By Ashley Lavering
I hugged my coat closer trying to ward off the frost in the air, but it sunk into my bones like jagged teeth. My breath plumed out before me, like a spirit caught between worlds. Why did I even bother to come? I couldn’t remember. It had to have been his eyes. They were a warm honey color that hypnotized me every time Nick looked at me.
I’ve known him a month, but it wasn’t long enough. My body ached to be near him, like a magnetic pull I couldn’t break. Just yesterday he’d taken me to the moves, sitting with me in the dark theater caressing my arm and breathing warm kisses down my neck.
A pleasant shiver coursed down my spine at the memory. But I must’ve been crazy to have consented to met him here of all places. Everyone knew the Burnswick Springs were cursed.
I kicked a rock on the dirt road, needing to move my body or my blood would freeze in my veins. Or at least that was my excuse. In truth, it was the eeriness of the forest around me—a forest where a man and his child were killed and the chard remands of buildings whispered their loss in the wind.
“Stop it.” I chided myself aloud, just to hear my voice. I didn’t need my mind listing the details of why this had been such a stupid idea. I should have drug Katie with me or Bobby, but Nick had insisted I come alone. But he wasn’t even here!
I stomped back toward my car, parked on the other side of the bridge. Leaves crunched under my feet and the wind bit through my cloths as I stepped onto the bridge arching across the cursed springs. The water gurgled as if the rocks themselves where strangled it. I stopped, daring a peek into the black water lit dimly from the crescent moon. The water churned and flowed like the mad strokes of an artist’s paintbrush.
How ease it would be to jump. To add my essence to the beauty below.
I startled at the thought, jerking back and fell from my perch on the railing. I hit the ancient cobble stone bridge and wondered how I had climbed it without knowing. But no memory of pulling myself onto the ledge surfaced.
My heart hammered in my chest, threatening to break free of my ribcage as I jumped to my feet.
Out of the darkness, a hand grasped my shoulder and I screamed.
“Ella, it’s me.” The silky voice I’d came to yearn for cooed in my ear.
My body relaxed and I swiveled to look at the man beside me. “Geeze! You could have made some noise, Nick! You scared me to death!”
Shadows veiled his face, but his white teeth gleamed in a smile and his amber eyes twinkled with amusement.
“Isn’t that what nights like these are for?” His hand left my shoulder to stroke my cheek, sending warmth to pool in my stomach. “Or for this.”
He leaned in, and I melted under the softness of his lips. The movement of his lips became more urgent, in time to the icy wind whipping my long hair around us, but I didn’t feel the cold—only him. I pushed against him, straining to be closer to feel more of his chiseled body, and he eagerly held me tight against him.
Suddenly, something sharp pierced my lip and I cried out in pain.
I pushed away, trying to free my arms that were now pinned between his body and mine, but I couldn’t move far. His hand roughly grabbed my neck, immobilizing me.
I whimpered at the sight only inches from me—at the fangs coming from Nick’s mouth—dripping with my blood. Horror seized my throat, preventing a scream from crawling out. Tears leaked from my eyes, as I beheld my messenger of death.
“Don’t cry.” He cooed, leaning in to lick the blood from my bleeding lip. I stiffed and glared at him with hatred for his deceit, praying it would be enough to burn him through.
His eyes held mind, and I felt my resistance melt. “I will make it painless, my sweet, Ella.”
He leaned in and I knew this was the end. His sharp teeth teased the skin at my neck sending pleasure through my veins, and I hated him more for it.
Then a howl rent the air and Nick jerked up, his eyes glowing an eerie yellow as he scanned the darkness.
The haze of his bewitchment lifted from my mind, returning my voice. “Please, Nick. Please, let me go.” I pushed against him again, but he still held tight.
Suddenly, a dark shadow jumped out of the trees. I yelped as a giant wolf landed a few yards from us. It growled—saliva pooling around his canine teeth. Nick threw me against the stone rail, like a discarded toy and leapt at the giant beast. My head cracked hard against the stony surface and my vision swirled. Snarls and streaks of movement seemed to come at me from every side. The two creatures battled in a burr of movement that soon darkened to my closing eyes. I felt something splashed warm on my face before I lost conscience. Was it blood? My blood?
“Ella? Ella?” I heard my name being called. My mind tingled with grogginess and throbbed with pain.
Hands were on me, shaking me. “Ella, wake up!” There was sharpness in the voice that seemed to piece the fog, allowing horrible memories to crash down on me. I shot up screaming, fighting the hands that held me.
The hands let me go and roll away off the couch, landing on the floor with a thud.
“Geeze Ella, it’s just me, Bobby.”
The name stopped me, and I squinted through the brightness filtering in through the large windows. Slowly, I could make out the boy’s sun bleached hair and mocha eyes.
“Bobby!” I tacked my next door neighbor in a hug as relief swam happily through my veins.
“Man, woman get off of me.” His voice was light with playfulness, his arms came around me in a hug.
Had it all been a horrible nightmare? Releasing Bobby, I sat next to him. Looking around the room, I realized I wasn’t home, but in Bobby’s living room.
“What am I doing here?” I asked completely bewildered.
“Like I know, I just got in from my morning run and found you sleeping on my couch. Then the next thing I know you scream and tackle me!” He motioned with his hands as if they could show the events only moments ago. “I guess my bro’s right. Girls are crazy.”
I slugged him for that, and got whiff of wet dog. “Man you stink, Bobby. Haven’t you ever heard of a shower?”
His eyes flickered with annoyance. “Says the girl that looks like crap!”
Horrified, I quickly ran my hand through my tangled hair, but it was hopelessly knotted. What I really needed was chap-stick. My fingers ran across my lip, stopping at a scabbed over wound.
My breath caught and Bobby grind at me wickedly. “Told you he was bad for you.”