The place I was meeting Clint was just a small coffeehouse, but it was in an overpriced area of town. My ordering of just a hot chocolate raised several eyebrows. Clint's coffee didn't, even though it was a 'a double espresso cappucino with a shot of tiramisu syrup and no froth.'
I wasn't even sure what tiramisu was.
Once we got our drinks, I suggested a table in the back part of the house where the lighting was a little dimmer. He looked uncomfortable and instead chose a place where he could sit with his back against a wall and have a light over his head. I raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
He looked nervous, playing with his spoon and fidgeting with everything on the table. When he knocked the sugar holder over for the second time I moved it to another table.
"Would you calm down? Someone's gonna think you're up to something."
"Sorry. I -- sorry."
"No problem.." I sipped my cocoa and watched him for a moment.
He had dark hair and brown eyes. His looks weren't extraordinary, but they'd been enough, combined with his father's money, to make sure he was never dateless on Saturday night. Clint was taller than me, but average for a man, and he had a slender build. If it wasn't for the goatee, he might have even looked feminine.
"So, what'd you want to talk to me about, Trey?"
I smiled at him. "I think you already know that, Clint."
He nodded. "You want to talk about the attack."
It was my turn to nod.
"Why do you want to know about that? You're not a reporter, are you? I remember in college you said most reporters were just formula people and couldn't write anything original to save their own lives."
Chuckling, I nodded. I had been rather a literary snob at times.
"No, I'm not a reporter. I do a few journalistic articles here and there, but definitely no reporting."
"So then why do you want to hear my story? Gonna do an article on the vampire?"
I shrugged. "Depends on if there's anything to it. You think it was a vampire?"
He looked away. There was a gleam in his eye that looked like fear.
"I don't know," he whispered. "Whatever it was, it was strong, and it hurt." He drank his coffee, not looking at me.
"Can you tell me about it?"
"Have you read the police report? It's all in there."
"I haven't read anything. I heard through some friends you'd been attacked and I wanted to talk to you about it. I'll read police reports later."
He looked away, his hand turning the cup on its saucer, around and around.
"Tell me what happened, Clint?"
Suddenly he was looking right at me. "I remember you, you know."
I chuckled. "I hope so. Wouldn't think you'd have coffee with someone you don't know just cause they said you used to go to college with --"
"No, no. I mean, I remember you. You were always talking about integrity, and listening to people, and how it was important to know the truth, but that sometimes you didn't have to print it."
I nodded, remembering the soap box I used to get on at times.
"I always liked that about you. Like, when you wrote the article on that murderer, and he talked to you for days before he was released. He never admitted killing anyone, and even after he died, you never told anyone what he'd told you, or shared the tapes like his lawyers wanted."
Raising an eyebrow I nodded again. That incident in my senior year was still engraved on my memory, along with the face of the gentle soul that took his own life just days after gaining his freedom from prison. I found it surprising that Clint remembered that.
Clint looked out the window, then back at me. He leaned forward. "You want to know what happened?"
"Yeah, I want to know."
"Then you have to swear it won't go any farther than this. No one else gets to know. You don't write about it, you don't say anything to anyone. Got it?"
Confused, I asked him about the police report. "Everything's in there, isn't it?"
He looked down at his cup, stirring his coffee. "You swear you won't tell anyone?"
After a moment's hesitation, I swore.
"The police report is a fraud."
I nodded. "You were high?"
"Oh, hell no. I gave up that shit last year." He shrugged. "Had a close call, and that was enough. I quit. I still drink, more than I should, but," he looked around cautiously, "even that may end after what happened."
"So, what happened?"
Clint stared out the window again for several minutes. I sipped my hot chocolate and waited.
"I was at this bar," he began. "And I was drunk, or getting there. Anyway, there was this gir-- uh, woman there that I really liked. She and I were talking, and flirting -- I thought I had a shot with her." He looked angry. "Then her boyfriend comes up. She had the gall to introduce him to me. I was pissed, and I ended up having too much to drink and I got into a fight with the guy." He chuckled lightly. "He beat the stuffing out of me."
