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“Would you like to see my room?” asked Michael, tucking a strand of Julian’s hair behind her ear. He let his finger continue on a downward path, trailing the curve of her jaw.
The house was empty. David had gone out for a social obligation and would not be home until late; Leo, meanwhile… Leo hadn’t been home in a few days, not since their last conversation. Michael might have been concerned had he not received a response to his last text, but evidently his cousin was simply off sulking. Again.
But the significant matter here was that Michael and Julian were alone.
“Inviting a girl to your room, Michael Hightower? How scandalizing.” she teased with a grin. She could understand why Angela enjoyed teasing him so much, he seemed to make it very easy. Though, lately Angela was no no longer so enthusiastic about Julian having a boyfriend. Or maybe it was just Michael? During their impromptu girl’s night, Angela had every opportunity to do what she loved doing – which was make the boyfriend-of-the-week feel as uncomfortable and embarrassed as possible. Instead she gave them space to breathe, and that wasn’t like Angela at all. At first Julian suspected the girl might’ve still been a little sore about Caleb, or that maybe she wanted Julian to get some time with him. But she soon realized that they were being studied. It was subtle, but unnerving. Julian tried not to fret about why.
Which was why tonight she was incredibly grateful that she and Michael were ALONE.
“You did promise me a tour of your ridiculously castle-like house.” she stepped back, grasping his hands in hers.
The teasing was a new habit. Truthfully, it wasn’t one that Michael was overly fond of; it didn’t sit well with him to be laughed at. He assumed, however, that she was simply attempting to be flirtatious… and Julian had poor role models in that respect.
So he gave her a tolerant smile.
“I did,” he agreed. He took her hand, squeezing gently, and led her toward the staircase. “I think you’ve seen most of the downstairs by now, though, and I don’t think David or my cousin would like it if I intruded on their spaces. So my room will have to suffice.”
Part of him also liked to think that she wanted to see his room above all the rest. And he wanted her there, wanted to see her surrounded by his things and in his space.
Michael had taken the master bedroom- his parents’ former quarters- when he had returned to his family home. They passed his boyhood room on the right as they headed down the hall, but Michael didn’t so much as glance at it.
Her hand rose to point casually at the door as they passed it, though it was completely subconscious on her part. Julian was entertaining the thought of invading Leo’s room just to touch his things and leave him a text about touching his things to see if that would finally make him appear from wherever he was hiding. She didn’t know why she still expected him to climb in through windows or appear at inconvenient moments, considering there was no longer a reason for him to. But now she found it irritating that he wasn’t when there was still so much for them to do.
About the time they crossed through the threshold and she was tilting her head to decipher what was making this room so buzzy besides the fact this was Michael’s private space, a more literal buzz in her back pocket made her jump.
Julian cast a sheepish grin. “Sorry, that’s probably just Angela.” She didn’t bother to take the phone out of her pocket to read the text. Angela was just going to have to wait.
“It’s alright,” Michael assured her, stepping to the side to make way for her.
The room was overwhelmingly grey.
No, not grey. Silver. Julian could see that once the light was cut on, the soft glow from the chandelier catching on all the little glinting surfaces. Silver silk sheets on the bed. Plush silvery grey carpet on the floor. A matte blue-grey finish on the wooden furniture- including a bookcase crammed full to the brim with books. Silver light fixtures and a painting in a silver frame.
A row of glass cases on the far wall of the room, half-covered by a silver velvet drape.
There was a man standing in the corner. He was tall and broad-shouldered with piercing dark eyes, his face familiar but not. Handsome, but cold.
“You need to abandon these silly obsessions, Michael,” the man said.
…Except, of course, he didn’t really… not out loud. Michael showed no signs of seeing or hearing him, and in an instant he was gone.
“Do you like it?” Michael was asking, his eyes searching Julian’s face.
Was it the room or was it the vision? Julian surmised it was probably both. Sudden flashes of random things were starting to happen at a frequent pace. At least now they weren’t often sending her stumbling, tilting or having a near panic attack when they did. She just wished they wouldn’t happen over the weirdest moments. Like when she was trying to think of the best way to answer her boyfriend without offending him.
“I think you need more color in your life.” she admitted, clasping her hands behind her back as she stepped further inside and glanced around. “But it’s beautiful. Kinda elegant and timeless, I think.”
Another two buzzes in her pocket sounded off. Which meant she was getting text bombed. Again she ignored it, tilting her head back to gaze up at the lights. Angela, pleeeeease. Whatever boy it is can’t be that cute.
