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The Vampire in the Attic

Sexy, or just spooky?
It was the kind of winter where comfort food could cause no guilt. The snow and rain poured down endlessly and the biting wind left Scarlett Kennedy’s eyes watering and her face numb. She missed the gloriously abundant sunshine of Los Angeles but the gothic Yorkshire mansion was the only real estate her father had salvaged after his investments turned sour, and so the family had been forced to move, just as the last leaves dropped from the trees.

Yorkshire was unglamorous and cold and the house was the same. It was gigantic, with chilly stone cellars and winding staircases that ran all the way up to the top steeples. It was spooky in a way; when the wind howled around the single glazed windows, it felt like someone, or something, was trying to get in and wreak havoc upon the mansion and its inhabitants.

The heating bills were enormous and on most nights, Scarlett, her seventeen year old brother James, and their parents would sit huddled together in one room with a log fire blazing and mugs of hot cocoa in their hands. The electricity was forever cutting off and there was no internet access. For eighteen year old Scarlett, this translated as no life. She didn’t want family board games and endless renovations. She wanted to be back on the beach, watching the surfers from behind oversized sunglasses as she sipped iced tea and worked on her tan.

The house was cold and too big to ever feel comfortable and she could have sworn she’d heard the scurry of mice on at least one occasion. From her bedroom window she could see moors covered in snow, and scattered around were sheep from the neighbouring farms, dressed in their oversized woolly coats. To someone else it may have been beautiful, but Scarlett hated it.

She hated every last snowflake that landed on her Abercrombie coat. She hated the new school she had to enrol in, with all the happy, cheerful, country-like people. She wanted the materialistic crowd back. She missed the endless showcasing of wealth, the parties and the beach nights. Nobody understood her around here. They thought her tan was from a bottle, and that she was a spoilt rich kid. There was no nightlife, save being attacked by a sheep. There were none of the cute farmer’s sons she’d hoped to meet.

There was nothing.

Until she met him.

It was a Friday night. Downstairs, her parents were cooking dinner on the Aga stove and her brother was trying to find something to listen to on the crackling radio. The lights flicked on and off as the storm battered the power lines. Candles lined up on the mantelpiece dripped wax and the hail pelted furiously against the windows. Scarlett took a candle and headed upstairs, meaning to go to her room and wallow in self-piteous misery. But when she reached the spindling staircase that led to the attic, she hesitated.

For some reason, she felt an impulse to go up. She forgot about the spiders. She began to wonder if there might be some old Englishman’s treasure up there, some haul that her father could sell to move them back to LA. Maybe there was some dusty antique that could fetch a small fortune. Or a large fortune. Before she consciously thought about doing it, Scarlett was walking up the stairs and into the consuming blackness of the attic. Her candle was small and didn’t provide much light but the heat was comforting.

She reached the top and looked around, seeing nothing in the inky darkness. She stretched for the light switch and flicked it on. Nothing happened.

It was colder up in the attic and she felt goose bumps rise on her bare arms. She knew what was around her; a maze of cluttered, dusty rooms and cupboards. She’d seen it all before in the light of day and it wasn’t exciting. But tonight it felt different. Maybe it was the way the night was so suffocatingly dark, or maybe it was the way the weather outside made it almost impossible to hear anything else.

Or maybe it was because she could inexplicably sense another being. She couldn’t be sure but when she strained her ears, she felt like she heard the occasional movement.

“James?”

Her voice came out small because she knew that James was at the kitchen table, listening to the radio. Her parents were cooking. They were the only other people in the house. And yet, she could feel someone else.

Her natural instinct was to go downstairs. That was the smart thing to do. It was probably just a mouse, or maybe even a bat, and she should go and tell her father he needed to do something about it. Her feet didn’t move though. She stood perfectly still and waited. And then there was a momentary break in the storm and she heard it. Breathing.

“Who’s there?” she asked, and her voice came out loud and unsteady.

There was no reply.

