I would like to stated that I still FULLY have writer's block. About 15 pages of this was written before I came down with this terrible, horrible disease. And I've been adding to it. So yeah, I hate most of this chapter. But whatever. Please, PLEASE still review. More reviews give me more motivation to write. I swear! Please, don't be mad at me. This stupid writer's block has been eating away at me too. It's hard, but I WILL get over it.

So meanwhile, you must put up with my sucky writing.

Don't hate me . . .

A glimmer of panic flashed through Jesse's dark Spanish eyes, as he saw me on the ground, and Paul leaning over me. Something very primal and fearful that made my heart stop. I guess it kind of looked a little compromising, you know. But yeah, even I thought it was a little bit, er, audacious when Jesse seized Paul by the shoulders, and threw him mercilessly into the wall.

Wow . . . now THAT must have hurt.

Well, it might have, if Paul hadn't gone right through it. The wall, I mean. But Jesse, whoa! You should have seen him, he was – he was FURIOUS. It was scary. I looked at him in panic.

'Jesse! God, get out of here! They're after you too!' I shrilled, struggling to stand up. But Jesse wasn't done . . .

'They tricked me!' he yelled, 'They made me believe that Querida was in danger, and she was not! They wanted to get me away from you, Susannah! And then, I couldn't materialize to you, because I could not hear you calling!' Crap, he was pissed off. Not at me, but at Tad and Paul.

Well, I was pissed off too! So . . . blah!

Paul came diving back through the wall with a growl of anger. I squealed, and wriggled away from the pair of them. They were both blistering mad. They looked like they were trying to rip each other to pieces. And Jesse in chunks was just not COOL with me. I couldn't tell you who looked like they'd achieve it first – they both looked like they could be driven to it very quickly. You know, murder. Or well, on Paul's part, serious spectral damage.

Still feeling woozy, I scrambled up, leaning on Mr Beaumont's desk. Everything was still kinda fuzzy. I could definitely make out the two black figures, scuffling before me. DAMN JESSE FOR WEARING BLACK. I couldn't tell who was who at the moment! I blinked hazily. 'Jesse . . . stop it . . . we have to get out of here . . . now . . . '

Jesse let out a roar, and I heard a forceful collision. Paul yelled and again, more punching. Oh, let the fists rock on. I rubbed my eyes furiously, straining to see who was what and how was when. Blearily, I saw Jesse leaning over Paul and punching the crap out of him. Which I was fully supporting at that second, savvy? Everything was so . . . fast, and loud, and my head was MURDER and they kept yelling at each other and I was shaking still –

'Jesse, stop it! We need to get out of here!' I yelled at him, 'Please!'

Concentrating hard, so my brain ached, I focused my gaze on the pair of black combatants. Jesse's face flickered in and out of view – PAUL WAS NOW PUNCHING HIS GUTS OUT! Aaah!

I moved along the desk, and staggered towards them both. Paul was NOT going to hurt my boyfriend, no WAY. Jesse's face was too nice to smoosh up!

Which was why I did what I did next.

Which, incidentally, was pretty thick.

I jumped on Paul's back.

'You're a loser!' I sniped at him, rolling him off of Jesse – so he wouldn't mess up the face. The face, guys? How could you just idly stand by and watch someone mess up that face? I sure couldn't, even if "watch" was a pretty strong word at the moment. Paul, however, found this quite an easy thing to do. Watch idly by, I mean. Especially when the messer was him. And it wasn't really appreciated when I went all with the back jumping and stuff.

So there's me, under a hundred and eighty pound ghost, who was TOTALLY pissed, in the murderous-die-fool-die way. Not such a good combination. Paul glared down at me. My heart sped up as a smirk tugged at Paul's lips. I tried slapping him, hoping he would roll off of me.

'Suze is so weak,' he said darkly, his eyes shooting a glance at Jesse, wherever he was.

I stopped trying to whack him off of me. 'Whaaah?' I asked dumbly. I had this feeling of complete consternation. It was paralyzing to the point that I could not so much as blink my eyes. Everything felt heavy.

Jesse growled from somewhere or other, showing his discontent of the situation.

Paul stroked my hair, twisting a curl around his finger like he was twisting my emotions. 'Well, come on. I mean, I TOLD her I needed you here. And she says she won't call you. But as soon as it starts to get rough, who does she call? Oh, of course, Jesse. Always Jesse.'

I was shaking, partly in anger, but mostly in obvious fear. 'Get the hell off of me,' I managed to growl. I began to thrash about under him...hoping to free myself from him momentarily.

He was like one of those Chinese finger-traps, though. The more I moved, the harder it was for me to escape from him.

