Memories of the night before battered Sam from the moment he woke up. The face of the vampire who had left him for dead; his deceased friends and teammates; Alice with tears in her eyes; and the voice, at times his father’s, at others his mother’s, that kept telling him he was making a huge mistake by becoming a blood sucker. It wouldn’t matter to either of them that he hadn’t been ready to die. He knew that he’d never see them again because of the choice he’d made and a small part of him regretted hurting them. Until the night he’d met Alice his beliefs had been the same as his parents. All vampires were evil. Getting to know Alice had taught him how wrong he was.
Slowly Sam sat up, looking around to see if he could find Alice. He knew she wouldn’t have left him alone as it was his first night as a vampire, but she wasn’t in the bedroom with him, and he couldn’t work out how he’d ended up in a bed when the last thing he remembered was being in the park. It was nice to wake up in a bed, no matter how it had happened. Waking up in the park, surrounded by the bodies, would have been traumatic.
Breathing deeply, before wondering if he even needed to breathe, Sam slipped out of the bed. He was still wearing his clothes from the battle and they were covered in blood. Blood he hoped, as he turned to look, he didn’t get on the sheets. The towels were unexpected, but he was grateful that Alice had thought of it. Unfortunately there weren’t any clothes there for him to change into, which wasn’t entirely a surprise. It wasn’t as though she’d had any time to plan for what had happened.
The blood still in his hair was another problem, as Sam realised when he attempted to brush his hand through hair that was stuck to the top of his head. Once he found Alice he needed to have a shower, even if he only had a towel to wear, because he felt uncomfortable knowing that he might have blood on him from people he cared about. Another thing he was beginning to feel was hunger, but he didn’t want to feel it. If he was hungry he’d need to drink someone’s blood and he wasn’t ready for that. Closing his eyes he took another deep breath. Alice had given him a choice. Becoming a vampire had been his decision and he knew what he was getting into.
With one hand Sam reached out to touch the handle of the bedroom door, hoping that Alice was on the other side somewhere. He had a feeling he was in one of Lewis’ many flats and that made sense. Alice would have needed someone to help her after he’d passed out. Lewis was the one who had homes for vampires, but Sam never thought he’d see one. Becoming a vampire had never really crossed his mind, even though he hunted vampires, and it probably should have. Dying should have as well but he’d avoided that trail of thought as much as possible.
It was going to take Sam some time to deal with what had happened to him. There was every possibility that instead of waking up a vampire he would have been dead and… He shook his head. Alice had kept telling him that something might happen to him, if he came across the wrong vampire, but he hadn’t wanted to believe her. She knew more than he did about vampires, so he should have listened to her, and then passed the information onto his teammates. Then maybe they’d all still be alive.
An unexpected tear trickled down Sam’s cheek. It was his fault that everyone was dead. He’d made a huge mistake and led them to a vampire they had no chance against. He wiped it away, because he couldn’t change what had happened. Focusing on the future was the only thing he could do, because he had a lot to learn about being a vampire.
Sam pushed his thoughts to one side and opened the bedroom door. He stepped into a short hallway that seemed to lead to everywhere else in the flat. No sounds were coming from any of the other rooms, but he was certain Alice was going to be somewhere in the flat. As he didn’t know where he was going he picked a door at random, opened it, and stepped into what appeared to be the lounge. There didn’t seem to be anyone in there until he walked further into the room.
Laying curled up on the sofa was a very sleepy looking Alice. She looked up at him and said, “I’m glad you’re awake.”
“You could have shared the bed with me.”
“I didn’t sleep much. I spent most of the night wandering around the flat.”
“Ally, you need to stop worrying so much.” Sam sat the the end of the sofa, keeping his eyes on Alice. “Nothing was going to go wrong.”
“People have died during the change. No one really knows why, so I couldn’t know that nothing was going to go wrong.”
“I knew that everything was going to be fine.”
“That’s also what you said when you headed off last night to take on the vampire who almost killed you.” Alice moved, so she was sitting up, and sighed. “I’ve never changed anyone before, Sam, and I was scared.” She looked at him again. “When I first arrived at the park I wasn’t even sure you were still alive.”
“I’m sorry.” Sam slid along the sofa and wrapped an arm around Alice. “Thank you for helping me, but I’m not sure I deserved it. I should have listened to you before when you told me that there were vampires out there that you didn’t think we’d be able to cope with and I made a mistake that caused the deaths of ten people.”
