Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy) (5 page)

BOOK: Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy)
8.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Scarlet could not believe it. Maria turned and headed in her direction, and as she did, two other girls walked up to Sage.

But Sage turned his back on them, and instead looked right at Scarlet. To Scarlet’s horror, he bee lined right for her.

She looked down, burying her head in the play. A part of her willed him to talk to her. But another part willed for him not to; it would be a like a slap in the face to Maria.

Oh my god
, she thought.
I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why here? Why now?

She looked up as he took a seat on the bench opposite her, facing her across the wooden table. He smiled as he stared at her.

“Is this seat taken?” he asked.

Scarlet turned red, not knowing what to do. She shook her head and looked back down, hoping that Maria wasn’t watching this.

“You can sit wherever you want,” she said.

“What I was really asking was if you would be my partner?” he continued.

Scarlet looked up. She could hardly ignore him at this point. Now Maria was standing beside her, looking down, watching. She could see in Maria’s eyes that she was desperate, silently begging her to say no.

“Actually,” Scarlet said, wanting to be a loyal friend, despite her own feelings for Sage, “I think you’d be a really perfect partner for my friend, Maria.”

As she said it, Scarlet got up, slid out of her seat, grabbed Maria, and slid her into the seat she had just been in.

She saw Maria flustered, but happy, break into a big smile, as she reached out an awkward hand.

“I’m Maria,” she said to Sage.

Sage, clearly not wanting to be rude, reached out and shook her hand, and Maria shook his way too hard, awkwardly, smiling like an idiot.

“I know,” he said. “I just heard. Pleased to meet you.”

Scarlet sat beside Maria, feeling sad but good that she had been as loyal as can be. As she did, a boy sat opposite her.

Oh no
, she thought.
Not him.

Spencer. He was a geeky kid, covered in acne, his shirt buttoned up to his neck. He smiled at her, revealing a mouth full of braces.

“Hey Scarlet,” he said with a lisp.

He was nice enough, though Scarlet was not remotely attracted to him. But she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

“Hi Spencer,” she said matter-of-factly.

“So like I guess we’re partners, huh?” he said, proudly.

“I guess so,” Scarlet replied.

Scarlet sat there, burning up inside, hoping that Maria appreciated the supreme sacrifice she had just made for her.

As she sat there, out of the corner of her eyes, she could not help but notice Sage. Oddly, he wasn’t looking at Maria, but rather looking diagonally, directly at Scarlet. His staring at her was obvious, and Scarlet was flustered. Clearly, Maria would see this, and she knew it would upset her.

“So did you like hear about this big dance tomorrow night?” Maria asked Sage.

Scarlet watched his reaction. He was expressionless, clearly not wanting to engage Maria.

“I did,” he said back to her, leaving it at that.

Scarlet wondered if Maria would have the courage to follow up, to flat-out ask him if he wanted to go with her. But an awkward silence followed.

She heard Maria swallow; clearly, she was too nervous to ask him.

“Okay class!” Mr. Sparrow yelled out. “Boys, you of course are Romeo and girls, Juliet. In this scene, Romeo and Juliet are in a lavish costume ball. They see each other for the first time. It is love at first sight. And although they don’t know each other, in their first words, they express their undying love for one another. Clearly, we are not going to re-enact the dance in this room.”

The class erupted into a giggle.

“But,” he continued, “try to read the lines with meaning. Feel how it feels to be Romeo, feel how it feels to be Juliet. Feel how the language feels when you pronounce it aloud. What is the difference between pronouncing it aloud and reading it to yourself? This will take us to the end of class. Feel free to begin.”

A chorus of voices erupted around them, as everyone began reading.

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear…” Spencer began to read to Scarlet.

His voice was so nasally, and his pronouncement so stiff, she had to suppress a smile. It was possibly the worst reading she had ever heard, and the farthest thing from romantic she had ever encountered—it sounded robotic, as if a computer had recited the line. She bit her lip, forcing herself not to smile, not wanting to embarrass him.

She read her lines back to him quickly, without any expression of meaning.

