Scotty is always drunk. He’s used to waking up in strange places, not quite remembering where he’s been, how much he’s had or who he’s been with. But that’s normal for a university student.

What isn’t normal is waking up with a strange wound that only probably came from a broken bottle. What isn’t normal is having vivid nightmares, visions of a woman he doesn’t know and yet feels irreversibly devoted to. What isn’t normal is being unable to sleep, breathe, cry, or feel his heartbeat. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t stem his awful sickness, nor quench his rabid hunger. This isn’t a hangover. This is something else. Something that’s turned him into an animal.

It doesn’t take long for him to solve the mystery. The woman at the other end of his quest wants to be caught, and she’s no mentor. She’s a demon. She’s a monster. But Scotty’s too lost in her eyes to notice. He’d die for Maria. He’d kill for Maria.

And if he wants to stay with her, that’s exactly what he’ll have to do.


9. Burning Bridges

Keith instantly knew there was something wrong. Of course he did. Scotty and Keith knew one another too goddamned well, even though they’d only been living together for six months. That was why Scotty knew he wouldn’t be staying for seven.

When he walked through the door, trying to be as quiet as possible, Keith was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee. At four in the morning.

“Hey, Scotty.”


“You okay?”

Scotty rubbed his hand across his forehead, trying his best to look tired. “Yeah.”

Had he dragged that word out a bit too long? Maybe.

“How’s your, you know…” Keith trailed off and waved his hand to his head. “Are you feeling better?”

Scotty narrowed his eyes at him, then spent a split-second deciding whether he should bother trying to act sick. He decided not to.

“Yeah, actually, I am.” He forced a smile onto his face. “I went for a walk. A really long one. And now I feel great! I guess exercise really is the cure.” Okay, stop now. He’ll think you’ve gone crazy. Or, more accurately, he’ll KNOW you’ve gone crazy. “Fitness is good for you, I guess. Anyway, I’m knackered, mate, so I’m going to bed. Night!”

He walked down the hallway as fast as he could and shut himself into his bedroom, cursing as the broken lock on the door swung it right back open again. Keith started calling after him, then obviously thought better of it and just sighed. God, he was annoying now, for no reason whatsoever. Scotty was still tipsy from the blood, which had felt awesome till he’d tried to form a comprehensible sentence and realised he was never going to be able to keep a conversation with a normal person without wanting to eat them. How the hell was he going to manage his bloodlust whilst he was living with someone he wanted to kill?

He lay down on his bed, not even considering the option to close his eyes. After all, he wasn’t tired; it would have been harder to sleep right now than it would have been if there was sunlight streaming through the window. He guessed he really ought to add sleeping to the list of things vampires couldn’t do, along with eating, drinking, breathing, looking at themselves in mirrors and coexisting with humans. This was going to be a fun couple of centuries.

Keith knocked on the door and Scotty felt his senses bristling with frustration. He didn’t reply. He decided to pretend to be asleep.

“Um, Scotty?” Keith muttered from the other side of the door. “I’m not coming in, don’t worry. Listen, mate. If you’re awake, you know, you can, uh… talk to me. You know, if you need anything. Sorry. Everything’s probably fine.”

The hallway light clicked off and Scotty heard footsteps walking away, followed by the sound of Keith closing his bedroom door.

Scotty tossed and turned, even though he didn’t need to. He sucked in a breath, even though he didn’t need to. He lay on his back, then on his front, then on his side, marvelling at the complete emptiness in his ribcage where his heartbeat should have been. He wasn’t too hot, and he wasn’t too cold, and he wasn’t hungry or thirsty or tired or restless. Nothing was wrong with him at all, and that was why he felt so wrong; he was empty. As he thought of Keith in his room, defenceless should anything jump out of the shadows and cover the walls in his blood, those thoughts in his head weren’t desperate or angry or hungry anymore; they were playful, sadistic, idle. Casual. When he’d still been part-human, Scotty guessed he’d been hungry because that was a human need. Now, he needed nothing, and yet he still wanted everything. He wasn’t scared by the fact that he needed to drink blood; he was scared by the fact that he wanted to. He didn’t want to kill Keith, but he wanted to taste that blood again so desperately that part of him was insisting it was a necessary sacrifice. He couldn’t resist that part of him for very much longer.