Scarlett’s heart was beating fast out of both fear and curiosity.

“I said, who’s there?” she said more loudly this time, and she hoped her fear didn’t come out in her voice.

There was a pause and then a hoarse, rough voice replied, “Who’s asking?”

Scarlett felt like it was an appropriate moment to scream, but found she couldn’t. She took a step back. Her heart was beating so hard she could feel it in her ears.

“Who the hell are you?” she whispered.

There was a distinct sound of movement and just as she was about to turn and run, she heard her father’s distant yell from downstairs,

“Power’s back on!”

The bulb overhead flickered and light swiftly flooded the room. Scarlett blinked in the sudden brightness and looked around. There, leaning against the crumbling plaster wall, was a man. He was tall and thin and his black hair was neatly combed with a side parting, like some preppy American schoolboy. He was pale, and his dark eyes looked large in his sunken face. He was wearing a white shirt and black pants with braces. He looked like he belonged in the Victorian times.

“What the hell are you doing in my house?” Scarlett managed to say.

Your house?”

The man looked her up and down with a disdainful expression and then began examining his fingernails which were surprisingly clean. “I’ve lived in this house far longer than you.”

“Oh really?” Scarlett wasn’t sure whether to argue or call the police. “My dad owns this house. Now I don’t know how you got in, but you’d better get out before he sees you here.”

He laughed, although he didn’t sound amused. It was more of a cold, bored laugh.

“Am I meant to be entranced by your warm acquaintance? The name’s Julius by the way.”

“I don’t care what your name is!” Scarlett said stanchly. “All I care about is what you’re doing here.”

“I live here,” he said. “This is my house.”

And he smiled at her smugly. Scarlett’s breath caught in her throat. It wasn’t the smile that scared her. It was his teeth. They were all white and even except for his canines which were sharply pointed and could be described only as fangs.

“What are you?” she asked, gazing at him with disbelief.

She expected his answer but it didn’t make things any better. “I’m a vampire.”

He said it like it was the most natural thing in the world and at her wide-eyed expression he looked bored.

“Please don’t start with hysterics or anything. I’ve had this so many times over. I’m not going to bite you. Well, unless you want me to.”

He raised a black eyebrow at her. “Do you want me to?” And his tongue came out and licked the tips of his fangs.

“No, I do NOT want you to. Look, this makes no sense.” Scarlett said, and she was mentally going through all the reasonable explanations there were for finding this uncanny man in her attic.

“It makes perfect sense,” Julius said, sounding vaguely annoyed. “I’m a vampire, I come out at night. I’ve been living here for hundreds of years, I’ve been woken about thirty times and you’re the latest person to find me.”

“But you weren’t here before today.”

“You mean tonight. I only come out at night. I’ve got nothing against daylight. I just tan very easily and a tanned vampire isn’t a good look. No one looks good tanned. I mean, look at you! Where’d you get so orange? A sunbed? You should be wary of skin cancer, you know.”

Scarlett glared at him. “It’s natural! We moved here from Los Angeles.”

“Oh, no wonder you’re all so loud.” The vampire sniffed. “Americans, huh? Ugh. How many of you are there?”

“Just me and my brother and our parents… not that it’s any of your business.”

“Well, it is my business, actually. I have to keep check of all the people in my house.”

“Oh for god’s sake, get a life!”

“Ironic!”

“Look, I don’t know what to say to you. Or what to do. I’d really like to wake up and find out this is all a nightmare.”

Julius looked taken aback. “Why? Aren’t you having fun?”

“No, actually I’m not. I came up here and found a guy who tells me he’s a fucking vampire. Not my idea of fun. And not some kind of friendly vampire but a smug, self-absorbed vampire with a hairstyle from the seventies and the most patronising attitude, like, ever! I mean, do you expect me to be happy? And I can’t tell anyone about this because they’ll all think I’m insane, and imagining things, and maybe I am!”

