Bruno locked the bedroom door while I poured out my bags of ingredients that we had bought for the ritual. I had no idea if this was going to work, or if we were going to get a horrid result, or if nothing was going to happen at all. All I knew, is that maybe this could be all over with, we can heal the Sheriff and get back to living semi-normal lives in LA.
I placed the black candles in a large circle on the hardwood flooring, and I knelt down before each one, pouring a bit of the peppermint oil into the little concavities.
"You think this will work?" Bruno walked around the circle I had made while I continued the preparations.
I looked up at him while I took the small wooden bowl I bought, and I poured the puma blood inside. "Do we have any other options?"
He sat down outside the circle and I went to work, lighting all of the candles. They gave off a strong peppermint fume that I hoped wouldn't be smelled outside of the bedroom. I opened the tiny glass bottle of sand that we retrieved from the souvenir shop, and I prayed it was Waikiki sand. I poured the sand into the bowl and it started to clump with the puma blood in a disgusting looking mixture.
"Give me your arm." I unwrapped the knife from the delicate white cloth it was within.
Bruno held his arm close to his body and away from me. "Is that silver?!" He asked.
I looked at the blade. I hadn't considered that when I bought it. "I don't know, but you'll heal anyway. Give me your arm."
He winced and I could tell he was having second thoughts as he reluctantly handed me his wrist. I sliced over his veins and he hissed, his fangs projecting themselves. I noticed his skin was steaming and puckering around the slash that was dribbling blood into the bowl. "It's silver." He clenched his teeth painfully.
"I'm sorry, but that's all I needed." I released his arm and stood up, swirling the mixture in the bowl as I walked around the inner circle of the candles. I still had the vial of rattlesnake venom in my hand, but according to the instructions, that was supposed to be added last. "Come here." I gestured for him to join me and he stepped inside the circle, looking around at all the candles.
"Do I have to do anything?" He wondered aloud.
"Take your shirt off."
Bruno narrowed his eyes at me before pulling his hooded sweatshirt up over his head and tossing it behind him. I could feel my face getting hot as I knelt in front of him and tried to keep my focus. "Is this how we used to have sex?"
I giggled, smearing the mixture across his chest "Shut up."
"Cause this is super kinky, so I was just wondering...."
"Will you stop distracting me?" I covered my face as I pulled myself together again. I picked up the napkin, with the bowl in my hand as I started to read. "Blessed be this soul I kneel before." I then stood up and turned away from him, walking around the inner parameter of the circle as I started the chant,
"Immunda phasmatis quod hath adeo is animus , licentia simul!
Absum quod nunquam reverto!
EGO lavo is animus quod hath madidus ex flumen of Mactabilis ,
in aequora of Hades ut they may regius suum exanimus usus
quod utriusque gauisus quod infortunatus monumentum.
Beatus exsisto totus qui adveho in contactus per is res.
Absum immunda phasmatis!
Absum immunda phasmatis!
I opened the vial of rattlesnake venom and poured it into the mixture and hurriedly poured it onto all five candles, which sparked and burst with vibrant red sparks, emitting a nasty black smoke. I looked over at Bruno, who looked absolutely bored with the entire thing. He looked at his hands, at his arms, and he touched his torso.
"How do you feel?"
"Horny and hungry." He said in a monotone. "That was stupid."
I pouted, "You don't remember anything?"
"No." He said flatly.
I sighed as I turned around, accidentally knocking over one of the candles. As soon as the hot wax hit the wooden flooring, Bruno crumpled to the ground in front of my eyes, his body tensing as he coughed and choked violently. I scrambled over to him, trying to touch him but he yelled out in pain the moment my fingers touched his arm.
I heard a sharp rapping on the locked door, followed by Ray's booming voice. "Hey! What's going on in there?"
I was freaking out, especially now that Bruno was coughing up spurts of blood, still in a seizure-like fit. "Nothing!"
"Don't sound like nothin'!"
My eyes started tearing up as I went into a panic. I had no medical training, and if I did, it wouldn't help a vampire! I didn't even know what I did! "I'm fine Ray!" I squeaked, trying not to sob as I rushed over to the candles, putting them all out and desperately kicking them all over. I looked around and suddenly my eyes landed on the napkin.
Another repeated rapping on the door. "Open this up! Sounds like y'er dyin' in there!"
