Dead & Living

By Artie Gallezi

Action / Romance

Heart In The Right Place

I wondered where the idea that only men enjoyed sex came from. Whomever came up with that thought had not met Latasha Carter. She was very skilled for a human and she pulled out all the stops. I also noticed that in addition to her navel, ears, and nipples she had also pierced her clever tongue with a stud that felt amazing when she took me in her mouth.

We must have been at it for an hour, but Tasha seemed insatiable. While Kim and I dressed, Tasha opted to delay a bit as if she was certain either Kim or I would change our minds and ravish her again. Truth be told, I was tempted, but we needed to get back.

"Are you sure you have to leave?" She teased. "Just because Susan is sleeping doesn't we all still can't have fun."

I looked over to see Susan's nude form curled up on the bed she and Kim had used. She was exhausted, but pleasantly so judging by the weary smile. Kim was smiling proudly at her handiwork as she buttoned her shirt.

Kim noticed my gaze and asked. "Did you enjoy your drink?"

"Immensely." I said. "You?"

"Andrew doesn't comprehend what he has."

I was sitting on the bed adjusting my tie when I felt Tasha's hands come around me. "Let me help you." She leaned against me and I felt her bare studded breasts against my back. She rest her head on my shoulder and purred into my ear. "You never did answer me. Come on, stay a bit."

I nuzzled her on my neck and she began fumbling with buttons of my shirt. Then I caught sight of Kim's blank stare. "That's up to Kim. I'm just a guest here."

"Oh, alright." She sighed and backed away. As she did, Tasha kissed my cheek. "Still, that was amazing, baby."

I forced a smile. "Turn your head for me."

"A quick snack?" She turned her head.

"No." I pricked a finger with my fangs and dabbed the punctures on her neck. "Don't want people getting any ideas."

"Get dressed, Tasha." Kim ordered. "We should be leaving shortly."

"What about Susan?" Tasha asked.

"Wake her an have her do the same."

As Tasha stood from the bed and began to gather her clothes I noticed she stumbled and seemed to be in danger of falling whenever she bent over. I hoped I had simply been too rough with her, in my defense she had asked for it, but I had the nagging thought that I might have taken too much blood. That might cause her to become anemic and I doubted the vampires of Ryuu's nest, or Kimberly for that matter, would be concerned enough to take to her to be treated.

"I don't suppose you keep blood around for transfusions down here?" I asked Kim. "I forgot to tell you that I need more blood than she's probably used to losing."

"Cute." Kimberly chuckled. "You actually care about them."

I thought better to hide my concern and shrugged. "If you want to go through th trouble of finding another willing human, be my guest."

"I guess you're right." Kimberly rolled her eyes. "With these damn werewolves hounding us, those without humans are forced to hunt in shifts." Kimberly beckoned Tasha who returned happily, but tired.

"Hey, sweetie." Tasha smiled wearily. "You're gonna have to give me a minute. Then I'll rock your world."

Kimberly extended her fangs, casually bit into her wrist, and offered her wrist to her. "Drink."

I watched as Tasha drank, with great gusto, from Kimberly's bleeding wrist. After a moment, Kimberly pulled her wrist away from her human's mouth and had Tasha return rejoin Susan and the man whose name I had yet to learn. I noticed that once Tasha finished drinking, she did not stumble or limp as she had just moments ago. Then I remembered that our blood can heal humans, but I was unaware that they could drink it as well instead of just smearing it on a wound.

"Don't get any ideas." Kimberly warned. "She's mine."

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Come, I will explain." She said I followed her out to corridor. Kim paused to speak to Nicholas, who had been reading a magazine. "Tidy the room and help Tasha with Susan."

Nicholas nodded and hurried inside.

"I take it Wilhelmina didn't tell you?" Kimberly explained as we walked down the corridor. "When a human drinks from us, it bonds them to one another. We can sense their general mood and know when they are near us."

"Wilhelmina only tells me something when it comes up." I told her. "She only told me our blood heals. She didn't bother explaining how or the side effects. For the most part she just lets me figure things out for myself."

"She must be testing you." Kimberly concluded.

"Testing me?"

"It's an old way of raising young vampires. Their maker teaches their progeny the basics and lets them learn the rest on their own."

"The whole survival of the fittest bit." I realized. "Only strongest and smartest survive long enough to procreate."

"Exactly."

"Alright, since it might help me later on. Care to explain what exactly the side effects are?"

"Vampire blood is different from human blood and is what gives vampires their abilities, such as our rapid healing." Kimberly paused as if to organize her thoughts. "If vampire blood is taken by a human in a small dose, no more than one or two drops., it is highly addictive. It heightens the senses, increases strength, and sexual pleasure. However, if taken in a large dose, it causes different effects, such as healing someone who has injuries, even if they are close to death. If taken in a large dose when there is no injury on the human, then they will have an extremely increased libido, heightened strength for several days after consumption, and feel unwell."

"And I take it these are a well kept secret?" I asked. "For the healing properties of our blood at least."

"Yes." Kimberly confirmed. "Our kind would be hunted for our blood to heal people, which would mostly likely result in the deaths of many vampires."

"I wonder," I said thoughtfully. "If werewolves know that?"

"Why would it matter?"

"Because they don't need to sleep during the day or an invitation to enter." I reasoned. "It'd be simple to follow and hold Ryuu hostage. Then they force his progeny to sell their blood." Another thought came to me. "They might even add vampire blood for compensation for all the pack members that have died in the struggle."

"Ryuu would rather die than to submit to a bunch of zasshuken!" Kimberly said, daring me to argue.

"Ryuu knows that, you know that, and now I know that." I said politely so not to have Kimberly rip my head off. "But I doubt the werewolves know that. They figure everyman, and vampire, has a breaking point. It's just a matter of time before they reach Ryuu's."

"They'll beg for de— "

Kimberly whipped to her head down the corridor and back to bar, as did I. I knew why Kimberly had stopped mid sentence to turn because the same was happening to me.

Ryuu was summoning her.

And Wilhelmina was summoning me.

We both ran for the door, Kimberly easily pulled ahead of me and threw the door open so quickly it was if it had opened on its own accord. I reached her side seconds later and froze at the chaos unfurling in the bar as we stood in the doorway leading back to the kitchen. I could not comprehend what I saw and yet one thing fell into place.

"I was wondering why I smelt animals when I walked in." I said.

It was if an animal transport truck had decided all the occupants needed a drink, even if some of them were quite ornery. I saw lynxes and bobcats in various sizes and colors as they pounced on a black female vampires that must have entered while Kim and I were occupied. Mostly likely she, and the other vampires I did not recognize, entered with Andrew.