She stepped forward and touched his arm just to make sure he was real. He was. And he was cold. Deathly cold.

“My god. You really are a vampire, aren’t you?”

“I did try to tell you.” Julius rolled his eyes. “Wow, you feel warm. Are you sure you don’t want me to bite you?”

Scarlett hastily pulled her hand away. “As in on the neck? Like suck my blood? You really do that?”

“Uh, yeah.” he said, like it was obvious. “How else do you think I’m still functioning?”

“But this house has been empty for years. Whose blood have you been drinking for all that time?”

“Oh, I nip out to a club every so often. It’s amazing what drunken people let you do.” he smirked.

“You’re inhuman!” Scarlett exclaimed.

“Oh, I’m human,” he said. “I’m just an undead corpse. I know it’s confusing. But I was born human and I’m not dead so that means I’m still human, right?”

Scarlett was speechless. “I don’t know what to say. Can you just disappear and leave me alone?”

He scowled at her. “God, you’re charming, aren’t you? I don’t want to disappear. And besides, we can help each other.”

“How?”

“I can give you things you want.”

Scarlett narrowed her eyes. “What kind of things?”

He smiled at her and for the first time he looked faintly attractive as his dark eyes sparkled. “Anything. Your wildest wishes.”

Scarlett’s laugh came out hollow. “So a vampire who grants wishes. Are you like a cross between a vampire and a genie?”

He rolled his eyes at her. “No. Look, the things you people believe about vampires are all wrong. We’re not afraid of garlic of crucifixes or holy water. We do have reflections.”

“Can you go into churches?”

“Obviously. What else do you think I do every Sunday morning?”

“And you grant wishes?” Scarlett asked sceptically.

“Yes. But not for free.”

She laughed. “Wait, lemme guess! You bite me, and then grant me a wish, right?”

“Right!” he said, looking impressed. “Wow, you’re smarter than you look!”

“But if you bite me, don’t I turn into a vampire?”

He sighed loudly. “Not so smart after all. No, genius, how could you turn into a vampire? You’re not a corpse. You’re alive. When I suck blood, It’s like when people give blood at a hospital. That’s all. Your body makes more right? You don’t end up any worse off.”

“Why do you need blood?”

“Because I’m a corpse! I need blood to subsist! I can’t make my own so I need to get it from the living.”

“Wow. This is worse than physics.” Scarlett eyed him doubtfully. “So… are you evil?”

“Look, enough of the questions!” he snapped, suddenly annoyed. “Come back another time. You know where to find me.” He paused before adding, “And don’t tell anyone about me.”

Scarlett opened her mouth to argue but he promptly vanished.

She stood there for a long time, waiting for him to reappear or make some snide remark but there was nothing. He was gone. And then her father called her for dinner and she walked downstairs on surprisingly steady legs and didn’t say a word about her discovery to anybody.

Thankfully, nobody seemed to realise how preoccupied she was because halfway through the meal, her brother James shifted in his chair, looked nervously at the rest of them and dropped a bombshell.

“Guys… I think I’m gay.”

Scarlett’s mouthful of spaghetti bolognese flew out of her mouth as she choked and reached for her glass of water. By the time she’d finished coughing, her mother had already taken James’ hand and was reassuring him that she had no opposition to his sexuality. Scarlett didn’t say anything but after dinner when she was washing up and he was drying, she broached the subject.

“So, did you meet some English guy?”

His laugh was awkward, befitting the moment. “You could say.”

“I guess I’m surprised.” Scarlett said tentatively. “You were always such a… boy.”

“I don’t know Scar. Ever since we moved here, my life just seems different, y’know?”

“Yeah. I get it.” Scarlett said, though she couldn’t help being shocked.

Back home, James had been the guy every other guy wanted to be. He was a lady-killer, a surfer, a heartbreaker with an endless string of girlfriends. And now, all of a sudden, he was gay? She shook her head and rinsed soapy water off the plates. Who said life was predictable?

