Chapter Six Robert’s past and Robert takes Kristen to meet his family

The next day after school, Kristen stood in the school grounds searching for him. After a minute she spotted him. He was alone, he stopped and look at her with a seriously look on his face. Kristen’s face harden up a little and she walked towards him. Robert just stood there. Kristen shot him a look as she walked past him. Robert turned and watched her for a moment before following her. They walked towards the woods near the school.

Kristen walked deeper into the woods. She could feel Robert following, but she didn’t stop to look. When she was sure that they were deep enough, she threw down her rucksack, took a few more steps and stopped. Her breathing was trembling. Robert was walking slowly up behind her. “You’re impossibly fast and strong. Your skin is pale white and ice-cold. Your eyes change colour. And sometimes you speak like you’re from a different time. You never eat or drink anything. You don’t go out in the sunlight” said Kristen. Robert was now standing a few inches behind her. Kristen gasped quietly. “How old are you?” she asked. “Seventeen” replied Robert. “How long have you been 17?” asked Kristen. “A while” replied Robert. For a moment either of them spoke. “I know what you are” said Kristen. “Say it. Out loud. Say it” said Robert. Kristen couldn’t speak for a minute. “Vampire” she finally said. She began to feel very frightened now. Wondering what he would do to her now she knew. “Are you afraid?” asked Robert. She let out a trembling breath. Kristen controlled herself before turning to face him. “No” she said and shook her head. Robert looked at her. “Then ask me the most basic question. What do we eat?” he said. Kristen just looked at him. “You won’t hurt me” she said. Robert’s face harden, he grabbed Kristen by the arm and lead her away. “Where we going?” asked Kristen. “Up the mountain. Out of the cloud bank. You need to see what I look like in the sunlight” replied Robert. They stopped at the base of the mountain. Without warning, Robert flung Kristen onto his back and ran up the mountain in lighting speed. Kristen just held on for dear life.

Robert didn’t slow until they were so distance up. As they came to a patch of sunlight shining down, Robert dropped Kristen and walked towards it. Kristen panted as he let go of her. She watched him walked towards the ray of sunlight. “This is why we don’t show ourselves in sunlight. People would know we’re different” said Robert, it looked like he was unbuttoning his shirt. Kristen just stood there, watching. Robert in the sunlight and to Kristen it looked like nothing happened. He turned to face her. “This is what I am” he said. His skin was sparkling. Kristen was speechless as she took in what she was seeing and gasped. “It’s like diamonds” she said. Robert looked at her. “You’re beautiful” said Kristen. Robert disagreed and made a face. “Beautiful? This is the skin of a killer, Kristen” he said. He turned away doing his shirt up. Kristen watched him. Robert went into the trees on the left and Kristen followed him.

They walked down a sloop. “I’m a killer” said Robert turning to Kristen. “I don’t believe that” said Kristen still following him. She slipped on a bit of earth, but didn’t fall down. “That’s because you believe the lie. It’s camouflage” said Robert. He stopped and turned to face her. “I’m the world’s most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in, my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I would need any of that” he said getting angry. With a loud whooshing, he had run off. Kristen starred after him. She looked up and he came into view on a huge boulder size rock, jumping out of a tree. “As if you can outrun me!” Robert shouted. Kristen starred at him in shock. Suddenly he jumped off and was gone again. Two more whooshes sent Kristen looking around, but she couldn’t see him. The fourth whoosh was right behind her, she turned to see him standing a few feet behind her. “As if you could fight me off” he said angrily. He grabbed a tree root, pulled it off and threw it across the space. It smashed into a rock, but didn’t break. Kristen felt very frightened now and looked back at him. “I’m designed to kill” said Robert quietly now. Kristen pushed her fear back. “I don’t care” she said. Robert starred at her in disbelief. “I’ve killed people before” he said. “It does not matter” said Kristen. Robert was having trouble holding something back. “I wanted to kill you. I’ve never wanted a human’s blood so much in my life” he said. “I trust you” said Kristen. Robert leaned forward and touched her cheek with his fingertips. “Don’t” he said. “I’m here. I trust you” said Kristen. She moved to quickly and with a whoosh, he was gone again. Kristen looked around searching. She looked up and found him up a tree, crouching down, a few feet above her. “My family, we’re different from others of our kind. We only hunt animals. We’ve learned to control our thirst. (He leaned over her). But it’s you, your scent, it’s like a drug to me. You’re like my own personal brand of heroin” said Robert. With another whoosh, he was now lower down, so Kristen could almost touch him. Kristen walked over and Robert crouched farther down. They stared into each other’s eyes. “Why did you hate me so much when we met?” asked Kristen. “I did. Only for making me want you so badly. I still don’t know if I can control myself” replied Robert. Kristen reached up and grabbed one of the branches. “I know you can” she said, pulling herself up into the tree. They starred at each other for a few seconds before Robert jumped down and walked away. He stopped by three huge moss covered boulder sized rocks. Kristen was following him. “I can’t read your mind” said Robert. He turned to face her and held out his arms. He had Kristen with her back against one of the rocks with his arms on either side, blocking her. “You have to tell me what you’re thinking” he said. “Now I’m afraid” she said after a pause. Robert lowered an arm. “Good” he said, lowering his other arm and backing away. Kristen came right up to him. “I’m not afraid of you. I’m only afraid of losing you. I feel like you’re gonna disappear” she said. Robert looked right into her eyes. There was a longer pause. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for you” said Robert. He put his hand on Kristen’s chest. “So the lion fell in love with the lamb” he said. “What a stupid lamb” said Kristen. “What a sick, masochistic lion” said Robert, smiling a little. For a long while, they looked straight into each other’s eyes.

