Soulmate (Chapter 9)

You'll change your mind," Thierry said.

An instant later everything was chaos. Thierry had one hand in her hair, twisting her head to the side,

exposing her neck. His other arm was keeping both her arms trapped against her body. Hannah was

twisting, struggling-and it wasn't doing any good. He was unbelievably strong.

She felt the warmth of breath on her neck . .. and then the sharpness of teeth.

"Don't fight." Thierry's muffled voice came to her. "You'll only make it hurt worse."

Hannah fought. And it did hurt. The pain of having blood drawn out against her will was like nothing

she'd ever felt. It was as if her soul was being pulled out of her body, a pain that radiated down her neck

and through her left shoulder and arm. It turned her vision gray and made her feel lightheaded.

"I-hate-you," she got out. She tried to reach for him with her mind, to see if she could hurt him that way .

. . but it was like running up against an obsidian wall. She could feel nothing of Thierry in the contact, just

smooth black hardness.

Forget about that, the cool wind voice said. And don't faint; you've got to stay conscious. Think about

your room. You need wood; you need a weapon. Where…

The desk.

Even as she thought it, Thierry's grip on her was shifting. He was forcing her to turn so she faced away

from him, still holding her in an iron grip with one arm. She had no idea what he was doing with the other

arm until he spoke again.

"I have to give you back something for what I took."

And then the other arm was in front of Hannah, wrist pressing to her mouth. She still didn't really

understand-she was dazed with pain and loss of blood-until she felt warm liquid trickling into her mouth

and tasted a strange exotic taste.

Oh, God-no. It's his blood. You're drinking vampire blood.

She tried not to swallow, but the liquid kept flowing in, choking her. It didn't taste at all like blood. It

was rich and wild and burned slightly-and she could almost feel it changing her.

You've got to stop this, the cool wind voice told her. New.

With a violent wrench that almost dislocated her shoulder, Hannah got one arm free. Then she started to

fight hard, not because she wanted to get away, but because she wanted to keep Thierry occupied in

holding her. While they were struggling, she surreptitiously reached out with her free hand.

I can't feel it. She threw her body back and forth, trying to get Thierry to move closer to the desk. Just a

little farther… there. There!

Her fingers were on her desk. She stomped on Thierry's foot to keep him distracted. She heard a snarl

of pain and Thierry shook her, but her fingers kept groping across the desk until they found something

smooth and long, with a pointed graphite end.

A pencil.

Hannah curled her fingers, gathering the pencil into her fist. She was gasping with effort, which meant

more of the strange blood was flowing into her mouth.

Now think. Visualize his hand. Picture the pencil going right in, all the way through. And now strike.

Hannah brought the pencil up with all her strength, driving it into the back of Thierry's hand.

She heard a yelp of pain and outrage-and at the same instant she felt a stab of pain herself. She'd driven

the pencil all the way through his hand and jabbed her own cheek.

She didn't spend time worrying about it. The iron grip on her had loosened. She slammed a foot into

Thierry's shin and spun away as he jerked back.

The desk! You need another weapon!

Even as the voice was telling her, Hannah was teaching for her desk, gathering a random handful of pens

and pencils. Thank God for her habit of losing pencils, which was the reason she had to keep so many.

As soon as she had them, she twisted to dart across the room, getting her back to a wall. She faced

Thierry, panting.

"This next one goes right into your heart," she told him, pulling one pencil out of the handful and holding it

in her fist. Her voice was soft and ragged, but absolutely deadly in its conviction.

"You hurt me!" Thierry had pulled the pencil out and was staring at the wound. His face was contorted,

his eyes blazing with animal pain and fury. He looked like a stranger.

"Right," Hannah said, panting. "And if you come close to me again, I'll kill you. That's a promise. Now

get the hell out of my house and out of my life!"

Thierry stared back and forth from her to his hand. Then he snarled-really snarled, his upper lip lifting,

his teeth bared. Hannah had never seen a human face look so bestial.

"You'll be sorry," he said, like a child in a temper tantrum. "And if you tell anybody about this, I'll kill

them. I will. It's Night World law."

Then he did the fade-out thing. Hannah blinked and he wasn't there. He must have backed up down the

hall, but she didn't hear a door open or close.

