Authors: Lorraine Kennedy
Copyright 2011 Lorraine Kennedy
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
When she inhaled, the heat scorched the tender flesh of her throat and lungs. Flames leaped at the thick fabric of her skirt. Soon her clothes would catch fire and sear the flesh beneath the fabric. She could already feel the heat, but she refused to cry out. Staring out at the crowd gathered around her, she mentally cursed all that were present. Their bloodthirsty eyes gazed in her direction, waiting for the instant that she would take her last breath.
He stood apart from the crowd, hidden in the shadows. She did not need to see him, she knew who he was. Even now, she could hear his dark whispers promising her immortality, if she would accept his poisonous kiss.
Her skirt caught fire. The flesh of her legs sizzled and blistered - the excruciating pain quickly chasing away her will to live.
“Burn witch … burn!” The crowd chanted over and over.
“May God have mercy on your soul.” The clergyman’s voice was weak, drowned out by the angry - unforgiving crowd.
Gasping for air, Sarah’s eyes flew open. The blankets were tangled around her legs, and for a brief moment she panicked, believing that she was still tied to the wooden stake. She frantically tore away the blankets so that she could examine her legs for burns, but there was no evidence of the blisters that had been there in her nightmare.
Taking a deep breath, she fell back into her pillow and closed her eyes.
It was stress.
She had been under too much stress. The last week of spring semester had been hell and now the stress was catching up with her.
With that thought in mind, Sarah tried to drift off to sleep. Just as she started to relax, the double windows burst open and a strong wind blew through the room. She sat up and stared in the direction of the windows. The wind tore at the lavender curtains, shredding one panel and nearly pulling it off the curtain rod.
Slipping out from beneath the covers, Sarah went to the window. The full moon was obscured by the storm clouds that had gathered over the sea.
“Saraaah,” a faint voice called out to her from the dark.
Sarah held her breath, waiting to see if she would hear the voice again.
Had it been her imagination?
“Saraaah.” The soft male voice seemed to drift on the wind.
Leaning out the window, she peered into the darkness below, but could see no one. Nothing seemed out of place in her aunt’s perfectly manicured gardens. Another burst of wind drove her back from the window.
Pushing against the gale, Sarah forced the window closed. Giving up on sleep she slipped on her robe. Maybe if she did some reading, she could relax enough to fall asleep.
Just as she came to the conclusion that she hadn’t really heard anything at all, the windows again flew open.
“Saraaah.” The whispering voice seemed to be one with the wind.
Stepping to the window, Sarah was startled when she saw a figure lurking in the shadows. The man stood near the hedge maze, not in full sight, but was not exactly hidden either. He stared up at her - a strange light burning in his eyes.
He was beautiful, but dark. Even from where she stood at the window she could feel the danger. A sense of foreboding settled around her like a heavy cloak. Sarah’s first thought was that it was her time and the angel of death had come for her. Then she thought that he might be a dark specter - a lost soul searching for the light.
Even before the thought had completely formed, she could feel his amusement at what she was thinking. He was not an angel of any kind, but he was there for her. Sarah’s sixth sense picked this up so strongly that it took her breath away. She tried to back away from the window, but her legs had a will of their own and she could not get them to move.
Then she was no longer seeing the garden. She was seeing his face, staring at her - angry, but yet he seemed to be pleading with her. She was lying on a bed, wrapped in his arms. He was pleading with her for something - something that she could not bring herself to do. The vision was more like a memory that she just could not completely grasp. For a brief instant, she felt compelled to go to him - to touch him.
As soon as the thought entered her mind, she banished it - slamming the door on it as if the very idea was too terrifying to contemplate. The dark figure bowed to her and then disappeared into the darkness.
* * * *
Darrien walked away.
It would have been easy to rise upon the winds and take her from the window - to steal away her last breath and extract the life force that flowed through her veins, but he couldn’t do it. Not yet.
The sight of her standing at the window was tantalizing. The way the wind blew through her long - auburn hair, and her silk nightgown fluttering behind her like the wings of an angel had stirred a desire deep within him. The image was enchanting, inflaming his hunger - his lust for blood, and his lust for something more. He could have taken her then, if not for the intrusion of the memories - memories that he had banished long ago. The pain of those memories was fresh once again, and it brought out the anguish that festered in his soul.
Why was he thinking of her now?
He had a job to do.
Darrien had discovered a long time ago, that for the vampire, nothing mattered but the moment, at least if you wanted to remain sane.
His thoughts returned to the girl. She had resisted his calling, but she would not hold out for long.
* * * *
Sarah descended the long - spiral staircase to the first floor. The scent of breakfast made her stomach growl. When she entered the kitchen, Aunt Jeanie was standing at the stove, flipping pancakes.
