It was a quiet night. Eerily quiet. The streetlamps lit Gabriel’s and Lillian’s leisurely walk around their quaint little village. They had both gotten bored around midnight, lounging around in their living room feeling sorry for themselves, and so a bit of fresh air was needed. Lillian had traded her dressing gown for a cream belted trench coat. The small heels of her knee-high boots clicked loudly in the silence of the night.
They walked past the 24-hour petrol station and Gabriel furrowed his brows at the lowered shutters. “That’s weird.”
They both paused, double checking the huge sign above the building advertising their around the clock opening times.
“That is weird,” said Lillian. She looked to the road. “But, to be honest, I don’t think any cars have past us since we’ve been out.”
Hicklesbury was indeed a small village, but it was also a very common travel route. In fact, it was a very popular stop over destination for people travelling through the country. So much so that the village prided itself on their very cute and pricey boutique bed and breakfasts. And with knowing all of this, Gabriel did find it awfully strange that the roads were completely empty.
“We should go see Ezra,” suggested Lillian. Her shoulders were bunched up as she surveyed their dead surroundings warily.
Gabriel nodded in agreement and they headed in the direction of the Horseshoe pub.
Becca stopped talking and just stared at her friend once she realised that her attention had drifted. Becca swirled her straw around in her rum and coke, the ice clinking against the glass. When Maeve’s lips twitched up in amusement, Becca had had enough.
“I’m sorry, am I keeping you from something?” she asked.
Maeve blinked and her eyes shifted back to her company. She grinned like a giddy child and tucked her wavy, blonde hair behind her ear. “What?”
“I was trying to tell you something important and your eyes just, like, glazed over.” Becca looked behind her, at Ezra and Mitch behind the bar chatting. Her stomach twisted a little. He was a vampire. The man who had poured their drinks was a vampire. As if sensing her watchful eyes, Ezra looked over his shoulder and their gazes locked. Her insides suddenly ran cold. She spun around in the booth, picked up her drink and took a sip, her heart pounding.
Maeve’s brows furrowed. “Am I missing something? What the hell was that?”
“What?” Becca winced, the rum burning her throat.
“The way Ezra just looked at you.” The twitch in her lip reappeared. “That was so intense. How do I make him look at me like that?”
Oh, just find out that he has a diet of human blood. Becca let out a steadying breath. She had promised Gabriel that she would keep quiet. And although their relationship was complicated – understatement of the century- after seeing all the hysteria over social media, she knew it was the right thing to do.
“I thought we came here for a drink, not to stare at the bar staff,” she said instead.
“We can do both.” Maeve chewed her lip then sipped at her gin and tonic, eyes still over Becca’s shoulder.
Becca rolled her eyes. “He’s like ten years younger than you. You’re basically lusting after a child.” But then Becca paused in thought. How old was Ezra? What exactly were real vampires? Were they how they were written in books? She knew they burned in sunlight and when they touched silver, but what else? Were they actually immortal? And if that was true, how old did that make Ezra?
How old did that make Gabriel?
She slumped lower into the cushions of the booth, her drink nestled against her breasts, hugging it as she sipped through her straw. How could she chastise Maeve for having the hots for Ezra when she had dated Gabriel? Who, on the outside might looks in his mid-thirties but he could be double that? Or even more? Bile rose in her throat. Was Gabriel older than her grandad?
“Are you okay? You’ve gone super pale.”
Becca pushed herself back up and placed her drink back on the table. “Yeah. Shouldn’t have bought a double.”
Becca heard the door creak and clang behind her.
Maeve’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, interesting. The whole gang’s here.”
Becca followed her eyes and her heart did one heavy thud at the sight of Gabriel. He and Lillian crossed the floor to the bar, catching Ezra’s attention.
“God, you must really be bored without Ben if you’re hanging out with him,” said Ezra to Lillian which was met with a sour look from Gabriel.
“What is he doing here?” Becca spun back round to Maeve.
Maeve pulled a face. “How am I supposed to know? What’s the big deal?”
“I was literally just telling you that I’m still really conflicted about Gabriel. I thought we were… I dunno, getting back into it? Then things just…”
“I mean, you did fire him. That’s not a way to get into a guy’s pants, just saying.”
“I did what I had to do. He just… he wasn’t a good fit.” Becca had told Maeve that her reasoning behind firing Gabriel was because her granddad didn’t like him. She wasn’t comfortable with lying, and since finding out about Gabriel’s true nature, it felt like every second thing out of her mouth was a lie.
Becca shrank back down in her seat. “Have they noticed us?”
“Not yet.” Maeve sipped at her drink, entranced by whatever was going on over Becca’s shoulder. “Such a strange combination,” Maeve said wistfully, her head tilting.
“The three of them. What’s their deal? They fucking or what?”
Becca nearly choked on her breath. “What?”
Maeve squinted like the three vampires by the bar were a puzzle she was attempting to solve. Good luck with that.
