Blood Loss
Author: A.N.T

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

I hated the night shift almost as much as I hated my life. Getting two Kit Kat bars out of the break room vending machine instead of the one I paid for is the most exciting thing that's happened to me in the past five months. Listening to complaints and answering repetitive questions wasn't my ideal choice for a job, but Bookmark, hell's neighbor, was the only place hiring after the economy tanked. I never imagined being a customer service rep would be such a pain in the ass.

A beep in my ear brought my attention back to my job and away from the Chuzzle game I was losing. "Thank you for calling Bookmark customer service. My name is Ariel. How may I offer you superior assistance this evening?" My fingernails dug into the foam stress reliever in my free hand while I listened to harsh coughing on the other line.

Small black numbers on the computer screen in front of me read 10:59 pm. This would be my last phone call of the night. Although I was ecstatic to move more than five feet from my desk, the thirty minute drive to downtown Nashville, where my empty apartment awaited me, was not something I or my knees looked forward to.

"I didn't receive my coupons in the mail this week," a woman who needed to lay off the cigarettes replied. I rolled my eyes. Just today, I had ten people call in about the same issue. There's never a dull moment in the customer service industry, or so they say.

Glancing at the unoccupied cubicle beside me made my shoulders slump. If it were any other day, I would ask the woman to hold so I could turn to the only person in this God forsaken place that I consider a friend and complain. Sadly, Dawn took the early release our supervisor offered her and left me here to endure four hours of pure boredom by my lonesome. I couldn't blame her for wanting to leave because I would have gladly taken the offer and ran.

"Ma'am, unfortunately, we no longer send coupons via the postal service. We now utilize email to send our coupons," I said low and uncaring.

The air-conditioning kicked on overhead making the woman's words feel much colder. "Well, when did you start doing that?" she asked. I imagined her waving a cancer stick around, using it to emphasize her question.

If the higher-ups would have taken my advice and sent letters to everyone when they changed the policy, I wouldn't have to deal with these people. Ten less phone calls might have prevented the migraine I felt coming on. Of course, big time executives don't have time to listen to a peon’s suggestions.

"Ma'am I just answer phones. The men that get paid the big bucks make the policies. I apologize that you are not getting what you signed up for, but honestly, when I applied for this job, I didn't think I would leave with a headache every night." My voice raised a few octaves before finishing, gaining the attention of my supervisor, Laura. She narrowed her eyes and shook her head.

"Um, well, I don't have an email address and I don't plan to get one just for your company."

"I don't expect you to. Is there anything else I can help you with this evening?" I asked with a fake smile.

A grunt and the sound of a dial tone was the signal for me to log off my computer and get out as quickly as possible. Taking the longest strides my short legs would allow, I passed the lounge and stopped inside the hall where I clocked out. Other than Laura, I was the only other person working until close so I didn't have to avoid speaking to anyone on the way out.

As I walked towards the exit, Laura waved a hand motioning for me to come over to her desk. Her lecture on my attitude towards customers was going to have to wait for another day. Luckily, I already punched my card.

As I rounded the corner by her desk, I said, "I'm off the clock and in a hurry. Maybe we can talk tomorrow." She sputtered, but couldn't get a word out as I rushed past her.

The loud beep that annoyed everyone throughout the day echoed off the walls as I opened the back door and exited into the flower scented night air. Yellow tulips lined the sidewalk that led to the employee parking lot. They bring a smile to my face as I enter the building to start my shift, but by nightfall, I want to rip every one of them from the roots.

Tiny goose bumps appeared on my bare arms where the green swoop neck shirt I was donning didn't cover. The cool, brisk air was normal for summertime in Tennessee. The heels of my favorite black pumps collided with the concrete at a quicker pace as I rounded the corner of the building. Only three cars remained in the normally packed parking lot, Laura's mini-van and the security guard's Ford F-150.

