Vampire 2.0 – Social Networking

(Missed where it began? The story starts here…)

Social Networking

Monica set her cup down on the entirely-too-cute cat-shaped coffee table. her face was drawn down, her eyes half-lidded. She rose from the couch, wincing at the squeak the black leather made as her rear slid across the surface, cutting her eyes to the side to see if Vlad had heard, and if so, what judgment he was making. His eyes were unfocused, staring into space as he listened to whoever was on the other end of the line, and giving no indication he had heard.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she crept across the living room, pausing to turn the stereo down a notch, before parking herself in front of the picture window that looked out over the street below. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts, cupping her elbows and gnawed her lip.
“What sort of problem?” she heard him say from behind her, and fought the urge to shudder. He had a voice that should have been on the radio or narrating movies about penguins; silky smooth, just deep enough that it vibrated all the tiny bones in her ear in a way that brought on both calm and lust in a storm of sensations that left her feeling a trifle lightheaded. There was something underneath that velvet, though, something rough and untamed, that lent it a sense of danger or hidden strength.
She knew she shouldn’t be this smitten with him – they’d just met after all, and he was certainly mysterious and not a local, both warning signs of impending walks of shame and desperate phone calls – but she couldn’t seem to help it. All of him – both the sultry and the dangerous – called to her in a way she didn’t quite understand.
Besides. It’s not like it’d be a long walk. You are in your own apartment, after all. That was true. What was also true is that she had a tall, dark, handsome and potentially dangerous stranger sitting on her couch and talking to someone about “delivering” someone else, that she had invited him here for a drink and a chance to talk without the throbbing music of the club interrupting them, and the only one who knew she’d done so was Lucita, who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a cannibal rapist and an altruistic millionaire unless the cannibal had scraps of human flesh hanging between his teeth. Maybe not even if them, if he was dressed well or in the vicinity of a fire truck.
She tried to tell herself that cannibalistic homicidal rapists were unlikely to pick up boring fat girls then sit on their couches talking about world travel and literature for an hour before killing them. It only half worked; part of her was convinced that was exactly what that sort of person would do. After all, the victim was unlikely to be missed, and they were probably kind of lonely. Mass murder wasn’t likely to sit well with having an actual social life.
Despite all that, she found herself attracted to him. More intrigued by his odd demeanor – and whatever he might have meant by delivering this Isaac, whoever or whatever that was – that worried.
Besides, Mon. Even if he is some kind of psycho killer, at least you’ll go out in a more interesting way than most. Better to be remembered like the Dahlia than forgotten as the girl who couldn’t stay away from the Krispy Kremes and used to sit in Cubicle 4-A, right?
She laughed at herself, shaking her head and turning away from the window as she heard Vlad’s phone bloop from a disconnected call. He was standing up, uncoiling from the couch in a liquid movement that made her arch a brow and wonder if he was always that limber.
“I apologize, Monica. I must go.”
His tone actually sounded sorrowful. The syllables were clipped, tinged with what she guessed was irritation – though at his caller, this Isaac person or the situation she wasn’t sure – and were spoken with a precision that had been absent for most of their conversation. Before, his words had been liquid and seductive, pouring over her ears like honey. His faint accent – something Eastern European, she’d thought, though what she knew about Russia was primarily from bad movies – added a rhythmic quality and odd accentuation of some sounds that she’d been hard-pressed to resist. Now that was gone; she might have been talking to a slightly malevolent robot for all she knew.
She sighed, blowing her hair out of her face. Figures. Bring a guy home, and he wants to jump ship before he even tries anything. Her hands twisted into knots in front of her while she tried to manufacture a smile.
“Really? That sucks. Thought we were having fun. Thought we might have some more.”
God, Monica. Why don’t you just tear your shirt off and say “Take me you beast, you!” Subtle.
Rolling her eyes at her own internal monologue, a small nervous laugh snuck past her lips. She turned away, hoping he hadn’t caught the flush that was creeping across her cheeks but suspecting he had. He was entirely too observant.
