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Turning on the overhead light, Amaliya saw more blood than she expected and flinched. She was stronger now and had to remember that. Despite the horrible smell emanating from the woman, the blood filled her senses with a heady promise. Flipping the light back off, Amaliya sat back in her seat and pondered the situation. She was a vampire, she needed to eat, and she needed to get to Dallas.

“Ah, fuck. ” She sighed and eyed the woman.

***

The woman was slowly dying beside her. Her shallow breathing was annoying and the gurgling that occasionally came from her throat didn't sound good, but Amaliya was beyond caring. From the sound of the woman's heart, she would be dead soon. The stench of her was making Amaliya feel nauseous, but it was a relief to feel the woman's blood in her veins. Life filled her and she relished it.

Shoving the door open, Amaliya pulled her bag out and looked back at the crazed woman. It was better this way. The battered, stained and mutilated divorce decree that Amaliya had found on the floor revealed how warped the woman was. The kids and the ex-husband were safer with her gone.

Slamming the passenger door shut, she walked back toward the highway. There was no way in hell she was taking the old beat up truck. It stank too much and she didn't want to deal with the crazy bitch's body.

As she trudged along, her bag swinging against her back, she sighed. It was freaking hard to be a poor-ass Texan vampire. Nothing about it was easy or fun.

Reaching the highway, she didn't even try to hitch. If someone stopped, good, if not, she'd keep walking until she got somewhere.

Though her mother had always wanted her to travel and experience life, she was sure this was not what Mom had hoped for.

An ambulance siren echoed out of the distance and she turned to watch it barrel down the road. With sad eyes, she wondered if it was Pete on the way to the big hospital in Nacogdoches. Silently, she prayed he would be okay. Or maybe it was more of a wish. She wasn't sure she could pray anymore.

She trudged along for almost twenty minutes before another small truck pulled over. The cab was crammed full of Mexicans as was the truck bed. They all looked tired and sweaty from a long day's work somewhere and two reached out to help her up into the back.

“Muchas gracias,” she said, hoping she didn't slaughter her Grandmother's language too bad.

They just smiled at her in response and then went back to staring into space as the truck sped back onto the highway. They all looked terribly fatigued and dirty. She was glad she had fed off the crazy woman and that their blood stained knuckles held no attraction for her now. She was sated and it was good.

Without her having to ask, the driver pulled into a truck stop that was brightly lit by huge lights that pierced into the darkness. Again, the men helped her down, and one handed her bag over. A few waved to her as the truck sped on and she raised a hand, feeling a hard lump in her throat at their kindness.

The heat from the truck stop was overwhelming. Massive semi-trucks sat growling in long rows. People were moving about, checking on their vehicles as others moved toward the huge building that housed a restaurant and convenience store. Walking across the asphalt, she felt a cold trickle flow down her back.

Whirling about, she looked into the darkness, fear blossoming inside of her.

He was here.

She knew it.

Felt it.

Walking backward, she stared out into the night and listened to the cars speeding down the highway and the engines rumbling all around her. The whine of air brakes and the laughter of men filled her ears, but still she could hear the Professor's voice in her mind.

Still alive? Doing well? I'm impressed.

She turned around and fled to the building as fast as she could. Holding down her cowboy hat as she ran, she could feel the big bag beating against her back. In her haste, she tripped and fell smack into a puddle of oil and grimaced as it splattered her face. Terrified that she was being pursued, she quickly rolled onto her hip and looked behind her.

There was no sign of her tormentor.

Scrambling quickly to her feet, she rushed past a few truckers looking at her in surprise, shoved open the door to the building, and stumbled in.

A bored-looking girl, with her hair heavily gelled and pulled back into a very tight ponytail, looked up from where she was reading a tabloid behind the counter. There were a few truckers prowling the aisles, looking for snacks and other supplies. Through an arched doorway in the wall, Amaliya could see into the restaurant. Business seemed to be better on that side.

“Showers are over there,” the girl said in a bored voice, and popped her b

ubblegum. She pointed across the heavily-stocked aisles to a large sign that read Restrooms and Showers.

Startled, Amaliya said, “Thanks,” and headed down an aisle, feeling embarrassed of her appearance. Inside the truck stop, it felt so normal and mundane. The ominous presence she had felt earlier was gone. She felt safe among the mortals.

Eh, she thought. I'm among mortals. Gawd, that's lame.

Her luck was definitely staying the course. She was covered in dirty oil and smelled like the crazy woman she had fed on.

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