For the night’s hunt, Seth had taken Faith to a club that, previously, she could only have dreamed of being allowed in to: the Orange Box. Faith had dressed up for the occasion and was excited to mingle with the kind of people who were allowed into a club that had a dress code, but Seth wasn’t sharing her enthusiasm. He’d forgone his hot-as-fuck jeans again, in favour of his traditional pirate garb, and was scanning the crowd carefully, lazily wafting his hand at anyone who came too close.
The music here was so not her thing, but it had a downright filthy bass and Faith, who was high on life, couldn’t help but get caught up in its beat, swinging her hips and gesturing at Seth to come and join her from the shadows. She saw the flicker of a smile on his stoic face as he watched her for a moment.
But it quickly passed, replaced with a general look of annoyance as he continued to ignore her in his pursuit of food.
She wished he’d just pick some poor fucker and go waste them already so he’d relax for five minutes. When they went hunting, Faith would usually sink her fangs into whichever man first showed her interest and one drink was enough for her. Seth would quietly take them out of Faith’s sight to finish them off and he would also brazenly grab another man or two during the course of the night. Mostly he’d spare her having to watch while he terrorised them but, she had to admit, she was becoming pretty desensitised to it all, as he’d told her she would.
It was hard not to. The man was insatiable; he never seemed to befull and when he was thirsty he was fucking awful to be around. Miserable. Snappy. Twitchy. Today had been particularly shitty, so she really didn’t understand why he was being so careful about choosing prey – surely anyone would do?
She shrugged and left him to wallow, closed her eyes and allowed the music to swallow her. She blended herself into the small crowd of beating bodies around her, feeling at one with this fluorescent world and everyone in it…
…Until she opened her eyes again, just in time to see a woman saunter up to her sulking boyfriend. She watched him lift an eyebrow, as enthusiastic as he got with humans, as he eyed her up. Even over the volume of the music, even over the screaming in her head, Faith could hear the bitch moving in on her man.
“You look just like the gorgeous guy from the TV, the fugitive? What’s his name now…?”
Seth smiled at this and beckoned her closer. As the woman approached him, he leaned into her and whispered something into her ear that caused her to melt.
Faith had seen enough. She stomped over, sending a man in a shirt, tie and uncoordinated sarong – how had he passed the dress code check? – flying.
“Excuse me,” she snarled shoving the man-stealing tramp who was making googly eyes at her boyfriend and dealing Seth an almighty slap.
“That was highly uncalled for,” Seth murmured, rubbing his cheek and nodding towards the woman.
A few people had turned to look at the commotion, but the woman beside barely even seemed to have registered it. Her eyes were glazed over and Faith could feel the tremor of her heart, see the tiny beads of sweat on her forehead. She recognised what this was immediately.
Seth was toying with her emotions.
“You’re gonna drain her?!” Faith sputtered.
Faith couldn’t explain why Seth’s prey choice bothered her so much, but it did. It really bothered her. After the whole fiasco with Megan, Seth had never taken a female prey, at least not around Faith. Maybe that’s why it bothered her, Faith asked herself, because it reminded her of Megan, who had, with hindsight, reminded her of Melinda? Or was it because she hadn’t had chance to desensitise this kind of prey yet? Yeah, maybe that was it, she thought, trying to restrain the simmering rage, the deep, sick feeling she had.
She knew she was overreacting, but fuck knows she couldn’t stop it.
“But she’s so skinny,” Faith insisted. “You’ll be thirsty again in ten minutes. “The fat guy in the skirt has a good pulse,” she suggested, even though she knew it was pointless.
“Does he? Then he’s all yours.”
“But why her?!” Faith whined. “She’s… she’s…” She’s what? Faith thought, trying to understand why this situation burned her so badly.
She’s young. She’s just here to have a fun night. But both those things apply to sarong man, too.
Sarong man isn’t gorgeous with amazing legs…
“She’s… hotter than me.”
Seth laughed out loud. “Yes, a beating heart will do that, Faith,” he teased.
“You know what I mean,” Faith muttered.
