“Okay.” Beth put the phone back to her ear. “Dad? We’ll be there in about... ten minutes?” She looked at Alex, who nodded. “Yeah, ten minutes.”
“Okay then. We’ll see you soon.” Then he hung up.
Beth sighed and put the mobile down beside her. She got off the sofa and sat in Alex’s lap with her arms around his neck.
“We should probably be leaving now,” he said quietly.
“Give it a minute. I should probably go and find something to hide this,” she said, touching her neck.
“Your hair will hide it. It’ll heal in a few hours anyway.”
He shrugged. “It’s something in our saliva. It’s different from a normal human’s somehow.”
Beth noticed he seemed much more relaxed. Whether it was because she’d accepted his darkest secret, or that he’d just taken some of her blood, she didn’t know.
“Are you okay?” Beth asked, looking up at his face, which once again held a worried expression.
“Just thinking. Robert’s going to try and get to you. He’ll threaten you; he’ll threaten those you love.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I’ve known him my whole life. Get up,” he said gently.
She got off his lap to allow him to stand.
“I’m going to go and check on Catalin. When I come back down, we’ll leave.”
Beth nodded and watched him leave the room and go up the stairs silently. She leant back against the sofa and sighed. Touching her neck, she could feel a little bit of drying blood. After wiping it away, Beth stood up and walked into the hall. She picked up her bag and something fluttered to the floor. It was a small piece of off-white card. She picked it up and turned it over. Nothing would have prepared her for what the swirling writing spelled out to her.
Alex walked down the stairs without making a sound. He touched her shoulder and she didn’t move. Beth was frozen by the words beneath her eyes. Alex read it over her shoulder.
Such a pretty girl.
Alex plucked the card from her hands and stuffed it into his pocket. Without saying a word, he took Beth’s bag from her shaking hands and ushered her out of her door. He opened the car door for her as usual and Beth got in automatically. With Beth’s bag on the back seat, Alex pulled out of the driveway and started towards Beth’s house.
The roads were slippery and Alex was thankful for it; it meant that he couldn’t think about the card, and what the words meant. Of course, thinking of that, his mind started racing. Robert had either been close enough to Beth to slip the card into her bag, or he’d been in the house. Alex wished that neither of those options were true.
Alex pulled up outside Beth’s house but didn’t move.
“Beth...” he started.
“He was inside the house, Alex. It’s the only possible way he could have put it on my bag.”
“I know,” Alex whispered. “You’ll be safe inside your house, just don’t invite anyone in.”
“So that’s true? Vampires have to be invited in?”
“Only if someone living dwells inside.”
“But how did he get inside your house?”
“No one alive lives there.” Alex didn’t look at her.
Beth watched him for a little while. Alex could see Beth’s father peering out at them from the window. Alex got out of the car and picked up Beth’s bag from the back seat and handed it to her.
Stuffing his hands into his pockets, the two of them walked towards the house.