“I don’t spend that much time in here,” he reminded her. “I’m usually in the study. But I do keep a few things up here.”
He drew her over to the covered-up cases and pulled away the drape. It fell to the floor at their feet.
None of the cases were empty. Each one held something different: butterflies, pressed flowers, brightly-colored beetles, bits of coral and seashells, stones- some precious, others more common. One held a pair of full raven’s wings. Fewer held man-made things: old glass medicine bottles, a pocket watch, a music box, keys.
“There’s some color for you,” said Michael, leaning in to kiss behind her ear. “Although I think I’d rather keep my eyes on you.”
“This is neat!” she exclaimed immediately. These were treasures. Julian was certain this was the first time she was getting to see something personal. Something he put a lot of time and care in to. Any questions she had, though, were forgotten in favor of very silly giggling and turning to grip his shirt. As she rose up on her toes, she tugged him down to meet her halfway, pressing a soft kiss at the corner of his mouth. She shifted closer to take it a step further when her phone buzzed.
Julian let out a slow hiss of breath and dropped her forehead against his shoulder. “Sorry. She’s not going to quit until I reply.” she muttered, finally pulling the thing out of her back pocket. She had to swipe past her last conversation – a long discussion about some movie with Owen and going to his upcoming track meet – to get to Angela’s.
This guy is like SEX WRAPPED IN BACON.
J U L I A N.
She sighed and texted back.
I’m busy with Michael right now. Tell me later!
Synchronized making out? Foursome in spirit? That’s pervie, Jules. You perv.
Julian didn’t even get to finish the message before another buzzed in.
He’s soooo soooo soooo hot tho. I’m at Club Envy and he’s older and the way he talks, Julian, I’m gonna DIE.
Don’t you have to be 21 to get in there?
When has that ever stopped me? OMG CHECK THIS OUT.
Following the message came the ping of an image. An Angela selfie, zoomed out enough where there was a good view of the crowd and club behind her. She definitely went out all on getting in too, her makeup had her looking a few years older and even her clothes worked. She didn’t look like a teenager trying to seem adult. She pulled it off. A little too well.
Now not only was Julian frowning, she felt unsettled. She moved the picture around with a fingertip, occasionally zooming in on faces trying to see them. She texted back.
You shouldn’t be there alone. Give him your number and go home?
I’m fine, ALPHA. I can handle a few drunk guys! I’ll text some more pics later.
“I need to go.” announced Julian, casting a frustrated look up at Michael. “I just- There’s this feeling- I don’t know what she’s thinking going to a place like that alone, that’s how girls end up drunk and kidnapped.” Huffing, she stuffed her phone back in her pocket. Then she was biting in to her lip.
“I could use your help getting in?”
“She’s in danger?” Michael frowned. “Of course I’ll help.”
While Michael had become slowly less and less sure that Angela Mercy’s influence on Julian was a good one, she nonetheless was someone whom Julian cared for deeply. What was important to Julian was important to him.
He hesitated, tilting his head.
“Get in where?”
Julian was either ignoring her last text or was frustrated and complaining to her boyfriend. Which was all well and fine with Angela if he were being a good boyfriend. She tucked her phone away in to the front pocket of her jeans. Her opinion of Michael had been on a steady decline ever since it’s peak at Clarity where she pretty much railroaded the two together. She never regretted meddling so quickly. Between Leo’s unbridled hatred, watching the pair interact, Julian’s admitted concerns, and Michael’s weird ability to pull Julian’s strings despite them, Angela was really starting to not like they guy.
However, Julian’s love life was not the reason why Angela was currently hanging out at Club Envy, sipping a glass of honey whiskey on ice and giving a come hither stare to anyone tall enough to meet her standards. Despite her boasting and her reputation, this was the first time she had ever actually snuck in to an adults only club. What she needed right now was a super hot fling with a stranger she’d never ever see again. Something stupid and regrettable, so when she was wallowing in self pity and crying about how her life sucks it would be because she had a terrible one night stand, and NOT because she still pined after Caleb.
At first she thought knowing Caleb was a werewolf would make it easier. That now there was a real reason for their breakup and he was too deep in the soap opera of Supernatural Silent Pines to worry about her. So she could just forget it and move on, right? Instead she just kept replaying If I had known in her head, and wondering how different things would be if she did.
It was stupid and pathetic and annoying. Angela quickly swallowed what was left in her glass, flagging down the bartender to bring her another. Then she was turning to see if she could catch Mister Sex Voice. Out of the guys she chatted with so far tonight, he was by far her favorite.
