Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Job

At around 2am, I checked my mailbox.  At this time of the night, most people are in bed, a lot of places are closed and the suburbs have a dead feeling to them.  But I enjoy walking the near-empty streets; it gives me time to think and nobody bothers me.  Then again, it’s getting that way where nobody sleeps anymore and it’s getting harder to figure out the immortals from the humans.
When I arrived home, I dumped most of the mail on the table and opened the large white envelope with my old metal opener.  As expected, it was a job.  A manila folder slid out with a cheque paper-clipped to it.  I ignored that for the time being until I saw the job; it’s best if I do then I don’t become money-orientated.  It was the usual:  photos, a resume of the person of interest (a woman this time; and she was hot!) and their routine in detail.  Most of my work had been done for me; save me being charged for stalking.  It was now I looked at the cheque.

I had to sit down to count the zeros on this puppy!

The pub was easy to locate.  There’s lots of pubs in the city but only a few which have a bartender like Roxanne.  I don’t normally get a last name unless it’s personal job; and this looks like she just pissed off the wrong customer.  I pulled out the photograph of her from my jacket pocket for the umpteenth time, glanced at it and then at the goddess behind the bar in leather pants, black uniform shirt and Doc Marten boots and knew it was her.  Who’d want to kill her?  She was a babe.  But it’s not my place to ask questions.  It’s my place to do the job and get rid of the undesirables.  So, there I was sitting at a table near the door of the bar watching her.
Roxanne is anything but undesirable with her beautiful body, a butt that won’t quit in those pants and her hair… it looked like a larva flow as it curled continuously over her shoulders and kept going until it finished at her spiked belt.  Mind you, I was only looking at her back at this point waiting for her to turn around.  And like I said, she’s hot.  Damn… if this place wasn’t so busy, I’d do something so risqué it’d make my mother blush; if she were still alive.
I rose from my stool and walked to the bar to get a drink.  It was then she turned from refilling the spirits bottles and looked straight at me with the most direct and piercing emerald eyes I’d ever seen.
“Can I help you.” Her voice was like treacle.  Stupidly, I hesitated like a school kid, just staring at her and she went and served somebody else before coming back to me, “Now, let’s see if you have your voice back.”
“You’re Roxanne?” What was I doing?  I never say this.  In fact, I never approach the victim.  I watch, I follow, I…
“Yes.” She grabbed a cloth and wiped down the bar, replacing a soaked bar towel with a fresh one, “I am. How can I help you?”
“I’d like a bourbon please.” I smiled as I watched her grab some ice and the ‘Rebel Yell’ bourbon and place the glass on the counter with a coaster.
“You’ve got manners.  Don’t see that all too often around here.”  She smiled, flashing a gorgeous set of brilliant white teeth at me from behind her dark lipstick.  Yep, I was sent to kill off a Goth.  Why?  Well, I’m still wondering about that.
“Can I talk to you in private?” I sipped my bourbon and let it burn down my throat and warm my gut.
She turned and called out to another guy, “Taking a break.” She looked back at me, “Come on.  We’ll go to the office.”

Once up there, she looked out the window to the pub below and closed the blinds so we could speak without anyone knowing I was there.  The office had had an upgrade with a new computing system, surveillance and cameras and the whole place still had the newly-painted smell.
I watched her as she closed and locked the door, then checked it.  Then she sauntered back to the window and looked between the blinds.  She knew this day was coming, “You’re nervous.” Her green eyes glanced at me as I watched her, knowing she’d completely freak out if she knew what I was there for, “Look if it’s any consolation, I’m the one who was supposed to do it.”
Roxanne spun from the window, “What?”
I pulled the photo from my pocket with the folded cheque and handed it over to her, “I don’t want to.”
Her hands shook as she sunk into her office chair behind her desk and she tried to control her tears, “Why?”
“Do you own this place?”
She nodded, “Yes. I do” she swallowed thickly, “I inherited it from my Uncle William; and it’s been in the family since the turn of last century.”
I sat across from her, “Why would anyone want you dead?”
Roxanne lowered her head and her hair moved over her shoulders as she muttered:  “I’m the last of the family to own this place.  I have no children.” She looked up, “For me, this is it.”
“No it’s not.”
She shook the cheque at me, “Why didn’t you just kill me with this much money shoved in your face?”
I took the cheque and tore it up, “Because I’m not in this job for the money.  I’m in it to get rid of the crap off the streets.  And you’re not crap.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you knew me.”
“Well, you don’t know me all that well either, so you gotta trust me.” I smiled, “And seeing how stressed out you are right now, I can pretty much understand it that you haven’t had that much sleep in the last few weeks, have you?”
