The cool September wind whipped my hair out of my face as I left the house, making sure my old wooden door was locked behind me. I drew my coat more tightly together over my waitress uniform with its thin shirt and modest skirt. That was the normal thing to do… the human thing to do.
There was still a hint of the sun about the horizon, despite it being almost 6pm in late September. I frowned and pushed my sunglasses more securely up my nose, fighting the urge to go back inside. I was safe. Unlike many other vampires I had met, I would not burst into flames in the sun. I did still however get one hell of a headache plus an impressive sunburn. I was wearing factor 50 just for the short walk between my house and the café-diner where I worked, despite the fact that most of my skin was covered; the perks of earning a living. At least Bernadette, the owner (and my boss) was happy to let me stay on the night shift.
The imaginatively named Coffee Stop sat on the corner of the large roundabout which directed traffic into the busy city centre. It was small, clean and apparently served the best coffee in town. Not that I would know, having never actually sampled coffee in my life. I had to admit though, the odour did have a certain appeal, even if it was far removed from my one and only source of nutrition; blood.
The Coffee Stop had been my place of employment for the past six months, ever since I moved to the city and created the persona of Scarlett Evans, a twenty two year old from Northamptonshire. The city was perfect for my needs. The high proportion of students meant an active night life and a population which often shifted and changed, meaning I could slip through unnoticed. Other than immediate neighbours, nobody really noticed someone new moving in down the street. Nobody would question a strange face or my unusual bright red hair; different people came and went every day.
A silver car stopped to let me walk over the crossing in front of the Coffee Stop. I waved to show my appreciation; the less time spent outside in the light, the better. I pushed open the heavy glass door to the place, letting in a blast of cold air which caused the customers nearest the door to look up. Bernadette greeted me cheerfully from behind the counter, her blonde bun bobbing as she loaded glasses into the dishwasher. I returned her smile as I went past her to the back room where I could hang up my coat and put on my grey apron. I put my out of control hair up out of the way.
Despite having spent the past centuries pursuing all kinds of hobbies and careers, I had found that I quite enjoyed the night shift at the Coffee Stop. It was usually fairly quiet between 6pm and 1am meaning that I was free to chat to the occasional customer if they looked interesting or avoid them if they didn’t. Sure, I might not have the brightest career prospects. Aside from Bernadette, I was already the most senior member of staff. The assistant manager had quit about two months after I started since she had finished her degree and decided to move on. Other than me there were a few part timers- mostly students looking for a bit of extra cash and Margaret, the cook.
Still, what did I care about career prospects? I had tried pretty much everything over the years. I had earned and spent several fortunes and I had still had to move on every time. It wasn’t like I could stay in the same company for years and work up to those promotions. Eventually, someone would question why the senior partner always looked to be in her early 20’s. For the time being, I was happy having the freedom to do as I wished. All I really needed was to pay the bills for Lillian and I, and we didn’t have a whole lot of those.
Lillian was my not so alive housemate. I had accidentally witnessed her murder in 1805 and she had haunted me ever since. She had quickly realised that I seemed to be the only one with the ability to see her and started following me around. At first I was annoyed, but it turned out we have a lot in common and so we became fast friends. Still, the fact that she was a ghost and invisible to most people meant that she couldn’t exactly get a job.
Nonetheless, I now always make sure that she has her own room wherever we are staying. I tried to share a small studio apartment with her when money was short in the 1920s and I almost went insane. Lillian is both an avid book reader and an enthusiastic cleaner. This means that piles of books regularly appear and shift around the house according to her latest whim. It might be more accurate to call her a poltergeist, not a ghost.
At least the two of us together probably have the lowest bills in town. I am usually out most of the night and I sleep most of the day. When I am at home I don’t need to switch on any lights, since they usually hamper my sensitive vision rather than help it. This is another thing that Lilian and I don’t always see eye to eye with. She prefers to have the lights on at night, as she claims that the house is “creepy” in the dark. It did not help the situation when I reminded her that she was probably the scariest thing to haunt the place.
Still, on most other things we are evenly matched. Neither of us needs heating or food. I do always keep a small selection of long-life things in the cupboards in case of unexpected guests. This does not happen often. I am happy to interact with humans at work or in other daily life but I prefer to keep my home private. Plus, the fact that Lilian is invisible to almost everyone most of the time can make things a little odd for guests. Over the years we discovered that with effort I can make her visible for short periods of time by channelling energy from myself to her. However, it is a pretty unreliable process- there is no real way to tell how long it will last. Neither of us is entirely sure why this works.
