Authors: Christina Channelle
BLOOD CRAVE SERIES
This novel is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people either living or deceased is purely coincidental. Names, places, and characters are figments of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious setting.
Dahlia: Blood Crave Series. Copyright © 2012 by Christina Channelle.
All rights reserved. Copyright under Canadian Intellectual Property Office. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without written consent from the author.
First edition December 2012
Cover image provided by conrado/Shutterstock.com
ISBN: 978-0-9918348-0-8 (paperback)
I would like to thank Lorraine and Maria for reading my story in its roughest of drafts. Thanks to Raquel, whose excitement to read the Blood Crave Series brings a smile to my face. Lastly, to Nadine, for all the help along the way.
Table of Contents
I was five when I knew something was different about me...my first memory.
Parentless, I had no recollection of who they were or what they even looked like. All I knew was that I was alone, residing at an orphanage disconnected from the outside world—disconnecting myself from the outside world. I pictured it even now, like an oil painting drawn across a canvas. The thick, heavy bristles of the paintbrush created an array of colors as the bright blue sky connected to the shockingly white snow. The snow blanketed everything around me, as if protecting me, the green forest displaying itself at every angle.
This orphanage was out of place in such a nature-infused environment. A large, two-story building, its windows seemed to cover almost every surface of brick. I remembered the brightness of the sun as it hit my sleepy face through one of those many windows. It would instantly warm my body as it greeted me to yet another day.
Taking a closer look, vines covered old, gray bricks as they coursed over the external surface of the orphanage. I used to have nightmares about those same vines making their way into my room as I slept. They’d appear ominously as their shadows pounded against the walls, taunting me as a storm brewed on outside. Venturing toward my bed, the vines would slither across my body, immediately trapping me in place. One would manage to wrap itself around my neck, squeezing tightly, as I struggled for air. Rendered frozen, the feeling of fear took hold as it bubbled up deep inside my chest. And as I felt the burning pain in my throat, a thought would flash through my mind of
moment being my last. It never was, though, as I would instantly wake up.
I always did have a wild imagination.
To chase away the terror, I found myself standing before my windowpane the morning after. The bright sun beating down on my skin, I realized my fear derived from nothing more than a dream. Sighing in relief, I remained motionless, my eyes drawn to the vast forest off in the distance. It surrounded the orphanage, like a gatekeeper, the leaves of the trees bristling in irritation. The wind blew right through those tall structures, whistling, as my ears picked up the all too familiar sound.
I somehow found myself standing directly in front of that very forest. My memory was hazy on exactly how I got there but I recalled waking up, after one of my many dreams, to the feeling of immense hunger as my body stirred in discomfort.
Then I was suddenly at the foot of the forest.
This was not me simply being hungry. I would almost describe it as a feeling of starvation, like there was some essential component that my body missed. Whatever it was, this need was so powerful that I was weak in the knees by the pain as my belly contracted and released, contracted and released, continually. Food provided temporary relief for me, but there was always this presence in the corner of my mind as my brain searched for the one thing my body craved.
I ignored that nagging voice in my head, the one whispering for something I was unaware that I even needed. It was something unfathomable yet inherent. I paid it no attention and just openly stared at the forest that beckoned me. The view distracted me for a moment, which was good, as it temporarily calmed my stomach rumblings. Taking shallow breaths, the cool air blew in and out between my cold, chapped lips.
It was at that exact moment I realized the forest was in fact isolating me from everything and everyone outside of its confines. Almost like a hungry bird circling its prey. Even young, my instincts picked up on that, which immediately told me something.
Eyes were watching me.
“What are you doing, Winters?”
Startled by the deep, rumbling voice in her right ear, Dahlia Winters flinched from the contact of breath against her skin. She turned her head from her laptop screen to find a pair of cool, gray eyes looking down at her. The owner of said eyes slowly winked and gave a smile. It was mischievous as a child stealing a cookie from a cookie jar, two dimples in his cheeks emphasizing his grin.
Dressed only in a red camisole and a pair of short shorts, Dahlia lay sprawled on her bed. She munched away on a granola bar but at the sound of the voice, quickly dropped her snack. Slamming the laptop shut, she tossed it aside and stood up to face her intruder, her back hidden from prying eyes. As her current state of dress was less than usual, her fingers nervously fiddled with the hem of her top.
“Don’t you ever knock?” Dahlia answered back in irritation as she smoothed down her unruly, waist-length hair, hoping it would cooperate. She prayed the brown-haired teen hadn’t noticed her anxiety over the fact that he may have seen her back. Putting on a brave front she ranted, “There is this thing called privacy. You ever hear of the concept?”
Sam Cahill stood before her with raised brows, a huge grin still plastered on his face. “Yeah, I love you too.”
