Sebastian was turned into a vampire on his eighteenth birthday by his mother, whom he thought had died ten years earlier. His mother teaches him how to live amongst humans without spilling human blood. Almost two centuries later, his mother is killed and he blames humans. After a year of brutally killing humans to exact vengeance, he comes upon the young child of a woman he just killed. He can't bring himself to hurt the girl, so he names her Hanna after his mother, and finds a family to raise her. He anonymously provides for her, making sure her new parents have all the money they need to ensure she has a good life. Sebastian disappears from Hanna's life to better himself for all the killings he has committed. Although Hanna is out of his life, Sebastian can't get her out of his head, and believes his love for her is like a father. He reappears in her life seventeen years later to see how she is faring, only to see that Hanna has grown into a beautiful woman. He falls in love with her all over again, but this time as a lover. He plans an "accidental" meeting, which does not go well. Before Sebastian leaves Hanna once again, he learns that vampires and wolves are after her. Now it is up to Sebastian to secretly guard Hanna's life.
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December 14, 1803 London
I turned round and felt her strong grip on my shoulder. She spun me away from her, before I could catch a glimpse of her face, and tightened her hold on me. Then she bent my head to the side, exposing my neck. I tried to wriggle free, but her strength overpowered me. In my attempt to break free, I waved my hands around fitfully and grabbed a bunch of her hair. How could this be happening to me today of all days? Who have I wronged? I thought. I treated everyone with kindness. Why would anyone want me dead?
I could feel the swell of her breast pressed against my back. Her body felt like steel as her cold breath greeted my neck. Then I felt a piercing sting as her teeth sank into me, and a sharp ghastly pain shot through my whole body. I knew then that death had come knocking.
I looked down at my father and found it sad and very ironic that I'd been dealt the same hand as he on this very night. I wondered what he was thinking. I bet he would be grinning if he could see me so close to the end of my life on the day I turned eighteen. I thought I had turned into a man this morning, and this wasn't exactly how I had planned my freedom from him.
It's a shame I'll never get the chance to prove them all wrong — all those who said I would turn out like him, who reckoned we'd been cursed. Perhaps they were right. I did all I could to get out from underneath him and all the hatred that consumed us both. I guess some things do not change however much it is willed.
I felt my blood dripping down my neck and felt very light. I wondered why I ever thought it was a good idea to find him. He wasn't worth it — definitely not worth losing my life for. It is true what they say: Your whole life flashes before you when you know death is inevitable. I found myself suddenly thinking of the events of my life that had led me to this horrible night.
I remember putting on my torn coat and stepping out into the frosty, foggy night. I tried to steady myself against the gusting wind — it felt like a tornado was in town. Everyone was rushing home and getting their children inside, while I was heading out against my better judgment. The ground was wet and filled with black ice, as it had snowed heavily two days earlier. And if that wasn't enough, the clouds opened up and rain started to pour down. All the elements seemed to be against my coming out tonight, but staying in was not an option until he was found.
I walked quickly along, being careful so I wouldn't slip on the ice. I secretly wished I was at home in front of a warm fire, sipping hot tea, and feeling it slide down my throat. No one in his right mind should be out on this night, but leave it to my father to always put me in situations like this.
I pulled up my collar to keep the rain from slipping down my neck and wrapped my coat around me once more to keep warm. It was impossible, because I was drenched, and the nips and tears on my coat made it even worse. I was cold and shivering down to my spine. I dragged my hat down to cover my ears and rubbed my hands together to stop them from freezing. Even though I was wearing gloves, the bitter cold was turning my hands numb.
For a thousand times, I wonder why I am subjecting myself to these harsh conditions for his sake. It's not like I care for him. And if I don't, why can't I just let him pass the night wherever he sees fit? I have talked myself out of looking for him so many times just to find myself doing the exact thing I hate to do. It's because no one else will, I tell myself; nobody cares what happens to him, as nobody around here cares what happens to me, either. We have no living relatives in England, so I couldn't pass the buck to someone else if I wanted. Not that any sane person would stick around for him. The only other relative we have is my mother's wealthy brother who lives in America.
These are the times I miss her most. No matter how bad things got, she always found a way to fix them. I would like to think that if she were still around, things never would have gotten this bad. I miss her, and I miss the oblivion to the pain and suffering life constantly dealt out when she was alive.
Thinking about my life took me away from death for a second. She released her hold on me, and I felt my body slump as I hit the ground hard. Her hair, which I had pulled in my attempt to break free, was in my hand. I felt her knees beside me, but I couldn't move. I wanted to scream for help and tried to open my mouth, but a big cough came up my throat, and I spurted out blood instead. I gasped for air as my blood choked me. I didn't deserve to die like this. I wanted to ask her why.
