Children of Night: Book 3
You can choose your food, but not your family. That's a fact of life that mostly holds true for vampires and humans alike. There are always exceptions, of course; rare instances where you get to decide with whom you will ally yourself; less rare occasions when you find your dietary choices have been reduced to "this or nothing".
But, for the most part, who you are is a given, a fait accompli. Who you eat, on the other hand, that's largely up to you.
San Francisco, California
Two months ago
Just down the street from the Quintano mansion, in a small efficiency apartment located over the estate’s garage, Julie Fischer woke up. As her eyes blinked open she sucked in a quick breath and glanced around, surprised to find herself sprawled on the floor. Had there been an earthquake? Or had something else knocked her out of bed and startled her from sleep?
Whatever the cause, she was grateful for it. Her dreams had been so far from pleasant, she was glad for any excuse to escape them. An instant later, however, the dreams were all but forgotten. Somewhere close at hand, the anxious throbbing of a human heart begged for her attention.
Come and take me…come and take me…come and take me…
Fangs unsheathed, Julie went into a crouch and surveyed the room. The darkness aided her vision and she quickly oriented on the sound. There. Brennan, her sometimes boyfriend, stood just out of reach o n the far side of the bed. Tousled-haired and naked, he had the look of a man who’d just had a good fright.
It took her a moment to dial down her hunger the necessary notch or two. While she waited, she licked her lips and peered at him curiously. He looked good—no surprise there—tall and dark with bright blue eyes and a day’s worth of stubble shadowing his jaw. He looked altogether scrumptious, except for the scowl. That scowl was all wrong. Julie cleared her throat. “Something bothering you, Bren?”
The scowl deepened. “Why don’t you tell me?”
Julie picked herself up off the floor. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Brennan took a quick step back, his eyes never leaving her face, his expression shifting from annoyed to fearful. “N-nothing. Never mind.”
‘Nothing’ it certainly was not, the tell-tale patter of his racing heart gave that away, but Julie decided to let the lie pass. She slid back into bed and waited for him to continue.
Julie nodded. “Some kind of nightmare. I can’t really remember what it was about.” Oh, if only that were true! “Why don’t you come back over here now?” She shot Brennan an inviting smile and patted the bed beside her. “The sun’s not down yet. You have time before work, don’t you?” They both knew he did.
There was more than enough time for a quick snack or even a not so quick tumble between the sheets. The two urges were so closely aligned she occasionally found it hard to keep them separate, especially at times like these, with the scent of Brennan’s fear tingeing the atmosphere. It was an atavistic response, or so her “uncle” Damian had explained, a result of her combined human-vampire heritage.
Hunger and reproduction were no more than two sides of the same survival coin, inextricably intertwined, and both were thwarted when Brennan shook his head. “Nah, no sense in that. I’m up now, might as well get a head start on the day. I’m just gonna go grab a quick shower.”
But, I’m hungry, Julie thought, gazing in faint surprise as he backed up another couple of steps, pausing only to snag his clothes from on top of his dresser before continuing his retreat. “Brennan…” Don’t make me make you come back here. Don’t make me force you to give me what I want.
She knew she could do it. She was pretty sure he knew it too. The real question was this: Would she? She’d never had to act that way with him before and she didn’t want to have to start now. It was not who she was. It was not who they were. Or so she’d thought. Until Brennan vanished into the bathroom and Julie heard the unmistakable snick of the lock. Suddenly, she was a whole lot less sure. She let out an angry snarl. Still hungry! Picking up Brennan’s pillow, she hurled it at the bathroom door in a fit of frustration.
Maybe she’d been fooling herself, these past few months. Maybe “they” already weren’t who she thought they were.