Blood Moon 005: I Need Help (Original Draft)

Blood Moon 005: I Need Help (Original Draft)

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When Julian woke it was past noon and Leo was nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t entirely unexpected. There seemed to be a Leo-No-Leo pattern whenever she fell asleep with him. This time was slated to be a No-Leo.

She stretched and then groaned under her breath when her muscles complained. It felt like she had spent an entire day in dance class doing something crazy and strenuous. Soreness in unusual places and a few bruises tended to happen often, so at least this wasn’t a shocking new thing for her.

Worth it. So wonderfully worth it. Even if her senses were kind of tugging at her. That same annoying feeling she’d get where she just knew something was wrong somewhere but it was just outside of her reach. There wasn’t anything she could do about that, though. So Julian pushed away the covers to slip out of bed.

The first thing she did was take a long hot shower. Because yeah. Not only was she the best kind of dirty, but the hot water at least helped ease that lingering soreness. Once she was done tackling her hair with a blow dryer, she actually took the time to get dressed. Shooing little shadowy shapes out of her closet, Julian shoved around hangers looking for something appropriate for the day. She needed an outfit that inspired just the right kind of feelings.

As Margrit would say: Dress for what you’re after.

And Julian had a lot to get done today.

“I’m not wearing the dress.” she responded to absolutely no one visible. “I know it’s romantic, but this is not a romance day.”

Julian shot down a few other suggestions before she settled on a colorfully stripped shirt and a pair of jeans. Her shoes didn’t receive complaint. Everyone’s favorite fuck-me boots it was.

Crap. Now SHE was calling them fuck-me boots.

When she moved over to the mirror to apply some makeup and fix up her hair, she sucked in a quick breath. Okay, everyone was going to think somebody tried to strangle her.

Or eat her.

Huffing to herself she brushed through her hair and tried desperately to style it in a way that was at least going to partially hide the massive hickies on her neck. When that didn’t work, she gave up and snatched a scarf from the collection hanging near the mirror. It wasn’t a perfect fix, but at least no one was going to notice unless they were looking for it.

After liberal application of eyeliner and a subtle hint of lipstick, Julian grabbed her phone off the nightstand and called up Angela.

“Why are you answering the phone? You know you’re at work.”

“The fuck are you calling me for then!”

Julian grinned stepping out of her room to head downstairs. “I’m coming to talk to you in a few. I just need a cup of coffee first.”

“Why don’t you just get one here?”

“Are you working the machine today?”

“Yeah, so?”

“There you go.”

“Ah, yeah – Hey! Wait a second, fuck you! My coffee is drinkable!”

Julian laughed, dropping down the last three steps with a bounce. When she entered the kitchen she pressed the little button on the house phone’s voicemail to hear the messages. The first message was a robotic voice droning on and trying to sell her insurance. By the time it was over Julian had updated the House Rules with a few scribbles of blue ink.


1. The first one awake makes the coffee.

2. No sleeping on the couch. No sleepovers with Angela.

3. No kissing allowed, forever.

4. Stop knocking shit off the counter, Francis.

5. Stay out of Leo can have Julian’s cereal.

6. Cinnamon rolls are not dinner.

7. Keep your god damned hands out of Leo’s way.

8. Don’t touch Leo when he’s trying to focus.

9. Julian makes all the rules.

10. When Julian likes the thing, don’t stop the thing.

11. Make Leo happy.

She put a cup of water in the microwave as a second message started. This one was an actual human that knew her name.

“Ms. Hollinger, we haven’t received payment for the last m-“


“What? And what are you giggling about. Dude, aren’t you supposed to be over Silvia’s?”

“I think I forgot to pay my bills.” Julian muttered, clanking around a spoon in to her liberally applied mug of instant coffee. Instant coffee sucked, but not nearly as bad as Angela’s. She took a quick swallow. “I came home yesterday, which involves a lot of crap that I really need to talk to you about.”

“What bills do YOU have?” Angela asked first, sounding amused. There there was a long pause. “Did something happen? Are you okay?”

“I need power and water, you know. I have bills.” Julian responded wryly. She left her coffee on the counter to step out the front door and grab the mail from the little box that hung just under the house numbers. She grimaced. The thing was STUFFED. Apparently she hadn’t remembered the mail for a while either. No wonder she was getting collector calls. She balanced the phone carefully with one shoulder as she tried to pull the mess out of the box. But yelped when she nearly dropped her bundle and the phone in the process.

“I am here alone and I need to walk there, so I called to have you on the phone with me. If that gives you any idea.” she finally muttered.

“Shit. Okay. I’m here. My boss is giving me the devil eyes, but fuck him it’s not like I’m working the counter today. What happened?”

“Well, Silvia decided she did NOT want me to sneak her in to Club Clarity, and instead she hosted a bonfire. A Makeout Bonfire.” Angela burst in to laughter and Julian bit in to her tongue to stop herself from laughing too. Once she was back inside she dropped her mail on the kitchen counter and reached for her mug to take another swallow of cheap coffee. “It was actually kind of adorable. There was stuff for smores and strawberry wine coolers and a GOOSEBUMPS novel for spooky stories. If she hadn’t invited nothing but a bunch of awkward teenage boys it would have been a great party.”

“Oh shiiiiit. Who did she invite? I know Knucker Polk had to be one of them. She won’t stop talking about the kid.”

“Yep. She invited half the school, I’m pretty sure. But only a few showed up.” Julian narrowed her eyes as her pile of mail started inching towards the edge of the counter. “Knucker appeared first, then Owen and Senior Robbie. Then Leo did. That’s about when things got REALLY interesting.”

“Haaaaa! Leo always makes everything a bazillion times better! I guess he pissed off a couple guys?”

“In this case he pissed ME off. We were talking and it got too personal, I guess. So he did his asshole thing and I kinda punched him in the face.”

“Jesus, why are these assholes just standing there and letting you punch them? Don’t they have supernatural speed bullshit?”

“I don’t know. But Caleb showed up like ten seconds later and Silvia’s first night in to adulthood was officially over. And then later- FRANCIS CUT IT OUT.” she suddenly cut off, pulling the phone away from her ear as she reached towards the shifting pile of mail. Before she could grab it the whole pile got knocked on to the floor. Julian swore under breath as she dropped to her knees to gather it all up.

She paused when she found a small flat box wrapped in brown paper. There wasn’t an address on it or even the scribbling of a name. “Huh. I just found a box. Did you hide stuff in my mailbox again?”

“Nooope. Not this time. What is it?”

Julian balanced the phone on her shoulder again as she used her nails to pry off the paper wrapping. The box itself was nothing but simple cardboard, but again there wasn’t any markings giving her a clue of where it came from. When she tipped it’s cover off she found herself looking at a large stone pendant. The stone was a pale almost snowy lavender with bands of deep blue, a slightly malformed tear drop, and tumbled smooth to the touch. Intricate silver wire was wound around it and held it in place. That bit she could tell was OLD because there was dust and a little tarnish between the wiring that even a quick cleaning wouldn’t be able to erase. The chain, though, that was brand new.

