Saturday morning. A vampire’s favorite moment of the week, or least a working vampire’s favorite moment. Niles Gule, resident vampire of Baltimore, savored it because he worked the night shift for the Baltimore PD Monday thru Friday. His shift was over and he could relax, preparing for a long nap as the sun rose over Maryland. He’d abandoned his suit and tie into for a pair of fleece lounge pants as he trundled bare footed around his apartment above Lombard Street. He carried a glass of his personal Bloody Mary concoction, pigs blood and vodka with a shot of Tabasco © for heat. The celery stick was merely for appearances. Niles didn’t eat vegetables.
He worked the kinks out of his shoulders as he sauntered towards the window to lower the blinds. As he did, something small, blonde and fuzzy rubbed across his ankles, damn near tripping him. Niles caught himself on the back of the sofa, assured that his drink was unruffled then cursed at the cat.
Leonardo Da Vinci hissed at him. Niles, snarling to reveal fangs almost as sharp as Leonardo’s, hissed back.
“Keep it up and I’ll eat you for lunch,” the vampire grumbled.
Lenny, as Niles had named him, sniffed in disdain. He paced sedately to the window with his tail in the air, gave one last hiss at Niles, then hopped out onto the balcony and disappeared in search of prey.
Niles squinted at the day revealed by his tenth floor balcony above the Inner Harbor. He could tell a steamy summer day was on tap by the amber cast of the sky as the sun rose beyond the Under Armour building. Already the harbor teamed with tourists. They milled like ants far below him, unaware an apex predator stood on his balcony watching them with hungry eyes. Niles licked his fangs, reminded himself for the fiftieth time that day he’d taken a vow of abstinence, and forced himself to drink the pigs blood instead of what he really wanted.
The knock on his door startled him. No one ever visited a vampire. Except damned Vampira Tyra, the young vampire who lived next door.
Niles looked down at his half clothed body and cursed anew. Before answering the door, he grabbed his blue silk-satin dressing gown from his bedroom and tied the sash around his waist. He peered through the peephole to find a curly mop of black hair taking up most of the view.
Surprised, he opened the door.
“Cruz! I wasn’t expecting you.”
Niles stepped back to allow his partner, Mariella Cruz, to enter. Like him, she’d changed clothes and wore a simple white tee shirt and faded jeans that clung to every luscious curve of her cute little body. She’d freed her hair from its normal ponytail, and her dark locks tumbled about her shoulders in disarray. Niles clenched his fists to keep his fingers from delving into all that black silk as they desperately itched to do.
She held up a plastic grocery bag. “I brought you some supplies for Lenny. I figure you wouldn’t know what to do with a cat.”
As he closed the door, Niles lifted a supercilious brow. “I’ve been on this planet for more than a century, Cruz. I have some clue about cats.”
She shrugged and handed him the bag. “You looked a little lost standing there soaked to the skin and holding a pissed off wet cat. I thought I’d help.”
Niles poked in the bag to find cat toys, cans of Fancy Feast © and a small bag of litter. With a look of puzzlement, he pulled out a miniature fishing rod with a lure of multicolored feathers on the string.
Cruz watched his face. “It’s to play with him.” She grabbed the toy and jiggled it so that the feathers danced. “He’ll chase it.” When Niles continued to eye her wordlessly, she planted her hand on her hip. “You’re his owner now, Gule. You need to take care of him.”
“I believe you are operating under a misconception,” he said, causing her to lift her chin. “Never in a thousand years has any cat been owned by anyone. Lenny is no exception. Besides, he hates me.”
Cruz laughed. “How do you know?”
“He hisses at me.” Niles sipped his drink. “So I hiss back. We’ve come to an arrangement.”
She peered around the obsessively tidy apartment with its carefully chosen works of art and exquisite furniture. “Where is he?” She jiggled the toy to entice him out.
“He went out the window.”
Cruz gasped. “We’re on the tenth floor!” She raced to the balcony so fast she slammed into the railing and almost tipped herself over.
Abandoning his drink, Niles chased after her. He caught her around the waist before she visited all ten floors of his building from top to bottom. His arms clasped her tightly, drawing her to his chest. Startled, she spun around and planted her palms against his skin where the robe had fallen away.
Niles prayed she couldn’t feel the thundering of his heart. She was so warm and cuddly, all curves and softness, so unlike a female vampire. A flare of desire shot through him, not for blood but for something even more primeval. His entire body shivered.
With a massive force of will, Niles set her away from him.
Her hands, however, remained, palms flat against his chest.
“We need to do something about this,” she said in a breathless voice.
“About what?” Niles had trouble finding his own.
She slid her hand across his skin, sending more shivers through him. “This, Niles. This.”
He closed his eyes at her soft voice saying his name. She never called him Niles. The sound was so sweet, his heart tripped then thundered forward again. For a single breath he considered acting on his raging hormones and his hands tightened on her small waist. Her warmth made his fingers tingle, reminding him of what she was. What he was. A vampire.
He pushed her away and returned to the apartment. “There’s no here here, Cruz,” he said, keeping his back to her. He picked up his drink and downed the remainder in a single swallow. “You’re a human and I’m a vampire.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You’ve got someone. Deschamps.”
She was frozen on the balcony. He could see the longing in her eyes. “Malcolm is nice. Rich and nice.”
Niles grunted but didn’t respond.
“He’s not you,” she whispered.
“He’s human.” The words were bitter bile in Niles’ mouth. “You deserve better than a vampire.”
He heard her approach him. Her hands slid over his shoulders and tugged, asking him wordlessly to turn around but he refused to do so.
He stiffened and stepped away.
He heard her soft whoosh of breath. “What’s so wrong with a vampire? You’re smart. A good dresser. You’ve got a gentle spirit and more heart than ten humans. Plus you’re sexy as hell.”
Niles fought the surge of desire that raced through his cold veins. He so wanted to turn around. To take her in his arms. To accept what she was offering. He…
Niles whirled around to find Cruz atop the sofa. He looked down. Lenny had returned with a giant, juicy rat in his mouth.
“Oh, God, Gule!” she shrieked. “Get rid of it!”
Trying to hold back his laugh, Niles bent down and accepted the rat Lenny offered him. Holding it by the tail, Niles considered it. “Hmmmm. Breakfast. Thanks, Lenny.”
Cruz made some sort of awful noise then she was gone like a shot from the apartment, leaving the vampire alone with his cat and his rat.
Niles stared bleakly after her. “I guess that was the wrong thing to say,” he said to the cat.
Lenny hissed at him.
Niles hissed back.
As he carried the rat to the kitchen to prepare it, the vampire said, “You and me, cat, are going to get along just fine.”
© 2017 Newmin