We made it home just before sunrise.

I shuffled in behind Salma and Mateo, dragging my tired feet. Ollie was already waiting for us on the stairs when we walked in, wringing her hands in the loose fabric of her heather gray sleep shirt. I opened my mouth to greet her, but she had already launched herself at me.

She was barefoot, so her head barely reached my shoulder. She wrapped her arms around my waist and rested her cheek against my chest, the stubble on her head scratching my skin. Newly healed, my entire body creaked and protested the vampiric strength she was not reining in. I grunted at the impact, but quickly hugged her back before she could bitch me out about it.

Never do that again! Salma made me stay here so we wouldn’t overwhelm you at the hospital, but I will literally gut you myself if I ever find out you got hurt like this again,” she bitched at me, still squeezing. “I cannot believe you nearly died.”

I didn’t bother pointing out the illogic in her threat, and simply patted her shoulder. “Whatever you say, Ollie.”

“I mean it,” she said, pulling away to glare into my eyes. Her arms were still glued around me. “The hospital called and said your chest had been carved open.”

“I’m fine,” I said, gently extricating myself from her death grip. Her glare had softened into genuine worry and fear, and I was not emotionally prepared to deal with that. I definitely preferred the rib-crushing hugs over the possibility of her crying. “Not so much as a scratch now. I am very tired, though, sooo ...”

“You’re uncomfortable with overt displays of affection, and I respect that, so I’m going to let you escape.” She sniffed, letting me go and crossing her arms. “I am simply going to state, for the record, that I love you and I’m very upset with you.”

I actually was uncomfortable with overt displays of affection, and I appreciated that she had stepped away to give me space. With a small grin, I wrapped my arm over her shoulders, leaning in to quickly buss her on the cheek. The glitter from her highlight smeared a little.

“Lo siento,” I murmured. “Te quiero, hermana.”

“Damn right,” she muttered, shooting me a mock scowl. “Go to bed, cottontail. I’ll yell at you more later.”

I squeezed her shoulders before pulling away to trudge up the stairs. As I entered my bedroom, I could hear the three of them shuffling around downstairs.

“I think Bunny may have a girlfriend,” I heard Mateo whisper the second before I would’ve closed the door.

“Oh my god, what! Tell me everything right now.” The sheer unrestrained glee in Ollie’s voice sent fear racing down my spine.

I leaned out of the doorway and yelled, “She’s not my girlfriend!”

“Ignore them, they’re dumb. Tell me more right now.”

Groaning loudly at the ceiling, I banged my head lightly against the doorframe. My sire was determined to be the death of me in more ways than one, and Ollie was the weapon he was clearly going to use.

“Oye, you don’t have to shout,” Salma replied up the stairs, at a completely normal volume. “It’s not his fault you were flirting.”

I gasped. “I was in the hospital. I was not flirting!”

Reaching the top of the stairs, she looked at me with her brows raised. “¿Estás seguro?”

The skepticism in her voice was scalding. Widening my eyes in outrage, I stepped backward into my room and shut the door before she could shred my dignity further.

They thought I’d been flirting. Sam didn’t think that, right? No. Sam wouldn’t expect flirting from me, and if I did accidentally flirt, she would shut it down with a quickness.


I fell onto my bed and shoved my face into the pillow. I decided that feelings were a problem for later, and allowed my body to slip into “sleep”.

Tiptoeing was useless in a house filled with vampires. Only when the sun held us in stasis were our senses dull enough for someone to sneak around -- which was all the explanation one needed for the seemingly overboard security system Mateo and Salma had insisted on when we moved to town. Elder vampires could awaken in the hour that preceded the setting sun, but I wasn’t that old, and it took me longer, especially while healing, to drag myself out of that temporary death.

Mateo and Salma were both old enough but individually too lazy to roll out of their beds before 10pm. Ollie was a wild card, occasionally deciding to get up as early as possible and clean the entire house. An event that was always accompanied by blaring classic pop music and aggressive vacuuming.

But I was young enough, and remembered my human lifetime well enough, that I’d had the tiptoe urge burned deep into my bones. Also, I really wanted to make it out of the house before anyone could corner me.

Holding my boots in one hand, and my keys -- gripped tightly to avoid the metal clinking together -- in the other, I tried to sneak down the stairs and out the door as quickly as possible. I reached for my helmet on the wall next the door, my fingers an inch away --


I whimpered, looking at the door only a foot away. I was so close. I could still make it, right? At my fastest, I could probably outrun him. Maybe. Probably not.

“It won’t work. I’m definitely still faster than you.”

Sighing, my shoulders slumped and I turned around to face my sire. He wore a pair of plaid pants and no shirt, a similar set of scars to mine on his chest, partially hidden by his crossed arms. I could tell he’d been getting ready for the night, his hair wet but unstyled, fresh from a shower.

“Good eeeevening,” I chirped, pasting a too-bright grin on my face. “I was just about to --”

“Sneak out to work before Salma or Ollie could sit on you and force you to stay home?” he asked, leaning against the door frame. “I figured.”

I sighed, and set my keys and boots on the side table. “I love them, and I appreciate their worry, but I have shit to do and I don’t have time -- or the inclination, frankly -- to sit around and have them coo at me until they say that I’m good to go. We both know they have a tendency to overreact.”

A flash of panic had me looking around to make sure they weren’t right around the corner and listening in. We were whispering, loud enough to hear each other but low enough that anyone else would have to strain to hear us. But still...no need to take chances. I was frustrated, but not cruel.

Mateo nodded, his eyes shaded from view for a moment. “I understand. But, consider this...”

My shoulders slumped. Oh, I hated it when he said that. He always led his most brutal and accurate points with that phrase, and it never failed to make me feel dumb. Which wasn’t his intention, I knew, but that didn’t make me feel better about it.

“This thing that you fought, it’s likely that this is the monster Bastien has been hunting, which means it’s killed eight of us --”

I opened my mouth to correct him, and he lifted a hand to stop me.

“It has killed eight supernaturals. Nothing but bones, Bunny. Nothing but bones,” he repeated. He shook his head, eyes drifting closed briefly. “I’m not going to stop you from going to work. You’re not a newborn anymore, mije. I understand the need to be busy. And I don’t doubt that you can defend yourself, but I would be very upset if all of my hard work in keeping you alive over the years went to waste.”

Oh. A twinge of shame in my chest had my shoulders slumping. His tone was even, face carefully blank, but I could hear it. He wasn’t mad, or even disappointed -- he was afraid for me.

Okay, sure, I’d come pretty damn close to kicking the bucket for good. I could’ve died a true death on the forest floor, gutted by a giant snake.

“Do you...want to come with me?” I asked, haltingly. I groaned and rubbed my face. “I’m just going in to meet with Sam. I’m not going into the field, but if you would feel better? I guess? You can come with me. If you want?”

Spreading my fingers slightly, I looked through the gap to watch his face. If I hadn’t been actively watching for it, I would have missed the jump of his brows and the pleased surprise in his eyes before he shut it down.

“Give me a few minutes to put real clothes on, and I’ll take you up on that.” The look he shot me made it very clear that I wouldn’t like his response if I tried to leave without him.

I rubbed a hand down my face. 

I guess it was Bring Your Sire To Work Day.

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