She nearly bumped noses with the man himself.
“Oh! Hi,” he laughed, and it was the kind of rumbling laugh that went right down to your toes. “Sorry. I was just coming over to see if you wanted to take me up on that dance.”
That voice. That accent. Southern goodness, but restrained rather than redneck. When she’d asked, he’d told her that he was from Louisiana with a broad grin.
He was also holy-smoking hotness wrapped in a leather jacket. Dark rock-star hair, wicked eyebrows, bright blue eyes, and dimples. Come to think of it, he kind of looked like an older Leo. Or… younger Leo, depending on how you looked at it.
“What do you think?” Those eyebrows wiggled. “You and me and the devil makes three?”
“Have I mentioned I LOVE the way you talk?” It’s funny he mentioned the devil, because his voice was pure sin. There was just something about that twang from a southern boy. She laughed reaching to grab her new drink and take a huge swallow.
“I gotta warn you, I’m pretty shit at dancing. Buuuuut, if you say ‘Angie, light of my life, come away with me!’ I miiiiight give it some serious consideration.” She probably should feel like a dumbass for asking the guy to say weird things just so she could hear her name with that accent – but fuck that. Nobody ever had any fun if they worried about looking stupid.
Angela was smirking now, reaching behind her to place her glass back on the bar. She must have drank the whole thing in one swallow.
“Angie,” he began. Oh shit. He was actually going to say it. His hand moved to cover hers on the bar, which meant he was now leaning all up in her space. His eyes locked with hers as his smirk widened. “Light of my life. Come away with me.”
And then he batted his eyelashes.
“Oh you are way too good at that.” Angela was starting to regret deciding this was a one time thing. What a fucking fox. She almost tugged out her phone to get a picture for fawning over later.
Instead, she just leaned forward, one corner of her mouth tilting up in a lopsided grin. “You shouldn’t have done it.” she warned with her voice low. “Now I’m thinking about all of things I’m going to make you do and say.”
Angela slid from her spot, flicking a bit of his hair as she moved away to back towards the dance floor. Her grin transformed in to an all out wicked smile as she wiggled a finger at him, beckoning him to follow.
“That’s okay. You’re going to regret dancing with me.” He caught up with her, catching her around the waist and grabbing her by both hands. “Just you wait.”
One thing became almost immediately obvious: He was almost as bad at dancing as Angela.
He also gave about as much of a fuck as she did, judging from the way he was grinning. Despite the utter lack of rhythm, though, he was pressing in close and smiling and touching her in just the right ways to make up for it.
“Israel, by the way,” he told her over the music, practically talking directly into her ear. “Since you were wondering. The name’s Israel.”
Angela laughed. Thanks to a generous amount of alcohol, the hottest guy in the universe, and good loud music she was FINALLY not worried about Caleb.
Damnit, there went the thoughts again.
“I’m looking for a little regret tonight! And with a stupid name like that, I bet you are too.” All of the touching. Dancing was good. Movement to the beat (or the pitiful attempt to) was the perfect distraction. The second Caleb popped in to her head again, she started getting handsy. Grabbing at his jacket to capture him and doing a bit of ear whispering herself.
“Hey, Israel, is your kissing as good as that accent or am I about to get super disappointed?”
“Let’s find out.”
His lips started to descend on hers… but at the last second he stopped, just close enough for the ghost of a kiss. There was a toothy grin at the corners of his mouth.
“I’m shy,” he teased, looking and sounding anything but. “But I can think of somewhere a bit more private. Atmospheric even. Come on.”
Grabbing her hand, he tugged her along behind him, cutting through the crowd. He was headed for a stairwell near the back of the club; it spiraled down to a lower level. There was a chain stretching across from one railing to the other, but that didn’t seem to be deterring Israel in the slightest.
What a goddamned tease. Oh, but what fun it was. Angela let herself be led, and she was strutting behind him like she was the Queen of England. Shaking her free hand through her golden hair to fluff it up while she grinned. For a split second her more sensible half was trying to kick in.
Do we really wanna do it like this?
Hell yeah, look at that ass.
It’s not gonna erase what happened with Caleb.
But oh boy, what a beautiful mistake this guy could be.
He IS smoking hot!
Her more wicked impulses always did win out in the end.
“Familiar with the downstairs, huh? I guess you hang around here often to whisk away hot girls?” she asked, making a note about the stairwell for future outings. Julian would never want to come here, and Angela hated to think it, but Margrit would probably love to sneak in with her.
