Ahead of him, the massive structure of Saint Michael’s loomed like an offer of salvation. Its twin towers reached for the heavens. Stained glass windows beckoned, promising comfort and shelter. He abandoned pursuit of the girl in hope of finding solace in the church.
Alex crossed the street, intent on reaching the one place that might give him the strength to find another way to deal with his situation. Shouldn’t he be able to seek help in a house of God? At least for a little while? Maybe the terrible pain and cravings would be banished inside a holy place.
He reached the church and ascended the first step leading to heavy, ornately carved doors. Sanctuary called to him, but sudden overwhelming fear and nausea twisted his insides. He stopped with a choked off grunt.
Refusing to give in, he took another step. His stomach lurched. Groaning, he pressed his hands to his quivering midsection until he was able to try again.
Summoning every ounce of his will, Alex forced his feet into action. Each step was an exercise in determination. The church beckoned, and repelled.
After an eternity, he gained the top and approached the entryway. Despite his trepidation, he laid a shaking hand against the cool, smooth wood. A shock bit his fingers a second before white light flashed outward, searing his flesh. Pain flared, radiating up to his elbow.
He jerked away with a shriek. Hand on fire, and throbbing with a deep ache, he cradled the wounded limb against his chest. A scorch mark disfigured the door where he’d touched it. The stench of cooked flesh hung thick in the air.
He backed away on unsteady legs until he reached the edge of the top step. Arms pin-wheeling in an effort to catch his balance, he tumbled to the bottom, landing in an undignified heap.
Lying on the cold sidewalk, the enormity of the last few moments sunk in. Dirty, unclean, barred from everything holy and good.
“Dumbass, you can’t enter a sanctuary. You’re evil, damned to the pits of Hell when your miserable life eventually ends.”
Alex crawled to his knees. “Get out of my head and leave me the fuck alone.”
“I don’t think so. I’m going to enjoy sparing with you. Though even as a vampire, you’re still no match for me.”
Daniel’s laughter echoed in his head and faded away.
Above him, the church doors burst open and a portly little man in priest’s garb staggered out. He held a bottle, poorly disguised in a brown paper sack, high overhead as though it were a staff he intended to smite Alex with. “Be gone, child of Satan,” he roared in a drunken, yet commanding voice. “Leave this holy place, you vile, evil creature.” He waved the paper bag at Alex.
Alex choked off a panic-driven laugh that threatened to become a sob and lurched to his feet.
“Be gone, demon,” the priest shouted.
Alex stumbled away from the church and the little man defending it. He wasn’t welcome there. He wasn’t welcome anywhere.
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