A Shade of Vampirepart #1 of A Shade of Vampire Series by Bella Forrest / Young Adult / Fantasy
I never once imagined that my life would play out the way that it did. To be fair, I guess I could say that life never really unfolds the way we expect it to.
I know my father’s didn’t, but I doubt there’s a teenager in the world who could expect her life to play out like mine.
I’d just turned seventeen when my life changed completely and irreversibly. It was only one night before that I was thinking of the future, of my dreams and aspirations. I wanted to become a social worker or even a lawyer in hopes of helping others like me who were abandoned by their families. It was my birthday, and at my age, it felt like I had my whole life ahead of me. Granted, I wasn’t so sure that it would be much of a great life, but at least I was certain that I was going to have a life.
That following evening, I wasn’t so sure any more. How could I have been when, within the span of twenty four hours, I’d gone from high school senior and certified wallflower to captive of the prince of the largest and most powerful coven of our time?
When I was nine years old, my mother, Camilla, was sent to a lunatic’s asylum. I’d always known that there was something strange about my mother, but I never expected her to completely lose her mind. What happened to her really left its mark on me.
After this, my main goal in life was to survive without losing my mind and turning out like my mother.
Then, after it happened, on the evening of my seventeenth birthday, my only goal was to survive. Period. Never mind my fear of going insane. I was convinced that I’d already gone crazy anyway.
There was no way to predict what would happen to me after that night.
During her better days, my mother already warned me about this. She said that I should expect life to dish out my own fair share of surprises.
But Derek Novak was a surprise that was far from fair…
CHAPTER 1: SOFIA
I was taking an evening stroll along the shore, feeling the soft sand under my bare feet with every step. The heavy waves were crashing against the shore, the sound coming as music to my ears. My skin was tingling with every blow of the gentle summer breeze, the distinct scent of ocean salt filling my nostrils. As I dabbed cherry-flavored Chapstick over my dry lips, they formed a bitter smile. The balm only served to add its sweet taste to the numerous sensations coming at me at that particular moment.
I’ve always found myself completely attuned to all five of my senses, but that night, I was attuned to all but one. My sight was blurred by the tears I was trying to hold back. I couldn’t appreciate the exotic scene around me. All I could think about was the disappointed expression on my best friend’s handsome face.
Benjamin Hudson was the only person in the world who could make me feel the way I did that night.
Perhaps the sadness I felt was mostly due to the fact that I still held expectations – expectations I knew would only ever cause me pain.
I reasoned to myself that I had the right to be hurt. It was my birthday. He was my best friend. He shouldn’t have forgotten.
But he did. Again.
I knew the disappointment in his chiseled face was more toward himself than toward me. I knew he could beat himself up endlessly over his careless slip-ups, and do believe me when I say that he has many of those. So, that night, I was wondering to myself whether I had just over-reacted.
I would find myself deciding that I did, in fact, over-react and that it was time to get the heavy weight off my chest. I’d turn back toward the villa the Hudsons rented for their family vacation, determined to just get back to having fun with the most important person in my life, and then I’d remember…
I’d remember what it felt like to see him with his arms over Tanya Wilson, the gorgeous blonde he’d had the hots for all summer long.
The image quickly threw all thoughts of kissing and making up with Ben out the window.
“Gosh, Sofia… I’m so sorry… I’m an awful best friend…” were the words that came out of his lips when he realized his mistake. I walked out on him and ended up at the beach, wanting to hit myself over the head for being so sensitive.
I debated against my actions, thinking that I was being unfair. After all, it wasn’t Ben’s fault that I fell for the biggest cliché of all time when I decided to grow non-best-friend-like feelings for my best friend. That was why seeing him with Tanya hurt so much, especially realizing that I could never be like Tanya. I simply wasn’t the type of girl that a guy like Ben would go for. I knew that and yet I still allowed myself to fall for his charms. I hated myself for it, but it was what it was. At that time, I was so sure that he was indeed the love of my life.
