Taking the exit for Shreveport, I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. I was so excited – and nervous – to be doing something that normal people did.
Meeting up with a friend for drinks.
Granted, most normal people would probably think sitting across from someone else whose chosen beverage was blood wasn’t too normal, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
Who was I to judge?
After all, I’d had a shot of vampire sheriff myself, just the night before.
The day had seemed to drag on and on – more than usual – but I was surprised I felt as energetic as I was, considering I’d hardly gotten any sleep and should have been nursing the hangover from hell that morning. But I’d felt fine.
More than fine, actually.
But it must have been my good mood that played tricks with my eyes because I would swear I even looked good.
And I wasn’t tooting my own horn, either.
When I’d woken up that morning, feeling like I could take on the world – and win – I suspected it was just the lingering effects of the tequila that had me feeling so brazen. But mirrors don’t lie and when I finally bit the bullet and took a good look in one, I was surprised at what I saw staring back at me.
I’d never looked better.
My skin appeared smoother, like I’d been airbrushed to the high heavens while I’d been asleep. Even my hair looked longer and brighter, with the natural highlights I had the sun to thank for, shining even more.
I didn’t know what to make of that.
But I did wonder if it had anything to do with my less than innocent dreams.
Let’s just say someone’s virgin ticket got punched when the Northman Express pulled into the Stackhouse Station.
But that was to be expected, right? I mean what red blooded woman wouldn’t dream about a walking talking sex on a stick after spending the evening with him in DEFCON 1 Flirt Mode?
At least I hoped that was his DEFCON 1 setting.
I couldn’t imagine how I would react if that was his least threatening DEFFLIRT 5.
But he’d been so sweet too. Not just for spending the evening, sitting and talking to boring little old me or even for having his Supe doctor look into my curse. He’d just treated me like, well…
Like a normal person.
Even knowing what I was – or what I suspected I was – he hadn’t shied away from me at all. If anything, he seemed to welcome physical contact from me.
I would’ve cried when he hugged me back, if I wasn’t so afraid of my tears killing him.
And he made me laugh, something that was a rare treat for me. I felt like I could truly be myself around him and while a part of me told myself to not get used to it – to not rely on having him around on a regular basis – I decided I would allow myself to enjoy it while it lasted.
I knew all too well that all good things must come to an end.
And I’d learned all too well that I was usually what caused their end to come around.
But I promised myself I would be extra careful with Eric. Treat him with kid gloves, so to speak. With him knowing what I suspected I was, then he knew enough to be careful too.
No matter what his little engine thought it could do.
Pulling into the parking lot of his bar, I was surprised to see it so crowded. I guess I shouldn’t have been, considering it was a Friday night, but a part of me had assumed people would be more afraid of going to a vampire bar.
So I guess that made me an ass for assuming.
But seeing the line of people waiting to get in, my nerves were getting the better of me. I hadn’t been in a crowd that large in a very long time.
And I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry realizing the dead were a part of the last time too.
But this wasn’t a funeral, so I tried to shore my nerves and pull up my big girl panties, in spite of the fact I wasn’t wearing any.
Not with this dress.
I didn’t splurge on frivolous things often – freelance work wasn’t a paycheck you could always count on – but my credit card and I had gone on an online pity party or two in the past. One born from missing out on things like proms, formals, parties, and the like, but I was glad for it now because I didn’t have to scramble to come up with something nice to wear for our date.
Red silk hugged me in all the right places and my matching high heeled shoes would put me a lot closer to Eric’s height than my usual flip flops. I’d played around with makeup in the past, but I actually had a reason to put some on tonight, so I’d put all of my practice to good use.
‘Go big or go home’ was my motto for tonight.
And home was the last place I wanted to go to right now.
I could do this.
“Are you going to sit there all night?”
I jumped in my seat and my keys went flying into the backseat before I turned towards the voice coming through my window and yelled, “Jesus!”
“Try again, lover,” he laughed and opened my car door, but needing my keys, I turned around to search for them when another surprised yelp left my lips.
Because someone – who wasn’t named Jesus – smacked me on my ass.