His smirk widened. 'Nah, I like the seating arrangements, actually,' he said, moving to his knees. I squirmed, trying to wriggle from beneath him, but to my horror, he repeated actions that had occurred in a very recent dream. One where I hadn't been as hostile as I really should have . . . Oh, crap. My eyes flickered in alarm, and he met them with a roguish glint.

He knew.

He so knew . . .

'So anyway,' Paul shrugged, running his hands down my arms – which tingled horribly – 'All I did was put thoughts into her head. I dunno which ones, but they scared her, regardless. Didn't they, Susie?' he added, with mock concern, touching my cheek with his finger.

I felt like doing a Gollum and biting it off.

But I, um . . . didn't. Eww.

'We shifters can do that, can't we Jesse?' he smirked up at him. His icy eyes blazed with an animalistic fury. Jesse's eyes narrowed – yeah, I could see them now – and his lip curled angrily. He knew that he couldn't make any movement, or Paul would do something to me.


'Insert thoughts into the mind of another. As an ex-shifter, I thought I'd be a bit dodgy at it, but nah. Suze is just weak. She's . . . easy to penetrate,' he said in a deeper, darker tone. A chill shot through me.

His hand moved to my stomach, and I kind of freaked. He'd done that in my dream, can you blame me?! Yet again, I unsuccessfully attempted escape, but – well, déjà-frigging-vu, right?

Penetrate . . . you could so tell that Paul wasn't thinking about my mind when he said that. Oh, shitty shit.

His jaw set, and he grinned down at me bestially.

'What – what's . . . Marcus going to do?' I said in an icy tone that was – yeah – spiked with blatant fear. What? I didn't wanna, like, explode or be forced to tap-dance for eternity, so yeah. I wanted to know, but I was scared to.

"Yeah Suze, the evil demon is going to make you tap-dance."

No, he didn't say that. I'm kidding.

What he said was far worse . . .

'I'm so glad you asked that,' he said, a cruel smile claiming his lips. He ran his hands down my neck, and across the exposed skin on my chest. His fingers trailed across my collarbone, and I could almost see Jesse spitting in rage. Just without the, you know, saliva.

Hyperbole. Go figure.

I had to say, though, my heart started pumping a hell of a lot faster when he spoke those words. But was it really the words, or was it the fact that he was touching me? My skin was burning, tingling, and stinging from his touch. It had nothing to with what he said.

My dry lips cracked open again. '. . . Why's that?' I dared ask.

He chuckled softly, and there was an explosion of chills at every point of contact he had with my body. 'Let's just say . . . I'm all for the torture thing,' he smiled ominously.


My eyes went very, very wide. Torture? Paul was raving, sick, twisted, demented, disturbed, and...

Addicted. Addicted to me. I could hear those words echo through my mind over and over and over. Addicted, addicted, addicted...

'Get away from her,' Jesse snarled from behind Paul. When the departed Mr Slater paid no heed, Mr de Silva – finally – decided to get his point across physically. He hauled Paul away from me, and slugged him hard in the stomach.

'Jesse!' I yelled, 'come ON. We need to get out of here!'

Only Jesse went on hitting him. I think it had something to do with the little rivalry thing the two of them had going. You know, the 'I win.' 'No, I win, you dick!' 'No, it's ME!' thing.


But when Jesse threw Paul across the room at me, I think he wished he'd listened. I stumbled over to Jesse...or at least I tried to when-

Paul seized me from behind, and held me very hard. As in, so hard it hurt. I didn't want him touching me. I really didn't. Things happened to me when he touched me now, that were so horrible I didn't even want to think about them. Because, these horrible reactions weren't just painful. They were scandalizing, traumatizing, horrifying...

But I think the horror came from the fact that I loved it as well. Don't start going ballistic on me. I said I loved 'it', not Paul. All of these feelings I got from him...those were all so new and thrilling to me. I was on a ride. And loving every minute of it. It seemed that all of my blood was channeled to the place where he held me so tightly- my hips. One scratch, and I'd be bleeding myself dry. But even with that thought in my mind...the sensation pumping through my veins drowned it all out.

So, as to keep the tradition ablaze, I struggled. Hell, I did. But also in the name of tradition, Paul held on tighter and refused to let go. A deep, corrosive frustration ate at me. I wanted him gone. I couldn't stand to feel like that. So bad, and yet so good.

I wasn't SUPPOSED to feel like that! Why was I? Was there something wrong with me? Do I have a short circuit up in that fiddly noggin of mine? I mean, crap. This was not good . . . I felt like my skin was turning to ice . . .

Jesse was immobilized. Again, he feared to move. Aren't I a priceless little hostage? Aw, go me.

