Non-Bacon Bits of My Sexy Vampire Novel

I am trying to force myself to work on my novel rather than, y’know, wax verbose about Jesus & healthcare & what not. Instead, I started reading my novel & found a part that’s not too spoilery & also miraculously not bacon-related. Since some of you have been pestering me for more bits, I felt it wouldn’t do too much harm to post it.

This is most of chapter four. I hope you don’t hate it. I am totally in love with Sasha & Charlie, so please be nice to them if you feel you need to comment. It’s not their fault if anything you read sucks. It’s totally mine. Anyhow…here you are:

***

She bolted upright. She was in her room, in her bed. She was in her white nightgown. No Pepperidge Farm guy, no spaceship, no pool. No sunlight. She looked toward the door. Charlie was propped up against it, sleeping. She wondered why the fuck he was still there. Then she remembered the door.

“Dammit!” she whispered loudly, not wanting to wake him. She found herself, however, tip toeing toward him. She crouched down, thought about touching his shoulder, stopped herself. She studied his face. He had a five o’clock shadow now, or something like one. His beard was coming in kind of greyish red. That was sweet.

And of course, utterly inconsequential. She gently shook his shoulder. “Charlie. Wake up. Charlie!” His blue eyes popped open, looked immediately and directly into hers.

He lifted a weapon he didn’t have, knocking her on her arse in the process. She stayed there, folded her arms, scowled at him. “Going to shoot me again?”

He looked in pure terror for a moment, and white as her. Then he remembered everything else that had transpired. “Wait. No. Sorry. Instinct. I, uh…” He rubbed his neck. “Jesus Christ. How long have I been sleeping against the door?” He shifted his weight, clearly not enjoying the new sensations the act brought to his body.

“Well, dawn was five-ish, and sunset was eightish, so you’ve been asleep for nine hours?”

He chortled. “No. No, I have definitely not been asleep for nine hours. I spent the first two trying to get out of here. Then I took a whiz. Then I went through your bathroom cabinets.”

She glared at him.

His eyes went wide and he kind of smiled. “What?! You would have done the same thing.”

“I would not. That’s totally rude.”

He cocked an eyebrow at her.

She sighed. “Ok fine. Did you find anything interesting?”

“Of course not. You obviously don’t get sick, and you apparently don’t menstruate, and your taste in creams & other various chick crap is outrageously expensive. Creme de la Mer? For someone who never goes in the sun or ages?”

She absent mindedly stroked her own cheek. “We get dry skin. An all blood diet is very drying.” She stood up and went over to sit on the bed.

He made a face. “I’ll bet. You also have a bewildering array of perfumes.”

“Different meals…men. Different men like different things.”

“Wow.”

“Well! If I’m going to entice somebody, I have to, you know, do all I can.”

“I’ll bet.” He started to stand up, and his knees didn’t like that. He sat back down. “Your shower and tub are immense.”

“I like to soak.”

“I took a shower. But you don’t have any razors so I didn’t shave.”

“Oh. Ok.”

“It would be nice if you had some body wash that wasn’t floral.”

“Sorry I don’t have Eau de Nosy Bastard in my cabinets. I don’t have many men in here, you know. Hey! What towel did you use?”

“Simmer. I grabbed a clean one from your linen thingy and put it in the hamper when I was done.”

She blew her bangs out of her eyes. “That was at least considerate.”

“You have no reading material in here so I just sat here for a while trying to figure out what your deal was and I must have fallen asleep.”

“I have an entire drawer full of magazines, right here.”

“Yes, magazines. Vogue. Bazaar. Allure. Conde Nast Traveler. Like I said, no reading material.”

“Sorry I have no Guns n’ Ammo for you.”

“Please. I like books. Plus there’s a tad more than magazines in that drawer.”

“Hey!”

“Look, I’m not judging, I get it. You’re single. Whatever.” He thought perhaps she was blushing, then he realized that she was in fact blushing up a storm. She almost looked Elizabethan in her blushing, and remembered that any blood rushing to her pale cheeks was going to appear pretty intense. And this was sort of fun. So he said, “However, most single women don’t need that much lube.”

“Don’t be horrible. I only have the one tube and you know it.”

“Hah, gotcha, I didn’t even see any lube.”

