Now back in bed and lying beside him – we’d destroyed two wall sconces and a hall table on our way to his room – I had to wonder just who the homicidal maniac was here.
The vampire or the maybe-venefica?
We both had the ‘homicidal’ part down pat. But from the way Eric put it, he was cuckoo for cocoa puffs when it came to me.
A true analogy, even on its face value.
But arguing with him – hearing him hiss and snarl and thoroughly despise how much he couldn’t help but to care about me – was a definite turn on.
Who knew a pissed off vampire could be so sexy?
Which led me to thinking the argument could also be made that I was in need of antipsychotic medication.
While I’d never felt such passion before – obviously – there was more to it than that. I just couldn’t be sure what – exactly – it was.
So I decided that was a mystery to be solved on another day.
But I could be sure that he would undoubtedly try to distract me again, if I brought up Bailey’s group.
So I regrouped.
And by regrouping, I meant I wondered how long it would take Amazon to ship me a silver pod I could encase myself in to keep him from sexing the argument right out of me.
A glance at the clock and my own mental calculations told me if I ordered it within the next six hours and twenty-three minutes, I could have it by the next day.
Not soon enough.
But dawn would be here soon enough, so I sat up and tried the direct approach by saying, “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m a fact checker by trade, so if you want me to agree to not approach Bailey, you’ll have to convince me.”
And then snickering at his Wayne’s World ‘Exsqueeze me?’ expression, I Vanna White waved my arm and challenged, “Ron Popeil me.”
His glare hearing Bailey’s name was replaced by a small upturn of his lips, hearing the name of his likely infomercial hero, but he was all business when he sat up too and said, “It’s too dangerous.”
My responding, “P…” was cutoff before the ‘shaw’ could follow, and his eyes were reduced to slits, while he questioned, “How many of my kind have they ended?”
A lot more than several, actually.
And because his fangs must be dual-purposed – acting like tiny antennae’s and allowing him to read my thoughts – I didn’t have to say a damn thing before he nodded with, “Exactly. You – of all people – know how strong we are. If it wasn’t for your…genetics, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because you would already be dead.”
Eric seemed more put off by that idea than me, but he only hesitated for a moment before adding, “If they can overpower one of my kind so easily, what makes you think you would be able to survive an attack by any one of them?”
In spite of his argument being over my safety, rather than him thinking it was just a dumb idea, I couldn’t help but to argue back, “What makes you think they would attack me? It’s not like I would waltz in and say, ‘Hey y’all! I’m here to spy on you for those vampers you hate so much! So who are you going after next and when do you plan on doing it? I need to know, so I can tell the vampire sheriff you know nothing about.’”
He only glared at my blond bobble head doll routine and repeated, “It’s too dangerous.”
But before I could dazzle him with my compelling, ‘meh meh meh meh meh meh meh’ argument, he angrily added, “If you were discovered – especially if it were to happen in the daytime – you would be left vulnerable. I won’t allow it.”
“Come again?” I glared.
Praise Jesus, hallelujah, and a-fucking-men.
Eric’s only comeback was a mixture of a snarl and a smirk – a snirk? – and the words, “You’re learning.”
And that was how I learned my lesson to not say the phrase, ‘come again’ to a perpetually frisky vampire, when there was still an hour left until sunrise.
Waking up the following morning – or more like afternoon – I was feeling better than I’d thought I would, considering Eric must have thought ‘fact checker’ was synonymous with ‘body contortionist’. But then I remembered I’d had his blood again.
So I made a mental note to get the facts from him about what it would do to me later on.
And because he was such a naughty vampire – in more ways than one – I didn’t feel an ounce of remorse when I clapped my hand on his spectacular ass to get the lights to turn on.
It was only fair, considering how much his ass – and his assiness – turned me on.
He really was sweet in a serial killer sort of way, but I couldn’t exactly throw stones.
We had that in common.
So once I was showered and dressed – in my own clothes, thank you Eric – I sat down with my breakfast bowl of Rocky Road to try to figure out where we could go from there.
Dealing with deadly drainers and vampire queens was much easier to think about than our oddball relationship.
