The smells of the city were a mixture of pain and pleasure for a vampire. Each one distinct. Each one rated on a simple scale. Each smell categorized in a single fleeting second, latched onto with ferocity, dismissed or engaged before the blink of an eye.
The scent of blood was the strongest, perhaps only second to the smell of decaying flesh and rotting death. Body odor, liquor, and bodily fluids such as secretions belonged to the second tier. Sex was pure and raw. It summoned his kind easily. Called to them, beckoned, and ensnared their lust and primal desires. Cleaning supplies like bleach, fresh dripping rain, and everyday smells like food and fragrances rounded out the next tier. Each scent had a flavor, a tier in which it was placed. A sense of belonging that normalized a solitary monotonous existence.
The hierarchy provided order in chaos, whether in the pleasure of piercing naked flesh, in the pure action of sucking, or in the pain of denial. Denial, prolonged and extended especially, led to mayhem. The pain, the agony, the rage, was associated with hunger, a burning thirst that drove all need, beyond coherent thought, until it was sated.
By far, the sweetest smells seemed to give the shortest duration but were the most heightened and nostalgic smell to a vampire. They reminded you of life, the past, and your body before transformation. As a rule, most vampyre did not like sweet smells. They preferred the intensity and metallic linger of hot pulsating blood. Bitter. Copper. Wet. And so it was with Andre.
Until tonight. In the hierarchy of smell, he gave little thought or credence to the sweet scent of innocence or naivety. It usually passed him by, and thankfully so, because he did not have the patience to deal with frailty, vulnerability, or human curiosity. In his thousand years, he had never smelled a scent as delectable or enticing as hers. The one he had chosen to follow.
Perhaps that is why her scent caused him to pause, why it seemed to call to him, pulling and tugging on him from a distance. It yanked him from the tedious boredom and endless night. With great curiosity he followed the aroma until his eyes landed on the female who bore it. Female she definitely was, all curves and fluid grace, with a figure that he could more than appreciate. A figure to draw any man’s eye. He squatted in the darkness above her, watching as she entered her fifth floor apartment in the heart of the bustling city.
Through the open windows, he had a perfect view. His eyes followed her as she laid her keys on a table inside the door, hung up her long coat, and started flipping on lights. She walked immediately into her bedroom and stretched, her long limbs almost feline in their sensual movement. Kicking off her heels, she sat down on the bed, and began to remove long black stockings from her legs, inching them down the pale silky skin. He watched with rapt fascination at the curve of her thigh and calf as each one rolled down her leg and hit the floor.
She stood then, walking to the large bay window, seeming to realize the open wooden blinds. A clear view of her curvy figure was displayed from head to toe. He almost groaned in agony when he realized she was going to close them, an end to quite an enticing show. She paused at the window and stared right at him. With shock he noticed her eyes were a bright icy blue, clear and intelligent. He sucked in a breath, completely mesmerized.
She glanced away a few seconds later and closed the blinds, cutting her delicious figure off from his view. The girl had not been staring at him but rather the dark ebony night. It would have been impossible anyway but for a brief moment it had felt like they had connected. Bizarre. Why would he feel that for a simple human girl?
Andre still saw her as if she had never closed the blinds. His eyes lost their focus. She stood before him. Long, long legs that stretched for miles. She was not petite. He guessed five foot nine. Perfect for his six foot three frame. Beautiful eyes and a heart shaped face with full red lips. Long dark brown hair with red highlights that fell to her waist in soft curls at the ends. He sighed in appreciation. She was gorgeous.
A female had not caught his attention like this in decades, perhaps longer. He had little need for women. They satisfied his lust when necessary but they were easily discarded. Andre had learned long ago not to form attachments. Human lives were fleeting. It was not worth the effort. With his own kind, women were complicated and needy. He did not have the patience for their games.
It was not without effort. Female vampyre seemed to flock to him. He was careful not to prefer one over the other. Never the same woman twice in a month. They could be deadly when possessive. He remained the elusive bachelor and quite enjoyed the freedom it gave him. No woman led him like a puppet on a string. Andre made all of his own decisions.
This reflective knowledge brought him back to the present. Why was he here? This human girl would mean nothing but trouble. He knew it instinctively. If he stayed any longer he would do something he regretted. Desire for her initiated his hunger. They were linked, as for most vampyre, but not always acted upon. As much as he wanted to feed from her, he also did not want to disturb her. Something in her eyes held him at bay. She had a quiet dignity that demanded respect. He stood, almost reluctantly, and walked across the roof of the adjoining building.
Andre was ready to leap when he instantly stiffened. The senses of a vampire were his lifeblood. His ability to survive relied upon his instincts that were honed to perfection. Hearing, reflexes, agility, and speed were incredibly sensitive and fast. Exceptionally fast. At least the humans got that part right. Sparkly skin was something altogether different and made him cringe.
