Ian grabbed my hands and looked at me angrily.
"Are you sure?"
"Y-yeah." I stuttered, trying to worm my hands out of his, but his grip was like freezing iron.
"She didn't do anything to you?"
"N-no," I said, yanking my hands away and backing up a step. What would she have done?
"It was my fault, okay!" trilled Loretta from near the bed. I jumped. I had almost forgotten that she was there.
"What do you mean?" said Ian menacingly, advancing on Loretta. Incredibly, her face showed no fear.
Holy crap. He was scary enough just looking at me, let alone looking like an axe muderer minus the axe.
Ian grabbed Loretta's arm in a vice-like grip, and spoke through gritted teeth.
"What--did--you--do?" He snarled, shaking Loretta slightly.
I was shocked. What had she done that was so bad? All she had done was tell me she was----oh, crap. That meant Ian was probably one too. Vampires. All of them. What was going on with my life?
"I just told her that I was---"
Ian's face was a mask of fury.
"YOU DIDN'T!" Ian yelled, shoving Loretta to the floor. She leaped back up, her eyes flashing red again.
"Yes, I did! And I don't care!" spat Loretta defiantly.
"You are such and IDIOT!" bellowed Ian. I shrank back and attempted to blend in with the wall. What the hell was his problem?
"Don't you know what you have done?" cried Ian, his face screwed up in anger. "She can't leave now! She knows!"
"What do you mean I can't leave?" I snapped at Ian, forgetting my attempts to blend in. "I don't want to stay here anymore, you're all nuts! I'm going back home!"
Ian just stared at me blankly.
"Hello!" I yelled in his face. "Anybody in there! Whatever, I'm going home!"
I turned and ran out the door.
"This seems all too familiar," I thought as I slipped and slid through the forest. The snow had hardened to ice, which made traveling pretty much impossible.
I felt awful. I could pretend not to have seen Loretta's anguished face as I had stormed out. But I couldn't erase it from my mind. What had I done?
I slipped and fell hard. The wind whooshed out of me and I sat there for a few minutes as I contemplated my options.
1. I could go back and tell Ian and Loretta I was sorry.
2. I could slip my way back home and face my mother's wrath, or worse, cold shoulder.
3. I could sit here until I froze.
"Ugh," I moaned, standing back up slowly. I guess I was taking option number two. I was being irrational, and I knew it. For one thing, I didn't have a clue where I was. For another, I kept falling down.
"Oh well." I sighed as I slid another few inches.
"You didn't go far," a velvety voice said softly. I spun sorund and almost fell down again. There was Ian, a smirk on his face and walking easlily towards me.
"Ian, do you have to scare the crap out of me every time you show up?" I hissed angrily. My heart was racing.
The smirk didn't vanish. Instead it got bigger. Argh. I was ready to throw something at him.
"You didn't scream." He said, reaching me and ignoring my angry retort.
"I said, 'You didn't scream.'"
"Um, yeah, I didn't. So what?" This conversation seemed to be leading nowhere.
"Most girls would scream." Ian said matter-of-factly.
"And your point is....?"
"Nothing." Ian said quickly, looking away. What the heck?
"Come on." Said Ian, smiling at me gently. "Just come back for a bit until we decide what to do."
"Fine." I said, but in a gentler tone than before. Ian turned and started to walk. I tried to follow, but I slipped and fell into him.
"Hmm, we're going to have to do something about that, aren't we?" Ian said teasingly, and lifted me into his arms.
"How come you can walk without falling on your face?" I asked mulishly, my face burning. "Is it because you're a vampire?"
"Shh," he said, an edge to his voice. I noticed that his muscles had tensed. "Wait until we get back to my house."
So I sat there and, even though I didn't want to admit it, enjoyed being carried like an invalid.
Ian set me down when we reached his house.
"Ian?" I asked, looking down at my feet.
"Um, is your mom still in there?" I flushed again, I could feel it.
"Er, no, actually." Ian looked slightly sheepish. "I think I ticked her off. She didn't want you to stay, but, well, I did."
I flushed even deeper. Ian wanted me to stay? What did that mean?
"Just relax." Ian said soothingly, pushing me gently in the back. It was strange how I didn't mind him treating me like an old friend.
Right when I walked in the door, Loretta flung herself at me and broke down crying, or so it seemed.
"I'm sorry!" she wailed, hugging me.
"It's okay, for real." I said sincerely. I noticed that when she stood back that her face was still dry, even though it had appeared she had been crying. I didn't mind her embrace, which was weird because I had only known her for a couple of hours.
"Now will you tell me?" I said, turning to Ian. To my surprise, he was already sitting at the dining room table. I quickly joined him, Loretta right behind.
"So, will you tell me? About why you don't leave any footprints and don't seem to mind carrying heavy things." I asked proddingly.
"I don't know if I should tell you," said Ian. His face was hard again.
"Oh, will you just tell her!" burst out Loretta, throwing her hands up in exasperation. "The secret's out, it's no use pretending it's not!" Ian glared at her for a second, then he sighed, and his shoulders slumped in defeat.
"Okay, fine. We're vampires."
"I kind of figured that much, funnily enough." I said, slightly sarcastically.
Ian rolled his eyes and began to talk.
"Our line of vampires started about twenty-some years ago. A man named Damian was lost in the forest. He had gone hiking alone, and was trying to find his way back home."
"As night fell, Damian fell into an exhausted sleep. But little did he know that he was being preyed upon by vampire bats while he slept. I think you can guess how they got their name. Their venom enters the bloodstream and---changes you."
"To Damian, everything seemed normal. Feeling refreshed, he set off again the next morning, eventually running into a search party. They brought him home, where life went on normally again."
"But one day, his daughter, Elissa, came to talk to him.
'Dad,' she said tentatively. 'Something seems wrong with you.'"
"And indeed, something was. Damian had felt it too. He was changing. His skin had paled and grown more muscled, his instincts growing sharper and more animal-like. And his eyes had slowly but surely deepened to blood red.
He didn't know what had triggered this change, but everyone had noticed it. But the most dangerous thing of all was that he could not longer control himself. He had intense mood swings and severe headaches. He could only eat meat to curb his endless hunger. Damian was a vampire."
"And Elissa was getting scared.
'I think we should tell somebody about this.' Elissa said to Damian.
'NO!' he yelled. It was coming. The anger. Roaring, burning, leaving him unable to think clearly.
Elissa's eyes widened. She dashed past Damian and thundered down the stairs."
"Elissa flew into the living room where her mother was.
'MOM!' She yelled, starting to run to her mother. She was fast. But Damian was faster."
"The next instant, he had grabbed his daughter, and the instincts took over. He bit her, therefore dooming her to his same fate."
"'No, Megan, I can explain!' he yelled after his wife, who running out the door, sobbing in terror.
Damian was instantly filled with grief and regret. He disappeared and was never seen again."