Author K.L. Hall
Awakened: A Paranormal Romance
(NOTE: Contains explicit language and adult themes suitable for ages 16+)
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
It all started with a feeling. A gut wrenching feeling of uncertainty the moment Winter Grayson opened her eyes on the eve of her eighteenth birthday. She laid tucked underneath the covers for a few moments, trying to rid her stomach of butterflies, but to no avail. She rolled over to grab her phone and a smile crept across her face.
Aaron: 9:31am: Good morning, baby. Less than 24 hours until you’re all mine.
Instead of responding to his text, she called him.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Well if it isn’t the almost birthday girl. How you feelin’ this morning?”
“Are you ready for tonight?”
“Do you mean my party or what happens after?”
“The party, yeah I guess. The running away to finally be with my boyfriend, absolutely,” she whispered.
“Are you all packed?”
“Yeah, just gotta throw a couple more things in my bag. You?”
“For the most part. I’ve got my five-hundred dollars saved up. That should be enough to get us to New York.”
“And I have my five-hundred, too. Don’t worry, Aaron. We’ll be fine. The best part about all of this is that we’re finally going to be able to be together.”
“Are you sure you’re going to be able to go through with it? You know, leaving your aunt and everything?”
Winter sighed. Since her parents were both killed when she was eleven, her aunt had been the only immediate family member she had left. There was a part of her that did feel bad for wanting to leave, but she was less than twenty-four hours away from her eighteenth birthday and it was time she made her own decisions. Her first to run away with her secret boyfriend, Aaron Nash.
“I can do this,” she assured him.
The two of them had been secretly dating since they were sixteen years old. For the past three months, they had been planning to run away together the night after her birthday party. They were going to leave Vermont for good and start their lives together in New York. Aaron was a few days shy of eighteen himself. He had loved Winter since they were in the fifth grade. Neither of them really knew what to expect by running away from their families, responsibilities, and the only life they’d ever known, but as long as they were together, everything was going to work itself out.
“I’m sorry I won’t be able to come to your party tonight,” he told her.
“This stupid feud between our families is getting so old. I still don’t understand why they don’t like each other.”
“Me either. Do you even know why you’re having your birthday party tonight instead of on your actual birthday?”
She shrugged. “It’s a tradition in my family. Every Grayson woman has had her eighteenth birthday party the night before her actual birthday.”
“Well, just promise me you’ll save me a piece of cake,” he joked.
“Okay, well I’ll see you later, Winter. Remember, 10 o’clock sharp, we’re meeting at the end of the dirt road and we’re leaving.”
“I’ll be there, I promise.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she said and ended the call.
Happy that the butterflies had subsided, Winter threw her legs off the side of her bed and got up to start her day.
THE NIGHT HAD FALLEN, and Winter was in the midst of her birthday party. Her aunt had invited all of Oak’s Rest to come out and celebrate her niece’s transition into womanhood. Everyone gathered around her as she opened her gifts.
“Winter, I am so proud of the woman you’ve become over the last seven years. I want you to have this. It was your mother’s,” she said, placing a silver heart locket necklace around her neck.
Winter touched the silver pendant and smiled. “Thank you, it’s beautiful. I—I love it.”
The two of them hugged while her aunt wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Okay, so everyone, enjoy the rest of the party. There’s plenty of cake and food left!” she announced.
Winter turned to her Aunt Teresa and smiled. “Thank you for putting all of this together. It’s really amazing.”
“You’re welcome. I only wish your parents could’ve been here to see how beautiful you turned out.”
“I know. Me too.” Winter nodded. “I love you, Aunt Teresa.”
“I love you, too. Now go back to enjoying your party with your friends.”
Winter nodded and looked at the clock. It was 9:45 pm. All of her guests had gone back to doing their own thing, which gave Winter the opportunity to sneak upstairs, grab her bag and get down the road in time to meet Aaron. All they knew was that they were forbidden to be with each other. The moment she got in the car with Aaron, she vowed to leave all of their family drama in the past and never look back.
“I’m here,” she told him. “Let’s go!”
Aaron pressed his foot down on the gas pedal and the wheels kicked up dirt behind them. The two of them locked hand and smiled. An hour later, they checked into a cheap motel for the night. Aaron followed Winter up to the second floor and watched her unlock the door. She flipped on the only lamp to illuminate the entire room and looked around. The cream-colored brick walls stood out against the thick forest green curtains that matched the worn green carpet underneath her feet.