'Well, would you look at this. God, de Silva, you have too many weaknesses,' Paul said, his tone saturated with amusement. His hand shot around my front, and cradled my chin, squeezing my mouth in. I was furious with him, but again, my nerves went spastic when he touched my skin. His other hand closed around my wrist with an iron grip. My breath snagged in my throat unbearably. 'First was little Adrianna. And now, we have Suze. Only . . . I think that you'd probably get over it if I killed her, right?' Paul asked. I could tell he was grinning.

Jesse took a threatening step forward. 'You have no clue what love is, Slater. Susannah is something precious to me. Beyond your capacity to imagine. You will not hurt her, or I will make sure that you suffer immensely.'

Way to goad him, Jesse. Thanks, really. Totally appreciative, me.

Because it was then that Paul decided to, I dunno, break my arm?

The bone snapped like a twig.

I wailed in pain, and Jesse exploded in a fresh rage that scared the life out of me, and ran at Paul, but, grinning insanely, Paul threw me into the glass wall of the fish tank. I screamed as the glass shattered and showered down on me, whilst the crushing water pressure thrust me back against the opposite wall, and Jesse too. Ow, my arm, it HURT LIKE HELL.

The fishy water rushed into my mouth – EW! – and pretty much knocked the wind out of me. When the water filled the room evenly, I coughed out the disgusting water, sobbing. My arm was definitely broken. I heard the crack, and GOD it killed! I held onto it, my face screwed up in pain. Jesse, well, he was furious. No, sorry. Furious is a gross understatement. Jesse was MAD with rage.

'CANTAMAÑANAS! Jesse roared, also soaked from head to foot, unlike the ghostly Paul Slater, who'd been unaffected by the water. I was still choking on the water that had forced itself down my lungs. On my arms, several bits of glass had been blasted at me and had pierced my skin. And my broken one, well, that looked just wrong. It was kinda purple. And by God, it felt WORSE than it looked . . .

Straining my face, I begged to Jesse now, 'Please . . . we have to get out of here –'

Only Paul wasn't too keen on letting us go.

'No,' he glared darkly at me, 'You're not going anywhere. He is going to have you, you bitch . . . you don't treat me like that and expect for me to let you go –'

'Oh my GOD!' I screamed in wild response, with a wave of annoyance, 'Are you KIDDING me?! Is this because the girl doesn't like you? Dude, it's called REJECTION. Deal like everyone else! That is to say, DON'T break their arms and feed them to bloody DEMONS!'


He stared at me, and then grinned. But I'd had enough. My arm? Yeah, it was . . . what's the word I'm looking for? I know, OW. He'd BROKEN it! You don't just – just – BREAK PEOPLES' ARMS WHEN THEY SNUB YOU!!

Aww, bah . . . this was a total mess.

The exotic fish were flopping desperately on the water, gulping down all the water that was still available. I was plopped on my – now soaked through – butt, with an excruciating arm, a dizzy head, and a shitty mood.

And oh yeah. I was scared.

'Jesse, PLEASE! We have to get out!' I appealed to him once more.

And wonder of wonders, he actually listened. He splashed over to me, just before Paul could beat him to it.

'No!' Paul yelled, in what I recognized to be panic. He couldn't let us leave, aye. Then the demon-butt head would poopify him, right? Well, excuse me for not minding then, in my current state of mind. But the ARM thing? Yeah, not too chuffed about THAT.


Only . . . for a flicker of a moment, I – I know, I KNOW! – actually found myself very, very worried that that was where he'd end up . . .

But then . . . he deserved it. He was the bad guy here. Wrecking this party, ruining my life, trying to split up true love. He deserved it all.


Jesse dragged me up, also in a panic. I inhaled sharply when he accidentally knocked my arm. He looked pained, 'I am sorry, querida, I didn't mean to – '

'She's staying right here.'

I turned, and Paul was glaring at Jesse from the corner of the room . . . oooh, poo. Now, if I had not seen Paul Slater mad, well . . . I did then. His eyes were clouded with something with more intensity than murderous objective . . . darker than evil, and angrier than the wild, black storms of Carmel Beach. The darkness from within seemed to corrode and claim all of his features as he regarded Jesse with a stare that could silence an avalanche. Or, freeze it as to stop it from moving.

Oh, God.

This was bad. Really, really, really bad . . .

'You can't go, anyway, Suze,' he said softly to me. His gaze burnt on me, and I saw his eyes glimmer. 'Snow White? The clown? Dopey? They're all going to die . . . unless you do as you're told.'

I froze. Oh, man, I froze. As if that avalanche was now crushing me.

And Paul had been the one to yell that bit too loudly . . .

