I woke up feeling cheery and light-hearted. I jumped up out of bed and went to look for Darren. He turned out to be in the kitchen. I stood up in the doorway and leant against the doorframe.
"Hey, Dah-ruhn," I said, reverting to the child-like tone of my after-death phase.
Darren looked up, with an amused expression on his face. "You feeling all right, Tay?"
"Sure? You seem unusually... chirpy."
I frowned. "Don't you want me to be?"
"Oh no, of course it's great if you're happy, it's just you hated me yesterday."
I shrugged. "Don't remember."
I bounced over and planted myself on his lap.
Darren smiled and put the newspaper down. I smiled back and looked straight into his eyes which wrapped me in velvet warmth. I was no longer afraid he might think I was disrespecting him.
"So, what are we doing today?" I asked.
"I don't know, really. I hadn't made any plans. I don't think we should go out just yet, though."
"No: you're a little hyper. When you've calmed down, we could, though."
"I can be calm now," I said, my expression turning serious.
Darren looked as if he were experiencing some major internal conflict.
"Tay, I think you should get off me," he said, with gentle insistence in his tone.
"But..." I protested.
"Now," he interrupted.
I stood up, confused and surprised. He had never been like this with me before. He was always so friendly.
Darren looked relieved but frowned as he gazed up at me.
"I'm sorry. I wanted to start kissing you and that wouldn't have been a very good idea."
I frowned slightly, confused.
"It would be so easy to take advantage of you," Darren murmured, rising to his feet. I felt strangely excited, electrified by the atmosphere. Was the air buzzing?
"Taylor, you're making this harder for me. Back away or something."
"I don't want to get away," I said, already feeling Darren's arms around my waist, even though they were only moving out to position themselves there.
"Tay!" He sounded desperate. "You're making it impossible to resist you. You're just standing there. Please, remember yourself or you'll regret it."
"Why would I regret inviting bliss to enhance my existence?" I asked, inspired by the forces between Darren and me which were slowly imploding to pull us together.
"Tay!" He sounded helpless, like a child, as his hands reached the places they were meant to be. His eyes were wide with fear and anxiety. I thought he looked cuter like that.
"Tay, you have to stop me. I'm going to kiss you!"
What an odd thing to say. I ignored him as his head came closer to mine, his face filling my vision.
And then, he gave in. He closed his eyes and kissed me. Ecstasy rolled through me and wonder reigned in my mind. Everything was perfect for about three seconds until I abruptly came to my senses. I pushed Darren away as I remembered the stuff after my initial after-death phase which had curiously dissolved overnight.
"What am I doing?" I asked.
"Capturing my heart and holding it captive," Darren replied, reaching for me again.
I pushed his arms away and stepped back. "Darren, snap out of it! I'm not in love with you."
"Could've fooled me," he said, stepping forwards.
"Darren, please! You have to come back to reality."
"Do I? I thought you only existed in dreams."
"I don't want to be with you."
"Yes you do." He advanced on me as I continued to back away.
"No, I really don't. I'm sorry for leading you on."
Darren frowned and stopped. "You're apologising for reciprocating my feelings for you?"
We were out of the kitchen now. I hoped he'd remember the situation before beginning to move closer again: there was a wall about a foot behind me.
I nodded. "I'm not attracted to you, not really. I was feeling strange - I think it was the fact that last night was so stressful."
"So, you... don't like me?" Darren seemed to struggle with this concept.
I nodded fervently. "I think you're opportunistic, remember?"
"Do you hate me?"
I hesitated. "Not as much as before."
Darren looked hopeful. "Then, there's a chance you could like me."
"Probably not. Listen, just come back to yourself for a few moments and we can discuss this."
"Then you'll let me kiss you?"
"I can't promise you anything."
Darren looked unsatisfied. "But I want to kiss you."
"I know and I'm sorry. Please come back."
He seemed to blink twice and his expression became one of concern. "Sorry, Tay."
I wandered back to my room and picked up some clothes and the relevant toiletries before showering. It was weird not having breakfast in my routine. That was another reason I had gone to the kitchen: I'd half-expected to find boxes of cereal on the table.
After dressing, I went back to the kitchen, wrote down my mobile number on some paper from a pad on the fridge and went to find Darren again. He was in his room, lying on his bed .He sat up as I came in.
"Hi. Um, here's my number."
Darren smiled as I walked over and handed him the slip of paper. "Thanks."
"I'm probably going to ... have a drink and then come back. If I take a bit longer than that, I'll probably be contemplating my fate in the park or someplace like that."
Darren nodded. "Be as long as you need."
I turned and headed out of the room. Before I reached the door, though, I paused and rotated on the spot.
"I'm really sorry about what happened in the kitchen," I said.
"It's not your fault. Don't worry about it."
I sighed, though, as I left the apartment.
It was some time in the afternoon that I got back. I'd been finding a club I'd seen being advertised on a poster. Of course, it had been shut, but now I knew where it was, I could go there at night without getting lost. To be frank, I was fed up of being depressed and miserable. I'd almost cried while I'd ‘had my drink' and a visit to a club seemed to be a great solution to my problems. I didn't care that I was underage; I'd find some way of getting in, and I'd just become sadder if I didn't have some fun.
