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Sense of Direction

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From: Vlad
I’ve a visitor who wants to speak to you.

To: Vlad

From: Vlad
The Belmont matriarch. She knows you’ve been visiting my castle often and wants to ensure you aren’t under my thrall.

To: Vlad
should i be worried

From: Vlad
If anything is wrong, she’ll try to kill me, not you.

To: Vlad
so, yes
i’ll be there in an hour

From: Vlad
Thank you.

To: Vlad
anything else i should know?

From: Vlad
She’s a werewolf. If you lie, she’ll likely be able to tell.

Of all the hunting families mentioned in Dracula’s journals, the Belmonts had come up the most. They were the ones who first made the rules vampires—and probably other supernatural creatures—had to live by. Dracula had commented, once or twice, on several of the clan being monstrous themselves. Lisa still wasn’t sure how that worked.

Dracula obviously resented them, but Lisa was ambivalent. Vampires had been killing a hell of a lot of people, back in the day. It seemed like every other page of Dracula’s journals before 1800 or so mentioned a murder. But hunters hadn’t been the most ethical people in the world either. She’d found tales of dhampir children murdered, vampires vivisected and bolted open to keep from healing, the kind of thing that left her too nauseous to keep reading for more than a page or two.

Vampires, at least, she’d had a chance to meet in the modern day. She was interested to see what modern hunters were like.

Lisa found the Belmont woman and Dracula up in the lab, both of them studiously trying to ignore one another—the woman by examining the contents of his lab, Dracula by reading. When Lisa poked her head in the door the woman yanked her head out of the cabinet, gave her a once-over, and turned to Dracula. “This the girl?”

“I’ve got a name. And I haven’t been a girl for a few years now,” Lisa snapped. The woman blinked. From the corner of her eye Lisa saw Dracula begin to smirk. “It’s Lisa Seward, by the way. Who are you?”

The woman gave her another, more assessing once-over. “Rahela Belmont. Vlad and I go way back. Has he told you about any of that?”

Lisa cocked her head. She loved being talked down to. Highlight of her day. “Is this the part where you tell me he’s Dracula and you’re a werewolf who’s also a vampire hunter?”

If that surprised Rahela, she didn’t show it. But Dracula sounded all too pleased with himself when he told her, “I warned you.”

Lisa bit back a grin. She’d always wanted to merit a warning label.

Rahela shot him a glare. “This is the part where we have a little chat,” she said. “Vlad, do you have a normal-sized room in this place? Somewhere private?”

“Lisa, you know where the old servant’s kitchen is on the first floor?” Dracula asked. Lisa nodded. It was the one she usually used to grab snacks. “There are also kennels on the lower floors, if that would be preferable.”

“Bastard,” muttered Rahela, rolling her eyes. “Lisa? Kitchen work for you?”

Lisa gave her a thumbs up. “I just need a…”

“Here,” Dracula said. He made a sharp gesture, and a blank notebook and pen flew over to Lisa’s outstretched hands. She beamed at him. Rahela watched the exchange with a raised eyebrow, and then they set off.

Rahela radiated presence, so much that Lisa was surprised to find she was actually taller as they walked side by side. But Rahela was stocky, too, the sleeves of her T-shirt drawn tight over scarred biceps. Her hair was scruffy, brown striped with grey, chopped short and pulled into a messy braid. Lisa led her to the kitchen with its rickety furniture straight out of a period reenactment.

Rahela pulled out one of the thin wooden out from under the table and sprawled out in it, leaning the chair back on two legs. Lisa couldn’t decide if she was genuinely as sure of herself as she seemed, or if it was all an elaborate act for Lisa’s benefit. Or Dracula’s. “So I’ve got a few questions for you.”

Lisa sat down, opened the notebook, and scribbled the date at the top of the page. “Excellent. I have some for you, too.”

Nonplussed, Rahela said, “Yeah, we’re going to do mine first. How long have you known Dracula?”

Lisa frowned and looped her finger around the chain of her necklace. “A little over a month, I think?” She counted backwards and said, more confidently, “Six weeks.”

“And when did you learn he was a vampire?”

“Six weeks, minus ten minutes,” Lisa said with a small smile.

