A damphir's vampiric mother wants her to become a real killer.
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Sixteen-year-old dhampir Ginny Marsten can’t handle her life. She has a vampiric mother who’s pressuring her into becoming a full-fledged vampire, giving up food and daylight for immortality. There’s a boy at school, Max, she’s falling for, but she can’t be honest with him. After all, her family secret is a dangerous one.
Matters get worse when she defends Max from bullies and accidentally knocks one out; they seek vengeance, going as far as to break in and vandalize her house. Her mother despises the thought that anyone might find her slumbering, so she had a solution to impose: flee town before it’s too late and force Ginny into immortality ASAP.
At a crossroads, Ginny must blaze a new trail for herself, but the decision isn’t easy. She knows her mother is protective because she cares and outliving her child would break her. Furthermore, Ginny’s never had to take care of herself and doesn’t know what will become of her relationship with Max. She can either stay on the safe path prescribed to her and merely exist, or go out on a limb, taking risks and foregoing immortality for a potentially fulfilling life.
Chapter 1: If Only I had Normal Parents
Other high school kids have to put up with their mom and dad. Me, I have to survive them. I stared at my clock, then back up at the ceiling of our old brick house. My mother was about to arrive back home from roaming the streets of Minneapolis. It was five in the morning, and I knew she’d be back within twenty minutes, because the sun rose at six, and she always wanted to talk to me before she died for the day. And yes, I do mean die.
A chill crept over me. Without looking over to my door or hearing it open, I knew she was already halfway into my room. Just as usual, when she entered, the air instantly became colder. I closed my eyes to see if, maybe for once, she wasn’t going to wake me to talk before she had to retreat downstairs.
“Virginia?” she asked. “Are you awake?”
I didn’t answer.
“I know you are. Your heart is racing, I can hear it. Don’t you want to see me?”
I opened my eyes to see her standing there with her long, curly, dark hair, slim figure, but oddly full face. Her color this morning was a radiant red. Other days it was closer to white, and she’d look worn down. Her blue days were the worst ones, but I’d never seen one of those for myself. This time, she’d found plenty to eat.
“Child, did you complete your studies for the day?”
I rubbed my eyes and rolled over. “Yes, mom, I did. Why can’t you talk to me like a regular parent?”
“I apologize. I sometimes forget to keep up to date on modern vernacular,” she said, bending down to either hug or kiss me.
I stopped her before I got to find out which. “Sheesh, mom, I’m not eight, and why do you always have to do that in the morning?”
She pulled herself back. “Ma chérie, it’s because I love you, I scarcely get to see you, and I wish to say goodnight.”
I tossed down the sheets and went to my dresser. “It’s morning, mother,” I said, and began opening the drawers.
“You know that I wish it were morning for me too, but I have no choice in the matter. Shall I help you select your attire for the day?”
“No, mom, I got it. It’s not rocket science.”
She sat down on my bed, looking disappointed. “But time goes by so fast, and I want to have my time with you before you are on your own. Youth speeds by.”
“Mom, I’m never going to be on my own. When I’m an old maid in an old folk’s home, you’ll still be visiting me.”
“Old maid? Are you still angry with me over what happened with Daniel? You’ll find other, better suitors.”
“Danny, mom, call him Danny. He was a boyfriend, not a suitor, and yeah, I’m still pissed about it.”
My mother tucked a curl of black hair behind her ear. “Virginia, there is no need to salt your language. Your tone conveys your point quite well enough. What can I do to make amends?” she asked, standing up from the bed.
I wanted her out of my room so that I could change, but I knew it didn’t matter to her. After three-hundred years, she’d seen the full human body time and time again and it had no impact on her. Therefore, I knew that the importance of my privacy didn’t register in her mind. Still, I started by making my bed, that way she might be down in the basement by the time I had to change my bra and underwear. “You can’t take it back,” I said.
“Please, do not be sore with me. It was for you. His intentions weren’t pure. Every first love should be pure.”
“Those are some damn big word coming out of someone who just took, what, three people?”
“It was one,” she replied. “And he wasn’t deserving of life. Please, refrain from the salting for this morning. I’m trying to be peaceable.”
I pulled up the sheets and set the pillow over it. “You are always telling me about forgiveness. How I am supposed to do that when you drain everyone you consider guilty?”
“Virginia, there are grades of sin, and I have no choice in the matter. I know my living is not clean, but I only remove the filthy from the city, making it safer for all others. You know that. Of course, the hunt is getting more tedious with the efficiency of the law these days.”