He knew he couldn’t stay here.

Scotty hauled himself out of bed and rummaged around for his backpack. As he started to empty his drawers into it, he noticed for the first time since moving in how few belongings he had. They barely filled his backpack, and it wasn’t even like he’d left most of his stuff at home; his mum had told him to clear out and never come back, so he’d taken everything that actually belonged to him and left in the middle of the fucking night. His mum had never liked him, not even when he’d been a kid. Ironically, she’d told him she’d like him when he grew up and got a job, two things that were now never going to happen. Of course, he could never see her or any of his family again without someone who used to go on about how much he’d grown noticing he’d stopped ageing at twenty. What a fucking mess Maria had landed him in.

He sat on his bed until sunrise, rehearsing his excuses to Keith in the part of his head that still belonged to him.

I’m moving out, because, uh… I found a cheaper flat. I’m moving back in with my family. I’m going to make an early start on the property ladder. I’m going to sleep on the fucking streets. I’m moving in with this cool new satanic cult I found. I’m getting as far away from you as possible before I go mental and cannibalise you in your sleep.

Ok, bye!

“Right, here goes,” he murmured.

“Hi, Keith,” he said as cheerfully as he could manage, walking into the kitchen to the all-too-familiar sight of his roommate washing dishes that probably didn’t need to be washed.

“Hi,” Keith replied, turning around to face the doorway. He eyed Scotty and his huge backpack with slight confusion. “You, uh, going somewhere? Again?”

“Yeah.” Scotty scratched the back of his neck, wincing as the brand-new bite mark rung with a dull ache. “I, uh… I’m sorry, mate, but I’m moving.”

Keith’s eyes widened; then, his face fell. “Oh. You are?”



“So, um…” Scotty looked down at his feet as Keith turned back to the sink. “I guess I’ll just… go, then?”

“Yep.” Keith pulled the plug out slightly too viciously. “Good luck, I guess.”

“Thanks.” Scotty took a step towards the door. “And, um… thanks for everything. Look, you know it’s not you, right?”

“Course not, course not. You moving in with someone, then?”

“Uh, yeah.”


Scotty blinked, then shook his head. “Um, no.” He tried not to shudder. “Look, I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry,” Keith said, turning back. “I’m sorry about last night, too. If you heard me. I’m just worried about you, you know?” he laughed slightly bitterly. “But it’s none of my business. See you around.”

“Yeah.” Scotty turned. He didn’t want to leave. Then again, he didn’t really want to be a vampire either, but those were the lemons life had given him. Screw it.

He walked out of the door and right into Olivia.

“Scotty!” She yelled, grabbing him by both shoulders and hugging him. Scotty choked back a surge of aggression and smiled.

“Hi, Livvy. What’s up?”

Get rid of her.

“Oh, not much,” she said, “except that you haven’t returned any of my bloody calls or texts for four flipping days! What the hell’s going on, Scotty? Tell me right now.”

He tried to bite back a grin as he imagined actually telling her what had happened to him. Instead, he went for a half-truth.

“Livvy, I lost my phone. I told you last week, didn’t I?”

“Bullshit!” Olivia said. “You just left it at that girl’s house, didn’t you?”

Scotty froze. Oh, shit.

“What girl?”

“You idiot!” Olivia shoved him backwards. “The fucking girl who looks like a circus freak. The one who dresses like a fucking Hell’s Angel? The one you met at the party; the one Danielle fucking saw you with in the corridor outside the art workshop.” Olivia grinned as Scotty went pale. “That one.”