Moments later, Robert took Kristen to a place where he went on sunny days. It was a meadow. There were white and purple wild flowers growing everywhere. They sat down on the grass and talked. After awhile, Kristen laid back and Robert laid down next to her. They stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment. They both looked up as the sun broke through the clouds, lighting up the meadow. Robert’s skin was shining like diamonds again. They looked back at each other and stayed like that for hours.

The next day, Kristen was laying on her bed thinking about yesterday afternoon. “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Robert was a vampire. (She sat up). Second, there was a part of him, and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be, that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him” she thought. As she sat there, a horn honked twice. She got up and walked to the window. She looked down to see Robert standing next to his car waiting for her. Kristen shock her head slightly, smiled and went to get her jacket and rucksack.

At school, Justin was handing out flyers for the dance in the parking lot. “Monte Carlo? That’s our dance theme?” asked Anna. “Gambling, tuxedos and Bond, James Bond” replied Justin, still handing them out. Christian held her camera up and the sound of an engine purring made her turn around. She lowered it with a surprised look on her face. “Oh, my God” she said smiling. Robert was walking to the front passage side door. He opened it and Kristen stepped out. She looked very nervous as they walked. “Wow. (She cleared her throat). You know, everybody’s staring” she said. Justin, Christian and Anna moved back, Justin looked like he couldn’t believe his eyes while Christian and Anna were smiling. “Not that guy. (He pointed out). No, he just looked. (He looked over at someone or something). I’m breaking all the rules now anyway. (Kristen looked up at him). Since I’m going to hell” said Robert. He put his arm around Kristen’s shoulder, looked over at his family, smiled and walked away with Kristen. His family had been standing next to Nikki’s BMW and looked annoyed at their brother’s behaviour.

The next day after school, Robert took Kristen to one of the rivers. As they walked, they talked. “So, does a person have to be dying to become like you?” asked Kristen. “No, that’s just Peter. He’d never do this to someone who had another choice” replied Robert. “So, is Peter, like, the eldest one?” asked Kristen. “Yeah. He’s been like this since 1663” replied Robert. They stood on the edge of the river. “What about you? When were you born?” asked Kristen. Robert looked at the river and took a deep breath. “I was born Robert Marcus in Chicago, Illinois in 1901 my eyes were green before it happened. I was seventeen at the time” he replied. “So, how long have you been like this?” asked Kristen. “Since 1918. That’s when Peter found me dying of Spanish influenza. My parents (Edward and Elizabeth) had already died from the disease” replied Robert. “What was it like?” asked Kristen. “The venom was excruciating. But what Peter did was much harder. Not many of us have the restraint to do that” replied Robert. “But didn’t he just have to bite?” asked Kristen confused. “Not exactly. When we taste human blood, a sort of frenzy begins, and it’s almost impossible to stop” replied Robert. They sat down. “But Peter did” said Kristen. “First with me and then with his wife, Elizabeth. We in Ashland, Wisconsin in 1921, when Peter found her” said Robert. “Have you always been with Peter?” asked Kristen. “No, I left them in 1927, but I went back to them in 1931” replied Robert. “What about the others?” asked Kristen. “The next one to be brought into the family was Nikki. We were in Rochester, New York in 1933, when Peter found her. The last one to be brought into the family was Kellan. We were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in 1935, when Nikki found him, but she asked Peter to change him, feeling she didn’t the restraint to stop” replied Robert. “What about Ashley and Jackson?” asked Kristen. “They joined the family in 1950, they had been together since 1948. Jackson belonged to another family, very different from ours. Ashley is a complete mystery, she doesn’t remember anything of her human life” replied Robert.

