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Jessica emerged from her hiding place shortly after sunset and followed the sound and glow and the smell of life to a bar on a busy thoroughfare, one that looked hip and dirty enough that the TruBlood ought to be reasonably fresh. After going this many nights without the real thing she was fuzzy-headed, irritable, and itching to hunt, but having witnessed the consequences of getting caught feeding on a human in this political climate . . . the memory was enough to make her shudder, and to keep her on the wagon a little while longer.

Inside the bar, she glanced around and was startled to catch an Asian woman, about twice the age she was when she died, smiling at her in surprised pleasure, as if she was an old friend she hadn't expected to see here. Jessica started to retreat back towards the door, but the woman was already rising out of her seat in the sheltered corner booth and gesturing for her to join her. Cautiously, Jessica did.

“I'm really sorry to bother you,” the woman said, which seemed to be the customary way of starting conversations among many of the Canadians Jessica had observed since fleeing up here. “My name is Jade. Are you—I know what you are. Can I offer you a drink?”

Jessica shrugged. “B positive, if they've got it.”

Jade bit her lip and looked down at the table. “I meant,” she said, turning her palms up so Jessica can see the faint scars of fang marks up the insides of her forearms, “can I offer you a drink?”

Jessica felt her mouth go dry.

“It's not a trap,” Jade hurried to continue, looking up at her. “It's just—I had a lover once, who was, well, like you, and he's, well, he's not around any more. I miss him, so much, and I know I can't ever have him back . . . but I also miss the bite.”

“Lady, I can't—”

“Please, I have an apartment we can go, it's only a couple of blocks from here. Just, you looked hungry, and if you're half as hungry as I am . . .”

“Show me.”

Jade nodded and got up out of the booth. Jessica followed her for two and a half blocks and up three flights of stairs, looking out for traps and ready to bolt at every step, but when Jade shut the door of the apartment behind them her fangs popped out immediately. Jade crossed the room toward her slowly, tugging the neck of her shirt down to expose her collarbone.

“Wait,” Jade whispered, and Jessica barely stopped herself from plunging in to listen to what she had to say. “Please, before you start . . . would you let me kiss you, once?”

Jessica blinked over Jade's shoulder, then tilted her head closer to upright and leaned in. As their lips met she wondered whether this woman had read her mind, the way Sookie was never able, to know that this was the thing she craved worse than blood.