Chapter 5

It's currently eleven forty-five in the morning on a Tuesday, and I'm moments away from entering my store. I turned towards the sun squinting through my sunglasses. It was unusually bright, and hot! The hotter it is the more people meander into air conditioned stores, like my air conditioned bookstore/coffee shop. I glanced at the sun one more time smiling, before opening the door.

I took my glasses of, skimming the room. Just as I expected, there was a good mass of people occupying space in my store. I smiled, thinking of the revenue I will be making today. I headed over towards the back room passing Jessica behind the cash register. Upon opening the back room door Jessica looked up, mumbling a low vocal hello. I lightly chuckled as a response, knowing that it was too early for her.

I sat my stuff down in my office, before heading back into the store, behind the counter, next to Jessica.

"You know, you work at a bookstore, try reading a book instead of that gossip trash." I declared. Jessica dropped the magazine, turned to face me, wearing a glare.

"Thanks mom. I'll make sure to get right on that." She replied in a monotone voice. "I forgot to call you this morning. But Joey can only stay till four. Something about a family death or is it a wedding?" She looked off into space pondering. "Well, anyway we need someone to cover his night shift."

"Great. And since you have class at two, it's just going to be me and Ian." I cursed under my breath, contemplating on how to fix my predicament.

"I'm thinking we should hire at least two more people. What do you think?" I glanced at Jessica waiting for her reply.

She shrugged nonchalantly, "To be honest I really don't have an opinion. As long as my job is safe I'm fine with it. And you can't hire anyone that would annoy me." I laughed loudly; Jessica gave me a 'what' look.

"Wait you're serious?" I said catching my breath.

Jessica gave me a duh look, "You wouldn't want to lose your most prized employee, over some newbie."

I cleared my throat. "Good to know Jess. Anyway, should I put a help wanted sign or …Well I don't know what else I could do besides a sign."

"You could do that and draw some weirdo from the street. Or you can post a flyer in the university's library. Then you'll get people who are more inclined to know about books and stuff."

"Just like you, eh Jess?" She rolled her eyes. "That actually sounds like a good idea. I guess you'll actually have to do something today Jessica."

"Wait, does this mean I have to make the flyers and post them?" I slowly nodded.

"Is that too hard for you Jessica?" I cooed in a baby voice.

"Ha, very funny. Fine I'll do it." She huffed, flipping her magazine page roughly.

"Whoa be careful Jessica, you actually might contribute something here one day if you keep it up!" I laughed at my lame joke as I walked to my office. My desk was in a state of chaos. Everything was in disarray. I sighed, hating the thought of having to organize my office.

A grueling forty-five minutes later, my office was organized to the tee, not one item out of place. I rested my hands on hips admiring my hard work. I sat down, filling out paper work. You would be surprised of how much paper work I have, and don't even get me started on inventory! It's not bad, it's just really tedious.

Jessica walked in, wearing a smile I knew all too well.

"Who's the boy?" I asked in amusement.

"He's not a boy, he's definitely a man. He's been coming in a lot lately. Gosh he's gorgeous!"

I rolled my eyes, "You think every male is 'gorgeous'."

"Come see for yourself." Why not? Shrugging my shoulders I followed Jessica to the front counter. "There," she pointed to a man to my right, "I'm telling you this man is heaven to look at." I looked over my shoulder, to find that surprisingly Jessica was right. "See I told you, one hundred percent man."

I guessed him to be twenty-eight or so. He had a swimmer's build with a light tan skin tone. He was tall, maybe about six-three and skinny, but not in a man-anorexic way. It was more like, a lean skinny. It's obvious that he works out, a lot. His biceps screamed 'touch me', the contours were perfectly formed, and visible without flexing. He was wearing a v-neck so you could start to see his chest, and what you could see was also perfection. His hair was a light brown, but you couldn't see much, because it was styled in a buzz cut. His eyebrows were dark and thick; the contrast of color brought out is big hazel eyes. His nose was flawlessly straight and thin, with high cheek bones to compliment it. And his lips were one word: kissable. He was dressed in a black v-neck and dark blue straight jeans.

I finally turned to Jessica, "You were right, he is gorgeous." Jessica sighed happily in agreement. I looked back over at him, only to have him catch me staring. I quickly turned away, fiddling away with random papers lying on the counter.

