Most mistakes in life aren't permanent.
No, you couldn't take something back, or undo anything, but life always gave you a chance to turn things around, to make it right, to choose a different path. That was the beauty of it all, wasn't it? Free will.
I barely understood the meaning of that word anymore.
See, I made my mistake when I was just eighteen years old. Young and stupid was a phrase designed just for me, it seems.
I could feed you all the excuses I had. I had a terrible family. I was an outcast among my peers. I never felt seen or loved or wanted.
Then someone came along who made me feel seen, loved, and wanted. He made me feel like family, like I finally had a place in the world.
So when he asked for one thing from me, I wanted him to have it. I never thought I would regret it, would want something else. But that was simply because, at the time, I hadn't known there could be something else out there for me.
That was the double-edged sword of this deal, wasn't it?
He showed me the world.
Then made me acutely aware that I could never have it.
He gave to me, yes. There were beautiful homes, lavish parties, jewels, my every human need taken care of.
But he took from me, too.
He took my future, he took away love and motherhood and a career, he took away daylight.
Then, when he was done taking all of that, he took the only thing I had left.
The blood running through my veins.
And he would continue to do so.
Until I got old or sick, when my blood wouldn't taste as good anymore.
Then he would drain me.
And it would all be over.
But I was still young. Twenty-five.
I was no longer the favorite, of course. That title always went to the newest one of us, the one whose blood was fresher, whose enthusiasm was more contagious, who was still so caught up in their infatuation that they fell into bed with them all night long.
There were more of the ones like me, these days. The hardened girls. The ones who were waking up from the spell a bit, who were seeing the repercussions of our rash actions.
No amount of designer clothes could fill the void of a life lost. Because that was exactly what we'd given up. To sustain them.
And we'd done so willingly.
That was the kicker, right? We only had ourselves to blame. They couldn't coerce us. We were asked, and we acquiesced.
But that was where our free will ended.
That was when we became what we were.
Or, in the more common vernacular, thralls.
We were thralls.
Because we were under an ancient sort of magic that made it impossible for us to leave.
We'd all tested the boundaries of the enthrallment. We tried to deny our masters, or move away from the grounds without them.
I couldn't describe the intensity of the pain that gripped us in those moments. All I remembered was screaming so loudly that when they finally pulled me back into the house, and the pain eased, I was swallowing my own blood from having a vocal cord hemorrhage.
The other memory from that night was my master having me sit on his lap, leaning over him with my mouth open to drip the blood down his throat.
We don't waste good blood, he'd said, not even when it comes from bad girls.
I never tried to leave again. I knew the very distinct borders of my prison. I made sure never to step a toe over the line. Though, in a sick way, I was glad for the experience. It stripped away any illusions I might have had left about my situation.
"It won't do any good to mope," Irina, my roommate, reminded me, turning on the stool of her vanity to face me.
Irina was tall and curvy in all the right places with rich, dark skin, a mid-length medium-brown afro, and stunning golden-brown eyes.
Looks-wise, we were a stark contrast, what with my black hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and willowy thin body.
I'd been curvier once, back before I became a thrall, before they took enough blood to cause me to become weaker, anemic. I found it hard to eat enough to keep flesh on my bones. My appetite wasn't what it should be.
Irina had been the "new thrall" right before me, which was why we'd chosen to room together. There were plenty of bedrooms in the estate. We didn't have to share. But the connection to other humans became vital as the months and years stretched on.
"I know," I agreed, moving away from the window seat now that the sun had finally set. I could practically hear our masters waking, stretching, getting ready to call for some of us to break their fast.
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