The Faire people were crowded in Imogen's small trailer, anxiously waiting for Imogen to return from the bedroom. The air was nearly stagnant, filled with diluted breath. The room itself was a mess, dishes in the kitchen sink, sofa cushions askew, curtains hastily yanked shut.
I wrung my hands, steadily becoming more uncomfortable on her expensive plush couch. My now long dark hair was ticking the crease of my elbows. Ben's ring shone brightly off my finger, casting sparkles onto the tips of my opposite hand. My amethyst eyes darted nervously toward the door.
It had been three years since I had first met Ben. As Imogen had promised, I had grown into my height. My legs had thinned out; causing the jeans I usually wore to be shapely and pretty. My old line-backer shoulders had grown supple, my torso soft and curvy. My hair was now long, and thanks to a new French shampoo brand, was silky and light, and would blow at the slightest breeze. My complexion had evened out, becoming smooth and creamy.
In other words, I'm hot. Bangin', even.
Although, it hadn't helped that my boyfriend was never around to see and appreciate this fact. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attention needy. But you'd be worried sick if your guy was off helping his blood brother with obviously dangerous adventures, not returning in a month or so, too, right? And this time, he had been injured. Horribly.
I'd known the instant he'd been hit. A penetrating pain had split through my upper chest, nearly slicing the frantic heart beating within my/his chest. I'd dropped the ceremonial fortune telling bowl on our way back to the main tent. I had turned to Imogen in horror and had seen that concern and pain reflected onto her face as well.
Daphyd had carried his body to Imogen's trailer that night. Yesterday night.
The door across the room opened quickly and the sea of people parted like schools of frightened fish.
Imogen came out, her usually glittering blonde hair now tinged with anxiety. Her face was thinner, her bright blue eyes tired from lack of sleep, and she was slumped over in exhaustion. She was wearing a baggy t-shirt, jean shorts, and no makeup. The complete opposite of her usual appearance.
She looked unto the people crowded in her living room, and raised her voice high to say, "I appreciate your concerns, and understand your worry, but please leave. He needs rest."
Heat drained from my face. What kind of rest?
The people buzzed around for a moment, then left quietly, giving their condolences to Imogen and wishing Ben well. She met my eyes across the ocean of faces and held my gaze. She seemed to benefit from my face, for her posture straightened infinitesimally.
After they had all dispersed, only Imogen and I remained, I still perched on the couch apprehensively.
She held my gaze, her face crumpling as tears streamed unbidden down her once rosy cheeks. I was off the couch as her knees buckled, and she threw her arms around me, sobbing into my shirt.
"He's practically dead!" she screamed into the thin fabric of my shirt. "His chest is barely rising-as cold as ice- won't open his eyes-"
Her words after that just melted into unintelligible sobs, her thin frame shaking with grief. My hands comforted her absently, while my eyes remained stricken on the door. My heart had dropped into my stomach.
"Shh, Imogen, it'll be alright. He's not dead." I whispered, unsure whether I was consoling her or myself.
My comforting obviously failed, for Imogen began to pound her tiny fists against on the floor, sliding away from me. Her eyes were wild with despair as she shrieked at me.
"Alright?! Alright?! Fran, There's no possible way he can survive! His vitals are all but lead for all the good their doing! BEN'S GOING TO DIE AND THERE NOTHING I CAN DO OR ANYONE CAN DO! WHEN I FIND DAFYD I'M GOING TO KILL HIM!!!" She screamed, knotting her hands in her hair and tearing angrily.
"Stop!" I yelled over her, grabbing her wrists. "Stop! There is a way to save him!"
Her entire frame froze, her face like a breaking sun, eclipsed in hope. "What?"
I just nodded, staring into her eyes with a determination I hadn't realized I had. Feelings were swirling in my heart: Greif, worry, anger, and a raw aching. But also…strength, hope, determination…and…
"What could possibly save him at this point?" Imogen whispered, almost scared to hope.
Looking at her, I smiled, my eyes bright with a fearless emotion I had previously been afraid to name.
She looked shocked, her mouth opened in surprise as she watched me walk to the bedroom door, and without turning back, entering.
Even though the room was pitch black, I could easily tell where Ben laid. The room was cold; jars of blood lay unopened on the floor. The closet door flung open, unused bandages hanging ready from the top of the door. A solitary trash can lay to the left of the bedside table filled with bloody bandages. And in the center of the room, a motionless figure lay upon the bed.
Time seemed to slow down as I crossed the carpet to his side. He didn't move at my presence, ignorant of the world in his mind.
He looked so cold. His once tan face was gaunt and white, his skin erased of the vibrancy of life. His eyes were closed, as if he could have been sleeping. The long silky curtain of his hair was spread over the pillows, breaching the top of his heavily bandaged shoulders. He looked so tired, as if his age had caught up to him. And still he was just as handsome as the day we had first met.
My hand reached to cradle his cheek, tears falling silently from my eyes. I sat on the edge of the bed, my eyes never leaving his face.
"Hi, Ben." I said softly, my voice thick with emotion.
"I know you can hear me…and I want you to know…that I…" I gulped hastily, feeling my throat going dry.
"I'm mad at you...And you're going to…be in so much trouble when…you wake up." My words were stumbling out of my mouth. "Worrying us so much…Imogen's worried sick…And so am I…I…"
My voice failed me for a minute as I struggled not to sob. It was so much harder to be strong when I looked at his lifeless face.
