“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Olivia asked. She sat on the couch across from Milo, sprawling out and the robe slipped up over her slender legs.
“What do you know about child vampires?” I asked. I didn’t sit down and kept my back to the window. The sun beat warm on my skin, and I tried to ignore it.
“I try not to know anything about them,” she answered diffidently.
“Is there a way to… like train them?” I asked.
“Why are you interested in child vampires?” Olivia glanced over at Bobby. “He’s young but he’s not a child.”
I exchanged a look with Milo. Olivia didn’t know about Daisy. We weren’t sure how other vampires would react to a child, and we didn’t really think she needed to know. But maybe she did now.
“Mae turned a child,” I said carefully, gauging Olivia’s reaction. “That’s why she’s been gone. She’s hiding out with the child vampire.”
“I’m sure that’s turning out marvelously,” Olivia laughed dryly but didn’t seem surprised.
“Do you know anything about child vampires or not?” Milo snapped. He’d grown very defensive of Mae, even if he didn’t agree with her choices.
“Honestly, I’ve tried to steer clear of the whole thing,” she sighed. “Vampires are just as likely as humans to dabble in that particular… fetish, and I know, for awhile, vampires were attempting some kind of child vampire sex trade.”
“Are you talking about pedophiles?” Bobby asked, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“If that’s what you want to call it.” She smoothed out the silk of her robe and slid deeper in the couch. “There was a time, not that long ago, where it was common for men to marry girls as young as twelve.”
“You can’t possibly condone that.” Milo glared at her and put an arm around Bobby, in case Olivia decided to sell him into the sex trade.
“No, of course I don’t,” Olivia said, unruffled by Milo’s anger. “There’s very little I approve of that happened in the past.”
“So other vampires were turning children into vampires?” I asked, trying to return to the topic. “They had to have a way to control them.”
“Not really.” She shook her head. “Most of them are incapable of ever learning restraint. They want to devour everything they see. And even the ones that can learn it, what good is that? Being trapped in a child’s body forever is torture. If Peter Pan had been real, he would’ve gone mad and killed everyone in Neverland.”
“Maybe the vampires you encountered were like that just because that’s what they were being forced to do,” I said. “If they were raised differently, maybe they could turn out better.”
“I can’t say,” she shrugged.
“Do you know anything?” Milo asked pointedly.
“Milo, don’t be rude,” I said.
“I’m not!” He insisted but his cheeks reddened. As much as he didn’t trust her, he didn’t want to be impolite. “I just meant that… Olivia never seems to know the answer to anything.”
“The more you know, the more you forget,” Olivia shrugged again.
“What are you guys doing out there?” A voice shouted from the bedroom next to Olivia’s, and Milo tensed up and narrowed his eyes.
“Who is that?” Milo leaned forward.
“It’s just me, and I’ve been trying to sleep.” Violet opened the bedroom door wearing an oversized tee shirt. Her blond hair was disheveled, and she sounded utterly tired. “But with Olivia getting up and moving around all day, and now you guys talking as loud as you want without regard-”
“What the hell are you doing there?” Milo hissed and got to his feet.
“What are you doing here?” Violet shot back, and she snapped awake. She moved like a livewire, and if she wanted to, she’d be over the couch and at Milo’s throat before he could even blink.
“Milo, it’s fine.” I stepped forward, moving in between them. “She’s just staying here for a while.”
Even though she’d been around and I’d run into her a few times, Milo hadn’t seen her at all since she’d had purple hair and hung out with Lucien. The last time he saw her, she’d been trying to kill us. He hadn’t seen the transformation from evil sidekick to sad homeless girl, so he was on high alert.
“You knew she was staying here?” Milo asked.
“Yeah, and it’s no big deal,” I reiterated. I failed to mention it had actually been my idea, but it was probably better if he didn’t know that.
“Take it easy, cowboy,” Olivia smirked at him. “I don’t allow fighting in the penthouse.”
“You take it easy,” Milo muttered, but he sat back down on the couch.
“Now I’m really awake,” Violet sighed and turned to walk back to the kitchen. “If I have to be up, I’m getting something to eat.”
“Is there anything at all you can tell us to help us?” I asked Olivia, ignoring the outburst. Milo tried to glare after Violet, but I moved to block his view.
“Stay away from the children.” Olivia cocked her head. “Why the sudden interest? Hasn’t Mae had the child for a while?”
“Yeah but…” I shook my head. I didn’t want to tell her that they’d be in town. “I just wanted to help.”
“Sometimes you can’t help people,” Olivia said, sounding uncharacteristically sad. “That’s probably the hardest lesson in life.”
Violet came back over to us, sipping blood out of a Big Gulp cup with a straw. The blood perfumed the air, and it smelled like it was pretty fresh. For once, I didn’t feel hungry. I was still too full from Jack to even consider eating yet, and that felt nice.
“Oh hey, it’s a good thing you’re here actually,” Violet said. She climbed over the arm of the chair and sat down, curling her knees up to her chest. She pulled the long tee shirt down over her legs and took a long sip from the cup.
“Who? Me?” I pointed to myself.
“Yeah.” She took another long drink and quickly swallowed down. “I was working the club last night, trying to keep the riffraff under control, and I saw this bloodwhore with a weird mark on her arm.”
“What kind of mark?” I asked.
“At first I thought it was a big ‘U,’ like the letter ‘u,’ but I really don’t know what it’s supposed to be,” Violet said. “When I asked the bloodwhore about it, she told me a vampire branded her. It turns out this vampire has been branding a lot of the bloodwhores.”