Kristen felt the need to change the subject. “So is Peter the real reason that you don’t kill people?” she asked. Robert looked at the river for awhile. “No, he’s not the only reason. I don’t want to be a monster. My family, we think of ourselves as vegetarians, right, ‘cause we only survive on the blood of animals. But it’s... It’s like a human only living on tofu. It keeps you strong, but you’re never fully satisfied. It would be like drinking our blood, for instance” he said. Kristen looked down and smiled. Robert looked down. As she looked down, Kristen thought of something and looked up quickly. “Was it other vampires that killed Ned?” she asked. Robert’s face became hard. “Yeah. There are others out there, and we run into them from time to time” he replied. They both looked down for a minute. “Can the rest of your family read people’s minds like you can?” asked Kristen pointing to her own. “No. That’s just me. But Ashley can see the future and Jackson can feel and manipulate emotions” replied Robert. “I bet she saw me coming” said Kristen. “Ashley’s visions are subjective. I mean, the future can always change” said Robert. He stood up, walked to the edge of the rock and jumped onto the one in front. Kristen just sat there and watched.

The next day, Kristen was in the front yard cleaning her truck, while listening to her IPod. Suddenly there was a loud bang. She flinched and looked up. Robert was standing on the roof of the truck and then jumped into the back. “Could you act human? I mean, I’ve got neighbours” said Kristen taking her earphones out and stuffing them into her pocket, as Robert jumped out to stand next to her. “I’m gonna take you to my place tomorrow” said Robert. He bent down and pushed the dent that Gregory’s van made out. “Thanks” said Kristen. Something he said hit her and she turned to him. “Wait, like, with your family?” she asked. “Yeah” replied Robert. Kristen felt very worried. “What if they don’t like me?” she asked. Robert smiled at this. “So, you’re worried not because you’ll be in a house full of vampires, but because you think they won’t approve you?” he asked and his smile grew bigger. “I’m glad I amuse you” replied Kristen. Suddenly, Robert’s face grew serious and he looked up the street. “What is it?” asked Kristen following his gaze. They looked at each other. “Complication. I’ll pick you up tomorrow” replied Robert and walked to his car. Kristen watched him speed up the road just as a tan pickup truck came into view. They passed each other without anyone pulling over.

As the truck came closer, Kristen saw that it was Gil and Taylor. She remembered the story Taylor had told her on the beach. Gil nodded and smiled at Kristen as he drove the truck so he was parked up next to Kristen’s truck. Once they were parked up, Taylor jumped and pulled Gil’s wheelchair out the back. “Hey. Come to visit your truck?” asked Kristen. They looked at her. “Looks good. Got that dent out” replied Taylor handing Gil two brown paper bags. “Yeah” said Kristen giving it a quick look. “Actually, we came to visit your flat-screen. First Mariners game of the season. Plus Taylor here keeps bugging me about seeing you again” said Gil, shooting a look at Taylor. Taylor looked embarrassed. “Great, Dad. Thanks” he whispered. “Just keeping it real, son” said Gil looking at him. Kristen and Taylor looked a little embarrassed at Gil’s words. “Vitamin R” said Billy, coming up from behind Gil and Taylor, holding two six-pack cans of beer. Everyone looked at him. “Well done, Chief” said Gil. He held the two paper bags and looked at them. “Graham Chesterton’s homemade fish fry” he said handing them to Taylor. “Good man” said Billy, giving him the can of beer and wheeling him towards the house. “Any luck with that Ned case?” asked Gil. Behind them, Kristen and Taylor were playfully nudging each other and walked behind them. “Well, I don’t think it was an animal that killed him” replied Billy. “Never thought it was” said Gil, as Billy turned him around to wheel him backwards up the steps. “So spread the word out at the rez, huh? Keep the kids out of the woods” said Billy. “Will do. Don’t want no one else getting hurt, do we?” asked Gil. He was looking at Kristen as he said it. Kristen looked at him, but said nothing as she went up the steps.

