Dead & Living

By Artie Gallezi

Action / Romance

Things Change

I reached the apartment a mere fifteen minutes before sunrise. Everyone already had retired to their coffins for the day and I was beginning to feel weary myself, my body's way of telling me the sun was not far off. I entered my room, throwing the backpack Ryuu had given me to carry my cane and suit jacket into a corner. I did no bother undressing and I opened the false bottom of my closet and climbed into my coffin.

I fell asleep almost instantly.

While I tended to wake up a slight bit later than the rest of my nest mates, I was still surprised to find Wilhelmina standing in front me when I rose from my coffin. She did not look overly happy, but it was not as if I expected her to jump up and down with girlish squeals at my return.

"Where were you?" she demanded.

I settled for the truth, in part at least. "I got hungry."

"You fed?"

"Yes."

"Did you dispose of the body?"

"No need."

"Why not?"

"Because I didn't kill her." I told her. "You haven't gotten around to showing me how to get rid of body and I figured I didn't have time to try."

"Where is the human now?"

"Don't know." I said truthfully. "She mentioned she lived in Philadelphia. I glamored her when I was done and healed the wounds on her neck. I just figured she took the train out of the city."

"And no one witnessed you feeding?" Wilhelmina narrowed her eyes.

"I'm pretty sure I would have heard screaming. It was dark, well for humans anyway, if anyone did see I guess they just assumed we were making out."

"Making out?" she repeated. "I'm not familiar with that phrase."

"Kissing." I smiled slightly. "Very passionate kissing, but not exactly the kind you do when in bed with someone."

"Why didn't you just say that?"

"I thought I did."

I climbed out of the closet's false bottom and coffin. I noticed I was still dressed in my suit so I sat on the bed and began to untie the laces of my leather shoes. I had just slipped out of my vest and began unbuttoning my shirt when Wilhelmina bent down, her face an inch from my own, and I saw she had the strangest expression in her eyes. I was about ask when she bent lower, her cheek brushing against mine as she did, and I felt her nose just tickling my neck. I expected her to smell of werewolf, blood, and chemicals, but I smelt the scent that I had grown fond of in the past year. Somehow, it felt reassuring to me.

"You smell like her." Wilhelmina sounded strange, like she was annoyed. "That human girl you fed from." She pulled away and looked me in the eye. "You mated with her?"

"Yes." I did not like the look in her eyes. "Are you mad?"

"No." Wilhelmina's eyes softened slightly. "But I also do not want you smelling like that."

"I'll take a shower." I wasn't sure, but I think I felt happy that she felt jealous.

I had just removed my orange shirt , only a black tank top covered my pale chest, when I felt Wilhelmina's hand undo the buckle of my belt and unbutton my pants. She kissed me like she had done countless times before and I kissed her back, our tongues dancing and caressing each other with great familiarity. We parted for a moment and stared into each others eyes with longing and desire. For someone who didn't understand the phrase, she certainly had mastered the practice.

"I have a much more . . . enjoyable method in mind." Wilhelmina purred, her fangs slightly visible.

I felt my own fangs sliding out and I smiled, "More relaxing than a hot shower?"

Wilhelmina pushed me down hard on the bed and straddled me. "I said enjoyable, not relaxing."

Despite Wilhelmina's assurance, I felt quite relaxed when we finally stopped after two hours. As was her habit, Wilhelmina laid on top of me as she rest her head where my heart should have been. While I was certain that Wilhelmina had completely purged Susan's scent from my body after the first half hour or so, she felt different and we carried on until we both agreed to rest a moment.

If I had any doubts to whether Wilhelmina cared for me, they were quickly dashed. I thought back to when I laid on a table after Ryuu had carved my chest open and Wilhelmina came to comfort me, lovingly stroking my hair as she often did after we made love. Then the way she reacted to and the way she went about erasing Susan's scent from my body. While a simple shower would have been sufficient, Wilhelmina desired to replace Susan's scent with her own. A desire I felt no inclination to oppose.

I'm not certain when exactly my feelings towards her began to change, but I longer saw as I first did. When Wilhelmina revealed herself to a vampire, one that had been killing and draining humans since the early fourteenth century, I hated her with every fiber of my being. In her eyes, she had given me the ultimate gift, but I did not. This monster tore me from a family that depended on me, that had cared for me, and was probably still mourning my death to some extent.

My mother surely would have added anti-depressants to her daily regimen of medication while father probably sunken deep enough in whiskey to drown a Mexican sea captain, and my brother would have been upset at my sudden departure as well. Then there were the few close friends I had left behind. I wonder how they were coping without me there to mix drinks and join them as we all joked and laughed without a care in the world.

But then, I saw Wilhelmina in a different light. No longer was she the monster that had killed me, but the woman who had freed me. This woman would guide and teach me how to survive in this new exciting world. This woman would protect and care for me as I did her. This beautiful woman, who could have any man or woman that caught her eye, desired me enough to have me stay and share her bed just as I desired her. She was my guide, my mentor, my protector, and my lover.

She was mine and I was hers.

Was this how love felt? How was supposed to know? I had thought I loved Christine, but it did not take a genius to know it was not love. At least, it was not as clear. I still might have feelings for her, but I was unsure to what it was. Had my abysmal amount of self-worth convinced me that a few acts of kindness had led to me to believe that platonic friendship could blossom into more? It surely had convinced me that I had little or nothing to offer women and only Christine's pity was my only chance of not reaching the end of my life unloved and alone. How was I suppose to know that I was missing an entire forest in search of a single tree?

