Science states that the evolution of mankind wasn’t a straight line. Several species had to become extinct for the ultimate survivor to reign on this Earth: humans or Homo sapiens. Human beings came from the prehistoric apes and have evolved over a span of millions of years. Exactly how many, even scientists have their doubts. Their best bets are from the hominid fossils that they’d discovered from various parts of the globe. They use all sorts of criteria, from quadruped to biped locomotion, an increase in cranial capacity,changes in food habits, etc. But one thing they agree on is that it took millennia to ultimately result in the perfect modern man who has made Earth the supreme habitat.
If you believed the same, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Human beings weren’t the only creatures who survived the eons of trial that Mother Nature inflicted upon us. No, there were others, beings who were stronger, faster, deadlier, and higher on the food chain. They never lost the habit of devouring raw flesh and blood, surviving purely on animalistic instincts, speed, and agility that were a part of their genetic makeup. For centuries, they’d been in hiding, never letting any human be aware of their existence until it was the last thing they knew. They preyed on us and stayed out of our sight just like a predator because they were the most impeccable of them all. They were the vampires.
How did I know all of this? How did I even know that vampires were real? How did I know about their history? No, it was not because they’ve been discovered by scientists or they’ve made themselves known to the world. It was because my father worked for them.
I ought to know because I was engaged to a vampire. I was to be Erick Stayton’s bride.
He was the heir to Stayton Incorporated, a company that specialised in marketing blood from donors and had blood banks in several parts of the U.S. It was a charitable organization looking for the betterment of the world and interested in helping people in need. No one really knew that it was just a facade, for only ten percent of the blood they collected went to charity. The rest was supplied to vampires all over Canada. They also ran a security service for VIPs and business tycoons, those who were in need of protection. All in all, he and his family were super rich, super arrogant, and very, very powerful.
Erick Stayton, my fiancé, was one of the most eligible bachelors in Canada. A lot of girls would die to catch his attention. However, he was too conceited to stay with one person for more than a week, that is according to Men’s Fashion and GQ. He was a ruthless and savage predator. For me, vampires have never been a part fairytales. They have always been the people I’d known to fear, and Erick was always at the top of that list.
My family were some of the few who knew about their secret. My father was the manager of the Main Canadian Blood Bank. Our families have been close even before I was born. Erick was the youngest child of his family, so we had an age difference of about three years. My mother and his were the ones who had arranged this wedding right after I was born. I didn’t have any idea why, though. Why did they choose a human girl who has no interest in vampires whatsoever? Why didn’t they choose someone more fitting like someone of the same race? It was no secret that I never liked vampires to begin with. Blood banks were a relatively modern creation. Who knew how many lives they took before the invention?
Everyone expected us to be great friends, Erick and I. They thought that we would grow up loving each other, but it was the exact opposite. I hated him with a passion. It was not just because he was a vampire, though. Oh no, it ran way deeper. You see, I had always avoided Erick ever since I was a child. He was always with the popular crowd, the bullies. Being naturally attractive, as was with every other predator on the planet, he always got away with it. So it was natural to avoid him and stay away from his line of sight. It was not that he didn’t know about me, but we just kept our distance right from the start. However, as I began to grow, I started attending parties with my parents, and he finally started to notice me. By then, it was still going okay. I could handle a few snide comments here and there, but it was when he and his mother came to visit my parents one day when everything went wrong.
We were all at the dinner table that night. I went to the kitchen to fetch an extra dish when I stumbled on the doorjamb and fell to the floor, but not before hitting my head on the counter and wounding myself. The wound wasn’t deep, but the hit caused the skin of my forehead to slit open and gush out blood. The next thing I knew, Erick was there, feeding from me until I was too weak to open my eyes.
When I regained consciousness, he warned me not to tell our parents or he would kill me. I, being the wimpy little child that I was, kept it a secret. I was eleven then. From that day onwards, he came to feed from me occasionally.
“You’re my fiancée. It’s your duty to feed me,” he used to say to me. I believed him for a long time until I grew old enough to understand the folly.
I would have still forgiven him, considering that he was a young vampire who had no control over his hunger if it wasn’t for what happened next.
I had just turned eighteen. It was Erick’s twenty-first birthday, and there was a party at their house. My parents wanted me to go, but I declined, making an excuse that I had a test the next day. In reality, I only wanted to stay away from Erick and his gang of browbeaters. My parents were always away on business trips, and I was often home alone. It was around two in the morning when I heard the front door of our house being forced open. I rushed downstairs to check and knew instantly that I shouldn’t have. Erick was leaning against the doorjamb with his clothes and hair in disarray. He was dead drunk.
I thought he was going to feed from me again, which had stopped for a while since he had plenty of girlfriends to drink from in his college. I was so, so wrong.
I didn’t remember what exactly happened that night, probably because of PTSD, but I do remember the next morning when I woke up bruised and bloody. My clothes were torn, and there were claw marks on the carpet all around me. Erick himself was in a similar state of undress.
