Raven tripped over a loose fluffball of snow.
“Tired.” He looked up at the sky. “Dawn is coming.”
She didn’t respond to that, which surprised him.
He looked back down at her. “I haven’t told you this. I was waiting to see if you would notice.”
“You’re a vampire, huh?”
“Yes. I need to go home.”
“You gonna explode into flames and soot and such?”
“No. Just lose all of my energy.”
She reluctantly released his arm. “Then, you should go.”
He teetered with his eyes struggling to stay open.
“Or just come with me.”
He blinked hard and focused on her. “Where?”
She smiled. “You’ll see.”
Raven couldn’t remember walking. Nor did he remember actually falling asleep.
He opened his eyes.
To a lightshow of colors and lines.
Constellations merged with chemical formulations with mathematical equations in purple and blue and pale green lines.
He raised his hand.
The colors streaked his white glove.
The words and symbols stretched across his wrist.
“Good. You’re awake.”
He lowered his hand and sat up.
Missy sat on top of a teacher’s desk – her legs folded Indian-style.
“Where am I, miss? Where are we?”
“My hideout.” She hopped off the desk. “No one’s used this school in years. No one ever comes in here.” The constellation of Orion patterned her face. “I don’t know why or how it still has power. Maybe someone forgot to flip the switch. Don’t know. Doesn’t matter.” She walked over to Raven and crouched beside him. “I’m safe here.”
“Safe? Who are you running from?”
She shrugged. “Bad people.”
“Tell me. Please.”
She shook her head. “I have to be careful. You could snitch on me. I could lose…”
Another head shake. “I don’t know if I can trust you.”
“No offense, miss, but you just dragged me into your secret lair. That’s not a good move if you wish to stay hidden.”
“Drat. You’re right. I should have thought that through better. I’ve always had a problem with that. Always seeing a solution and just jumping for it without a thought. They didn’t see a reason to give me impulse control. Don’t know why. But what about you? Who are you?”
“My name is…” James Arden? Raven? Which name do I give her? He smiled sadly. It’s been such a long time since anyone has called me by my proper name. “My name is Raven.”
“No last name?”
“My name is Raven. Missy.”
“Point taken.” She squinched her face up. “Do you think I talk too much? Or maybe too fast? I don’t know. Maybe it’s nervousness. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe I’m just trying to get a lifetime of words out of my body. I don’t know. Tell me about yourself.”
“I’m Raven. I’m an active vampire. I’ve been this way for…” He tried to do the calculations. “…for far longer than you’ve been alive.”
“I used to be a butler for the Farlington family. I loved them. I loved being with them. I loved working for them. I loved—” May Rose appeared in his mind. He fell silent as he struggled with his emotions.
She watched him. The Big Dipper and an algebraic formula competed on her face. A pale green X sat on the tip of her nose.
“Anyway, a vampire came to our house. She found me weak and defenseless. She bit me.”
“Did it hurt?”
“For making you think about it.”
He laid back down on the makeshift bed and closed his eyes. “That memory doesn’t hurt as much as others do.”
He sighed. “Those memories are mine to keep, not to share.”
“Oh.” She was silent for a minute or two. “So, you have secrets just like me.”
He smiled a slight bit of a smile. “I suspect my secrets are nothing like yours, miss.”
“You’re probably right about that.” She climbed back up on top of the desk. “No one has a secret like mine. And it’s all mine.”