Chapter 17: We All Have One

We left our victims where they lay and returned to Lanigan’s. It was nearing last call, and wasn’t nearly as crowded as before. The band was playing their last song.

O’Malley paused at the bar and called, “Oi, Patrick!”

A middle-aged man with a beer belly and a red, bushy beard looked up from the beer taps. “Ah, there y’are, me girl!” he shouted back with a thick Irish accent, sliding a mug across the bar. “Hawairya?”

I think he said, “How are you?” but it sounded like an entirely different language. I wondered if O’Malley had ever sounded like that. I suppressed a laugh, imagining it.

“Celebrating. When Dodger comes, could ya have him bring a bottle up?”

“Oh, aye!”

I followed her through the door at the back of the room and into the hallway. “What are we celebrating?” I asked as we ascended the stairs toward the loft. And who the fuck is Dodger? I thought.

“The end of your initiation,” she said.

“Initiation?”

“I’ll explain in a minute.”

We entered the loft, the recessed lights acknowledging our presence and fading into life. O’Malley went to the back of the room and drew back the massive black curtains that hid the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window. I thought she was going out onto the wooden balcony, so I followed. Instead, she started past me, saying, “Be right back. I gotta change outta this thing.”

“Why would you do that?” I asked, taking a step to the side to block her path. “It looks great.”

She returned my smirk. “Because I’m getting tired of pushing you away,” she replied, and shoved by me.

“Then don’t,” I suggested. But she ignored me and disappeared into the bedroom.

I opened the glass doors and went out onto the balcony. It was wide, about as long as the main room of the loft, but it only went out a few feet from the building. There was barely enough room for a little, round table and a couple of chairs.

I leaned against the rail and looked out over the eastside. My sight was so much clearer and sharper than it had been before I was a vampire. It made me think of the other things that had changed about me. Some of the changes were visible, and they’re the little tells that can give us away. My cadaverously pale skin was an obvious one, but it wasn’t a constant thing. I looked pretty lively after I fed. My fingernails were longer and lustrous, and hard as steel. But neither my skin nor my nails were as different as my teeth and eyes.

The first night I saw O’Malley, I had been fascinated by her smile. Not just because it was cute, but also because her teeth were immaculate. Now mine were, too. Vampires have teeth that are perfectly straight and perfectly white. Don’t ask why. We don’t know, either.

Then there’s the eyes. The color itself doesn’t change or anything when we become vampires, but the intensity of the color does change. It’s purer, more chromatic. I’ve already told you about how the pupils can expand to an unnatural diameter, turning our eyes effectively black, but they also reflect light, like animals’ do. Sort of like when you’re driving down the road at night and you see a deer or something, and the headlights make its eyes glow.

But then there were the things no one could tell from looking at me, like how my body worked now. My heart still functioned to push blood through my veins, my lungs still took in oxygen to keep that blood alive for a while, and my brain was still up there, doing its thing. Everything else had just sort of atrophied, sitting in my body and taking up space. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink anything but blood, didn’t sleep the same way mortals sleep…

But I could still get laid, and the differences were only positive. STD’s weren’t a threat to me anymore, and I didn’t have to worry about knocking anyone up. I won’t lie, I couldn’t wait to see what sex was like now.

Kind of like an answer to my thoughts, O’Malley returned. She was the most dressed down I’d ever seen her, barefoot, in hip-hugging jeans and a black V-neck t-shirt with the Virgin Mary on it. I smiled a little, watched her turn a chair away from the table, sit down, stretch her curvy legs out in front of her, crossed at the ankles. She put her hands behind her head and looked up at me, one side of her mouth turning up, returning the smile I’d forgotten was on my face. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled and a dimple formed in her cheek.

There were three knocks at the door to the loft.

Like a spell had broken, her golden-green eyes released their hold on me, and she went back into the loft.

When she opened the door, sure enough, it was that “friend” from earlier, trench coat gone, with a tall black bottle in his hand. I hung back in the dark, watching them.

“Got a delivery for the Catholic whore that lives here,” he teased, handing her the bottle as he stepped inside. I recognized the voice and the accent.

