Jemima Jones woke up in the back of an ambulance and realised straight away that she wasn’t dead. She was clever like that. She was also angry, because waking up alive meant that her plan hadn’t worked – and Jemima’s plans always worked.
To her left sat a woman in a paramedic’s uniform, staring at her mobile phone. Jemima cleared her throat but the woman didn’t look up. Perhaps Jemima was dead and the woman couldn’t see her.
“How are you feeling?” said a deep voice to her right.
She turned her head (it was all she could move because her body was strapped to a gurney) and found herself face-to-face with a male paramedic. Unlike his colleague he wasn’t staring at his phone, instead he was staring at her and grinning a wolfish grin.
“I’m feeling very much alive,” Jemima answered. “Why am I not dead?”
Some may have deemed that response somewhat rude and abrupt, considering the man appeared to be friendly enough, but Jemima had planned to be dead by now so manners were very far down her list of priorities.
“I saved you,” the man said.
It was dark outside and the back of the ambulance was dimly lit. His ghostly face flashed blue and white from the glare of the siren wailing somewhere above their heads. Although it wasn’t just the lack of light that made his featured obscure, her sight was blurry and her eyes itchy. Maybe her glasses were dirty.
“Untie me from this stretcher,” she demanded.
Jemima demanded a lot of things in life, most of which she didn’t receive – but it didn’t stop her trying. Even though the man’s features were unclear, his unnaturally white teeth shone through the gloom.
“Untie yourself,” he said with a drawl.
It was the first time Jemima had heard a man drawl, or anyone for that matter.
She pulled her arms up and the tight straps gave way like they were made from nothing more than lightly spun cobwebs. Her surprise must have registered on her face because the paramedic laughed in response.
“That’s my favourite part,” he said, “watching them discover their new-found strength.”
Them? Who was he talking about? His voice pulled at something deep in the pit of her stomach. An ache was forming, like a long-forgotten need for something she had never wanted before.
She removed her glasses, intent on rubbing her eyes, but as she did so the paramedic’s face came into sharp relief. Jemima had been virtually blind since she could remember. Without her thick glasses she couldn’t see a thing, yet for the first time in her life she could not only see clearly without them but she could also see better. At once the world felt sharper, like life itself was suddenly brighter and clearer. She blinked three times and rubbed her eyes, but the man remained in all his three-dimensional Technicolor glory. He was like a cartoon version of what handsome looked like – sharp cheekbones, long dark hair pushed back from his forehead, deep green eyes and perfectly arched eyebrows.
If Jemima were the kind of woman to gasp, she would have gasped at this point. Maybe even cover her mouth. Instead she sat up and leaned towards him.
“Why can I see better without my glasses?”
He plucked them out of her hand and crushed the plastic frames. They gave a satisfying crunching sound like ice cracking on a frozen lake. As he opened his fist, she watched the fine dust rain down, reduced to ashes at his feet.
“You won’t need these anymore,” he told her, his lips twitching in a self-satisfied smirk.
Jemima pulled at the straps around her legs and swung round to face him properly. Behind her, the female paramedic continued to stare at her phone as if she were totally alone and a tall, handsome guy hadn’t just crushed a pair of glasses in the palm of his hand.
Jemima looked at her watch. It was gone midnight, she was meant to have been very dead by now.
Her death had been meticulously planned. She worked at a local library and had taken tomorrow off work, so as not to raise suspicion. On her last ever commute home she had placed her five beloved cats (Maas, Bardugo, Meyer, Clare and Rowling) in a cattery. She had then carried on home to write her suicide note, print out her will and organise her paperwork – all of which she left clearly marked on the kitchen table. Placing her passport in her pocket (for identification purposes), she also added a copy of her address and house keys.
Her paperwork was perfectly ordered.
A lot of research had taken place before her chosen day of death (as she had referred to it in her head). She had bought a special fish gutting knife for the job and had been amazed to find plenty of online forums where one could discover how to slit their wrists accurately – the plan was to bleed a lot and die quickly. This was not a cry for help. Jemima didn’t believe in crying, this was something she had decided to do weeks ago and picked today to be the day.
