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The God I answer to

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Red tinged the edges of Juliette’s vision, the noises around her muted and fading like they were coming from far away. She held her breath, trying to focus on blinking every few seconds. Like a normal person, like a human would. One, two, three. Blink. One, two, three. Again. The scalding burning in her throat was starting to lessen. Good. One, two, three. Blink. For a split second, she was glad that she could hold her beath for as long as she could, another perk of her supernatural body. Then she remembered. The only reason she needed to hold her breath right now in the first place was exactly that supernatural body and the one downside it bore for Juliette: this burning, all-consuming thirst. The thought immediately procured a vivid memory in her mind. Warm, wet and rich flowing into her mouth and down her throat, filling all of her senses. She forgot to blink. A mumbled curse escaped the lips she was tightly pressing together. Her throat burned like fire, set freshly ablaze. Her fingers were twitching uneasily. She needed to focus. On anything. Anything other than this.

She forced herself to turn and take a look out the window. Heavy raindrops were hitting the large glass panels, glistening in the light of a nearby street lamp. She counted their steady pattering, let herself imagine what it would feel like on her face. Cool, cleansing. An early summer rain that smelled like warmth and damp earth. The burning lessened again but Juliette kept her laser focus. The steady pattering of the rain. Her vision was slowly returning to normal until only the slightest hint of red remained. She felt the more animalistic part of her receding and then there was only the coolness of the rain seeping through the cracked window. Carefully, she held her position for another few minutes, leaning back into the couch cushions with a stillness that a human could never muster. She probably looked quite peaceful, light eyes trained out the window but she was anything but. Every muscle was locked into place with all her supernatural force. Only slowly, ever so slowly, checking for signs of an imminent relapse into her sudden burst of bloodlust, she released the iron control on her limbs. First, stretching her fingers, then rolling her shoulders and her neck, all while the peaceful pattering of the rain filled her mind. When she felt safe enough, almost normal, she released the breath she had been holding and relaxed her muscles.

On her first inhale in a couple of minutes she tried to focus on the smell of the rain wafting through the window. Her senses got assaulted anyway. The heavy, intoxicating scent of Calliope was everywhere around her. It was her room after all. Like expected, Juliette’s throat tingled and she felt her fangs pressing against their sheaths but she stayed focused and the moment passed. On the next inhale she turned her face back towards the room. Her heightened sense of smell picked up not only Calliope’s scent but was able to distinguish its layers. A gentle tint come from above where her bed sat, heavy with sleep and peace. Around her schoolbag, the flavor mixed with the smells of outside and school hallways, the wood of the chairs they sat on in class and the markers she used to underline the most important passages in their assignments. From her closet her scent mixed with detergent and the smell of clothes scorned for so long they started to smell distinctly like closet. The hamper sitting next the door held the clothes she had trained in earlier today before Juliette climbed through her window like she did almost every night now. It smelled tangy and rich and so distinctly Calliope that it was without a doubt the most tantalizing scent in the room and the monster Juliette was keeping under lock right now whole-heartedly agreed.

It had been a problem from the start, so much so that she had started coming to Cal’s place thirty minutes later than she usually would unless she had just fed the night prior. It gave the huntress enough time to shower and Juliette would not have to explain again why she hadn’t shown up like she had promised that night. The truth was, she had been there, already halfway up the tree leading to Calliope’s window in fact. She had heard the door to the room above open and close and about three seconds later her nose had picked up the most appealing scent she had ever experienced, causing her fangs to unsheathe themselves immediately, her world flooding red. She had almost fallen off the tree in her attempt to keep from barging in through the window in all her monstrous glory to take what she craved like a drug. With her last sliver of sanity, she had jumped down and ran until the air around her was fresh again and the crimson receded from her vision.

Which brought Juliette back to right now. Calliope was downstairs, having dinner with her family and like every night, Juliette sat in her room and waited for her to come back. She was honestly surprised that a whole family of trained monster hunters had not discovered or even suspected the vampire sleeping under their roof almost every night for the last month. She guessed it was false naïveté, the assumption that their daughter had truly ended the relationship they had forbidden her from having, keeping her head down and supernatural things happening at her school quiet. Their misplaced trust that their prized Calliope would not open their home to a legacy vampire had actually provided them with the perfect safe space. They had met at the Fairmont estate once but Calliope had had a great deal of trouble sneaking past Juliette’s mother’s two armed guards permanently posted since the attack on the consecration ceremony. The next morning, her father hat swooped into her room fifteen minutes after Cal left, taken a deep breath and said I don’t know why you think I can’t smell the little huntress of yours all over your room and bedsheets. And your mother surely could, too, if she came up here. You won’t stay away from her, I know. But please don’t have her impaled by either Alec or Michael on our lawn in the middle of the night. And me by Margot for not mentioning this to her. Find another place. It was safe to say they had never tried again after.