Hang in there, mate. She’s coming.

“Great. Give this to the Protestant bastard who sent it,” she fired back, stuffing what I assumed was a tip into his back pocket as he passed.

He laughed and, as he turned his back to me to face her, I saw a gun against his lower back, wedged in the waist of his jeans. It made me nervous, but O’Malley had undoubtedly already seen it, and it didn’t seem to bother her.

“So, where’s Elizabeth Short?” he asked.

“Grin’s outside.”

I couldn’t see his face, but I could hear a smirk in his voice when he sat down on the couch and said, “So, it’s just us?”

She smiled a little, but didn’t respond.

“You know…” he began, leaning forward, “If you wanted someone to spend eternity with… you didn’t have to go make someone a vampire. I mean… I was right here.”

Something about those words jolted me. Was he a vampire? Or was he saying she could’ve made him a vampire? Either way, I knew then that he was into her. My jaw set reflexively.

“That’s not why I did it, Dodger,” she said, coming across the room.

“Why, then?”

She sat down beside him with a sigh. “Gerard told me, ‘We all have one.’ That is, someone we’re sorta fated to turn. I was his, Grin is mine, and someday Grin will find his own.”

He chuckled softly. “Right. Look, forgive me if I don’t buy that. I don’t really believe in fate.”

“Funny, I don’t really believe in coincidence.” He seemed to allow that and she went on, “Gerard said that, when you find them, you know. I never understood what he meant until a month ago.”

For a while, neither of them spoke, and I thought the conversation was over. Then he said, “So, uh… Does his face look all right?”

She laughed a little and the mood seemed to lighten. “I’m sure it makes him even more terrifying to his victims, but… yeah, he still looks okay.”

“Just ‘okay?'” he prodded, nudging her side playfully.

Her musical laughter again, and the dark feeling lifted. “All right, fine, he still looks damn good. Piss off.”

Hell yeah, I thought, smiling. She digs me.

Dodger grinned and got to his feet. “I’d better go.”

“Aww. Are you sure you don’t want to stay for a drink?”

That was my chance to see if he was a vampire or not, but he didn’t really respond. He just gave her a wave over his shoulder, went out the door, and closed it behind him.

O’Malley picked up the bottle and rejoined me on the balcony. “Got your switchblade on ya?” she asked.

“Always,” I answered, and handed it to her. She used it to pull out the cork, then handed it back. I watched as she took a long drink, then held the bottle out to me. “‘Drink some of this, Michael,'” she said intensely, like David in The Lost Boys. “‘Be one of us.'”

We both laughed and I took it from her. I sniffed the mouth of the bottle. It was definitely blood, with that slightly sweet, slightly iron smell, but there was an alcoholic scent to it, too. It had probably been added to keep it from coagulating, I assumed, because it had been chilled.

“It’s cold,” I murmured in disgust.

“Just try it. It’s great.”

Carefully, I took a sip. It was cold, but the booze caused a warm sensation in my mouth. It was sweeter than usual, too. I’d never tasted blood like this before. It was the best.

“Damn, that is good,” I murmured, and took another, longer drink. “What is it?”

“Virgin blood,” she said. “It’s the purest you’ll ever drink. But it’s also the hardest to find. I had to have a crate shipped all the way from Egypt. Cost me more than this loft. But if you think this is good, wait until you come across the real, living thing.”

I handed the bottle back, feeling kind of flattered. She had done so much for me—saving my life, turning me into this badass monster, letting me live with her in her lavish loft, teaching me all about my new existence, among many other smaller favors, like sharing this bullshit expensive “wine” with me. I was starting to doubt I’d ever be able to repay her.

“Congratulations, by the way,” O’Malley said, breaking the silence. “You passed the final threshold. You’re officially an honest-to-God vampire.”

Something about the way she said that made me nervous. “What do you mean?”

She finished taking a drink and explained, “Up until tonight, you’ve only killed evildoers. Well, except for that first girl, but that was out of necessity. That’s my point, though. You’ve only killed when you needed it, and only killed those who deserved to die, if you could help it. Tonight, however, you finally killed for fun.”

