Jerking upright, Harry cursed and unclenched his hands. His nails had dug crescent moon-shaped imprints into his palms. Both fists were painfully clenched. Whoever said vampires just died when they went to sleep hadn't ever met a vampire. He knew only how well they dreamed. Or in his case and had nightmares. Horrific blood-soaked nightmares intermixed with his human memories. For centuries. Yeah, that was a blast.
This time he was alone. He hated when he had to explain the screams and jerks. Sighing he rubbed a hand over his face. He hadn't had the luxury of such companionship in far too long. Maybe that was the reason for all of the nightmares lately. He wished. He knew why. It was May. May was always a rough month for him. That culturally it was a celebration of motherhood and spring for most of the world didn't help any. It just saddened him. Life could be bittersweet, but he preferred living to the alternatives.
The reality-based nightmare danced back into his mind unbidden.
"Son, come here. Your mother needs to tell you something." His father called him from the garden's edge. The estate was quietly easing into the night and he could smell the stream running through the property. The icy waters weren't tempting him yet but in a few months he would relish the chill and the rushing waters.
He pulled a ripe piece of fruit off the tree he'd been sitting under daydreaming as the moon rose. Then he slowly wandered to the house while biting into the flesh and savoring the fruit as the juices ran down his face. He never understood how his father got fruit to ripen so quickly. He was forbidden from telling anyone about the special treats in the gardens. Summer was still months away and nobody around even had flowers on their trees yet. His father had gone into the house after calling for him. He tossed the fruit's pit into the yard and wiped off his mouth with the back of his hand then went to find out what was wrong.
His mother was in her sitting room waiting for him. His father had since retired to his room. Rarely did his parents spend time together. His family was wealthy and they always had servants hovering on the edges. He thought the servants buffered them from having to ever talk to each other. Lately it was like his mother didn't even care.
She was completely by herself for a change. Nobody fussed in the corner with some of the household's needlework or some other task the women always seemed to be doing. At the threshold he studied his mother. The moonlight flirted with her dark hair and pale face while the wind blew the curtains in an erratic motion. His mother didn't care if night air was deadly she enjoyed it as much as she could. Yet another family secret.
"There you are, my son." She had her drama-filled voice on and called him to her with an impatient gesture. He dutifully kissed her raised cheek. A whiff of rose water pushed at him as he lifted his head. She used rose water saturated cloths on her head and neck whenever she had pains.
"Yes, mother?" He kept his tones even.
"Come sit with me." She patted a spot on the divan by her side.
He obliged her and waited to hear why she had summoned him. She placed her warm hands over the tops of his then lightly patted his cheek. The touch disturbed him since it wasn't his mother's manner to give caresses.
"The decision has been made. You are to leave tomorrow." And with that she began to tell him the great plans his parents had made. No longer would he be free to run the countryside and do as he willed. He was to go to the family in Europe for proper guidance and education. She didn't seem overly upset but rather pleased. Stunned, he left.
What followed was sheer torture. The family overseas resented having to take him and the nearly daily beatings went well into his early twenties. His education was a study in torture and pain coupled with a few lessons when the mood suited his keepers. The punishments were meted out with a glint and a sound wallop. He wasn't allowed to go back home until right before her funeral. His mother's once stunning body was withered and she shook and drooled. She didn't recognize him. She stayed alive, it seemed, just to torment him with that vision. A screaming mad woman locked in her room in the middle of the estate. He saw fewer servants than when he'd been a child. His father only came down to see him once she had died. It was like seeing his twin. His dad hadn't aged a day since he left. That night he found out why he'd never been allowed to visit.
The transformation from a son to a mindless minion was pain-filled and horrific. He, too, was locked way in the mansion like his mother had been when he'd arrived. But then his father had been passing himself off as the son for years to explain the lack of aging and such a ruse was deemed acceptable. But vampires had to do such things to protect themselves. The years that followed were filled with such things as blood orgies and torture. His father had a very strict set of rules to be followed. When he got too strong from feedings his father would bury him in the root cellar and let him scream and pound out his fury until he was near death's door and only then would he be allowed out. Over time he learned to hide his strengths from the vampire.
Shaking his head free of the memory, Harry set about dressing for the night. The feeling of his mother watching him pushed at his soul. He knew now how his father had grown such fruit. His mom had been an Earth witch as well as his father's blood donor companion. Her pregnancy was due to her magic since vampires weren't supposed to reproduce. That was what his father had told Harry while beating him for some infraction. Later Harry found out that his father hadn't been his biological father and his mother had lied to his father all those years together.
