Peeking around the corner, I grimaced to find my dad draining yet another friend of their blood. No matter how many times I tried to warn them, my friends just didn’t believe me when I said “my dad’s a vampire”. I knew I should be heartbroken, shocked, or at least sad to see my friends’ body dumped unceremoniously on the floor, but I did warn her. “Dad!” I jumped through the open doorway to confront him. “You can’t keep eating my friends! Someone is going to start wondering where all these “runaways” are disappearing too!” “Sweetheart, as soon as you turn, we are leaving.” He crooned softly to me. “Any day now, you are going to wake up and begin your transformation.” “What if I don’t want to leave?” The thought always scared me. How was I supposed to walk away from the love of my life? Even though I stared into my friends lifeless eyes, my mind was on Doug, my boyfriend. I never intended to date him but I am so glad I said yes when he asked. We have been dating for six months and I just know we are soul mates! “Danielle!” My father’s voice was so irritating. “You are to be presented to the King of the Vampires! He is your betrothed and he has patiently been waiting for you to change. His patience is wearing thin! You should have changed already!” “Ugh!” Disgusting really, who wanted to marry a centuries old dead guy. “He’s like five-hundred years older than me! Isn’t that against the law?” “You turned eighteen last month, even by today’s standards you are old enough and you know it.” Uh-oh, my dad was growling now. That was never a good sign! Feinting submission, I lowered myself to my knees and waited for him to calm down. Oh, I know I looked fearful of his reaction to my bold words, but that is called practice. Inside I was plotting my way out of the stupid contract! The next month passed too quickly. I finished up my senior year of high school and before I knew it I was walking down across a platform and graduating. As I shook the principal’s hand and made my way down the stairs, I knew I needed to put my plan in motion tonight. I allowed my parents to take me out to dinner before the senior all night party. The worst part was eating the meal I knew they expected me to eat. For the last week I had been getting cravings and I knew I was beginning to change. My fangs had come in the day before and food no longer appealed to me. “Wow! I shouldn’t have eaten such a big lunch before the ceremony!” I tried to lie and could only hope they didn’t notice I was changing. Soon I would have to feed. It wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. The need for blood sung through my veins, calling to be satisfied. If I were addicted to crack, this is what I would expect it to feel like. It was horrible. All I was thinking about was blood and as I looked up into the faces of my parents, I knew they knew. “This couldn’t be more perfect!” My mother’s eyes filled with tears as she gazed at me with pride. “Will you be okay at the party? Can you hold out one more night?” I didn’t need to ask what for but I totally disagreed with her assessment of the situation. Perfect? I was about to be sold to a five-hundred year old vampire. “I’ll be fine.” I replied with a fake smile. There was no use in denying it, I was changing. I knew it, they knew it, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. “Are you sure?” My father leaned forward and whispered. “You know what happens if you feed off of one of your classmates.” “Yes. I promise. I will be fine.” Even though I reassured him as respectfully as I could I was seething inside. Of course I knew what would happen! For the last four years my parents had talked about it constantly! My first meal would become a vampire connected to my life force. Geez! I knew more about what would happen when I changed into a vampire than I knew about sex; though that really wasn’t saying much. When they finally dropped me off at the party, things were already in full swing. I waved good-bye to my parents and went to find Doug. He would always be my hero. He was on the wrestling team in school and while he wasn’t the best at the sport, he was enthusiastic about it. More than once my heart had bloomed in pride while he wrestled an opponent he clearly couldn’t beat. He never gave up and never held a grudge if he lost. Just as I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to find him – or worse, that he hadn’t come to the party – I spotted him hiding in a corner. Doug didn’t particularly enjoy social gatherings but he had agreed to come to this one for me. Seeing the misery on his face I was pretty sure he considered this my graduation present. “Hi.” I greeted him as I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. My chest was heaving as I tried not to focus on the steady beat of his heart. I could even hear his freaking blood rushing through his veins! To make matters worse, he smelled awesome! “Hi yourself.” He pulled back and looked at me oddly. “Are you okay?” “Not really.” I smiled, relived my fangs had stayed put. “Is there somewhere we can talk?” “You’re not breaking up with me, are you?” The worry I saw in his eyes was real. “No!” I would never love anyone as much as I loved Doug. “But, it’s important.” We quietly made our way past the chaperones and out the back door. Standing next to the dumpsters wasn’t exactly the ideal place but we didn’t have many options at the moment. It would have to do. “Doug, I need to tell you some pretty unbelievable things.” I looked up into his trusting eyes and hoped I wasn’t about to lose him forever. “Like, I am a vampire.” “Seriously?” He blinked a few times and seemed to wait for some sort of proof. “Seriously.” I leaned my head back, opened my mouth, and allowed my fangs to drop down out of my gums. “Whoa! My girlfriend is a vampire!” Doug smirked at me and then pulled me into a fierce kiss. This was turning out better than I thought. Thank you True Blood and Twilight! “There’s more.” I pulled out of his embrace. “I was engaged to a vampire the day of my birth. Tomorrow, my parents are