She stood over me, hovered above me, and examined me. She smelt different — expensive I would say — not like anyone I have come across around here. I looked straight at her, but couldn't make out her face. I couldn't tell if that was due to the fog or just the fact that I was dying and in pain, which made it difficult for me to process anything. It pained me even more that I couldn't picture her face. I should at least know who was killing me and why. I reckon most people know who their killers are; why has mine taken that from me? The pain was getting to uncomfortable heights. Why was it taking so long, and why was she making me suffer?
Three hours ago, I had been standing in front of the ship headed for America and watched as the captain called the last passengers. I had my ticket in one hand and my bag in the other, but I stood and watched as it sailed away. I should have taken my uncle's offer and hopped on that ship. I should have gone far from here and never looked back. That's what mother would have wanted. I had my chance and let it slip out my fingers — for him.
I imagined him laughing uncontrollably, saying what a fool I had been — and this time he wouldn't have been wrong. I was a fool to have stayed back. His voice in my head was the last thing I wanted to hear, but all I could think about was the number of times he'd said, I told you that you would never be better than me, that you would never amount to anything. I tried to block his voice out of my head, which brought me back to the pain that was consuming me. I thought of my mother instead, the only person who'd ever loved me. I wanted her with me now, I wanted to hold her hand, I wanted her to tell me not to be afraid, and that we would be together soon. I tried to picture her face, but like always, I couldn't remember what she looked like.
I wondered why I didn't die the minute I hit the ground. If she meant to kill me, why was she taking her time? A glimmer of hope lit up in my head: Perhaps I should hang on as much as I could bear; someone could pass through and save me from the clutches of death.
I found it difficult to breathe. The air around me felt so hot, and my body rejected each breath I took. I could feel my lungs shutting down. It was now a big struggle to stay alive. Every single second was a battle, but I held on to the hope that I may yet be rescued.
I never believed in bad luck or curses just because I had been tagged with it since my mother's passing. I always felt that if I didn't believe in it, then when I was old enough, I could turn it all around. I hoped for a life away from here. I had dreamed of finding a girl to love and be loved back. I hoped that one day, if I were lucky enough to father a child, I would adore and give him all the love in the world. It seemed, even though I never believed in it, it found me still.
My mother, Elizabeth Hanna Francis, died when I was eight years old. We were very close. She was the centre of my universe, and I was hers. I loved her very much, and she doted on me until the day she died on her way home, I was told, from the market. My father said she was attacked by an animal and bled to death. My father wept like I had never seen him weep. He had been a mess, and then he quickly buried her the next day. He did not waste any time getting rid of all her possessions. He was angry that she had left him so soon, and he smashed up everything in the house in that anger. You would think she had left him to be with another man or that she had asked to be killed. Everything that reminded him of her he gave away or chucked out. I begged him not to give away the keyboard my mother taught me music on. We had sat by the fire every night, and she played to me. She taught me to understand music and how it affects life. He sold it without considering my feelings. I had no say and watched with sadness as it was hauled away. I had no right, according to him, to keep anything that belonged to her. Soon enough, with everything of hers gone, it was as if she had never existed.
For me, my mother's death was a shock. I never got my head round it. To make matters worse, he didn't allow me to come to her burial. He left me with a neighbour when he went to bury her. I never got to say goodbye. I hate him because of this. I hate everything about him, but mostly I hate the fact that people always say I look like him. I am nothing like my father. However, the sad truth is that each time I look at my reflection, I see the green eyes, the dark locks, and the build and height of a man I detest.
We may look alike, but we are nothing alike. Each time I am faced with a decision, I ask myself What would my father do? and then I do the opposite — a decision that has brought me to this horrible night.
Ten years on and it still seems like a bad dream to me. There are times I think I will wake up to find it all has been one horrible nightmare and my mother is still here. I remember nights waking up yelling for my mother, and sometimes it didn't seem like a dream when I heard her voice in my ears whispering to me or singing. It felt so real, but as soon as I was fully awake, the reality soon hit me.
My father hated it when I called for her. He would yank me up from my bed and throw me across the room. He didn't understand what I was going through. He couldn't help me grieve, and I couldn't help him in his pain, although he had his bottles to help pacify him.
One night when I dreamt of her, I could feel her touch on my skin. I opened my eyes and called for her. He got really mad and slapped me across the face and said, "Never ask for her again! Never call her name! She is gone and never coming back! Do you understand, you twat? Next time you do this, I will throw you out!" I could tell he meant every word, because his eyes were dead — there was no compassion in them. I never asked for her again. I was too scared of him, and the nightmares never stopped.
