The first chapter of “Malfeasance” can be found Here.
New readers will want to head there before continuing on to chapter two, below.
The urgency in the woman’s voice had Elias in the room quicker than the eye could blink. Stale air slapped at his face, poured down into his lungs. It was like trying to breathe through an old, moldy sponge. He choked on it, tried to spit the foul taste out. There was no way he could have been prepared for just how disgusting the inside of the room would be. Despite the outward appearance of the motel he half hoped that the rooms were at least cleaned competently. For once he wished he were right.
“Come, sit. We have little time for your dramatics.” The woman waved a thin hand, beckoning him to sit on the bed beside her.
Elias looked down at the stained bedspread and swore he saw something crawling around in a splotch that probably started life as a cup of coffee. Sure, he’d spent time living in total dives. There was one decade that he lived out of a graveyard just for shits and giggles. But all of that was behind him. The idea of putting his ass down on that filth made the fresh blood in his stomach roil.
“I’ll stand” He gave her a polite nod.
“Do as you wish. You will sit soon.” Grey eyes looked him over. Their weight so heavy he could feel where they traveled.
“Yeah, whatever,” he grumbled. “Can we get on with this? I don’t even know who…”
“Pearl,” the woman said.
“Come again? Pearl, what?” A headache started to throb behind his eyes. It was a side effect of feeding on the junkie. Damn did it have bad timing.
“That is who I am. Please try to keep up. There is a lot to cover and we must be gone within the hour.” Once again she motioned for him to sit.
“Look, Pearl, I think you got the wrong vampire. I’m no one important.”
“You’ve had visions, dreams while your body is dead for the day. I must know what you have seen.”
The blatant show of her psychic power knocked the strength out of his knees. No one knew about the dreams. He’d made damn well sure of that. Elias tried to sit on the corner of the bed. The slick material of the bedspread turned into a slide, depositing the vampire on the floor.
Above him the old woman chuckled. “I told you to sit down.”
“Thanks for the warning.” Elias hauled his ass off the equally disgusting carpet and managed to sit on the bed without further embarrassing himself. One point for the vampire, about fifty for the creepy old woman.
“Your dreams hold the key to something dark and dangerous plaguing vampire kind, but you are too much a novice to understand their true meanings.” An old soul peeked out of her grey eyes. He wondered just how old she really was.
“Sounds like you know what I’ve been dreaming already. Why drag me to the sixth circle of hell?” He’d never been gladder to be undead, he decided as he scanned the cramped room. Vampires couldn’t catch human diseases like hepatitis.
“Shut up and listen to me,” Pearl snapped. “I know you are having the dreams, but I cannot spy into the subconscious of a creature that isn’t supposed to have one. You are dead, Elias. There is nothing left of your mind that should be capable of dreaming.”
“But the bloodlust…”
“We have yet to figure out what causes the blood-soaked fantasies of malnourished vampires. Those I can spy on all too well. Your dreams are different.” She grabbed his hand and held tight. “I need to know why you are seeing these things.”
Elias was beyond freaked out, but kept his face an unreadable mask. This was not the meeting he’d anticipated after receiving the strange note just after sunset. If she’d called him to this hotel to yell at him for being late with his tribute, it’d make sense. Hell, if he’d been called in to discuss his strange feeding habits, that would make even more sense. No, instead there was an old witch demanding to know about dreams he shouldn’t be having. The drugged blood pumping through his system made it difficult to focus on what should happen next.
“How can I tell you something I only remember bits and pieces of? They’re dreams, lady. Here one second, gone the next. All of the details are fuzzy.”
“I need to taste your blood.” Pearl held up a small silver bowl. Where the fuck did that come from?
“Going to pull out a rabbit next?” he muttered as he peeled his coat off and rolled up the sleeve of his shirt.
“Out of your backside if you keep stalling. We’re almost out of time.” She shook the bowl expectantly.
Old age had not taught Pearl to practice patience. She was as eager and obnoxious as a fledgling fresh out of the dirt. The look on her face grated on his last nerve. She knew full well he’d comply. There was no doubt in her eyes. If Elias hated anything, it was being predictable. But a guy couldn’t get one over on a psychic. Not without trying really hard.
Elias bared his fangs and bit down into the vein on his wrist. Blood bubbled out of the neat puncture wounds and began to dribble down over his skin. He flipped his wrist over dripping the thick, syrupy blood into the witch’s bowl. When the silver dish was about half way full, Pearl waved him off.
He licked up the red streaks running across his wrist. Slowly the wounds healed, leaving nothing but two little scabs that soon fell away. Elias yanked down the cuff of his shirt. Anxiety began to gnaw away at his insides. What if she thought his dreams posed a threat to his kind? Surely she’d have to report her findings. As soon as the next sunset, he could be a wanted vampire. Or worse, a dead vampire.
Pearl cradled the bowl in the palm of her hands. Silver eyes reflected in the murky liquid. She muttered something under her breath that Elias couldn’t even begin to decipher. For all he knew she was cursing the day he’d been reanimated.
“Elias,” she said softly. “No matter what happens, do not touch me. Promise me, vampire.”
He arched a brow at the odd request before raising a hand. “On my honor, I will not touch you.”
Dim lights glinted against the polished sides of the bowl as she raised it to her lips. Like tossing back a tequila shot, Pearl drank down his blood. Her face screwed up at the taste and she shot him a knowing look. The dish fell onto the bed. Blood splattered across the bedspread, joining the myriad of other stains no one would bother to wash out.
“Who did you eat?” Pearl swallowed again.
“No one important. Now what happens?” Patience wasn’t his forte either.
“We wa…” The old witch slumped over. Her limp form slid off the bed and landed on the floor.
“Well, shit.” Guess they didn’t have to wait any longer.