Updated: Nov 19, 2020
An immortal party girl spends her nights dancing and munching on humans until a good-looking cop interrupts her latest dinner date.
Everyone knows LA traffic is a beast, so when dispatch called about a nearby 10-16, domestic violence, report, Rick said he had to respond. This is what I got for traveling with a goody-two-shoes detective. Why couldn’t he have been one of the corrupt cops that I always heard about? If I had to tag along, I was at least going to enjoy the show.
That’s how I ended up following Rick, against his protests, into the upper-class home of a middle-aged couple with two young boys. It seemed the husband lost his mind earlier in the night and stabbed his wife of twelve years, then he decided it was a good idea to kill the children since they were witnesses to his crime. The injured mother tried to hide the boys in one of the bedrooms, but her husband tracked them down. Then Rick and I arrived, and the insane man chose to use his 10-year-old as a human shield in the middle of a narrow hallway.
“I have to do it,” he said, pressing a bloody knife against his son’s neck. “I have to kill them. They’re all standing in the way.”
“Mr. Johnson, please put the knife down. You don’t want to hurt your son.” Rick said with his gun pointed at the crazy man.
“Of course, I don’t want to, but she said to do whatever it takes.”
I frowned at Mr. Johnson. “Whatever it takes to do what?”
“Tanya, get back,” Rick muttered under his breath. “I don’t want this kid getting hurt.”
I ignored him and stepped closer to the man I was beginning to think wasn’t crazy, but drugged. “Who is ‘she’? The one who told you to do these things? What does she want from you?”
“My secretary, Julie. She asked me to get rid of everyone or everything in my life that holding me back from being with her. And I just want to make her happy.”
“Killing your family is only going to make things worse, Mr. Johnson. You can’t be with her if you’re in prison,” Rick said.
“You’re right.” Mr. Johnson’s face melted into despair. “I can’t make her happy if I’m in jail. I’ll have to kill you too, so you can’t take me to jail.”
“Enough of this,” I said to Rick. “I’m getting bored. Stop him, or I will.”
Rick gave me a dirty look. “I can’t do anything while he has that knife. One wrong move, and he’ll kill that kid. Is that what you want?”
I peered at the sobbing child across the hall, and something odd happened. An alien sensation sparked inside my chest. It’d been so long since I’d experience it; I almost didn’t recognize the dull ache of sympathy. I didn’t want the child harmed. This revelation prompted me to stop the man high on Pulse.
I hummed my song and felt my influence slip around the people in earshot. I felt the two boys slip into my enthrallment along with their injured mother. Rick cringed at his headache but stayed trained on the knife-wielding maniac. My music danced around Mr. Johnson, but his Pulse-soaked brain didn’t respond. I frowned and hummed louder. I can’t remember the last time I had to concentrate on my power. Humans were easy to influence, but I’d never tried to break through a Pulse-fueled haze. It was hard.
Rick groaned next to me as my power slammed into him. Noticing my song for the first time, he glanced at me from the corner of his eye. “What’s going on?”
I ignored Rick and glared at Mr. Johnson. The idiot still resisted my magic, so I did something that I hadn’t needed to do since the night I died. I opened my mouth and sang. Rick dropped his gun to cover his ears and screamed. The glass and windows throughout the house shattered as did the Pulse haze surrounding Mr. Johnson’s mind. He dropped the knife and fell to his knees along with the boy. They both stared at me in wonder with tears of joy in their eyes. I knew the other kid and his mother were doing the same from the bedroom in which they hid. They were all mine now for as long as I wanted.
Rick, on the other hand, crouched against the wall in agony. He calmed when I stopped singing, but I stumbled back. A wave of fatigue washed over me as I felt the consequences of using so much power at once. It felt like I had run a marathon without any preparation. I leaned against the wall as I walked away. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I needed to eat someone and rest up.
On my way out, I stopped by the fridge when I noticed a small photo pinned by a magnet. The two boys played with action figures in a sandbox. I tugged the image free and ran my fingers over the little faces. It was a moment in time captured on paper. It was a memory their mother would cherish until her last breath. I slipped the photograph into my pocket and left the house.
