Beth knocked on the door, Alex stood beside her.
“Are coming to my window later?” Beth whispered.
Alex shrugged. “If you want.”
She nodded just as the front door opened to reveal Beth’s father, Mr Stuart. He was a plump middle-aged man with thinning, greying brown hair.
“Come inside, Beth, it is cold,” he said, standing aside.
“I’ll see you later, Alex,” Beth said, giving him a kiss on the cheek before going inside her house.
“Goodbye, Alex,” said Mr Stuart stiffly before shutting the door.
“Why do you not like him, Dad?” Beth asked sharply, briefly wondering if Alex could hear them through the door.
“It’s not that I don’t like him, my dear. I just have yet to see whether he deserves you or not.”
Beth rolled her eyes and started upstairs.
“Are you not hungry, darling?” asked her mother.
“I’ve got an essay to write,” Beth lied. “I’d appreciate it if I could be left in peace for the rest of the night.”
“Goodnight, Beth,” said Mrs Stuart.
Beth opened the door to her room and dropped her bag beside her double bed. She shut the door behind her, grabbed some pyjamas from her dresser and went into her small en suite bathroom.
When Beth came out in her pyjamas – a blue tank top and a pair of black cotton trousers – she dropped her clothes into the laundry basket and turned around. She jumped in surprise when she saw Alex crouched in her now-open window frame.
“You know, you should really lock your window,” he whispered with a small smile on his lips.
Beth grinned as Alex stepped into her bedroom, shutting the window behind him.
“Hi,” Beth said quietly.
“Your parents are downstairs watching TV – quite loudly, I must say – and Jack is asleep in his room,” Alex told her.
“How do you know he’s asleep?”
“I can hear his heartbeat.”
Beth sat down on her bed and gestured for Alex to sit beside her. He sat next to her, twirling his bracelet around his wrist again.
“Where did you get that bracelet?” Beth asked quietly. “Catalin has one too.”
“It’s a talisman. Crafted by a smith and enchanted by a witch. Most vampires have one. It protects us from the sun. If we take it off, we’ll burn within half an hour.”
“Tell me more,” Beth said quietly.
“About what? About vampires?” Beth nodded. “What do you want to know?”
“How do you become a vampire?” she asked.
Alex didn’t say anything for a long time. “Why do you want to know that?”
“So I know how not to become one.”
He paused for a further moment, testing the truth in her statement. “Well, there are several ways. If you drink a vampire’s blood and die before it passes from your system, you’ll become a vampire. If vampire blood gets into your veins by a transfusion, you’ll turn. If you get scratched by a vampire and the cut isn’t treated with boiling water, chances are you’ll turn. Witches that die at night usually become vampires. That’s about it really.”