“I hate you.”

“Heh heh.” He sat back and smiled and regarded her. Lord, she was pissed. It was kind of fun. Yes, definitely kind of fun pissing her off. “So I don’t get it. You’re young. Looking. Young looking. And passable. You can’t get laid whenever you feel like it?”

Her eyes went vivid. “What is wrong with you? Who even asks questions like that?”

“Someone who’s been trapped in a vacuous woman’s bedroom for nine hours.”

“Vacuous. I’ll show you vacuous.” She rose from the bed in one effortless step and started to charge toward him. He now quickly remembered exactly what she was. He shrunk back against the door and made the sign of the cross with his fingers. She stopped short.

“Are you serious?” she said, with a strange look on her face. It was a mix of disbelief, pity, and amusement.

“What?” he said, thrusting the cross he made with his index fingers toward her.

“If holy water doesn’t do anything to me, why would that? And do you honestly think I would kill you now? Don’t you think I would have done so before I fell asleep?”

He thought about that for a second, dropped his hands to his side, and felt stupid. “About that,” he said, desiring greatly to change the subject. “You literally fell asleep.”

She reached out a hand to help him stand up. It hurt his back to move it, but was inevitable. And her assistance did actually help. She was strong. She sat back on the bed. “When the sun rises, we do literally sleep the sleep of the dead. Maybe that’s why people made up the idea that we’re undead. Who knows? In any event, it’s unpreventable, which is why I need to be in a sunproof area when dawn arrives.” She waved her arm around the room. “Hence the automatic system. I’m sorry it locked you in.”

“Eh, I know better now.” He sat down on the bed next to her and shrugged.

She regarded him with a bit of a surprised look on her face for a moment, then half smiled, scowled, then went blank. It was an interesting bit of improvised dance and he was interested to find out what it all meant. Finally she said, “You didn’t kill me.”

He looked her directly in the eyes, then down into her lap, then on to the floor. “Nope, I didn’t. I dunno. Didn’t seem…fair.”

“Wow. Thanks.” She was definitely being sarcastic.

“That came out wrong.”

“I’d say!” She glared at the floor. Then that scowl again. “And that’s another thing!” she burst out with more volume than she liked. “I distinctly remember falling on the floor. But I woke up in the bed.” Her lower lip was going as she grasped his upper arms, looked him directly in the eye, and said, “Did you molest me in my sleep?”

“What?” he partly laughed. “No, good lord no. It just…it didn’t seem right to leave you on the floor.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“Wouldn’t you have woken up or something?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t have been able to do a thing about it, it’s like when humans use…” She cut herself off. Well, she thought, that was brilliant. Way to make yourself more vulnerable, dingus.

He smiled crookedly. “Seriously, I could have gone all love doll on you and you would have had no idea? Really?”

She glared at him and jumped back on the bed. “Oh my God!”

“No, no, I wouldn’t. I mean, that’s…that really is kind of disgusting on a number of levels.”

She made a face. “What is that supposed to mean?”

He was confused. “What do you mean what does that mean? It means that rape is disgusting and I’ve never needed to make a woman unconscious to have my way with her in my life. Why start now?”

The odd face she was making softened a bit and she said, “Well, good. I appreciate that. I mean, I probably would have realized when I woke up, I mean, I guess.”

He felt a bit uncomfortable. “Er, probably.”

“Being that it’s kind of, er, a fluidy process and all.”

“Uh…”

“Well!” She cleared her throat. “I’m going to have a shower and then we are going to get to the bottom of this vile person that killed the little boys.”

“Um…”

She whipped around, annoyed that the non-sexual train of thought she had hopped was now derailed. Upon seeing his face, however, she felt a little sheepish. He seemed at a loss. She softened a hair. “Um what?” Just the hair.

“Well, I am not sure what you had planned, as far as the investigating is concerned, but I should like a change of clothes. And I like plans. And being in on them.”

She blew her bangs out of her eyes. “Well. What was your plan?”

He thought, then looked at the carpet, at her pedicure. Her toenails were a very soft, extremely girly pink. Cotton candyish. “My plan was to, er, kill you.”

“Well! That is right out.”