Slowly Rahela nodded. “Did you have any previous knowledge of vampires, or…”

Lisa shook her head, and Rahela made a go on motion. “I start medical school next month and asked him to pay my tuition. He agreed in return for regular blood donations—”

“Wait wait wait. You just walked up to the creepy castle to…ask for a scholarship?” Rahela asked, eyes narrowed and head cocked—listening for a lie, maybe.

Lisa shrugged. “Rich people give scholarships all the time. I figured it couldn’t hurt, any more than a few hundred thousand dollars of debt would hurt.” She didn’t have to mention her original plan, right?

Rahela’s chair legs hit the floor with a thunk and she leaned heavily on the table. “And you agreed to let him feed off you?”

She shrugged again. “Some people sell plasma. Which brings me to my first question. Are there any potential side effects I should be aware of? Risk of disease, any chance I could turn?” Dracula had said no to both, and he hadn’t given her a reason to doubt him—but she didn’t like having only one source.

Rahela stared at her. “Well, there’s the risk you could die,” she said slowly, as if talking to a stubborn child.

Lisa tapped her pen impatiently against the notebook. “Mmhmm. Besides that.”

“This isn’t a medical lab. I know he’s got all that science crap, but there are no sterile needles here or a nice phlebotomist making sure they don’t draw too much blood.” At least he has snacks, Lisa thought, and had to bite the corner of her lip to keep from giggling. “When he bites you, you are being eaten alive,” Rahela finished firmly.

The urge to condescend right back warred with Lisa’s urge to make a remark about something else he could eat. Impatiently she said, “Yes, that’s why I want to make sure I can’t contract anything. Can he carry disease? Or can I be turned into a vampire from regular bites?”

Rahela blinked back at her for a moment and then sighed. “No, you probably won’t catch anything. Vamps’ body chemistry is hostile to life or something, I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist. And turning is…a multi-step process.” She narrowed her eyes. “Is that what you’re after?”

She’d thought about it—not much, just the inevitable result of learning vampires existed in the first place. At some point she might want to consider turning more seriously, but for now she knew that being unable to walk in the sun would make the rest of her medical career much more difficult. “I don’t think so.” With a laugh, she added, “Maybe a few decades from now. I’d rather not spend eternity getting carded.”

For a second Rahela’s eyes glinted yellow. “Do you actually understand what he is? What he could do to you? The only reason he stopped killing people is because he knows he’s outclassed now. But it’s only a matter of time before he slips up. These old vampires, they’re like lions in a zoo. A few years in captivity doesn’t make him tame. You’ll find out the hard way if you stick your fingers through the bars.” Her scowl intensified. “You seem smart, Lisa. Too smart not to take this seriously.”

Okay, that was enough.

“You need to take me seriously first,” she snapped. Rahela opened her mouth to speak but Lisa held up a finger. “I’m not finished. Whether you think this is a good idea or not, I’m letting him drink from me. Right now I have exactly one—very biased—source of information on vampires. Your bias goes another way. That’s good for me. I’m not a wannabe Lucy Westenra, here, so stop with the fearmongering. Tell me the actual risks if you want me to be safe so badly. When was the last time he killed someone?”

By the time she finished she was quite loud, and Rahela was giving her a reassessing stare. About damned time. “The last time that we can confirm was 1863.”

Judging from his notes that was far from the last time. Revulsion bubbled up in Lisa’s stomach, but besides that was satisfaction, too, that she knew something these hunters didn’t. She kept her face blank and swirled a circle in the air with her finger around Rahela. “And when did this…arrangement…begin?”

A grimace flickered across Rahela’s face. “June 1988.”

Well, Lisa hadn’t found anything newer than that, at least. “Give me the rundown. How did it happen? Who exactly is in charge? And what are the rules?”

With this, at least, Rahela seemed to relax. “Basically, around the turn of the century hunters started combining science and magic. Daylight guns, spells that mimicked contained nuclear explosions or tracked deaths by exsanguination, all kinds of shit. And humanity got actual institutions that can operate at scale and at a distance even without magic. Some of the more heavy-weight vampires could put up a fight—Dracula included. If it came down to a real war, he could take out a lot of the world, but we would win, and we both knew it. None of us thought a war was worth it, so we came to an agreement.

“There are a few hunting families, some sorcerers here and there. Everyone has their own specialty. Belmonts,” she tapped her collarbone, “keep an eye on vampires, especially this guy. The rules are about what you’d expect. No murder, no unwilling turnings, that kind of thing.” She glared at Lisa for a long moment, and then as if at great personal cost added, “Give me your phone.”