My eyes went very wide. 'No – no way, you're not going to TOUCH them!'

He knew he had me cornered.

And the walls were closing in. Fast.

Jesse, who was standing half in front of me protectively, held onto me tighter. His arms were warm around me. My broken one was pounding, and it was all I could do not to express this pain to Paul. He couldn't have that satisfaction . . . oh MAN, this was bad. 'Technically, Slater, she is correct. Indeed, you are not going to touch them. You are dead. A fate you so richly deserve.'

Um, anyone thinking that at this point in time, Jesse's really JESSICA SIMPSON?!


Paul's whole demeanour went from bad, to worse. I watched as his fists clenched in dormant fury, and his face was etched with the purest desire to kill.

And he was glaring at me.

Well, shit.

'I think that it's my word that we'll be going by,' Paul said, and exploited the fresh anger as he made all the broken glass in the room rise and aim right at me. 'I'm the only one in the room that doesn't smell fishy. And Suze? I may not be able to touch them. But there's something to be said for a guy who's in league with a homicidal demon and a band of vampires, you know?'

All I could do was breathe, before the splinters of glass were darted at me. I let out a scandalized scream, jamming my eyes shut and cringing into Jesse, waiting for the infiltration of the million chips of deadly glass, for the tearing of my skin to make me shriek in pain.

But it didn't come.

With a strangled breath, I opened my eyes a fraction. Oh my . . .

Right in front of my eyes, were fragments of glass directed right at my pupils. There was a layer of glass all over me, that was about, I dunno, a single centimeter away from actually having contact with me. I could see, past the fractured barrier of wet crystal, that Paul was exerting enormous concentration to achieve this. Make the glass stop, I mean. Before it cut me.

I could feel Jesse breathing hard beside me. My arm seriously needed medical attention, it was practically black now. But I couldn't move a muscle.

'I told you before,' Paul's voice cut in calmly, 'you're not going anywhere.'

I swallowed hard. One movement, and he'd do it. Make the glass plunge into every centimeter of my body. Oh, he wouldn't hesitate. He was past hesitation, now. He was past many things, now. So much so that he was well on the way to insanity.

Only as a ghost, he couldn't go insane. He'd still be able to remember everything he did, but he could still plan . . . know exactly what he had set out to do, and execute his tasks accordingly.

And when I say execute, I'm not being melodramatic.

This was no dress rehearsal. This was the real deal.

That was when the elevator whirred, and I heard the doors open, but I couldn't turn to look at them. Oh no . . .

I heard lapping water flood down somewhere, and a small crackle of electricity.

'What the . . . what the DEVIL have you done, Paul?!' demanded the voice that I could only recognize to be Marcus'. Jesse held onto me tighter, and I was breathing as hard as I could without making movement enough to provoke Paul to make me all sparkly and red.

Although...that would match my Maybelline Wet Diamonds lipstick.

'She tried to leave . . . ' Paul mumbled. 'I had to stop her.'

Marcus was silent. It sounded like he was just glaring at Paul, which, hello? Fully supportive, me.

And then, he started speaking in a tone of deadly calmness. 'I ask you to bring me a shifter. Instead, you promise me two. This served to make me almost proud of you, Paul. And yet, one of them is now ruined. You have broken her arm. This doesn't please me at all.'

'She struggled – ' Paul started, but there was an explosion of light, and next thing I saw through the glass, was Paul flying back against the wall, hard.

Blah. Hope it hurts, you faggot.

All the glass around me fell as soon as his focus was broken. I gasped as I felt my skin being scratched. There were small red trails over all my arms and shoulders. Man, this was NOT cool. And by God, my arm was killing me.

I really needed to get it to a hospital. Badly.

Marcus sighed and faced the both of us. I felt my skin go very tight, like it was being stretched tautly over my body. I kind of shrank back into Jesse. I wanted to be protected. I really was scared, and I wasn't understanding why. I've faced worse than this, with CONCUSSIONS. This was a pissy broken arm. Why did I have to get the heebie jeebies NOW? Oh man, this sucked. 'Well,' he said simply to Jesse, 'Hand her over.'

Jesse gripped me more defensively, and I winced, looking at Marcus through angry eyes. 'I do not know what you are saying,' he growled to Marcus, 'But I would rather die than surrender Susannah to you.'

Marcus chuckled softly. 'Then die you shall,' he shrugged.

'Jesse!' I squealed, 'Now!'

And most impeccably timed, his whole body tensed as he triggered dematerialization. As the last speckles of glitter shielded my face, I heard a livid Marcus yelling, 'Find them! Kill all the others if you have to!' and Paul moaning, 'NOOOOOOO!'

