• -:>Maribelle<:-

    Shortly after I had started picking up the kitchen counter, a few drips of blood splashed near my bare feet. Startled, I glanced down and realized that there was a small pool on the counter near the stainless steel sink.

    Leo must've dripped when he was serving the drinks. I thought irritably and swiped up the mess with a red dishcloth. The cloth was a joke between me and Leo. I had told him it was either my favorite, or my least favorite color. He had vouched for the purple, but I grabbed the red off the stack before he could object it. But now as I chased the red stuff around the floor with the towel, I was beginning to wonder why he had just let me off so easily.

    Finally, the mess was gone, and I straightened once more. Desdemona strutted into the room, proudly parading with a freshly killed rodent. I laughed quietly and rinsed the cloth with the warm water that bubbled out of the faucet. Dessy set the mouse on the floor and looked up to me, then mewled quietly.

    "Yeah, I know. Leo is so unpredictable these days." I shook the rag, spraying the water everywhere, and threw it on the counter with some force behind it. It created a loud slap that somehow comforted me, then I stalked out into the living room, where everything was straightened and readied.

    I had only met Alexandra once, but then she was just a little one back then. I then wondered if Leo's adoptive parents had realized he wasn't aging by now. Most likely not. They were admittedly a little air-headed. I closed Leo's door quietly, not bearing to look at the monstrous mess in there anymore; there was no way he could expect me to clean it up in time for the little teenager to arrive.

    Dessy nudged my leg, and I looked down to see her with a small spot of blood on her left cheek. I kneeled close and wiped the drop clear, but then another fell closeby. I picked up that one too, then stood and examined the little red splotch on my finger. It was clear with a pale red tint, and immediately made me gasp and raise a hand to my mouth. I pulled my hand away from my lips, and a thin stream with the same liquid was already running down my wrist.

    "S**t." I cussed under my breath and rushed back into the kitchen, leaning over the sink as I madly ran the dishcloth over my mouth.

    I had reached it. My vampire monthly. The only time I could give back all the extra blood I had taken and not used. My mouth would be full for the next few days. Just the amount of time Alexandra was staying.

    I spat the mouthful that had built up in my mouth into the sink, then I cursed again. It was too clear; I hadn't drunk enough the past few weeks.

    And then it hit me. Leo was in the car, probably just starting his too. How would he explain us to Alexandra? Just as I was having this thought, the phone rang loudly in the living room, trilling against my sensitive ear drum. I rushed to the phone and breathed a greeting into the phone.

    "You reached yours too, eh?" Leo said into the earpiece, his mouth sounding full.

    "Yeah." I said dully, wiping drips with the back of my sleeve. "What'll we do about Alexandra?" I asked him, knowing he was worrying the same thing.

    "I'm not sure. Alex, I somehow contracted a rare disease that makes me bleed at the mouth, and is not contagious, but my wife also has the same problem. It's not contagious, don't worry. Yeah, I think she'd take it really well." Leo said sarcastically, running through an imaginary conversation with his step-sister. "I wish I had brought the neutrilizers. It would've been a great help right about now." He said with a sigh. I heard him quietly curse and the sound of something squeaking as it was rubbed soon followed.

    "Better not be staining my car." I grumbled and stretched the cord 'till I was standing over the sink once again. I emptied my mouth once more, then sighed heavily. "If all else failes, I have the neutrilizers here. Just keep from opening your mouth until you get here." I told him, then leaned tiredly against the counter. Dessy meowed loudly next to me, rubbing my leg lovingly.

    "Fine, Dessy." I stooped to the cabinet below me and pulled out the cat food container and dish. I poured Dessy a bowl with the phone resting between my shoulder and my lean chin. My hair lazily covered it, but I could still hear Leo's troubled mumbles on the other side of the line.

    "I guess I can't do anything else." Leo muttered and announced he had arrived at the airport. I tried sounding optimistic, but obviously failed and forced myself to say goodbye while Leo ventured onward, restricted by a mouthful of blood.

    I cleared my mouth and hung up the phone on my way to Leo's bathroom. There he kept a whole stash of the famous neutrilizers. They delayed the effects of the leaking, but kept us unsettled, and in a way constipated until the neutrilizers wore off, a total of three long days.