“What was it your victim did this time? Rob a bank? Kill someone? Rape someone?”
“One of those crimes, yes. But I don’t care to get into the details of the matter. What can I do about how you feel in regards to this Dan?” she asked. The name Dan didn’t fit her mouth right, and that wasn’t because her vampiric chompers got in the way. Her fangs only came out when she needed them. At all other times, they were retracted back up into her gums, like two sharp canine teeth.
“Nothing can be done about it,” I said.
“Please, I didn’t hurt him. I only made him stay away.”
“Mom, he wears a cross around his neck now, and he’s an atheist! He doesn’t look like he’s slept in weeks!”
My mother, Katreena, chuckled to herself. “Those kids and their crosses. Garlic is a bigger laugh.”
It was clear that she wasn’t leaving, so I turned my back to her and began to change my top. “It’s not funny. He’s losing weight and getting stomach aches over it, he’s so paranoid. What if he knew that the monster outside of his window was my mother?”
“No one would believe him, and I told you, I never mentioned your name when I confronted him. He’s just forbidden from any acts of copulation for now, and it’s for his own good. I’m helping him.”
With my shirt and pants on, I turned to her. “No, you were trying to protect me. One guy tries to kiss me and you become the abstinence fairy. Congratulations, you scared a senior out of having a libido. Mom, I swear, anyone who wants to be with me is probably going to end up dead in a gutter.”
“No, darling, never. Love has a time and place, and now is not it for you.”
I put my hand on one jutted hip, a stance I knew she hated. “So, I can’t drive, I can’t date, I can’t go anywhere, I can’t have friends over, and I can’t fall in love?”
“Ma chérie, you need to know how much love can hurt before you subject yourself to it.”
A thread of light was beginning to peak through the bottom of my drapes, reflecting on the screen of my television set, so my mother moved over to a shadow by the door. “I want you to have a wondrous day, now,” she said. “You’ll earn your rights as time passes. Will you let me hold you before the daylight must arrive?”
Partly out of obligation, I wrapped my arms around her warm body to give her a hug. Her tresses pressed between our shoulders. No matter what she said or did, or how she restricted my lifestyle to ensure her own safety, she was still my mother, and I didn’t know how to not love her. “It’s called a hug, mom,” I said.
I could smell the coppery scent of blood coming through in her breath. “Mom, tell me you aren’t planning to make me be like you someday,” I said.
She held my shoulders and pulled her body back, looking me in the eyes. “I wish you weren’t fragile, but I’m just the same as you, only in a different way. Age is your enemy, and the light is mine. No parent wants to outlive their child, but I cannot make that decision for you. When you are fully grown, the choice will be yours, and if you so desire, you can join me.”
I felt her hand brush my cheek. She was growing hotter as her pulse increased. The sun was getting closer, so she was becoming nervous.
“Child,” she said, “It’s a gift that you’ve been given options and you are only half of what I am. For now, enjoy the life you are living.”
Her eyes were beginning to water, turning pink. No matter how much we fought, I hated to see that happen. “Mom, you better get cruising downstairs.”
“Give your father my loving regards?”
She always said that, and it annoyed me. Most people would simply ask for someone to give their love, but that sounded too sexual to her. “Of course,” I replied, planting one kiss on her cheek out of habit. I walked her to the staircase and she descended down. Just as always, I heard her bolt and lock the steel door several times over, each metal bar secured from the inside. Even though it was supposed to be soundproof, I could hear it. I closed the wooden door that we kept visible, on the outside and over the steel one. Then I locked it, just as usual. No one could ever look down there.
“Damn, I hate being a dhampir,” I said, moving to prepare breakfast for myself and my father, who would be getting out of bed soon. He always woke up early, but he also went to bed early. My mother always sat with us when we ate supper, which was right around when she had to leave and hunt for her breakfast. She, looking like she was maybe twenty-five, and he being closer to seventy, made them the oddest couple imaginable.
It was crazy, especially as she, at three-hundred and something was devoted to a man who was physically so much older than she was. Every so often, when she woke up and he was spending his evening hours with her, they’d suspiciously hand me some money and tell me to walk down the street to the store and get myself something, like new clothes, a book, or even a videogame – a “frivolous object” that neither of them understood the draw of. When I got back, her door would be locked and both of them would be down in the basement with the inner soundproof access bolted. I had the idea that she and he still did the occasional bedroom mambo. After all, vampires didn’t get menopause and I knew from health classes that men kept kicking down there, basically until they were physically unable. I swear, if they ever had another half-human, half-vampire kid, and my dad passed away, I was not going to watch the little monster during the day.