"I SAID I'M FUCKING FINE RAY!" I grabbed the napkin with the spell on it and grasped the nearby lighter, lighting the edge of it and letting it go up in flames. I blew it out as it turned to ashes and Bruno gasped for air, choking out a few more spurts of blood before he lie still, his fangs retracting back into their respective slots. He turned onto his back, his brow furrowed in pain as he groaned. I noticed his skin looked like it had fine lines running through it, like a cracked vase.
I crawled over to him and laid my hand on his forehead. "Bruno?"
"Unnngggh." His lids slowly opened to look up at me.
I wiped the tears that I hadn't realized fell from my eyes. "Oh my God, I thought I was losing you."
"Wh....what....did you....do?" He winced as he sat up. I noticed some of the fine lines on the surface of his skin starting to fade away as his healing began.
I shook my head furiously, "I don't know, do you remember your past? Who you are?"
He thought for a moment before giving me a sympathetic look. "Nothing." He looked down at the blood that was spattered on the floor. "Damn...that felt horrible."
"I felt like..." He concentrated on trying to remember as he looked over at me, "Like my body was trying to die."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. Like the vampire in me was being pushed out my body. What did that spell mean?" He cleared his throat again and I helped him to stand up to his feet as I went over to the candles and started tossing them furiously into the paper bag we had, along with the bowl and the knife. I wasted money just to hurt Bruno and we gainednothing from it.
"It's supposed to bring back the memory of someone who's lost it."
"Yeah but what did the words actually mean?"
My face went blank. "I don't know."
There was a soft knock at the door. "Can I come in?" Robyn's voice was quiet, gentle.
"Go." Bruno nodded towards the door. I sighed and went to go answer it.
I opened the door partially, poking my head out. "What's up?" I tried to fake a smile but my nerves were still shot from earlier, my voice a bit shaky.
Robyn didn't buy it. "We need to talk."
"I'm kind of....occupied at the moment." I glanced over my shoulder and stepped outside into the hallway, closing the door with a click.
"Just for a few minutes, please Rox." She looked into my eyes with concern as she added, "I feel like you've been avoiding me lately, and it hurts...I just want to tell you I'm sorry about Bru. I'm not evil, I swear it."
"This isn't about Bruno." I interrupted her. "You...there's something in you and none of us know what triggers it or when it'll come out again."
"But does that mean I'm quarantined for the rest of my life?!" She flung her hands up in the air in exasperation. "My manager is blowing up my phone, you have to finish your tour soon, we can't hide forever!"
"Rih, I don't think you get it. We are public enemy number one, if a vampire finds us, we will be killed."
I noticed tears welling in her eyes as she punched the wall in frustration and grabbed her hair tightly. "What have I done?" She whispered, her hazel eyes twinkling as she crouched down to the floor. Despite my wariness of her witchcraft background, the fact remained that she was still my best friend, someone I loved very dearly. I knelt down and enveloped her into a hug and she began sobbing.
I had to say something..."Robyn?" I squeaked.
She sniffled and pulled away, looking at me. "Yeah?"
I opened my mouth to speak and closed it again. Jason had warned me, but there had to be a loophole somewhere, right? He didn't say I couldn't ask her about her past. "You said your grandmother practiced Obeah, right?"
She wiped her eyes, "Yeah, how do you remember that? I thought you didn't care that night."
I chewed my lower lip. "No, I just didn't get it. Did you ever...do anything with it? Have anything to do with it at all?" I tried to make my questions seem as innocent as possible, but Robyn gave me an odd look.
"Uh..." She started, "I mean I went to rituals as a kid, but I never personally did Obeah."
Something about that story didn't sound right, and I could tell her guard was up.
"What?! I'm serious Rox, I never did anything with it!" She stood up, now getting upset. It was rare that Robyn was so quick to jump from one emotion to another, and her emotional instability was only another reason why she needed to be closely monitored. "Why are you asking? Do you think I'm a witch or something?"
"No." I said, maybe a little too quickly. "No, I mean who knows if witches even exist?" I shrugged. "I'm just saying, any little detail is better than the steaming pile of nothing we have right now."
I noticed how she looked down at the ground intently, clenching and unclenching her fists. She looked back up at me again. "Look...I don't know anything about it except those freaky ass rituals I had to go to. The last one I went to was when I was eight. It was after my grandmother died. My grandfather..." She trailed off, shuddering at the memory.
"My grandfather had two of my cousins hold me down while he force fed me blood. What kind of blood, I don't know...I don't care. God, I screamed so loud....I kicked and fought while they all talked together and celebrated the life of my grandmother. What life, I didn't know, she was fucking dead, killed." She stopped talking and swallowed a lump in her throat.
