"Hey ... Amara."
Amara jolted at Aaron's touch. Her whole body vibrated as she came out of her dream. She swallowed her pulse and flexed her fingers a few times before her brain processed that she was awake. She glanced up at her co-worker. Aaron was dressed in tight black jeans and a white T-shirt two sizes too small so his six-pack was visible underneath. His arms were defined from years of weightlifting, and his short bleached hair was spiked with some designer gel. He had a bottle tan, but it didn't matter because all the boys fell for him. Amara ran her gaze over his body, admiring it once more before reminding herself that Aaron was gay.
Damn, the good ones are always taken.
"What now?" Amara asked, tossing her blackened hair over her shoulder.
"Your client's here, girlfriend. You gotta stop driftin' back in time and relivin' your memories."
"Yeah ... Well, I can't help it if my brain likes to replay my past lives every fucking time I sleep. Besides, we've gone over this. Vampires don't exist and whatever I'm dreaming about is a mixture of past life shit and my repressed psyche."
"Don't lecture me, chickie. If vamps didn't exist then you, girlfriend, wouldn't be sittin' in this chair suckin' the energy out of every person that you read. At least workin' here those fangs stay sharp. You fantasizing about that sexy hunk you were telling me about the other day?"
"You know what I mean, Aaron. And no, I wasn't dreaming about him. This was another one of my recurring ones. That's not the point. There are no such things as coffin-sleeping-undead Nosferatu who change into bats and cringe at crosses. Maybe there were once. Maybe that's what I was, but it doesn't matter now because there aren't anymore. I don't do the blood thing. I can't help what I am. I was born this way. Besides, the pricks that sit in my chair stare at my tits more than they listen to my readings. What does it matter if I suck off their energy or not? It lets me get into their heads better. Now, where's the schmuck you booked for me today? It had better not be Rodney again. That guy gives me the creeps. Scott told him not to come around for a few months. You know he's addicted. And there's nothing worse than a psychic junkie. Besides, Rodney makes my teeth ache."
Aaron chuckled and winked. "Hey, I don't know what Scott said, but Rodney wants you real bad. Unless you want to starve for the rest of the month, you take him, even if he does gawk at your marvelous rack. Sharpen your fangs, girlie, because here he comes." The bell above the door chimed, calling him into the other room.
Amara grunted and gazed through the beaded curtain. Rodney sat on the couch leafing through a magazine. Her client was balding, slightly overweight, and his life never changed. Every time he asked her a question, Amara told him the same answer. Some people were just boring and monotonous. Rodney glanced over at her and caught her eye. She forced a smile, but the guy gave her the willies. He always tipped her twenty bucks for her services, making her feel like a lowly call girl. Besides, his aura left a gritty taste in the back of her throat. Amara tried not to pull energy from him, but it was second nature when she did readings.
She sighed and shuffled her cards, feeling the energy of the Tarot playing over her fingers. This was the first deck that she had ever owned. It provided her with some understanding of her abilities, but along with those talents came the price for telling the future. At twelve, Amara had discovered that she was a psychic vampire. Her energy was depleted faster than normal and had to be replenished by taking in energy from people or the environment. With her developing gifts she learned she could speak to the dead and feel other's emotions. The hunger intensified the older she got until she taught herself how to dreamwalk, sending her astral body out while her physical one was curled in the blankets. Amara discerned how to take in energy by concentrating on people. She saw their auras and felt them tickling on her skin. The more she fed, the more memories of her past lives awakened. They plagued her dreams for years until finally feeding became second nature and her memories drifted away. Lately, however, her memories had returned and one in particular would not leave her in peace. A man with blonde hair and pale skin hovered on the edge of her thoughts. Many nights while she drifted off to sleep, phantom fingers traced her curves and made Amara tremble from the inside out. Sometimes the dreams were clear and sometimes they were only sensations. No matter what they were, they made her bite her lip in need because they were never enough. They always left her on the verge, wanting.
Amara shivered. The dreams of this man had imprinted in her soul. She closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind and focus on her reading, but her mind drifted to the ghostly caresses that came with the dreams. Something's going on. It has to be. My dreams haven't been this strong in years. Who is it that makes me feel this way? Who keeps haunting me? Why can I never remember his name?
Amara noticed Rodney hadn't moved and Aaron was distracted by a customer who was inquiring about curses and candles. If Aaron booked anymore appointments for her, she was going to kill him. Amara glanced at the side door, yearning for an escape.
A spear of blinding pain pierced her temples. She grabbed her forehead. Cards scattered on her black velvet tablecloth. The last time it had happened one of her friends had been beaten into a bloody pulp because he had gotten on the wrong side of the law. Then again, this only happened with her friends from high school. They all shared a strange bond. She always knew if something bad was happening to them or if they needed to talk to her. Even after going their separate ways, Amara got the sensation that someone was looking over her shoulder. Then, like clockwork, an email appeared or the phone rang. In high school, she had finished their sentences and at times had even seen through their eyes on rare occasions. They were linked because she had memories of past lives with them and they were also psychic vampires.
She gripped her head again as her inner vision exploded. The image of a web connecting her friends, a silver thread binding their souls together, lit up. One point flared down to the depths of her soul. Clutching her chest, she gasped for air. Mentally she took stock of all her friends trying to remember who the pinpoint was. An image of a tall, pale and handsome male came to mind. Trevor. She had not seen him for three years. He would go into hibernation and wouldn't talk to anyone for long periods of time. Something was seriously wrong in the network if she was in this much pain. Trevor and she were more attached than the others. She expected they were an item in the past, so that was why their souls were bound closer together than the rest. Now Amara wondered if the others also felt this agony.
