Dead & Living

By Artie Gallezi

Action / Romance

Hunting and Baiting

We all sat in the living room following my night with Brian. Adrian was reading one of my comic books with his feet crossed on an armchair. Regina was occupying herself painting her nails peach pink to match the toenails she had only finished a few minutes before. Doyle was listening to music on a portable CD player. Like Adrian did every night, I read the newspaper. Normally I skipped straight to the comic strips, but it was the sports section that held my attention this time. I'm sure Garfield will understand not being the center of attention just this once.

As I read, I felt Wilhelmina hovering over my shoulder and I felt at ease when I caught her scent.

"Oy, Peaches!" Doyle barked, apparently grown bored of Nirvana.

I turned the page of a newspaper. "Yeah, Doyle?"

"Tell me something," he asked. "Why didn't ya kill that cheeky bastard? Can't tell ya how gobsmacked I was when I saw 'im just stroll out like he was his way fer a pint."

I turned another page. "Why do you ask?"

"Just seems off ta me." Doyle said. " 'ell, I went back ta Dublin when I was turned and gave Father Hennessy a few pointers." He chuckled. " 'Couse he didn't get a chance ta put 'em to use, but they say teachin' it's own reward."

"You lost me." I set down the paper. "Are you telling me you were molested?"

"I don't see why you are surprised." Adrian commented from behind the latest copy of The Dark Knight. "The church has being much worse things. I could name quite a few before even reaching the Crusades."

"Murder, rape, espionage. That's the catholic church for ya." Doyle continued his story. "In fact, if the priests weren't fiddling with ya back in me day, then ya were one of the ugly kids. Point is, just about every vampire goes back to settle a score or two."

"Settle a score?" I repeated. "interesting way of putting it."

"So why didn't ya kill 'im?" Doyle asked again.

"Doyle, Doyle, Doyle." I shook my head in mock disappointment. "Have some creativity."

"Ya don't wanna see how creative I can be." Doyle warned. "Now are ya gonna tell me or not?"

I handed him the newspaper. "Here, go to the sports section. Second to last page."

While I had fed from Brian, I did not kill him.

Oh no, I had something much more entertaining in mind. Something a little more . . . fair for the lack of a better word.

Once I finished feeding, I glamored him. I suggested that he should stay out the night before his next game enjoying himself, drinking a generous amount of alcohol and a few light pharmaceuticals to liven up the night. Of course he should remember his responsibilities, spending the day by running and weight training without a single drop of water or food so he could learn to ignore things like dehydration and hunger during a game. Granted, I was not a doctor and didn't know that a sudden change to his routine would be quite the shock to his system.

SinceI did not know that, I could not be held responsible when he fainted just as the opposing team blitzed him, resulting in a broken arm and ankle, and would be forced to sit out for a large portion of the season. As anyone could tell you, Brian was not a quick learner and would continue to do this until he was finally cut from the team. Once he was cut off from the team, his scholarship cut him off. Luckily his parents had well paying careers and it allowed him to continue his education, much to his displeasure. I would eventually learn, almost a decade later, he became a high school gym teacher with a drinking problem.

I might have felt guilty, but I surprisingly didn't. I thought it strange at first, then I took note of a few things. My outburst when Doyle had interrupted Wilhelmina and I in bed as well as my outburst with Brian in Macleran's. How much satisfaction I had gotten from Brian's terrified expression when he realized I was a vampire and how excited I became as he screamed and cried for mercy as I fed from him. Then there was what Wilhelmina had said when I suggested we leave before I drained Brian dry, about time. She was not referring to finally getting away from the pathetic human, but to me and what had taken much longer to fade.

Wilhelmina was now standing next to me and gently brought my head closer to her. My head resting gently on her hip as she scratched behind my ear like I would a cat. "Je me demande quand ce allait arriver."

"Moi aussi." I said.

"Are you finished, Regina?" Wilhelmina asked.

Regina examined her nails, "Just about."

"Do you want me to stay?" I asked looking up at my maker. "I mean, after what happened . . ."

"You are still young." Wilhelmina said gently. "It was to be expected, but do try to keep yourself in check."