She had been amazingly strong to keep such a deep secret from the vampire. She'd found Harry's supposed father's original family during a trip to Europe. And she decisively mated with one of them that looked nearly identical to her husband. Thus under a full moon the unsuspecting man danced with the witch while her vampire husband bought and sold riches they'd brought from America. The trip had been a long one and eventually she'd gotten pregnant. She told the vampire once she was sure she would be able to carry the child that the magic of their joining created her baby due to a ritual long lost. He probed her mind and found nothing to indicate she was lying. Pregnant and wealthier, they headed back to the family's Virginia estate.
For years even while the strong vampire had been fanging into his mother and drinking her magically rich blood he never found out about her betrayal. He also had been wrapping her with the lust of feeding a vampire and yet she'd maintained the secret. Harry knew how strong the ties were between mates and the focus she'd had stunned him.
He finished dressing and wearily went to his car.
Tonight he was to see if the humans who had recently been so busy chasing and killing vampires were at the mall. His current mood wasn't ideal for being around masses of money-spending fools but he didn't have a choice. The snitch he'd spoken to the night before told him the meet was on for nine before the mall closed. He barely suppressed a shudder once he'd arrived.
His usual business attire wasn't appropriate, so he was more casually dressed in dark slacks and a dark blue sweater. The spring weather was thankfully a bit chilly so he looked like most of the men he saw once he got inside. Unnaturally bright lighting and far too much neon from the storefronts strobed into his eyes and were constantly flashing pain and shards of light deep into his brain. He found the overuse of bad music to be a constant as he prowled the sprawled out indoor mall. He hadn't found the snitch on the first pass so he went to the upper level.
Ear piercing squeals came running at him from behind and he braced himself as a bevy of under-clad girls ran past him. He resisted tossing the boys that thundered after them over the nearest balcony. Harry marveled that any of them could even run given their pants were halfway falling off and the girls had been wearing large clunky shoes. It wasn't anything to do with him.
Then one of the boys jogging past jostled his elbow. Harry hadn't slowed his walking or done anything to attract attention. The minor predator-in-training recognized that Harry wasn't the normal human adult. Snarling he stopped and spun back saying confrontationally, "Keep your damn elbows to yourself!"
Harry met the junior thug's eyes and said, "Keep your opinions to yourself." He didn't raise his voice he just smiled his more advanced predatory grin.
The kid wasn't getting the clue and growled, "Old man, you don't know who you're fucking with!"
"No, my stupid child, you don't know who you're fucking with," a glint of what he'd like to do flew out of his mind into the demented teen's brain. He avoided smacking the kid for now. The kid paled and caught the eye of one of his buddies who'd turned to see what was the hold up.
The other boy looked at Harry and shook his head negatively. A smarter thug, it seemed, than the junior mint still looming in front of Harry.
The buddy turned back to pursue the fleeing giggling girls.
"Come on, Buck, they're getting away!" His pal tried to tempt him away from the edge of the cliff Harry obviously represented. Buck, like that was his given name, ignored his friend.
"Later, dude. Hey, give Tiffany a smack on that sweet ass for me, k?" Buck growled in what he mistakenly thought was a tough tone. His friend flashed a thumb up and thumped after the pack. It was just Harry and the kid.
"Like, I wanna fuck with you? You're some retarded old asshole who can't keep his damn arms to himself?" Harry gave him points for balls if not for brains. He stepped closer to the kid getting a mere bite away from his neck and answered, "I am part of Homeland Security. How would you like a vacation somewhere tropical where you can be ass-raped for the next ten years?"
Not a word was above a whisper.
The small bob of his Adam's apple showed how much Harry scared him, well that and the fear now flowing freely off the young fool.
"Fuck, you're just a loser," the kid gasped out and spun, running full out catching up with his smarter companion quickly. Once he reached his pack he chanced a quick look over his shoulder. Harry hadn't moved more than a step from where the kid had left him. His smile was large and the kid flipped him the bird and turned away quickly. It was all Harry could do to keep from rolling on the floor in laughter. Maybe there was hope for the human race.
He continued trolling the mall while keeping an eye out for the kids. They had settled into the food court and were tossing French fries at each other not even aware that there were even any people nearby -- completely self-absorbed. The boy who'd confronted him broke the pack mentality and Harry noticed that he saw him and let his eyes skid off without meeting Harry's gaze. That made him mentally chuckle and relax. Harry continued to ramble along and looked for his missing snitch.
As nine passed without spotting his informant he stopped in front of a large display window. It was then he saw the banner backlit in the window. The large pricey diamonds were draped over black velvet and accented with silk red roses. Gold and platinum accents warred for the visual space and a white silk banner above proclaimed "Happy Mother's Day!" for that he stopped. With a sigh he remembered the nightmare of his life chasing into his death and wished his mother had found her peace. The night was still young and he continued on looking in the mall, trying to forget his beginnings.