About a Vampire(10)

By: Lynsay Sands

“Oh.” Holly nodded slowly and then tried to work it out, speaking her thoughts aloud. “So you brought me here because I didn’t have my purse or ID.” Before he could respond, she asked, “But why didn’t you just take me to the hospital?” When he was silent again, she said thoughtfully, “Without a purse I wouldn’t have my HMO card and I suppose a hospital would be reluctant to treat me without proof that I could pay.”

Justin seemed to hesitate, and then he sighed and dropped to sit on the end of the bed. Peering at her solemnly, he said, “This situation is a little more complicated than you realize.”

Holly tilted her head curiously, but simply asked, “Oh?”

“Yes, you see . . .” Justin paused, several expressions flickering across his face before he finally said cautiously, “I have to tell you some things that might sound . . . well, a bit crazy.”

Holly merely raised her eyebrows.

“You see, it wasn’t just your head you hit. I mean the head injury wasn’t the only one. You were carrying scissors and—­”

“Scissors?” she interrupted with surprise. “Why would I be carrying scissors down to the crematorium?”

“As I said, it was dark and foggy . . . a graveyard. Spooky.” He shrugged. “Perhaps you were nervous.”

Holly nodded slowly, supposing that would be enough to make her want a weapon of some sort. She wasn’t usually a nervous Nelly, but then she’d never before even considered walking through a graveyard alone on a dark and foggy night.

“Anyway,” Justin said when she remained silent. “You were running and fell and not only hit your head, but—­”

“Why was I running?” Holly interrupted.

The question made him grimace. He also took a good deal of time to think before answering. “You saw something that you misunderstood.”

“What did I see?”

“I’ll get to that,” he assured her. “But first I want you to understand that I would never harm you. In fact, when you fell on your scissors and stabbed yourself in the chest, I—­”

“What?” Holly interrupted sharply. She hadn’t noticed anything when she dressed. Holly tugged the T-­shirt collar away from her skin to peer at herself, but there was nothing there. Scowling at him for scaring her like that, she said, “I’m not wounded.”

“No. Well, I healed you,” he explained.

Holly blinked several times at this claim and then asked slowly, “You healed me?”

Justin nodded.

“How?” she asked at once, unable to hide her doubt.

“Well, this is where it gets tricky,” Justin said, looking uncomfortable.

“Oh?” she asked, eyes narrowing.

“Yes. You see . . .” He paused, rubbed one hand over his face, and then said determinedly under his breath, “I am not going to make a pickle of this like Bastien and the other guys did.”

“That’s good,” Holly murmured, not sure what he was talking about.

“I mean seriously, how stupid is starting with, “Have you ever seen An American Werewolf in London?” he asked with disgust.

“Er . . .” Holly paused, growing confused.

“It was just stupid. I mean, we aren’t werewolves, are we?”

“No?” Holly guessed. That seemed a pretty safe bet.

“Exactly,” he said with satisfaction. “So why lead with that? It just confuses the matter further. Right?”

“Right?” she guessed.

He nodded. “Okay, so . . .” Justin paused and frowned and then repeated, “Remember, no matter how crazy this sounds, I’m not crazy. You are safe with me. I would never harm you. Ever. I promise you that.”

“Okay,” Holly murmured. But really, the more he said that, the more worried she got. It was the old, “The lady doth protest too much.” But in this case it was a man doing the protesting. The more he assured her that he wouldn’t harm her, the more anxious she got that he might.

“Right . . . so, you see . . .” He paused again and then warned, “I’m just going to tell you flat out.”

“Okay,” Holly said.

“Right.” He nodded, and then added, “It’s going to sound crazy.”

“Okay,” Holly repeated, not at all surprised. She was already beginning to think there was something wrong with the man.

“So here goes,” he said, and then blurted, “I’m a vampire.”

Holly stared. She’d thought she’d been ready for anything from his weird prefacing, but “ . . . Vampire?”

“Yes. But we’re not really vampires,” he assured her. “I mean, sure we have fangs and used to feed on mortals, and yes we’re strong and all that stuff, but we aren’t dead or soulless.”