She turned and unlocked a drawer in the desk and pulled out a large envelope the same colour as the one I received, “I know it’s one of the guys who work for me.”
I took the envelope when she handed it over and pulled out letters that were made up from cut up magazines and printed out on laser printers, “We could figure out where the printed ones came from…”
“Did that.  It was this office.” She gave a nervous giggle, “The police thought I was playing a joke.”
I glanced at her then back to the letters, “Well, had I known about this, I would have put in to protect you.”
Roxanne’s eyes stared at me wide with shock, “You mean there was job like that?”
“I don’t know.  But that’s what I’m going to do.” I handed the letters back as I stood, “I need you to hang onto these.  Put them into your fireproof safe.”
“I will.” She turned to it as I turned away and let her do it.  I counted the combination to the left and right and thanked God that my hearing was one of the best assets about being the creature I am.  I heard the safe close and front dial spin, “Now what?”
“I’ll stick around for the night, but you come home with me.” I said, “You don’t live where you do anymore.”
“Can I get some clothes and things first?  I have a pet.”
“Cat, dog, bird, fish?”
“Can anyone care for it?”
“You don’t like animals?”
“I’m not allowed to have them.”
She made an ‘o’ with her perfect lips, “I see.  I’ll give her to my neighbour.  She loves my parrot.  And Stevie’s good company.”
“Okay, you tell the guys at the bar that you’ve been ill for the last few minutes and you’re going to a friend’s house for the night.” I said, “But you’ll be okay, don’t worry about calling, you’ll just crash there for the night.”
“Okay.” Roxanne walked past me and her scent drove me nuts.  How was I supposed to have her in my place without doing anything a young stupid vampire would… and yet I’m a seasoned one.  I followed her out the door after she unlocked it.

Her neighbour took the large Galah off Roxanne’s hands for as long as she needed.  The woman was an old dear and the Galah took to her like a duck to water; it was obvious that the bird had been cared for by lots of people before and this was one of them.
“Thank you Doris.  If I didn’t think you could care for her, I wouldn’t ask.” She smiled at the old woman as she placed the bird where it would be for a weeks’ stay, “I’ll reimburse you any money you’re out of pocket with once I get this nut job off my back.”
Doris placed the cage near the front window and re-covered the bird carefully, then turned, “Now, you be careful.  Don’t take any unnecessary risks; you let that nice man do that.”
I could feel a blush heating my cheeks, “I’ll take care of her, don’t worry Doris.  You just make sure you don’t talk to anyone but the police; and let me know if anything strange around here happens, like if anyone you don’t know asks around for Roxanne.” I gave her my card.
“Yes of course.” She nodded taking the card, “I will.”
I couldn’t believe it.  I had turned into the protector instead of the killer.  What was wrong with me?  I took a deep breath and turned toward the door as the two ladies from two very different generations said their farewells to each other.

I opened the door to my place as the false dawn was crackling.  Looking outside, I pulled the curtains to my living room and showed Roxanne to my guest bedroom.  It was sparse, but seeing I didn’t usually have guests staying over, I didn’t see the use in furnishing it with anything but the necessities.  She didn’t mind, the redhead looked stuffed.
“All I want to do is sleep the day away.” She yawned.
“Well, that’s what I normally do as well.  Sleep well and we’ll work on this thing tonight.” I turned, closed the door, but not completely and walked to my room down the hall.  What was I doing?  I was letting prey stay in my house.  The worse thing was that I hadn’t fed last night; so I headed toward the kitchen where I usually kept a small supply of bagged blood in the back of the fridge.  I grabbed a tall, black mug from above the coffee-maker and poured the lot into it and took two long mouthfuls, balking at the cold taste.  Off the hoof always tastes better with all that heated adrenaline racing through it and the scent of fear oozing off the mortal as well.  Suddenly, I felt a presence behind me and I quickly wiped my mouth on my sleeve (thankfully I had worn black last night) before turning around.  There was my boss and I sighed with relief as I sipped at the mug again this time licking the excess blood off my lip.
He lit a cigarette and pulled on it hard before talking as he blew out a huge cloud of smoke, “You bloody idiot.”
“You brought her home?” he pointed to the spare room as he lowered his voice, “You were supposed to do the job and get out of the office.”
“There’s more to it than that, Darius.  Somebody’s hunting her and has been for some time.” I said, “I am not killing her all because they want to take a pub off her.”
Darius pulled on his cigarette again as he considered this, “You’re kidding, right?”
“No.  She’s the last generation of her family to inherit it and some greedy suck out there wants her dead so they can pull the place down or do something to it.” I muttered taking another sip from my mug.
