“Where are we going anyway?” I tried to change the subject.
“Oh, you’ll see.” His smile was definitely wicked, and I wondered what exactly I had in store for me.
When we got to his house, he had still refused to give away any clues. Matilda ran to greet us, and Jack shouted that we were home, so Mae followed the dog.
“Oh, Jack, you didn’t even give her time to get dressed?” Mae scolded him and wrapped her arms around me to shield me from the instant cold of their house.
“She’s just gonna change anyway,” he shrugged.
“She doesn’t need to freeze until she does!”
She led me through the house, back towards her room, where I’d presumably get ready. Milo, who’d been in the living room, ran out to greet us. If I wasn’t mistaken, he looked even better than he did the last time that I saw him, and he was taller too. The change was still taking its full effect on him.
“Has he told you where we’re going yet?” Milo asked.
“No.” I looked to Mae for help.
“You’re going to a club,” she smiled thinly at me, and Jack scoffed behind us.
“It’s supposed to be a surprise!” Jack complained.
“Oh, quit, it still is,” Mae shook her head.
“Like a dance club?” I asked.
As far as I knew, Jack wasn’t that into dance clubs, and while I didn’t hate them, it wouldn’t really be that exciting for me to go to one.
“I don’t know if I really approve of the idea, but Ezra’s not here to talk him out of it, so here we are,” Mae said tiredly and steered me away from the boys to her room. “Why don’t you go ahead and hop in the shower, and when you get out, we’ll pick out some clothes.”
I was confused, but I did as I was told. I went to the master bathroom and took a shower. They had a million shampoos and body washes, and they always made my hair and skin feel amazing afterwards.
Wrapping myself in a fluffy robe, I opened the bedroom door to find Mae waiting. Clothes covered her bed. On closer inspection, many of them still had the tags on, and they all looked to be about my size (which had to be at least two sizes bigger than Mae).
“Is there anything you really like?” Mae had a puzzled, serious look on her face, as if she was having trouble making an important decision.
“Well… they all look really nice,” I said, but that was an understatement. “What exactly am I getting dressed up for? It might help me pick something out.”
“Well-” Mae said when the bedroom door opened, cutting her off.
“Oh good! You’re out of the shower!” Milo burst into the room.
Whenever I went out to something special, he helped me get ready. This wouldn’t be any different, and it would actually be kinda nice to do something normal with him. Relatively speaking.
“Sure am.” I eyed them both up. “Where am I going tonight?”
“A club,” Milo replied and exchanged a look with Mae. “A vampire club!” He squealed with delight and looked far gayer than he ever had in his mortal life.
“What?” I didn’t think I understood him right, so I looked at Mae. “What’s he talking about?”
“A vampire club.” Mae smiled in way that I knew that she wasn’t as keen about the idea as Milo. “We told you a little bit about them before. They’re similar to a regular bar or club, but with obvious differences. Jack frequents one off Hennepin Avenue, and I’ve been there a few times.”
“Obvious differences?” I asked. “Like what? Do they have a keg of blood?”
“No, no.” Mae laughed nervously and looked away. “Well, not exactly. They do have some kind of blood on… tap.” If that was meant to ease my nerves, it failed. “Humans go all the time, though, and they have bouncers. People aren’t…” She sighed as she floundered for words. “They don’t harm people there.”
“That’s where Jack goes to eat, isn’t it?” I gulped.
“Yes. They have donors there. And most of them know that’s what they are.” Mae tilted her head, thinking. “They call them bloodwhores. But mostly it’s people and vampires doing what anybody does at a club.”
“Getting drunk and looking for sex?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Some of them, yes,” Mae laughed. “But it’s all in fun.”
“It’s gonna be a blast,” Milo said. “I’m so excited to get out of this house and actually do something. Especially with other vampires! Aren’t you excited?”
“Yeah,” I nodded, but I didn’t really know how to feel about it.
I’d never met any other vampires, not that I knew of, anyway. I’d love to see what they’d be like. And dancing and being out is exactly how I wanted to spend my last few days before school.
On the other hand, I was going to be in a room full of vampires, which still had some frightening implications. Thinking about Jack eating made me physically ill, and the prospect of seeing where he got his “food” didn’t thrill me either. There could be someone there he had bitten, someone who knew him more intimately than I did, and that thought made me sick.
“Are you okay, love?” Mae asked me.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied.
“You look really pale,” Milo agreed. His eyes softened with worry. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do you not want to go? We don’t have to go. We just thought it might be fun.” He desperately wanted to do this, and he would give it up for me, so I just shook my head.
“I want to. Really. I do,” I said, and sighing, I decided to explain my ambivalence. “I don’t want to see anyone that Jack’s… bitten.”
“Oh,” Mae nodded.
“What?” Milo gave her an odd look.
“You don’t understand because you’ve never been bitten,” Mae told him, then turned to me. “Jack doesn’t feel it like you feel it. Being bitten is not the same as biting, and it’s not the same when you do it for food, versus pleasure.”
“I don’t follow,” I shook my head. Milo sat on the bed, on top of the clothes, and listened. Apparently, this was new information to him, too.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “Few things in life are better than drinking someone’s blood. But in order for the prey-predator relationship to work, humans willingly give themselves to us, and that happens because they develop an emotional attachment that we don’t feel. For us, it’s purely physical.”