WARNING: This chapter contains strong language.
Five months later...
The day back at school following Linley's confrontation with Derek was awkward to say the least. But eventually, people got used to the "adrenaline rush" explanation, and they never saw her lose control again. And Linley didn't lose control, true to her word. Her friends and Craig stuck by her and before long, things were back to normal.
But they wouldn't be for long.
It happened one night outside Craig's house. The two were straddling the fence, looking up at the stars, just enjoying each other's company.
Things were innocent enough. Their hands would occasionally intertwine and sometimes they’d just look into each other’s eyes and share passionate kisses. Neither had popped the L word yet, but Linley found herself assiduously contemplating if that’s what she was feeling. Still, she didn’t want to quibble over it. Enjoying Craig’s company was enough for now.
So when he took her into his kitchen and began cutting up some snacks with a knife and sliced his palm open, things took a drastic turn.
“Shit!” he bellowed as the crimson liquid started to gush out of his palm. He took one long stride toward the kitchen sink where he began to clean the wound, wincing at the sharp pain.
Linley could only stare. Something was happening to her, something she’d never felt before. At least, not this strongly.
She hated to admit it, but she could feel it. Her promised fangs that had been due for years, at this moment, were beginning to emerge. Of all times for them to show up, it had to be right now, in Craig’s kitchen.
The blood continued to pour as Craig cursed again before saying, “Linley, get me a towel, will you?”
Linley ignored what was happening inside her mouth and brought Craig a towel. She tried not to stare at the cut, but her sense of smell was overriding her sense of sight. The scent of Craig’s sweet blood was overpowering, and it was all she could do to keep from jumping him and drinking it instead of watching him wash it down the drain.
Craig dabbed at his wound until the blood ceased to erupt, but to Linley’s dismay, he didn’t wrap it. He just let it be.
And that would be something he’d regret, for when he looked up at Linley at last, his eyes went wide and his heart rate sped up.
“What the fuck?” he asked as he looked at Linley.
Linley honestly wasn’t sure what Craig was talking about. Sure, she felt her fangs, but he couldn’t…
Oh, right. She had her mouth agape like a moron.
“What?” she asked innocently, hoping she was wrong about what Craig was seeing. But his eyes remained wide as saucers as he choked, “Your teeth…they're all pointy…”
Linley snapped her mouth shut, but the damage was already done. Craig had seen her fangs, and there was no way she’d be able to convince him otherwise. She’d seen enough vampire movies and TV shows to know that you can never convince the person that they didn’t see what they had.
“Craig, it’s nothing…” she began. But Craig held up a hand to silence her. “You can’t tell me that’s nothing. Your damn teeth just got bigger, and you’re saying it’s nothing! What the fuck else could it be?!”
Linley willed her fangs to retract back into her gums, trying to focus on anything but the mouth-watering gash in Craig’s palm. But she forgot one other factor, a factor that Craig also noticed.
“Holy shit, your eyes,” he gasped, his eyes now narrowing into slits, “they’re like…glowing.”
Linley had forgotten that when vampires feed, or prepare to, not only do their fangs elongate, but their eyes glow eerily. And because she was also half werewolf, her eyes also glowed when she got uncontrollably angry, like that day in the hall when she’d confronted Derek.
Oh yes, she had the best and worst of both worlds. And Craig had seen it, and she had absolutely no explanation to offer.
A white lie would have to suffice, though she doubted it would convince Craig of anything.
“It’s just the glow from the lights,” she insisted, indicating her eyes.
“Bullshit. Why didn’t I see that before, then?”
“Because…” of all the things for Linley to come up with as a possible excuse, she blurted out, “it’s some disease I have, because I get weak at the sight of blood.”
Craig raised an eyebrow dubiously. Yeah, that explanation made a lot of sense – a hybrid getting weak at the sight of blood? If anyone other than her family knew her secret, she’d be the laughing stock of the supernatural community.
As it was, Craig didn’t back down when he said, “Well, I never knew that, but that doesn’t explain your teeth. I swear to God they were like fangs.”