I nodded. "I can believe that. You always became the punching bag unless your frat brothers were there to back you up."
We laughed together, and he seemed to stop fidgeting a little.
"Well, I got tossed from the bar, and I left. After I walked for a bit, I wandered into another one. It was this dark little place, mainly a pool bar. Not a lot of strangers hang around there, I guess, cause everyone was looking at me. I had a couple more drinks, then left.
"I was pretty gone by this time. Forgot that I didn't have my car and spent twenty minutes searching for the damn thing before I remembered I took a cab downtown." He shook his head. "so, there I was, looking for a cab, stumbling along, and all of a sudden there she was."
"This gir-- uh, woman."
"Can you describe her?"
"Yeah. It's about the only part of the police report that's true."
He took a breath. "She was short, maybe just a little taller than you. Came up to my chin. Light brown hair, a little scruffy, like she hadn't washed it in a day or so."
"I couldn't see her eyes, it was too dark."
"What was she wearing?"
Clint shrugged. "Some older looking jeans, and a sweater. I thought it was strange that she didn't have a jacket, but -- I wasn't thinking too straight right then."
"Right. Go on. What happened, did she come up to you?"
"Yeah." Another deep breath. "She came up and asked if I was okay. I said yeah, but I needed to find a cab. She said there weren't a lot around; they didn't frequent that neighborhood the way they did others. Then she asked if I had a cell phone and suggested I call a cab."
"Okay." So far this was sounding very little like an attack.
"Well, I, uh-" he hesitated, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. "I kind of leered at her, you know? Put my hand on her shoulder, tried to feel her up without really feeling her up." He shrugged. "I was drunk and I was horny, so sue me."
"Got it. Drunk, horny, trying to feel up a girl you never met before."
He grinned for the first time. "Yeah, well, say it like that and it sounds kind of stupid."
"It was. But go on."
"She kind of started responding to me, moving up against me, and I figured, hey, cool, she's a pro. I can get off tonight anyway."
I raised an eyebrow. "A pro in that neighborhood?"
"Okay, so if I hadn't been drunk, I would have been thinking more clearly. Would you shut up and let me talk?"
"Shutting up." I picked up my hot chocolate and sipped it.
"Right." He sipped his own coffee. "Where was I? Oh, yeah, I thought she was a pro. So, I said, I'll give you fifty bucks for a blow job. She said she had something even better in mind and led me towards this alleyway. I followed her, thinking, yeah, I'm gonna get laid afterall.
"So, she pushed me up against the wall, and her hand goes to my crotch and she pulls the zipper down. She's not touching my dick yet, but she's like, licking my neck and she's got a hand on my chest, keeping me against the wall. I was kind of bending at the knees or something, and she was making sure I didn't fall."
"So she was pretty strong?"
He nodded. "Really strong. I kept trying to move, cause I wanted to change positions, but that arm just held me right there, wouldn't let me move." Clint cleared his throat. "Anyway, she's rubbing her hand up and down my dick, even though she hasn't taken it out of my shorts. Her hands inside my suit pants, but she's not touching me, and I keep telling her to take it out, and she just keeps licking me. And I'm afraid if she doesn't pull it out soon, I'm gonna come in my pants. So, I reached down and pulled it out for her. I had my hand wrapped around my own dick, and her hand was on top of mine, and she's forcing it back and forth, and I'm going crazy. I was just about to come, when --" he stopped and looked away.
I waited, knowing what he was going to say, but needing him to say it.
"She -- she bit me."
"You felt it?"
His face flushed red, and he looked embarrassed as he nodded. "Oh, yeah. I felt it. And you know what?"
"It felt good. It felt great. It was so good I came, right then, all over her hand and mine. And she was sucking on my neck, and I was hanging there, still pinned to the wall, and I was so hot that I couldn't even make her stop."
I nodded slowly, remembering my own experience of being bitten.
Of course, that wasn't a story I'd ever tell Cliff.