He ran his hand through his graying hair and groaned, “Okay.  If this is right, you protect her and I’ll double the fee; which makes it good for you.”
“No.” I shook my head, “I’ll protect her for nothing.  This is my gig.  I chose this path.  Tell ‘em they’re wasting their money; but I won’t kill her.”
“She knows it was supposed to be you doing this thing?”
I nodded, “And it freaked her right out.  But she knows I’m not going to hurt her.”
Darius’ eyes glinted a quick gold colour as mischief crossed his face, “Well, not in the way she thinks.” I rolled my eyes as he patted my shoulder, “You’ll be okay.  You’re a seasoned one; and I trust you.”
“Yeah, but do I trust myself?” I muttered.
“You’ll be fine.  Protect her if you must.” Darius turned and left by my front door.  Strangely, I hadn’t heard him come in. 
I finished my meal, washed out the mug thoroughly and disposed of the blood bag so that when we woke the following sunset, she didn’t see anything of me being a vampire.  She knew I was a killer, but the last thing she needed to know was that I was the undead.  I decided not to go to my room, instead crashing on my couch.  My mind was racing with too many unanswered questions; and just walking past her room was enough to make me want to go in and smell her, or do something else I’d regret.

“Oh my God.”
Her voice was soft, but I heard it as my eyes snapped opened and I felt my entire body drop to the couch.  Damn, I had overslept.  Sitting up quickly, I looked around and saw it was dark outside, “What time is it?”
“Around seven.” She muttered as she sunk into the recliner across from me, “How did you do that?”
“Levitate?” she nodded, “Um, it happens sometimes.”
Roxanne smiled a little, “So, you’re like David Copperfield?”
“Oh.  I’m just wondering because you were really out to it there; actually asleep.”
“Yeah.” It was time to change the subject, “Do you want something to eat?”
“Yes. I’m famished.”
“Good.” I got up and began towards the kitchen where I knew I had some steaks in the fridge.  When I opened the door, they were gone, “Damn it, Darius!”
“Who’s Darius?”
I looked around the door and sighed, “He’s my boss.  He comes in here and feeds off any of my good food; which happens to be my rump steak.  And now no thanks to him, we don’t have anything to eat.” I looked at her, and could smell my next meal oozing from her, but kept my mind on the fact I had to help her.
“Well, we could always order in.”
“True.” I picked up the phone and called the all-night butcher and ordered more than my usual lot of meat as I opened the freezer and found that Darius had cleaned me out of my stores of everything; including blood, “And Andre, get me more of that special stuff I get; Darius got greedy last night.”
“Shit man, he drank the lot?” his Bronx accent was still strong after two hundred years of being a vamp.
“Yeah my last dozen for the next few days.”
Andre groaned over the earpiece, “I’ll deliver them myself to your door.  It’s on your account.”
“Dude, you’re brilliant.”
“Half an hour, and I’ll be there.”
“Cool.” I hung up and smiled at Roxanne as I closed the fridge door, “The meat is on its way and I don’t have visitors all that often.”
She smiled, “You don’t know what to do with me.”
I grimaced, “No.”
“Well, tell me about yourself.”
“I’m hired to…”
“I know that much.  I mean, other stuff.” She rolled her eyes in a false dramatic way, “Like why where you drinking blood last night?”
The smile on my face vanished as fast as it had appeared, “Oh shit.”
“I almost came out to have a nightcap with you, but saw you were way ahead of me on that.” She leaned on the counter with her elbows, “So, what happened?”
I almost clammed up, then realised that she owned a pub and probably had seen anything and everything on the face of the planet walk through her doors on a Friday night – or a full moon – and nothing could surprise her; well not yet, “I’m a vampire.”
“I gathered that.”
“You’re not scared of me?”
“Yeah, but where I can go?”
“You know the myths and legends of us.”
She nodded, “So, what kills you?”
“Fire and beheadings.”
I sighed, “Paralyses us, but if they’re left in too long can kill us.”
“I’ve been really cautious around you because you’re a human.” I said, “It’s hard to not want you.”
“Because I’m a meal on legs?”
“Yeah.  I hate bagged blood.” I muttered, “Besides, I have to find out who’s trying to kill you first.  Get you to live.”
She laughed, “I gathered you didn’t like it at your reaction to it.  You looked like you were going to spit it out.”
“I’m that bad?”
“You can always try the real thing if you want?” she turned her head to the right and showed her jugular to me as she pulled the collar of her shirt open, “You can just feed can’t you?”
I stood straight as I heard the elevator open in the corridor and knew it was Andre with my blood and order from the butchers, “You go back into your room.  The guy delivering this is a new one.  He’ll go for you in a minute.”