“You were probably seeing things. I mean, you cut yourself pretty bad, and you were trying to clean the wound. Maybe you just thought that’s what you saw. I mean, come on, no one can have fangs.”
Linley let out a nervous chuckle but Craig just shook his head. “Man, between that, your eyes, and that thing with Derek, I’d almost think you were…”
“What?” Linley’s blood ran cold and her pulse quickened.
“Nothing. Forget it.”
“Tell me. You’d almost think I was what?”
Craig did the old cough-and-say-a-word-at-the-same-time method, but Linley’s acute hearing made his next words more distinguishable, and even more horrifying: “A vampire.”
Linley wasn’t sure how to respond, other than to say, “I’m not a vampire.”
Well, that part was true, anyway. Or at least half true.
Craig just looked at her and tried to lightly joke, “Of course not, I mean, vampires don’t exist. God, I must be surrounded by those stupid girls at school too much who keep obsessing over Twilight. No offense, I mean, I know you like it, but at least you aren’t obsessed with it. Some crazy broads try to turn themselves into vampires because of that series. Dumbasses.”
“Yeah…fat chance of that happening.”
Linley stifled another nervous giggle before she glanced at the clock and decided that now was probably the best time to go home. Craig didn’t even argue this time – it was apparent that he was still freaked out over the events in the kitchen.
He did, however, offer to drive her home, but Linley insisted that she’d take a cab. That was another white lie, because she really intended to run home. She couldn’t transform into a wolf to do so or else she’d lose her clothes, but that wouldn’t stop her from taking to the woods and running at lightning fast speed as a vampire.
She then proceeded to do so, enjoying the crisp night air hit her in the face and billow through her hair. Her run seemed to end all too soon, especially when she saw her parents and brothers engaged in another tumultuous battle about having their own rooms.
“Only little kids share rooms,” Braden was insisting. “We’re 12 years old now and you expect us to live in bunk beds?”
“And there’s not even any room in there for two full beds!” Jaden added stubbornly. “Why can’t we build another room or take out a bathroom or something?”
“Boys,” Xavier said in a tired voice, “we’ve been over this. We don’t have any more room, and the bathrooms are too small to turn into a bedroom. Next thing you know, you’ll be fighting over who gets the bigger room. Until Linley goes off to college and gets her own place, you’re stuck. I’m sorry.”
“Why can’t she move in with her boyfriend?” Braden demanded. “She’s over there half the time anyway.”
“For one,” Allanna said with a frown, “she’s only 16 and she can’t live with her boyfriend legally unless we say it’s okay. And we’re both against it, so no, we’re not going to let her live with her boyfriend just so you two can have your own rooms. If that’s what you want so badly, why don’t one of you sleep in the den?”
“There’s no bed in the den!” Jaden whined. “I’m not sleeping on a couch!”
“Then deal with the current circumstances,” Xavier said. “I don’t want to her any more about it, and neither does your mother. Now get upstairs and do your homework.”
“Yeah, with only one desk and one computer,” Jaden mumbled under his breath. Braden agreed to that statement with a swift nod of his head, but the two nonetheless sauntered upstairs.
Linley thought about what the boys had said, about her moving in with Craig. After tonight’s events, that was probably the worst idea on the planet.
That, and whosever bright idea it had been to sell their souls to become immortal, thus bringing on the birth of vampires and werewolves who had to transform to protect themselves.
As she changed into her pajamas, Linley thought about how all she wanted was a normal life. She enjoyed many perks of being a hybrid, but she believed, hands-down, that she’d take being a normal human teenager any day over having the ability to heal quickly, run swiftly, transform into a wolf, and have heightened senses.
Three weeks later…
Things with Craig had gotten less awkward, but that didn’t mean he’d completely forgotten what he’d seen that night in his kitchen. Unbeknownst to Linley, when Craig got home from school every day, he began doing research. He wasn’t the stereotypical jock who had no brains; if he wanted answers, he was determined to get them.