***

She didn’t go back to the attic for a long time. Some days, she would think she’d imagined it all but deep down inside she knew she hadn’t. There was a real vampire in the attic and the more she thought about him, the more alluring he became. It was ridiculous to think of him in a sexual way, but she couldn’t help herself. She’d always been so aware of her sexuality and back home, she’d been practically addicted to porn.

So much so, that nothing was ever enough anymore. Porn had created some endless desire inside her, a void that couldn’t be fulfilled by normal sex. Even with her boyfriends, she’d always secretly wanted more. Something more, something kinkier, not just vanilla sex.

And a vampire seemed like something appropriately unusual. She didn’t think about Julius’ thin, almost skeletal build or his dismissive superiority. Instead she let her mind wander to thoughts of how innately stimulating it would be if he really bit her neck. She thought of how oddly sexy he looked with his quirky hairstyle and clothes. She thought of how cold his skin had felt and how it would feel against her own warm body.

She wondered what it would be like to have sex with him. He was different to all the other guys she’d met since moving to England. At school, the boys her own age were all muddy, rugby players and even the older ones seemed like nerds who played chess and read novels and went on long country walks. They were boring. They weren’t different or exciting, not like the mysterious, highbrow vampire hiding out in the attic.

But despite her darkest desires, Scarlett stayed well clear of the top storey. Sometimes her mother would go up to make a half-hearted attempt at rejuvenating the tired, dated rooms, and sometimes James would spend hours up there looking out of the window through his binoculars but neither of them ever seemed to see or meet anything untoward.

The days wore on; school closed up for the holidays and before long Christmas Eve arrived. There was to be an evening party at the mansion, courtesy of Scarlett’s mother who had invited every last person she’d met when out in the nearby village. They were all so typically English as they parked their Land Rover’s and Vauxhall’s out front and crowded through the old oak doors with whisky bottles in their hands. They were loud and cheerful and it might have been fun had they not had the most unintelligible accents Scarlett had ever had the misfortune to hear.

There was tinsel, candy canes, music and eggnog and everyone seemed to be having fun except for her. Parties back home were always so much better. In LA the guys were tanned and cute, everybody wore fewer clothes and there wasn’t a single flake of goddamn snow. Here, the men were either old or awkward; no one was up for a casual encounter and even if they were, her parents were around and that put a permanent damper on things.

She found herself thinking of Julius and how the noise of the party was probably annoying him just as much as it was annoying her, and before really thinking about it, she headed upstairs. She paused at the attic steps and was thinking of abandoning the whole idea when James came down, dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a green turtleneck sweater.

“Hey. Whatcha doing?” he asked.

“Escaping from this lame excuse of a party.” Scarlett said. “What were you doing up there?”

“Uh… bird watching.” James said, after a moment of hesitation. “I know you think it’s lame, but I saw these two robins on the fence, like a proper Christmas card scene. It was amaz-”

“You’ve changed since we came here,” Scarlett interrupted in disgust. “Back home you’d have been watching girls rather than dumbass robins.”

James just shrugged and headed downstairs, leaving her feeling faintly guilty. She looked up the spindling staircase and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Tentatively, she climbed up.

“Hello?” she asked uncertainly, upon reaching the top. “Anyone here?”

“Depends what you want,” Julius said and he appeared before her, looking just as she remembered, better than she remembered in fact. He seemed healthier, less sallow-faced and she found herself wondering whether she was just seeing him differently, now that her feelings about him had changed.

“So this neck-biting thing,” she began. “How does it happen exactly?”

“Well,” Julius said, settling down on a dusty armchair. “However you’d like.”

Scarlett bit her lip. “What I mean to ask is whether it’s like… sexual in any way?”

The corner of his mouth lifted in a smile and Scarlett felt her knees weaken as a blush crept across her cheeks. She leaned against the wall and tried to act cool and indifferent.

