Chapter 24: The Only Her

I won’t tell you where our new hideout is because we still live there and I’m not a dumbass vampire who goes spouting off the location of his lair. What I can tell you is that it’s a small, brick, three-story building—four if you count the basement—in a pretty slow part of town. The first floor is gutted out and we use it as a garage. I parked my bike in the garage between O’Malley’s Nova and my de Ville. Dodger had driven my car there that day, upon O’Malley’s suggestion. I stopped for a moment to check for scratches and dings, and to make sure he hadn’t adjusted the seat. Then I took off to explore my new home.

I went to the stairwell and saw that there was another level below, so I decided to check it out before I went up. I descended to the basement and was swallowed by darkness. I started to think it was just an empty space, but as I walked forward, I must’ve tripped a motion switch, because the lights came on. They illuminated an expanse of concrete floor leading to red brick walls. The tiny windows near the ceiling were painted black. It looked like all it had was a water heater, washing machine, dryer, and a freezer. Not very interesting, so I turned around to leave.

I had to stop and stare at the door I had walked through, at the top of the stairs. It was a thick, metal behemoth, like the door to a vault or a bunker.

I turned back and looked across the room at the freezer. Somehow, I knew what was in it, but I walked up to it anyway and opened it. Sure enough, it was packed with bags of medical blood. And there was something else. On a shelf to the side, covered in frost, was a pistol. Next to the pistol was a bundle of cloth. I took it out and unfolded it. There were two bullets. I rolled one into my palm.

“Fuck!” I screamed, dropping everything to the floor. I groaned and bent over, squeezing my hand in a tight fist. The bullet had been sitting in the freezer, but it was white-hot! I opened my hand and saw a small imprint of it burned into my palm. I watched for it to disappear, but it never did. It had actually scarred.

I looked at the bullets lying on the concrete. I could see by the steam rising from them and from the condensation dulling the shine that they were freezing cold.

“Silver?”

It occurred to me that this basement was more than just the laundry room. It was a panic room. The windows weren’t painted to hide anything. They were painted to protect the occupants. If everything suddenly went to shit and enemies were closing in all around us, this was where we would go. And it was where, if it came down to it, we would give ourselves a kinder death than what those enemies would have planned for us.

I used the cloth to pick up the bullets and wrapped them back up. I placed the bundle back on the shelf, next to the pistol, and shut the freezer. Then I got the hell outta there.

I went to the second floor to find the furniture that had been at the loft. It seemed like O’Malley was fond of open space, as many of the walls that should’ve been in a building like this were gone and replaced with support columns. Behind a closed door, the shower was running and O’Malley was humming some lilting Celtic tune.

I fought the urge to act like a ten-year-old boy sneaking a peek in the girls’ locker room and headed back to the staircase. The stairs led up to the third story, a wide open loft with lots of windows and a hardwood floor. These windows weren’t painted, but there were heavy black curtains pulled back to let in the moonlight. Our coffins sat in the center of the room, there were two dressers standing in front of the banister, and a changing screen in the corner. I went up to the dresser that had my duffel bag, motorcycle jacket, and an ashtray all sitting on top, and my guitar leaning against the side. I took the guitar and ashtray, and went back downstairs.

While I waited for O’Malley, I decided to get started on making vengeful plans. I sat down on the sofa, tuned up, lit a cigarette, and started to play. Not anything in particular, just whatever came to mind. It helped me think.

All I knew about the prom was the theme and the venue—the ballroom at a small, mock-luxury hotel downtown. The theme had been something to do with beach parties or Hawaii or some shit, but I remembered that, in my honor, it had been changed to a costume party. Perfect. If anyone happened to see me, they’d think I was just wearing an incredibly tasteless costume. But how would I get in? What would I do once I was there? What did the place even look like?

I’d have to think about it later, because O’Malley had come out of the bathroom. Black skinny jeans riddled with holes and tears, hugging her curvy legs in all the right places. A black Flogging Molly tank top with a neckline just low enough to show a hint of cleavage. Red and black plaid Converse. Even when she dressed casual, she still looked amazing.

“What?” she asked with a laugh.

