"My dad procures art for his galleries in several countries. So we traveled quite a bit. By the time I made a friend, it was time to leave."
"What about humans, like me?" I asked, curling up next to him.
"There is no one like you, vampire or not," he said with a warm smile. "It's hard making human friends when you don't attend school, and it's even harder keeping them when they're eating their evening dinner and you are just rolling out of bed."
"Are your parents upset that you have a human girlfriend?"
"No. If they met you, they would immediately fall in love with you, just like I did," he said, and stroked my hair.
"I'd love to travel and live in the nighttime and sleep during the day. Your world seems so romantic. Being bonded to one another for an eternity...Flying off into the night together. Thirsting for no one but each other."
"I feel that way about your world."
"The grass is always greener, I guess. Or, in our case, blacker."
"When I'm with you," he began, "I don't care which world we are in, just as long as we're in the same one together."
Chapter 13 The Promise
"Wake up," Alexander gently whispered in my ear.
I opened my eyes to find that I had crashed out on the couch in his TV room as he stroked my hair. Kissing Coffins was playing on his oversized flat screen.
Jenny had desperately entered Professor Livingston's office at the university.
"I knew I'd find you here!" she exclaimed, finding Vladimir seated at his desk, his head buried in a textbook. "You weren't supposed to come," he warned, without looking up, "to my house or to my study. You have put yourself in danger."
In the distance, there was an eerie howling.
"Why did you let me fall asleep?" I asked Alexander, lifting my head from his shoulder. "Did you put a spell on me?"
"You suggested we watch this," he replied. "But you conked out as soon as I pressed 'Play.' Besides, it's late and you've been through a lot."
"Late?" I asked, stretching my arms. "For you it's the middle of the day."
Jenny looked toward the window. "They are coming for me," she confessed to Vladimir nervously. "They want me to be one of...you."
Vladimir methodically turned the page of his book. He didn't look up. Another eerie howling was heard in the distance.
"I'll walk you home," Alexander offered as we rose to our feet. He kindly handed me his black leather jacket.
"But I want to stay here," I whined.
"You can't. Your parents will be worried."
"I'll tell them I'm babysitting."
"For a seventeen-year-old?"
He put the coat around my shoulders.
"I had better go--" Jenny started, looking out the window of the study into the fog-layered darkness. "It was foolish of me to come."
"You'll be all alone here in this huge mansion," I said to Alexander, as I adjusted my wrinkled dress. "I'm safe. Besides, I've sent for Jameson."
"As slow as he drives? It'll take him years to get here. I'll stay until he arrives," I said, sitting back down.
"Wait!" Vladimir called, his head still focused on his book.
Jenny stopped at the door. The professor rose and slowly walked to her. "Since I've met you, I haven't been myself," Vladimir confessed.
The howling continued.
"Come on, girl," Alexander said, nudging me.
"I was afraid I'd never see you again," Jenny said. "If I leave here without you, I may not be able to find you next time."
I stared at Jenny as if she had just proclaimed my own fear.
"But what if I never see you again?" I asked Alexander, pulling him close.
"Is tomorrow after sunset soon enough?"
"I can't leave," I told Alexander. "I thought I'd see you after the Welcome to the Neighborhood party. And the next night you were gone."
"I left to protect you, not to hurt you," he answered in a serious tone, sitting down next to me.
"Protect me from what?"
"From Jagger. From me. From my world."
"But you don't have to protect me."
"My world is not just filled with romance, like you think it is. There is danger." "There can be risk anywhere. It's not exclusive to vampires. You just have to be careful."
"But I don't want you to be near danger in any world."
"I won't if we are together," I argued.
"I don't want you to think you have to change who you are to be with me," he said earnestly.
"I know that," I assured him.
"Or ask that you change."
"That's why you left Dullsville," I realized out loud. "You were afraid I'd want to become a vampire."
"Yes. But there was a more imminent danger presiding. A vampire with white hair."
"Then why did you go to Hipsterville?"
"Hipsterville?" he asked, confused.
"That's what I call it," I confessed with a grin.
"Of course," he said with a laugh. "I got word from my parents that Jagger had found an apartment in `Hipsterville' and was searching cemeteries in neighboring communities for my grandmother's monument. Once he'd found it, he would know which town I was living in."
"That was what the note meant," I remembered. "A warning that Jagger was on his way to find you. To seek revenge."
"What note?" he asked, confused. "In your room," I confessed.
"You snuck into the Mansion after I left?"
I flashed him a cheesy grin.
"I should have known," he said, and smiled back. Then his playful tone turned serious. "But more important than finding me, he may have found you."
"Well, he did, but that was my own fault."
"I was going to head him off at the pass before he came to Dullsville--confront him before he confronted me. Jameson and I found an abandoned manor house so we could hide while I made my plan. But I didn't plan on one thing."
"I'd follow you?"
"I saw the most beautiful girl climbing down the backyard tree."
"That was you in the attic window?"
"So why didn't you--"
"I kept a close eye on you. I had to, didn't I?"
"So why is Jagger out to get you?"
A sharp howl came from the screen, distracting Alexander from my question.
"We need to get you to the cemetery--to sacred ground," Vladimir warned. The handsome professor led her through the dark, marshy woods, riddled with fog. Vladimir held Jenny close as the howling sounds grew louder.