Gabriel pushed him out of the door.
“Do you know what would stop the rumour? If you actually go talk to Becca at some point tonight.”
They were back in the function room at the back of the church. Silver glittering off almost every neck and wrist. Gabriel turned to throw some lie to Ezra about being completely fine with how things were between him and Becca but a messy chime and a gasp sent both of their gazes across the room. Lillian and Ben were by the buffet. Lillian was shaking her hand and then she brought her finger to her mouth and sucked. From where he was standing, Gabriel could hear her wince of pain.
Ezra stormed across the squeaky wooden floor, shoving people out the way without a second thought. Gabriel followed, knowing that the only time Ezra walked with such purpose was when his progeny was in trouble.
“What happened?” Ezra grabbed Lillian’s wrist and yanked her fingers from her mouth. They were stained red by her lipstick. The mark under it was already healed but Gabriel could smell it in the air. Burnt flesh.
“The cutlery,” said Ben, his arm loosely around Lillian’s waist. “She just touched it and-”
“They’re silver coated,” Ezra cut across.
Gabriel looked around, once again expecting everyone to have stopped and to be staring at them. But they weren’t that important. Everybody was too caught up in whatever they were doing. Everybody, except for one. She was looking directly at him, of course she was. And, by the look on her face, understood what had just happened.
“Becca,” Gabriel breathed.
Her eyes widened when he began to head towards her. She placed her glass on the table, excused herself and started towards the back door at a clipped pace. Gabriel caught up to her outside. The wind whipped her mousey brown hair across her face.
“Becca.” He reached out to her but she threw her arms up and backed away. She tucked her wild hair behind her ears, her eyes wide and on him.
“She’s one of them, isn’t she?” she asked in a rushed whisper.
“I can explain-”
“And you knew?” Then she blinked. “You… Ezra… you’re all… and Ben, too?”
Gabriel bit down on his tongue. It was time. He couldn’t hide any longer. Not from Becca. And he’d be lying if he said he didn’t want to come clean. He wanted to tell her the truth ever since he had to cancel on their date. The picnic she had made. The plan to go to the beach and sunbathe and eat sandwiches and ice cream and forget about everything. But he couldn’t and she couldn’t understand why.
“Not Ben,” he said.
“But you are?”
The muscles in his jaw flexed and he nodded. The slight tip of his head was the burst in a dam that was barely holding.
Her hand flew to her mouth and she choked. She was thinking about how she had kissed him. How she had held his hand. How they had laughed and joked and fought over the bill. She was thinking about when he had bought her flowers – orange tulips, her favourite and he had remembered. They had been an apology gift after the first date he had had to cancel due to the sun still being in the sky. All of this was written all over her beautiful face.
“You’re a vampire,” she said with disgust and then laughed. “A vampire. This is real. All what’s in the news. It’s not a hoax. There’re vampires.”
“We’re not evil. We’re just like you.”
“You drink blood though, don’t you?”
“We’re not savages.”
She paused, her eyes roving the wall behind him. Then realisation flashed in them and she gasped. “My grandad. I let you near my grandad.” Her eyes studied his and she gasped again. “His anemia. It’s been getting worse since you’ve been assigned to him.” She took a step back, measuring Gabriel with a look of repulsion. He had never felt so disgusting in his entire life. “You’ve been drinking from my grandad?”
“Becca, you’ve got to understand that-” he reached for her again.
“Don’t touch me!” She spun so her back was to him.
A coldness seeped into his bones and he watched her silently processing everything.
“I would never hurt Julian.”
She scoffed. “You’re supposed to be his carer and you’ve been drinking his blood.”
“Not anymore. But he’s dying anyway. You know this. I would never drink from the young and healthy,” he tried to explain, which was met by another scoff. “And it’s not like I’m not giving him anything in return. Remember when he fell in the bathroom and cut open his knee?”
She turned, her eye peeking at him through her hair. “No.”
“Exactly. That’s because I found him and I healed him. With my blood. Your grandfather is a good man, Becca. I’m giving him a pain free exit from this world.”
“How many of your patients have you killed?”
“It’s not like that-”
Gabriel squeezed his eyes shut. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? What? Because they’re just food to you? They’re people, Gabriel. We’re people. My grandad-”
She looked taken aback. “…Twelve?”
He nodded. “Twelve elderly patients in the past five years. For a vampire, that’s pretty low.”
She scoffed. “And what? Am I supposed to be proud of you? Those people were mothers, fathers, grandparents. And you murdered them. What about Ezra and Lillian? What’re their tallies?”
“Lillian feeds from Ben. It’s consensual. Ezra goes to the clubs in the city. Like the one they raided. Also consensual.”
“Does my grandad know what you are?”
Gabriel shook his head. “His mind is not what it used to be. I take care of him. And he likes me, doesn’t he?”
She paused for a moment. “You’ve been his favourite nurse.”
A silence spread out between them like it always did. He wanted to reach out and hold her but knew not to. He could see she was torn. She wanted to hate him but she couldn’t. Finally, she exhaled and looked up to the moon half covered by clouds.
“You can’t go out in sunlight, can you?”
“No. That’s why-”
“I get it,” she cut him off. “I was so mad at you. I thought I was good at reading people but you were giving me all these mixed signals.”
“I never wanted to push you away.”
Standing outside in nothing but a dress and cardigan, she hugged herself tightly and squinted at him through the breeze.
“Who else knows about you?”
“Just Ben,” he replied.
“What are you going to do now? Everyone’s got their guard up.”
“We don’t know. But please don’t tell anyone about us.”
She searched his eyes, looking for something. Something evil?
Finally, she sighed. “I won’t.” She passed him to head back into the church. “But my grandad will no longer be needing your services.”
Back in the function room, Gabriel headed straight for the front door, chest tight and jaw clenched.
Ezra spotted him and started following close behind. “Whoa, what’s up with you?”
When Gabriel stayed quiet, Ezra grabbed his elbow.
“I’m going home,” Gabriel snapped.
Ezra pulled him to a stop. Gabriel let out an angered exhale.
“Let me go. Let’s not cause a scene.” Gabriel scanned the hall. Several eyes were on them.
“If you tell me what’s going on, there won’t be a scene.”
Gabriel sighed, his anger dissipating. He rubbed his forehead, suddenly exhausted. “I just got fired.”
Ezra glanced over to Becca. Her eyes quickly flickered down to her glass. He looked back to Gabriel. Even though the two of them weren’t bound by blood, they had been side by side long enough to read each other’s expressions near perfectly. The quirk of Ezra’s dark eyebrow spelled the question ‘is it anything we need to be worried about?’
Gabriel shook his head.
Ezra’s eyebrow lifted higher and his eyes flitted to Becca for a fraction of a second. ‘Is she anything we need to worry about?’
Again, Gabriel shook his head. “She’s fine.” But a sinking feeling hit his gut when he caught Becca and Maeve talking, voices low and heads bent together. He tried to tune into their conversation but he couldn’t single out their voices. “Just keep an eye on her,” he said. “I’m leaving.”
Ezra nodded like a soldier and gave Gabriel a solid pat on the back. Great job tonight, lad. Now go rest, keep your strength up.
Gabriel rolled his eyes and left the church.