"You did it, didn't you?"
She didn't answer, and I shouldn't have been able to tell by looking at her. I wouldn't have, if she'd just been some innocuous stranger in the library or the grocery store. But I knew her. I knew her body language and the subtlety of her expressions. Her shoulders were thrust back the way they were when she was readying herself to be indignant, defensive: her eyes were bright, but avoided mine: and most of all, her lips were closed. Completely, tightly, closed.
She just nodded.
The thing is, she had the look for it. When fiftysomething housewives who've dieted on Anne Rice and bon bons since they were teenagers go through the process, it goes badly. I suppose they're happy with it, but ... some people just shouldn't be vampires.
She wasn't one of them. She had the pale skin already, pale enough that I couldn't tell if it was paler now or if that was the light. The kind of eyes, with big green irises that still showed a lot of white, that were the justification for anyone's eyes ever being called "luminous." Dark lips, not blood-red, but red, a fleshy, inviting, smeary red. An angular build, almost boyish, with breasts which would have been imperceptible on anyone less gaunt. And the attitude -- that part, that was certainly affected, but at least she was dedicated about it.
She dressed the part without being cliche. No velvet or corset, no lace. Blue jeans torn so you could see glimpses of red panties, black T-shirt. Simple and nearly timeless.
Yeah. She was perfectly suited to the process. That's one of the reasons we'd argued about it so much, because I couldn't simply say "you'll make an ass of yourself." She was the kind of person they used in the billboards, in the magazine spreads, the kind they posed with tilted heads and slitted eyes and smeary pursed lips, hands stretched in invitation.
But I'd told her. I'd told her no.
I'd told her I didn't want to live forever, and if she did I didn't want her to watch me grow old. I didn't want to slump and grey and fester in front of her changeless perfection. I didn't want to be left behind when I stopped being interesting. I didn't want to wind up like the couples I saw on court television, where the vampire converted his mortal spouse in her sleep, against her will.
So I told her: get it done, and we're through. It's not reversible. You don't even know yet, what'll happen to you in three hundred years, eight hundred years, five thousand years. I won't take that risk with you.
And she did it.
She did it and she stood there in the doorway, kicking it closed behind her, foot arching slow against it to keep it from slamming, careful of her movements and cautious not to seem like she was starting a fight, and she had the balls to look defensive.
"Don't look at me like that," I said quietly, and my voice had all the guardedness of her motions. "Don't look at me like I don't have the right to be angry about this. If you decided the hell with it, you wanted this no matter what, the right thing to do would've been to tell me, and we could've split up first. We could've gone through all that crap, dividing up albums and books and deciding who gets the car and who cashes in the bonds to buy a new one, without you having to sit there with your mouth pulled shut so I don't see your fangs."
"I cashed in the bonds." When she spoke, I saw the flash of pearly white against her lips, the baring of gums and twitch of tongue as red as fresh meat.
"I cashed in the bonds. To pay for it." She leaned against the closed door -- I could read her, she was afraid, but not of me so much as the hassle of having this out. She'd made up her mind -- obviously. But she was trying to look casual, cool, disaffected.
"They make you pay now? That's new."
"It's cause it's so popular. It goes to, like, a fund."
"Yeah. The buy-your-pimp-a-new-suit fund."
"No no, it's a legal fund. For the lawsuits and everything. Look, the bonds were half mine anyway."
"And half mine. So I'm taking the car, then."
She shrugged, and -- God. That shrug. Every fight we'd ever had, from the minor who-gets-the-radio squabbles to the knockdown dragouts with grudges that lasted months, every fight, she'd shrug like that. She wanted it to come across as "I don't have time for these petty concerns," but all it ever boiled down to -- I told myself -- was "I'm going to do what I want and I can't be bothered to answer for it."
That shrug just ... did me in. All of the frustration, imagining the hassles of dividing our stuff, of telling my parents -- and hers, no doubt, since she wouldn't bother -- why we'd split, mixed with the relief that the waiting was over and now I knew that yes, it was done, we were done, and I'd still see her because neither of us was going to move, but eventually I'd stop recognizing her because she wouldn't change -- it all came out.
I heard the back of her head slam against the door before I realized what I was doing, that my hands were on her wrists and yanking on her, and she gasped, big eyes wide, and growled in a way I'd never heard before.
I'd meant to shake her, to shake that shrug away, to ... something, I don't know what. "Shit," I said, "I'm sorry, this is just -- this is not how you should have handled it."