“Oh yeah, it’s sexual,” Julius said serenely. “How could sucking someone’s blood not be sexual? You know, people fear vampires, but there’s a very fine line between fear and desire. Sex with a vampire is incredibly common. In fact, it makes the bloodsucking seem a lot more acceptable. People let go when they have sex, they’re more open to… atypical things.”

His words made sense and it scared her that someone so weird and fantastical could be speaking so rationally.

“Does this mean you’re considering it?” he asked and his dark eyes glittered with excitement. “The neck biting, I mean.”

Scarlett was used to playing hard to get but Julius was a vampire and if she turned him down he might never come back so she seized the moment and said, “Yes. I am.”

His smile was carnivorous. “Excellent. I’m presuming you want to go down the sex route?”

“Well, yeah. How’d you guess?” Scarlett joked.

“Call it vampiristic intuition,” Julius smirked. “Have you got a time in mind?”

“Right now.” Scarlett said seriously and her heart quickened as she realised what she was letting herself in for.

“Eager, huh?” Julius smiled. “Let’s say five minutes. I’ll meet you in your room. I’m sure you don’t want to do it here.” he added, looking around their dusty surroundings with disdain.

“Um, okay.” Scarlett said and he promptly disappeared.

She hesitated a moment, wondering if there was time to change her mind before realising she didn’t really want to. Checking her watch, she went back downstairs to help herself to a drink. Everything was so normal. Everyone was so normal. Nobody would believe she was about to have sex with a goddamn vampire. It seemed so surreal and she could feel herself getting more and more turned on as she thought about it.

Time passed slowly and she made meaningless conversation with meaningless people as each second slowly ticked by until eventually it was time and she was heading up the stairs and hesitating before opening her own bedroom door.

She slammed it hurriedly shut behind her, because standing by her CD player was a shirtless Julius.

“Ooh, Vampire Weekend!” he exclaimed and his face lit up as he pressed play.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Scarlett groaned. “The vampire listens to Vampire Weekend? Do you like The Vamps too?”

“No!” He looked rather offended. “I’m into indie music. Got any Arctic Monkeys?”

“No.”

“What a shame.” he said disappointedly, and he crossed the room, tugged off the rest of his clothes and reclined on her bed. He looked sexy in an unexpected way. Never before would she have been turned on by pale skin and a lean figure but Julius pulled it off in an indisputable way. He looked… hot.

“So, I think this is the right time to get undressed.” he said pointedly and he grinned at her, baring his teeth a little too much so she could see them in all their sharp glory. His hand moved down over his stomach to wrap around his cock and he slowly stroked it, his eyes never leaving hers.

All of a sudden, Scarlett got a sinking feeling in her stomach because she knew what was about to happen and she knew it was all her own damn fault. She wanted to hate him. She wanted to hate his goddamn drawling voice and the way he looked at her through half-closed eyes so she could just see the glint of his dark irises. Damn him. Trouble, that’s what he was. Sinful, attractive, blood-sucking trouble.

He didn’t move towards her. He lay there on her bed and didn’t move a muscle because he seemed to know she’d come towards him. The room was tidy and spotless and everything was in place, just as she liked it. The only thing that shouldn’t have been there was him. She could hear the sound of the party going on downstairs and she still held a paper cup of fruit punch in her hand. People were talking loudly and laughing uproariously, the music was pumping through the walls and she could hear footsteps constantly stumbling up and down the stairs.

Nobody came into the room though. She half-wished that they would because then it would save her from having to choose. If someone stumbled in, Julius would have to disappear and there’d be a shot at escape. But nobody opened the door. Nobody even tried it and the stillness surrounding her contrasted surreally with the chaos downstairs.

She set her cup down on the dresser and reached behind her to pull down the zipper on her sparkly dress. It fell to the floor quicker than she would have liked and she turned and slid the lock on the door across, sealing her fate.

“God, you’re beautiful.” Julius said and his eyes ran hungrily up and down her body.