I stepped forward cautiously, so as to not disturb her recollection. "How was your grandmother killed?"
Robyn snapped, "How can you even ask me something like that?!"
Bruno came out of the bedroom, a garbage bag in his hand, what I assumed contained the remnants of our previous session. I noticed he had thrown a plain tshirt on. He took one look at Robyn's glare and quietly took backward steps back into the bedroom, closing the door. "I'm sorry Rih, but these things can help us. Remember Jason said you aren't human?"
"Whatever sick shit my family used to do has nothing to do with me, and that's the end of it." Robyn sharply finalized, brushing past me as she rushed downstairs. I sighed, watching her leave. Bruno emerged from the bedroom again, looking down both ends of the hall before coming out.
"She's fucking scary." He said.
"Funny, you two used to be the best of friends." I took the garbage bag off of him. "This needs to go to the trash?"
"Yeah...um..." He scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "I'm kind of...really hungry."
I knew nothing of San Mateo except for the fact that it was spread out, and there was a lot of desert. Riding on the back of a super-speed vampire made things a little quicker. We came to a sudden stop at a corner store. It looked dingy and the OPEN sign flickered languidly, moths surrounding it. I wriggled off of Bruno's back and fixed my clothes while he closed his eyes, sniffing the air.
"Just a reminder...the old Bruno wasn't fond of killing, so can you not overdo it? I have a conscience." I stood in front of him, looking him directly in the eyes. I could see my Bruno in there somewhere, swimming in the waves of this feral beast that had replaced him, only temporarily. If Bruno couldn't remember who he was normally, he really had no regard for human morality when his vampire needs took center stage.
"I can't make a promise I can't keep." His eyes were sympathetic. I guess I would never understand.
"Then can you promise me you'll glamour someone to make it painless?"
He thought for a moment before nodding. "I will."
"You've got ten minutes, I'll be in here." I scrunched my nose at the beat up corner store before going inside, hearing the whipping wind of his disappearance. There was a jingle from the bells attached to the doorknob. I immediately was met with the smell of cigarette smoke and some kind of world music in a language I didn't understand. I glanced up at the man who stood at the counter and glared at me from underneath thick, dark eyebrows. He was tall and bald, the sides of his head tattooed.
I looked away from him and hummed aloud to reduce the amount of awkward that was filling the store quickly. I picked up a candy bar and busied myself with reading the ingredients on the back. I tapped my fingers on a shelf while I put it back and whistled, looking back up at the counter; but the man was gone now. I guess he had things to tend to in the backroom.
I started walking further along the aisle, and I picked up a bag of M&Ms, looking up at the clock and seeing I still had to stall for another agonizing three minutes. I set the M&Ms back down and turned around, only to be met with the muscular chest of the man from the counter. I jumped back, startled by his sudden presence.
"Can I help you?" I asked, a bit irked. I hadn't done anything to piss him off, so why was he being so creepy towards me?
He wordlessly clamped his hand around my wrist and my heart dropped; his touch was ice cold.
He was a vampire.
"Get off me." I struggled, my pulse racing with panic.
"My dear, you smell wonderful." He spoke, his accent thick, Russian sounded.
I struggled more, feeling a heat rising in the pit of my stomach. I had no idea where it was coming from or what it was. "My boyfriend's gonna come back and kick your ass!" I snarled in warning.
He threw his head back in laughter as he yanked me down the aisle. "I will have your boyfriend for dessert."
The heat started rising to my chest, curling around my lungs and my heart. It didn't hurt...it felt...good. Powerful. I don't know why, but I was able to rip my hand from his grasp. It was then that his fangs ejected and he looked at me in shock at how I had managed such a feat. I heard the jingle of the front door, but I had no time to react to it, as the Russian man came for me, his hand around my throat, but my hand that came up to block him, felt searing hot as it emitted some strange, bright white light that sent the man flying backwards, knocking over rows upon rows of shelves.
I fell onto the ground from the impact, and I held my hand, looking at it in wonderment.
What the hell just happened?
I heard a loud cry of pain and I looked up to see an explosion of blood and guts. I covered my face, but still got hit by what felt like intestines and large globs of blood. When I removed my arms, shuddering at the grotesque mess that was surrounding me, I saw Bruno standing where the man had been before, a bloodied, sharp wooden object in his hand, like he had broken it off of something. Where the man had landed, there was nothing but a pool of blood.
Bruno's fangs were extended and he looked angry, which was something I wasn't used to.
"He came after you, he had to be killed."