Even the tree beneath which she sat had been especially chosen. She plunged her knife deep into her wrist and ran it up both arms. The large oak that she was leaning against was over five hundred years old and she knew its wide trunk would hold her up once she slumped over. It was also on a jogging route. The plan was that she would kill herself at midnight – giving her plenty of time to bleed out and die by the time the first jogger of the day found her. Jemima didn’t like joggers; she found their obsessive sharing of running routes and times on Facebook both tedious and narcissistic, so the idea of one of them finding her corpse had given her a sadistic thrill. She knew it was selfish of her, but it served people right for waking up before sunrise.
Her plan had been flawless. Organise paperwork, keep the cats safe for a few days, die, lead the police to her house via the clues in her pocket, then have them alert those that knew her. Or in Jemima’s case, the neighbours next door that she hardly knew (she didn’t like talking to people unless she had to) and Maureen at work, whom she hated.
Jemima didn’t believe in the afterlife, Heaven or God – but if ghosts did exist, she had no plan to come back and haunt anyone. She was sick of life and sick of living, there was no one left on Earth that she cared about enough to want to hang around with on a normal day, let alone after she was dead.
An only child, Jemima’s mother had raised her alone but died when Jemima was fifteen years old. The child had then been raised by her strict grandmother, who had died two days after Jemima’s eighteenth birthday. A loner at school, and a loner at university, Jemima had eventually chosen a job that meant she didn’t have to talk to anyone. She had friends, hundreds of them, but they were all online. She was a member of dozens of Fandoms and Facebook book groups – but if she stopped posting her book reviews and blogs these faceless strangers would simply presume that she had left the group, not left the planet.
All in all, no one would actually miss Jemima if she died – and now she was wondering if they would even notice her now that she’d been forced to return from her organised death.
The ridiculously handsome paramedic had saved her life and she would be forced to go back to work tomorrow. Maureen and the rest of the idiots that she worked with would have no idea how close Jemima had come to becoming front page news in the local paper.
She ran her finger up the inside of her arm and frowned.
“I cut myself,” she said to the paramedic. “Very deeply. Why are my arms not bandaged? Why is there nothing there?”
He shrugged. “You healed.”
It didn’t make sense; this entire experience didn’t make sense. For one, the tree she had chosen to die beneath was a three minute walk from her house, and her house was a ten minute drive to the hospital. She had been in this ambulance for over fifteen minutes since she had woken up and they were still speeding through the streets, siren wailing. She couldn’t see where they were but they hadn’t stopped anywhere yet.
And secondly, how on earth had she been discovered so quickly?
“Who found me?” she asked.
The man stood up and stepped towards her. He was muscular but sinewy at the same time, lean and strong. He carried himself with a sense of authority one often saw in important suited men, not tired medical staff who worked nights saving people’s lives.
He tucked Jemima’s wiry hair behind her ear and stared into her eyes for a long time.
“Don’t do that!” she said, giving him a light shove. He looked taken aback, like no woman had ever given him a light shove before. “You’re invading my space. If you want to talk to me don’t get so close.”
He did as he was told, taking a step back without making a sound. His eyes traveled slowly over her face, down her chest and along her legs. She could feel his attention slither over her like ice being dragged along a warm body. She shuddered.
“A dog walker found you. I got to you just in time,” he said quietly.
A dog walker? Of course, who else hangs around wooded areas after midnight? Dog walkers and rapists, that’s who. Jemima sighed. Having to take a dog out for a wee at midnight was one of the many reasons why she had cats. She didn’t like the idea of anyone needing her – not people nor animals.
“So you saved my life?”
“Kind of,” the man replied. “Although technically you’re still dead. Except now you will be more alive than you have ever known.”
It was her turn to stare. She narrowed her eyes at the man with the angular jaw and pale skin, and tried to work out what the hell was going on. Jemima Jones was smart, brave and rarely scared, yet the only explanation she could think of for being not-dead-but-not-alive-either was utterly ridiculous. It couldn’t possibly be true. Could it?