"So where are we going?" Doyle asked. "I know this little 'ole in the wall on East Fifth Street in East Village."

"Is it another sport's bar?" I asked.

"I guess ya wouldn't be a fan," Doyle chuckled. "Don't get ya knickers in a twist, Peaches. Sophie's just a plain pub. I've been meaning pop in fer a while now. It's been ages since I've seen Clara."

"Clara?"

"Oh sweet little bird." Doyle said in a way that made me certain he was not speaking of the girl's character. "I had her grandmother, mother, and aunt in me younger nights when I was new to this fine grand country." Doyle winked. "Last time I saw her, she was a little baby just learning ta walk. Figured I'd give her some time to ripen, so to speak."

"And If by some chance she recognized you, she'll just chalk it up to a coincidence." I concluded. "Not only was she just a baby, it's impossible that you hadn't aged a day since she last saw you."

"Right ya are, Peaches." Doyle looked to Regina. "Well, love?"

Regina smiled fondly at how her nails caught the light, "I'm done."

From there for the next eight months I continued my, for the lack of a better word, education. Like my first night at Macleran's. I would sit unnoticed in a corner pretending to sip whiskey as I observed and took note how my maker seduced and interacted with humans. Wilhelmina did not limit herself, or me for that matter, to just simply bars, though all of them served alcohol.

Wilhelmina decided to take me to strip clubs as a good starting point, which I had found uncomfortable as a human — who wanted to spend hundreds of dollars to have a woman take of her clothing in front you and not have sex? — but Wilhelmina enjoyed them. She claimed it was like having an appetizer, all the food on display and the pent up lust in air, and all she had to was simply find a man and ask to go home with him after he had been rejected from a dancer. She warned me to avoid trying to seduce the dancers since they spent the entire night been propositioned for sex and knew every trick in the book.

One might go home with me, but the chances were slim even I had been an expert in wooing and courting. Wilhelmina suggested to stay with the patrons as they were the easiest or the occasional member of the waitstaff. Whether it was Ladies Night or not mattered very little to Wilhelmina , or Regina when she tagged along, and commented it would be easier for me if did not limit myself to only women, but I was adamant about that. I might feed from a man and I bored no ill will to those that did, but I would not mate with one. As humans would say, you can become bored with even with your most favorite dish. So while we did visit strip clubs quite frequently, we visited other hunting grounds.

I did not simply watch and mimic what I saw and heard. I devoured book after book, each with more helpful ways to charm and seduce women than the next. If there is one thing I learned from watching and reading, it is I had been going about it in the most worst way. Instead of regarding women as creatures that had to coaxed, persuaded, or tricked into sleeping with men, I should have treated them as people. I am not sure where the stereotype came from that only men desired casual sex, but it was gravely wrong.

As it turned out, they had the same wants and desires as men. Granted, I may make it sound black and white, but it was a massive grey area. From what i saw, there'd be just as many men looking for only sex as the men looking to make connection and form a lasting relationship. The same went for the women. In short, the only real differences between the sexes were purely cosmetic, meaning some men wanted what some women wanted and trick was finding them.

After two months of observing, Wilhelmina had me actually practice what I learned and approach women. My first attempts resulted in polite rejections at best, but all journeys begin somewhere. I did eventually improve and my confidence grew, but I was not after phone numbers like I had been when I was human. I required women mature enough to understand they wanted nothing more than a bedmate for the night and wouldn't be bothered if they never saw me again.

I required the highly sought after One night stand, the classic Wham! Bam! And thank you ma'am. It was either that or hunt like Wilhelmina had done with her maker in the middle ages, waiting in the dark to rape and drain a human who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and dispose of the body once I finished. As much as I might enjoy the chase during, I wasn't sure I'd like the repercussions afterword. Maybe my humanity was still clinging to me like a cold that refused to leave.

It was during the fourth month, September, that I finally succeeded. It was in Arthur's Tavern, a jazz bar, on the corner of Grove Street and Seventh Avenue South. I tended to have better luck in places that boasted old music, namely old jazz and swing. I was scanning the crowd, doing my best to not look like a predator, when a girl walked in roughly my age.