"Smooth Claire, it's not obvious at all, when you quickly turn another direction. You're acting like you're in middle school." She said dryly

I scoffed, "Okay then Miss. I Know Everything, what should I have done instead of looking away?"

"I would have smiled, like a mature normal person."

"Oh yeah okay. Because it's really attractive to be caug-"

"Shut up, he's walking over here." Jessica whispered harshly. I decided to continue look like I was preoccupied with papers.

Jessica straightened up upon his arrival. "Hello sir, how are you doing today?"

"Great, thanks." He replied while putting the book he intended to buy on the counter. His voice was smooth, with a hint of an Irish accent. I continued to look at the papers in my hands intently, only to realize that they were blank!

"You seem very interested in those papers." He commented. I looked up noticing that he was talking to me.

"Uh, yeah, very interesting." I lamely said back.

He chuckled, "I don't mean to be rude, but you do know that those are blank right?" My face reddened and my dignity was gone.

I looked back at the papers and then back to him, "Oh yeah, I know." I said as if was the most obvious thing in the world.

He smiled, "Good. I'm Shane." He put out his hand for me to shake.

I grabbed his hand shaking it while I introduced myself. Jessica was finally done bagging his book.

"Well it was nice to meet you Claire." He said with a small smile.

"You too." After he left, Jessica slapped my arm.

"What is the matter with you? He was totally flirting with you! And you just stood there barely talking!" She yelled.

"Well I didn't know what else to do, jeez." I said defensively.

She stared at me in astonishment. "I can't believe that-, never mind. My shift is up, I'll see you tomorrow." She then proceeded to pick up her purse and belongings and left without another word.

I watched her leave, and my eyes lingered on the door after she left, thinking of what just happened. I've never been big on flirtatious behavior; I always felt that it was, in a way, a little pathetic. Why would a girl shamelessly flirt, with some stranger? It makes no sense. I was brought from my thoughts by a teen girl wanting to buy a book.

She was an average girl teenager. Too much makeup and clothes that were inappropriate for her age, but hey, that was today's youth.

I grabbed the book, scanning it. The book title read Bitten, the cover had a picture of a girl's neck with puncture wounds and blood flowing down the neck. I lightly chuckled at the obsession of vampires in today's age.

"Twelve-forty two is you total." The girl handed me a twenty.

"Have you read the book?" I glanced up.

"This one," I pointed to the book on the counter. She nodded, "no I haven't, not big on supernatural themes."

"Oh, well I'm really into vampires, it's kind of my thing." She smiled brightly at her so called 'thing', as if it was a huge accomplishment.

"Cool. Your change is seven fifty-eight. Would you like a bag for it?" I noticed her wallet was in the form of fangs, who would have thought.

"Nah, I'm going to start reading it here." She slid the book off the counter, and sat at one of the love seats next to window, and began reading eagerly.

I sat at the counter my chin my hand, observing the people scattered. There were the people you knew you were in school, because of their stressed faces and huge books in front of them, while typing away on their laptop. Then there were the regulars, here to have a cup of coffee and read to relax, lounging back in couches as if it was home. Then you had the people that sat on the floor reading books in the aisle, not wanting to pay for the book, and come in at intervals to finish the book.

Looking at the time, I realized I had time to burn. I went to the back, where my office and the break room were located. I pulled out my laptop, and lugged it to the front counter. I opened my e-mail; I had some spam, and forwards with pictures of waterfalls and such things. But then there was an e-mail from an address I did not recognize, .

My eyes opened in shock, as I realized who it was from. The e-mail read:

Dear Princess,

I've been informed that you were quite disappointed about my whereabouts. But don't worry too much my dear, I will return soon. Don't miss me too much amante.

Yours Truly,

Griffin Blake

I pulled open another tab, intending to find the meaning of amante. Upon finding a translator I entered amante. The newly loaded page read: keen, fond of and- I shivered at the last meaning- lover. My face reddened, feeling the warmth from my embarrassment.

I closed my laptop, in frustration. I could hear his arrogant laugh at my expense from the e-mail and pictured his annoying facial expression. Even when being half way around the world, he still has the need to harass me.

I rested my head on my hand, wearing a frown. I looked around hoping someone would need help or if someone was ready to check out, but sadly no. I just sat there, only being able to think about Griffin. I groaned at my thoughts, banging my head on the counter.