As usual, her aunt was wearing her red hair in a bun on top of her head, and a loose fitting black dress. “I hope you’re hungry. I’ve made you a huge breakfast.”
“Thank you auntie.” Sarah kissed her cheek.
Sarah looked around the large kitchen, as if she was seeing it for the first time. She had been away at school for most of the year, and the one thing that she’d missed most about home was Aunt Jeanie’s kitchen. The kitchen’s large windows let in an abundance of morning sunshine. During the warmer months, they would often eat breakfast with the windows open so they could enjoy the tangy sea air.
“Have a seat.” Jeanie placed a plate full of pancakes on the table.
Sarah sat down and took a bite. Though the food was delicious, she barely tasted it. Finally Jeanie heaved her heavy frame into the chair across from her.
“What’s on your mind Sarah? You have been playing with your food more than eating it.”
“There was a man … or something … standing in the garden last night.”
Aunt Jeanie drew her brows together. “What do you mean, or something?”
“I don’t think he was human.” Sarah set her fork on her plate. She couldn’t get another bite down until she figured out who or what had called her to her window in the middle of the night.
“I don’t know. He almost didn’t seem real, and his eyes had this … strange light in them, but I don’t think he was a ghost either.”
Aunt Jeanie stared at her, a look of shock spreading across her face. “A light in his eyes you say?”
Growing up in Aunt Jeanie’s house, she’d become accustomed to things being a little strange. The Fabre family had practiced witchcraft for centuries, and Aunt Jeanie was no different. Sarah had been able to see spirits since she was a child, but she could usually tell if the person she was seeing was living, or dead.
“Oh he’s probably real enough,” Jeanie said, as she got to her feet and started cleaning up breakfast.
“Well?” Sarah wanted her aunt to continue, but it appeared as if Jeanie had said all that she intended to say on the matter.
“The summer solstice is this month.” Jeanie gave her a wink. “Maybe we’ll pick up this conversation after that.”
Sarah leaned back in her chair and folded her arms in front of her. “I’m not so sure I’ll be going.”
“Oh fiddlesticks! Of course you’re going.” Jeanie waved the suggestion away as if it were the most absurd thing she’d ever heard. “You are probably one of the most talented of the Fabre women in generations. Why wouldn’t you join us?”
“Maybe I just want normal! I’ve never had normal until I went away to school. Everyone in this town thinks we are freaks. The Sutter Point witches!” Sarah scowled.
“Normal is far too overrated,” Jeanie assured her.
Sarah decided it was best to drop the subject for now. Later she would talk with her aunt about moving to Portland permanently. There was time. She still had a couple of years before she’d get her degree.
* * * *
Sarah stood beneath the large - wraparound porch and stared out at the ocean. The sound of the surf crashing against the rocks was soothing and exhilarating at the same time. If she moved away, she would miss waking in the morning and listening to the sea just outside her bedroom window. But could she survive if she didn’t?
Sutter Point was a dark shadow that hovered over her life, but when she’d gone away to Portland to attend the university, that shadow had been lifted. It wasn’t Aunt Jeanie’s fault. Jeanie was the sweetest aunt ever. No, it was because no one knew her in Portland - no one knew of the Fabre witches.
Closing her eyes, Sarah thought of the day that she’d come to live in Sutter Point. Though it was long ago, she could still remember it as if it were yesterday. Her mom’s green eyes - misty with tears, and how she’d knelt down to tell Sarah goodbye.
“I’ll be back soon peanut,” Beth told her, kissing her daughter’s forehead.
Sarah shook her head. “I want to go with you mommy! Don’t leave me!”
“You’ll love your Aunt Jeanie,” Beth assured her. “Jeanie and I … we would have such fun as girls. We would sneak treats in the middle of the night and go sit on the beach. The two of us would spend hours just talking. Jeanie was my best friend … and she’ll be your best friend too.”
“But mom, I just want to stay with you!” Sarah whimpered.
Beth smiled. “I know you do sweetheart. But where I’m going would be much too dangerous for a little girl.”
Her mother had never come back for her. Aunt Jeanie had done her best to ease Sarah’s hurt and anger at being abandoned by her mother, but the pain had never really gone away.
Day after day, Sarah would ask about her mother, but Aunt Jeanie never had any answers for her. She could tell that it was nearly as painful for her aunt as it was for her, so eventually Sarah had quit asking. She loved Aunt Jeanie and didn’t want to cause her grief, but the pain still festered in Sarah.
Why hadn’t her mom come back for her?
Sarah opened her eyes, willing the memory away.
“Sure. I’ll get on it now,” Sarah promised.
Jeanie stared at the sinking sun. “Just hurry. You don’t want to be out after dark.”
* * * *