“What the hell was that?” Rick asked as he joined me next to his car after dealing with Mr. Johnson and his family. The house swarmed with uniformed officers, and the lights from the ambulance danced across the neighborhood.
“I saved the day,” I said with a smile. I was feeling better now that I’d had time to breathe fresh air and rest for a bit while Rick did his duty as a civil servant.
“You did something to them,” he said. “All of them were...were...”
“They worship you. It’s like those guys from the alley when we first met.”
“What can I say, I have that effect on humans.”
“Are you affecting me? Have you...enthralled me?” Rick gritted his teeth at me. “You create monsters and enslave people.”
“I also eat them,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. “Don’t forget about that.”
Rick lurched toward me and slammed his hand onto the hood of the car next to my hip. I felt the warmth of his breath as he spoke. “You are a monster. I should’ve stopped you the night we met. Why haven’t I done that? It’s because you’re in my head, isn’t it?”
I raised an eyebrow at the detective. Human guilt is such a turnoff. “If I remember correctly, you shot me the first night we met.”
“I could’ve done more,” he said. “I can still do more.”
“No, you can’t. You’re human, and I’m immortal. Not the I’ll-live-forever-young-as-long-as-no-one-kills-me immortality, but the true-blue-everyone’s-tried-and-no-one-can-kill-me immortality. If the witches can’t do it, you certainly can’t.” I pushed him back a step. “And I’m not in your head. If you were mine, you’d be on your knees worshipping me like every other human who’s heard my song.”
Rick frowned at me as I strolled to the passenger side door and pulled it open. I paused to meet his gaze when he asked the question that’s been gnawing at me since I met him.
“How come your song didn’t work on me?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted with a shrug. “My song seems to cause you pain for some reason. Somehow you’re special.”
As I climbed into the car, I wondered if, to influence Rick, I needed to stretch my magical muscles similar to how I broke through the Pulse with Mr. Johnson. Perhaps a different pitch could penetrate the detective’s mind.
Rick slammed the door behind him on the driver’s side and glared at me. “Are you saying those headaches I’ve been having are from you? Have you been trying to enthrall me this whole time?”
I nodded with a coy smile, and he growled at me before punching his steering wheel. He gritted his teeth and took several long breaths. I rolled my eyes and huffed at his frustration, which caught his attention.
“I trusted you,” he said.
“Why?” I asked sincerely. “Why would you trust me?”
He shook his head and shrugged as if he couldn’t offer a rational answer. I leaned across the center console of his car to peer into his soft green eyes. I ran a gentle finger across his cheek and wondered at the taste of his lips.
“You shouldn’t ever trust me,” I whispered then pulled away. He stared at me from across the car as the ambulance lights glided across his face. His gaze fell from my eyes to my lips as I smirked at him. He blinked, breaking the trance, and glanced at Mr. Johnson’s busy house.
“What happened in there? You broke all the glass and such. You didn’t have to do that in the alley.”
“Enthralling a human high on Pulse is very difficult.”
“Mr. Johnson was drugged? I’ve never heard of Pulse.”
“Of course not, it’s a fancy name for vampire blood,” I said. “The user falls into a temporary trance that allows anyone to compel them.”
“Compel them to do what?” Rick asked.
“Whatever they want. In this case, Mr. Johnson’s secretary wanted his wife and kids out of the way.”
“How is that possible? I would’ve heard of a drug like that,” Rick said, waving his hands around. “How am I supposed to put a stop to this?”
I laughed at him. “It’s not your problem. The witches will handle it.”
“You mean like they handled the bar? How do you know that witch didn’t kidnap Steven, the vampire, to drain his blood for the drug? Maybe the witches are in on it.”
I opened my mouth to argue but paused. I hadn’t considered that possibility. That would explain why the witch took the alpha vamp rather than kill him. But if that were the case, the witch wasn’t the norm. She must’ve been the trespasser that Dwayne mentioned. In fact, I’d have bet she was something more.
