“I dare you to lie to me again,” Sabien said through his teeth, fangs glinting in the moonlight.
A wicked smile formed on the taller man’s face as he stared down at the pale Vampire. “I love you,” he said slowly. He offered the most dramatic shrug Sabien had ever seen. “That right there, darling? That’s the biggest lie I’ve ever tol to anyone in this world. And to think you believed it. Pathetic. You’re pathetic.”
Sabien grunted, doing his best not to lose whatever sembalnce of calm he hadleft. He’d been alive for a couple hundred years. He had absolutely no problem with calmness.
“My whole family knows what you are, Sabien. We’ve found people that would love your blood, your fangs. Christ, they’d pay an arm and a leg for them.” Finally, the an pulled his hand out from behind his back, fingers tight around a wooden stake. “My ‘love’ for you is gonna make us rich.”
Sabien lunged at him, shoving him back against the building closest to them. In the alleyway, he sunk his teeth into the man’s neck, free hand clamped down over his mouth. When he finally stopped clawing at him, Sabien released him and watched him hit the ground. Sabien sank down after him, balancing on his toes for only a moment before the sudden weakness knocked him to his butt. Though Kolten apparently had never loved Sabien, he had certainly loved Kolten.
They’d only made it ‘official’, as Kolten had always called it, six months ago, but Sabien had spent damn near an eternity prior to the declration convincing Mother and Father to allow him to court a human in the first place. And still, after all that time, Sabien had never sensed it was all fake. Had never sensed Kolten was out for his blood. His fangs. His life.
Sabien didn’t have much real world experience, and Jesus, did it show.
“I can’t believe you did this to me,” Sabien whispered. “And to you. Jesus, look what I did to you.”
His mind couldn’t work out who was to blame. Kolten had intended to kill him. He had brought Sabien to a dark alleyway in the middle of the night witha stake tucked into the back of his jeans to kill him. Sabien had only defended himself.
But it sure didn’t feel like self-defense when it was against your boyfriend.
Though the cops wouldn’t be able to arrest him without exposing to the world at large that Vampires were real, Sabien knew it was still better the less time he spent at the scene of the crime. Mother and Father would be upset he’d left the body behind, but it was Kolten. He couldn’t hide Kolten away and toss him out to sea. He deseved to be found, to have a funeral, a prope burial. It was the least Sabien could do, though it’d never be enough. Kyle was dead, so far gone that Sabien couldn’t even bringhim back as a Vampire. He was just… gone. Forever. Nothing would make up for that.
Sabien pulled himself to his feet and walked out of the alleyway, pulling his coat tighter around himself, like the warm enveloping hug woul somehow erase what he’d done. Unfortunately, it did not.
He wiped his mouth wththe back of his hand, then his palm. When his palm came back clean, he crossed the road and crouched down on the sidewalk to wipe his hand in the grass. With his skin free of Kolten’s blood, he rose back to his feet.
There was a bar about three blocks up the street. It’d be one of the few places open at this time of night that wouldn’t have blindingly bright lights. There, he could find a phone and call Mother. She’d be angry if she found out about Kolten’s death through any other avenue. If Sabien could avoid piling his mother and father’s anger onto his shoulders, he would.
By the time he’d made it to the bar, the warmth and revigeration from Kolten’s blood had run its way through his veins, ridding him of at least some of the guilt, hurt, and anger. It would only last a day or two at a maximum, but the lively feeling of it would help him blend in at the bar. In any case, Sabien considered that a good thing, given the situation of the evening. The easier he could hide the guilt and pain from the people inside, the better. The last thing he needed was to be so suspicious that everyone inside remembered him when the cops came around to ask about Kolten.
A little bell dinged above the door as Sabien walked into the bar. He made his way up to the counter laid his hands on it. “Excuse me? Do you know if there are any payphones near here?”
The bartender turned to face him, a dimpled smile on his face, curly brown hair falling over his forehead. “No, sorry. I don’t really think those are around here anywhere anymore. Need to call someone?”
Sabien offered a closed-mouth smile, his fangs safely hidden away. “Yeah. Mom lives a couple states over, and she gets rather worried when I don’t update her.”
“I’m guessing you know her number, then,” the bartender said, stuffing a hand into the front pocket of his dark blue jeans.”
Sabien stared at the device in the man’s hand. He’d seen othe humans walking around with one in hand, eyes glued to the screen. Mother and Father had aways been rather anti-whatever-the-hell-that-thing-was. Rather, they’d always been against Sabien having one. Still, he grabbed it, eyes scanning the bright screen and colorful little squares all over it in neat rows of four. “Sorry, umm… I’ve actually never used one before.”
