To Break Your Heart
I was weightless, floating in endless whiteness. It was bright and I had trouble opening my eyes. My head hurt, and I realized that there was something hard against it and at my back. Something was floating around me. For a terrifying second I thought I was floating in blood, and I forced my eyes open.
I was blinded by white. My arms were heavy, but I lifted them up to try to look at them. They were wet, but clean, not covered in blood.
I was wearing a strange silk robe that I had never seen before. It looked like it might have been white at one point, but right now it was stained pink. I put my arms back down into the water, and tried to push myself up, but the water in my hair weighed me down, and my only reward for my trouble was a sudden headache.
"Shh," a low voice murmured, the water sloshing around me. "Hold still." A damp cloth brushed gently across my face. I turned my head a little and I saw Eric's golden eyes staring down tenderly at me. "How peculiar, you don't even have a scar." My blood froze as I tried to think of what was going on. Why was Eric here? Where was I?
Where was James?!
I tried to scramble up, my hands clawing at the ceramic walls around me. I was able to get up for half a second before slipping and splashing back down. It appeared that I was in a bathtub in inch-deep water.
"Shh, shh! Calm down, Anna!" I pushed myself up into a sitting position. Eric took my face in his hands, and looked into my eyes. I was trembling. "You're alright now. You're safe." He brushed back my wet hair from my face. "You should eat something. You've lost a lot of blood." He reached over to a wine glass that was sitting on a tray, which sat next to a bloody towel and a bloody knife - a knife that looked suspiciously like mine. "Here, drink this. Don't be stubborn, Anna." I hadn't even said anything, but as I took the glass from him, I saw his wrist dripping with his own blood. I sipped it, and it didn't taste as bad as I thought it would, though it was still cold.
I stared at the pink-stained sleeves that fell over the tops of my hands. I narrowed my eyes. "Where are my clothes, Eric?"
Eric swallowed and dropped his eyes. "They're torn up and covered in blood. I'm sure you don't want them anymore."
I decided to let it go, even if Eric had indeed undressed me and washed me in his tub, it didn't matter. At least he had the courtesy to put a robe on me. I was thinking of another matter.
James. He had attacked me. I didn't know how long ago it was and I had no idea where he could be now. I was panicking on the inside, but kept myself cool on the outside. I wasn't sure how well I could trust Eric, and I needed to proceed with caution if I wanted to get out of this mess.
"Eric," I said, keeping my voice calm. "Where is James?"
Eric took a deep breath. "He's gone."
My heart stopped. Gone? As in dead? "Where did he go?"
"I don't know. He's killed Damien. He's run off, Anna." Okay. This was good. He was still alive. Damien would even be off our backs now. I just had to find James before he did something stupid.
I started to get up. "Wait. Don't move yet." Eric's cold hands on my face were surprisingly gentle, and his voice came out in whispered breaths. "Now that Damien is dead, the vampires are in an uproar. There's no one to lead them. It's not safe for us to go out there. We will leave as soon as it's safe."
I felt my breath quicken as I tried to think of a way to get out of this. I had to escape from Eric. He would only be in the way in my search for James. I understood what he wanted, and James wasn't part of his plan. "I need to find something to wear," I said, pushing myself out of the bathtub despite Eric's gentle hands. Dripping water on the tiled floor, I pushed myself to the door. It opened to Eric's bedroom. I'd never been in here before and I looked around to get my bearings. The room was dark, the bed surprisingly unmade, but there wasn't much on it to begin with. Some sheets were shoved between the bed and the bedstand and one pillow lay on top. I found his closet and pulled it open, looking for something to wear.
"Anna," Eric said as he came up behind me. I took out one of his long coats. I just needed to look somewhat decent before I went out in public to look for James. "What are you doing?"
I went back to the bathroom, not answering him. I found my knife before sitting on the hard ground, close to the wall. I stretched out the material, using the wall and my foot, before stabbing it in the back of the coat.
Eric crossed his arms. "Anna, that's my coat." He sighed. "Never mind. What exactly are you planning on doing?"
"Finding James," I said simply. I needed the hole to be pretty big if I wanted my wings to fit through it.
"Anna, he's gone. You're not going to find him." I turned around and gave him a look that clearly showed that I didn't care. "He's unstable. He's probably dead right now."
"That's why I have to find him before that happens."
"He's going to die no matter what the hell you do!" I turned away from him, untying the wet robe to put on the coat. Through the mirror I saw Eric turn around, a slight blush spreading across his cheeks and neck. I thought for sure he'd watch me. It was nothing he hadn't just seen. I put the coat on, though it was way too big for me, fitted for a man, and the gaping hole in it seem to make it even bigger. I had hoped my hair would cover it. "He's going to die, Anna." I tied the coat around me as tight as I could and walked past Eric.
Eric shook his head. "He's going to break your heart. What will you do when he's gone?" The tremor in his voice almost made me hesitate. "I know what happens when mortals die, Anna. You want to die with them, but you can't."
I looked at Eric's face for a moment. He had lost somebody, hadn't he?
"Eric. I'm sorry, but I don't know what you want me to do."
"Stay . . . please . . ."
I shook my head, tears threaten my own eyes. "But Eric, I can't do that!"
"Anna, stop being stupid! Of course you can! Where else could you possibly go?!"
"I-I have to find James." I stumbled back to the door. Just leave. That's all I had to do. Maybe I could find James's tracks in the snow. I reached out to grab the doorknob to leave his room, but the door was locked. Looking closely at the doorknob, I noticed that the knob had been crushed with inhuman strength, and the dial to unlock the door was impossible to turn. I stiffened my body and said very firmly, "Eric, let me out." He didn't answer. I felt my fingers tighten around my knife before I whipped around to face him. "Eric!"
