Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.
Gabriel rubbed his eyes and leaned over the edge of the bed in search of his phone. He hooked his finger around a belt loop of his discarded jeans and pulled them across the carpet, careful not to move too much and wake his company.
His phone screen lit up when he grabbed it, showing his clock. He still had a bit of time before sunrise but he was cutting it fine. Beside him, Becca stirred. He placed his phone on the bedside table and rolled back over. Her long brown hair was splayed over her pillow. She was facing away from him. He brushed her hair from her neck, exposing her freckle-covered shoulder. Her breathing was heavy and even as he pressed his lips to her back. She smelled like vanilla and perspiration. Her pulse danced against his lips.
A soft grumble left her and she burrowed her face deeper into the pillow, groaned louder and rolled over. She rubbed her eyes and blinked several times before she focused them on him.
“What time is it?” she mumbled.
“Half five. I’ve got to go.” He brushed her hair behind her ear.
She groaned and buried her face into his chest, inhaling his scent. “No.”
He laughed softly and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry.”
She pulled away and dropped her head back onto her pillow. She tried to pout but when Gabriel tilted his head, she smiled.
He kissed her again, on the lips, before sitting up and shoving on his jeans and boxers. Her eyes followed him as he walked around the bed in search of his jumper.
“You never asked me any questions,” he said. His jumper was by the dresser. He grabbed it and shoved it over his head.
“Yeah…” Becca looked at him sheepishly, the duvet bunched up in front of her naked chest. “I may have just said that because I wanted you to come over.”
Gabriel smiled. “You don’t have to trick me into seeing you.”
She shrugged, playing with her fingers. Gabriel sat at the foot of the bed, putting on his socks
“Actually, I do have a question. Well, actually Maeve has a question.”
He looked over his shoulder, eyebrow arched.
“Not about you being… y’know. I haven’t told her,” she rushed. “No, it’s more of a question about your living situation.”
Gabriel turned to face her. He couldn’t help but smile when she blushed and looked down.
“What is it?” he asked.
She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. “She wanted to know if you, Ezra and Lillian were…” She pulled a face, and looked to the wall as if she’d find the rest of her thought painted on there. “She thought that maybe the three of you had ever… or were…together?” The last word came out as an almost squeak.
Gabriel just looked at her for a moment, a laugh threatening to escape his lips. She caught his eyes then threw her duvet up over her face.
“Sorry I asked,” she mumbled.
“Are you asking the man you just slept with if he sleeps with his housemates?”
Gabriel crawled over the bed, careful of her legs. He straddled her middle and pulled the duvet from her face. She looked up at him, cheeks flushed.
“I know there’s been a rumour going around about me and Ezra but no, it’s strictly platonic. The same with Lillian. Although Ezra and Lillian were together in the past. And now she’s his progeny. It’s how they met.”
Becca’s eyes lit with intrigue; her embarrassment forgotten. “His progeny?”
“Ezra Turned her.”
She blinked, surprised. “Oh.” Her brows furrowed. “I never even asked you how someone becomes a vampire.”
“A human has to die with vampire blood in their system. That vampire is then the progeny of the vampire whose blood was used.”
“So, Lillian had Ezra’s blood in her when she died?”
Gabriel nodded. “That makes him her Maker.”
Gabriel gulped. His eyes must have shown something because Becca stiffened under him and her pulse quickened.
He let out a hard sigh, his shoulders slouching. “I don’t know.”
Becca stayed silent, her eyes drifting to his chest. He leaned over, his hand slipping to the back of her neck as he kissed her forehead.
“I’d better get going.”
She nodded against his lips. “Okay.” Her hand wrapped around his forearm. “Last night was fun.”
Her lips found his. The kiss deepened and he let himself be taken by her.
It was moments like this when he wished he could be human so he could stay the morning and they could make love again. Then he wouldn’t have to hold back. He could give all of himself to her. He wouldn’t have to resist his natural instincts to bite and drink and mark her. He wouldn’t have to fear his own strength; have to calculate every touch so to not leave a bruise.