With a love of books bordering on the obsessive, Jemima read a lot of supernatural, horror and paranormal novels. In fact she had read all of them. She entered every Goodreads give-away, retweeted all the author Tweets, was an avid Bookstagrammer and also a member of Netgalley. She even blogged about her favourite books under the name ‘Jemima Puddlebook’ (which she knew was a stupid name, but she wasn’t very creative). There wasn’t one fantastical YA character that she wasn’t familiar with. She was an expert on what herbs to eat to ward off werewolves, what spells worked on Muggles, where to stab a zombie to kill them and what Stefan Salvadore’s favourite sandwich was (it was cheese and pickle, but only true fans knew that).
Her bibliomania was the only reason Jemima had taken the job at the local library. With her degree in English Literature (a First, no less), and the years of work experience at London publishing houses and local papers, she was totally over-qualified for such an underpaid job. But she didn’t care about climbing the ranks of the publishing elite or getting the juiciest story for the tabloids. Jemima just wanted to work somewhere where she didn’t have to talk to anyone, where nobody looked at her and she got to be surrounded by books all day. Young Adult fantasy books, to be precise.
Some would argue that her love for the young adult genre stemmed from a need to escape reality and live a life of perpetual intensity – re-living her teen fantasies and refusing to face the fact that she was very lonely, very unhappy and very disappointed with her life. That’s what some may say…but not Jemima, she told those kinds of people to simply fuck off.
She loved books because books were magic; you could be anyone anywhere when you had your nose in a book. Some evenings, when she was left to lock up the library alone (not yet ready to return to her house full of cats, pasta for one and back-to-back Netflix series) she would sit and absorb the books’ powers like osmosis. She could feel their words emanating from the shelves surrounding her. The magic and potential of all those ideas and imagination made real. Thoughts from one mind, made into markings, then transported into the minds of others via sheets of paper made from trees. It was nothing short of sorcery. Jemima soaked it all up, the books filling her and making her feel more alive than anything or anyone had ever managed to do. The library had been her saviour, the books her lifeline, until that bitch Maureen had ruined everything.
Her favourite novels had been her only reason for being – but once they had been taken away, Jemima’s life had no longer been worth living.
Five months ago her old boss, a lovely man called Harold (who had a penchant for weak coffee and strong language) had retired. Harold had listened to his staff and made sure that all tastes were catered for at the library. There was a kid’s corner with a weekly puppet show where the local drama students would volunteer, acting out scenes from some of the classic kid’s books; there was a study corner and there were rows upon rows of every book imaginable. LGBTQ romances stood side by side with steampunk thrillers and post-apocalyptic teen adventures. Floppy guides to travelling the Ganges and world politics, shared shelf space with hardbacks showing you how to communicate with your hamster. Then Maureen and her ‘austerity measures’ came in and changed everything.
“All this noise!” she would complain. “Bloody kids and students and young people just hanging about. They don’t even buy anything from the cafe, just fill the place up. It’s putting off our serious visitors.”
Bit by bit the wicked bitch disposed of every fantastical piece of literature and replaced it with a pile of dusty classics. Hundreds of black-spined blockbuster spy thrillers and the kind of romantic novels that had covers adorned with ridiculous illustrations of women with heaving bosoms fainting in the arms of men dressed like pirates. Those books didn’t whisper at Jemima in the dusk of the evenings as she waited to close up. They didn’t fill her life with possibilities. As the shelves begun to lose their magic – so Jemima began to lose her will to live.
She looked down at her inner wrist now, unblemished and un-bloodied, then up at the handsome face of the paramedic. There was only one explanation. Jemima had read enough of her favourite books to know what this meant and who the man was. What he was. Another twisting pull in her stomach made her cry out, but she wasn’t in pain – it was much more euphoric than that. It was…what was it? That longing, desire, need?
“You’re feeling hungry and horny,” the man said to her.
Horny? She clenched her legs together and closed her eyes. Yes, maybe that’s what it was. Was sexual arousal part of the body’s relief at not having died? It didn’t sound very PTSD to her. As for food, that was definitely the last thing on her mind. The very thought of dinner made her want to be sick.
The strange feeling of longing building inside of her was so intense that saliva began to collect in the insides of her cheeks.
The man ran his hand up her leg and looked deep into her eyes again. Jemima swallowed.
“It’s perfectly normal to want to release all this desire,” he said. He ran his tongue over his bright white teeth, his pupils growing large and black in the dim light. “We can do it right here. We’ll fuck then feed. I changed you, so I will have you first.”