Danger. It shouted at him, causing his skin to hum and buzz. Shivers of anticipation ran along his body. Andre smiled, almost cruel and certainly deadly. This was where he excelled. Where his heightened senses and extensive training kicked in. The cry of danger thrilled him. Excited him. He hungered for a fight and the blood that was sure to follow. His body needed to release some of this pent up energy. He always seemed to have energy in excess.
Andre crept along the roof, stealthy in the ebony shroud of night, and listened. The evening would give away its secrets. Evening was a whore and she always invited him in. She called in her sing song voice, alluring and seductive. She would open her legs and surrender her spoils. She would give in. The night never refused him.
He owned the night.
Andre licked his lips in anticipation. Normally, he tuned out the boring conversation of humans. Nothing of consequence held his interest. Tonight though, he dialed in, fine tuning the sounds of the night.
“No, mom I’m not going to go out partying tonight.” A young girl talked on a cheap cell phone and hailed a nearby cab, clearly on her way to a club. Liar.
No danger. He listened again.
“Here Kitty.” An old lady called from a second story window, reaching her arms toward the feline.
No interest. He listened for the right conversation.
A couple on the first floor were fighting. Their cruel words evidence to Andre of the careless acts of humanity. He shook his head and tried again.
“I told you she lives on the fifth floor.”
That caught his attention.
“Why are we bothering with this chick?” A male voice asked.
“Because she snitched on my cousin. Her testimony put him away. She has it coming.”
Andre’s eyes narrowed. Who were they talking about?
“How are we going to get into her apartment?” The man whined.
“Leave that to me.”
“What does she look like man? I want to make sure we have the right girl.”
“Tall, brunette, long legs, pretty. You’ll enjoy every minute.” The first man laughed.
Andre froze. He knew now why the danger had sought him out. It was a warning. She was going to be attacked. The woman he had watched, the one with the delectable scent. All of his instincts kicked into gear. Rage started to boil under the surface. An instant wave of protectiveness swelled in his chest. He wanted to rip their throats out right there on the street.
“Let’s go. I paid the door man. He’ll let us inside.”
Andre followed them to the lower front entrance of the building and slipped inside behind them easily. He kept to the shadows, out of sight. Silent and vibrating fury, he trusted his thousand years of experience. These men would never see him coming. They would not survive this night.
Danger. He took the stairs and beat them to the fifth floor. Andre could hear the shower running in her apartment. She would never hear them break in. Danger! His body cried out and he had to crush the desire to kill them here and now. They had to act first. It was the law. Killing humans was not allowed unless they were going to commit a horrendous crime.
The two men broke through her door easily and without a struggle. Why hadn’t she installed a deadbolt? Where was her protection? Frail human girl. She could have stopped them. Somehow, he knew that would not have happened. They would have found a way. These men were determined. Hardened criminals.
He followed them into the apartment as they argued over the best way to surprise her. One of them glanced around the room in suspicion but they entered her bedroom as the water shut off. Foolish humans. They never obeyed their intuition. Danger! Andre prepared himself for attack. Their hands would not reach her.
The bathroom door opened and she stepped out, her body and her head wrapped in fluffy white towels. She looked angelic. In the few seconds he paused, stunned by the closeness of her beauty, the two men pounced. She screamed as they knocked her onto the bed. One of them grabbed her legs as another yanked the towel from her head. Danger! An inhuman growl escaped Andre and he lunged at the two men. He quickly grabbed them and twisted both of their necks with a snap, killing them instantly.
She shrank back from Andre in fear, scrambling across the bed in her haste, and hit her head. Hard. Out cold, she fell as he caught her. Gently, he placed her upon the bed. His chest constricted with the horror of what could have happened to her. What certainly would have happened. It was lucky for her he had been close by. These men had intended to assault her.
What secrets did she carry? How did she know these men? What snub did she inflict? Had she refused someone? Andre would find out. Someone put a hit on her and they were going to be quite apologetic when he was finished. He covered her with the comforter and waited for her to awaken, retreating into the shadows.
Andre paced her room, anxious and worried. He was surely a fool for sticking around but he could not leave her. Not until he knew she was alright. She had been frightened of him. For some unknown reason that irked him. Humans were always afraid of the vampyre and it was with good reason. But not tonight. Not him. Andre had saved her.
He managed to get rid of the bodies, dumping them where he knew the police would not find them, at least not for a while. She was still passed out when he slipped back into her room. Was she alright? How long was this going to take?
An hour later he was ready to bolt from the tension. He nearly left a dozen times. It would have been better if he did. Trouble was already starting and he did not even know who she was. Not yet. To make matters worse, he was getting thirsty.
Once her eyes opened and she sat up, her frightened face scanning around the room, he was lost. Her sweet melodic voice called to him. Damn.
This human girl would cost him everything.