“It’s a pendant. It- …I’ve seen this before.” she murmured. Julian didn’t hear what Angela was asking while she plucked it up out of the box and held it in her hand. It was large enough to take up most of her palm and something about it just kind of glowed.

“JULIAN. Julian, c’mon.”

“Sorry, what? I think I know what this is.” Julian picked herself up off the floor, making her way out of the kitchen and across the downstairs hall to a door in the back. She dug in to a bowl of potpourri until she found a key. (Pretty much the most useless stuff on the planet except when you’re hiding things in it.) Then she unlocked the door to step in to what used to be her Dad’s private office. Also known as the Hollinger Man Cave of Years Past.

“Don’t zone out while on the phone! It’s freaking me out! Who sent it?”

“Hold on, I’m looking for something.” Julian stopped near a shelf, hovering her fingers near the spines of old photo albums. She snatched one up and started flipping the pages. AH! She was right. There it was. The photo was a portrait in black and white, and she couldn’t quite tell how old it was beyond knowing it was definitely REALLY old. The chain was different, but it was the same pendant for sure. Settled around the neck of a long gone Hollinger auntie who was probably only a couple years older than Julian when the picture was taken.

“I don’t know who sent it, but um. Hmm. This is mine. It’s supposed to be mine.”

“Julian don’t you dare put that thing on before we-“

Well, it was too late for that. Julian already pulled it over her head and draped the chain around her neck. That would have been the moment something should have gone horribly wrong. But nothing happened. It just felt right. In some strange way it actually felt better. Soothing and calming. Julian LIKED this.

“It’s fine, you can stop freaking out. I have a picture of a Hollinger wearing it, I’ll bring it! I’m pretty sure it’s a Hollinger heirloom thing.”

“Damnit Julian. Who SENT it, though? You can’t just put on weird jewelry you find in your mailbox without knowing where it came from. Especially if it belongs to a dead ancestor. It could be cursed or some shit!”

“I seriously doubt it’s cursed. This is a gift?” But Angela did have a point. Why would it suddenly find it’s way home now? Who would think to give her something like this? As much as she liked the idea, Julian knew right away that Leo wasn’t likely. If he wanted to give her something, she had the feeling he would be a lot more direct about it.

Her next thought was Walter. Walter loved being mysterious as fuck, he was supposed to help her get control of psychic stuff, and he probably knew more about her family than she did. He seemed like a direct sort of person too, though, so it didn’t quite sit right. She wasn’t so sure it would be him.

Then there was Michael. This was exactly the sort of thing Michael would do for her. Hunt down something rare and potentially sentimental and then gift it in a grand gesture. Granted, dropping it in her box wouldn’t be his style. But after breaking up, Michael wasn’t exactly keen on spending a lot of time in her presence. He could have just not wanted to see her.

There was also no telling how long it had actually been sitting in there. She really needed to check the mail more often. And pay her stupid bills.

“JUUUULIIIIIAN. Okay, NO, you better get your ass walking right now and down here ASAP. I can’t do this shit over the phone. Every time you go quiet I think you’re passed out on the floor.”

“Alright! I’m leaving now, Jesus Christ.”

Julian spent the walk to Fleetwood Macchiato going in to a little more detail about Silvia’s party. Everything from Knucker’s cabin in the woods story up to the point where it was so embarrassing having Owen and Caleb giving Leo the angry glares and ready to throw down for her honor when it was HER that shouldn’t have hit him. Angela just laughed and shrugged it off, having to explain that when you’re the town’s second favorite sugarpie it didn’t matter how capable you were at kicking a vampire’s ass. The boys were going to rally.

Julian did not like this description of herself at all. If she found out people were actually calling her SUGARPIE, she was going to kill all her friends. In fact she made that very clear when she hung up the phone and walked in to the building.

“I am NOT a sugarpie!” she shouted across the empty cafe.

Angela just cackled, standing behind the register with her hand braced against the wall. “Princess Sugarpie, Protector of the Realm! Only outranked by Silvia Glittersparkles, Queen of the Wolves.”

“Whatever, Zelda Fitzgerald!”

“Okay, first of all, you don’t even GET that reference to know why Walter was clever as fuck for it. And second, this whole New York Chic power ensemble you’ve got on is hot as hell. Even with your new little ‘I swear it’s not cursed!’ but totally bad news Hollinger Amulet. This doesn’t match the whole ominous bullshit tone you had on the phone, so what the fuck is wrong with you! I’ve been standing here ready to piss myself for twenty minutes!”

“I’m sorry baby, did I make you worry? I can make it up to you.” Julian flashed a wicked grin when she leaned on her elbows over the counter.

“Honey, please. I know the only one YOU have the hots for is a sassy-mouthed vampire. I don’t know why the two of you don’t just fuck already.” She stepped away for a second to grab a plastic bucket, then led the way back to the floor to start gathering up abandoned dishes from the lunch crowd.

“Um!” Julian flushed red, suddenly having issues formulating words.

A half filled bucket of dishes dropped to the floor, with Angela standing there motionless and in shock. About ten different thoughts and emotions crossed her face before suddenly, she started squealing. “OOOOOOOH MY GOOOOOD WHAT. WHAAAAAAT. JULIAN WHAT. Holy shit! OH SHIT THOSE ARE HICKIES YOU’RE TRYING TO HIDE, I THOUGHT I WAS NUTS.”

Julian fought through burning in her cheeks as she knelt down to help pick up the silverware that managed to bounce it’s way out of the bucket when it hit the floor. “It just- it just HAPPENED. A mutual agreement that kissing could totally be a thing and then kissing turned to clinging and that turned to licking and then- Damn. Just damn.”

Angela starting laughing all over again. “Well, was it GOOD? What was it like?”


“Pffft. Julian! C’mon. You HAVE to tell me.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t already been stupidly in love with him before, I would’ve fallen right about the point where he called me sunshine and then put his tongue where there WASN’T ANY.”

Angela dropped to the floor on her knees and fanned herself with her apron. The entire thing over dramatic a deliberate. “Holy shit. Fuck. You just said you loved him. And apparently are totally incapable of saying VAGINA. That’s what you meant right?”


“Seriously Julian. How did you even get through sex. He lashed your beavercave. Tongued the sticky bun. Lapped at the silk igloo. Licked away at your c-”


“I bet you said a LOT of that.”

Julian was so done. Her forehead hit the floor and Angela just started cackling.

“Okay, I’m finished! You had SEX with Leo! Then what happened?”

