Mike straightened, assuming the conversation was over, but Crandall had other plans.
“How vulnerable?” Something unsettling glowed in his green eyes.
Nica narrowed hers, glaring at him. “Vulnerable enough. I’m not stupid. I know you think I am, but I’m not. I’d rather duck into a random building for the day than stay here with three hunters.”
“So that part of the stories is true,” Crandall pressed, taking two steps closer to Nica. “When the sun rises, you’re helpless.”
Nica looked sick, but she bravely lifted her chin and met Crandall stare. “Which is why I’m leaving before the dawn.”
Crandall rolled his eyes and snorted his disgust. “You are stupid. I don’t care where the fuck you sleep. Where does Judas spend the day?”
“With Max, and the vampires from Club Blood, and before you ask, I’m not giving you that location. These are my friends. I’ll only help you get Judas if it doesn’t put anyone else in danger.”
“Club Blood?” Mike asked.
Nica shrugged one shoulder. She seemed less freaked out now. “You know the club. Blood Moon? The other vampires call it Club Blood.”
“Nice,” Crandall growled. “Why don’t you call it the local diner?”
“Hey, back off.” Nica stepped into Crandall’s personal space and bared her fangs as she snapped at him. “You’ve been there. We just like to hang out and forget we’re cursed. You know? You’ve always been safe there. All of your band. You have no right to be so judgmental. Some of us didn’t ask for this, you know. I’d rather be human, getting on with my life, but instead, some jerk ambushed me. Killed me. Ruined everything. So get over your bigotry, and get on with this dumb job, so you can leave us the heck alone.”
Mike ducked his head, letting his hair fall over his face to hide his smile. Not many people stood up to Crandall when he was mouthing off. The girl had never gotten her hackles up before, and he’d yet to hear her swear, but there she was, toe to toe with Crandall, giving him the what-for he deserved.
Crandall – surprising Mike and Nica both – laughed. He pushed her out of his space, still laughing. “Fucking fang, you’re a riot. I didn’t think you had a spine, but there you are, telling me off over some stupid fucking joke. Good for you. Maybe I won’t have to fight the urge to stake you every time you open your mouth.”
Nica stared at Crandall, her mouth hanging open.
“Now, go.” Crandall tilted his head toward the door. “You may have suddenly grown out of the whiny girlie shit, but I still don’t want you in my apartment all day.”
She closed her mouth and narrowed her eyes. It wasn’t the most intimidating look Mike had seen – not by far – but she tried.
After a brief stare down, Nica looked away, glancing at Mike before returning her attention to Crandall. “I’ll make the suggestion – that Judas find a new, private daytime retreat – but I can’t promise he’ll bite. Think on it. On what else you might want to try. I’ll help if I can.”
Nica started walking toward the door. “You sure you don’t need my number?”
Crandall tapped his right temple with two fingers. “I fucking got it. If you’re not going to leave, I’m going to open the curtains. I know what a stake does, but I haven’t seen the results of the sun on a vampire yet.”
“Hey,” Crandall said as Nica opened the door and stepped out. “I’m not a jerk, I’m an asshole.”
Without looking back or answering, Nica slammed the door behind her.