Not surprisingly, the woman crouched in a position similar to mine and bared her sharp white teeth at me. Her strawberry-blonde hair was covered in snow.
We remained this way for an interminable time. The snow began to fall in heavy drifts all around us, getting into my hair and eyes. I did not blink, did not move even one muscle.
I studied the woman. Her skin was not as white as mine, though she was still very pale. Her eyes were a beautiful amber color. I detected no heartbeat coming from her and I couldn't catch her scent. Oh great -- another one, I thought to myself.
Alistair had been the very first vampire of my acquaintance. A very brief acquaintance that had been, of course, though I preferred it to remain that way. And now I was face-to-face with another one. They were practically multiplying.
A vision flashed in my mind and I focused on it. The strawberry-blonde woman and I were walking together. She was taking me to meet her friend, Irina. We were speaking in hushed words about Alistair. I scanned harder, wanting to learn the woman's name. Then it came to me: Tanya.
Just as she was leaning forward, ready to pounce, I called out: "Wait, Tanya. You don't want to do that."
She stopped, her pretty features knit with confusion. I could tell that I had completely caught her off guard. "How do you know my name?" Her voice was somehow both silken and gritty at the same time, and it held the trace of an accent I couldn't place.
I relaxed my stance and walked forward very slowly, my hands with the palms facing up. "I know many things. I know, for instance, that your companion is named Irina. You both live here, in Alaska. You've lived here for many years. You feed on the blood of animals. As do I."
She took a hesitant step forward then stopped. I kept walking towards her and stopped a few feet in front of her.
"Look at my eyes, Tanya. I'm just like you."
She wavered, clearly wanting to trust me despite herself. I stood still, letting her evaluate me. Her amber eyes took me in. I knew I looked worse for the wear -- my clothes were damp and stained and my hair was at best stringy. But she must have seen something that convinced her to trust me, because in the next instance she nodded to herself and walked forward to close the distance between us, her hand outstretched.
"I'm Tanya. Pleased to meet you."
I clasped her hand. It was smooth and cool in my own. "I'm Alice. And the pleasure is all mine."