It was several minutes before she could loosen her grip on her pencil or step away from the wall. When

she could, it was to stumble toward the phone. She pressed the speed dial for Chess's number. Busy.

Hannah dropped the phone. She was swaying on her feet, feeling sick and giddy, but she headed for the

dining room. There, keeping one of the windows shut, was a wooden dowel, the remnant of some

long-past safety craze of her mother's. Hannah broke it over her knee and carried one splinter-ended

piece with her to the garage.

The dusty old Ford was parked there, the one her

father had driven before he died. Hannah found the keys and started for Chess's house. She could think

of only one thing: she didn't want to be alone.

Gray spots danced in front of her eyes as she drove. She kept imagining things rushing at her from the


Stay awake. Just stay awake, she told herself, biting her lip hard enough to draw blood.

There! There's the house up ahead. You can see the light. All you have to do is get there.

She stepped on the accelerator. And then everything went gray.

Thierry looked around the resort lobby, then glanced at his watch. He'd been doing that every five

minutes for about the last twelve hours, and his nerves were starting to fray.

He didn't like leaving Hannah alone. Of course, the ring would protect her when she was away from the

house, and the amulet he'd buried in her backyard would protect the house itself. It was a strong amulet,

made for him by Grandma Harman, the oldest and most powerful witch in the world, the Crone of the

Inner Circle. It set wards around the house, so that no Night Person could enter without a direct

invitation from somebody who lived inside.

He still didn't like leaving Hannah alone.

Only a little while longer, he told himself. It had 'taken him most of last night and all of today to call in

enough of his own people to set up a plan for watching over Hannah.

She'd told him to go away, and he had. Her word was law to him. But that didn't mean he couldn't have

her guarded. She need never realize that there

were Night People around her, watching and waiting in the shadows-and ready to fight to the death if

any danger appeared.

Lupe had been right. He couldn't deal with this alone. And now he was going to have to rely on other

people to keep Hannah safe.

Thierry looked at his watch again. It was nine o'clock at night, and he was almost tempted to give up on

Circe. But only a witch of her power could set up the kind of heavy-duty wards that would protect

Hannah wherever she went in Amador County.

He kept waiting. As he did, he stared at a gun rack on the wall and tried to keep his brain turned off. It

didn't work.

Ever since he'd awoken Hannah from her hypnotic trance, he'd been trying very hard not to think about

the old days. But now, he found himself being irresistibly drawn back-not only thinking about them, but

reliving them. Traveling back in his mind to the stupid young man he had been….

He hadn't been the first vampire. He didn't have that distinction.

He had only been the second.

He'd grown up in the tribe of Maya and Hellewise. The Maya and Hellewise, the twin daughters of

Hecate Witch Queen. The Maya and Hellewise who would go down as the two greatest figures in Night

World history; Hellewise Hearth-Woman as the ancestress of the Harman family, the most famous of the

living witches, and Maya as the ancestress of both the lamia and the made vampires.

But of course he knew nothing about that at the time.

All he knew was that they were both pretty girls. Beautiful. Hellewise had long yellow hair and deep

brown eyes. Maya had long black hair and eyes that glittered in different colors like the changing lights in

a glacier. He liked both sisters very much.

Maybe that was his downfall.

He'd been a very ordinary fellow, with a good throwing arm, a delicate touch in carving ivory, and a

vague longing to see the world. He'd taken it for granted that his tribe was special, that they could

influence the weather and summon animals from the forest. They were the witch people, they'd been

granted special powers, and that was all. It wasn't anything to worry about.

And, like everyone else, he knew that Maya was doing experiments in the forest, using her powers to try

and become immortal. But that didn't worry him particularly either….

I was very young and very, very stupid, Thierry thought.

That had been the real downfall of the tribe. Maya's desire to become immortal. Because she'd been

willing to pay any price for it, even to the point of becoming a monster and leaving a curse on all her

descendants. Maybe if Thierry and the other witch people had realized that, they could have stopped her

before it happened.

Because Maya had finally found the right spell to achieve immortality. The problem was that to do it, she

had to steal the babies of the tribe. All four of them. She took them out to the forest, did the spell, and

drank their blood. Thierry and the rest of the tribe found the four little bled-out bodies later.