“I’m so glad we’re only spending one night here,” she told him.
Aaron turned on the old television to fill the room with extra noise, then jumped on the bed, covered in an old, dusty patterned quilt. “Join me.”
Winter turned to make sure the door was locked. “One second.”
“Winter, it’s okay. No one even knows we’re gone yet…it’s just you and me, okay?”
She nodded. “Okay…I’ve just had this feeling all day that something was going to go wrong.”
“It’s just nerves, baby.”
“Yeah. You’re probably right.”
“Now come here.”
Winter crawled onto the bed beside Aaron and laid wrapped in his arms. She’d dreamt of that moment for months.
“Can you believe this is our first night together?” she asked.
“I know, it’s kind of surreal.”
“What are we going to do when we get to New York?” she asked.
“I don’t know…I thought we’d sightsee for a bit and take in what the city has to offer. The money we have between us is only going to get us so far, so we’ll both have to get jobs as soon as possible and find another cheap place like this to rest our heads until we’ve saved enough to get an apartment.”
She gave him a half smile. They both knew their plan had holes in it and it wasn’t the ideal situation, but they believed their love would see them through.
He looked into her eyes. “I love you, Winter.”
“I love you too, Aaron.”
Aaron placed his hands on the side of her face and pulled her lips onto his. He’d fantasized about touching Winter’s body for what felt like decades and he couldn’t wait to be inside of her for the first time. To him, she was perfect in every way. Losing their virginities to each other would be a staple in their relationship. There was no doubt in his mind that the two of them would be together forever.
He slipped his tongue inside her mouth and let his hands roam all over her body. They stopped abruptly when the clock struck midnight, her alarm went off on her phone. She rolled over to turn it off and placed it face down on the nightstand.
“Look at that, it’s officially your birthday.” He smiled. “Happy birthday, Winter.”
A wide grin spread across her lips. “Thank you…now give me the rest of my birthday present.”
The moment Aaron placed his weight on top of her, her body thrusted forward. “Ouch!” she said, sucking in air through her teeth.
“Am I hurting you?” he asked.
“No…it’s just…nevermind, keep going.”
Aaron nodded and began placing soft kisses on her neck when an indescribable pain shot through Winter’s entire body as if she’d suddenly been set on fire.
“Ahhhh!” she screamed.
“What? What’s wrong?”
She pushed Aaron off her and sat on the side of the bed holding her stomach and her head.
“What’s wrong, Winter? You’re scaring me.”
“It hurts. It fucking hurts so bad!”
“What hurts? Where? What’s wrong?”
Without responding, Winter darted to the bathroom and locked herself inside. She hovered over the sink and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her eyes were no longer the chestnut brown they’d been for seventeen years, but a red-toned gray.
“What is happening to me?” she whispered.
Another ripple of pain coursed through her body and she slammed her hand against the vanity mirror, cracking it instantly. Pieces of glass shattered onto the floor from the break. She looked down at her hand and saw shards of glass wedged inside her skin. She quickly turned on the faucet and tried to wash them out. Her body jumped when she heard Aaron banging on the other side of the door.
“Winter? Are you okay in there?”
“I’m—I’m fine,” she said, wincing through another wave of fire coursing through her veins.
“You don’t sound fine. Let me take you to the hospital.”
“Let me in.”
“No!” she screamed.
It felt as if someone was stabbing fine needles into every pore of her body. The agony brought her down to her knees. She held onto the toilet for comfort, afraid of what was happening to her, and even more afraid to let Aaron inside to witness it first-hand. As scared as she was, she didn’t want him to be afraid too. She didn’t understand how her body could be on fire, yet on the outside feel like she’d been dipped in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
Cold beads of sweat slipped down her forehead as she stuck out her tongue. She was more than thirsty. It felt as if she’d been licking sand for decades. She had to quench her thirst. Winter crawled over to the bathtub and turned on the water. She stuck her entire head under the faucet and stuck out her tongue. As soon as the water hit it, it burned.
“Ahhhh!” she screamed.