She heard him take a step, his polished boot thudding lightly against the hardwood floors she spent too much time polishing. Her skin prickled as she sensed him reaching out for her, perhaps to touch her shoulder. She wanted him to. Wanted him to turn her around, stare deep into her eyes and say…
“What the…”
Wait. What? That wasn’t how her script went. Was it?
A moment later, as the endorphins released from the expected moment of tenderness were boiling what brain she had left, she heard a thud against the door. Monica turned, wondering who the hell would be banging on her door at this hour. Her question was answered as a familiar voice crept through teh thin walls.
“Mon, honey… you have terrible luck with men, you know that?”
 Monica cocked her head, glancing between the door and her guest. Something wasn’t right. Over years of friendship, Monica had heard a great many tones of voice from Lucita, but she’d never heard her sound like that; hoarse, guttural, loaded with potential violence. She found herself glad she’d shot the bolt after she and Vlad had come in.
Oh, so now locking out your best – and pretty much only – friend is a good thing?
Despite the sarcasm dripping from that internal voice and her natural tendency to believe the worst about herself, she discovered that, yes, she actually did believe it was a good thing. It was more than the threat of violence contained in the other woman’s voice; there was a sensation with it as well. All the hair on her arms and the back of her neck was standing straight up, and her flesh was crawling. Something in the tone was practically inhuman, as though something was just pretending to be Lucy. Doing a great job of it maybe, but still wrong in some fundamental way.
“Let me in, Mon. It’ll be alright. But you’re not safe in there.”
Despite the words implying concern, Monica’s fright response only increased. She could almost hear Lucy laughing in between the words, an animalistic cackle like hyenas on the hunt.
Vlad stepped in front of her, his thin face drawn, eyes narrowed. Monica thought she saw them gleam red for a moment, but dismissed it as nothing more than a reflection from the neon outside playing tricks on her. His lips seemed fuller than they had moments ago, pooching out from his face underneath flaring nostrils. The effect frightened her even more. Something obviously had his wind up, but normal people didn’t tend to look like they were going to Hulk out just because of an inopportune knock, did they?
He pitched his voice low and whispered to her. “Invite her in.”
She tilted her head. Invite her in? What was that about? While she was thinking it over, Vlad steadied himself between her and the door. While she thought the movement and intent to be so very chivalrous, part of her was still offended. After all, it was just Lucy out there, not Jack the Ripper. Right?
She wasn’t sure any more. Between Lucita’s voice, Vlad’s reaction, and the way her guts were twisting into knots, she was almost prepared to believe anything.
Without taking his eyes from the door, spreading his arms to cover the widest point in front of her, Vlad spoke again, sill quietly.
“Do it. She’s not going to leave.”
Monica considered telling him that there was no point, that the deadbolt was engaged and unless Lucita had turned some of her considerable bulk to muscle and was carrying a battering ram, there was no way she was getting in unless they unlocked the door. But the set of his shoulders, the businesslike tone, and the fear of whatever Lucy might be up to made her decide going along was the better choice.
“Lucy? Um. Come on in, I guess?”
Her voice cracked on the last syllable. She reached to cover her mouth, embarrassed again.
A harsh thud. The door bowed in the middle, as though the wood itself was straining to reach them. Vlad flapped a hand at her, eyes not leaving the door.
“Stay back.”
A new tone of voice, in a night that was apparently full of them. Gone was the honey-soaked intellectual libertine. Likewise the terse and irritated businessman. This was a command, spoken with a regal authority that could not be denied. Monica backed up another step, almost tripping over the tail of the cat coffee table before catching herself.
She could feel her heart throbbing inside, knew her breath was coming in quick, shallow gasps, but couldn’t stop it. She supposed that was understandable; what troubled her more was that her nipples were getting hard. It wasn’t cold in here – in Vegas it rarely was – but what the hell did she have to be excited about?
Maybe because the handsome stranger seems ready to do or die for the fair maiden? Her sarcastic inner voice, always helpful, chimed in. Maybe. Maybe not. Didn’t matter. That was her friend out there… wasn’t it?