He threw his hands up in front of him, palms out in a gesture of peace. “Agreed, agreed!” he said quickly, feeling a bit stupid about the whole last several hours. “So…what I would do next is narrow down my field. I am still inclined, though not as much, I promise, to think vampire here.”

She sighed just a tad. “I thought as much, which is why we’re going to Gem.”

“Exactly.” Then his mind became a clouded mystery land. “Wait. What?”

“Gem is where all those idiots are going to be tonight.”

“What idiots?”

“My idiots. My people.”

He scratched the back of his head. “Your people are going to be at ladies’ night in a nightclub at the Sierra Nevada Hotel?”

It sounded kinda stupid when he said it out loud. “Yes,” she said, trying to make it seem perfectly reasonable.

“Vampires. Are going to be at ladies’ night in a nightclub at the Sierra Nevada Hotel? Home of the four dollar locals’ buffet and Country Wednesdays and frequent venue for Penn & Teller?”

“For Chrissakes, yes. Why is that so hard to grasp?”

“Um. It seems kinda. I dunno. Not glamorous.”

“Why should it be so glamorous?”

“I don’t know. Shouldn’t it be glamorous and dramatic?”

“Charlie, where are we?”

“Uh, Park Tower?”

She glared at him.

“Downtown?”

She glared more. He said nothing, just stared pointedly back with wide eyes.

“Reno, Charlie. We are in Reno. What were you expecting? That we all teleport to Berlin for Witching Hour at Sexhaus?”

“What at where?”

“Oh for Chrissakes.” She turned on her heel without further comment and shut the bathroom door behind her.

“Um, Sasha?”

She shouted from behind the door, “Fuck! What?!”

“I need to get clothes.”

“Yes, can I shower now & then we will get clothes?”

“I just need to pop across the street to the Estate. Can I just go grab my shit and bring it back here?”

The door flew open. “I thought you were local.”

“Heh. I thought you killed some folks.”

She drew air through her teeth. “Is there a damned thing you told me that wasn’t a bald faced lie?”

“Um. Yeah, there were a couple of true things.”

She leaned against the door frame. She had undone a few of her nightgown’s buttons and did not seem to be aware of this. He was trying to also not be aware. “Care to elaborate on the true stuff?”

“Um. Not at this time.”

She rolled her eyes and slammed the bathroom door shut again. “My keys are on the hall console. Be back within twenty minutes.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, continuing to stare at the door absentmindedly.

“Fucking go!”

Remembering she could feel him staring, he jumped, found the keys, left. Halfway across the street it dawned on him that he left his coat and shotgun in her apartment. Sloppy. No, that’s not an appropriate word. Wait. Sure it is. Whatever. Who cares? Who am I talking to?

A car horn alerted him to the fact he was still standing in the middle of the street, talking to himself. He thankfully had his Golden Estate key card in his jean pocket. He entered his hotel room, realised he had only really unpacked the gun, and just zipped up the suitcase and grabbed his hat. He had brought his father’s fedora with him everywhere since he was twenty-seven. He rarely wore it,  but he always had it on hand, just in case. Just in case what? Well, today he would put it on, and did.

As he strode past the elevator…guy…(what the hell was the purpose of those people, anyway? It’s not like they were actual security personnel), the elevator guy asked, “Would you like to check out, sir?”

He kept walking, then whirled around. “What?”

The elevator guy’s eyes drifted down to the suitcase. “Are you checking out sir? I can call down to the desk, get you an express check out.”
Charlie realized this was going to sound weird, then said, “No, I have no intention of leaving yet, thanks.” He fingered the brim of his father’s hat a second and whirled back around. He had somewhere to be.

The doorman at the Park didn’t give him a second glance, but he could feel the questions. He allowed himself a slightly self satisfied grin. You think she got laid, like she won. You’re an idiot, door dude. Then, as he stepped into the elevator, No, you’re the moron, Charlie. He thinks you got laid, he thinks you won. But you didn’t win. You’re an idiot moron with a suitcase and an anachronistic hat who is about to go to a stupid club with a…chick.

He tried to clear his mind completely as nothing happening in there was making him happy. The elevator seemed to be taking eight years. It stopped, but the doors didn’t open. He realized this when he walked straight into them. He tried this again two more times, started huffing, then remembered the key entry. He finally did everything correctly, got through the huge double doors in the entry way, and no longer heard the shower running. He started to walk into the bedroom, but found himself chest to door again.

