wasn’t at school today,” I replied, and for a moment it seemed to take her off guard as I caught her in her lie.
Still she smiled graciously and answered me in a tone that was both corrective and regretful. “Yes she was, Nora. But she never made it to class. She was down in the boiler room.”
When I gave her a confused look, Luhan closed my closet door and added, “She was burnt to a crisp.”
I was in shock. Now I knew why Ryo wa staring out the window and not saying anything nice to anyone. It was his way of dealing with the loss.
“Someone or something lured her down there before school began,” Chi explained. “Then they lured us down to find her at the exact moment you were assaulted in the cafeteria.”
Luhan shook his head as if he couldn’t believe they fell into the trap. “It served two purposes,” he said. “Get rid of one of our allies and make the way for you to be attacked, possibly even killed if Amanda had succeeded in opening your arm up.”
I was bewildered by all this. I mean, Amanda Trump was a supreme bitch, no doubt about it, but a murderer? I didn’t think she had the guts to kill someone and I told Luhan so.
“She wasn’t herself. Like Mr Sharp she was controlled by someone else.” Luhan then grinned. “You putting the bite on her woke her up. Good job on that, by the way.” He winked at me. “Too bad Haru saw you first.” He blew me a kiss and I rolled my eyes at the little pervert.
Haru finally spoke up. “We found Bram. Ryo and I. But he wasn’t in condition to speak. Somebody scrambled his mind as if they were eggs in a pan.”
To say this news was also bad was an understatement. Bram was the grocery store clerk my father had attacked, believing him to be a vampire. Over time in the hospital, I think dad abandoned that idea and became convinced that Bram was a servant to a darker evil, a shadow figure he had seen him talking to. Information gleaned from that persuaded him a vampire invasion was coming. From the looks of things, he was right. All these things happening at once seemed carefully orchestrated, lining things up for another attack perhaps. Bram might have been able to give us some answers, but we were too late.
“All he could manage to tell us was that he’d been replaced by a school kid,” Haru continued. “He kept mumbling it over and over. We got the impression this vampire master found a better prospect for his right hand man.”
“Are you thinking Amanda Trump?” I asked.
“She would certainly fit the bill with her capacity for cruelty,” Chi replied.
Ryo finally turned around to face us all. “They didn’t have to kill my servant. I had given her life. Everything she ever aspired to be, I granted her. They took it all away. They took her away.”
I saw tears forming in his eyes, but whether they were out of sorrow or rage I couldn’t tell. The only thing I saw in his eyes was the desire for retribution.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2016, 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.