Turning around, I glared at him and said, “That tunnel is closed too.”
Regardless of what any blood test said, that tunnel would always be closed off to his pervy train.
He only laughed and continued to wipe away invisible lint from my ass, while I searched for my keys. But my glare turned into horror when I finally got out – keys in hand – and he asked, “Did you dream of me?”
“Wuh?” I ineloquently gulped.
And then I turned as red as my dress when he took a step closer – so I was between my car and his hard place – as he leaned down and said, “Don’t forget, I can feel what you feel now.”
Shaking what little bit of coherency I could muster back into my head, I decided what was good for the goose was good for the gander and intentionally pushed the front of my body against his and said, “Quid pro quo, Hannibal. I don’t need your weird voodoo vampire blood tie to feel what you’re feeling right now.”
Nor did I need it to know where the majority of his blood happened to be in his body right then.
But Christ did he smell good.
And we won’t even go into how good he looked in his leather pants.
Not going there at all.
But I was sure I would be revisiting the memory of them in my dreams.
He just chuckled and leaned down, pressing his lips against the top of my head, and whispered, “Oh, Clarice, you have no idea of what I am truly feeling right now.”
But since there was no hiding how I truly felt right then, I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, and leaned into him. He’d warned me that he couldn’t be his normal goofy self around everyone at the bar – apparently vampire sheriffs had a reputation to uphold and having a sense of humor wasn’t a part of it – so I only grasped onto his sides – instead of wrapping my arms around him like I wanted to – and whispered, “Thank you for inviting me, Eric. I had a great time tonight.”
Inhaling deeply before he pulled away, he looked down at me with concern and asked, “Are you leaving already?”
“No,” I smiled. “I just didn’t want to forget to thank you.”
Lord knew I would never forget going on my first date – as merely friends, or not.
His eyes softened for a fraction of a second, but as he reached for my hand I could see his vampire sheriff mask fall back into place. While he began walking us towards the door, he said, “No one should bother you here. You smell like me and you won’t leave my side this evening, but if anyone asks, you are to tell them that you are mine.”
“Sure,” I agreed, too busy jogging to keep up with him to say anything more.
But honestly, I didn’t care.
I would tell them I was Medusa if it meant I got to enjoy a night out on the town.
And it might not be such a bad idea if it meant people would stop staring at me, lest they turn into stone.
Because it wasn’t until we were reaching the line of people, waiting at the front of the building that I realized we’d already attracted attention.
A lot of it.
And given their expressions – that ranged from incredulous to seething jealous – I guessed I was in an envious position.
Thank god I wasn’t a telepath.
But I ignored them, well used to being stared at, and just tried to keep up with Eric when he came to a sudden stop. Looking up, I saw a gorgeous blond working the door, and it was more than her fangs peeking out from her blood red lips that told me she was a vampire.
Her predatory stare probably had a lot to do with that.
“Pam,” he acknowledged with a slight nod and then he pulled me to stand in front of him as he added, “Clarice.”
Considering my host, I supposed we were better off roleplaying Silence of the Lambs than The Little Engine that Could.
Her eyebrow rose up in a very familiar way before her eyes rolled into her head and back as she said, “Uh huh. Just call me Buffalo Bill.”
“Alright, Buffalo,” he replied as smooth as, well…my skin, actually.
It was better than a baby’s bottom.
But I didn’t need to look at him to know he was amused, hearing the humor in his tone when he added, “We’ll be in my booth.”
“Very well,” she nodded with another eye roll. “And I’ll be in the pits making sure they put the lotion on their skin before they get the hose again.”
They obviously had some sort of relationship – aside from possibly a mutual love of Jodie Foster movies – but given her snark, I had to wonder if she was one of his beneficial friends.
But friends don’t get jealous of a friend’s other friends.
Eh…how in the hell was I supposed to know.
As long as she didn’t try to start something, I would just go with the flow.
I’d hate for Eric to lose one of his benefits on account of little old me.
When we walked into the club, I had to smile at the clichéd décor and I turned towards Eric, repeating his words from the night before.