“She’s nothing,” Scotty said, wringing his hands. “I was just talking to her about, uh… I don’t remember.” His anger was getting harder to swallow. “Look, what makes you think I left my phone with her anyway?”

“Because!” Olivia grinned triumphantly. “The fucking whore answered me once! I talked to her!”

Scotty resisted the urge to bury his face in his hands. God damnit, Maria.

“What did she say?”

“Oh, nothing,” Olivia said. “Just that you dropped your phone at the party. And she kept giggling like a crazy fucking psychopath, like she knew something about me, Scotty. I can see through your bullshit. You’re with her, aren’t you?”

Scotty watched, bewildered and furious, as Olivia started to cry.

“I just…” she said. “I just need to know, Scotty. Tell me if you’re cheating on me!”

Oh my god. Please tell her you just hang out in the same vampire cult. Please do it. Just to watch her face.

“No, I’m not,” Scotty said, finally letting the irritation show in his voice.

“You liar!”

“I’m not lying!” Scotty felt the rage boiling in his head and knew he was losing control of himself. Only a matter of time. Only a matter of time. No.

“Yes, you-”

“Olivia, I’m sick to shit of your jealous clingy bullshit!” Scotty yelled. “If you don’t trust me, then what the fuck kind of relationship is this anyway?”

He’d yelled at her. He’d argued with her. He’d never done that before. It felt amazing.

“Scotty,” Olivia said, the anger in her voice suddenly drowning in another onslaught of tears. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying this isn’t fucking working anymore,” Scotty said. “Look, I can’t do this. I can’t let you walk all over me and control me anymore. I’m sick of it.”

“Babe, I’m sorry.” Olivia’s voice was sweet again. “I just love you. I just need to know you’re safe-”

“Yeah, well, you know what? I’m not safe,” Scotty said. “But it’s okay, because I’m finally going to stand the fuck up for myself. This is over, okay?”


“Olivia, if you come near me again I will kill you,” Scotty said, biting back a growl. “And not because I want to. I can’t control it anymore. Leave me alone. Please.”

He left her there, in the corridor, and started to walk away. Olivia started yelling after him, cursing that crazy bitch he was texting, but Scotty was already grinning as he dug his phone out of his pocket and scrolled through his contacts to find Maria’s number. Proves her point. Whatever. I don’t care.

She picked up after the second ring. “Hi! How are you feeling?”

Scotty slowed down his walk after Olivia was out of earshot. “Fine. I just moved out of my flat and dumped my girlfriend. How could this day possibly get any better?”

Maria laughed. “Why the heck did you do that?”

“Because, Einstein, I need to cut myself off before I fucking murder anyone, right?”

“Nah, not necessarily.” Her voice turned playful again. “If you murdered anyone, we’d help you cover it up, no problem at all.”

“Okay, okay.” Scotty stopped walking and leant against the wall of the corridor. “Last night was another fucking close call. I think I’m going mad. I didn’t realise how much of me would change.”

“Yeah, it’s weird. I barely remember when I changed, but I remember the first night. At least you don’t need to sleep anymore, right?”

“I liked sleeping,” Scotty said, kicking himself away from the wall and starting to walk again.

“Yeah, I get it,” Maria said. “Frank was pissed as fuck when he realised he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror anymore, the preening douchebag.”

“Huh. Well, I hate my own face, so that shouldn’t be a problem.” Scotty went to push the door open, then froze in his tracks. “Wait a second. Maria?”


He looked nervously out at the pathway. “Vampires melt in the sunlight, don’t they?”

He yanked his phone away from his ear as a burst of laughter shot out. Once she’d calmed down, her first words were “God, you’re hilarious.”

“I’m serious!”

“No, you’re alright to walk around outside, Scotty.” She laughed again. “I’ve been managing to walk around to class for the last three years, haven’t I?”

Scotty sighed and pushed the door open. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Although you’ll be a lot more sensitive, to be honest. You’ll go red pretty quick.”

