I'm going to write a real blog post later tonight, I promise... but this one's for my peeps on amazon, who asked for a teaser of 'Rampant'-- just to, you know, prove that I ain't talkin' out of an ass full of fuzzy bunnies and bullshit. This one deals with sort of a, uhm, 'sticky subject' that has come up with the idea of vampires and, well, living human females, so I warn you--it could very well give you the oogies. (It certainly gave Cory the oogies...) But if you're oogie proof, go ahead and enjoy!
“Pweaze,” I begged now, not wanting to think about the fact that all of the headway we’d made with Jack and his piss-bitchy attitude had gone south in a hurry after I’d had to channel Green’s power again to pin Gretchen back against the wall and pry her jaws open so she could drop a dazed and unconscious Teague.
Jacky turned to me, eyebrows raised, and I shrugged, wishing for death or an analgesic or alcohol or something.
“Jacky, you do id wadn our fault… pweaze stop taking your wowwy oub ob us—id doebn hep. Ad for da hobework, it doedn’t madder—I’b compwetewy wost.” The Canadian politics thing and a vote of no confidence. Why would a leader want to call for a vote of no confidence ? I totally didn’t get it—I mean, if my guys didn’t have confidence in me, I assumed they’d run away and leave me to face the bad things by myself. I looked up to where Bracken was glaring balefully at me from across the table and amended that thought.
He’d step in front of me and get eaten first.
I gave him a lame smile, and then an expression of horror as I saw who was approaching us from behind his right shoulder.
“Sit,” I muttered and Bracken’s handsome face scrunched up in puzzlement.
“I am sitting,” he replied blankly, and I sighed and pulled out another Kleenex just as a cultured, British voice spoke from behind him.
“Good afternoon, Lady Cory, afternoon, all,” said Professor Hallow, and Bracken closed his eyes and mouthed “Shit!” at me while I widened my eyes in agreement. That’s what I’d said, dammit!
“Good abdernoob, Professor,” I tried, and blew another phlemwad into the Kleenex.
“You’re sick?” he asked, puzzled—as he should be. People didn’t get sick on Green’s Hill. The non-humans didn’t get viruses, and Green could cure anything else.
“Abberdzeez,” I tried, and was relieved when Nicky supplied the actual word for me.
Hallow looked a little bemused. “Allergies? Oh my. I forget sometimes…”
“I doh, I doh—my poow widdow fwagile human body. Gween cab heal da sympdoms, but da abberdeez aw till deh.” Oh Christ—I couldn’t understand what I just said. I resisted the urge to bang my forehead against the table.
“Cory,” Bracken said hesitantly, “I can’t tell your sarcasm from your snot anymore. Maybe we should just give it up and go home…”
“We hab fibals next week!” I protested. “I cab take you awwl oub ob cwass wib fibals!” Auuuuuurrrggghhhh!!!!
Suddenly Hallow wasn’t behind Bracken anymore, he was in front of me, and I raised my face up to him and gazed at his handsome sidhe face with bleary eyes. As rotten as I felt—and as itchy as my eyes were—I could almost see him with his glamour on, and he was still damned handsome. To humans he looked to be in his late 40’s, with short silver-blonde hair and a clean, to-die-for academician’s profile.
To those of us at the table, he looked like a very handsome sidhe, with a hip-length silver braid and unfathomably beautiful triangular features that became his people. To me, right now, he looked like the uncle you’d avoid because he was the only one in the family with high expectations from you and you didn’t know how to deal with that.
“You can’t take any medicine for this?” he asked kindly, and Nicky and Bracken both gave a heartfelt “No!” Nicky was right next to me, and I leaned against him in comfort. I missed his smell—when my head wasn’t clogged with crap, he smelled like vanilla and bird, and I liked it. It was comforting.
“I boff bwood,” I tried, and Nicky shook his head, rust-tipped bangs flopping in and out of his eyes.
“’Just let us talk, please?” he begged, and I shrugged and gestured for him to continue.
“She barfs blood,” he translated, and Hallow’s eyebrows met his hairline and his expression grew… well, hurt, I guess.
“How long has this been going on?” he asked, looking to Bracken, and then looking at the distance between us. “And are you and Bracken at odds?” Bracken and I were usually touching—always, we were touching. There had been days when he would hoist me up in his solidly muscled arms and not put me down until schools’ end—and even if he wasn’t carrying me like a child, he was still touching me. My hair, my shoulders… I’d felt naked for the last two days, because I hadn’t had Bracken on my skin.