She shoved him back again, this time harder and with two hands.
“First, get your hands off my body. Secondly, you can drop the cool, dark, mysterious act because I know what you are.”
He raised his eyebrows and smirked.
“And you’re not scared?”
“Scared of what? I wanted to die this evening. What can you do to me that’s worse than that?”
Jemima had laughed at the pathetic girls in her favourite paranormal books who dropped to their knees begging to be taken by the handsome beasts. They were always beguiled by the monster’s beauty and strength, no matter how disrespectful or cruel these men were. But not her. All she could think about was that the life she’d hated enough to want to leave forever, had now been made even more complicated.
“You don’t want me?” the man asked.
He looked confused and a little embarrassed.
“No. I don’t fancy men, never have done,” she replied.
How boring that even in the afterlife she had to explain herself to cocksure bastards. As if being gay was the only reason she wouldn’t drop her knickers for the strutting buffoon. As if, had she been straight, she wouldn’t have been able to resist his creepy charm.
He looked over at the woman sitting on the other side of the ambulance. She was still staring at her phone. Why hadn’t she looked up once in all the time they had been talking? She leaned over the gurney and peered at the paramedic’s phone. The screen was black. It wasn’t even switched on. Jemima turned back to the man before her.
“Who is she?” she asked.
“Why? Do you fancy her? She was going to be our breakfast, but I don’t mind you having sex with her first.”
His eyes had begun to twinkle again and he stroked his right incisor with his tongue. Jemima watched him, the growling in her stomach growing with intensity. Sex. Yes, that’s what she needed. How peculiar, she’d never enjoyed sex and now it was all she could think about. But not with him and not with a woman she didn’t even know – especially not someone who was already in some kind of a trance.
“I’m not having sex with a stranger!” she shouted at him. “You think that’s how it works? I don’t fancy men but I’ll instantly fancy the first woman I see? When were you born? The middle ages?”
“1652,” he said. Which not only explained his misogynistic nature, but also his ridiculous tiny goatee.
Sex. Now he’d mentioned it, it was all she could think about. How cliché. One thing Jemima hated more than anything was being predictable (book-loving, cat woman, librarian persona aside) – yet here she was in a situation straight out of a fantasy novel, but it felt real. Very real.
The only person she could think of that she would possibly be prepared to have sex with that night was Anne. She didn’t even like Anne all that much, but she was the only one she knew who would come running on a 2am booty call.
Jemima had slept with her a few months back and only because she worked for the council (she’d been looking for some insider support regarding planning permission for her conservatory). Unfortunately, after their half-hearted (on Jemima’s part at least) luke-warm night together, Anne had confessed that she worked for the department that managed roads and roundabouts, so she wouldn’t be able to help Jemima after all. So that had been a waste of a risotto dinner and a six quid bottle of Rioja.
“Are you hungry?” the man asked.
Jemima was. She was ravenous – but not for food…for something stronger.
He walked to the other side of the gurney where the female paramedic was still staring at her empty phone. He pulled her towards him until she was sitting between his legs with her back to him.
“Get off her!” Jemima shouted, swivelling around and jumping off the stretcher. “Don’t you dare hurt her.”
He already had the woman’s head on his left shoulder and the sight of her bare neck glowing white in the dim light of the ambulance made Jemima’s stomach clench. Images of Anne, naked and waiting on her bed, flashed before her. Anne was an idiotic bore, yet now all Jemima could think about was what it would feel like to have her skin between her teeth and the beat of her pulse on the tip of her tongue.
“I won’t hurt her,” the man drawled (drawling was clearly his thing). “I promise. She will have no recollection of this. We need to eat, Jemima. You need to complete your transformation.”
His incisors began to grow, just as they did in her favourite Netflix programmes, but it didn’t scare her. If anything it simply made her own gums ache as her teeth too began to shift to make way for fangs. She didn’t know where to put her tongue as she opened her mouth slightly to accommodate her new incisors. As they grew, so did the ache in the pit of her stomach. She really needed to call Anne.
The man slid his teeth into the woman’s throat and the sound of his sigh of pleasure made Jemima clench her thighs together tighter.