And he believed he did on a Thursday afternoon, though he had no idea how to bring it up. He’d printed out several pages to confirm the allegations that would ensue between him and his girlfriend after school.
As soon as the final bell rang, he braced himself and ventured outside. He kept his eyes peeled for signs of Linley, grasping a hidden object under his jacket.
When he saw her at last, she was walking with Chelcie and Sky. The latter two parted ways and headed for the bus while Linley, seeming to stop and look around, spotted him and made her way toward him.
He didn’t realize it, but Linley actually detected his scent and followed it to find him.
In any case, when she reached him, Craig asked her subtly, “Want to go for a ride?”
“Oh, somewhere a little private. I’ve got a little surprise for you.”
Typical. No girl he knew could turn down a potential surprise. So Linley climbed into Craig’s old clunker car, a hand-me-down after his father had gotten a new one, and he drove them toward, of all places, the woods.
“What are we doing here?” Linley asked, beginning to get skeptical.
“You’ll see,” Craig replied as he drove for another couple of miles before pulling over. When he did at last, Linley got out of the car to hear the sound of a nearby waterfall. She followed Craig up an incline until at last, she saw the water falling into the shimmering pond.
“Wow,” she breathed, “this place is beautiful.”
“Yeah, but that isn’t the surprise.”
Linley turned around to look at Craig. He withdrew something from his jacket and she saw with alarm that it was a knife.
“Craig, what are you doing?” she asked.
“I just want to check something.”
Craig then took a deep breath and, in one swift but jagged motion, cut a small gash into his wrist.
“What the fuck?!” Linley shrieked. “Are you trying to fucking kill yourself?!”
“Nope,” Craig replied, irritatingly calm. “Just checking something out.”
“Like what? How much blood will gush out of your damn wrist before you get knocked out? For God’s sake, what is wrong with you?!”
Craig then did a surprising thing – he moved closer to Linley, his wrist extended out to her, almost in an offering. He then sat down on a bench and watched as Linley’s fangs inadvertently emerged once again and her eyes began to shine.
“Weak at the sight of blood, huh?” Craig asked in an infuriating tone of amusement. “I don’t think normal people’s teeth get longer when they see blood, and I highly doubt their eyes glow either.”
It was too tempting. She couldn’t control herself. She dashed to the bench, got down on her knees, and wrapped her mouth around the cut in Craig’s wrist.
The blood tasted so sweet, so succulent. Linley was afraid she’d drain all of it and suck Craig dry before he finally gave her a little nudge with his foot, prodding her to back off. She released her grip on Craig’s wrist and stumbled backward, his blood trickling down her chin.
“So I was right,” he declared triumphantly. “You’re a vampire.”
Linley was overcome with a tirade of guilt, and shock soon followed her. All she could do was stare at Craig with her mouth agape, resisting all temptation to lick the rest of the blood off her chin.
Then, she was overcome with a new emotion – anger. Craig had set her up! He’d intended all along for her to drink his blood, just so he could prove a point! How dare he!
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” she demanded as she got to her feet, forgetting about the blood on her chin. “I could have killed you!”
“I didn’t think you would. You didn’t kill me at my house when I cut myself, so you wouldn’t now, either.”
“What were you thinking? Do you have any idea what kind of danger you’ve put yourself in?”
Craig blew a raspberry at that one. “Of course I do. Which is why I brought another surprise.”
Linley was beginning to hate Craig’s surprises. And she had good reason to when she saw him withdraw something else from his jacket…
...only this time it didn’t glint in the sun, and not just the handle was wood.
“What the…” Linley barely had time to react before the wooden stake made contact with her abdomen.
However, they were both in for yet another surprise. The dagger’s penetration did nothing to Linley’s skin. It punctured it slightly, but the wound healed rapidly.
That made no sense to Linley. That stake should have killed her. Unless her wolf genes had somehow saved her. It was possible that she couldn’t be killed like an ordinary vampire or werewolf because she was both.
Craig, realizing that his diabolical scheme to kill her had backfired on him, tentatively staggered backward.