Hellewise had cried all night. Thierry, who couldn't understand how the pretty girl he liked could have

done something so awful, cried, too. Maya herself had disappeared completely.

But a few nights later she came to Thierry. He was keeping watch outside the cave when she appeared

silently beside him.

She had changed.

She wasn't the pretty girl he knew anymore. She was stunningly, dazzlingly beautiful. But she was

different. She moved with the grace of a nighttime predator, and her eyes reflected the firelight.

She was very pale, but that only made her more lovely. Her mouth, which had always been soft and

inviting, seemed red as blood. And when she smiled at him, he saw her long pointed teeth.

"Hello, Theory," she said-that was his name back then. "I want to make you immortal."

Thierry was scared out of his mind.

He had no idea what she'd become-some weird creature with unnatural teeth. But he knew he had no

desire at all to be like her.

"I really think it's unfair, the way you go back and forth between me and Hellewise," she said casually,

sitting down on the bare earth. "So I've decided to resolve the question. You're going to be mine, now

and forever."

She reached out and took his hand. Her fingers were very slender and very cold-and unbelievably

strong. Thierry couldn't pull away. He stared at his hand with his mouth open like the idiot he was.

This was the time he should have started yelling, thrashing, doing anything to attract attention and get

away. But Maya seemed to hold him with her eyes

like a snake holding a bird. She was unnatural and evil… but she was so beautiful.

It was the first and the last time that Thierry would be fascinated by the beauty of pure evil-but it was

enough. He was doomed from that moment. He'd doomed himself.

An instant of hesitation. He would pay for it for unimaginable years in the future.

"It's not so bad," Maya was saying, still fixing him with her terrible and lovely eyes. "There are a few

things I had to figure out-a few things I didn't expect. I thought drinking the blood of the babies would be

the end of it, but no."

Thierry felt sick.

"I've got these teeth for a reason, apparently. It seems I have to drink the blood of a mortal creature

every day, or I die. It's inconvenient, but I can live with it."

Thierry whispered something beginning with, "Oh, Hecate, Dark Mother-"

"Now, stop that!" Maya made a sharp gesture. "No praying, please, and especially not to that old

harridan. I'm not a witch anymore. I'm something completely new-I suppose I should think of a name for

myself. Night-hunter… blood-drinker … I don't know, the possibilities are endless. I'm going to start a

new race, Theorn. We'll be better than the witches, stronger, faster-and we'll live forever. We'll never

die, so we'll rule everyone. And you're going to be my first convert."

"No," Thierry said. He still thought he had a choice.

"Yes. I'm going to have a baby-not with you, I'm afraid; I don't think you'll be able to-and the baby will

have my blood. And I'm going to give my blood to other people the way I'll give it to you now. Someday

there won't be anyone in the world who won't have my blood. It's a nice thought, isn't it?" She rested her

chin on a fist and her eyes glittered.

"Hellewise will stop you," Thierry said flatly.

"My sister? No, I don't think so. Especially not since I'll have you to help me. She likes you, you know.

It will be hard for her to kill somebody she likes so much."

"She won't have to. I'll kill you," Thierry snarled.

Maya laughed out loud.

"You? You? Don't you know yourself yet? You're not a killer-you don't have the guts for it. That will

change, of course, after I give you my blood. But you won't want to kill me then. You'll join me-and be

happy. You'll see." She dusted off her hands as if a difficult negotiation had been accomplished and terms

had been reached. "Now. Let's do it."

He was strong. He had that good throwing arm-he was dead accurate with a spear or a killing stick. But

she was so much stronger that she could handle him like a baby. The first thing she did was clamp a hand

across his mouth-because by this time it had occurred even to stupid Thierry that he was in very bad

trouble, and that he needed help.

There was no sound of a struggle as she dragged him off into the bushes.

"I'm afraid this is going to hurt," she said. She was lying on top of him, her eyes glittering into his. She

was excited. "At least, all the animals I've caught seem to have found it very unpleasant. But it's for your

own good."

Then she ripped his throat out.

That was what it felt like. And that was when he realized what those long canine teeth were for. Like any

lynx or cave lion or wolf, she needed teeth to tear.