But he was a vampire, and Becca was human. Vampire and human relationships don’t work. Ezra’s voice pierced his mind. He kissed Becca harder, his fangs pressing against his gums. She welcomed the added pressure and moaned into his mouth.
No, me and Becca are different.
He was going to prove Ezra wrong.
“You would not believe what I got up to last night,” said Ezra, his back to Gabriel as he cleaned the glasses and mugs in the sink.
Gabriel smirked from the table. I could say the same. But he wouldn’t. He wasn’t the type to kiss and tell.
“Go on then. Colour me intrigued,” he said instead.
Ezra let out an overdramatic sigh using his whole body. Gabriel could see the reflection of his face in the blackness of the window.
“I’m afraid I can’t. Silas told me to keep things on a need-to-know basis.”
Gabriel rolled his eyes. Then why bring it up then? So you can brag more about your attentive Maker?
Lillian strolled into the kitchen; a welcomed distraction.
“How’s you and Ben?” Gabriel asked, changing the conversation, knowing Ezra wanted him to continue to pry.
Lillian blinked at him, seemingly surprised to be acknowledged. She furrowed her brow and then when Gabriel mirrored her confusion, something seemed to click in her mind and she batted away the question with an obviously forced laugh.
“Oh, that? Yeah, everything’s fine.”
“No. No, we’re fine.” She opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle.
Ezra tutted, “Shame,” then grabbed a tea towel to start drying what he had washed.
Lillian playfully swatted him around the back of the head before joining Gabriel at the table with a mug of blood.
“So, you got that job then?” she asked, “the old lady?”
Gabriel’s gut twisted. He could picture Ian Howden’s eyes. The knowing glint in them. “Erh, no. Turns out she didn’t like me very much. Nothing personal. It happens when they go senile.”
“Huh.” Lillian took a sip. “Just thought that’s where you were last night. House was empty.”
“I do have a life other than work.”
“Alright, no need to get tetchy.”
Gabriel opened his mouth to apologise for his abrasiveness when a loud smash coming from the living room had them all turning towards the door. Lillian and Gabriel then both looked to Ezra who had already slung the tea towel over his shoulder and was heading towards the noise. The two of them got to their feet and followed him.
Their big bay window at the front of the house had been smashed. In the centre of the room was a brick with a note tied to it with string. Shards of glass covered the wood floor. Ezra crouched to pick up the brick as Gabriel moved to the window to look outside.
His insides ran cold at what he saw. On the street were two dozen people staring right back at him.
“We know what you are you, you freaks!” shouted a man Gabriel recognised. His jaw clenched. It was Ian Howden. He’d rallied a group.
Gabriel turned around. Ezra had unravelled the note. WE KNOW YOUR SECRET, was scrawled in big, black letters.
“Oh, God.” Lillian wailed from the doorway. Her hands were covering her mouth, red rimming her eyes. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault. I’m so sorry. Oh, God.”
Gabriel furrowed his brows, confused. Ezra moved over to his progeny but she backed away.
“Lillian, what are you talking about?” Ezra asked, his voice surprisingly calm considering the shouts of abuse streaming in through the broken window.
She sniffled hard. “The other night. Book Club. Angela was wearing rings. She grabbed my arm. They were silver. They burned me.” She wiped at her face, smearing blood up to her hairline. “They all chased me out the house. Calling me a monster. Telling me how disgusted they were that I thought they’d want to be my friends.”
Then Gabriel understood. Her hurrying home in tears. It had had nothing to do with Ben. She’d fucked up just like Gabriel had.
“You’re monsters! How dare you come to our village!” screamed a woman from outside.
“Bloodsucking motherfuckers!” joined in another.
And then there was another noise. This time it was hitting the walls like heavy rain. Gabriel and Ezra moved back to the window. Something red splattered across Ezra’s face. He shut his eyes; jaw clenched, unimpressed. It was paint. The group outside had tins of it and were splashing the front of their house with it, flicking paint brushes and ladles full of it.