My hands clenched into fist as I look into the bottom drawer of the table. Ben had told me once that he kept a knife beside the bed while he slept. Too many dangers to be unprotected.
Looking back at him, I recalled Imogen's words from long ago. To a Dark One, the blood of their beloved is like a panacea. One drop can heal any wound. Sometimes even death. She had said.
"This better work." I whispered to myself. It seemed almost impossible, that my meager blood could bring him back. But it was our only hope.
One of my hands pried open his jaw gently, the other holding the knife precariously to my side. With a quick movement, I nicked the tip of my forefinger, a large drop immediately forming in its wake. Placing my finger upon Ben's lips, I prayed to the God and Goddess that this would succeed.
For a long moment, all I could feel was the soft pressure of his lips and the tingling pain in my finger. My eyes were trained on his face, watching for any sign of movement.
A cold shiver washed over me as my body began to shake, my heart filling with dread.
Then a quick pale hand reached up, holding my hand firmly against his now closing mouth. I froze in shock as he began to gently partake of my blood, color returning to his handsome face.
My lungs filled with air, when I realized I wasn't breathing. I was still shaking, but with relief now. His pallor was still pale, but not nearly as ominous as before. I could hear him breathing, his tired lungs gasping for air. His eyes opened to reveal deep crimson irises, making me realize he needed more.
Raising the knife, I carefully drew a line down my neck, and leaning forward, I pressed his head to my shoulder loosely.
He reacted just as I thought he would. The hand holding mine switched to grip the shirt on my back strongly, the other gripping my hair in a tight, yet not painful hold, pulling me closer. And lastly, his mouth pressed openly against the cut, drinking like a parched man lost in the desert.
It wasn't painful, nor was it 'ecstasy' like in the teen vampire novels. Or maybe it could be, when he wasn't recovering from death. Instead it was like taking a bath. Relaxing, comforting, reassuring.
Tears were trickling down my face steadily, as I repeated in my head 'he's alive' over and over again.
My head had started to become foggy, my tired eyes closing sleepily, when I felt him release me. My body heavily swung toward the floor only to be softy caught by slender arms. I was carried over to the other side of the bed , my eyes distractedly watching a long piece of golden curly hair before oblivion descended.
I woke up in a warm huddled ball, with strong arms around me. My hands reached out to press against a lightly bandaged chest. I sighed contently, feeling a hand reach up to my face, stroking gently, lovingly. His breath blew against my forehead tenderly, the slow and steady rhythm relaxing my heart.
I opened my eyes a smidge, quickly being captivated by the brilliant gold gazing back to me.
Ben's handsome face blazed, a sun in the darkness of night. His beautiful shining eyes looked at me with a light almost ecstatic with happiness and emotion. His skin was once again bronzed, his hair shiny and silky.
My hand reached up and caressed his face involuntarily, my eyes filled with wonder and realization.
"I love you." I said quietly, feeling immensely strong warmth in my veins.
For a moment, Ben just looked shocked, then he lurched forward, capturing my lips in a passionate kiss. I threw my arms around his shoulders, running my hands through his hair, as his mouth peppered my face with kisses, only to return to my own again and again and again. His arms had tightened around me, pressing so closely against him I could feel his heart beating erratically in his chest.
Gasping for air, I pulled reluctantly away to grin up at him. A light flush had crossed his cheeks as he breathed heavily as well.
"Do you have any idea what you've done?" he asked breathlessly, his eyes alight with wonder.
"Yeah. Kinda." I rolled my eyes grinning when he shook his head, a smile still on his face.
He leaned down to my ear, whispering, "I love you too."
I chuckled, nipping his ear lobe teasingly. "Duhh."
"Of course you would leave me in suspense." Imogen bristled, putting large plates of eggs and bacon on the table. "Of course you have to surprise the hell out of me. Of course you have to save my idiot little brother's life."
Ben grunted, looking at his sister annoyed before returning to watch the news.
Imogen had gone a bit crazy with the food, making a supply large enough for eight, when I was the only one having breakfast today. She had said it was the least she could do, all the while drinking a glass of Frankovca. I had decided to eat as much as my stomach would allow, all the while holding Ben's hand in my right and a fork in my left.
The trailer had brightened up; the need to keep shades no longer necessary. With my blood running strongly through his veins, he didn't need to hide from the sun for a few hours. It shone brightly through the windows, lighting every corner and surface. We had got up to watch the sunset this morning.
Of course, his immunity to the sun would only last till he needed more blood. We'd need to complete the entire Beloved process soon to really enjoy the perks. And Ben was all for completing the ritual, if you get what I'm saying. Not that I'm not, just that…Nevermind.
The door to the trailer burst open, my Mom running in with a ferocious look on her face. "Francesca Marie Ghetti, where were you last-"
Her eyes caught sight of Ben, our hands, and the sun shining gloriously on his face. A shock had crossed her face like none before.
"Mom…"I said gently, before looking at Ben. He looked at me with confidence, his belief in me as well as his amusement strengthening my resolve.
"Well, I think we all knew this would happen." I stated bluntly.
Ben and Imogen froze, whipping their heads toward me before collapsing into laughter. Mom just sank heavily onto the couch, a wry half smile twisting her mouth.