It was almost twilight when Cleo snuck out the door.
Doll Face had been watching her every move, suspicious, and she’d had to wait a few hours until she’d lost interest. The others were easily distracted as they crowded around a flat screen TV in the other room.
They weren’t supposed to leave, but she was bored. She didn’t want to mindlessly sit in front of a television like some human, and there was nothing else for her to do.
The door closed soundlessly behind her and peered at the long, winding flight of stairs. She hardly felt like taking the time to climb down them all. She listened for noises of people on the other floors to make sure no one was around.
She threw her legs over the railing and vaulted off.
The other floors were a quick blur and then her feet hit the lobby floor, legs bending to absorb the impact lightly. She took a quick glance around before stepping out into the cool street air.
It smelled terribly of car exhaust and she wrinkled her nose.
There were a few people out, but she wasn’t hungry enough to go through the trouble of influencing one to get them alone.
Bright lights colored the corner at the end of the street—a nightclub or bar of some sort. She headed towards it.
There was a big man guarding the door. Cleo fixed him with her smoky green gaze and asked him sweetly to let her in, so he did.
It was noisy. The music was loud and the people were louder as they tried to shout over it. There was a funny smell, but it wasn’t as bad as the car exhaust so she ignored it. She had to push her way through a throng of people to make it off the dance floor.
She wandered over and took a seat at the bar.
Cleo could feel the eyes of the man beside her as they watched her. She heard him shift closer to her in his seat, and then she could smell the alcohol on his breath.
“Hi,” he said, and Cleo looked up politely. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“Sure.” She didn’t know what she wanted so she told him, “Whatever you’re having.”
He signaled for the bartender to get her a drink. The bartender filled a glass cup behind the counter with amber liquid that foamed at the top. He placed it on a napkin in front of Cleo.
Cleo lifted it to her lips and sniffed.
Oh, it’s beer, she thought. I remember beer.
She took a sip and grimaced. Her memories hadn’t lied when they’d said it had tasted bad. She forced herself to take another drink.
“I’m Mark, by the way.”
Cleo hadn’t gotten a good look at him before, so she did now. His hair was dark and messy, and stubble dotted along his chin. His eyes were brown, the lids drooping lazily.
“No,” she replied, and didn’t bother to hide the disdain in her voice.
“Oh. Well, how old are you?”
Cleo shrugged. “It depends.
“However old I want to be.”
When he laughed and his head tilted back slightly, Cleo found her eyes trained on the veins in his throat. She drank more of her beer to distract her.
“How old do you want to be tonight?”
Cleo glanced around, feeling the thrum of the bass music and admiring the energetic, carefree atmosphere around her. She turned back to Mark and tapped her nails on the side of her glass.
“Hmm . . . Eighteen.”
“Don’t tell the bartender that.” Mark winked secretively at her.
“I won’t, if you won’t.”
“Sounds like a deal,” Mark said. “So, tell me about yourself.”
About herself? Like what? That she was a vampire and wanted to rip into his main arteries? That was a real conversation stopper. She didn’t remember much from her human life. After Kendall had forced her to drink that sickly-sweet tea, everything had become hazy. Mark was beginning to look at her funny because she hadn’t replied.
“This beer is terrible," she told him. "I don’t know why I ordered it.”
“Do you want something else?”
“No thanks.” Cleo fanned herself with her hand. “Why is it so hot in here?”
Although it was an act to get him to leave with her, she really did feel extremely hot. She recalled always hating crowded places because of that.
“Let’s go somewhere more private.”
Cleo forced herself not to sneer at his suggestive tone. “Alright.”
He paid the bartender and looped an arm around Cleo’s waist when they stood to leave. He had beefy, possessive hands that made her feel like an object. He led her out a back door and the music faded to a quiet hum as he shut it behind them. Being alone in a dim alley way with him might have frightened any other girl, but it was the perfect spot for Cleo to feed without interruption.
Mark suddenly grabbed her wrist roughly and shoved her up against a wall. The bricks were scratchy and caught on her shirt.
“Hey,” Cleo snapped in irritation.
“Come on, Cleopatra,” he said in between the aggressive kisses he was planting on her neck. One of his large hands was slipping up under the hem of her shirt, and it was sweaty against her bare skin.
Cleo let out a snarl as her fangs extended. She wrapped a slim hand around Mark’s throat and spun so she was the one pinning him against the wall.
“What—what are you?”
“My name,” she said through clenched predatory teeth, “is Cleo.”
She struck at his throat like a cobra, and drank deeply from the bitter blood that was tinged with alcohol. Although she didn’t particularly enjoy the taste, it was fresh and warm. An assertive shout from the end of the alley way broke into her hungry bliss.
She reluctantly pulled back and an annoyed hiss escaped her lips.
Oh, what now?
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