taking me to marry him.” The hurt in his eyes was almost more than I could bear. “Doug, will you marry me?” Surprise flittered across his face before a slow grin stretched his lips. “Just say when.” He smiled so brightly I knew this was the right thing to do. “There’s one more thing you should know before you agree.” I licked my lips and tried not to stare at his neck. I’m so hungry! “I have to turn you.” The look on his face was easy to interpret. He thought I had lost my mind. There wasn’t much I could say that wouldn’t make him think otherwise. I didn’t fight him when he pulled me into another embrace and pressed my face into the side of his neck. Whether he knew it or not, he had just issued a dangerous invitation to a fledgling vampire. With my face pressed to his neck, I tried to force my fangs to retract. This needed to be his choice. I needed it to be his choice! My new and improved senses took over and I was overwhelmed. Doug smelled of sunshine and oranges. Before I knew it, my fangs were pressed into his neck and I was draining his blood. Like I said, he was my soul mate. Now I just had to hope he agreed. I gently picked him up and buried us both in the dumpster. There weren’t that many options and I knew we needed to hide until his transformation was complete. Unlike me, he would change in a few hours. His life force was forever linked to mine. If I died, he died. I hummed softly as I cradled his limp head against my breast. Soon he would take his first breath as a vampire. When we were discovered missing from the party, everyone assumed we had just snuck away to have sex. When my dad found out I was missing, I heard his howl of rage from my hiding place. Knowing that he would never look for me in the very place I was supposed to have gone missing from, I was suddenly very glad that I had lost control next to a dumpster. Doug drew a breath shortly after my dad left. He started moving and mumbling in his sleep. I couldn’t help but smile when he brought a hand up to my breast and began caressing it. Even in sleep he desired me! “Doug, sweetheart?” I shook him a little to try to wake him up. “We need to get going to the courthouse.” “Are we in trouble?” He opened his eyes and continued to play with my breasts. “No, we’re getting married today.” I held my breath when he froze. Surely he wasn’t changing his mind! I had already turned him! If he skipped out on me now, I was doomed. “Can we make a pit stop first?” “Sure, why?” I was so afraid. “I want to use the money I have saved to buy you a ring.” The adoration in his eyes broke through my fear. “Oh baby!” I cradled his face in my hands and kissed him deeply. “If it wasn’t so important we get married immediately, I would say yes! You are so much better than I deserve!” We climbed out of the dumpster and hurried towards the courthouse. In less than thirty minutes, we were declared man and wife. As I walked out of the courthouse, I just knew I had won! In one hand, I held the marriage certificate that would free me from that crazy contract, and in the other I held the hand of the most wonderful man in the world. “Well played.” I froze and turned towards the voice. “Hi, dad.” I tried not to smirk but I knew not many people could outsmart him. He was hundreds of years old after all. “Both of you get in the car.” His smirk made mine fade. I was missing something but I didn’t know what. As I slid into the back seat of our sedan, I felt only marginally better by Doug’s presence. Squeezing his hand, I said nothing as my dad slammed his door and threw the car into drive. The tires squealed as he pulled away from the curb and sped towards our destination. “Were the theatrics really necessary?” I was startled to see my mother looking at me from the passenger side of the front seat. “Did you have to turn your jock boyfriend into a vampire?” “I love him.” I stared into her eyes and wondered if she even knew the meaning of the word. “We are married; I can’t be sold to the highest bidder anymore.” “Oh honey, is that what you think we did?” My mother’s voice was sympathetic but her eyes blazed in fury. “Where are you taking us?” I hated my parents more in this moment then I can really describe. “The contract must be fulfilled.” My father answered me harshly. A warm bag of blood landed between me and Doug on the seat. I knew it wasn’t for me, it was for him. The look on his face was heartbreaking. He was clearing struggling between disgust and the raw hunger that can consume a hungry vampire. “Doug?” I gently turned his face to mine. “You’re a vampire now; it’s what you have to eat.” “I know.”There was an incredible sadness in his voice that made me want to cry. I picked up the blood and demonstrated how to eat from the bag. I handed it over and as I watched him reluctantly consume his first vampire meal, I wondered if changing him had been a mistake. I already knew it was the most selfish thing I had ever done but I couldn’t regret it. I wouldn’t!The twelve hour drive was completed in silence after that. I fell asleep in Doug’s arms for most of the trip. When I woke up, we were pulling up to a beautiful colonial mansion.“If you aren’t respectful I will kill you.” My father spoke quietly as guards approached the car. “We need this alliance and I will be damned if I will allow you to start a war.”I sat up and looked into Doug’s wide open eyes. I mouthed the words I love you and smiled when he said them back. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him.The car doors were opened and armed guards motioned for us to get out of the car. We were forced inside the massive dwelling and immediately presented to a middle aged man.“Well, I must say you grew into a very lovely young woman.” The man circled me and Doug. He appeared to be sizing up my new husband and stopped to look directly into his face. “I will still be marrying her. Vampire weddings have nothing to do with the current government or your God.”