Getting woken up by Silvia and Caleb’s morning greeting was a welcome continuation of the subject. Julian went on to detail out their short, but eerie trip to the mysterious cabin of Knucker’s story. Angela was a little disappointed they didn’t stick it out there because it sounded like an interesting adventure to her. But once Julian launched in to what happened at the lake, she got it.

The cabin hadn’t been the problem. Julian went psychic walking again.

“So a dead Hollinger tried to drown you because WHY? She’s a dumb bitch?”

Julian shrugged. “The future. A choice. She wanted to be the one that made it, but she wasn’t supposed to be. At least that’s what I got from it. It’s supposed to belong to me. Leo had to fish me out of the lake.”

“He had a VISION and then fished you out of the lake. That’s some big stuff there. Some I I told you so level stuff.”

Julian rolled her eyes. “Yeah, okay. I officially believe your they’re here to save you theory. I know you’ve been rotating who babysits me and I can see why now, since I’m apparently going to throw myself in to fires and drown in lakes. It’s just. I don’t know why he’d be getting these feelings too. He said it’s been happening even before he took a bite out of me. I’m a little worried I’m kind of projecting stuff out and he’s getting stuck in the gravity field and I’m making him feel and do things.”

Angela frowned. “Sweetie, no. That’s not how you work. Where did you even get that stupid idea?”

“Michael says I push and I-”

“Michael is a DICK. Fuck Michael! Not once, not EVER have you made any single one of us feel stuff or do anything we didn’t want to do. Or stop us from doing anything for that matter. If you were, I’m pretty sure you would have talked us all out of a lot of stupid shit. Michael and Leo included.”

“I made David feel stuff.”

“And you did that on purpose. No, okay. You’re not accidentally mind controlling people, Julian. If Leo is suddenly getting psychic shit from you, it’s gotta be his end. Especially since it started before you guys swapped blood. I don’t know if it’s his witchy ancestry or a new vampire puberty thing, but we’ll find out. I’ll do the research while you and Leo attack each other for a second round of pounding the furry lobster.”

Julian went red again, suddenly finding great interest in the ceiling lights.

“HOLY SHIT YOU DID IT MORE THAN ONCE? WHAT THE FUCK JULIAN HOW DID YOU EVEN HAVE TIME!” Angela screamed. “Seriously! You never ever talk about sex! I didn’t even think you THOUGHT about it!”

“I THINK about sex!” Julian defended. “There’s just no reason to talk about it if I wasn’t having any.”

“You’re having it now, so SPILL.”

“I left Silvia’s early because I didn’t want to make any more drama. And then, you know, I couldn’t sleep so I was going to go downstairs and he CAUGHT me and FUSSED at me because I was breaking the rule. And then he said no sleepovers only meant with you and then kissing happened, and then the kissing turned to clinging and that turned to licking again and then- Holy shit. He gave me a flash of the first time on PURPOSE. I almost died. Then we didn’t make it upstairs because of the wall and sex and now I have to live forever so I can make Leo happy.”

It came out in such a quick blabber of words Angela almost missed the most interesting details. Julian, meanwhile, tilted backwards and landed on her back on the floor. Luckily the cafe was still empty save for the two of them.

“Sooooo, you told him you loved him, right?”

Julian shook her head after throwing her arm over her face. “No. I can’t tell him, you know I can’t.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?! You fucked your way across the house! If he doesn’t already know, he’s an idiot!”

Julian took in a deep breath, pushing herself up off the floor to stare back at Angela. “I can’t tell him YET. Is what I mean.”

There was a quirk of Angela’s eyebrow and it looked like she was actually trying hard NOT to get super pissed off about this. “Why the hell not!? Please don’t tell me you don’t think he loves you too, because you’re not dumb Julian. You know.”

“I DO know.” she admitted as she let that breath out in a surprisingly calm sigh. “Listen. Leo is never going to feel safe with me. He won’t let himself, because he’ll be too afraid the moment he relaxes that’s when I’m going to die. Violet died. Sadie died. Because of these stupid visions, he probably already thinks me dying is going to be his fault. If I tell him now, that’s going to feel like the nail on the coffin, I think. What if he gets scared and he thinks leaving is the only way? Leaving isn’t the way to fix this.”

Angela sat there in stunned silence for a moment. “…that’s pretty spot on. But what the hell, then? What are you supposed to do?”

Julian crossed her arms, tilting her head to the side. Her brows furrowed as she chewed in to the side of her cheek. “To make Leo feel safe, his world has to be different. …so that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to change his world.”

Wide-eyed blinking was Angela’s first response. Just staring at Julian’s face like she didn’t know what she was looking at. It went long enough that Julian started getting antsy. Finally Angela just broke in to raucous laughter.

“Oh god damn, I missed you. The REAL you. My super weird, slightly crazy, get shit done bestie. Alright then, sweetie, lets do this! Do you have any plans?”

“I know I have to not die.” answered Julian, following it up with a wry shrug. “After that it gets a little confusing. That’s why I need your help. I’ve got all this psychic stuff, I could do this. I can change the future, couldn’t I? I just don’t know where to start.”

“Well I know where to start.” Angela beamed, finally picking herself off the floor and grabbing her dish bucket. She waited until Julian followed and gestured her head towards one of the empty booths. She slid in to the seat, setting her bucket next to her and grabbed the salt and pepper shakers to set out on the table.

“Look. You got salty Michael and spicy Leo.” She tapped each one, then rest her hand over the salt. “Michael dragged Leo in to his mess, is the reason Leo’s two loves are dead. He’s now your over-complicated ex. Leo has a really, really good reason to be scared. If anyone is going to be Fangs Killer-face, Michael is pretty much the obvious choice. He almost killed you on All Saints. All it’ll take is one bad day. One reason for Michael to snap and bye bye Julian.”

Angela moved her hand over to the pepper shaker. “But we can’t count out Leo. Because of that sire-thrall thing, he could be forced to hurt you. Like what happened with Sadie. And just like Michael, who is to say one night he’s not going to get captured by a bunch of thug witches, bled dry and then let loose like a rabid animal? He’ll fight it. But it’s still viable. Just because Leo doesn’t want to hurt you doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

Both her hands hovered over the shakers then. “Now, the Leo-Michael relationship is the big thing here. As long as they hate each other, you are stuck in the middle. If someone wants to hurt you all they have to do is stir that pot. They’ll be at each other’s throats, and another David can just slip unnoticed all over again. They NEED to be on the same page. If they are the key to you not dying, we need to solve that problem. And as a sweet bonus, if Leo no longer fears Michael, he no longer has to be afraid of being with you. So cool, right?”

Julian nodded. “Okay, I got it. But they’re not cooperating with me. Leo refuses to believe Michael will care enough, and Michael won’t bother to try because he doesn’t think Leo cares either. They won’t even try. They’ve got no trust left.”

