A/N: I’m trying to raise $600 to bring another megaesophagus pup into the sanctuary. Megaesophagus (or ME) is a disease that essentially makes it impossible for a dog’s esophagus to move food from their mouth to their stomach. Without proper care, they often end up starving to death or dying from aspiration pneumonia. I currently have three and would love to get another out of the shelter ASAP.
For every $25 milestone, I’ll update all of my available books. That’s where this update is coming from! We’re currently at $41 out of $600. An update for The Surgeon will be coming next, and then I’ll start work on another chapter for this one and Surgeon for when we hit $50. If you can help us rescue another ME pup, you can donate through PayPal, Venmo, or Cash App. Thank you!
It was around eight in the morning when a knock sounded at Sabien’s door. Mid sip of his coffee, Sabien lifted his head. It was unlikely to be anyone but the sheriff, especially early in the morning, but after what had happened with Kolten, he couldn’t help but be a little paranoid. Though if he opened the door and Kolten’s family was there, waiting to stake him and auction off parts to the rich, he wasn’t sure he’d put up much of a fight. That bartender’s kindness had kept him from doing anything to himself at the time, but kindness could only keep one’s will to live alive for so long.
He set his coffee mug down on the end table and stood up from his chair. He made his way through the kitchen and into the foyer. He undid all four locks on the door and pulled it open a crack. “Hey, Sheriff.”
Sheriff Greg Barrett lifted a hand. “Afternoon, Sabien. May I come in?” Sabien nodded and took a step back, pulling the door open wider. Greg stepped into the house and closed the door behind him. “Mind turning on a light?”
“Yeah, sorry.” Sabien walked around the corner, flipping on the switch in the kitchen. The light above Greg’s head flickered on. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his pants, he walked back into the foyer.
“I’m sure you know why I’m dropping by today, Sabien,” Greg said, his voice quiet.
Sabien forced himself to nod, his eyes on the floor. “I do.”
“Good. Then I need to know if it was you or not.”
“It… it was me.”
Sabien hated the way the word made him feel. Like Greg had aways known Sabien would eventually cave to his instincts and kill someone, like Greg knew Sabien wasn’t ‘one of the good ones’, no matter what he pretended to be. Like Greg knew a monster would always be a monster when presented the opportunity.
“You aren’t like Rebecca and Davon, Sabien. We both know you aren’t some blood-thirsty killer. They would’ve killed the kid no issue. But you… That’s not like you.”
“I lost control,” Sabien said, his words sounding hollow and a little cottony to his own ears. “He told me everything we had was a lie, that he never loved me, that he and his family wanted to sell my fangs and my blood. I lost my cool, and then I—” Sabien closed his eyes. “I’m sorry, Sheriff. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble. I didn’t mean to kill him.”
“If only that would hold up in court,” Greg said.
Greg let out a heavy sigh. “I know you’re sorry. I just wish that was enough to put the case to bed and get you off the hook. The less covering up crimes I have to do for you, the better.”
Greg stayed silent for a while before clearing his throat. “You said his family wanted to sell your fangs?”
“That’s what he told me.”
“Have you heard from them at all?”
“No. Have you told them about Kolten?”
“A deputy’s over there with them now.”
Sabien nodded. “Then I suppose it won’t be long before they come after me.”
“Jesus, kid.” Greg shook his head before holding a small red and white cooler out to Sabien. “I brought you some more blood. Should last you another week or two.”
Sabien took the cooler, a small part of him almost surprised that Greg didn’t yank it out of his reach. Greg was a good man, but their interactions were usually short and didn’t involve a dead man. “Thank you.”
“Let’s go sit down, see if we can figure out what the hell we’re gonna do about all this to keep you alive and continue hiding the Vampire secret, yeah?”
“Okay. We can talk in the living room.”
Greg kicked off his shoes. “Lead the way.”
On the way to the living room, Sabien stopped in the kitchen to pack the blood bags into the refrigerator. For as long as he could remember, his parents had had cops on their side, one way or another. It was the only way they could easily survive in one place for any extended period of time. In the beginning, it has been morticians, undertakers, funeral home workers. Just about anyone they could pay for blood was someone his parents were willing to be in contact with. There had been a few doctors throughout the years that had gotten blood for them, even a nurse or two at a blood drive here and there.
Truthfully, Sabien knew they would much prefer living life their way, killing human citizens left and right, more so for the sport than the blood. But abiding by the rules the majority of the time and not killing innocentpeople was the only way they could guarantee their safety in this world. Back in Chicago, when Sabien had lived with his parents, it had been easier for his parents to hide their own crimes amongst the all too frequent human-on-human homicides. It had been easier to bribe the cops too.
Greg had, according to his parents, been ‘a hard one’ to bribe, but they had eventually won out. Somedays, it took Sabien everything he had to keep himself from asking what they had said or done to sway Greg to help an undead monster survive in his town, but his parents always told him that asking risked Greg changing his mind and blowing Sabien’s cover. The last thing he wanted was to be forced to move back to Chicago withhis parents.
“So,” Greg started as they stepped into the living room.
“I need to know what happened with the kid.”
Sabien cleared his throat. He dropped into his chair and gestured to the couch. Greg watched him for a moment before sitting down. “We were supposed to just be going on a date. Dancing. But he just kept… pushing me. Pushing my buttons. Every little thing I said, he countered it, and when it wasn’t a counterargument against me, it was just rude or mean-spirited. But I could deal with that. I could get past that. But then he backed me into an alley and said he lied when he said he wanted to go out tonight, lied when he said he wanted to go dancing, lied when he said I looked nice. So… I dared him to lie to me one more time, and that was when he told me that his parents knew what my parents were, what I was, that they already had people interested in my fangs, my blood. He had a sake in his hand, ready to go. So I just… lunged.”
Greg let out a long breath. “I’m sorry you had to do that, Sabien.”
“Me too,” Sabien whispered, his brow furrowed. “What’s going to happen now? Do I have to leave?”
“No. It shouldn’t get to that point. As long as I keep everything steered away from you, there’s no risk of you being caught for anything.” Greg tugged down on his ball cap, clearing his throat. “Say, can I ask you something?”
“Did you go to the bar after you…? Where’d you go?”
“Yes,” Sabien said after a moment. “I needed to call home, and the bar was closer than here. Why?”
“Stay outta the bar. Okay?”
Sabien turned toward the man for the first time since they sat down. “I didn’t do anything. I-I’m not a danger to the people there. I—”
“Just stay out of the fucking bar, okay? It’s not a place for things like you.”
“Oh… okay,” Sabien said quietly. “I’m sory, Sheriff. I-I didn’t know there were any places in town that were off limits. I just needed to call my parents and warn them of potential danger.”
“The bar is the only place off limits.” A pause. A long pause. “I didn’t mean for that to come out the way it did. ‘Things like you’. I just mean… it’s not safe for you to be that close to the crime scene. People talk, and this isn’t a everybody knows everybody town, but it’s pretty damn close. When Kolten’s death hits the newspaper, they’re all going to start thinking about the strange people they saw near the bar. So just stay away from it for a while. Okay?”
Sabien brought himself to nod. When it came right down to it, he was surprised it had taken Greg this long to start restricting his access to certain buildings in town. It wouldn’t be long before Sabien was barred inside the house altogether, locked away from civilization once again.
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