“It’s just an odd group. The three of them living together. A Gen Z, a millennial and a Gen X all under one roof. None of them related?” She started absently swirling her straw around her gin glass as she studied them. “The way they are with each other. They’re so close.”
Giving in to intrigue, Becca tried to subtly glance over her shoulder. Ezra now had his forearms on the bar. Lillian was opposite him, standing with her boots crossed at the ankles and her face mere inches from the barman’s. Ezra’s dark eyes positively shone. Gabriel was sat on one of the stools, head resting on his knuckles, seemingly lost in thought.
“Definitely fucking. It’s some polyamory shit, I’m telling you.”
Becca looked back at her friend, appalled. “Excuse me, I dated one of them.”
Maeve pointed her straw at her. “Dated, past tense. And it’s a good thing you got out when you did. Although, gonna admit I’m a little jealous of Lillian because that is one tasty sandwich.”
“Right, I’m finishing my drink and going. I’ve had enough of you.”
Maeve laughed. “Awh, c’mon, I’m just joking. I mean, I’m not really joking.” Becca shot her a tired look. “All you do is worry about your granddad. Can’t you just chill out for one night and indulge me. It’s not like you can escape me, we live together.”
When Maeve started showing her the sad pouty look and fluttering her long eyelashes, Becca couldn’t help but smile. “Fine, I’ll stay. But we’re not talking about those guys anymore.”
Maeve shrugged and dropped back in her seat. Her eyes wandered back to the bar. “I guess Mitch is kinda cute. If he got a haircut.”
Becca rolled her eyes.
Maeve laughed. “It’s a small village. Slim pickings.”.
Ezra was sitting cross-legged on the floor of his bedroom, balling his socks, when there came a knock at his door.
“House meeting downstairs,” said Lillian.
Ezra furrowed his brows and threw his socks into his drawer. He looked at the clock on his bedside table. It was just past eight in the evening. Lillian was never usually up this early. “Okay.”
When he opened his door, she was waiting for him, arms crossed tightly and a worried crease in her brow. Ezra reached out to her but she turned and headed down the stairs.
“Come on,” she said.
Ezra followed. Gabriel was already sitting on one of the sofas, ankle on his knee and arm over the armrest. He looked calm and casual in a thin, fitted cashmere jumper and jeans. Lillian dropped into the space beside him, hands curled into the sleeves of her dressing down.
Standing in front of the TV was Ben, in his usual plaid shirt and khaki combo. He was hugging himself, his fingers digging into his biceps. When he locked eyes with Ezra, he gulped but straightened his back.
Ezra jerked his thumb to him but looked to Lillian. “Did he call this meeting?” Then he shot a glare at Ben. “You can’t call house meeting. You don’t live here.”
“Ezra, just sit down and listen to him,” said Lillian firmly, “please?”
He sank down onto the other sofa, not without shooting the human another accusatory look.
A silence followed. Gabriel shifted in his seat. “So? What’s this about?”
Ben cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable under all their watchful eyes. Even Lillian, who always had a smile on her face whenever he was around, looked grave.
“I watched the News today,” Ben started. He released the hold he had on himself and started fiddling with his fingers in front of his chest instead. “The Prime Minister is acting on the vampire… conspiracy that’s been going around.”
Ezra’s eyes automatically flickered to Gabriel and he was not surprised with the other vampire was looking back at him.
“He’s ordered a country-wide curfew,” continued Ben.
Ezra’s confusion was mirrored by Gabriel and they both turned their attention to the human.
“What?” asked Gabriel.
Ben shuffled and itched the back of his neck. “He’s advised everyone to be indoors before sundown. It being the middle of August, people should be off the street by eight.”
Ezra looked back to Gabriel but caught Lillian’s eyes instead. They were huge and expectant and stuck on him. His heart sank. She was looking at him, progeny to Maker. Like he had the answers. But he had nothing.
Gabriel shook his head as if to dispel his confusion. “The Prime Minister actually was on TV talking about vampires?”
“Not outright, no,” said Ben. “He just referred to the videos of people being attacked. He said how those attacks were by people suffering from an ailment that made them sensitive to sun exposure. So, for everyone’s safety, he has issued a curfew.”
Ezra felt like the ground had been pulled from under him. His head swam. He ran his fingers through his hair, dropped his back against the back of the sofa and expelled a loud sigh into the silence that followed.
“They know about us. They’re trying to talk around it to keep people calm but they know we exist. And if the government knows-” He ran his hands down his face.
“This curfew is just the beginning,” added Gabriel. “We’re gonna be hunted down. We’re gonna get captured and experimented on and God knows what else.”
“Really?” Lillian’s voice was tight with panic. She looked to Ezra. “Really? Is that going to happen?”
I don’t know. I really don’t know. The words lodged in his throat.
A sudden knock at the door had everyone jumping to their feet.