Roxanne quickly raced back into her room and I heard her lock and dead lock her bedroom door.  Yep, she had a pretty good idea on how dangerous we were.  I opened the peephole and looked out to see Andre standing there with a cooler; and I opened the door.
“Man!  You’ve gotta pay your bill.” He walked in and started packing my fridge and freezer with the meat and blood bags as I closed the door.
“Sure.” I opened my wallet, “How much?”
“Three hundred dollars.” He said, “And for this lot a hundred and fifty.”
“I pulled out five hundred dollars and handed it over, “There you go, a fifty dollar tip.” I muttered, “Thanks man.”
Andre looked up from counting it with a glimmer in his eyes as he smelled the air, “You’ve got a mortal here.”
“Shut up.”
“Dude, is she hot?  Can I have a taste?”
“Andre, I’m assigned to protect her.” I said, “Now go.” I gave him another hundred dollar bill, “And you were never here.”
“Shit man, this is bad isn’t it?”
“Somebody wants her dead.  And I’m trying to keep her alive.” I whispered, “Now get your arse out of here.”
“Okay.” He smiled, “I’ve made more money tonight than I do in my usual shift.  You should save lives more often.”
“Shut up.” I shoved him out the door and slammed it closed.  I waited for the elevator to leave before dead locking the front door myself and then leaning my back against it.  Andre was right; I should be saving the lives not hunting them down; just the criminals.  It made more sense that way.  But Roxanne was so different; I could smell it in her.  She wasn’t bad in any way… she was sexy, hot and definitely something I could sink my teeth into… but she wasn’t jailbait.
She poked her head around the corner, “I can come out, right?”
I looked over at her and saw the huge vein in her neck throbbing away there, “Yeah.  And for God’s cover up your neck.”
She did straight away, “Sorry.  I was teasing you.”
I opened the door of the fridge and grabbed one of the steak packages and my mouth watered at the sight of the blood gathering in the bottom of the bag.  But then, I grabbed a bag of blood from on the shelves, slice the tubing and drained it.  I felt a little better, but I still thought a good feed off a human would be the best.  I closed the door and opened the package, “Go and watch a bit of television.”
“Well, there’s blood here and I’m going to drink it.  It’ll gross you out.” I muttered as I poured the thick red liquid into a glass.  She didn’t move as I did it.
“It’s not watered down like at most butchers.”
“No.  The place I get my meat and blood from caters for vampires around the city.  It saves us feeding off the hoof.” I sighed, “Animal blood tastes gamey but it’s better than me attacking a human.  Plus the steaks are better quality than you would buy.”
“They’re not full of fat.”
“More protein; therefore more energy.” She smiled, “Wicked.  Would they sell to a mortal?”
I nodded, “If you can afford the hefty price tags.” I picked up the glass and drained it in one mouthful.  It wasn’t human blood, but it was a good treat, “There’s never enough of that stuff around.” I washed out the glass and looked over at her as she swooned and nearly fell to the floor if I hadn’t been there to catch her, “Damn, I told her to watch television.”

Dinner was interesting and quiet.  I had cooked her meat medium rare and mine was almost bloody; and I ate mine straight away and served hers up with a salad.  She picked at it and kept on looking at me; but every time I looked over she looked away.
“I’m embarrassed you saw me faint.” She muttered.
“I’ve seen it before.”
Roxanne snorted, “I’m sure you have.  And how old are you?”
I looked over at her, “Around thirty-five…”
“No really.  How old are you?”
I looked to my hands as I fiddled with my nails, “I’m… three hundred and forty-eight years old.”
“My God!” she frowned, “That means you were born around the time of…”
“A lot of great things happening in history.” I muttered, “But I was thirty-five when the Salem Witch Trials were on; I remember reading about them so well.  All those poor women - and some men – who were hung, drowned and burnt at the stake.”
“Anyone you know have that happen to them?”
“No.  I was living in Philadelphia at the time; and I was married to a beautiful woman.” I mumbled remembering Constance’s face.  Her gentle, hazel eyes and blonde curls that I easily lost myself in each morning I woke next to her, “I was the envy of all the men in my industry.  We were both from well-to-do backgrounds.”
“Her father was in the railways. Mine was in the newspapers.” I smiled, “We had the marriage of the Gods.”
“But she was a vampire?” Roxanne had moved to a seat next to me.
I looked at her, “No.” I cleared my throat as the horrible memory came back of Constance and her disappearance, “She vanished.” I looked at the redhead, “And so did I.”
I sighed, “Constance went out to shop one day with the ladies.  I saw her off in the city at around 10am and she never came home again.  Even the ladies said they didn’t know where she went to; but one did remember that it was in the late afternoon that she lost track of her.”
