Authors: S. B. Alexander
Table of Contents
ON THE EDGE OF HUMANITY
A Vampire SEAL Novel
by S. B. Alexander
On the Edge of Humanity: A Vampire SEAL Novel
Copyright © 2013 by S. B. Alexander. All rights reserved.
First Kindle Edition: January 2013
eBook ISBN-13: 978-0-9887762-0-3
Print ISBN-13: 978-0-9887762-1-0
Editor: Terri Valentine
The Book Specialist Ltd.
Cover and Formatting:
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to all the men and women of the armed forces.
May the guardian angels guide and protect you as you fight for your country. May God shadow your footsteps as you walk among the enemy in battle. Your courage and resolve are the very reasons freedom is ours.
was trapped in a world
where I didn’t belong. A world where my dad had discarded me as if I were a piece of trash. A world where danger constantly surfaced, even in places I called home. I couldn’t say when I came to the decision not to be a victim anymore.
After my mother died, I spent most of my life in foster care, traipsing from one foster home to another always wondering where I was going to sleep and what I was going to eat. Life sucked with a capital ‘S.’ My only family was my twin brother, Sam. We didn’t know why our father abandoned us. But, if I ever got the chance to meet him, I was going to kill him.
My gypsy-style life dealt all kinds of challenges, but none that were good. I hated my life, I hated school and most of all there were days when I hated living. I hid behind Sam who always protected me, even fought my battles when needed. I shied away from people, especially bullies at school like, one boy in particular: Blake Turner. I wished I had the courage to stand up for myself, but fourteen years of foster care had taught me the art of avoidance. I hid behind books and read constantly, trying to transport myself into another world, a world where I was free, where I became the hero of the story I was reading. I desperately longed for a mom and dad who loved me, and friends— lots of them—who supported me.
My only friend was Darcy Rose and I wasn’t even sure why she wanted to be friends. I was the outcast of the school, the one they called Moonbeam because of my silver eyes. I had Blake to thank for that; as he pointed it out every chance he got.
Darcy and I had first met in gym class last year when Blake tripped me during a soccer game. I fell face first into the wet mud and Darcy ran over to help me. We’d been friends ever since. I guessed she felt sorry for me.
Tonight I was not only feeling sorry for myself but a wave of trepidation coursed through me. I stood alone in the kitchen, instructed by my foster mom Hilda to clean it up while she retired to her sewing room upstairs and her gross husband Cliff sat in his fat leather chair watching TV. I was her slave, only here to do her chores—to clean her house and bow to her every need. And I’d thought the stepmother in Cinderella was bad. But I wasn’t going to a ball and midnight wasn’t my deadline. I only had a few minutes to clean the kitchen before Hilda came down from her sanctuary to inspect my work. Afraid of being separated from Sam and sent to a home for girls, I obeyed.
As I wiped down the kitchen table, I contemplated what I was going to do with a full week off from school for Easter vacation. With Darcy out of town, I had to find something to do. I didn’t want to be hanging around this house enslaved to Hilda or Cliff. They would probably make me wash windows or clean their tile floors with a toothbrush, which didn’t sound like fun. As I weighed my limited options, rage bubbled to the surface. While the last five foster homes had been tolerable, this one screamed danger. Sam and I had only been with the Birches for a short while, but in that time we had followed every one of their house rules. Tonight there was one rule I refused to obey.
Sam wasn’t home yet from baseball practice, so I covered his dinner and placed it in the microwave for later.
Separating the kitchen from the family room was a paneled wall with a staircase to one side. I tiptoed over to the door and peeked up the stairs. The
of the sewing machine filtered down the staircase. I imagined Hilda was working out her own frustrations—all the better for me.
The sports announcer’s voice filled the family room. I peered around the banister. Cliff’s eyes were closed, his mouth hanging open.
I skulked back into the kitchen and a floorboard squeaked in the process. I stood still for a moment and listened. The sewing machine still hummed, and Cliff was now snoring.
I bit my lower lip and then gave the kitchen one last glance. Satisfied it would pass muster, I grabbed the handle on the utensil drawer and pulled it open. I fished around the messy drawer until I found the corkscrew wine opener. It was crouched in the back under a bunch of plastic spoons. I gently plucked it out of its hiding spot and placed it into my sock. As I did, the creak of the stairs startled me and my heart rate increased. I hurriedly smoothed out my pant leg when Hilda walked in.
“Jo, what’re you doing?” Hilda asked in a raspy voice that sounded as if she had just smoked a carton of cigarettes.
“Ma’am?” My hands were shaking, so I grabbed the towel off the counter and made it look like I was wiping them.
She glanced around and sauntered over to the refrigerator. “Where’s your brother?”
“I don’t know.” I wasn’t sure if I should move. The wine opener was digging into my ankle and on the verge of slipping out of my sock. “May I be excused?” I asked.
Hilda pulled out a can of beer and closed the refrigerator door. Her short black hair was styled into a bouffant, and thick, bushy eyebrows overpowered her brown eyes. I wanted to give her a pair of tweezers, so she could shape them.
“The kitchen looks good, so sure. It’s Friday night. Do you have plans?”
My plan was to run, to get away from her, from this hell I was in.
“A pretty sixteen-year-old girl like you doesn’t have any friends?” she asked.
My jaw dropped. She’d called me pretty. I was shocked she had the nerve to deliver a compliment. That was a first.