I quieted, looking back down at my hands. I felt no more heat inside of me, no more power. It was gone just as quick as it overtook me. Bruno dropped his weapon and vamped over to me, taking my hands within his own as he observed them closely. "Are you supernatural too?"
I looked up at him, "I--I can't be."
"The spell." He noted, "The spell must have done something to you, because what you just did, whatever came from you...that was not human. I don't need my memory to know that."
Over the course of the next week, the three of us began adjusting to our newfound living in this Shifter community. I hadn't heard any news from Jason, we had still been unable to regain Bruno's memory. He hadn't lost hope, however, and neither did I. We had originally planned to go see an actual witch who could possibly reverse the spell, but after our incident I insisted we make that a very last resort.
Robyn successfully dyed her hair a dark brown color, which drew vast attention away from her whenever we went out. She said nothing more about her family, and I didn't ask anything more. Whatever happened that night at the corner store, was never repeated and I felt normal from then on; so we forgot about it and moved on to more pressing matters.
We encountered some of the locals and they were kind. Sometimes they would be offstandish with Bruno around, because he was, after all, a vampire; but for the most part, nobody started any trouble.
Ray was hospitable to us, and a good cook at that. He nearly always made us dinner every evening, and it was always delicious. Because of the spell, Bruno was more hungry than usual, so we continued to leave the house night after night so he could feed. I always offered myself, but in regards to my safety, he would refuse.
I didn't know why, but for some reason, I was beginning to fall in love all over again with this new Bruno. He wasn't too much different, but the innocence was overwhelmingly cute. There were some things he couldn't recall when it came to vampirism. One of the issues he kept having was the fact that every time he was hungry, he became really...aroused. I wasn't quite ready to start a physical relationship without him re-establishing his control, so therefore he would just lie on the ground sometimes.
It was the most peculiar thing, he would lie down, usually in the grass. He was fond of the nearby park. He would lie there on his back and stare at the sky with such an intense stare. I asked him what he was doing one time, when I discovered him laying there when he was supposed to be feeding. He said he was trying to figure out how to stop getting so aroused whenever he was hungry, because the idea of the two together was appalling to him. I burst out in laughter and he would furrow his brow at me and go,
"What's with the laughing?"
So I would let him go. I let him lie on the ground every night when his hunger strike came around, and I let him stare at the sky and try to figure out the one rule that went with being a vampire. He was the one that told me sex and feeding were closely linked, but of course he didn't remember that.
Sometimes, I would give him some of his memories. I would explain stories and he would look at me in disbelief at his behavior. I guess he didn't remember being able to have a witty response to nearly anything anyone ever said. He didn't remember his slick, sarcastic sense of humor. He didn't remember how much he used to charm the ladies with his gift.
Not only did he not remember, but he wasn't quite fond of trying to remember it either.
"I sounded like...a player." He said.
"You were, before you met me." I replied. "But you were still a flirt, even after we were together."
He paused for a moment, staring up into the starry sky. "I'm sorry about that."
"Don't apologize." I turned over on my stomach, moving closer to him. "I knew you weren't going anywhere, I could trust you. You made money off of flirting; hopeless fans ate that shit up, they will even more now that you're a vampire."
"That sounds manipulative." He concentrated on a constellation.
"It is...in a way, but that's how you made your living." I explained. "Have you tried singing yet?"
He shook his head.
"Try it." I nudged him and he broke out of his stare contest with the stars and opted to look into my own gaze. "Try to sing."
"What would I sing? I don't remember my songs." I could hear the sadness in his voice. I think, more than anything else, he wanted to remember his gifts. It would serve as a nice distraction, an escapism of sorts to temporarily leave the troubles of the world behind.
"I'll teach you one, it was one of my favorites." I sat up and he did as well, and I took his hand within my own. "Sing with me when you pick up on it, it's pretty easy."
'You know I...
I'll be waiting on the other side.
All you gotta do is cross that line.
I could wait a whole lifetime,
But you just gotta decide.
You know I...'
"I'll be waiting on the other, waiting on the other side." His voice joined mine, albeit softly and unsure of himself.
I looked at him in dismay, "How'd you know the next part?"
He looked just as surprised. "I--I don't know...I just felt it." He laid back down on the grass, pushing his fedora up over his brow as he laid his hands on his chest. "It feels natural."
A thought crossed my mind. "What if...what if that's what you need to do to get your memory back?"
He looked up at me, confused.
"Sing your songs?" I offered. I knew it was a long-shot, but we should try anything at this point.