One Asian vampire was occupied sending jackal after jackal flying across the room as they tried to subdue him by sheer numbers. That seemed to be plan of attack as I saw each and every vampire in the bar was grappling with up to five animals at a single time. The jackals were not the only canine animal trying to tear the nearest vampire to pieces. One of Ryuu's guards broke a chair over a hyena before another tackled him to the floor. Then I caught sight of Ryuu and my nest mates as they fought wolves.

"Werewolves!" I hissed, my fangs shot out in the blink of an eye.

"And shifters!" Kimberly hissed as her fangs came out.

"What are — " I began to ask.

Something large and heavy collided with me and sent me to the floor. I looked up to see a naked man with long hair and wolf tattoos on his massive forearms. His eyes were most definitely not human as they glowed a bright gold and his scent was the farthest thing from pleasant. Worst of all, he held the broken half of leg of chair in his hand, a stake.

He brought the stake high to drive through my heart, "Die you vampire fuck!"

Kimberly materialized behind him and gripped either side of his head. She did not snap his neck, but ripped his head clear off his body. Blood erupted like a fountain, showering Kimberly and I. The second the blood showered me, I was hungry again and was aching for a fight. I licked my lips and shivered in delight at the warmth and taste.

Kimberly's tongue swirled around her mouth and she licked her palm before smiling down at me. "Having fun?"

I threw the body, still spurting blood onto the floor and air, off of mine and stood up. Before I could form an answer, something hairy leapt over the bar and tackled Kimberly to the floor next to me. It was when I looked down as Kimberly rolled with it they exchanged bites that I saw it was a very large wolf. With no hesitation, I kicked the wolf off of Kimberly and sent it crashing into the glass shelf that held countless bottle of liquor.

Both the shelf and several bottles shattered. Just as the wolf began to stand and shake off the daze of my blow, Kimberly picked up the neck of broken bottle and stabbed the animal through its eye with mad laugh and wicked smile on her face. Before my eyes, the wolf became a young teenage hardly older than myself. Confused, I looked around and saw that each time a vampire killed wolf or some other animal, it would become a naked human.

"Here!" shouted Kimberly.

I turned and caught a knife hardly more than twelve inches. "What's this for?"

"Shinseiji." She rolled her eyes and equipped herself with a short sword similar to Ryuu's from under the bar. "Just watch the edge. Its coated in silver."

Before I could ask more questions, Kimberly became blur as she raced to her master's side as several wolves and animals lost limbs and lives to her blade. I felt another throb as Wilhelmina summoned me again. Like Kimberly, I raced to her side though I did not leave such massive trail of bodies and carnage in my wake like she had.

Wilhelmina and my nest were surrounded by bleeding bodies and limbs. Regina swung a wooden bat and the wolves did realize it was not wise to leap into the air to pounce. The way she wielded the bat, I think Regina would have made a fine baseball player in another life. Adrian had armed himself with a hunting knife that I assumed he recovered from a body.

Doyle forgoed weapons of any kind and sought to imitate Andrew using only his bare hands. Though Doyle seemed to be finding much more enjoyment from the chaos and carnage than Andrew. Doyle must have gotten into many a bar fight in his human life and his skill had not suffered. He was so at home among the violence he smiled and hummed to himself as he fought.

As Doyle plucked a wolf mid-air and sank his fangs into its throat, I saw a wolf shift back into a stocky man with the same wolf tattoos as the man who nearly staked me. He plucked a broken shard of wood from the floor that was becoming slick with blood.

He crept close and raised the impromptu stake behind Doyle. From his point of view, I'm sure it was if I simply appeared in front of him before I sank my knife into his chest. He locked eyes with me, flowing with pure hatred, and brought down the stake with the last of his fleeting strength.

A blur caught his hand and I looked to see Ryuu, his long hair matted with blood and his sword dripping with the succulent liquid. "Die for your maker, not him."

Doyle turned and smiled at me, blood dripping from his mouth and staining his shirt. "Peaches! Bet ya never 'taut you'd have this much fun at work, eh?"

Ryuu snarled as he plucked the knife from the man's chest and hurled it over Doyle's shoulder, killing a pouncing bobcat. "I'd expect carelessness from an infant, Doyle. Not you." He turned to me. "Go, join your maker."

I turned to see Wilhelmina with her hands in the mouth of a wolf and break its jaw as she forced it mouth open past its normal range. I reached her side and tossed the body of a naked woman to the side just as Wilhelmina broke her neck with a quick snap. Her face had scratches and cuts that began to heal before my eyes and her mouth and clothes were stained with blood, as was I.

She smiled at me, her fangs glistening white against her blood stained mouth. "Nothing like a good fight."

"What the hell is going on?" I demanded. "These aren't just wolves."

"They seemed to have allied themselves with shifters." Wilhelmina licked her chops as she stood. "Adding to their already superior numbers."

"Shifters?" I asked. "What the hell are — "

"Derrière vous!" she shouted.

I turned to catch a tan hissing snake with a row of large rounded brown spots down the centre of its back and three smaller rows of alternating spots down each side. It was must have been young as it was barely more than a foot long and the fact only a young shifter would have made the error in thinking vampire were vulnerable to venom. I yelped and threw the snake onto the floor before stomping so hard I cracked the hardwood floor. I stomped twice more before the snake became the body of man with a bloody pulp that once was a human head.

I looked up and saw Wilhelmina eying me strangely. "I don't like snakes."

"You don't like snakes?" Wilhelmina threw her head back and howled with proud laughter. "Let me guess, it's the fangs is it not?"

I looked away and muttered, "Maybe."

Adrian brought a wolf on his knee, breaking the animal's spine. "Would you two like some tea and biscuits?" He tossed the body of a young boy aside. "At least Doyle is being useful for once."

"I resent that!" Doyle tossed another wolf to Regina who split the its skull with her now blood-red bat. "Plus, it's practically over now."

I looked around and saw Doyle was correct. Bodies, limbs, and blood covered almost everything as if the bar had been used for several rounds of Paintball. Some of the vampires has sustained injuries, many of them quite severe, but they would heal in time. As far as I could tell, despite the availability of them, not one shifter or werewolf had managed to drive a stake through a vampire's heart. But it was not for lack of effort as just about every vampire was removing very large shards of wood, chair legs mostly, from their limbs and necks.

I watched with envy as Andrew and some of the females began to feed on the dead bodies that had not been ripped to pieces. I was about to join in when Wilhelmina squeezed my shoulder, tearing me from my hungry trance, and shook her head.

"Well, that was unexpected." Ryuu flicked the blood from his sword and sheathed it. "But it has been ages since I had such fun."

