April was fussing with her dress. “Do I look OK? Is it too much?”
Melinda’s eyes were taking up most of her face. “You look… very um…”
April wasn’t so sure. It had been her idea to do this; present herself like this. But the second she put the dress on all she could hear in her head was you’re ugly, you’re fat, you look desperate.
“So, we’ll get inside his head,” Faith said. “Blondie, all you have to do is act like an adult, be a bit flirty but above all; be mature, don’t get jealous, no tantrums. He’ll be snogging your face off by the time the credits roll, I guarantee it.”
“Be mature, don’t get jealous, no tantrums,” April repeated, nodding. “You won’t be too obvious, will you? I don’t want to look desperate.”
“I can do subtle you know. Now come on; Bloodbath Bakery starts in ten minutes.”
The girls headed downstairs where they were greeted by an empty room.
“He’s gone? All this was for nothing?!”
“What was for nothing?” Caleb asked, entering the room from the kitchen. He smiled as he saw April… and then he saw April.
“Damn me to hell,” he muttered, cleared his throat. “You look… better.”
He emptied the glass he was holding. “Anyone for a drink? Marjorie had quite the selection.”
“Any whiskey?” Faith asked, but Caleb had already disappeared back into the kitchen.
“Well, so much for that plan! He couldn’t get away from me fast enough!” April wailed, throwing herself on to the sofa. “At least now I know that I disgust him…”
“That’s what you got from that exchange?” Faith asked, astounded. “You’re completely deluded. Oh, he’s coming back. Stop pouting like a child and start sizzling like the unleashed sex goddess you are.”
“Let’s just give up and watch the movie, Faith.” April pleaded. “I’m already really embarrassed and this dress is so uncomfortable.”
“With any luck you won’t be wearing it much longer. You asked me to get in his head, I’m getting in his head. Buckle up, Blondie.”
Caleb had returned with three drinks which he placed on to the coffee table. He was looking at Melinda, at Faith, at the floor. Everywhere except at April.
“Whiskey, as requested. Throw it back, or you’ll just get a mouthful of ash.”
“Will it get us drunk?” Melinda asked, unsure.
“Yes, eventually. Well, you ladies enjoy. I’m going to go and… go outside.”
“No, join us, Caleb. I haven’t had chance to talk to you yet; I want to know all about my new vampire buddy,” Faith said, patting the empty seat beside her.
“I don’t think—“
“Oh, so you are just like April. Sit,” Faith commanded and Caleb reluctantly obliged.
Faith handed him a glass. “So…” she began, “Mr. Vatore. Tell me all about yourself.”
“Um, I’m Caleb, I’m a vampire, I reside with my sister…”
“Really? I had no idea!” Faith said, sarcastically. “Are you male too? Wearing a black shirt? I want to know about you; what turns you on?” she purred at him. “Anything in this room?”
April let out an exasperated sigh. “Not subtle!”
“I… um… well…” he began, hopelessly flustered.
Melinda felt a swift change of conversation was in order. “You seem to know this house quite well. How long did you know Marjorie for?” she asked.
“About fifty years,” he replied, the relief evident in his voice.
“Didn’t she notice that you didn’t age?” Faith asked.
“She knew we were vampires.”
“Do you just tell everyone?” Faith asked. “Is that always how you introduce yourself? ‘Hi! I’m Caleb; a vampire in a black shirt. Please don’t stake me’?”
“Not to everyone. I’m not always wearing a black shirt. You should also know that staking doesn’t actually do anything, other than leaving you with a stake embedded.”
“What was Marjorie like?” Melinda asked.
“Kind, clever, solitary. She was a writer. I would visit her every so often. We’d have a drink, talk about her latest novel.”
“Sounds boring,” Faith said, pretending to yawn.
“Her novels were interesting. Romance,” he said, still not looking at April.
Faith perked up. “Romance? Or romance?”
“Romance. However, some of them were a bit racy.”
“Really? Where did a solitary woman get inspiration for those?” Faith pondered, a wicked smile on her face. “Was it from you?”
“It was! So… was it all fantasy or did you get her in the sack?”
“Faith! That’s my great aunt!” April gasped. “You didn’t, right?”
“It was a long time ago, April.”
“Oh my god!“
“I was not a great guy. I did a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have.”
“Stop talking, Caleb,” Melinda groaned.
“Oh no, carry on!” Faith grinned. “Elaborate! How many things did you do? Are we talking hundreds? Thousands?”
“Faith, stop. Don’t answer that…” Melinda pleaded.
“Tens of thousands?” Faith laughed. “You dirty dog!”
“No, it can’t be that many…”
“Not that many? How many?” April said as casually as she could manage. She was trying extremely hard to stay calm. Be mature, don’t get jealous, no tantrums…
“I really don’t know. But absolutely none, for quite a long while now…”
“You don’t know?” April’s eye was twitching. “How can you not know how many people you’ve slept with?”
“I didn’t count; it was a meaningless activity. April, what do want me to say?”
April’s voice went up an octave as she finally snapped. “I think you’ve said it all! So you’ll screw literally anything that moves but you won’t even kiss me?!”
April screamed and ran off upstairs.
“Faith!” Melinda hissed, getting to her feet to follow April. Faith pushed her back into her seat.
“Caleb should go. Smooth things over, wild boy.”
“Is that a good idea?”
“That’s what she wants. Go and reassure her that you’re not hung up on her deceased aunt or any of your other ten thousand lovers.”
He didn’t look convinced, but he followed Faith’s advice and headed upstairs.
