Not only have I not used my French in heaven knows how long, but I was taught a blend of Québécois and Parisian which I'm told is annoying to native speakers of both. So sorry about mistakes in advance.

Not beta'd because I'm a god damn rebel.

"T'as d'beaux yeux, tu sais." He offered her the compliment even though it was far from necessary. The girl's thoughts had already turned to the contrast of his frosted breath on the surface of her skin and the sparks stirring beneath it; she'd follow him home if he asked.

He didn't know why he hadn't yet.

"Merci bien. D'où viens-tu?" She managed to hold up a decent conversation, but she shouldn't be here, Edward thought. She was too young, too innocent, for a bar like this, where the local Parisians came for un coup d'un soir with the tourists and nothing else—and where he came for a meal—but the little girl was determined to be bold, so fine. He wasn't one to judge.

Her thoughts screamed virgin, though.

He racked his mind for the French, picking words he might need out of the minds around him. While he was still far from working out the subtleties of mind-reading and holding a conversation simultaneously, he'd been quick to discover just what a well-timed lazy grin could do—better he appeared coy than just plain slow—and he employed such a diversion now.

Where are you from? she wanted to know. Oh, if he could tell her, but he wasn't close to fluent enough to say "Wherever won't get me noticed."

"Presque partout," he finally answered, ratcheting up the smile.

She tilted her head at him, a wild deer in his headlights. "Mais t'es un Américain, n'est-ce pas?"

She wasn't the first to conclude such; the Afghani victims he'd taken often did, one going so far as to believe he was some sort of U.S. super soldier.

That was him: Captain America.

"You are American?" She tried again when he didn't answer within a reasonable timeframe, her English thick but obviously practiced.

"Why not," he said, shrugging the question off, but then looked at her hard. "Quel âge as-tu, Sophie? Dix-huit?"

She blushed at the mention of her age. They both had their not-so-secrets.

"J'suis assez vieux," she told him, bold again, and her hand flitted around as if it might eventually alight on his thigh of its own accord.

"Si tu le dis. Veux-tu peut-être une cigarette?" He was done playing now and pulled out a pack of Marlboros, offering her one and tipping his head toward the exit. They should have left the bar at least twenty minutes ago; too many people had noted his presence.

Still, he hesitated. In the past two years he'd never considered leaving a potential kill to find another, and he was oddly proud of himself when the thought occurred to him now. She was a lovely girl, this Sophie, and he'd be sorry to end her life.

He'd do it, though.

"On y va?" she asked when he remained seated a beat too long, and he nodded, got up and took her hand, leading her out onto the cobblestoned streets and into the dark passageway beside the bar.

The alley was dank, deserted, and he had maybe three minutes at most before the soccer game the patrons inside were watching broke for commercial and everyone joined them. He let the bloodlust crackle in his veins, burn in his gums, and pushed his prey against the wall, not even allowing her the promised cigarette.

"Regarde-moi, ma bichette." She obeyed him instantly, her gaze turning to his, and though she couldn't see the wine-red tinge to his irises in the night, he instantly categorized every detail about her own eyes.

Dark, almost black in her desire for him, with cornflower blue speckles close to the pupil.

Down-turned shape, but still rounder than it seemed they ought to be.

Lashes too light for her hair color; she dyed it.

No fear.


Rusted honey, sepia-tinted cocoa, staring up at him from beneath dark lashes—pretty and perfect and smiling up at him.

He recoiled, the violent movement allowing Sophie's head to snap back against the brick wall with a crack, and when she opened her eyes again, dazed, it was all gone: the light, the trust.

Maybe his mind.

"Run," he whispered. "Fuis!" he snarled.

Flee, little doe.

And he did.