Kimberly came over with sword in hand. Like the rest of us, she was covered in blood and gore. If Wilhelmina had not squeezed my shoulder for the second time, I probably would have taken her right then and there in front of everyone. I would learn later it was simply my blood lust clouding my mind, but she looked so beautiful the way she tossed her long flowing her out of her stoic bloodstained face.

I was so enticed by Kimberly that I failed to notice she was dragging a naked man by his long dirty blonde hair. He did his best to fight and escape her grip, but he had been bitten and beaten all over his body. And I was sure the large piece of wood protruding from his left thigh was not helping his cause. Like many of the bodies, the one still recognizable, he had intricate wolf tattoos on his back and biceps.

"This one still breaths." Kimberly tossed the man unceremoniously at Ryuu's feet. "Can I keep him?"

"I don't think he'd like that very much." Ryuu reluctantly smiled. "You've gone through too many pets as it is."

"Fuck you!" spat the man.

Wilhelmina disappeared from my side and placed her foot on the wooden shard in his leg. "Surveillez votre langue, chien!" She smiled as the man screamed. "And I just might make it quick."

Ryuu knelt by the man's head as he whimpered. "Now, what did you hope accomplish by attacking us?"

The man set his jaw firmly and turned his head.

"Wilhelmina?"

The man screamed as Wilhelmina applied more pressure.

"We have all night." Ryuu said. "Now talk!"

The man shook his head and stared defiantly at the sheriff.

"A fighter to the end I see." Ryuu stood and slowly drew his sword. "I can respect that."

"Wait!" I protested before I could stop myself. "Don't kill him!"

Everyone froze and stared at me.

Ryuu's eyes flicked to Wilhelmina before he asked. "And why not?"

"He might be useful?" I offered as I mentally cursed myself for my outburst.

Ryuu looked down at the man and I could tell he doubted me, but he seemed to be considering the possibility. "How so?"

"Well, you could glamor him." I suggested and hoped more would come to me.

"And what would that accomplish?" Wilhelmina asked suspiciously.

"It would get the packmaster out in the open." I answered quickly without thought. "If he was told that Ryuu was captured and being held captive nearby . . ." A plan began to form in my head."In a building they do not own and unaware that we had already been invited . . . we could ambush them and finish this once and for all." I was not all too happy with the turn this taken. In my attempt to save a man's life, I might have condemned the lives of others. "Actually I was thinking that — "

"You may remove your foot."Ryuu became a blur and sat in a chair. He pulled a rag from a pocket and began polishing his sword as he relayed orders "He's probably a kawādo who hid while his brothers fought and died. Kimberly, come here. We must make preparations."

Wilhelmina obey and turned to return to my side should I need to be shaken back to my senses. "I wouldn't be able to get the taste out anyway."

As Wilhelmina walked I saw as the man gripped the shard of wood from his leg, and with a quick jerk, yanked the object from his leg. With the strength and speed only capable by those with nothing to lose, he stood and leaped at my maker.

"Get this out, bitch!" he bellowed.

Unfortunately for him, and mostly me, he did not sink the stake into Wilhelmina's chest. He did however, bury the shard of wood deep into my left breast when I shoved Wilhelmina out of harm's way. I fell backward as his momentum drove us both onto the floor with him landing on top of me, driving the stake deeper into my chest.

The pain was almost unbearable and my howl could only convey the smallest fraction of the agony I was in. I was aware that snarl erupted from somewhere and my killer screamed as his weight disappeared from my body. The pain began to pass and I found I could think again so long as I took care not to move.

But how was that possible?

A wooden stake through the heart was undeniably fatal to vampires.

Unless the death is somehow drawn out like it was for human when they are similarly injured. I had never asked Wilhelmina as I thought she might consider it a sensitive subject nor had I wondered. I simply assumed that if I was to meet my second and final end, it would have like what I had seen in films and television. A flash of pain and a puff of dust and ash and that would be all there would left of me.

As I laid there, motionless and unmoving, I heard Doyle say. "Shame, I was starting to like the kid."

"Not now, Doyle." Wilhelmina growled.

"Is he dead?" Ryuu asked gently. "The man, not the boy."

"No." Adrian answered coolly. "But with two broken arms and legs, he is not comfortable. That I promise you."

"That is something I suppose." Ryuu actually sounded regretful. "I'd hate to have his death be for nothing."

"Why am I not surprised that Doyle is the only one who had something nice to say?" I grunted. "The least you guys could do is fake it."

You could have cut the tension and silence with a knife.

Doyle was, of course, the one to deflate the room. "Well, that's new."

Ryuu loomed over me and demanded. "Why are you not dead?"

"Is being staked instant?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Then I have no idea." I looked at Wilhelmina. "You've been around for a while. Any ideas?"

Wilhelmina said nothing and ripped open the tattered remains of my shirt. "Perhaps it missed his heart."

Ryuu bent to see more clearly and I winced when I felt his hand on my chest. "No, right in the middle of it."

"Then how?" Wilhelmina looked to me as if I had the solution. "I've never even thought this possible."

"Kimberly, Saki to naifu!" I yelped as Ryuu lifted me and called out. "Andrew, a table waist high."

Ryuu laid me down, not too gently, on a long table that an Asian vampire, Andrew, and a black female vampire brought and Kimberly handed Ryuu a knife and a ceramic flask that sloshed with liquid. Wilhelmina ripped the last pieces of cloth that had been my shirt. Before I could ask what they were about to do, Ryuu poured the liquid from the ceramic flask around the stake. I winced as i realized it was Japanese rice wine, Saki.

"For infections?" I asked.

"No." Ryuu wiped around the stake with piece of my shirt. "It's so no dirt or debris obscure my vision. Our kind is not vulnerable to infections and illness."

I eyed the knife with suspicion. "Can't you just pull it out?" I looked to Wilhelmina in alarm. "It'll heal, right?"

"Oh this isn't for the stake." Ryuu examined the knife's edge. "It's for you. Since we don't have any X-ray equipment and can't very well borrow one from the hospital, I must resort to more . . . archaic methods."

I understood immediately and tried to sit up, but Ryuu forced me back down with hardly any effort at all. "Can't you put me out or something?"

"Put you out?" Ryuu asked, unfamiliar with the phrase.

"Yeah," I said. "Pump me full of morphine or something."

Ryuu chuckled as he gripped the stake. "Funny."

"Wait!" I pleaded. "Let's just think anAHHHHHH!"

The pain was almost more than when the stake had gone in. I recovered just in time to catch Ryuu's wrist as he wasted no time in dissecting me like a frog in a school biology class. The second my hands touched his wrist, Wilhelmina wretched my hands off and held them down, allowing Ryuu to plunge the knife where the stake had been only a moment down. I screamed and howled as I kicked and struggled against Wilhelmina's iron grip.

"Hold his legs down." Ryuu said calmly.