“I do,” he concurred. “Not that I agree. Bloody hell, Faith, listen to yourself.” I’m going to kill this woman and you’re jealous of her?
Faith chewed her cheek, feeling stupid. It was stupid to be jealous of this woman, so why couldn’t she turn it off?
Seth glanced over at the trembling woman then around at the crowd. “Although, it seems that you are not the only one to have noticed that she is keen on the eye. Hm. I don’t have the capacity at the moment to…” he scratched his beard. “How about you cause a little distraction in this neon nightmare while I conduct my business with, ah, Rochelle?”
“Rochelle?” Faith sneered. “Oh, I’ll give you a distraction,” she hissed, lifting her hand, but this time he was prepared, grabbing her wrist in a vice-like grip and pulling her to him.
Enough. Rochelle is a recently divorced woman who has moved to a small apartment on the outskirts of Del Sol Valley to ‘start over’. She severed many connections in her home town to do so, and she hasn’t made any friends or connections of note yet. It will be a long while before she is missed by anyone. She is the perfect prey to commandeer accommodation from so, either I slaughter her, or you do. Those are the options.
Faith pouted, trying to free her wrist from his grasp. Is there no one else?
No. She’s perfect.
…That’s what I’m afraid of.
He sighed and let her go. Humans mean nothing to me, Faith. They are a food source, playthings, most are good as trash. Rochelle is a tool to utilise and nothing else. Is that clear?
Faith swallowed hard. “But—“
“No,” Seth cut in firmly. “Now, you go and do what you do best… pout, whine and seek attention over there.” He patted her on the ass, nudging her in the direction of the dancefloor.
Faith turned to protest, but the pair were already gone.
“Oh, blasphemy!” Sage gasped as she tripped over another creeping vine. She scorched it with a swift spell and kicked away the strangled residue with her toe, scuffing her neat little shoes in the process.
Gracious, she hated this wretched place! She longed to transportalate herself back home and to climb into her cosy bed with a good book, to lose herself in a world of bonny maidens and dashing knights… but thanks to the vampiric siblings, she was once again forced to keep up her façade of a role she’d hoped she’d retired from decades ago.
She was getting far too old for this nonsense.
Previously, convincing the other witches that she was a fearless hunter had been a doddle; they were all so terrified of vampires that no one would question the spoils of her ‘hunt’, her methods of capture or the holes in her execution. Even her late husband, Warren, had been in awe at how quickly and easily she could track down and slaughter the beasts.
But Bathsheba, regretfully, was neither blinded by fear nor gullible. Sage could not sit this one out and wait for a ‘befanged’ head to fall conveniently into her lap. No, she had to at least be seen to be scouring this blasted forest looking for the culprit, when the monster responsible was probably draining her son and groping her grand-daughter right at that very moment.
Caleb – at least, Lilith insisted it was Caleb, Sage very much had had her doubts – had, a number of times over the centuries, wreaked havoc, ‘accidentally’ taken lives and caused waves of hysteria. Sage had, naively, thought that the last few decades of peace had been because Lilith had either a) finally found a way to fix him, b) taken her suggestion and kept him locked in a cage or c) had enough and put the boy down like the troublesome dog he was.
Sage, who was now completely lost, but boldly continuing to wander through the winding paths of the forest as she mused, did not believe Lilith when she claimed that Seth was ‘dead’. She did not believe Lilith when she claimed that she didn’t know where he was.
She did not believe Lilith at all.
It was true that Lilith had been instrumental in Sage’s fortune. She and Ma had helped Sage to not only reintegrate to the coven that had shunned her mother, but to become a respected, essential member of it. Children of shunned and banished witches carried their parents’ stigma, yet, against the odds, Sage had secured a place of protection, sanctity and safety for herself, her son and the generations that would follow him.
And Sage was grateful for that. She was.
She was also quite sure that could create a cure for vampirism.
She wasn’t convinced the threat was gone.
And, until she was entirely convinced that her role in the coven of ‘esteemed vampire hunter’ could be truly resigned and her status preserved, until she believed a word that came from Lilith’s lips, she could not afford to cure her.
Until Lilith was the only remaining vampire…
…a vampire Lilith would remain.