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“Kelly Ann, look who's here,” Mae said. She shuffled over to sit in a big pink recliner she had insisted on being in the living room.

Her cousin-turned-stepmother glanced up with feigned interest. “Oh, hey, girl,” she said. She immediately went back to studying her stitches and listening to the news.

“What's yer excuse this time?” her Dad asked in a low voice. His lean form was sprawled on the sofa, a beer in one hand, and the remote in the other.

Dropping the bag at her feet, she placed her hands on her hips and took a breath. “Dad, some shit went down at the college. ”

“You doing drugs?”

“No! No. Nothing like that. ”

“Cops involved?”

Tears filled her eyes once more, but she didn't dare shed them. They would be filled with blood. The blood of the people she killed. “Probably soon. ”

Her Dad finally took his gaze from the TV. “What the hell does that mean?”

Fidgeting, she glanced toward the TV, then back at him. “This Professor there, he. . . he did something bad. . . ”

Her father's face became even sterner. “He did what?”

“What the hell did you do girl?” Mae's voice was shrill.

“I didn't do anything, but have coffee with him!” Her voice was harsh and full of emotion. “He did something horrible to me. He's dangerous. Evil! I had to run. ”

“Are you pregnant? Did you fuck your teacher and get pregnant?” Mae's voice was full of venom. It always was when she talked to Amaliya.

“Why do you always think the worst of me?” Amaliya exclaimed with frustration.

“Are you?” her Dad's firm voice asked.

The TV went abruptly silent.

“No. ” She shook her head vehemently. “No, Dad. No. But I'm in bad trouble and I gotta leave school and I gotta-”

“It's drugs,” Mae decided.

“Sounds like it,” Kelly Ann agreed, but kept on knitting.

“Is it drugs?” Samuel asked in his cold, unwavering voice.

“No. No. It's not drugs. He did something. . . ” Her voice faltered. How could she explain? What would she say? Hey, Dad, I'm a vampire? That was not going to work. “I need the truck,” she said instead.

“We had an agreement. ” Her father set his beer down and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his bony knees.

“This is all a scam to get the truck,” Mae decided.

“Sounds like it,” her stepmother agreed. She studied her work before beginning to knit again.

“Dad, please. ”

“What the hell did you do?” Damon asked from behind her. The screen door screeched as he opened it, then slammed hard behind him.

“She's pulling a scam to get the truck,” Mae answered.

“Figures. ” Damon moved around Amaliya. “In trouble again?”

“I don't get into trouble all the time like you make it sound. ” She felt cornered and angry.

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