Deciphering who was a vampire and who wasn’t was becoming easier as the night wore on. While most of the vampires didn’t walk around with their fangs on display, they gave themselves away in their movements.
Or lack thereof.
But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know the one called Andre was a vampire. Not only did Eric acknowledge him, but his physical appearance – that of a teenager – was in direct contradiction to the age behind his devilish eyes.
And the eyes of the devil were undoubtedly upon me.
He had yet to do or say anything – other than creep me out – but something told me he was nothing like Eric.
To him, the name Billy Mays probably meant as much to him as Willie Mays.
Like Burger King or McDonald’s, basically it all tasted the same.
My own eyes dropped down to the table, while a shiver worked its way down my spine. One Eric must have felt because he held me tighter and attempted to soothe me with slow strokes of his fingertips along my hip, with his movements hidden by the tabletop.
But he kept the majority of his attention on the teenage mutant ninja terror, saying, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company this evening?”
Even with my eyes trained downward, I could see him move to sit across from us and my stomach flip flopped again hearing the apathy in his voice when he replied, “She sent me on an errand.”
I could easily imagine him making a Buffalo Bill skin suit and sounding just as bored.
Pam was going to need a new nickname.
He had a lock on that one.
Aside from the death grip Eric had on me at his side, he appeared to be completely at ease. But I knew it was a farce.
Just like I somehow knew Baby Face Nelson hadn’t been sent off in search of something as innocuous as a cup of sugar.
Or even a 1930’s bank full of loot.
Nodding in my peripheral, Eric asked, “Can I be of any assistance?”
While I pondered the possibility I could be sitting across from the actual Jack the Ripper, Eric turned into Jack the Gripper, with his fingers digging into my thigh, when he softly responded, “Compton has failed to make contact with her, since his arrival in your area.”
While they talked I made myself busy by doing my own impersonation of either an eerily still vampire or a fly on the wall.
Take your pick.
But I recognized the last name of my former neighbor and could only assume one thing.
He was talking about Mutton Chops.
Eric had warned me one of the vampires from that night worked for another more politically powerful vampire and that someone would come looking for them.
Here and now, by the one who was neither a boy nor a scout – in spite of his boyish appearance – sitting across from me, it seemed.
But considering his unexpected appearance in Eric’s bar, I felt it was safe to assume something else too.
Eric hadn’t reported Mutton Chops’ disappearance yet.
Wondering for a moment if his picture would be plastered to the sides of True Blood bottles in the very near future, my errant thought was quickly replaced by something else much more disturbing.
The thought of Eric meeting his end for covering up my part in Mutton Chops’ death.
My panic began to rise and with it, my mouth opened, ready to confess to the crime, when Eric’s fingers dug deeper into my leg and halted my impending revelation by casually asking, “He hasn’t returned to New Orleans?”
His reply had no inflection, but the question could be inferred just the same.
So Eric went on to say, “Compton checked out of my area forty-eight hours after checking in. Had I known he’d been here in an official capacity, I would have informed her of his departure.”
His reply had no inflection, but the accusation could be inferred just the same.
Eric didn’t appreciate being kept in the dark about Mutton Chops’ purpose for being there.
Whatever that purpose may have been.
“Did he give any reason for checking out so soon after his arrival?”
“No,” Eric answered just as nonchalantly as his guest. “When he’d checked in, he’d claimed to be looking into reacquiring his former human home.”
And in spite of my Andre induced ass pucker, I had to bite the inside of my cheeks to stop the snicker that threatened to come out of my throat, when Eric casually added, “I’d assumed whatever he’d found there wasn’t what he’d expected and thought perhaps he had…bitten off more than he could chew.”
And it was also a safe bet I’d just confirmed my reservation in Hell for wanting to laugh at Eric’s carefully crafted but truthful answer.
BTK – Blond Teenage Killer – across from us seemed to chew on Eric’s explanation for several long tortuous moments and Eric’s hand used that time to slowly make its way up my back to play with my hair again.