“Hello? What the hell?” he glowered at the door.

“Um, I like to get dressed without an audience, thanks,” came the muffled reply from within.

He blinked, then stepped back a second. “Oh. Right.” He set his suitcase down while continuing to stare at the door, backed up a little more, then thoughtlessly removed his hat and set it down on a console table running behind one of her sumptuous couches. He leaned against the table and felt a wet nose and furry face bump against his fist. It was Sadie, the chubby tortie who did not fear people butts. He scratched behind her ear and she purred happily in response. A couple of minutes later, the doors swung open.

He was greeted by a whiff of herbally floraly shower gel or shampoo and the briefest hint of steam. She was bent over trying to do something with a shoe strap, so all he saw was mostly a tangle of wet blondish streaks on darkish hair. She apparently could see him, though, because she said, between grunts of frustration with the shoe straps, “Why haven’t you changed?”

He didn’t have a good answer. He made one up. “I didn’t know the dress code. I wanted to see what you were wearing so I would blend in.”
She stopped moving for a moment, then he saw her shoulder blades rise a bit. “Makes sense. Well?” she stood up, swept a hand across her body. “Got anything suitable and, oh Christ, uncreased in that suitcase?”

He didn’t answer immediately because he was half trying to remember if he did have anything even remotely complimentary in his suitcase, and half not trying to have any further reactions. Her black dress was perfectly fitted to her body, mighta been DVF or Black Halo, something in that vein. It was basically a black jersey column mini broken up with cut-outs. There was a cut-out segment over each side of her waist, and cut-outs over each clavicle, making it essentially a halter with off the shoulder details. It was kinda stunning. Her white skin peeking out of spots of the austere black was something. And was she wearing fishnet hose? And t-strap black patent leather stiletto heels?

Her face was make-up free & her hair was a tangle of highlights, but for some reason that bordered on charming. But she was glaring at him.
“Hello? Anything suitable?”

“Uh, yeah, yeah I have a black suit and a black shirt or maybe even a red one in there, but probably have to steam it…”

“I have a steamer. Here.” She lifted the suitcase effortlessly, brought it into the bedroom and plopped it on the bed. She had made it, this time pulling the duvet all the way up to the pillows. No seductions tonight. She then disappeared into a walk-in closet and came out with a stand up steamer as he unzipped the case. Sure enough, the suit components were an unholy wreck.

She took them from him and hung them on the steamer. He began to hand her the red shirt and she made a face, failed to extend her arm to retrieve it from him. “What?” he asked.

“It’s not Saturday Night Fever, Fonzarelli. The black one.”

“What the hell is wrong with the red one?”

“Really? Really do you want me to go there?”

He was hurt, but he set the red shirt back. “I’ve been told I look good in red.”

“I’m sure you do,” she said, patting his arm in a condescending, emasculating manner. “But if I wanted to show up with Travolta von Winkler, I would have asked you to also unpack the white suit.” Her lips turned up in one corner.

He glared at her while handing her the black shirt. “Do you have any idea how many things are wrong with what you just said?”

“How so?”

“Well, you mixed like two TV characters. From like two different decades! And then…”

She fired up the steamer, sent the first plumes shooting out. They smelled lavendery. “Oh thy tiny centuries, how they do fly.”

“Did you seriously just quote Star Trek?”

“What?”

“Never mind. Jesus, do you have a lot to learn.” He was helping her hold out the sleeves on his black shirt.

She rolled her eyes at him. “Yeah. I’ve been alive for over one millennium and you think I need to learn about TV.”

He looked at her and his eyes crinkled. “Have you really been alive that long?”

“No, I like to exaggerate my age because God knows men find that attractive.” She beat his shirt a little with the steam wand. “Yes, I am that old.”

“How?” he asked, taking the shirt, hanging it on the steamer rack and helping her with the jacket. “How do you people live so long? I mean it boggles the mind. Even in our popular culture, most of you aren’t more than a couple hundred years old.”

“Shows what you know. Have you heard of the principles behind VLC?”

He got his trousers ready. “VLC?”

“Very low calorie diet.”