“Help yourself,” he said, proffering the bloody neck towards her.
Jemima shook her head.
The vampire, because she was pretty certain by now that he was one, rolled his eyes and went back to sucking the woman’s neck.
“You know you want this,” he said, his voice muffled and his face smeared red.
Of course she wanted it, every pore in her body was screaming with the need for blood.
“Go on,” he said, with a wink. “Just a little lick?”
She thought of Anne again and her stomach flipped.
“Can’t I substitute it?” she asked. “Drink red wine or beetroot juice?”
He shook his head and sighed into the woman’s neck, but Jemima wasn’t going to give in. There was no way she was going to suck the blood from a stranger’s neck.
Saliva was pooling in her mouth again and she swallowed it down. No. After all, her vegetarianism was one of the many reasons why she’d dumped Anne. The one and only time Anne had stayed the night at her house she’d insisted on going to the cafe first thing in the morning for a bacon sandwich.
“I have one for breakfast every day,” Anne had told her. “Everyone loves bacon.”
To which Jemima had replied, “No they most certainly do not! How can you expect me to have a relationship with a woman who insists on chomping through the dead flesh of a pig every day? I can’t do it.”
That and the fact you can’t help me get planning permission for my conservatory and you shag like a dead fish, she had wanted to add (but hadn’t).
Anne hadn’t handled her lover’s vegetarian outburst very well, in fact she had cried so much that a bubble of snot had grown and popped at her right nostril – which had sealed an already done deal.
But now all that Jemima could think about was sex and blood and Anne – bacon sandwiches and snotty noses had all but been forgotten. The vampire rustled around inside a bag beneath his seat, the female paramedic now flopping about unconsciously on his lap, and pulled out a small red bottle.
“Strawberry smoothy,” he said. “I sometimes like a healthy treat after my shift. I’ll add some blood to it; you won’t even notice it. A little drop of blood goes a long way.”
Jemima shrugged, realising that if she didn’t accept it she would be failing at dying twice in one day. She had to have that blood, one way or another. She could already feel her teeth growing longer and sharper with the thought of the irony taste on her lips. She ran the tip of her tongue along one of her fangs and winced at the pain. She’d cut her tongue on her new sharp teeth but she didn’t seem to be bleeding. Maybe vampires couldn’t bleed.
He handed her the bright red smoothy and she gulped it down in three swigs. It tasted of strawberry, nothing remotely bloody or meaty in there.
Immediately the room got brighter and her emotions heightened. Sex. Blood. Sex. Blood. It was like a drumbeat coursing through her veins. She could feel her pupils dilating, her nails growing, her skin tightening and her hair unfrizzing. The vampire was grinning again, although this time his smile wasn’t so much devilish as conspirative. He handed her a mirror – because seemingly all cocky bastards carry a mirror in their pockets.
Jemima wasn’t a vain person; you didn’t have to know her to see that mirrors were not something she thought about often. She liked who she was, and what she looked like had little impact on her opinion of herself. She had curly hair but refused to spend a fiver on conditioner, so it remained frizzy at the merest hint of rain. Her glasses had been the cheapest she could find; bright green with thick plastic frames, but she didn’t care. She rarely matched her socks, she didn’t wear make-up and she knew her cheeks would be less dry if she only invested in a decent face cream – but she used Vaseline instead. Nobody touched her cheeks anyway, and very few looked at her face over the course of the day, so what did it matter? As for her body – it was just a body. Her chest was smaller than average and her hips were disproportionately wide; luckily she never wore dresses, so buying one that fit her pear-shaped figure was never a trial. Jemima liked jeans and jumpers and boots. If she wanted to look extra special, like the night she cooked Anne the waste-of-time risotto, she would wear her bright dangley earrings.
So when she looked in the mirror that the handsome vampire had handed to her she didn’t understand what she was looking at. It was strange enough to see her face without glasses, but now her hair was full with luscious curls, her lips plump like those of an underwear model, her eyes gleamed and her skin shone. She looked healthy and vibrant and…dare she say it…sexy. She angled the mirror down further, then realised it was a stupid thing to do so looked down at her body instead. Her chest was higher, her stomach flatter and her bottom lifted. She was no size eight, she’d never wanted to be stick-thin anyway, but after having drunk the blood-filled smoothy she looked and felt fantastic.