Angela reached over to grab the jar of sugar and clonked it down in the middle of the table. “Yep. So we have to give them a good hard push. What started this mess? Michael fucked over something and became a vampire. Who knows all about that little story, or at least enough to get us started? David. Even if David is wrong, we could at least get on the right track to figuring out Michael’s bullshit and turning his douchebag attitude around. I’m pretty sure Leo will jump on board if he sees us actually getting somewhere with Michael.”

“All roads lead to David then.” Julian said, chewing on her lip again. “Okay. Okay, I’ll talk to David as soon as I can. I don’t know if he’ll want to, but it’s a good start.”

“Awesome. I’ll get my hands on Michael’s family library, then. I think he might actually not want to kill me anymore.”

“This is so stupid!”

“It’s SUNDAY, Julian. What were you expecting?” Angela was in her car driving down the road and for once the music wasn’t turned up the max. Her phone sat on her dashboard, with Julian’s voice griping through the speaker.

“People still have to do things on Sunday! The world doesn’t stop for GOD.”

Angela snickered. “Why don’t you just pay online like everyone else in the modern world?”

“It’s the principal of the thing! …and I don’t have the account numbers or the passwords. I usually just walk to the stupid building, and it takes five minutes to look up my name and they take my card and then I can go to the next place and it’s a nice walk and I get a sammich!”

“Uh huh. I think Leo needs to work you over again, Jules. You’re sounding a little stressed there.” The girl on the other end snorted and Angela laughed. About that moment her wheels hit an icy patch on the street and the car veered wildly. There was a lot of high pitched screaming as Angela hit the breaks hard. Narrowly screeching to a stop before rolling over a bike some asshole rich kid left halfway in the street. Her engine sputtered out.

“This is why you’re supposed to wear your seat belt.” Julian commented with an irritating amount of calmness considered her best friend almost just DIED.

“I AM wearing a seat belt!” Angela lied. “Shit. Ow, ow, ow.” On the bright side, she hadn’t hit the steering wheel. She was jostled pretty bad though. She pressed her fingers to her eye and blinked a few times, before cursing all over again. “Fuck, FUCK!”

“You’re okay?”

“Yeah – god dammit – Shit, yeah I’m fine. I just hit a patch of ice. Anyway, are you almost home? I’m practically at Michael’s in that nice little neighborhood where everybody has giant fucking yards to bury all their dead family in.” Angela fumbled around her clothes, down her seat between her legs and brushed her fingers all over the floorboards. She found her fallen phone, a packet of gum, and a pen. But not what she was actually LOOKING for.

“I can see the house now, so I’m good. Are you sure you don’t want me there with you? I could talk to David while you’re doing Angela-stuff.”

Fuck. She was so fucked. It was GONE and if even she did find it, it’d be covered in car fuzz. Angela grabbed for her purse and started digging. “No, this is better. I can test the waters with Michael and let him know what we’re all up to. Get him up to speed and shit on operation Don’t-Kill-Julian and that’d probably be awkward if you’re there. Plus, you seriously need to let those hickies fade so not they’re not so fucking obvious before you try having a casual conversation with your exboyfriend.”

“Oh damn! Okay, yeah. That’s a good idea. I’ll talk to you later then.”

“Later, sweetie.” Angela dropped her phone in the purse right after she pulled out a small case. Glancing in the mirror, she poked her middle finger to her opposite eye until she pulled away a little contact lens. It earned the surliest of scowls. Well, if she could see it properly. It was now a blurry ‘something’ on the tip of her finger. Carefully it got slipped in to the tiny case. Although she had no idea why she was BOTHERING because it’s little buddy was probably lost forever.

“Stupid cheapass company healthcare approved bullshit.” she muttered under her breath. After some more digging she found a second case. This time she pulled out a pair of black rimmed glasses. Angela scowled at her reflection in the mirror. Whatever. She only needed them long enough to get to Michael’s.

She turned the ignition and all she got was a few clicks.

“Are you fucking kidding me! You piece of shit! I am NOT walking in the goddamned slush, you mother fucker!” When she tried a few more times and the engine refused to spark to life, she let out a few more colorful curses.

Angela climbed out of Charger and stomped towards the front. “Just you wait. I’m going to SELL you to some asshole headbanger that’ll paint you up with flames and shit! You’ll have dirty whores and cocaine all up in your seats.”

“Hey. Are you okay?” a voice asked behind her.

When Angela turned, she found a boy standing by the side of the road with his hands in his pockets, under the shadow of one of the huge fuckoff trees that grew around here. His short, messy dark hair was ruffling in the wind. He looked about her age, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing him at school… though there was something vaguely familiar about him. He was dressed head-to-toe in black, with piercings in both ears and a leather jacket.

“I saw you skid,” he went on, reaching up to fiddle with a round pendant tied on a cord around his neck. “And then you took a while to get out of the car. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t hit your head or something.”

Great. Hot guy alert and here she was wearing the knockoff glasses that belonged on the face of a pretentious vegan hipster. Perfect first impression.

Whatever, she was too pissed off at her car to care right now.

“I’m good. Totally having the best day ever.” Sarcastic bitch, much? Angela sighed heavily, rubbing the back of her hand against her forehead as she grimaced. “Sorry, I’m having a DAY. I’ve got important save-the-damsel shit to do and this asshole decided to pitch a tantrum.”

Angela kicked slush out of the way with the toes of her boots when she bent down to pop the hood. Her hands went resting on her hips as she scowled.

She lied to Leo before about there not being an Auto Mechanics class at school. There was. Angela just didn’t like the idea of sticking her beautifully manicured nails in to the giant grease trap that was her car. She’d read enough books out of pure curiosity to have a basic idea of what was what. But now that she was staring at all these parts, she had no fucking idea how to put any of that in to context.

Angela lift her hand to dig her fingers in the hair at the top of her head, glaring at the mess of metal and bolts as if she thought standing there and staring at it long enough would help her figure it all out.

“…Do you need help?” the guy asked. He glanced up at the overcast, dreary sky. “It looks like snow again. Don’t want to be caught out in this.”

Without waiting, he stepped out from the shade beneath the tree and joined her in front of the car. Unlike Angela, he didn’t seem reluctant at all to reach out and touch. The first thing he did was unscrew a metal cap and check the oil (at least she recognized what that was). After inspecting it briefly, he replaced the cap and bent to check a large block, smoothing his hands over it and fidgeting with the cables.

“My family owns a garage,” he said. “My brother… He showed me a few things.”

Angela glanced up at the sky and frowned. She had ZERO cash for a tow-truck and even less to get her car fixed. There was no way in hell she was walking to Michael’s and then back home in the snow. She might have chosen to wear something a little more practical today than her usual tight skirts and strappy heels (today is was jeans, and a blue sweater that said “FRENCH WORDS” across the front), but Angela was a summer kid. This winter business sucked. So yeah, screw that.

“If you can fix this in the next five minutes, I’ll give you free coffee for LIFE at Fleetwood Macchiato.” she responded, stuffing her hands in to her jacket pockets before her fingers started getting any more frosty.