Jesse and I materialized in the room that we'd been kissing in just earlier. A very stupid part of my just wanted to grab him and lay a huge fat one on his lips, but I did not do this because

I was incapable of grabbing anything with my left arm, and

Hello? Crisis situation? Give me some credit, please.

But yeah, so I was generally occupied. I whimpered a little – I know, pathetic, but HEY, at least I wasn't CRYING, OKAY? Crying? Sheesh, I'd rather break all my limbs than cry. Well . . . maybe not . . . I mean, crying is usually painless, and plus, breakage of limbs would cause me to cry, and –

'Susannah, you must get out of here,' Jesse said suddenly, turning me to face him. He looked into my eyes with . . . was that fear?

Why the HELL was Jesse scared?! I mean, Paul's spinelessness had been kind of flooring, but JESSE? Aw, crap, don't let him get scared on me, please!

'Jesse, no way, there's like, fifty plus people here! And you heard them, they're going to kill them all, Jesse! We HAVE to do something!' I snapped at him. My arm throbbed painfully, and I winced.

He groaned. 'Susannah, you are hurt. I can get everyone out. Do not make the mistake in thinking that I do not want everyone to stay safe. Do not think that for a second. I put no one's life beneath my own. But, it is you that is injured. You are not fit to defend anyone in this condition. You have to –'

'Shut up!' I said, 'I have FRIENDS here! There's not a hope in hell that I'm going to leave them here to just get leeched by some crappy would-be fictional beasties, you gotta be kidding me! I'm staying here. CeeCee and Adam are here. And my step-brother! Granted, he's not that loving as far as siblings go, but come on! I'm not going!'

'Damn you and your stubbornness!' Jesse growled, shaking me a bit. I stared at him with fierce determination.

'Jesse, I'm staying. Look, my arm will be fine.' I held it up, and oh my GOD. It seared with pain, but it was all I could do to stop Jesse from knowing that. I could feel my face shaking against the ache, and my whole body tense, and my EYES even watered a little. I mean, bloody hell. But yeah, Jesse wouldn't know that.

He rolled his eyes in vivid aggravation. 'I do not want you to get hurt! Susannah, this man – this demon, is the reason that Paul is dead! He's –'

'Actually, technically, you are,' I said accidentally.

Me and my FAT MOUTH.

Jesse stopped, and looked away.

'Oh, man,' I said, revolted with myself. 'Jesse, I didn't mean it like – '

But he gritted his teeth. I saw him . . . shaking. WHY WAS HE SHAKING?! WAS IT COLD?!

'Susannah,' he said in a low, angry voice, 'Indeed, Paul is dead because of me. But this demon, well, he was the one that drove Paul to come for Adrianna. Paul's death was very much so my fault, but it was destined. If it had not have been me, it would have been Marcus Beaumont.' He twitched a bit. Now I knew why he was shaking.

He was mad. With me.

'I knew I recognized the name Beaumont. Paul, recently, said that Thaddeus Beaumont bit you –'

'That was NOT a hickey!'

' – and I remembered that name, from when he came to me, pleading for help that night long ago.' Jesse blinked hard, and swallowed like it was painful. He glared at the floor, his jaw set and the scar on his brow glowing white. I watched him nervously, and I touched his arm in concern. 'Jesse . . . I don't blame you. Please, come on . . . I have to help my friends. You need to understand that. I'm not going anywhere until every single person – granted, with a heartbeat – in this house is safe.' I moved my fingers up and placed them softly on the side of his face.

His resolute onyx eyes flickered up to meet mine slowly. His hands gripped me harder against him, and he leant forward and kissed me on the top of my head gently. I closed my eyes and sighed.

'Susannah . . . I respect that. I . . . I know this is very wrong of me, but – ' he broke off, and glared away, looking furious with himself.

'What?' I asked quickly.

He pulled away, cursing in Spanish. Then, he turned back to me wildly, and seized my hands, appealing to me. There was something dancing in his eyes. Like, guilt, clashed with . . . I don't know. It scared me. Like he was going to do something radical. In a hassled, husky tone, he murmured 'Susannah, I – I . . . this is very selfish, I do know this, but . . . I would rather you to be safe, than save everyone in this building.'

I stared at him. My eyes were so, so wide.

'It is my love speaking these words,' he said in rapid defense, 'and – I realize that it isn't right! But –'

Only I silenced him with a kiss.

Oh my God.

He loved me. He really, really, really did . . .

How I managed to do this with a broken arm, I have no idea. All pain just, well, washed away . . . I felt like I had been falling, and he'd just caught me. I felt the fire, and the ice, fighting over me. I was burnt and frozen, and I couldn't decide which would kill me first. I felt the danger of the world around me, and I plunged myself into the flames.

