It wasn't long after leaving Denver that I spotted him disappearing with another girl.
"O-kay, what happened?" Liam, apparently forgetting his bad mood, appeared in my doorway.
He scoffed. "Asha, you've been deafening yourself with that scremo crap for three days solid. I know you haven't fed and I'm dying to try the bar. This isn't like you."
I closed my eyes and continued sitting in the window of my house. I'd seen various people, including Aria, couple up all over the street. It had kind of rubbed salt into the wound.
"Hey, you don't need some guy, Asha." His voice was gentle as he sat down. "And I know you've had a bad time, but you have me."
I hummed at him, giving him a half smile. "Other than you, he's the first decent guy I've spoken to in a very long time."
"We've spent the last ten years running from psychotic vampires trying to kill you and nutty immortals trying to lock me up as a science experiment. You haven't spoken to any decent guys in that time. They were all trying to kill us."
I laughed at that, appreciating his humor.
"Better. Now, you're coming to the shop with me and then you're going to make yourself presentable. Time to meet some people."
I rolled my eyes. "I'll make myself presentable first, okay?"
"That's the Asha I know." He winked before leaving me to it.
I sighed, shaking my head in amusement at him. People frequently assumed that Liam and I were a couple, but for some reason, we had developed a sibling-like friendship. I guess the years of running had never left much time to really think about relationships like that.
I continued to muse while I changed into a comfortable but flattering t-shirt emblazoned with a band logo, black skinny jeans and boots. I was securing a studded belt low across my hips as I made my way downstairs.
Liam greeted me with an appreciative whistle. "Watch out fellas."
I shoved him lightly. "Stopit you."
"Hmm, didn't know vampires could blush." He gave me a wicked grin, ducking as I made a half-serious attempt to hit him.
"Shall we go?" I replied sweetly, waiting until he straightened up again before getting a playful smack on the back of his head.
"Yep. Okay." He looked slightly sheepish as he opened the door for me.
We made our way to the bar, having a couple of drinks each. Liam maybe a couple too many, though we were both nicely relaxed as Liam dragged me down the street to the shop, saying something about throwing a party to 'get me talking to people'. He was so intent on his target he dragged me right into another guy.
"Oh, hey." Liam apparently recognised him. "Cody, from the shop right?"
As he responded affirmatively, I couldn't resist running an appreciative eye over him. He was leanly muscled, with very striking grey eyes. I noticed snakebite piercings-something I liked on guys. The Vans poking out from his jeans and familiar band name on his shirt told me he would be the kind of guy I might actually enjoy talking to. He threw me a quizzical look.
"I'm Asha, I have the misfortune to be this guy's room-mate."
Cody laughed, making him all the more attractive. "Pleased to meet you."
I responded with a smile, although something about him chimed different. It wasn't just the way he looked, it was almost as though-
The thought broke clean off as I remembered I had sensed other vampires nearby. I instantly checked for any kind of manipulative or threatening thoughts. To my utter surprise, I found a warmth and a little relief coming from him. My smile widened a little.
"Where were you headed?" I asked him.
"Looking for my brother, Rayn. He has a tendancy to wander off without saying anything and getting lost."
Liam slumped on my shoulder, whispering loudly in my ear. "I don't feel too good."
I glared at him, half embarassed, half amused and glanced up to see Cody supressing a grin.
"Well, if you feel like helping me with him," I nodded at Liam. " I could help you look for your brother if you want?"
"Sure." He looked pleasantly surprised at my offer. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it." I just hoped I could get Liam home before he shifted out in the open. Last time he was drunk, he shifted into a dragon and flew over some remote villages up North.
Thankfully, Liam only embarassed himself a little, babbling about how nice Cody was being as we helped him into bed.
I closed his door quietly.
"Thank you. And I'm really sorry about Liam. He doesn't make a habit of this, I promise."
Cody laughed. "Don't worry about it. He's a better drunk than my dad."
I tilted my head at the implication but decided not to press it.
"Shall we go find your brother?" I suggested, gesturing for him to go out first.
We chatted a little, mostly about music, as we wandered around the area. It was getting pretty late, turning early evening as Cody suddenly got struck with inspiration.
"The park. I bet that's where he's been the whole time."
I smiled, half expecting a joke. "The park?"
"Trust me, it will make sense when you meet him."
He was right. When we got there, a guy of around eighteen was chasing a squirrel round. As soon as he spotted him, Cody yelled out a little sharply.
The kid looked up and ran over happily. "Cody! Have you got a girlfriend like Cancer now?"
He laughed. "No, she was just helping me to find you-you ran off without telling me again."
I smiled as I watched Cody with Rayn, who seemed completely harmless, like a kid much younger than his frame suggested. Cody apparently had infinite patience and obviously a lot of affection for his brother.
"So who is she?" Rayn turned to me. "She's really pretty Cody."
I blushed a little. "My name's Asha, pleased to meet you Rayn."
"I like you." Rayn grinned happily in reply. "Can she come back with us Cody?"
Cody laughed. "Do you want to come back to mine for a drink?"
I smiled at him. "I'd like that."
Walking back, I felt oddly peaceful. Rayn filled the comfortable silence with harmless chatter and I felt myself laughing and relaxing more. We got to their house just as it was turning dark.
"So.. what do you drink?" he asked as Rayn messed around to find a DVD.
"Blood." I replied calmly, testing him a little. His eyebrows shot into his hairline.
"Sorry, I just don't like lying to people much." I said, honestly. "And if I'm honest, I spotted that you were one a while ago."
He relaxed. "I've just never met anyone to come out with it so openly."
I shrugged. "I kinda wanted to see your reaction." I glanced down shyly.
Suddenly he was close, tilting my chin up. "You've got nothing to worry about."
Our gazes locked and we froze for a long moment until Rayn burst into the kitchen waving a DVD. We sprang apart, although we hadn't done anything. He gave us a suspicious look.
"Are you like Cody?" He asked, showing a perceptive streak that surprised me a little.
"What do you mean?" I replied cautiously, answering him as I would anyone else.
"Are you a vampire?" He asked, almost seriously.
I hesitated before replying. "Yes, I am. I have been one for a very long time."
Rayn was silent for a heartbeat before a broad smile broke over his face. "That's awesome! Cody's never met a nice vampire like you, normally they're all moody or they treat me like a little kid so he ends up shouting at them but you're really nice and you're fun." He turned to Cody. "She's really, really nice Cody. Can you put the DVD in now?"
I laughed. "Let me do it for you, Rayn. Let Cody get the drinks."
I followed him into the living room, letting my pulse settle and trying to get Cody's eyes out of my head. I wondered how I had actually made it to here while talking to Rayn a little, trying not to blush at the number of times he called me nice or pretty.
I waited a little anxiously for Cody to return, wondering what would happen now.