Ken allowed the hot, steaming water to caress his body and soothe his soul, as he thought about the events of the past, and those to come. He knew he couldn’t trust Allen. He slammed the wall, but tried to refrain from breaking it. Teya was in even more danger now, but luckily, no full-blooded vampires could take him. Except Allen, he thought, growling. He had to be stopped somehow. Ken just knew that something wasn’t right, that something was off.
Teya woke up searching for Ken. She looked around the bedroom, only to find him standing by the balcony door, watching the sunrise.
“Hey, you,” she said, clearing her throat. She noticed Ken sway as he began to walk towards her. He was only able to accomplish three steps before his knees collapsed, sending him falling to the floor. Teya rushed out of the bed to help him.
“Ken! What’s wrong?” she cried, panicked. He closed his eyes with frustration.
“It’s my heart again,” he said, holding his chest.
“What can I do?” she asked, pleading and praying.
“Wine. Red,” he mumbled. She nodded before rushing into the kitchen. She rushed back with a glass and the bottle, just in case he needed more. He accepted the glass and swallowed the substance down greedily. His throat felt like it was on fire. He laid back on the bed, exhausted. Teya helped him out of his shirt and placed the covers over him.
“Get some rest, OK? I’ll be fine at work today. Just rest,” she said, kissing him on the lips and was about to walk away when Ken grabbed her wrist.
“Be careful. Please,” he begged. She kissed him lovingly.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you,” he replied, and with that, she got ready to go to work.
Teya pulled off her gloves, ready to go to lunch. She figured Ken would still be resting, so she would be having lunch alone today. She walked to the front door, only to be greeted by Markees.
“Hey beautiful,” he greeted. Teya put a smile on her face.
“Hey. Still stalking me, I see,” she said. Markees laughed, thinking that she was teasing, but she was dead serious.
“Where’s your boyfriend?” he asked.
“He couldn’t make it today,” she said simply. Markees nodded.
“Well, what does a man have to do to get lunch with you?” he asked. Teya snorted. This was her chance to find out what the hunters knew. Ken wasn’t feeling well, so it was up to her to help protect him.
“Ask nicely,” she said, smiling. What harm could a little lunch do? Ken would be upset with her, yes, but an hour is all she needed. She’d make sure he wouldn’t touch her. Markees smiled.
“Well, Miss Daniels, would you like to go to lunch?” Markees asked, bowing courteously.
“Yes, I would,” she answered. Markees led the way to his car, making Teya feel nervous.
“Let’s just go down the street on foot. There’s a restaurant strip down that way,” she said pointing. Markees hesitated, but nodded and began to walk down the street.
“So what does your boyfriend do for a living?” he asked. Teya frowned.
“Are we just going to talk about my boyfriend all day?” she asked. Markees laughed softly.
“I guess we shouldn’t continue talking about Mr. Perfect,” he replied. It was quiet for a while.
“I’m sorry. How are you?” -he asked, brushing against Teya’s shoulder.
“I’m fine, thanks. The police officers are trying to find the attacker,” Teya lied. Markees nodded, unconvinced.
“Right,” he replied as they entered the restaurant.
They ordered as they continued their conversation.
“I have a couple of questions for you,” Teya said, leaning across the table. “How did you become interested in vampires?” Markees laughed softly. He leaned closer to her.
“I was a police inspector. Ross pulled me out, telling me he was going to take me places the police force couldn’t, but what I’ve seen in this line of duty are things I wish I could unsee. I didn’t believe Ross at first, until I saw a vampire rip a child’s throat to pieces. So I take the job a lot more seriously now,” he said. Teya frowned.
“That’s terrible,” she replied.
“Vampires are serial killers, Miss Daniels. They must be stopped,” he told her. Teya sighed, wanting to agree.
“How long has the organization been running?” she asked. Markees patted his chin thoughtfully.
“Since vampires began, I’m assuming. Ross turned the organization national and created our weapons. Weapons so advanced, they can actually cause serious damage to vampires,” he replied. Teya sipped her drink.
“How many vampires have you killed?” Teya asked, gulping at the idea.
“I’ve seen several vampires killed, but personally, I just prefer to sting them a little with this new stun gun Ross created. The gun is powerful enough to knock any vampire out. They’re killed by fire, but their heart must be extracted from the body first. Then they turn to ash. The legends were right about that,” he replied. Teya’s mind began to envision Ken burning, and her heart skipped a beat. “It’s a dangerous job. We’ve lost many just trying to capture one,” Markees said, rambling on about his accomplishments and losses while they waited for their food. A few minutes later the waitress brought them their order.
I always get the pasta,” Teya said as she began to eat. Markees sighed.
“Teya, is your boyfriend beating you?” he blurted out, causing Teya to choke on her pasta. She coughed for a moment.
“Ken would never—” she started, before covering her mouth as she realized she’d accidentally let his name slip out.
