One week after my conversation with Miss Stackhouse, I am sitting on my throne in Fangtasia in a foul mood. Going over the events from that evening, I once again feel my frustrations rising. She had slammed the door in my face after I had told her everything she needed to know; I knew it signified the end of our conversation. and my frustrations are rising. I knew I had thrown a lot of information at her that evening, so I decided to give her some space. I thought a day or two was more than fair to allow her to come to terms with the arrangement we were to have, even if she did misconstrue what our relationship would be. For her brother and grandmother, it would certainly be a business arrangement. I had no wish to make either of them a pet in the traditional sense of the word. As for Miss Stackhouse, I am vacillating on how I want to move forward with her. When I’m around her, I lose focus on the issue at hand. Yes, she smells amazing and her body is exactly the way a woman’s should be: soft, curvy, and meant to be worshiped before being devoured. And her blood calls to me like none I’ve ever encountered. But now that I’m away from her, I can think critically and rationally. I’m sure being involved with Miss Stackhouse will be pleasurable for a short amount of time, but it will ultimately be bad for business. Not only did she make it perfectly clear she isn’t an easy fuck like her cousin, but there is the little issue of her fairy great-grandfather. I have no wish to end up a pile of ash because he found fault with my arrangement with his family member.
I find that I respect her. The fact she wasn’t intimidated by me and didn’t fall at my feet like the brainless, revolting fangbangers here at the club was utterly refreshing. Her fire and spirit drew me in and I found I wanted to encourage her spirit and not snuff it out. I found myself wanting to treat her as my equal . . . But that was a week ago. I haven’t heard from the obstinate brat in seven days, so instead of encouraging her fire, I find I want to crush it. I am the one in charge, not her. I am a thousand-year old vampire; she will learn quickly that I do not deal with insubordination. The only reason I have not returned to the Stackhouse home is because Desmond Cataliades informed me that a copy of the contracts had been delivered to the Stackhouse family for their perusal on the third day. How the family knew to contact him was something of a mystery, but the demon ended the call before I could question him. I am tired of feeling like my existence is spinning out of control and I am no longer master of my fate. It feels as if I am merely a puppet and someone else is pulling the strings. It is time Miss Stackhouse learns who is the master and who is the pet.
My mind is moving quickly through all my moves and counter moves as I sit looking unapproachable on my throne. Word has spread through the vermin that my mood has become increasingly surly this week; so naturally, the bar is nearly at capacity. Why the humans find it exciting to be in the presence of death is beyond me. As a human, I did not actively seek death, but I did not shy away from the situations where I might meet it. As a vampire, death surrounds us at all times, but I find as I become older I am more guarded about my existence. I have lived far too long to allow something ridiculous be the end of me. But these humans actively seek to be scared, humiliated, abused and used. I have made a sizeable profit from this idiotic fascination they have, but I find it pathetic now where I once found it amusing. To have the humans actively seek us out when we once had to hide our existence was initially intoxicating, but I learned quickly that the ones seeking us out were not worthy of my time or attention. I miss the thrill of the hunt, using my skills to capture my prey. What fun or satisfaction is there in digging through the trash of society to find my meal?
A pulse of excitement bursts through the bond I have with my child but it is quickly replaced with a deep sense of amusement. Pam is working the door this evening, so I have no idea what could have caused those reactions. Perhaps she is watching stupid human tricks again on YouTube. It is amazing the shit people will post on the internet.
My attention snaps to the door when I catch the seductive fragrance I encountered when I met Miss Stackhouse last week. But that can’t be; there is no way she would have come here to the lion’s den so to speak. My eyes widen in shock, then narrow in anger. What is she thinking coming to a vampire bar alone when she smells like a vampire’s wet dream? Add that to the way she is dressed, and you have the perfect example of vampire bait. In truth, I do not think a full-blooded fairy would be as appealing as this girl in her innocent white dress with the splashes of red. The white emphasizes her innocence and makes her stand head and shoulders above the pathetic vermin. But the red flowers will drive a vampire insane with bloodlust because it reminds us of the intoxicating blood she possesses beneath her golden smooth skin.
