Before long, we were cruising around in O’Malley’s car—a shiny, green, 1973 Chevy Nova with green leather interior and a St. Christopher pendant dangling from the rearview mirror. Heavy Celtic punk music pounded from the speakers, mandolin mixing with hard rhythm guitar and loud, gruff vocals.
“Where are we going?” I called to O’Malley over the music. She still hadn’t told me.
Her head ceased its rhythmic bobbing as she turned down the volume, but her thumb continued to tap out the beat on the steering wheel. A devilish smile began to form on her face. I followed her eyes to a young woman who stood on the street corner across from us, with wavy blonde hair, a pink tube top, black leather skirt, fishnet tights, and pink stilettos. I swallowed the lump that rose in my throat.
I should probably mention that hiring women for sex was not something I was familiar with. I’d never had to do it before, because chicks dig me, and I have a few dirty magazines to keep me company when they don’t. So, all I knew was what I’d seen in movies. But it was too late. I was crossing the street and she had seen me.
“Hey, handsome,” she said sweetly as I approached her. “Looking for a good time?”
“You read my mind,” I answered with a fake smile, masking my apprehension.
If she only knew what my idea of a good time is…
“But, uh… I don’t have a lot, to be honest,” I told her, perhaps hoping that it might make her turn me down.
“How much do you have, honey?”
I checked my wallet. “Two hundred twenty, and… a really old Hot Topic gift card.”
She laughed and said, “Well, you can keep the gift card. Is my place okay?”
I nodded and she took my hand, leading me down the sidewalk. Her heels clicked on the concrete and her hip brushed against my thigh with every other step.
“What’s your name?”
“Grin,” I said. “What’s yours?”
She giggled. “I’m Sandy. Why do they call you Grin?”
I turned to look at her, flipping my hair back a little so she could see the scars. “Isn’t it obvious?”
Sandy squinted a bit in the dark, and for a moment, fearful shock flashed across her face. Then she pouted a little. “That seems like a pretty insensitive nickname.”
“I’ve gotten used to it.”
“What, um… happened, if you don’t mind?”
I sighed. “Long story short, there was a guy who didn’t like my face. …Or anything else about me.”
She looked even sadder. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s all right.”
Dammit, she’s such a sweetheart. I can’t go through with this.
While I was trying desperately to think of an excuse to tell her so I could back out of the deal, she began to pull me up crumbling steps toward the front doors of an equally crumbling apartment building. I opened the door for her and followed her inside. We went up three flights of rickety, wooden stairs, down a hallway with peeling wallpaper and worn carpet, and stopped at a door. Sandy produced a set of keys and unlocked it. “Home sweet home,” she said, forcing cheer into her voice.
The place was small and sparsely furnished. The living room and kitchen were practically the same room, and to the right, one door led to a bathroom, the other to a bedroom. The living room had a lamp—which Sandy turned on when we entered—a sofa, and a coffee table. There was no television, but plenty of books.
“You like to read?” I observed.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Classics, mostly. How about you?”
“Horror, mystery, sci-fi, comic books…” I replied, closing and locking the door behind me. “I’m more into movies.”
I was stalling as long as I could, but then she said, “The bedroom’s through there,” and pointed at the door. She smiled flirtatiously, saying, “I’m just gonna freshen up,” and disappeared into the bathroom.
I walked awkwardly into the bedroom and turned on a little lamp on the table by the bed. The room was pretty simple. Bed, dresser, nightstand, closet. I sat down on the foot of the bed and put my head in my hands.
“What the fuck are we gonna do about this shit, Grin?” I muttered to myself. I couldn’t kill her, but I didn’t really want to screw her, either. She was the kind of girl I just wanted to have coffee and talk with. She was sweet and pretty.
The bedroom door opened and Sandy walked in, daintily smoking the last of a cigarette. The door creaked closed behind her. There was a green pack of Pall Mall and a condom in her hand, and she put both down on the nightstand, next to an ashtray where she ground out her filter. She was wearing a pink push-up bra, a pink thong, and her pink stilettos. And she was walking toward me.
Okay, forget everything I just said about not wanting to do her.
“Wow,” I whispered, following her gentle curves with my eyes, fingers fidgeting on my knees nervously. “You’re beautiful.”
She smiled, tucking her hair behind her ear and sitting down on my lap. “You’re cute, too,” she said, unzipping my jacket. I unbuckled it at the waist. “Even with the scars. Kinda like Brandon Lee.”