“I’ve been around a couple times,” he answered lazily. They were at the top of the stairs now. Israel ducked under the chain, holding it up and out of the way for Angela. “Does that bother you?”
He let the chain drop behind her. It sank with a loud rattle, swaying back and forth.
As they headed down, soft red lights flickered on near the floor with every step. Other than that, the hall was dark. Also quiet. It was pretty obvious that no one else was down here.
“Just a little further,” said Israel, pausing long enough to pull her flush against him and put his hands on her hips. His thumb rubbed over the base of her spine.
“I’m picking up strangers in a club, I doubt it bothers me.” she responded, resting her hands on his shoulders and squeezing just so she could get a feel of that leather.
Should of had a few more drinks first.
Christ, we’re not gonna chicken out now.
Before she could have any more second thoughts, she grabbed his head and kissed him without warning. Thanks to being annoyingly tall herself and wearing heels that were a near six inches, there was no difficulty in reaching.
She could feel him chuckle against her lips.
“Oh, you’re fun,” he said, when he was done licking his way straight through her mouth. He kissed like she was edible. And tasty. “Maybe I’ll keep you.”
She heard the sound of a door. The next thing Angela knew, she was tossed backward, her high heels clattering on the floor with hollow echoes as she landed.
“Then again, maybe not.” She could just barely see him silhouetted in the doorway, faintly back-lit by the red floor lights. “Let’s play a bit first and see how much fun you really are, darlin’.”
That went from hot to horror in a split second.
The first thing she did was shake her head no, because, you know, that’s effective. One half of her head was trying to figure out where she missed the warning signs that this guy was a creep, while the other was furiously screaming run away, run away, run away. Except there wasn’t any where TO run away to unless she wanted to get lost in a club basement or attempt to shove her way past him. Neither of which seem to be working cause she was still too stunned to get her feet moving.
I need Julian.
He’s just being a jerk, we can go back upstairs.
“I’m a LOT of fun.” She started slowly at first. “When you’re not freaking me out. And oh, hey. You are. So I’mma just go back upstairs.” Good. Now move. Angela urged herself to shift forward.
“You’re cute. But you’re wrong.” The door slammed shut behind him as he stepped inside, plunging them both into near blackness. “That’s okay though. I think you’re starting to figure it out.”
His footsteps came closer. Angela could see his outline moving, a swatch of shadow darker than the rest. But he was fast; she didn’t have a whole lot of time to think before he was right in front of her, crouching down.
“Boo,” he whispered, about six inches away from her face. “Are you a screamer, Angie? Not that it matters. Although I do like a good screamer.”
Screaming would be the exact right thing to do, but Angela couldn’t even seem to get a squeak to come out, let alone open her mouth and start wailing. Not only was he a creep, he was a super fast creep, which had her thinking something was super wrong. Like supernatural super wrong, and that elevated her level of terror to the point where she was forgetting all about the handy little bottle of pepper spray she kept on her key chain for these exact sort of situations.
Angela sucked in a breath and opened her mouth with the intent to try that scream, only to clamp it shut again. Very quickly her hand dipped in to her jeans pocket and pulled out her phone. Up it rose between them and there was a flash of a picture taken. THEN with that distraction she finally screamed, scrambling to make a break for it. At least if she died, now there was photo evidence of who killed her!
Arms wrapped around her waist from behind and dragged her backward.
“Angie!” he laughed, grappling with her arms now. “Light of my life. Come play with me?”
He reached up to yank her head back by her hair, twisting until she was craning at a painful angle. Then he was leaning in close and she felt hot, wet tongue on the curve of her neck.
“Shhh,” said Israel. “It’s okay, sweetheart. You’ll actually like this part. Usually I prefer a little chase, maybe some foreplay. But you smell fantastic and I think I want to keep you in one piece for a while. You can cry if you want to though.”
The most uncool whimper slipped out and there was taking it back. Somewhere in her head probably a vampire clicked in to place and Leo’s Vampire Slaying for Dummies lesson was trying to play on repeat. But she was a sixteen year old girl with sticks for arms and the body strength of a baby panda. All of her squirming wasn’t getting her anywhere and now she was panicking to the point she couldn’t breathe.
“That’s my girl,” he crooned, nipping her ear hard enough to draw blood. He closed his mouth over the wound and sucked, and the weird thing was that it actually did feel sort of nice. Sort of like an alcohol buzz and allergy med haze at the same time. But it still hurt underneath the fuzziness.
“We can go slow,” Israel told her. His already husky voice had gone just a little huskier. “We’ve got all the time in the world. No one knows we’re down here.”
