How many more times was Mrs. Sanderson going to tell us to make sure we were inside before dawn? I think all of us in the class had figured out by now that sunlight and vampires didn’t go together…at all.
My friend, Jenny, passed a folded-up piece of paper to me. I kept my hand below the desk to open it and grinned at the caricature of our instructor. A cross between an old schoolmarm and a drill sergeant, Mrs. Sanderson had been teaching fledging vampires for probably centuries. And she looked like she was a few stiff winds away from dust.
The classroom door opened, and every eye in the room focused on the intruder, a tall muscular guy with blue-black hair and chiseled jaws. My gaze paid particular attention to the relaxed jeans and the tight gray t-shirt which clung to his six-pack abs. I sat up straighter in my seat, resisting the urge to smooth my hands down my hair.
I sniffed the air but didn’t catch a scent of newness. So what was he doing here? The only vampires in this class had been turned within the past month. Whatever the reason for his presence, I welcomed it. Anything to keep me from listening to Mrs. Sanderson’s never-ending lecture.
He walked over to the instructor’s desk and handed her a note which she examined like it was the solution to the national debt before nodding in the direction of the seat right in front of me.
“You may sit there, and you should not make a habit of being late to my class.”
The new student’s lip turned up in a cross between a sneer and a smile. “Yes, Ma’am.” He didn’t sound bothered by the chastisement.
Mrs. Sanderson tapped her desk with a ruler. “Class, this is Kaden.”
We were never given last names. Once you’ve been turned, they don’t really matter. The person we used to be ceased to exist. It wasn’t like I could go back to my parents and say “Hi, I know you buried me, but here I am again.” No, we were taught to disappear. And here at the Undead University, as we’d nicknamed it, the instructors and guidance counselors, who were the only ones allowed to still have surnames, were supposed to make the transition easier.
Not that this life really was. I mean, can you imagine living forever, especially when you were only seventeen? I know I couldn’t, but that didn’t make a difference to the overeager vampire who drained all my blood about three weeks ago. Oh, he was kind enough to give me some of his own, but where did that leave me?
Stuck in a rigorous training program designed to teach new vamps the rules for the undead. You’d think with all of our strength and abilities, we wouldn’t really have restrictions, but Chancellor Farnsworth felt differently.
The president of this great establishment had been a vampire for over 1,000 years…at least that was the legend. I wasn’t so sure I believed it since I’d never actually set eyes on the guy. Someone that old had to look the part so I’d believe it when I saw it.
Anyway, I remembered my first day here so I felt kind of bad for the new kid. He didn’t look much older than my own seventeen years and had probably just discovered he wasn’t going to age not even a minute much less and hour.
I guess I wouldn’t mind living forever if it had happened a bit later in life. But here I was old enough to drive but too young to drink. Which sucked, pardon the pun.
I tapped on the seat in front of me to capture the new guy’s attention. He looked over his shoulder, and those blue, blue eyes took me aback for a second. I’d certainly never seen a pair of eyes like that and definitely not in my small hometown. I blinked several seconds, and he must have gotten bored because he started to turn back around. So I touched him, just a hand to his shoulder, but he flinched.
“Sorry.” I withdrew my hand. “I was just going to offer to show you around after class.”
He faced straight ahead again. “No, thanks.”
I liked his voice. His attitude, not so much, but I’d never been one to give up so easily. “My name’s Samantha, but most people call me Sam or Sammie.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
He didn’t sound any friendlier so I gave a shrug behind his back and subsided into silence. I had to admit the new guy intrigued me, and even though that curiosity had put me in this position, it wasn’t something I could give up. One didn’t change personalities because they joined the ranks of the undead.
“He’s hot,” Jenny whispered.
I gave her a murderous look. She hadn’t caught on that vamps had super-hearing, though how she hadn’t learned by now, I’d never know. I could hear the conversations in passing cars. Sometimes it was helpful, but most of the time, it was an irritant.
“Samantha, suppose you tell us what you would do were you to see a member of your family.” Mrs. Sanderson’s glasses slipped to the tip of her nose.