She kicked her body away, while pulling down the entire shower curtain and rod. The moment she touched her tongue again, she felt as if it was being ripped out of her mouth. Her body was going into shock. She knew she wouldn’t make it to see the sunrise. Whatever was happening with her, she knew it was going to consume her and then kill her. Winter laid on the cold linoleum floor, gasping and pleading for the pain the cease. The moment her eyes closed she thought they’d never open again. She was tired. Whatever had exploded inside of her had worn her body to the bone.
Winter woke up twenty minutes later and noticed the all-consuming, tormenting pain had been reduced to a dull ache. She slowly sat up and grabbed the doorknob. As soon as she stood to her feet and opened the door, she saw Aaron sitting right in front of her.
“Oh my God, Winter! What happened to you? Are you okay?”
“I—I don’t know.”
“Please, let me take you to the hospital.”
“No. I…I just need to go home. I’m sick. I have to be sick.”
“But Winter…what about our plans?”
“I’m sorry, Aaron, but I can’t leave. Not like this. You have to take me back home.”
“Are you still in pain?”
Aaron rested his hand against her forehead and quickly pulled his hand back. “Winter, your body is on fire, but you’re shivering.”
“I know.” She nodded.
“And your eyes…what…what happened to your eyes? They’re a completely different color.”
“I don’t have any answers for you, Aaron. Please, just take me home. That’s all my body wants is to go home.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
AARON AND WINTER returned to their hometown of Oak’s Rest, Vermont. He carried her to her doorstep where her Aunt Teresa had been standing.
“Take her upstairs to her room and leave.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he told her.
“And Aaron, say your goodbyes now because you will never see her again,” she assured him.
Aaron carried Winter up to her bedroom and gently laid her down on the bed. He quickly covered her body with blankets to warm her up and sat on the edge of her bed.
“Don’t leave me, Aaron, please.”
“I wish I could stay, but your aunt…”
“Please,” she said, grabbing his hand. “I’m scared. I can feel the pain coming back.”
“I love you, Winter.”
“It’s time for you to go now, Mr. Nash,” her Aunt Teresa said from the doorway.
“No! Please don’t make him leave!” Winter begged.
“He can go voluntarily or involuntarily, either way he’s getting the hell out of this house!”
“Ahhhh!” Winter yelled as the pain took over her body once again.
“Leave, now!” her aunt yelled.
Aaron scurried out of the room and stood in the hallway, watching as Winter’s aunt went over to her bedside and held her. In the blink of an eye, the door slammed in his face. He rested his hand against the door, wishing things had turned out differently for them. Now that they’d returned to Oak’s Rest after running away, he knew their families would never allow them the chance to be together again.
WINTER WOKE UP three nights later and saw her aunt hovering over her.
“How are you feeling?”
She shrugged. “I don’t feel like I’m on the brink of death anymore if that’s what you’re asking.
Her aunt chuckled. “That’s good. The worst should be over now. It’s been three days.”
“Three days? What happened to me, Aunt Teresa? Why did I suddenly get sick like this?”
“Winter, there’s something I need to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“Do you believe in the supernatural, Winter?
Supernatural? You mean like superheroes and aliens?
No. I mean like vampires…
What? Aunt Teresa, what are you talking about?
“Winter, what I’m about to tell you is going to be a lot for you to take in. I just need to know if you’re ready.”
“Is it going to explain how I became deathly sick overnight?”
“It will explain everything.”
She watched her aunt draw in a deep breath as she grabbed both of her hands. “This started over six-hundred years ago. Your ancestor named Lincoln Grayson. He was a charming, handsome man, who could’ve had any woman in Oak’s Rest. He knew it, too. So that’s what he did, sewing his oats all over town. Although he was married, he fell in love with another woman who also happened to be a witch. When she found out that he belonged to another woman, she cursed him.”
“Cursed him? How?”
“She cursed him to watch everyone he’d ever love die while he lived the rest of his life as an immortal and that every female heir would be doomed when it came to finding love. Winter, she cursed him to become a vampire and every female heir in the Grayson family to turn on their eighteenth birthday.”
Winter’s eyes widened. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “So…this is what I am. I’m a vampire?”
“And you too?”
“Yes, and your mother, and her mother, on down the line.”
“Not my father?”
“No, your father was mortal.”
“Is—is what happened to them the truth? Did they die in a car accident when I was eleven or was it really something else?”
“They were killed, Winter.”
“By who—by what?”
“Listen to me, what your mother and your father had was real love. She thought she would be the one to break the curse. We all did…”
“But what happened?”