Through the black waves of shock and pain, he heard her drinking.

It lasted a long time. But finally, mercifully, he realized that he was dying. He took comfort in the thought

that the horror would soon be over.

He couldn't have been more wrong. The horror was just beginning.

When Maya lifted her head, her mouth was scarlet with his blood. Dripping. She wasn't beautiful any

longer, she was simply fiendish.

"Now," she said. "I'm going to give you something that will make it all better."

She pulled back and placed a fire-hardened splinter of wood at her own throat. She smiled at him.

Maya had always been physically brave. And then, with a gesture almost of ecstasy, she plunged the

splinter in, sending blood spurting and spilling.

Then she fell on top of him again.

He didn't mean to swallow the blood that filled his mouth. But everything was so gray and unreal-and he

still had enough survival reflex left to not want to drown in it. The warm, strange-tasting liquid went down

his throat. It burned like fermented-berry wine.

After she made him drink, he realized to his relief that he was still dying. He didn't know that he wasn't

going to stay dead. He felt her carrying him farther into the forest-he was completely limp now and didn't

put up any resistance-and then everything went black.

When he woke up, he'd been buried.

He clawed himself up out of the shallow grave and found himself looking into the astonished face of his

brother Conlan. The tribe had buried him in the traditional way-in the soft dirt at the back of the cave.

In the minute before his brother could yell in surprise, Thierry was at his throat.

It was animal instinct. A thirst inside of him like nothing he had ever known. A pain that was like being

underwater-being strangled-gasping for air. It made him desperate, made him insane. He didn't think at


He simply tried, mindlessly, to tear at his brother's throat.

What stopped him was someone calling his name. Calling it over and over, in great pain. When he

looked around, he saw Hellewise, her brown eyes huge and spilling with tears, her mouth trembling.

The expression on her face would haunt him forever.

He ran out of the cave and kept running. Behind him, just faintly, he could hear Hellewise's voice,

"Theorn, I'll stop her. I swear to you, I'll stop her."

He realized later that it was all Hellewise could offer him. She knew that his curse was permanent. What

he was now, he would be forever.

There wasn't a name for it then, but he was the first made vampire. Maya, who would have a son just as

she promised, was the first of the lamia, the family vampires who could grow up and have children. And

her son, Red Fern, would be the ancestor of the Redfern family, the most powerful lamia family in the

Night World.

Thierry didn't know any of that as he ran. He only knew he had to get away from people, or he would

hurt them.

Maya caught up with him while he was frantically trying to quench his thirst by drinking from a stream.

"You're going to make yourself sick," she said, inspecting him critically. "You can't drink that. It's blood

you need."

Thierry jumped up, shaking with fury and hatred and weakness all mixed together. "What about yours?"

he snarled.

Maya laughed. "How sweet. But it won't do. You need the blood of living creatures." She wasn't at all

afraid of him, and he remembered how strong she had been. He was no match for her.

He turned and began to stumble off.

Maya called after him, "You can't do it, you know. You can't get away from me. I've chosen you,

Theorn. You're mine, now and forever. And in the end you'll realize that and join me."

Thierry kept going. He could hear her laughing as he went.

He lived on the steppes for several weeks, wandering across the high windswept grasslands. He was

more an animal than anything resembling a person. The thirst inside him made him desperate-until he

stumbled over a rabbit. The next instant he found that he was holding it, biting into its throat. His teeth

were like Maya's now-long, sensitive, and perfect for tearing or puncturing. And she was right, only the

blood of a living creature could help the burning, suffocating feeling inside him.

He didn't catch food very often. Every time he drank it reminded him of what he was.

He was starving when he finally came to the Three Rivers.

He didn't see the little girl out picking spring greens until he was on top of her. He burst out of a pile of

brush, panting with thirst like a wounded deer-and there she was, looking up at him. And then everything

went dark for a while.

When he came to himself, he stopped drinking. He needed the food, he would die in terrible agony

without it-but he dropped the girl and ran. Hana's people found him a little while later.

And they did exactly what he'd expected any tribe to do-they saw that he was an abomination and

brandished spears at him. He expected them to kill him at any minute. He didn't realize yet-and neither

did they-that a creature like him took some killing.

And then he saw Hana.