She walked towards him and his hands came out, cold against her warm skin. They heated slowly, the longer they lingered, and soon the initial discomfort was over and he felt like any other man. Almost. When they kissed, she felt the sharp points of his teeth with the tip of her tongue and shivered out of both curiosity and desire. It shouldn’t have turned her on to imagine them sinking into her flesh but for some reason, it did.

He pulled her down onto the bed with surprising strength and rolled her onto her back, hovering over her uncertainly.

“You’re sure about this?”

She didn’t need to hesitate. “Yes.”

He leaned down to kiss her again, softly and gently, his lips trailing down her throat and between the smooth curves of her breasts. She tangled her hands in his hair, messing up his side parting in an attempt to make him look more natural. She felt his fingers hook into the waistband of her panties and she lifted up a little to allow him to drag them off so they were both naked.

She felt his body press against the length of hers and it was like she’d imagined, only better, because this time he was real and not just an intangible dream. His hand stole its way between her legs, and his fingers were sliding inside her without invitation. He moved them slowly, feeling her silky wetness.

“God, I’ve been looking forward to this,” he murmured, and Scarlett’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Really?”

He smiled at her fondly. “Really. Not that I’d made any assumptions. I’ve just been hoping.”

Scarlett smiled, as he lined the head of his cock up to her entrance. “Me too. I thought you’d turn me down though.”

He gave her a faintly puzzled smile. “No chance.”

And he slowly, painstakingly, slid into her. Scarlett closed her eyes and made sure she treasured every last sensation as he moved gently in and out until he was fully buried in her pulsing channel. He felt hard and hot… and so beautifully wrong. He rested his weight on his forearms as he began sliding in and out of her, his breath coming out ragged.

Scarlett reached up impulsively to kiss him and he reciprocated, sucking hard on her lower lip in a way that made her insides squirm with need. Julius seemed to sense it as he began moving more purposefully, reaching down to grasp her firm ass as he thrust into her hard and without restraint. Scarlett moaned, her hips lifting off the bed to match his as he settled into a hard, fast rhythm, slamming his cock deep inside her with every thrust. It felt wonderful.

It had been a long time since she’d had sex, but to Scarlett, Julius overshadowed all her previous partners by a mile. He seemed to understand her body in a way that no one else had; the way his fingers dug into her flesh and his grunts echoed in her ears, aroused her more than any other guy ever had. The hard glide of his thick cock felt so good and it went on and on, harder and faster as he took her closer and closer to the edge.

She could feel the sweat all over her body as heat flushed through her and each time she thought she was finally about to taste that sweet release, Julius would slow and bring her back, controlling her expertly. Half of her wanted him to give it to her but the other half wanted the blissful torture to go on forever because the kind of agony she was feeling was surely the best kind anyone had ever felt.

It felt wild and sinful. She could hear the sound of rain pitter-pattering against the window but more than that, she could hear the sound of Julius’ cock as it slammed in and out of her dripping pussy. The moon shone through the open curtains and she could see the sheen of sweat covering Julius’ face as he simultaneously gave and took pleasure, his mouth hanging open and the glint of his teeth just visible in the dark orifice of his mouth. Scarlett’s heart was pounding as their bodies moved as gracefully as bodies can move in a hard fuck and she felt his mouth at her neck.

“Please, Julius…” she gasped.

He slammed into her hard and she felt the burning heat caress her body as she came hard, clenching around his throbbing cock. At that very moment, she felt his teeth sink into her neck and it hurt, but then it didn’t hurt because the pain became pleasure and Julius was sucking at the wound he’d just created and she felt so utterly desired. He came hard, his mouth still attached to her neck and Scarlett felt him pulse inside her before he sucked hard one final time. Then it was over and they were lying there, sweaty and spent.

She didn’t feel like she wanted to move. She wanted to stay frozen in that moment, with Julius’ weight crushing her into the bed, and his unsteady gasps in her ears. They lay there a long time before Julius spoke.

“Are you okay?”