Kimberly, Adrian, Doyle, and Regina all clamped down on my limbs. I was vaguely aware that Regina and Kimberly held my legs in place, despite my attempts to get free, while Adrian and Doyle took over for Wilhelmina and held down my arms and torso. Wilhelmina wrapped an arm around my head so her forearm was under my chin and placed a hand on my forehead so I could not move it in the slightest, other than the wails of agony.

"Interesting . . ." Ryuu said curiously as I felt his fingers explore the contents of my chest. "Most interesting."

"I DON'T GIVE A FUCK IF ITS THE HOLY GRAIL!" I shouted. "GET OUT OF ME!"

"What's interesting?" Wilhelmina asked, ignoring me. "Did the stake not pierce his heart?"

"No." Ryuu looked confused. "He has no heart."

"Look who's talking!" I spat. "If you gave me a mrrff . . ."

"Sorry." Wilhelmina covered my mouth with a hand. "What do you mean he has no heart?"

"Look for yourself." Ryuu poured more Saki into the crater in my chest and I screamed behind Wilhelmina's hand. "No valves, no atriums, not even veins that would have taken blood to and from the rest of the body."

I felt Wilhelmina's grip loosen so I opened my mouth and I bit her. I was rewarded with an angry hiss and the taste of her blood. But she removed her hand and allowed me to speak.

"That's what I've been trying to tell you!" I coughed. "I have Dextrocardia."

"Dextro-what now?" Doyle asked.

"Dextrocardia!" I hissed. "Its a birth defect."

"What kind of defect is it?" Ryuu looked quite interested.

"My heart is on the right." I was beginning to feel very weak. "So now you know. Can you please stop already?"

"Why did you not ever mention this?" Wilhelmina asked.

"It never caused me any problems when I was alive." My words sounded slurred to me. "After you turned me . . . didn't . . . matter . . . anymore."

"He needs to feed." Wilhelmina told the sheriff.

"Dextrocardia." Ryuu sounded deep in thought. "interesting."

"Ryuu-sama!" Kimberly said sharply. "She is right. This was too much for him."

Ryuu made a slight gesture and I felt the pressure lift from my limbs just as I felt a light body draped over me. I could see and smell it was a werewolf male, which meant he was naked. At that point, I cared very little as to the gender and I sank my fangs into his neck and drank deeply. As I drank, I felt the haze around my mind and the fatigue fade slowly from my body. Wilhelmina removed the body from mine and looked at the crater in my chest that had stopped bleeding, but had not begun to close.

"How do you feel?" Wilhelmina asked, and I swore she actually sounded concerned.

"Like you care!" I snapped.

"What?"

"You would have died again if it wasn't for me." I reminded her.

"Yes."

"Then why didn't you stop him?!" I demanded. "One minute and I would have figured out it was my dextrocardia saved me, but instead you just let Ryuu gut me like school project."

"You have yet to learn of our politics." Wilhelmina began stoking my hair like she did every now and then when we were in bed together. "I may be older than Ryuu by centuries, but his station is higher than mine. The general sometime commands soldiers older than himself."

"So if Ryuu wanted to stake me for the hell of it, would you have to let him?" I watched her closely for her answer.

"Only if you had done something to warrant it." She gave me that slight smile that she was fond of. "Otherwise he would have to go through me first and he would not dare."

"I'm not interrupting am i?" I turned to see Kimberly holding another body in her arms. "You're going to need a lot of blood to recover."

Wilhelmina took the body from Kimberly, "Not at all."

"Kimberly, did you finish making the preparations?" Ryuu had returned to his chair and continued cleaning his sword with a rag. "We do not have much time."

"Yes," Kimberly said. "We all await your orders."

"Yosh!" Ryuu stood and sheathed his sword. "It is time show those dogs who their master is. Tonight we end this!"

"I'm still up fer a good row," Doyle raised his hand. "But what about Peaches?"

"He does have a point." Wilhelmina admitted. "He cannot fight in this condition."

"And he cannot remain here as they might return." Ryuu looked quite vexed.

"Our humans are still here." Kimberly motioned to bar. "They could take him back to our nest to recover."

"Is it safe?" Wilhelmina asked. "Can they be trusted?"

"Yes." said Ryuu. "My home has been modified to accommodate our kind and they know the consequences for failure or betrayal."

"We'll need a tarp or something thick to wrap him in." Kimberly said. "It will be light out by the time they reach the house."

"Andrew, bring the car around." Ryuu tossed him a ring of keys. "And make sure the trunk is empty."

Wilhelmina laid me down on a large table cloth and helped Kimberly cover every last inch of me. I would spend the journey to Ryuu's home in the trunk of car, but making their trunks light tight was not priority of any manufacture. It would have been just my luck to survive being staked only to be reduced to a pile of ashes by the sun. I bit back a string of curses as I felt someone lift and throw me over their shoulder as they carried me into the parking lot, apparently forgetting I had been severely injured.

As I was being laid gently in the trunk, ignoring the smell of stale blood which I decided not to comment on, I caught Kimberly giving orders to what sounded like a man. I assumed it was the same man who had been playing cards with Tasha and Susan.

"Do you understand, Nicholas?" Kimberly asked. "You are not to stop under any circumstances until you reach the house."

I shouted. "Make sure you don't push it past the speed limit. Otherwise you're just begging for a prick cop to pull you over."

"Yes, that too." Kimberly warned. "If something happens to him, no matter why or how, its going be much quicker for him than for you."

Nicholas assured my safety, for his sake, and the heard the lid of the trunk close and the screech of tires a second later. Since the trunk had not been outfitted with an entertainment system or an intercom should I feel the need to converse with those that rode upfront, I tried to ascertain which direction I was heading. The car made a few turns before I felt the increase in speed. I assumed that we had merged onto an expressway.

As to which one, that was a mystery. We could be on the Sunrise Highway (heh), but that opened a laundry list of possibilities just to travel north. And since I had not been told where exactly Ryuu and his nest lived, there was no telling how far west or east we needed to be. I knew he must probably live in the richest part of his area, but I was not privy to the size of his area.

I gave up my efforts and settled on music that came from the car radio. Lucky for me, Nicholas and I shared a taste for old rap songs. I could not tell whether four hours had passed or two minutes, but I grew eventually tired and sleep began to overtake me. The need to sleep is strong for vampires. Almost nothing can keep our kind from sleeping during the daylight hours and the few things that can, are not pleasant. I guessed the sun was less than ten minutes away from breaking the horizon and bringing with it the start of a new day, for humans at least.

"Dominick?" I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. "Its time to wake up."

I threw my eyes open as I clutched a wrist with bone crushing force. I then gripped my attacker's neck and threw her on the bed as I followed soon after. I straddled her, my legs on either side of her waist, and held down her shoulders. I hissed in warning just as my fangs shot out and went to bite.