And then, as if to prove him wrong…
There was a sound.
“What the fuck?” Israel lifted his head. His grip on Angela tightened- and that did NOT feel nice at ALL.
Another sound, and then something hit them hard enough to send Angela tumbling to the floor. She heard Israel swearing, followed by clanging and crashing of something large against a metal surface.
Angela wished she would pass out. At least then she wouldn’t blind with terror. Not that she could see what was happening in the dark, there was just the sounds. Hands suddenly grabbed at her and she shrieked.
“Julian!” Angela choked out her name in a sob and launched herself at her friend hard enough that Julian dropped to the floor with her. She circled her arms around Julian’s neck in a vice-like grip.
Julian grunted, struggling to get herself up and take Angela along with her. “Angela, I can’t carry you.” she hissed, as Angela’s squeezing was apparently making it difficult for her to breathe out the words.
There was no way in hell she was letting go. Angela could still hear the shuffling. “Juliaaaan. How do you do this..!” How could Julian be so calm? Sure, she heard the whole Devil’s Wood story, but the story wasn’t the same as actually getting assaulted and bitten for real. Now she was crying and it sucked.
“First we get off the floor.”
Getting off the floor was easier said than done. Angela still refused to let go, which left Julian very awkwardly trying to lift her friend up to her feet. Once she did, she made sure her arms were securely around Angela’s waist. There wasn’t much choice in the matter, as Angela remained permanently attached.
“We’re going to the door and to the stairs. Close yours eyes and don’t open until I say so, okay?”
“What’s your problem?” Israel was snarling, somewhere to their left.
“The girl is under my protection.” That was Michael’s voice. Cold fury was the best way to describe his tone; it was possibly the most emotion Angela had ever heard out of him. “You won’t touch her again.”
Disbelieving laughter answered him.
“Are you for real? ‘The girl is under my protection.’ She’s food. We aren’t protectors, you condescending prick. We’re hunters. We both know what we really want to do to her.” She could hear him inhale deeply. “Get a whiff of that. Oh, but the other one smells even better and she’s not even bleeding yet. Wanna trade?”
Julian pretended her heart didn’t just stop, because Angela was now shaking and she really couldn’t carry her out. If she lost her cool now, Angela was going to flip out. Her arms would probably go in to a death lock and Julian would end up strangled long before either of them were a vampire’s dinner. Staying aware of Michael and their new friend, Julian inched Angela towards the door.
“Shhhh. You remember the concert we went to, with the psycho guy missing his teeth and he kept following us? It’s just like that. Only instead of Owen dragging you off, it’s me and instead of me kicking that guy in the ass, it’s Michael. Nobody is gonna hurt you. You jus- Angela I can’t breathe.” Urgh! Maybe she should’ve taken the vampire and let Michael get Angela. He probably wouldn’t be stuck in a weird headlock with a panicked girl. Julian managed to squirm her way out and took a less gentle approach to grabbing her friend and bodily pushing her towards the door.
“But we’re food!” Angela hissed, but at least now she was starting to move of her own volition.
“Julian, I told you to stay upstairs.”
“Julian, huh? Julian and Angie. Someone’s greedy. Didn’t your parents ever teach you to share?”
A shape zipped past them in the dark. An instant later, the door buckled and went crashing down into the hallway, the light difference glaring despite how dim the floor lights were. Michael and Israel fell through the doorway, rolling across the floor in a locked struggle.
“You will not touch either of them,” hissed Michael, his hands around Israel’s throat. His back was turned to them, but Israel’s face was half-washed in a red glow. His fangs were exposed as he gave Michael a feral grin.
“So you do have a pair,” he croaked, even as he attempted to buck Michael off of him. “I was wondering if you’d had them removed along with your balls. Do you kiss your girlfriends with those pearly whites? You know I already had my tongue down Angie’s throat? Mmman, is she a little firecracker. Ask her if I was a better kisser.”
“Julian, get her out of here,” Michael urged, not entirely turning his head.
“You haven’t even bitten her, have you? But you’ve thought about it. Instincts, my friend.”
“I am nothing like you.” His fingers tightened; Israel let out a gurgling noise and kicked his legs. “Julian. Go.”
Angela stopped short of the door, having forgotten the order of don’t look and now getting a pretty good eyeful of vampire bathed in red lighting. It was a scene straight out of hell as far as she was concerned and she wasn’t going anywhere fucking near it. She almost turned around to go escaping elsewhere, but Julian grabbed on to the back of her jacket and started shoving. Angela didn’t have much choice but to stumble forward, giving the boys on the floor a wide birth as they passed them.