He didn’t appear to be flustered in the least, so I took that as a sign I could start to relax. But my heart was quickly back to jackhammering its way out of my chest, with Eric becoming rigid at my side, when I was suddenly drawn into their conversation, hearing his guest say, “Look at me human.”
The want to scoff at his label for me came and went just as quickly as my nerve, but I raised my eyes just the same and met his own staring back at me.
The intensity of his gaze reminded me of Mutton Chops’, but I refused to blink as he asked, “What is your name?”
Be it instinct or the invisible yellow caution flag I could sense Eric was waving in between us, something told me to not give him my real name.
So I gave him the one I’d been using all night long and answered, “Clarice.”
Wondering if he would ask if the lambs’ screams still kept me up at night, something else screamed inside of me when he only said, “You smell incredible.”
I wasn’t so sure my patented Bath and Body Works excuse would work on him, but it didn’t matter because Eric’s hand moved from my back to snake his arm over my shoulder and came to a rest on the top of my breast, while he said, “She should.”
And then dipping his fingertip inside of my dress, he blazed a not so subtle trail tracing along the plunging neckline, while his eyes blazed in a different sort of way when he added, “She smells like me.”
The inference was there and under other circumstances I would like to think I’d have a feminist moment and spout off about me being my own woman, thank you very much.
But under these circumstances, I was just hoping I wouldn’t have a bowel movement and kept quiet, while my ass did its own impersonation of Jack the Gripper.
And let me tell you…it wasn’t nearly as sexy as Eric’s.
“Not completely,” he replied in a way that I was sure another inference could be made.
But I wasn’t picking up what he was putting down.
It was just as well.
I couldn’t bend over in this dress anyway.
But Doc Ock at my side had the benefit of a freakishly long arm span and seemed to pick up whatever it was Andre had laid down at our feet, although I still wasn’t sure what he’d meant when Eric shrugged and said, “I’m saving her for a special occasion. It doesn’t make her any less mine.”
Saving me for a special occasion?
Maybe I should have told him my name was Cristal?
Finally having an idea of what they were talking about, I tried to keep my blush from materializing at the thought of Eric popping my cork.
Because in spite of my body’s desires, I had no desire to break out my new tubs of OxiClean where he was concerned.
“You don’t usually keep pets.”
Again, I couldn’t be sure what they were talking about, but I got the feeling they weren’t talking about a tabby.
However I was pretty sure a pussy was implied nonetheless.
“Nor am I keeping one now,” Eric replied with a little more malice in his voice. “I wouldn’t give a pet my blood.”
So now probably wasn’t a good time to purr…
If I stood up, I was sure I would be tripping over the plethora of things they were throwing down, but in spite of Shorty’s stature, I had no way of knowing who would win in a fight between them. Something about the other vampire exuded danger – more so than just because he was a vampire – so I made a decision right then and there about what I would do.
If he lunged, then I would too.
After all, I had a lifetime supply of OxiClean and I wasn’t afraid to use it.
Not where he was concerned.
Friends don’t let friends take shit from anybody else. And that’s what Eric was.
I would have his back.
Feeling empowered by the knowledge that we really didn’t have anything to fear from Pipsqueak – it would hurt like hell for a moment, but I knew firsthand that pain would subside quickly – I sat up a little taller and leaned into Eric’s side, making a show that I was undoubtedly his.
And since his cold beady eyes had yet to leave me, he saw me do it.
And when they narrowed with derision, I damn near offered him my wrist for a snack.
After all, I’d given up on being a good Christian a long time ago.
Eric straightened up a bit too and went back to playing with my hair, while he said, “If I hear from Compton, I’ll inform him she is looking for him.”
I nearly suggested he try using a Ouija board because I doubted there was a cell signal where Mutton Chops was, but I kept my snark to myself, as Eric added, “Is there anything else I can do for you this evening?”
His eyes slowly traveled back and forth between Eric and I before he pushed himself to his feet and departed with nothing more than a, “No.”