Lisa smiled beatifically and did. Rahela fiddled with it while Lisa scribbled down notes. “I’ll send you the whole rulebook. If you have questions, or if you need help with him, we’ll be there.”

She handed the phone back. Lisa checked but it looked as if Rahela had only sent a text to herself. “And what happens if a vampire breaks those rules? You kill them?”

“All vampires? Sometimes. This vampire? Most of the time, yeah.”

One family, secretly playing judge, jury, and executioner for a whole species, didn’t strike Lisa as particularly fair. She wondered if it was a Belmont who had attacked Niklas. “Seems a little…zealous,” Lisa said slowly.

Rahela huffed. “Look. This isn’t guilty until proven innocent. Vampires are more violent than humans, but we know they’re capable of controlling themselves. Dracula already is a mass murderer. If he wanted to, he could slaughter your whole town before we got to him, and that’s without getting an army together. So yeah, we don’t give him much slack.”

Lisa chewed on her lip. “I understand.”

“Do you.”

“I don’t agree,” Lisa said quickly, “but I understand.”

Rahela blew a breath out through her nose. “So what are you doing here, Lisa? You’re going to be a doctor, you can manage some debt. Why is it worth sticking around a killer? You know, no matter how well you get along, he’s always going to want to kill you too. That’s just what being a vampire means.”

Lisa frowned, staring first past Rahela and then at her notebook, swoops of ink stark against the white paper.

First of all, she thought, you don’t know how much med school costs. Visiting him almost every day hadn’t been part of their original agreement, though. She could have taken the money and left it at that, no need to get so tangled up with him. She curled the necklace chain more tightly around her finger. “Maybe if I’d known him when he was still killing, I would think differently,” she said slowly. “He told me himself he’s always going to want to hurt people. That bothered me, but…he can want whatever he likes as long as he doesn’t do it.”

Rahela leaned forward further, trying to get more in Lisa’s face. “And if he does start killing again?”

That one was easier. “Depends on the circumstances,” Lisa said promptly. Rahela made a frustrated noise. “I’m not you, okay? There are plenty of justified reasons a human might have for killing someone. And what counts as killing, anyway? If he kills another vampire, will you care?”

She didn’t mean it as a rhetorical question, but Rahela only scoffed. “You still didn’t answer my question.”

Lisa touched the spot on her neck where she’d been bitten. It wasn’t even sore now; she could only find it by muscle memory, though they’d fix that soon. “Absent anything else, I’d be here because this—magic, the supernatural, his science, everything—it’s a whole new world for me. If I put my mind to it, I could use this to help a lot of people. So could he. How could I walk away from that?” She leaned back in her chair. The answer was true, but it didn’t feel like enough, either.

Rahela’s eyes narrowed. “That’s it. You’re just here because of your love of discovery.”



Lisa huffed and crossed her arms more tightly. She was just going to have to say it, wasn’t she. “I like him,” Lisa said finally.

Rahela raised an eyebrow. “You like him.” There was that you’re an idiot tone to her voice again.

Lisa couldn’t even be mad. (Well. Not that mad.) She’d been calling herself stupid for this the whole time, hadn’t she? Dracula was unexpectedly kind, and thoughtful, and his first blundering attempts to scare her were more endearing in hindsight. She could talk about ideals, discovery, and plans for the future, and none of them were untrue. But whatever was going on between her and Dracula wasn’t a matter of principle. It wasn’t something she could reason herself out of any more than she had reasoned herself into it. She liked his dry humor and his odd sincerity. She’d liked the way his teeth felt in her neck.

Maybe Lisa was fooling herself; maybe he really was just biding his time until he could be a monster again. But she still wanted to pry him out of his castle, see what he could be once he was exposed to the light. The moonlight, at least.

She settled on saying, “He takes me seriously.”

Perhaps sensing—finally—that Lisa would not budge, Rahela groaned out loud. “Lisa, he doesn’t even have a soul,” she tried, sounding resigned to failure.

Lisa scribbled soul??? Cant be external locus of personality or V wouldn’t have in her notebook. “That’s an interesting perspective,” Lisa said as she wrote. “Can you explain what a soul does?”

Instead Rahela sighed. “Well, you’re not under thrall.” She pushed herself to her feet. “Call me if you have questions. Or if you need any help. I mean it.”