“Aha, so Mr. Perfect finally has a name,” Markees said, laughing. “It’s all right, you can trust me. His secret is safe with me.” Teya placed her fork down and began to stand up.
“I’m sorry, but this was a mistake,” she said, disappointed and angry at herself. Markees tried to grab her hand, but she snatched away.
“Teya, you deserve a guy who can protect you. You are so beautiful,” he said.
“Are you coming on to me?” she asked. Markees sighed.
“Teya, when I saw you that day, I couldn’t—”
“Stop,” Teya said, finishing the sentence for him, and folded her arms. Ken was right— Markees did have a little crush on her, or maybe he just wanted information from her.
“I love my boyfriend,” she said, before realizing she might as well say it. “I love Ken. I’m sorry if you think I’m leading you on. I’m not trying to,” she said, and that part was true. Her stomach rolled over as she realized she was using him, just like he was trying to use her. Markees sat back in his chair.
“Right. Mr. Ken,” he said, nodding. “I get it.” Disappointment filled his voice. Teya looked at her watch awkwardly.
“I have to go. This was a mistake,” she said again, placing money on the table and preparing to walk out. Markees stood up and grabbing her wrist.
“Please sit down. I apologize. I won’t talk about him anymore,” he begged. Reluctantly, Teya sat back down in the chair. Her lips went dry. She had to take a sip of her sweet tea. What was she thinking? Ken would be able to smell Markees on her. He would be furious. She was only trying to protect him, she tried to convince herself. Or was she just plain rebellious?
“So why are you single? No woman?” Teya asked, changing the subject.
“It’s the kind of work I do. No woman would want that,” he said, looking away as Teya sighed.
“You’ll find the woman for you,” she said. There was an awkward silence before Markees finally looked at his watch.
“It’s time for you to go back to work,” he said, standing up and pulling her chair out. Teya didn’t argue as he paid for their food and handed her money back.
“I’d still like for you to call if you ever need anything, or wish to talk. I’m still here,” he said, bowing as he walked her back to the hospital.
Ken woke up feeling leaden. His body heavy as he tried to lift his head. He groaned painfully, finally standing up. He looked over at the clock, and his eyes went wide. He’d overslept. Teya was getting off work very soon. He couldn’t believe he slept all day—it was so unlike him. He didn’t know what happened. He looked around for his T-shirt and quickly put it on before jumping off the balcony.
He ran as fast as he could toward Teya. He arrived just as she was walking to the car, flicking off the alarm. She gasped as she realized Ken was in front of her. Her heart jumped.
“Hey you’re alright,” she said, relieved. She wrapped her arms around his waist. Ken’s face was emotionless. He grabbed the hand holding the keys and held it to his face. Teya’s heart began to pound wildly. He was furious.
“Give me the keys Teya,” he snarled. She dropped the keys into his hands, biting her bottom lip. He opened her door and walked around to the driver’s side without a word. Teya fidgeted with her fingers.
“I can explain,” she said.
“Don’t” he replied, growling low. Teya remained quiet. As the silence stretched on for ages, tears began to form in her eyes.
“I was only trying to help. You were sick, and Markees...” Ken’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “I know you don’t agree with me,” she sniffed. “But I did it because I love you. I was trying to look out for you,” she said. Ken gritted his teeth.
“You know about the last people who tried to protect me. What happened to them? It’s my job to protect you, not the other way around. So don’t. I clearly told you never to go near that man, for your own safety. If something happened to you—” Ken stopped. He couldn’t even think clearly, or say the words that he wanted. -The elderly couple had died protecting him, and he couldn’t have Teya’s blood on his hands. He wouldn’t be able to withstand it. His hands tightened on the steering wheel again, this time until it almost broke.
“Where are we going?” Teya asked, worried.
“I need some clothes from my place,” he replied, pulling into the entrance. He parked the car, still angry, and went to open Teya’s door, taking a whiff of the air. There was a stench that made Ken feel uneasy. He walked into his apartment cautiously, holding Teya’s hand behind him. -The apartment was in shreds. Teya gasped as Ken walked around the kitchen. The scent of the men was closer in there, before they had split up in the apartment. He couldn’t find a scent he recognized. Smart, he thought, as he touched the countertops. There was some kind of gunpowder scattered all over the place, resembling mere dust to a human eye. Ken scooped some of it up and sniffed. He winced at the smell and frowned. Some sort of anti-vampire dust used to powder the hunters’ guns. Clever. The whole apartment smelled of it.
“How did they know where to look?” Teya asked, searching the room.
“It’s just a matter of asking by name,” he replied, and Teya’s stomach churned. She’d told Markees. She began to look over on the coffee table in the living room.
“Hey, Ken!” she called out as she picked up a sheet of paper located on the table and handed it to him. It read “Property of VA.” Ken hoofed.
“Did they find anything?” she asked, close to tears.