I really wished Eric was telepathic right then because I had a bunch of questions. But I knew vampires could hear a mouse fart three towns over, so I kept the majority of them to myself for now and asked the most innocent one of the bunch.
Leaning into him some more, I whispered, “What did he mean when he said I don’t smell like you completely?”
“My cum,” Eric replied at a decibel level even humans could hear in a ten foot radius of us.
I knew because every head in our vicinity whipped our way.
Leaning down towards me, he softly added, “You should be bathed in it.”
And that’s what I got for thinking my question was an innocent one.
Blushing to the high heavens, I grumbled out, “I think I’m allergic to irony.”
But when I really thought about it, I ended up giggling, “But that gives a whole new meaning to the concept of Bath and Body Works. Maybe you should look into marketing it.”
Instead of laughing at my joke – a vampire sheriff no-no I was sure – he leaned further down and pushed his face against my neck, causing a different kind of shiver to work its way down my spine, as he whispered, “It’s a problem. You need to smell like me completely the next time he returns. Not only am I not known for keeping pets, no one would believe I would save you for very long.”
“Is there a ‘Use By’ date on my ass that I’m unaware of?” I asked, trying to wrap my head around the idea of my…of his…of our…
God…is it hot in here?
While I looked around for the faulty heat lamps, that were surely about to overcook the humanburgers, Eric only added to the heatwave by saying, “I’ll let you know when I finally get to bend you over my desk.”
Now so wasn’t a good time for him to be purring.
Or a good time for me to be mewling at the thought, thanks to the visual he’d just painted using nothing more than his bodily fluids.
But since mine were the more toxic of the two, I tried to cool us both off with another joke and snickered out, “If you’re having an issue, I hear Pam has the lotion for your hose at the door. Need a magazine for some inspiration? I might have a Victoria’s Secret catalog in my car if you want to borrow it.”
And when his growl against my skin tickled, I laughed, “On second thought, you can keep it. I wouldn’t want it back.”
Eric’s hand landed on my leg, with his fingers slowly trailing up underneath the hem of my dress, while he asked, “Are you wearing their wares, lover?”
But I managed to keep that to myself and pushed his hand back down my leg to keep Victoria’s Secret to myself, while I only said, “Nunya.”
Pulling back slightly, he turned my chin to face him and spoke so softly I practically had to read his lips when he said, “I wasn’t joking. If he returns with…his boss in tow, you need to smell like me.”
“Then you get the lotion and I’ll get the turkey baster,” I whispered in return.
Because I was sure more than his bird would be cooked if we tried to accomplish that task the old fashioned way.
I smiled again, seeing the look of confusion on his face, and figured he’d have no need to know what a turkey baster was.
The NuWave Oven Pro didn’t use them on their late night infomercials.
But he must have gotten the gist of my jibe because he segued into a related topic by saying, “I should have the preliminary test results by tomorrow evening.”
“Really?” I asked, full of excitement, but then deflated a little not knowing what I wanted to hear more.
That I was just crazy – a normal woman with an abnormal amount of bad luck?
Or if I really was cursed – but sane – because it really was true?
“Hey,” Eric softly said, tilting my head by my chin so my eyes would meet his again. There was a small upturn of his lips, but both his eyes and his voice filled with conviction when he said, “I promise you…we will find answers.”
Something told me that when Eric made a promise, he kept it. So I tried to shake away my confusing thoughts and my responding smile was a genuine one when he followed up with, “Care to dance, lover?”
Dancing was a passion of mine, but I’d never had the good fortune of having someone to dance with and I barely kept myself from crawling over him to get out of the booth in my excitement. But as soon as we hit the dance floor and my body started moving to the beat of the music, I quickly learned I wasn’t the only one who was excited.
As if he could read my thoughts – and I didn’t need telepathy to know his were dirty ones – he spun me around and grabbed onto my hips, pulling my ass against the front of his body and grinded his…excitement against me.
Leaning back into him, I shimmied against his front and chuckled, “Is that a turkey baster in your pocket or are you happy to see me?”
He ignored my question, with his hands taking liberties that should have had me revoking his privileges, but I was getting used to Grabby McGroperson and didn’t mind.