And so, nearly every night, Juliette parked her silver SUV in the near neighborhood but never too close and slipped through Cal’s open window and into her bed. While her parents and brothers slept, just a few doors down, a legacy vampire was rolled up in Calliope’s arms, listening to her strong and steady heartbeat with her fangs mere inches away from the dark expanse of her neck.

Juliette snapped her eyes shut. The scent of the room together with the memory of Cal’s carotid artery pulsing invitingly right next to her mouth tinged her vision red again. With an involuntary grunt, she threw her head back, fully exposing her fangs to the empty room. The rain. She tried, desperately searching for an out but all she could smell was the Calliope’s heady scent and all she could hear was her heartbeat, happily pounding up the stairs and towards the door of her room where she knew her girlfriend was waiting for her. Panic washed over Juliette. Not now was all she could think. With regret, she counted the days since her last feed and ended on six. Too long, way too long, she realized as Calliope opened the door and Juliette’s world plunged into fire and crimson.

With vampiric speed, she thumped against the window, fiddling with the handle to open it completely. It was hard, with her back pressed up against it but she was afraid of what could happen if she let Calliope’s form out of her sight. The huntress had immediately realized something was wrong and the crazed expression on Juliette’s face along with her wide-open fanged mouth told her everything she needed to know. “Jules.” She whispered sharply, quickly closing the door behind herself and trying to make her way over only to be stopped by a hand raised so quickly the motion was nothing but a blur. “No. Don’t. I…Juliette took a ragged breath and fire seared her throat like a hot iron. Calliope’s heart, although steady in the face of danger as always, sounded like a stampede in her ears. “I need to go.” The words were little more than a hiss that sounded almost nothing like the loving, slightly goofy Juliette she usually was and more like the monster that hid in her bright blue eyes. Behind her, the window finally gave and opened fully.

“No, you don’t. You can fight this.” Calliope’s voice was soothing, full of an understanding Juliette was not sure she deserved. She should have fed sooner. But she had been fine all week and all day, fine last night enveloped in Cal’s heady scent as much as her blankets. She had been fine right until about half an hour ago. With a stumble, she was out the window when Cal came another step closer, hand outstretched with her palm open, inviting. After the next step, the vampire shook her head, a movement so choppy it was barely recognizable. “No.” She hissed. The breath the word took to form smelled like Calliope, rich and full and mouthwatering. She could taste the clear, slightly bitter note of the venom that flooded her mouth. She knew then that she had about ten seconds left before she would do something she could never take back and when Cal, still full of understanding and gentleness, took another step towards her Juliette jumped.

She knew Calliope had rushed to the window above her but she didn’t dare turning around. She raced towards her car, somewhere in the back of her mind aware that any neighbor who happened to look out the window right now would see her walking with movements way too fast to be human. She knew she should care. Ever since a zombie had attacked Lancaster Academy most people would not simply brush off anything unusual they saw as they probably would have before. But her ears were still ringing with Calliope’s heartbeat, the bitter taste of her venom searing her tongue and feeding the flames raging in her throat. Only when Juliette got to her car did she allow herself to breathe again. Leather. Gasoline. The slightly citric smell of the air freshener Ben had once insisted she used. Crimson bled from the world as she clung to the steering wheel. Slowly, her hunger quieted down, no longer in direct vicinity of what she craved most. The more it receded, the more the disgust set in. Calliope was way too kind with her. She had always been. There had been a few incidents now where they had close calls with Juliette’s monstrous side. Even though she had tried to be very clear with the huntress, she didn’t think Cal really understood the severity of her transgressions and just how close those calls had been sometimes. She had tried to get better with her feeding schedule, talking to her father about a way to feed in the most humane and least suspicious way possible. If you don’t drink your fill, you will have to feed more often, Juliette. Every four or five days max. Her father’s warning voice filled her mind, followed by gentleness. But I am glad you are taking your needs more seriously now.

Juliette pressed her eyes closed, fingers on her temples where she could feel a headache coming on. Six days. Six days had been way too long. She had honestly just forgotten because she had felt physically fine but she knew that had been foolish. She had put Calliope at risk. This had been closer than ever before. Even worse than when she had actually bitten her in the pantry. Back then she had been basically starved, barely living off her blood pills. She had not expected Calliope’s lips to be the best thing she had ever tasted by so many margins of measurement, had not expected her scent to craze her the way it did, overwhelming her instantly. No, that had been a bad accident. Tonight, with the venom dripping from her fangs, she had felt her bloodlust overwhelm her with cruel, measured steps. Now, as she put her car into drive and pulled out onto the street heading for the bar Elinor frequented nearly every night, she tasted nothing but bile.