Chapter Three

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I sat in one of the uppermost rooms at Greylark and huffed out a dejected sigh. I had arrived a little before dusk, armed with knives, stakes, and determination. A thousand doubts had crowded my head as I climbed the curving stairs, the most dominant ones being I wasn't ready for this, I was rushing into something I couldn't handle, I was going to put myself in serious danger. Diligently I ignored every negative thought. This was something I had to do. 

Unfortunately the vampire had other ideas. Hours trickled by with no sign of the bloodsucker. At first I was vigilant, my whole body tense and coiled to fight, fingers tightly curled round the handle of my knife. Now, nearly four hours later, my feet were dragging as I paced up and down the floor, my knife hanging from slack fingers. I was cold, hungry, and completely fed up. I had been ready for this, ready to fight, ready to kill, and the vampire hadn't had the decency to show up. Didn't it know what this meant to me? 

My lips twisted. Of course it didn't know. It was a vampire. The only thing its primitive brain understood was slaughter. It was like expecting a lion to display human emotion. 

Briefly I considered the possibility that the vampire had smelt me here and had stayed away accordingly. I shook my head, dismissing the notion. Here alone I was easy prey, and vampires were killers, pure and simple. Although...I'd been alone here last night and I'd come out unharmed. The vampire could have chased me into the night and torn me to pieces. No one would have heard anything over the noise of the party. Why hadn't it come after me? 

I shook my head again, irritated with myself. Why did it matter? The only good vampire was a dead vampire. End of. 

The edges of night were turning a lighter grey, preempting dawn. The vampire wouldn't be coming out now. Vampire hunters were still separating fact from fiction when it came to vamps - crosses don't work, by the way - but we knew one thing. Vampires were deathly allergic to sunlight.  

The sun was climbing over the horizon as I trailed home, my body sagging with exhaustion. If I was lucky, I'd get in a couple of hours sleep before training. My first college class wasn't until the afternoon, and that meant Noah would expect me to spend the morning training. Leisure time had no place in our house. I'm not sure it even featured in our language.

"Again." Noah's voice cracked round the garage walls.  

I gritted my teeth and forced my body into a martial fighting stance. I had barely scraped an hour and half's sleep this morning before my alarm blared out, and I'd dragged myself down to the garage. The small concrete-walled room - tacked onto the side of the house like an afterthought - was where we trained, honing our skills with fists and weapons. A cross-trainer occupied the left-hand corner, a metre or so away from where a metal pull-up bar projected from the walls. The right-hand wall was adorned with a long wooden shelf, the rack where we kept our vast selection of knives and stakes. A black vinyl punch-bag hung from the ceiling, and the floor was covered in padded mats. A few years back, in one of our other houses, we'd had a treadmill. But Noah had quickly decided it was better for us to practise running outdoors so we could get used to different terrains and obstacles. Vampire hunters were always going to be running from or after their targets, and you couldn't practise that kind of running on a treadmill.  

The garage reminded me of a cross between a prison cell and a medieval dungeon. It was probably Noah's favourite part of the house. 

Noah lunged at me, all six-foot-plus of broad shoulders and barrel chest. I brought my arms up to protect my face and he promptly slammed a fist into my solar plexus. Even through my protective clothing and the padded gloves he wore, the blow still hurt. Not that I expected Noah to pull his punches just because he was my father. He always told me the vampires weren't going to hold back just because I wasn't ready. 

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