“We can’t just leave him here!” I insisted. Milo might be a vampire, but he’s still my little brother, and I wasn’t prepared to leave him alone on his first night out.
Jack tried to reason with me, so I jerked my hand away from him and crossed my arms over my chest. Behind us, the vampire in black leather with the girl on her lap whistled loudly at my display, so both Jack and I turned to look at her.
“She’s a firecracker!” the vampire laughed, but it was that lazy, blissed-out laugh people have when they’re really high. “You’ve got your hands full with that one, don’t you?”
“I make do,” Jack told her, but looked severely at me. “Alice…”
“I’m not leaving Milo here,” I persisted.
“Well, I’m not dragging you out there to look for him.” He pursed his lips when he glanced out at the crowded dance floor. Going across the room wouldn’t be so bad, let alone wading through there for any length of time, with all those people grabbing at me.
“I can keep an eye on her for you, if you need to me to,” the vampire offered. She patted the girl on her lap. “And I know how hard it is to keep the flies away from the food.”
“Just keep an eye on her, nothing else,” Jack warned her.
“Cross my heart and hope to die.” She crossed her heart with her long black fingernail.
“I’ll be right back.” He hesitated before leaving, and then placed his hands on my cheeks and quickly, he kissed me. Keeping his face close to mine, he whispered, “Don’t let anybody touch you.”
“Good.” Reluctantly, he turned and disappeared in the writhing bodies on the dance floor.
“What’s your name?” my vampire baby-sitter asked me.
“Alice.” I hugged myself and tried to keep my eyes fixated on her and the girl on her lap, and not on the room full of leering vampires around me.
“Olivia,” she gestured to herself, and then to the girl on her lap. “This is Hannah. She’s mine.”
“Congratulations,” I said lamely, unsure of what else to say.
“Thanks,” Olivia laughed. “It’s tricky what you have with him.” She nodded at the door after Jack. “Why hasn’t he turned you?”
“It’s a complicated situation.” I rubbed my arms. The girl on Olivia’s lap stirred, and she stroked her hair to quiet her. “Why haven’t you turned Hannah?”
“I wouldn’t have any reason to keep her if I did,” Olivia said, but she looked at her with some affection. “You’ve heard the saying ‘why buy the cow if you get the milk for free?’ Well, if I bought the cow, I wouldn’t get any milk at all.”
She wanted Hannah for her blood, and nothing else.
“So why do you think he should turn me?” I asked.
“He loves you,” Olivia sounded surprised when she looked up at me. “You must know that.” I shifted uneasily but didn’t answer her. “And I’m betting that he’s not getting any milk either.” She narrowed her bleary eyes at me, genuinely appraising me for the first time. “I bet you’re a virgin in every sense of the word.”
“Not entirely,” I raised my chin defiantly, as if I had showed her in some way.
“He’s never bitten you?”
“He’s tasted me.” When I told her that, her eyes widened.
“And he hasn’t bitten you?” She was stunned and unbelieving. “That boy has some restraint. But it’s only a matter of time before he slips, and with that much pent up, he’d go way too far.”
“We have things under control,” I said unconvincingly.
“Well, hello there,” a deep voice said from behind me,
I whirled around to see the vampire that had touched me on the dance floor. His black eyes glowed at me. A strand of black hair came loose, so he pushed it back with unpleasantly long nails, at least for a man.
“That’s Alice!” Violet announced with her shrill, sparkling laugh. She leapt off the couch and skipped over to us, stopping so close to him that they were almost touching. “Isn’t she a treat?”
“Sweet as pie,” he purred with an exaggerated southern drawl, reminding me of when Hannibal Lector mocked Clarisse Starling in Silence of the Lambs. He breathed in deeply, leaning in closer to me, but I couldn’t think enough to step back. “Breathe, honey.”
With that, I gasped and filled my lungs with precious oxygen. Whatever he did to me, it was far worse than even what Peter could do. My mind was less of a fog, but my body lost the ability to do anything, like breathe or blink or move.
“You are precious!” he smiled hungrily, and Violet giggled next to him.
“Oh, leave her alone,” Olivia said. Her voice gained some strength and lost its bleary edge as she came to my aide. “She’s just a kid, and her boyfriend’s out there in the other room.”
“What’s it to you?” He looked past me at her, and I caught a glimpse of primal rage flashing in his eyes.
“He left her in charge,” Violet smirked, leaning in close to him. “He left her alone.”
“What do you want?” I asked when I finally found my voice.
“You’re so scared!” This fact amused him too much, and he sounded a tad aroused. “I’d just like us to be friends. Me, you, and Violet.” He spread his arms openly, as if he expected me to run into them. “To put you at ease, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Lucian.”
“His name’s not really Lucian,” Violet confessed. “It’s actually Hector, but that doesn’t sound nearly as decedent.” He glared at her, and she recoiled but forced a smile at me. “But trust me, sweetie, he’s all vampire.”
“So am I,” Olivia interjected. “Why don’t you two go prey on someone you stand a chance with? This girl isn’t going anywhere with you.”
“You must be getting senile in your old age, Olivia,” Lucian snarled at her. “Because I didn’t say anything about going anywhere. We’re just having a friendly little chat. Isn’t that right, Alice?”
“I’m not much for talking,” I said.
My heart beat erratically and much too fast. Both Violet and Lucian had that eye-fluttering pleasurable look, and I knew they were tuned into it.
“My god, that’s beautiful,” Lucian murmured, almost inaudible. “It’s so delicate and frantic. Like a fly caught in a spider web, desperately beating its tiny wings… but it’s not going anywhere.”