The next day, Robert picked Kristen up and drove her to his home. They drove towards the woods just outside town. Once inside the woods, Robert kept on driving. They kept on driving until they reached it. It was a large three story modern house with wooden panels and very large windows. Robert picked up in front, not using the garage, got out and walked in vampire speed to open Kristen’s door. He led her up the steps and inside. Kristen couldn’t believe her eyes. She exhaled and looked around. It was nothing like she had been expecting. “Whoa. This is incredible. It’s so light and open, you know?” she said, as Robert pulled her jacket off. “What did you expect, coffins and dungeons and moats?” asked Robert taking his jacket off and putting it on top of Kristen’s. Kristen chuckled. “No, not the moats” she said. They started walking towards a flight of stairs. “Not the moats” said Robert. As they walked, Kristen saw there was a large wooden cross on its side leaning against the wall and a large collect of paintings. Some operatic music was heard from somewhere else in the house. At the foot of the stairs, Robert turned to Kristen. “This is the one place we don’t have to hide” he said. He turned and walked up the stairs, Kristen followed him. “I told them not to do this” said Robert, hearing their minds from a distance away.

In the kitchen, Peter, Elizabeth, Kellan and Nikki were preparing a meal. They were following instructions from a TV cookery show. “Is she even Italian?” asked Nikki. “I don’t know” replied Kellan, looking up at her. “I’m sure she’ll love it, no matter what” said Peter, not looking round. Nikki sighed just then. “Get a whiff of that” she said. Everyone looked up. Peter and Kellan looked at each other. “Here comes the human” said Nikki in a singsong voice. Elizabeth smiled, looked at Peter, put down the greater she was holding and walked to the kitchen entrance, just as Robert and Kristen came around the corner. Kristen was standing a few feet behind Robert, half hidden. Robert stopped and let her stand next to him. “Kristen, we’re making Italiano for you” said Elizabeth still smiling. Kristen was speechless at the sight of Elizabeth. She looked twenty-three years old with long wavy brown hair and the same gold eyes as the others. “Kristen, this is Elizabeth. My mother for all intents and purposes” said Robert. Behind her, Kellan waved at Kristen with a knife in his hand. Kristen recovered her voice and spoke in Italian. Elizabeth replied back in Italian as well. Peter put down the knife he was using and turned to face them. “You’ve given us an excuse to use the kitchen for the first time” he said smiling. “I hope you’re hungry” said Elizabeth. “Yeah, absolutely” said Kristen. “She already ate” said Robert. Crash! Nikki broke the glass bowl she was holding with both hands. Kristen shot Robert a look. Elizabeth looked behind her. Nikki didn’t pick up the mess, she went onto the step and glared at Kristen. “Perfect” she said. Elizabeth, Robert and Kristen looked at Nikki. Kellan went to stand next to Nikki, Peter whipped his hands and went to stand next to Elizabeth. Kristen turned to Elizabeth. “Yeah, it’s just because I know you guys don’t eat...” she said. “Of course. It’s very considerate of you” said Elizabeth. Peter put his arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders. Robert looked down at Kristen and she looked up at him. “Just ignore Nikki. I do” said Robert. “Yeah. Let’s just keep pretending that this isn’t dangerous for all of us” said Nikki getting angry. Kellan put a hand on her shoulder. Robert glared at Nikki. “I would never tell anybody anything” said Kristen. “She knows that” said Peter looking at Nikki. “Yeah, well, the problem is, you two have gone public now, so...” said Kellan. “Kellan” said Elizabeth shooting him a look. Kellan looked at her. “No, she should know” said Nikki still angrily. She took a step towards Kristen. “The entire family will be implicated if this ends badly” she said still angrily and glaring. “Badly, as in... I would become the meal” said Kristen nervously. Everyone, a part form Nikki, snickered and laughed. Kristen looked at Robert confused and then down to hide her embarrassment. “Hi, Kristen” came Ashley’s voice. She looked up to see her and Jackson walking along the branch of a tree and jumping onto the balcony. Kristen starred at them, as they walked towards her. “I’m Ashley” said Ashley coming right up and hugging her. “Hi” said Ashley. “Hi” said Kristen. Jackson stayed back. Ashley pulled away and stood next to Jackson, looking at Kristen. “You do smell good” she said. “Ashley, what are you...” said Robert and pulled a face at her. “It’s ok. Kristen and I are gonna be great friends” said Ashley smiling at her. Robert looked very embarrassed, but Kristen looked calmly at Ashley. Peter and Ashley looked at Jackson. “Sorry, Jackson’s our newest vegetarian. It’s a little difficult for him” said Peter. Ashley looked back at Kristen. “It’s a pleasure to meet you” said Jackson. Ashley looked at Jackson again. “It’s ok, Jackson. You won’t hurt her” she told him. This was getting too much for Robert. “All right, I’m gonna take you on a tour of the rest of the house” he said. “Ok” said Kristen and stepped backwards. “Well, I’ll see you soon” said Ashley. “Ok” said Kristen, still keeping her eyes on them. Robert gave them a look as he and Kristen turned around and walked away. Elizabeth and Ashley looked at each other smiling. “Cute!” said Elizabeth. “I know” said Ashley. “I think that went well” said Peter. Elizabeth turned to Nikki. “Clean this up. Now” she said firmly and pointing at the mess on the floor.