“What do you think they’d find? Coffins? Dungeons? Blood?” he replied coldly, and Teya shivered at his harshness. He ran his hands through his hair. He was furious, but more so at himself than her. He wasn’t there for her, and anything could’ve happened. He didn’t trust Markees.
“I’m sorry,” Teya said, crying. His heart broke. “I thought I was helping.”
Ken sighed. He walked over to her and began wiping her tears away, saying, “Shhh, I know you were only trying to help. You just scared me.” He held her close.
“You told him my name?” he asked. Teya nodded and sniffed. He sighed again. He couldn’t be upset with her. “I can take you back home, but I have to come to clean up.” Teya shook her head.
“I’ll help you,” she demanded. Ken kissed her forehead.
“Well, the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can eat,” he said with a chuckle. “Well, you can eat.” He picked up the kitchen table. Teya grabbed the broom.
“So you went out with him to find info for me, right?” he asked. Teya nodded, never looking up from her sweeping.
“What did you find out?” he asked. Teya was quiet for a moment.
“How they kill vampires, for one,” she said. Ken nodded.
“Extracting the heart,” he acknowledged, urging her on.
“Yes and they have created these guns that sting vampires causing them to get knocked out. Ross perfected the organization through his hate for vampires. Markees was a police inspector until Ross brought him in,” she offered as Ken wiped the counter down.
“Sounds about right,” he said. “There’s some kind of dust all over the counter. The guns they use must be electrically charged, like a high voltage Taser specifically made to knock anyone unconscious, even vampires.” He glanced over at Teya. “Markees wasn’t here. Neither was Ross.” He watched her face to see if she would react. She still didn’t seem content, which made Ken both happy and sad at the same time. At least there wasn’t anything going on between them.
“Tell me, Teya, would you prefer a man less complicated than me? I mean, a real man?” he asked. Teya looked up to meet his gaze.
“No, I wouldn’t. You are a real man, a better man than most humans. I don’t doubt my feelings for you,” she declared. She walked toward him and grabbed his face, saying, “I love you.”
She truly did, and that was enough for Ken. She kissed him slowly, pouring her feelings into it. Ken closed his eyes, savoring the touch of her lips. His eyes shot open, and his body stiffened in alert. He grabbed Teya’s hand and moved her behind him, unhurried.
“A woman and a little girl are coming in. They are vampires. Don’t be afraid,” he said, speaking calmly. Yet Teya’s heart started pounding loudly anyways. Vampires coming? A woman? Salina, maybe? She prayed not. The door slowly opened, and a little girl looked around the room.
“It stinks, Rosa,” she said. The older woman walked in.
“Yes, it’s rather revolting.” She agreed. They looked at Ken and Teya, and the little girl’s face lit up.
“You must be Teya,” she said, and she began walking over to give Teya a handshake, but Ken stood in her way. Goslin frowned.
“Well, you don’t have to protect her from me, Ken. I don’t even drink from live humans anymore. Just don’t tell Allen. He would beat us if he knew we ordered from the food bank,” she said. Ken smiled, stepping aside far enough for Teya to shake her hand.
“Teya, this is Goslin,” he said, as the girl accepted Teya’s hand and shook it happily.
“You’re so young,” Teya exclaimed as she looked at the girl.
“Nah, I’m really old. I’m fifty-two, to be exact. Just stuck in this body,” Goslin replied in a matter of fact tone.
“Where are Allen and Salina?” Ken asked.
“They went out early to the Northside of town, since that snow storm is coming. We were just passing through when we noticed the stench,” Rosa explained. Teya looked at the woman, who in turn couldn’t stop staring at her.
“I’m Rosa,” she said, introducing herself. “Sorry if we scared you.” Teya shook her head. Strangely, these vampires didn’t scare her at all.
“What’s that burning sand smell?” Goslin asked, searching the kitchen.
“The vampire hunters carry a high voltage Taser with them, strong enough to knock a vampire unconscious and perhaps kill them. Catch every scent in this room, and know it if you ever come across it again,” Ken directed. He turned toward Teya, pressing close to her and sandwiching her body in between the counter and his own.
“Are you alright?” he whispered in her ear at a barely audible tone. Teya just nodded. Ken turned his head toward Rosa, still blocking Teya from harm.
“Go to the bedroom. They moved the bed,” he directed. Rosa nodded, and she proceeded forward with Goslin.
“You have a huge bed,” Teya teased, remembering the first time she woke up here. Ken laughed softly.
“Yes, enough room to roll around in.” He teased her back.
“If only,” she replied, laughing as Rosa and Goslin returned.
“They were very persistent in finding something to frame you. You better watch yourself, Ken,” Rosa warned. “We’ll leave you guys alone for now. The storm is coming through, and you guys should head in for the night. We’ll inform Allen about this.” Ken nodded, and the duo disappeared.
“We should hurry before the storm hits,” he said, hurried.