Chapter XII: A brief romanceI was still fuming as I left the building. Glancing up at the sky, I could see that the black of night was giving way to the purple hues of false dawn. I hurried back to my haven. After everything that had happened tonight, being immolated by morning rays did not seem like a fitting end to the tale.
Upon arrival I deadbolted the door, drawing the unusually thick curtains closed, ensuring there was no possibility of light entering in the morning. I lay back on the pallet, wondering how vampires went about the whole sleep business. I felt no weariness, I did not seem to require rest.
Almost twelve hours later, I determined it was pretty much the same as with humans. From the moment my head had hit the worn pillow on the bed, I must have entered deep, dreamless sleep. I stood up, feeling none of the usual groginess that I had felt as a mortal. I was asleep, now I was awake. There was no in-between.
A brief check of my email indicated that LaCroix had additional business for me to attend to in Santa Monica.
It has come to my attention that the hospital in Santa Monica has acquired a sample of werewolf blood. For obvious reasons, we cannot allow them to test the substance and question it's origins. The public must not become aware of its existence. I assure you that those responsible have been punished most severely. It would please me greatly if you could retrieve the sample and have it sent to me. I will reward you for your efforts, of course.
Damned Lacroix...do I look like an errand boy?
I knew I had no choice though. I opened the fridge, taking the last available blood pack. I drained it, feeling my strength return. Next time, I'd have to go to the source.
Remembering the job Kilpatrick had given me, I crossed the hallway to the apartment opposite. The lock was not difficult to pick, and I looked around for any hint of Muddy. The room was noticeably vacant - furniture gone, fridge empty, bathroom cabinets also empty. All that was left was the answerphone, the light blinking. I pressed the button.
'Hi Marian, this is Muddy', the voice said in an Elvisesque drawl. 'I'm out of Santa Monica, gone downtown to lay low for a while, something's come up, something big. If I were you, I'd head out of town too. Later, hon.'
So, Muddy had flown the coop. I'd let Kilpatrick know in due course. First up, I had a date at The Asylum I just couldn't get out of.
When I arrived, my head was spinning a little.
Guess the quality of that last bag wasn't so good...wouldn't you like something a little more warm? A little more exciting?
I couldn't deny it. That voice inside me was right. The cool stuff out of the bag was good as a pick-me-up, but after a long nap, it just wasn't enough. I scanned the dancefloor for a likely target.
The woman by the bar was perfect. She was obviously alone, and uncomfortable. By the way she dressed, and the expression on her face when she listened to the music, she wasn't a regular, and hadn't realised what she was getting into when she arrived.
You're right there, kid, absolutely perfect.
'Hey there miss', I purred, my voice dripping with honey. 'Aren't you that actress?'
The young woman blushed, looking up between her long lashes.
'Sure you are. Either that or her hotter sister. You look much better off the camera.'
She blushed more strongly, the blood coming to the surface. It took every ounce of restraint I had to take her then. I took her hand and led her to the other side of the bar where it was darker. Where anyone watching would think that I was giving her the hickey of a lifetime. I chuckled. In fact, I supposed I was at that.
'Lean closer, I want to tell you something.'
I drank deep, sucking on her throat. Entranced, she gave no resistance as I stroked her hair tenderly. It wouldn't do to make her suffer, not with the service she was providing. I drew back as she looked up, dazed. I smiled, kissing her on the cheek. 'I think someone had a little too much too drink, didn't they?', I commented in a flirtatious manner. She laughed, holding her head, which was obviously spinning. 'Let me get you a taxi.'
Once the girl was safely on her way, I walked back to the bar. Knox, the annoying simpleton of a ghoul, ran up as he saw me enter and slapped me on the back.
'Oh man! I knew I'd see you again! Enjoy your breakfast?'
I glared at him.
'Why not say it louder Knox, and let everyone know?'
'Oops...sorry man.' Knox's vacuous expression didn't change. I sighed. Shame would require a higher IQ than this guy had.
'So what are you up to?'
I rolled a shotglass around on the counter. 'Would that be the master you can't talk about?', I enquired in a bored voice.
My ears pricked up. Not so bored now, are you?
'Oh really? Where is he now?'
'And what's he needed you for this time Knox? Get to the point?' I flicked the shotglass across the bar, hitting the bartender in the back. He turned, annoyed, as I smirked at him.
'Wow Knox, sounds like you're doing a great job with this whole surveillance thing.' I chuckled as Knox became flustered.
I considered it. If I did Knox this favour, then Tung, once I found him, would owe me a favour. Then again, I thought, looking at Knox in irritation, he'd probably owe me a favour if I let this asian vampire smear Knox along the pavement.
'Sure Knox, I'm game.'
'License? Why would the vampire have a license? I'm assuming it's not his.'
Pitiful ghoul. Doesn't have two braincells to rub together.
I looked at the bartender.
'Yo, barperson, is Therese in?'
The bartender looked up at her window.
'Not right now, chief. Want a drink while you wait?'
'Well...I'd just like to talk, to be honest.'
'Here we go', the bartender groaned, rolling his eyes. He began polishing a glass.
'Well, it all started when I was in the third grade...' I started, my voice breaking.
'You see, my pet iguana, Chris, he just couldn't handle the pressure...'
'It was around then I decided that God couldn't possibly exist', I said, leaning my head on the bar.
'Alright, great, whatever. You gonna buy a drink?'
'Never touch the stuff', I said brightly with a smile. 'See you later!'
I walked out of the bar whistling, looking at the driver's license.
'Virgil Crumb...where have I seen that name before...'
I rubbed my chin, trying to remember.
Of course, the bail bond computer...
Time to visit Kilpatrick again.