Pam blurs to my side in an instant. She maintains her bored indifference for the patrons but our bond is bouncing like a child on a sugar high. She begins speaking in Swedish. “If you don’t want her, I’d be more than happy to take her off your hands. She smells divine. How am I supposed to stomach the vermin now that I’ve smelled perfection?”
“She is mine,” I snarl in English. Every vampire’s attention snaps to me and they bow their heads marginally to acknowledge my claim over the girl. Pam’s acute disappointment fills the bond and I hear the pout in her voice as she speaks in Swedish again. “What about the brother? I might switch teams if he’s like his sister.”
“He smells better than the average human, but nowhere near as good as his sister,” I say with a smirk in my native tongue
“You smug bastard,” Pam says with disgust. We watch in silence as she orders a drink from the bar. My scowl deepens when I realize Longshadow is trying to glamour her. My quiet growl has him snapping to attention and he places the drink quickly in front of her before moving away. When Miss Stackhouse turns around, her eyes widen as she takes in my appearance. I smirk in response as I gesture with two fingers for her to approach me. Unfortunately, an overeager fangbanger thinks I mean them. He crawls up the stage and begins kissing the leather of my boot. Without thinking, I kick the man away from me, sending him flying into a table near the stage. The table shatters and he falls to the floor. The metallic scent of blood fills the air and the unmistakable snap of fangs clicking in place can be heard around the bar. My eyes dart to every vampire in attendance, daring them to make a move. There will be no feeding in public; the human authorities have raided my business several times since we have opened looking for any reason to issue violations or shut us down. I have few rules in my area and believe I am a fair Sheriff, but if any of the vampires in here cause me to lose money because they can’t control their urges, I will have no qualms about making an example of someone.
After a few tense moments, a vampire named Taryn approaches the stage. She is over a century old, having been turned during the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s. Taryn nods respectfully towards me before making her way to the middle-aged man in the khakis and polo I had kicked to the curb.
She holds her hand out to help him up. He rises unsteadily to his feet; there is a gash about the length of my index finger bleeding profusely on his head. Head wounds are always gushers, but he does not need medical attention. Taryn introduces herself to the fangbanger and he follows after her like a puppy dog. She will arrange for his memory to be erased of the incident as well as healing his wound; she will get a free dinner for her trouble.
Activity resumes as two vampires clean up the mess the human had made while Pamela brings another table out from storage. During the momentary upheaval, I lost sight of Miss Stackhouse.
“Pamela, where did she go?” She sticks out like a sore thumb. How could she disappear?
My progeny rolls her eyes. “She’s a human Eric. Perhaps she is in the ladies’ room powdering her nose.”
“Find her!” With the exception of Taryn, all the vampires in the bar that were here prior to the incident with the human are still here. I have this irrational fear that something has happened to her under my very nose.
Before Pamela can move the smell of honey drifts through the air. As Pamela had suspected, Miss Stackhouse is coming from the hallway that led to the restrooms. She really is a candle in a coal mine, the lone bright spot in a sea of darkness. I vamp in front of her before she can move. “Miss Stackhouse, what a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure of your company?”
She looks slightly uncomfortable before straightening her shoulders. “I came to apologize,” she says resolutely.
“For what exactly?”
She sighs with loudly before replying. “You didn’t deserve to be treated that way last week. You’re only doin’ what needs to be done. I’m sorry for taking my anger, frustrations, and hurt out on you.”
I nod briskly. “Would you care to continue this conversation in my office? There would be fewer prying eyes and ears there.”
“I think that would be best,” she says after careful consideration. I gesture for her to go back down the hallway and she turns on her heel. I can admit the back of the dress flatters her figure just as much as the front. She pauses outside the women’s restroom door. She turns back around with a frown on her face.
“If you don’t want trouble with the police, then you need to get the vampire in the bathroom to stop feeding on the man you kicked. There is an undercover officer wearing a trucker’s hat that has radioed for backup because he believes something illegal is going on.” Her voice has been low and steady, barely loud enough for me to hear. But I growl in frustration as I kick open the bathroom door then yank the stall door off its hinges. Just as Miss Stackhouse stated, Taryn has her fangs in the pathetic man’s neck. As she feeds from him, he is babbling happily and there is a cum stain on his pants showing how much he is enjoying himself. Taryn drops the human as soon as she sees me and he begins sobbing pitifully, begging for her to continue.
