Elizabeth’s marriage didn’t last long after Emily was born, and though she never remarried, the number of men in and out of her life is best to remain unmentioned. I worried for a time how this would affect the growing psyche of Emily, but she seemed to accept it with a grace and aplomb that I have rarely seen in my life, human and vampire alike. No, having men moving in and out of her life didn’t really affect her, but having Elizabeth as a mother certainly did.
Emily was, special. That’s the best way I can put it. She was really smart and observant, and I know that these attributes helped her develop into the person she became. I think Emily was around 6 years old when she learned that speaking of love around Elizabeth usually met with neutral or negative results. She learned quickly that while her mother did care for her, at least a little, it was more an act of responsibility then any real love. She also learned that Elizabeth rejected any love directed at her, so little Emily started to bottle herself up, and kept her own emotions in check.
I hoped for a while that her grandparents or her uncle, all of whom brimmed over with love and devotion, would realize what was going on and help. But like I said, Emily was smart, and put up quite the act while she was around them. She knew that they would worry if they knew what was really going on, and Emily was always concerned about the welfare of others over herself. She was always that happy little girl around them, but to my trained eye I could tell she still held back. Afraid that, just like her mother, they might still reject her. Thinking back on this time, I should feel hatred for Elizabeth, for making her daughter feel afraid of fully expressing herself. But, at the time, I could only watch from afar, and be amazed.
You see, and I know I was the only one aware of this, was that little Emily was capable of a wide range of emotions, emotions so strong that they affected those around her. Yes, very similar to some of my brethren, but because of her practice of bottling all of it up, no one ever realized it. She never let herself go unless she thought she was alone. She would play the most amazing games with her stuffed animals and dolls, a family she was free to love without fear of rejection. When she was a little older, she would take trips to the hills outside the town, and just let go. Running, jumping, spinning, letting go of everything that she constantly kept bottled inside. It was at this time that I noticed how she affected those around her as the forest animals, animals that most of the time would run and hide, would come out, drawn to her happiness and sunshine. Even I myself, emotionless being that I am, felt drawn to her, drawn like I never had been before. It was just another thing that I accepted, like how my promise to look after her grandparents had changed and now focused entirely on her. I didn’t question it, it just was. I now have a theory as to why this was, but it’s a little too early in the story for that particular revelation.
As the years passed, I watched, concerned, as Emily continued to remain withdrawn and hidden from family and friends. She would always put forth the happy and carefree smile. She would hug and speak of love, but I know that she was simply doing what she thought was required to get by. I was worried that Emily would start to accept this form as normal, and when her excursions to the forest started to dwindle, I was truly anxious. As I’m writing this, I can’t help but shake my head at myself. Concerned? Anxious? I was such an idiot, but once again, I just accepted it and continued to watch, until I just couldn’t watch anymore.
There really wasn’t anything special about that night. Emily was 22, getting ready to graduate from college with a bachelor of science in animal sciences. She was planning on heading on to a Veterinary Technician school. I think she liked working with animals because she didn’t fear rejection from them. They accepted her love and gave it right back. Animals are really special like that. Anyway, I remember that the skies were clear, but there was just a hint of rain on the breeze. Emily was heading home from work, walking the four blocks to get to her apartment. I was getting ready to head back to my own place when I heard the scuffle and quickly silenced screech. I ran to where the sounds were coming from. It was an alley, and though dark, my eyes easily saw what was going on. Three men had drawn Emily down the alleyway, attracted undoubtedly by her beauty. However, it was the fear she was unconsciously projecting that had the men attacking her, egging them on, though they probably didn’t realize it. It took me less then a second before I reacted.
It didn’t take me very long to deal with the ruffians. I mean, they are merely humans, and no match for a young vampire, much less the Death Dealer. After I had dropped the last lifeless body into a dumpster, I turned to check on Emily. In the scuffle, she had inadvertently been tossed to the side and had hit her head on a building. Concerned with the blood streaming down her face (and, contrary to popular belief, the site of blood does not turn us into ravaging monsters), I knelt down next to her and placed my hand on her cheek. I parted her golden tresses to check on the head wound, relieved when it seemed to just be a small cut. Just as I was getting ready to pick her up and take her someplace better, her eyelids fluttered open, and eyes the color of the summer sky locked onto mine.
The sensation I felt at the time was indescribable. If I had needed breath, I don’t think I would’ve been able to draw it. If my heart was still beating, I’m sure it would’ve stopped. I was frozen, just staring at her, and she at me. At first I saw confusion, then fear, then amazement, then acceptance, and amazingly enough, happiness. I wanted to ask her what it all meant, but my mind couldn’t form the words. Slowly, oh so slowly, her hand reached up to cradle my cheek. I had never been touched so intimately before, and the warmth that flowed through my entire being was frightening in its intensity. My mind finally wrapped around the concept that I shouldn’t be feeling this, that I couldn’t be feeling this, but no matter how much I tried to deny it, the fact was that I was. And when Emily brought her second hand up to cup my other cheek, and slowly drew my lips down to hers for the sweetest kiss I had ever known, I understood what the feeling was. Two hearts, two souls joining together for all eternity. Something I thought would always be denied to me, but now so much a part of me, I wondered how I had survived before.
When Emily eventually pulled back, she finally broke the silence and said "My dark angel," before closing her eyes and slipping back into unconsciousness. I simply held her, processing everything that had just happened, and everything that was bound to happen. Because, despite the fact that I had finally found the life of my life, I knew the best thing I could do for her would be to disappear before anyone else found out. The pain of impending separation was just as powerful as the love I felt for her, and it almost drove me to my knees. But, resolutely, I picked her up and carried her back to her apartment. After laying her gently on the bed, I carefully tended her wound, cleaning the dried blood and making sure there wasn't going to be any lasting damage. After putting a couple of butterfly bandages on the cut, I got up to leave. I stared at her for a little while longer, trying to imprint as much of her as I could into my memory. I should've known that it wouldn't be enough, that I couldn't just walk away, but I had to try. For her, I had to leave. And so I did, pushing the newly awakened emotions down into the emptiness from which they had come from, leaping out her window without looking back. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of things to come, that no matter how much I tried, being separated from her was no longer an option. It was a lesson that I would never forget.