Scarlet stole a glance over at Sage, and as she did, she saw him staring right at her.

“Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night,” he read, right to her, with perfect intonation and the deepest meaning.

There was no mistaking it: he was staring at her when he said it.

Scarlet’s heart raced. She glanced over at Maria, wondering if she’d seen it. Luckily, Maria, nervous, had her head buried in her book, looking down, too nervous to look up at Sage. She hadn’t seen it. But Scarlet had. Sage was reading his lines to her. Scarlet.

“Saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss,” Scarlet read. She couldn’t help it: as she read the lines, she found herself looking back at Sage, reading them to him.

“That’s not the line you’re supposed to read!” Spencer corrected loudly. “You’re reading the wrong line!”

Scarlet looked over at him, her face turning red. What a pest. He was beyond annoying, and ruining her moment.

“My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss,” Sage read. Again, as he read it, he stared right at Scarlet.

This time, Maria looked up, and saw. She realized that Sage was not looking at her, but at Scarlet. And as she did, her face turned red with anger.

The bell rang, and suddenly everyone rose from their seats. Maria grabbed her book, stuffed it into her backpack, and stormed past Scarlet.

“I thought you were my friend,” Maria hissed at her as she passed.

Scarlet was so flustered, she hardly knew what to do, or how to respond. She went to talk to her, but Maria was already gone, storming out the room. If possible, Scarlet felt even worse now than ever.

“Hey Scarlet, that was like really cool!” came the nasally, chipper voice.

She looked over to see Spencer standing way too close to her, grinning, his braces in her face, and his breath smelling like Salami. “We should like hang out more often!”

He stood there, grinning, leaning in even closer until he was just inches away—and Scarlet finally turned her head away, revolted. She conspicuously bent over and gathered her books, and finally, to her relief, Spencer disappeared.

Scarlet was even madder, wondering if Spencer had now also managed to scare Sage away.

But then suddenly she heard a voice—a soft, gentle, mature voice.

“Your friend is upset,” Sage said.

Scarlet looked up and saw with relief that he was still there.

“But you did nothing wrong. I never wanted to be with her. I want to be with you.”

Scarlet stopped as she looked into his eyes. As she did, she felt her whole world melting. She had been thinking the same exact thing.

“I’m sorry,” Scarlet said, breathless. “But she’s my friend. And she likes you.”

“But she’s not the one I like,” Sage replied.

Scarlet was overwhelmed with the desire to ask him why. Why did he like her? How was he so sure? How was all of this possible? Especially when they didn’t even know each other?

She desperately wanted talk to him, to ask him questions, to stand there and be with him. She didn’t want to leave this room.

But it was all too much for her. She was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions, and she couldn’t help feeling disloyal to Maria for even talking to him.

So despite every bone in her body, she turned and hurried from the room, out the door and into the never-ending stream of kids, feeling her heart tearing into a million little pieces.




Scarlet walked with her mom down the cobblestone pathway to the church’s front door, feeling self-conscious. She had never been to church before, even though it was just two blocks from her house, and she didn’t want any of her friends to see her walking up to it now. The church was so conspicuous, right on main street in the middle of town; she lowered her baseball cap, which she’d snatched off the coat rack at the last second, hoping nobody saw her. It wasn’t that she thought there was anything wrong with going to church—it was just that it just wasn’t her. It wasn’t her family. She thought it would be weird for some of her friends or neighbors to suddenly see her walking with her mom to church in the middle of the day. After all, why would anyone do that? Unless something was wrong with the family.

But she knew that going to church would make her mom happy, and for some weird reason, she sort of looked forward to it, too, given how unsettled she was feeling these days. She wouldn’t mind actually having someone to talk to, assuming this priest was cool, which her mom said he was, and not some strict, old guy. She doubted that he could relate to her, but maybe he could help shed some light on what was wrong with her. Or maybe he could at least make her feel more calm.

