“This,” she said softly. “This is a spell, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “If it is, I don’t care. I don’t ever want it to stop.”

I leaned in, meaning to kiss her, but she jumped down off the bale of straw. She ran out of the stable, her dress flowing behind her, and she glanced back at me over her shoulder. I’m not sure if she wanted me to give chase, but I didn’t have a choice.

I ran after her, and she sped up. I was faster than her. I easily caught her. I grabbed her wrist, gently as not to hurt her, and she stopped, whirling around to face me. Her body pressed into me, so I could feel how hard her own heart hammered in her chest. She stared up at me, searching my face.

“What game are you playing?” Elise asked.

“This isn’t a game.”

She pulled her wrist from my hand and stepped back from me. “Just because I want to kiss you doesn’t mean we can.”

“Why not?” I asked, and I made myself stay in place. I wanted to follow her, to be close enough to touch her again, but I knew that wasn’t what she wanted, so I stayed firm.

“Because.” She stood up straighter. “I am a lady, and I have morals.”

“Yes, of course,” I nodded, feeling the blush on my cheeks. “I didn’t mean to… tarnish you.”

“Good, because you can’t.” She turned away. “If you’d like to walk with me, you can. But nothing more.”

I hurried to catch up with her, and we walked slowly down the road. A little boy ran out in front of us, nearly into her, and she paused to let him pass.

“You don’t know what this is?” Elise asked softly after he’d gone. She kept her eyes focused on the path in front of her, only occasionally glancing up at me.

“You mean this… pull between us?” I asked.

“Yes, exactly,” she nodded quickly. “The pull.”

“No, I haven’t the faintest idea,” I shook my head. “My maker might know, though.”

“You know your maker?” Elise looked up sharply at me.

“Yes, don’t you?” I gestured back to the market. “Wasn’t Catherine yours?”

“No, she’s a friend, more like a sister.” Her steps slowed a bit as we talked. “My maker was a stranger that my father paid to turn me, and then he promptly abandoned me.”

“Your father paid him?” I asked, not hiding my shock.

“We were dying,” Elise explained. “Both my younger sisters and my mother had already died. It was only my father and I left. The famine hit our family hard.”

“So to save you, he hired someone to turn you?” I asked, and she nodded.

“But he left me, alone with my father.” Her face darkened. “I had to learn how to be a vampyre on my own.”

I remembered how I’d been when I’d first turned, and I could only imagine what a starving girl like Elise had done, alone with a human.

“I’m sure my maker will have answers,” I said, hurrying to erase the thoughts on her mind. “Would you like to go talk with him?”

“Not now.” She shook her head, and her hair looked even more like fire as it shimmered across her back. “I should be heading back to help Catherine.”

“How did you meet Catherine?” I asked, desperate to keep the conversation going. I didn’t want to lose her.

“Luck, really,” Elise smiled at the thought. “I wandered around for a bit and came across her. She lived outside of the city with a garden. She lived like a human, not that animal I’d believed I was, and she taught me how to do the same.”

“That doesn’t sound bad,” I said.

“It’s not, really.” She stopped, looking back towards the market. “I really do need to get back and help her.”

“But we’ve only just met,” I said, and I’d already begun to panic at the thought of her departing. I didn’t know how I would possibly survive when she went out of my vision.

“I’m sorry.” She shook her head again, and I knew she meant it.

“When will I see you again?” I asked, and when she didn’t answer right away, I said, “I have to see you again.”

“Tonight,” Elise said. “Where are you staying?”

“We’ve rented a room above the pub,” I said.

“Tonight then,” she nodded once to convince me. She smiled and turned away, running back the way we had come.

This time, I didn’t follow her, despite how badly I wanted to. The thread around my heart tightened, squeezing it painfully, when she disappeared. My very being wanted to go with her, and I could barely breathe at the thought of being without her, even for a few hours.

When I found Ezra, I immediately told him about Elise and the way I felt around her. It was more than emotion. It was something physical. My body craved hers, my blood yearned for her. I had to fight to keep my feet from chasing after her.

Over a pint of whiskey we both pretended to drink, Ezra told me everything he knew about it, which wasn’t that much. He’d heard of stories of vampyres being bonded to each other. Something in their blood made them meant for each other. It was a physical reaction, something that pulled them together.

He’d never experienced it before, so he believed it to be a myth. He didn’t understand the purpose for it, but he understood very little of why vampyres acted the way they did.