“You have disobeyed the rules of my area,” I state coldly. “Get him out of here now before the police show up. You will receive your punishment tomorrow. Be here an hour before sunrise. If you disobey me further, it will be a year in a silver coffin. Understand?”
Taryn mumbles, “Yes, Sheriff,” before dragging the weeping human out of the bathroom and out the bar. Before returning to Miss Stackhouse, I fire off a quick text to Pam letting her know of the impending raid, Taryn’s crime, and that I am leaving with Miss Stackhouse. She responds back that she will handle everything and that I’m a lucky bastard. I’m sure my credit card will feel her displeasure tonight. Putting my phone away, I grab Miss Stackhouse’s arm to lead her out the employee’s entrance.
“Wait a minute! I thought we were gonna talk in your office,” she says as she tried to pull out of my grip. She’s only going to end up bruising herself if she continues her struggles.
“As you pointed out, I am about to be raided.” The sounds of police sirens can be heard in the distance so I vamp us to my car and secure her inside before vamping to the driver’s seat. The engine of my Corvette roars to life, and I put her in drive, gunning the engine so we can beat the police arrival.
“I do not wish to delay our conversation any further; therefore, I do not feel like dealing with the interruption the police will cause. My associate will handle everything, which leaves us free to continue our discussion.” I shift gears seamlessly, enjoying the purr of the engine as we cruise down the highway. A quick glance out of my peripheral shows Miss Stackhouse clutching the door with both hands. I chuckle with amusement. “Something wrong with my driving?”
“Not if you’re tryin’ to qualify for the Daytona 500,” she snaps quickly and with fire. I cannot help laughing at her discomfort. The only car accidents I’ve ever been in are the ones I have intentionally caused.
“I assure you, I am a superb driver. Nothing will happen to us.” To illustrate my point, I look at her fully with a smile on my face as I cross over two lanes of traffic to get the fast lane where I can drive as fast as I want. My normal speed is 125 mph.
“Oh sweet baby Jesus,” she mutters as her lashes flutter over her eyes and I laugh again. She keeps her eyes tightly closed as I continue driving. I wish to have a private conversation with her, but I am uncomfortable taking her to one of my houses, even if it is one I do not rest in. For this conversation I think we need to be somewhere that is neutral ground for both of us. I have enough of an advantage as it is; I do not need her to feel as if I am holding her hostage. It is with that in mind that has me pulling off the highway and heading towards Lake Bistineau State Park. Within a few moments we are sitting in my parked vehicle letting the silence of the woods surround us.
“Did you bring me here so I can sleep with the fishes?” Miss Stackhouse is smiling a small, shy smile as she looks straight ahead through the windshield at Lake Bistineau. My own face relaxes in a teasing grin as I think of an appropriate comeback from The Godfather, which is one of my all-time favorite movies.
“Something tells me that if you and I were to go to the mattresses, we’d find something more pleasurable to do than put a horse head in it,” I say with a smirk.
“Hmph,” she says as she crosses her arms over her chest, but her grin widens. “Sorry Sheriff but I’m not interested in your gun; I’d rather eat the cannoli.”
“But my gun has all the white cream filling you can eat,” I purr wickedly as I wiggle my eyebrows suggestively. “You know you want to lick it all up,” I whisper closer to her. My breath fans across her ear, sending shivers down her spine. My eyes are mesmerized by the sudden rapid rising and falling of her breasts. I feel myself hardening as the scent of her arousal saturates the air in the car. The pulse beneath her skin is hypnotizing and my fangs ache with the need to taste her supple flesh.
“I like my seamen in their dress white uniforms, doing their duty to protect the country. Your semen will just have to find some other port to call home,” she says with a sassy wink as she exits the vehicle. The blast of hot, humid air weakens her scent inside the car and I am able to regain my focus on the issues at hand. Exiting the vehicle, I find Miss Stackhouse walking along the path that leads to the lake. We walk in silence until we reach the lakeshore. Miss Stackhouse removes her shoes before stepping gingerly on the grass. She ambles along until she drops daintily to the ground, spreading her skirt around her before patting the grass next to her, indicating that I should join her.