The queen was well out of my wheelhouse. I knew nothing about her or their politics except for what Eric told me, so I would have to defer to him on that. But humans I knew. After all, I was one of them.
And humans like Bailey disgusted me. He was the kind of person who would smile affably and shake your hand, while using his other one to stab you in the back.
But wondering if something other than greed motivated him, I started digging into his past. I’d done enough research on his present to know he turned a tidy profit from selling vampire blood, but I hoped something more than money drove him to do the things he did.
Something we could use against him.
And by the time Eric rose later on that night, I was pretty sure I’d found it.
“You weren’t in my bed when I rose.”
His sudden appearance on the couch beside me made me jump, but I smiled anyway hearing the anger in his voice.
Angry at me for not being there or angry at himself for caring, I didn’t know.
But both my amusement and arousal hearing him simmer, reminded me of my need for a full psyche workup.
In the meantime, I ignored his words and his nakedness, instead pointing at the laptop screen and saying, “She looks sorta like me, don’t you think?”
Her hair was a rich chocolate brown, but other than that, I thought we could be twins.
Fraternal twins, but sisters at the very least.
His eyes darted to the screen and back to me in the blink of an eye – my eye, since his didn’t blink – when he admitted, “There are similarities.”
“I thought so too,” I smiled, as though I’d just agreed that a glass of sweet tea would be lovely. But he had no sweet tea and I was no sweet pea, so I went back to typing away and waited for him to ask the inevitable.
I didn’t have to wait long.
“Who is she?”
Smiling at his harsh tone – because a stint on a psychiatrist’s couch was undoubtedly in my future – I said, “Her name was Rebecca Lee. She was killed under suspicious circumstances three years ago.”
“And?” he asked, when I didn’t say anything more.
“And…” I drawled out before looking back at him to add, “She’s my in to Bailey’s group.”
“We already decided it was too dangerous.”
I briefly wondered what color the sky was in his wonky world, but shoved the thought aside and said, “No. You decided it was too dangerous. I decided to let it go in favor of more favorable activities.”
I couldn’t even pick my favorite one out of the bunch.
I enjoyed each and every one of them.
“Alright,” he leered. “I’ll bite.” And then chuckling, with his eyes following the path when my hand had subconsciously moved over the last place he’d bitten – my inner thigh – he asked, “How is a dead woman an in to the drainer’s group?”
His question was enough to get my mind off of last night’s skin flick and I found myself right back inside of a telenovela, as I gave him my verbal ‘dun, dun, dun, dun…’ saying, “She was Bailey’s mistress.”
Impressed was the exact opposite of what he appeared to be, so I pleaded my case straight out of Tom Clancy’s dead ass and said, “Don’t you see? All I need is a date with Lady Clairol and to put myself in his path. Three bats of my mascaraed lashes later and he’ll be singing like a canary!”
But hearing my own words, I wondered when my telenovela time traveled its way back to 1920’s.
While I was busy having an internal face-off between Al Capone and Michael Corleone, like two GI Joe action figures held in my mental hands, their ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ Tommy Gun gunfire was interrupted by a much deadlier figure who was now snarling in my face.
“You mean to seduce him?”
When he put it that way…
“No,” I pshawed and had no choice but to back up – both literally and figuratively – before the vampire with no personal boundaries planted his flag to mark my territory as his. But recalling his unfair blood-vantage into my emotions, I added with a shrug, “Maybe lead him on a little.”
Men and women alike had been doing that for centuries, so I certainly wasn’t breaking any new ground there.
And what better reason to Pied Piper him with promises of pussy than for the greater good?
Surely it was a more noble cause than for something as trite as jewelry or a new car.
Speaking of which…
“Whatever happened to my car?”
I’d wondered about it on and off over the last few nights, but I was pretty sure Eric would have gotten rid of it.
What with the Andre bits all over the inside.
It wouldn’t have been smart to leave it where it could be found, especially now that his mommy vampire was looking for who ended him.
I’d needed a new car anyway, but had put it off, not wanting to deal with smarmy car salesmen and the like. I would need one now, if I was going to put myself into play with Bailey.
I certainly couldn’t have the vampire sheriff dropping me off and picking me up where they could see him.
Maybe I could rent one?