Now that her temper was simmering down, Angela took the time to give him a once over. What was it about guys in leather jackets? Pretty much all a guy had to do was put one on, and she was instantly interested. It helped that his hair was all fluffy tousled and just BEGGING for someone to run their fingers through it.

God. Why did Julian get to be the one that god laid? Angela was the one in desperate need here!

“The only garage I know is part of Ryan’s Gas Station. And I pretty much only hit THAT up when I’m leaving town. It made this clicking sound when I turned the ignition, if that helps.” she offered, leaning just a bit to check out his ass when he bent over. Okay, yeah, she needed to get a grip. There were IMPORTANT THINGS to do today, she didn’t have time for seducing a guy in the middle of the street.

“I’m Angela, by the way.”

“I’m Alec,” he replied without turning around, fishing something out of his pocket. On closer inspection, she saw it was a pocket knife with a wooden handle. He pulled out one of the bits- what looked like a screwdriver- and scraped at something on the cables.

He reached in after to wipe it away with a thumb.

“I know Ryan’s. Other side of town,” Alec told her. He glanced up and over at her. “Have you had this looked at lately? Any other times it’s cut out?”

“I had my favorite asshole help me fix my busted window cranks, but that’s about it.” she admitted, almost even looking guilty about it. “I kinda blew threw my savings recently before Precious here got his doctor’s appointment.”

Who knew tracking down old as hell books about vampires, psychics and other bullshit was actually a costly habit. She couldn’t call it a regret, though. Getting involved in the supernatural side of Silent Pines was the first time she’d actually focused on anything longer than a month.

Not that she was going to tell this cutie anything about that.

Now that she was done “observing” from the back, Angela stepped up next to him to lean and get an idea of what he was poking at. She could learn real quick by watching, even if she was reluctant to get her hands dirty.

“I guess it’s been getting harder and harder to start lately, but I just thought it’s because he gets pissy during the cold. This is the first time it just refused to start. I’mma blame the shit who belongs to that.” she pulled a hand out of her pocket to gesture towards the bicycle she nearly hit.

When he noticed her peeking over his shoulder, he pointed out the wiring he was handling.

“See this? That’s your starter connection. The starter’s over here.” He tapped a separate, smaller box on top of the engine. “What’s happening is there’s a problem with the starter. Someone tried to fix it before, but… they didn’t do it right. Go sit and I’ll tell you when to cut her on.”

She sat in the driver’s seat, waiting, while he fidgeted with things for another minute or so. Eventually she heard him speak up.

“Try now?”

Angela twist the ignition and her temperamental little beast growled back to life. Maybe old man smoker growled, but hey. She was so okay with that.

“YES. Oh sweetie, Mama is so sorry she yelled at you.” Angela stroked the wheel, offering her car an almost crooning apology. She didn’t mean a word she said. Of course she would NEVER sell the Charger to a bunch of cocaine snorting douchebags and their dirty hookers. Precious was too good for that.

Angela left it running, sliding out of her seat and on to the street with a bounce. Flipping her hair over her shoulder with her hand, she painted her BEST sexy-thank-you face. Thanks you always needed to be sexy when you were talking to a hot stranger.

“YOU are a life saver. My newest in a short string of best friends, and the winner of a lifetime supply of mediocre coffee. Or hey, a hot kiss too if you want one. I’m all about kissing heroes.”

Closing the hood with a solid thud, Alec gave her a grin that was just a little shyer than you might expect from the dude decked out in black leather and piercings. He tilted his head.

“I’ll think about coffee,” he told Angela. He was looking at her, but she couldn’t tell if it was an I’m interested look or a this girl is crazy and I’m sorry I helped her kind of look. “Drive careful, and take her to a mechanic as soon as you can. I did a temporary fix, but it might have problems again if you keep jostling her around.”

He peered around her down the street.

“Huh,” he commented, “Look. Bike’s gone.”

“Did the little shit try to sneak off with it?” Angela spun around hoping to spot the kid in the act of escaping. She had no problem giving some jerk of a rich kid a good piece of her mind. But there was no kid, and no bike. Lame.

“The sneaky little ba-” she blinked. Speaking of gone. When she turned back, so was he. It was fucking creepy as hell. Like he just up and vanished in to thin air.

Or grabbed that bike and sped away. At least she could see his footprints in the slush and snow. She didn’t just get ghost-bombed. Angela might’ve passed out if that were the case. Apparently the things were just hanging out everywhere they pleased with no regard for the feelings of the living.

“There seriously isn’t anyone NORMAL in Silent Pines is there.” she asked. No one. Angela flushed red. Great, now she was pulling a Julian and talking to herself. Angela seriously needed to find more friends!

The rest of her drive was thankfully uneventful. Angela was even careful when she pulled up the long driveway and parked the car. She tread around icy patches and piles of snow to waltz up the front steps.

When her finger almost pressed the doorbell she stopped suddenly.

“Oh shit.” Angela pulled off her glasses and tucked them away in to the inside pocket of her jacket. She blinked her eyes for a bit and squinted around. Yeah, this wasn’t too bad. She’d already been in the house a couple times, she could waltz her way through without any trouble.

She reached for the doorbell and then paused a second time.

What if David answered the door? Angela had no idea how they were dealing with him. Whether he was chained up in the attic or just on house arrest. Grumbling under her breath she dug around in her purse until she found her phone again. She had to hold the screen real close to her face as she thumb the text to Michael, but it was sent in less than a minute.

Vampire vampire

come let me in

or I’ll huff

and I’ll puff

and I’ll break my ass in

p.s. that means I’m at the door, btw. just in case you suck at poems

Michael finally opened the damn door just as Angela was about to make good on her threat.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded. His voice had an unusual edge to it. “Is he with you? Where is he?”

The shades were apparently a semi-permanent fixture, because it turned out Michael was even wearing them in the house these days. Unless he’d put them on when he heard Angela coming, and that’s why it had taken so long for him to answer… He did look a bit like he’d been interrupted from something, because there was a smudge of dirt on his cheek and his button-down shirt was actually untucked. …And one of the buttons was in the wrong hole.

The house was dark behind him.

“I told you not to come here by yourself,” muttered Michael, peering around like he thought someone might be lurking in the driveway.

Angela leaned forward and narrowed her eyes at him. Even with flawed vision it was easy to see Michael was disheveled, and not even in a normal excusable way. She was totally going to comment about it – but first…

“Darling!” Without notice she darted to kiss his cheek and used the unexpected assault to brush right past him in to the house. “It’s been just AGES since I’ve seen your handsome face. How are you and where is that naughty cousin-nephew thing of yours…”

Her tone changed mid-sentence from the accented cheer of a socialite to actually being serious when she brought up David. Why the fuck was it so dark in here? Oh right, vampires hunted in the dark. Crap, why did that make her a little edgy. She stopped before getting too far and turned slowly on her heels.