I never thought I’d see the day I’d miss studying for English Lit while listening to my father stumble in drunk from a hard day at the bar. Had it really only been twenty-one days ago that I was living what I considered a normal life for me? Safe in a cocoon of ignorance when it came to tales of the supernatural.
Now, I lived it. Stuck in a dimension I never thought existed with at least four-inch incisors that popped out when I was hungry, pale skin, and all the speed and strength of a super-hero but none of the fame and glory.
“I’d appreciate an answer today.” Her strident tone sounded like nails on a chalkboard.
“I’d make sure they didn’t see me,” I offered with a bright smile that earned me the thumbs-up from Jenny.
“And suppose you couldn’t guarantee that?” The teacher pushed, arms folded in a challenging stance.
I wasn’t quite sure what she wanted me to say. The last two people I expected to run into would be my parents. Back where I was from, all I had to do was stay away from the local bar and hotel. My dad always occupied one, and my mother kept the other in business.
“Mrs. Sanderson, the chances of my running into my parents are really slim. I know their haunts.”
The old lady’s eyes narrowed to little slits. “Are you telling me it’s an absolute impossibility?”
“No, but I’m saying I do know how to avoid them.”
“And if you can’t avoid them. Then what?”
“Why is this so important?” Kaden chose that moment to introduce himself to the class. “We all know family is off limits. They can’t know about us so if we see them, we run the other way, make them think they’ve seen a ghost. We got it.”
Mrs. Sanderson’s mouth dropped open. She wasn’t used to students speaking out of turn nor using that tone of voice with her. “Well, young man, since you’ve decided to join the lesson, suppose you tell us what you would do?”
“I already did it.” Kaden slumped low in the desk chair.
“What do you mean?”
“I killed them.”
I just put the finishing touches on another novella set in one of my favorite time periods—1920s, and I wanted to share a glimpse with you that's taken from a little further inside the book. Hope you enjoy!
The smoke hung low in the air, detracting from the already dim lighting. Grace made her way around behind the bar, pausing to talk to the regulars and even accepting a kiss on the cheek from Arnie, a half-cut old man with a stupid grin and a glass of gin in his hand.
“Ya done a good thing here, Grace Lawrence,” he slurred.
She picked up a damp rag and began wiping the counter while she flicked glances toward the secured door. Though she’d have plenty of warning should a raid befall her bar, the mere thought of the bulls overtaking the place was enough to shake her out of any complacency. She liked to be on top of things, and running into the police officer last night had left her more than a little uneasy.
It shouldn’t bother her. He couldn’t know her nor could he have any knowledge of what she’d really been doing the previous night. On top of that, she’d never been arrested before, had never even set foot inside the police station so he’d have no reason to know her.
God willing, she intended to keep it that way. As long as she kept her nose clean in public, she had no reason to get nervous now. But she couldn’t stop thinking about the officer. She’d even dreamed about him, though, it hadn’t had anything to do with him catching her running the joint. Her cheeks ran hot at the memory.
One of the patrons clanged the keys on the upright piano in the corner of the bar, and while the bourbon and whiskey flowed interminably, Grace’s customers began to sing a rousing tune. She leaned her elbows on the counter and smiled at them.
Knowing she was breaking the law didn’t change her determination to keep her bar afloat. And thanks to these good old guys, it looked like she’d be in business for a long, long time. They didn’t seem to mind that a dame ran the place, as long as they got their drinks on time and had a safe place to enjoy them.
“So, Grace.” Harriet McGrath sidled up to the bar next to Grace and nudged her with her elbow. “I noticed Bill Sanders has been watching you all evening. Why don’t you go lay one on his kisser?”
She pushed her friend aside then continued washing the counter. “I’m not interested in romance right now. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a little busy.”
Harriet snickered. “Who said anything about romance? A little necking, maybe some petting, well, the last I heard, it hadn’t hurt a single soul.”
Getting dizzy with a fella wasn’t in Grace’s plans. Keeping Bennett out of the hospital and the dough coming in was. “Aren’t you worried about what could happen if we get caught?” Although against her better judgment, Grace had allowed Harriet to talk her into a partnership once Grace had decided to open the bar. While Harriet was one of Grace’s closest friends, she didn’t have a mind to keep secrets. But after a few months without a raid, Grace had allowed herself to get comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!