Centuries and centuries ago—back when magic ruled the planet—a girl and a boy fell in love.
On the eve of their wedding, the girl walked along moss-covered cliffs like she did most every night.
But this night was different. Normally sure-footed, she slipped. Her feet slid over the cliff’s edge, and her legs and torso followed close behind. The earth tugged at her hanging body. She scrambled to find a handhold, but her fingers skipped over the slick rocks.
Down the girl tumbled. She smashed into black sand closer to a field of pebbles than powder. Beneath a night sky speckled with happy twinkling stars, the girl lay broken. Waves tickled her toes, but she felt nothing. Beneath her, the volcano smoldered. The wind whipped her hair off her bloody face.
The girl’s heart faltered. Her breaths became labored. In one step, she’d ruined their future.
Somehow, the girl’s love found her moments before she died. He cradled her in his arms. Tears rolled down his cheeks. There was no way to save her.
And maybe if she’d been anywhere else with anyone else, that would have been true. Maybe she would have found her peace.
In a desperate plea, the boy begged the earth around him to save his one true love. He begged the animals and the flora of the sea, the sand and the rocks below them. He begged the rushing wind, the raging waters. He begged the fire burning below. He begged anyone and anything out there to save her, to keep her from dying.
He thought no one and nothing listened.
He thought she would die.
He was wrong.
When the ground trembled beneath them, he shifted her body onto his lap, protecting her. When the wind ripped at his bare skin, he curled around her, shielding her. When the sea rose to claim them both, he gripped her harder and squeezed his eyes shut. If she couldn’t live, neither of them would. The waves collected the couple into its watery embrace.
A rumble—great and terrible—roared over the island. Lava spewed into the starry sky. It rushed into the waiting ocean.
It met the drowning boy and dying girl.
It swirled around them.
It caressed the girl’s face, her arms, her legs.
She breathed it in.
It scorched her throat.
It saved her.
With more strength than she’d ever known, the girl dragged herself and her unconscious love out of that angry ocean. Where once she delighted in the black sand scraping against her toes and heels, there was nothing. Where once she gazed at the millions of shining stars in wonder, there was nothing. Where once she longed for her next adventure, there was nothing.
Except the blood humming in her lover’s veins, the sweetest of serenades. He was still alive!
The girl crouched over him, her hands resting on his bare chest. It hitched during each inhale and exhale, like every breath pained him. The scent of her love’s blood wafted up her nostrils.
The girl’s incisors lengthened. Her throat burned. A thirst unlike any she’d ever known overtook her every sense, her every thought. Mesmerized, she dipped her face to his neck. Her cold cheek tingled where it brushed against his warm skin. Her fangs throbbed with need.
The girl kissed her love on the lips.
On the cheek.
In the hollow behind his earlobe.
On the neck.
Again, she kissed him on the neck. Her teeth scraped against skin as fragile as cracked parchment.
He shuddered beneath her.
Her canines dug deeper. A drop of blood hit her tongue.
Both sweet and tart, it tasted like a cherry on the verge of being ripe. A breath later, it morphed to buttery with a hint of caramel.
The girl’s body shivered. She needed this. Her fangs cut deeper.
Her love’s blood filled her mouth. It was thick like molasses, yet smooth.
The girl’s every nerve sparked. A gleeful excitement raced through her veins. Her entire life she’d waited for this.
Her hands tightened around his shoulders. Talons sprang from her nails. They bored into his flesh.
As did her teeth.
Blood poured into the girl’s mouth faster than she could swallow. It spilled over her lips, her throat, her chest. With every gulp, she grew stronger and faster. With every gulp, she lost her humanity.
The first vampire was born.