This woman reminded me of an innocent gazelle. She had large brown eyes that were like two cute little acorns. Her fine, straight, jet black hair tumbled freely just past her shoulders. She had a healthy build, neither scrawny or bursting with muscle like a body builder.

Her dress was beautiful yet practical. It ended just over her knees, displaying her smooth cream-colored legs and small delicate feet. I watched with interest as she gazed around the bar, not lingering on anyone in particular, and crossed her legs as she sat at the bar and waited for the bartender to notice her.

"Go on." Wilhelmina said.

I had forgotten she was sitting next to me, pretending to nurse a cosmopolitan. "What?"

She motioned to the girl I was watching, "She seems to be alone. Go and try your luck."

I took a seat at the bar one stool over from her. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as she ordered a drink from the bartender. He quickly made it and placed in front of her on a napkin. She paid and gave him a nice tip and a polite smile for his effort and he went back to chatting up the two girls at the end of the bar.

"And here I thought you'd catch it." I said.

She made a sort of choking sound and dabbed at her mouth with the napkin. "Excuse me?"

I pointed to her glass. "He got your drink wrong."

She looked at her glass before looking back at me. "A scotch on the rocks."

"There's more rock than scotch." I told her. "You don't want anymore than two or three at most, otherwise you water down the scotch."

"Really?"

"Really." I took the seat next her. "My name is Dominick."

"Heather." She eyed me curiously. "I was wondering how long it would be before I got hit on."

"Me too." I smiled. "But it's never the pretty ones. It's always the pathetic desperate one who won't even look you in the eye." I pointed to my face. "I mean, my eyes are up here."

"Oh it must be so hard for you." she teased.

"It's a curse," I faked a sigh. "So can I buy you a real drink?"

"If you insist."

I signaled the bartender. He seemed to be annoyed that I was tearing him away from the girls at the end of the bar, but he came over. "Yes?"

"Glenlivet Scotch." I put some money on the table. "A fresh glass with two cubes."

We continued conversing. She talked about our mutual liking of jazz and swing music. I joked and teased in which she responding with a bit of teasing of her own. She told she found me witty and charming while told her I found her shallow and pedantic. We went back and forth like two children, all the while smiling and eying each other suggestively. I continued to buy her drinks, luckily not commenting on my lack, and we continued in our childish battle of wits.

As the night wore on, I caught sight of Wilhelmina and she seemed to be nodding approvingly as pretended to listen as man went on about rock climbing and jumping out of airplanes. I was not sure how well I was doing, but I had my answer when I noticed she placed her hand on mine and sort of seemed to linger. On a whim, I placed my hand on her knee and smiled sweetly. Why wasn't this so easy for Human Dominick?

"You feel a little cold." She placed a hand over mine.

"Actually you're just a little warm." I assured.

"I think you mean hot." She giggled.

"That too." I winked. "Are you alright to get home?"

"Hmm." Heather seemed to be considering something. "Why do you ask?"

"Because I wanna walk you home." I said. "You'd be surprised how many dangerous things are out there."

"Well, aren't you the perfect little gentleman?" She leaned close and whispered.

"Oh, I'm not little." I leaned and whispered back, "And I'm not always gentle."

"Well, I got some moves that might surprise you." She giggled and pecked me on the lips. "Okay, you can walk me home." She stood and held out her hand. "And then we'll see who's more dangerous."

I decided not howl with laughter, though I came close, and allowed her to lead me out of the bar. She put and arm over my shoulder and wrapped mine around her waist to pull her closer. As we exited, I glanced over me shoulder and saw Wilhelmina slow dancing with the same man I saw her with before. She smiled and nodded once approvingly before whispering in his ear.

Needless to say, Heather learned the hard way which one of us was more lethal, and it was not her. That wasn't to say she did not enjoy herself. The way she called out to god and screamed my name as she climaxed, her nails digging into my back, she enjoyed herself immensely. Then it all came crashing down when I bit her. Well the bite not so much as I'm sure I timed it so she hardly felt a thing, but from the muffled screams behind my hand clamped over her mouth, I took it to mean she took offense to me drinking her blood. Once I finished, not having killed her, I glamored her and healed her neck.