After searching for my keys in the bottomless pit that I call my purse, my eyes landed on a dense shadow that was lingering close to my beat-up, electric blue Neon. My shoes grinded against the concrete when abruptly halted. The silhouette of a man took shape as I squinted into the night.  He circled my car in a bored fashion, running a finger across the hood where months of dirt formed an outer layer of grim over it. After rubbing the dirt off on his pants, the stranger leaned against the passenger's side door with folded arms.

Even in the cloak of night he didn't look like anyone that I knew. I had no friends aside from Dawn and the only foster brother that I still kept in contact with lived across the country in California. This man had no reason to be near my car or me for that matter. Whether he was friend or foe made no difference to me since I was ready to hightail it home. In case he was the latter, I had just the thing for him.

I reached back into my purse and grasped the small can of mace I kept as a surprise for any mugger that dared to tussle with me. The metal was cool against my hand. It hadn't seen any action since it left the convenience store and I was itching to give it a go. The six boys that I grew up with gave me countless scrapes and bruises and the will power to protect myself if the situation called for it. This might just be one of those situations the prepared me for. If he even looked at me wrong, it would be on like Donkey Kong.

The harsh clicks of my heels started up again as I began walking towards my car and the stranger. With mace in hand and the determination to get out of the parking lot, I was ready to take down any evil. I didn't realize that literal evil was leaning against my car until I came within a few feet of him. Two sharp fangs jutted out of the man's mouth as he yawned without bringing a hand up to conceal it. Great.

Until thirty years ago, vampires were the stuff of legends and myth, appearing in books like Bram Stoker's popular novel and various Hollywood movies. Unfortunately for my generation, they decided to come out for the world to see after a British doctor wrote a book about examining the truly dead body of a vampire that was staked in front of a church by a few God Squad members. A few weeks later the first vampire to ever be recognized in public entered a bar in New York City and asked for blood as a drink. When the bartender refused him because she thought he was crazy, he destroyed the entire establishment. Police were called in and the media soon followed. He escaped from the NYPD that night, but he didn't get far before some of his kind caught up to him. They forced him to go on national television and apologize.

After the Broken Bar incident, more monsters that go bump in the night introduced themselves to the light of day and those of us who live in it. I half expected Bigfoot to come out of hiding, but so far, he hasn't. Werewolves were the last creatures to expose themselves and frankly, I hope to never see one in person. They are uglier than anything I have ever seen.

Vampires aren't as ghastly as some that have come out, but they are just as dangerous. They are unbelievably fast and strong. My human legs didn't stand a chance against something that powerful so running away was out of the question, but four rubber wheels may give him a run for his dinner. I locked my hazel eyes onto the door that blocked me from salvation. It was risky and I wasn't sure if it would work, but speeding away in a decade old car was my only option.

I could feel his soulless eyes watching as I approached the vehicle causing sharp chills to race up my spine. Only two vampires have graced me with their presence in the past twenty-four years and I prayed that I would never have to be exposed to one again, but God obviously didn't hear those pleas.

Fear gripped the pit of my stomach and gave a hard twist as I came within reaching distance of the driver's side door. His gaze like the rays of the sun in the summertime scorched my face. He could see perfectly in the dark while I had to peek through barely opened eyes. Light from the nearest light post did little to help in my advancement. Next time I would heed advice from the experts and park underneath a light. If there was going to be a next time.

I pressed the soft button on my keychain that unlocked my freedom no matter how short-lived that freedom was. With a shaky hand, I reached for the door handle while trying to ignore the looming shadow nearby. The beating of my heart slammed against the inside of my throat.

"Miss Keller?" he asked in a low baritone just as the plastic handle gave way under my grasp.

What in the hell? It would be just my luck to have a vampire waiting for prey next to my car. Even better, he was waiting on certain prey. Me.

Without speaking, I pulled the door to me, but it made a high-pitched whine after moving a few inches. A jumble of obscenities scrolled through my head while I tried my best to quiet the sound by moving the door slowly. I would stop off and buy some WD40 if I got out of this alive. The door opened inch by inch until there was enough room for me to squeeze past it.