For once, I truly felt like I didn’t have a care in the world.
At least I was carefree up until he leaned down to whisper in my ear, “Keep tempting me and you’ll see just how happy I am when I baste you in my cum.”
Then I only cared that I wasn’t wearing any panties.
I could have used them right about then to dam the leak that sprung up in my girly bits.
But as the saying went, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ and I was an old pro at ignoring things.
And hopefully I’d be able to ignore his bliss.
We continued to dance long into the night and by the end of it I was tuckered out.
At least all the way up until Eric walked me to my car to say goodnight.
“I had a really good time,” I offered softly, not wanting the night to end, but knowing I couldn’t stay forever.
But I would have been perfectly happy to stay for now.
However I knew that wasn’t an option, what with the impending sunrise and all.
“As did I,” he smiled back at me.
The parking lot was nearly empty by then and it appeared he’d left his sheriff mask at the door because I was undoubtedly staring back at just Eric.
Throughout the night I kept forcing myself to repeat the label I’d slapped onto him before my mind could try to give him another one.
One that was three letters longer and gender based.
I wasn’t sure what to do next and awkwardly stood there trying to decide.
Do I give him a handshake?
Do I give him a hug?
Do I ask him when I’ll see him again?
Can I ask him if he had to be sewn into those leather pants?
I only realized I’d been fanning myself over that last thought, imagining Velcro seams kept them together and the most expedient way to remove them from his body, when he closed the slight distance between us and wrapped his arms around my body.
Pressing his lips against my forehead, he kisspered – a kiss and a whisper – “I’ll call you tomorrow as soon as I hear from the doctor.”
It was just the reminder I needed to keep myself from kissing him back.
Apparently I’d forgotten my kid gloves in the car.
But I tried to hide my disappointment that I might not see him the following night. I knew he was a busy man. An important man with important vampire sheriff things to do and I was sure his bar would be jam packed on a Saturday night.
He couldn’t hang out with me every night.
And it was just as difficult to try and hide my irrational jealousy over the thought of him hanging out with some other woman.
Or in her.
So I pushed it away as best I could, while pulling up my big girl panties, and only said, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
Pressing my lips against his chest, I smiled at the red kiss I’d marked him with, and repeated the gist of the Pretty Woman quote I’d given him when I arrived by saying, “Thank you again for tonight. I had a great time.”
And remembering her mantra – kissing was too personal – only in my case I changed personal to deadly – I quickly pulled away from him and got into my car.
Eric hadn’t moved from the spot I’d left him in, but I knew if I didn’t leave then, I never would. So with a departing wave, I put the car in gear and took off.
My head was in a daze – and I was ignoring the shit out of my blissful heart – as I took the entrance ramp for the interstate highway that would lead me back home. With the windows down, my hair was whipping in the wind and I tried to focus on the songs on the radio to keep me from focusing on vampire sheriffs and their leather pants, knowing he could feel what I felt.
Just the thought of needing to use my new stash of OxiClean on the seat of my car because of the leak he caused in my dam made me as red as my dress.
But that thought was quickly replaced by my terror when I suddenly had an unexpected passenger.
Without any time to get my bearings – much less hit the brakes – he grabbed a hold of the back of my neck and yanked me towards his open mouth.
No words came out of it, but his fangs did.
There was no time to react, so all I could do was brace for the pain when his teeth pierced the skin of my throat. But I didn’t have the expected neener neener feeling of triumph when he exploded into bloody bits around me.
Because I hadn’t expected him rip into the side of my neck like a rabid animal.
Not only had he bitten off more than he could chew.
I suspected he’d bitten off more than I could recover from.
My hand reached up to feel the torn flaps of my no longer pristine skin, while my heart pumped the warm blood out of my body and through my fingers. I vaguely felt the car pitching forward into the ditch on the side of the road, but I couldn’t really see it now that my vision was rapidly fading to black.
It was just as well.
But on the bright side, at least I would be dying after the best night of my life.