I paused.

Looking up at me, with an amused smile, was Kimberly.

"Good reflexes." She smirked. "But — "

I felt something erupt under my stomach as I was propelled into the air. Kimberly rolled to her side and stood as she drove her forearm into my chest, sending down just as quickly. I then looked up at Kimberly, dressed in black jeans and a tight gray tank top with her hair tied back, with her legs crossed and smiling.

"Predictable." she finished.

"Sorry." I retracted my fangs.

"Don't be." she said. "That was your waking reflex."

"My what?"

"Your waking reflex." she repeated. "Its in case a human or something attacks just as you wake."

"But wouldn't a human not wait for me to wake up?" I asked.

"I didn't say it was a perfect defense." She looked down and smiled, her fangs sliding out slightly. "Hmm . . . too bad Wilhelmina got you first. I just might have made an exception."

I looked down and saw what she meant. "Why am I naked?"

"We sent your clothes out to be cleaned." Kimberly checked her watch. "We'll pick them up on our way back."

"Back from where?"

"The cleanup is taking a little longer than we thought." Kimberly bent down and kissed my cheek. "But we won thanks to you."

"You're welcome." I said, trying not show I was less than enthusiastic about the massacre of an entire werewolf pack. "So what now? You want me to come with you a help get the stains out of the carpet or something?"

"We can handle that. In the mean time, you're Ryuu's guest." Kimberly removed herself from my chest. "Just stay here and enjoy yourself until we get back."

I raised an eyebrow. "Enjoy myself?"

Kimberly smirked. "Susan? You can come in now."

I heard a door creak open and I sat up on my elbows to see Susan enter wearing a thick gray bathrobe. Her honey blond hair hung loose and looked lustrously smooth as if she had returned from a salon. She smelled of citrus fruits and spring water. She had applied some make up, but her face was bare for the most part. I also noticed that her face was impassive and walked with a thousand yard stare, the tell tale signs of a glamored human.

Susan didn't seem embarrassed at my nude body nor did she give any indication that was aware of her surroundings. That was the power of a vampire's glamor. A human suffering from hydrophobia could be persuaded to swim in a pool of sharks without batting an eye if they had been glamored before hand.

Susan straddled me and looked down at me as Kimberly said. "She is yours now."

"Mine?"

"We lost Andrew in the assault." Kimberly explained.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not. He was incredibly annoying even for a child." Kimberly placed a hand on Susan's shoulder. "So Ryuu's giving her to you since we all have humans to feed from."

"I can see why Andrew liked her." I said, trying to sound grateful and not insult her or Ryuu.

"Wait until you taste her." Kimberly assured. "Susan, show your new master."

Susan untied the belt of her robe to reveal her nude body. She laid down and passionately kissed me, her tongue quickly darting into my mouth. She then kissed her way across my cheek and began lightly chewing on my neck as her hand rubbed my chest. A gasped escaped from my throat and I felt my fangs extend fully when Susan began rubbing her body against mine and she squeaked in pleasure. I turned my head and she parted her lips so our tongues could become better acquainted. While we tasted each other, I slipped my hands under her robe and allowed them to learn her topography.

"I leave you two to become better acquainted." Kimberly said as she left the room. "Feel free to use any of the rooms, but remember all of the other humans belong to someone else."

I grunted my understanding.

Once I heard the door close, I stopped and waited until I heard the sound of several cars starting and driving off. I might have been hungry, but I still could not bring myself to mate and feed from this girl who had been glamored to do so. I waited another minute, doing my best to ignore Susan nuzzling and licking my chest, to make sure everyone had left.

I grabbed Susan by the shoulder and brought her to my eyes. "Susan, snap out of it."

It was as if she had just noticed she was in a room and about to have sex with a vampire. She looked around trying to recall exactly she had come to being in the room. She seemed somewhat relieved and I assumed it due to being in a familiar setting. Then she looked down and realized she was naked under an opened bathrobe as well as on top of an aroused and hungry vampire.

"Eep!" she squeaked and hurried to close her robe. "Its you! Kimberly's friend."

"Dominick." I told her.

"What am I doing here?"

"More like who." I said with a bit of a smile making sure I retracted my fangs. "I think Kimberly or someone glamored you."

"But I'm Andrew's." She looked frightened, but not of me. "He'll kill us both."

"He was killed last night." I told her. "While I was in the trunk of the car."

She breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh thank god." Then she remembered that I, like Andrew, was a vampire. "Um, I didn't mean . . . I . . ." Susan looked absolutely terrified at what I might do.

"I take it Andrew was less than perfect gentleman?" I asked to show her I wasn't insulted. I suppose I should feel something for the death of a fellow vampire, but would you feel anything if a random human that you did not even exchange two words with die?

"He was when we first met." To my surprise, Susan laid down and rest her head on my chest. "It was my first time in the city and he was so charming and sweet. Buying me drinks and dancing with me."

"But it was all an act."

She nodded. "I don't what happened, but the next thing I knew he was taking me back to his hotel room. He didn't drug me, but I couldn't stop wanting him to undress me."

"He glamored you." I told her. "If done right, he could make you do anything and you'd think it was all you."

"I figured that out later." She said, still not looking up at me. "When asked if I wanted to come live with him and I said yes. It was that bad at first, but then he got tired of glamoring me before we . . . uh, slept together and I realized why I felt so tired afterwards. And the biting really hurt."

I remembered back to the night when Wilhelmina turned me and how painful it was when she bit my neck. The first bite felt like a slight pinch at worst as I was still floating on a cloud of bliss after I had climaxed, but the second and third bite were far more excruciating that Wilhelmina clamped a hand over my mouth to muffle my protests. The pain of a bite was completely up to the vampire doing the biting. A little nip was all that was really necessary to draw blood, but you'd be hard pressed the find one that cared enough to spare the human any pain.

"You're not like them, are you?" She looked up at me curiously. "They wouldn't bother to unglamor me or even care to listen to what I had to say."

"No." I said.

"Why?"

"Honestly, I have no idea." I told her. "Maybe it's because I'm so young and I'll eventually be just like them."

"Maybe." she agreed. "Or could be Andrew wanted to be a vampire."

"Really?"

"Yes." she nodded. "He told me how he had accidentally caught Ryuu feeding on man in an alley and he asked him to turn him into one." She looked unsure if she should ask, but I had been accommodating so far so she risked asking. "You didn't want to be one of them did you?"

"No." I didn't feel the need to elaborate and she didn't push for more.

"I'm yours now, aren't I?" she asked tactfully changing the subject. "Now that Andrew's dead for good and Kimberly glamored me to be here?"