Another thud, this one preceded by a rapid fire tattoo of thudding feet on all carpet. Apparently Lucita, or whatever was using her voice, had decided to take a running jump at the door. This time it didn’t bow or bend. Almost in slow motion, Monica saw a crack form in the center of the door, spreading up and down before spiraling outward. The reinforced wood splintered and then just fell apart, raining down on her freshly-cleaned carpet. Irrationally, her first thought was the cost of renting a steamer again.
Then she caught sight of the figure on the other side of the threshold and stopped worrying about being randy, was no longer concerned about finding a steam cleaning service at this hour, or whether she still had an extra Three Muskateers bar hiding out above the medicine cabinet.
It was Lucita. Sort of. The same short and roundly built frame, with caramel skin that constantly left people questioning just where her parents had come from. The same elaborately crafted nails and their coat of fire red polish. The same blue dress, elastic in all the right places and with extra support to flaunt what she considered her greatest assets. But Lucita had brown eyes, and the thing in the hallway was possessed of gleaming red orbs, lit like an animal’s caught in a pair of headlights. Lucita also should have been panting with the strain of what she had just done – hell, she got winded walking from her desk to the water cooler, most days -while this figure was standing still as a stone. Monica wasn’t even sure it was breathing at all.
The statuesque illusion was broken when Lucita spoke.
“And there he is. Man of the hour.”
Vlad’s arms came down to rest at this sides. Monica could see the muscles thrumming in his shoulders, ready to act should it become necessary, but for some reason he was trying to pay it cool. She couldn’t unglue her tongue from the roof of her mouth to provide any input.
“You have no business here, thing. Go. Leave us be, and I’ll forgive this transgression.”
Thing? Transgression? What the fuck is he talking about?
Lucita laughed, and while it was closer to her usual laughter than her voice had been from the other side of the door, it was still utterly wrong. Monica pressed her thighs together, trying to contain the urge to wet herself. It was as though every bad dream she’d ever had was wrapped up int hat laugh, made all the worse by the familiarity of the source.
“And who are you to give such commands? Nothing. Nobody. But I’m gonna be somebody, just as soon as I take care of you.”
She stepped through the doorway, her freshly painted lips spreading in a smile that revealed her teeth. They were no longer the pearly whites that Monica had grown used to seeing over the years of her friendship with the woman; now they were yellow and jagged. The canines were far too long, looking like fangs. Still coated with lipstick, however, which was customary.
Unless that’s not just lipstick, her mind insisted on adding. Between the destruction of the door, the way Lucy sounded, and those awful teeth, she wondered if she’d fallen into a bad production of some cut-rate Dracula spinoff.
Vlad’s shoulders trembled, and Monica saw his fists clench so tightly the knuckles went white. When he spoke next, his voice had roughened, gained a note similar to the one Lucita had. Monica shuddered, taking a step away from the pair. She eyed the distance, accounting for Vlad’s reach, and wondered if she could dart past them both and down the hall. That inhuman tone, those teeth, the overly emotional reaction the tall, dark stranger was having, all of them added up to one thing: trouble. Trouble that she was certain she wanted no part of.
“Nothing?” Vlad thundered. “You dare call me nothing, whelp?”
Lucita laughed again, planting herself solidly in the door frame and ensuring any hope Monica had of escape was quashed.
“I dare much. Especially in service to my lord.”
“I am your lord. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, assuming that whatever diseased tick spawned you even bothered to teach you properly.”
Lucita bellowed, putting enough force into the scream that Monica swore her hair was blown back. Vlad seemed unimpressed, putting up one hand and twitching it in a beckoning gesture. Lucita took the bait, leaping towards him.
Monica wasn’t entirely certain what happened. They moved faster than her eyes could track. At one moment, Vlad was standing in the middle of the room, one arm outstretched in a mocking gesture while the other hung by his side and Lucita had been tensed on her heels in the doorway, propelling herself forward.
A single blink later, Lucita was on the ground, Vlad had his foot against her throat and both her wrists trapped in one hand. He was bearing down on her, putting enough weight behind it that Monica was certain she could hear bones grinding.
“You have two options here, fledgeling. I doubt you will appreciate either of them, but one of them leaves you alive. Cease your struggles, or I end you.”