He continued giving her, “Sam Eyes.” It was something she termed, realizing he had the ability to portray everything with a simple look. If Sam felt sad, Dahlia would know about it. If Sam felt happy, she would know about it.
If Sam felt like pissing her off, she would surely know about it.
Right now, he was smiling, or better yet, mocking with his eyes. She noticed an evil glint in its depths and saw that his stare had lowered from her face. She glanced down as well and caught his gaze now situated on her chest, her camisole not leaving much to the imagination. Quickly adjusting the straps, she brought the top up a bit, but it only caused more interest on his part. So she settled on crossing her arms over her chest instead.
At least he was distracted.
“Would you kindly knock it off?” she asked dryly, although he was harmless. She knew Sam purposely loved to push her buttons.
He feigned innocence, blinking gray eyes at her. “What are you talking about? I am merely here to say hi to my foster sister.”
“Sure you are.” She rolled her own eyes as she looked up at the ceiling briefly, but not before noticing the wry grin on his face.
Seriously, why was he even here?
“Whatcha got there,
?” Sam ignored her unwelcoming vibe as he said her name teasingly. He usually just called her by her last name, his “term of endearment,” so she knew he wanted something. Reaching across her, he aimed to get possession of her laptop, but stopped short on his task when she punched him in his biceps using all her might.
What’d you do that for?” Sam smirked, making a show of rubbing his arm, but Dahlia knew he was faking the pain. He easily doubled her in weight and size and they both knew she couldn’t put a dent on his lean, but muscular, frame.
She sighed loudly, grabbed the device to her chest, and gave him a stern look with her eyes. “Just because this is
house does not give you the right to touch
laptop. Leave my things alone.” It may not have seemed like a huge deal, but it was to Dahlia. The few things she had were sacred to her.
hated the almost whining sound that came from her mouth.
It had been almost six months since Dahlia first moved in with Sam and his parents, Glen and Deb—six months of having an almost family. The transition was still something she had a hard time dealing with. Especially when the only life she knew was living in and out of an orphanage whenever the foster family of the week got tired of her.
Or she got tired of them.
Six months was the longest she ever stayed at any one foster home. Every time she had done something wrong, like break the favorite vase or not eat with the proper spoon, they immediately kicked her out. It had come to a point where Dahlia hated the back and forth and just wanted to stay at the orphanage, no matter how difficult the circumstance or how dejected she would feel. So she devised up a plan and refused to speak at any of her foster homes, creating a hard demeanor that went against her almost doll-like appearance of big eyes, pouty lips and long, flowing hair. She downplayed her supposed prettiness with a daily attire of t-shirts, jeans and a foul attitude. It worked—the foster parents a tad bit uneasy by her presence. This, of course, sent her straight back.
Just as planned.
The Cahill’s were another matter. They were different. They didn’t look at Dahlia as just an extra source of income. Nor did they run away when she initially acted cold toward them. For some reason they wanted
—a teenager—instead of one of the younger, cuter kids with no baggage.
They actually seemed to care.
As a result, she changed, opening up to them bit by bit as the weeks and months passed. They slowly chipped away at her hardened armor, and Dahlia was able to find her voice. This was a good thing, as she was now able to defend herself and speak up when she felt like it—at least most times.
And especially around personalities like Sam.
“Okay, okay.” Sam actually looked apologetic as she stared him down, hands rising in the air signaling defeat. A dark, stray curl fell into his eye as he brushed it aside with a hand, pouting. “I’m sorry.”
He glanced back at her, staring intently. It was still a little unnerving how direct he was when he spoke. He was one of those people that were always so sure of themselves and of their emotions. It made her slightly uncomfortable since this was something she most definitely was not, although she was working on it.
But his clear eyes seemed to burn a hole in her they were that intense.
Dahlia looked away, blinking quickly, and then walked toward her computer desk. Setting down her laptop, she sulked at her reaction. She was okay facing away from him now, since she knew her hair hid her upper back and she no longer had to stare into his trippy eyes. Reaching for the sweater thrown over her chair, she roughly tossed it on, sticking her arms through the sleeves and adjusting the thick, comfy material over herself.
No longer displaying her body, Sam sighed behind her in disappointment. The sound caused her to turn back sharply as she sneered up at him, not impressed by his typical guy behavior. To counteract, she zipped up her sweater with emphasis, the noise heard loudly in the room, then flicked her hair out from the collar.
Sam just laughed back at her.
Giving up her silent battle with him, she settled herself down on the chair and opened her laptop once more. She had forgotten to save her journal entry and lost the last bit she wrote. Annoyed, Dahlia stuck her tongue out at the screen then scrolled down the page to the last thing she had written. She looked over the sentence then resumed typing, blatantly ignoring Sam. She hoped he’d take the hint and just leave.