Robert took Kristen upstairs. On the wall was a collection of masks and more painting. “Was that was weird for you as it was for me?” asked Robert. “I don’t know” replied Kristen, making a face. As they rounded the corner, Kristen two pieces of strange artwork. One was a median sized framed collection of baseball bats and the other was a large sized framed collection of what looked like graduation caps. “Graduation caps” she asked pointing. “Yeah. It’s a private joke. We matriculate a lot” replied Robert leaning against the wall. Robert smiled and Kristen looked at him. “That’s kind of miserable. I mean, repeating high school over and over” said Kristen. “True, but the younger we start out in a new place, the longer we can stay” said Robert. Kristen thought about that. “Come on” said Robert, coming up the stairs and leading her farther up.

At the top of the stairs, Robert turned to the left, Kristen followed him. They walked into a room and stood in the doorway. Kristen looked around it. “Yeah, this is my room” said Robert. It wasn’t anything like Kristen’s room. It had a huge cabinet, with a stereo system and a collect of CDs and records. There was a small bookshelf next to a day bed. A small table stood in front of the bed, full of books. On the wall behind the bed was a stack of shelves full of things he had collected over the years. Next to the door was a flat-screen TV under a desk with more stuff he had collected on it. The windows were huge and filled up one wall. There were two glass doors which stood open. Kristen stepped inside and looked around. Robert followed, watching her carefully. Kristen looked down at the day bed and then at Robert. “No bed” she asked. “No, I don’t... I don’t sleep” replied Robert. “Even?” asked Kristen. “No, not at all” replied Robert. Kristen chuckled softly and looked down smiling. “Ok” she said, looking up and walking over to the cabinet. Robert followed more relaxed since he saw she wasn’t nervous anymore. “Boy, you have so much music. What one are you listening to?” asked Kristen turning on the stereo. The classical music started playing. “It’s Debussy. I don’t know...” replied Robert. “Yeah. Claire De Lune is great” said Kristen, looking at him with a warm expression. Robert took a step towards her and took hold of her hand. Kristen looked at him. He put his other hand on her waist and pulled her in closer. For a moment they stared into each other’s eyes. Robert made Kristen twirl around with one arm up in the air and she looked at him with a weird expression. “What?” asked Robert. “I can’t dance” replied Kristen and chuckled softly. Robert inhaled sharply and lowered Kristen’s arm. “Well, I could always make you” he said. Kristen looked at him. “I’m not scared of you” she said. Robert smiled and looked away for a minute thinking. “Well, you really shouldn’t have said that” he said smiling.

Without warning, Robert flung Kristen onto his back and flew out the open glass doors. Kristen gasped as he did it. They landed about halfway up a tree. “You better hold on tight, spider monkey” said Robert, looking at Kristen. Kristen giggled as Robert climbed up the tree. Once they were almost at the top, Robert stood between the truck and a branch. Kristen was smiling like mad. “Do you trust me?” asked Robert. “In theory” replied Kristen. “Then close your eyes” said Robert, getting ready to spring. Kristen did and he leapt out on the tree. Kristen couldn’t keep them shut and stared wide eyed and mouth open, as they flew. They landed on other tree and Robert climbed up it. Once at the top, Robert helped Kristen off his back and placed her on a branch. They stood on the branch and looked at the view. Kristen couldn’t believe her eyes. “What?” asked Robert. Kristen chuckled. “This isn’t real. This kind of stuff just doesn’t exist” she said. “It does in my world” said Robert. For a long time, they climbed around the branches.

Later, Robert sat at a grand piano and played a gentle melody. Kristen sat on a chair and watched him. Later he got Kristen to sit next to him as he played. It was beautiful, Kristen couldn’t deny that. They sat there for hours, before Robert took Kristen home.

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