"After a couple minutes, she started to pull back, and I suddenly realized what she'd done. I pushed her as hard as I could, and she stumbled. I couldn't do anything, I just kind of sank to the ground, holding my neck and my penis.She got up, looking a little shocked, and I started screaming. She ran."
"Why were you screaming?"
He looked at me strangely. "Are you daft? I had just gotten bitten in the throat by some bitch in an alley, and I was bleeding. I was still pretty damn drunk, and I didn't have a clue what the hell was going on. You'd have screamed, too."
"You could be right," I agreed. "What happened after that?"
"Someone must have heard me screaming, cause suddenly there were people there, and then a police car and an ambulance. They had to give me a transfusion at the hospital."
"What did you tell the police?"
"That I'd been attacked." He looked ashamed. "I said she'd had a bat, and that was how I got all beaten up. Actually, it was from the bar fight, but I --"
"You didn't want anyone to know you'd been coming on to this strange woman on the street, so you blamed all your injuries on her, and made it out like she jumped you. Right?"
I sighed. Suddenly, I was wondering just how many attacks were real, and how many were imagined -- or invented.
"So, you lied to the police and created the attack. The only thing that really happened is, you had kinky sex in an alleyway."
He stared at me. "That's not kinky sex, Trey. I've had kinky sex, and that's not kinky sex. That's just disgusting."
"Is it? Personally I find the image of a man and a woman having sex of any kind a little disgusting. But I can't judge by my own personal tastes, and you really shouldn't either."
That seemed to bring him to a sudden stop. After a moment, he nodded. "I forgot, you like girls."
We were both quiet for a moment.
"You don't think she meant to kill me?"
I shook my head. "No. If she'd wanted to, she would have. You were too drunk to really stop her."
I finished my hot chocolate and leaned back, thinking.
I looked up at him.
"Do you think she was a vampire?"
I had no idea how to answer him.
"Well, of course it was a vampire, Trey."
I blew out a long breath. "Yeah, I know that, Dayle. But I wasn't about to confirm that to him."
Kruise and Dayle had picked me up after they finished checking the bars on the list Kelsey gave them. We were headed back to their apartment where Kelsey at least would rejoin us. Nix would tbe taking a cab to the vamp club around ten or so.
"What did you tell him?"
"That it sounded like very kinky sex, and that she probably thought he was into it because he was coming onto her on the street."
"Good one." Kruise nodded. "So, this wasn't really an attack, was it?"
"Not that I can tell. At least, not your jump out of the bushes and surprise everyone type of thing."
Dayle snorted. "I can't believe the police bought his story."
"Oh, hell, Dayle, even if they didn't, they weren't going to say a word. Do you know how much money his father donates to the police charities?"
As we got out of the car, Dayle looked at the rear passenger door and sighed.
"Still upset about that?"
"Kruise, she dented my new PT Cruiser. How could I not be upset?"
"Shh, I know, baby," Kruise crooned to her. "Don't worry, the insurance will cover it."
I grinned. "Yeah. I can just see it now. 'How did this happen?' 'An irate vampire kicked in the door.'"
Kruise glared at me. "You're not helping."
Kelsey joined us at the penthouse. She looked tired, and slightly baffled.
"I couldn't get a lot of people to talk. I mean, they seemed open and friendly enough, but I just kept feeling like they weren't telling me everything."
Dayle sighed. "I'm not really surprised. Suddenly the council banishes one vampire, orders the death of another, and is suddenly all chummy with a group of people they said they didn't like. I'm not surprised there's a little resistance to the council's investigation."
Kelsey nodded. "I suppose that's true. It has been a hell of a long time since we actually did anything as a council. Now we've sort of been getting involved again, and the vampire community isn't sure how to take it, I guess."
"Well, I did find out something about one of the attacks."
"What's that, Trey?"
"It wasn't an attack."
I explained how my conversation with Clint had gone. Kelsey looked shocked and slightly hopeful, but it faded again when Kruise and Dayle told her their news.
"We ran into someone at one of the bars, one of the victims. Her name was Candy, and she was the second to last victim. She'd been able to get free of the attacker, cause her boyfriend came out of the bar in time, but she said it was definitely an attack, and the person was strong."
