"It's getting late," I said quietly, when the stars had been burning holes in the sky for hours. "I should probably go."
Beside me, the man named Demrin only cocked his head. We'd spent a great while sipping at drinks a little too strong, laughing at nothing, and just sort of accepting each other's company. No one dared to bother us. I told him of the beauty of New York City, and he spoke of his home back in England. I promised I'd go see it one day.
"Someone waiting at home?" He asked me teasingly. I watched his surprise when I nodded a little.
"Something like that," I replied simply. Demrin reached out to take my hand, holding it gently in his own.
"It's been a great pleasure meeting you, Calla," he spoke in such a sincere voice. I wasnt used to this kind of affection, only the sort showed behind closed doors. "I want to see you again."
My lips curled up at the corners. "Okay," I said. "Wait for me here. I'll come back as soon as I can." I didnt have it in me to explain that, were Everette to know my reason for wanting to leave, he'd never let me out of the house. I didnt want to see the glow fade from his eyes.
"I'll be here," Demrin assured me. Then he released my hand, and I turned away and left.
Back home in Manhattan, all roads led to Fifth Avenue. It was impossible to get lost with Central Park in the middle of it all. California nights were darker, and it was much easier to make a wrong turn, to lose the pathway home.
I kept my hand against the brick wall, letting my fingers guide me down the pitch black alley. I'd thought I'd found the way back to Everette's manor, but now I was not so sure. I could barely see a thing, and from what I could see nothing looked familiar.
Hot tears stung at the corners of my eyes, but I would not allow myself to cry. Sooner or later I'd make it, or the sun would rise and I'd find the way then. Dawn couldnt have been so very far off.
From somewhere in front of me there came a great thud. I stopped, paralyzed with fear. I didnt dare take a breath; I was certain the pounding of my heart was enough to give me away.
The noise came again. Closer, closer...I tried to turn around, to run back the other way, but I tripped over something in the shadows, and skidded onto the pavement. A cry fell from my lips. I knew it was all over then.
"Well," said a voice from somewhere above me. It was a deep, male voice, I couldnt contain my whimpers. "What have we here?"
There were hands upon me then, bringing me up off the ground and pinning me roughly against the bricks. "Please," I cried out in desperation. If only the man could see my face, the raw terror of my expression. I wondered if it would spark some sort of goodness in him. Doubted it almost immediately.
"What's a little girl like you doing out in the dark by yourself?" He asked me in a sickly sweet tone. One of his hands was clasped around my neck, the other trailing over my sides, my chest.
"Please," I repeated. "I just want to go home."
The man let out a cold and hollow laugh. "Maybe I should teach you a lesson about this part of town."
I never had the chance to scream. Suddenly he was kissing me, mouth working furiously against my own. I tried to push him away, but his grip on my throat was too tight. My eyes closed from the mere dizziness I felt.
His free hand was exploring my body, pushing up the hem of my skirt and yanking at the waistband of my underwear. Tears were streaming down my face, but he didnt even seem to notice. Then his fingers were shoved roughly into me, clawing as I released silent screams beneath his lips.
It ended as abruptly as it had started. Out of nowhere the man was ripped off of me, and I slid to the ground with a painful gasp. The man shouted out in terror, followed by a fierce growl. In the dark all I saw was a flash of bloodred eyes.
Then nothing. When the silence became too thick I let my sobs break free, a hideous noise. Even still, I couldnt stop myself.
I jumped a little when someone placed a hand on my shoulder. "Calla," they said frantically. "Calla, calm down. It's me. It's Everette."
I looked up into the face of my lover, the deeply concerned eyes I loved so. The stars and the moon gave off just enough light for me to see the outline of his body, hovering just before me. And behind him, the corpse of the man he'd saved me from.
Another strangled gasp fell from my lips as I crumbled into Everette's arms. The vampire scooped me up and cradled me against his chest, like a baby. Perhaps that was all I was. An incapable child.
"Come now, love. Dont cry," Everette whispered, clutching to me like I was all he had in the world. And maybe I was. "Let's take you home."