four am and out of coffeeMature

Chapter Four
Christian, by rhetoric
Word Count: 860 

Christian had woken up to three emergency calls on his voicemail, from three separate off-shore oil drillers – all demanding he show up to their respective sites first, and claiming they would triple the pay of any competitive offer.  He almost laughed, the idea was so implausible.  He saw the numbers of his working cost triple and triple and triple.  He wondered how long they would continue tripling each offer before they went bankrupt.  There were too few men left willing to do the kind of dangerous work Christian was all-too-happy to do.  Hyperbaric and underwater welding was a specialty field that killed its own numbers, until everyone was either dead or too frightened to go to work.  It was going to be a long day.  The fourth message was ominous and ambiguous – two things he hated more than almost anything else.  Why could no one be straightforward?

The voice sounded like an old friend, but he couldn’t be sure.  It spoke in hushed whispers that only another vampire could distinguish without a team of sound experts, which was what set his nerves on edge.  Vampires didn’t often send each other cryptic messages hidden beneath sound-waves.

The war is coming, choose your side before your side chooses you.

Christian shook off the chill that wiggled down his spine at the warning and hung up.  That was a mystery to solve later, he told himself; just then he had three oil rigs to fix.

He shrugged on his jacket and made his way out of his apartment, swinging his key ring around his index finger as he walked to the elevator.  A leggy brunette stood in front of the gleaming silver doors, her thumb pressing the down button in a constant series of rapid, punctuated stabs.  Her lyard cardigan hung loosely about her narrow frame, accentuating the hourglass bone structure beneath.

“I’m sure it will be up shortly,” he said, and she jumped.  She hadn’t heard him approaching.  Her eyes didn’t flick to her reflection in search of his; instead, she turned her head somewhat to the right, catching sight of him in her peripheral vision.

“I thought the same thing, twenty minutes ago,” she snapped, and pressed it again.

“Try holding it in,” he suggested, keeping his tone even and friendly.  Both of which were a challenge at four in the morning, even for a vampire.  He’d been out of coffee grounds and hadn’t noticed – now he itched to make it down to the corner bakery on his way to work.

She implemented his proposal and within seconds, the blinking arrow above the elevator doors indicated it was on its way up.  The doors opened, and she stepped inside; her finger was already on the button to keep the doors open for him, when she met his eyes for the first time.

He heard the stutter in her heartbeat.

“Coming?”

He smiled at her, finding her impudence to be charming.  He stepped into the elevator without a moments hesitation about being trapped inside of the small compartment with nothing but the smell of her blood and his early-morning hunger.

“Are you new?”  She pressed the button for the ground floor until it lit up.

“No,” he said, and spared a glance at her from his new angle; she was a head shorter than him, which made for a perfect view of her thin nose, high cheekbones, and long eyelashes.  “Are you?”

“A little,” she admitted, and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, no big deal.

He smirked, and said, “I had my suspicions.”

“What’s your apartment number?”

Curious, he thought; he’d never met a woman so bold.  “Three-Thirteen,” he answered, with an inviting grin.  “You’re welcome to stop by if you need anything.”

She looked up at him, her green eyes shielded by her dark lashes, and he thought the strangest thing.  He genuinely hoped she stopped by.

“That’s very sweet of you,” she said, and her mauve lips twisted up in a smile for the first time.  She had dainty teeth, gleaming white – she’d had braces at some point, he noted.  No one held their lips in that way without having had braces.  He wondered how old she was, and where she’d come from.

The doors opened and he stretched his hand out to trick the motion sensor into keeping them open.  He gestured with his free hand for her to exit the elevator first, like a proper gentleman, and followed her.  He said, “I’m Christian,” and extended his hand to her.

She shook it, but he took the chance to clasp his fingers around the silken flesh of her hand and kiss her knuckles.  Flustered, she said, “I’m Luelle.”

He fetched a coffee from the bakery and downed it on his way to the parking garage, where he kick-started the motorcycle and sped out into traffic.  The ride to the bay took less than ten minutes, but that was never the long part of his commute; it took almost forty minutes for his speedboat to reach the first oil rig. Just as the sun broke the horizon, he donned his underwater suit and dove into the dark water.

The End

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