“Go back to where you came from!” shouted a man Gabriel was pretty sure worked at the corner shop. He’d buy biscuits for Julian from him.
“Yeah, go to Hell!” shouted someone else. A woman. Laura’s mother on the village committee.
A man threw another brick, smashing another window pane. It would have hit Gabriel right in the chest if it wasn’t for his vampire reflexes.
Ezra’s nostrils flared, his dark eyes wide and shining against the splatter of red paint. His hands balled into fists. His whole body tensed with anger. Gabriel just watched, unsure of what to do, as Ezra pushed past Lillian and headed out of the front door. Lillian ran to the window and Gabriel instinctively stepped closer to her side as they both watched.
Ezra flung the front door open and strode down their short path. The mob instantly quietened, and even though Ezra was still at least ten feet away, they all took one collective step backwards.
“Sorry, I couldn’t hear you back there. What did you say?” asked Ezra in a conversational tone. He folded his arms across his chest, flexing his boy muscles in his thin, black t-shirt. The tea towel was still over his shoulder.
The mob all looked to one another. Clearly their pack mentality had worn off.
Then Ian Howden stepped forwards and Gabriel felt his fangs press against his gums.
Ian Howden pointed at the window, at Gabriel.
“I know he’s one of them,” he seethed. “A vampire. And they know she is, too.”
Lillian sucked in a sob by his side. It was then Gabriel noticed the four women in their forties all bunched together at the back. The Book Club.
Ezra looked to them and Gabriel could see his face now. It was dark but the streetlamps lit up the scene perfectly. He arched a dark eyebrow, still so cool and collected. There was almost a smirk on his face.
“You lot attack Lillian?” he asked with a dry laugh and took a step forward. The women all clutched each other. “I heard you drove her out of your home like some sort of monster. That right?”
“Sh-she lied to us,” said one of the women. Gabriel was pretty sure her name was Linda. “She put us in danger!”
“Okay, so.” Ezra put his hand to his chin, thinking. “You thought that Lillian being at your little book club put you in danger. So, what? You come here, now knowing she’s a vampire, and vandalise her house? Where is the logic there?”
They all just looked to each other.
“So, you see, now you’ve put yourselves in danger because no one messes with Lillian or Gabriel,” he shot a look to Ian Howden, “and gets away with it.” The cold smile fell from his face, and what was left made a shiver crawl up the back of Gabriel’s neck. For a moment, Ezra looked evil. For once, Gabriel could picture him killing, covered head to foot in the bloody mess of his fellow vampire brethren. It chilled him to his core. “I suggest you lot go run back home now-” He parted his lips. The light of the streetlamps shone against his extended fangs, “before I tear… your fucking… throats out!”
Ezra roared so loud it echoed down the street. The mob screamed and scrambled away, knocking into each other like bowling pins as they ran towards their cars.
“We are good people!” he called after them. “We wanted nothing but to live here peacefully and you come to our door and threaten us?”
When Ezra turned back, Gabriel caught a glimpse of dejection in his eyes. It was like a part of him had shattered. The evil was gone and he was lost. Then he blinked hard, scrubbed the back of his neck, grabbed the towel from his shoulder and headed back into the house.
Lillian ran to Ezra and by the time Gabriel got to the hallway, she had thrown her arms around him and buried her face into the curve of his neck.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you had to do that,” she blubbered.
He held her tight, eyes clenched shut. “It’s okay.” He planted a heavy kiss on the top of her head. When he said, “We’re going to be okay,” his eyes found Gabriel’s. There was a seriousness to his gaze. A directness. It was a knowing look. Like Ezra knew the roll of the dice. But what Gabriel couldn’t tell, was if he should be relieved or terrified.
Ezra placed the bucket of soapy water by Gabriel’s feet and joined him in his attempt to scrub the paint off the wall of their house. The mob had done a thorough job. The paint reached up to the second floor, covering the windowsill of Ezra’s bedroom window.