“Oh. No problem.” He grabbed Sabien’s hand, moving it to tilt the device back toward himself. “Jesus, dude, your hands are freezing.”
Sabien offerd another smile. “Poor circulation.” It was pretty easy to have poor circulation when one’s heart only beat fast enough to keep to keep him on his feet.
“My grandpa’s got that in his hands and feet. You should try those copper compression gloves. I know a lot of people wear them for pain and arthritis, but I think they help with circulation too”
Sabien, for only a moment, let his smile grow past closed-mouth safety. The guy was cute, helpful, and relatively non-judgmental—qualities Sabien both loved and hated. Kolten had seemed to be those things too. And look at what had happened with him. “Maybe I’ll give those a try. Thank you.”
The bartender nodded. He touched a green square on the screen that looked like a phone and touched a dotted square to bring up a number pad. That, Sabien was familiar with. His landline had a nice little number pad on it too, though the numbers on his were worn away rather than pristine and clear like the digital ones. “So you just have to type her number in there, press the gren phone, and then you’re good to go, just like a normal flip phone. Or house phone… or pay phone. Your choice.”
God, he smelled good. Bothon the cologne side of things and the ‘I vant to suck your blood’ side of things.
Sabien looked down, clearing his throat. Breaking eye contact didn’t always fight the hunger that came alongside a fresh kill, but it usually helped. With his mind coming back around to focus on the task at hand rather than the beat of the bartender’s heart, Sabien typed in the number for Mother and Father’s house. He lifted his gaze back to the bartender’s green eyes and stuck out a hand. “Sabien.”
The man flashed that dimpled smile again and shook his hand. “Kyle.
“Mind if I take this call outside, Kyle?”
“Nah, go for it, man. Long as you bring the phone back.”
“I will.” Sabien pushed himself away from the counter, almost missing the flash of worry in Kyle’s eyes. The human had been kind to him. There was no reason Sabien couldn’t offer up a bit of reassurance. Sabien puled his wallet out of his back pocket and tossed it onto the bar. “I’ll be back in a few. Make sure my cards aren’t stolen, if you wll.”
Kyle snorted, a smaller dimple-less smile coming to his face. “I’ll make sure.” Sabien nodded and headed out of the bar. He didn’t have a license or family photographs in his wallet, so Kyle wouldn’t be able to sound the alarm on the fact that Sabin ha been in his twenties for quite some time now. Humans could be noesy, but if—or when—Kyle went through his wallet, the only ‘shocking’ thing he would discover was that Sabien’s cards were registered with the last name Johnson.
Sabien Johnson didn’t exactly have a wonderful ring to it, but he had Mother and Father to thank for that choice.
Outside, Sabien rounded the corner of the bar, stepping into the alley. He touched the green phone button—though aggressively stabbing it with his index finger a million times was robably closer to the correct version of events—and pressed the devce to his ear. After four rings, he heard the phone pick up. He waited a moment, but they didn’t offer an introduction. Sabien took a shot in the dark, “Mother?”
“Sabien.” The greeting was somehow even colder than Sabien had been prepared for.
“I killed him,” Sabien whispered.
“Good. It should have been done a long time ago.”
Sabien closed his eyes, tilting his head back against the bar’s brick wall. “Mother, it’s not… I loved him.”
“You never should have. It was stupid, Sabien.”
“Whatever,” Sabien breathed, quiet enough that he hoped Mother didn’t actually hear him. “I lost my cool and just… did it. He said he had told his family what I was, what you and Father are. He had people waiting to buy my blood, my fangs. He was going to kill me, and I just…” Sabin shook his head. “His family knows. That’s what’s important. We need to take care of them before they find out Kolten’s gone and come after me or you and Father.”
“You sure chose a real winner, Sabien.”
“He was cute!” And he didn’t care that I was cold. He didn’t care that I couldn’t go out in the sun without covering every inch of sin. He didn’t care my heartbeat was too slow to hear. He said he loved me. “I don’t want to sit and talk about how shitty my boyfriend was, okay? I’m just letting you know that you and Father need to be careful.”
“We always are, Sabien. This mess exists because of you, not us.” A pause. “Goodnight, Sabien.”
