"You're going to give yourself a headache if you keep staring at your screen like that."
I shoved the device back into my pocket.
After a few minutes Christian spoke again, "Was it Belikov? Or Lissa?"
His voice trembled slightly, just once, as he spoke Lissa's name. I hated the sound of it, and suddenly needed to punch something or someone or everyone. I gripped my hands into fists until the jagged ends of my nails sunk into the skin of my palm.
"Just drive, Christian."
My phone continued to buzz against my thigh but I ignored it, and eventually the noise became sporadic and infrequent until around noon, when it stopped altogether.
"Are you sure this is the right exit?"
"You're the one with the map."
I smoothed out the creases in the picture of Idaho and searched for our location. We had stopped at a small rest stop on the side of the highway a few hours before, buying a few bags of chips and peanuts for lunch, and a little map before taking off. I'd been looking for places to get off for awhile, pretended to know what I was doing, but in all honesty I had never read any sort of map before, and I was half-sure that I was holding it upside down.
I folded up the map quickly.
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, this is the right exit. It's a city called New Haven, and there should be plenty of places to eat."
Within a few minutes I spotted a Burger King, but Christian made a face and said, "You already had that shit for breakfast", and kept driving. It took a couple of miles but eventually we found a sandwich shop.
"So", I began as we got out of the car, "how are you going to get blood?"
Christian kept his eyes straight ahead and shrugged.
"Not sure yet, but I can last another day or so—don't worry about it."
"I said not to worry about it. Rose, I'm fine," he snapped, and trudged ahead.
I ran to catch up to him, and ended up crashing into a man at the door. I looked up, but his face was hidden by a pair of sunglasses and a black hood pulled up around his head.
"I'm so sorry," I steadied myself and he took his large hand from my elbow.
"Not a problem," he replied, pressing his lips together into an odd smile before going past me out the door.
"Who was that?"
I shrugged and went to Christian.
We walked into the store in silence and scoped out a secluded table in the back. My eyes scanned that day's specials. Christian's long and pale fingers tapped a rhythm on the table.
"Are we going to talk about what happened with Lissa and Dimitri and...and the baby."
Christian stopped moving, fingers froze against the countertop, and I was pretty sure that he stopped breathing for a moment. His eyes stayed glued to something over the top of my head.
I could see how upset he was under the aloof facade he showed to the world. Christian didn't do things in halves—especially not love. He either fell hard or hated passionately. There was no gray for him, and there never has been. I supposed I was a bit like that myself—although other people didn't understand...I did. Lissa and Dimitri weren't just high school crushes for Christian and I. It was real, it was love, and now it was over and we were both destroyed. And I knew that keeping it inside was toxic.
"Believe me, I don't want to, but maybe it will be good for us to—"
"Rose!" he yelled, slamming the palm of his hand down onto the table.
The sound echoed around the restaurant and the few people inside all fell silent and turned our way. I was speechless at the sharpness in his voice, at the pain and the anger on his face.
Realizing the ruckus we were causing Christian lowered his voice and leaned towards me.
"I don't want to talk about either of them, about the baby...about anything at Court! I just need to—to get away. Please just leave it alone, Rose. Please."
God, we were both so stubborn. I wanted to keep pushing but I hated that look on his face, and I had never heard him say "please" before, so I let it go. For now anyway.
"Alright. I'm sorry, I was only trying to help."
He sighed, fidgeting with the buttons on his shirt.
"I know you were, I'm sorry too. Let's not fight, okay? Not real fighting, anyway."
"Deal," I smiled at him.
After a few minutes of silence and trying to figure out what to order, I spoke.
"You know that when the rain stops and the clouds clear up we'll have to find some place to rest—you won't last long in the sun, even in a car you'll get weak."
"I know, and I'm getting kinda tired anyway. Why don't we get a room for tonight and tomorrow, figure out what we're going to do once in Vegas and then get going towards Nevada after the sun goes down."
"Sure. And do you think I can call my mom later? Just to let her know I'm ok and not, you know...a blood-sucking freak."
"Ouch," Christian grinned, flashing the tips of his fangs.
My cheeks reddened at having forgotten who I was talking to. I rubbed my eyes—I really needed some sleep.
"Sorry—you know what I mean. I don't really think when I'm sleepy."
"Do you ever think?"
I sighed. Leave it to Christian to insult me when I'm trying to apologize.
"Yes! Yes, I do, and I'm offended at that accusation, Pyro."
"Don't be—you're reckless and impulsive, and I like that about you."
I was stunned silence for a moment, watching his eyes move over my face until all the air squeezed out of my lungs.
"We should probably go order."
Christian's eyes met mine. His mouth settled into a smile that was softer than before, and nodded.
After we ate and paid for the food, Christian and I left to find a hotel.
The New Haven Inn was a hidden treasure. The little family-run establishment was tucked away at the edge of the city, giving the place a warm and welcoming feel. It was was old but clean and well-kept, and the elaborate details gave the lobby a cozy, authentic look. The garden's outside were beautiful, full of vibrate flowers and vegetables of all sizes and colors.
Christian had rented us two rooms with a connecting doorway, and at the moment he was playing with the remote to the TV in my room, trying to find something for us to watch. We had listened to the weather forecast a little while ago, and it was predicted that tomorrow would be bright and sunny and very, very bad for traveling with vampires. It seemed that for once we had made the right call.
I glanced at the clock before going to shut the curtains in both our rooms. Maybe I was paranoid, but it was better to be safe. I could see the moon behind the clouds, and it illuminated the parking lot and a man in a hoodie getting out of his car. I locked the windows and pulled the thick curtains shut before going back in to sit with Christian, trying to convince myself that the nausea in my stomach was just nerves for getting to Vegas.