Dayle sat down next to Kruise. "I saw the marks on her neck. They were vampire, no doubt."
"Shit." Kelsey paced around the living room, running a hand through her hair. "Dammit, where do we go from here?"
No one said anything.
I asked Dayle if she still had any of the posterboard stuff from last Christmas. She looked puzzled but said yes.
"Can you bring some out? I have an idea."
She got them out, and Dayle and I taped one to the wall.
"If this marks up the paint, Trey, I'm gonna take it out on your hide."
"Kruise will protect me."
I found a marker on one of the computer desks and turned to Kelsey. "Okay, here. Write down the name of each person that was attacked. We'll make columns for each of them, and then we're going to look at each attack. If it's the same person, there will be a pattern."
Kelsey took the marker and wrote each name. Under it, she put the bar near which they were attacked.
"Well, obviously this person likes stalking night club patrons. She struck there three times."
I nodded at Kruise's statement. "Right. Kels, can you put the dates up there as well?"
She did, and I could see the pattern begin to emerge.
The first attack had occurred on November 17th, and Clint was attacked on the 18th. He was the only one of the first four to require a blood transfusion. Other than that, all the injuries were fairly minor, consisting of cuts and bruises. The third attack was on the 21st, and the fourth just one night later, on the 22nd.
Attack number five had been on the 24th of November and was the most serious of all of them. A young man had been leaving a popular night club called Rocco's when a woman bashed something over his head and knocked him unconscious. He'd then been bitten, and left to bleed to death.
"That's interesting." Kelsey was looking over the notes on the cases. She had a friend on the police force who had given her a basic summary of the police files. "The fifth victim, Steven Lyons, was rushed to the hospital with trauma to his jugular, requiring a blood transfusion."
"What's so interesting, Kels?" Dayle was pouring sodas for everyone.
"Part of his sleeve had been ripped off and wrapped around his throat, and an unknown young woman used Steven's phone to call for the ambulance. She was crying, and telling them to hurry. But she never gave her name, and no one knows who she is." She looked up at us. "They did speculate for a moment that it was the stalker that called."
"Hm." Dayle nodded. "That would fit with what you and Nix and Trey came up with. If it is a young vampire needing to feed and not knowing how to go about it, then the craving would make her do just about anything. Yet, once she did feed and come to her senses, she'd probably feel pretty damn guilty."
"Yeah, that does fit." I pointed to the chart we'd made on the wall. "So do the dates. The first few were fairly minor. Clint had to be hospitalized, but it was more from shock than being hurt. Okay, he needed a pint of blood, but he was never in any real danger. From the circumstances that we know of, and what it said in the police reports, the first four were more like failed seductions that turned violent. Our vampire didn't want to hurt anyone. But by the time of the fifth incident she was pretty far gone and needed blood -- badly."
"I never thought of it like that, but you're right, Trey."
"But, look, Kelsey. After the fifth victim, it goes back to clumsy seduction mixed with a little violence. If the person doesn't let her feed, she tries to force them. Even so, she hasn't had a good feed since the 24th of November. This is the 11th of December." I turned toward the couch. "Dayle, how long does it take for the craving to take hold?"
She looked very serious. "Not that long. Once you get down that far, binging doesn't help. She'd be crazy by now."
"Thought so." I nodded. "She's gonna strike again, and soon. And if we stay with her recent patterns, it'll be at either Rocco's or that country bar, JD's." I dropped my pen to a table and sat down, then reached for my soda. "I think a stakeout is in order," I said before I took a long sip.
Kruise pulled her lover closer to her. "Does the craving hurt?"
Dayle took a deep breath. "Well, not really. It's kind of like an incessant itching in your brain. It won't let you sleep and it keeps you from thinking clearly."
I grinned. "You sleeping all right, Dayle?"
Kelsey raised an eyebrow, and Kruise scowled at me. Dayle looked away, and I knew I'd have to be having a talk with Kruise soon.
End Part Four
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