All Through the Night
Coming December, 2018
Her love will light up his night. If they can both survive that long.
"What's your pleasure, my girl?" Drew asked as he approached the young woman seated at his bar. He asked it even though he knew she'd never give him the answer he was hoping for--you--and that she was not now, nor ever would be, his.
Heather shrugged. "Nothing. I don't know. I just thought I'd sit here for awhile. Is that all right?"
"Of course," Drew answered automatically. "You can do whatever you want here. Mi casa es su casa."
Heather flashed him a grateful smile that caused his heart to clench, and his conscience to pain him. Merciful heavens, he was spouting nothing but lies tonight.
This was no one's house. It was a bar--a nightclub if he were feeling sufficiently grandiose. It was a place where vampires came to dance and feed and while away another endless night. As manager, he neither danced nor fed. But Heather was young, beautiful, vibrant, and unconstrained by any sense of duty. She should be out there on the dance floor enjoying herself, or enticing humans into one of the curtained alcoves for a quick snack. She should not be sitting here, wasting her time talking to him. Of course, if dancing or feeding--or even just a place to sit, and someone to talk to--was all she was here for, she could have just as well stayed home.
The warehouse where she lived with the rest of her family also doubled as a nightclub, albeit a part-time, and largely illegal one. And yet it hadn't escaped his attention that over the past few weeks Heather had been hanging out in here more and more often.
"What's wrong?" he asked, as he busied himself behind the bar putting together a drink he hoped she might like. "Something going on at home?" He asked it not because he particularly wanted to know the answer, but because it was the kind of thing a friend might do, the type of question a bartender might ask. And, like it or not, those two things were all he could ever be to her.
Heather nodded. "It's all the new ferals Marc's brought home. They're bugging me."
Drew stopped what he was doing to stare at her. "Someone's been bothering you? Have you told Marc?" Marc was Heather's sire, and Drew's friend. It wasn't Drew's place to interfere, but all the same, "If someone has been taking advantage of you, you know he'll put a stop to it."
Heather shook her head. "No, not like that. It's just that they're there. You know? They're there all the time. And there are so many of them. And I'm just... I'm so over it."
Drew suspected the opposite, that what was really bothering her was something she wasn't over--her girlish, and entirely understandable crush on Marc. But one thing she'd said--or, more specifically, one word she'd used--still struck him as being odd. Feral.
Not so long ago, Heather had identified as feral too--as orphaned vampires, those who had lost their sires and had no one to care for them, were frequently termed. Ferals were crazy, dangerous, and generally considered beneath contempt. "But surely they can't be considered feral any longer, since Marc's adopted them?"
Heather shot him a dark, inscrutable look. "That's not how it works, is it? Once a feral, always a feral, isn't that what everyone thinks? That there's something fundamentally wrong with us, something that can never be made right? That we'd all be better off dead?"
Drew nodded gravely, acknowledging the hit, even while he went back to constructing her drink. "Certainly it's what 'everyone' used to think, what most people probably still do think. I used to be one of those people, as you're no doubt aware. But I know better now, and I would have thought you did too."
Inexplicably, that brought a smile to her lips. "You're right. I'm just being bitchy. It's not that they're feral, it's that they're so thirsty. They've been taking up so much of Marc's time and...I guess I'm feeling left out."
"You're used to being the center of his attention."
Heather shrugged. "Why shouldn't I be? I was his very first spawn. And even though he only inherited me, I'm still the only one that most people count as legitimate. That should mean something, you know? But lately, I just feel lost in the crowd."
"Here. Try this." Drew slid a glass across the bar to her. "Tell me what you think."
"What is it?"
"Taste it and see."
Heather shot him a suspicious look. Sizing me up, Drew thought Trying to decide whether or not to trust me. He shrugged. "It's not a trick. And I assume you know I wouldn't try and poison you, or drug you, or whatever else you're wondering."
"Then why won't you tell me what it is?"
"Because I'm not sure I made it correctly."
Drew held his breath as Heather took a small sip. Her eyes flew wide. "No way."
His heart plunged. "Not right?"
"You made me an egg cream?"
"I think so? Is it all right?"
"Well, yeah!" She took another, longer sip, then asked. "Do you even know how long it's been since I've had one of these?"
"Not that long, I'd imagine."
"It's been ages!"
"Impossible." If she'd hit her first quarter-century mark, he'd be amazed. Meanwhile, tonight, he was feeling every one of his three hundred and fifty-four years.