I shook my head, smiling down at my guitar. “Nothing. Um…What’s the plan tonight?”

“Thought we’d check out the pub down the street,” she suggested. “Y’know, scout our new hunting ground. And Dodger wanted to meet up with us, so… I kinda wanna get there before he gets too wasted.”

I nodded, but I kept playing. I wanted to go with her, but I’ll be honest, my trigger finger was getting itchy. The day of my revenge was so close, I could taste the blood. I really wanted to start putting some plans into action. Maybe go to that hotel and get the lay of the land.

Well… I thought, glancing up and seeing how cute she looked, I guess it can wait one more day.

I stood and laid the guitar carefully across the sofa. “Knowing him, we’re already too late,” I muttered, and together, we left for the bar.

Surprisingly enough, after the ten-minute walk to the bar, we found that Dodger wasn’t totally slammed. He called to us over the loud classic rock that blared from the jukebox and we shouldered our way through the crowd to join him.

“Gotcha somethin’, mate,” he said, and pushed an ashtray in front of me.

I laughed and thanked him, and took out my smokes to put it to good use. O’Malley was already scanning the room for a suitable victim.

“Seen anybody that’s been here a while?” she asked Dodger.

“That chap,” he said, pointing to a guy slouching in the corner, and paused as a waitress brought him a new beer. He tipped her and went on, “Been pissed since I got here… But I’m catching up to him.”

He laughed and went to take a drink of his new beer, but O’Malley snatched it away and said, “Thanks!”

She strutted away toward the drunk guy who sat alone, deep in the shadows of the corner. She greeted him and put the beer in front of him. Then she did that killer move that girls do, bending over with her elbows on the table, presenting tits and ass. While her victim admired the few from the front, Dodger and I admired from our angle behind.

“She just gave that twat my beer,” Dodger murmured.

“I think we can forgive her,” I sighed, and lit up a smoke, staring. There was a tear in her jeans below one of her back pockets, giving a peek at the smooth white skin of the back of her thigh, just under her ass.

“Amen, brother,” he said just as dreamily as me, leaning forward with his chin on his fist, watching.

O’Malley whispered something in her prey’s ear, then left him and went to the jukebox. She put in a few coins, picked a song, and as she noticed us watching, gave us a wink before returning to her victim. A familiar voice filled the room.

Yes, yes. I know you’re hungry. Ah… And here comes dinner. FEED MYYYY FRANKENSTEIN!”

The man turned his chair away from the table and she started giving him a lap dance, shaking her hips, rolling her body, headbanging. When her hands weren’t tracing the curves of her own body or running through her hair, she was raking her fingers down his chest or up his thighs. More than once, he tried to touch her, but she wouldn’t let him. That is, until the song was about halfway over, and she sat down, straddling his lap. Her kisses went from his mouth down to his neck, and his eyes rolled back.

Suddenly, he jerked and tried to push her off, but she held him down to the chair, grabbing his hair and yanking his head back. I slid my tongue across my sharp teeth and tasted my own blood.

Dodger chuckled. “I remember what that was like,” he said knowingly. “It’s practically porn, innit?”

“What?”

“Y’know… Watching her? While she… y’know.” He waved a dismissive hand in her direction. “Can’t bear o look at it now, but when I was like you, bloody hell…”

I laughed and said, “I admit it… I’m a sick, twisted bastard.”

“No, you’re not,” he scoffed, shoving my shoulder. “It’s a vampire thing. I’m sure she’d feel the same way you do now, if she were watching you suck some girl’s blood.”

Well, that was kinda good to know, but it didn’t change the fact that the twitching in my pants was caused by watching her fucking murder somebody.

“Speak of the devil, you seem popular at that table,” he advised, and nodded across the room.

I tore my eyes away from O’Malley and looked where he had indicated. There were three girls sitting at a table there, and he was right. They were really checking me out.

“Pass,” I murmured, and turned my attention back to the girl I did want. Don’t get me wrong, they were hot and everything, but they weren’t her.

Dodger was staring at me intently, brows drawn together, lips pursed, like he was trying to see through my face into my brain.

