I stumbled across the threshold to my house and collapsed to my knees, still clutching the doorknob. It was hard to breathe, and my head was spinning, but I made it that far. I wasn’t going to give up a few hundred feet away.
The medallions on the wallpaper blurred into ugly blobs. I blinked hard until they had a vague shape again. The stairs looked so far away, but ascending them was my only choice. Every cell in my body was screaming in protest as I moved forward. I just had to make it up the stairs and down the hall.
I hoisted myself up, using the door for support, and staggered forward. My ears were buzzing. I latched onto the banister and slid against the smooth wood. My legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds, and the muscles burned with each step.
I hit the first landing and stopped. I was halfway there. Whoever designed such an elaborate staircase needed to be shot. It didn’t have to form a zigzag pattern. The shortest distance from point A to point B was always a straight line. The person must have missed that day of school.
I let out a long breath and pulled myself up the last set of steps. With my bedroom door in sight, I felt a second wind. I lunged forward and shoved the door open. I sank to the floor in front of the black mini-fridge. My hands trembled as I grabbed a bag from inside.
The red liquid slid down the back of my throat in a cold stream. My veins convulsed with the sudden rush, and an icy tingle replaced the burning sensation. The room slowly stopped spinning, and I felt like I was on solid ground again.
I fell onto my back and took shallow breaths. The carpet was soft and plush. I could have fallen asleep right there. My eyelids were growing heavy. Just a quick nap, I thought.
There was no time to waste sleeping. I had to think of something to do before Francesca showed up again. I would start by telling Flo. Now that it was a sure thing, I was going to have to tell her. She was going to lose her cool, but the plus side to that was it would make me keep mine. One of us would need to keep a level head.
I focused my eyes on the swirled design in the ceiling and fished my cell phone from my pocket. After countless rings, music blasted through the receiver. I winced against the pain that shot through my head and held the phone away from my ear.
“What?” she shouted into the phone.
“Where are you?” I asked in a shaky voice.
“Out.” The music started to fade in the background. “I’m looking for dinner. Where are you? After storming out on me earlier—”
“I didn’t storm out on you,” I interrupted. I took a deep breath and decided to let it go. I would never win, and there wasn’t time. “Are you coming back here or not?”
“What happened?” she demanded.
“Why do you automatically assume something happened?” She stayed quiet on the other end. Of course she knew. She wasn’t an idiot. I never would have called if I hadn’t had a reason. The silence lingered on until I couldn’t take it anymore. “All right, I had a visit from a couple of old friends tonight.”
My stomach tightened up and my body twitched. I still didn’t have enough blood to get worked up again. Breathe in, breathe out, I told myself. Remain conscious. Stay calm.
“Friends?” she asked. “What friends?”
“Francesca and Davis.” I groaned in anticipation of the coming tirade.
The phone clicked in my ear, and she was gone. “Bye,” I said into the dead air before letting the phone fall from my hand to the floor. I hoisted myself into a sitting position and ripped off the end of another blood bag.