“Come in, Damon.”
I pushed open the heavy wooden door and stepped into the dimly lit study. This room, like every room in my boss’ great mansion on the hill, was like something from another time. The laptop sitting on the antique desk was laughably out of place. It was the only thing in the entire room that was less than a century old.
The light from the screen illuminated my boss’ face, washing out what little color he had. His eyes were dead and glassy, but were locked on the screen with a disturbing kind of intensity that didn’t quite bring them to life. I had seen that stare before. It was the stare of a hungry animal. That was how I knew why he’d called me in. He had another job for me.
My boss and I were a clever pair. He’s the type who can’t come in and do what he does without being invited. Unfortunately, he sucks---pun firmly intended---at first impressions. That’s where I come in. I’m well-seasoned in the art of breaking and entering. He’d pick where he wanted to eat, I’d slip in and let him in the front door, and then we both get what we want. I get to keep as much as I can loot, and he gets himself a bloodfeast. It was a match made wherever these kinds of matches are made. Not Heaven, that’s for sure.
Even though we made a good team professionally, my boss was definitely not the type of person I’d ever want to associate with outside of business. He scared me, to be honest. I’m not ashamed to admit that, because think about this: a scummy criminal who breaks into houses and runs with the worst of the worst should be pretty hard to unsettle, and I am. There’s just something about this guy with his flat mood, hollow stare, and unnervingly even voice that gets under my skin. He’s made his way into my nightmares more than once, but the money was good and consistent, so I figured it was a small price to pay.
That brings me to that night. I stood there in the boss’ study for what seemed like forever until he finally decided to look up at me. Things always ran on his time, and with however many centuries he’d been through, I could tell time meant almost nothing to him unless he was hungry.
Those eyes pierced right through me. He spoke his slow and metered words, sending chills up my spine. “I’ve made a choice for the coming weekend. Saturday evening to be exact.”
“Great,” I said. “Who’s the dumb bitch this time?”
Keeping his gaze locked on me, he slid the laptop around. I nearly choked when I saw the screen.
There was a picture of a beautiful young woman in her twenties. She had bright red hair that fell around her face in ringlets. Freckles dotted her lily skin and her red lips curled into a seductive smile.
“No,” I said before I could even think. “Not Andrea.”
The boss tilted his head. “You know this woman?”
Shit, I thought to myself. How was I going to navigate the coming shitstorm? In any event, the cat was already out of the bag, so I simply spilled the truth. “Yes,” I said. “We’ve been seeing each other for… for a while. She’s my….” As hard as I tried, I couldn’t quite bring myself to say the word. I’d never said it out loud before with regard to Andrea.
“Your girlfriend?” my boss offered, finishing my sentence.
The word hit me in the chest and sent a different kind of chill throughout my body. I nodded.
“Well then,” the boss said, “you should have no trouble getting in.”
I was dumbfounded. “You can’t be serious,” I said. “You’re not going to make me go through with it.”
“Why not?” the boss asked. The look on his face was starkly and shockingly sincere. I could see that it never once occurred to him that I would object.
“Because,” I stammered. “I… I….”
“You love her?”
I nodded again, grateful to have the words taken out of my mouth.
The boss’ lips curled slowly into a smile that never reached his eyes. It became almost painful to look at, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
“So much the better,” he said.
He snapped the laptop shut, signalling that there would be no more discussion. “I will expect you at the usual time for the usual order of operations. Good evening.”
My panic rose as I bounded down the mansion steps. I had to do something. I genuinely cared about Andrea. It might have been the first time I had ever felt anything even close to love for someone. And from what I could tell, she felt the same way about me. She didn’t care that I was a loser. She didn’t need me to support her. She saw past my mistakes and my bad choices. Whatever she saw in me, she seemed to like. I wasn’t about to lose that. Not for anyone.
It was a Thursday evening. That meant I had two days to think of something. As soon as I was far enough away from the house, I got on my phone.
“Hey, baby!” That sweet voice rang in my ear, and for a minute, I let it soothe me.
“Hey, sweet cheeks,” I said. “Listen, I really need to see you tonight.”
“Tonight?” she said. I could hear reluctance in her voice, and it unnerved me. “I don’t think I can meet you tonight, Damon. I promised the girls I’d host book club.”
“Oh,” I said. Shit. “You can’t cancel?”
“I already cancelled once before,” she said. It was true. There was one night last month where I’d convinced her to cancel on a night she was hosting. She’d done it willingly. We’d both had quite the appetite for each other that night. But even then, she made it clear that we couldn’t make a habit of such.
It was Thursday, I told myself. The attack wasn’t coming until Saturday. I had time.
“Tomorrow, then?” I asked.
“You’re on,” she said. “My place at eight?”
As I hung up, a sense of relief washed over me. The rest of my plan began to take shape. I would convince Andrea to run away with me. I didn’t know or care to where. It didn’t matter. “Away” was good enough.
For the next twenty-four hours, I was a nervous wreck. Time could not have passed more slowly. I rehearsed my pitch over and over, tried to anticipate Andrea’s arguments and come up with counterpoints of my own.
At last, the time came and I made my way to Andrea’s. When she opened the door, I gave her the longest, deepest kiss of our entire relationship.
“That was different,” she said with flushed cheeks as she toyed flirtily with the flowing scarf she wore.
She let me all the way in where dinner was laid out and waiting for us. We had barely been sitting for thirty seconds when my nervousness became unbearable. I felt the urge to make my move then and there.
“I think we should go away together,” I said suddenly.
“Away?” she repeated. Her fingers nervously pinched the fabric of her scarf.
“Yes,” I said. “Tonight.”
“But… but where?” Her brows knit downward in concern. “What’s going on? This is unlike you. You’re not usually….”
“Spontaneous?” I offered.
“Exactly,” she said, and narrowed her eyes at me. “Are you in trouble?”
“No,” I wanted to shout. “You are!” But all I managed to say was a feeble, “No.” I tried to laugh, but could produce only a single, totally suspicious huff of air.
“Relax, Damon,” Andrea said. I realized I was breathing hard. She reached out and placed a steadying hand on my shoulder. “I think you just need to calm down. I know just the thing for you.” She leaned in close and grazed my ear with her lips. Instantly, my worry melted away and my primal side took over. Every time her lips made landfall on my flesh, a wave of heat rushed through me and settled right where it counted. God damn, this woman knew how to turn me on!
After a few long, slow, sweet kisses, our hands wandered freely. She leaned back, took both my hands in hers, and brought them up to the scarf around her neck. “I’m getting so hot,” she said. I understood what she wanted and set straight to the task of undoing her scarf. It came away so easily.
What I found turned all my heat to ice. There, right above Andrea’s jugular vein were two healing bite marks. With effort, I tore my gaze back to her face. She was no longer looking at me. Instead, her eyes, elated and catlike were trained on something behind where I sat.
I didn’t have time to look before I heard that flat, cold voice.
“You should never try to double cross me, Damon,” it said.
The next thing I remember is an excruciating pain in my head and then darkness.
Now I sit here in this dark and empty apartment, pressing an ice pack to the hot lump on my scalp. The others---Andrea and the boss---are gone. Who knows where they went? I don’t know why they didn’t kill me. Part of me wishes they had.
I’ve said it before: I’m a scummy lowlife. But maybe this will be it for me. Maybe this will be my lesson learned. Maybe this will finally put me on the straight and narrow.
Right after I find that undead fucker and drive a fucking stake straight through his heart.
Written by Jdeschene