"It won't be equal terms," the vampire said, but Sandra ignored him. There might have been a note of desperation in his voice, or it might have been her imagination. There might have been a note of admiration in there too, but that was almost certainly her imagination.
"My blood is old, undiluted. You will be stronger than any other new-risen, but you will not have my age. You will not have had time to hone your skills, explore your powers, or adjust to your new perceptions."
She ignored that as well and stepped closer, tracing the movements in her mind: one long cut along the vein, one deep cut to open the vein inside his thigh, and her arm into the bucket of warm water so her blood wouldn't clot. It wasn't quite murder, because he wasn't truly alive. It wasn't quite suicide, either, as she wouldn't truly die. Two quick cuts, and she would be ready -- or more ready -- to defend her daughter.
She placed the blade against her arm.
"My clan will never accept you, never protect you. You will die, and your daughter will be taken."
Not if I'm quick, Sandra thought. Not if I'm strong.
She hadn't moved. She hadn't drawn the blade along her arm, hadn't tried to find the vein and slice it lengthwise.
She wasn't going to do it.
It wasn't her own pain she was afraid of. It wasn't drinking his blood, either. It wasn't even completing his death, however long ago his death had begun -- not exactly. She just couldn't do it. Fighting in self-defense was one thing; draining the heart's blood from a helpless prisoner... Apparently she didn't have that in her, no matter how devoted she liked to think she was to protecting her daughter.
She removed the blade from her arm and called, "Samantha! Grab the Go Bag! We're leaving."
"You can't leave him here, Mom." Samantha was already standing in the doorway, already holding the Go Bag. "They're almost here. They'll kill him before he gets loose."
"Fine." Sandra hesitated. She wasn't that interested in saving a vampire's... existence. But if she wasn't going to finish him herself, it seemed cowardly to leave him helpless for the others who were hunting them. She looked at that not-quite-human face. "If I turn you loose, will you leave us alone?"
"I can't let them take the girl," he said.
"Then distract them!" She stepped around behind him, and fumbled the locks loose from the chains. She dropped the keys when she was done; one way or another, she wouldn't need them anymore.
Samantha was already in the car. Sandra followed, leaving the vampire twisting back and forth to shrug off the chains and rise from the chair.