“We do not condone the trespasser’s behavior,” Dwayne said from the backseat of the cruiser.
Rick spun around with his gun drawn, and I jumped an inch out of my seat before twisting to impale my claws into Dwayne. I struck the back seat as the witch disappeared and reappeared to the left of my arm. A mark on one of his fingers glowed during the use of his magic then disappeared.
“Who the hell are you?” Rick said. “How’d you get in here?”
“Are you following me?” I asked Dwayne as I tugged my hand free of the padding and sheathed my claws.
“Not you,” he said then glanced at Rick.
“Why are you following me? Are you one of them?” he asked, nodding his head in my direction.
Dwayne narrowed his eyes and scowled at the detective. “I am a witch, a protector of mankind. I am tracking another witch named Matilda.”
“The woman from the bar. The one that killed those people and kidnapped the vampire,” Rick said.
“Yes. LA is my territory to protect, and she is trespassing.”
“She’s not just a trespasser.” I lifted my head to look down my nose at Dwayne. “She’s a rogue, isn’t she? She’s the one selling Pulse.”
Dwayne shifted his dark eyes to me and frowned. “Yes. Matilda has strayed from the path of a protector, and she must be destroyed for her transgressions.”
“Witches are raised in cults.” I quirked an eyebrow at Rick. “You drink the lemonade, or they shun you. If you break enough rules, they kill you.”
“We protect mankind from the evil that lurks through the night,” Dwayne announced with his head held high.
“He means me,” I whispered. Rick smirked at me while Dwayne sneered.
“And the abominations that you spawn.”
“It looks like your abomination has the higher death rate,” I said.
“I have a plan to rectify the situation.”
“By following me around? How’s that helping anyone?” Rick said.
“The witch is warded against me, so finding her trail has been difficult. You are working a case that involves finding a vampire. Matilda searches out vampires to bleed.”
“You figured that we’d cross paths,” Rick said.
“And you did. I picked up Matilda’s trail at the bar, and I found her base.”
“Great,” I said. “So why are you here instead of battling it out with the rogue?”
“She has warded the property against other witches. My magic cannot penetrate the shield.”
Rick’s eyes widened. “So you came to us for help?”
“No, not you. You are human and mortal,” Dwayne said then flicked his gaze at me.
I sneered at the witch and sat back against the glove box. “Why would I help you? Out of the kindness of my heart?”
“Tanya,” Rick said, and I jerked my hand up to silence him. The human would not sway me nor offer an unsolicited opinion. There was only one thing that would convince me to help, and Dwayne knew it. He lifted a gold coin emblazoned with witch gibberish.
“One task for one token,” he said. I smiled at the prize and snatched it from his hand. It was useless until I completed the assigned task, but when activated, it was one of the most powerful totems I’d come across.
“What is that?” Rick asked.
“It’s the key to whatever I want.”
“It’s a favor from me,” Dwayne said. “Once Tanya kills Matilda, the token will activate. She can use it anytime, anywhere, for anything within my power.”
“Woah,” Rick whispered. “What are you going to do with it?”
I smiled at him and tucked it away for safekeeping.
Rick parked the car along the street outside a house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. I glanced into the empty back seat and wondered if Dwayne had really left, as he claimed.
“None of the lights are on,” Rick said as he peered through the car window. “Is this really the place?”
“This is the address that Mr. High-and-Mighty gave us,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll go around back to scout the area. We need to know what we’re walking into.”
I laughed, and Rick snapped his head around to me in confusion.
“The only thing you’re doing is driving away. This is my task, not yours.”
“I’m a cop. It’s my job to help.”
“You’re human-” I said, but Rick interrupted me.
“Yeah, yeah, and it’s not my problem-”
“And you’re mortal, Detective Davison, and vulnerable to the witch’s magic,” I said, and his eyes softened. “I’m neither. You’d only get in my way or distract me.”