I concluded it would not be smart to kill her as I never disposed of a body and I could not think of a convincing method to stage a cause of death that would fool the authorities. Then there was the practical argument. If I had killed her, that meant there would be on less human to feed on. One human, over the course of a single year, could feed dozens upon dozens of vampires. I think there is a similar argument about not wasting food when there are many starving children in the less stable parts of the world.

While Heather would be the first of many, I did not suddenly hold all the secrets and women fought tooth and nail to spend just one night with me. After my night with her, things went back to how they had been, but with one slight improvement. Slowly, but surely, I began to improve. At first, I would be lucky to succeed one night out of the week, two if I was particularly unlucky. But then one became the norm, then two, then three. And it was the second week of October that I finally succeed in feeding myself seven nights in succession. Of course when that happened, Wilhelmina informed me that she would no longer supply humans should I fail.

Rather than argue, Wilhelmina would have simply ordered me not to if I had, I took note of a few things. Each one of my nestmates had something that attracted humans to them, Regina and Wilhelmina could do so by simply sitting at a table, or rather played roles like actors on a stage. Doyle, the rugged and boastful Irishman, had his storytelling combined with his chocolate for the ears Irish brogue. Many a woman, and occasional man, would surround him and hung on his every word and idiom as he told stories, often fabricated I assumed, and made dirty jokes.

Adrian had his regal demeanor along with his english accent which, like Doyle, the women absolutely devoured. His approach was far more subtle and refined. He was the upstanding stoic polite Englishman. He made women, or men, believe he was not hitting on them like so many American men, but gently courting and wooing their hearts like it had been done in the courts of Queen of Elizabeth. Regina was the wild cougar, in every sense of the word except literal, on the prowl for some fun and a quick one night fling. And my Wilhelmina was, a card she loved to play, the sexually uninhibited french redhead visiting America.

But what was I?

I had come to learn I was not hideously disfigured as I thought to be while I had been alive, but nether was I drop dead gorgeous. So I needed something to get my foot in the door, figuratively speaking, a hook for the lack of a better word. Then I recalled the night I was turned and how people seemed to like my voice and musical ability. Then the tasteless musicals I participated to gain Christine's eye during our high school years. And finally what Wilhelmina said to Brian, ' . . . such a wonderful singing voice, I'm surprised women are not throwing themselves at him.' I asked if Wilhelmina truly meant her words and assured me so.

"You would have made an excellent bard had you been born in my time." She said one night. "I met a vampire in Venice, Pietro, who merely had to strum a lute during the Renaissance to find a meal and a bed for the night."

So armed with knowledge that I did indeed possess a talent, i sought out a karaoke bar. As it turned out, there was one close by on Grand and Layffette in Little Italy, according to Regina. She claimed it was really the only place within walking distance where she could hear the music from her time, the 1960's. Granted, there was the likely chance someone would butcher the song or two and patrons tended to stick to the 1980's, but it was worth the tiny annoyances. The bar's location was barely a block from three cheap motels, the perfect place for a quick bite. More for vampires as I recall the taste of overcooked cheap coffee to be horrendous.

I dressed in a dark grey dress shirt tucked into a pair midnight black pants which I looped a belt through. Rather than wear my pair of polished leather loafers, I opted for my red sneakers for a bit a color and avoid being overly formal. I donned my hat and pocketed my cigarette case and lighter. Wilhelmina accompanied me, wearing those low cut jeans with the leather cords lacing up the sides and a light blue blouse that she made sure to leave the top buttons unfastened to display some cleavage and a mock silver necklace I bought from a street vendor when I caught her admiring it out of the corner of her eye.

We entered Baby Grand at little after eleven. As I expected, there was a fair amount of people to celebrate the arrival of the highly anticipated weekend. The bartender was occupied serving drinks to a young couple while others danced to the blond singing the most irritating song I've ever heard. Granted, I enjoyed the song during my human life, but it just brought up frightening memories for me now. luckily, Daryl Hall and John Oates were not in the bar. Otherwise, the cleaning staff would find blood, bones, and organs when the bar closed.