"Do you really think a karaoke session can bring back my memory? It was erased by powerful voodoo; that sounds a little too simple." He continued, "Plus, the Sheriff of Los Angeles isn't a singer, how would she get her own memory back?"
"No, Bruno listen..." I calculated everything in my head as I spoke, and I felt an excitement in the pit of my stomach as my ideas rambled out, one after the other. "Think about it, music is something that is in you. It's all you've ever known since you were a child, you love it more than anything else in this world. It's the very fiber of your being. Your songs mean a lot to you, music means a lot to you. If you can pull hard enough, you might be able to open that door again. Everything in the world has a loophole, even voodoo curses."
"And with the Sheriff, she had to have loved something just as tenderly as you loved music. Something that is deep and powerful enough to trump the spell...finding out hers might be more of a difficult task, but it's not impossible. Come on Bru, you can't say that it sounds like something that could work?"
I could tell he was thinking. He brought his lower lip between his teeth, the dimple in his cheek appearing while he narrowed his eyes in thought. Finally, he spoke. "So if this works...I go back to being a manipulative, sarcastic, cocky, sex-obsessed, player?"
I totally didn't see that remark coming.
"Bru, I know you aren't considering giving up on your memories...?"
"I don't know Rox, the old me doesn't sound like he was very nice."
I covered my face in frustration, sighing loudly before dropping them roughly into my lap. "You were extremely nice, and extremely funny. You were caring and selfless, you were more in control of your vampire tendencies and damn it you knew the extent of our love!" He wouldn't look at me, he just continued looking at the sky. "So don't sit here and try to tell me you're not going to go back to your old self if there's a chance you could!"
"I didn't say I wouldn't...I'm just thinking about everything."
"Well stop thinking damn it and sit up and sing with me; because I...I need you back." The tears were welling in my eyes, warm and collecting around my lower rims. I started imagining pictures of my nightmare I had days ago, where he released me over the cliff. I realized that his older self was more...human. His older self made me comfortable because it was almost the same as when he was human. Without his proper memory, this Bruno was certainly easier to love, but harder to truly trust because he was predominantly vampire in his brain. He didn't even trust his own self, that's why he would never feed from me. So who's to say if it came down to the wire, whether or not he would go with his own team or possibly sacrifice his own life just to be on mine?
"Don't cry." He softly said, sitting up and caressing my cheek. I nuzzled my face into his cool hand, closing my eyes. The tears that were on the brink of falling, now released themselves down the length of my face. "Stop it." He wiped them away as he leaned forward and kissed my lips.
"I love you now, but I miss you Bruno." I opened my eyes to see he was staring at me with curiosity.
"Your tears..." He looked down at his hands and I noticed it looked like he smeared clear glitter over his fingers. He reached out and touched another sly tear and it was pearlescent upon his fingertip. "Your tears are glowing." He uttered.
I sniffled and wiped my face, looking down at the shimmery liquid on my hands. "What the hell?" I looked up at him and he turned to face me, sitting across from me as he quickly took my hands within his own and squeezed tightly.
"Sing." He instructed.
"Wha-what?" I stuttered, confused.
"Sing a song, one of mine, go." He gave me a determined look.
I took a quick breath, alarmed by his urgency. I quickly thought of a song and started singing.
'Easy come, easy go.
That's just how you live, oh.
Take, take, take it all,
But you never give.
Should've known, you were trouble.
From the first kiss.
Had your eyes wide open,
Why were they open?'
"Gave you all I had and you tossed it in the trash, you tossed it in the trash you did." I couldn't help but to stop my own singing when he joined in. This was for two reasons. For one, he put me to shame; it's his song, of course. For two, he knew the words on his own...and I watched as he closed his eyes tightly and continued to sing, even in the absence of my voice. "To give me all your love is all I ever asked but, what you don't understand is I'd catch a grenade for ya."
I felt that same, unusual warmth creeping up in my core, so I closed my eyes and provided background vocals. "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"Throw my hand on a blade for ya."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"I'd jump in front of a train for ya." His voice was gaining momentum and confidence and the warmth inside of me grew hotter. I focused hard on the feeling of his hands within my own, on this moment between us.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"You know I'd do anything for ya. I would go through all this pain, take a bullet straight through my brain."
The intense burn flowed throughout my body and I felt that release jolt through my hands and I opened my eyes to see our interlocked hands glowing a bright white hot. His eyes flew open and were blank, searching for something, reaching for something. He didn't speak, he didn't move, he was frozen.
And all at once, he collapsed to the grass.