“This isn’t anything like I imagined.”
Granted, it was my first time in any bar, but I hadn’t thought Eric would own something so…
His chest rumbled in amusement as he led me to a booth that was obviously reserved just for him because there wasn’t an empty table to be seen anywhere else. But he waited until we were both seated – for some reason, with him taking a seat on the same side as me – to say, “It is what the humans expect to see.”
“And the OxiClean is to do away with what they don’t expect to see?” I asked with a smile.
But my joke reminded me of something else that had to do with the jokester at my side, so I added, “And I don’t know what to think about the gift you sent me this afternoon, so I’ll just say thanks and leave it at that.”
He’d sent me what could conceivably be every container of OxiClean in the state of Louisiana.
Or Renard Parish, at the very least.
I could only hope I wouldn’t one day need it to get the Eric bits out of my couch.
He sat back, with his arm thrown over the back of our seat, and his fingers toyed with my hair, as he replied, “I like to be prepared for every possibility.”
His suddenly ominous tone was contradicted by the playful tug on my hair, but before I could initiate a slap war – one I had no hope of winning and one his reputation couldn’t afford to participate in – a server came up to our table.
Teetering on heels she was either too inexperienced or too inebriated to walk in, she bowed down dramatically in front of him.
And let’s just say other parts of her were threatening to fall over too.
Like over and out of her top.
But I had to give him credit.
Ridiculously dressed and vapid was a spot on description.
Giving me a hateful glare, she turned her eyes to Eric who wasn’t paying her any mind and purred out, “Master.”
And my hair got another playful tug with my unintentional snort, so I tried to hide it with a cough.
But Eric didn’t acknowledge her at all and only turned to me, asking, “What would you like to drink?”
I wasn’t brave enough to tempt the tequila gods two nights in a row, but my palate was limited when it came to alcohol. And since it was my first time in a bar I figured now was as good of a time as any to try something new and answered, “Surprise me.”
But I would’ve had to have been a twenty-year two pack a day smoker to hide my reaction when he said, “She’ll have a Screaming Orgasm.”
My hair got a harder tug and he sounded amused when he added, “And a glass of water. My lover’s throat seems to be a little dry after her last screaming orgasm.”
Reaching under the table, I pinched his thigh – which did about as much damage as a moth to a headlight – and after she walked away, I whisper growled, “Keep it up, Master, and I’m gonna need all of that OxiClean you sent me.”
“What?” he asked, looking as innocent as a newborn baby bunny.
But then his eyes went from innocent to downright sinful, reminding me what bunnies were known for and why there were so many of them, when he said, “I’ll get you to have a screaming orgasm one way or another tonight. But feel free to move your hand further up my leg and you’ll see just how up I am keeping it, hearing you call me Master.”
Did anybody else see that?
I’m pretty sure I just saw my common sense and reason blow right on by.
Thankfully Teeter Tits tottered back to our table with my drink and instead of taking a sip I took a giant gulp, hoping to swallow any ridiculous ideas I may have had about trainspotting.
And it had nothing to do with injecting heroin.
“Oh my god,” I moaned, not knowing what the drink was made up of, but aside from the hints of coffee and chocolate I could taste, I was sure there were some baby unicorn snuggles mixed in there too.
“That’s it, lover,” the devil beside me purred into my ear. “Now slide your hand back up my leg and we’ll both have a reason to make that delicious sound.”
“I doubt anyone could top this,” the snuggly baby unicorn ventriloquisted out of my open lips.
And who was I to argue with something so cute?
But I made the mistake of looking over at Eric and I slammed my mouth shut before that furry little bastard could get me into any more trouble.
Because the look on Eric’s face told me trouble was something he was looking for.
Or plotting where his train could go, at the very least.
But spotting movement out of the corner of my eye, Eric seemed to notice it too and he stiffened.
More than just his train.
Turning to look at the person now standing next to our table, Eric’s hand moved from my hair to my waist, as he pulled me tightly against his body. But the only show of deference was made by Eric in the form of a deep nod and a single word.