I closed my eyes.
And let go.
Suddenly, I felt arms wrap around me. I wasn't falling! I opened my eyes and found myself staring into Brad's. We were suspended in the air under the bridge.
"That's what I mean by trust," said Brad.
"Are we flying?" I asked.
"I think the term we should use is 'hovering,'" he answered. "Technically, vampires can defy gravity for limited periods of time. We expend a lot of energy when we do. Like Superman, we can leap tall buildings in a single bound and jump from them too."
"Out of planes?" I asked.
"I've heard rumors that it's been done," said Brad. "Sometimes it gets messy. A vamp has to be able to slow down on the descent or risk all manner of ways to die."
"Impalement, decapitation, falling in the ocean. The combination of saltwater and sunlight is like sulfuric acid. And then there is the possibility of landing on your head and turning it to mush. A vamp would be better off to be decapitated and just get it over with."
"How are you doing this?" I asked. "How are you keeping us suspended like this?"
"It's called concentration of energy," said Brad. "Focus on what I'm feeling and thinking."
I closed my eyes and thought of Brad. In my mind's-eye I felt my thoughts rushing through a black mist until I could see his face. I rushed past his face until I was inside his head and felt his energy. It was pushing against the sand. He wasn't pushing with his feet or his hands, he was pushing with his mind and his mind was connected with energy that was imbedded deep within his core. I reached for that energy and hung-on. Completely focused on Brad's will and the energy, I felt nothing internally or externally.
"Open your eyes, Dawn."
Did he speak to me in my mind or aloud? I opened my eyes to see. I was hovering alone. Panic seized me and I wobbled starting to fall. "Focus, Dawn," said Brad. He was on the sand below me.
"Draw from your own energy and push up," he said.
I can do this; we are the same, I thought.
A ball of fire welled up from some unknown place inside me, pushing and pushing until I couldn't contain it.
"Push!" I said. I shot up into the sky high above the tops of the trees. Terrified, I looked down. Brad looked like an ant. "Stop!" I yelled. I stopped and hovered.
I don't think what happened was supposed to have happened. Now that I was up here, how was I supposed to get back down? Obviously, Brad hadn't anticipated this wrinkle in his training program or he would have forewarned me.
Think, Dawn. It was energy that got me up here, albeit the lack of control of that energy. I pushed too hard or had access to more energy than either of us imagined. The energy responded to my voice command to 'stop' but I had also commanded it to 'stop' in my mind. I reasoned since Brad had never spoken aloud when he controlled his energy, then verbal commands weren't necessary as long as concentration was adequate.
Okay, Dawn, I said to my mind, "drop slowly." I pictured myself landing gently next to Brad. Slowly, I drifted down to the sand - and I did it with my eyes open.
Brad was shaking when I landed. His mind was in so much turmoil I couldn't read him.
"What is it?" I asked. "Are you okay?"
"You scare me half-to-death by blowing out of here like a rocket..." he said flinging his arms up wildly for emphasis.
Okay, I scared him.
"Out of control!"
Nope, he's mad.
"...any second, I'm saying to myself, she's going to plummet to the ground and I'm going to have to scoop up her remains."
"But, no, you don't come down," he said pacing back and forth, still waving his arms. He points his finger at me and says, "You stay up there higher than any vamp has ever been, hovering up there..."
"You just said that,"
"Shut-up!" he growled.
"Well, what did you expect me to do?" I asked.
"I don't know!"
"What do you mean you don't know?"
"You don't get it, Dawn," he said. "Vamps don't shoot up from a hovering position. They can only go down."
"It takes so much energy for a vampire to hover, he drops. What you did, has never been done before."
"Not even by you?"
"Not even by me."
"But you said vampires can jump high," I said.
"Sweetheart, you flew."
"Yes, you did," he said. "I can jump from here to the rail on that bridge and back down." He did it to make his point. "You can do the same thing - no demonstration necessary. Now, let me show you the difference."
"And how are you going to do that?" I asked.
"I see skepticism written all over your face," he said shaking his head. "Proof coming up." He walked over, grabbed my shoulders and turned me away from the bridge.
"I want you to float up. Don't jump up - float up, turn around and drift over to the bridge and drop down to the bridge walkway."
"What if what I did was a fluke - an accident of nature?" I asked.
"Not possible," he said. "You were in perfect control on the way down."
He was right. But what if I couldn't pull it off twice in a row? What if I was an accident waiting for a good day and was out-of-control as often as I was in control? Let's face it - I was stalling.
"Concentrate," he reminded me.
I needed better control this time. I had the energy at my disposal - a lot of it, but I needed it in a steady stream, not like a massive volcanic eruption.
I pushed, slow and easy - my feet left the ground - Lift Off. I pushed a little harder as I went higher because of the gravitational pull, but it wasn't tiring. I had plenty of energy to spare. I then lightly twisted my body to begin a spin. To stop the spin, I lifted my arms out straight at my side, forming a 't'. I faced the bridge.
Now, how was I going to get over to the bridge?
"Any suggestions?" I asked Brad.
"You need momentum," he said.
"No kidding," I said.
If I were in the water, I would swim. How could I get momentum in air? I needed less resistance, I reasoned. I needed to flatten out on my stomach.
Leaning over until I was looking at Brad, I forgot to flatten out and ended up doing a barrel roll.
"Tell me that was on purpose," said Brad.
It was my turn to say, 'Shut up.' I'm working on it," I said.
I put my arms out to my sides to stop the next roll. This time I leaned forward with my arms out in front of me and kicked out when my legs came up. I straightened my body and aimed for the bridge.
"Stop and drop" was what I thought when I got over the top of the bridge, tucking my legs to my chest, lifting my hands straight up and then straightening to drop feet first to the bridge.
Brad leaped to the rail just as I made my drop.
Grinning, you would have thought he was the one who just made the perfect landing. "Beautiful!" he said.
"Your turn," I said.
"I can't fly," he said.
"You forget something," I said. "I initially pulled my energy from you. Why can't you do the same from me?"
"I'm not a hybrid," said Brad.
"We've exchanged blood, Brad," I said. "What makes you any different? You are Raphael Lapin, once human - the original and purest of the two. Why wouldn't you also be the strongest?"
"It's been too long," said Brad. "I've lost all that was ever human in me."
"I don't buy it," I said. "You are able to love. You still have feelings. I saw you cry, for Pete's sake."
"That means nothing," he said angrily.
We stood there and glared at each other. I broke the silence first.
"No more training until you try it," I said.
"Damn right," I said. "Over the side, Brad. It's called 'trust.'"
To be continued...