“You gave her a lot of freedom.”
I nodded staring at my wine glass of blood.  I began swirling it around slowly, “More than most women were permitted in those times.”
“But how did you become a vampire?”
I looked at her as I placed the glass on the coaster provided, “The man who killed her sired me.”
“You knew?”
“Well, when you are sired, you inherit a lot of what your sire remembers; recent things.” I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, “And as he sired me – as punishment for hunting him down – I received the utter joy he felt in murdering my wife.  She wasn’t just a feed, she was murder victim.  And we have never found her body.”
“I’m so sorry.” She reached out and touched my arm, “I would detest what he turned me into if that happened to me.”
I touched her warm hand and felt the blood racing as she began to get nervous, “I do detest what I am.  But it’s hard to kill yourself when you’re already the undead.” I held her hand gently turning it over and feeling its warmth between my cold fingers.  Then, I leaned down and smelled it, kissed it and heard her sharp intake of air, “But I can seduce anyone.” I looked at her from hooded lids and she sat there calmly as I reached up and touched her face.  I knew she wouldn’t move; not until it was too late.  But she didn’t, “You’re not scared of me?”
“Why would I be?”
I stood and let go of her hand, walking past her, “I was hired to kill you and now I’m protecting you.” I stopped at her door and found her standing next to me, “You should be terrified of me.”
“In some ways I am; but at the same time I’m not.” She smiled as she touched my arm again and I could hear her heartbeat pounding loudly in my ears, “I’m just amazed you didn’t lash out at me when I pushed about talking about your past.”
I looked at the floor then looked at her, “I’m little old to act like a child.”
“Well, I’m going to have a shower and get in some homework on this case.” She smiled.
“I’ve got some phone calls to make.”

Her door was ajar when I walked past again and when I pushed it open, I saw Roxanne sleeping on the bed in her underwear; very sexy.  I walked in to turn off the light when I saw her move in her sleep.  Her arm moved off the side of the bed and her hand opened and dropped a piece of paper.  It landed on the floor face up.  Kneeling down, I picked it up and read it quickly.  She was searching around on the net every customer she’s ever served; every rich one.  I smiled at her attitude; it was a very good place to start.  As I walked around to the other side of the bed, I began cleaning up the papers and found she had done a lot of work and had written down one name as a constant; a name that wasn’t a customer.  Roxanne may be right, the person trying to kill her was most probably somebody who worked with her.
“What are you doing?” her voice cut into my thoughts as she sat up.
“You were sleeping and I came in to turn off your light, but then found all this.” I gestured to the paper trail she had begun to make, “And I think you have something going here.  But this is my job.  I’m supposed to be doing all this work.”
She smiled as she pulled the sheet over herself; but not in a self-conscious way, she seemed cold, “I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a customer.  Besides,” she shrugged, “I didn’t think you’d mind the help.  And I know my customers and staff better than you do.”
“True.” I nodded as I read the names again, “And you’re right, it’s not a customer.”
She smiled, relieved that we had crossed that off the invisible list in our heads, “Great.  So, I gotta get rid of one of my employees.”
Gathering together the papers and switching off the laptop, I returned her smile, “You’re looking better.”
“Good.  I feel better.  That sleep was what I needed.” She muttered, “And I feel safe here.”
She shouldn’t because of what I am; but what else could she feel around a vampire who was willing to save her life?  I had bared my soul to her and told her only a part of my life; my very long life, and she didn’t run away or laugh at me.
 I regarded her as I placed the work on the duchess near the door, “I’ll leave it all here for now until we get time to work through it again later… to cover all of our bases.” I turned and found Roxanne sitting at the end of the bed on the footlocker I had put there for her stuff.  She was still in her sexy black underwear and she didn’t move from there, “What are you doing?”
“You said you like blood off the hoof.” She smiled slyly, “If you’d still like some, you’re welcome to it.”
I couldn’t believe what she was offering, “No.  I’m not permitted.”
Standing, she grabbed her silk brunch coat and put it on; leaving the front open, and walked to me, “But I’m giving you permission.”
I shook my head, almost flinching, as her scent crept up my nose and made my mouth water and I leaned against the wall; feeling like a young vamp who was still trying to get a hold of their senses.  What the hell was happening to me?  Normally I could walk away from a feed like this; one that was offering it up.  But tonight I could barely move from the room, my feet were glued, “Roxanne.” My voice came in a rough whisper, “I can’t.”
She touched my face with her hand and I could see the veins pumping blood through her body.  Damn it, I could almost smell it, “It’ll be our secret.”