Jesse gripped me tightly. Oh my God, oh my God . . . this was so, so different from anything I'd ever felt. Something was clenching my stomach rigidly, and every nerve along my body was electrified with desperation and abandon and – and all the rest. I was scared. I knew that a lot was in jeopardy. But all I wanted to do, more than anything in the world, was be here. I was selfish, too. To put this uncontrolled desire over my friends, and the lives of others, but –

I pulled away, finding myself. I could barely breathe, still. My throat was on fire and my head was fit to bust. I felt like I would combust if I wasn't kissing him, but . . . no. I had my job to do.

I had lives to save.

And a nice reminder cut through the air like a white-hot knife. A single scream cut off all of the music, and within moments, the Beaumont Estate was in anarchic pandemonium.

'Jesse, we have to go!' I said, pulling him towards the door. The muscles in his face tensed, and then he nodded at me, and we both ran out the door, along the hall silently, and ducked into an alcove.

And . . .

Holy crap.

How different this was. The scene that vexed my eyes at that moment, I mean. Everyone was running for the door. A good lot of them had gotten out, too. But that was when a whole mob of people dressed in complete back slammed all of the doors shut.

All of them.

Kids everywhere were screaming. Girls were being grabbed by – well, I could only assume – Marcus' boys. You know, the vampires. Yah, that be them. A couple of jocks who looked ridiculously drunk were trying to fight one of them, but one kick each, and they were down.

Man. That makes me look SKILLED.

I stared in horror at everything. It was chaos. It was wrong, and scary, and people were screaming, and they were scared too, and I had to save them all and my arm was broken and if I didn't do this I'd die and Jesse would die and a lot more people would die as well and Paul would smirk at me and be all "told ya so" and Tad would be like, a total anus about it too and would probably join in the smirking, but just before he gave me another pecky on the necky.

Synopsis? This was BAD.

The thing was . . . these kids that were getting chased, well, exactly. They were just kids. Just heaps of sixteen-year-olds, being pursued by something that all of them had grown up, thinking they weren't real. Only, vampires were real. Really real.

It was just, I was a sixteen year old kid too.

I really, really didn't want to die.

I didn't!

But this demon thing, well, Marcus had other plans in mind.

So, I was just staring out at the whole mess in front of me, thinking about how I wasn't going to get a tan on Carmel's beach anymore, when Jesse said, 'Susannah, are you listening to me?'

I turned around and looked at him vaguely. There was something weighed down on my heart. It was heavy and painful. And it was spreading to my lower stomach, also.

'Jesse,' I said softly, 'We can't do it, there's too many. We're gonna lose –'

'Susannah!' Jesse snapped in a whisper, and grabbed my good hand. I gave him a strange look, blinking. 'Susannah, this is really not the best time for pessimism. Just moments ago you were telling me how you would not give up until your amigos were safe. And, well, I wholly support that. Please do not act negatively. We can still win this.'

I started breathing slightly harder, looking at all the people downstairs. Some of them were being dragged away by Marcus' lot. And they couldn't do a thing to stop it. I could, and I was just letting them . . .

That was when some ugly guy laid his mitts on CeeCee, who screamed.

'Shit!' I gasped, and before Jesse could hold me back, I'd jumped over the banister that divided that room and the corridor, and I pelted to her, my arm screaming in pain. With a yell, I then plowed my fist into the sun-deprived man's face.

And he fell flat.

I felt like I should have spat on him or something. But . . . ew.

Everyone stopped momentarily, and stared at me. CeeCee was looking at me like I'd just come out wearing a bunny suit. Mind, I reeked of fish which isn't exactly better. But there was a deadly tension in the air that made my heart stop thudding.

Oooh . . . shouldn't have done that . . .

My bad.

'Get her!' roared Marcus, looking down at me fiercely. I kind of squeaked and blinked up at him. Yeah, that squeaking thing? It was just a phase, I swear. I'd grow out of it. Trust me, if I didn't, someone was gonna pay because that was just plain EMBARRASSING.

That was when about eight of those Buffy rejects leapt at me. And may I say, with an injured arm, I put up one hell of a fight. In fact, five of them were down before one of them managed to grab me. My heart was in my throat and my brain was popping, but I kept going . . . there was more at stake than just me . . . there were people who could die . . .

But yeah, as I was saying, one of them TOTALLY cheated and grabbed me from behind. Um, RUDE? I kind of went to bite his fingers, but I was worried I'd give him ideas. Jesse was dealing with another group of sun-unsafe losers, so there was no help for me. Oh, this was not good . . .

