I staggered back from the mental force of his presence.
The crowd seemed unaffected by the strangeness and gore. None even glanced his way. He was shutting them out of the situation entirely. So powerful—what would I do?
My speech stammered to a stop.
Someone mumbled, “I’ve heard this before,” stood up and left! What did they see and hear? In their minds was I still blabbering on about the theory of wards or something?
I thought of shouting “Fire!” and managed to croak out, “VAMPIRE!” The effort left me gasping, like I’d hefted a medicine ball off my diaphragm. No reaction from the crowd.
He stalked towards me. I managed to move away from him at the same speed, step for step. His face was beautiful. I didn’t dare look away.
I felt at my side—as though I was wearing a sword for once. No weapon. I knew exactly where my bag was, behind me on a bench, pistol waiting inside. Backing up, I was getting closer, but to look away would be like a mouse ignoring a cat. He would pounce.
“Tell me your name,” he said. His voice was like warm honey. I wanted to tell him so very badly, an itch in my mind.
“No!” I shouted.
His beautiful smile turned to a frown full of darkness and animal violence.
Inwardly I crowed. Point to me. I wasn’t completely in his thrall, could not be until he could call to me with my true name.
“What is. Your name,” he commanded again. I had to give it willingly. But, why was he here, if he didn’t at least suspect I was the one they all sought?
“If y-you d-didn’t know, y-you wouldn’t b-be here,” I managed. The back of the stage and the bench had to be close now.
His frown became a sneer.
Oh-ho! He didn’t really know, then! He’d come on a hunch! How desperate were they?
I suddenly wondered whose blood covered him.
“You are a fool to come here with so little protection,” he said. “If what they say is true, you are powerful, but I do not see you wielding it.”
“Maybe you heard wrong,” I said. Of course, he hadn’t. And yes, we had rushed things. I had very little control. I had only practiced when I was calm. I was definitely not calm.
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