I FELT HER FEAR BEFORE I heard her screams.
Her nightmare pulsed into me, shaking me out of my own dream, which had had something to do with a beach and some hot guy rubbing suntan oil on me. Images-hers, not mine – tumbled through my mind: fire and blood, the smell of smoke, the twisted metal of a car. The pictures wrapped around me, suffocating me, until some rational part of my brain reminded me that this wasn’tmy dream.
I woke up, strands of long, dark hair sticking to my forehead.
Lisa lay in her bed, thrashing and screaming. I bolted out ofmine, quickly crossing the few feet that separated us.
“Lis’, ” I said, shaking her. “Lis’, wake up.”
Her screams dropped off, replaced by soft whimpers. “Andre, ” she moaned. “Oh God.”
I helped her sit up. “Lis’, you aren’t there anymore. Wake up.”
After a few moments, her eyes fluttered open, and in the dim lighting, I could see a flicker of consciousness start to take over. Her frantic breathing slowed, and she leaned into me, resting her head against my shoulder. I put an arm around her and ran a hand over her hair.
“It’s okay, ” I told her gently. “Everything’s okay.”
“I had that dream.”
“Yeah. I know.”
We sat like that for several minutes, not saying anything else. When I felt her emotions calm down, I leaned over to the nightstand between our beds and turned on the lamp. It gloweddimly, but neither of us really needed much to see by. Attracted by the light, our housemate’s cat, Oscar, leapt up onto the sill of the open window He gave me a wide berth-animals don’t like dhampirs, for whatever reason-but jumped onto the bed and rubbed his head against Lisa, purring softly. Animals didn’t have a problem with Moroi, and they all loved Lisa in particular. Smiling, she
scratched his chin, and I felt her calm further.
“When did we last do a feeding? ” I asked, studying her face. Her fair skin was paler than usual. Dark circles hung under her eyes, and there was an air of frailty about her. School had been hectic this week, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d given her blood. “It’s been like…more than two days, hasn’t it? Three? Why didn’t you say anything?”
She shrugged and wouldn’t meet my eyes. “You were busy. I didn’t want to-“
“Screw that, ” I said, shifting into a better position. No wonder she seemed so weak. Oscar, not wanting me any closer, leapt down and returned to the window, where he could watch at a safe distance. “Come on. Let’s do this.”
“Come n. It’ll make you feel better.”
I tilted my head and tossed my hair back, baring my neck. I saw her hesitate, but the sight of my neck and what it offered proved too powerful. A hungry expression crossed her face, and her lips parted slightly, exposing the fangs she normally kept hidden while living among humans. Those fangs contrasted oddly with the rest of her features. With her pretty face and pale blond hair, she looked more like an angel than a vampire.
As her teeth neared my bare skin, I felt my heart race with a mix of fear and anticipation. I always hated feeling the latter, but it was nothing I could help, a weakness I couldn’t shake.
Her fangs bit into me, hard, and I cried out at the brief flare of pain. Then it faded, replaced by a wonderful, golden joy that spread through my body. It was better than any of the times I’d been drunk or high. Better than sex-or so I imagined, since I’d never done it. It was a blanket of pure, refined pleasure, wrapping me up and promising everything would be right in the world. On and on it went.