"Yes." I explained. "You're my reward for helping Ryuu and I think he's trying to apologize for carving me up."

"He what?"

"He cut out a large chunk from my chest when I was staked protecting my maker." I smiled slightly. "Right where your chin is now."

"If you were staked, how are you still here?" She looked down at my pale white smooth chest. "You don't even have a scar."

"Rapid healing comes with being a vampire." I told her. "Plus I had dextrocardia when I was alive. My heart is on my right instead of my left like most people."

"I've never heard of that."

"Only one in about twelve thousand are born with it. Most don't even know they have it. I didn't learn anything was wrong with me until I developed an allergy to pollen when I was twelve and I went to a doctor." I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring smile. "I'm sort of a rarity. If you factor the low number of people with dextrocardia its no surprise that few of us survive an encountering a vampire, let alone being turned into one." I made a circle on my left breast. "Ryuu cut me open to see why didn't I die."

"Couldn't you have just told him?"

"It's hard to think when your being gutted like a fish while someone sticks in his fingers inside of you, let alone form words. Other than screaming bloody murder since painkillers don't work on us."

"Oh." Susan paused and seemed unsure of something. "Are you hungry?"

"A little." I said when in truth I was starving. "If you don't want to — "

"Its alright!" she assured me. "I'm yours now."

"But — "

"I'm not glamored anymore." she reminded me. "I'm telling you its alright."

"I almost drained Tasha dry." My fangs slid out slightly at my temptation and my lower half had begged to start since Susan first straddled me. "Aren't you scared?"

"Not the way I was with Andrew." She kissed me again, but this time the passion behind it was genuine. "Its the least I could do."

An hour later I sat on the edge of the bed and looked down at my human. She was fast asleep with a weary, but content, smile as she lay curled up like a peaceful kitten under the sheets. I was curious what exactly Andrew had done to the girl. Several times when I grasped her or lightly passed a hand or finger over her body, she would flinch. It was not excited surprised flinch that Wilhelmina often did, but the normal kind humans make when they are frightened. She seemed to be guarding against something, but some gentle coaxing and soft murmuring let her realize I was not Andrew. She even willingly offered her neck and cried out my name, climaxing when my fangs found her soft flesh.

I tore my gaze from Susan and her light snoring and examined the room. The room did not have a carpet like my room in Soho, but it was so one could admire the finely polished mahogany wood floor. The walls were bare, lacking even windows, and were painted a slight tan. The floor molding around the perimeter was painted a bright glossy white as were the three doorways and the doors themselves. On of them had led to a bathroom which was of little use to me unless I felt the need to shower.

The other Kimberly had used to leave so that left the remaining third door a closet that probably had a false bottom and coffin for a vampire to sleep in during the day. I stood from the bed and walked to small dresser in the corner of the room. I quickly donned a pair of gray sweatpants and a black tank top. Kimberly had said to make myself at home and judging by Susan had told me about the room, Andrew wouldn't mind if I borrowed some clothes.

I quietly closed the door as left the room and walked down the hall. I saw while the floor molding were painted the same white as the room the walls were painted sky blue and actually had fixtures hanging from them, mock japanese style paintings mostly. The floor was the same mahogany as the room and just as finely polished. I caught the scent of at least six humans including Tasha and Susan in the air. Kimberly had mentioned that most of the nest kept their humans here and of course their scents would be all over the house.

I heard the faint sound of voices coming from the room at the end of the hall and decided to investigate out curiosity. I entered the kitchen to find Tasha, Nicholas, and a teenager who couldn't be a day over eighteen with blond hair. They seemed to be discussing something about food when they froze like deer in the headlights or deer when they caught the sight of a hungry lion. I noticed that Nicholas was holding a cordless phone while Tasha held a small stack of takeout menus and the young man held a pad and paper in hand.

"D-Dominick." said Tasha. "You're up."

"Where's Susan?" demanded the young man.

"In the third room on the right." I said. "Sleeping."

"Great." he said. "Just great."

"What's wrong?" I asked. "Was she supposed to do something."

"Oh, don't mind James." Tasha flashed him a look. "Normally Susan is the one that cooks, but Andrew has been . . . keeping her busy for the last week."

"And I'm sick of ordering out." muttered James.

"Is the refrigerator empty?" I asked.

"No."

"Then what's the problem?"

"None of us know how to cook." said Nicholas. "Well, I can make a decent pasta sauce, but for obvious reasons Ryuu doesn't let us keep garlic in the house. It took a week to convince him to just let us buy food."

"I smelled more humans other than you and Susan." I asked. "Where are they?"

"They're running errands for their . . ." James searched for the right word. "Vampires?"

I walked to refrigerator and saw it was fully stocked. I did the same for the pantry and several cabinets. None of them said anything as I piled the counter in front of them high with ingredients, pans, and tools. I took the pad and pen from James and quickly wrote three pages of instructions.

After a minute, they had all they needed. I gave them each a page with instructions for each part of the meal. Nicholas would prepare and cook a roast large enough for six people and potatoes to accompany it. Tasha would make a simple salad with a tangy vinaigrette and a vegetable dish of sauteed of green beans. I tasked the James with making three keylime pies each using a different type of cookie for a crust.

"As long as you follow those instructions to the letter, you'll be fine." I said. "I kept it as simple as I could."

"Good looking, a tiger in the sack, and able to cook." Tasha smiled seriously. "Where have you been all my life?"

Probably two rows over and few seats back in US History. I thought.

James stared at the paper he held. "How does a vampire know how to cook?"

"Were you like an apprentice to a chef during the french revolution?" Nicholas asked eager for an answer. "I bet you learned from Marie Antoine Carême himself."

"No." I told him. "I was a bartender a little over a year ago."

With that, I made my way to the living room. I sank into an expensive looking brown leather couch that wrapped around both corners. In front of where I sat was an unused fireplace with a high definition television mounted over the mantle. Next to the fireplace was a stand that held the standard iron tools one would use to cultivate a fire that looked brand new. The windows were covered by thick white curtains so none could see the going ons of the interior, but it also prevented me from doing the same for the outside.

I picked up the remote control that sat next to me and turned on the television. I flipped through the channels not really paying attention to the programs, but I found myself sitting forward with great interest at a breaking news bulletin.

"That's right, Tom." said the reporter. "I'm standing just outside of what's left of a house here in Freeport after a fire has left only the foundations as these brave firefighters have just put out a massive inferno."

"Clean up my ass." I said and turned up the volume.

