I don't know who started it - it could have been either of us - but suddenly we were kissing, there in the middle of the hallway, arms pulling each other tighter, lips and tongues working furiously. The alcohol enhanced my base physical response yet numbed my awareness of succubus energy absorption. It must have still been working in spite of my inability to sense it, however, because Roman abruptly pulled away from me, looking aghast.
"Weird..." He put a hand to his forehead. "I feel... dizzy all of a sudden." He hesitated a moment then shook it off, pulling me toward him again. Just like all the others. They never caught on that it was me doing it, me hurting them, so they still came back for more.
His pause had been what I needed to gain some tiny sense of clarity in my drunken cloud. What had I done? What had I let myself become tonight? Every interaction with Roman had pushed me past another boundary. First I'd said we wouldn't date. Then I'd confined us to limited dates. Tonight I'd sworn I wouldn't drink, and now I could barely stand up from all the booze. Kissing was another taboo I had just broken. And it would only lead to the inevitable...
In my mind's eye, I could see us after sex. Roman would sprawl, pale and exhausted, drained of his life. That energy would crackle through me like an electric current, and he would stare at me, weak and confused, unable to comprehend what he no longer had. Depending on how much I stole from him, he would lose years off his life. Some sloppy succubi had even been known to kill victims by drinking too much life too fast.
"No... no... don't."
I pushed him away, unwilling to see that future realized, but his arm still held me. Looking beyond him, I suddenly caught sight of Seth coming down the hallway. He froze when he saw us, but I was too preoccupied to pay any attention to the writer.
I was a hair's breath away from kissing Roman again, from taking him somewhere - anywhere - where we could be alone and naked, where I could do all the things I'd fantasized doing with him. Another kiss... another kiss, and I would not be able to stop. I wanted it too much. I wanted to be with someone I wanted. Just once after all these years.
And that was exactly why I couldn't do it.
"Georgina..." began Roman confusedly, hands still on me.
"Please," I begged, my voice a whisper, "let me go. Please let me go. You have to let me go."
"What's wrong? I don't understand."
"Please let me go," I repeated. "Let me go!" The sudden volume of my own voice startled me, giving me a small boost of will to break from his grasp. He reached toward me, saying my name, but I stepped back. I sounded hysterical, like a crazy woman, and Roman was looking at me rightfully so. "Don't touch me. Don't. Touch. Me!"
My anger was more at myself, at my life, than it was at him. A terrible rage and frustration, amplified by alcohol, coursed through me at the universe. The world wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that some people had perfect lives. That beautiful civilizations should fall to dust. That babies should be born with only a handful of breaths. That I should be trapped in this cruel joke of an existence. An eternity of making love without love.
"Don't touch me. Ever again. Please," I whispered hoarsely, and then, I did the only thing left to me. Escape. I ran. I turned from him and ran down the hall, away from Roman, away from Seth, away from the main seating area. I didn't know where I was going, but it would keep me safe. Would keep Roman safe. I might not be able to heal my own pain, but I could prevent any more from coming to him.
My poor coordination and desperation made me run into people who responded with varying degrees of politeness to my mania. Was Roman behind me? I didn't know. He'd drunk at least as much as I had; his coordination couldn't be any better. If I could just be alone, I could shape-shift or go invisible and get out of here...
I burst through a door, and a wave of cool night air suddenly engulfed me. Gasping, I looked around. I stood in the back parking lot. It was packed with cars, and a few people smoking pot lingered around, most not paying attention to me. The door I'd come through opened, and I turned, expecting Roman. Instead, I saw Seth, looking anxious.
"Stay away from me," I warned.
He held up his hands, palms forward in an appeasing gesture as he approached me slowly. "Are you okay?"
I took two steps back, fumbling for my purse. "I'm fine. I just have to... have to get away from here... get away from him." I pulled out my cell phone, intending to call one of the vampires. It slipped from my hands, dodged my attempts to catch it, and hit the asphalt with a sickening crack. "Oh shit."
Kneeling down, I picked up the phone, looking with dismay at the gibberish on the display. "Shit," I repeated.
Seth knelt by me. "What can I do?"
I looked up at him, his face swimming in my blurred vision. "I have to get out of here. I have to get away from him."
"Okay. Come on. I'll take you home."
Seth took my arm, and I had a faint recollection of being led a few blocks to some dark-colored car. He helped me inside and drove away. Leaning back, I sank into the motion of the drive, letting it pull me under, the backward and forward of inertia, backward and forward, backward and forward...
"Pull over now!"
He complied, and I opened the door, expelling the contents of my stomach onto the street outside. When I had finished, Seth waited a moment before asking, "Are you okay to keep going?"
But a few minutes later, I made him pull over and repeated the process.
"This... car ride is killing me," I gasped once we were on the road again. "I can't stay in the car. The motion..."
Seth's brow furrowed, and he suddenly made a hard right that nearly set me to throwing up inside the car. "Sorry," he said.
We drove a few more minutes, and I was on the verge of asking him to pull over again when the car stopped. He helped me out, and I looked around, not recognizing the building in front of us. "Where are we?"
He ushered me inside, straight to a bathroom where I promptly knelt and paid homage to the toilet, again releasing more liquid than I had realized was in me. I felt distantly aware of Seth behind me, pulling my hair out of the way. Dimly, I remembered that higher immortals like Jerome and Carter could be affected by alcohol as little or as much as they liked, choosing to sober up at will. Bastards.
I don't know how long I knelt there before Seth gently helped me to my feet. "Can you stand?"
"I think so."
"It's... uh... in your hair and on your dress. I think you'll want to change."
I looked down at the navy georgette and sighed. "Steamy."
"Never mind." I started pulling the straps down so I could get out of the dress. His eyebrows rose, and he hastily turned away.
"What are you doing?" he asked in a forcibly normal voice.
"I need to shower."
Naked, I stumbled over and turned on the water. Seth, still not looking at me, retreated to the door. "You won't fall or anything?"
"I hope not."
I stepped into the water, gasping at its heat. I leaned against the tiled wall and just let the heavy stream power-wash me, the shock momentarily rousing my wits. Looking up, I saw that Seth was gone, the bathroom door closed. I sighed and shut my eyes, wanting to sink to my knees and pass out. Standing there, I thought again about Roman, about how good it had felt to kiss him. I didn't know what he would think of me now, not after how I'd acted.
When I turned off the water and stepped out, the bathroom door opened a crack. "Georgina? Use these."
A towel and an oversize T-shirt were tossed through before the door closed again. I dried myself off and put on the shirt. It was red and had a picture of Black Sabbath on it. Nice.
The activity took its toll, however, and a wave of nausea rolled over me again. "No," I moaned, making for the toilet.
The door opened. "Are you okay?" Seth came in and pulled my hair back once more.
I waited but nothing came. Finally, I stood uneasily. "I'm all right. I need to lie down."
He led me out of the bathroom and into a bedroom with an unmade queen-sized bed. I collapsed onto it, pleased to be flat and stationary, even though the room continued to spin. He sat down gingerly on the bed's edge, watching me uncertainly.