“Oh. Yeah! Yeah, I saw that on Dateline or something.”

“Blood is very, very low in calories. At least that is our theory.”

“Your theory?”

“Yes. Our genes aren’t too different from yours, except we know we don’t have telomeres like humans. And we are not sure how that happened or why. We might live so long because it is so hard for us to reproduce. Could just be a safety mechanism.”

“Huh.”

“Yeah.” She smacked the trousers down a little bit. “Ok, this looks presentable. Put it on.” She draped the trousers over his arm and went into the bathroom, fired up a hair dyer. He continued to stand there, watched her through the open door.

She turned off the hair dryer mid pass over a piece of hair caught up in a wide flat brush. “What are you waiting for?”

“Um, some privacy?”

She rolled her eyes. “Oh come on,” she said, but seeing his face through the mirror said, “Ok fine, I will close the door.” And she did.
He still hesitantly removed his jeans, shirt, socks, boxers. He grabbed a clean, fancier pair from the suitcase, then followed up with pants, shirt, jacket. He noticed his bottle of cologne and decided to spritz his neck. He should probably shave, he figured, and do something with the hair. He assumed this was not a tie oriented place.

He then found himself waiting quite a while. He passed the time by strolling around, checking out the various views from the ample vantage points in the all-windows-no-walls apartment. He met another cat, a lavender point Siamese who spent the rest of his meandering time yelling at him about one thing or another. The cat was in fact so insistent that he found himself answering whatever questions he imagined the cat was asking. “No, I know, I need to shave. Of course not. Do you know if she has a good hair gel that’s not, you know, too girly? Huh, never thought about goldfish like that before. You make an excellent point.”

When he came back to the bedroom doors, she was standing in them, her arm above her head, leaning on the door frame, suppressing laughter.

“What?” he asked.

“You and Yoobee having a profound discussion or is he just gossiping again?”

Charlie rolled his eyes, but crouched down to scratch behind the ear of the irritated cat, who was offended that his discussion was interrupted. “What’s U.B. stand for?”

“No, no, Y.B. Yul Brenner. He’s Siamese. Seen The King and I?”

“Yeah once, when I was really little. Cute.” He stood up. Yoobee yowled some more, but eventually became distracted by invisible forces. Charlie looked up at his new…what. Partner? She had blown her hair out, her eyes were rimmed with black, her lips were pink and shiny, and she had spritzed, it seemed, a little of that flowers and brown sugar perfume.

“You look…” he started…

She stood up straight, arms at her side. “Hmm?”

“Passable,” he offered. She rolled her eyes and turned around. She went back into the bathroom, grabbed a tube, and threw it to him. “Please for the love of God, do something about your hair.”

“Shit!” Charlie exclaimed upon catching the hair gel. “I left my razor back in the hotel room.”

“Don’t shave,” she said. “Trust me, this works.”

“It does?”

“Go fix the mess,” she said as he walked past, pointing in the general direction of his unruly waves. She stooped down to pet Yoobee, who was done chasing invisible forces and wished to converse once more.

Charlie shouted from the bathroom, “What colour is your hair supposed to be?”

“What?” She looked away from Yoobee for a second, and was met with an annoyed “Maaaap!” She turned back to him.

“Your hair,” Charlie repeated. “What colour is that supposed to be?”

“Hah!” she blurted, over Yoobee’s various comments. “God doesn’t want vampires to be blondes, Charlie. I get it highlighted weekly, but the best I can manage is a sort of orange. If I let it go, it’s a kind of dark brown black kind of thing.”

He rejoined her in the door way. “It works. The orangey red  and blonde bits with the purple bits. It’s kind of Spice Girl as Attorney.”
She stood up. With her heels, she came up to his chin. “Wow. That’s a hell of an endorsement.” Yoobee chirped a few times, but they were glaring at each other with half smirks, and he decided further comment was pointless.

“Your hair’s not fried. Is that a vampire thing? You can dye it weekly and it doesn’t turn into straw?”

“No, that is an expensive hot oil treatment thing. Actually, it’s probably a bit of both. How often can human women colour their hair without it going fritter frizz on ’em?”

He shrugged. “Uh, I dunno. Maybe like a month or two?”