I have a theory that is has something to do with me. When I was human, my grandmother had a gift for what would now be called magic. Her speciality was the dead. I did not know her for long, as at the time fifty was considered ancient. She died when I was a young girl leaving me with few memories of her. I do remember my mother explaining that many people in the village came to see the völva – wise woman after a relative had passed for guidance and support. As far as I am aware, my mother never demonstrated any real talent in this area. She lived the average life of a farmer’s wife until she passed away giving birth to my younger brother. Nonetheless, I have a suspicion that I may have inherited some of my long gone grandmother’s ability.
Aside from my so far unexplained ability to see and interact with the dead, I also have the ability to enter graveyards and other consecrated ground. This is something other vampires have extreme difficulty with. It took me a time to realise this. When I awoke into this life (or death) I was buried in my grave. It took me a while to dig myself out but I did not experience any ill effects from lingering at the grave site. It was only years later when I travelled England and Europe and met other vampires that I came to realise I was unusual.
I blinked, returning to the present. Bernadette stood in front of me, brown eyes looking expectant.
“Sorry,” I muttered, “zoned out for a minute.”
“No worries,” She shrugged easily, “I was just saying that a big group of people have come in from some event down the road. Could you take orders?”
“Sure, I’m on it.” I replied, grinning apologetically for my daydreaming. What use are perfect senses if you forget to use them? I wondered idly.
She shook her head good naturedly as she spun back around and skipped back out into the main room. I followed her, walking more conventionally.
The next three hours passed uneventfully. I rushed around taking orders and serving customers, endlessly smiling and being flawlessly polite. By around 9.30pm the crowds had thinned out considerably, leaving only the odd student using the free Wi-Fi and occasional locals tucked in corners. As I wiped down a table a group had just left, a burst of cold air made me glance towards the door.
The young man who had just entered brushed his dark rain soaked hair back from his eyes and looked around, spotting me. As he approached I marvelled at his height. He was extremely tall, even by the present day standards. My five foot four frame dwarfed in comparison. He looked to be in his early twenties.
“Excuse me,” he spoke softly, “are you still serving food?”
I glanced at my watch, “Yes, we serve things from the menu until ten. After that you can still have anything we can make up from the main counter, but the kitchen will be closed.”
He gave me a half smile, his lips pulling up slightly at one corner. “Thanks. Can I sit anywhere?”
“Yes of course, feel free to sit anywhere you like.” I noted a laptop bag slung over a broad shoulder, “The Wi-Fi is free if you need it.”
“Thanks,” he said again, stepping past me and heading to one of the more enclosed booths near a tall slightly fogged window.
I watched him go for a moment, breathing in his warm, clean scent. He didn’t look back as he sat down and pulled the menu towards him. I blinked and went back to cleaning my table, giving him time to decide what to order. There was something about him that drew my attention, but I couldn’t place it. I could see that he was attractive, with his dark eyes, straight nose and sharp cheekbones but that wasn’t it. I had seen countless variations of attractive over my lifetime. There was nothing obviously threatening about him either. Still, I had a lingering feeling that there was more to it.
I looked up to see him meet my eyes. I approached the table taking extra care to look human as I approached, throwing in a little clumsiness and smiling warmly. Something whispered in me to be careful with this one.
“Are you ready to order?” I asked him.
“Yeah, could I get the burger please with…” he glanced down at the menu, “a large Americano?”
“Of course.” I jotted the order down on the notepad in front of me, despite the fact that I could remember it perfectly. Margaret the cook had been known to mix orders around if you weren’t very clear on what the customer wanted. “Anything else?”
He shook his head, “No that is everything thanks…” his eyes flitted to my nametag, “Scarlett.” I watched a small smirk form on his lips as he took in my messy bright red hair which had been slowly escaping from its bun as the evening went on.
“Creative parents’, right?” I quipped, despite the fact that my parents had never given me this name. My hair was actually a very fair blonde when I was young, like many of the ancient Scandinavians in the area of my birth. It had turned red strand by strand after I became a vampire. My joke managed to get a small laugh out of him. He looked a little surprised as if laughing was not a thing he did regularly.