“If you’re talking about Leo, he’s been babysitting Julian-” Among other sexier things, she thought with amusement but managed to suppress the grin, “when the rest of us aren’t. Which is actually something I need to bring you up to speed on, if you still want to be a part of Team Psychic.”

Angela shifted the strap of her purse higher on her shoulder as she cast the darkness around her a wary glance. “Did I catch you in the middle of a garden romp or wrestling David? He isn’t lurking around in here is he?”

“He was supposed to be here,” Michael told her curtly, shutting the door behind them harder than was strictly necessary. As the sunlight was shut out, the room went almost pitch black. “He was supposed to be here hours ago.”

She heard the lock click, and a moment later she heard the chain latch.

“David is in his room. He can’t leave; Leo ordered him not to come out.”

Thank god she wasn’t afraid of the dark. Or else this would have horror-movie set up written all over it.

Even so, Angela shifted just slightly on her feet and crossed her arms. He could probably see the way she rose her eyebrow and gave him that what the hell is wrong with YOU though look.

“Well, he hasn’t been with Julian all day. So I don’t know WHERE the fuck he is.” she answered first. “I came to get my pretty little hands on any old Hightower personal journals, spell books, and other naughty goodies David might’ve had his hands on. I might even tell you WHY if you turn on the damn lights.” Angela raised a hand to gesture at, fuck, she didn’t even know what they called this. Big hall? Foyer? Room of crazy old shit? Whatever, it was DARK.

“…My head hurts,” was Michael’s answer. “But fine.”

He flicked on a lamp, illuminating the… whatchamacallit… enough for Angela to get a good look around. The place looked, uh. Different. There was dust everywhere, like no one had bothered cleaning in a few weeks’ time, and Angela was pretty sure there’d been a carpet in here before, but it was gone.

“I was resting,” said Michael. He pursed his lips, watching her with his back turned on the little table lamp so that it gave him a fuzzy halo. “I’m tired, Angela. What is so important that you couldn’t call before just showing up?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. I need a little brushup on my Latin before I take my semester makeup test. I haven’t gotten my weekend dose of annoying you. Julian is not only still have death visions, she’s now going all spacey lala and walking in to busy streets, sticking her hand in fires, nearly drowning in the lake. Normal stuff.”

Angela stepped to the side to abandon her purse on a table with a loud thud. Then she dropped her hands to her hips and tapped her perfectly manicured nails.

“I see things are not going well in Casa de Hightower.” she commented, tilting her head and squinting around. The lamp was barely enough light, but at least she got a much better picture of things. There was a distinct breakdown of the everything here. Michael was clearly off his rocker too. For somebody who was obsessed with stuff being all neat and perfect, this had to be bad news.

“You need help. Incidentally, so do I. Pretend you like me and lets get some shit done. I’m pretty savvy when you forget I’m hot.”

“Julian did what?” She had his attention now. Michael straightened up, lips pursing. “You’re going to have to explain that, Angela.”

Tapping his fingers against his elbow, he turned his face upward just slightly, like he was thinking about something upstairs. Maybe listening? After a moment he muttered something under his breath and motioned with his shoulder for her to follow, heading deeper into the house. Probably towards his study, given the direction.

“I don’t need help,” he added after a moment. The silent from you didn’t need to be voiced; she heard it just fine.

“Oh you DON’T, huh? I guess you screwed up those buttons hastily throwing on your clothes after some hot garden sex?” she offered, knowing it’d be the LEAST likely excuse. Angela was actually imaging him chasing bunnies. …or worse. She gave his back a sly, wondering look as she followed him.

That turned out to be a bad idea. Angela should have been trying to watch her feet.


Her knee went right in to a table. With the hall being dark and the fact everything was kind of blurry anyway, she didn’t see it until it was too late. Angela mouthed several silent curse words, hopping on one foot until she righted herself quickly and pretended like the entire thing didn’t happen. If he shot her a glance all he’d see was that WHAT look on her face.

“Whatever bullshit you wanna pull with this I-don’t-need-help crap needs to stop. Julian needs us to step up. No fucking joke. One minute she’s petting a goddamed horse that isn’t there, and the next she’s following – and I am quoting her here – SHINY THINGS right in to a busy street. Team Wolf was supposed to watch over her this weekend while I had to work, and she went on this crazy ass psychic walk right in to a fucking lake. To get, again I quote, THE FUTURE. If Leo hadn’t been there she might’ve drowned.”

In her ranting tirade her hands rose to grip the hair on top of her head. “It’s really bad, Michael. I haven’t even told you the worst parts yet.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Michael didn’t immediately get into it with her. He stopped and turned, hovering at a short distance. He had a strange curve to his mouth, and she got the distinct feeling he was staring at her intently from behind his dumb glasses.

“You’re frightened,” he said. It wasn’t a question. “…What haven’t you told me?”

“I’m not frightened.” she responded stubbornly, stopping to drop her arms straight at her sides. “I’m being realistic here, okay? Julian has always gotten in to weird kind of situations, but this is crazy fucking shit here.”

Angela stared back at him despite the fact it was stupid as hell to even try considering he was wearing those shades in the DARK like he was some kind of supernatural edgelord. How was she supposed to take him seriously like this?

“Her dream vision is still all death vibey. Guess HOW. I’ll give you a hint. It involves bitey teeth and a whole lot of bloody mess. Sounds awful familiar right? How many toothy assholes are in Julian’s life right now? You’d THINK the smartest thing to do would be stay away from all the vampires. But I think that’s the wrong way to go. I think you and Leo are supposed to protect her from the things actually trying to kill her.”

“Except you two are being stupid assholes.” She stretched her arm up to point at the ceiling. “THAT murdering psychopath played your puppet strings for fuck knows how long, because you and Leo couldn’t get your shit together. Leo thinks HE’S the one that’s gonna kill her. Meanwhile, YOU are acting weird as fuck lately on top of it.”

“Julian wants to come here and talk to David. She wants to fix you and Leo. She’s probably going to get kidnapped by David’s witch cult and sacrificed to Cthulhu in the process, so I kinda need you to stop wearing those fucking glasses, act like a normal vampire prince hero, and help me keep this crazy train together.”

“All you had to do was ask me to help,” Michael said softly. “We’re on the same side, Angela, if you’d care to remember. I don’t need you to come in guns blazing and trying to shame me into doing what you want.’

He took a step closer.

“But that’s what you always do,” he went on. “You come into my home and you prod and prod because you don’t think I’m good enough or you think I’m amusing. I am not your personal plaything and in case you forgot, Julian and I are no longer dating so you don’t have to worry about me meeting your standards for her choice in partner. I want to keep Julian safe, as I have told you, and I don’t appreciate your condescension. You know nothing about me, Angela Mercy.”