She'll only come out at night

The lean and hungry type

Nothing is new, I've seen her here before

Watching and waiting

She's sitting with you but her eyes are on the door

So many have paid to see

What you think you're getting for free

The woman is wild, a she-cat tamed by the purr of a Jaguar

Money's the matter

If you're in it for love you ain't gonna get too far.

"Dominick?." Wilhelmina eyed me carefully, "Remember what I said about keeping yourself in check?"

I reached into my breast pocket. "I am."

"Barely." she said. "While you do need to learn to clean up after yourself, I am in no mood tonight."

"I'm trying." I removed a blood soaked cigarette from my case, a parting gift from Brian.

"A vampire is never at the mercy of his emotions." Wilhelmina's voice grew serious. "He dominates them." She stepped in front me and I saw her face match her voice. "Dominus, Dominor, Dominare. Do you understand? Your very name means to master and control."

"Alright, I get it." I lit a cigarette and began to feel calmer. I blew out a small cloud of pink tinted smoke. "But you know Rome wasn't built in a day."

"That was before my time." Wilhelmina said "I was born several centuries after the fall of the Roman empire and turned well after that."

I rolled my eyes, but refrained from pointing out I was being sarcastic. Wilhelmina had no doubt given up staying up to date on modern slang long before I was even born and i doubted anything I said would change that.

We both ordered mock drinks from the bar, a screwdriver for Wilhelmina and a glass of scotch for myself. We both sat at a table in the corner and watched others take the small stage and sing. As far as bars went, it was as typical as it could be. The floors were made of the same polished wood as the bar and tables. The walls were painted black and white to resemble piano keys, I guessed that was where the name Baby Grand came from, with photographs of patrons and staff during various holiday parties on the shorter black keys.

The stage where the karaoke machine sat was simply a raised platform against the far wall overlooking the dance floor. There was a set of steps to enter and exit, they might as well have not existed for such a small height, and curtains and columns were paint so the platform resembled a legitimate stage one would see in any school in the country.

Wilhelmina eventually left my side when a group of pouting girls sat a table only a few feet away from us. From the little snippets I caught during a particularly appalling rendition of Billy Joel's My life, every single one of them had forgotten to bring their fake ID's and the bartender was adamant about not serving to minors. They were also complaining about how legally they were adults, but could not purchase a simple drink at a bar.

One of the girl's suggested finding and seducing a man to buy drinks for them, but she was shot down. Not only would no man buy drinks for three underaged girls, but all three were lesbians and were not about to even pretend otherwise for a few cocktails. I suppose I should applaud them for their conviction and staying true to themselves, but it wouldn't have made a difference to me one way or their other.

But it made a difference to Wilhelmina who just happened to be in that mood that night. She whispered, "Well, it looks as if I found my meal."

I eyed her out of the corner of my eye and whispered. "Try a three course meal."

"Do not look a gift horse in the mouth." She said plainly. "As I have told you before, it would make thing much easier if you did not limit yourself to only women." She motioned to girls. "We have not even been here an hour and I am only a few drinks away."

"Eat bitter and taste sweet." I said. "Where's the fun if there's no challenge?"

Wilhelmina rolled her eyes at me, "À chacun ses goûts"

I pretended to sip my drink as Wilhelmina went to their table. I hid a smile as I heard her slip into a french accent. One would think she would grow tired of that ploy, but there is no point in repairing something that has yet to be broken.

"Excusez-moi, but may I join you?" She asked cheerfully.

"Um, sure." said one of the girls. "This Jenna, Linda, and I'm Samantha.

"Merci." I heard the sound of a chair scrapping the ground as she took a seat. "I am Wilhelmina."

"Are you french?" asked Linda. "Like, from France?"

"Oui. I am, how you say, visiting." Wilhelmina giggled. "That is correct, no?"

I left Wilhelmina to her conquest and walked to stage as a burly young man finished obliterating Sinatra's New York, New York. From the jeering and catcalls, I think the crowd would find the sound of a cat being gutted quite soothing compared to what they had just heard, which was in my favor. I stepped onto the stage and sorted through a long list of songs.

"Something good!" bellowed a woman in the corner.