“Suits you.” He replied as I walked away towards the kitchen. I smiled.
Margaret accepted his order with a frown, “Fifteen minutes to ten? Really? I thought everyone was done in there.” The lines around her eyes crinkled as she surveyed me over her glasses.
“One more just came in.” I said, trying to look apologetic. I knew she wanted to get home to her family.
She sighed and started moving around gathering ingredients. I nodded and left her too it, not wanting to be under any more scrutiny. Going behind the counter I began wiping down the already clean surfaces. Bernadette came out of the back office and started making the Americano. I was also trained at making the coffees, but nobody could ever get them to look quite as amazing as Bernadette. So, if she was free she usually made them.
“It’s quiet.” She remarked, stifling a yawn.
I shrugged, “Its Tuesday night, it’s not near enough the weekend for that many people to be out and about at this time… plus I think most of the students are still wiped out from their fresher’s events at the start of the month.”
She laughed wryly, “You’re probably right.”
I usually am. I like to observe things. Having finished with the counter surface I pulled out the long brush from behind it and began doing the floor.
“Scarlett, do you mind if I leave a bit early tonight?” She looked a little guilty; like she felt bad for the entire extra hour I would have to be in charge. She normally left about eleven, leaving me to close up around one.
“No problem, that’s fine.” I said. It was her business after all. “Anything fun planned?”
“No nothing that exciting. I have an appointment early in the morning, just wanted to get a bit of sleep in beforehand.” She sighed.
“Fair enough, if sleep is needed, sleep is needed.” I said. In my case that was literal, as soon as the sun was up I had to fight the urge to pass out.
“Cool, thanks I appreciate it.” She grinned, handing me the Coffee. “This is for table five I believe.” Something about the way she raised an eyebrow put me on edge.
“What?” I asked, trying not to sound defensive.
“Hun, have you seen table five?”
I frowned, “Yes, I took his order.”
She looked incredulous at my lack of enthusiasm. “You’re not the least bit interested? You are a single, available woman you know.”
Oh that’s what it was about. I shrugged, “So? I don’t know anything about him. Looking nice doesn’t make you a good person you know. He might be the most boring person on the face of the planet or a complete asshole.”
She ignored my miniature speech, “so you admit he looks niceee” she teased.
“Sure why not.” I could see that I was fighting a losing battle. I had a better chance using diversionary tactics. “What’s going on with you anyway? Did you get a second date with that guy you saw a couple of weeks ago?”
My tactics worked, she immediately turned a deep shade of plum; “I did get a second and a third date actually. We have plans this weekend.”
“Ooh that’s great!” I said enthusiastically, playing up the excited girlfriend angle. At least she was distracted from her original preposterousness. “I need to go deliver this coffee before it becomes an iced coffee.” I added, already backing away.
When I actually got to his table he barely looked up to thank me. He had his laptop out and was poring over some kind of thick book. I slid the coffee into a free space and told him that his food would be ready shortly before retreating back to the counter. I had to admit I was a little intrigued about what he was looking at, but I didn’t want to interrupt.
Attending to the other customers provided me with some distraction for a while. The group of students were trying to figure out some kind of statistics problem that had them all confused. I spotted the place that they had mixed up immediately and pointed it out to them. This turned out to be a bad idea when they all wanted to know how exactly I had arrived at the conclusion. I ended up going through the entire problem with them. Bernadette waved at me on her way out, looking grateful that she was not the one being quizzed about statistics.
Thankfully Margaret rang the bell in the kitchen, signalling that the food was ready and allowing me to excuse myself from the students. As I entered the kitchen she set the food on the side before pulling off her apron and stretching. “I’m off now.” She told me, her northern accent apparent even through her yawn. “Everything is ready for tomorrow morning.”
“That’s great, thanks.” I told her, “Bernadette has already left.”
“I know, I saw her.” She said.
“Cool,” I picked up the food and some cutlery neatly folded in a napkin. “See you tomorrow then.”
“Bye!” She called as I left the kitchen. I knew she parked her car behind the building so she would probably leave through the back door.
At the sight of me approaching his table with his food, the book and laptop quickly disappeared back into his bag. He slid his coffee out of the way, allowing me to put the plate in front of him.
“Thank you.” He said.