Monica found her own voice. Regardless of how disturbing the sight of Lucita was at the moment, no matter what or who she might have come for, she was still Monica’s friend. Still the one who served as her support structure and brought the ice cream when a crisis loomed. Still the one who had helped her get things back together when her parents had passed and Monica had fallen almost completely apart.
Lucita stopped thrashing against Vlad’s boot, her neck creaking as she glanced towards her friend. Vlad tilted his eyes upward, brows raised. Both of them looked surprised, as though they’d forgotten she was there at all.
“What the hell are you doing? Wand what’s wrong with you, Lucy?”
Vlad opened his mouth, perhaps to answer, but before anything came out Lucita’s fist had filled the gap. Somehow she’d wriggled one arm free and had socked him with it. His head jerked back, punctuated with a grunt of pain and Monica’s own shriek. Lucita slithered out from under him with a snakelike undulation that Monica would have believed if she hadn’t watched it happen. She knew Lucy was flexible – hadn’t the woman bragged about it often enough while boasting of her sexual exploits? – but it just didn’t seem possible.
Monica darted forward as Lucita rose from the ground.; Vlad was wiping his bloodied chin with one hand, looking shocked. An almost regal expression of offense, eyes wide, jaw dropped. Monica expected him to fall into the role of a noble on some bad medieval soap opera and start shrieking “How dare you!?”
She didn’t have much time to worry about Vlad and his bruised chin and ego, though. She couldn’t let them go on like this. Monica threw her arms around Lucita’s ample waist, throwing herself backwards as she did. Her Aikido classes would be good for something other than embarrassing herself in front of the instructor after all, she hoped.
Hope was short lived. Lucita planted her legs and hunched slightly, leaving Monica thinking she might as well have tried to lift a pissed-off elephant.
“Mon, honey, you shouldn’t interrupt when the grownups are fighting.”
She twitched one finger at Monica in a scolding gesture, then lowered her shoulder and threw her hips into Monica’s gut. She doubled over, losing her grip, and with another butt-thrust, Lucy sent her flying back against the wall.
What the hell…? Her head was ringing, and there was a disturbing white rim around the edges of her vision, throbbing in and out with her heartbeat. She shook her head, trying to clear it, and only succeeded in making things worse; now she could see three of Lucy and two blurry black figures she thought were Vlad. Something was trickling down her face. When she swiped at her nose with one hand, the fingers came away red.
“You’ve defied me.”
His voice was booming, seeming to shake the walls. Monica thought if the volume rose any higher, bits of plaster would start raining down from the ceiling and windows would crack. She tried to tell herself that was just the concussion talking, but wasn’t entirely sure.
“You’ve mocked me. You’ve injured one I consider under my protection – who you claim as a friend – and you have made me very, very cross. That is more than enough reason to revoke my offer of amnesty.”
Monica saw the three Lucitas turning, saw them lifting their arms, which now appeared to end in blade-like barbs of bone rather than hands, so Monica knew the concussion was the one doing the talking, now. She tried to cry out a warning, but her lips seemed glued shut.
Vlad and his blurred double reached out, plucking something from the corner. Long, slender, shaft-like. She couldn’t think of what it might have been until he lifted it up, turned it sideways, and snapped it over his knee, sending splinters and bits of straw flying. Her broom. He just broke her broom! Part of her wanted to be angry, to begin shouting, but she still couldn’t move except to slide further down the wall.
Lucita finished turning, everything happening in slow motion. Vlad was raising the shattered chunk of broomstick, bringing it up to chest level. Lucita wasn’t looking; her attention was still on Monica, even as she leapt towards Vlad.
Vlad set his shoulders, that inky black swirling around him, intensifying even as Monica’s vision started to clear, leaving only one of each of the combatants. Lucita finally turned to face the thing she was hurtling towards. While Monica could no longer see her friend’s face, she was fairly certain it would be carrying an almost fatal expression of surprise.