"The police believe they have found the person responsible for three fires that have occurred in the past two months that have claimed the lives of nine people already. A body was found hanging from a tree in the yard of home." The reporter was handed a sheet of paper. "A note was found stuffed in the pocket of thirty-two year old Jacob Lautner in which he claimed to have aided others in setting three clubs ablaze because the owners refused the distribution of illegal drugs." The reporter held the sheet. "It says and I quote, 'I can no longer live with myself for what I have done. Only a mangy dog like me and the others like me could think of doing such a despicable act without paying a price. I know nothing I do can atone for my sins, but I can still try. May god have mercy on my soul and the others that will accompany to the gates of hell.' The police will continue evidence to the contrary, but it looks like the arsonist has been identified and is dead. Back to you, Tom."

"Did Ryuu and them do that?" asked a voice.

Startled, I hissed and brandished my fangs at Tasha which caused her to jump back and nearly drop a ceramic flask. Luckily for the floor, she recovered quickly and caught the flask before it could spill and stain the floor.

"Don't ever sneak up on a vampire." I retracted my fangs.

"S-s-sorry." Tasha held out the flask with a trembling. "W-w-we t-t-thought — "

"Calm down." I said gently. "Just because my fangs came out doesn't mean I'm going to use them." I took the flask before she could drop it. "Its just reflex."

"W-we thought you m-might be hungry." Tasha seemed to have calmed down slightly. "Ryuu keeps some blood in an incubator in case he doesn't feel like going out."

"Oh, thanks." I looked down and saw the flask was filled with warm blood. "Having trouble with dinner?"

"No. Your directions were very clear." Tasha still looked wary of me, but was beginning to relax. "We just finished cleaning everything while the roast cooks."

"Just make sure you bring a plate to Susan." I caught the scent of meat and potatoes wafting through the air from the kitchen and I felt envious for a moment. "I noticed the faint taste of grease and salt in her blood."

"That's probably all the fast food." said Tasha. "Its all they used to bring us before we convinced them we needed real food."

"I'll make sure to leave some simple recipes before I leave." I sipped the blood. "But you should really invest in a cookbook."

"Tasha!" called James. "We need you back here."

Tasha left and I continued to watch the news bulletin as I sipped the blood like my father had done with beer when he watched the news. As I feared, Ryuu had spared no one. The bodies of women and children had been found among the charred bodies. From a logical standing, it was necessary otherwise Ryuu would have to wary of family members seeking revenge, but I felt strangely uneasy about ending their lives for the mistakes of others.

I assured myself I had no reason to be guilty as I had only killed in self defense when we were attacked at Yojimbo's. Yes I provided with Ryuu with solutions to end the dispute quickly, but I had been thinking of killing those who started the fight in the first place. It had never even occurred to me that Ryuu might target their families as well. It had been far easier to think of them as childish brutes that were angry for not getting what they wanted than men with families to provide and protect.

Just as the story began to repeat the door opened an women entered. She looked to be roughly in her thirties with light make up and her copper colored hair tied back into a ponytail. She wore a white blouse with black pants and matching shoes. Hanging over her left arm, she carried a suit jacket, vest, and pants wrapped in a plastic bag that one would receive upon visiting a late dry cleaner. In her left hand she held a white paper shopping bag that read Massimo's Elegance in flowing red script.

I assumed, based on Ryuu's scent on her, she was Ryuu's human and he had sent her ahead to pick up my suit from the cleaners. He had also sent her to pick up a replacement for my dress shirt that got ruined beyond recognition during the Werewolf and Shifter attack at Yojimbo's.

"Are you Dominick?" she asked.

"Yes." I set down the near empty flask. "That's my suit I take it."

"Yes." She held out the items. "Your hat, shirt, and shoes are in the bag."

"Thank you." I laid them on the couch next to me. "Who are you?"

"My name is Hillary." she said.

"And you're Ryuu's?" I asked.

"Yes." She looked frightened at being in the presence of a vampire she did not know. "Almost two years now."

"The others are in the kitchen." I told her. "They should be almost done with making dinner."

"Andrew doesn't mind Susan cooking for us?" Hillary asked.

"He's dead, the permanent kind of dead." I said. "Plus she's sleeping right now."

"Then who is . . ."

"Tasha, Nicholas, and James. I gave them some simple directions to follow. Just make sure you leave a plate aside for Susan."

"I'll do that." Hillary said. "Thank you."

Hillary left and I quickly dressed my suit. Hillary had picked an orange dress shirt which I slipped over the black tank top and tucked into my pants. The orange shirt seemed to go quite well with the rest of the suit, especially when I knotted my tie and buttoned my vest. I decided to leave the jacket off until I left for the city and left the shoes with others in the corner. I guessed that, after well over a century, Ryuu kept the tradition of removing one's shoes before entering the house and I had no desire to anger him.

An hour passed and nothing new developed in the fire that I was certain that Ryuu had a hand in. From the sounds of plates and running water I guessed that the humans had finished eating and were busy cleaning the kitchen before their masters returned, no doubt a tad peckish from the night's events.

Just as I turned off the television, Ryuu and his nest entered with their humans. They looked to be in fine spirits as they removed their shoes and joined me on the couch. Without a word the humans sat in the laps of their vampires. Some would kiss quite passionately while other simply sank their fangs into the human's neck. I could smell blood on them as well gasoline, kerosene, and burning wood. I also saw that small little droplets of blood were on their clothes. Ryuu sat to my right and Kimberly to my left.

"Here," Ryuu placed a thick stack of money in my lap. "Your cut plus a bonus for your help in getting rid our pest problem."

"This a hundred-thousand dollars!" I gasped. It was more than I made in a year as Ryuu's bartender.

"I was just as surprised those dogs managed to hide ten times that much." Ryuu grew sour for a moment. "Of course the king demanded half for simply being the king, but there was plenty left over to get my enterprises up and running again."

"Where's Wilhelmina?" I asked. "I thought she was with you."

"She and the rest of your nest left for their home in the city." Ryuu explained. "Wilhelmina told me to give you this." He handed me a cellphone the size of a brick that was clearly from the early eighties. "She'll be calling you soon I wager."

As if by magic, the phone rang and I answered. "Hello?"

"Dominick?" asked a voice that was without a doubt Wilhelmina.

"Yes."

"Have you fully recovered?"

"Yes."

"Then please return to the nest once Ryuu is finished with you. Also, dispose of this phone. I've been meaning to get rid of it." Wilhelmina hung up.

"She wants me to come back home." I told Ryuu.

"I'm not surprised." Ryuu stood up. "Please wait here for a moment."

Ryuu disappeared in blur just as Tasha entered and sat on Kimberly's lap.

"Hey, baby" Tasha wrapped her arms lovingly around Kimberly. "I missed you."

Kimberly responded by kissing Tasha who seemed glad with her response and reciprocated. Kimberly brought her human closer as they both moaned with passion which seemed to be the norm with the other vampires and humans as they had begun to heat things up. Nicholas and James entered and went to ther prospective vampires, both of them male, as Hillary stood off to the side as she was Ryuu's.