While my Enterprising mind ran through the possibilities, Eric’s expression told me he was more apt to put a Hertz on someone. His predatory gaze never faltered, while nondescript sedans and compact cars flickered behind my eyes.
He didn’t breathe. He didn’t blink. His heart didn’t beat.
But I could tell he was a hot throbbing mess anyway.
Or perhaps that was just the inside of my panties.
Maybe electro-shock therapy would help my particular brand of crazy?
God knows Eric wasn’t any help at all. In moving the conversation along. In planning out what our next move should be.
In keeping his couch clean of my va-juice.
So I acted like all was well and he wasn’t one straw away from breaking the camel’s back, by showing him everything I’d found during my dig into Bailey’s online past.
Phone records. Emails. Hotel charges to his credit card. He’d been moving money into an offshore account and paid a retainer to a divorce lawyer in the weeks leading up to her death, which led me to believe he was about to leave his wife for his mistress.
“She’d been missing for two weeks when her body was found by some fishermen along the shoreline. The critters had gotten to her by then, but the autopsy revealed she’d died due to exsanguination.”
Glancing up at Eric to confirm he was following along, I could only confirm that his eyes were still staring back at me. He’d given me no other clue that he was paying attention, so I just kept talking and said, “He kind of laid low after that. There’s not a lot of activity in the months following her death, but when vampires came out a year later, he seemed to put the two and two together because only a few months later is when he first popped up on the drainer chatrooms.”
Despite his adulterous affair, I kind of felt bad for him. Reading their email exchanges, they appeared to really be in love with one another. While I’d never been in love myself, I had no doubt I would want to see justice served against the person responsible for killing the one person I loved more than anyone else in the world.
And maybe that made me a hypocrite, all things considered, but killing innocent vampires wasn’t going to bring James Bailey’s lover back from the dead. His love for her turned to hatred for vampires and it was his hate that drove him now.
I was just hoping to use my likeness to his dead lover to get him to open up about his plans.
With Eric sitting so close to me, his fangy antennae’s had really good reception because he finally spoke, with a type of finality in his voice, saying, “No.”
“No?” I echoed back at him and locked my knees together for good measure.
I wasn’t sure how much good that would do me, considering how lubricated my legs were further up, but a girl could try.
“No,” he repeated. “Just make a list of the drainers and their addresses and I will see that they are taken care of.”
“No,” I argued back. “These people are like a terror cell. You’d just be cutting the arm off of the monster, but ten more will grow back to take its place. I lucked out with finding Bailey, but I can tell he’s like midlevel management. He works for someone else and I suspect that someone else has a lot more Bailey’s under him. We need to find out who that is to find the rest of them.”
“No,” he glared back at me and then added, “Matter. I will cut off the other ten arms as they grow back, but you aren’t getting anywhere near them.”
Speaking of anywhere, I was coming to find out I wasn’t going to get anywhere by arguing with a thousand year old two year old. But I also wasn’t going to let him dictate what I could and couldn’t do.
He wasn’t my daddy.
He was Pam’s daddy.
So I internally agreed to disagree with him on the subject and outwardly changed it by asking, “Have you figured out what you’re going to tell your queen?”
The title still sounded ridiculous to my American ears because all I could picture was the stately Queen of England, with pointy teeth protruding from her upper lip.
“Theerio,” she would lisp out, waving to the crowd gathered around her.
He was still drilling me with his stare – like his initials were BP and oil could be found if he dug deep enough – but after a long moment he finally said, “No.”
Well, thanks for the enlightenment.
“Is that the only word you can say now?” I sarcastically asked.
“No,” he replied, sounding equally sarcastic, but amusement replaced whatever in the hell had been behind his eyes.
And there was a challenge in them too.
One I not so gracefully accepted by smirking back at him and asking with all of the crassness I possessed, the one question I didn’t think he would say no to.
“Do you wanna fuck?”
I’d been joking – mostly – but I learned something else that night.
Vampires were very literal creatures.
And after – quite literally – fucking the night away, I only dozed on and off until sunrise took Eric’s consciousness and his arguments along with it. Sneakily sliding out of bed and tiptoeing into the bathroom – not that he was going to wake up, but my guilt made it feel necessary – I quickly washed the sex off of me and got dressed.
