Inside the building, which I hadn't really paid much attention to, I froze at the sight of several vampires sitting in a corner of the room where there were couches. I could tell they were vampires from their pallor, their unmoving chests and the predatory grace that accompanied all their movements. They were just chatting - nothing menacing. They weren't even looking at me but I felt black fear engulf my entire self. That is, the entire part of my self which wasn't in near blinding pain. I stood rooted to the spot as Alex walked forwards towards the bar.
"I'll have a white Russian, please," he murmured, placing a few notes on the table.
I hung back; I was underage in England and I knew the rules were stricter in the States. I doubt I could have moved anyway.
"C'mon Flora, this was your idea," Alex said. "16 here, European rules." He smiled.
I tentatively stepped forwards. It was at this point that one of the vampires glanced up at me. He had soft-looking blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Like him. I felt sick and remained paralysed as he regarded me curiously. I shut my eyes and put the mental shields up, just like he had taught me to do. I didn't move afterwards, though. What a fool I must have looked.
I heard the clattering of a stool. I opened my eyes to see that Alex had jumped up and was shooting a warning glare at the vampire in the corner, his teeth bared. When the vampire looked away, he turned to me and said "C'mon Flora, I'll get you a drink." He smiled softly, retrieved me from the centre of the room and led me to the bar.
"He wasn't doing anything," I said softly as I sat beside him. I turned to the bartender. "I'll have a glass of champagne please."
"I felt...sorry, it was like an instinct," he murmured, trailing a finger round his glass till it made a light, twinkling sound.
I sighed and found myself resting my head on his shoulder. "That's a beautiful sound. Thank goodness your voice isn't like that." I was aware that my comments were random but I didn't care: I just wanted to forget that vampires existed. Especially ones with blonde hair and blue eyes. "I like champagne. Let's get really drunk tonight, Alex. So drunk we can't think. Thinking hurts. No escape."
"Go ahead, I'm designated driver, remember?" He smiled softly.
I chuckled. "Silly Alex. I can't get drunk. Dad'll kill me." I sipped at my champagne and moved to sit on his lap. "I bet I can act it, though. So good to turn off self-control."
"I figured you'd say that." He nodded to himself, still playing with his glass. "So, is this why you came here? To forget?"
"To the bar or to the States?" I asked carelessly.
"My guess? Both."
"Yes," I whispered. "But I can't forget. Because he'll come and find me. A vampire's revenge is a long one."
"I won't let him come near you," he muttered in a fiercely warning tone.
"You don't stand a chance," I muttered back.
"I would try."
"I don't want you to die," I said softly. I swallowed hard but said "If you even tried to put yourself between me and him, I'd place myself in his arms or kill myself. That might save me the pain of him playing with me."
"I would not see him have you so easily," he sighed, taking a sip of his drink, still not looking at me.
"I don't care," I told him viciously. "You're not dying to protect me."
"That's not your choice." His voice was simple, flat and monotone but still he didn't look at me. "You don't understand, I have nothing else to live for, pledging my life to you would at least give me a goal."
"You fool," I said harshly. "Making your purpose to die. What kind of a purpose is that? I'm not worth it. You hardly know me."
"My purpose is to protect you till your dying breath, if that leads me to death then so be it. I will get stronger for you, faster for you; I will defeat him, or at least give him a goddamn good fight!" With that he swallowed the rest of his drink and slammed the glass on the bar.
"He'll pierce your heart with silver and laugh over your dying body." In a quieter voice, I said "Why me, anyway? We met two days ago."
"You see anyone else hanging around me? Had anyone else come to me with the same problem I would pledge to them instead."
I recoiled in shock. I slid back onto my own bar stool.
"Wow, I ... apologise for flattering myself." Sharp pain stung me unexpectedly. "Ouch."
"You're confusing, you know that?" He smiled slightly, "I wish you'd tell me straight what you're looking for."
"I'm not," I whispered. "I'm not looking." He looked up then, stared at me for a while before letting me change the subject. "So, what's your favourite meat? I had a friend who loved venison once."
"I prefer beef; it is a hearty and warm meat, and you?"
I shrugged. "Lamb. Though ... I've eaten less since ..." I swallowed. Since I met him, I thought. "Since my ex." I tried to sound casual but it failed. How I couldn't talk about him nervously after saying so much, I didn't know. Maybe it was like I had been drunk for a second, but now I'd sobered up. Perhaps it was talking about him killing Alex, as he certainly would if he interfered.
"Yes well, lamb is much too fatty for me, too sinewy." He smiled softly. "One more drink: on me."
I sighed. "Champagne again."
He ordered the drinks, paid, then rather randomly kissed my forehead.
"Please, smile, just at least once more tonight."
I moved backwards. "No. You don't know what it's like. Living in perpetual fear. Knowing that ... that someone is after you." 'Someone who was once the most important person in your life,' I finished in my head.
"Then look at it this way, you have to enjoy the time you have..." He growled to himself. "That came out wrong... I do enjoy your smile though...gosh I'm sorry."
I smiled. "No. You're right. Time ... is short."
"The only thing I wish is that you could see into my head right now, see, it's mainly empty and... you, I dunno, you could find comfort or something...eugh. Ignore me."
I shivered. "I don't want to see into your head." I put my elbow on the bar and leant on my hand. "I've seen people's minds before. Gosh, I hate it."
"Mine's cold. When I close my eyes, it's dark and black. It's like I've lost everything and locked it away." He took a gulp of his drink. "This is why I don't drink, heh."
I regarded him sympathetically. "It sounds scary. I ... I get nightmares. And ... the smallest thing can make me hurt, or frighten me. It scares my dad."
"I don't hurt, I don't get nightmares. I just... sometimes, I recall times when I was a wolf. But nothing else."
I reached out and stroked his arm.
"Let's go for a walk. Forget what I said about being wary of guys - I could do with a break from myself."
He nodded and finished his drink.
I walked out and breathed in the cool night air. I looked up.
"I love the night sky," I murmured. I turned quickly to look at Alex. "Don't change on me. That would really scare me."
"I won't, I'll only change if we're in danger, 'kay?"
I nodded. As an afterthought, I added "Unless it's him."
I thought about what Alex had said about becoming stronger and faster so that he could defeat him. Did he really stand a chance?
I hoped that when he came, he'd visit me when I was alone. That way Alex wouldn't get hurt. He'd find someone else to protect. Though I couldn't say I was happy that he would die for anyone at all. Poor thing. He was vulnerable. I'd misjudged him. But perhaps I could give him a few days of happiness. Before I was taken away from him.
It was so inevitable that I couldn't help but be calm. I was going to die. At least I'd felt love.