As I got the coffee going and it sifted through the filter, my father came out into our nearly barren kitchen. If either of us got out of the house more than we did, we’d undoubtedly have more cooking appliances and decorations, but mom wanted us nearby at all times if we could be, and shopping meant leaving the house. Outside of school, I had to be here.
“Hello Ginny. Did I miss your mother again?” he asked in a neutral, groggy tone, emerging to stand guard over the house while she rested.
“She’s already in bed,” I said.
“Eh, did you get to see her?”
I poured him a cup of coffee and put some bread in the toaster while he took a seat, then I nodded. He was going bald and the crow’s feet next to his eyes were growing deeper. He’d be using a walker soon enough, but for now he was in good enough shape to walk on the treadmill each day. Other kids had parents with jobs and gym memberships. I had an old bag of bones who hadn’t worked one honest, legitimate day in over fifty years, let alone get out of the house, but that didn’t change my love for him. “Yeah, the same old morning chat,” I said.
“Did she say anything much?” he asked.
“To send you her love.”
“Loving regards,” he said. “Her loving regards. Did you two fight again?”
“What was it this time?” he asked.
“Nothing much. I just want her out of my business.”
“Yes, well, she’s seen the world over and over, including all the good and the bad. If there is one thing I know about Katreena, she always has her reasons, even if they drive us batty.”
I slid him over his cup and his toast popped up, which I grabbed. I set it on a napkin in front of him, saying, “Yeah, I know. I still don’t know how you two get along so well.”
He took a bite, talking with his mouth open. “I wasn’t always so damned old and forgetful. Back when I was a boy on the docks out east, I could bench a car and we’d do all kinds of things together. Now I get short of breath so quickly. I swear, having me be her watchdog is more for her peace of mind than anything else these days. Nowadays, I couldn’t fend off more than a child if the fate of the country depended on it.”
“So, why didn’t she change you, keep you like you were?”
“Function and love. She needed a day guard, and I needed a roof over my head. So she decided to take pity on poor little Milton,” he said, pointing a finger towards his own chest. “Oh, she wanted to preserve me when I hit my twenties, but, alas, she knew I wouldn’t have the heart to live like her, not forever.”
“But it’s not forever, she’s not immortal.”
“I know, but I’d rather go in my sleep, not up in blazes. I don’t have her patience, either, the will to see everything come and go. That takes more heart than I have. Did you grab the Sunday paper?” he asked.
I sat down and poured myself some cereal. “It’s Monday, dad. Sunday was yesterday.”
“Oh, that’s right,” he replied. “I knew that, of course I knew that.”
“Sure you did, pops.” I said. This morning, I was having orange juice, so I got myself a glass and sat down to hear what I already knew he was going to say. In his old age, he was starting to repeat himself as well as forget things. It didn’t help that he hardly interacted with anyone either. Hell, he didn’t even go to stores, especially if they were open during the night and he could convince mom to make the run for him.
“Virginia,” he said. “What was the problem this time? That permit test thing?”
“Boys at school?”
“Bingo,” I said, drinking my juice slowly.
I swallowed so I could speak. “So she did tell you about it.”
“Of course, we don’t keep secrets. There’s no point in hiding anything when it comes to her. Yes, she crossed a boundary, but she just wants to protect you.”
“I don’t need protecting.”
“Compared to other girls your age, no. But you’re her porcelain doll, her baby. Even if you are stronger than your classmates, she doesn’t want to see anything happen to you. Imagine her position, an undying mother with a mortal child.”
I set down my glass and went to the adjacent living room to grab my backpack. The only boundary between myself and my father was the seam of the carpet and open space. “Dad, I think she wants me to be like her,” I said. “She’s tells me otherwise, but she really acts like it.”
Somehow, he remained completely calm, as though he had thought such matters over and over and had become indifferent to whether I lived to be eighty or eight-hundred. “You still have a good while to think about it. I don’t think she’d have you cross over unless you truly wanted it, and after you are out of school. Look at me, she let me decide to grow old, so here I am, and I bet she wouldn’t dream of keeping me around as an everlasting decrepit.”
“Dad, you’re not decrepit.”
“Not yet,” he said, putting two fingers on his cheek. “Give your old pops a kiss before you catch your bus.”