Lisa nodded. She didn’t know whether she’d ever end up calling the hunters—she hoped she wouldn’t have to—but it was still reassuring, to know Dracula wasn’t her only connection to the supernatural anymore.

“And you know he’s probably been listening this whole time, right?” Rahela asked. “He keeps clairvoyance spells hanging all over the place.”

Lisa pointed at the security camera, hanging in a corner near the door. “Thanks for only bringing that up after the interview, though,” she said dryly.

Rahela shrugged, unrepentant, offered a handshake. Her grip was strong but it didn’t feel like she was doing that as a power play, at least. “Good luck with school, kid.”

Somehow kid felt nicer than girl. Lisa let it go.

Dracula was waiting for them, dramatically placed on the first-floor balcony opposite the door. Lisa waved. “You have no further business here,” he told Rahela, and didn’t smile so much as bare his teeth. “I recommend you leave.”

Lisa almost reminded him about the whole manners thing, but Rahela just rolled her eyes as she headed for the door. “Don’t get your codpiece in a twist. I’ll be back soon enough.”

“Why don’t you bring your child?” Dracula drawled. “I’d love to see who will have to stand against me next.”

Rahela’s jaw tightened and her hand twitched toward her—still flat—stomach. “Creep,” she muttered, and threw open one door, letting in a ray of sunlight that Dracula had to sidestep. Then she turned back to Lisa to call, “Hey, he’s told you about dhampirs, right? Be safe!”

“Excuse me?” Lisa asked, face lighting up red. Dracula just sighed. The door drifted shut with Rahela’s cackle still echoing through it. “Jesus, why does everyone assume we’re…” She trailed off with a frustrated noise and went back to the kitchen. She needed water.

She was specifically refusing to have any kind of relationship with Dracula, and it didn’t even matter because people kept thinking she did anyway. Part of her wanted to just…go for it, whatever, but she still couldn’t help but feel like it was a bad idea. If they were involved like that, wouldn’t she be responsible for him? If he hurt someone, she’d have to—

Lisa paused halfway through her glass of water. Wait a second.

Dracula pushed open the door while she was still staring at the opposite wall. “Are you alright?” he asked.

She held up a finger. “I’m thinking.” He gave her a droll look; she grinned, but it faded as her thoughts turned.

He listened to her; she knew that much. Maybe he’d never be truly altruistic, but no one was. Maybe his first instinct would always be to hurt people, but neither of them could help that.

If he started killing people again—it would be her problem, because she’d probably be the first to know, but it wouldn’t be her responsibility, would it? When she’d seen Niklas’s blood on the stoop that had been her first thought, that judgment was all up to her. But it wasn’t, really. Never had been.

“Did you hear all of that?” she asked, gesturing to the table. Dracula nodded. “You do know that if you started murdering people for food again I would have to call them. I couldn’t let that happen.”

He actually chuckled. Lisa raised an eyebrow. “Of course. You wouldn’t be yourself if you didn’t.” He caught sight of her expression; what face she was making Lisa couldn’t say, but he sobered quickly. “I have no plans to do so, you know. Somehow I managed to refrain from hunting for years before you came along.”

Slowly, she nodded. There was that, too. She finished off her glass of water and set it on the counter. Then she eyed him speculatively, tapping her knuckle against her lips. Lisa liked that he was so tall, but it definitely had its disadvantages.

His eyes narrowed as he picked up on her changing mood. “What are you—”

Lisa stepped forward, too into his personal space, and rested her hand on his chest. Dracula froze. She should have been able to feel his heartbeat but of course there was nothing like that, only the shallow rise and fall of his chest under his shirt until that froze, too. She shoved, just a little, her eyes darting up to his face. His head tilted and then he allowed himself to be pushed into the rickety chair Rahela had left pulled out. It creaked with his weight.

The room felt hushed, all the silence of the castle pressing in on them. “Thank you,” she said softly, reluctant to break it. He was still taller than her, but not insurmountably so when she leaned forward and kissed him. He allowed it, tilted his head a fraction, gave her a better angle around his fangs, but not much more than that. Lisa pulled back, trying to keep her face neutral though she knew he’d see right through it.

Alright, maybe she’d misread things, wouldn’t be the first time. Lisa tried to step away, but one big hand spread across the small of her back and tugged her closer so they were nearly nose to nose. He hesitated for a moment, but all that came out of his mouth was, “Are you sure? Now?”