“I told you not to open your eyes.” said Julian softly, a contradiction to how forceful she was pushing around Angela.
“I just wanted to forget Caleb!”
“Mission accomplished there, I bet.” Julian muttered under her breath.
Angela choked out a half laugh, half sob. “That’s NOT funny, Julian!”
They didn’t see what happened after that, but it took Michael a while to come upstairs.
He was silent throughout most of the drive back; all he told them was that Israel wouldn’t be following. It was only when they pulled up outside of Hightower Manor and killed the engine of his Aston Martin that he spoke.
“Stay here tonight. Both of you.” He let his head tip back against the seat. “There’s plenty of space.”
Julian was so busy in the tiny backseat softly consoling Angela that crying was okay (but throwing up wouldn’t be great) with the girl sprawled over her lap sniffling, that she hadn’t noticed they weren’t headed to her house. When she looked up, she was surprised to see Michael’s place instead of her much smaller unkempt lawn.
Somewhere there was a joke about taking Angela back to a vampire den, but she would SO not appreciate the humor in that right now.
“Did you hear that? We get to have another sleepover at Michael’s. Maybe this time you won’t leave me sleeping on the floor?” It took some work climbing out of the car and taking Angela with her without the two of them ending up on the ground, but she kept her steady.
Angela finally stopped crying (at least to the point where she could speak real words) and was rubbing her face with her sleeve. “Why didn’t I just kick him in his stupid face. I just scream and get rescued and now I have to thank your condescending boyfriend..!”
“You’ve never hurt anyone in your entire life. You’re only pretending to be a huge pain in the ass so no one realizes you’re a sweet and gentle little lady. Please don’t pass out before we get inside?” Julian begged. Angela was wavering a bit, and she supposed it must have been from the alcohol and the shock, as she thankfully wasn’t injured beyond the tiny nip at her ear.
“I’m NOT a fucking lady.” Once they reached the front steps, Angela couldn’t even pick up her feet to take it. She just tilted forward until Julian had no choice but to help her sit down. “I don’t want to hurt anymore.” she muttered under her breath. “How do you do all of this? How do you keep going?”
Julian cast a sheepish look, kneeling down to take off Angela’s ridiculously high heels before she ended up having an accident and breaking her neck. “There’s this smartass blond that’s always giving me good advice. You should try listening to her sometimes. …The smart one, though. Not the idiot that went clubbing without a chaperon.”
Angela laughed, this time without choking on tears. Her arm flung over her face as she leaned back against the steps. “Goodnight Julian.”
“No, no, no..!” Julian was mid-way through tugging Angela’s other arm trying to get her to stand again. She huffed with exasperation. “Michael?” she pleaded, casting an apologetic look over her shoulder.
Michael had slid out of the car sometime during the shuffle of maneuvering Angela up the steps. He stood back and away, but when Julian called his name he looked up. With barely a moment’s pause, he was at her side, slipping his arm around Angela’s waist.
“Alright, Angela,” he murmured, hefting her up into a fireman’s carry. “Let’s get you inside.”
His destination was the same sofa where Julian had crashed at the girls’ previous “sleepover”. While Michael was sure that she’d be comfortable in a bed, he also was certain that she would not make transporting her easy for anyone. This way at least she would be where they could easily keep an eye on her.
“Does she drink tea?” he asked Julian.
“Tea is for boring old people. I’d rather have whiskey.” Angela was already putting up a fuss, kicking her feet a bit, but since she was up in the air, she didn’t go squirming too hard as she didn’t want her ass getting dropped. Michael was now getting the most scandalized How DARE you touch my person! look a partially drunk person could give.
“Nope. Tea with extra sugar.” Julian responded breezily. Once they were inside, she was already heading down the hall towards the kitchen. “I’ll be back in a minute. Don’t let her drunk dial anyone. …In fact, take that phone away. I don’t even know how she managed to keep a hold of it while getting chewed on.” She vanished around a corner.
Angela immediately held her phone against her chest and scowled. She was still tearing up and now they were gonna jack her phone too? “I hope you killed that asshole.” she muttered once Julian was out of ear shot. “But you’re not getting my phone.”
“…I did,” Michael told her.
He set her down on the couch, crouching next to her and holding out his hand.
“You should give me the phone, Angela,” he said. His dark eyes skimmed from the top of her head down to her toes. “Julian is just looking out for you. If you don’t trust me, at least trust her.”