Touching her shoulders through the silk, I could feel her shaking – whether it was fear of anticipation, I wasn’t sure.  Her fingers moved from my cheek, down my neck to my chest where she ran her right hand around and under my arm.  She had briefly touched a scar where I had been shot before my turning, but she didn’t seem to notice it.   I could hear the demon inside me screaming to feed on her, drain her, kill her… it was hanging out for something new and fresh and sweet.  But she was only offering up a taste; and a taste was all I was going to do as I leaned down and kissed her mouth.  As soon as our lips touched, the passion I felt was like a frenzied attacked.  I ripped off the remainder of her clothes and she helped me wriggle out of mine.  Each time she touched my cool skin, it was like fire touching ice – I melted and wanted her badly. 
We collapsed onto the bed and pushed the covers off as my demon showed itself; and she saw it for the first time.  I think she was wondering if I was going to back out on my promise to protect her and end up killing her instead.  But, I am a man of my word; as I had been for the last close-to three hundred and fifty years.  Her back arched as I entered her and we made love on the bed fast and hard.  And I found out she liked the pain I was putting her through; she found it a turn-on.  Roxanne was my kinda chick and I hadn’t even known it as our frenzied passion saw our climaxes coming close.  I opened my mouth to allow room for my canines as she turned her head and showed her neck as I felt her nails drag across my back, and the coolness of the blood seeped from the tracks she left.  The pain of that was delicious. I loved it; as much as I found I loved her.  She was mine and she had known it from the moment she arrived here.  I moved her crimson hair back, raised her from the bed and – as we both climax, bit in hard and drank her sweet elixir.  I kept reminding myself that it was only a taste and pulled back from her quickly to catch my breath; licking my lips at the sheer pleasure she had plastered on her face.
“Oh boy.  I’ve been with some guys, but you’re the best.” She whispered from her prone position on the bed, “I’ve never had sex like that before.”
I collapsed next to her, “I have.  Lots of times.  But I ended up…” I shut up as she gave me a concerned expression, “They weren’t always feeds.”
She smiled, “I know.” She looked back at the ceiling, “You can do that do me again if you want.”
I smiled, “Later.  You’ve just donated.” I leaned over and kissed her lips again and I wanted her again and again.  I wanted to sire her and have her as my next… I stopped and looked at her, “I have a proposition for you.”
She looked into my eyes, “Yes?”

Roxanne sat in the recliner with her feet up, “You want to sire me?”
I stood there in my jeans and no shirt, “Okay, it may have been a snap decision.  But it would mean you could keep the pub.”
She gave me an incredulous look, “It would also mean that people would figure me out after a while.”
I rubbed the bridge of my nose, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
She unfolded herself from the chair and walked to me, “Hey, it’s okay.  You asked and didn’t just take.”
I looked at the bite mark on her neck I had left, “That is a heck of a hikkie I made on you.” My fingertips traced the bruising and the holes that were still there but not bleeding and I found I wanted her again, “And you’re still as sexy as when I first met you.”
She smiled, “That’s why you couldn’t say anything at the bar.” She touched my cheek gently and I took it with both hands and smelled her inner wrist and all the way up her arm to her neck again.  But I didn’t bite her there again; instead, I pulled her towards me inhaling her scent; wanting her, feeling myself changing to feed again.  And she leaned in close ready for me as we kissed; losing ourselves in each other’s feelings and we collapsed to our knees to the floor of the lounge room.  I turned her around, pulled her brunch coat off so she was naked and – after moving her hair – I bit the nape of her neck.  She groaned with pleasure as I drank from her and felt myself harden and then, I was ready to take her from behind as I slipped into her again.  She lolled her head back against my shoulder as I found my place again on her arm and punctured the skin.  In my mind, I kept repeating her name.

My eyes opened and she was curled up next to me; still breathing, thank God.  We were on the floor of the lounge room and I looked over at her with the feeling that I had opened big can of worms for no real reason.
“Mmm… I could do that again.” Her voice muttered as she ran her hot hand over my chest and looked up at me.
“Figuring out who’s putting out jobs to kill you is something we have to do first though.” I said as I kissed the palm of her hand, scratching it with my teeth just to have a taste of her again.  I licked the cut, “And you’re delicious… has anyone ever told you that?”
She laughed, “Not in the way you’re putting it.”
I looked over at her naked body as she laid on the floor, “Well, we better get up and do something.”
“Not you.” She sat up and looked around, “It’s daylight.” She stood quickly, raced to the windows and pulled all the curtains shut, then turned to me, “Now you can.”
I sat up and looked around the dark room as I rose from the floor, “Thank you.”
Roxanne picked up her brunch coat from the floor and put it on; but not before realising I had fed from her arm, “Oh, that’s a sight.”
