Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and mature content.
Becca closed her front door behind her and sank against it with a sigh. Her mind had been swimming the entire walk back from Gabriel’s. So much new information. So much to process. She got this sick feeling in the pit of her stomach whenever she thought about Gabriel, because, after everything he had told her, she still liked him. She didn’t want to. She wanted to be horrified. She wanted to be disgusted. She wanted to feel betrayed by all the dishonesty in their relationship. But she understood his side. And with understanding came acceptance.
She shook her head and made her way into the kitchen. Acceptance? What the hell? What, I’m just suddenly completely fine with my ex-boyfriend being a freaking vampire? But the whole situation was so bizarre that the only way to truly deal with it was to just accept the new reality and carry on with life.
And with that in mind, she was in dire need of a drink.
She opened the fridge and did a double take. There were six bottles of wine in the fridge that had not been there before she left. Maeve. She laughed and selected a bottle of white, filled a glass and headed into the living room. Her housemate was sitting on the sofa, feet tucked up and a blanket thrown over her. She, too, had a glass in her hand, and a half empty bottle on the coffee table.
“I see you went shopping,” said Becca, dropping into the space beside her.
“Well, if they’re telling me to stay in my house, you bet your arse I’m stocking up on wine,” Maeve replied with a slight slur to her words. She was in the middle of watching a makeover show. “Speaking of-” She looked to Becca, her eyes glassy and unfocused, “where’ve you been?”
Becca sipped her wine. “None of your business.”
“When there’s vampires loose attacking people, it is my business.”
Becca winced, a lump thick in her throat. So, no one had officially stated that the curfew was because of vampires and there were people online accepting the lie that it was just some sort of illness making people act irrationally; but for people who believed what they see with their own two eyes, vampires were real and they were here.
Maeve had reacted to the stories the way she reacted to everything. With humour. She rolled her eyes at the terrified comments over social media, she even criticized the vampires clothing choices, complaining that they had missed the opportunity to bring capes and cloaks back into fashion.
Becca and Maeve had been friends since university and had lived together on and off for the past eight years. Maeve was not the type of person to talk about her feelings. She was a very closed off person because she didn’t think may people deserved to know the real her. It had come from years of trusting the wrong people and allowing herself to be underappreciated.
Becca had learned, throughout the years, to read between the lines. And right now, Maeve was worried. She needed a distraction.
“I was at Gabriel’s,” she said. Maeve’s eyes flew back to her. She put down her glass on the coffee table and shuffled about under the blanket until she was fully facing her.
“What? Why?” she asked, positively beaming.
Becca froze. Shit, I did not think this through. “Just to make sure there were no hard feelings about the-”
“And is there?” She tilted her head, an eyebrow pulled up in genuine concern.
Becca smiled. “No, we’re fine.”
“Are you getting back together?”
Becca scoffed – a little too loudly.
Maeve grinned like a Cheshire cat. “You wanna get back together.”
“What? No. No…” Her brows furrowed. “No?”
Maeve was still grinning as she leaned over and grabbed her glass. “Well, if you get back together and then he starts asking about orgies and swinging, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Becca laughed. “They’re not like that.”
Maeve shrugged, sipping her wine. “Just telling you what I’m seeing.”
When she leaned back, Becca caught sight of something propped against the wall beside the radiator. It took her a moment to realise what it was.
“Why is there a cricket bat in here?”
“Oh,” Maeve looked to it. “It’s my old one. Found it in my mum’s loft. I also put my old lacrosse stick in your bedroom.”
Becca pulled a face. Maeve caught it and arched an eyebrow.
“It can be used as a weapon, trust me. In high school, I dislocated a girl’s kneecap with that thing,” she said, miming the action and punctuating it with a click of her tongue.
Becca’s heart sank to her feet. Maeve hid it well, but her friend wasn’t just worried, she was scared. Becca wished she could tell her friend all the information she had gathered. That they were safe in their homes so long as they didn’t invite a vampire inside. And that the only vampires in the entire village were the same people who she fantasied about having orgies with. But she couldn’t tell her any of that, and so she had to let her friend sleep with one eye open and some sort of makeshift weapon under her pillow.
“There is literally no one here.” Mitch threw his arms up and spun around gesturing to the empty pub.
“And yet we are,” said Ezra, polishing an already immaculate wine glass. “Until Sunday.”
Mitch’s face dropped. “What? We not working anymore?”
