Jun 17, 2019

Featured Read: Protected by a Vampire

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Gage tries to stay away from the brave woman who helped him recover from stab wound five years ago. She reminds him of his past love. He vowed centuries ago to never go down that path again. Only he's drawn to her as though some invisible force keeps pushing him toward her and his need to protect her is overwhelming.


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Chapter 1 

Gage

Five Years Ago

A rumble developed deep in the pit of my gut, stabbing at the walls of my stomach like I’d swallowed a jagged stone. That coupled with the proliferated dizziness swirling in my head from low blood sugar caused me to stop and take a few deep breaths. Hunger pains were a bitch.

A shrill whistle to my left caught my attention.

“Hey sugar, you want some action tonight?”

I eyed the elder, weather-beaten face of the woman standing by the doorway leading to some offbeat nightclub that most likely hadn’t been graced by a sober person in months.

I blinked at her. My vision was slightly blurred from the vertigo caused by the lack of sustenance, but was she really wearing a purple see-through top that did a piss poor job of hiding her sagging tits and fishnet tights that had more holes in them than a cheese grater, under a skirt that barely covered her lady parts and was way too short for her Twiggy sized legs? I blinked again. Yep, she was.

Slick, black hair hung in tight ringlets to her shoulders, making her look like she’d slathered a jar of Crisco over her head. Thick, ruby lips smiled at me and hope sparkled in her eyes.

I was hungry, but not that hungry. I was no great catch, but this one was definitely out of my league, like about forty feet below it.

“No thanks.” Not in this lifetime. “Or afterlife, even,” I mumbled quietly to myself as I shook my head. No need to hurt the old woman’s feelings. It seemed to me that she should have hung up her fishnets and stilettos years ago. But who was I to judge?

“Suit yourself, doll, but I’d love to rub myself …” she grabbed her tits in her hands and pressed them together and up, showing me what her cleavage probably looked like twenty years ago. Hell, maybe thirty. “… all over those gorgeous blond strands of yours. Plus, you look like you could use some tender loving care, honey.”

I shook my head and kept walking, running my hand nervously through my shoulder length, sandy locks. She’d been right about one thing, though. And maybe that was my problem. Maybe it wasn’t hunger pains that gnawed at my gut. Maybe it was the lack of—as the elderly woman said--tender loving care.

Could she be right?

Don’t get me wrong; I never had problems getting laid. But it seemed like every female I came across lately was pretty much an airhead. They were either strung out on drugs or too into themselves and the clothes they wore, or in this last case, weren’t wearing. Most had nothing to offer other than their bodies and their blood. No great conversation to spark my interest.

I guess that came with the territory since it was prostitutes and female vamps that usually helped me get my rocks off and provided the nutrition I needed to sustain this miserable life I led. I hadn’t been interested in anything lasting and meaningful. Wasn’t even sure I deserved anything permanent anyway. But I sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere near the old has been I’d just walked passed.

If I wasn’t looking for any kind of lasting relationship, why did I feel so empty? I liked my freedom, but there was something keeping me from enjoying it, something I couldn’t quite place.

When I reached the corner of the block, I headed south toward the beach. Surely there would be someone who would spark my interest along the way. An eerie silence swirled around me like someone stole the noise out of the night air on this deserted street. Not many people out this time of the night. I continued my trek, and now hunt, for another meal, but as before, the street was deserted, not even a horn blaring in the far off distance. San Francisco was a large city; normally you could hear horns blowing and engines roaring all the time.

But not this night.

A weird feeling crept over me as I headed down a dark and vacant street near North Beach. The ache in my chest worsened. I swiped the back of my hand over the sweat beading at my brow. I frowned as my toe crashed into a rusted and empty soup can, sending it several feet into the gutter. I stopped and glanced over at two trash cans toppled over by the curb; broken beer bottles, dirty diapers, moldy Styrofoam containers all spilled out over the sidewalk. I wasn’t a humanitarian or anything—I wasn’t even human—but that just pissed me off. A growl burst from my chest as I picked up the garbage and stuffed most of the swill back inside the cans. I left anything that oozed gooey remnants of someone’s dinner or worse …

A shrill screech grabbed my attention. What the hell was that?

It took a few seconds for the sound to register in my brain, but that had definitely been a scream. The loud crash and another faint scream had me curious about all the ruckus. I rounded the corner, entering a dark alley behind a small neighborhood grocery store. It stunk like cat piss and stale cigarette butts. Not the best spot to be in the wee hours of the night.

