Ambrose ran his tongue over the edges of his teeth as he contemplated the woman before him. She was still dressed in her favorite red bodysuit with long black boots and shiny black vinyl gloves. But she had decided to top it off today with Nite Owl’s mask and cowl.
“Watchmen meets The Incredibles. That’s bound to tick someone off. Even if it’s just for the fact that shade of brown does not go with that shade of red. You look like a rotting tomato.”
“Oh, what a nice observation.”
“Why? Is that what you were going for?”
“I was going for practical.”
“Really. There’s no way you’ll be able to bite me with this bad boy covering my neck.”
“I don’t know. I’m willing to give it a try. Why don’t you come on in here?”
“Where’s Mark Caten?”
“Your attempt on his life gave him a blistering headache. He went home to recover.”
“Drama queen. I only bit his wrist.”
“He told me what your lover did to his park.”
“Barbara? What did she do?”
“She burned the whole place down.”
He burst out laughing. “You go, Barbara!”
Even though the whole top of her face was concealed, the hunter managed to look unamused.
“I wish I had been there to witness it. Is she all right? Is she still human? That vampire in the exhibit didn’t change her?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, why don’t you go find out?”
“Significant lack of interest. Besides, she’s probably dead.”
“Then, get Mark Caten over here. Let me talk to him. I need to know.”
“Again. Lack of interest. But enough of this pleasant chit-chat. Let’s move on to the more important stuff.” She unlocked the door and opened it all the way. “Come on out.”
He shrank back.
“Come on out. You don’t want to stay in there, do you?”
He shook his head. “You’ll hurt me.”
“Not at all. I feel bad for you all bunched up inside that cage. It can’t be very comfortable.”
“What do you care?”
“I just do. You going to come out? Door’s open, vamp.”
He hesitated for a few minutes before finally creeping out of the cage. He stood up straight and stretched. “Oh, yes! Much better.”
“Good.” She stabbed him in the chest with a needle. A warm solution sluiced into him.
His pupils shrank to the size of a pin’s head as the scent of rosemary, thyme, and green clover flooded his system.
His field of vision narrowed into a pinpoint. Then, it disappeared.
She undid the ties around his neck, exposing his skin.
Ambrose reached for the lace on her bodice.
She grabbed his arms and held them tight. Her expression was cold and inhuman and hungry.
His heart pounded. “Can we discuss this first?”
She smiled, baring her fangs. “We already did.”
“Ah!” He pulled away from her. “Don’t. Please. I don’t want to die.”
She leaned into his space. “Then, I won’t kill you.” She sank her fangs into his neck.
A rush of pleasure surged through him. It was so intense his knees buckled and only her grip on his arms kept him from falling.
She dug her fangs deeper into his neck.
And pain, every bit as intense as the pleasure had been, possessed him.
He opened his mouth to scream, but only a broken moan came out.
Then, the memory changed.
Her fangs sank deeper and the pain increased. There was no escaping into the dark oblivion.
Not this time around.
Her fangs pierced his bones, fracturing them.
His eyes glazed over. “Stop.” His voice was dull and listless. “Stop. Stop.”
But she would not stop.
And the dream played on.
Ambrose woke up flat on his back, panting. He lay there for a long time, staring up at the night sky, before he noticed the criss-cross bars in front of his face.
“No. No!” He tried to raise his hands, but he couldn’t get them off the ground. Metal cuffs kept them pinned down.
He tried to sit up. The metal collar around his neck dug into his throat, making him sputter and gag.
“No!” He clenched his teeth and tried to snap the collar by sheer neck muscle strength. It pressed against his windpipe until his breath came out in thin thread wheezes.
He collapsed and lay there, gasping for breath.
He snarled at her.
“Hello, vamp. Are you comfy?”
She sighed. “I could play dumb and pretend I don’t know what you’re talking about, but that kind of act really isn’t my style. Caten gave me the okay to do whatever I want to you. Anything I want. Oh! There are so many possibilities. It’s not often I find a vampire as fit and feisty as you.”
She clapped her hands in horrible delight. “You and I are going to have so much fun together. Starting with the experiment I really want to run: How long can a vampire live without food and in full sun exposure?”
“You can’t do that. It’s wrong.”
“Being a vampire’s all manner of wrong. So, don’t be judgmental.”
“I’ve been through this before. I can’t. I can’t go through it again. Elsie won’t save me this time.”
“Yes. But last time I wasn’t around to test things. Hmm. I wonder what would happen if I focused the sunlight on you. I’ll need something like a magnifying glass or…some sort of glass dome?”
“I was human once.”
“Well, you aren’t anymore. So, don’t even try pulling out that card. Not gonna work on me, buster boy.”
“I’ll escape. I’ll find a way. I’ll kill you. No. I’ll change you and I’ll make it hurt. I’ll make you suffer.”
She laughed again. “There won’t be any incidental idiots to come set you free this time around. You’re all mine for as long as I see fit.” She rose to her feet. “Sleep tight, vamp. I’ll see you in the morning.”