Having been unconscious when he’d first brought me there, I had no idea where Eric’s house was in relation to Shreveport, so I wanted to get an early start. My digging into Bailey’s financial background showed he stopped at the same coffee shop every morning before work. It could be just a caffeine addiction, but it could also be a prime location for him to meet up with his fellow drainers. He wasn’t dumb enough to put everything he did online.
And maybe I was dumb enough to still be thinking from the depths of Tom Clancy’s dead ass.
I was sure it was an argument Eric would make when he woke up and found out what I’d done.
But hopefully he would be appeased by the fact I would be there for him to yell at, with all ten fingers and ten toes in attendance – uninjured and freshly caffeinated.
And I made a mental note to pick up a coffee pot while I was out.
Picking the least flashy car to drive from his collection in his garage proved to be more easily done than I’d expected.
I didn’t figure Eric to be the sort to drive a Prius, but when I thought about it I guessed he should be concerned about his carbon footprint, if he was going to be leaving an eternity of them.
Thankfully it had all of the bells and whistles, so I programmed the address of the coffee shop into the built-in GPS and set off on my early morning espionage.
Thirty minutes later, I was standing in line, waiting for my cup of mocha caramel heaven to be made. I’d arrived earlier than Bailey’s credit card receipts told me he normally would, so my plan was to sit at one of the tables in the back corner, sipping from my cup of nirvana, while my eyes drank in every customer.
I knew what he looked like from his driver’s license photo, so it would be easy enough to spot him.
A simple stakeout even Barney Fife couldn’t fuck up.
But apparently, I was no Barney Fife.
So it was no surprise when I felt the hand land on my shoulder and I turned to see James Bailey’s green eyes staring back at me, like he’d seen a ghost.
“Becca?” he questioned in a whispered voice full of disbelief.
I almost felt sorry for him.
But I’d already proven I wasn’t a good Christian, so I smiled sweetly and shook my head, saying, “No.”
I’d had no intention of approaching Bailey this morning. I was simply going to watch and listen. Maybe take some notes and pick up a coffee pot.
Along with a pamphlet on mental health if I spotted any.
I’d even dressed in the least sexy outfit I had, wearing baggy sweatpants and an oversized hoodie, with my hair pulled back in a messy knot and no makeup on my face.
Everything about me should have made me blend in with the beige walls surrounding us, but he’d noticed.
So maybe there was something to that allure after all.
And because he’d had yet to remove his hand from my shoulder, I had to wonder if he’d heard my denial at all. So I repeated it again, saying, “No. My name isn’t Becca.”
“Oh,” he breathed out and seemed to shake the fog from his eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s just that you look like someone I knew.”
At that very moment, the barista corroborated my claim by calling out, “Maggie? Mocha caramel latte.”
“That’s me,” I smiled at my own silliness.
I’d chosen Maggie, as in Margreet MacLeod.
Clarice Starling was getting old.
Reaching for my cup, I took a sip and smiled at him one last time before turning to take a seat at one of the tables in the far corner. Now that he’d noticed me, I didn’t want him to see me driving off in Eric’s car or give him any other reason to be suspicious.
Just playing it cool.
So cool, my last name should be Whip.
Something Eric might want to do to my ass when he heard about my morning.
And I made another mental note to look up brain disorders, feeling the moisture pooling in my panties at the thought.
Lost in my own debauched mind, I didn’t notice Bailey’s approach until it was too late and startled in my seat when he asked, “Do you mind?”
He’d been gesturing to the chair opposite me at the table I was sitting at and I only had a split second to decide if I was willing to incur Eric’s wrath.
But I also suspected it would end with me incurring the wrath of his titan, so I wasn’t exactly against the idea.
Besides, we were in a public setting. There was nothing Bailey could do to me here and he had been the one to approach me.
There wasn’t anything to set off his alarm bells.
And since mine would remain silent at least until sunset, I gave him a small shrug with an even smaller smile and my reply of, “No. I don’t mind.”
Even if the argument could be made that I was out of my mind.
God knows Eric would be out of his when he found out.