It was after.
I hadn't drank much, but it was enough to feel good. No, great. To feel that special surge of energy, strength and vitality gained only by drinking human blood. Fresh human blood.
And never had the blood been as fresh as this.
It was straight from the source, so to speak.
I had also drank enough to be embarrassed, especially now as I sat back on the couch and wiped my mouth. I looked away.
Had I really just drank from her? From her finger? Sucking on it like a newborn from a teat?
I had...and I had loved every second, even when she looked away, clearly uncomfortable and perhaps even in pain. Still I drank from the open wound in her finger. I drank and I drank.
It wasn't until when I had stopped, until when I removed my lips from around her finger, when my eyes finally focused again, did the embarrassment set in.
Allison had immediately pulled her hand into herself, holding it close to her side, as if she were cradling a baby chick. And that's how we currently sat. She, sitting on the coffee table, holding her hand. Me, on the couch, embarrassed as hell and slightly confused over what had just happened.
Lord, I don't even know her.
"I'm...sorry," I said after a moment or two. Outside, through the open sliding glass door, laughter reached us from the street below. Car doors shut firmly, and I suspected one of the limos had just left the scene.
"For what, Samantha?" asked Allison. She seemed to recover from whatever it was she'd gone through. She looked at her finger. "For being what you are? And for that, there is no apology needed."
"How - " But my words stopped abruptly when I looked at her finger. The wound was gone.
She saw the surprise on my face. "Yes, Samantha. Your healing qualities extend to your victims." She turned her face toward me...and smiled deeply. "Even willing victims. It's why, I suspect, vampires have existed among us for so long. The victims' wounds almost always heal."
I opened my mouth to speak, but I still hadn't completely regained my voice and, quite frankly, I felt a little high. The fresh blood was intoxicating, to say the least.
Her blood, I thought. I drank her blood.
"How...how do you..."
"How do I know so much about vampires?" she asked, finishing the sentence for me. "How do I know so much about your kind?"
"Yes," I said finally.
I quickly got over the initial high - the contentment, the satiation - and focused on my surroundings. After all, it's not every day that someone so easily surmised my true nature. So then what the hell was going on here? Was this some kind of a set up?
I doubted it.
For one, my inner alarm hadn't sounded. Two, I had sensed nothing but mild curiosity radiating from Allison. Nothing hidden. Nothing darker. Nothing malicious. But I'd been wrong before.
Finally, she said, "I was a plaything to a vampire, Sam. There's no easy way to say it. He used me, abused, me, and drank from me."
She smiled again, and now I did sense something else coming from her. Waves of sadness. "He's dead now, killed by a vampire hunter who very nearly killed me, too."
She reached for a packet of cigarettes that were on a shelf under the glass coffee table. She opened the box and tapped out a cigarette and offered me one. I took it without thinking as she produced a lighter from a pocket and we both lit up, exhaling together.
"I'm sorry," I said.
She shrugged and dragged deeply on her cigarette. "I loved him, but he was a bastard. I suppose he had it coming to him."
I didn't know what to say, and so I smoked quietly, which was something I actually enjoyed doing. The act was very human, very real, and had no ill effects to my body, which was a plus.
She flicked her gaze my way. She studied me for a beat or two. "He also got that very same look in his eye. The one you had earlier. When he was hungry. Or when he saw blood."
"What look?" I asked.
"It's a fire. I can see it. Not everyone can see it, but I can."
I saw it, too, but said nothing. After all, I had seen it in Hanner's eyes last month. The smoldering fire. Just behind her pupils.
"Your eyes actually lit up. Fired up. Literally." She laughed. "You were either a vampire...or one sick chick."
I laughed, too. Nervously. All of this talk made me feel uncomfortable. After all, I was discussing my closely guarded secrets with a complete stranger. Then again, I had drank from her, hadn't I? Didn't that make her a kind of blood sister?
God, my life is weird.
As we finished our cigarettes - along with two more - she told me her story. She had met the vampire at a nightclub, where she'd been a go-go dancer. She had always been attracted to bad boys. He was the baddest of bad boys. She could see it in his eyes. He was trouble. He was dangerous, and he was a killer. She sensed all this from him. She had always sensed things from people, her whole life. Her grandmother had always told her she was a sensitive.
Later, after a night of dancing, he had brought her home and made love to her, unlike any man she had ever been with before. His home had been in the Hollywood Hills, and there she learned just how deep pleasures could go. He next fed from her. Without asking. Without prompting or warning. He began drinking from her forearm. She had fought him at first, until she realized the feeling was...incredible.
"Incredible?" I said.
"Don't you know, Sam? May I call you Sam?"
"I just drank from you," I said. "You can call me whatever you want."
She laughed a little. "The pleasure I receive from a feasting is almost as much as you receive from the feeding."
I hadn't known this.
She nodded. "You must be new to all of this."
"Fairly," I said, and left it at that.
She nodded after a moment. "I get it. You don't want to talk about it. It's personal shit. Trust me, I know. Nothing more personal than being what you are." She snubbed out her third cigarette. "I was addicted from the get-go. Addicted to being feasted upon. To being drank from. To being sucked. I was his for as long as he wanted me. Turned out, it was only for a few months."
"Until he ended up dead."
Her eyes filled with tears. "Right, dead. The bastard broke into the house. Shot my man in his sleep. In his sleep."
"I'm sorry," I said again.
She shrugged again, something I was beginning to think she did a lot. "Well, like I said, my vampire was a bastard. According to the hunter, my guy had hurt many people."
Now she was silent for a long time. I could hear her heart beating, which surprised me. I wondered if it had to do with me drinking her blood. Maybe we really were blood sisters.
Finally, she looked sideways at me, and put on what I suspected was a brave smile. "But that's not why you're here, Sam. Is it? We're looking for another killer."
I nodded, briefly jolted back to the reality of the situation. "Yes," I said.
"That's good," she said. "Because I have a theory about Caesar's death."
"Yes," she said. "And you're going to think I'm crazy."
She looked at me. I looked at her. And we both laughed. "Well," she added, "crazier than you already think I am."
I laughed again, and by the time she was done telling me her theory, I decided that she was right.
She was crazy.