    I tore a packet from the cabinet and ripped it open, dumping the small pile of pills into my mouth. I used some water from the sink in the bathroom to finish off the pills, then wiped my mouth clean with the back of my wrist. I glared at the reflection that stared back with the same irritated expression. I hung my head and gasped as the pills took immediate effect and blocked off the steady flow of the clear blood.

    I took in an unsteady breath and blinked rapidly to clear my eyes. I hoped with all my might the pills would keep the flow off for a long time. At least there was a bright side to the vampire monthly: I wouldn't have to drink any blood for the next few days.


    I stood in the stream of pushing and shoving people, nervously shifting from one foot to the other. My heavy backpack was weighing down my shoulder, making it sting under the weight. It contained all my clothes and entertainment for the next week or so. I kept peeking above the crowd's heads by standing on my tip-toes, but I still couldn't see Leo's tall mass of curls. Finally, in one corner, I saw Leo's slim face coming my way. I smiled widely and waved, but something was off in his face. He seemed distracted, and didn't even wave back.

    I cautiously lowered my hand and shifted my thin blonde hair behind my ear and my backpack strap on my shoulder. He repeatedly wiped his chin of nothing I could see before he walked up to me, smiling with lips clenched together.

    "Hi, Leo!" I said excitedly, and he wrapped me into a hug. I could hear him swallow before he responded in a nervous voice.

    "Hey, Chickly." He said with some enthusiasm, but it sounded short-lived and unreal.

    "Is something wrong?" I asked, cocking my head to the left as I examined his worried eyes. They were still the same blood-red that had always attracted me, pulled me in deep whenever we talked, but now a deep worry was nestled along with the cheeriness he normally held.

    "Nah, nothing's wrong." He took my backpack and easily threw it over his shoulder, holding it as if it were as light as a sheet of paper. I could've sworn I'd caught him swallowing again.

    When we got to the car, I noticed some stains on the dash, a bunch of little red spots in the appearance of a single spray of a paint can.

    "What's this?" I asked curiously and examined them closely. Leo ignored my question.

    "Better buckle up, Chickly." He instructed, tugging the belt free from the seat behind me. I took a deep, relaxing breath and pulled the belt safely in front of me; nearly as soon as the belt clicked into the holder, the Mustang sped out of the lot, expertly weaving between the lines of cars on the way out the gate.

    "Are we going fast enough?" I said sarcastically.

    Not so sarcastically, Leo responded, "No, we're not." He dodged a motorcycle and pressed hard on the accelerator.

    "Leo, I was joking! Slow down, we're gonna get in trouble!" I exclaimed, holding the door's handle for dear life.

    Not once on the way to the mountainous abode did he slow down.


    I sighed in relief as I stepped out of the hot shower and quickly towelled my hair dry. I heard the door open quietly, along with the excited voice of a young girl. I quickly shut the bathroom door and tugged on my clean pair of faded jeans, followed by a green tee. I took a fast moment to reminisce the contrast of the dress from the early 1600's.

    A knock on the door sounded quietly.

    "Come on in." I called quietly, pulling my still damp hair into a quick bun on the top of my head. Leo squeezed into the room and burst into the neutrilizers I had set on the tan marble counter. I downed them quickly, and I could only guess Alexandra had questioned his strange behavior. Leo held out his hands, told me to wait a moment -- which wasn't much of a problem -- and left without another word.

    I quickly did my makeup, a light green shade on the eyes that greatly contrasted my red eyes, and dark mascara on my lashes. By that time, Leo had come back to fetch me from his room.


    Leo disappeared twice into his room, urging me each time to settle down on the long couch. I had resisted once -- seeing a wet spot on one side, not wanting to know what had made it -- but had given in the second, sitting as far as I could from the spot. Leo had assured me it was only water, but I didn't want to take my chances.

    "Oh, what a pretty kitty!" I exclaimed and picked up the long-haired, dusty colored cat that had wandered my way. She didn't seem to struggled, but welcomed my touch.

    "Don't spoil her too much. She gets very vain." I looked up with surprise at the lovely voice, and saw a beautiful woman leaning in the doorway. Her green shirt hugged her perfect frame so nicely, and her faded jeans just added to her figure. Her hair was lazily pulled into a messy bun, as if she had just put it up without a care. Leo was standing next to her with a hand on her shoulder, the familiar smile finally lighting up his face.