“Huh,” she said, still looking up at him. “Must be nice.”

“Well I guarantee,” he said, still looking down into her upturned face, “that if a human woman highlighted her hair every week, well, she wouldn’t have hair any more.” He continued to look at her. She continued to look at him.

“Are you sure I don’t need to shave?” he asked, rubbing his face.

“No.” She broke eye contact immediately and grabbed a black silk clutch she must have packed while he was gone. “Let’s go.”

He grabbed her keys off the console table, then  realized that Sadie had decided to fall asleep on top of his dad’s fedora. “Oh dammit…”

She turned around. “Sadie!” she yelled. The bulbous cat rose and casually walked off the table and on to the couch. She grabbed the hat and tried to reshape it. “I am so sorry,” she began.

“Ah, its my own fault for leaving it somewhere the girl could sit on it. It’ll live. It survived my grandfather for God’s sake.”

“Huh,” she said, now fingering the rim absentmindedly.

He took it from her, hung it in her entryway closet. “I told you I like old things. Er, old folks. But old things, too.” He wasn’t being mean. He was smiling brightly. He then seemed to be looking for something.

“What is it you want?” she asked, peering into the closet from behind his arm.

“You need a coat. It’s chilly.”

She laughed. “I am not putting a coat over this dress. Here.” She pulled a cashmere wrap from a hanger. He snagged it from her, draped it over her shoulders. She looked up at him briefly, then both of them averted their gaze.

“Well,” she said. “It’s high time we go suss out some idiots.”

***

I hope this satiates some of you until we get to the bacon porn.

Twitter Has Destroyed My Sexy Vampire Novel

What was originally a taut procedural thriller involving creatures of the night, enough sexual tension to hold up a suspension bridge, and loads of intriguing genetic science has now become, for all intents and purposes, a loving tribute to bacon.

BACON.

I blame you people.

Oh, you know who you are, tweeps. You and your geekly pursuit of all things bacon flavoured, bacon oriented, bacon slathered. Yes, I spent the last two nights writing a chapter wherein an angry, sexy vampire chick for all intents and purposes lovingly prepares an inordinate amount of bacon for the human male she should rightly stab in the eye. I hate you.

On the other hand, it’s actually a very funny chapter, and it’s sort of sweet, and lots of endearing things happen. It also strangely moves the plot along faster than a dance party full of undertones of blood suckerly tension would have. So…thanks? We’ll see how it sells. If it gets on the New York Times bestseller list, I will buy you all a pony. If it does well enough where I can just write full time, I will thank you all and continue to write more books about sexy vampires preparing bacon for men. If it only ever sells to twelve people on Twitter, I will hunt some fools down, and possibly go stabby kill-kill.

But no matter. Who was I kidding anyhow? There is nothing “taut” about my writing. It has ever been and always will be a rambling tumble of conversations, thoughts, and the occasional bit of action. The lovely thing about my writing is that it is completely unfilmable. You will never be subjected to any of my writing on screen. This should be a source of immense relief to you, as there is not one “A list” actor I could possibly want inhabiting any of my characters.

Anyhow, a couple of you have very kindly asked if there is a preview available, and yes, I did post one on my older blog a while back. I’ll post it again here since this site is far easier to read. I hope you don’t hate it. Also? This is now one of the very few non-bacon oriented scenes in the story. Treasure it, bacon haters. From the original post:

I have actually found what I believe to be a non-spoilery snippet of my vampire/procedural/hot-throbbing-gobs-of-sexual-tension novel, which I have tentatively titled, if it’s ok by @Recoilboss & Maggie Estep, Softly In A Dark Whisper. So without further ado, the snippet, from Chapter Five: “Errbody in the Club”.

****

The elevator opened to the basement garage. She felt eyes on her back and whipped around. “Is it cat hair?” she asked, suddenly paranoid. “I knew I should have asked you to pass a lint roller over me.” His lack of an immediate answer allowed her to notice that he was slightly embarrassed. “What?” she asked him.

Charlie really could not believe he was caught red handed staring at anybody’s ass, let alone this broad’s, but her insistence on a reason behind it was intolerable. “No, no cat hair. Everything’s fine. Let’s go. Is this your car?” He was pointing to a forest green Corolla and she lowered perhaps one of the most withering gazes she had landed on him since they first met. This might even have topped the shooting-her-gaze.