“You’re immune to magic. Good to know.” He smirked and ran a finger along a lock of my hair at the base of my neck. “I thought you didn’t care if I lived or died? You’ve threatened to kill me twice since I’ve met you.”
“I’m resistant to magic, not immune.” I leaned toward Rick, curving my face upward. “You’re proving entertaining. I’d hate for the fun to end so soon.”
I licked my lips, and Rick’s eyes darted down to watch. I slipped my hands over his thighs, and he lowered to kiss me. He stopped an inch from my face when I clicked his handcuffs around his wrist. He jerked his hand and found it tethered to the steering wheel. I leaned back against my door and spun the keys around one finger.
“I thought you were reaching for my butt,” he said. I smiled at him as he glared at me.
“I was,” I said. “You should go home. I’ll take care of the rogue.”
I could still hear Rick’s muffled obscenities from the sidewalk as I left him in the safety of his car.
I kicked the front door open and stormed through the house like the immortal powerhouse that I am. Inside the elegant home, I spotted spell books, silver blades, and witch ingredients strewn through the halls. Matilda was a busy little bee. If I’d had my blue light handy, I bet I’d have found witch gibberish written all over the walls. When I entered a room with a vaulted ceiling and winding staircase, I grimaced at my unconscious alpha vamp, strung upside down with a basin under him to catch the blood dripping from his strategically placed cuts.
“Matilda,” I called in a sing-song voice. “Matilda, come out and play.”
A dark woman with short curls and grey eyes leaned over the banister at the top of the staircase. She pressed her plump lips together into a thin line as she glared at me.
“Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?”
“Your house? Really? And here I figured you had run off the owners with a magical whammy and moved in,” I said.
Matilda stomped down the stairwell toward me. “Get out, now.”
“Not yet.” I flashed her my carnivorous smile, and she paused at the final step as her eyes widened.
“You made the alpha.”
“My, aren’t you a smart one.” I motioned toward the vampire. “This isn’t very sanitary, you know.”
“It’s efficient, and my silver blade slows the vampire’s healing enough to drain him while my magic keeps him unconscious.”
“If it works, don’t break it.”
“Why are you here?” Matilda asked as she slipped from the staircase to stand opposite me on the room's far side. Her hands hung free at her sides, ready to attack at a moment’s notice.
“I’m an immortal. You’re a rogue. We should be friends.”
“You’re not upset about what I did to your child?”
“What child?” I said with a frown. When she motioned to the alpha hanging between us, I laughed. “My creatures are not my children. They’re more like wild pets.”
“Your pet killed several people,” Matilda said.
“I believe you were the one that executed the humans.”
“They were bitten. They would’ve become his creatures. I could not allow that,” she said, and I shrugged.
“I can see the efficiency in killing them before they turned. Why risk it, right?”
“I am not like you.” Matilda balled her fists at her sides. “You are the evil that’s preyed on mankind since he stepped from the caves of creation.”
“I’m not that old.” I smiled. “But I am old enough to recognize you for what you are and what you’re doing here. Let me guess, you were cast out by the witches because you refused to show mercy on the humans that were tainted by my pets. You didn’t want to give them the chance to fight the bloodlust because humans hardly ever win that fight.”
“I’ve never seen it,” Matilda said, and I sneered.
“Of course not, you’re just a baby. And once you were cast out, you needed money to survive. God forbid you get a human job, so why not exploit the weak-minded fools looking for a high.”
“I will cleanse this world of your kind no matter what it takes.”
“I believe you,” I lied. “I can see your strength and determination. That’s why we’d make a great team. I supply the vampires, and you supply the money.”
“And if I decline your offer?” Matilda said. I spotted something silver slip down her sleeve and fall into her palm, but I didn’t react. She was playing right into my hands.
“No one says no to me, witch.” I opened my arms wide. “You join me, or you die.”
Matilda flung a silver dagger into my chest, and I crumbled to the ground as everything fell dark around me. Just as I suspected, the witch attacked with a silver knife to my heart, and I didn’t stop her. Had I been nearly any other immortal, her strike would’ve done the trick; instead, several minutes later, I gasped back to life.