As they walked, Scarlet reflected on her day. It had been another lousy one. After first period, everything was anti-climactic: she didn’t see Sage again all day, even though she couldn’t stop thinking about him. She wondered if he hated her now, for leaving like that. Despite herself, she hoped that he liked her. She looked for him all day, but saw no sign of him. It was so weird—it was like he disappeared.

At least thinking about him had taken the edge off of Blake. With Sage in her thoughts, she had hardly thought of Blake again that day; the one or two times she had seen him, out of the corner of her eye, she was sure that he had seen her too, and had quickly turned away. He definitely hadn’t texted her all day. So it was obvious that he wasn’t into her anymore. Which was starting to feel okay with her, as long as she thought of Sage.

Despite her efforts, she hadn’t crossed paths with Maria again that day; she was sure that Maria was giving her the cold shoulder—and worse, she could have sworn that Jasmin and Becca were avoiding her, too. She wondered if Maria had told them what had happened and had cast Scarlet in a bad light. She hadn’t seen any of them at lunch, which was unusual. Scarlet was increasingly feeling as if she had no one left to turn to. Her friends, Blake, her parents—she was feeling that everyone was aligned against her.

The final bell of the day had been a welcome sound and she’d hurried back home and checked her cell again, but had still received no texts from Maria, or any of her other friends. That was a sure sign. Maria was a chronic texter, as were the others. Clearly something was up. Maria had probably told them all Scarlet tried to steal her boyfriend—which was ridiculous, because Sage wasn’t Maria’s boyfriend, and because he didn’t even like her. Not to mention that Maria didn’t even have the guts to ask him, and that Scarlet had actually looked out for her by swapping partners. But still, obviously, in Maria’s mind, that was what had happened.

Scarlet figured she should be the bigger person, and finally texted Maria after school, giving her her perspective of what had happened. But Maria didn’t reply. It was so typical. Maria could be the most loyal friend in the world—but she could also be the most spiteful and territorial.

Scarlet had finally had enough, and had put her phone away and powered it off. These days, it seemed to give her nothing but aggravation anyway. She’d waited eagerly for her mom to get home from work and now that it was almost sunset, she was actually looking forward to hearing what this priest had to say. Clearly, her life couldn’t get any worse.

The heavy door to the church creaked open, and as they walked inside, Scarlet felt transported to another world. It was quiet and dark in here, and as she took in the smooth stone floors, the old, worn pews, the stained-glass windows, it gave her a sense of peace. She was surprised at how at-home she felt—and even more surprised that she had never been here before.

Suddenly, the church bells rang out, striking six o’clock. After the traditional bells, there followed a song, ringing out in chimes. It was the most beautiful thing Scarlet had ever heard, and she felt grateful to her mom.

“Thanks for bringing me,” she said to her mom.

Her mom squeezed her hand as her face broke into a smile, and Scarlet felt guilty she had been so stubborn.

A side door opened at the far end of the church, and in came Father McMullen, wearing a welcoming smile.

“And you must be Scarlet,” he said in a cheery voice, as he strutted towards them. He extended his hand way out in front of him, before he even reached them. Scarlet shook his hand, and he shook hers back, encasing it with both of his hands heartily.

“I’ve heard so many lovely things about you. Thank you for coming.”

“Thanks for having me,” she said, not knowing how to reply.

As he held her hands in his, he stared into her eyes, and as she looked up into his light blue eyes, she couldn’t help but feel as if he were dissecting her. As if he sensed something that surprised him.

He quickly withdrew his two hands. As he did, his expression changed to one of hesitation—maybe even fear.

He cleared his throat.

“Please, come this way,” he said as he turned and led them down the aisle.

They followed him down the long aisle, passing the pews, and as they did, Scarlet noticed him looking side to side, his expression increasingly worried. She turned to see what he was looking at, and noticed the rows of tall, burning candles: as they passed, one at a time, each candle burned out.

By the time they reached the end of the aisle, all the candles along the walls had been extinguished—and as they approached the altar, the dozens of small votive candles all suddenly blew out, too.

The Father stopped cold in his tracks. He stood there, his back to them, as if afraid to turn around.