“Are you fucking insane?” she asked, now at full stop approximately an inch from him. He had to stop very suddenly to avoid knocking her over, and it threw him off balance. He reeled a tad, which was just as well because she seemed to have forgotten about the staring thing. She was not going to let the car thing go, though. “Do I look like a Toyota Corolla type of woman to you?”

“Uh, no,” he offered, along with an affable grin lacking completely in anything resembling confidence. “We just, you just stopped here so I…”

“So you assumed because I asked you about cat hair that I own this monument to ennui? Seriously?” Her eyes made him feel like he might have been in less danger immediately after shooting her.

“No, I just, hey! I bet that’s your car!” He pointed with great enthusiasm at a black Mercedes. Her eyes followed his index finger. She turned around slowly.

“That’s better.” She turned toward said car and started walking toward it, thankfully all memory of ass staring and Corolla behind her. “Toyota Corolla my ass,” she mumbled.

Ok so maybe not, he thought. And she continued, on the entire drive to the Sierra Nevada, to explain to him exactly why she wouldn’t be caught dead in a Toyota Corolla, how people who drive them are legally required, apparently, to go at least ten miles under the speed limit, how forest green is the colour of used cars. How if the sun was coming up and the only place she could hide was the trunk of a forest green ‘97 Toyota Corolla, she would happily opt to go up in flames. How not even a frat guy would throw up in one. How only born again Christian moms on their way to Pampered Chef parties would not feel profound and abject shame in driving one, how…

“Maybe we should have a sort of strategy,” he suggested, realizing this was for some reason a sore topic for her. “Like, I ought to know what I am walking into, right?”

“Walking into? You’re walking into a club. You’ve never been in a club?”

He sighed. “Of course I’ve been in a club. I don’t frequent them, I don’t go into them on purpose if I can help it, but I understand the club environment. So how are we doing this? Am I going in as your boyfriend or potential dinner or security or…”

“What? What on earth are you talking about?”

He was confused by her confusion. “We have to have a story, right? What’s our story?”

She glared at him as long as possible while driving safely. “Our story is, you tricked me and then tried to kill me and now I want to find out who really killed the little boys. That is the story.”

He shook his head like he was trying to get water out of his ears. “You don’t just go up to a potential suspect and say ‘This is the guy who shot me and he intends to do in whichever of you actually killed the human kids.’ You’ll get nowhere.”

“Shows what you know. You don’t know my people. They like the truth. They will suss out a lying human in a heartbeat.”

“Really?”

“Really. But you’re right, that is kind of…brusque.”

He smiled slightly. “It does lack a certain subtlety.”

“Huh. Well, how would you do it, Hoss?”

“I would…” he gave himself a second to do a double take, decided not to ask. “I would have you do the asking, then. Would they know if you were up to some policey subterfuge?”

She cocked her head to the side a bit. “Not really. They don’t expect such a thing from me, and they aren’t really thinking when I’m around.” She said this pretty casually, and because of that, he wasn’t sure what she meant.

“Why aren’t they thinking?”

Another micro glare. “Wow, you are just a charmer when you’re not working a mark, aren’t you?” He felt slightly bad, but still wasn’t sure why. She sighed. “I’m a Grail. My pheromones hit them in ways human men can’t imagine.”

He thought about that for a second, then said, “Wait. Are you going to be the only female vampire there?”

“For a time, yes. It’s ladies’ night. The boys will be out in force, looking for easy meals. If I delay them from feeding long enough, they will be mad with hunger and desire, and will pretty much answer whatever I ask them.”

He looked at her, because she wasn‘t saying this with any boastfulness. It was just a fact in her mind. “Really?”

“Really really. The girls will show up half way through, then continue the ruse. They will pretend to get hammered off vodka, but they will be ordering water. The humans boys who still haven’t paired off by one A.M. with a hammered human lady will be easy pickings. Night of their lives.”

He shook his head slowly. “But no killing?”

She jerked the car to the side of the road & turned it off so she could glare at him properly. “No killing! They’ll feed a little in the midst of passion, it will be happy for everybody involved, and nobody will remember a thing in the morning except that they got laid by an incredibly hot woman who doesn’t want a long term relationship. Everybody wins. Killing them means they’re not around any more. How does that work for anyone?!”

