Chapter 1 - I'm Sorry, You're What?
I never thought I'd be dating a vampire. I never even considered it. Of course, up until a few weeks ago, I had believed that vampires were as mythic as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. That was, until the day I met one, or more accurately, collided with one. It happened in broad daylight on a crowded sidewalk. I had been running late getting back to work from my lunch hour and smashed right into him, dumping my venti, double, non-fat, soy, vanilla latte all over his shirt. I'd had it prepared extra-hot-I like my coffee sweet and searing-and he'd jumped back about a foot, holding his dampened shirt away from his skin like I'd just poured molten lava down the front of him. No, nothing about our first encounter had made me think he was supernatural in the slightest. That revelation came much later, and it shook me to my core. Now I'm starting to wonder about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus...anything was possible.
Apologizing profusely on the outside, and cursing at the loss of my afternoon pick-me-up on the inside, I'd shoved my card in his face and told him I'd pick up the dry cleaning bill. His crisp, button up shirt had been white, of course, and had looked expensive. I was sure he was going to call me and demand that I replace it, for surely my sweet, yummy, ruined coffee would never fully escape that once pristine fabric.
I worried about his phone call when I got back to work. Sometimes I had a lot of time to worry at my job. I was an executive administrative assistant's assistant. In other words, I was the secretary's secretary-the gofer who got all the piss-ass jobs the secretary didn't want. I worked for a prosperous local accounting firm, so my job involved a lot of paperwork-filing, faxing, copying...daydreaming. While I worried, I hoped one of my assignments would involve a coffee run for my boss, so I would have an excuse to grab another one for myself; an hour after lunch, I could feel my eyelids drooping as I went through stacks of financial documents.
It was in this near catatonic state that the phone rang. I answered automatically with a comatose voice. "Neilson, Sampson and Peterson." I really hated how the firm name rhymed. "This is Emma, how can I help you?"
A cool voice answered me with, "Is this the Emma that dumped her coffee all over my shirt?"
My heart started beating faster as I pictured the surely irate man on the other end of the line. I tried to remember what he'd looked like, but I was drawing a blank. The incident was overshadowing his face-although, I thought I remembered dark hair and tan skin.
"Yes...I'm so sorry about that. Do you have a bill for me already?" I twirled the phone cord in my fingers and waited for the surely exorbitant figure he was going to spout at me.
Taking me by surprise, he laughed. "No, don't worry about the bill." I wondered why he was calling, if he wasn't interested in repayment. I didn't have to wonder long. "I was just thinking...you gave up all your coffee for my shirt, maybe I could buy you another?"
That took me back a step. Did he seriously just ask me out? "Um...sure, I guess."
"Great. What time are you off work?"
It was at this point, that I had the briefest moment of You're agreeing to meet someone who could be a serial killer panic. If I'd only known... Quickly pushing that fear aside as irrational, I said, "Five."
"Want to meet at the same place? I'll have another venti, double, non-fat, soy, vanilla latte waiting for you...extra hot, of course." He laughed a little on end of that.
Caught off guard, I blankly stared at the prosaic wall of my cubicle. "Sounds great... I'll see you then." I hung up the phone and only then realized that I'd never asked him his name. I'd been too stunned by the fact that he knew what my drink was-exactly what my drink was. That was my first hint that something was not quite right with this man. It was not my last.
When I met him after work, he greeted me at the door in a non-coffee-stained light green shirt, with my perfectly recreated drink. He seemed as normal as they come...not vampiric at all, not that I was really thinking about such things yet. He was around six feet tall, medium athletic build, black hair in a traditional "guy" cut, a lovely shade of sky blue eyes, the I-don't-really-care-about-my-looks-but-I-care-about-my-looks perfectly light, facial stubble, and a delightful smile, with perfect, and normal, white teeth. Nothing odd about him at all-no fangs, no clammy, pale skin, no Slavic accent, and no aversion to crosses; I'd been wearing one. If I had been expecting to meet a vampire that day, I would have been highly disappointed.