I smiled when I found a song I was familiar with and tapped the microphone. "This is Music Is Better Than Words. And maybe afterward someone can do Kurt Cobain's follow-up, Pot Is Better Than Music." I chuckled as some of the crowd laughed. "But I'll do this first."

The music began softly, a full orchestra, as I began to sing slowly. As I sang, the music was fluttery and whimsical. Like a butterfly in the forest in the height of spring. It was uplifting as well as soothing, but it was playful too. To me, it radiated warm and safety. I wondered in Dolores Gray felt the same way in It' Always Fair Weather?

When you get all set to go into your big love scene

The night must be right

The mood must be slow

The wine must be high

And the lights must be low

And I recommend some music in the background

For when you're fumbling for the right words to say . . .

You'll find that music will go a long way!

Then the music grew a bit faster while still retaining its playful feeling, and even began sound blissfully teasing. I continued adding my voice to the music and was surprised I did not hear any protests to my rendition. Either I was doing better than I sounded or I was so terrible they were at a lost for words and actions.

Music is better than words

You break the spell when you start to speak

That technique is all wrong

Just forget about words and sing 'er a song

Music was made for romance

Love and a sweet song go hand in gloves

Every lover knows this

And the sweeter the song, the sweeter the kiss!

As the song reached its break, I saw people dancing. Everyone had a partner and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Those that sat, tapped their feet and bob their heads along with music. I caught Wilhelmina, holding Jenna close as they danced, nod once in approval. I also noticed some women, and men, were watching me. Unless I was mistaken, and George Clooney was directly behind me, they seemed to be looking at me, some even winking suggestively. I smiled wryly and returned the wink before reaching the last verse.

Don't let the night go to waste

Lookin' for ways to say "I love yoooou"

Take your cue from the biiiiiirds

Music . . .

Music is betteeeeeeer . . .

Music is better than woooooooords!

The song ended.

To my surprise, I was reward with applause. It was not a standing ovation one would see at a Broadway play, but it still nice. I said my thanks and stepped down. I returned to my table and most of the crowd returned to theirs, though some stayed. The dancing resumed once another brave soul found the nerve to take the stage. fortunately, the crowded enjoyed his choice to liven thing considerably with Micheal Jackson's PYT.

I saw Wilhelmina, and her three new friends each with drink in hand, dance with great enthusiasm. So much so, Jenna did not seem to mind when Wilhelmina planted a quick kiss. Samantha and Linda looked part jealous and part shocked, but not so much they did not discourage Wilhelmina rubbing against them only a moment later.

Wilhelmina had centuries to master the art of working up an appetite and it showed.

I thought my, what some would argue, mating display had failed when a voice said behind me. "I know you said to forget about words and sing her a song, but seeing as you're not a 'her', I think you can make an exception."

I turned to see a cute girl, somewhere in her early twenties, smiling down at me. "Enjoying the view?"

It can't be this easy. I smiled amusingly, "More than I was."

She sat down, "I'm Jane."

"Well, Jane, I'm sorry but I'm not Tarzan." We both chuckled. "I'm Dominick."

"A decent voice and funny." Jane's eyes twinkled. "What else can you do?"

"Oh we'd need some privacy for me to show you." I winked. "At least the fun stuff anyway?"

"Privacy?" She asked in mock curiosity.

"I'm a shy delicate flower." I said innocently. "It takes a lot for me to open up."

"A lot of what?"

"Compassion and gentle encouragement." I mocked

"Or a bottle of Jack." She countered.

"Sorry, but I don't drink."

"Really?" she eyed me skeptically.

"Its so no harlot has her way with me." I said firmly

"And how is that working out?"

"Honestly? I'm a little curious to see what all the buzz is about."

"remember, curiosity killed the cat." she teased.

"But satisfaction bought it back." I countered.

We went back and forth, neither one of us giving the other the smallest inch, for an hour. We chatted about our taste for music as we flirted and I bought her drinks, I assured I was not entirely jesting when I said I did not drink alcohol. Like Heather, I picked on how she would rub my arm or her hand would linger when she found an excuse to hold it. I noticed how she would hold my gaze for a moment, look down and away, then back to me to see if i had noticed. I also took note how when she laughed at a witty remark, she would play with her hair, either gently tucking it behind her ear or twirling it around her fingers.

