Turning Vampire, Book 2
by Phoebe Matthews
Dark Quest Books
Sometimes turning vampire is the only survival choice available. When it comes without training or instructions, that sucks.
The smell of death hovered in the woods behind Vampaccino, the business I own with my boyfriend, Justin. It overrode the clean scents of fir and pine and the damp earth of the forest floor.
When I stepped outside the back door to grab another case of soft drinks from the lean-to storage shed, the smell hit me. I stopped and sniffed and tried to identify it. The stench was of rot and decay.
Possibly there was a dead body nearby in the woods. Animal? Fish or fowl? Things die in forests all the time, as well as get dragged or dropped into the trees by scavenger animals and birds. Here at the edge of the Olympic Peninsula’s Rain Forest carcasses do not usually rot away into such an horrific stench. Remains are either devoured by wild animals or disintegrate into the decay of the forest floor within a layer of fallen leaves, needles and ferns, washed by the constant rain.
If I kept sniffing whatever it was, I was going to be sick.
The smell wasn’t blood. Blood is easy to identify.
That’s one of the skills necessary for a vampire. Even though none of the under-age customers in our non-alcoholic tavern know it, I am a vampire.
Every night I dress in jeans and a pastel sweatshirt and tan makeup to give me that healthy, normal teenager look. I pull my dark hair into a ponytail, go easy on eye makeup and use a pale pink lipstick, trying for an image that is the opposite of Goth. My job is to tend the snack food bar.
My non-vamp boyfriend, Justin, a healthy-looking hunk of a guy with medium coloring that includes a real tan, dresses in a vampire costume and covers his face with white paint and keeps the entertainment going. The vampire theme is what makes our place popular.
Standing outside on my way to grab supplies from the storage shed on the back of the building, I took that one sniff and knew there was something dead nearby. Not human, so there was no reason to search the woods and call the police. Besides, I couldn’t pin down a direction. At first the smell seemed to come from deep in the forest. Now it moved closer and off toward the driveway. As dead things usually stay in one place, that made no sense.
Being a vampire doesn’t automatically make me an authority on dead things. Vampires are undead, which isn’t the same at all. Like the dead, during daylight hours I have no heartbeat and no need to breathe. Unlike the dead, every sunset I wake from my deathlike sleep. No matter how one defines death, dead things do not wake. At least, I hope they don’t. I don’t have to breathe on any regular basis, fortunately, although physical exertion requires me to take in oxygen occasionally. Smelling requires breathing. With my breathing on hold, I wandered into the woods for a quick look around. And heard footsteps crushing dead leaves under the light layer of frost.
“Who’s there?” When no one answered, I called again, “Hi, it’s just me. Georgia. It’s too cold to be outside.”
A lot of our customers are teens who let their hormones shut down their brains. Occasionally couples sneak into the woods for a little privacy and occasionally they end up shivering at the back door, teeth chattering. At that point I pour hot coffee into kids on the edge of hypothermia, and more than once Justin has had to drive a sick customer home.
We aren’t babysitters. We don’t ask why they went into the woods in winter. The reasons are usually dumb stuff like looking for a place to make out or smoking something illegal. In Washington state, smoking anything, if you are under eighteen, is illegal. As for liquor, that is forbidden in the vicinity of our business because we don’t have that kind of license. So when kids are dumb, they get lectures from Justin. And if they are dumb more than once, they get told they can’t come back for a while.
“Hello,” I called again.
When there was still no reply, I walked a short distance into the woods and then I heard it, a human heartbeat.
“You need to go inside,” I said. “It’s too cold out here.”
Nothing but silence followed. And I could no longer hear the heartbeat.
Justin leaned out the back door. “Georgia? Are you out there?”
“Coming.” I walked to the shed, picked up the case of soft drinks and went indoors. “There’s something in the woods that smells terrible. I can’t figure what it is.”
After he took the carton from me and set it down by the cooler, Justin went back to the doorway and stuck his head out. One deep breath and he quickly slammed the door closed.
“Oh gross! Okay, I’ll check tomorrow. What were you doing in the woods?”
“Heard someone. Or at least, I thought I did. But I guess not.”
The heartbeat could have been an animal. I grew up in the city and wasn’t all that familiar with wild animals.
Justin gave me a quick kiss, didn’t linger, and started to walk away from me.
“I’ve fed,” I said.
“Yeah, I know that.” His eyes went narrow and the edges of his mouth twitched in a grin. “Like I’d forget.”
Justin is a born tease, a big guy with brown hair and a friendly face. His eyes are the warm color of brown sugar with deep laugh lines at the outer corners. When he plays vampire, he wears a black wig, white face paint, gross black lipstick, and all black clothes under a long cape.
With a swirl of his black cape he hurried out to the dance floor to stir up the excitement. I sighed and leaned against the bar and watched him work his way around the room. He involved everyone in the fun.
Like he said, he never forgets when I’ve fed. He also never remembers. Because when I feed, I kiss him first, and my hunger kisses work like a combination of tranquilizer and painkiller so that when my fangs go into a vein, he feels no pain. More than that, he has dreams of what I guess must be wild sex, not that I know for sure. It isn’t as though I can ask him for details.
The most he ever says, when he wakes, is that the sex was awesome. He also adds comments about how beautiful I am and how much he loves me, which I think is after-sex guy talk. I don’t really know. Justin is my first boyfriend, so it’s not like I’ve had any experience.
He doesn’t describe the sex. He assumes I remember it as well as he does. If there is some way to tell him that we never actually have sex, I haven’t figured it out yet.
I wiped his black lipstick off my mouth with a bar towel, then leaned toward the mirror and re-applied the light pink I wear to give me a little color. I have very dark hair which accents my very white skin. Even with the tan tinted makeup, I looked pale.
Between filling orders, I glanced across the room at everyone dancing or singing with the Karaoke equipment or playing pinball.
Justin swirled around in his cloak and black clothes and vamp makeup and fake fangs, pulling the customers into a line dance and shouting, “Join me, dahlinks, I don’t vant to be alone!”