“More than okay.” Scarlett said, and she felt a smile tug at the corner of her mouth.

Julius rolled off her body and dragged the sheet up to cover them both. He leaned his head on his hand and gazed down at her.

“Didn’t you want to make a wish?” he whispered, and in the silver moonlight that came through the open curtains, he looked like the most handsome man in the universe.

“No. Not right now.” Scarlett whispered, and she meant it. In that moment she felt like there was nothing more she could possibly want.

***

Morning came and Julius was gone to wherever he went. Scarlett didn’t quite know how she was supposed to feel. Her emotions lingered somewhere between happy and apprehensive as she stepped out of her bed and made her way over to the mirror on the wall. She pushed her long brown hair back over her shoulder and tilted her head back to get a good reflection of her neck. It wasn’t what she expected. She’d expected some kind of love bite but instead there were just two small neat marks marring her otherwise flawless skin.

She ran her fingertip over them and shivered in delight. It all felt like some wonderfully dirty secret and she wrapped a large fluffy scarf around her neck before going downstairs to breakfast. Thankfully, it was snowing, so her winter apparel didn’t seem to surprise anyone, and besides, James was wearing one too.

***

Julius became her secret lover. He would appear in her room late at night and they’d talk about anything and everything before having sex, the hot, kinky, bloodsucking kind, and it always felt wonderful and it never got boring. Julius made life in Yorkshire more palatable. Scarlett found that she complained less about the cold, atrocious weather and suddenly began to enjoy herself. She even began to appreciate the view from her window, especially since she’d heard so much about what had happened around the house over the last few centuries.

Everything was going well. Until it all changed.

It was a Saturday night and Scarlett was heading out of her room towards the attic when she stopped short.

James was coming down the stairs, a thick blue scarf wrapped around his neck. Suddenly, Scarlett felt uneasy.

“Why are you wearing that?” she asked.

“It’s cold!” James said evasively. “Besides, you’re wearing one too.”

Scarlett eyed him suspiciously. “What were you doing in the attic?”

James shrugged. “Not much.” he said, and he hurried away before she could question him further.

Slowly, she climbed up the creaking staircase. “Julius?”

There was the sound of movement and then his voice came out from somewhere. “What is it?”

“I just wanted to talk,” Scarlett said. “Where are you?”

There was a pause.

“I’ll meet you in your room,” he said. “I’m kind of having a… hair situation.”

“Um, okay.” Scarlett retraced her steps back to her room and waited. A few minutes later, Julius appeared, his hair looking unremarkable.

“I kinda got some cobwebs in it,” he said, rolling his dark eyes. “Don’t you just hate it when that happens?”

Scarlett was about to agree when she heard her mother and James arguing. She went over to her door, opened it a crack and listened.

…just concerned!” Her mother was saying. “I mean, we’ve never even met him and you’re always so secretive.”

I just want some space!” James yelled back, “I don’t know why you need to know every last detail about my life!

All I want to know is who this person is! I’m concerned about you!

He asked me not to tell anyone!” James said defensively. “He’s… different. That’s why I like him. He asked me to keep him a secret, and I respect that.

Scarlett frowned. Everything about James’ relationship seemed oddly familiar.

Well, what does he look like?

James laughed. “Like that even matters. He’s tall, dark and handsome, does that satisfy you?

Scarlett felt tense as she turned to look at the tall, dark, handsome vampire sitting on her bed.

Suddenly, everything made sense. The scarves and the turtlenecks, James’ declaration, his secrecy…

“You…” Scarlett said, stunned.

“What?” Julius raised an eyebrow.

“You… you’ve been with James, haven’t you? Just like me.”

Julius looked confused. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” he said, a bored expression on his once-pale face.

“Don’t lie to me.” Scarlett glared at him, confusion and anger wrestling in her mind. “You’ve been with him. That’s why he’s gay. That’s why he wears a scarf. You’re evil… you’re….”

