Chapter 3

To Catch A Cheetah

Chapter 3

Delilah nearly cried when she squeezed the bottle of concealer in her hand, and only managed to get a drop of the stuff out. Blinking back tears, she dabbed the stuff along the angry red bite mark at the base of her throat, wincing as the tender skin protest, but it was no use – she simply didn’t have enough.

Angry and filled with self-loathing, she tossed the bottle into the trash, then went back into her room, and shuffled through her closet to find a scarf she could wrap around her neck. This ought to do it, she thought to herself, as she wrapped it around her neck, then pulled on a dark grey double-breasted pea coat with a black lacy petticoat that peaked out from beneath the flared hem of the jacket. It was the beginning of October, and things were getting pretty chilly. But she hated having to worry about keeping herself covered up, and lately, it seemed to be necessary more often.

There was a time when she didn’t have to worry about covering up bite marks. Even during those first few years when her father had turned, he’d still treated her like his beloved daughter and refused to let anyone touch her. But as the years went by, he’d lost more and more of his humanity, becoming less her father, and more like the drug dealing vampire that everyone else knew, and hated.

It had gotten to the point where she was no longer sure where the monster began and her father ended, and she spent most of her days living in fear, never knowing what to expect from him next.

Tears sprang to her eyes again, and she blinked them back, suddenly angry with herself. Since when had she become such an emotional basket case? She’d never been a crybaby, and she wasn’t going to start now. Grabbing her purse, she resolved to be stronger. There were people in the world suffering from much worse than she was, she reminded herself. At least she was taken care of… even if she was little more than a prisoner.

At least I am free to walk in the sun, she thought to herself as she stepped outside. Her heart lightened as she lifted her face to the sun, bright despite the chill of coming winter. She felt safe when she was out in the sun, knowing that she was beyond the reach of her father and his associates.

She dreamt of the day that she could escape him, but she knew that for as long as he lived she would always be within reach, under his control, forced to do his bidding.  He was little more than a shadow of the man he once was and was now filled with anger and resentment. At times she wondered if he hated her because she was a reminder of what he once was.

But out in the warmth of the sun, she was a normal girl in a normal world, where humans walked the streets, and when someone smiled at her, their teeth were normal and even, with no hint of fangs or blood.

Forcing her dark thoughts away, she sauntered to the grocery store several blocks away browsed the shelves for food. Since her father subsisted solely on blood, she only bought food for herself, which meant she could buy as much as her arms could carry.

Not wanting to put down the bags she was carrying, she managed to fumble the key from her purse and open the door, but the scent of blood hit her senses as soon as she stepped inside, and several bags tumbled to the floor. She’d become incredibly sensitive to the coppery smell, and fear coursed through her as she hastily put the other bags down on the floor, part of her mind praying that she hadn’t broken the eggs, and the rest of her praying that what she was smelling was simply her father biting into a donor, and not something much, much worse.

“Father?” she called, trying to keep her voice even as she slowly crept down the hall toward his room. “Father, are you awake?” She heard nothing, which should have reassured her – her father made no noise while he slept, not even the sound of indrawn breath – but her internal alarm was still blaring, telling her something was horribly wrong.

Slowly, she creaked open the door and whimpered as the stench intensified, knowing she’d been right. She squeezed her eyes shut instinctively, bracing herself for the sight of a drained sycophant, then opened her eyes, expecting the worst.

But instead of a dead sycophant, it was her dead father lying on the floor, his body sprawled out on the carpet, his severed head lying next to his corpse. Bile quickly rose to her throat, and the only thing that stopped her from vomiting was the sight of a tall, muscular man standing in the center of the room, dressed all in black, with a long, bloody knife gripped tightly in his fist. She knew him. His eyes were dark as midnight, and déjà vu rippled through her, knowing she’d seen this man before.

Apparently, he knew it too, because his jaw went slack, and he lowered the knife in his hand. But what he said next sent shockwaves through her body, taking her back to a night that had happened so long ago, she’d nearly forgotten about it.

“Alice? What the fuck?”