“What? UUUGH! Do you run everything I say through some sort of bullshit filter before it gets through to your brain?!” Like, seriously! What the fuck did he think she was doing here?

Fuck this. He was not going to be Margrit with a dick. This stupid crap was getting shut down right now.

“FIRST OF ALL,” Angela held up a finger, not actually meaning to raise her voice so high, but apparently she was a little more angry than she thought she was. “Rude. What is the first thing I asked for when I walked in the door? Your help. I’ve BEEN asking for your help, like legit, flat out, just ASKING for your help on multiple occasions. Don’t even try to pull that shit with me.”

“Second,” there went up a finger from her other hand. This was a two handed lecture. “Fuck you. So what if I think you’re amusing and like to play with you? ‘Oh heavens! A girl likes messing with me and spending time with me even though all I do is sit in dark houses wearing douchebag sunglasses and think melancholy thoughts about this grim dark world’ Fuck me, I don’t even know why! Someone that isn’t a sweet delicate little butterfly almost likes you. Get over it.”

“Third!” That was a pinky finger going up, because Angela couldn’t even count on her fingers like a normal person. “Why the FUCK would I come to you for help if I didn’t think you were good enough or met a standard? I mean, seriously, dude. Do you think I’m an idiot? This is my best friend we’re talking about. You almost KILLED her. And I’m asking for your help anyway. Let that fucking truth bomb sink in for a minute.”

“And finally, if YOU,” she pointed both her fingers at him like she was a flight attendant gesturing towards the exits, “would stop being a condescending assbag for ten minutes you’d realize I was trying to offer YOU my help too. You know, like a person that might actually give a shit.”

“You don’t want to help me and you don’t really want my help,” he rebutted immediately, voice clipped and flat, and there was suddenly a kind of brittle, crackling feeling in the air between them. “You ask me to help between layers upon layers of insults and you’ve made it very clear what you think of my company. You don’t like me, you need me. You care for Julian. I’m simply a means to an end because you believe it’s fated that I save her. Don’t treat me like an idiot.”

His fingers twitched, and almost immediately he curled them into a fist. Michael turned his back on her, his shoulders rising and falling as he drew breath.

“…Julian is what matters,” Michael said a moment later, his voice returning to a more normal, smoother tone. “What we think of one another is secondary. Go on ahead to the study and I’ll meet you shortly.”


Well shit. How the fuck did this happen. Why did she actually feel bad? Angela was floored. Dumbstruck in to a long awkward silence.

Blinking in bewilderment, she finally brushed past him to head down the hall. But before she got too far, she stopped to turn back around.

“I’m not actually that shallow.” she said first, with a surprising amount of sincerity. “I wouldn’t use a person just to get what I want. Needing your help with Julian is completely independent of me offering mine, okay? I don’t come hang out with you to listen to you correct my latin grammar, or to borrow your books because I NEED to. I just like to. I AM actually trying to be your friend.”

Angela finally just scoffed, rubbing the heel of her hand against her temple as she turned towards the study. “I’m sorry I can’t walk on egg shells and be all delicate with your feelings. I’ll mind my own business. Whatever.”

“Wait,” she heard the hoarse reply.

When she looked back, Michael had turned to face her again. He’d gone pale as death. In one jerky motion, he reached up and pulled off his sunglasses.

There were dark circles under his eyes like he hadn’t slept in weeks. For a moment it looked like his eyes had gone pitch-black, but as his pupils receded a bit in the light it became clear they were just dilated far beyond normal range. At first he was meeting her eye, but then his gaze flicked down to her feet and back up again several times in quick succession.

A muscle in his jaw twitched.

“I need help.”

Shit.” she hissed out in surprise.

He looked strung out. Like he was on a seriously bad drug trip, or just trying to fight the withdrawals of one. Which, now that she thought about it, was probably EXACTLY it. Michael was the one wishy-washy about blood. Then getting starved and clobbered near to death, and set loose to devour everything in sight. He was stuck here with a newbie vampire and this was likely the first time he was even admitting to HIMSELF he had a problem, so he definitely wouldn’t have told Leo.

Angela took in a deep breath, sighing as she rest her hands on her hips. “…Okay. Alright, I got you, babe. Consider me your Vampires Anonymous sponsor. I mean, it IS the blood stuff, right? ‘Cause I wouldn’t be surprised if David did some crazy witch shit to the three of you with the crap that’s going on lately.”

“What can we do about this right now? Minus me getting you a bunny or something, because I will legit pass the fuck out.”

“…I’ve been drinking from blood bags,” he muttered, with a grimace that made it clear he didn’t like what he was admitting to. “So I don’t… lose control. We have them for David.”

He slipped his shades back on. Other than being pale, he almost could have fooled her that he was composed.

“You can’t tell her,” Michael said, with sudden force. “Or Leo. Though I imagine he suspects.”

“Everyone kind of already knows, Mikey. This whole sunglasses thing isn’t exactly subtle.” Angela was trying really hard not to sound amused, but wasn’t succeeding. She ran her fingers through her hair and finally just gave up. There was the shameless grinning.

“Buuuut, I’ll conveniently neglect to tell everyone we’re besties now. IF you stop hiding from everyone. Alright? You can’t get it under control if you’re not around people enough. And that fuckface upstairs definitely doesn’t count.” she paused to take another quick glance up at the ceiling.

Angela frowned. “…How long is this house arrest bullshit supposed to last, anyway? I don’t-” she hesitated, but finally just sighed and threw it out there. “Does he even DESERVE this second chance crap? I guess, yeah, he’s got useful info if he’ll talk, but honestly he tried to fucking kill all of you and that’s messed up. I don’t know how you can stand having him here. I don’t understand why Julian actually WANTS to see him.”

“Julian would be horrified if we killed him, for one,” answered Michael. He crossed his arms and shifted on the balls of his feet. “For another, we’re actually not certain what will happen if he dies, thanks to his spell.”

He pursed his lips, but continued anyway after a brief pause.

“…And I think he has his reasons. I want to know what those are. Believe it or not, I am not easily fooled. David is intelligent and was powerful as a witch, and it seems he dedicated nearly a decade to this plan. He wouldn’t do that without good reason to believe what he claims. I don’t like the idea of Julian talking to him, but… I did notice he seemed reluctant to harm her. If David can become an ally, he’d make a good one.”

“I guess I can’t argue with that.” Keeping David alive, finding out what he knew, and having him be an ally would be the best case scenario. Angela doubted David was going to be on board with that, but if Julian wanted to give it a shot, it was worth trying. The girl hadn’t failed to win over an asshole yet.

“David met her before a few years ago. She was still really small, and she’s got this problem where she’s not remembering supernatural bullshit that’s happened to her, so she didn’t realize it until we were storming the school. He might have a soft spot for her, if we’re lucky.”

