Night World : Secret Vampire

Chapter 15

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"Come on, it's okay," Thea said. She seemed to be aboutPoppy's age, but she had a gentle, sensible air that gaveher authority. "Sit down. Here." She set Poppy on ashabby couch and extended her wrist. Poppy stared atthe wrist for an instant and then remembered.

James, giving her blood from his arm. Thatwashow to do it. Friendly andcivilized.

She could see pale blue veins under the skin. And that sight blasted away the last of her hesitation. Instinct took over and she grabbed Thea's arm. Thenext thing she knew she was drinking.

Warm salty-sweetness. -Life. Relief from pain. It was so good that Poppy could almost cry. No wonder vampires hated humans, she thought dimly. Humansdidn't have to hunt for this marvelous stuff; theywere full of it already.

But, another part of her mind pointed out, Theawasn't a human. She was a witch. Strange, becauseher blood tasted exactly the same. Poppy's every sense confirmed it.

So witches are just humans, but humans with special powers, Poppy thought. Interesting.

It took an effort to control herself, to know whento stop. But she did stop. She let go of Thea's wrist and sat back, a little embarrassed, licking her lips andteeth. She didn't want to meet Thea's brown eyes.

It was only then that she realized she'd been keeping her thoughts shielded during the entire process.There had been no mental connection as there had been when she shared blood with James. So she'dmastered one vampire power already. Faster than James or Ash had expected.

And she felt good now. Energetic enough to do theNetherlands skippy dance. Confident enough to smileat Thea.

"Thank you," she said.

Thea smiled back, as if she found Poppy odd orquaint, but nice. She didn't seem suspicious. "It'sokay," she said, flexing her wrist and grimacinggently.

For the first time Poppy was able to look aroundher. This room was more like a living room than partof a shop. Besides the couch there was a TV andseveral chairs. At the far end was a large table withcandles and incense burning.

"This is the teaching room," Thea said. "Grandmadoes spells here and lets the students hang out."

"And the other part is a store," Poppy said, cautiously because she didn't know what she was supposed to know.

Thea didn't look surprised. "Yes. I know you wouldn't thinkthere'd be enough witches around here to keep us in business, but actually they come from all over the country. Grandma's famous. Andher students buy a lot."

Poppy nodded, looking properly impressed. Shedidn't dare ask more questions, but her chilly hearthad warmed just a tiny bit. All Night People weren'tharsh and evil. She had the feeling she could be friends with this girl if given the chance. Maybe she could make it in the Night World after all.

"Well,thanksagain," she murmured softly.

"Don't mention it. But don't let Ash get you rundown like that, either. He's soirresponsible."

"You wound me, Thea. You really do," Ash said.He was standing in the doorway, holding the beadcurtain open with one hand. "But come to think ofit, I'm feeling a little run down myself...." He raisedhis eyebrows insinuatingly.

"Go jump in Lake Mead, Ash," Thea said sweetly.

Ash looked innocent and yearning. "Just a littlebite. A nibble. A nip," he said. "You have such apretty white throat...."

"Who does?" Blaise said, pushing her way throughthe other half of the bead curtain. Poppy had the feeling she was only speaking to focus attention onherself. She stood in the center of the room andshook back her long black hair with the air of a girlused to attention.

"You both do," Ash said gallantly. Then he seemed to remember Poppy. "And, of course, this littledreamer has a pretty white everything."

Blaise, who had been smiling, now looked sour.She stared at Poppy long and hard. With dislikeand something else.

Suspicion. Dawning suspicion.

Poppy could feelit. Blaise's thoughts were brightand sharp andmalicious,like jagged glass.

Then suddenly Blaise smiled again. She looked atAsh. "I suppose you've come for the party," she said."No. What party?"

Blaise sighed in a way that emphasized her lowcut blouse. "The Solstice party, of course. Thierry'sgiving a big one. Everybody willbe there."

Ash looked tempted. In the dim light of the teaching room his eyes gleamed dark. Then he shook hishead.

"No, can't make it. Sorry. I'm going to show Poppythe town."

"Well, you can do that and still come to the partylater. It won't really get going until after midnight."Blaise was staring at Ash with an odd insistence. Ashbit his lip, then shook his head again, smiling.

"Well, maybe," he said. "I'll see how things go."

Poppy knew he was saying more than that. Someunspoken message seemed to be passing betweenhim and Blaise. But it wasn't telepathic, and Poppy couldn't pick it up.

"Well, have a good time," Thea said, and gavePoppy a quick smile as Ash piloted her away.

Ash peered ahead at the Strip. "If we hurry wecan watch the volcano erupting," he said. Poppy gavehim a look, but didn't ask.

Instead, she said, "What's a Solstice party?"

"Summer solstice. The longest day of the year. It'sa holiday for the Night People. Like Groundhog Dayfor humans."


"Oh, it always has been. It's very magical, youknow. I'd take you to the party, but it would be toodangerous. T