One


He couldn't believe it.

It wasn't enough that Alan had to lie to his wife about where he was going tonight, it wasn't enough that he had painstakingly kept his adulterous activities tightly under wraps for the past few weeks. And it wasn't enough that Susan actually brought up whether he was cheating on her or not, right before he left the house earlier that evening.

Now Alan stood alone on the small bridge overlooking Tacony Creek, waiting two hours for his young mistress, only to realize that she probably wouldn't even show up. He couldn't believe it.

"Goddamn women," he grumbled to himself, clutching the collar of his winter coat. His breath hung icily in the chill January air like a cloud. Women was his only weakness, beautiful women. But they were only destined to ruin him. With his wife, it had been six long years of bickering and tolerance, interrupted by periods of passion and lust. Before that, he had dozens of girlfriends, in high school and college, each one of them a conquest. In fact, Susan was little more than a trophy wife, having met and married after his first successful project with the new company.

Women. They were all the same, hungry for his power and money. Even his new mistress, if one could call her that.

She looked more like a girl, nineteen or twenty, too young to be the secret lover of a prosperous company executive. Alan had never met anyone quite like her before; in fact, the girl seemed the exact opposite of his wife. Quiet, serene, and the pensive look of intelligence. She was pretty, in a plain, modest kind of way; no glitz or glamour that he was used to. He didn't know if she was a student from one of the local colleges in the area. In fact, she had never spoken of anything about herself. They had met after he had given one of his financing presentations, outside of the Hilton. She had casually bumped into him, knocking his briefcase over and spilling papers. Apologetically, she had offered to buy him a drink.

And so began his affair. For the three weeks after, they met in various seedy motels, wrapped in each other's arms and lost in heated passion. In bed she was eager to please, her body resilient and very cooperative. She had never given her name, though he at first didn't care anyway. The girl hadn't really seduced him; she couldn't have. Alan knew all of the tricks. He wanted her, and he got her. But then, he couldn't let go. Something pulled him back to her, a force so strongly attractive that he could sometimes hear her voice when he was alone. Her voice. It resembled the sounds that a harp made, lyrical and alluring…magical. There were hints of a European accent, though he couldn't begin to guess its origin.

There were other peculiarities about her. Her skin was pale, exceedingly pale, almost sickly. It was though she never got any sun. That was another thing: she would only agree to meet him in the evening, an issue that made it difficult to deal with his wife. And she was cold. Not shivering cold, but cold to the touch, like clay. These oddities he overlooked; what did it matter, when he could get such a great piece of ass whenever he wanted? The one thing he couldn't figure out was why he always felt tired after waking up the morning after. Of course, she would be gone, leaving him exhausted and nauseous. It wasn't a real problem. When Susan asked, he usually waved it off and attributed it to a stomach virus.

Alan glanced at his watch to see it was now past ten. Two hours, and no girl. "That's it," he said aloud, "that's the final straw!"

Annoyed, he resolved himself again to the reason for tonight's meeting: he wanted to break it off. The affair had to end. Too many people asking too many questions, too much to lose in a divorce. Thank God he and Susan never had any kids, otherwise it would have been disastrous. He just wanted it to be over.

Alan wasn't sure how his young lover would take the news. Her demeanor kept him from predicting any of her emotions and reactions. Now that he was standing here, freezing in the cold, he wasn't sure if he could even tell her. Cursing now, he trudged through the foot-deep snow and back to his BMW coupe.

Ten minutes, he thought. I'll give her ten more minutes, the little cock-teasing bitch.

Inside the car he turned on the heat, then closed his eyes and began massaging his temples. He should have chosen a better location. Somewhere with lots of people. Some place where it wasn't so damned remote. There wasn't a soul to be seen on these back roads, especially late night in the dead of winter. He didn't like being alone, to be solitary. He wanted to be surrounded by people, compliant and malleable to his whims. Alan would take control then; he had always been a leader, not a follower. They could be his audience. Then again, what if she didn't take it well? He didn't want to cause a scene, especially under his circumstances. Yes, this place was a good initial choice. They had met here a number of other times. She couldn't have gotten lost.

His thoughts turned to other matters. His partner Jim was scheduled to close a deal with the Namimatsu Bank in Japan this Friday. That was extremely good news; his investment firm could finally get a hold within the Asian markets. The company would soon expand out of their home base in Philadelphia, and establish offices around the free world. Nothing inspired Alan more than progress. God bless capitalism.