I heard laughter, and realized that it was Marcus. Jerking my head up, with a grimace on my face, I saw him looking down at me from the indoor balcony just above me. There was something different about his eyes . . . they were almost, well – almost inhuman. Otherworldly, you know?

If the vertical RED PUPILS meant anything.

I felt my stomach plummet.

Swearing to myself, I tried harder to get away from the guy holding me captive. But the guy was tough. Then, he grabbed me by my ARM, and I whimpered. Suze Simon WHIMPERED. I felt like a mouse caught in a trap.

Lured here by the cheese.


The two remaining ruffians seized me also, their eyes looking hollow and dead. Funny, that. Eyes have a tendency to look dead when they are in fact, exactly that. So yeah, three against one was a little rough. Especially when I was a CASUALTY.

You know?

I thought I was done for. I really did. I mean, there aren't really many other options to look at when you have two demon's minions holding you, and another one coming at you, looking all I-vant-to-suck-your-blood-y and stuff. The whole situation sucked, and I didn't know where Jesse was at that moment, and everything was starting to look very, very dark. Not to mention this guy had halitosis. In spite of the fear that I was refusing to overwhelm me, I felt my heart in my throat and my whole body ache with a dull horror . . .

Oh crap . . . these guys were serious.

I had underestimated how deadly they could be. It was just . . . well, three against one was NOT FAIR. I'd taken out five, and I'd been starting to get cocky.

Well, way to remind me that I'm "only human." Jesus!

I looked in horror at this guy – no, VAMPIRE – as he brushed my dark hair away from my neck. I felt his finger on my pulsing jugular. Shit, shit, SHIT.

And I couldn't move an inch . . .

He was just about to plunge this now exposed fangs into my neck, when there was the sound of pounding footsteps, and the explosion of dust. I jolted, and as the numinous dust dissolved into a vacuum of nothing. With a pumping heart, I looked wildly to the person – or ghost – or vampire – or hell, DEMON? – who'd caused this sudden fatality.

Aww, man . . .

Querida Andres, holding what looked like a jagged chair leg.


I mean, she just saved my neck! Pun not intended. But what was THAT all about, I ask?!

I flashed her an unfelt smile of gratitude that was stumped with my insane pride, and then bashed the two vamps that were grasping my arms into each other. Jeez, way to get a work out . . . my broken one throbbed painfully, and I let out an involuntary gasp as they both crumbled to the floor, in a not-so-dusty fashion.

'Usted está bien?' she wanted to know, her dark Spanish features flashing in something like concern. Her modest attire seemed to mock my own mini skirt.

Maybe . . . maybe Cora was right . . .maybe I wasn't like, good enough for Jesse . . . I felt torn in thanking her. What? Was I going to just give up so easily? Accept defeat? Like someone who was obviously so much better than me, and knew it?

Suze Simon may be many things.

But Suze Simon is NOT a quitter.

And ANYWAY, I don't know how to say, 'Thanks' in Spanish.

. . . Well . . . I do . . . Gracias, but STILL. SHUT UP, FOOLS.

Jesse ran over to us, panting. He was also carrying a jagged piece of wood. What? Was there a MANUAL or something that I missed out on? For God's sake . . . Hmm, I noticed when he bolted over here so desperately, he ran to dear . . . well, Dear, right? He touched her shoulder in worry, and something subtle and annoyed flushed through me. I narrowed my eyes at Querida Andres, who looked oblivious to . . . well, everything. She would have been good as a blond. Intellectually I mean.

What? I have to be cruel to be kind, okay?

Jesse gave me a worried look. 'Your arm, queri – Susannah,' he said anxiously.

I gave him a brave look. 'Can't complain,' I said with a slight wince. I mean, I could have complained, but I didn't want to seem like the whiny type in front of Querida Andres. I mean, I didn't want Jesse . . . you know, comparing.


I looked all around me. A lot of people, as I said, had escaped. But there were still screams coming from the mansion. Some were still trapped. And as I looked between the majestic pillars that surrounded this demolished looking room, I felt all my blood fall to my toes.

There were more . . . more vampires.

A LOT more.

I gasped. So did Querida, as she clapped a horrified hand to her porcelain doll face. Jesse's eyes widened, and he turned so he was standing in front of me and Querida defensively.

Oh my God . . .

A sea of pale faces stared back at us, coming from other parts of the house. They all looked pitiless, and lustful for blood. They were all dressed in dark colours, and they were coming slowly towards us. I turned my gaze aloft and saw that Marcus Beaumont was still at the balcony. He was smiling down at me with a horrible, HORRIBLE glint in his callous eyes.

'Do not kill the shifters,' was all he said to his minions. Yes, minions. The guy had MINIONS. How SAD was that? Ha . . . any guy who has MINIONS is extremely pathetic.