Dropping to the ground beside her, I recline back on my elbow with my other arm propped on my bent knee. Usually a human fidgets uncontrollably when in my presence, but Miss Stackhouse remains oddly still. I am content to let her take the reins on our conversation this evening. Last time, I had overwhelmed her and I did not wish to do that again.
“Do you have any idea how hard it was for me this week to ask my Gran about this great-grandfather you mentioned?” Her voice is achingly soft as she plucks at a blade of grass absent-mindedly. “Gran never really talked about her husband. He disappeared about a year after my parents died. He’d gone out fishing one morning and never came back; there was never any sign of his boat. His truck was found by the pond behind my parents’ house. I always thought it was too painful for her to talk about. She’d buried her son and daughter-in-law; a year later her husband was gone too. My Aunt Linda died when I was a teenager from cancer. And Gran’s brother . . .” her voice cuts off abruptly. My eyes flick to her face; tears are seeping from her closed eyes and she is panting heavily as if she’s been running. Her hands are fisted in her lap and her body shakes. This is fear; I’ve seen it enough from my prey to know all the signs. My investigator did not mention a brother for Adele Stackhouse. I need to know everything I can about him. For the mere mention of his name to elicit this type of reaction from Miss Stackhouse means he must have done something truly despicable. I know she is still a virgin, but there are other things he could have done to steal her innocence. I am torn between the need to find this man and peel the skin from his body like the skin from an apple and the urge to wrap my arms around Miss Stackhouse and comfort her. With a sigh, I do the only action I can in this moment and that’s comfort her. She feels so small in my arms, but she shifts until all the tension leaves her body. As her body relaxes, I notice that she just “fits”. I sigh heavily as I realize my mundane existence is at an end; this tiny creature in my arms has me swinging from one emotional extreme to the next. I wonder if they make medication for vampire mood swings. Pam likes to claim that I suffer from male PMS. She left me a bottle of PMS medication on my desk one time but she had altered the product label. Instead of saying Pamprin, it had said Vamprin.
“You have nothing to fear Miss Stackhouse; you have my word,” I say quietly against her head.
“I know,” she says simply. She pulls back from my embrace to look at me as she continues her story. “Gran tried to deny any extra family members, but her memories gave her away. In her mind, I was able to see a beautiful man approach her while she was hanging laundry in the sun. Her memories flashed to things no child ever wants to see of a parent or a grandparent,” she says with a scrunched up nose and I cannot help but chuckle quietly.
“You would not have liked to be alive during my time as a human Little One. Everyone lived in one long room. There was no such thing as privacy or modesty during my human days,” I say as I look through the span of history.
“You mean . . .” she gulps and turns a delicious shade of red. I can’t resist teasing her.
“Everyone would know when we fucked,” I say with waggle of my eyebrows and a wiggle of my hips, letting her know that I am not unaffected by our close proximity.
She laughs and slaps playfully at my shoulder. “None of that nasty talk buster! You forget I am a lady,” she says primly. However, she does not leave the confines of my arms or her place on my lap. If anything, she wiggles around teasing me in the most delicious of ways.
“You are playing with fire little girl,” I growl as a warning.
She becomes contrite and stills in my arms. “I’m sorry, but you distracted me.”
“Forgive me. Please continue your story.”
She clears her throat and resumes her tale. There is a tinge of sadness in her voice as she speaks and I find my hand rubbing soothingly over her back as my other thumb rubs gently against her palm. “Gran eventually told me about Fintan, my real grandfather. I wish I had known the truth growing up. It would have been so nice to know I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t the only freak out there.”
My hands move to frame her face, turning her head so she can see my face. I want her to know that I am completely serious in what I am about to say. “You are not a freak, Miss Stackhouse. You are a beautiful young woman with a truly amazing gift. I regret that you felt alone when you were younger, but know this, you will never be alone again.”