I grinned, “I fed from the nape of your neck too.”
She quickly felt under her hair and blushed, “No wonder that one felt so good.” She walked past me towards her room and walked inside; but then just as quickly backed out with a horrified expression on her face, “Get in here!”
I raced over and the overpowering stench of death came from the room as I flinched back holding my nose, “Oh, God what’s that?”
“Somebody found out where my bird was being kept.” She began to cry, “Oh, god!  Stevie!  Who would kill a bird?” I turned and held her close to me, “I don’t understand.  It was only a galah.”
“I’ll go in.  I’m used to smelling death; just not bird blood.” I said, “Stay in the hall.”
“I’ll stay where you are.” She muttered stubbornly.
“Okay.” I nodded. I turned and walked into the dim room where a box was sitting on the footlocker.  Gingerly, I opened it and found what we expected in it: a Galah, “We don’t know if it’s Stevie.”
“Yes we do.” She said, “Tag on her leg was a special order off the net.  You can’t get them here in Australia.” She burst into tears, “Which would mean that Doris has also been killed.”
I closed the box, but noticed a note had been slipped down the side of it and I pulled it out, “It’s addressed to you.”
Roxanne opened the piece of paper and read the few lines and sat on the bed, “I was right.  Doris is dead now.”
“And I know who’s trying to kill you.” I muttered.
She looked over at me, “You do?”
“There’s only one vampire who can get in and out of here without me hearing them.” I said, “Get dressed.  I gotta know something about your pub and the people in the surrounding businesses.”
We jumped on the net and Google-Earthed where Roxanne’s business was and found that it was surrounded by larger buildings on all corners.  However only one of those buildings looked familiar to me:  my boss’ work building.  It had been there for as long as her pub and he had probably been trying to get her family to leave for just as long.
“Has your family had problems with the man who owns this building?” I pointed to the business next door to hers from the street view on Google-Earth.
“Yes.” She looked at me, “For as long as I can remember, the man and his family have been trying to buy out my family’s business to expand his.”
I ran both my hands through my messy hair, groaning.  Standing, I walked to the kitchen.  I needed a bag or two of blood; if Darius left me any.  I opened the fridge was surprised to find all the bags were untouched.  But then, if they were, it meant he probably tampered with them to get me out of the way.  He didn’t like me keeping her here in the first place.  So, I closed the fridge and looked at Roxanne, “I need a donation.”
She looked at me, “Seriously?”
“If Darius killed your bird, he would have personally delivered it here.” I walked to her, “He’s the only vamp I know who can get in and out of here without me hearing him.” I put my hand out to her and she took it, “And to beat him, it’s best if we have level playing field.”
“If you sire me.” She muttered.
“Yes.” I sighed, “But also because I wish for you to be my wife.”
“There’s one condition…”
“I stop doing jobs on humans just because somebody hates them?”
“How did you know?” she smiled.
“Well, I have a tendency of knowing what’s on your mind when I’ve been feeding off you.” I grinned, but it didn’t last, “Well, will you let me?”
“You’re not going to leave me?”
“No.  I’ll be your sire and I’ll train you up and we can work that pub together.  We’ll even get the best Rump Steaks around the city delivered from my vampire butcher friends.” I stroked her cheek, “We’ll cater for the vampires around the city and serve them up the freshest blood over the counter.  They won’t have to hide anymore.”
“You make it sound so sexy.”
“It’s not.”
She touched my cool face, knowing that the decision she was making would make or break her future with the human race, “Let’s level this playing field.  I was always a rebel in high school; what’s going stop me now?”
Damn, I loved the way this chick thought!  Grabbing her around the waist, I pulled her close, kissed her gently and drank in her strong scent.  Then, moving her chin to my right, I inhaled what was going to be my last feed from her, “Are you sure you want this?  Once it’s done, we can’t undo it.”
Her fingers tangled with my hair as she rubbed against me, “Yes.  Please.  We both need to do this.”
Moving her hair, I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly so she wouldn’t struggle too much.  Then, I bit in hard.  This time, it was for longer than she anticipated.  Roxanne began to fight as I guzzled her life juices and she weakened quickly.  It felt so good to be in total control of a human; but she was a human who was going to be my wife.  She loved me and I loved her.  I had from the first time I had clapped eyes on her and she felt safe with me the whole time.  As she collapsed in my arms and became a dead weight, I lowered her to the floor, kneeling beside her as I got my breath back.  I slice my arm with my metal opener and the blood dribbled out as I lifted her head and guided it towards my arm. 