(A/N: YEAH, Paul.)

'We are going to need a lot of stakes,' Jesse breathed.

'Huh?' I said, 'Steak? What's that going to do? "Argh, fear the rump steak, you fiends! Avenging cows everywhere!" "Noooo! Not the raw beef, no!" Jesse, steak is something you EAT, not something you use to slay creatures of the night – '

'Susannah,' he said, 'I am referring to stakes of the wooden kind.'


Oh indeed.

'Qué una chica extraña,' said Querida to Jesse.

'What?' I demanded, conveniently forgetting the ever nearing vamps.

'Susannah, do not – '

'What did she say? Did she call me fat or something?'

'Susannah, why would she call you f – '

'She did! I knew it!'

'Jesse, qué ella dice?'

'Jesse, what is she saying?'

'Susannah!' Jesse said in anger, 'Please, not now – '

'Um, Suze?'

I went pale. I spun around, and saw that Adam was standing there with CeeCee. What were they still doing inside?! No, no, they had to get out of here! I would NOT let them stay here and get themselves killed! And with all these new black clad thugs coming, well, it was looking even worse.

And hey, my arm was broken. Hello???

I turned to Jesse, suddenly scared. I mean, me fighting was fine. But CeeCee and Adam? Um, how about no? Because, last time I checked, they weren't exactly too good with the fisticuffs. And, so yeah, them fighting a bunch of sucky evil people? Somewhat literally? Not so hot.

I had to at least get them out of here before I kicked ass.

With a, um, broken arm.

Oh, shut up.

'Jesse,' I said, 'What's the plan?' I was still kind of worried about the whole Paul-giving-my-soul-to-demon-dude thing, but I was kind of preoccupied with that annoying little vampires-want-my-blood thing. That kind of knocks Paul off the top of my to do list, huh? Um, yeah.

Jesse looked back at me. Because he was, you know, still standing in front of me and Querida Andres. Huh . . . funny how I couldn't just call her Querida. It had to have her last name there as well, or I felt like I was stealing something very precious from myself. If you, um, can steal from yourself and all. Is that possible? But yeah, it was Querida Andres, and never just Querida.

I was querida.

But hey, hey, look who got the capital Q?

Wow . . . priority much, Suze?

My arm hurt. That was priority. Don't you dare say it wasn't . . . broken bones HURT?

Yeah, Jesse looked scared too. Whoa. Jesse scared is like the eighth wonder of the world or something. He said, in a growling tone, like he was stressed, 'Susannah, we have to fight them. And then we have to get out of here. Because Paul, that el desecho, still intends to give us to Marcus Beaumont – '

'You think I don't know that?' I demanded shrilly, 'Jesse, okay, yeah, we need stakes.'

Jesse turned to me, and handed me the wood that he had. You know, the jagged, broken chair leg thingie, like Querida Andres had. It irked me that I hadn't gotten one to start with. What, did they come complementary with entry or something? "Hi, you're just about to enter a house full of vampires, take this!" Um, no. But whatever, Jesse had another one. He held it in his hand. Behind me, CeeCee whimpered. Her and Adam weren't prepared for this . . . they knew my secret, that I could talk to ghosts, but this was a pretty big shock for them, still.

Hell, it was a shock for ME.

I didn't know how to feel. My desperation had gone. I wasn't as scared as I should have been, I was anxious to start this fight, and get out of here. After killing everything, I didn't know what to do . . . but I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.

Stupid bridge . . .bah.

The black-clad fiends before us stopped so they kind of surrounded us in a semi circle. I looked up, but Marcus was gone. What, off elsewhere to beat the stuffing out of Paul?

We can dream.

That was something else I should have been feeling weird about. Paul Slater was apparently addicted to me. I mean, I should feel flattered, or I should feel scared.

But no. I just wanted to kick booty. Namely of the undead variety.

Jesse backed me and Querida back, still in a vain attempt to shield us from the vampies. Weird, we were gonna battle them anyway. But he moved us closer to Adam and CeeCee so we were grouped. Safety in numbers or something.

God, I'm weird.

I gripped the steak harder in my hand in preparation, felling as though splinters were puncturing my skin. Joy of joys. I narrowed my eyes in determination.

Jesse breathed in sharply, glaring fiercely at the opponents who had us cornered. I had a feeling that this wasn't going to end well . . . You know, SOMEONE was going to get decapitated, I just KNEW it.

Then, the vamps leapt forward, and fray was launched.

Man . . . thank God I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I dedicate this TOTALLY to you, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

To review . . . or not to review? That is the question.

And the answer is REVIEW, DAMN IT.

Love ya,

Writer's blocked Lolly.