"What happened here?" Wilhelmina asked, jolting me from my mental revaluation.

"What?"

"Here. I'm surprised I did not notice this before." Her finger traced a three inch scar on the lower left side of my abdomen. "It looks like you received a rather deep cut from a very sharp knife."

She wasn't far off, but I assured her it was not from fighting on an ancient battlefield. "I had my appendix removed when I was fourteen."

"Removed?"

I nodded. "I woke up one morning with my side hurting. I ignored it for a day or two, but it just got worse. Eventually I had to go to a doctor and he took an X-Ray." I paused. "You know what an X-Ray is?"

"It is the machine that people use to see inside of a body?" She guessed. "Without cutting it open, correct?"

"Yes." I continued. "They saw my appendix had become inflamed and had to be removed."

"You were quite sick as a child." she remarked.

"What?"

"You were born unable to properly digest milk, to say nothing of your heart defect. You then developed an allergy to the pollen in flowers which was quite problematic in spring I imagine. Now you tell me you had to undergo surgery to remove an organ." She began to list all the medical conditions I had suffered from. "Dextrocardia, lactose intolerance, seasonal allergies, and appendicitis. You should consider yourself fortunate to have been turned."

I hesitated to answer. To me, becoming a vampire so one did not have suffer from illnesses and diseases seemed to be the equivalent of receiving a strong dose of Chemo to cure a cold, but then I considered how much I had gained. Ignoring the obvious — immortality, enhanced senses, augmented strength and speed — I was out from my father's oppressive thumb and everything I earned, money or otherwise, was rightfully and stayed mine. Wilhelmina had introduced me to sex which I had thought was just another thing denied to me and was even greater than my wildest fantasies. I rediscovered my singing voice which I had not used since my feeble attempts to woo Christine by participating in the school musical.

"Do not tell me you are still mooning after your human life." Wilhelmina looked up at me, demanding an answer. "Especially after so much time."

"I'm not sure mooning is the right word." I said gently. "More like considering."

"Considering?" Wilhelmina looked unsure. "When you were human, what did you desire? What did you hope to have that you could not have now with much less effort?"

"I guess what anyone wanted at my age." It was the honest truth, in part. "Money to buy anything I wanted, a big house with a pool and a sports car, a beautiful girlfriend in my bed." I smiled fondly at her. "I guess I got the last one."

"I am not your girlfriend." she said firmly.

"Well, you're not my wife." Although I could not say it hadn't crossed my mind here or there.

"No." Wilhelmina reminded me. "The bond between a vampire and his maker is greater than any marriage and deeper than any human bond."

"So what's the word for it then?"

"I am your maker." She answered slowly so I could understand the depth of her meaning. "Nothing more and nothing less."

It seemed my maker had rested enough and lowered herself.

Our fangs slid out the moment I entered her.

On a whim, I sat up and embraced her as I twisted so now she was one laying on the bed.

"What are you doing?" she gasped excitedly.

I bent low, hovering a hairsbreadth from those beautiful lips, and whispered. "No need to do all the work."

Then the door of my room open and there stood Doyle.

"Oy, Willy!" said Doyle. "We headin' out fer a bite. Ya comin' or ya wanna give yer shining knight a few more bobs?"

"Ever hear of knocking?" I growled.

"Aw, don't tell me lil' Peaches is still shy." Doyle smirked. "Or is the mystery better than reveal?"

I hissed and rushed to the corner of the room, my lust replaced with rage. In the blink of an eye, I took the cane that stuck out from the backpack Ryuu had given me and went to drive it into Doyle's chest. Of course Doyle caught it with a single hand and chuckled at my attempt to push and pull the cane from his grip. It was then I remembered I was barely a year old and still having some slight impulse control issues, at least with my rage.

He looked down. "Hmm, not bad." He chuckled when I pulled the cane again. "Word of advice, don't go fer the obvious. A young buck like yerself, he won't last unless he dose something a little more creative."

I paused. "Thanks for the advice."

I twisted the handle and pulled the blade from its sheath. I swung the sword as fast as I could, Doyle too surprised to comprehend the danger he was in.

"Stop!" Wilhelmina ordered.

The blade halted to a dead stop, the silver edge a mere millimeter from Doyle's neck.

Then I felt something grip my throat as I was lifted off my feet and slam me hard onto the floor. Doyle loomed over me, clearly no longer amused, and his fangs shot out as he growled.

"Ya fucking little chav!" He snarled. "I'll shove that gizmo of up your fucking arse!" His grip tighten on my neck. "Drop it!"

I saw that I was still holding the sword, so I dropped it like I was told. Fortunately for Doyle, the blade landed its flat side on his exposed neck so there zero chance of him losing his head. Unfortunately, Doyle learned the hard way that the blade's edge was made from silver. He hissed and buckled slightly as if the sword weighed more than it should and I heard his flesh hiss when it connected with the silver edge. I pushed him off and I scrambled to my feet as Doyle rolled to his. He was livid now and he pounced like one of the shifters from two nights ago at Yojimbo's.

To my surprise, something materialized in front of me and caught Doyle by the throat. I realized it was Wilhelmina, still naked as I was. She slammed Doyle to the floor just he had done with me. Her fangs were still out, but all lust had fade from her face.

"Retract your fangs." She ordered. "Now!"

"But he — "

"I don't care." Wilhelmina's expression was absolutely terrifying and I was glad it was not directed at me. "Do not make me repeat myself."

Doyle obeyed and retracted his fangs.

"Now I am going to release you." She said coldly."Inform Regina and Adrian that we will be joining them shortly."