A large man had a woman pinned against the brick wall on the other side of a rusted and beat up old baby carriage, a dilapidated suitcase and a pile of old and yellowed newspapers. I sniffed the stale air and it didn’t take long for me to recognize his vampirism. Vampires could always detect one another since our blood never smelled the way a human’s did. His hand covered the woman’s mouth, muting her screams, and his fangs were about to sink into her jugular.

Ordinarily, I didn’t get involved in another vampire’s business or dinner. We all had to eat. But something about the way he was rough handling her, the way she’d cried out, and the look of hope in her frightened eyes when she saw me round the corner made me want to stop him from drinking her blood.

We didn’t need to be brutes. A little compulsion went a long way in making a prospective blood donor feel relaxed and compliant. This young woman didn’t seem too eager to give this vampire her blood. And it certainly didn’t appear that this guy used any compulsion on her. My guess was he was going to either let her suffer through the fear and then wipe her memory, or he would simply kill her when he finished. That seemed a little barbaric. When I or my brothers took nourishment that was all it was. Satisfying one’s bloodlust didn’t need to be violent.

This was an act of violence.

And it wasn’t acceptable. But there was another element that drove me forward, tugging at my chest ...

The preternatural desire to protect this woman.

“Hey! How about you leave her alone!” Not the most persuasive statement I’d ever made, but it got his attention.

He glanced at me, his red flamed eyes ablaze with petulance. One of his hands clutched her long brown hair, pinning her head back as he held her against the wall with his other. “Who do you think you are?”

Like a flash of lightning, I drew closer to them and took an attack stance about a foot away. “Your worst nightmare,” I said, baring my own fangs. The female screamed.

“Fuck you! Go get your own meal.”

The woman’s eyes grew wide with fear and I heard her quick intake of a gasp as her gaze settled on me, a plea for her life evident in her tear-filled orbs. I had about six inches and forty pounds on the guy, but vampires weren’t known to possess a lot of fear toward one another and we were all unusually strong. Stronger than any human, that is.

“Not going to happen. This one belongs to me,” I lied. I didn’t know who the hell she was, but something inside of me didn’t want him to have her.

“Who the hell cares?” He tilted his head and grinned, showing off a two-inch, red and black jeweled dagger tattoo on his neck below his right ear. He was dressed in all black; that mixed with those flaming eyes made him look quite ominous. “This isn’t a reservations required program, pal.”

“Leave her alone.”

“Who died and made you boss?” The vampire grinned at me, chuckling at his own stupid joke.

I stood tall, trying to intimidate him with my size. “Don’t make me hurt you.”
He glanced around the alley, shifted his head to peer behind me, then his deadly gaze landed back on me, still grinning. “You and what army?”

Now I grinned and took an offensive stance. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

He released the woman, shoving her to the ground, and faced me. She was on her hands and knees and quickly pushed her feet behind her, taking a racer’s stance. 

“Run!” I hissed through gritted teeth, though the order was completely unnecessary as she’d already taken off down the dark alley. I grabbed the vampire by the shoulder, tossing him against the opposite wall.

He quickly got up and growled, showing his fangs, his legs apart, his feet flat on the ground. His fists were up and ready to pound into my face. Then he charged, smacking my back against the wall. He was stronger than I’d anticipated.

I hadn’t killed another vampire or human in about three hundred years. In fact, I hadn’t even fought another vampire in a few months, but I was fairly confident that I could take him, or at least cause some major damage. I slugged him in the jaw and shoved him backwards. He stumbled, but quickly righted himself. Shaking off my punch, he tore at me again.

I grabbed him around the neck, choking the air out of him when something sharp pierced into my gut and twisted. I released my grip and he stepped back. The blade he held in his hand dripped with blood. My blood. My hands went to my stomach, crimson liquid oozing over my fingers as I sank to the ground.

The vampire bent down and snarled in my face. “You should know better than to interrupt a vampire during a meal, dip shit. Some of us don’t rely on our fangs alone. You’re lucky I’m in a pretty good mood, otherwise, you may have lost your head tonight. Besides, she was tainted anyway.” Then he vanished.

Luckily, my vampirism helped me heal quickly. Except the level of pain I was in was far greater than anything I’d ever experienced before, and I’d been stabbed plenty of times over the years. My gut roiled, like something evil swirled around inside me, grabbing on to each and every cell inside my stomach. The blade must have been coated with poison, some sort of toxic substance strong enough to inflict injury to a vampire. Whatever it was, it was spreading faster than my own blood could coagulate.