Julius scowled. “Look, I can’t deal with these mood-swings and all this hormonal shit, okay? Can you please get a grip?”

“No,” Scarlett took a step back. “You manipulated me. You lied.”

“Uh, no I didn’t.”

“You said you’d give me a wish.”

“I was telling the truth. You just haven’t said what you wish for yet.”

“What I wish for?!” Scarlett almost screamed as the enormity of her foolishness threatened to choke her. “I wish that you would just disappear from-”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Julius interrupted anxiously. “You’re making a mistake, you need to stop. I think you’re confused. I haven’t-”

“I don’t want to hear it!” Scarlett snapped and she took a deep breath and made her wish loudly and resolutely. “I wish that you’d disappear,”

“No! Wait!”

“From my life, and from this house,”

“Please Scarlett!”

“Forever.”

The last she saw of him was his desperate, beautiful face and then he was gone and everything was still. She didn’t know how long she was standing there in utter shock before she sat heavily down in her desk chair and tried to tell herself she’d done the right thing. She had done the right thing. It had been foolish of her to ever believe that Julius could be a good guy. He was a vampire, for God’s sake, and though he may have been smooth and charming, he was evil. He was evil and now he was gone and she’d done the right thing.

For the first time, she realised it was raining outside the window. Thunder and lightning were crashing down and the storm was the only thing she could hear. She hated it. She hated the rain, the snow, the hail and most of all she hated this goddamn house and all the fucking problems it had created!

Her door swung open suddenly and James appeared, his face scrunched up in concern.

“Are you okay? You’ve been in here for ages.”

Scarlett stared at him a moment and then shrugged. “Yeah, I was uh, just thinking.”

“Oh.” James hesitated a moment in the doorway.

“What is it?” Scarlett asked.

“Well, I wondered if you wanted to meet the guy I was telling you about…” James seemed suddenly shy.

Scarlett stared at him. “What? I thought he didn’t want anyone to know who he was.”

“Yeah, well, that’s changed. Mom kept badgering me and I figured it couldn’t hurt for you guys to meet him.”

James hurried out of the room and Scarlett frowned, confused. She wondered how he’d feel when he realised Julius was gone and whether or not he’d ever find out the real truth about what had happened.

But ten seconds later and he was back with a tall, blonde guy in tow.

“This is Al. Al, this is my sister Scarlett.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Al smiled widely.

Scarlett just stared. She looked at James, bemused. “This is your… boyfriend?”

“Uh-huh.”

She stood up. “Can you give us a minute, Al?”

“Sure.” He stepped out of the room and closed the door behind him.

“What’s up?” James asked, frowning at her.

“I thought… it was someone else.” Scarlett said, her eyes searching his face for the truth. “I heard you telling Mom he was tall, dark and han-”

James rolled his eyes. “I was being sarcastic.”

“You mean to say Al is the only guy you’ve been involved with?”

“Uh yeah.” James was staring at her like she was insane.

Scarlett stared back. “Take your scarf off.”

“No!” Her brother looked mortified.

“Why not?”

“Just… because…”

“James Arthur Kennedy, if you do not take that scarf off, Mom’s going to find out about the time you fucked her best friend. Don’t forget I have video footage.”

James glared at her before his shoulders sunk in defeat. “Okay, okay.”

Squirming uncomfortably, he reluctantly unwound the knitted scarf from around his neck to reveal… a love bite.

Scarlett could only stare. “Are you fucking serious?”

“It was Al’s idea, alright?”

“I do not believe this!”

“Scar, you’re overreacting.” James was frowning at her. “This is not a big deal.”

“So you’ve never even met Julius?”

James put his scarf back on and edged towards the door. “Who the hell is Julius? Julius Caesar?”

He wasn’t acting.

Scarlett wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. She wanted to turn back time and get back the one person who’d made her new life bearable. But she couldn’t. She had made her own bed and she collapsed down onto it, staring vacantly at the ceiling as a confused and concerned James quietly left the room.

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