She tried locking onto his vibration, but the overwhelming pain wouldn't allow her to get a grasp. Something bad was happening to him. Darkness surrounded her and the air grew scarce. All the cells in her body screamed for oxygen. Her heart stopped for a split second and her temperature plunged. She tried to disconnect herself from Trevor, but her mind was tied to his. Whatever was happening to him, it was a last call for help and he had reached out and grabbed a hold of her. It was instinct.
Hands clutched Amara's shoulders and shook her. Cool air worked into her lungs. The agony subsided, but left her weak in the knees while someone helped her back into her chair. Amara's inner vision cleared, leaving the image of the dulled web. Trevor's link was still visible, but something was different. He wasn't dead, but ... well she wasn't sure what. At least he was alive. A small sigh of relief soothed her soul at that realization, but the variation in his energy worried her even though it felt familiar.
"Trying to get out of reading, Rodney?" Aaron chuckled.
Amara shook her head. She was shivering. "If only. Look, Aaron, I gotta go. Reschedule Rodney."
His brow furrowed. "Scott's not going to like you ditchin' your appointments. What am I going to tell him if he calls?"
"Tell him I collapsed and had to go home. I don't know. Make up some shit. I gotta go. Something happened to one of my friends. Now shove off."
Amara stood up too fast and found her head spinning. She shook the feeling off and gathered her scattered cards. Before she threw them into her bag, one fell to the floor. The Six of Cups.
Great. Emotions are coming back to haunt me. Memories are going to surface that could influence the present. It also meant an attachment to the past. She thought about Aaron's comment about the man who haunted her dreams. Sometimes they felt like nightmares because every time she dreamt about him, she would wake up soaked in sweat. Sometimes her dreams were vivid memories of them making love. Nothing in her real life had ever come close to her dream experiences. No one had ever made her soul sing or caused her body to react to the slightest touch the way he had. Thinking about it made her heart skip a few beats. If only he was real.
She glanced at the card once again.
Great. Fucking great, she sighed, wondering what was coming back to bite her in the ass. There had to be some kind of connection between her fucked up dreams and what she felt. When it came to predicting her own future, her abilities sucked. At least this card gave her a guiding bit of insight, even if it meant rehashing some karmic bullshit. She wrapped her coat around herself and then her scarf, hating the oncoming winter. Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Amara went to college in Boston. Throughout her college years, she had worked as a restaurant hostess and done readings on the side for extra money. She'd hated the restaurant business, but it led up to her managing the place for a couple of years until the town had shut the restaurant down. When she ran out of money, she went back to doing readings.
Once outside, Amara cursed herself for moving into the city, braced herself for the frigid air and got into her car to face the traffic jams that started early in Charlotte. After three years of living here in the Bible Belt, she still wasn't used to the fact that the whole city shut down over a small dusting of snow. Luckily, she had found a shop that was hiring psychics. Amara had been surprised there was actually a need for her services.
While Amara waited at a light, she replayed her dream. She was in a clearing with a woman whose name she never quite remembered. They were the only two left who could deal with the hunter, but the huntsman had gotten to Amara before she could destroy him. The last thing she saw was her friend plunging a hand into the hunter's chest. The sight of blood always roused something deep inside Amara and made her need to feed unbearable. In these memories, she and this other woman had been vampires, the blood sucking kind. That was something she couldn't deny. She had come to this conclusion in high school with her friends.
She met Trevor and Lydia in a band. Lydia had introduced her to Josh. After many conversations they had come to the assumption they shared a past life together. Whenever they were together, they fell back in time, filling in the gaps in each other's memories. The biggest discovery had been they were vampires, as they had been in her dream, and that was why they were all psychic vampires now.
Amara thought about her theory. If we truly are the undead, then our souls are still vampiric. Now we are forced to live within the human condition. That's why I have my psychic abilities and the need to feed on energy.
Because they knew each other in the past, when they had been born again they had to find one another. All had acknowledged her hypothesis, but Amara took it to heart. Besides being allergic to sunlight and having to suck people's energy to stay alert, she had a thirst for blood. In high school, their little group had all taken turns cutting themselves and feeding from one another. The sharp sting of the razor dragging across her skin, separating layers of flesh, made her long for the past. The memory of the pain had stayed with her, but her scars had faded over time. Trevor never sliced, saying the practice was barbaric. After a while, Amara put the blades away.
When she opened the door to her apartment, she noticed the blinking light on the answering machine. She shut the door and hoped Trevor was all right. The hollow echo of darkness she sensed from him still lingered in her mind. Her finger traced over the button. She held her breath and then pushed it down.
A familiar voice came over the machine.
"Amara. Shit. Are you there? Pick up. Fuck. Where are you? Look, it's Lydia. I'm not sure, but I think something happened to Trevor. We were supposed to have dinner the other day and he never showed up. That was two days ago and I haven't heard from him since. He doesn't completely space out on plans. Call me when you get this. Shit--Nathan, I'm on the fucking phone. No, you can't talk. I said--" The machine cut Lydia's screams off.
It was unlike Trevor to forget a get-together. If he did blow someone off, at least he called later to explain what happened. He had done it to her a couple of times, but she always forgave him in the end.
Where are you, Tre? Amara replayed the message hearing the panic in her friend's voice. She wondered if Lydia had felt the same thing that she had only hours before, but she doubted it. Her friend made it a point to stuff her vampiric urges deep into the shadows of her soul. Lydia tried to live a normal life raising her son. Distance and life events had strained their friendship, but they were still linked. No matter what befell them, their bond had lasted through lifetimes.