Vlad grunted, falling back half a step as Lucita’s bulk flew through the air and skewered itself on the makeshift spear. He braced his rear leg and pushed forward, reaching around and pushing against her back with one hand, driving the broomhandle almost totally through Lucita’s body. She twitched. Once. Twice. Vlad let go of the stick, leaving Lucita’s body to fall to the ground with a heavy thud, blood leaking out and running across Monica’s floor.
“Wha… oh. Oh God.”
Monica scrabbled across the floor, crying out as her head bashed into the tail of her ridiculous coffee table. She flailed at the high neck of Lucita’s obnoxiously pink turtleneck, feeling for a pulse, uncaring of the blood that was seeping onto the floor and her clothing.
Vlad laid a hand on her shoulder, leaving an accusatory bloodstain.
Monica reached up, shoving his hand away from her. She wasn’t finding a pule. Lucita didn’t appear to be breathing. The teeth Monica thought she’d seen were gone, nothing lurking behind Lucy’s slack and unmoving lips but rows of white enamel. A small pit in one of the lower canines reminded Monica that she had a dental appointment next Tuesday; the mental string of association that led her there caused a hysterical laugh to bubble out of her.
Your best friend’s dead and you’re worried about cavities?
“Monica,” Vlad whispered.
Something in his voice was beckoning her, an impossible allure that sent a ripple of heat through her thighs and broke her train of thought. She wasn’t worried about finding a pulse, or scheduling dental appointments; she only wanted to look at him. Monica turned away from the body, looking up to Vlad like a penitent before her god.
His expression was stern, the jaw set tight and back, eyes smoldering with a pinprick of fire in the center of each dark brown orb. Barely moving his lips, he spoke again, addressing her in a tone that she imagined might have been the same one an old baron might have used with a recalcitrant servant.
“Get up. Leave her. It’s nothing but meat.”
Beneath the lust and the strange compulsion to obey, a small part of Monica cried out. Meat? Nothing but meat? That was her friend! And this… man… had murdered her! but regardless of how loudly that inner voice screamed, her conscious thought processes and the movements of her body were his to command, and they hurried to obey. She pushed herself up from the floor, extending a mewling, fawning hand towards his shoulder. A shudder corkscrewed through him as she made contact, a vibration that both elated and dismayed her. She dropped her hand, allowed her arms to dangle at her sides like a zombie lacking instruction or drive.
Vlad reached towards her, laying one cold hand across her face, thumb to one side of her throat, fingers to the other. He tilted her head, furrowing his brow as he looked for something. Seeming satisfied with what he saw – or perhaps what he didn’t – he broke contact and took a deep shuddering breath.
“We must leave.”
 “We, my lord?”
My lord? The internal voice questioned. What the hell are you thinking, Mon? She honestly didn’t know. It had just… slipped out.
He turned away from her, taking a moment to survey the wreckage of the door and following Lucita’s trail of destruction to the spot where her body now law.
“Yes. We. You’ll be coming with me. I can’t leave you here; more may come. Even if they do not, there will be police. Questions. Questions you are not yet prepared to answer. So we shall go. Come along.”
The part of her that was still rattling the bars of the cage inside managed to push hard enough to speak up, breaking whatever spell Vlad seemed to have over her for a moment.
“You just killed my best friend! Damn right the police will come!” The fact that said friend had also kicked in her door, had appeared to have become some kind of B-movie monster, and had given her a concussion seemed unimportant somehow. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”
She meant to punctuate it with a slap, reddening his cheek before she reached for her phone, but only managed to get her arm up halfway before her eyes locked with hers and she stopped. It felt like someone had just poured a vat of warm chocolate over the part of her that was resisting. She was helpless to do anything but let it coat her, let it in, delight in the sensation. Her hand trembled in the air between them, held for a moment, then fell slack once again.
“I am sure you don’t want to. But it must be done. I apologize. All will be explained once you are safe.”
The idea that Vlad would offer safety intensified that buttery drowning sensation. Her head dropped down, chin resting on her breastbone.
“As you wish it, my lord.”
Vlad spun on his heel, already drawing his cell phone as he stalked through the shattered hole that had been a front door only minutes before. Powerless to do otherwise, her feet being tugged along in his wake, she drifted after him.

(Want more? The story continues here…)

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