“I would be too young for you anyway.” Shana couldn’t imagine what they could possibly have in common, if he had a century or more of experience she must seem like a child. It made no sense to her that he was ever interested to begin with. “You must be like a hundred years old, right?”
“Few more than that.” Brig chuckled at her guess.
“How many is a few?” Shana asked as they passed through a crowd that cast glances at Brig and started chattering about the Circle demon and his friend, though they used far more colorful terms that made Shana want to kick in their teeth.
“Can’t really talk about this in public, ShaSha.” Brig told her softly as he glared at the gossiping twits who insulted Shana until they took the hint and ran off. He shook his hair out of his face and noticed she was frustrated. He was not sure if it was because of the nasty comments or the way he dodged the question. “If you want to talk about it, I don’t mind. We have to be alone though and I get the feeling you don’t want that. So keep it simple.”
“Just find someplace quiet then.” Shana put her arm through his and smiled up at him. “I told you I wanted to talk.”
Brig led her toward his house thinking it was the lesser of two evils. His front steps would make for better scenery than his office and the area was always empty. It would be private enough without the awkward feeling of being locked in a room alone with him.
“What’s this place?” Shana asked as Brig led her up the sidewalk to the enormous old house.
“Home.” Brig sat on the steps. “Nobody really lives around here anymore, so it’s quiet. You can sit up on the porch.”
“I can sit here.” Shana sat beside him on the steps awkwardly trying to deal with the skirt she wished she had changed.
“Hold on.” Brig laughed and ran inside to rummage through whatever Van has left behind and came back out laying a pair of jeans across Shana’s legs. “Go in and change.”
“Whose are these?” Shana looked at the pants on her knees. “And you still haven’t answered my question. How old are you, Brig?”
“Van left them.” Brig knew it was going to lead to more frustrating questions so he preempted a few of them. “Before you bother, no we weren’t together she just lived here.”
“Whatever.” Shana watched him lean against the post by the steps and light a cigarette and took it as a cue to go in and change. She grabbed the jeans and wandered through the door to change. As she slid into Van’s jeans she started to question herself. Why had she insisted on a conversation that left her alone with him? Why did she want to talk to him so bad?
Van’s old clothes were a bit loose and the jeans sat low on her hips. She was a bit uncomfortable with how much midsection was exposed, but it was better than fighting with a skirt all evening. When she stepped outside Brig tried to hide his boyish grin by turning away to put his cigarette out on the ground. “So will you answer now?”
“I don’t have an exact number for you.” Brig rested his arms on his knees, one leg resting a stair lower than the other as he tried to give her the best guess he could. “Sixteen hundred or so I guess, you lose track after a while and I trashed most my records a long time ago.”
“That’s forever.” Shana made herself comfortable on the steps next to him. “Don’t you get bored?”
“As much as anyone else.” Brig laughed and pulled another cigarette from his pack and sat it aside wishing he had stopped for more. He had a feeling all her questions were going to keep him on edge. He never talked about what he was and now his position made him unsure of how much he had the right to divulge. He trusted her. “I get more lonely than bored.”
“You’re always surrounded with people.” Shana scoffed. “How are you ever lonely?”
“Surrounded yea. Because I pay for shit.” Brig hated having to explain how depressing his life had become. “I rarely have a conversation beyond ‘where are we drinking tonight?’”
“Sorry.” Shana watched him close his eyes and rest his head back against the post. She had always assumed he was enjoying his leader of the pack status, but his reaction was genuine and she felt bad for making him admit his loneliness a second time. “Why do you smoke so much?”
“Not like it’s going to kill me.” Brig smirked as he blew the smoke away from her. “Does it bother you?”
“I guess not.” Shana had only been trying to change the subject because he was obviously upset but it opened the door for more questions. She had never really considered how immortal a vampire was. “Do you even get sick?”
“No.” Brig pushed his hair aside with his pinky as he smoked. “Had a weird problem a few years ago that almost killed all of us, but other than that the only thing that fucks up my day is not feeding enough.”
“You know you wouldn’t have to mess with your hair so much if you just cut it.” Shana smiled at him as his hair fell back over his eye. She actually liked his goofy hair, but anything to take a topic away from his need to eat seemed like a good idea.
“I like it like this.” Brig grinned at her. “It doesn’t matter anyway. It grows back in a few days. I have to cut the back everyday.”
“You were human right?” Shana instantly regretted the question as she watched his smile slip away.
“Yea.” Brig tried to keep his thoughts from wandering into the dark corners of his mind, but he could remember the dirt in his eyes as he dug a pointless grave behind the house, the smell of death and the flames that erased his family. The mother and father destroyed for trying to save him, the sister who would never have a chance to live. He found enough in the house after the funeral to at least learn her name. Juniper. The tree bearing her name grew tall over her final resting place. He ended up lost in the memory and had not noticed his own tears.
“I’m sorry, Brig.” Shana had moved closer and put her hand on his leg in an effort to apologize. Even through his jeans he felt cold. “I shouldn’t ask so many questions, but how else am I supposed to figure you out?”
“It’s no big deal.” Brig laid his hand on top of hers and was surprised she did not pull away. “I guess you just don’t get over some shit.”