“Your mother never got the chance to marry your father and take his last name to shield you from the repercussions of our family history and break the curse. I should’ve taken you away years ago. It’s not safe for you here anymore.”
“Not safe? What do you mean? Where will I go?”
“I’m going to send you away to Seattle to be with some family. You’ll be safe there.”
“What are you running from, Aunt Teresa?”
“The Nash’s are our enemies, Winter, and I have to protect you. I swore I would.”
“What? How? Why? Are they vampires, too?”
“What could be worse than being a vampire?”
“They are werewolves.”
“Wait…so that means that Aaron…”
“The moment he turns eighteen, he will turn, Winter. He will not look at you the same, not the way you are now. This is why I fought so hard for the two of you to be kept apart, but you wouldn’t listen! I was just trying to save you from a broken heart. Forever is a long time to want someone you cannot have.”
“No. No! Aaron isn’t like that! He’ll fight it! I know he will.”
“He doesn’t have a choice! That is who he is and this is who you are!”
“So all because some jerk of an ancestor had to fall in love and be cursed, I have to suffer?”
“If it was pleasant, it wouldn’t be called a curse.”
Winter let out a puff of hot air. She didn’t know what to do. Aaron’s eighteenth birthday was in less than twenty-four hours. “I have to see him.”
“What? Winter, were you not listening to everything I just told you? Let it go! Let him go!” She begged.
“I can’t, Aunt Teresa. Not like this. Please, I just need to see him and talk to him. At least let me say goodbye!”
“Winter, I forbid you to leave this house!”
“What? You can’t do that! I’m eighteen and I can make my own decisions!”
“It’s a full moon, tonight! If they catch you, they will kill you! You’re eighteen now and they won’t hesitate.”
“Kill me? For what?”
“Do you know why your eyes turned gray?”
“You are the chosen one, Winter.”
“Chosen one to do what?”
“If he finds you, he will never let you go.”
“If who finds me?”
She shook her head as fear plagued her eyes. “I’ve already said too much.”
“No, no! You haven’t said enough! If who finds me? Tell me what is going on! Tell me who is after me!”
“The less you know the better. Stay in this house tonight, Winter. I’ve packed your bags. We’re leaving first thing in the morning. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, yes I hear you.”
“Good. Now get some rest. I love you, Winter.”
“I love you, too.”
As soon as her aunt left her bedroom, Winter pulled out her cell phone to call Aaron. His phone immediately went to voicemail and she frowned.
Winter: 10:45pm: Aaron, where are you? I have to see you. There’s something I need to tell you. Please call me back.
By 11 o’clock, Winter had gotten no response from Aaron. She started pacing the floor back and forth trying to figure out what to do. If she was going to be involuntarily shipped off to the other side of the country, she needed to see him. She needed to tell him how much she loved him. She needed to tell him goodbye forever. Winter quietly lifted her bedroom window and looked down. She crawled out onto the roof and looked up at the full moon. If her aunt was right and the Nash family was a pack of werewolves, she needed to be careful. Just before jumping down to the ground, she looked back inside her room one last time.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Teresa,” she whispered.
Winter walked down the dirt road in the middle of the night to get to Aaron’s house. The two of them lived five miles apart. She’d walked it many times, but that time was different. Everything was heightened. She could see and hear things she’d never experienced before. It was the first time since she’d turned eighteen that she felt good, amazing even. She began to run as fast as she could and was surprised by her lighting speed that landed her outside of Aaron’s open window in less than five minutes.
“Psst,” she whispered while looking up at his window. “Aaron, it’s me, Winter.”
When she didn’t get a response, she looked around for something to toss at the window to get his attention. She picked up a few stones and gently tossed them upward toward his window, trying her best not to make too much noise. Three stones hit the window and still nothing happened.
“Aaron, wake up! It’s me!” she whispered.
A flash of light from the porch turned on and Winter froze, then darted behind the large oak tree in front of Aaron’s home to hide.
“Who is out there?” she heard Aaron’s younger brother Camden yell.
Winter knew that Aaron had shared his secret relationship with Camden, so she felt safe. She slowly crept out from behind the tree and showed herself to him.
“Camden, it’s me, Winter. I just came to see Aaron. Is he home?”
“You shouldn’t be here,” he told her.