With the exception of Hillary, I was the only one without another body wrapped around me moaning and grunting in ecstasy. I will not lie. The scents and sounds in the air had gotten me aroused, making my fang slide slightly and I found myself trying not watch Kimberly and Tasha as they rubbed their bodies against each other.

Tasha pulled away and offered her neck. "Go on, baby." Kimberly sank her already extended fangs into her neck as her hand massaged Tasha's bottom. but then she paused and pulled away. "Something wrong?"

"You taste different." Kimberly looked confused. "So much more complex."

"That's probably the dinner she had." I explained. "She mentioned how they've been eating nothing but fried food when I mentioned Susan tasted of grease and salt."

"What did you eat?" Kimberly asked.

"A roast with some potatoes, green beans, and a salad." Tasha looked eager to continue, rubbing Kimberly's shoulder. "But I wanted you for dessert."

"Oh you will." Kimberly sank her fangs into again and began to massage her bottom again.

I looked and saw the vampires feeding from James and Nicholas were also satisfied with the improvements I made to their diets. I was wondering if they had remembered to bring Susan a plate when Ryuu entered carrying a cane. It was made of polished black Malacca wood with an iron tip on the bottom while the head was decorate with mock silver rings and studs.

Ryuu handed me the cane. "I give this to you."

"A cane?"

Ryuu smiled. "Twist the top and pull."

I did as he said and drew a two and half foot long straight blade of high tensile steel. The blade was pointed so it could used to stab as well as slash. I noticed the all around the perimeter of the edge was much brighter than the rest of the blade as if two different metals had been used to forge the weapon.

"A shikomizue." Ryuu explained. "A concealed sword. I was a swordsmith in my human life and it was not until my maker turned me that he taught me the way of the samurai." Ryuu motioned to the blade in my hands. "Unfortunately only officials could carry traditional swords so I took to forging these for my maker and I. I've kept a few as souvenirs, but I say you have earned this."

"I never thought vampires used weapons." I said in awe.

"Most older vampires do not as their speed and strength is more than enough, but younglings not so much." He pointed to brighter edge. "The edge is made from silver should you find yourself attacked by werewolves or another vampire."

I sheathed the blade. "Thank you, Ryuu-sama."

Twenty minutes later I stood outside a large car garage next to a motorcycle that belonged to the late Jacob Lautner. Ryuu said that Andrew had died trying to steal the motorcycle making the mistake that its owner was dead and not simply at death door. Long story short, Andrew turned his back long enough for Jacob to bury a broken branch in his back.

One of Andrew's nestmates insisted on driving it back to the nest, but found she did not wish to be reminded of his death. So she gave me the keys to a well maintained Harley-Davidson Softail/V2 Evolution. While my father had threatened and warned me about ever purchasing one, he did deem it necessary that circumstances might not be so accommodating to his wishes and taught me how drive one. It had certainly been some time, I assumed it was like driviing a car or riding a bicycle, you never forget.

I had just finished slipping my new cane and suit jacket into a backpack when Susan approached me. Like myself, she had a large backpack stuffed with the few material possessions Andrew saw fit for her. She seemed to have recovered nicely from the blood loss and, as she put it, the coma inducing sex. The wonders what sleep and a hearty homemade meal will do for an ailing body and mind.

"We're taking that into the city?" she asked a little anxiously.

"Traffic's a huge pain for cars. With this I can go between cars if there's a back up. I have a long way back and I'd rather not be out when the sun comes up." I kickstarted the bike and the engine roared to life. "Hop on."

She mounted the bike and wrapped her arms tightly around my waist. I had her slip on the only helmet as she was much more delicate than I was and I could not stand the smell of wet dog. Ryuu had given me direction to reach the Long Island Expressway from his home. As it turned out, I was already familiar with the area. Ryuu's home was in Mill Neck and was located only a few miles south of Bayville which was on the opposite side of Long Island from Freeport.

Following Ryuu's direction I took West Shore Road south then made a left onto Main Street as I entered Oyster Bay. I stayed on Main Street until it crossed with South Street, one of the many names for Route 106, and made a right. I then followed the road south for several miles, making sure to obey the speed limit as I passed through Muttontown and Brookville that had their own private police force that would pull you over at the drop of a hat, until I reached Hicksville.

I pulled into the Hicksville train station, surprisingly not completely deserted and had a Susan wait for me with the bike. Using the money Ryuu had liberated from the Jacob's pack, I purchased a single ticket to Penn Station from the automated ticket machine and went back to Susan.

"Here." I handed Susan the ticket and five hundred dollars. "Take this and go home."

"What?" She took the ticket and money. "You mean Soho?"

"No, I mean where you lived before you met Andrew." I told her. "Where was that?"

"Philadelphia." she said

"Then here." I handed her another few hundred dollars. "When you reach Penn Station buy the first ticket for the first train heading there."

"I don't understand." She looked not sure whether to kiss me or cry. "You're letting me go?"

"Yes."

"You don't want me?"

"Not like this."

"But — "

"Are you telling me you really want to come with me to my nest in Soho? Because I'm telling you this. You might be mine, but I'm going to have to share you with my maker and she's more than twice Ryuu's age." I gave her a serious look. "But if you want to spend the next week being raped and fed on until you finally die, then stay."

"Oh . . ."

"You said it yourself, I'm not like the rest of them."

"You're right." She looked at peace and she gazed up the platform. "Thank you."

"Susan?"

She looked down at me, but more importantly in my eyes. "Yes?"

"I want you to forget this ever happened." I said gently, but firmly. "You weren't held captive by vampires. You met a guy named Andrew and moved in with him, but things didn't work out and that's why you decided to go back to Philadelphia."

"Really?" she asked lazily as my glamour overtook her. "No vampires?"

"No vampires." I repeated. "They're not even real. In fact, anything you might remember about vampires doing things to do you was all just a dream. It never happened."

"That's a relief."

"Now take the train to Penn Station and buy a ticket to Philadelphia when you get there." I instructed. "Go home."

I watched Susan walk to the escalator just a train pulled into the station, hopefully it was headed to Penn Station. I waited until the train left the station and continued west towards New York City. I kickstarted the engine, but pause when I recalled exactly where I was. I had passed the Long Island Expressway a few miles back north, but that was not the issue. If I was in Hicksville, that meant the next town over was my old home, Westbury.

Turn around and head north to the Long Island Expressway and the city from there to a nest of bloodthirsty vampires?

Or take Old Country Road west and gaze from across the street into my old home to see my family getting on without me?

I kickstarted the engine and sped north as fast as the engine could take me.

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