“No problem-?” I let the end of the word hang like a question, hoping for a name. I was rewarded.
I grinned, “Nick.” It felt as though I had gained a small victory. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
As I walked away I contemplated Bernadette’s earlier gushing. I didn’t get her instant infatuation with people; it usually took me a long time to decide if people were interesting to me. Sure, Nick seemed nice enough. He ticked all the right boxes- attractive, polite, considerate. Still, I wanted to see a little deeper, what was he really like? I still had an underlying feeling that something was off… or, if not off then different.
Plus, there was the more important consideration- what did he think of me? Keeping the secret was always my number one priority when interacting with anyone. Did I look human enough today? It had been almost a couple of weeks since I had fed.
I examined my reflection in the coffee machine. At a distance I looked ok. My slim face was pretty enough, if a little average and my pale skin was as usual blemish free like every vampire. However, closer up I looked tired. The shadows under my blue eyes were just a little too dark and my cheek bones where just a little too sharp. I would get blood after work, I decided. I could go longer if I really had to, but it was better to be cautious. Plus, if I waited too long the customers would start to look like walking lunch, and I could not have that. My eyes have an annoying tendency to glow red if I get really hungry or enraged. This could be quite noticeable up close, especially if I am trying to serve someone their coffee.
The next couple of hours passed smoothly. I served a few of the regulars and chatted to them about their days. James was working on a new photography project, Kim had just purchased a new scarf for her dog and Eddie had a new house to paint. I filed each detail away so I had something to talk about next time I served them. I always found that the easiest way to avoid talking too much about my own life, was to distract people with their own.
After his food, Nick had returned to whatever he was working on with his laptop. He ordered two more coffees and a pot of tea. By around twelve thirty he was the only customer left. I hummed quietly to myself as I cleaned and tidied the place, getting it ready for closing time.
Nick was too immersed in his work to notice me quietly walk up to his table to collect the empty cups. At the sight of the book he was reading I froze in shock. “Lamia, et supernaturalis”. My Latin was a little rusty, but I easily recognised the words Vampire and Supernatural. Suddenly the missing piece fell into place and I recognised the feeling I got from him: danger. He was dangerous. That was no causal book he was reading, there was purpose behind it.
I was startled out of my shock by the loud crack of the glass in my hand shattering. The pieces fell to the floor, scattering everywhere. I belatedly realised that I had applied too much pressure to it in my alarm. Quickly I slipped back into the façade; the noise had alerted him to my presence.
“Oh goodness!” I exclaimed, “I am so sorry, it just slipped!”
The book closed with a snap. “No problem, accidents happen.” He gave me an easy smile, which I now thought was probably about as real as my own.
“I’ll just grab a brush and dustpan.” I said, hurrying off to get it.
In actual fact the glass had been one of the tall Pyrex ones we used for the fancy coffees and hot chocolates. They were nearly impossible to break. I had watched Bernadette drop one a couple of weeks prior. It had bounced halfway across the room without a scratch. It would be impossible for a human to crush one in their grip. Thankfully he wasn’t looking towards me for that part and there was nobody else around. With luck he would assume I had just dropped a normal glass.
Quickly, before he had a chance to look too closely at the pieces, I swept them up with the long handled brush. Once the mess was safely in the bin behind the counter I grinned at him, attempting nonchalance.
“I must get clumsier every passing minute.” I joked.
He looked at me appraisingly, raising an eyebrow. “Does this happen often?”
It had never happened before; I was usually perfectly in control. I shrugged vaguely, “Once in a while I suppose. I don’t think Bernadette would be impressed if I broke too many of her glasses.”
“She owns the place?”
I nodded, causing another strand of my hair to spring free and drift into my line of sight. “Yes, she’s my boss.”
“Have you worked here long?”
It seemed as though he was asking me a lot of questions. I shrugged again, trying to appear casual, “About six months, why?”
It was his turn to think of an answer. He copied my shrug and I smirked a little. “I just figured that she seems to have a lot of trust in you. You are here all alone covering the night shift and closing up.”
I bristled; offended that anyone would doubt my capability in anything. I thought I had overcome that when feminism was introduced. “I am perfectly capable.”
My reaction brought out a smile in him and he held up his hands in apology. “I didn’t mean to offend you; I just meant that it seems unusual for one fairly new employee to be in charge of all that.”
