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V IS FOR VAMPIRE
“You’ve been reading too many romance novels.”
“C’mon, Diego. Just hear me out.”
I darted down an unlit alley, Clay still at my heels. More focused on our nightly hunt than my friend’s latest scheme, I sniffed the air, peered into the shadows, and gave Clay a nod. The smells from the adjoining street promised a good night. All we had to do was wait.
Clay handed me something. A business card. One side had a red ‘V’ in the center. The flip side read, “Nightfolk saved you tonight.”
“Clay, this is your dumbest idea ever. Humans won’t think ‘Valor’ when they see this; they’ll think the ‘V’ is for–”
“I know, that hateful old slur. But when word gets out we’re using our powers to save the weak, they’ll see Nightfolk are valorous.”
That word again. No one I knew talked like Clay. Or thought like him. I said, “Save the weak? Before or after we’re through feeding?”
My friend stiffened. “We are who we are, Diego. But when we ain’t supping, we can do good deeds.”
“I say we don’t get involved.”
“We have to show the city council we ain’t monsters. If that ordinance passes–”
I raised a finger to my lips. The sound of footsteps stumbling our way brought a smile to Clay’s whiskered face. Drunks make easy meals.
Clay leaned close. “I special ordered two capes.”
I nodded, eyes fixed on the street, and then spun around. “I’m not wearing a stupid–”
Two figures twisted into the alley, grappling. A man in a red jersey pushed a well-dressed woman against a grimy brick wall.
The woman clutched her purse, which the man ripped from her fingers.
Clay’s eyes widened. “Hey, let’s help.”
“None of our business. This is between the humans.”
The man slapped the woman and she sobbed. He shook her, then drew his hand back again.
That did it. Without thinking, I bolted through the darkness and gripped the scumbag’s wrist.
His face screwed up and he yelled, “Son of a bitch!” He threw a sluggish human punch with his free hand. I caught his fist, glared at him, and gave him a little squeeze. His mouth gaped, his legs buckled, and he squealed. When I let him go, he scrambled to his feet and darted away.
He didn’t get far. Clay leaped across the alley, snagged him, and pulled him into the shadows. Muffled grunts, then the dull thud of a fist to the gut seeped out of the darkness, followed by silence.
The woman peered into the black recess where Clay and her attacker had disappeared. She turned, and in a surprisingly calm voice said, “Are you going to bite me?”
I stooped and handed her the purse. “Are you all right?”
“Yes.” She took the purse in both hands, and then gazed up at me.
“And no,” I said. “I’m not going to bite you.”
“But I want to – thank you for what you did.” She stepped close to me, so close I could feel her warmth.
I cocked my head, searching her eyes.
My fingers brushed back a glimmering mane of black hair from her neck, and her eyes rolled back. I pressed her tight against me and fed on that strange, lovely woman. Her taste had a metallic sweetness, rich with life.
In ten seconds, it was done. She touched her neck and smiled. “No bleeding.”
I nodded. “And some folks say you won’t get a cold all winter.”
Her eyes lit up, but then a sly smile revealed she’d caught on. Without a word, she turned and strolled back toward the street.
I could not help but watch until she turned the corner. Long moments after she’d vanished, I stared out into the street, my mind wrestling with a question I wanted to dismiss, but could not.
How would I look in a cape?
Modelling_Mushi - Good to see this one out here Michael, nicely told.
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