I blinked back the sting of tears in my eyes. “Fuck.” The cut was deep and blood seeped between my fingers, and dripped down my side to the pavement, prohibiting my ability to teleport out of there and back to the mansion where I lived with my band mates, my brothers.

I glanced down at the wound and wondered if I would heal at all.

Since I had no idea what kind of poison coated that blade, I had no idea if I would even live through the night.

A hand at my shoulder surprised me and I looked up into the face of the woman I’d protected.

“I told you to run.” Even I could hear the anguish through my words.

She frowned. “I know, but you’re bleeding.”

I glanced at my abdomen. Blood coated my fingers; my ripped shirt was drenched with red. “Why are you still here? He could have grabbed you again.”

“I was afraid he’d kill you. And it looks like he almost succeeded. I couldn’t leave you here to die. Besides, I had a great hiding place.”
She took off the sheer wrap she was wearing and placed it over my stomach and pressed her delicate, small hands firmly against it, trying to stop the bleeding. Her long golden brown hair flowed down past her shoulders and over her breasts, partially covering her face. She flicked one side back over her shoulder and bit her bottom lip while she stared at my stomach. Then her gaze found mine. She had the most stunning green eyes I’d ever seen and I swear I was drowning in their emerald tranquility. I could have stayed caught in her gaze, content to live out the rest of my life there. Euphoria took me and I drifted, floating in a sea of serenity.

“There’s so much blood. You need medical attention.”

The sound of her voice, filled with concern, brought me to my senses. “I’ll be okay. You need to get out of here. He might come back,” I managed to choke out through the pain.

She glanced behind her then back at my abdomen and the blood. “I can’t leave you. I’ll never be able to live with myself if I walk away and you died. Let me take you somewhere.”

I shook my head. “No. No hospital. I told you, I’ll be okay.” The last thing I needed was human doctors witnessing my quick recovering. The only doctor I trusted was Grayson, since he was a vampire too, and would take care of my wound discreetly. Problem was, he worked at City General Hospital, and there were at least two others between here and there. No way would I be able to convince this young woman to trek me all the way across town without a damn good reason. And the fact that I’m a vampire won’t cut it, since, well, I can’t tell her that.

I tried to sit up so I could assess the damage for myself. “You don’t need to stay here. Go before he comes back.”

“You don’t look okay. And if he comes back to find you still here bleeding out, he might finish what he started. Can you walk if you hold on to me?”

She had a point. I didn’t like the idea of staying there in the alley hemorrhaging. It might be a while before I healed enough to get out of there on my own. The last thing I needed was for that vampire to come back or worse, another human stumbling upon me and wanting to be a Good Samaritan, calling 911. My chances were most likely better with this woman. Though, as I gave her another glance, she seemed more like a girl, barely old enough to be called a woman. But she was apparently old enough to be out in the middle of the night, alone.

“Maybe. Give me your hand.”

She stood, latching onto my arm, helping me up. I leaned my shoulder against the wall, shimmying up to help with my weight. Once I was standing or at least upright but on shaky legs, she positioned her shoulder under my arm and we headed out of the alley. She had a good height about her; enough that I didn’t need to crouch down to lean on her ... and she smelled delicious. Not the scent of her blood, though that was enticing enough, but her entire being smelled like mangos and peaches and the palms of her hands felt as smooth as cream against my wrist as she held on to me. I didn’t pay too much attention to where we headed after we left the alley.

I wasn’t positive, but since she wasn’t afraid of me, I didn’t think she realized I was a vampire. How should I handle the situation? She’d have to invite me inside in order for me to enter any building she would be taking me to. If I told her this, she might get scared.
A short while later, we stood in front of a heavy black door. As she placed her hand on the knob, she turned to me.

​“Come in here and be quite. I have a nosy, old biddy-body of a neighbor. I don’t want to wake her up and have her come out here asking questions.” She led me through the heavy door and down a corridor. We stopped in front of another door and she opened it.
“In here,” she whispered. “Go lie on that sofa.” She pointed at a plush green sofa against the wall, beneath a row of windows. Her words were enough of an invite to allow me through the apartment entrance. She grabbed a blanket from the back of a chair and placed it on the couch, then my vision blurred to the point where I couldn’t see. All I remembered from that moment was sinking down onto something soft and then I was out.

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