Slightly belatedly, I remembered I was supposed to be providing good customer service. I made my expression milder, “Bernadette and I get on pretty well, it didn’t take us long to become good friends. Plus, the old assistant manager left so… that leaves me.” I laughed, “It’s pretty quiet at this time of night anyway. To be honest, having more people here wouldn’t really be financially worth it.”
“Sure, makes sense.” He said, glancing at his watch. “I better get going, it’s late.” He began gathering up his things.
“Working on anything interesting?” I said lightly, not wanting to let on that I had seen his book.
“Just something for uni.”
He said it so casually I almost believed him. He even met my eyes as he said it, projecting innocence and honesty. At the same time, I sensed the subject was closed. I wasn’t going to get any more information out of him. He left quickly, giving me more than enough to cover his bill. I processed the money through the till before adding the spare to the tip jar, frowning to myself.
I didn’t quite know what to do after the encounter. There was a time when I was younger where I would have killed him immediately, purely for owning a book about my kind. But, back then the world was smaller and people were a lot more superstitious. Someone owning a book like that would have indicated that they most likely wanted to kill people like me. The supernatural used to be feared and despised, not romanticised and glamorised like it now was in film and media.
Over the past millennium I had encountered countless vampire hunters. Some of them were prepared, brave warriors of old who wished to purge the land of evil. Some were less prepared, more modern souls who stumbled into my world and believed they could take it on. I had killed all of them in order to ensure my own safety, and if necessary I had no problem with doing it again.
Still, I didn’t like to kill without reason, and in this case I wasn’t fully sure I had a reason. Despite the danger I sensed, he could quite plausibly be a university student working on something for his course. He could even just be some sort of fan of the area, with a purely academic interest. It was entirely possible that his interest was innocent. He may not even believe any of the stories, let alone be a hunter.
I also had to consider the fact that killing was more difficult than it used to be. The invention of forensic science had been an annoyance. Now, if I killed, I would have to make sure the body was never found. I would have to make sure there wasn’t so much as a drop of blood left behind and I would have to make sure there were no video cameras or witnesses in the area. This was harder than it sounded when pretty much everyone carried a camera around in their mobile phone. I quite liked the life I had built in the last six months. It didn’t seem appealing to move and start again so quickly, which is what I would have to do if a witch hunt started.
With that in mind, I let him walk out of the door. Regardless of what he was, I was good at hiding in plain sight. I doubted anyone would suspect my true nature, even if they were looking for a vampire. There were other vampires in the city; one of them could deal with him if he became a problem. If he was just passing through, I was unlikely to ever see him again anyway. My mind at ease, I went back to work.
Once my shift was over, I went home to change. The apartment that Lillian and I lived in was half of what once was a grand old house. At some point, the owner had decided it would be better to rent out if he split it into two parts. Lillian and I had the downstairs and basement, and our upstairs neighbour Amir had the upstairs floor and attic. Both apartments had been converted to be independent of one another. The only part of the house we shared was the small entryway. At some point someone had placed a patterned blue rug over the wooden floor, which served quite well for stopping the too common rainwater from being walked through the rest of the house.
Unlocking the door to our apartment, I entered. Lillian was sprawled out on the long white sofa, a book balanced on the arm in front of her. As I watched, she waved a hand and the page in front of her lazily turned over, as if caught by a light breeze. Not wanting to disturb her reading I simply waved as I went past, heading for the stairs that led to my basement room. It had been a big part of why I had picked the building to rent; during the day I preferred to be as far from the sun as possible. When I slept, I preferred to be underground.
Since I planned on going out with the singular goal of luring in prey, I dressed in a pair of skin tight red leather trousers and a black top that showed quite a lot of skin. My black and red heels matched nicely. I released my hair and let it fall around my shoulders and down my back. Lillian appeared in my room and raised an eyebrow at me. She was still dressed in the evening finery she had died in, in 1805. She hadn’t fully come to grips with the modern way of dressing, having never actually experienced it herself.
“I take it you are going to get a bite to eat in those gas pipes?” She smirked at her choice of phrasing.
Ignoring her joke I nodded, “I probably won’t be long. I don’t feel like messing around tonight.” I frowned, “Plus nobody calls trousers gas pipes anymore.”