"That's not very attractive, for a young lady." Commented a smooth and light women's voice amusingly.

I slowly raised my head, meeting the eyes of two familiar Blake twins, smiling widely. I narrowed my eyes, uncertain of what they wanted. I sat up straight, looking at them.

"What do you guys want?" I said sourly.

Alessandra smirked, "oh nothing, just wanted to come and visit you. You know."

"No I don't know."

Rose laughed lightly, as if I was four years old kid speaking nonsense. "You're very funny Claire. We actually wanted to see if you would accompany us to a dinner tonight."

"Umm, I can't. I'm swamped with work and what not. You know?" I said mimicking their nonchalant attitude.

The twins both gave me dry looks. Alessandra cleared her throat, "your store looks like it slowly becoming deserted and you close at eight, so don't lie to us Claire. We don't like lairs." Her eyes turned to slits as she glared at me. I shrank back in fear, nervously smiling.

With wide eyes I asked when and where. The twins' demeanor changed immediately, from intimidating to cheerful.

"It's very gracious of you to change your plans. Nine at Cilantros, be there on time." Alessandra finished firmly. I nodded.

"I'll see you then." They both smiled in agreement, and then walked out without a goodbye. My eyebrows and mouth fell down in a frown. Dinner with the Blake twins equals one word: awkward. I felt like a wimp, not being able to stand up to them.

"Oh well," I said to myself. "At least Cilantros has extremely good food." My mouth watered at the thought. My mind wondered to the types of discussion that would occur at tonight's dinner. What would we talk about? Would we talk about current events? I shook my head laughing. "Current events, yeah right." Well I guess I would just have to wait and see. I decided to get back to work, instead of wondering about tonight's dinner.

I got up and went to the back, to see if there was an inventory that needed to be checked in. And to my surprise there was none. So then I went to my office to clean it or something, but then I remembered I already cleaned my office. I wandered back to the counter, seeing if there were any customers, but no. All that was there were just the regulars reading on sofas and chairs. The twins were right, my store was becoming deserted.

I sighed, opening my laptop once again from boredom. I decided to play a game of solitaire, when an instant message popped up. The alias read , with a message:

: Ciao amore.

I frowned at the name, and deepened upon reading the message. The sound of a new instant message rang again.

: I know you're there love.

The sound rang again.

: It's rude to ignore people Claire.

I groaned, wanting nothing to do with him. And once again the sound rang.

: If you may not wish to talk now, that is fine, but we will talk. Enjoy your dinner.

A side note popped up notifying me that '' had signed off. I stared at the last sentence. I bet you all the money in the world that Griffin set up tonight's dinner. He was so frustrating. I exited the instant message program, and resumed my game.

Before I knew it, the regulars dwindled until there was no more. I looked at the clock; ten till. Well might as well close early. I got the keys out of a drawer and headed to the door. I locked the door and pulled the security gate closed, locking it. I turned off the lights, leaving only the glow from my office light. I picked up my things, turned off my office light and went out the back door.

It was still pretty warm for the night; probably eighty degrees or so. I walked around to the front of the street, where my car was parked. The drive to Cilantros was about a twenty minute drive or thirty to forty with traffic. I started up my car, and made my way to Cilantros.

After parking, I noticed that I was fifteen minutes early, but I still decided to wait in the restaurant. The aromas inside made me close my eyes and take a deep breath. My eyes opened when I heard my name called. I looked around and saw Rose and Alessandra already seated. I waved and made my way to them.

As I sat down I looked for the menu. "We ordered for you." Rose said happily.

"Oh thanks. What did you order?"

"It's a surprise." Rose said laughing. I smiled in response. We sat in silence for a couple of moments, when Alessandra decided to speak.

"Well I'm guessing you are wondering why we invited you for dinner." I nodded signaling for her to go on. "We wanted to talk to you about the whole situation." I let out a low 'ah'. "Griffin was going to do this, but due to unexpected events he could not."

"Okay. Well I guess you can start your…err…speech?" The twins laughed at my uneasy words.

Alessandra cleared her throat, "First of all, our situation is actually a genetic disease. Not a mythical creature thing, granted some of the myths are built upon some truth."

"So you don't burn in the sun or have allergies towards garlic and holy water?" I asked more confused than ever.