“My friends are heading out of town for spring break.” Darcy was going on a cruise with her parents. Lucky her. She had asked me to go, but right now I couldn’t even afford a McDonalds meal, let alone a cruise vacation.
“Are you okay, Jo?” she asked.
My face must’ve had a blank look on it.
“I need to use the bathroom.”
“Well, go then. Don’t let me stop you.”
I walked a few steps and stopped just to be sure the wine opener wouldn’t fall to the floor. With it still hanging in there, I said goodnight to Hilda and walked out.
I headed to my room, which was located down a small hallway off the family room. As soon as I was in, I let out a deep breath, slid down the wall, and sat on the floor. My heart raced and I took a few deep breaths to calm my nerves.
I hate this place.
Hell had to be better than this.
I pulled out the wine opener and, with my forefinger, touched the tip of the screw. I rubbed it too hard and a tiny speck of blood surfaced.
This will do nicely!
I suckled my finger and a spark ignited inside me. The candied taste of that small drop of blood awakened my tastebuds. My pulse quickened, then my head began to spin. What the heck was going on? Why would blood taste as sweet as a watermelon candy? It had always had a metallic taste to it.
This is crazy.
I immediately wiped my finger on my jeans.
I shook my head a few times to erase the thought and surveyed my ankle. A couple of scratches tattooed the side near the bone. It was nothing to worry about. It beat getting caught by Hilda, the wicked witch of New England. The first night in the house, I dropped a glass of soda, and it shattered. She yelled, berating me until I broke down in tears. Ever since then, I’ve been careful not to grouse her evil side.
I closed my eyes and inhaled, grabbing my knees to my chest. I sat still, relishing in the quietness of the room. My life had to change. I wasn’t sure I could handle two more years in foster care. But then again, where would I go when I turned eighteen? I let out a deep sigh. I had two years to think about it—if I made it that long.
I uncurled my legs and stood up. It was almost nine o’clock and Sam still wasn’t home. I was starting to worry. But it was Friday night; maybe he was hanging out with his best friend, Ben.
The heat kicked on and hot air started blowing out of the floor ducts, causing my cheeks to flush. I walked over and raised the window, letting in the brisk April air, which tickled my hands.
I unpacked my backpack, placing my books on top of the dresser. I looked over at the clock on the nightstand and five minutes had ticked by.
Come on, Sam, get your butt home.
Maybe if I thought it real hard, he would come walking through the door any second.
With nothing else to do, I changed into a pair of blue flannel shorts patterned with black cows and a t-shirt. Then I grabbed the wine opener and the John Grisham novel, which I’d borrowed from the library and climbed into bed.
I didn’t know if I would have to use the corkscrew tonight, but I wanted to be prepared. I twirled it in my right hand and jabbed it a few times in the air. Maybe I should’ve taken a knife instead, but that was too risky. With my luck, I would’ve had more than just scratches on my ankle. I placed the corkscrew under my pillow and picked up my book.
The Street Lawyer
was just getting interesting and I was hoping that it would keep me awake until Sam got home.
Books were my hobby and every chance I had I buried my nose in one trying to escape from reality. While I devoured most genres, I didn’t have a penchant for any type of paranormal books or stories, unlike the other high school kids. They were all gaga over the latest vampire book and it made me want to puke. The undead didn’t excite me. Who would ever want to drink blood as their main meal?
I squashed the thought of blood and vampires and started reading. After two pages, my eyelids kept closing. I shook my head, trying to stay awake, but the words sprawled across the page became blurry. I blinked a few times. I didn’t want to fall asleep until Sam got home. I didn’t feel safe without him here.
As my head bobbed down, the aroma hit me and my eyes popped open.
Cliff turned to close the door, his stench smelled of booze and cigarettes. I fumbled for the light switch to turn off the bedside lamp. Maybe the darkness would give me the edge I needed for my escape.
“That’s not going to help you,” he said. White specks of breadcrumbs dotted his beard and his wiry hair was matted to his head. He walked toward the bed, opening his pocketknife.
I took in a deep breath and swallowed hard—almost choking. My heart pounded against my ribs, aching to get out. Nausea rose in my throat as my breathing got faster.
My hand trembled as I flicked the light switch, sending the room into darkness. The night light on the wall near the door turned on.
As I closed my eyes, Sam’s voice whispered in my head.
You have to fight back, Jo. I won’t always be here to protect you. You have to learn to stand up to people like Blake.
What Sam didn’t know was that Blake wasn’t my only tormentor.
Cliff had snuck into my room one night. He’d been filthy drunk. At first, I’d thought he was lost, but when he whispered my name, I knew he had his wits about him. Thankfully, Hilda had been looking for him, saving me from his true intentions.
I expelled the air from my lungs in tiny increments trying to gain control. My last breath released with a cough, the heat stinging my cheeks as the blood surged through me. My inner voice screamed
I’m dead. I know I’m dead
I lay there immersed in my own quiet hell. For the past two weeks, I feared him and those words he whispered again to me now.
“If you tell anyone, I will kill you and your brother.”
I desperately wanted to tell Sam, but I just couldn’t. He’s always had a short fuse, but lately he seemed to get mad at any little thing. Besides, Sam had been in trouble with the cops and even spent a couple of nights in jail. I wanted to protect him from himself, but more than anything I was afraid that we would be separated if he ended up in jail for longer or, even worse, dead. I couldn’t let that happen.