"Nina? Could you get the door?" Gale called from the living room.
Setting the plate down in the sink, Nina dried her hands and hurried for the door. "Thanks." She smiled at the delivery boy.
"No prob." He smiled back.
"Hey Stevie!" Gale called, coming around the corner.
"Gale." Stevie said, as they gave each other a typical guy hug.
"How much?" Gale wondered, pulling out his wallet.
Stevie shook his head. "No charge." He replied, winking at Nina, who looked down, slightly uncomfortable.
Stevie nodded. "Positive. Don't worry about it. Just don't tell my manager. They'll chew me out for it. Besides, I've got enough saved from last month's deliveries to back it up." He explained. "You wouldn't be Nina Lockwood by any chance would you?"
"The one and only." She answered.
"You remember her Stevie, stop kidding around." Gale said playfully elbowing Stevie in the ribs. "She probably doesn't remember you though." He said, glancing over at Nina.
"No, I remember him. He was the one who drove you to my parents' funeral."
Stevie chuckled. "You just got served man."
Gale rolled his eyes. "That may be, but at least I have a license now." He retorted. "You wanna stay and hang a while?" He offered.
"As fun as that sounds, I've gotta get back to my deliveries. Apparently people want wings tonight."
"Well, it's a Friday." Nina observed.
"And people like to party." Gale added.
"Yep, and that's why I've got to get going." He said, turning around. He glanced over his shoulder. "You're not doing anything I should know about are you?"
"Nope. Just hanging out." They answered in unison.
"Good. I'd hate to have to call the cops on my best friend and his company." Stevie joked. "Nice seeing you Nina!" He called, heading to the car.
"You too!" She called back as Gale shut the door. She followed Gale out to the kitchen, her stomach snarling at the wonderful smell of the wings. Once they'd dished up their plates, they sat comfortably next to each other on the loveseat.
"Oooh," Gale said after a moment of scanning channels.
"What?" Nina wondered, picking up another wing.
"Oh, it's a movie that I haven't seen in years. It's about vampires." Gale answered.
Thinking of Patch earlier, she glanced at the screen to catch the title. "Interview with a Vampire? Really?"
Gale chuckled. "You've never seen it." He observed. "Who are you to judge me?" He added, flipping it to the movie.
"Sorry. What's it about?" She wondered, intrigued by the title. She took a look at what was happening on the screen. Vampires. So this is what they look like? Wow, they've changed since Dracula.
"Just watch and find out." Gale replied, turning the volume up a little.
Burning the image of the vampires into her mind, Nina moved on to the actors in the current scene. "Oh my God," She muttered. "Is that Tom Cruise?"
Gale laughed. "Yeah, he's Lestret. And the other guy is Brad Pitt." He informed her.
She waved her hand dismissively. "I don't care about Brad Pitt. Lestret?" She repeated. "What kind of a name is that?" She thought out loud.
"The name the screenwriter decided to come up with." He answered.
After a few minutes of watching the movie in quiet, Nina decided to break the silence. "What is this rated?" She asked as the female vampire's clothes dropped to the floor, and the guy's shirt came off.
"R. Not that you care. You've seen tons of R rated movies before." He observed.
"And by tons you mean two?" She confirmed. "I've only seen RENT and Rise of the Lycans."
* * *
Gale yawned and stretched as far as he could on the sofa without trying to wake Nina. She stirred anyways and rolled over to her side, a little too far considering that she fell off the loveseat. She sat up to find herself being untangled by Gale. "I got it." She mumbled, helping him free her.
"You scared me. Are you alright?" Gale wondered.
She nodded. Just a little shaken, she thought. "How was the movie?" She asked, running her hand through her hair.
"It's typical you'd ask that. Considering you slept through most of it." He chuckled. "It was pretty good. I never get tired of seeing it. It's a good movie."
She held back a yawn. "Cool."
"You're not yourself. " Gale stated. "Why don't you get some sleep?" He suggested, helping her to her feet.
She sighed. "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. What time is it?"
Gale looked over his shoulder at a nearby clock. "Uh, it's almost midnight."
"Where would you like me to sleep?" She asked.