I wanted to argue, to say I hadn’t fed yet and they’d just been in a bad place at a bad time, but I said nothing. I couldn’t argue because she was right. Those guys didn’t do anything wrong. All they’d been doing was hanging out, getting high, having a good time. They hadn’t been hurting anyone. Sure, they’d all wanted to bang O’Malley when she walked up to them—who can blame them?—but they never did anything but flirt with her. They hadn’t even touched her.

O’Malley was right. We’d murdered three innocent men. And it had been a hell of a lot of fun.

“C’mon, let’s go inside,” she suggested, putting her hand on my arm. “We’ve got enough time before the sun comes up to watch a movie.”

“Cool,” I murmured unenthusiastically, following her inside and trying to ignore the reality of what I’d done. “What do you wanna watch?”

“I’m in the mood for something funny,” she said. I closed the door and she went to the shelf of DVD’s. I couldn’t see what she’d picked, but she popped it in the player and came back to sit next to me on the couch.

“What did you put in?” I asked, and took a drink from the bottle.

Twilight,” she answered, and took a swig for herself.

“Ugh. I thought you said we were watching a comedy.”

“Have you seen it?”

“No, but I’ve heard enough about it.”

She smiled. “Trust me, Grin. This movie is hilarious.”

She hadn’t been lying. We barely stopped laughing through the whole movie. It had to be the worst reimagining of vampires I’d ever seen! They went to high school, they didn’t drink human blood, they couldn’t be killed unless you chopped them up and burned the pieces, they never slept, they moved at 100 miles per hour, they could crush diamonds between their fingers, and probably the funniest part, they sparkled in sunlight. Are you kidding me? Those aren’t vampires, that’s drag queen Superman! And don’t even get me started on the terrible acting. I’ve seen more convincing actors in porn.

“Wow… That was bad,” I laughed as the credits began to roll.

“I told you it was funny,” she answered, swirling the last of the blood in the bottle. She took a drink and handed the rest to me as she got up. I watched her put the movie away and go to the stereo. She picked up the MP3 player connected to it, pressed a few buttons, and a song I knew began to play: Roky Erickson’s “Burn the Flames.”

The last drink slithered down my throat, spreading alcoholic warmth through my body, as if I wasn’t on fire already. But it wasn’t unpleasant like it had been after I’d drained that huge thug on my first night. It was a wonderful high.

“Am I drunk?” I asked, taking out a cigarette.

“Only if I am,” she answered, and sat down next to me again.

“Are you drunk?” I questioned, trying to hold the smoke in my lungs. I exhaled at the ceiling.

“I’m not sure, but you’re looking pretty good to me right now,” she replied with that crooked smirk.

“We’re drunk,” I confirmed, taking another drag.

She laughed melodiously. “We’re not drunk. At least, not in the sense that you’re thinking.”

I nodded, accepting that. I didn’t have any blurred vision, trouble controlling my body, or the urge to do stupid shit. I just felt so fucking great.

“So, when you say I’m looking good…” I mused. I finished it with a seductive look from the corner of my eye.

“What do you think?”

I let the cigarette dangle from my mouth and crawled across the couch, stopping when I was on top of her on my hands and knees, making her lean back against the arm. “It’s obviously not the blood talking,” I said.

“You look all right,” she said with a shrug, refusing to be swayed, but not refusing my advances.

“‘All right?'” I took the cigarette from my mouth and dipped my head to kiss her throat. “That’s not what you told your friend.”

She laughed. “You heard that, huh?”

“Hey, don’t worry. You made my night.” I kissed her neck again.

“What else did you hear?”

“Not important.” I moved down a little and kissed her collarbone, but she still didn’t respond. And that was driving me crazy.

“Getting frustrated?” she commented, as if reading my mind.

“You have no idea,” I sighed, and ran my tongue along her V-neck collar. “Still… I do love a challenge.”

“You’ve got one.”

