Dating the undead is a bad idea. Everybody in Morganville knows that—everybody breathing, that is.
Everybody but me, apparently. Eve Rosser, dater of the undead, dumb-ass breaker of rules. Yeah, I’m a rebel. But rebel or not, I froze, because that was what you did when a vampire looked at you with those scary red eyes, even if the vampire was your hunky best guy, Michael Glass.
None of them were fluffy bunnies at the best of times, but you really did not want to cross them when they were angry. It was like the Incredible Hulk, times infinity. And even though my sweet Michael had only been a vampire for a few months, that just made it worse; he hadn’t had time to get used to his impulses, and I wasn’t sure, right at this second, that he could control himself. Controlling myself seemed like the least I could do.
“Hey,” I breathed, and slowly stepped back from him. I spread my hands out in obvious surrender.
He closed those awful, scary eyes and went very, very still. Eyes closed, he looked much closer to the Michael I’d grown up around … tall, dreamy, with curling blond hair in a surfer’s careless mop around a face that made girls swoon, and not just when he was on stage playing guitar.
He still looked human. That made it worse, somehow.
I tried to decide whether or not I ought to totally back off, or stand my ground. I stayed, mainly because, well, I’ve been in love with him since I was fourteen. Too late, to run now, just because of a little thing like him being technically, you know, dead.
I wasn’t in any real danger, or at least, that was what I told myself. After all, I was standing in the warm, cozy living room of the Glass House, and my housemates were around, and Michael wasn’t a monster.
Technically, maybe yes, but actually, no.
When Michael’s eyes opened again, they were back to clear, quiet blue, just the way I loved them. He took another breath and scrubbed his face with both hands, like he was trying to wash something off. “I scared you,” he said. “Sorry. Caught me by surprise.”
I nodded, not really ready to talk again quite yet. When he held out his hand, though, I put mine in it. I was the one in the black nail polish, rice-powder makeup, and dyed-black hair; what with my fondness for goth style, you’d think that I’d have been the one to end up with the fangs. Michael was way too gorgeous, too human to end up with immortality on his hands.
It hurt, sometimes. Both ways.
“You need to eat something,” I said, in that careful tone I found myself using when speaking about sucking blood.
“There’s some O neg in the fridge. I could warm it up.”
He looked mortally embarrassed. “I don’t want you to do that. I’ll go to the clinic,” he said.
“Eve? I’m really sorry. Really. I didn’t think I’d need anything for another day or so.”
I could tell that he was sorry. The light in his eyes was pure, hot love, and if there was any hunger complicating all that, he kept it well hidden deep inside.
“Hey, it’s like being diabetic, right? Something goes wrong with your blood, you gotta take care of that,” I said.
“It’s not a problem. We can all wait until you get back.”
He was already shaking his head. “No,” he said.
“I want you guys to go on to the party, I’ll meet you there.”
I touched his face gently, then kissed him. His lips were cool, cooler than most people’s, but they warmed up under mine. Ectothermic, according to Claire, the resident, scholarly nerd girl in our screwed-up little frat house of four. One vampire, one goth, one nerd, and one wannabe vampire slayer. Yeah. Screwed up, ain’t it? Especially living in Morganville, where the relationship between humans and vampires is sometimes like that between deer and deer hunters. Even when vampires weren’t hunting us, they had that look, like they were wondering when open season might start.
Not Michael, though.
Not usually, anyway.
He kissed the back of my hand. “Save the first dance for me?” he asked.
“Like I could say no, when you give me that oh-baby look, you dog.”
He smiled, and that was a pure Michael smile, the kind that laid girls out in the aisles when he played. “I can’t look at you any other way,” he said. “It’s my Eve look.”
I batted at his arm, which had zero effect. “Get moving, before you see my mean look.”
“You bet it is. Go on.”
He kissed me again, gently, and whispered, “I’m sorry,” one more time before he was suddenly gone.
He left me standing in the middle of the living room of the Glass House, aka Screwed-Up Frat Central, wearing a skin-tight, shiny pleather catsuit, cat ears, and a whip. Not to mention some killer stiletto heels. Add the mask, and I made a super-hot Catwoman.
The costume might have been the reason for Michael’s shiny eyes and out-of-control hunger, actually. I’d intended to push his buttons for Halloween … I just hadn’t intended to push them quite that hard.
I heard footsteps on the stairs, and Shane’s voice drifted down ahead of him.
“Hey, have you seen my meat cleaver—holy shit!”
I turned. Shane was standing frozen on the stairs, wearing a lab coat smeared with fake blood and some gruesome-looking Leatherface mask, which he quickly stripped off in order to stare at me without any latex barriers. What I was wearing suddenly felt like way too little.
“Eve—jeez. Warn a guy, would you?” He shook his head, jammed the mask back on, and came down the rest of the stairs. “That was not my fault.”
“The leering? I think yes,” I said. In addition, secretly, that was pretty cool, although hey, it was Shane. Not like he was exactly the guy I was hoping to impress. “Totally your fault.”
“It’s a guy thing. We have reactions to women in tight leather with whips. It’s sort of involuntary.” He looked around. “Where’s Michael?”
“He had to go,” I said.
“He’ll meet us at the party.”
No reason to tell Shane, who still couldn’t quite get over his anti-vamp upbringing, that Michael had gone to snag himself a bag of fresh plasma so he wouldn’t be snacking on mine.
“Seriously—do I look okay?”
“No,” Shane said, and flopped down on the sofa. He put his heavy boots up on the coffee table, sending a paper plate with the dried remains of a chili dog close to the edge. I rescued it, gave him a dirty look, and dumped the plate in his lap. “Hey!”