July 4th, New York City
My Chucks skidded on a mess of pavement. Considering I was running like there were demons behind me that made me about half a second away from breaking my ass. I kept it together, though, recovering my footing with a move that would never be described as graceful. I didn’t care. I kept running. Demons weren’t that far from the truth.
Okay, so my chasers were vampires and not actual demons. To-MAY-to, to-MAH-toh—sometimes names were just labels. In this case what mattered was the attitude, and, unfortunately for me, their attitude was that they were pissed off and wanted to tell me about it. From the comments they were making, they wanted to tell me about it violently. Words like “food chain” and “lesson” snaked toward me from their mouths. Phrases like “Type O bitch” and “Happy Meal” slithered close behind.
I hurled myself around a dented garbage can and onto Grove Street. Cursing that would make my dead grandmother blush hurdled from my mouth immediately after. Grove was a ghost town, the only signs of life coming from inside the neon-laced Tranny bars. While those were packed and might have offered some safety, at seventeen I was too young, and too female, to get past the bouncers.
I didn’t have time to waste getting booted to the pavement by lawyers in drag. The bloodsuckers were playing with me, laughing and teasing and taking their time. But that would end. Soon. I’d tossed a venti Frappuccino over their heads. And while my reaction when I’d seen them coming out of the subway was understandable—I was human, and they’d startled me, so they’d taken a coffee bath, and I’d bolted—it had clued them in that I knew what they were.
Rule number one with the supernatural: don’t let them know you see them unless you’re suicidal or stupid.
Rule number two: don’t waste good coffee on the undead.
With Grove Street deserted, it was time for a new plan. I had a cramp in my side that felt like I’d been stuck with a knife, and I ate too much sugar every day to be running a marathon. I had to find a place to hide, or at least make myself unsuckable. But there was nothing. Nowhere. I had to get to another street that would have some life.
Ignoring the cramp, I barreled into an alley that led to Christopher Street. Since supernaturals wouldn’t give away what they were in front of regular people willingly, Christopher Street and its 24/7 crowd was about as safe as I’d get.
Rule number three with the supernatural: they wanted to stay hidden almost as much as humans wanted to believe they didn’t exist.
Beyond the tight brick walls and moving shadows of the alley, I saw the chaos of light and sound that was Christopher Street. Maybe I’d make it. Or so I thought for two seconds. It was about how long it took someone to step out and block the end. I slid to a stop, my heart rising faster than the vomit in my throat. “Shit. Oh, shit.” One of the vampires had gotten in front of me. From the limp hair and anger-fuzzed eyes, it was the one who’d taken my coffee to his face.
The other two slunk into the alley behind me as I cursed, their footsteps muted on the greasy cobblestones. They weren’t out of breath. It was so not fair. I leaned over, my hands on my sides, and tried to swallow my heart back into my chest. It didn’t want to budge. I didn’t blame it.
They’d blocked me in, and there was nothing around me but stinky garbage and fire escapes too high to climb.