“Like what you see?” the vampire asked, taking back his mirror.
“So I’m immortal now?” she asked in return.
He nodded and Jemima waited to feel something. Surprise, shock, fear – but there was nothing. Actually, maybe a twinge of excitement, but that was a new sensation so she couldn’t be entirely sure that she recognised it.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
It only seemed fair to pay an interest in him, seeing as he’d gone to the trouble of giving away his strawberry drink so she didn’t have to suck on the neck of a stranger. And the fact that he’d made her look incredible.
He moved the limp girl off his lap into a slumped sitting position beside him, then produced a pack of wet wipes from his pocket. He dabbed at his mouth, fixing Jemima with a smoldering stare.
“Blaze,” he replied, with a growl and a jut of his chin.
Clearly he was used to his name making girls weak at the knees, keen to feel the heat and power of his namesake envelop them. But not Jemima. She didn’t want to feel his heat, she just laughed.
Jemima hated her laugh (which was why she didn’t do it very often) because it was a part wheeze and part snort – but this was just too funny to care what the idiot thought of her. Blaze? What was wrong with Damon or Edward? At least they were normal vampire/boy names? What on earth had possessed this chiseled man to choose such a stupid name – which she was certain had not been bestowed upon him in 1652.
Blaze, on the other hand, didn’t seem to think that he should be an object of ridicule.
He stood up, his shoulders back and his mouth twisted into a sneer.
“You’re laughing at me?” he cried. “I’ve been alive nearly four hundred years. Women drop at my feet, they beg me to take them to bed, they long to be like me and be saved from their pathetic human existence. You are one of my very few chosen ones, Jemima. I could see in you a power that I knew would serve me well. I have made you a mortal monster and you mock me.”
Jemima stopped laughing and stood up too, although she was short so her eyes were just about level to his muscular chest. She strained as she looked up at his face, her mouth now also bearing fangs.
“I didn’t ask to be changed into this!” she shouted back, getting as close to him as she could. “You’ve ruined my life. I was trying to die, and now all I want to do is have sex with boring Anne from the council and drink bloody smoothies. I was meant to be dead, Blaze, I even took tomorrow off work. Now I’m going to have to go and pick my cats up from the cattery and go to the library like nothing happened…and try not to look at wrinkly Maureen’s veiny pulsating neck all day dreaming about sinking my teeth into the old bat. That’s if I’m even allowed to go out in the day. What if I lose my job because I can only go out at night? I bet you didn’t think of that when you zombified these poor paramedics and so-called ‘rescued me’. Huh?”
Blaze sat down with a huff and put his head in his hands.
“No, I didn’t think about boring Anne or wrinkly Maureen. I was trying to make you powerful.”
“Well I don’t feel powerful, you supercilious twat,” she spat. “I feel inconvenienced. And anyway, where are we going? We’ve been driving around for nearly an hour now and that siren is driving me mad.”
“We’re not going anywhere, we’re just driving around in circles,” he mumbled. “I intercept ambulance calls; it’s one of my hobbies. I hypnotize the driver and the other paramedics and then pretend to help, when I actually use the victim to feed off. I also steal blood bags. I always patch the victims up though, I don’t let them die – in fact most of the time I heal them pretty well.”
He was staring down at his clunky black boots. Jemima was certain that outside of working hours his outfits were probably a lot snazzier than this one.
“You were different though,” he continued. “So strident and strong, like you knew what you wanted. I thought it was a shame to let a person with so much vitality die, so instead of feeding off you I brought you back. I also liked your big arse; it’s been a while since I’ve had sex with a woman with a lovely round posterior.”
Jemima sighed and shook her head.
“Blaze, that’s an awful thing to say. You can’t go around stopping people from dying just because you like their bums. And I told you that I’m not having sex with you.”
“I know,” he said quietly, his eyes still on the ground. “I’m sorry. Your life can be anything you want it to be now. You know that, don’t you?”
She didn’t. All she could see ahead of her was a long lonely life filled with an annoying sexual desire she didn’t want to satisfy and library books she didn’t want to read. Pure hell.