Before he could even think about responding, she hung up. Sabien hit the back of his head against the wall, bottom lip caught between his fangs. Eyes closed, he pulled the phone away from his ear and held it to his chest instead. He always felt guilty on the rare occasion he almost needed to kill a human being, but this was different. This hadn’t been an almost situation. This had happened. His boyfriend was dead, the very blood that had kept him alive now flowing through Sabien’s veins. It didn’t matter what Kolten had said. Sabien had loved the man, even if Kolten’s reciprocation of it had all been a lie.
Sabien forced his eyes open and pushed himself away from the wall. Back inside the bar, he stopped at the conter and set the phone down. Once Kyle finished pouring a drink for another patron, he grabbed the device and slid Sabien’s wallet over. “Thank you,” Sabien said softly.
“Mmhmm. Thanks for not running off with my phone,” Kyle said, holding the thing up before shoving it back into his pocket. Sabien offered a nod and watched the playful smile quickly fade from the bartender’s face. “Everything okay, man?”
“Oh, I don’t think it’s your job to stand here and listen to all of my problems.”
“Ah, but that’s precisely my job. Serve drinks, listen to crazy stories, give some bartender-ly advice. It doesn’t have to be perfect advice by any means. The listening’s where i get most of my tips.”
“Mm.” Sabien knew he should leave, get back to his home in the country. The place was small compared to the mansion his mother and father lived in, but he liked the overall cozy feel of the place. It made it feel… homey.
But he wasn’t ready to go back to an empty house just yet.
With a sigh, he lifted himself onto one of the barstools. He crossed his arms over the counter, one hand covering his wallet. “I suppose I’ll take something that doesn’t taste like absolute shit.”
Kyle smiled. “So not beer, then. I can do that.” One corner of Sabien’s mouth lifted. At least this guy got it. That was something. That night, Sabien would certainly benefit from a little something.
Sabien wasn’t really much of a drinker. Though he knew there were quite a few Vamps around that drank themselves silly, Sabien didn’t see the point. Unless he was severely hungry or injured, the alcohol couldn’t numb him or get him drunk or buzzed. After repeating his college career a time or two, Saien had learned how to behave as a drunk from watching human afte human tip back shot after shot, but in the long run, drunken parties were only really any fun when someone else at the party was sober. Like when he’d been with Kolten.
He let out a heavy sigh as Kyle set a drink down in front of it. “What’s it taste like?”
“Think fruit punch if it were a little boozy.”
Sabien nodded his thanks, wrapping a hand around the glass. He stared down at the light-red drink, tapping his index finger against the glass, his ring clinking to the tune of its own boring musical. “Why do this job if you just have to hear about the troubles of other people?”
Kyle shrugged, crossing his arms ove the counter. His white button-up stretched at the new position, the fabric pulled taut across his chest and around his biceps. He wasn’t a bodybuilder by ant means, but he had more muscle built up than Sabien did.
Of course, Sabien could still throw him across a field in one joyful swing, but he figured that didn’t count, since he was undead and all.
“I like getting to talk to other people so many times a week. Human interaction and all that good stuff. And here in the bar, I get to talk to people from all walks of life. Rich, poor, middle class, happy as hell, sad, celebrating, drowning their sorrows. Some of tohse peple, I get to help them feel better for the night, and others I just get to serve a drink to, talk about their kids or their job. It’s nice getting to know people, gettin to help when I can.” Kyle shook his head. “I guess I like helping, is the short answer.”
“Helping can be good.” Sabien took a small sip of the drink, thankful that Kyle hadn’t bulshitted him. It tasted a lot less like alcohol and a lot more like fruit punch. Drinks, unlike human food, he could get away with, alcoholic or otherwise. They ran through his system about the same way blood did, though he lacked the benefits blood offered. “Men suck,” Sabien finally said, the words quiet.
“Yeah, sometimes we definitely do.”
Sabien shifted on the bar stool, lifting a hand to scratch at his freshly shaven jaw. “He wasted over half a year of my life.”
“Men suck,” Kyle echoed. sabien only nodded. At least Kyle could listen without blaming his broken, slow-beating heart solely on his choice in men. It was better than discussing it withhis parents. “What’d he do to you?”
Sabien met his eyes, momentarily surprised that Kyle would ask a follow-up question. “He told me ‘I love you’ was the biggest lie he’d ever told.”
Kyle winced. “Well, good riddance to he bastard, then.” Sabien forced himself to nod, forced himself to pretend, for just a moment, that loving Kolten Peterson was the biggest lie he’d ever told too.
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