Ready to test my moves, I grinned, took one last drag, and put the cigarette in the empty bottle. I grazed my lips all over her, leading up to that one place every woman has where they just cream if you kiss it, like turning on a switch. I kissed just under her chin, down the length of her throat, across her chest, with no response. My hands shook a bit as I pulled the front of her shirt down, just enough to expose a little of her bra, and kissed along the contours of her cleavage, licked the soft swells of flesh that spilled from the edges of the black lace. I was rewarded with a small, satisfied sigh, but that wasn’t quite the reaction I was going for. I moved back up, and finally, when I pressed my mouth to the hollow behind her jaw, she gasped and her pelvis shifted.

“Aha… Right there, huh?” I whispered in her ear, then nipped at it with my teeth. She gave a soft moan and I felt her thighs tense. “Damn, now that’s more like it,” I purred. “Gimme more of that.” I sucked on the flesh just below her ear, drawing a louder moan from her, and a few slow, hungry thrusts from her hips.

I could’ve played with her like that for hours, but I had a reason for what I was doing. I stopped, lifted my head, and looked down at her. She met my eyes, a hint of a smirk on her lips, cheeks beginning to flush, waiting to see what I would do next.

“I win,” I said simply, and started to push myself up.

I had thought that she would let it off at that, the same way I always did when she shut me down. As it turns out, she wasn’t so quick to give up.

“It’s check,” she corrected me, pushing against my chest and sitting up. “My move.”

I smiled. “Honey… Do ya really wanna play this game with me?” I asked as she laid me back on the couch.

“Afraid you’ll lose?” she replied, but didn’t give me time to answer before she twisted her fingers in my hair and pulled my head back. Her aggression was hotter than hell, but I resisted her like she had resisted me. She covered my neck in soft, tingling kisses, ran her hands up and down my chest, under my shirt. I almost gave in when I felt her nails lightly drag across my bare back, but I bit my lip. Then her thigh slid between my legs, pressing against my crotch, while her fangs skimmed across my throat, teasing me. I thought of when she’d bitten me before, her sharp teeth digging into me and that sweet, sinful pain.

Sure enough, she exploited my weakness, and her fangs made two superficial cuts on my neck. Her tongue slid against my skin like wet velvet, licking up my blood. And I lost it.

“Oh, fuck yes…” I moaned, moving my hands to her waist and giving into that primal urge to grind against her. She laughed and pushed her thigh down a little more, not enough to hurt me, but just enough to make me crave friction. I shoved her leg back from between mine and made her straddle me, then grabbed her ass with both hands and forced her hips down against mine with a grunt, making her feel what she was doing to me.

She smiled and said, “I hope you like being teased as much as it feels like you do…”

“Call me a masochist,” I whispered, unable to stop my hands from touching and squeezing her perfect, round ass while she lay on top of me. “I could let you torture me all night.”

“Then you’re gonna love this,” she told me, and jerked her head toward the panoramic window. “The sun’s coming up.”

I didn’t let her go. I just smirked and suggested, “Then you’d better hurry up and kiss me.”

“C’mon, boyo,” she said, rolling her eyes and trying to push herself off me.

“It won’t take long,” I replied, wrapping my arms around her back.

She seemed to think about it, and said, “You’re right,” and gave me a quick peck on the lips. “There. Now let’s go before we die horrible, flaming deaths.”

I growled a little in disappointment, let her get up, imagined some scenes from The Exorcist until my dick realized the fun was over, and followed her to the bedroom. I opened my coffin and climbed in, but didn’t close it yet. I watched O’Malley push the lid of her sarcophagus aside. She put one foot in, then looked back at me. “What’re ya starin’ at?” she laughed.

“How tall are you?” I asked.

She raised an eyebrow, confused. “I’m five-three. Why?”

I looked from her to the coffin around me, then back at her. I grinned. She realized what I was trying to figure out and rolled her eyes.

“No, Grin. It’s not very hard to make love inside a coffin,” she muttered, and disappeared inside hers.

“I don’t believe you. Prove it.”

She reached her hand out to give me the finger, then closed and locked the lid. I smiled and lay down as hell’s bells started to ring.

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