Alessandra groaned, "No, and no. Our ancestors use to burn in the sun, but only because of the pale skin they had, from living in the north artic for centuries. But over time like natural selection, our skin changed to our environment, hence our tan skin. As for the allergies to garlic and holy water it's a story, to make money."

"Okay, I get that, but how is it a genetic disease?"

"Some creatures choose to live off meat, plants, or both. Our ancestors came from the artic north. During that time our ancestors had become accustomed to drinking the blood of animals instead of eating the meat of the animal. It was more efficient you see, because once the animal was dead, the warmth of the animal would diminish instantly, allowing the animal to freeze. There solution, just drinking the blood. And it kept them alive; it had the protein, vitamins and essentials to live off of. Their bodies became so accustomed to it that over time their DNA was mutated in a way."

"As the world started to develop, some started to experiment, instead of just having animal's blood they also dabbed in human blood. That's where the tall tales started, from the early killings. Just like any other people that have murders we also have our bad apples. Our ancestors tried to eliminate those who killed humans, but there were always the ones that got away."

"Huh, what about the living forever, immortal part?"

"As our ancestors started to integrate with others that did not have the mutation, they noticed that our kind lived longer than others. Our long lived life comes from the ability to adapt quickly to any environment and the lack of animal fat and such. We're not immortal, but we do heal faster and live longer based on the way of life one chooses to live"

"What about the ability to run fast and read minds and such." I was intrigued at how off society was about this.

The twins laughed, as if laughing how stupid others were. "We cannot read minds, I wish. We can observe someone, get to know there twitches and expressions and anticipate their reactions, but anyone can do that. As to being able to move fast, it's true, but is doesn't come to us by nature. Our muscle memory absorbs faster than those without the disease. And over time if you practice your speed, you will be able to move faster than normal, but it takes work."

"Why is it called a disease?" To me it seemed more like an advantage than a crippling disease.

"It wasn't until the 1800's in Europe, that a man named Van Atherton Morin Pantone took an interest in one of our ancestors. Pantone was a scientist and became fascinated with our kind. After years of research and studying our ancestors he concluded that we were a different kind of human. He called it the Van Atherton Morin Pantone Indocile Ration Endemic, because the 'disease' only affected a small ratio of people. And his discovery is why were called vampires, the first letter of each word spells vampire."

"His research was passed along, leading to more research and obsession. And as the research created more and more questions, fear arose with it. Finally in the early 1900's the government sought out to find our kind, and they succeeded. Our kind and the government decided to keep our kind a secret form society, providing us with our essentials if we agreed not kill, animals and people; we agreed."

"Nowadays the government provides the blood. We go to the doctors once every two weeks, to get refills; kind of the way a prescription works." Alessandra moved her eyes towards the ceiling as if she was thinking. "Well I pretty sure we covered the basics."

"What about the fangs? And being able to turn somebody."

"Oh yes! Fangs are pretty rare. Nowadays there only found in full blood males. Some get them shaved or like Griffin, get teeth caps. Since we no longer hunt, we adapted to a normal set of teeth. As for changing someone, can't happen. Unless they have a recessive gene, and come in contact with a full-blooded person's blood, like you."

"What if a regular person comes in contact with a full-blooded person? What happens then?"

"At first it will do nothing. But if a regular person receives our type of blood continually, then their body will stop aging and fix itself, as if repairing the damages age took on the body. At some point though the body would repair itself fully and stay at a constant. At that point said person would have to also start intake blood, to achieve the constant complex. Your mom would know more about it than we do actually." I made an 'o' shape with my mouth. That's why my mom looks the same, makes sense.

"Are you good with the questions? Cause to be honest I'm tired of talking." I nodded, but truthfully I had so many more questions. As if timed on purpose the food arrived.

Looking down at my plate, I smiled at the dish the twins ordered for me, pizza.

I know the chapter was kind of slow, but I needed to get this information out. Granted there are many unanswered questions, which will be answered in upcoming chapters. If you're confused at all, just message me.

It is my greatest wish, my profound hope that you review.

Anyways, thanks to those who do review, it really motivates me. I was actually waiting for the thirtieth review to get serious about this chapter. Granted it was a long time ago, but I started to fix and re-write this chapter after that review. Thanks for reading, hope you're having a good day!