After the nasty confrontation, Lillian had gone upstairs to get cleaned up and the two of them hadn’t seen her since. It was obvious she was having a hard time, and blaming herself was not helping her situation. Ezra wasn’t mad. The humans were actively searching for vampires. He would have bet any amount of money that Angela had used those silver rings on all of her guests, finding any opportunity she could to touch them and test. It was only a matter of time before the three of them were found out.
Gabriel bared his teeth as he scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed at their brickwork.
“This is ridiculous,” he hissed, stopping and taking a step back to review his progress. He hadn’t achieved much. “They’ve made our place look like a fucking Jackson Pollock painting.” He looked to the broken window, which they had covered with cardboard and several layers of binbags. “Who gave them the right.”
“They’re scared. It’s human nature to blindly attack what they don’t understand,” said Ezra, crouching on the pathway and dunking his scrubbing brush into the water.
Gabriel scoffed. “Yeah, well, they’re gonna be even more scared now, after you threatened to kill them all. What were you thinking?”
What had he been thinking? He’d been thinking about what Guardian had said. How they all just needed to trust him and play along and hope things work out in the long run. Why? Because they’re immortal so waiting should be no big deal?
No, this was their lives. This was their reputations. This was their home.
He started scrubbing the wall beneath the bay window, watching the suds turn pink.
“They hurt Lillian and… I don’t know. Something in me just snapped,” he said, punctuating his words with harsher scrubs.
When Gabriel didn’t respond, he peered at him. The other vampire had his brush against the wall, but his mind was somewhere else. Ezra knew the lost look in his eyes well. He was thinking about how he had been Released. How his Maker had broken their sire bond as soon as it had been created. How he didn’t have a Maker to protect him and love him the way Ezra loved Lillian.
But he had Ezra. And Ezra tried to be the Maker he never had. He just needed Gabriel to let him.
“And then I saw Mitch’s mum out there,” Ezra added, bringing Gabriel’s thoughts out of that dark place. His attention came back to Ezra.
“Your barman?” he asked.
Ezra nodded. “I got a text from him before asking me why I never told him. He hates that I didn’t trust him. Said he thought we were mates.”
“He might come around. Becca did.”
“Yeah.” Ezra sighed, scrubbing with less vigour. “It’s just shit.”
The brickwork was cool against Ezra’s back as he sat at the front of the house, eyes to the moon. Gabriel was by his side, legs outstretched across the flagstones; the bucket of pink, soapy water between them. They had scrubbed away most of the paint, but it had left splotchy stains behind. It seemed very fitting. Now that their secret was out, they couldn’t just wipe it away and forget like it never happened.
Or could they?
They could compel them to forget?
No, there’s too many of them. Ezra shook his head. That was a stupid idea. He couldn’t erase an entire village’s memory.
Footsteps brought Ezra’s attention to the street and he perked up at the sight of Ben heading towards them, shoulders bunched up against the cold wind. Wow, things really much be shit if I’m happy to see this guy.
Ben spotted the two of them on the ground and a deep worry line creased his forehead.
“Hey,” he said, in that sighing way people used when something bad had happened.
Ezra jerked his thumb to the front door. “She’s upstairs.”
He looked behind them, to the boarded-up window and the stained brickwork.
“Are you guys okay?” he asked, slotting his hands into the pockets of his thick, wool-lined denim jacket.
“What do you think?” Ezra snapped.
“Ezra,” chastised Gabriel, sounding tired and deflated. “He’s being nice.” Gabriel showed Ben a tight smile. “What he means is, we’ve been better.”
“What does this mean for you guys? Are you leaving?”
Ezra could see the worry in his eyes and a part of him relented. Ben was just afraid for Lillian, the same as he was.
“No,” Ezra rasped. “We’re not going anywhere. This is our home. If people don’t like us being here, well, fuck them.”
He could feel Gabriel’s eyes on him, watching him unravel. Ezra looked to him; to his partner who’d been by his side for centuries. To the one person he knew he could count on no matter what.
Gabriel’s eyes spoke to him. We’ve got each other. That’s what matters.
Ezra sent him a weak smile. This is it. Whatever happens, happens.