But could anyone really blame me for thinking like that?
Ben was as dreamy as dreamy gets. He was tall, well-built, smart and had that dashing smile that would put to shame those of the models gracing the covers of any magazine. He was fun, confident and popular. He was also sweet and kind whenever he wanted to be. More than any of that, he saw me. He gave me the time of day when no one else – not even my own parents – would. It was with Ben that I never felt invisible…except when Tanya was around.
As I took that evening stroll, I knew I was fooling myself. There was no way I could stay mad at Ben for too long. I liked to think of myself as strong and independent, but truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a life without Ben in it. My dependence on him scared me. It was frightening realizing that I needed another person as much as I needed him.
I’d been walking along the sea shore for about an hour when I suddenly sensed that I wasn’t alone. Someone was approaching me from behind. My heart leapt. I was so sure it was Ben, that when a stranger showed up beside me, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.
He must have noticed, because a smirk formed on his lips. “Were you expecting someone else, love?”
I eyed him suspiciously, remembering how many times my father told me not to talk to strangers. I looked him over from head to foot, taking in his appearance. I held my breath. I couldn’t find words to describe how fine a man he was. He was almost beautiful. The first thing I took notice of was how his blue eyes were about three shades brighter than any I’d ever seen before. It was such a stark contrast to his pale – almost white – skin and his dark hair. I next noted how he was easily more than half a foot taller than I was. His height, broad shoulders and lean build reminded me of Ben, but he had a presence that was far more imposing than my best friend’s.
My gaze settled on his face.
I realized that he was inspecting me just as closely as I was him. His eyes on me suddenly made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I gave my father’s advice a second thought, but quickly canceled out all notions of heeding to his counsel when I reminded myself that he stopped caring a long time ago. I straightened to my full height and mustered all the courage I had to keep myself from running away from this stranger.
The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment. “Like what you see?”
I frowned, annoyed by his audacity. “A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?”
He stepped forward, closer to me, and leaned his head toward mine. “Don’t I have the right to be?”
He knew he looked good and wasn’t about to act like he didn’t.
“Whatever,” was my oh-so-brilliant comeback.
My shoulders sagged with defeat as I took a step back, overwhelmed by how close he was. I rolled my eyes and did a one-eighty, not quite in the mood to play whatever game this stranger was proposing.
I would soon realize that I was about to play his game whether I liked it or not. He grabbed my arm and turned my body to face him. The motion alone made every single internal alarm I had go off in a frenzy.
This man was danger and I knew it. I tried to wriggle away from his touch, but I was no match for his strength.
“Tell me your name,” he commanded.
I was about to refuse, but was horrified to find myself blurting out my name in response. “Sofia Claremont. ”
He traced his thumb over my jaw line. “Hello, Sofia Claremont. You’re one stupid girl for taking a walk alone at this time of night. You never know what kind of evil a pretty little thing like you could happen to come by. ”
I found myself wondering exactly what kind of evil he was. But I was suddenly overcome by the sensations that were surrounding me. My senses took everything in at once. I heard the waves, felt the sand beneath my feet, smelled the ocean salt, tasted the flavor of cherry on my lips and saw the stranger’s manic appearance as he stuck a needle to my neck. The effect was instant. I was barely able to gasp, much less scream. I went from sensing everything to sensing absolutely nothing.
My last conscious thought was that I may never see Ben again.
CHAPTER 2: SOFIA
I blinked several times, hoping that I would see a bit more clearly if I did it enough. No chance. I was enveloped by darkness and it didn’t look like that was about to change any time soon.
I sensed my claustrophobia about to kick in, afraid that, for all I knew, I could be in some sort of extremely enclosed space, but the cold, airy feel of the room soon assured me that I was not.
I tried to move about the space and quickly realized that the lack of lighting was the least of my concerns. For one thing, I was being held by metal restraints on my wrists and ankles.