I made it up a flight of stairs when her face appeared directly in front of mine. Her makeup was caked on heavier than normal, trying to hide the fact that she looked pale and freaked out. Otherwise, she looked like her usual perfect-Jane-self.
“What the hell is going on?” Jane hissed, ripping the ear buds from my ears.
- 23 -
“What?” I tried to play dumb since people streamed down the stairs around me. I would’ve tried to get away from Jane, but she had me backed up against the wall.
“You know damn well what I’m talking about.” Her face was so close to mine I could smell the Red Bull on her breath and the strawberry gloss on her lips.
“I don’t want to talk about it here,” I said warily. People slowed down, stopping to watch the scene she was making.
“Maybe you should’ve thought about that last night when you weren’t answering my calls,” Jane growled.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything.” I dropped my eyes to floor so I didn’t have to look at the frightened glare she gave me. “I slept a lot yesterday.”
“Come on.” She grabbed my hand and started yanking me down the steps I had just walked up.
“What are you doing?” I asked, but I didn’t even try fighting her.
“We’re gonna talk!”
She dragged me to the nearest girls’ bathroom and practically threw me inside. I stumbled and fell to the ground, but I blame that on my own infirmity. A freshman washed her hands at the sink, but Jane sneered at her, so she finished quickly and hopped over me on her way to the exit.
As I got to my feet, Jane checked underneath the stalls to make sure we were alone, and then tossed her heavy book bag in front of the door to act as doorjamb.
“What the hell happened, Alice?” She went over and dug her cigarettes out of her bag. I walked over to the counter and leaned on it. “What are they? Who were those people that chased after us? And what the hell did your brother do to me?”
“One question at a time, Jane.”
I ran a hand through my hair and tried to ignore that haunting, pale reflection that stared out from the mirror. I turned my back to it and using every bit of my strength, I hopped onto the counter.
The bell rang overhead, announcing that the break had ended and class had begun, but neither of us made any move towards the door.
“Start with whichever one you want,” Jane gestured vaguely as she lit her cigarette.
When she took a drag from her cigarette, her hand shook. She stared at the yellow bathroom floor tile, and she exhaled smoke out of the corner of her mouth. Her expression didn’t look surprised and her skin didn’t pale, but I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.
Maybe she just thought I was insane. She took another drag of her cigarette and waved for me to continue with her other hand.
“I don’t really know who the other vampires were,” I said. “We met them at a club a little while back, and they were obsessed with me because Jack wouldn’t share me or something. I don’t really know what they want with me.” I kept watching her, but she stayed the same, nervously smoking and looking down.
“They happened to be at the club that night. And they chased us. Milo lost blood in the attack, and he was kinda desperate to replace it. So he bit you.” I swallowed hard. “I’m sorry. We never meant for you to get involved.”
“Milo is a vampire?” Jane said, almost interrupting me. “How long?”
“Over three weeks.” It sounded so weird saying it aloud. My brother’s been a vampire for almost a month.
“Jack is a vampire?”
“But you’re not?” She looked up at me, her eyes wide and scared.
“No, I’m not.”
“Why don’t I have bite marks?” Jane pointed to her neck. It was completely bare, the same as mine, even though we’d both just been bitten. “I knew that he bit me, but I didn’t have any sign of it.”
“Something in their saliva. It makes the wounds heal right away,” I shrugged. “It’s probably the same thing that makes it so they heal quickly and live forever, but on a much smaller scale.”
“That’s why your brother looked so foxy. And why I can’t get him out of my head.” Jane chewed the inside of her cheek and stared off into space. “And why I couldn’t get Jack out of my head either. They’re vampires.”
“I’m sorry,” I said softly, unsure of what else to say. “I never thought you would… When Milo invited you out, I thought we would just dance and you’d go home. I never tried to mix you guys. I just…”
“What do they want with you?” She looked at me again, and this time, she was suspicious. “Are you like Jack’s blood mule or something?”
“No, it’s nothing like that.” I shook my head. “He’s… We’re… There’s extenuating circumstances that I’m not gonna get into right now, but we’re almost dating. I guess.”
“What does that even mean?” Her hand was shaking less when she flicked her ashes. “Are you sleeping together? Does he bite you?”
“No.” I let it hang in the air, unwilling to tell her the truth. “We just care about each other.”
“So why did Milo turn into a vampire and not you?” She studied me, trying to figure out if I was lying, and I shifted uncomfortably.
“There was an accident,” I said. “He was dying, and the only way to save him was to turn him. So they did.”
“I’m not gonna turn, am I?” Jane’s hand went to her neck, touching where Milo bit her.
“No, it doesn’t work like that. You’ll be perfectly fine,” I said. “Oh. You should take iron and B12 for awhile to help your blood replenish or whatever.”
“So… they’re really vampires?” Jane eyed me up skeptically.
“You saw them.”
“I did,” she agreed thoughtfully. “But that girl, she had fangs, like hardcore. I didn’t notice any on Milo or Jack.”
“Yeah, I don’t think those are real.” I’d been thinking the same thing. “Hers must be veneers or something. She has to be a real vampire, but I think it’s all part of her ‘image.’ You saw her black lipstick and Halloween make up.”
Jane nodded and tossed her cigarette butt on the floor. She stomped it out and pulled another cigarette out from her pack.