Erick’s expression was unreadable. He only stayed to put on a few bandages on me so he wouldn’t get caught and left immediately with the same warning of killing me if I told our parents. However, I’d had enough. I never wanted to keep it a secret in the first place. I wanted so badly to tell my parents about all of this. I promised myself that I would the second they came back even if it meant dying at the hands of a ruthless vampire... but that never happened.
The next day, I had to rush over to the hospital instead. Papa had several serious injuries, and Mom was gone. They got into an accident on their way back home. An eighteen wheeler truck smashed into their car on a narrow road. After that, my life had never been the same. I completely closed off. I kept to myself and avoided company as much as I could. I no longer trusted people. What happened to me didn’t even compare to what happened to Mom, the person who never in a million years deserved this. Papa was so heartbroken, it was painful to watch.
He recovered after staying in the hospital for six months. However, he was diagnosed with stage two leukaemia. Now, he didn’t have much time left. It had been four years since the accident and my mom’s death. My father was already on his death bed, and Erick had never once visited even though his mother had so many times.
That was another reason why I was to be married to Erick as soon as the end of this month. Since my mom was dead and my Papa was nearing his, I would need protection from vampires who would gladly make main course out of me. After all, they couldn’t have me screaming to the world that they exist.
It felt like the walls that I have built after all these years were breaking apart. My life was crashing down on me, and I had no way of stopping it.
I woke up with a start. It took me a while to realize that someone was ringing the doorbell of my apartment and that I was no longer at the hospital trying to convince my father to call off the wedding.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked at the bedside clock. It was nine twenty-seven in the morning, and since I took a few days off from work, I wasn’t expecting anyone.
I hurriedly got out of bed and put on my robe. The lime green satin night dress that I was wearing reached my knees, and the robe went a little longer. My long dark-brown hair was in wild curls around my face and reached my lower back. Running my hands through it a few times to look presentable, I went for the door.
“Yes?” I asked as I opened the door without checking first. I instantly wished I hadn’t.
Standing on the other side of the door was none other than Erick Stayton, the man I hated and feared. He still looked the same, except he no longer had the boyish charm he had when he was younger. In its place were all hard angles and a chiselled appearance. He had a devilishly handsome face, broad shoulders, and long legs clad in grey dress pants. The muscles on his arms strained the rolled up sleeves of his navy blue shirt. His sandy blond hair was short and perfectly styled while his ocean-blue eyes sparkled with an unknown emotion, a smirk playing on his lips.
“Hey there. Remember me?” he said as I visibly paled.
“W-why are you here?” I asked, internally cursing myself for the stutter. How could I ever forget him? What he did to me aside, he had a face no one could easily forget.
“Just came over to check on my wife-to-be.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
“Well, now that you have, you should probably get going.” I went to slam the door shut on his face, but a sudden gust of wind blew past me. When I turned around, Erick was there in my living room, looking around my apartment.
My apartment was small, but I loved living here. I decorated everything myself, from the colour of the walls to the furnishing. The dining room was a combination of light green and blue with a blue carpet and white couches. The kitchen was just next to the living room with two chairs before the counter and an open kitchen behind it. The walls were a light cream colour, and the boxes were made of wood. There was a twenty-eight inch LCD TV on the wall next to the counter and the entrance to the kitchen. A floor to ceiling glass wall stood facing the couches that gave a splendid view of the compound backyard and the fountain. My room was medium sized with white walls and had various false plants and flowers, as well as a green grass carpet. All the decorations made it look like it was in the midst of nature. The guest room was painted in red and gold with only a bed and small wardrobe. That was all, but the apartment was my safe heaven. I bought it with the money I received upon selling my parents’ house right after my father was hospitalised a year ago.
“I like the decor. You did this yourself?” Erick asked.
“Yes,” I said in a hard voice. “How long are you planning to stay here?”
“You know, there is no need for us to be so tense, right? We are getting married in a few weeks,” he said, coming to stand in front of me so that we were chest to chest.
“You’re right. We are getting married in a few weeks, but we’re not married yet. So it’d be better if I didn’t have to see you unless it’s absolutely necessary.” I didn’t step back even though every cell in my body kept telling me to run as far and as fast as I could.
Erick raised an eyebrow, and his lips tilted up to one side. “You’ve changed. I like that, but you seem to have forgotten that you’re not marrying a commoner, Alina. You’re marrying the prince of all vampires, so look alive and get me some coffee.”
The nerve of him! Yes, apart from being one of the most influential families in Canada, Erick’s parents were the king and queen of all vampires, making him the Vampire Prince, but that did not give him the right to order me around. I gritted my teeth together so hard, I was afraid they would crack. How dare he say such a thing as if he hadn’t done anything four years ago?
I will not lose my temper, I had to remind myself. No, I will not lose to this monster.
“Get out of my house, and get your own damn coffee!” With that, I strode to my bedroom and slammed the door on his face.