90 minutes from reveal of the theme words until posting on line at AW. A short lifted from what I’m currently outlining for a novel…if I dare try my hand at paranormal / UF.
Dammit, he’d gotten away. They always got away. I sucked at this. I wish someone would just stake me already. A sigh escaped as I dropped heavily onto the park bench and contemplated yet another night pilfering from the blood bank.
My sire was the worst. I really don’t know why he bothered, why he hadn’t just killed me instead of leaving me this way. The last time I’d had fresh blood, he’d caught it for me then scolded me saying, “Dori, remember, use the element of surprise until you have mastered the art of persuasion and for God’s sake don’t let them see your canines. No wonder they sense something’s up and give you the slip.”
“Yeah, maybe if you spent a little more time training me, Donovan, instead of getting off with your harem, I wouldn’t be such a disappointment,” I muttered into the darkness as I clapped my tennis shoes together. The mud fell to the ground in giant clumps. Donovan hated my athletic footwear.
“Maybe if you tried dressing a little more sexy, with the shoes and low cut top, you could lure better,” he’d said at the end of his last lecture.
“I lured you didn’t I,” I’d muttered before launching into my usual defense. “Screw you, Donovan. A girl’s gotta have proper footwear to sprint after prey if she’s not got the physical goods.” He’d glared at me then stalked off, his long black coat cutting a wide fluttering swath behind him. I had to get Mr. GQ for a sire when I was so NOT Ms. Cosmopolitan.
The sound of a body collapsing onto the bench next to me snapped me out of my pity party. Wow! Maybe I wouldn’t have to hit the blood bank after all.
“Hey,” said the man now sitting next to me. “You look about as down and out as I feel. Care to commiserate?”
I turned to look at him. He wore Clark Kent glasses and had the matching hair as well–jet black, side-parted, not a single strand out of place. Very retro. He pushed the frames up his nose and looked me up and down, lingering on my shoes.
“Are those Nike Shox?” he asked.
“Yeah, Night Stalker Shox. They fit like a dream.” Okay, so chit-chat I could still do though Donovan had told me over and over again that the more I chatted, the more likely I was to tip my hand. He’d been right countless times before but somehow I didn’t care. There was something uplifting about this guy. I knew he meant me no harm. Don’t ask me how.
He stretched out his own feet, pointed and said, “Adidas Fleet Hunters.” He regarded me for a silent second then extended his hand and said, “I’m Jude, Jude Raynor.”
“Dori Callahan,” I said as I gave his hand a firm shake.
“Dori? Can’t say I’ve heard that one before except maybe in some fish movie.”
“Well, you’ve probably heard of Doris but let’s make that the last time you hear it from my lips.” God, why had I just divulged the name my parents had cursed me with in a misguided attempt to worm their way into my grandmother’s sizable will. Taking another tack, I asked, “So what’s your story Adidas-wearing Jude Raynor?” Yeah, that was sexy. Donovan would be so proud.
“New job.” He rolled his eyes then dropped his head into his hands and massaged his temples before rising up and looking at me again. “I am so bad at it, it’s not even funny.”
“I know the feeling.” I shifted so I could face him more straight on and hopefully keep the old canines tucked out of sight. “What do you do?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” He chuckled softly and shifted to face me straight on too. “How about you? Why are you here at this hour looking down and out?”
“Kind of the same thing, I guess. New job. Fish out of water. Clueless, hopeless. Boss hates me. Nothing special.” I snorted then added, “Tell me what you do and I’ll tell you what I do and I’ll bet I can top your job.” I tucked my hair behind my ears, wondering why I had issued such a foolish challenge.
He crossed his arms in front of his chest, cocked his head to the side and said, “I’m a hunter.”
I looked around at the signs of civilization that surrounded us on all sides. There probably wasn’t a wild creature other than a feral cat within five miles of where we sat. “Okay, what do you hunt?”
“You have to tell me what you do first,” he said, hitching his knee up onto the bench, his arm draped along the back rest.
“I…uh…hunt too.” I hedged.
He squinted at me then laughed. I laughed too and soon we were both caught in a one-up cycle of guffaws, though for the life of me I’d no idea what he thought was so funny.
He caught his breath then turned serious and said, “I hunt bad people.”
My laughter died on my lips. This was impossible. What was I thinking? I should pounce now while he still thinks I’m charming and is off guard. But I couldn’t. My limbs refused to cooperate. Donovan’s voice urged me in my head, Do it, Dori! Do it! Make me proud!
“What do you hunt?” he asked holding my eyes.
He’d inched a little closer to me and I hadn’t even noticed until now. Our knees touched. I glanced down at the point of contact then back up into his eyes and whispered, “I hunt bad people too.”
He released a breath he’d been holding. “Oh wow, that’s such a relief. Because for a second there I thought you might be…well, never mind. That’s impossible. You couldn’t be…” He shook his head then flashed a dazzling smile at me.
My breath caught and I smiled too. “Couldn’t be what?” I asked. I inched a little closer but attacking was the farthest thing from my mind.
I knew what he was and I knew that his kind hunted and killed my kind. That was the second lesson Donovan had taught me. I also knew that I’d be dining at the blood bank again tonight.
“Could I maybe call you sometime, Dori?” he asked, leaning toward me, a Boy Scout look of earnestness on his face.
I shook my head and said, “You know it’s impossible as much as I do, Jude. You know what I am and I know what you are.”
He screwed his face up into a rueful expression, dropped his shoulders then said, “Yeah, I know you’re right.” He stood and straightened his pants then said, “Well, better get back to work. I hear there’s a vampire around here somewhere so you’d better be careful.”
I stood too and extended my hand to shake his and nodded as I held his eyes. “I’ll be careful.”
He held my hand a little longer than necessary before releasing it. We smiled and turned to walk our separate ways but not before each of us turned and gave the other a parting wave.
“See you here tomorrow night at 12:30, Dori?” He called out from thirty paces at least.
I stopped. Maybe impossible was for those with no imagination or heart. I looked over my shoulder and said, “I’ll reserve our favorite bench,” then walked the seven blocks to the blood bank in my sensible Nike Shox.