As it was, I'd only been expecting to meet a possibly irate man, so the attractive gentleman before me was a very pleasant surprise. He held his hand out to me in greeting; it was as warm as any other man's hand. "Emma? Emma Taylor?" I nodded and he smiled. "Hello, I'm Teren. Teren Adams."
I blinked. His name was the oddest thing about him. "Teren? That's...unusual."
He laughed a little as he handed me my coffee. It was a delightful sound, slightly husky. "You should meet my parents...then you'd understand." He gave me an odd grin, like he'd just said something funny, that I wasn't supposed to understand. And at the time, I hadn't. At the time, I hadn't noticed anything beyond how incredibly sexy my surprise date was.
He grabbed his coffee from a nearby table and led me to a couple of comfortable chairs in the back. I think we spent two hours in that coffee shop before deciding we were hungry, and moving to a nearby restaurant for a nice dinner. We both ate. We both had wine. We shared a light dessert, along with hours of pleasant conversation. And after he drove me back to my car at the coffee shop, the only thoughts I had about him were pleasant. Well, there were a couple naughty thoughts too when he kissed me good night.
There was nothing at all that made me think he was anything other than an interesting human man that I'd literally run into. We saw each other pretty steadily over the next few weeks, and I grew even more attracted to him. Of course, I did notice oddities, but then, everyone has oddities and truly, vampirism was the last thing I'd suspected. But I did notice that he was strong. He once nearly pulled my front door off the hinges. It had rattled him almost as much as it had shocked me. With a nervous laugh, he'd explained the incident away as my mere presence had given him an adrenaline rush. Yeah...I'd gagged a little at that too.
He also had disturbingly good hearing. I could whisper our conversations into the phone at work, so as to not get caught by my dried-up old shrew of a boss, and he'd hear every word perfectly. He said he had an Aunt who had been traumatized as a child and spoke very softly, so he was used to it. Uh-huh, sure.
At times, he was faster than someone ought to be. He'd be running late in meeting me, and then still end up there before me. He'd explained that as hitting all the lights just right. I would have believed him more, if he hadn't been biking while I'd been driving.
But then, one day, I saw his fangs. Those were a little harder for him to explain away.
We were on his couch. His long, white, comfortable, leather, sit down and you never want to get up again couch. Only we weren't sitting. We were lying. We were kissing. And I was really hoping we wouldn't be stopping at second base, that we'd be rounding home. I wasn't opposed to going slow, but I really liked this guy, and I was ready to take it up a notch. I'd been ready for a while now, but we still hadn't had our shining moment. I was beginning to get a little frustrated.
He was an excellent kisser, with the kind of kisses you could feel all the way to the bottom of your toes. His tongue was caressing mine, and mine was caressing his right back, when it happened.
"Ow!" I pulled away and stuck a finger in my mouth. My tongue felt like it had just been pricked by a needle. When I removed my finger, a trace amount of blood was on it.
Teren immediately flew off of me. Standing a ways from the couch, his hand pulled on his upper lip, effectively hiding his mouth in a nonchalant way. "I'm sorry. It's been a long day. Maybe I should give you a ride home now."
Still wishing for that home run, I shook my head. "No, I'm fine. It's still light out and I'm not the least bit tired." We'd gone out to dinner earlier at a nice Italian restaurant, and had come back to watch a movie on his big screen with a glass of wine...and promptly started making out instead; the movie playing in the background was all but forgotten. "Come back here and keep kissing me..." I raised my eyebrows suggestively, but he was having none of it.
His hand still hiding his mouth, he said, "I really do have an early day...rain check?"
Getting up, I walked over to where he was standing in the middle of his spacious living room. "You said you weren't working tomorrow? What are you doing?" I tried to keep my tone light and airy, but he was disturbing my nightly plans again, and I really wanted to share that intimacy with him. I'd even stuffed my toothbrush, a tank top, flip-flops, a fresh pair of underwear and yoga pants, into my satchel-sized purse, just in case our date turned into an impromptu overnight visit.