A sudden chill filled the car then. Alan felt it immediately and opened his eyes.

There, in the passenger seat, was the girl he had been waiting for.

"What a gorgeous moon tonight!" she cooed, glancing outside the windshield.

Alan's mouth gaped open in complete surprise. The girl only smiled at him. It seemed as though she appeared out of nowhere. She had a petite body, slender and demure but somehow sexier than his voluptuous blonde Susan. Her dark brown hair hung in short strands just above her neckline, and the sight of her bangs dangling loosely over her eyes drove him crazy. Her eyes. They were deep, dark eyes, piercing into him and delving into all of his desires. They contrasted to her white face, ending in abruptly vivid, scarlet lips.

Those lips now leaned forward and pressed on Alan's for a brief second before he pulled away. "How did you get in here?" he demanded.

The dark-haired girl wrinkled her face, confused. "Alan, is something the matter? You sounded very urgent on the phone today."

That voice again. Soft, yet there was something more in its deliciously feminine tones. Something musical…hypnotic. With all of his strength, he desperately shook himself free. "We have to talk," he said sternly. "I want this to end."

She paused, leaning away from him now. "What do you want to end, Alan?"

"You know what I'm talking about. Look, these past few weeks have meant a lot to me. I mean, we are great together. But now…isn't a good time for us to continue. Maybe later on, but not now." He paused to see her reaction. As usual, he could not tell anything from her cold expression. She wore only a black turtleneck sweater, a pair of well-worn blue jeans, and black boots. In this weather, she had to be crazy.

"Do you understand what I'm saying?" Alan continued, growing more impatient.

"Yes," she said quietly, her eyes now closed.

Alan sighed. "I'm sorry it has to end this way. Look, is there any place I could drive to? Do you want to go somewhere—"

All of a sudden, the girl started to giggle. She brought her hand up to her mouth, trying to stifle her own private amusement. Alan grew enraged. No woman would laugh at him and get away with it.

"What are you laughing about?" he nearly screamed. He brought his hand up over her, intending to strike her in the face. "You think this is a joke?! I'll teach you to—"

Her hand caught his swinging arm in mid-air. In an unbelievably fast motion, she twisted his arm behind his back while her other hand clamped over his shrieking mouth. Alan's eyes bulged with terror as he saw the smile on her face turn into a ferocious scowl. For a second, he almost thought that he had seen her eyes glow red.

"Alan, I'm afraid you are mistaken," the girl spoke quietly. She smiled again, and this time he could see how long her two canine teeth were, sharp and razor thin. He nearly lost consciousness from fright. She leaned closer now, bringing her face up to his neck.

"It is I," she continued in his ear, "who is sorry it has to end this way."

Alan shut his eyes tight as he felt two needles of ice sink into the warmth of his flesh. They slid into their holds slowly at first, then clamped down with violent force as the girl began to moan in lust. His thoughts suddenly became a swirl of terror and delight. He should have known. He should have been more careful. Now he was going to die. As he felt his life slip away, he concentrated, trying to hold onto the thought of someone he loved. That, at least, would bring him some peace before the end. Some warmth at the end of the tunnel of lights.

And then, much to his horror, Alan finally realized that he had never loved anyone but himself.


The dark-haired girl made sure to conceal the tiny bite marks carefully, before hoisting the body over the bridge. She watched as it splashed through the thin crust of ice, then submerge a bit before flowing with the creek. Some days afterward, no doubt, it would be found and counted as another unsolved murder. There were so many here, in a city as large as this one.

It seemed such a waste. She had never intended on killing that pathetic, miserable man. It had been a beneficial exchange; he received the sex that he so craved, while she had a rich supply to feed from. And then, tonight, he wanted it to end. She sensed in him while he spoke a feeling of urgency, and perhaps a little remorse for what he had done. Perhaps he would have confronted his wife and told her the truth, to confess that he had a lover. And that was something she could not allow. If it meant another death at her hands to ensure her safety, then so be it.

The moonlight shone bright in the clear winter sky. The white snow around the creek lay pure and untainted; scores of young deciduous trees stood naked, eager for the warmth of spring and the sun. The scene reminded her of home. Home, where winters were long and cold, and where people felt the invigorating crispness of the freezing air. A feeling of nostalgia overtook her then, but briefly.

"No, no memories," she muttered. "Not tonight."

Sighing, the girl skipped across the snowfield and disappeared into the darkness.