I cursed myself. Distracted by my stupid crush on Crandall, renewed by yet another break-up with Beryl, I didn’t sense trouble until we walked into it. “Run Crandall,” I said. I shook off the pain and pushed to my feet.
He stepped forward, sluggish, like a ragdoll. His eyes fixed on hers, he extended a hand to her. I’d seen it before. I fumbled in my coat, my concern for Crandall quaking through my fingers. I nearly dropped it. Nearly.
“Back off,” I growled. I lunged at her. Instead of dodging me, she grabbed Crandall’s wrist and spun him into her arms, shielding her body with his. I froze, my arm cocked back holding the stake beside my ear. “Let him go, you filthy corpse!”
With a smirk that sent a shiver down my spine, she raised Crandall’s hand and licked the blood from his scraped palm. His eyes drifted shut and his head fell back against her shoulder.
She lifted the arm draped over his collarbone. “Do you wish to go, my pet?”
My fingers flexed on the stake in my hand. I knew what she was doing, but I only needed a moment. “Come here, Crank,” I said. “Get away from her.”
He lifted his head and opened his eyes. He looked stoned and then some. He grinned at me and his head lolled on his shoulders in a sloppy shake of denial.
I gestured with my empty hand. “C’mon man. Let’s go. She’s dangerous.”
She waved dismissively at me. “Fetch the stake,” she purred. Crandall stepped forward, towards me. When he was close enough, I shoved past him, my eyes locked on the beast sneering at me from the face of a woman. She stood fast, unflinching.
“No!” Crandall grabbed my arm, throwing all his weight against my swing.
“Damn it!” I struggled with him, but even to destroy her, I could not hurt him. It was a weak reaction that I hoped I wouldn’t regret.
Crandall wrenched the stake out of my hand. I grabbed him around the waist and dragged him back. I whispered his name against his ear. “Crank. C’mon man. Crandall. Hear me. C’mon, shut her out.”
His struggle against me shifted from angry and violent to the wild panic I knew. “What the fuck?” he panted. “Let me go.”
I loosened my grip but held his arm. “We have to get out of here,” I said. I glanced around but couldn’t spot her. She was still near, probably watching us, amused at having escaped me.
I reached for the stake as he backed away, but he held it behind his back, warding me off with his free hand. Ok, fine, I thought. He could have it. Whatever it took to get us out of here, and fast. I took one last look around, didn’t see her, and then scanned the ground looking for the stake I dropped.
“Looking for this?”
I spun around. Crandall held up both stakes, one in each hand. Behind him, my quarry; her fingers danced across his neck. She dipped her head, thin pearl daggers revealed in the breath before her lips hit his neck and her teeth pierced his flesh.