Scarlet stared at the candles, not understanding what was happening. Had it been a draft? She hadn’t felt one.

The Father slowly turned and looked at her. From his fearful expression, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she were to blame.

She saw small beads of sweat form on his forehead, as his eyes travel down to her throat.

“That’s a beautiful necklace,” he said.

Scarlet detected a shakiness in his voice that wasn’t there a moment before. Clearly, he was freaked out. He was freaked out by
, she realized. That scared her, and she started to tremble.

“May I ask where you got it?” he asked.

“I gave it to her,” her mom chimed in. “For her sixteenth birthday. Just a few days ago.”

He turned and looked at her.

“Where did
get it?” he asked, with intensity.

“It’s been in my family for generations,” she responded. “My grandmother gave it to me. And her grandmother gave it to her.”

“May I look at it?” he asked, turning to Scarlet.

Scarlet nodded, not knowing what to say.

He reached out and gently lifted the cross with two fingers, staring at it in the light. As he did, his eyes widened in fear.

“The cross of the Resurrection,” he whispered to himself, in terror.

“You know it?” her mom asked.

He let it go, pulling back his hand as if he’d touched a snake.

“Of course,” he said. “It is said to trace back all the way to the times of Christ. It is one of the most famous crosses of Christianity. It was rumored to have been lost centuries ago. It is a holy relic. I can’t understand how you have it. Something like this, it belongs in the Vatican. In a museum. On display.”

Scarlet reached up and fingered the necklace, feeling a whole new appreciation for it. And a fear of it. Why was he so scared by it?

“That cross,” he continued, “is rumored to have been used to protect the first vampires.”

“Vampires?” Scarlet asked, heart pounding.

“What do you mean protect them?” her mom asked.

“In the early days of Christianity, the vampires were rumored to be the chosen ones. The good ones. When barbarians waged war against the holy people, it was the vampires, the super race, that was called to protect mankind. Back then, you see, it was a great blessing to be a vampire. It was somewhat like being a priest today. They were the chosen kind, and blessed with immortality.

“But somewhere along the way, it changed. One too many vampires were turned. An evil strain occurred among them. Over time, the evil strain became dominant, and wiped out the good ones. Only a handful of good ones remained throughout the centuries. And this cross was there symbol. They were the Knights Templar of vampires, their most elite sect.”

He suddenly turned to Caitlin.

“Your grandmother…who was she exactly?” he asked.

“Um…well…” she began, flustered.

Suddenly the sun shifted, its huge red ball aligning directly in the path of the stained-glass window, in the center of the far wall. It lit her up, sending a single beam of sunlight right to Scarlet. Light flooded her.

Scarlet suddenly felt a horrific pain, right in her forehead. It was so bad, she had to clutch her head. Her eyes burned, too, as if they were on fire. She keeled over. It felt like it was tearing her up inside, and she couldn’t stand it for another second.

She shrieked as she dropped to her knees, clutching her head.

“Make it stop! Make it stop!” she screamed.

“Scarlet what’s wrong?” her mom cried out, dropping to her side, putting an arm around her.

The priest took a step back, eyes widening in fear.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium,
” he began to chant, raising a hand in the sign of the cross. He reached into his cloak, grabbed a small decanter of holy water, and sprinkled it on Scarlet.

As the water hit her skin, in the sunlight, it felt like acid. She shrieked.

But this time, it was no normal shriek. It was the guttural roar of animal, several octaves lower. It was a horrific noise, one that sent the hairs standing on the back of the human’s necks. She shrieked and shrieked, standing, throwing back her arms, sending her mom flying, crashing into the wooden pews.

The shriek grew so loud that the entire room began to shake; as it did, all the stained-glass, on every wall, shattered, exploding in every direction.

Father McMullen turned and fled, sprinting for all he had.

Scarlet threw back her head and roared. The roar rose higher and higher, louder than the sound of the bells, louder than the sound of the exploding glass, as fragments of every color showered down all around her.

BOOK: Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy)
8.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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