“Wow,” Melinda said. “That all went very wrong, very quickly. I mean, I gathered he might have had a few partners, but possibly thousands? All meaningless? That’s quite desperate.” She looked at Faith.
“Like me, you mean? I wonder what his actual score is.”
“Perhaps I’ll make it a goal. By the time I’m three hundred I’ll tally up as many as him. More! If I start now, two a week, what’s that put me at?”
Melinda did a quick calculation. “About thirty thousand. At what point do you think bits would start falling off?”
Caleb had appeared back in the room, looking sheepish. “What do I do? She’s locked the door and won’t talk to me.”
“You give up and move on,” Faith said. “Serves you right for having any fun before she existed.”
“What? How was I supposed to know she’d exist one day?”
“You weren’t,” Melinda said, over Faith’s laughter. “There’s something you should know about Faith; if her mouth is open, she’s winding you up.”
“Caleb, you crack me up. How is it possible that you’re even more clueless than Blondie? Me and you are gonna have so much fun.”
Caleb looked between Faith and Melinda. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. Women are so complicated.”
Faith managed to stop herself laughing, briefly. “All your ‘life experience’ and you’ve not figured us out yet?”
“I didn’t usually have to deal with the… emotional side.”
“Ah, you were a ‘fuck ’em and forget ’em’ kinda man.”
“That’s a very harsh way to put it, but yes, I suppose I was.”
“Wait a second,” Melinda said. “Caleb, have you ever had a relationship before? A proper one, not just a… woohoo one?”
Caleb looked like he wanted to crawl into a hole and die, again. “No. I haven’t. Though I’ve wanted to, for a while now. It’s shameful, isn’t it?”
“That’s actually really sad,” Melinda said.
“It is,” Faith agreed. “The saddest part is that of all the women in the world you could have chosen, you chose the pinless grenade that is Blondie, for some reason.”
“She’s perfect. The way she looks, the way she talks, all those weird little quirks she has. I can’t even believe she likes me. And I’ve messed everything up, as usual.”
Both Faith and Melinda were well aware that April was listening in, but Caleb wasn’t. He went on. “I am useless at these things, I’ll admit it. I understand that she’s mad at me because I haven’t kissed her yet. I know a kiss doesn’t have to lead anywhere, but I’m not sure I could control myself knowing that she wants it to and not just because I overheard you from the kitchen. Holy hell, seeing her in that dress just about finished me. When I say it’s been a while, it has really been a while. The very last thing I want is for April to feel like I only want her for one reason.”
“So instead you decided to make her feel completely unwanted?”
“…Is that how she feels?”
“How did you think she would feel?”
“Special? Different? I’ve completely ruined this, haven’t I?”
“Bloody hell, you’re really not good at this stuff are you? Then again, neither am I. Melinda? Unbroken brain perspective required.”
“Why haven’t you told her any of this?” Melinda asked, trying not to let on that April was at the foot of the stairs.
“I’ve tried but how can I make her understand what’s going on in my head if clearly I don’t even understand?”
“We can figure it out,” April said quietly.
As she sat beside him, his face melted into a goofy smile. “Eavesdropping again, Miss Moss?”
She smiled and blushed, “Shut up, you. I only came back down to watch Bloodbath Bakery, obviously. Totally not because you said I was different and special and that I’m your first girlfriend.”
“Ah crap! I forgot all about the goddamn movie!” Faith reached for the remote. “Are you into slasher flicks Caleb?”
“Never seen one,” he said, staring at April.
“I’ll go grab us a few more drinks because this will be quite the introduction.”
“Geez, doc. You’re becoming as regular as old Fred.”
“Where is Fred?”
“He actually went home, for once. I didn’t even know he had a home, I assumed he lived here and never slept, like I appear to.” Joe didn’t even ask Lilith if she wanted a drink, he just placed a glass before her. “If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t look great.”
“I don’t feel great.”
“As much as I appreciate your custom, you know the guys from the mill will be in here any minute—“
As if they’d heard him, Will and Dale entered the bar. Will’s eyes immediately went to Lilith.
“What a glorious end to a shitty week,” he smirked, taking the seat next to her. “You’re looking particularly miserable tonight, Lilith.”
“Back off, Wangshaft.”
His voice softened. “Tell you what; I’ll buy you a few drinks, you can tell me all about it.”
“What?” Lilith asked, caught off-guard.
“Yeah, bore me shitless with your woes. All you have to do in return is suck me off.”
Don’t tempt me, you asshole.
Lilith slammed her empty glass on the bar and headed to the door.
“Frigid as ever. Just as well, can get three hookers for the price of one of these drinks.” Will turned his attention back to Dale. “So, as I was saying; I’m 99% sure which house it was. We’ll go and check it out tomorrow, see if they’re still there before we phone it in. It’s gonna be payday for us, my man!”
“I don’t know, Will,” Dale said. “If April doesn’t want to be found, maybe there’s a good reason. Maybe we should stay out of it.”
“Fine, stay on your moral high ground. I need me a new truck.”
It had been a good few years since Lilith had exercised her feminine wiles. She hoped she could still remember how to do it; that she didn’t sound too sarcastic. “Hey, Will?”
“What now?” he groaned, not even bothering to look at her.
She slipped back on to the seat beside him, forcing him to turn around. She fluttered her lashes and tried to make her face look keen rather than completely repulsed. “I’ve changed my mind; I’ll take you up on your offer. I can’t fight this… urge, forever. Buy me a drink.”
“Yes. It’s about time you and I got closer.”