“I’m sure,” she promised.

His irises were redder than she had ever seen them, bright as garnets. Was that good or bad? “Good,” he said, and leaned forward to kiss her again. And that was what she was looking for. Lisa’s fingers twisted in his shirt and she smiled, a relieved exhale that he swallowed. Dracula leaned back, pulling her with him. Lisa cupped her hand around the back of his neck and hiked one knee up onto the chair, between his legs—the position was a little ridiculous, but she was straddling his leg and leaning full-length against his chest, so she didn’t mind.

Despite that he kissed her slowly, almost chaste. Impatiently Lisa nipped at his bottom lip. And then she promptly cut her own lip on one of his fangs.

“Ow.” She flinched back, more surprised than hurt.

One of Dracula’s hands came up to her chin. “I—apologize,” he said, voice rough.

Lisa straightened as much as she could and touched the puncture with her finger. It stung, but not too much, and her fingertip came away bloody. His fingers flexed against her spine. “It’s fine.” The sound of her own voice took her aback; was she really that breathless? But she looked up and saw Dracula was staring at her mouth as if hypnotized. “Vlad?”

His eyes darted up to meet hers and emotion flashed across his face—part guilt, part…not guilt. “Yes?”

She poked at the puncture gently with her tongue, braced herself, and held her finger up to his lips. “Don’t be careful with me.”

For a moment there was nothing, no reaction but the twitch of his hand at her back and a very slight widening of his eyes. Then he grabbed her wrist and his mouth closed over her finger, wiping it clean of blood. And before Lisa could do more than blink he’d scooped her up, set her fully down on his lap, and yanked her mouth to his with his fingers in her hair.

She laughed against his mouth, surprise and delight in one, and felt his answering smile. He was still calculated, no doubt about that, he kissed her purposefully and methodically like he was conducting an experiment. It was easy to meet him there—figure out how to get her tongue past his fangs, where to time her breath when her partner wasn’t breathing, how to press down on the bite so iron flooded their mouths.

His body warmed under hers as heat pooled between Lisa’s legs. She dragged her nails down his chest with just enough pressure to sting and rolled her hips forward when he shuddered. And—he couldn’t be hard, not already, but there was definitely something there. When it ground against her in just the right spot her breath hitched and she did it again.

And stopped. Because now she could definitely feel him getting hard, unmistakable even though his trousers and her jeans, only that couldn’t be right. She broke away from him for a moment, looking down between them, and—yeah, she could see the outline of his dick through his trousers.

“What,” he started, sounding a little dazed.

“You’re huge,” Lisa said. God, how was that even going to fit in her.

He’d been so prudish the first time she said anything sexual—it took her entirely by surprise to hear his half-grumpy, “Did you expect anything less?” And then he smirked.

Lisa’s face was on fire. “Do you have any lube?” Or muscle relaxers?


Lisa could feel them losing the mood but this was important, dammit. “Can you get some? Or is there a spell or—” Thank god she had the shot, at least.

“Why would there be a spell for that?” Dracula asked, and there was the scandalized tone. “Lisa, if you don’t think you can, er, manage, we don’t have to—”

“Vlad.” She pulled on his collar and leaned into him so that their foreheads touched and her nose brushed his. Very solemnly she asked, “Are you calling me a quitter?”

“I wouldn’t dare,” he said, voice just as serious.

She pecked him on the mouth. “Good boy.”

Dracula hadn’t struck her as someone who could snicker but at that he did. His hand slid down to her butt and pushed up; Lisa obligingly rose up on her knees as he trailed his mouth along the underside of her jaw. She reached for his cravat just as he nipped at her neck. Lisa gasped and promptly lost her balance, falling against him. The chair creaked dangerously. “Alright?” he asked.

Blushing, Lisa rested her head against his chest. “Very alright,” she managed. “But, um, bedroom?”

He stood abruptly, picking her up with him, and Lisa’s breath hitched at the casual display. Her stomach swooped out as he took them there and she closed her eyes against the sudden burst of wind. He stopped just as abruptly as he had begun. Lisa drew back to get a look at the room, her legs still locked around his hips, but there was no light except for a little leaking from down the hall; she could barely make out the silhouette of the man in front of her.