“Doh!” I protested, my own voice growing hurt. “We’re fibe!” Frustrated and miserable, I put my face in my hands, and Hallow crouched in front of me and took my hands in his, meeting my angry, swollen, unhappy eyes with his own gorgeous turquoise gaze.
“Then why aren’t you touching?” he asked quietly, aware that his outburst may have just driven me further into the self-protective shell that his presence grew on my back.
I opened my mouth and closed it again, and Renny, being the only girl at the table, rolled her eyes and chuffed, “Because she’s on the rag, Professor, and the last time he touched her when she was riding the pony, she bled out into the john.”
I closed my eyes and wished for death. It had happened two days after we’d gotten back from Sugarpine, and it had sucked large.
In retrospect, I should have guessed something because of the way the vampires treated me that night. It started when I was in the steel room with Gretchen, trying to convince her that just because I had killed her pet kitty (!) didn’t mean I was a mean bitch, out to spank her.
It hadn’t gone well. She’s warmed to me since, but on this night she was irritable and pissy, demanding new clothes (the ones we’d gotten her were not frilly enough, apparently. Ick!) and missing her mother and crying for her family. In spite of the fact that Phillip had tasted the clear memory of her killing her loved ones, she seemed to have forgotten that fact. About once a week we told her, gently, that her family was dead, and then she cried, and then, within a couple of days, she’d forget again. It was like Alzheimer’s disease in a little kid, and it was baffling and tragic. Sometimes, when we couldn’t take the sadness of telling her one more time, we simply told her that they were on a trip and would be back soon.
Two days after she’d arrived at Green’s, she still remembered they were dead and how they died, and had been edgy and restless, pacing and refusing to let me read to her or play dolls—she even ripped a few of them apart, looking puzzled and lost as she did so as though she’d forgotten she had the strength to do it. I was just about to give up and let someone else take a turn, when she suddenly stopped still and thrust her nose in the air like the consummate predator she’d been turned into.
Her eyes closed, and a very vulpine smile crossed her narrow, apple-cheeked face, and the look she gave me through suddenly red and whirling eyes made my stomach cramp.
“You smell like candy,” she murmured delightedly, her fangs partway extended and her little behind moving like a lion cub about ready to pounce.
I’ve learned a few things in the last two years—I didn’t think twice as I threw a power barrier up between us and sprinted through the door.
When I got outside of the steel safe—complete with titanium lock—and closed the door behind me, I leaned on it in relief. As I did so, I looked up and realized that every vampire in the hill except Grace was in the common room outside.
They were all looking dreamily at me, their whirling eyes half-closed and their teeth half-extended.
Marcus gave a sweet, psychotic half-smile and said, “You smell like hot chocolate…” and I decided enough was enough.
I put power in my voice—everything I had—and commanded them all to stay downstairs in the lower darkling. And then, without running (and pricking that whole ‘predator’ thing they’ve got going) I walked with as much dignity as I could to the top of the stairs.
Grace was waiting for me at the top of the stairs, some serious control in place to keep her eyes from whirling.
“Baby,” she said when I got to her, “I think your body has finally caught up to you.”
I sent her a blank, puzzled look, and she sighed and looped an arm over my shoulders, steering me towards my bedroom.
“Cory, darlin’, you’re about to start your period—it’s like a vampire delicacy. Usually on the hill we don’t run into it but…”
“Oh,” I said numbly, thinking immediately that there went all my evening plans with Bracken. Then, “oooooh!” because suddenly I understood why I was wearing eau de tasty as far as the rest of the vampires were concerned, and then… “Oh…ICK!” because I am not without imagination and the word ‘delicacy’ finally hit me.
Grace chuckled a little, but the sound was strained. “Cory, my girl, don’t ever forget that we’re not human anymore. Now I’m going to rustle up some supplies for you, and then I’m going to make myself scarce. We’ll stay out of the hill or down in the darkling for a couple of days—and maybe next month, we won’t be caught so unaware.”
“A couple of months…” I said numbly, and she looked at me with surprise. “I never was very regular—two months, sometimes three…”
Grace nodded her head with approval. “Well, that at least should make things easier. Now scoot—I need to send someone shopping.”