“I’m black.”

“Oh yeah.” Maria giggled. “Okay, I guess that won’t be a problem then. Lucky you; I get told how pale I am fifty times a day.”


“Look, do you have anywhere to stay?”

“No. That’s why I called you.”

“Come here. You can stay here with us for as long as you want- you know, forever and shit. It’s probably safer anyway, you know? That we all stick together.” Scotty could hear the smile in her voice. “Do you have a lot of stuff?”

“No. Just one bag.”

“Alrighty then! I’ll text you the address now. See you in a minute!”

“See you.”

Maria hung up before he could even take the phone away from his ear. She was right- the air felt electric next to his skin and he rubbed his bare arms in discomfort. It was bearable, though.

His phone vibrated. He held it up and, among the five texts he’d gotten from Olivia since leaving her half a minute ago, he saw a new one from Maria.

We’re on the playground street, second house from the end. Red door. The one with all the blinds closed to stop us from melting into dust. Maria ;)

He couldn’t stop himself from grinning, but flattened it down as quickly as he could. The walk took him half an hour, but he never got tired. Of course he didn’t. It made a nice change, actually.

The door opened before he’d even had a chance to knock and Maria stood there, her eyeliner a bit mangled, wearing a t-shirt and jeans. All black, but decidedly less threatening than what she’d been wearing the previous day. Her face broke into a smile when she saw him.

“Hi!” She said. “Hang on a second. Wait there.”

Scotty stopped, looking at her questioningly. “Uh, why?”

She grinned. “I’ve never tried this before. Try and come in. I want to see what happens.”

“What the fuck do you mean?” Scotty took a step towards the door and then froze, suddenly aware of a dull pressure shoving down on his brain.

“You know that thing, right? Where vampires can’t come in your house unless you invite them?”

Scotty blinked back the sting in his head, then took a step back. “Doesn’t that- only work- if you’re a human?”

“No idea. I’ve never tried it. Can you?” Maria took a step outside as Scotty rubbed his face, then swore. “Holy shit! I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

“What’s wrong?” He asked, looking up at her and wiping his nose as the sting shoved down into one of his nostrils.

“Your fucking nose is bleeding!” Maria covered her mouth with her hands.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Scotty wiped away the blood and then looked at her. “So that’d fucking be a yes then, wouldn’t it?”

Maria laughed. “I’m so sorry. Come in!”

Thank you.” Scotty blinked away the headache and followed her into the house.

“By the way,” Maria said as she closed the door behind him. “I’m sorry about Olivia.”

“It’s okay. It needed to end.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Maria twirled a strand of loose hair. “She did seem like a bit of a controlling bitch, right?”

“Why did you answer the phone?”

“Well, by the time she’d called ninety-nine times, I was a bit curious. I said if she made it a hundred I’d pick up.” Maria skipped back into the hallway and Scotty followed her. “Sorry, I’m a bit of a nosy cow, but I wasn’t disappointed.”

“Okay.” Scotty paused for a second. “Actually, I’m more upset about Keith, to be honest with you.”


“How’s it going, Scotty?” Frank’s voice yelled from somewhere else in the house.

“Hey,” he yelled in no direction at all, then turned back to Maria, who was rolling her eyes.

“Keith. You know; my roommate?”

“Ah. The one you almost murdered.” Maria giggled. Scotty didn’t.

“Uh-huh. He was a really nice guy. He’s worried about me, you know. He could tell there was something wrong even before I knew.”

“Right. Probably best you left him, then.” Maria dumped herself down onto the sofa and spread her arms out, then softened her gaze at Scotty. “Don’t worry, Scotty. I’ll take care of you. You’ll get through this, I promise.”

Scotty blinked, sitting down on the sofa next to her and looking up at the ceiling. “It’s sort of eternal, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” she said, smiling as she followed his gaze into nowhere. “So let’s hope we never get sick of each other.”

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