“We all make mistakes, Sam. That doesn’t mean you deserved to die.” Alice lent her head on his chest. “I just wish you’d never had to make the choice between death and becoming a vampire.”
Sam bit his lip, looking at the curtain instead of Alice. “I’m…” He stopped, trying to find the right words. “In a way, Alice, I’m glad that it happened. Becoming a vampire wasn’t something I wanted to do, I’ve not even spent much time thinking about the possibility, but there would have come a time when I had to make a choice, because of you.”
“Sam…” Alice pressed her hand against his. “This is a conversation that can wait.”
“No, it’s not. If I don’t say this now then I probably never will.” He gently squeezed her. “I love you and I would have eventually realised that I was mortal. Maybe, under different circumstances, I never would have decided to become a vampire, because I would have told you how I felt and we could have worked things out, but I didn’t want to die without telling you how I feel.” Sam ran his free hand through his hair. “I know it was never going to be easy and it’s going to be harder now, because of Nick and the House, and I don’t even know how you feel about me…”
Alice gently covered his mouth with her hand. “You’re babbling,” she said, smiling. “Nick and I… we’re friends, but there’s always going to be more to our relationship. He’s my creator, he was my first love, and I do still love him now, but he doesn’t control my life. I’m going to visit the Donor House later and tell him what happened, even though I know he’s not going to be happy with the choice I made.” She shrugged. “That’s my problem to deal with. I just know that if I hadn’t given you the option to become a vampire I wouldn’t have been true to myself.”
“Do you have any feelings for me?” Sam asked around her hand, even though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer.
“Yes, but right now they’re all muddled up with the feelings I have for Nick, the reasons I gave you a chance in the first place, and the shock of finding you so close to being dead.” Alice moved her hand as she sighed. “I care about you, Sam. I just don’t know if I care about you as a friend or something more.”
Nodding, Sam tried not to let his disappointment show. “I understand.”
“No, you don’t.” Alice gently stroked Sam’s face and that just made everything worse. “It’s not something even I fully understand right now and I wish I did, because it’s not fair on either of us. I’ve known how you feel about me for a while and it’s something I avoided thinking too much about. You were mortal, so I didn’t want to get too close, but it’s not that easy. I didn’t want to fall in love with you, I didn’t want to hurt Nick, and I probably should have stopped spending time with you.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I didn’t want to hurt you either, although I’ve probably hurt you more now than I would have if I’d walked away a long time ago. Love isn’t the reason I turned you into a vampire. I wish it was, but I gave you the option because it’s what I would have wanted if I’d been in that situation now, no matter who the vampire asking me was.”
Sam’s eyes met Alice’s as he thought about what she’d just said. If a vampire other than Alice had given him the option to become a vampire he didn’t know what he would have done. He hadn’t been ready to die, but he didn’t know if he would have been able to let someone he didn’t trust make him into a creature he once hated.
“If it hadn’t been you I don’t think I would have become a vampire, because I wouldn’t have been able to trust them.” Sam almost smiled. “That wasn’t a part of my thinking last night. You were there, asking me if I wanted you to help me, and I should have said yes the moment you offered, even though I was scared. It was fear that made me say stupid things, too.”
“It’s all forgotten. What we need to do now is focus on the future. Lewis is on his way, with some of your clothes and…” Alice looked at Sam, in a way that always made him think she was looking into his soul. “You’re going to need to feed, so he’s bringing one of the donors over.”
“A new vampire needs human blood, Sam, and all the donors know what to expect from a newly created vampire. Lewis and I will be here to stop you from drinking too much.” She stroked her hand down Sam’s cheek again. “It’s going to be fine, I promise.”
“Is it normal to dread having to drink from someone?”
“For some vampires, yes, it is. That’s the reason we’ve been working so hard to make the Donor House a place for everyone who needs it, because they deserve a chance to live their life instead of just surviving.”
“What would happen if I didn’t drink today?”
There was a long silence and Sam spent the time watching Alice. It wasn’t often she looked uncomfortable with a question, except on the few occasions he’d asked about her life as a human, so he knew she needed time to work out whether she was going to answer or not. Knowing her as well as he did told him that whatever the answer was it wasn’t good, which meant he was going to have to push his feelings to one side and do what needed to be done, rather than be squeamish. Using one of the House’s donors was the best idea, they did know what to expect, and he was glad that someone had thought things through.
“You don’t have to answer,” Sam said finally.