She was really doing this. Him. Lisa reached up to cup his face. She could barely make out the shining red of his eyes. He turned his head to press his lips to her palm. “And you believed I didn’t do this,” he said, sounding frustrated enough she suspected he’d wanted to say something since he’d heard her. Lisa snorted. “I thought I was obvious.”

“I thought you just wanted to bite me!”

Her eyes had adjusted enough to make out his raised eyebrow. “I can want both. You certainly did, as I recall.”

Fair enough. “Maybe next time. Now put me down.”

He took her literally and dropped her none-too-gently on the bed. Lisa leaned back into the nest of pillows and kicked her flats off to the side. Dracula threw his suit jacket in the same direction before his mouth found hers again. She reached for his cravat and fumbled with it for a minute before he took pity and undid it for her. She could, at least, unbutton his shirt without assistance—so she did, even if she was distracted by a cool hand slipping under her T-shirt, and shoved his shirt down his arms.

Dracula had never exactly shown skin; she’d never even seen him roll his sleeves up, so she wasn’t sure what she would find. He looked strong, muscle thick in his chest and shoulders and what she could see of his arms, but somehow soft too—not exactly a bodybuilder. She ran her hand under the edge of one of his pecs and took a moment to enjoy the view.


With her free hand Lisa pushed the hair out of his face and tapped her thumb against one sharp cheekbone. “You’re sexy,” she told him seriously, and he ducked his head. She got the distinct feeling that if he could be blushing, he would be. Telling him he was adorable might be pushing it for now.

“And you—” Dracula ducked further down her body and shoved her shirt up, pressing his mouth to her hip. Lisa jerked. She could feel the imprint of his fangs. “—have the advantage of me.” His mouth was careful as he kissed and nipped his way up her stomach, her ribs, but his hands weren’t; she could feel the ends of his talons scratch at her skin. It stung enough that she knew there would be marks. Good, she thought.

Lisa helped him, pulling her shirt her head as his mouth found her nipple through her bra. Lisa swore, hips bucking up. He made a satisfied noise, reached up her spine until he found her bra strap—and fumbled. “Front clasp,” she said, arching her back and biting back a smile. “So you aren’t good at ev—oh.

Dracula tweaked her nipple again. “Sorry, what was that?”

“Mmm, nothing, carry on.” Dick. Her dick. Lisa smirked. After a moment he reversed course, mouth moving back down her ribs. She grabbed a fistful of hair and tugged as if to pull him back up. “Don’t—fangs.”

He paused with one hand on her zipper. “Yes?”

God, she couldn’t believe she was about to say this. “You’re not trying to eat me out, right? Fangs are great, still don’t want them there.” And, if she was being honest… “I’m pretty concerned about the talons too.” Lisa poked a line of raw skin on her side and her fingertips came away damp. His eyes followed the movement and narrowed as if he was just now realizing she had limits.

“Don’t be,” he said. Lisa frowned; he grabbed her hand and pressed it. “Trust me?”

Lisa let out a breath. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

Dracula nudged her legs open and cupped her through her jeans first, running his knuckle along the inseam until Lisa gasped. Experimentally he circled her clit, faster and faster until he found a rhythm that had her rocking against his hand. Lisa’s fingers dug into the bedspread as her orgasm started to build, legs shaking—

And he stopped.

Lisa’s hips stuttered again, looking for friction, but he pressed her legs back down into the bed. “Oh fuck you,” she gasped. Dracula chuckled. “You are evil, fuck, take my fucking pants off.” Lisa was already undoing her zipper as she spoke, but he hooked his fingers around her waistband and pulled her jeans down, throwing them somewhere across the room. “Now get on the bed.”

“If you insist.” He still looked too pleased with himself as he leaned back against the headboard. Lisa wanted to wreck him. She settled for straddling his lap and grinding down against him. He was definitely hard now—at least, she hoped he was—and his words trailed off as he sucked in a breath. Then she dug her teeth into his shoulder, hard enough that on a human it would have broken the skin, and felt his dick twitch.

They’d have to look into that later. For now, she grabbed his hand and guided it between her legs. “Do it again.”

Lisa nearly cried the second time he edged her—more careful, now, with only her underwear between her and his hand, but she was so keyed up it didn’t take long. Her legs were still shaking when she reached for his waistband. Lisa didn’t even move off his lap, just rose up on her knees enough for him to push his trousers down, and she got her hand around his dick as soon as she could.

