I run into him at a Manhattan coffee shop—literally. He comes rushing out the door and would have fallen, spilled his coffee, had I not latched onto his bony elbow to steady him.
He stutters, “Sorry” and flips dark curls out of his face with a backwards tic of his head. That’s really all it takes for me to be sold.
Modern vampires don’t “stalk” anymore, not necessarily. Since humans now know of us, it’s in poor taste (vampire humor) to stalk a person, like we’re still the medieval monsters of yore. We’re supposed to follow rules—no stalking, no murdering, yadda yadda—but when the mood strikes, it’s impossible to ignore.
Plus, it’s almost Halloween.
Behind him, “Time Warp” plays on the radio, and tiny pumpkins sit on countertops. It’s the time of year for monsters in New York, and this kid … Woof. Gimme this kid.
“Sorry,” he says again, putting some space between us. His green eyes—who even has eyes like that?—scan my body, toes to the top of my head. He leans his upper body back to study my face, as if I’m just fucking huge, but I’m not that much taller than him. I’m just … bigger. Everywhere. This kid is built like Jack Skellington. He gives me a quick, tight-lipped smile, and there might even be a glint in his eyes.
Hmm, like what you see?
He steps past me into a dark, cloudy day smelling like espresso and sweet smoke. I know that smell, almost like pumpkin pie. The kid has been smoking cloves.
Nonchalantly, as if my week hasn’t just been made, I step into the coffee shop and then immediately leave. I tail him through the crowded Manhattan morning. Don’t worry, I won’t burn up. That whole thing about vampires being nocturnal is a huge lie, which we had to clarify when we “came out” to the humans years ago. We also have reflections (thank God; how would I do my hair?) and can be seen on camera.
The whole drinking blood thing, though? That’s fully fact.
I have to move fast because the kid walks quickly, practically dances around people. Must be a born and bred New Yorker. No one else knows how to navigate these sidewalks, although I’ve spent decades of my immortal life learning.
When he crosses streets, I linger back and admire his long legs, clad in black skinny jeans. When he looks left and right, I get quick glimpse of a pale jaw that looks cut from marble. He sips his coffee as he walks, adjusting the dark linen messenger bag on his shoulder. Then, he’s texting, too. I don’t even think he’s looking up, yet he manages to avoid another run-in like the one we had at the coffee shop. Definitely a native.
We end up near New York University—no surprise, he’s a student. A blonde girl sneaks up on him and jokingly says, “Boo,” just as I linger behind a parking sign. The kid doesn’t jump or anything, just gives her a quick shoulder hug, but it’s not the intimate embrace of two people romantically involved. Just friends then.
Hopefully, he’s unattached. That’ll make this whole thing much easier. Then again, I’ve never had much of a problem seducing humans. What’s that dumb song? “I’m sexy, and I know it.” Yeah, my life has pretty much gone like that since I almost died in the 1700s and ended up … this: a handsome monster hunting some pretty prey.
And, Christ, the kid is pretty. He stands outside a university building with his coffee and laughs with his friends. Mouth the color of a strawberry lollipop, white teeth glinting, he laughs with his entire body. I’m most intrigued by that fucking hair. What’s that going to feel like between my fingers, huh?
Well, that was a lie. I’m actually most intrigued by the pale throat that peeks out between the upturned collars of his coat. How soft is that skin? What will it taste like? Only one way to find out.