Before Dawn (Vampire, Fallen--Book 1)

By: Morgan Rice

(vampire, fallen—book 1)

“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;

Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,

Take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night...”

― William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet


Kate woke on the morning of her seventeenth birthday with a pit in her stomach. She wished she could be excited; but she knew, with a sense of dread, that there’d be no presents waiting for her, no special birthday breakfast, no cake. There’d be no cards. She’d be lucky if anyone in her family even remembered.

She felt the warm Santa Barbara sunshine on her eyelids, and she opened her eyes and blinked. Her room was still filled with moving boxes, a chaotic mess, one she could not bring herself to organize. Perhaps it was, she realized, because she didn’t want to be here. She didn’t want to be with her family—anywhere. Why would she? They hated her.

Kate pulled her cover up over her head, blocking the light out, desperate not to have to get out of bed and face the day. The best thing, she decided, would be to get out of the house as quickly as possible and head to school. At least she had her friends. They knew all too well about her home life, and they would make a fuss over her.

Kate finally pulled herself out of bed and dressed in her favorite comfy jeans and black T-shirt. Then she slipped on her battered red Converses and dragged a comb through her dark brown hair, just enough to get the kinks out but not enough to style it in any particular way. Since it was a special occasion, she put on a slick of mascara and rimmed her eyes with kohl. She stood back and regarded her appearance in the mirror. Her mom would hate her outfit. The thought made her smile.

Out in the hall, the smell of pancakes, bacon, and maple syrup wafted through the air. Her mom loved pretending to be the All-American Mother, with her Soccer Mom hairstyle. She was anything but. A phony. It was all fake. All-American Moms were supposed to love their kids—not choose one daughter to adore while making the other feel small and insignificant.

Kate already knew the pancakes wouldn’t be for her. They’d be for her dad and for her sister, Madison, and brother, Max, but not for her. Her mom’s jibes echoed in her mind.

If only you took up a sport, you’d be able to have a hearty breakfast too. But since you spend all day reading indoors you’ll have to watch your figure.

Kate braced herself before going into the kitchen.

The kitchen in the new house was tastefully decorated, filled with all the latest gadgets. It looked like someone had clipped it out of a magazine. It was everything her mom needed to keep her charade of the perfect family.

Her dad was at the table, his eyes still red from last night’s drinking session. He was staring mournfully into his black coffee. His pancakes were untouched beside him. Kate knew that meant he was too hungover to eat them.

Madison, also at the table, was busy applying her makeup in her little handheld mirror. Her dark hair had been styled with gentle waves over her shoulders and it glistened in the sunlight. She was complementing her look with bright red lipstick, making her look more like a college student than the high school senior she really was. From the outside, it didn’t look like there was only eighteen months between the girls. Madison was more like a woman, whereas Kate in many ways still felt like a scrawny kid.

Kate shuffled into the kitchen and grabbed her bag off the floor. Max noticed and smiled at her. He was fourteen and by far the nicest person in Kate’s family. At least he tried to care.

“Want some?” he said, pointing to his stack of pancakes.

Kate smiled. She knew Max loved pancakes and had probably had to employ every ounce of willpower not to devour them. She was touched by the gesture.

“I’m good, thanks,” she said.

Just then, her mom turned around from where she’d been pouring juice by the kitchen window.

“No pancakes for Kate,” she said. “It looks like you’ve put on a couple of pounds recently.”

She looked Kate up and down, not even bothering to hide the revulsion on her face. Kate returned her glare coldly.

Max looked down at his plate, guilty to be the one to have caused his mom to start criticizing Kate.