“Does that actually have any bearing on who you are?” I leaned on the island, looking intently at him. I was starting to give myself to their fantasy completely, and I was interested in them as if I actually believed.
“They don’t define my personality.” Jack looked over at Mae, who nodded at him. “But we… Remember when you first came over to meet them and I said that I knew Peter and Ezra would like you? It was because I liked you.”
“So they’ll like whoever you like?” I was skeptical, because Peter still didn’t like me.
“No, no, that’s not it either.” Jack sighed, and he debated how much he was going to tell me. I didn’t understand what he could still possibly be hiding from since he’d confessed vampirism. “Because I don’t just like you. My blood likes you.”
“Okay, what the hell does that mean?” I actually leaned away from him a little bit, and I’m sure I looked afraid.
“Jack, maybe Ezra would be better suited to talk about that,” Mae gave him an even glare, and he lowered his eyes. Then she turned back to me, smiling warmly. “Ezra really is a bit of an expert on everything. Jack and I still have so much left to learn.”
“You guys aren’t really vampires, are you?” I asked apprehensively, and Mae laughed.
“Oh, love, I’m sorry, but we are.” She tucked a strand of hair back behind my ear, and since I didn’t push her away or flinch, she smiled.
“But you guys don’t sleep in coffins or have fangs and you’re not pale.” I said, then quickly corrected myself. “Well, except for Mae, but even she’s not that pale.”
“We kind of have fangs.” Jack opened his mouth wide and ran his tongue along his teeth, emphasizing the pointed incisors. They weren’t longer or bigger than any other teeth I had seen, but they did look awfully sharp.
“And coffins are just a ridiculous legend. Beds are much more comfortable.” Mae scoffed at the notion.
“But you’re tan. You can’t go in the sun! Wait, can you go in the sun?”
“We can, in fact, but we don’t usually,” Jack continued. “The sun kind of makes us tired, but we won’t burst into flames or die or anything like that.”
“That doesn’t explain the tan,” I pointed out.
“We don’t change from when we were turned, and I skateboarded a lot so I was out in the sun. When I turned, my skin was full of melanin, and now it always will be.” Jack thought about it for a moment, then corrected himself. “We do change a bit. We improve. I wasn’t quite this handsome, and I had more of a farmer’s tan. But somehow, it evens things and smoothes everything, like gleaning off any fat I had. It’s impossible for a vampire to be overweight. We no longer require the storage of anything, so it all dissolves pretty quickly after the turn.”
“We drink our blood, so it’s more fat-free,” Mae added.
“You drink blood.” Until then, I had been trying hard not to really think of it.
When I thought of Peter biting me, it had more been about the feeling of everything, and not about the actual act of him drinking my blood. It was almost impossible to imagine Mae or Jack doing it.
“It is a necessity,” Mae whispered sadly.
“But like animal blood, right?” I asked hopefully, but Mae kept her eyes down, so I looked up over at Jack, who just shook his head.
“We can’t live on animal blood.” Jack kept his pale blue eyes on me, so I had to focus not to look even mildly revolted. “It’s the same reason a person can’t live on a blood transfusion from a dog or rat. Essentially, we require a weekly blood transfusion to survive. We just have to ingest it.”
“You… you kill people?” I know my voice was trembling, but then Mae’s eyes shot up and both her and Jack looked appalled.
“No! No, of course not!” Mae vehemently denied it. “People can lose huge amounts of blood before they die.”
“We just drink blood from people,” Jack elaborated. “It’s a painless process. Our saliva works as like an anesthetic and makes the wound heal crazy fast.”
“And Ezra’s so good at it that most people don’t even know they’ve been bitten,” Mae explained, somewhat proudly. “Jack and I live mostly on blood from the blood bank anyway. It’s not quite as good, but it’s much less complicated.”
“You get blood from the Red Cross?” I pictured Mae and Jack going down to a Red Cross and asking for a pint of blood for the ride home.
“No, not exactly.” Mae gently touched my knee and smiled at me. “There’s a vampire blood bank. People think they’re donating to some place like the Red Cross, but it’s for us. So we have a fridge in the basement full of blood.”
“Not that Peter or Ezra ever really get into it,” Jack muttered, and Mae shot a look at him.
“They lived too long in the times before blood banks,” Mae said, looking rather apologetic. “They’re purists.”
“So… they… what? How does that work? They just find some random person and bite them?” The thought of Peter biting anyone else made me feel vaguely nauseous.
“No, they have clubs where people willingly donate, and a lot of times, they can pick up girls, who think they’re going on a date and getting a long kiss on the neck, but really they’re just getting a snack,” Mae clarified.
“You’re okay with that?” I asked Mae. “Ezra’s out and about dating and drinking other women?”
“It’s not pleasant,” Mae admitted, with a pained expression. “But it’s the nature of who we are. And I’d rather have him seducing a woman than just attacking someone and killing them. It’s the price of eternity, love. I can be with him forever, but he has to kiss other women.” She smiled sadly at me, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to come to terms with it like she had.
“I drink almost entirely bag blood,” Jack interjected brightly, and I turned my attention back to him.
“The night you picked me up, were you going to bite me?” Then, remembering how suddenly drowsy I was and that I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten home, my eyes widened. “Did you bite me?”
“No!” Jack put his hands up defensively under the scrutinizing glares from Mae and me. “No! I didn’t! Honest!” Then he looked sheepish. “I’d actually just come from the club, and I’d … fed, right before I saw you.”