I laughed and shrugged off my jacket, pushing it off the bed to the floor. “That’s the second time tonight I’ve been compared to The Crow,” I said, wrapping my cold arms around her warm waist. “I don’t get it. Eric had makeup, not scars.”
“Can I compare you to Heath Ledger?” she offered. I felt her pulling my shirt up from the back. “The Joker had makeup, but he had scars, too.”
The shirt landed next to the jacket and I laughed a little. “I get it. I look like a bunch of dead actors.”
She smiled and touched my face. “Let’s pretend I just said you’re cute.”
“Sounds good,” I said, and slipped my hand up her neck, cupped her jaw, and kissed her. The menthol of the cigarette lingered in her mouth and tingled on my tongue, and the warmth of her lips made me remember how cold I must’ve felt to her. It made me a little self-conscious, but her hands running over my shoulders and down my chest told me she didn’t mind. While we kissed, she pushed me down onto the bed, kicking off her shoes, and we lay facing each other, kissing a little harder, a little deeper, until I felt her tugging at the buttons on my jeans. But I was in no hurry. I rolled onto my back, pulling her over on top of me.
All O’Malley had told me in the car was to get the girl alone and my new instincts would do the rest. I knew what that meant, but I wanted to see how far we could get before that instinct would kick in. Maybe it wouldn’t kick in at all. Maybe I could fight it.
Sandy’s kisses traveled down my chest, my belly, and when she’d undone my jeans and opened my boxers, even lower. The vampire urge wasn’t there yet, but damn, the eighteen-year-old boy urge was in full swing.
Well… it would’ve been, but it looked like no amount of her blowing and jerking could get me up. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was dead.
But I did feel something changing. My teeth. My canines were long and sharp. The dim room became brighter and sharper as my pupils dilated, turning my eyes black. Horniness gave way to some other kind of lust, something I’d never felt before. Something sinister.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“It’s okay. It happens,” she said, pushing herself up and lying down on top of me, smiling. “I’ve got something for that, if you want.”
“No, I mean…” I panted, and rolled her beneath me so she couldn’t escape. “I mean, I’m sorry… for this.”
She gazed at me in confusion. I gave her pink lips one last kiss, then lowered my head and slid my fangs into her neck.
Mother of God! Had sex ever felt this good? Hot blood gushed into my mouth and I swallowed hard. It ran down my throat like liquid fire and made my heart beat. A strange, tingling heat surged through flesh and muscle. It was like an orgasm that wouldn’t stop. I laced my fingers with hers and pinned her hands to the pillow, listening to her gasping and panting and the blood throbbing in my ears. I forced my teeth deeper, drew the blood harder, swallowing in gulps, until her grip on my hands loosened, her heavy breath got softer, and the blood came in a trickle. I pulled back and heaved in great breaths of air.
And I noticed I was finally getting hard.
“Oh, sure. Now you show up,” I muttered.
I buttoned my jeans, put my shirt and jacket back on, and looked down at Sandy. Her eyes were closed peacefully, like she was sleeping and having beautiful dreams. I lifted her limp, cooling body onto my shoulder, surprised by how light she felt. I pulled back the blankets, lay her down, and covered her with the sheets. The puncture wounds on her neck were gone. It would look like she’d just gone to bed and drifted off in her sleep.
I glanced at the cigarettes on the nightstand.
She’d want them to go to a good home.
I swiped them up and left.
I stood on the corner where Sandy had been standing not an hour ago. The rumble of O’Malley’s car approached as I lit up a smoke. The green Nova rolled up and her window came down, letting forth a wave of bagpipes and electric guitar. “Hey, baby. How much?” she called over the noise.
Normally, I would’ve laughed and made some smartass reply, but I wasn’t in the mood. I went to the other side of the car and got in.
“You all right?” she asked, turning the radio down as she pulled away from the curb.
“What do you think?” I growled. “I just killed someone.”
It took her a moment to reply. Then she said, “The first is always the hardest.”
I wanted to argue, but I held my tongue. Murder didn’t feel like something that would get easier with time. But I had to realize that O’Malley had been doing it for years, and at some point, she too had to have felt what I was feeling. And that was disgust with myself that I had not only killed an innocent girl… I had loved every second of it.
I swung my arm out the window and let the cigarette hang from my lips, watching the dark neighborhood whiz by. We were heading toward the center of the city.