Detecting something unusual in my tone, she looked concerned. “Was work ok?”
“Yes it was fine…” I hesitated.
“But?” she asked with a little impatience.
I sighed, confused at my reluctance to tell her about my encounter with Nick. “There was this guy…” my eyebrows drew together as I struggled to explain what exactly was out of the ordinary.
“A young man?” She asked in surprise.
“Not like that,” I said, catching her suggestive tone. “He was just a customer, but he felt… suspicious.” I didn’t want to use the word dangerous; she would become unduly alarmed. “He had a book… the Lamia et supernaturalis.”
Her eyebrows shot up; her Latin was much better than mine. “A hunter?” There was a trace of fear in her voice.
I shook my head although I wasn’t sure. “He said it was for a student project.”
“You spoke to him?” Her voice rose with her alarm.
“I sort of had to speak to him, I was his waitress.” I said dryly. “It would have looked stranger if I refused to serve him.” She didn’t look particularly reassured so I continued. “Relax, he left and he knows nothing about me. Whatever he is, we’re safe.”
Adding a single line of eyeliner to each eye and finishing it with a little flick I blinked. I wasn’t big on makeup, but when it was in fashion I figured it was better to fit in. Plus it did have some uses; I regularly applied some basic makeup before leaving the house, just to make me look a little more alive. It was tricky because too much would make me look fake, but a little bit of blusher across my cheekbones could make it look as if my face was slightly flushed. Any human’s skin would be after walking in the chilly air outside. No human would be completely, perfectly porcelain, all of the time.
I took a taxi into the town centre. I could have easily have run or walked, but taking a taxi was the normal thing to do. Stepping onto the street I took a deep breath of the air. A million scents hit me at once but I filtered through them, checking for anything important. There were a few vampires in the area, but none close enough to be a concern. Not that it really mattered anyway; I was easily the oldest and hence most powerful in the city if it came to that.
I wasn’t really interested in the silly power games that occupied many of my species anymore. Ironically, when I was younger and weaker I probably would have cared. Now I am old enough to take over any of the territories I wanted, I had no interest in it. Aside from a few brief dalliances, I had never really gotten along with other vampires. I had no interest in running or creating a coven, it would mean every vampire in it relied on me. I would have to be in charge of their actions and clean up the mess if they did something stupid like murder the wrong human. I much preferred to do my own thing.
When I had first arrived in town there had been a couple of challenges, but once they realised my age and who I was, they had decided to leave me alone and stay out of my way. A few centuries ago I had made a bit of a name for myself when a large coven had threatened me. The oldest among them, the leader Vincent had been 700 years old. Not even close to myself. When reason and warning didn’t work, I had killed them all. It had been quite a dark time for me, but people didn’t need to know that. They just needed to know that I was quite capable of defending myself and my own.
Before I had arrived in town, Rowland had been the most dangerous thing around. I guessed he was around 600 at most, and he ran a smallish coven of 15. It wasn’t the biggest city, so most if not all of the vampires present answered to him. At first he and by extension the rest of them had been highly suspicious of me and my motives. But, once they figured out that I didn’t care in the slightest what they did, they were happy to adopt my policy of avoidance. I had noticed that the club I preferred to dine in had been conspicuously vampire free when I visited, ever since I had decided it was my favourite place to go.
That was fine by me. The club played a mix of Rock and Alternative music, making a nice change from the usual repetitive dance that I found bored me to tears. Consequently, it drew in a mix of interesting people. Also, since it was the only club of its style in the area it was almost always busy. That suited my needs perfectly; for my purposes, it was much easier to go unnoticed in a big crowd.
The bouncers face lit up with recognition as I approached and he opened the door for me without asking for any ID. He was used to my comings and goings. Slipping inside I let the hot air wash over my skin. The scents of sweat and alcohol were strong in the air. The hour was late and most people were already well into their night of partying.
Leisurely weaving through the crowds I made my way to the bar. There was no point in me drinking alcohol; alone it would have no effect on me. However I didn’t want to look out of place. It was normal etiquette to head straight for the bar when entering this place. It was also useful for me to linger for a while before I came into contact with any humans. The air in the place was so warm from all the dancers; it would increase the temperature of my icy skin a little, making it less noticeable.