It's a funny thing how life changes on you without notice. One minute you're in heaven and the next minute you feel as if you are living and dining with the devil himself. He hated competing for my mother's love, and she always chose me over him. At least back then he was not a drunk, and he never hit me. We just didn't bond like a father and son should. He never tried, and I never gave him the chance. So it's no surprise that he decided to ignore me after she passed. Her death made way for his darker side. He beat me at the slightest chance and fed me like I was his dog and locked me up for days while he went out to do his shenanigans.
Not long now, I thought. The glimmer of hope I had has faded. There was no chance of living now. Perhaps I should accept my fate and stop fighting. Maybe if I stopped fighting, this pain would cease, and I could be at peace. Then I felt her cold hands on my forehead, wiping the sweat pouring down my face. I felt like I was on fire, even though the weather was freezing. I knew I should give in now. I was getting tired of fighting. I needed the pain to stop so I could rest. It would be the easiest thing to do, but I couldn't allow myself to just give in. It felt wrong accepting that my life would be over in a few minutes.
I have struggled to survive all my life, begged for food and clothes, and run all kinds of errands to survive, because my father didn't care if I lived or died. Between his gambling, whoring, and drinking, he hardly knew nor cared where I got my daily meal. Some of my mother's old friends pretended not to know who I was and ordered their children away from me like I was a plague. If I could survive all that, then surely I could hold on to a few more minutes of agony.
From the corner of my eye, I looked at my father and wondered if he had gone through the same pain as I am.
I stumbled upon a human pile on the floor of a lonely alley as I searched around for him. On a closer inspection, he had not disappointed me. He was lying there, drink still in hand. I wasn't surprised at all — I had picked him up from the street a number of times when he had passed out from drinking.
But something was different; I could feel it as I stood over him. I gently kicked him on his side, and he didn't stir. His eyes were looking right at me, and in my heart, I knew he was gone, but I needed to be sure. So I took off my gloves and placed my left hand on his neck to check for a pulse: There was nothing. I must admit, I was a little shaken. What one does immediately after discovering one's father's dead body was unknown to me. Everything and everywhere was quiet. I felt like the whole world was waiting for me to decide how I was going to feel. One thing was certain: I was never going to cry for him. I wondered if anyone would cry for him, judging by his track record.
His face looked white and grey, the colours that signify life had left him — not that he had much left with his way of living. I wondered how long he had been lying down here lifeless. I squatted next to his body. Somehow, I felt relieved of a burden and didn't feel ashamed of my thoughts. I dug my hands into my pocket and pulled out the ticket that should have seen me well away from here hours ago. In a way, at that moment in time, I was glad I stayed — at least now that he's dead, if I go away, I won't have to wonder how he is. For once in his life, he finally did me a good turn, and I could now make that trip to America.
As I was about to pick him up, I heard a sound behind me and could feel someone standing very close. For some reason, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and suddenly I was very afraid. Slowly I turned around to see who it was, and, before I could blink, she grabbed me. The next thing I knew, her teeth were sinking into me.
I was tired and had no fight left in me. I wanted peace now at any cost. I wanted to be free of the pain consuming me.
"Let go, you will be fine," she whispered to me. I thought to myself, there is no reason to struggle to live anymore, no one to stay alive for, no one to miss me, and no reason to suffer this much. So I die the same day and the same night he died and on the day I turn eighteen. What does it matter now that I can't do a thing about it?
The pain climaxed again, and I knew this time that I couldn't hold out any longer. She wiped my forehead again. I wondered why she was doing that. I didn't want her touching me. She is the reason I am dying after all. My body was shutting down, and it was time to rest. I knew that now was the time to let go, time to set myself truly free. Like she could read my mind, she held my hand as if to reassure me once more. It didn't matter anyway. I was tired of fighting a losing battle. I let out a little air in relief and could feel my body flop as the lights went out.
THREE DAYS LATER
I opened my eyes and found myself alone in a strange room. I wasn't really sure where I was, but I was alive and not dead. I tapped myself just to be sure this was real. It seemed strange that I was not dead. Not that I am not thankful, I was just pondering how I had survived such an ordeal. Someone must have come for me.
I was happy in a way. It meant that I mattered to somebody. My body felt different though: whole. I never felt more alive than I did just then. All that pain from before seemed like a dream now. I took in my surroundings: The room was very large, but empty. There was nothing in it apart from the bed I was lying on. There was a big window right in front of me, and the sky looked bright — it looked like it was noon. I knew then what I must do immediately while the sun was still shining: I wanted to get out now, thank whoever brought me here, and start my life afresh away from here. I got up from the bed and walked toward the window. I wanted to feel the fresh breeze on my face and remind myself again how lucky I was to still be alive. My feet felt heavy at first, but with each step I took, they became lighter.
Excerpted from "Sebastian"
Copyright © 2013 Elizabeth Johnson.
Excerpted by permission of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co..
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