“What?” I demanded.

“You’re in love with her,” he said matter-of-factly.

WHAT?” I repeated, and forced myself to laugh. “With who?”

Her,” he emphasized. “Don’t ask me which her, because you know I’m referring to the only her you can think about right now.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I grumbled, whipping out another cigarette.

He snatched it from my mouth before I could light it and grabbed me by the chin, jerking my head to face her. Her victim had turned extremely pale, but he was still alive, sitting and staring into her eyes, his face devoid of any emotion. She was saying something to him. As soon as she turned away, he moved up to the table and lay his head down, looking like he had passed out. She was coming back toward us, wiping blood from around her mouth and licking it off her fingers. Dodger had let go of my face, but I continued to stare. She stopped at the bar.

“See what I mean?” he commented, handing me back my cigarette.

I scoffed and took it back, bowing my head and lighting it. “I’m not in love with O’Malley.”

“Have you shagged yet?” he asked bluntly.

I glared over at him, but he only waited expectantly for my answer.

“No,” I muttered.

“You’re in love with her.”

“C’mon! Just because she’s never given in to my attempts doesn’t mean I love her!”

“How long had you known her until you kissed her?”

I didn’t answer right away. It had actually taken quite a while to get to that point. I remembered that first kiss and how magical it had been, like something that only happens in the movies. Damn, those sweet, soft lips…

I sighed and kept my eyes on everything but his knowing face. “A while.”

“You’re in love with her.”

“I’ve been in love before, Dodger,” I argued, fighting to keep that hole in my chest closed. “What I’m feeling now… it’s not the same as that was.”

He grinned triumphantly. “So you are feeling something.”

I scowled and took a long, hard drag so I wouldn’t have to admit to it.

“Look, Grin. I’m old enough to be your great-grandfather’s older brother. I’ve loved and lost enough to know it feels different every time. I never felt the same way about any two women I’ve been in love with, and neither will you. No one ever does.”

I kept smoking, but I took in his words. I did feel radically different about O’Malley than I had about Sarah. With Sarah, I’d seen myself doing everything I could to take care of her, protect her, make sure she was always happy and safe. With O’Malley, I wanted to run wild through the world with her by my side, laughing and howling at the moon, spending whole nights making passionate love to her to show her how deeply I…

Fuck. Maybe Dodger was right.

O’Malley came back to us with a beer for Dodger just as last call was going up.

“Sorry about that,” she said, putting the bottle in front of him. She looked at me and said, “We should probably get outta here. If that guy wakes up and sees me, he’ll know none of that was a dream.”

I pushed what Dodger had said out of my mind and focused instead on going home and getting some more revenge plans made. “Sure,” I agreed, and stood up to join her. We said goodnight to Dodger and went outside. “I didn’t know you liked Alice Cooper,” I said, putting my arm over her shoulders as we walked back toward our building.

She laughed. “What did you think, I was some kinda disco queen in the ’70’s?”

“Ugh,” I muttered. “I don’t even wanna picture that.”

She smiled. “Can you picture me in Detroit, at Cobo Hall, in ’76?”

I gaped at her. “KISS?”

“Hottest band in the world.”

Holy shit, she is the girl of my dreams!

“Keep in mind, I got to see rock ‘n’ roll from the beginning,” she told me.

“Did you ever see Elvis?”

“Are you kidding? I threw my panties at him.”

I whistled. “What’s a guy gotta do to make that happen?” I asked, grinning suggestively.

“Be a rockstar,” she answered simply.

I was the frontman of a rock band,” I reminded her.

“Rockstar, Grin,” she clarified. “Not a guy who screams into a microphone while his buddies try to play instruments.”

“I’m hurt,” I pouted. “You never even heard my band.”

“No, but I’m pretty certain you weren’t as good as Elvis.”

I looked at her from the corner of my eye and shrugged. “That’s fine. I’ve had better things thrown at me.”

She lifted an eyebrow at me. “Better than a female fan’s panties?”

I grinned. “Remember how I told you a song by The 69 Eyes got me laid for the first time?”

She laughed her musical laugh. “All right, I’m sure that’s better.”

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