Once a few drops made it in, she drank like a baby.  Roxanne didn’t guzzle.  She knew this was hurting me as she rested her eyes on me and saw my reaction to her drinking.  Then, when she saw she had had enough, she licked my arm and it healed and I pulled it back as I doubled over in pain of losing the blood to her.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered, “I didn’t mean to take so much; but it tasted so good.”
I looked at her smiling, “I know.”
“What do we do now?”
I took her face in my free hand and kissed her as her old jeans and shirt pealed off, “We wait until sunset, then we attack Darius’ company and burn it to the ground.”
“We gotta make sure he’s in it first.”

Friday night has always been a party night for the city and tonight was no exception.  I had thought it was a good idea if Roxanne showed up at her pub to make it looked as though she had been away for a few days ill and was getting back on her feet.  She was walking around the place and looking her sexy best as her staff welcomed her back; saying she looked well-rested and better than she did last week.  This was good.
I walked over to the bar, “I’ll see how my boss fairs next door.”
“Okay.” She smiled, “A drink will be waiting for you when get back.”
I walked out into the city street and drank in the scents of all the humans I could possibly feed off in that night.  When I was first sired, I was a maniac.  I could barely control myself around them; seeing they outnumbered us in this world.  Now, over three hundred years later, I’m doing well.
I stood outside the neighbouring building that only lit up at night and looked up at the old wrought-iron balconies that framed it.  It was most certainly going to be a shame what was going to happen to its owner.  I walked inside and found my way to Darius’ office where he seemed to be waiting for me.
“Oh, come in, come in.” he grinned as he sipped at a tumbler of blood, “I’m just having some fresh stuff.”
“Off the hoof?” I asked, “Well, I’m impressed that one of your cronies actually brought one in.”
He walked around his large desk, “I’m celebrating; just like you should be.”
I frowned slightly, “Why?”
“Oh, come on.  You took a wife.”
I wondered how he knew, but didn’t let on about it, “I fed from her, but I didn’t really do anything.”
Darius drained his glass, turned and put it on a sterling silver coaster and looked back at me, “I was in your place when you did it.  And like you said, you can never hear me come in or out.”
Sighing, I let him finish his spiel, “And so what?”
“Did you think it was going make things easier for her?”
“It would make things harder for you.” I smiled, “She’s going to live for a very long time.  And you’re going to wonder how long she’ll keep the place running.”
“Without you around, it’s going to be hard.” Darius muttered, “I mean, you’ll have your job and she’ll have hers.”
“Well, that’s just the thing.  I won’t be working for you anymore.  Seeing you were the one who put the job out on her in the first place, she doesn’t really have to fire anybody in her workforce.  Just replace the humans with vamps I have chosen.” I answered.
“So, what do you propose?  I move from here?”
“Yes.  Move or be moved.” I said.
The next thing I found was Darius attacking me.  He had transformed and quicker than I had anticipated, he grabbed a knife I didn’t see before on his desk and nearly got to behead me.   We fought hard; and us vampires, well we fight better when our immortal juices are running, when we’re transformed.  The struggle didn’t attract any attention from anyone in the other offices as we threw each other’s weight around.  This was something I hated doing but I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of.
He suddenly lost grip on the knife and we both scrambled for it as it clattered across the floor; with me grabbing for it first.  I spun it around, took a swing and the next thing I saw was his head sliding and bumping towards the filing cabinet next to the door. 
Pocketing the hunting knife, I looked around the office quickly and found lighter fluid (the same brand he refilled his zippo lighter with) and quickly squirted it over his desk, in his bin and on his body.  I took the lighter with me after lighting a piece of paper and making inhuman tracks out of there.  I had to warn Roxanne about the fire that was going to endanger her building.

The fire demolished the old heritage-listed building.  What a pity it just fell down like a deck of cards and the owner never took care of it.  Roxanne’s building was then listed as heritage-listed and she got a huge insurance payout for smoke and water damage.  The place looks wicked.  And that’s what she renamed it:  ‘Wicked’.
Now, we have vampires coming in from all over the city to hang out, meet up and have a safe-haven from the mortal world.  She didn’t think it would happen at first, but when we welcomed both humans and immortals, this place really filled up.  A year on, it’s known as the best Goth Bar around.  Nobody really knows if the people frequenting it are humans or not; just that we have a bloody great time!  Roxanne has hired on an all immortal staff to keep everything on an equal footing, we have an audit every year to keep the books running well and as I’m a man of my word, I stick to keeping the criminals off our street and backstreets.  The police usually are called, but if I know they’re not stoned or drunk, well, I don’t think anyone’s going to miss them all that much; after all, they’re scum and the cops aren’t going to do much with them.  And it is better off the hoof once in a while.  Who’d have thought that my next wife would be just as hot as my first one; and with the same kind of business skills as Constance?