“You don’t have to go back to work,” he said. “You can hang out with me and my vampire friends. We hypnotize people to give us their houses and money, then run around at night drinking blood.”
Jemima sighed. Suddenly her normal life of Netflix and removing cat hair from her sofa was was beginning to look attractive.
“So I can hypnotize people too?” she asked.
“Of course, I can teach you.”
Maybe she could change her life by changing the people in her life. An electric thrill ran up her spine.
“What about going out in the day?”
“Daylight isn’t a problem, only sunlight is.”
“We live in the UK, so that won’t be a problem,” she replied.
“That’s why most of us stayin the Northern Hemisphere. We just wear a hat and glasses in the summer, so we don’t burn.”
She nodded. She wore glasses and hats year round anyway; partly so the sun wouldn’t tan her skin, but mainly so that no one would talk to her. Maybe her life wouldn’t be so bad after all. At least she didn’t have to worry about wearing a bra any longer (bouncy and pert, as she was now) or putting on Vaseline every evening. Perhaps she could make work a bit more bearable too. And Anne, perhaps Anne could be slightly adjusted with a little bit of vampy magic.
“Can you drop me off home, please?” she said. “I have some phone calls to make.”
Jemima woke late the next day to discover that it was raining – this made her very happy. No sunshine meant that she was able to venture outside without turning to dust, which was now a good thing. The cats didn’t have to be picked up from the cattery until that evening, and because she’d taken the day off work to be dead she was in no rush at all.
A very freckled, slightly plump arm fell across her stomach and she left it there. The arm belonged to Anne, who had stayed the night.
“I couldn’t believe it when you rang me at two o’clock this morning,” Anne said, her voice muffled by the large pillow that her head was currently buried in. “I thought you didn’t like me. After last time, with the whole bacon thing, I thought I’d never hear from you again.”
Jemima snuggled into Anne’s warm body and closed her eyes. The pitter patter of rain at her window would have previously made her feel low, as if the world was melting around her and there was nothing in her future but grey. But not anymore. The day she had chosen to die had become the first day of a life worth living.
OK, so she was only ten hours into her life as a vampire, but it was already looking up. For a start Anne had agreed not to eat meat around her (after a little hypnotic persuasion), plus Jemima had discovered that her new lover had a penchant for being bitten in bed. Added bonus!
“I might go into work today,” Jemima said, pushing her body closer to Anne’s and feeling herself melt into the woman’s soft curves.
“But I’ve rung in sick to be here with you,” Anne replied, nuzzling her neck. “I thought we had all day to…well…to carry on. I didn’t remember you having so much energy and enthusiasm, and your body is so much firmer than before and…”
Jemima smiled. She hadn’t even got started yet.
“I just need to pop in and talk to my boss, Maureen,” she said. “I’m going to try and convince her to make some changes to the library.”
Anne propped herself up on to her elbow.
“Really? What changes would you make?”
“I think it’s time to liven things up a bit in there,” Jemima said, warming to the idea. “Time to add more YA books. Maybe some fantasy, supernatural, paranormal and horror too. I’m going to suggest we start with stocking the Twilight trilogy, Vampire Academy, the Sookie Stackhouse series, and The Vampire Diaries.”
“Aren’t they all books for teenagers and about vampires?” Anne asked.
Anne wasn’t a big fan of YA, but Jemima would soon change that too.
“But those kinds of books have been done to death,” Anne said. “I mean, surely everyone’s bored of vampires by now?”
Jemima sidled up to Anne and pushed her back down on to the pillow.
“Bored?” she asked, sitting astride her and holding her arms above her head. Anne struggled but Jemima was too strong. That small amount of blood that Blaze had given her in the smoothy all those hours ago was still coursing through her veins. He’d been right about a little drop of blood going a long way. The hunger, the pull, and the deafening thud of Anne’s heart beating against her translucent skin was driving her crazy.
“I don’t know,” Jemima whispered, running her tongue from the woman’s collarbone to her jugular. Anne shivered with delight beneath her. Jemima’s gums ached and she felt the sweet pang of pain as her fangs pushed out, growing longer and longer until their pointed tips were scraping along Anne’s pale neck.
“I think vampires can be very interesting indeed.”
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