A mile? She gave him a clue. His brain raced to figure it out. He needed something else to talk about before she walked away. The only thing a mile down the road was Mrs. Buckman’s boarding house and a few other houses, and a convenient store. He knew she didn’t live near him. Was she visiting?

Ephraim gave her a lopsided smile. “I don’t feel right leaving you to walk by yourself, but if you insist I would feel better if you allowed me to check on you later to make sure you arrived safely.”

She gave him a weird smile. “Sure….that’s fine,” she said slowly as if she was a little confused.

He cocked his head to the side and studied her. There was something very familiar about her. Even fifteen feet away he felt like he was missing something. He decided to push for more answers. Maybe something would remind him of her identity.

“I’m afraid I’ve forgotten your address, perhaps you could take pity on me and remind me so I can do the gentlemanly thing later.”

She laughed.

At him!

He wasn’t being foolish, he was sure of that. Sure he was out of practice, but he felt that he was being charming. Her eyes were shimmering with humor as she shook her head. “I’ll see you later, Ephraim.” She turned, still laughing and began walking away from him.

He was about to ask her what was so funny when a gust of wind swept her beautiful black hair up. The wind carried her fragrance to his nose. He stumbled backwards and landed his ass on the hood of his car. It couldn’t be.

She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled. Those damn brown eyes. It was her. Madison laughed again as she turned her head around. He could only sit on the hood of his car, watching her go.

He dropped his head in his hands. “This is not happening.” This woman was supposed to be a tomboy. She was supposed to be unattractive to keep them both safe. It was bad enough that he craved her blood, but now he desired her body. This was not good. This was a test. This was a test to see if he could resist temptation. That’s what this was.

No woman should be this tempting. It was too much. And what the hell was she doing still being a virgin? When he thought she was a tomboy he understood her predicament, but now…..hell. A virgin? It made it worse. The package was too damn tempting. A surprising beauty with blood that sang to him that was untouched by another man. She might as well place a target on her neck.

He pushed himself away from the car. No, no this was fine. As long as they both remained at the boardinghouse she was safe. He had rules after all and he never broke them, ever. He did not feed where he lived. He just had to get the rest of his body in line and he would be fine because feeding from the virginal Madison was not an option. She was the only woman he would not be content with just a feeding, he would take her body and life as well. That would wreck everything.

Things were different these days. Back in his day he could feed off as many whores and criminals as he wanted. If he took their lives it was no big deal. No one would miss them. Occasionally he over fed in one area and had to flee but as he learned to control his feeding by using more than one victim so that he could feed without taking a life. Today, they could track him down.

Her body wouldn’t be seen as a feeding. It would be seen as a depraved lunatic and they would hunt him down using his fingerprints, hair and anything else they could find. He didn’t want to be forced into hiding, but that was exactly what would happen if he touched her. No, Madison was safe from him.

Chapter 4

Madison shook her head, laughing softly as she walked inside the house ten minutes later. That was really weird. She couldn't deny that she found the little episode endearing. He’d been so cute when he was trying to flirt. There was no doubt in her mind that he was trying to flirt. She bit her lip trying to stop herself from laughing.

His attempts at flirting were obvious, awkward and unpracticed and unbelievably adorable. There was really no other way to describe it. The big brooding man was utterly adorable. She recalled the expression on his face the last time she turned around and sighed.

He looked completely stunned. She ran the conversation through her head, worried that she might have said something to upset him. She couldn’t recall anything. Perhaps he was overly sensitive and wasn’t happy that she hadn't played along? Whatever it was she didn’t have time to play around.

She spotted the reason as she passed the living room. Jill was sitting on the couch painting her nails while she talked on her cell phone. Madison took a deep breath and stalked forward unable to hide the menacing grin. Jill looked up. Her eyebrows drew together in confusion.

Madison snatched the phone from Jill’s hands. “Whoever this is you’ll have to call back in a month.” Jill’s mouth dropped. “Jill will be enjoying a month long groundation and I’m afraid her phone will be going bye-bye for a very long time.”

Jill shot to her feet as she held her hand out in a silent demand for the phone.

“Oh, I don’t think so.” Madison dropped the phone in the backpack she still carried. “When you earn this I will think about giving it back to you.” With that, Madison turned and walked towards the door. “Oh, by the way you’re grounded for a month in case you didn’t catch that little tidbit.”

“I didn’t do anything!” Jill shrieked.

Madison didn’t bother looking over her shoulder. “Found your alcohol and cigarettes. Incidentally, be prepared in an hour we’re going drug testing.” This time she did look over her shoulder and grinned mockingly. “Should be loads of fun.”

Jill’s face paled. “You c-can’t do that,” she muttered.

“No, but I can,” Grandma’s stern voice said from the doorway. “You be prepared now, young lady. The two of us are taking you for a drug test. God help you if it comes back positive.”

Her mouth opened, but no words came out. Madison jogged up the stairs. “Let me go change. I’ll be right back.”

Five minutes later Madison was downstairs in a pair of hip hugging jeans and a tight tee shirt. In this weather she would have preferred wearing several layers and possibly a blanket or two but she needed to be able to move freely for the fight that she knew was coming.

She found Jill huddled in a corner, refusing Grandma and begging Candy, who looked nervous, to help her. This wasn’t the time for games. Out of fear that Jill would somehow get out of this, and she definitely was not getting out of this, she moved in and grabbed Jill’s arm and tugged her forward.

Just as she expected, Jill tried to fight back. She yanked her arm back trying to get free. Madison tightened her grip and quickened her pace. They were out the door and heading towards Grandma’s Volvo when Jill moved to her second assault, girl punches. There were wild and weaker than a slap, but annoying as hell.

“Let me go!” Jill demanded yet again.

“No,” Madison snapped. Grandma hurried past them to open the back door of her car. She didn’t see Jill’s arm arch back and certainly didn’t expect the powerful half slap-half punch that slammed into her mouth. She felt the bite of metal in her lip. Damn Jill and her gaudy costume jewelry.

Jill stumbled away and made a mad dash towards the front door. Oh no you don’t, Madison thought as she ran after her tackling her to the ground.

“Oh my god, are you insane? Get off me now, you bitch!” Jill screamed.