Holy shit. Angela didn’t expect him to respond about it, let alone admit he killed the guy. Then she had to wrestle with it. Dude just killed somebody. But then, the somebody he just killed was going to kill HER and probably murdered a long list a stupid drunk girls long before Angela Mercy was on his plate. Unlike Julian, she didn’t believe a sit down chat would make a psycho suddenly have a change of heart.
Which meant she was really eyeballing Michael now.
“Good.” After a moment of silent refusal, Angela frowned and slapped the phone in his hand. “I know you only helped me because she asked you to. But thank you anyway. I would’ve been fine, though, if I hadn’t been so wound up about stuff and already drunk.”
A hint of a smile actually tugged at Michael’s lips.
“I’m sure,” he said. “But you don’t need to be fine all the time, Angela.”
He slipped her phone into his pocket and pushed himself up off the floor to take a seat next to her on the couch. He was still eyeing her, an inscrutable expression on his face. After a moment, he pulled an actual cloth handkerchief out of his pocket and pressed it into her palm.
“For your ear,” Michael explained. “I know it might not hurt much, but injuries near the head bleed more. You should keep pressure on it if you can.”
Angela held the handkerchief in her hand for a second, giving it a flabbergasted look. Who the fuck carries these around anymore? Oh right, old man vampire. This was so stupid. Angela first wiped away any remaining signs of tears from her face with the heel of her hand, thanking the gods of Chanel for their gift of waterproof mascara. Then she pulled off her earring to stash in a pocket and dabbed at the nick on her ear.
When she mad the mistake of pulling it back to see how much blood was there, she cringed and had to squeeze her eyes shut before she got all dumb and fainty about it.
“You can’t give me advice about not needing to be fine all the time. Julian told me all about you nearly losing your shit a few nights ago.” she opened her eyes again to give him a dubious stare.
“I cry when I lose my cool. What are you going to do when you crack?”
He shot up from the couch like he’d been burned.
“It was kindly meant,” Michael replied coolly, and he might have gotten away with seeming calm if it hadn’t been for a muscle twitching in his jaw. “I’ll refrain from giving any more advice. I’m not stupid, Angela. I realize your attitude toward me has changed lately, and I have my suspicions as to why that is. But for Julian’s sake, I would like to avoid- I would like to avoid any pettiness.”
He closed his eyes briefly.
“I’m not like the vampire you met tonight,” he went on. “Or like Leo. You should ask him how he feeds sometime, before you rush to judge me.”
The secret was out now. He knew that she knew. If she hadn’t known before, he just let it slip now. Angela hit just the right button.
“Look at you, getting all angry and making assumptions.” She could use this. Goad him in to showing his real colors, or at the very least admit just how much he hated her. But after almost being a vampire snack, she didn’t want to find out where Michael’s patience ran out. She wasn’t a complete idiot.
And she was still kind of, sort of grateful he had been there, even though she wished she wasn’t.
“For the record, I’m not being petty and I didn’t get the Michael Hightower biography from Leo if that’s what you’re getting at. I just know what I’ve seen. And don’t give me that don’t judge me bullshit when you know damn well that’s what you’ve been doing to ME since the moment we met. Because Julian is all sweetness and purity and goodness, and I’m just an obnoxious insipid whore, right?”
Holy balls, why am I going to cry again, I don’t give any fucks what he thinks!
Angela scoffed, falling over on the sofa then turning her back to him. If she was going to cry again, she wasn’t going to let this asshole see it.
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter. For Julian’s sake, blah blah blah.”
“…I’m upsetting you,” Michael said shortly. “I’ll leave you alone.”
The moment that Michael stepped out of the sitting room, he closed the door and leaned back against it, pressing splayed hands flat against the painted wood. He took a deep breath, collecting himself and his thoughts.
She irritates me.
That was… not ideal. As a general rule, Michael took care to avoid things that irritated him- Leo being a rare and necessary exception. And Michael hated to admit even in his own thoughts that a slip of a girl could get under his skin so easily.
He wasn’t even certain what it was about Angela Mercy that was so infuriating. Her accusation regarding his opinion of her was not far from the truth, albeit wildly exaggerated and dramatized. But Michael had known plenty of people who were equally rude and gaudy. Perhaps it was her influence on Julian, but that didn’t quite fit either.
It niggled at him, like he should recognize just what it was. But it remained outside of his grasp, which only served to worsen his frustration.
And hunger, a voice whispered.
“No,” he chided himself in disgust. Michael was not an animal. He was ruled by rational thought. And he would not, as Angela so quaintly put it, crack.