    The cat tumbled out of my grip and wandered over to the woman, who picked it up and cradled it like a child.

    "This is Desdemona, or Dessy as I call her. She's the sweetest thing in the whole world." The woman rubbed her nose to the cat's then let her go back around toward the kitchen area.

    "So you must be Alexandra." She said. I could detect approval in her voice as she examined me. It made me feel self-conscious being compared to the beautiful woman, but was amazed that she found me pretty in my black sweatshirt and skinny jeans.

    "I am." My voice slightly trembled, and I coughed to cover it up. The woman seemed amused and not fooled, and I blushed slightly at the reaction.

    "This is my wife, Maribelle." Leo introduced her. She held out a welcoming hand, stepping away from the doorway so quickly I had to blink to make sure it wasn't my imagination. I shook her hand, which seemed cool to the touch; the same cold touch as Leo's. I just then noticed she had the same tint of eyes as Leo did.

    "You can call me Mari if you want... That's what some people call me around here." She threw a quick glance over her shoulder at Leo, then turned back to me.

    "You'll be staying in the guest room. Would you follow me?" She turned, then seeming to remember something, turned back to Leo. "Where did you put her bag?"

    Leo pointed, and Mari nodded quickly, stooping near the door that was completely out of sight.

    How'd she know Leo brought in my bag? I wondered, watching her carry the bag just as easily as Leo had. Leo didn't say anything about where the bag was, just pointed in that direction. How'd she know it was over there? I stood and smiled at Leo, then followed her quick steps through the kitchen and dining room, through another door and into a different hallway. From there branched a stairwell, two other doors, and a bathroom from what I could tell.

    Mari led me up the stairs and across the walkway, from which I could see the living room and Leo standing still in his doorway. He seemed restless, nervous even. Something was definately bothering him.

    I only realized Mari had stopped when I accidently ran into her and tumbled to the floor.

    "Oh, I'm sorry. Just realized the door was locked." She chuckled humorlessly and dug in her pocket until she found what she was looking for. The door was open before I had pulled myself from the floor. She held the key out on a single keychain and dangled it in front of my face before she stepped into the room. I took it and examined the dark red rose keychain that was attached to the shiney metal key.

    "Here we are, home sweet home." Mari said cheerfully and carefully set the bag on the wide bed. The black drapes covered the windows, but I could barely make out the figure of a huge room. With obvious reluctance, Mari pulled back the drapes to reveal the room. I gaped at the sight.

    A large bed with dark purple covers and a black swarm of gauze that surrounded it was off to the side. Chairs with black material were shoved into one corner, circling a stylish coffee table. A tall broken mirror stood behind the vanity table almost behind the door, and a door that led into a bathroom was on the far right. Next to the vanity table was a tall mannequin with a gorgeous dark purple gown and a purple rose headband on the head. To this I was immediately drawn to.

    "Do you like it?" Mari questioned, leaning close to my ear. I hadn't even heard her approach, but I numbly nodded.

    "It's gorgeous." I said, stroking the silky fabric.

    "It was a pain to wear." Mari pointed out with another light chuckle.

    "What was it for?" I asked quietly, touching the high collar. It looked like it could've come from the Renaissance period.

    "It was my wedding dress." She admitted, pulling the giant bow into line. "It was a joke from my mother; purple isn't my favorite color, to put it nicely." She stood and swept gracefully to the door. "Make yourself at home. Lunch'll be ready in a few minutes if you're up to it." Mari turned quickly and shut the door gently behind her, leaving me to my peace.

    I examined the room once more, then threw myself on the giant bed. It was as comfortable as it looked, and I could've easily fell asleep right then and there.

    "I think I'm going to like it here." I said happily, and closed my eyes peacefully, remembering the way Mari and my brother Leo reacted. They seemed to treat each other as friends, not as lovers. Mari joked about the wedding dress as if she didn't care for it. It might've been an arranged marriage, but they seemed to get along quite well.

    Eventually, under the warm sun, I drifted into a light slumber, dreaming about the strange and beautiful Mari.