A/N: If you're new to Rhyan and her world, please start with the first one, Dark Dreams. Okay? It might not make sense unless you read it first. But it's your life, so, whatever. Hope ya'll like this one. 8D
"Why did I let you drag me here?" Josef Carlisle pouted, lean, tanned arms crossed moodily over his chest. He looked more like a spoiled teenager than alpha of the local werewolf pack.
"Because you're trying out for saint-hood?" I asked, tapping the steering wheel of my car. Traffic sucked, especially so close to Christmas. He snorted. "Um, because you love me?" I tried again.
"No." Just one word, cold and forbidding.
I smiled. "Alright, because I wasn't wearing a bra when I asked you?"
"If I recall, you didn't have pants on either." He paused. "Y'know, you spend entirely too much time sans clothes around men who you aren't sleeping with."
Finally, the light we were waiting on turned green and the little old lady in front of us moved. "I've slept with you." I said, conversationally. Well, next to him, but whatever.
"Exactly what universe are we talking about?" Josef asked, raising a dark eyebrow, his deep amber eyes teasing.
"I'm pretty sure it's the one where Evan cut off your dick and fed it too you." I told him, grinning.
He was quiet for a few minutes as we neared my apartment building. I hadn't wanted to brave the early morning to gather supplies to last me a week or so all by myself, so I'd convinced him to go with me to the closest Walmart. "It'd grow back." Josef said, giving me mental whiplash.
I blinked, feeling my face heat. "On the list of things I could have gone through my life not knowing, that has taken permanent residence at the top." I informed him. Sure, we teased at each other, but that was the beginning and end of it. Even if I hadn't been with Evan, Josef and I would never have worked. His pack was mostly comprised of females, and he had a pretty busy love life.
He snickered. "What, no, 'how the hell do you know that'?"
"Nope." I said simply. I actually did want to know why he knew that, but I doubted I'd like the answer. No, this subject was dangerously close to a few vampire killings that had taken place a few weeks ago, one I'd witnessed first hand and had nearly been a part of.
"M'kay, I won't tell you then." The werewolf said, grinning smugly. "I won't tell you how an ex-pack member pissed me off and I won't tell you that I chewed off his-"
"Stop talking!" I half-shrieked, reaching over to smack his shoulder. The contact made a very satisfying thunk and he grunted.
"Watch it, kiddo." He growled, rolling the shoulder tenderly. "I'm not as young as I used to be. Not all of us the get joy of being twenty forever, you know."
"Twenty-five, grandpa." I corrected. He'd been whining about getting old and grey since he'd turned forty the week before, which, considering he was a werewolf, wasn't exceptionally old. "Look on the bright side, old man, you'll be able to grope and goggle women at random soon."
"Twenty, twenty-five, what the hell ever." He muttered bitterly. "You will never wake up with a grey hair you didn't have the day before."
"You sound like a curmudgeony old lady." I told him, laughing quietly as I pulled into my parking space and opened the car door. The bright sunlight made me wince. Since becoming a dhampir, the child of a newborn vampire and a human or other living being, and getting a vampire boyfriend, I'd become a creature of the night, so to speak, and I kept nocturnal hours.
"You, my dear, sound like a bitch." He said good naturedly, opening the trunk of my car and pulling out some of the opaque plastic bags.
"Well woof woof." I said, grapping the rest of the bags and managing to close the trunk.
He laughed. "That, honeychild, is why that if you were a lycan, I'd make you my alpha girl."
"If I were a lycan, you couldn't handle me." I told him, balancing the bags while I Houdini'd the door open.
"I think I could." He said as we headed for the third floor of the building.
"That I would like to see." I told him, purposely taking the stairs a bit faster than he did. He gave me a dark look when I turned around at the top to watch him. I smiled innocently when he topped the stairs and he growled at me.
Fighting a smile, I trailed behind him. Then, for some unknown reason, a buzz fazed through my brain, and I suddenly didn't want to go any father. Josef stopped a few steps ahead of me and cocked his head to the side, a slight growl rumbling from is chest. I stopped by his side, seeing what was bothering him.
A man sat outside my door, his legs tucked up against his chest, long arms wrapped around them, and his head resting on his knees. His skin was slightly yellowed, like old paper. It looked just as thin. His hair was very short and a nameless dishwater brown color. And he didn't have any kind of scent. That alone was weird in the extreme. Everything has a scent. It's pretty much a rule.
"What the fuck?" I asked the semi-deserted hallway. Why does all the weird shit happen to me?