It was the perfect trap. Matilda thinks I’m dead and drops her guard, and I rip her throat out. That’s how it should’ve gone down. But I didn’t anticipate Rick, the stupid, brave human.
When I awoke, I stared up at the ceiling as Rick stood over me with his gun aimed at Matilda, who brandished her silver knife at him from a few feet away. Rick fired at the witch, but she leaped around the room like a kung fu fighter on crack to dodge his bullets. Spell work on the back of her hand glowed as her magic fueled her speed and grace. When her knife sliced into Rick’s chest and abdomen, I lurched up from the ground and ripped into Matilda’s neck from behind. I gnawed on her spinal cord until her head broke away from her body. Tossing her remains aside, I wiped what blood I could from my face and peered down at Rick.
He laid on the floor with both hands pressed against his wound and stared up at me with wide eyes. “That was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s probably going to be the last thing too.” I frowned when he grimaced from the pain. “What are you doing here, you idiot. I told you, it was dangerous. How’d you even get loose?”
“You didn’t really think that I only had one set of keys to those handcuffs, did you?” He tried to smile, but he shook from the shock. “I should’ve known you weren’t really dead.”
He glanced around at the blood pooling under him then back up at me. “Are you going to eat me too?”
“I’d hate to waste a good meal.” I sighed. “But I don’t think I want to eat you.”
The truth of that statement hit me hard. It had been a long time since I’d cared enough for a human not to want to eat them. I always had room for a snack.
“If you’re not going to eat me, can you take me to the hospital or call an ambulance?”
I stepped away from his prone body and shook my head. “I’ve seen my share of injuries, Detective Davison, and this one is fatal. Moving you will only kill you faster.”
“So I’m going to die?” Rick said, shivering from blood loss. “I gotta say, this is not how I thought it would happen.”
I stared down at him as that spark of sympathy returned. It needled at me until I searched for relief.
“Dwayne,” I said. With Matilda dead, her wards on the house were powerless, and I knew Dwayne would be watching like a useless shadow. “Dwayne, show yourself.”
Even though I expected it, I still jumped when he appeared to my left. I bit back a few curses and pointed at Rick’s crumpled form.
“No,” Dwayne said, and I bared my teeth at him.
“I said, help him. I know you can do it. I saw the spell work required to heal him written on your skin.”
“It was a very difficult spell to acquire. I will not toss it away on your latest toy.”
I scowled at the self-righteous witch. “He is a human, a civil servant. It is your duty to protect him.”
“I serve the greater good, not you. The spell needed to heal a lethal wound would drain all of my resources. It would take me quite a bit of time to recover,” Dwayne glance down at Rick. “I’m sorry, but I cannot help you.”
“Screw you,” Rick said.
Panic clawed at my chest as my eyes darted around the room for an answer. I didn’t want Rick to die, but what could I do? I found the token from Dwayne and held it out between us. It shimmered with the power of completing my assigned task.
“I said, heal him.”
“You would use your token for this? For a human?”
I stared at the coin in my hand then glanced at Rick, barely conscious. “Shut up, and do it.”
I munched on a kidney snack while I stared at the painting leaning against my couch. I shouldn’t have pulled it from storage. I don’t why I did it. I don’t know why I had obsessed over it for the past few days. I glanced at my gym bag that laid in a crumpled mess on the love seat. Even after a bloody match in an underground, I couldn’t keep my mind nor eyes from the painting. Even as I denied it, I knew why. It’s the reason I’d taped the photo I’d stolen of the two boys Rick and I had saved to the frame of the painting.
When the doorbell rang, I peeled my gaze from the artwork and answered the door. Rick smiled at me from the hallway.
“Hi,” he said.
“Detective Davison, what brings you by?”
“You know, you can call me Rick.”
“I know.” I smirked and motioned for him to enter my penthouse.
He shuffled inside and raised his eyebrows at the painting in the center of the living room. “That’s nice.”