"Do you want to?" The question was murmured so low and raspy I didn't understand her at first. She rubbed her thigh against me, between my legs, and I realized I was as hard as gunmetal. She kissed the side of my neck, dragging the edges of her new fangs against my skin, purring. Not purring the way people purr when they try to purr -- purring exactly like a cat does, deep in the throat and chest as she rubbed against me.
The fangs pricked my skin, and I shook my head as I pulled away from them -- but not from her. "Not like that."
Right away the purr disappeared, and she was limp in my arms, as vivid as cardboard meat. "There has to be blood now," she hissed, verging on indignation again. "You know that."
I pulled her against me, letting her feel my erection cling to the holes in those jeans, and grunted, "There will be," sinking my teeth down into the soft hollow inside her collarbone.
She stiffened at first, and then relaxed, wrapping her arms around my shoulders as she rocked her ass against the door, pushing up on her heels to drive her skin harder against my teeth. I was beyond needing the invitation. I sank my teeth in deep, mouth open wide, lower teeth against the bone and uppers digging into the hollow beyond it, slow and inexorable, rough at first: and then the blood came, just a trickle, but enough to lubricate.
Her hand slid down to my crotch, not so much caressing as petting, and the patronizing nature of the gesture set me off. I tore into her neck, pushing my teeth through her pale cool skin, closer and closer to her throat, and the whimpering growl which came from it wasn't a sound any human ever made. As she unbuttoned my jeans I twisted her T-shirt up around my hand, yanking it up over her braless breasts and against the door, letting the fabric tighten against her throat.
Her blood was the only thing still warm about her, and its copper-penny taste coated my tongue as I lapped at it, smeared it across her lips with a kiss, left scarlet trails along her neck and tight skin, dripping drops on her yanked T-shirt as I bit towards her breast: the right, my favorite, because the nipple always seemed to respond quicker.
She pulled the T-shirt off over her head, struggling against my grasp on its hem as I grabbed the largest hole in the front of her jeans and tore it to the side until it was wide enough for me to feel the silk of her panties beneath my fingers, the cool moistness of her pressing against me. I found that nipple, stroked it to life with my tongue, and sucked it hard against my teeth, baring them in a lusty grimace as I raked my canines back and forth against her areola. Her cold fingers were under the waistband of my jeans, pulling on my cock, freeing me from denim as I pushed her back against the door with my hips, and we fumbled her panties to the side as I entered her.
It wasn't like anything I'd felt before. She was wet where she should be wet, clenching where she should be tight, but everything that should have been blood-hot was gravemist-cool. Not cold -- cool, like a Formica counter on a warm day, or a wet cloth against a feverish forehead. She surrounded me, and it wasn't enough, fucking her wasn't enough. If I wanted warmth I needed to take it from her blood.
I bit down into her breast hard enough to make her scream, but it wasn't pain, she was beyond pain now, it was need and hunger and lust responding to the smell of her own blood. From the corner of my eye I could see her running her fingers along her wet throat, dragging waketrails through the crimson and licking the drops from her fingertips like honey. She was more than loving this, but it was like I was barely a part of it.
I drove myself inside her, fully aware that she couldn't care less what was inside her now, that that wasn't going to get her off: that fucking her was purely for me, and all she wanted was the blood. For once, we were both going to get what we wanted. Maybe for the last time. Maybe that was fitting.
She grunted and hissed every time her ass hit the door, and I left bloody kisses on her breasts and throat, pairs of toothmarked half-crescents. My mouth was sweaty with her blood, trailing it along like a necklace, and she was panting at me like a cat in heat, clawing at my shoulders as she lifted herself up to my teeth over and over and over again.
When I clamped my teeth down on the stretch of skin just above the U of her collarbone above her cleavage, her thighs tensed and she mewled like an animal, rutting against me in hot need as I drank from her, letting the blood fill my mouth and spill over to coat her small breasts and run down her boylike ribs on an abdomen that would never fill out, skin that would never wrinkle or sag. She was thrusting too hard and fast for me to keep up with, her muscles already stronger from the process, her speed beyond human, and I came violently inside her, a sudden rush of warmth in the middle of her coolness, jerking my hips hard enough to shove her thrusts back at her.
We panted together, wiping blood from each other, licking it from our fingers and lips, and she groaned with satisfaction, the sort of groan that always sounds faked but for once -- wasn't.
When we'd recovered and redressed, I pulled her against me -- and her eyes both narrowed and brightened, wondering if this had changed my mind, if I was going to stay --
But she was just blocking the door.