"No need, dear." said an amused female voice.

We all looked to see Adrian and Regina standing in the doorway. Both of them looked mildly entertained at our little play. I saw that they were dressed in sports memorabilia. Regina wore faded black jeans and sneakers with a white strapless shirt over an opened blue Giants jersey to display some cleavage. Adrian wore a thin dark red Manchester United soccer sweater over a white shirt, the shirt collar overlapping the collar of the sweater, with tan slacks and black loafers. I also noted that Regina had put on some light make up while Adrian had some bookish looking spectacles. I would have made a joke that Adrian looked like a college professor, but seeing as I was naked as the day I was born, I refrained.

Adrian's gaze flicked to me but he asked Wilhelmina, "What has Doyle done now?"

"Tha little bro — ack!" Doyle began to say before Wilhelmina tightened her grip.

"Doyle insulted Dominick." Wilhelmina said simply. "Which nearly resulted in his death if I had not stopped him."

"Dominick or Doyle?" Regina asked.

"Doyle." I spat.

"How?" Adrian seemed curious. "He is much older."

"He somehow acquired a cane that held a concealed blade." Wilhelmina motioned to sword and sheath. "Doyle was taken by surprise."

"Ryuu was a sword smith was he not?" Adrian picked up the sword and examined the edge. "Fine craftsmanship and the entire edge around the blade is made from silver." He sheathed it and handed back to me. "I never pictured you for a swordsman."

"I'm not." I said, not sheathing the blade in case I should need it.

"He speaks the truth." Wilhelmina had yet to release Doyle. "His form is atrocious."

"It's a sword." I said defiantly. "What's so hard about swish, swish, stab?"

"Swish swish stab?" Adrian raised an eyebrow. "Consider yourself fortunate you did sail under my command during my human years. Otherwise I would have had you tied to the mast and flogged."

"So Doyle says his usual annoying crap, Dom nearly takes his head off, and Wilhelmina stops Doyle from actually doing it to Dom." Regina recounted. "Is that it?"

"Pretty much." I said.

"Can we go then?" Regina asked impatiently. "I'm starving."

"Where are we going?" Wilhelmina asked.

"MacLaren's in Manhattan." Adrian answered. "It just opened, but it should quite the hunting ground being a stone's throw from Central Park."

"Give us a few minutes and we will join you." Wilhelmina finally released Doyle. "Get out."

They all left my room, though Doyle lingered for a moment as he fixed me with a cold murderous stare before he actually left.

"Here." I turned as Wilhelmina tossed me some clothes from my dresser. "Get dressed."

I stared at clothes in my arms. "I'm coming with you?"

"It has been a year so there is little chance anyone will recognize you. You did not attack a human while you were with Regina which means you have your blood lust under control." Wilhelmina slipped into a pair of my jeans that seemed to fit her quite well once she looped a belt through them. "And quite frankly, I grow tired of making long detours to find vermin. The sooner you learn to feed yourself, the better."

I quickly dressed, excited to finally leave the confines of the apartment, and noticed Wilhelmina chose the few clothes I had with sports logos. I wore a black long sleeve shirt under an open gray New York Mets jersey with faded blue jeans and my favorite red sneakers. Wilhelmina dressed almost exactly as I did, though she wore a pair of my black jeans and her jersey was New York Yankees rather than Mets. She also tied her long flowing red hair into a ponytail which she slipped through the opening of my only baseball cap, Yankees to match the jersey. I donned that hat I had worn with my suit and found it added a unique look as it matched the color of the long sleeve.

"About Doyle . . ." I began.

"Do not apologize. Not to me and especially not to him" Wilhelmina tied the laces of an old pair of running shoes. "Doyle can be quite insufferable and must be reminded every now and then."

As it turned out, the rest of our nest had grown tired of waiting in the apartment and chose wait outside. Adrian and Regina were surprised for a moment at my presence, but they understood Wilhelmina's intentions and they resumed their normal expressionless position. Doyle eyed my hands, no doubt checking to see if I had brought my sword, and was still clearly trying to decided whether it would be worth killing me. Or perhaps he had already decided and was occupied with finding the best way. Either way, I made a mental note to give the Irishman a wide berth and stay at my maker's side.

"Where is the bar?" I asked. "MacLaren's right?"

Adrian nodded. "As I said, Manhattan. On the corner of eighty-third and Columbus."

"We're in Manhattan." I corrected.

"No, we are in Soho." Adrian said.

"You've been in the city since the the Brooklyn bridge was built." I reminded him.

"Yes."

"Then you should know that Soho isn't one of the five boroughs." I told him. "Is just a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan. Like Williamsburg in Brooklyn."

"Not that I'm enjoying the history lesson." Regina rolled her eyes. "But get to the point."

"Saying MacLaren's is in Manhattan is like saying LA is a city in California." I said. "It covers a lot of ground."

"So what should have I said?" he asked and I think he was mocking me. "To avoid the same blunder in the future."

"The Upper West Side."

"Then let us hurry to MacLaren's in the Upper West Side." He raised an eye brow. "Better?"

"I'll meet you guys there." I began walking to the alley just a few feet to our right.

"Where are you going?" Wilhelmina asked. "The Subway is in the other direction."

"I have my own ride." I said as heard her footsteps behind me. "Plus, I think I just pissed off Adrian along with Doyle. The last thing I need is two older vampires mad at me."

"As I told you, a car is more of a luxury than a necessity in the city." Wilhelmina reminded me. "We will take too long."