The strange man raised his head, and his eyes were clouded. The kind of clouded that only happens when you die. He stood, and the movement was jerky, then he walked, well, shambled toward me. I said, rather quietly, "Oh, hey! I've seen this movie before!" He never blinked, simply raised a thin bony arm toward me. A folded piece of paper was loosely held in the long, ragged-nailed fingers. Josef growled at him, but he never twitched. "Quiet." I muttered at the werewolf, doing my best to match his growl. He fell silent, but he still vibrated with tension.
I slowly set the bags down and reached for the paper. My fingers accidentally touched the creature's flesh, and it made my skin crawl with disgust. It felt… dead. Not like a vampire's brand of dead, but like a rotting corpse. I shuddered involuntarily. His arm fell limply back to his side when I took the paper from him and unfolded it.
It read, in a very neat, very efficient, male handwriting; "Dearest Rhyan, I know this is completely unexpected and probably confusing, and though I do not want to be pretentious, I cannot explain myself fully on this paper. My name is Nikolas Dane, and I am a vampire. If you are curious, the man who has given you this letter is a zombie, and no, he is nothing like those on television. If you are free tonight, I would like to meet with you. I swear to you that I have no malicious intent. If you can, tell my zombie yes and the time you will be arriving, if you are previously engaged or you simply do not wish to meet with me, tell him no, and I will not bother you again. Regards, ND." Below the last line was an address. I guessed it was where this Nikolas person lived.
I re-read the letter a few times, and the more I read it, the more I wanted to go. Without putting much thought behind it, I looked up at the zombie, and said, "Yes, um, around midnight.".
He gave a jerky nod, and then stepped back and dissolved into dust which vanished before it hit the ground. Josef growled, and I glanced at him. His eyes had become inhuman, lightened to gold, and his canines, which were bared, had elongated. His usually cropped chocolate colored hair had grown shaggy and brushed the nape of his neck. I raised an eyebrow at him and he slowly began to relax. Between blinks, his eyes were the normal dark amber and no longer belonged to an animal. He looked at me. "I'm good." He said, though his voice was awkward, like he had to force his vocal cords to form the human words.
"You sure?" I asked, bending down to gather up the plastic bags in one hand and fishing the apartment key out of my jeans pocket with the other.
He sucked in a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm sure." His voice was back to normal now. "Are you sure you want to meet with this guy? That's some pretty shady shit, babe." He added while I fumbled with the lock. It wasn't fond of me and the feeling was quite mutual.
"Vamps can't be in a sunlight, so he sends a messenger. Josef, that's not shady, that's general intelligence." I pointed out, finally getting the offending lock to open. From inside, JB, my cat, meowed at me from his perch atop my couch. His yellow eyes watched Josef closely, as if he didn't trust the werewolf in his territory. I ruffled the grey tabby fur on his head and he purred happily.
"I was referring to the zombie. Zombie's aren't exactly good mojo." Josef said, sitting the bags on the small table in the cramped kitchen space and walking over to snatch mine while I kicked my shoes off into a corner.
"I'll be fine, grandpa." I told him, grinning when he hugged me lightly and brushed a chaste kiss on my cheek. "I thought zombies were fictional." I added as an after thought. Evan had told me so. Apparently he was wrong.
"Nah, they're just really uncommon. Hell, the only reason I know anything at all about them is because a cousin of mine fucked around with some seriously dark shit and royally pissed off a witch." He made a face. "We found his bones chewed almost to the marrow and a little blood, surrounded by guys just like the one outside your door."
I rolled my eyes. "I'll be fine." I said again. "You're getting a little paranoid in your old age, aren't you."
"I swear to God I'll kill you if you get your ass in trouble, kiddo." He said teasingly, but his eyes were all seriousness.
"I'll do my best, I promise, m'kay?"
He sighed. "All right. If you need anything at all, call me. Even if something feels even slightly weird, I want you to call."
I shook my head, smiling to myself as Josef let himself out of my apartment. I'd probably never say it to his face, but in the nearly two years I'd known him, he'd become the closest thing to a father I had.
Sighing, I turned to the shopping bags and began to put their contents into the various places they belonged. Afterwards, I headed into my bedroom, tossing the letter on the foot of my bed, and opening the tiny closet, over filled with clothes, some mine, some Evan's. It was early to be picking out clothes for the coming night, but I figured a nap was in order. After looking through everything, I settled on a long-sleeved black top that showed just a hint of cleavage, and light colored jeans that were just this side of worn a little too much. I tossed them over the closet door and turned around just in time to see JB sniffing the letter and his lanky, fur-covered body contort unnaturally, bones crunching savagely, and fall to the floor, a pitiful mewling sound ripped from him as he writhed in pain on the carpeted floor.