Vampire's Eve (Vamp Life Book 1)(3)By: Jez Strider
A painting of Venice hung on the wall. Why did I insist on surrounding myself with memories that struck such deep emotions? Many vampires are sadistic, but not me, I’m an emotional masochist. I lifted the painting off the wall and set it aside, revealing a safe. I put in the code 1576 and pulled open the door. Old photos littered the inside on top of my journal, but the item I was after glinted faintly. I grabbed the .38, testing the sight as I aimed it at myself in my dresser mirror. Yes, I said mirror. Vampires have a reflection. I made sure the safety was on before putting the weapon in the nightstand drawer beside my bed. The gun had been used before and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again if I had to.
My cat curled up against me when I climbed into bed. She licked my arm a few times before falling asleep again. “This cannot end well,” I mumbled aloud before closing my eyes. My heart ached as I drifted off to distorted dreams.
The next day was so busy I barely had time to dwell on or process what had happened the night before. I spent the morning running a blood drive. It was something I did every month. There were ulterior motives to this charity. A vampire has got to eat. Perhaps not as much as myths would lead people to believe, but to go without blood for lengthy periods results in weakness and eventual death. Being respected and trusted in the community made it easy for me to steal a few bags of blood. I mean, people donate blood to save lives, right?
After the blood drive, I headed by my house to drop off the loot. The door was still locked and the window closed when I entered my home. I shook my head at my paranoia and headed to the refrigerator. Before going to my clinic to finish the day, I had to get the blood stored. It’s easier to do than would be expected without raising suspicion. There are several bottles I keep in my fridge that I fill with the blood. They aren’t transparent and I write “Diet” on the label. If I keep beer and sodas stocked in front of the blood, people tend to steer clear.
“Aren’t you going to offer me a drink?”
I nearly dropped the bottles as I was putting them in the fridge. The voice was Antonio’s. He’d become very stealthy. This was no doubt in thanks to his Master’s training. Instead of combat, Dante had always encouraged me to study languages and read, but mostly to become the best at being his mistress. Pfft. I’d mastered that when I was alive if you asked any of my lovers.
I turned casually, as if I knew Antonio was there the entire time. He held my cat and she purred as he stroked his hand across her back. “She usually doesn’t take so quickly to strangers,” I said as I slid him a recently filled bottle of blood.
“What can I say? Animals have great instincts.” He set Lucia down and she wandered off carelessly. His gaze drifted to the bottle and he slid it back toward me. “I was teasing. I already ate.” When he flashed a grin, he purposely extended his fangs slightly.
God, he was good looking. Being a vampire made him even more attractive. It fit his strong, aggressive demeanor and build. “You can’t keep entering my apartment without calling first.” It would have been useful if vampires really did need an invitation to enter a home.
“Do not worry so much. I knew your little boyfriend wasn’t with you.” He kind of spit the word boyfriend at me. “I am leaving tomorrow and I suggest you pack and get out of here. Things could go bad when I tell Dante I killed you. He may not believe me or know I didn’t do it. If you are gone before I tell him… well, at least you’ll probably be safe for a while.”
My heart was torn. “So this is goodbye? Again?” It wouldn’t have been the first time I moved without warning, but I had so much going for me at the time. I was enjoying my current life and I had years before anyone became suspicious. “I’m not running,” I told him, putting my foot down on the matter.
“Give me some time,” Antonio pleaded. “I’ll find you when it’s safer.” He stepped closer and wrapped his arms around me in a protective embrace. “I know you and the human... are together, but he will not always be in my way.”
It was hard to tell if this was a threat or he was stating it as a fact of mortality. Before I could respond, he kissed my lips gently and walked to the door. “Ciao, amore.”
I stood there. I wanted to chase after him. I didn’t want it to be the last time we met. My feelings for Marcus held me in place. The risk of Dante's wrath weighed heavily. Then, it was too late. In that moment of indecision and fear, Antonio d’ Artusio was gone from my life once again.
Despite the fact I wanted to stay home and brood, work had to be done. I buried myself in it. It was busy at the clinic, and I was thankful for the distraction. Around five o’clock, Marcus surprised me at work with a bouquet of sunflowers. He’d never brought me flowers before. He was more of a “let’s ride my motorcycle then eat pizza and watch a raunchy comedy” kind of guy.