I wandered back to my room in a daze, and after sitting in fuddled silence and knitting for a half an hour, I realized that I’d felt funky and crampy and tired since I’d left Green’s bed that morning, and the light bulb went on. I’d known this was coming—it had just been so damned long, I’d forgotten what it was like.
Bracken came in then, fresh from helping Teague and Jack remodel their refurbished barn/garage/cottage, and as he started stripping, I made a dash for the bathroom so I could be done before he took his shower. It didn’t matter—he moved too quickly, and the fact was, the elves had no shame and no disgust over bodily functions. Taking a piss was taking a piss—everyone did it, and it didn’t really phase them. Bracken walked in on me once when Adrian was still alive and he was so casual about it, I don’t think he even remembered me, freaking out.
So on this day, as I was sitting on the potty, staring stupidly at the stained crotch of my underwear, neither of us even flinched as he brushed my leg on his way to the shower.
And that was when my uterus turned itself inside out in a frantic attempt to get closer to him, because, hello, it was saturated with blood, and that was Bracken’s element.
When I came to, Bracken was crouched in the corner of the shower, looking like powdered death from shutting off his power in a helluva hurry, Green was hovering over me, propping me up on the toilet, and everybody in the hill who wasn’t a vampire was crammed into our tiny bathroom, staring at me as I dumped three days worth of blood in two and a half minutes.
Fun times: remembering them now made my face flush and seemed to have some sort of magnification effect on the goddamned cramps.
Hallow read the wealth of what I was not saying as it trotted across my face, and if anything, the look on his face grew more hurt than it had before.
“This is a good thing, right?” he asked, as though struggling to be positive about something. “Your body is functioning correctly, it hasn’t done that in a very long time, right?”
“Righb,” I murmured, trying to forget the ashen pallor of Bracken’s face as Green had healed me and then cleaned me up in front of fifty-gazunga people. Besides cutting himself off from his source of power—which was potentially deadly for him if he did it too long—Brack had felt as though he had done something wrong.
“Tell dat do Bwacken,” I added, looking at him now. His neck was drooped over his textbooks, but he was looking at me intently, and I was completely unable to fathom the expression in his dark, pond-shadow eyes, so I turned back to Hallow. “Wad deh sombdig you wandig, Pwofeddor?”
“Isn’t your menstrual cycle enough for me to be here, Lady Cory?” he asked, with that inexplicable hurt.
I looked out over our little table with a pained expression. Jacky, Max, La Mark, Renny, and Nicky looked right back with undisguised interest, and I suppressed a groan. Not a one of them hadn’t trusted me with his or her life, or worse, the life of a loved one.
“Pwofeddor, cad we nod talk aboub my pewiob wight dow?”
“Why not?” he muttered, seemingly to himself. “Apparently we can’t talk about anything, can we?”
Oh Jesus. “Wad I do?” I asked, so exhausted by this conversation that I was on the edge of tears.
Fortunately, Prof Hallow is not nearly as repressed as I am.
“Is this why you missed our last three sessions?” he demanded, and I winced as Bracken and Nicky both said, “Three sessions!” practically in tandem and I shook my head.
“Doh!” I’d missed the last three sessions because I didn’t want to talk about Green—my period had nothing to do with it.
“Then why in the name of trees in summer didn’t you ask me to heal you?!” he demanded, standing to his full height, and I blinked at him stupidly.
“Yes—I’ve done it before, remember?”
“Heal be?” I asked again, feeling dumber than a dark star.
“You don’t remember?” he asked, the hurt and exasperation easing up in his lovely features and his habitual, neutral-friendly ‘counselor’s expression’ resuming its place.
“I do dow!” I wailed with some emphasis, and he laughed a little, kindly, and sat back down on his haunches and took my hands.
“Would you like me to heal you, Lady Cory?” he asked, and at the promise of no misery, the tears I’d held back threatened to spill over.
“Da cwamps too?” I asked, hating my weakness, and Bracken let out a hoarse little groan. I hadn’t complained about the cramps—he hadn’t known.
“The cramps too,” Hallow murmured with gentleness. “In fact, Sir Knight,” he said to Bracken, my lover/protector, “if you wish, you and your lady and I could take a walk—if we take much care, you two may even hold hands. Would that be acceptable, Lady Cory?”