For an absurd moment, I’m almost certain I can feel my heart hammering in my chest at her words.
It’s not, of course, because my heart hasn’t done anything in hundreds of years. It’s still in there, I’m sure, and perhaps the amulet could wake it up again.
But a sensation comes over me, pulling me like a magnet to this woman with her perfect plus size body. Her spirit shines through each sentence she utters, unbreakable, the sort of woman who’d make a fierce and protective mother.
“It’s an antique’s store,” I tell her. “You’d be working with the manager, taking stock, serving customers. A car would pick you up and drop you off every day and the salary would be more than fair.”
She blinks, narrowing her eyes. In my long years, I’ve learned to read people, and right now I can see the indecision shimmering across her features.
“Why me?” she asks.
Because I need to make sure you’re safe. Because if anything happened to you I’d turn full night wraith and give into the blood-lust. Because you are worth fighting a hundred, a thousand battles for. Because you are everything to me, already.
“Maybe I believe in fate,” I say.
“Ooh, mysterious,” she giggles.
“Maybe I believe that I found you tonight for a reason. Maybe you are going to make the perfect … employee.”
She reaches into the back of the car and scoops up Chipper, placing him in her lap and stroking him softly.
“I do need a job if I’m ever going to make rent on this hellhole,” she says.
“You’ll be able to get a better place,” I tell her. “And I’ll advance you a month so that you don’t have to wait.”
“Are you always so suspicious?” I tease.
“Well, yeah,” she says, smiling endearingly. “It’s sort of a survival mechanism. Although I don’t think I can really call myself suspicious tonight after getting into this car with you.”
She bites her lip, making me want to slide my hand up her thigh and slide deeply and wetly inside of her, making her bite it harder.
Then she lets it go and nods.
“I could work in an antique’s store, and if you’re offering a ride, then yeah, sure, I won’t exactly miss public transport. Shall we shake on it?”
As I offer her my hand, I feel the coldness I veiled myself with earlier slipping away. My body burns hot with the blood-lust and it’s only by focusing intently that I can stop my skin from burning the crimson of the feed.
She makes a small moaning sound as she takes my hand.
Hers is soft, clammy, beautiful.
“That’s weird,” she whispers. “You were freezing before.”
“Hmm,” I growl, unable to say anything else.
Every part of me is focused on stopping the red hunger from pulsing into my skin, a trait mortals usually find utterly terrifying.
“I’ll send a car for you tomorrow,” I breathe.
“Okay, thank you,” she says. “I’m apartment number fifty-one. Oh, and will I be able to bring Chipper?”
“Okay, bye, Torsten. It was nice – you know, and weird – meeting you.”
“And you,” I growl.
The moment she leaves, I reverse and spin the Jaguar around, speeding around the corner and pulling into a nearby alleyway.
I lean back and let out a shivering breath as the blood-lust ebbs and flows inside of me, skin pulsing, the interior of the car lit with moonlight, the walls of the alleyway a scoured crimson.
Finally, I get it under control, panting with the release I haven’t felt in hundreds of years.
“Fuck,” I whisper.Chapter FourTammyI sit in the rear stock room after hours, cataloging the various antiques with the special care my boss, Angelica, impressed upon me the day I started working here. Chipper sits in his blanketed nook at the rear of the room, his chin resting on his crossed paws and snoring softly.
I’ve worked here four days and still haven’t seen a sign of Torsten, which of course makes sense. As I carefully wrap a Victorian spoon in protective packaging – moving my gloved hands with glacial slowness – I reflect that Torsten Haroldsson probably has much more important things to do than come visit some girl he played Good Samaritan with.
As I work, I let my voice fill the space quietly, singing wordlessly as I often do. I like to work out the different notes without the need for lyrics getting in the way. I like to ride the wave of my voice, to try to listen past my own singing and imagine what it must sound like to other people, even if the notion of singing in front of other people makes me want to scream in anxiety.
I glance at Chipper and see his legs twitching in his sleep, lost in doggie dreams.
I smile and sing and work.
Even if I never see Torsten again, at least he was kind enough to give me this job. That’s the message I try to drum into my mind. But the idea of never seeing that silver-haired, mysterious alpha male again causes more anxiety to swirl through me.