“I am just going to stop making tea for people. They seem to be out cold long before I get there.” she announced her presence in the hall, regarding Michael with a curious expression. He looked… uneasy. There could be a million different reasons, but she had it narrowed down to the three most likely. The fight with that vampire, a fight with Angela, or fighting himself. Maybe it was all three.
Julian moved to lean against the wall opposite to him, taking a sip of the tea herself, because Jesus Christ she needed it too. Angela was the most important person in her life. She might as well be her sister. Tonight she could have died, and though Julian knew it was just an act of randomness by the universe, and that these things had been happening long before Julian knew what she was, she still felt responsible. That now she was involved, Angela was involved too by association.
“She’ll be okay.” she said, for herself more than Michael. “She talks a lot of trash, but she really isn’t that tough. If you hadn’t come with me I might have lost her. You have no idea how much that means to me.”
Michael lifted his eyes from the carpet and gave Julian a tired smile.
“She’s safe now. That’s what matters.” He sighed. “I’m sorry that our evening together didn’t exactly go as planned.”
Michael wanted to step forward and take her in his arms, but he was wary after the night’s events. Julian was remarkably resilient, but he was certain that she wondered what had happened in the basement of the club. He was also certain that she would find out. And this was her first encounter with a vampire other than himself or Leo; would she be frightened now? Would she give any credit to what that thing had said?
“I’m sure you have questions,” he began.
“I don’t really have any questions.” And it was the truth. It was a vampire who tried to eat her friend. She knew people like that existed out there. And he was all too happy to point out that Michael was a predator too. Leo had issues just with her biting her cheek, so she had no doubt Michael was struggling with it now. All of that was obvious. But then-
Maybe she did have questions after all.
Julian set the cup and saucer aside on a small table so she could cross her arms. “I guess maybe I wonder what you did with him, though I probably already know and I wish I didn’t. And you- You are a vampire, and it’s really easy to forget. I know you’ve told me that you never drink from a live person, but… do you think about it? Have you thought about biting me?”
Her nose wrinkled up in a silly expression, and it was the first indication that despite the topic she wasn’t nervous or upset. “Do I smell like a snack? ‘Cause that’s pretty weird.”
“You smell good,” he admitted, and now his smile was more genuine. It didn’t last long before he sobered again, shaking his head. “I… Yes, Julian. I’ve thought about biting you. But just because I’ve thought about doesn’t mean that I would ever do it.”
He didn’t touch on her non-question about the vampire. He was willing to bet that she didn’t really want to hear any of those details.
“You can kill someone, though. When you have to.” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but she had to admit to herself that it did bother her. More than anything else did. Julian squeezed her eyes shut and clonked her head against the wall behind her. “Don’t apologize for it. I understand it was necessary, and I know you have before. I know it probably won’t be the last time. It just… I wish it didn’t have to be this way.”
Sighing, she pushed away from the wall and crossed the floor to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and burying her face against his shirt. “I should go find Caleb and sock him again. This wouldn’t of happened if he hadn’t popped up.” she muttered. It really wasn’t Caleb’s fault, but she couldn’t direct her frustration at a vampire that was already good and dead.
He hugged her close to him, stroking her hair. He was getting more and more accustomed to touching her. Having one’s tongue in another person’s mouth tended to do that, he thought wryly. After a period of adjustment, this would become natural. But even despite the unfamiliar intimacies, he enjoyed feeling her heartbeat fluttering as she pressed close to him.
“It’s alright now, Julian,” he promised her. Michael pressed a chaste kiss to the top of her head. “Everyone is safe. And I’m not going anywhere.”
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- Black Sun 001: His Name is Michael (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 002: Leo Through the Window (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 003: The Crypt (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 004: The Seventh Star (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 005: DJ Got Us Falling in Love (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 006: Dance Class (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 007: A Real First Date (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 008: Psychic Impressions (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 009: Angela’s Confirmation (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 010: Margrit’s Little Helpers (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 011: Blood Moon (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 012: Trust (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 013: Reconnecting (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 014: Angela’s Bad Date (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 015: Hide and Seek (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 016: A Chat with Mr. Anderson (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 017: Michael’s Birthday (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 018: Vampires and Laundry (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 019: Angela’s Supernatural Silent Pines Flowchart (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 020: Mysterious Ms. Abernathy (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 021: Ride Home (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 022: Ghosts and Festival (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 023: Halloween (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 024: War Council (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 025: All Saint’s Day (Original Draft)
- Black Sun 026: Not Meant to be Together (Original Draft)