"That's why we're not taking a car." I tore off a tarp to reveal the motorcycle. "i used this to get here last night. Thought it might come in handy, so I kept it."

Wilhelmina eyed the bike and I remembered she had told she found it unsettling to ride in cars. "Ryuu's gift along with the sword?"

I nodded. "And this." I held out the remaining ninety-nine thousand dollars. "My cut with a bonus."

"Anything else?"

I thought to Susan for a moment, technically she was part of the rewards Ryuu had given me. "No."

I wheeled the motorcycle onto the curb, Wilhelmina wordlessly following me, and mounted the bike. I kick started the engine and it roared to life, scaring a stray cat out from under a dumpster. I hid at smile as I realized that Wilhelmina found a motorcycle even more unsettling than a car which I found strange. After all, bicycles had been invented a good twenty years before automobiles and motorcycles were simply bicycles with a motor.

"If you're worried about an accident," I offered the helmet. "You can use this."

Her eyes narrowed at me, no doubt certain that I had insinuated she was frightened, but she threw a leg over the seat and wrapped her arms around my waist. I adjusted the mirrors and stowed the helmet in one of the leather bag on the side of bike. Then I kicked up the stand and sped off toward the Upper West side, weaving between cars at a reckless pace.

I went down Broadway and made my first right onto White Street and then took the second right onto Sixth avenue. I followed the street until I merged onto Canal Street which I took until I reached the Holland Tunnel and made a right onto Hudson Street. As luck would have it, traffic was light and moving well until I reached a traffic jam due to the construction on Twelfth Street. The cars went back where Hudson became Bleeker Street and were moving at an inch an hour. So rather than make the slight left and continue on Hudson, I made a slight right and merged onto Eight Avenue which was moving at light speed compared to Hudson all the way past Jackson Square and Penn Station.

Traffic did become a bit heavier once we neared Broadway once again at the southwestern corner of Central Park. Rather than take the larger and more occupied Broadway, I took the third exit at the traffic circle onto Central Park West that was practically empty except for the parked cars and a few sleeping homeless bums, sitting against a wall begging for spare change. From there, It was a short trip past the Museum of Natural History on Seventy-seventh Street and a left on West Eighty-third which I took until it crossed with Columbus Avenue.

I parked the motorcycle across the street from MacLaren's and watched as people enter the bar.

I tapped my maker whose grip would have suffocated a normal human. "We're here."

"Already?" She did not relax her grip.

"Yes." I tried to pull her hands from my front. "Now could you stop trying to crush my ribs."

Wilhelmina dismounted the bike and looked around. "The others are not here."

"I saw a subway exit a little farther down on Central Park West." I motioned down the street. "They should be here in a minute or two."

"Good." She eyed a couple crossing the street behind us hungrily. "Now when we enter I want you find yourself a corner and observe."

"Observe?" I repeated.

"Watch how we act and how the humans respond to us." Wilhelmina smoothed out the front of her shirt. "You made it very clear the night you were turned that you have no idea what you are doing."

"I didn't hear any complaining a little while ago." I smiled wryly. "Unless clawing my back open is your way of punishing me."

"That is precisely what am talking about." Wilhelmina smirked. "You can make those types of comments with me and other vampires, but you'll find you will not get very far if you plan on seducing women like that."

"Seducing?" I said before thinking. "I thought you just glamored a human into following you into the bathroom."

"And if a human were to notice?" she asked. "You've seen how obvious it is when a human is glamored."

"Also keep mind," said Adrian as he, Regina, and Doyle walked up to us. "Feeding requires some privacy which is nearly nonexistent in public toleits."

"Nice bike there, Peaches." Doyle seemed to have momentarily forget his anger with me. "Where'd ya get it?"

"Andrew's nestmate took it after he was killed and gave it to me. "I told them. "I guess she didn't want to be reminded or something."

"Well, it is certainty is a better mode of transportation." Adrian admitted. "Considering it's lack of bulk."

"Shall we enter?" Wilhelmina asked.

"Après avoir." Adrian stood aside.

To my disappointment, MacLaren's was a sports bar.

At least that explained why we were all wearing sports memorabilia.

The staff were mostly good looking women wearing mock referee shirts, the top slightly unbutton to display their cleavage, and cut off jean shorts that looked one size too small. They carried pitchers and pints of beer to rowdy fans, mostly male, as they cheered for their favorite teams on the bar's large collection of televisions. Pictures hung along the wall of famous athletes and coaches surround by the scantly clad female staff along with autographed sports equipment, balls and bats mostly. The bar's patrons were what I expected. College students drinking copious amount of the cheapest beer they could afford as they groped their dates, whether they enjoyed it or not made little difference.

"I am in me wick." Doyle exclaimed and nudged Adrian. "Getta load of the buckled clique in the corner. Judging from their Shamrock Rover and Manchester gear, I'd say we found our pick."

Adrian didn't seemed excited as Doyle. "It has been a while since I last spoke with an honest to god Englishman." Adrian shrugged. "Perhaps, I can have intelligent conversation for once."

Adrian and Doyle walked to the two girls sitting at table. They all smiled brightly and invited the two to join them as fellow tourists visiting the Big Apple and enjoying a pint or two of lager and stout. As why they did not simply call it beer, I'd have to ask when we all regrouped at the apartment.

A group of men, members of a fraternity judging from the Greek insignias on their clothes, walked past us. One paused to look back at Regina and smiled before following his friends.

"Unlike Adrian, I'm in the mood for something dumb, thick, and juicy." Regina winked slyly. "Toodles."

