A wave swept over Austin and took him down to a dark place he hadn’t been for a long time. Finding a body of a woman and a baby was bad enough but then finding the other body, the more recent one with the face fixed in horror would haunt him for a while.
He set a recap of the day in motion. He’d gone to work, two bodies from the 1850’s were found in the building he was restoring. He’d gone for coffee and was stalked by a weird guy, a Vampire no less. A Vampire who warned him, almost threatened him. Austin didn’t get that one. Not time to think about it though because they’d found another body. It wasn’t a Vampire thank God. Just a dried up husk of a man who’d obviously taken his own life 150 years ago. He’d left it there and told his crew to take the rest of the day off paid and break for the weekend.
Then he’d gone shopping. Ho ho ho. An hour of buying pretty gifts for friends and even a red shirt to wear to a party was fun. It got his mind off of things.
Then he’d gone to visit his mother. She knew who he was. Soon she wouldn’t. Things had not been right for years. She wasn’t his mother anymore. It wasn’t just the Alzheimer’s. She’d changed after his dad died. Dad was funny. Mom was not. He wondered how they’d made their marriage work. Between the drama with his siblings and… his mom was still alive but he felt like an orphan. The home he’d grown up in seemed like a crypt to him. He didn’t feel like it was his anymore. Every time he went over there he forgot more of his childhood. The happy memories were erased and replaced with nothing. Seeing his mom sent him in a spiral to his own special private hell.
Flipping on the TV he put left over pizza in the oven then forgot about it until he smelled it burning. After cleaning up the mess and fixing a cocktail and feeding his sister’s dog (yes, he was taking care of a dog who seemed to do nothing but chew her own ass) he flicked on the TV.
Tangled was on. The animated Disney film about Repunzel took his attention. Austin the restoration expert, master carpenter and Vampire Slayer was watching Tangles, mesmerized by the music and cute animation. The last girl he dated said he reminded her of Flynn, the hero of the movie, a cute charming and dashing thief. Hardly. He wasn’t Flynn or any other hero. Not tonight.
“Hey Daisy,” he called the dog and put a Santa hat on her head and took a few pictures and posted them on Facebook.
He answered the phone to a sultry female voice with a slight South African accent. It was Ava. Lovely lovely deadly Ava. They’d once been involved when he first got involved with Vampire Hunters, Vampires and the strangeness that was now his life.
Ava had heard about the bodies and wanted to talk. She wanted to talk about his friendships with Vampires. They (Vampire Hunters) all, at least ones who were smart, had a few Vampires on their side. That wasn’t many of them. He told her about the woman and child and the man who had obviously shot himself.
“Poor thing,” said Ava of the dead man Austin had found, “died heartbroken over the death of his wife. Didn’t you have a girlfriend who died once?”
“Yes. She only died once.”
“Sorry love. Bad choice of words. I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry she died, but I’m thankful she didn’t become a Vampire. It was 12 years ago. I didn’t even know Vampires existed back then.”
They talked more about old friends around the world. Austin used the word friends loosely in most cases. Ava and her husband Jacob were real friends, odd at times but real. She asked about his mother and he said everything was fine. She asked about his love life and he said he was seeing someone. He didn’t tell Ava the Vampire Hunter that he’d fallen in love with a Vampire. Then he asked about the strange Vampire Jason who had spoken to him earlier that day. Ava had never heard of him. Then she asked Austin if he’d like someone to come exterminate Jason. He declined the offer.
Ava sighed. “Vampires are our mission and our curse. They’re insufferable the way they get so self-righteous about their lifestyles and their souls. Oh God, the souls. Two, three, four souls or more. “
“I’ve heard from reliable sources it is two.”
“They’ll tell you anything. I try to only exterminate the soulless ones but some of the others, the ones gone rogue… they’re the worst. Vampires without souls are stupid. The ones who still have some sort of intact sense of self are dangerous and vain and… I don’t know why I even bother except the fact that someone needs to keep track of them.”
Ava told him about a situation she’d been in a few months back. It was horrific but Austin wasn’t in the mood for it. All he could think of was his headache and how he just wanted to zone out in front of the TV for a few hours then go to bed and sleep the entire day on Sunday.
Then Ava said, “You need to be careful Austin. You’ve become too close to them.”
He’d heard it all before.
“I’m not close to them. They’re fucking scary. “
They both laughed then he told her he had to go.
After he got off the phone Austin thought of Elizabeth, his Vampire lover, for the first time that night. She could heat him up unlike any human woman. He’d thought about calling Elizabeth but…it didn’t seem like the kind of night she’d understand.
He made another gin and tonic without the tonic water and watched the end of Tangled then turned on a show about unlikely animal friendships. He was in an unlikely animal friendship. Like an owl and a cat, or a lynx and a deer, he was in a relationship with a Vampire.
He was in more than a relationship with a lot of Vampires. His attorney was a Vampire. He knew the Vampire’s Vampire sister. Austin never told Ava that his attorney’s brother was the one who put the long thin scars across her neck and face. Vampires were all over the city he called home. Not thousands, but at least 100 of them were out there in their smug little local community.
He closed his eyes. The visions of the dead wouldn’t go away. The body that morning, the man with the gun in his dead hand… the woman with the baby.
Austin plugged in the Christmas tree lights and went to the kitchen for another gin and tonic without the tonic. Just as he was cutting another hunk off of a lime the doorbell rang. It was too late for missionaries or UPS.
There she stood in a red dress, pale skin, hair up with a diamond clip and looking absolutely beautiful and cold.
“Is this a bad time?’ She asked because he didn’t even smile at her.
“Uh, no, I just didn’t expect… come in. How’d you know where I live?”
It was her first time he and he hadn’t invited her. He’d been to her house, more than once. He’d driven by more times than he’d admit to himself. This was sick. It was more than sick. She was a Vampire.
“I was out for dinner with friends and…”
“Dinner with friends or did you have friends FOR dinner?”
Elizabeth laughed like sweet Christmas music. She could be shy and seductive in ways he never knew existed.
“Your house was featured in a home tour last year. You told me about it so I looked it up. I’m not stalking you Austin. I was in the area. I thought you’d be happy to see me.”
“I am. Want something to drink? I’m having gin without the tonic.”
She followed him into the kitchen. “What is going on? You seem, well, different.”
He leaned against the counter and looked her up and down. “If I kiss you will it taste like blood?”
“No. Of course not.”
“Did you have your lips on somebody else’s neck tonight?”
“On their wrist. Austin, maybe I should go.”
Suddenly Austin felt as cold and dried up as the bodies he’d seen that morning. “Stay. I’m sorry. I had a bad day. I need you to stay.” He stepped closer and kissed her. “Right now nothing makes sense except you.”
They sat on the couch and talked into the night while the program about mismatched animal friends played in the background.
Later as Austin led Elizabeth up to his bedroom he thought maybe it wasn’t bad to be mismatched, even if it was to a Vampire. Being soul mates with a girl with two souls could be a good thing. A very good thing.
For the complete story of Austin and Elizabeth check the links below.
Part 1: The Hunter
Part 2: A Memory of Distant Love
Part 3: Dark Dreams of the Hunted
Part 4: About Those Pesky Undead Folks
Park 5: The Hunt Continues
Part 6: Cold and Warm
Part 7: Date with a Vampire
Part 8: Crawl Space
Part 9: Dust and Desire
Part 10: One of Those Days…