Craving (A Willow Creek Vampires Novel)(8)

By: Stephanie Summers

“Why must you torture me so?”

“Torture? HA.” Bastian’s hand slapped the edge of an end table loudly as his voice bounced off the walls. Remy flinched as a familiar look in Bastian’s eyes took over. “You think serving at my side is torture? Learning everything I know?” His voice grew louder with every question. “Am I not the one who gave you immortality? Am I not the one that took you from the filth you called a life, and gave you the world?”

“Forgive me, my lord.” Remy went to one knee and dropped his head. “I did not intend to offend you. I let my tongue get the better of me. My apologies.”

Bastian turned away. “Gretchen will show you to your quarters. Get settled, and return to me before morning.”

* * *

May 22: Willow Creek—Sabine’s 18th Birthday

The couple of days leading up to Sabine’s eighteenth birthday had been mostly uneventful. She’d tried to live as normal an existence as possible: hanging out with her friends, listening to angst-filled music by musicians that just seemed to get her, and working on her latest art project. She’d continued to work on schoolwork, hoping to get some good grades this term, though she wasn’t sure there was much point. Graduation wasn’t very far away, and she was happy it would be done and over with soon. A small spark of hope still remained, though it was mostly buried beneath thick layers of pessimism.

The morning of her birthday, she’d awakened to no sign that she’d been chosen. She’d heard, mostly from her two best friends who’d heard it from God only knows who, the dreaded scroll with the dark blue ribbon wrapped around it would arrive during the early hours on the morning of the chosen one’s eighteenth birthday. She began to relax by late afternoon, and was even looking forward to spending the night with her two best friends, Delia and Lana. They had nothing too exciting planned, but were looking forward to a horror movie marathon—though vampires were definitely not going to be featured—popcorn, and plenty of boy talk and gossip.

As she did almost daily when the weather was nice, she found herself sketching under the weeping willow. The wind blew through the swaying branches gently, and the grass rustled all around her. Dogs barked in the distance, and children in the neighborhood yelled and laughed with no care in the world as they played. The sun was bright, and warmed her skin.

As she sat under the tree, planning her future, a fancy, black Lincoln pulled up in front of the house. Her breath caught in her throat, heart skipping a beat. No, no, no, no, no, please, no.

A tall, strikingly beautiful woman with flowing blonde hair emerged from the back seat, her gaze instantly focused on Sabine. A split second later, the stranger stood directly in front of her. Saying nothing, the woman looked down at Sabine with cold eyes. A scroll with a dark blue ribbon binding it teetered on the stranger’s fingers. Sabine hesitated before reaching out to take it. Just as quickly as the woman had arrived, she was gone.

Sabine struggled to get air to her lungs as she gasped heavily to force oxygen into her body. Collapsing onto her back, she stared straight up into the tree branches. Her world had ended, and it might as well have been her life.

Her mother rushed out to her and fell to her knees at Sabine’s side. She wrapped her arms around her daughter and screamed. The realization of what had happened thrust into her gut like a hot knife cutting through butter. Her firstborn would be ripped away from her, and she was helpless to stop it.

Vivian’s scream crashed into the kitchen where Rob was loading the dishwasher. A glass dropped to the floor and shattered as he rushed to find her. He frantically searched the yard, trying to locate where she was. Moments later, he found his wife and daughter in a heap under the tree.

Dropping to his knees, he scooped Sabine into his arms. She sobbed into his chest as his heart shattered into a million pieces. His little girl would be gone, and he’d never get to learn of all the accomplishments she should have made in her life—graduating high school and going off to college, the first real grown-up job, marriage, and children. Even if they were permitted visitation, she would no longer grow as a person. She’d never live beyond the walls of Willow Creek Manor.

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