I expected Regina to follow the fraternity, but she walked to the edge of the bar. She sat on a stool and was almost immediately approached by fellow Giants fans. She was all smiles and giggles as they offered to buy her drinks and make jokes.

"So corner?" I asked, finding a deserted table to the far left.

"Corner." Wilhelmina agreed. "Though I doubt it will be necessary, we are siblings visiting from France if we require a back story."

"Alright," I said. "Lucky for you, a year is plenty of time to learn a language."

"What?"

"I had Regina buy me some instructional tapes for me so I could learn French." I said flatly. "With you being from there, I figured I'd learn soon or later. It just seemed like a good way to pass the time."

"La façon dont c'est votre accent?" she asked, testing me.

"J'ai bien peur que vous à me dire." I responded.

"It needs work."

"I figured as much."

I sat a table in the corner and ordered a glass of whiskey when a cute waitress came to take my order. She brought my ceremonial drink with a smile which I paid for and gave her a generous tip. I pretended to sip as I switched my gaze from Adrian and Doyle at their table to Regina at the bar and finally to Wilhelmina on the small dance floor.

Adrian was having a meaningful conversation, about football from the snippets I caught, with a young brunette. He reminded me of Sean Connery in the James Bond films. Cool and collected with a bit of witty charm and subtle dash of mystery for flavor. The girl seemed be hanging on his every word and giggled at his witty jokes, but she couldn't seem to look him in the eye. She kept looking down at her wineglass before looking back up him and with a shy smile. It was clear that she found the former navy captain attractive, but she was far from ready to jump his bones and might need a little coaxing.

Doyle, on the other hand, was a subtle as flying brick. He was regaling the blonde with tales of his youth as he ordered for more rounds. I guessed Doyle was relying the blonde's lowered inhibition in addition to his charm. He was far more aggressive than Adrian was with his date, but the girl was responding. Not only did she find him funny, judging by the howls of laughter from both of them, she knew what he was after and was making him work for it. She would insult him and he would come with an insult of his own.

As they went back and forth, I couldn't help but notice they were not really insulting each other. I realized that when Doyle placed a hand on her knee and she did nothing to make him remove it. In fact, she placed a her hand on his and guided him until he was rubbing her thigh. I guessed the insults were more of a teasing battle of wits, but I left that up for debate.

I turned my attention to Regina's progress at the bar. She was surrounded by young good looking men, but seemed to focus on a young man that appeared to be just old enough to enter the bar. He would occasionally lean in and whisper in her ear which she would respond with a playful slap on the shoulder and a hearty laugh. I also minded how Regina rubbed his calf ever so slowly with the side of her foot as she winked cleverly when he looked down and then back up at her.

As I observed Regina, I felt a throb and I whipped my head to watch my maker. She was standing in front a vintage jukebox, at least it looked vintage as the displays was digital, and pressed a button. Instantly a song began to play. It was a country rock song. It sounded slow but it was just fast enough to dance slowly to, which was Wilhelmina wanted. I watched with interest as every dancer began to find a partner, I was taken by surprise at how they danced. It was more sensual than I expected. Men wrapped their arms around the women's waist from behind, a hand on their stomach while the other held the woman's hand, and the women were not bothered in the slightest being touched by complete strangers.

Wilhelmina was dazzling in the way she danced. She danced with everyone and with no one. If anyone came close enough, man or woman, she would bend low with her back to them and slowly, wriggling slightly in tune with the music, brushing her body against theirs. She would also gently pull a human towards her and lightly touch her cheek to their neck. A human would simply guess this beautiful women was simply losing herself to the music, but a vampire would know she was searching for a scent that appealed to her as she lured them to her, all without a single word.

And it seemed I enjoyed Wilhelmina's choice of music.

If I could stick my pen in my heart

I would spill it all over the stage

Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya

Would you think the boy is strange? Ain't he strange?

If I could win ya, if I could sing ya

A love song so divine

Would it be enough for your cheating heart

If I broke down and cried? If I cried?

I said I know it's only rock 'n roll but I like it

I know it's only rock'n roll but I like it, like it, yes, I do

Oh, well, I like it, I like it, I like it

I said can't you see that this old boy has been lonely?

I spent the next couple of hours observing and finding unorthodox methods of draining my glass of Johnny Walker whiskey. Another waitresses whisked away the glass, the contents carefully and strategically spread among near empty glasses of beer and the faux plants, and brought me a fresh glass.

Like before, I paid for my drink with a generous tip for which I received a wink and a warm smile. I was watching the young man that Regina had been speaking with, leading her by the hand out of the bar and mostly leading himself to his own death, when I felt another throb. But this was different. It was not a subtle signal for my attention, but direct summon to be at my maker's side.

Normally I would have reached her in seconds, but using my vampire speed would have drawn far too much attention and questions. So I gently waded through the waitstaff and patrons, nearly showered with beer for my trouble several times, until I reached Wilhelmina. I quickly scanned the crowd for signs of danger, but all i saw were dancing humans. And that was all I could smell, besides the disgusting aroma of stale beer.

"Dominick!" Wilhelmina exclaimed in very convincing french accented english. She kissed both my cheeks and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Dance with me!"

She turned her back to me and placed my hand on her stomach. I was never much of a dancer, but it dose not take much skill to sway from side to side to the beat of the music while your partner rubs against like a one very large, and very affectionate, cat. She placed a hand over mine and ran her free hand through the hair on the right side of my hair. For all intents and purposes, we looked liked two young teenagers dancing together, but Wilhelmina did not do anything without a reason.

I leaned in and whispered, continuing to sway to the music. "What's the problem?"