“I won’t-”“Separate them.” The man cut me off and gave the order to the guards.Two new vampires had nothing on the century old guards, and even though we struggled, Doug was dragged from my sight. As the door swung closed on his terrified face, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had killed him.“Tonight, my dear, we wed.” The man watched me carefully.“I don’t even know your name.” I managed to squeak out.“Pierre Von Housier, at your service madam.” He bowed and held a hand out to me.I placed my hand in his and jumped when he kissed my fingers. I mean, who does that anymore?“I have his life in my hands.” Pierre straightened up and looked at me calmly. “Obey without question, and he will live. Disobey me in the slightest today, I will kill him.”I believed him. Fear settled into my belly and I fought to blink back my tears. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to keep Doug safe. I knew Pierre couldn’t actually kill Doug without killing me first, but I didn’t want to see them try either.“It is four p.m. I expect you to be prepared for our wedding by no later than six.” He nodded at a servant before turning and walking away.I went through the motions, horrified at what I was being forced to do. Tonight, I would lose my virginity to a man old enough to be my great, great, great, grandfather. I was probably missing a few “greats” but you get the idea.Before I knew it, I was standing at an altar exchanging blood with Pierre. My parents watched with pride along with a room full of other vampires I had never met. I vaguely noted the feeling of my blood bonding to Pierre’s but I brushed it off knowing it was normal. It meant my body could only accept his seed. If I ever wanted to have a baby, this was the only man who could give me one.“Are you hungry, my dear?” My new vampire husband asked me cryptically.“No.” I wasn’t, I really wasn’t.Pierre ordered a guard to bring me to my new cell…the master bedroom. My shoulders slumped as I made the walk of shame. I was defeated and there was nothing I could do about it. Now that I had bonded my blood to his, he would always be able to find me. If I did anything wrong – like attempting to save Doug and run away – I would be risking the wrath of a five-hundred year old vampire! He could squash me like a bug and I was too weak to stop him! I was trapped.Sitting in an overstuffed chair, I curled into a ball and cried. All I had ever wanted was to love and be loved. I found that in Doug. He was my soul mate and now that I had turned him, the need to be close to him was stronger than before.I was so lost in my grief that I missed the sounds of my vampire husband coming into the room. However, I couldn’t miss it when he began laughing at me. I raised my head in shock and wondered just what kind of monster my parents had married me too!“You must forgive me, my dear!” Pierre chuckled at me. “Sometimes, I forget what a wonderful actor I am.”“What do you mean?” I sniffed.“I would like to present you with a wedding gift.” He grinned evilly.I watched him like a hawk as he crossed the room to stand before a mirror. There was no way I would ever trust him! Winking at me, he raised his hand and knocked on the glass. I was shocked when it swung open to reveal a dark gaping hole in the wall.“Doug!” I cried as he stepped through the wall, his arm held by a guard.The guard released him and he ran across the room and swept me into his arms. Mindless of my vampire husband a few feet away, we embraced. I felt safe in Doug’s arms even though I knew it was an illusion. In a few hundred years maybe, but for now, we were too weak in the vampire world.“Did he explain it to you?” Doug whispered in my ear.“Explain what?” That I was forced to be his vampire bride? Yep, he did!“Aww, don’t ruin my fun Dougie!” Pierre giggled at him.Doug stepped away from me and leaned against the huge bed. I wasn’t sure what was going on but if Doug was okay with it, I knew it couldn’t be that bad. “Child, do you know why I have waited five-hundred years to get married.”I could only shake my head no at Pierre. How could I know that?“The purpose of marriage between vampires is to beget a heir. I need a heir.”I wanted to say “Well, duh!” That is the only reason my parents got married. My dad decided it was time to have an heir. Why he wanted me so he could barter me out? That was another story.“Well,” Pierre cleared his throat and gave me a pointed look.Oh, was my expression too rude for you? So what! He had just forced me to marry him!“The technology finally exists that allows me to have a baby! It has taken a few years to put together, but I have a lab in the basement all set up so we can create a child!” The guard walked up and draped an arm across Pierre’s shoulders.“We have been so excited and anxious for you to turn!” The guard addressed me but I was still confused.“Why do we need a lab to make a baby?” Okay, I wasn’t going to argue with him considering the alternative.The three men in the room started laughing at me. I watched their mirth and tried to figure out what I had missed now.“Oh Darling, your father did too well of a job sheltering you!” Pierre chuckled at me with strange lights dancing in his eyes. “I’m gay.”“He’s gay.” Doug mimicked Pierre’s words. “I am going to be a guard and we can be together whenever we want when the other vampire powers aren’t around!”“He forced me to marry him.” I knew the argument was weak.I had just been forced into marriage by a gay vampire? Can my life get any weirder?“You have to pretend to be his bride and give him a baby.” Doug was almost jumping up and down in his excitement. “Pierre says that the other vampires are only here a few weeks out of the year. The rest of the time, we can just be us!”All at once it hit me. I was married to a gay vampire! It was too good to be true! I threw my arms around Doug’s neck and kissed him deeply. I had never doubted that he was my soul mate and now I got to keep him forever. I had won! Take that dad!“I always knew you were my soul mate!” I whispered against Doug’s lips.“Me too, Danielle.” He cradled my face and kissed me gently. “Me too.”
Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!