“Thank you.” I bowed my head. “It was one of my earlier pieces.”
“You painted it? Wow,” he said and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m afraid that I don’t know much about art.”
“It’s fine. At times, I enjoy painting. And I prefer to paint what I’ve seen, so my art ends up being a scrapbook of my very long life.”
“Well, my life’s going to be a longer thanks to you. And I mean that, Tanya. Thank you.”
Rick reached for my hand and squeezed it. I stared at the simple connection between us then glanced up into his soft, green eyes. An odd fluttering sensation flitted through my chest and stomach.
“You’re welcome,” I whispered.
“I can’t believe you gave up your token. For me.”
I stepped closer and leaned into him. I pressed my hands along his broad chest while he slipped his arm around my waist. I enjoyed his embrace and the longing expression on his face that told me he wanted to kiss me. A few days ago, I would’ve let him. But that was before.
“I lied to you,” I said.
“I told you that immortals like me don’t feel anything, ever. That isn’t true. I feel dull aches or spurts of emotion that are so weak they can be difficult to identify. And they are very easy to ignore completely.”
“I don’t understand.”
I flipped a hand through the air. “My emotions are like little buzzing flies that I have ignored for a long time. I’d nearly forgotten that they even existed until you reminded me. You see, while I was with you the other day. I felt things. When you were dying, I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling.”
Rick smiled at me and glided his fingers hand along my cheek. “I felt things too.”
“You misunderstand,” I said with a cold stare. “I don’t want to feel anything. I like my immortal existence. I liked things the way they were before you came along. Call it buyer’s remorse if you must, but now that I’ve had time to consider what I gave up, I regret sacrificing my token for your pitiful, human life. And yet I don’t want to kill you.”
Rick flinched away from me as though I’d struck him. He pulled free of me and stood back to glare at me. “Fine, I get it. I’ll leave.”
“I’m afraid that’s not good enough, Detective Davison.”
He huffed and raised an eyebrow at me, and then I sang to him. I poured more power into my music than I’d ever managed, and he fell to the floor with his hands covering his ears as he cried out in pain. All the glass shattered around us, and I adjusted my pitch until Rick’s pain stopped. When he dropped his hands and stared at me in slack-jawed awe, I knew he was mine.
I breathed a sigh of relief and collapsed into my couch. Panting from the exertion of using magical muscles that I didn’t even know existed, I closed my eyes and wiped at the sweat beading on my forehead. That was hard. I didn’t know what spell protected Rick, but it was a doozy. And the damn thing was still there. I may have pried the door open long enough to slip inside, but the automatic locks slammed shut behind me. I’d have to that all over again if I wanted to enthrall him a second time. So I had to make this time count.
“Rick,” I whispered to him, and he kneeled at the foot of the couch in front of me. He stared at me with his soft green eyes, and I cupped his cheek. “I enjoyed my time with you, but it’s over. I want you to forget everything about me and the other monsters. Witches, vampires, and immortals don’t exist in the real world. I also want you to leave LA for good. I want you to pack up everything you own, say goodbye to all your friends, and move far away. Somewhere on the East Coast. I don’t want to ever accidentally run into you on the street. Got it?”
He bobbed his head with an eager smile, and I motioned for him to leave. He hustled out the door to fulfill my request. My influence over him would fade over time, but my commands would stay with him forever. He would complete his assigned tasks or die trying.
When I was alone again, my gaze settled on my painting once again. I snatched it from the floor and pulled it into my lap. I ran my finger across the familiar faces of the two young, Roman boys that I painted centuries ago. Their long curls framed their happy smiles as they played together. It was a moment in time that I would never forget. And that was the problem.
I sprung to my feet and ripped the photograph from the frame, crumpled it into a ball, and I tossed it into the trash. Grabbing the painting, I stormed to a storage closet, yanked the door open, and shoved artwork inside. I buried the haunting image at the back of the dark space and slammed the door shut.
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© 2020 by Kelly A Nix