She whispered in return, "There is a human who will not leave me be."

"He probably thinks you're just playing hard to get." I told her. "What do you want me to do about it?"

"He left to use the restroom." She motioned to set of door in the corner.

"And you think when he sees you dancing with me, he'll take the hint." I concluded. "Are you forgetting that I'm barely five foot six and just over a hundred and fifteen pounds of skin and bones? He's going to take one look at me and — "

I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard an annoyed voice. "Mind if I cut in?"

"— just get mad." I sighed.

I turned around and we both froze.

The human and I knew each other. For such a heavy populated state and even more crowded city, I just seemed to keeping running into people I knew when I was alive. First there was Tasha, then Kimberly to a lesser extent, and now him.

He was just i remembered him. Those broad thick shoulders that he adored to show off during a halftime, squat thrusting with an unattainable cheerleader on each side. Biceps thicker than my thighs, a combination of genes and years of football drills. His bright blonde hair, cropped short, matched his well kept mustache and goatee. Much to my chagrin, he still had those Adonis looks that, combined with his title as the starting quarterback, practically made him a king during our shared four years of high school.

It would have been more than the standard four if he had not persuaded me to tutor him, using the words 'persuade' and 'tutor' is their loosest sense. In reality, he had threatened and tormented me into during his schoolwork for him. It is a cliche, I know, but cliches were all he knew. He unoriginally slapped books out of my hands, unimaginatively locked me in the girl's changing room, and plagiaristically beat me within an inch of my life if I did not help him maintain the bare minimum grade average to retain his eligibility to play for the high school football team.

I did try to inform my teachers and schools other authority figures, but it only resulted with a slap on the wrist for him and something much harder than a slap for me later on. I told myself it would all come back to bite him when exams were administered. I might be able to help him slide by on homework and schoolwork, but he would be lost at sea when a teacher or the state decided it was time for an exam. Unfortunately, the teachers wished for the school to end its unglamorous losing streak and were a little generous when they graded his own work and the work of his fellow team mates. They even went as far to mark my work down slightly so he and the others would slide just above the curve. I had no way of proving it, but once glance my papers was all the proof I needed to know.

The last I saw of him, he had just been accepted into Penn State on a full scholarship while I had went from part time to full time employment. He did thank me all my help. Of course that meant throwing me into a dumpster for old time's sake. Since I thought I would never see him again, praying to god he made it all the way to professional league before a wrong tackle paralyzed him from the neck down, and just let it go.

"Dominick?" He was confused by my new undead complexion. "Dominick Valentino?"

My eyes flicked to Wilhelmina for a moment. "I think you have me confused with someone else."

"No, no. It is you" He smiled fondly and embraced me as if our relationship had actually been pleasant. "How ya been?"

"Dominick?" Wilhelmina asked still using her stereotypical french accent. "You know this person?"

"This Brian Vesly." I said. "Brian, this is — "

"Sophia." Brian finished for me.

So Wilhelmina had used a fake name. I suppose Wilhelmina guessed it would be too difficult for this Neanderthal to pronounce, but he would remember it.

"My sister." I said.

He grabbed both our wrists and dragged us to a nearby table. He signaled a waitress to gather up the empty beer mugs and told her bring three fresh ones. Once the waitress assured us she'd return as quickly as she could, Brian turned his attention back to us.

"So Dominick, I didn't know you had a sister." His words were directed at me, but his gaze never left my maker. "And with a sexy french accent to boot."

"She's my half sister." I lied, doing my best not to growl.

"Really?" he asked. "How did you two meet?"

"I was visiting America on holiday." Wilhelmina continued with her accent and affectionately kissed me cheek. "And he was so sweet. My sister took me to a party a friend of hers was having at a club," She patted my knee. "My little Dommy was the bartender."

"Little Dommy?" Brian snickered.

Keep it together. I told myself. You're surrounded by witnesses.

"She actually older than me." I said, feeling my fangs beginning to tingle. "My dad was visiting France with his brother before he met my mother and had a one night stand with a woman, Sophie's mother."

"Man, that's gotta suck." Brian guffawed. "You finally meet a girl, a hot french girl, and she turns out to be your sister."

Maybe you can make it look an accident? Just tell the cops he slipped and someone stepped on his neck. I did my best to keep a straight face. "I guess I have bad luck picking women."

"You two didn't . . . you know." Brian smirked.

"Oh, he was disappointed as I was." Wilhelmina kissed my cheek. "But that cute face is so . . . tempting sometimes." Wilhelmina actually faked a giggle. "And such a wonderful singing voice, I'm surprised women are not throwing themselves at him."

"I'm not." Brian chuckled. "He wasn't much of player in high school. Nasty rumors spread around school about the . . . well, he had small feet if you get my drift."

Keep it up and you'll have your feet wrapped around your shoulders like scarf! I am sure if I had been holding a glass, I would have crushed it. So I coldly said, "Things tend to shrink when it's below freezing."

"What do you mean?" Wilhelmina asked.

"Oh, it was hilarious." Brian smiled fondly and chuckled. "Junior year we have the biggest snow storm in a decade. So me and a couple of guys grab little Dommy here while he's in the shower and tossed him buck naked into the snow and locked the doors." He wiped a tear as laughed. "Next thing we knew, we heard a bunch of screams from the girl's locker room." Brian pointed to me. "Tell her, Dom, you were there."