Either she was interested in me or she found me terrifying and was doing all she could not to insult me and have me fly into a murderous rage.

I had my answer two hours, and a few Appletinis, later.

"Its too bad they don't have a piano here." She said. "Then we can see if your just as cleaver with your hands as you are with your mouth."

"You'd be surprised how clever I can be with these." I wriggled my fingers expertly.

"Maybe you can show me back at my place." she offered.

"Really? You have a piano?" I asked. "I didn't think you played."

"Oh I love to play." She assured. "But only if my partner knows what he's doing."

"Only one way to find out." I stood up and held out my hand. "Unless you think you can't handle me."

Jane smirked. "You took the words right out of my mouth.

"I'll do more than that before the night's over." I winked.

I returned to the apartment about two hours before sunrise. Wilhelmina was sitting on the couch alone, I assumed the rest of the nest was still otherwise occupied, and sat at the piano. I'm not sure as to the reason, but my fingers played across the keys. As I toyed with a melody that escaped my memory, Wilhelmina sat next to me and laid her head on my shoulder. I felt at ease when I her hair tickle my neck as she nuzzled my should like a cat rubbing against its owner to leave its scent upon it. I always seemed to feel more myself whenever Wilhelmina was close by. It was as if I wan't whole unless she was close by.

"I trust tonight was a success?" she whispered.

I nodded and told her everything. Jane took me to her home a few blocks away and we each enjoyed a glass of wine. Well, one of us at least, I wondered how a ficcus would react to a glass of vintage wine. We chatted and flirted a bit more as I serenaded her on an electric keyboard. We then began kissing with passion as we made our way to her bedroom, but we broke apart when she excused herself to bathroom. I waited patiently, laying upon the bed with my shirt off, before I heard the shower running.

On a whim, I quietly entered and saw she opted for a hot shower to get in the mood. I undressed and carefully stepped in. She was startled at first, but she recovered quickly. She shrugged and turned her back to me, claiming I should make myself useful. After a minute or two, Jane had the cleanest set of shoulder blades I had seen. I asked her to turn around and she obliged. We resumed kissing as I lifted her and she wrapped her long legs around my waist. I then took her, against the shower wall, as hot water rained down on us.

Like Heather, she enjoyed herself immensely until I sank my fangs into her neck and began to drink her blood. So like Heather, I muffled her screams as I drank before glamoring her into thinking she had only slept with me and the fatigue was a result of great sex.

"It seems you have found a suitable strategy." Wilhelmina remarked.

"I could have just gotten lucky." I admitted.

"Was that not the objective?" she asked. "To get lucky?"

I laughed. "My point is, I'll know in a week or two."

"I see." She paused. "Sing me a song."

"What?"

"Sing for me."

"Which one?"

"Something beautiful."

"I know just one."

I began to play a slow loving melody. It was gentle, like a caress between lovers, and reassuring. I hummed for a moment as I laid my head gently on my maker's. Then I added my voice to music. While I had enjoyed singing in the bar, and to Jane, it felt much better alone with my maker next to me, her hand resting on my thigh as I did so.

You could leave tomorrow

Fly to Mandalaaay

Darling I would love you anywaaaaay

I just couldn't help but care

Anytime . . . Anywhere

You can keep me waiting every single daaaay

I'll be there to meet you anywaaaay

You make liiiife a love affair

Anytime . . . Anywhere

Why should I lie and pretend I don't belong to yooou

Why even try when it makes no difference what you dooo

I'll be truuue

Take my heart completely

Treat me as you maaaay

I am yours forever anywaaaay

All I have is yours to shaaare

Anytime,

Anyplace,

Anywhere

"How was that?" I asked, eager for her verdict.

Wilhelmina sniffed my collar and said with a slight gleam in her eye. "You smell like her."

Without a word, I took my maker in my arms and carried her to her bedroom. I gently laid her down on the bed and we spent the last hours of the night erasing Jane's scent from my body and replacing it with Wilhelmina's.

My last though as sleep took me for the day was, could death be any sweeter?

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