“Why didn’t…you’re a vampire, so why…”
“I'm not a fucking vampire!"
“What do you mean, not exactly? You drink blood, you’re super fast and strong, and you get fangs. Plus you just flat out said I’m in danger, blah blah blah. You can’t take it back.”
“I’m not taking it back. But I swear to you, I’m not a vampire. Obviously I’m standing in the sun without any problems, so that should give you a clue. I’m not a vampire.”
“Then what the fuck are you?”
Linley bit her lip. She should have just let him think she was a vampire. Now, since he already knew half the truth, she felt compelled to tell him the other half.
And so, right there in front of that waterfall, her secrets began spilling as rapidly as the blood from Craig’s palm had been the night this all started. Although technically, this started in the hallway with Derek, but that was irrelevant now.
When she concluded her story, Craig looked as if his head were about to implode. “So…you’re a vampire and a werewolf?”
“Yeah, and what’s why that stake didn’t kill me. Which, by the way, I didn’t appreciate. If I wanted to kill you, I could have done it in the last three years I’ve known you. But I didn’t, and I won’t.”
Craig sank down onto the bench with a glazed look in his eyes. He seemed to be sincerely remorseful.
Linley didn’t sit next to him. She didn’t trust him not to pull another stake on her, or a piece of garlic or some other mundane form of legendary means to execute a vampire. But as she contemplated this, she wondered how, exactly one did go about killing a hybrid. That subject had never come up with her parents, nor had the subject of if it was possible to turn humans into hybrids, which was a thought that began weaving its way through Linley's brain as she stared at her boyfriend.
She knew the process of turning into a vampire, though werewolves hadn’t been created in some time. They’d all been born through generations of centuries-old werewolves who’d first received the ability to shift into their wolf forms. Was it even possible for a human to turn into a werewolf?
Still, that hardly mattered. Linley wasn’t going to turn Craig into anything. Although, if he talked, she’d be forced to turn him into a pile of bones.
Which is why she said cautiously and in a pleading voice, “Craig, you know you can’t tell anyone, right? No one’s supposed to know we even exist. I shouldn’t have told you anything, and I should have been more careful, but it’s too late now.”
“We? Your parents…are they?”
“No. They’re…look, just don’t tell anyone, okay?”
“Only if you tell me the whole story. I want to know what your parents are, why you’re half vampire and half werewolf, and how it all works.”
“Why do you want to know this?”
Craig stood up then and embraced Linley. She tried to pull away but didn’t get very far.
“I’m just curious,” Craig said earnestly as he looked into her eyes. “I mean, I guess now I can see why Stella or whoever made such a big deal about Edward. Something that shouldn’t exist actually does, and I know about it. Actually, it’s pretty awesome. And I swear to you I’ll make up for that stake incident.”
“It’s Bella, and this is hardly awesome. Humans aren’t supposed to know that creatures like me exist, and I shouldn’t have told you anything. I should have been more careful from the start. All I've ever wanted was a normal life. I'd trade all this in a heartbeat to be human.”
“I don't know why. Being a human sucks. But look, it’s too late now. I swear I won’t tell anyone, but just so you know, I do find this really sweet, and I want to be with you.”
Linley tried to turn away from Craig, but he enveloped her from behind and planted a kiss on her cheek. She felt herself turning to mush despite her mind telling her to get away from him as fast as possible.
But she couldn’t deny that she still wanted to be with him, too. If the situation had been reversed, she’d probably have tried to stake Craig as well.
Craig sat back down on the bench and Linley finally spun around to face him. After wiping the blood from her chin at last, she hovered above him as their lips collided with each other in a newfound passion, and before long, she was sharing her entire life story with him.
When she was completely finished, she found Craig to be even more intrigued with her. As they shared another kiss, she realized that the wish she’d made during her thirteenth birthday party was coming true. She was grateful to be living a blissful life, despite being a hybrid. Craig not only understood this, but he embraced it.
At the moment, she felt like the luckiest creature in the world.