“I know, but I just have to see him. There’s something I need to tell him.”
“He’s not here.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s eighteen now. He’s gone...”
“What do you mean he’s gone? Where’d he go?”
“Listen, he told me to tell you that it’s not safe for you to be around each other anymore. What you had is over.”
“What? No. He wouldn’t say that, Camden. You know he loves me. Aaron loves me.”
“It’s over, Winter. Now go home before you get us both in trouble.”
Camden turned and went back inside the house, leaving Winter standing there with a broken heart. She’d never felt so much heartache before. She slowly turned to walk back home. Although she didn’t want to admit it to herself, if Aaron was gone, there was nothing left in Oak’s Rest for her anymore. The only thing left for her to do was go with her aunt the next morning and start her new life as a vampire.
Her ears perked up as she walked down the dirt road toward her home. There was something resting in the high grass and she got the tingling feeling that she wasn’t alone.
“H—hello? Is someone there? A—Aaron is that you?”
Silence fell over the entire area as she stopped. Her eyes darted from left to right trying to see through the darkness. The second she took her next step, everything went black.
HER EYES OPENED to see shackles around her wrists and ankles. Her body was weak, and her head ached as if she’d been hit over the head with a steel brick. The dull aching was back but was heightened by piercing pain inside her mouth. Five seconds passed, then ten, then twenty, but the pain never subsided. She slowly opened her mouth and felt her teeth shifting.
“Oh my God,” she whispered.
She took a few deep breaths and tried to bear through the pain. It felt as if she was being eaten from the inside.
“Don’t worry, it’ll go away in a minute,” a voice told her.
“Who—who is there?”
“You’re in your final state of transition, Winter. Your fangs are growing in because you feel threatened, but you are safe here for now. I am not allowed to hurt you.”
“Where am I?” Winter asked.
“You’re in werewolf territory now.”
Winter’s eyes widened as she shook her head in confusion. “I—I don’t understand.”
In the darkness, the woman revealed her face. Other than her fiery hazel eyes, she looked just as normal as Winter did. Winter watched her walk over to the other side of cell where she was being kept. She began filling a wooden barrel with water.
“I’ve been instructed to bathe and clothe you,” she told Winter.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Gwendolyn.”
Gwendolyn walked over and released Winter from her chains and led her over to the barrel to carry out her task.
“I don’t understand anything. Why am I here? Why did you kidnap me?”
She sighed. “I didn’t kidnap you.”
“If you didn’t, then who did?”
“All the answers you seek will come in time. Now get dressed, it is time for you to meet the prince.”
Gwendolyn led Winter out of the cellar, placed a blindfold over her eyes and took her to the prince’s lair.
“Prince Aries, she is here.”
“Thank you. Now leave us,” he demanded.
Gwendolyn lifted the blindfold and then left the room as she was told. Winter stood in the doorway alone. All she could see was the silhouette of a man standing in the darkness.
“H—hello?” she stammered.
The moment Aries laid eyes on her, the beast inside him came alive. His mouth watered, and his loins yearned for her. She was young, weak and his prey. He was drawn in by the scent of fear radiating off her body. He stepped close enough to feel the air coming from her nostrils and swept a loose ringlet of hair behind her ear.
She shivered at his touch as she looked into his shadowy green eyes. His six-foot five frame hovered over her. As afraid as she was, she couldn’t help but to admire the warm tones of his light brown skin or his strong muscles. She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing would come out.
“I know you have questions…”
His dark eyes roamed all over her body as he circled her like prey. “Mmm. You know, the scent of a vampire is intoxicating for werewolves. It makes us want to kill you even more.”
“Then why haven’t you?” she asked, secretly hoping for death.
“And have the party end so soon? I have wanted you since the moment I learned your mother was pregnant with you.”
“What? Y—you knew my mother?”
“She promised me I’d have you and here we are.”
“She what? Look, I don’t care what she promised. I can make my own decisions. You can’t just hold people here against their will.”
A part of him pitied Winter. She had no idea that her fate had been sealed since before she was even born. To him, her mother was nothing but another selfish bloodsucker. He’d waited eighteen long years to get what he wanted, and he finally had her.
“Everyone who is here wants to be here.”
“Except for me!” she yelled.
“Oh, don’t you worry about that , Winter. I have big plans for you, and now that you’re awake, the real fun can begin…”
To be continued…