Jessica wants to dance. She doesn't know how, not like the boys and girls out front, but sometimes her shoulders and hips smooth the angles her arms and legs throw out and she approached something Pam couldn't quite define. The girl was a chaos of potential and energy, undisciplined and unfocused. After two weeks, it still burned within her.
Like that, she is a danger. She is a racehorse in nature but raised as a draft animal; the yoke broken, she could barely be contained, and those who know how to look can see the life pulsing in her. She needed to be taught all over again. Pam wondered, briefly but irritably, why Eric was willing to take her in. This was not a project of a few nights. It was not a project of two weeks.
Reason came to her, considerations for the project at hand starting to make sense and slipping into her mind while she did accounts or watched over the floor of the club. By the first dawn, she had satisfied herself with two, condensed, valid reasons.
First: Eric was the law, and who knows what Bill would teach her. Both laws. Too many forms of laws. Old laws, American law dated 1865 and with a social conduct overlay from a failed rebellion, the laws of Vampire and those of man and the ones of mainstreaming vampires, who didn't deserve and didn't get capital letters in her mind.
Second: a new vampire with her vivacity can't be wasted on Bill Compton. He'd bottle-feed her and she'd turn grey, complaisant. He was commanded to bring in new life, not another body that had to, as he had apparently put it, was the same except for a swapped circadian rhythm and no need for cookbooks.
Life pulses in and out of the young one. At dusk, she rose, leaving evidence that she slept like someone unused to it. Even in sleep, her body seemed unwilling to stay still without direct command. Nightfall came, and that was what Eric used. The girl obeyed. At first, hesitantly. No, Pam corrected herself, she obeyed commands grudgingly. Once she saw a flicker of the eyelid, the beginning of a dodge; something deeply ingrained and utterly inappropriate for her new life.
"I'm handling it," Eric said. "You are going to go shopping."
A thrill, tempered with realization. "With her."
"With her. She dresses like...like...," he searched for the word. Frumpiness was a deviation he had no need to be familiar with. "Like German housewives during the war."
"When she's not stealing the dancers' shoes and falling over in them."
"Exactly. That is why you are taking her shopping."
"This isn't what vampires wear."
"It's what I wear. But you're right. You're not wearing it. You look terrible in it."
Jessica glared at her. "That's not helping. Nothing in here is helping."
"It's your color," Pam mused. "I'm not used to red hair." She had commandeered a small rack with potential purchases, and began to sort through them. More for me, more for her.
"At least it's not boring." Jessica sat on the ottoman that served as seating in the dressing room and made faces at the mirror. "Hey, can vampires dye their hair?"
She looked down. "Yes, they can."
"What about cut it?"
Pam frowned. "You can, and it'll come back. You're lucky. You can do a lot with it long." The hangers clicked as she divided the spoils into two halves. "I mean, can you imagine it? Being stuck with bad hair for eternity?"
"Like that guy last night? I mean, sure," she continued, smiling again, "hot bod, right? But I kept giggling when I saw his hair. And his face. Do guys always make faces like that when we're feeding on them? I'm not wearing that." Jessica frowned at another sweater set.
"The store. We're leaving. This isn't working. Which ones do you hate the least?"
"That purple set. What do you mean?" Pam winced as she stretched the last word into a prize-winning whinge.
"You need normal clothes. You have none. Even if we did go back to your house, I suspect you'd have none."
"Yes. You need jeans. Normal girls wear jeans."
"Daddy wasn't keen on pants."
Pam sighed. "Two more."
"This is boring." Jessica slumped again. Pam tilted her head, held up blouses in front of her, and considered the colors against her slumped form.
"Cooperate tonight and tomorrow we'll buy you something leather with Daddy Compton's money."
"Hand me that one. And that one."
"Was it the leather?" she asked as they walked out of the department store, "or the potential to spend Bill's money?"
"The leather," Jessica said, purring. Pam braced herself. The girl was building up to tell her everything she thought again. "Leather's what that man was wearing in the club. And that one girl. And the sodomites in the corner. And bikers." Her blue eyes flared open. "Are there any biker vampires?"
"One subculture at a time." Pam glanced at the mall's map. "Wait," she said, and turned to face her temporary ward. "Did you say 'sodomites'? That is just precious."
Jessica clapped her hands over her mouth, banging the shopping bag to her face. "I didn't realize..."
"What am I supposed to say?"
Pam flashed her a grin and took her hands down from her face. "We say 'customers'. Anyone who wants to give me money. Give Eric, and me, money, and in return not do anything stupid, we call a 'customer.' Any more details in that, you'd have to ask them yourself."
"You don't care about...I suppose not. I suppose it don't matter who you sleep with once you're a vampire."
"I try not to sleep with anyone who wants to kill me."
"So you can!"
Pam muttered something non-committal.
"You can still sleep with people."