"Anywhere's fine. Would you like my room?" He wondered.
She shook her head. "Thanks though. I think I'll be fine on the couch."
"You mean loveseat?" Gale corrected, following her gaze.
"Do you want to sleep in your clothes? I think I can find some of my mom's old things. She was pretty close to your size."
"I'll be alright. I've slept in my clothes before. It's no big deal Gale. Goodnight." She added, picking the blanket up from the floor. She turned to see Gale moving towards a computer. "Hey," She called. "Would you mind if I used that?"
Gale turned, lifting the top of the laptop. "Uh, no. Go ahead. Just shut it down when you're done."
"Ok, I will." She said, walking over.
She smiled. "'Night Gale." As he disappeared down the long hallway, she slowly inched towards the computer. She looked around before opening the internet. As she stared at the Google homepage, she wondered where she should start and if what she was planning to do was even worth it. No it’s not, but I need answers and this seems to be the only way without people thinking I'm crazy and ending up at a shrink's office. She shuddered at the thought of her having to tell what she wanted to keep hidden to a creepy dude who was going to "help" her. Her fingers suddenly grew cold and lingered over the keys, waiting to be commanded to type something. For a minute, she didn't think she could bring herself to do it. What if what she found was beyond terrifying? She sighed. Don’t be such a coward Nina. Think of it this way….you're just curious and doing harmless research. She exhaled, and placed her fingers on the keys. The word 'harmless' ran through her mind. But what if it's not harmless, but harmful? What if I hurt someone? Not that that's likely, but….She found herself typing mechanically, blindly. It was only after she'd hit the enter key that she was consciously aware of what she had typed.
Several search results popped up, and she noticed a link to a folklore site. She clicked on it and saw a tab titled "Fact or Fiction: The Myth of Vampires." Waiting for the page to load, she glanced around to make sure that Gale wasn't around. She looked at the time in the lower right corner of the screen. 12:07. She sighed again and the page loaded. I must be out of my mind. God, am I literally going crazy? If I wasn't before, I'm sure headed that way now. The image on the screen stared back at her. A dark, mysterious creature with glowing eyes and fangs was crouched low with a dead animal covered in blood at his feet. Blood dripped from its fangs and flowed in a small line down the corner of his mouth. The image of Patch flashed through her mind. Crouched, dead animal at his feet, blood….she had to force the thought to be completely processed. Blood on his mouth….Vampire….No, she stopped herself. Stop right there. There's no way vampires can exist. They were in Transylvania during the Renaissance. This isn't possible. "I really am going insane. No more of this tonight." She muttered, exiting the internet and shutting down the laptop. "Or ever." She vowed as the low click sounded as she pushed the top down.
Wandering over to the couch, Nina pulled the blanket close to her body and sank down on the cushions. She sighed and hoped for a peaceful, dreamless sleep…
"Nina," He whispered, his voice as soft and as smooth as satin.
She turned and smiled as he stood motionless at the far end of the corridor. "Yes?" She wondered. She was taken aback by her voice. She didn't recognize it. It sounded pure and natural. It echoed slightly and he reached out and took her hand.
His glass smooth lips gently met the back of her hand. "Would you like to dance?" He asked, his finger stroking the sliver ring and the deep blue stone attached.
"I'd be delighted to." She let him lead her through the halls until they reached the scene of the party. She noticed that she stood out. While everyone was in modern and appropriate attire, she was in a ball gown that seemed to come from the late 1800's, and her hair was pinned back elegantly as he lead her to the center of the dance floor. He began giving her small kisses, and she felt a brief flare of pain as he reached her neck…
Nina woke with a gasp and found herself a little disoriented. The dream had felt so real, but obviously, that wasn't possible. She slowly pressed her fingers to where her neck had been kissed in the dream. She felt something warm and pulled her hand away. With the help of the moon's light, she was able to identify the dark, hot liquid as blood. Her blood. She ran to the bathroom and held her hair up from her neck. Two little puncture wounds were on the side of her throat, not very far apart, like something had bitten her there. The word flashed to her mind and she jumped back. "Vampire," She murmured. Oh my God, she thought. What am I supposed to do?