Fuck.” It was the first time she’d heard him swear. Lisa could have fist-pumped; she stroked him instead.

He was—as she’d thought—fucking big, not just long but girthy too. Proportionate to rest of him, but Lisa could barely wrap her hand around it. She licked her lips and ran her thumb along the leaking tip. Dracula shuddered. “Can I—let me—trousers,” he managed.

Lisa glanced up at him, her face flushed, and let go long enough for him to finish kicking off his clothes. Belatedly she realized she was still wearing her underwear and threw that off too. She nearly toppled over in her haste and, grinning, Dracula guided her back down onto his lap. Lisa ground herself along his length and they both made embarrassingly needy noises, but—this was going to be tricky.

“Bite me,” she said.

His hands tightened—one was on her thigh, one on her ass. “What?”

“When I get on you, can you—”

His eyes went very wide. “Yes,” he said quickly. Her hair tie had nearly fallen out of her ponytail altogether, and he impatiently pulled it off and grabbed her hair with one hand as he lowered his mouth to her neck. With one hand Lisa lined him up against her entrance, grabbing his shoulder to steady herself; she slid down onto him as his fangs slipped through her skin, flooding her system with adrenaline.

It hurt, they both hurt, and the insides of her legs felt slick and dripping. Lisa’s heart pounded like it might burst from her chest. Her nails dug into Dracula’s hip, his shoulder, and she whimpered pathetically. He swallowed and then pulled his fangs out of her, only to kiss her again, her blood still wet and coppery in his mouth as he bottomed out.

They couldn’t do more than grind in this position, really, and Lisa didn’t mind that at all—her legs weren’t up for more—and it was more than enough to feel his body moving against hers, all that soft strength, skin still cool but warmer now that he’d been near her for so long. Dracula’s mouth found her collarbone and she felt him murmuring something in a language she didn’t quite recognize, couldn’t focus on—it didn’t matter, she understood the gist. Her orgasm built up slowly, each brush of her clit against his skin sending quivering aftershocks through her until she came, biting her lip against the sound of it. He wasn’t far behind. She knew it would be messy, she’d never done this without a condom, but she didn’t care. She squeezed her knees against his hips and lifted up, riding him through it even as her legs protested.

He was quiet for a long minute after. Lisa couldn’t blame him. She didn’t know what to say herself, so she pressed her fingers under his chin. His eyes closed briefly as she pecked him on the mouth, and then she unhooked her legs from around his waist and carefully rolled off, sprawling next to him on her back.

“Are you alright?” he asked after a moment. His eyes roved her in a way that made Lisa want to sit up and preen.

But she was exhausted, and her back felt raw and sore, so she rolled over onto her side instead. “No complaints,” she managed. “But, um, ask me in the morning.”

At some point she’d live out that fantasy where he railed her over a lab table, but she knew her limits. They’d get there.

He nodded and silence fell for a moment. Cold metal pressed into her neck and Lisa realized she’d left his pendant on. She snorted and unfastened the chain, reaching over to place it on the nightstand. “What exactly prompted you now?” he asked, once Lisa had settled back on the bed.

Her brain felt so sluggish it took her a moment to remember. “I just realized, um, it’s not my problem if you start killing people again.” Dracula only looked more confused. “I mean—if there are hunters, then that means I’m not actually responsible for what you do? Like, obviously I’ll care, because I care about you and I don’t want you to be evil. But I don’t have to be your conscience. Does that make sense?”

Dracula leaned back against the headboard and closed his eyes. “I could have told you that weeks ago,” he drawled. For an ageless undead being of untold strength, he sounded exhausted.

Lisa shrugged. “And I would have said you just wanted to get laid,” she said lightly, sitting up and stretching her arms over her head. Her bicep protested; she glanced at it and frowned at the red ringing her arm, an obvious precursor to a bruise. Thank God he hadn’t grabbed her wrists. She didn’t need Clara staging an intervention.

“That’s not all I want,” he said, so seriously she had to turn back. “You know me better than anyone since I was human—you know better than that.”

After everything they’d done, that was what made her stomach flutter with nerves. Dracula’s hand closed around hers and she squeezed.

“You know,” he repeated, a little helplessly.

Lisa nodded and leaned back against his arm, closing her eyes. “I know.” She kissed his bicep because she needed to kiss him and didn’t want to move.

It was too late to detangle herself now. She was keeping him.