The Vampire Within
by Laura Daleo
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Brandon Cass is not your average teenager. He has a taste for blood—human blood. For sixteen years, he stumbled through life without a hitch until the enigmatic aroma of blood awakened something dark within him. Visions of a beautiful young woman with chocolate brown hair and ocean blue eyes haunt his mind, yet her identity is a puzzling mystery.
His hunger for blood strengthens, and the cravings become too powerful to control. No one is safe, not even his family. To safeguard all he once found dear, Brandon sets out on a quest for answers. In an unfamiliar city, he comes face-to-face with the beautiful young woman, confronts the dark force which controls him, and learns what he must endure to reclaim his soul.
I jumped out of bed at the very last second, took a quick shower, threw on some clothes and raced downstairs. As my mom nagged me about the time, I shoved a piece of toast in my mouth, washed it down with some OJ, then dashed out the door seconds before the school bus pulled up. As usual, my fellow classmates were taunting the new kid, Roger, and Mr. Gilbert, the bus driver, was yelling out his customary, “Knock it off!” at them. I flopped down in an empty seat at the back of the bus and let out a frustrated groan. Could my life be any more boring? I dragged my feet as I made my way into Mrs. Clark’s history class and claimed my usual seat. Whose bright idea was it to make history first period? Staying conscious while Mrs. Clark rambled on about a bunch of dead people who changed the world was near impossible. I slid farther down in my chair and was about to initiate full zone-out mode when Sam walked into class. An electric jolt zapped me upright—I could smell her. The scent quickened my pulse and sent my heartbeat skyrocketing. My mouth watered as a feverish hunger growled in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t her perfumed skin or freshly shampooed hair. No, it was musky and unpleasant. It got under my skin, and I found it terribly distracting.
As Sam caught me staring, a proud smirk washed over her face. She tossed her golden-blonde hair over her shoulder and slid her slender body into the wooden desk in front of me, then turned around and locked eyes with me, her smug grin widening. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her distracting aroma swiftly traveled up my nose, lighting up my brain. Shivers scurried down my spine, spinning my head…what was that smell? As Sam tugged playfully on my hair, she whispered, “I’ve been waiting forever for you to notice me, Brandon.” She paused, looking me up and down. “Meet me after class on the front steps.” I didn’t hesitate to agree. “Okay.” She winked. “I have a surprise for you.” My stomach flip flopped and my palms grew sweaty. Surprise? I had no idea what she meant, but I sure as hell was gonna find out. Sam’s smell manipulated my brain, blurring Mrs. Clark’s words together. Once, I got wasted at one of my parents’ Christmas parties. I’d chugged down every half-finished glass of beer, wine, or hard liquid abandoned on the table to the point where my head spun out of control. Sam’s scent mimicked that same effect. I wanted to gorge on it, whatever it was. The sudden ring of the school bell, announcing the end of first period, snapped me out of the muddled fog. Sam touched my shoulder and whispered, “You go first and I’ll meet you there.” I obeyed and headed straight for the front steps with my heartbeat throbbing inside my throat.
The breeze carried her fragrance. She was behind me; I knew it. My knees wobbled as I turned around. Sam was inches from me, batting her eyelashes and smiling. She giggled and seized my trembling hand. “Come with me.” She steered me toward the park and away from the vigilant eyes at the school. Within the boundaries of the trees and their interlocking branches, we sat, facing each other. “What’s my surprise?” I asked, my breath speeding up. “A kiss.” She grinned sheepishly, then planted her lips over mine. That smell of hers hammered at the inner walls of my brain. Every muscle twitched, and heat spread over my skin. I pulled away and blurted out, “What’s that smell? It’s driving me crazy!” She flinched, and her cheeks flushed bright red. “You can smell me?” “Yes.” “I…I don’t know what to say. This is so embarrassing.” She looked away from me. “I’m on my period,” she whispered. That was it—blood! Rich, dark, delicious blood! Wait, blood? Delicious? Was it? I jammed my fingertips into my temples. Her scent was screwing with my head, but I had to taste her. Cupping her face, I kissed her hard and bit her tongue. Warm, coppery blood spilled into my mouth, bringing to life a slew of delightful shivers. Her high-pitched squeal struck my eardrums, but I didn’t care. Her fluids overpowered all my senses. I swished her blood between my teeth, like mouthwash, before spitting it into the palm of my hand. A thick, gooey, red substance coated my fingers. Its power hypnotized me and…altered me. I hungered after it. My tongue darted out of my mouth and snatched up the blood staining my skin. Upon my virgin swallow, I released the low growl swelling in my throat. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of her. Her face had turned a shade of ghastly-white, and her eyes bulged out of their sockets. She opened her mouth wide, blasting out another petrified shriek. It echoed inside my ears, yanking me back to reality. I held my hands up and backed away from her, shaking my head. “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me…I’m so sorry.” She scrambled to her feet, gave my shin a swift kick, and shouted, “Freak!” As she ran away, she threatened, “I’m going to tell everyone what you did. Everyone!” I wandered the park aimlessly with my thoughts spiraling. I bit her! Why, why, why? The blood…it made me do it! My feet stumbled to a grinding halt. Her blood coerced me; I knew it with every ounce of my being. Was that even impossible? Was I losing my mind? I had to get away from the school.
I was born and raised in Sunny San Diego, California. A creative writing class in junior high sparked my desire to tell stories; however, Anne Rice was my true inspiration. Interview With The Vampire has become one of the best-selling novels of all time, and was the driving passion behind my desire to write my own vampire legend. In 1996, Immortal Kiss was born and sat patiently until 2014 for its publication.
At the present, my published works are Immortal Kiss, Bound by Blood, The Vow, and The Vampire Within. My current project, The Soul Collector is my first non-vampire tale. Future projects in the queue: The Ten, The Old Ones, Vampire Amon, and The Doll.
In 2016, I started my own publishing company, Story Bound Publishing; a fresh voice in the supernatural realm of eBooks and traditional print. We are committed to publishing unearthly tales of Aliens, Demons, Fairies, Ghosts, Shifters, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, Zombies and all other creatures that go bump in the night. In the vast world of publishing, we firmly believe in keeping things personable, something all too rare in the industry today.
Here are some fun facts about me. I love to have my Starbucks coffee when I write. I’m obsessed with shoes. I have 3 furry kids, Stuart, Morgan, and Dexter. And, of course, I’m a huge fan of all things vampire.
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