"I tried to climb in through an unlocked window and the girl's volleyball team was changing for practice." I felt my voice grow colder and colder as I forced my fangs to stay retracted. "I was almost expelled for indecent exposure and labeled sex offender." At least the simpleton had enough sense to flinch with the death stare I was giving him. "Every single scholarship dropped me and all the colleges sent letters that they had 'made a mistake' about my acceptance."

"But turns out an outside security camera caught us tossing him out." Brian shrugged like it hardly mattered that he had ruined my life since I did not have rich parents to pay for college. "Boy, did we pay for that."

"You were suspended from football." I reminded him through gritted teeth. "For a week after the season was finished a month later."

"We would have lost the championship game." He said simply. "Not my fault the board took so long deciding whether they wanted to take it to a court."

I stood up, not trusting myself to not rip his throat. "Allons, Sophie, nous partons. Avant de boire le sécher et à tuer tout le monde ici."

Wilhelmina smiled her signature ghost smile. "About time."

Brian did nothing as I walked away, but he grabbed Wilhelmina's wrist. "Why don't we let little Dommy cool off and get to know each better. I mean, it's not like you two are together." He wriggled his eyebrow to indicate his intention.

I became an erect statue, my fangs extending fully and l was grateful that I had kept my mouth firmly closed. How dare this human lay his feeble hands on my Wilhelmina? Had it not been enough that he gotten away Scot free for all the torment he caused me? That he went on to prestigious college for simply throwing a ball to another person without paying a single cent? That he had obliterated any chances I had of being accepted into even a community college because no school wanted bad publicity despite my near perfect grade point average and high SAT's score?

If this cretin did not guard his tongue better or learn some humility in the next few seconds, he would be a dead man. Not a dead man walking like myself, but a plain dead man. The kind that stayed dead and unmoving as maggots devoured his withered husk of a body after I was done.

I succeeded in retracting my fangs before I spoke, "Brian . . ."

"Yes, Dommy?" he asked mockingly.

"Let go of her hand." I warned.

"Looks like someone grew pair." he remarked.

"This isn't high school anymore." I repeated. "Let go of her hand."

"You're right, this ain't school anymore." I heard the chair scrap against the floor as he stood. "But that don't mean still can kick your ass."

I actually welcomed his attempt. "I'm afraid it dose."

"Wanna put that to the test?"

"Go ahead." i said. "You can have the first move for old time's sake." I turned around to face. "Make it count."

In my human life, I was aware it was the adrenaline in my blood that made things appear to move in slow motion. But now it was slow motion. Brian took eons to pull him arm back and form a fist. He took even longer to throw the arm forward into a punch I was all too familiar with. Just as his massive fist was to collide with my face, I moved in and seized him up by his throat before slamming his massive body onto hardwood floor.

I'm sure people stopped to gawk and wonder what would happen next, but all I saw was Brian's shocked face as I slowly tightened my grip and couldn't comprehend how my hand refused to budge despite his futile attempts to remove it.

"Dominick!" squeaked Wilhelmina and I felt her pretend to pull me off. "Laisser aller!" Then she leaned and ordered in a whisper. "Now!"

Much my chagrin, my hand left Brian's throat and he began to cough and gag.

I stood up, continuing to stare daggers, and felt Wilhelmina wrap her arms around me and whispered another order. "As your maker, I command you to return to the apartment and await our return."

I ignored the gawking patrons and waitstaff, even the bartender that had drawn a bat from under the bar, and left. I crossed the street , mounted my motorcycle, and raced back to Soho like a bat out of the the mouth of hell. Despite the countless red lights and traffic laws I broke on my way back, no police pulled me over which was just as well. I probably would have drained couple in the mental state I was in. I reached the apartment in just over a half hour and took the elevator to the twelfth floor to room 221B.

I noticed a Chinese takeout menu hung on the doorknob. It was called the Golden Dragon Wok and was boasting authentic Chinese cuisine. I ripped the menu and tossed onto the coffee table along with the keys to the apartment. I sank into an armchair and stared into space. The ride back had calmed me down somewhat, but I was still fuming.

And to top things off, I was hungry.

The takeout menu caught my attention. "Hmm . . ."

I was toying around on the piano when I heard a knock on the door forty five minutes later, "Golden Dragon! Steamed vegetable and chicken."

I dashed and snatched up my cane. I leaned on the cane in what I hoped was convincing position and opened the door. "Yes, that's for me."

The Asian man, somewhere in his late twenties, held up the food. "Fourteen fifty."

I stood aside, "Do you think you could put it on the table, please?"

He obliged without a word and I closed the door behind him quietly. I did my best to hobble as I pretended to reach for my wallet. "Thank you. I'd do it myself, but my leg has other ideas. That's the last time I go rock climbing for a while."

"No problem." He politely held out his hand for the money.

I looked down at the hand, "Sorry about this."

"Huh?"

Like Brian, I seized him by the throat before he even registered I'd moved, "I said I'm sorry, but I'm hungry."

With that I sank my fangs into his neck, my free hand covering his mouth to muffle his screams.

Half an hour later, I was in my room reading through a the latest issue of Superman Vol 2 which had started back '87. I would be thrown for a loop when The Death Of Superman came around in a few months time and then again when Bane broke Batman's back in Knightfall a couple of years later. Part of me wondered how collecting these books was looked down upon, but collecting baseball cards and such was not. At least my collection could be revisited and had thought put into its creation. All baseball cards had were pictures of players and stats written on the back. I failed to see how one could be excited about numbers after a second glance or hours spent looking at other numbers on other cards.

Like I had with Cindy, I did not drain the delivery man completely. I healed the punctures on his neck and glamored him, suggesting nothing out of the ordinary had happened. I also suggested he eat the food he had brought, which I also paid for, and tell his boss he needed the rest of the night off so he recover from the slight blood loss. I'm surprised I did not think of this sooner.