Ezra shook his head. “I talked to Carol. She’s shutting the place once curfew kicks in.”
Mitch leaned back against the bar. “Man, this is really serious, innit?”
Ezra watched as realisation hit his young workmate. The mischievous spark in his eyes dulled and for a moment, he looked so hollow.
This is what had happened to everyone. Sure, the jokes and the gimmicks would continue; people would always hide under the veil of humour. But when the Prime Minister made that speech, it was like he’d shaken the whole world awake. Awake to reality. Awake to the secrets that had so long stayed hidden.
Mitch instantly pulled out his phone and did the one thing they both knew he shouldn’t but, again, humans were predictable beings. They liked to pick at scabs.
After the house meeting with Ben, Ezra had instantly found the video of the Prime Minister’s speech, but when Mitch began playing it, Ezra was drawn in again. Perhaps humans and vampires weren’t so different. After all, this was one titillating scab.
They both stood side by side behind the bar and watched the little screen. Ezra was a few inches taller than Mitch and so, in this position, the human’s throat was in his eyeline. Mitch’s shaggy red hair was tied back into a bun, exposing the pale, freckled column of his neck. As they watched the speech, Ezra’s focus kept shifting to his pulse-point. His heart was racing. Ezra could hear his rushing blood singing to him.
“An ailment affecting people’s mental faculties causing them to act irrationally,” Mitch recited with a scoff. “Similar to ‘roid rage? Is he fucking kidding with this shit? They’re vampires, dude!” He turned. “You seeing this shit?”
Ezra blinked, refocusing his hearing on the slightly tinny phone speakers. “Yeah, mad right?” He stepped away, sliding the wine glass back on its rung.
They closed the pub at 3am. Mitch’ mum was waiting in the carpark to pick him up. He usually walked home. When Mitch ran to the car instead of kicking up a fuss, Ezra figured it had been his idea. The boy was being cautious. He was being smart.
Ezra wasn’t ready to go home just yet. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to wander around alone at night without drawing suspicion at the end of the week, he took up the opportunity while he still could.
There was something so disheartening about seeing Mitch so agitated. For the rest of the shift, he had barely talked. He just spent the whole time searching for vampire stories – and not to make fun of anymore. He was searching for information. Ezra wouldn’t exactly call Mitch a friend per say, but he was probably the human he was closest to. And now he couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if he found out he was a vampire. Would Mitch be scared of him? Scared of the workmate he teased for being too serious? The workmate he’d tell stories about his embarrassing dating life to? Scared of the workmate he’d worked with side by side for the past two years?
The sudden sickness in Ezra’s stomach told him that maybe he cared about his relationship with this kid more than he’d realised.
There was a bench at the end of the road, lit up by the orange glow of a streetlamp. Ezra reached it, sat down, and didn’t leave that spot until the sky started to lighten.
It was 6am when Ezra finally returned home. He could feel the strain of the waking sun pulling at his consciousness. So, when he passed Gabriel’s room and heard his TV on, he paused and knocked.
Gabriel called him in and Ezra opened the door. Gabriel was lying on his bed, forearm over his eyes. He was lit up by the harsh light of the TV screen but it was clear he wasn’t watching it.
“What are you doing up?” Ezra asked.
Gabriel dropped his arm, or, more like his arm slipped off his face and dropped onto the bed. He sighed heavily.
“Gotta call work when they open. They left a message saying someone wants me as their care nurse.” He yawned overdramatically, mouth wide like a lion.
Ezra smirked. Being able to fight the sun came with age for a vampire. The older you were, the longer you could resist the need to sleep. And Gabriel’s state of fatigue showed that he was a mere amateur beside Ezra.
“You sure you’re gonna make it?” Ezra teased.
Gabriel’s eyes were closed and he was as still as the dead. “Mmhmm,” he sighed. “Didn’t help that I had to listen to Lillian talk about The Bell Jar all night. She’s very excited about book club.”
“She’s still going to book club?”
Gabriel made a slurred noise that sounded like a mix between I guess so and I don’t know.
He was asleep. Ezra found the remote and turned the TV off, then slapped him across the face. Gabriel jerked awake, his fangs unsheathing instinctively. Ezra smiled as Gabriel blinked up at him, blurry-eyed.
“No sleeping for you, princess.” Ezra patted him on the shoulder. “Just another hour, you can do this.”