"But Anna, I can't do that," he said calmly, repeating my words back to me.
I screamed at him, but instead of sinking my knife into his body, I sank it into the wood of the door. It only went in an inch deep and the effort made my arm go numb. I was sick and tired of being so weak all the time. Anyone else I knew could probably rip this door off its hinges. I pulled the knife out with some difficulty before striking the door again and again.
Eric took a deep breath. "Stop that now, it's not going to open the door for you. You're only going to tire yourself out." I ignored him. "Hey. Please listen to me." He placed his hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged it off. "Diana, please!"
I froze. At first I thought he was telling me to die, but then I realized he had just simply gotten my name wrong. I turned to face him. He closed his eyes and winced. "Anna, please."
"No one. Just please don't do this to me."
"She was your lover, wasn't she? I bet she died, right? She died, Eric!"
"STOP IT!" Eric hands reached out as if he would strangle me, but he stopped himself. "Silent, just be silent."
"Eric," I took his outstretched hand into mine. "Who was Diana?"
Eric looked away from me, his face trying to smile, trying to stay composed. "My wife." He turned his gaze on mine and smiled. "My wife," he breathed again. He placed his hand tenderly against my cheek and gently stroked it. "Diana Newbury."
I sucked in my breath and almost pulled away.
"Do you want to hear a story, Miss Anna Newbury?"
I didn't answer. I just stared at him in shock. His wife was related to me?!
"I wasn't always a wealthy man. My family owned a cotton mill for generations, hence the name Miller. Diana didn't care, though. She ran away from her privileged family to marry me. We were going to start our own family, but my family wanted a better life for me, and thought I'd get a better chance if I joined the British Navy. Apparently they had planned this for me my whole life without my knowing. They thought I was too young to get married, but not too young to die, I guess." He shook his head, laughing bitterly. "Diana lived with them while I went off to fight Napoleon's men. I was attacked by a French vampire during the chaos and managed to fight back. He had disarmed me, and the one thing I could do was bite back before a comrade decapitated him and dragged me away." Eric gave another humorless laugh.
"They thought I was sick with some epidemic, so they threw me out of the navy. I had to get home by myself, and during that long trek, I realized something was wrong with me. The French vampire had followed me to finish me off, but when he saw what had accidentally happened, he told me what to expect of my immortal life. He asked me to join him, for he was lonely, but I said I had to get back to my wife. He laughed at me before running off.
"I found my way back home and woke up Diana before my parents. I was afraid she wouldn't love me anymore if she found out what happened, but she only clung to me. I didn't realized before I left that she was pregnant, and she kept telling me as long as I was alive she'd be okay. We'd run to America where no one would know us. I could turn her into a vampire after the child was born and then we'd be together forever."
Eric's eyes were distant as he trailed off the sentence. "That's what she said. Forever."
"Eric?" My stomach felt sick. He still had his hand on my face, the other on my shoulder. My heart went out to Eric, but in the back of my mind I knew the clock was ticking. I had to find James before it was too late. My gaze went to the window. I wondered if I could open it in time to escape. Eric looked at me. But then I realized there was something I wanted to know. Something I wanted to know how to do. "Why didn't you turn Diana into a vampire?"
Eric backed away from me and turned his gaze somewhere else. "We wanted to wait until after the child, but she was so sick all the time. As long as I'd known her, she always had been. Her frame was so thin and her skin so pale, she looked just as much as a vampire as I. When the doctor said, she wouldn't make it, I tried before the birth; sacrificing our child for her and . . ."
"It didn't work."
"I killed them both. Do you understand why I do these cruel things to you? I'm a very selfish man." He stared at me. "You look exactly like her," he breathed. "When I met that vampire who attacked your family, and he mentioned the name 'Newbury' I just had to come. All their faces reminded me of Diana. I couldn't look at them, so I was glad when the others destroyed them. But when I saw you, you were too much like her. Your dark hair, your large eyes, the cheekbones in your face, and without thinking, I. . . . I'm so sorry Anna . . ."
"Eric, tell me how you were able to turn me into a vampire if you couldn't do it before."
Eric only shook his head. "You just don't get it, Anna."
"Please, you have to tell me! You and me are alike." It was more true than I'd like to admit. "You loved Diana more than anything. You were willing to give up you own child for her. Please, I need to save James."
"You'd turn him into a vampire just so you wouldn't be alone? What if he didn't want to live this life? Who would want to live this life?"
"But what about Diana?"
"What about you? Are you happy with what I've done to you."
"And James is a werewolf. How is that even possible?!"
"I DON'T KNOW!" I sobbed. "I can't-I can't let him-I need to–"
"Anna, Anna." He took my hands, for I was starting to thrash them about. "You can. You can stay with me. Please. I won't leave you. James can only. He always runs away and you won't be able to find him again, but I'll stay with you. Please stay with me. I don't have anything else to live for. Damien, Angela, Martin, they're all dead. I can't be alone anymore."
I used to hate Eric. He used to be the sole cause of every problem I had, but not anymore. I didn't hate him anymore.
But still . . .
"I can't, Eric," It wasn't enough for me to save him. I couldn't choose him over James. "I'm sorry, Eric." His face was blank as he looked down at me. I brought my hands to his head and pulled it down so I could kiss his cold lips. A single tear ran down his still blank face. "Goodbye."
I went over to the window and opened it. He didn't stop me, but sank to his knees. I concentrated on extending my wings before I leapt out.
I was selfish, too.