"Of course. You mean sex. Yes. Any way a human can and then some. And if you want to ever sleep with anyone, I strongly suggest we go in there and get you something that doesn't have the day of the week printed on the elastic."
"So now you want my opinion," Pam said. Jessica held up two black bras and frowned.
"Bill was such a jerk. He was all 'you are not a lady of the night' but I totally am now."
"Mm." Pam reached forward to touch one. "When you're buying this sort of thing," she said, "you should consider more than just 'does this fit'. This isn't pants. Do you even know if this fits?"
Jessica blushed. "It's the same size as I've got from the Walmart."
"No, that's not going to work. Come on, we're going to try it on. This one," Pam said, taking one from her. "Stand up straight for a minute." Jessica sighed, but lifted her shoulders and clasped her hands in front of her waist.
"Hi! I'm Mandy! Do you need a fitting?"
Pam glanced quickly at the girl in black. It was hard to tell ages, it always had been, and now with fashion and lifestyle changes and Botox...but Mandy looked younger than Jessica.
"No," she drawled. "Thank you, Mandy. But I would like this item in a smaller band size and a larger cup size."
"Ooh, are you sure?"
"Quite. I'm sorry, I was a dressmaker. Hm. That one, there, in eggplant. Same sizes.
"Oh, before you moved here?" She sorted through the racks with brisk clicking noises.
"Before," Pam said, catching her eye and breathing a hint of glamour into her words. "Give me those and organize the sale items in the front display."
Mandy sighed, a suppressed whimper she would never notice or remember. "Of course, ma'am."
"We don't have much time." Pam placed her arm over Jessica's shoulder and dangled the little plastic hangers in front of her.
"Ooh, that one's shiny."
"Yes. Now let's go and see if it fits." She turned her away from the negligee - taking note of it, remembering it as well as a face - and looked for the largest partition in the little corridor of fitting rooms.
Jessica slid the straps of her dress from her shoulders as Pam closed the curtain. "I always imagined I'd get something like that for my wedding night."
"I never understood waiting," Pam said. "What are you doing?"
"Trying it on?"
"Over that ill-fitting...elastic...." She stopped. "You know, if I'd let that kid fit you, you'd still have to take the blue-light special there off."
Jessica's face - and her chest, Pam noticed - flushed deep red. "Well, yeah. But."
Pam reached around her and unfixed the two hooks. She felt the hooks bent from being run through the washer; the paint over the bare metal chipped off and scratchy. Her hands lingered a second longer than she thought they should; not long enough for Jessica to notice.
She kept her voice cold, level, even irritable; she used the same temperature for talking to contractors. "What's wrong now?"
"You're so pretty, Pam. And I ain't never had a boyfriend or nothin'."
"Mm. I see." She brought her hands up again, lifting Jessica's chin. Her eyes were blue, so blue, and she knew the girl wasn't going to start crying. The trembling was something else. "You know what else I see? I see someone who said she wanted to do bad things. Is that still true?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am. Very much true."
She laughed, very quietly, and let go of her face. "What, precisely, do you mean by 'real boyfriend'?"
"I kissed a few boys during church socials. We danced. Not even this close," Jessica said, lowering her arms. "They'd watch. But we'd all sneak out at some point during the night and we'd make out with someone in the back." She looked down again. "It feels like that now."
Pam touched her cheek, feeling the soft angle of her jawline; her finger slid across to Jessica's bottom lip and felt her cool breath. She leaned forward, inhaling the electric blue scent of youth. Beneath it was a faint hint of the evening's meal, a metallic base note of blood and desire. Pam learned, some time after Becoming, that all things have a perfume inside them. Only some can experience it. She crushed her lips to Jessica's, leaning her arms over the girl's shoulders.
Jessica's mouth was warm and firm, resisting, relenting, finally parting and wet. Taste was scent experienced, flooding Pam's mouth. An awkward tongue darted forward, scouting and testing these new waters. Pam guided Jessica's shoulders against the wall of the small booth, untangling her crossed arms from her chest. Jessica's dress shifted around her narrow hips.
"Freedom," she purred, touching the girl's breast through the loose fabric that still covered it. "I yearned for it, just like you." Eyes closed, the sweet breath sucked in, forgetting the unnecessary air.
Jessica curved her back, pushing Pam away and dropping the thin polyester separating them. Dancing again. Her spine arched, pressing forward. "I want to try everything," she whispered, her eyes still closed, her body visibly holding in her chaotic energy.
A tiny noise outside. Pam sighed, especially noisy. "Good. But." Waking again. Frustration. A whimper. "We don't have much time here. Can I trust you to try those on and meet me by the register?"
"I wouldn't trust me to make any good judgments right about now."
"Then we'll take them all and return the ones that don't fit tomorrow." Pam said, snapping up the items and picking up her purse. "And we'll finish up at home, won't we?"
Jessica waited until her face was only pink - and not the deep red of Pam's lipstick - before she exited the fitting room.