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First Bite

“What are we going to do with the corpse she just made?”

I groan, hanging my head as Melody’s cries grow louder at Adeline’s blunt statement. Turning, I stare at her, eyes narrowed. And if I take just a little bit of grim satisfaction in how quickly Adeline bows her head, eyes lowered in submission, well. It’s not like anyone would know. Or call me out for feeling like this. Especially with how this night is going.

“Really, Adeline?” I sigh. Shaking my head, I turn back to the still-weeping crumpled form of poor young Melody. A picture that would probably have been a little less horrifying if said poor girl’s face wasn’t splattered in fresh blood. Or if she had bothered to retract her fangs. Not that she looked any less helpless for it. She’d be right at home in a horror film. You know, if her life hadn’t become something very much like a horror film.

Ignoring the fresh corpse lying no less than two feet away, I crouch before Melody and gently but firmly place my hands on her shoulders. Rubbing her arms and shushing her, I wait for her new cycle of tears to subside.

“I-I’m sor-sorry.” Melody sobs. Clawed hands scrub her face, smearing blood and tears and generally making even more of a gory mess of her pretty pale face.

“It’s okay.” I say, “This was your first real taste straight from the vein. The first always drives everyone a little crazy.” Melody sniffles, eyes wide and shining in the dim moonlight. Pupils blown wide in a sea of crimson; the eyes of a powerful predator. A smile tugs at my lips. “You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does, but the important thing is that we learn from them, right?” Melody nods. I smile again, flashing my own fangs.

“Besides, you’re handling this all fairly well. Better than Adeline did anyway.”

Angelique!” Adeline hisses. Melody chuckles.

“Really?” Melody asks, her eyes locked over my shoulder, at Adeline. Smart girl, paying attention to possible threats. Not that Adeline would do anything, not to a new fledgling. And especially not with me standing between them.

“Oh yes.” I nod, rising, pulling Melody to her feet. “The first time she fed, well. It took at least three fledglings to tear her away from her prey.” Behind, Adeline hisses again. Melody shivers. So new, she doesn’t understand. No vampire, or other creature of the night will hurt her, not while she’s under my protection.

“She’d been snarling and slashing at the air. Like a tantruming child being taken from their favorite treat.” I laugh, glancing over my shoulder just in time to see Adeline turn away in a huff. Melody snorts, pulling away to hug herself. I let her laugh until hysterical notes slip in and spoil the joy.

“Now then,” I clap my hands. Melody calms and Adeline is suddenly back to being my loyal shadow, standing so close it would only take a twitch for us to touch. So loyal, if only I could tell whether it was because of me or because I’m the daughter of the King of the Night.

“We do still need to deal with the body.” I continue. Melody twitches, frowning, eyes damp. “Adeline, call the boys, we need this dealt with before sunrise.”

“Yes, my Lady.” Adeline says, pulling out her phone and stepping aside. I nod, turning my attention back to Melody. Who’s returned to staring down in shame at the corpse. I sigh.

“Melody.” I say in a sweet sing-song voice. She shivers, raising her head.

“It’s not that bad, I promise. We’ll just have to ease you into it okay?” Melody nods. “I know it’s not easy, believe me, but it will get better.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Melody whispers, eyes downcast. “If I… what if I don’t ever get it? What if, one day, I don’t want to be like this?” I blink and take a deep breath.

“Then I’ll make sure it’s painless.” I say. Melody whips up her head up, eyes wide. I smile.

“What? You think you’re the only one who’s ever said that too me?” I ask, dropping my hands on her shoulders again, soothing the shivers from her cool skin. “Maybe you won’t be okay living like this. Maybe you won’t ever learn to control your thirst. But I can promise this; if ever you no longer wish to live like us, like me, then I will give you the eternal rest you desire.”

“Okay?” I soothe. Melody nods. “Good. Now, let’s get you cleaned up.”

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