“I’ve only ever known one vampire who decided not to drink some form of blood,” Alice replied, sounding like she was far away, and she probably was lost within her thoughts somewhere. “She didn’t want to be a blood drinker, but someone had changed her because they thought she was beautiful, and if she wanted to end everything there wasn’t a lot she could do. Occasionally a vampire will go looking for a hunter to make things easier, but she decided it would be best to stop hunting. Nothing Nick or I said would convince her that being a vampire wasn’t all that bad.”
Sighing, Alice looked at Sam and he could see the pain in her eyes. “It took her a long time to die. Our bodies are different to humans. We need to drink blood to keep our bodies working properly and if we don’t then everything fails. Pain is the only thing you feel and death seems to take forever to free you from that pain. We buried her when it was all over, but it’s something I’ll never forget. If you don’t drink, Sam, you will die, eventually. I just don’t want you to be in pain because you’re scared of what it means to be a vampire.”
“I…” Sam shook his head, unable to find the right words to say after hearing Alice’s story. It reminded him that she had been alive for much longer than he had and she’d seen more during those years than he could ever even imagine. All he could do was tighten his arm around her to try to reassure her that he wasn’t going to do anything stupid, no matter how scared he was of feeding.
Thankfully a knock on the door appeared to draw Alice’s attention away from her memories. She stood and, Sam guessed, went to open it, while he stayed sat on the sofa, trying to come to terms with what she had just told him. He’d known that drinking blood was the only way a vampire could survive, but he’d never though about what would happen if they stopped drinking.
“Hey, Lewis,” Alice greeted, and Sam could hear the smile in her voice. It was that that made him realise he really had made the right choice, for him, and for her, and he was going to make the best of what had happened. “Sam’s awake.”
“I knew he would be.”
Lewis was one of the many vampires who were a part of Alice’s life that Sam didn’t know well. He’d got close to Alice by accident, because she hadn’t wanted to give up on him even after he’d totally messed up the first time he entered the Donor House. If it hadn’t been for her inability to see him as a lost cause he would always have been the person his father wanted him to be and he would never be able to thank her for what she’d done. The beautiful vampire had shown him that they weren’t just creatures that needed to be destroyed, but people who each had a personality and often hadn’t even wanted to become a vampire.
Another male voice, one Sam thought he recognised, said, “You worry too much, Ally.”
Together they walked into the lounge. Lewis looked at Sam, the expression on his face unreadable, and Sam chose to look away. He didn’t want to know if the other vampires disapproved of what Alice had done and were only giving him a chance because of her. The donor with them was Dominic, which was a surprise. Sam was certain that Dominic hated him after what had happened during his first visit.
“Hey, Sam,” Dominic said, surprising Sam even more when the donor sat on the sofa next to him. “How are you doing?”
“Why are you being nice to me?” Sam asked, knowing he sounded suspicious.
Dominic smiled. “People change. If you hadn’t changed you would never have accepted Ally’s offer to become a vampire, because you would have still viewed her as a creature that needed to be killed. I wish you’d come back to the Donor House after you came to the realisation that every donor does. We would have given you another chance then, but now we’ll have to give you a chance as a vampire instead of a human.”
“I don’t know if I’m going back to the Donor House.” Sam felt Lewis and Alice’s eyes on his back. “Nick doesn’t need me there to add to the pain that Alice’s actions are going to cause.”
“Nick is going to have to deal with it,” Lewis said from behind him. “We all know Alice. Nick knows Alice better than any of us. If he honestly thought that she would leave you to die if something happened to you and she had a chance at saving your life then he needs to open his eyes. From that first disastrous visit we knew that Alice saw something good within you and she was going to do everything she could to drag it out. And she did.”
“Everyone knows what you were doing,” Dominic continued. “You helped vampires who needed sanctuary find the donor house and they’re all thankful that they met someone like you, someone who knew how to help them.”
“Nick knew too.” Lewis sighed. “Unfortunately Nick doesn’t like to change his mind about people and he’d decided right from the beginning that he didn’t like you. The problem is…” Lewis sighed again. “Alice is needed more at the house than Nick is, even though it was Nick’s idea in the beginning, and if he makes things difficult then we’d pick Alice over him.”
“I’ll talk to Nick and get him to understand.” Alice’s voice wavered, telling Sam she wasn’t sure that she would be able to. “He’s not going to leave the house he’s worked so hard to create because of one vampire.”<<< Donor House: Alice: A Death at the Donor House***