Angela tilted her head gesturing towards the study, before she turned on her heels and led the way down the hall. After all, there was more than just checking up on Michael to do.

“I don’t want him anywhere near ME though. So you and Leo are going to have to babysit her on that one. I just want to find whatever book it was he had in her memory. He was in your study with it.”

“Tell me what we’re looking for. If it was in the study then… it might still be there.”

He stood on the front porch, hands in his pockets, and stared at the door.

It was late, near midnight. Despite the soft glow of the street lamp, the yard was cast in pitch black from the shadow of the trees. Even Leo couldn’t make out the darkest bits.

What the fuck am I doing? he asked himself silently. Like he had to ask. Being an enormous tool, that was what Leo was doing. He was well aware. He just… couldn’t seem to stop doing it.

She’s not stupid. You’re not going to be able to act like a jackass and make her cry on purpose; she’s fucking psychic. She’ll just punch you again.

Maybe that would be better, though.

God fucking dammit.

Who am I kidding. She’ll just kiss me and then I’ll do whatever she wants.

His only saving grace was that they hadn’t started throwing around “I-love-you”s and “boyfriend”/”girlfriend” yet like this was 7th grade. There was the slimmest of possibilities that Leo could actually do this. It wasn’t as if Leo had a whole lot of experience with “dating”, anyhow. He’d been with plenty of girls, but the only one who’d ever meant anything until now had been Sadie.

Thinking her name came with the usual pang behind his ribs, and a newly familiar chill.

It wasn’t until he heard the crow’s harsh cry that Leo realized the chill was something more. His hand went to his stomach by reflex, but the rush of nausea he expected never came.

How far away was that? he wondered, whirling to look behind him. It sounded far-off. He couldn’t be sure, from this distance, whether he was wrong or just… out of range. Welp.

Tilting his head back, Leo gave himself an exasperated sigh and tugged at his hair with both hands.

I’m getting way too fucking paranoid these days. I’m turning into Michael.

“Get the fuck inside and kiss her already, fuckhead,” he said aloud.

He let himself in and locked the door behind him.

“You’re squishing me.” whispered Julian with annoyance.

The room was nothing but pitch black. Piles and piles of quaking shadows, huddling up for warmth. Or coldness. Or safety. Or whatever the fuck they were clustering up for and slowly driving her crazy over.

The reason didn’t matter this time, because Julian couldn’t see them. She was curled up under her blanket with a tiny keychain flashlight, and it was the stupidest thing on the planet, but the best she could do tonight. But apparently this new position was a terrible idea, because they got the impression SITTING ON HER was acceptable.

When one tried to peek it’s way under her blanket, she finally got frustrated enough to sit up. Shadows went rolling and tumbling down her blanket and falling off the bed, almost as if the little jerks were actually tangible. It was cute in a demented sort of way. If it weren’t dangerous for all of them.

Sighing, she plopped back down against her pillow. Having to roll just slightly to let loose a Francis that didn’t skitter out of the way fast enough. Julian pulled a pillow closer to bury her face in it.

She should have just went to Leo’s room. Even if he wasn’t there, at least it wouldn’t have so many dumb shadows in it.

Her door opened with a creak. Light from the hallway leaked in past the pillow to sting her eyelids, and then a moment later her mattress sank several inches.

“Trying to suffocate yourself, now?” he asked. “Walking into a lake wasn’t enough, huh?”

Julian shifted, shoving the pillow away and brushing the back of her hand against her eyes to blink at him in confusion. If he was going to start appearing every time she had a passing thought of him, she was going to have to be real careful about where she did it. Then again, summoning Leo in to fun places like the shower didn’t sound so bad.

“Don’t let Angela hear you crack those jokes. She bitched at me for doing it earlier.” she muttered softly, casting a cheeky grin. Julian turned her head to glance at the clock, then sighed. Apparently she had wasted two hours being a shadow cuddle pile.

“School doesn’t start for hours, this is way too early for a wake up call.” she gestured towards the clock with her fingers. “Unless you came for a Francis. Feel free to take as many as you want.”

“Nope,” he replied, raising an eyebrow. “I came for a Jules.”

He took her hand, pulling her up into a sitting position, and straight into a sound kiss. Just one hard, fast, closed-mouth kiss, and then he bounced up off the bed again.

“Am I going to have to carry you?” he asked. “Because that shit’s getting old.”

Came for a Jules? She would’ve laughed, but then he went and kissed the giggles right out of her. There was no room to argue. He could’ve came for the moon and she would’ve given it to him.

“Stop being so amused.” she fussed down towards an invisible companion, swatting it away as she pushed back the covers and threw her legs over the side of the bed. There was a tinge of pink in her cheeks, which was embarrassing because nothing about this was worthy getting goofy over.

“You might need a little more exercise if I’m getting too heavy for you.” she teased as she finally stood, very carefully watching where she placed her feet.

“You know, it’s fucking creepy when you talk to things I can’t see,” Leo informed her, locking their fingers together and tugging her towards the door. “But I’ll forgive you for being a creepy weirdo.”

He glanced back over his shoulder with a smirk and a waggle of his eyebrows.

“If you help me get some exercise,” he added. “Though, maybe tomorrow. Wouldn’t want you to be late for school.”

She immediately wanted to blurt out that she wasn’t creepy, but… yeah, okay. She was talking to shadows that people couldn’t see. That was kind of creepy. Pretty much everything about her was creepy and weird.

Of course, he was a vampire, so he didn’t have any room to talk.

When they stepped out in to the hall Julian was laughing.

“I see how it is. Are you afraid to sleep alone too, firefly? I could go scratch that rule off the list and call Angela to protect us, you know.” she squeezed his hand, biting in to her lip when she grinned.

He stopped without warning and pulled her in close against his chest, throwing her off balance and putting an arm around her waist to catch her.

“I don’t think you want Angela to be in the room,” he shot back, his voice going a little breathier. He trailed a finger down her chin. His eyes flicked over her face and his eyelashes stayed lowered.

“C’mon,” urged Leo. “Let’s go make out until we pass out already.”

He leaned in to press his lips to hers like he was demonstrating.

The first thing she did was laugh again, soft against his mouth even while she returned the kiss. She just sort of melted in to him. Sliding her arms up around his neck until she could thread her fingers through his hair.

It could’ve been sexy, he was definitely asking for it with the soft voice and the invitation. Instead she was all smiles and tenderness. Brushing her thumb just behind his ear when she broke away only long enough to nuzzle his cheek.

“Okay, just wake me up in time for school.” she mumbled with maybe a little too much affection as her lips brushed over his.

“Deal,” he replied against her ear. “Hey, Jules…”

There was a pause. All she could hear was their breathing in the short stretch of silence as they stood in the empty hallway.

“…Mm. Never mind, it can wait.” He kissed a spot just under her jaw. “Maybe I’ll tell you over coffee.”

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