He looked at her, at her arms waving around, her hands going, the tension of her mouth and the light in her eyes. He had seen this kind of…fanaticism?…before. In vegetarians. In P.E.T.A. demonstrators. She really did want to protect the little animals. It was endearing and creepy at the same time, because this meant, of course, that he himself was a little animal.

“Ok, I understand,” he said, taking her waving hands in his and letting her simmer down a little. She continued to glare at him, breathe hard, but he waited until her white shoulders started going up and down just a little slower before he said, “I look forward to seeing how this careful procedure works now, ok? We should get going.”

She searched his face for a moment, then snatched her hands out of his, started the car again, and got back on the road. He found her nigh inability to master her rage…amusing? No, that wasn’t right. It was more fascinating than amusing. He had met a lot of women who were into causes or passionate about something, but she was fiercely protective of both protagonist and antagonist. The burden of her people and his people was on her shoulders, to her, and it was interesting watching her start to perceive him as outside both species. He wondered what it meant.

He almost didn’t want to ask, but couldn’t stop himself. “Are you going to…have something to eat tonight?”

She sighed. “No. I don’t have to eat.”

“Really?”

“I have something else to accomplish. I can go another day without.”

“That hardly seems healthy.”

“Oh, so now you want me to stalk humans?”

“No! Well, I don’t want you to starve or make yourself sick. I mean, that’s no good, right?”

“No, it’s just a hassle. A hassle I don’t need right now.”

He felt he might be a hassle, too. Then it dawned on him: “Do you sleep with the people you feed from?”

“What? No, not all the time. Actually, not in a long time. I don’t really have to; my bite is pretty potent.” She turned into the vast hotel parking wasteland.

“What do you mean? I mean, what does that mean?”

“We…oh, you don’t know. Feeding is…humans like it. We don’t have time to talk about this, though. You have to observe some ground rules.”

“Ground rules?”

“There are things that happen in sanguinus society. When we gather to speak to each other, humans are not…welcome. You will have to be somewhere else.”

“No, not going to happen. I have to hear what you hear.”

“Then you’ll hear nothing. They won’t say anything in front of you. You can be off to the side. You should go as…just act like you’re my security, ok? Make chat with the club security. Or at least make nice.”

“You can’t act like I’m your boyfriend or something? We could be sitting down, having drinks and they all come sit with us and…”

“Are you high? It’s a club. We’re going to dance. Do you dance?”

A shock of terror penetrated his spine. He managed to barely choke out, in a dry whisper, “Christ no I do not dance.”

“Then that is not going to work. Also they will know, again, in a heartbeat, that you are not my boyfriend, remember?”

“Oh. Right.”

“Security you can pull off. I can pull off the idea that you are the irritating man I have to have following me around for undisclosed reasons. Nobody will sense anything off about that. I can come back to you periodically, update you, give you names, places, ideas to work on. But you have to let it take its time, and you can’t judge. You can’t…you mustn’t act like vampire culture is disturbing to you.”

“What?”

“Just…be good.” She got out of the car. He followed, panicky. More panicky than he liked.

“What do you mean? Am I going to be disturbed?”

She was already striding way out ahead of him, so she shouted back, “Just don’t…don’t get overly protective. Unless humans are involved. You’ll know. Trust me, you’ll know when they’re human. But other than that, let me be, ok?”

He ran to catch up with her, touched her arm. She stopped and whirled around, dropping a corner of her cashmere wrap. He picked it up and pulled it around her. “What do you mean?” He searched her eyes but she was not going to elaborate. “Don’t get overly protective, what do you mean? What will happen to you?”

“Just…have you ever been at a coffee shop with a bunch of goth kids?”

“What?”

“Just don’t overreact.” She snatched the ends of her wrap from his hand and started up the stairs to the casino doors.

****

Would you like to read more? Because I have to write more. If you want to read more, let me know. I will continue to write it even if you hate it, because I love these characters and they make me happy. But I mostly hope some of you love it, or are at least intrigued enough to want a little more in your life, and perhaps maybe hold a copy in your little hands one day, all snuggled in bed, to read.