“Are you guys okay? Are you… normal?” Jane asked. I lifted the rag off my knee, revealing my scraped and bloody injury.
“I’m still me. Okay? I haven’t changed at all,” I tried to soothe her. She nodded and sat back in the seat next to me.
That was apparently enough reassurance for the time being. Or so I thought.
Turning to look at me, tears pooled in her eyes. Her fingers shook as she pushed a strand of hair from her face, and in a quivering voice, she whispered, “They’re vampires, aren’t they?”
“Some things are better if you don’t know them,” I said. She bit her lip and nodded, but I didn’t know if she took that at as a yes or what.
“I wish Jack were here,” Milo said and ran a hand through his dark hair.
“I think we all do,” I said.
“I mean, I know I can take care of myself. But protecting you two…” he trailed off. “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready.”
Sitting in the backseat of a locked car speeding down the highway, I did feel reasonably safe. But Milo had a point. Jane took my hand in hers and squeezed it tightly. There was a reason she was my best friend.
Despite all her shortcomings, Jane had saved my life tonight, and she let me keep secrets when I needed to most. There had to be something said for her.
“Okay. So. Here’s the plan. I’m going to drive around for awhile. When I think it’s safe or we’re about to run out of gas, we’ll go to my house. And Mae will know what to do,” Milo decided.
My whole body trembled and the adrenaline wore off painfully. Milo kept his eyes fixed on the road and the rearview mirror, and somehow Jane managed to drift off after awhile. She rested her head against my shoulder, and I stared out the windows, wondering if the car next to us might be filled with bloodthirsty vampires.
When I started getting tired, that’s when I felt unsafe. I didn’t trust myself to stay awake, and I didn’t know what would happen if I fell asleep. I pulled my phone out of my bra, which was the only place I could put it when I wore a dress to clubs.
You need to come home. Now. I think we’re in trouble. I text messaged Jack. Then, all I had left to do was wait.
Eventually, Milo stopped to get gas, and Jane woke up from the lack of movement. Before getting out, Milo instructed us to stay in the car and keep the doors locked, no matter what happened.
He went around to the back of the car and opened the trunk, pulling out a tee shirt that had been stowed back there. It was a little big and had a picture of poorly drawn cartoon dinosaurs on it, so I assumed it was Jack’s.
After I had seen my little brother take on a vampire, throwing him so hard into the car next to us that it had left a huge body-sized dent, I didn’t feel as nervous for him as I had before. He was strong, and smart enough to know that that wasn’t enough.
The bright white lights of the gas station made it hard to tell if the sky had lightened, and I’d been half asleep when we pulled in. The streets were deserted, and the gas station was still closed, so Milo paid at the pump.
A semi-truck sat idling in the parking lot, and an SUV with one headlight drove by. A kid wearing a gigantic hoodie even though it was seventy-degrees walked past. Otherwise, we were alone.
I let go of Jane’s hand and moved so I could look all the way around the car. It would be impossible for someone to still be following us, even if that someone was a vampire. We’d been speeding all over the metro area, so they couldn’t follow by foot, and I’d be able to see a car.
Milo knocked on the window so we would unlock the doors and let him back in, and Jane jumped. Under the harsh light, I saw how pale he looked. His hands shook as he opened the car door, and in the rearview mirror, I noticed his eyes had a frantic quality to them. Perspiration stood on his neck, and he had the air conditioning on in the car so high, I was freezing.
“I think we’re in the clear,” I told him.
He didn’t say anything, but his jaw tensed as he clenched his teeth. I watched the nervous way his eyes flitted about, and the shallow way he breathed. He started the car hard, and the engine brayed in protest.
The vein stood out in his neck as his body tensed up, and he reminded me of a junkie in need of a fix.
“Milo, are you okay?” I asked as he struggled to get a hold of himself.
I don’t know how he had even held on this long. Maybe getting out of the car and realizing that everything was alright let his other senses kick back in, and he noticed how hungry he truly was.
“I lost blood, Alice, and the adrenaline did something to me,” he said through gritted teeth. “If I hold off much longer, it’s going to be dangerous.”
“What is he talking about?” Jane asked and met his eyes in the rearview mirror. “Are you okay?” He locked on her eyes, and I saw her breathing change, getting deeper and more sensual.
“No, Milo, let’s go back to the house,” I said. I gripped the headrest of the passenger seat so tightly, my fingers hurt.
Ignoring me, Milo put the car in drive. Instead of turning out onto the road, he drove behind the gas station, where everything was hidden in darkness. He went somewhere private, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up when he parked the car.
“Milo, come on. There’s other things,” I begged him, but his mind had been made up. His hunger was too strong to ignore.
“Alice, shut up,” Milo told me quietly. His eyes rested briefly on me, and they were all primal thirst, and nothing else. “Close your eyes. Or get out if you need to. This will only take a minute.” Then he fixed his eyes on Jane, who stared at him with stupid adoration. “Jane, do you trust me?”
“Yes,” she nodded, sounding like a brainwashed zombie.
He turned to face her and placed a hand on her neck, rubbing her veins with his thumb for a second. Abruptly, he yanked her to him. He was half leaning in between the seats, and with extraordinary swiftness, he sunk his teeth into her neck.
She inhaled sharply, and I heard the subtle sound of tearing flesh. Closing my eyes, I pressed my back up against the door as far as it would go. Jane moaned softly, and I wanted to throw up or cry or scream or laugh.
It started feeling like forever, but I’m sure it couldn’t have been that long. I stayed in the car because I wanted to be sure that he didn’t go too far. I opened my eyes, and somehow, in my reflexive urge to escape, I ended up standing on the backseat. I was all crouched down, with my knees bent and my back against the window with my head pressing against the ceiling.