There were thousands upon thousands that delivered food to your doorstep, and since robots had yet to be implemented, that meant humans had to deliver the order. It was so simple. Order something random off a menu and roughly a half hour later your meal would arrive. Of course the tradition was to eat the food the human carried not the human's blood, but the foundation was still the same. The human would also be safe from harm, relatively speaking, as killing him would lead a police investigation to your home. All it required was a vampire that had been taught to glamor.

In a few short years, I would have quite the lucrative business, but more on that later.

I continued reading and I heard the sounds of Regina and Doyle laughing like merry idiots. I assumed it had been a good hunt, despite my little outburst in the bar, they were swapping stories. I may not have heard Wilhelmina or Adrian, but I could smell them as well as a human. I went back to my comicbook, not wanting to explain myself, and ignored Wilhelmina's light footsteps toward my room.

I heard the door creak open and a thud on the floor to my left.

I put down my comic book and saw Brian on the floor. Then I looked up to see Wilhelmina close the door with a smirk and a wink. Bless her, she brought me a doggy bag and not like Doyle had.

"Dominick?" Brian looked up at me. "We need to get out of here."

"Really?" I asked calmly and thinking, Come on! No one is this dumb.

He stood up and tried the door only to find it locked. He then turned around and i watched as he found the closet lead nowhere and there were no windows. Even there had been, this room sat on the twelfth floor. To be fair there had been a window, but I had filled it in so I could sleep in the bed.

"You can stare at the walls all you want." I said, returning to my comic book. The shoe would drop eventually. "But that door is the only way out."

"How can you be so calm?!" He demanded. "We're gonna die if we don't get out of here!"

"You don't say." I turned a page and found I reached the end. "Already? I swear they're making these shorter." I then held out the book in front of me. "Or did I just this too fast?"

"Fuck you then!" He began pounding the door in desperation. "Hey, let me out!"

To my surprise, I heard the door open and Wilhelmina say. "Keep it down. Some people are trying to sleep at this hour."

Then I heard Brian fly through the air and land with another thud. I stifled a laugh and how karma was treating Brian. I stood, walked to my maker, and we both watched Brian eye Wilhelmina with terror.

"What are you?" he asked.

Wilhelmina's ignored him and spoke to me, "Not very bright."

"Tell me about it." I said.

"Well, he has not figured out what we are." She offered.

I raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't being literal. I meant that I agreed."

"You mean I was preaching to the choir?"

"Kinda."

"Well, perhaps when you are finished." She pulled me close and gave me a quick, but passionate, deep kiss and winked slyly when we parted. "We can call out to God together."

"Or go hoarse trying." I assured.

I closed the door behind Wilhelmina and she locked it just Brian regained his voice. "That's not your sister!"

"So you finally put it together?" I asked. It was about time, although I expected a lot more begging for mercy. Oh well, you can't have everything. "Just out curiosity, what are you talking about?"

"Sophie's a vampire!" he whispered sharply and he watched door as if he expected Wilhelmina to come burst in, fangs dripping with blood.. "She's hypnotizing you into thinking she's your sister."

"Glamoring." I squatted by him. He'd get it . . . eventually

"What?"

"We call it glamoring, not hypnosis." There, I threw him a clue.

"Whatever." He leaned closer and continued whispering. "Didn't you hear me? She's a vampire. God only knows how long she's been around doing this to people."

"A few centuries short of a thousand." I told him.

"What?"

"She became a vampire in 1305." I said. "That makes her a decade and half short of seven hundred years old. Give or take a year or two."

"How do you all that?"

"She told me."

Brian's breathing became heavy and quick as he tried to calm down. I continued watching him curiously without a word. Then he looked at me with cautiously. No doubt he ha noticed a few things. How I had gotten so strong and pale to name a few things.

"You said we." He gulped.

"What?" I asked sweetly.

"When I said she was hypnotizing you." I saw his chest was heaving now. "You said that 'we' call it glamoring."

"So?" I cocked my head to show I didn't understand what he meant.

"You said 'we'" he repeated, his eyes darting between me and the door. "Not they call it glamoring, we call it glamoring."

I smiled, fully extending my fangs, "I suppose I did."

Like I expected him to, Brian screamed at the top of his lungs and made a mad and desperate dash for the door. I caught him, my hand gripping the back his neck like a cat, just his hand jiggled the doorknob. I then threw him onto the bed and he stared back at me as he crawled back until he reached the wall opposite me. I hadn't felt this great in years. So great in fact, after I finished with Brian, I was going to fuck Wilhelmina until neither of us could move.

"L-l-l-look D-D-Dominick" He stuttered and each was a symphony of terror to my ears. "I-I-If y-you're s-s-still mad about all that stuff I did b-b-back in school." He gulped. "I was a dick, I get it. I'm sorry." Tears began to form in his eyes. "P-p-p-please . . . d-d-don't . . ."

"Relax." I said calmly as i smiled reassuringly which I think was thrown off a bit by my fangs. "I'm not going to kill you."

"Y-y-you're not?"

"No." As soon as he blinked, I was a inch from his face laying on top of him. I might not have wanted to fuck him, but his begging combined with his racing pulse and delicate scent of fear had made the front of my pants uncomfortably tight. "But that's doesn't I'm not hungry."

Who would have thought a scream of sheer terror from a moronic football player would rival even the most radiant masterpiece?

Then again, beauty was in the eye of the beholder

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