With my drink in hand, I slipped back into the crowd, allowing my hips to sway with the music as I entered the dance floor. As I moved I scanned the crowd looking for a suitable target. As I aged, I had found that not all blood was equal. Some appealed to me more than others, although it all tasted divine. I wasn’t sure exactly what the winning combination was; I just knew it wasn’t just about blood type. It seemed that there was a more complex mix of factors at play, kind of like finding more than one person attractive, despite them each being completely different.
My options here were limited. The city, like most big urban areas had a little known “underground” that catered specifically to my kind. Within the human community there was a lot of money to be made, providing sustenance for the local vampires.
I finally selected a blond male in his twenties who was with a group of friends. They all eyed me with interest as I moved across the room. Making eye contact with the blond for a moment I grinned- showing just a hint of fangs- before slipping away to a shadowy table near the stairs. Leisurely I stirred the ice in my drink, waiting. It didn’t take long before my efforts were rewarded. He sat down next to me, pulling the seat in closer.
I had known straight away that he was what was commonly known as a “feeder”. I disliked the term; I thought it sounded too much like it related to livestock, not people. He was a little pale, making the almost healed bite marks on his skin stand out to my sensitive eyesight. He still smelled faintly like the last vampire that had bitten him- a natural warning for me to stay away. In this case of course, it didn’t apply. He was not a long term partner, but rather a meal-for-hire.
“I’m Matt.” He told me.
“Scarlett.” I said.
“It is good to meet you.” He said, “I am assuming you are here for a bite to eat?” He placed emphasis on the word bite.
I sighed, “Yes.”
“Are you a neck or a wrist person?” He asked, “I charge more for the neck.”
That was fine, it was expected. “Wrist will do.” I said. I actually preferred it with a stranger; it felt a little less intimate than the neck.
“Ok great.” He said all business. “Would you like to step into my office?” He nodded to the stairs. They were the wide metallic kind, leaving lots of shadowy space underneath for activities people didn’t necessarily want in the full public eye.
I rose smoothly from my seat. “After you.”
We slipped into the dark space, hidden from wandering eyes on the dance floor. He held out his wrist for me to take. I hesitated for just a moment before carefully sinking my fangs into his flesh; they were dangerously sharp- I had to be very careful to not cause any damage. After a brief second of pain he relaxed. My saliva contained some sort of substance which appeared to numb pain and create a pleasant feeling in its place. It also helped to speed up the healing process which was convenient.
The taste of blood was exquisite as always, calling to me to drain him dry and look for more. It had taken me a lot of practice to develop my current level of restraint but it was still all I could do to not sink my fangs deep into a major artery. I continued to drink until I had taken enough and then regretfully drew my tongue along the wound, slowing the bleeding. My saliva couldn’t work miracles but it could help the flesh knit back together. By morning it would look like it was days old instead of hours.
Drawing away I took a calming breath and closed my eyes for a second, focusing on grounding myself in the situation. When I was sure that my eyes would have returned to their normal blue, I reopened them. He looked slightly pale but still relaxed. The small wounds on his wrist had already stopped bleeding. I drew out my purse and gave him £150. The standard rate was around a £100. The £50 was to encourage him to be discreet.
He counted the money efficiently and put it away. “Thank you.” He said, “Can I do anything else for you this evening?”
“Perhaps another time.” I said, “I have to go now.” It was indeed almost four am. I wanted to be home with plenty of time before sunrise, and quite honestly now that I had fed I no longer had any interest in him. I started backed away before turning completely and disappearing into the crowd.
My outing had been purely about needing blood; I wasn’t really in the mood for fun. The trip home was quiet and uneventful. There were a few others finally heading home after a night out. There was also the odd early commuter. Nobody bothered me as I strolled leisurely through the dark streets.
Once home, it wasn’t long before I was in bed. Immediately after feeding I felt almost warm and full for a change, a big improvement over the usual gnawing hunger I dealt with in between outings. I had a hot bath which heightened the warm feelings and climbed into my big, four poster king-size bed with its light blue duvet cover. For a basement my bedroom was surprisingly cosy. I had a nice cream carpet with a big sky blue rug. My furniture was all wood painted in shades of white and light grey, reminding me of beaches and the ocean. I liked to add modern twists to traditional items; it showed how the world was constantly changing.
With no more worries about the day I drifted into sleep as the sun crossed the horizon, pulling me into deep unconsciousness.