Before throwing myself in the car, I glanced up at the vampire across from me because I wanted to see who I would be coming back to haunt if he killed me. The sides of his mouth reached upward causing his fangs to peek out. My stomach lurched at the thought of what that smile might have meant.

He was tall and intimidating in the mask of night. Dark, shaggy hair tussled with the wind as he stared at me with wicked brown eyes on either side of his nose. He was undeniably handsome, but that didn't overpower the fact that he was a bloodsucker.

My off brand purse flew into the passenger's seat and my back side hit cloth in record time. With keys at the ready, I attempted to shut the door and drive away, but a menacing hand caught the inside of it.

"Miss Keller, I'm not here to hurt you," the devil's voice assured.

My unbelieving eyes landed back on the dark figure who seconds before wasn't so close. An outstretched hand hovered inches in front of me offering peace, but demons lie. Saintly wasn't in my vocabulary, but sneaky was. It took every ounce of bravery I had to close my hand into a fist. The jagged metal of my keys dug into my palm causing me to stay in the present. Before he could figure out what I had in store for him, I sucker punched him in the groin. He fell to knees that weren't used to being on the ground.

Without hesitation I retracted my arm, but not fast enough. Calloused fingers wrapped around my shaking arm and yanked me out of the car, tearing my pants in the process. Air rushed out of my lungs as my body smacked the pavement.

Disoriented, I watched as he bent down to lift me from the ground by my waist with ease. "I tried to be nice, but for some reason that is never enough for you people," the man's once mellow voice said with a harsh growl.

No words came to mind, but a startlingly loud shriek escaped my throat before I could get my fear in check.     It carried across the barren space without anyone knowing the wiser. Help was not coming for me.

Going down without a fight never registered as I kicked and struggled. When I realized it wasn't fazing him a bit, I sunk a few long tea party pink fingernails into his arm. "That tickled," he said while heaving my body over one broad shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

The blood rushed to my head quicker than I expected, but it did not discourage me from battling for my life. My feet dangled in front of his stomach so kicking him should have been easy, but he pushed away my blows effortlessly. I pounded on his back with fists that were made for tenderizing meat and even that did little to slow him down due to the thick leather jacket he had on.

Nausea swarmed my insides as I noticed that we were no longer standing on concrete or still for that matter. I had been too busy fighting to realize that he started running. All hope was lost once he entered the wooded area that surrounded the parking lot. Tree branches and shrubbery whipped past my head coming just short of getting caught in my hair.

A shiny black SUV came into view as he sprinted deeper into the foliage. The situation was going downhill fast and there wasn't much left that I could do. Kicking and hitting was getting me nowhere so I tried the last physically damaging thing I could think of. I grabbed the bottom of his jacket and the shirt underneath exposing moderately tanned skin. It looked as though he made a few trips to a tanning salon, but that was unlikely.

"Now, I'm not that kind of guy, honey. I hardly even know you," he said jokingly. I didn't laugh.

The vehicle was getting closer with every second that passed, and I was running out of time. I had to act fast or life as I knew it was over, or over for good. I steadied myself as best I could before using all my strength to dig holes in his back with oval shaped fingernails. Blood filled the wounds quickly. It slowly rolled down to the top of his blue jeans.

"Bitch! Blood is like a grass stain. It's hard to get out of clothes," he snarled as he turned his neck to look over his shoulder at me. To my dismay, he kept his rapid pace with four large gashes in his back that were starting to heal.

The SUV was a few feet away and I was done for. Screaming like a baby would make me look even weaker than I already did. There was only one thing left to do. Try to talk him into letting me go.

"I'm not very tasty. I heard that vampires don't like A positive and I'm sorry pal, but that is what I've got so it would save you the nasty after taste if you just let me go now," I said while my head bounced up and down.

The last thing I heard before the side of my head hit a side-view mirror was, "Shut up."



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