I was careful not to think of my plans as Darren let me into the apartment. I doubted he would approve.
"Can I go out tonight?" I asked.
"Sure. On your own?"
Darren smiled. "What time are you thinking of leaving?"
"Need a lift?"
I shook my head.
Darren said no more and wandered to the living room where the TV was on.
It was quarter past six. I was standing outside the club, assuring myself I had every right to be here.
Confidently, I pushed open the door and walked into a cloakroom. Inside, there was a security guard.
"How old are you?" he asked.
"Oh, come now," I said, and then in that wonderful, commanding tone I'd used to induce a trance yesterday, "You don't believe I'm underage."
The man looked a bit dazed, as if I'd just fired a fast-acting tranquiliser dart. This felt strangely good.
The door at the other end of the cloakroom opened. A good-looking, blonde-haired young man appeared.
"No, he doesn't. Come through."
The security guard didn't object as I followed the man into a lounge area with comfortable- looking leather sofas and a bar. There was also a dance floor. Everywhere I looked, there were people chatting and looking like they were having a good time. The pink lighting added to the warm atmosphere.
"What will you have?" the man asked, leading me to the bar.
"Anything that helps you to forget your problems."
The man chuckled. "Well, anything does that, in large that, in large quantities."
"I'm not really an expert on alcohol."
"I can tell. I'll get you a cocktail."
I fished out my purse.
The man looked amused. "You don't need to pay."
He shook his head. In a lower tone, he said, "Every human here is hypnotised and fortunately, that includes the bartender."
I put my purse away feeling a bit like a rebel.
"What's your name?" I asked as he ordered me a drink.
"Cool. How old are you?"
"20, but I've been that age since the start of the third millennium."
"You'll definitely see the fourth then."
"Yeah, I wonder what the year 3000 will be like."
"It's hard to imagine. Guess I'll be there too."
"When were you changed?"
"About three days ago."
"Wow, you're really new to the scheme of things. I wonder... Have you ever fed off the same human as another vampire?"
I shook my head.
"Would you like to try it?"
"Is it anything special?"
"It's great fun. You really bond with the other vampire."
"I would, but I've had a drink today."
The man bust into laughter. "Why can't you have another? I know vampires who drink three times a day when they're not particularly thirsty!"
I would have blushed, had I not been dead.
"Sorry. I don't know much."
"Don't worry: you'll learn."
The bartender passed Anthony a drink which he passed to me. I took a sip. It was fruity and sweet, refreshing but with an undercurrent of some alcoholic drink. I downed it in one.
Anthony grinned. "That's strong alcohol."
"Great. Can I have another four?"
"Four? You'll be drunk before the evening's started."
"Exactly what I was aiming for."
"You're fun. Tonight's going to be fantastic."
He ordered the drinks, and then told me to go find somewhere to sit. In a few moments, he was sitting with me in a corner I had chosen for the way it was tucked away from everywhere else.
Anthony seemed like quite a cheery, friendly guy. I was grateful for someone to talk to in this place where I knew no one else and could only hope to befriend people as quickly as this.
I drank the next drink rather more slowly. Already, I was beginning to feel more light-hearted, less inhibited. I was happy that I could still drink alcohol as a vampire. Everyone needs a release once in a while.
"So, how long are you staying in London?" Anthony asked.
"Don't know really. For however long Darren lives there, I suppose."
"Is Darren the one who changed you?"
"Give him my thanks."
I grinned. "Sure will. I'll give him my own. To think I'd never entered a club as a human."
"Ah, you were a sensible one, were you?" Anthony seemed to imply that he wasn't and my smile grew in response.
"More like boring," I replied. "All work, no fun. I thought msn was socialising."
Anthony snorted. "Girl, you didn't live."
"I know. I was drab. Who wants all As and A*s when it means being a loner?"
I'd finished my third drink of the evening now.
"I agree. Well, at least you never have to go to school again."
Anthony suddenly looked up. "Oh, there's some food. You thirsty?"
"Yeah. Alcohol really is as dehydrating as they say it is."
Anthony stood up and wandered over to talk to the girl who had walked in. She was pretty with long chestnut-brown hair and big brown eyes. Anthony seemed to be acting charming: the girl was looking flattered and blushing. He led her over to where we were sitting, beckoned for the girl to sit down and turned to whisper something in her ear with almost a look of adoration in his eyes. But the girl totally relaxed, her eyes closing and head falling forwards, as she was entranced.
"Right," Anthony said. "You drink from your side of her neck and I'll drink from mine. Oh, do you want to finish your drinks first? I've heard that any drink after blood doesn't taste so nice."
"Oh, okay." I drank the two remaining glasses and felt a little dizzy as I sank my fangs into the girl's soft neck. Anthony did likewise and we shared the wonderful liquid that flowed out. I felt carefree and happy as I somehow felt some of Anthony's emotions.
I closed my eyes and savoured this slightly salty, slightly metallic yet very sweet variant of human blood that flowed down my throat.
Anthony was right. Surprisingly, the experience was fun. Enjoying a drink with someone in a way I never could have done as a human.
The bliss was shattered by the sudden appearance of Darren's voice outside the moment.
"Taylor? What are you doing?!"