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The kettle began to whistle just as I lifted it from the flame and turned off the burner.

The house was quiet, almost weary in the late afternoon with the summer's turbid heat weighing upon it. I was weary as well, especially after spending a very uncomfortable three hours in the car with Amoroth after she finished threatening my father. She'd promised me an agonizing death if I ever repeated what had happened there to anyone.

I poured the boiling water into the waiting teacup, frowning. I wouldn't tell Darius what had happened. Doing so would be idiotic, as I'd seen what happened to Saule's book and I didn't want my father to meet a similar fate. Darius would kill Dad if the Sin knew Luc was actually capable of banishing a Sin.

Did Rene teach him? Did Papé know he was living in Amoroth's city?

I was lost in thought, staring into the cup, when Darius silently stepped behind me. "Shouldn't you be resting?" he breathed into my ear.

I dropped the kettle and splattered scalding water on my bare hands.

"Dammit, Darius!" I complained as I rushed to the sink and ran cold water over my skin. "There is a door on this house, you know! Try knocking!"

He huffed as he retreated to the refrigerator, which he proceeded to open and peruse at his leisure. "I am not a guest here; I am not required to knock."

"Yeah, I'm well aware you're not a guest." I shut the water off and exhaled, chewing the inside of my cheek. "So, you're here. Does that mean—are we....?"

"Momentarily." The pallid glow of the fridge light accentuated the dust and dirt coating the Sin's front. It didn't appear the grime bothered him, as Darius simply went about sniffing and grimacing at the various foodstuffs I had stocked, leaving behind grubby fingerprints.

Momentarily. Christ, I was going to have to walk into a vampire den. My hand fluttered over the loose hem of my cardigan. It was too warm for the extra layer, but it concealed the bulk of the pistol weighing down my waistband.

"I—is there something I should know?"

"Know?" he quipped as he shut the fridge with his elbow, sounding intolerably bored. "About?"

"About the vampires," I hissed. I kneaded the tight skin at my temples as Darius settled at the table with a box of teddy bear graham crackers and a jar of mayonnaise. I was just irritated enough to not correct his questionable dinner decision.

"Oh, I simply figured what with your impeccable sleuthing abilities you would have already discovered all your answers." Darius popped a cracker in his mouth and chewed. "Or is it snooping abilities? You didn't cheat any more answers out of the witch?"

"Ha," I sighed, slumping into the chair next to him. I lowered my head so I wouldn't have to watch him eat. "You know, I've been meaning to ask...why are they called vampires? That's what they're referred to in our—my—mythology. You practically cringe when I say 'angels' or 'demons' and you even said I should only call an elf an elf at my own peril. So why aren't vampires named differently?"

"Because they're from this realm, idiot. Notice they're still called 'witches' and 'mages' as well." Darius inhaled, his breath rattling deep in his chest. "King's breath, don't use those words. Angels, elves. Disgusting."

"Speaking of disgusting...." I eyed the mayonnaise jar. "So vampires are from here? From, er, Terrestria?"

"If you mean to be technical about it, then no—and no, they're not often referred to as vampires by anyone else besides humans and witches and mages. They're considered to be Pitlings, or Nitherians."

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