Sharon’s note: So, this is one of those series I can’t stay away from. I love Jack and Anise. I love their relationship, because you see the hunter/vampire dynamic all the time, but you rarely see them working out their relationship beyond the initial decision to not kill each other, and oh yeah, they sleep with each other. Warning: People talking out their problems like adults.
Jack leaned against the bar, twisting his glass so that the light played over the amber liquid inside. His other hand played with the gray, bone bead that hung from his necklace. It was almost icy against his fingertips, and he chuckled dryly.
“Penny for your thoughts?” The woman that perched on the stool next to his could have hopped straight off of a 1940’s pin-up girl poster. She was a little heavier than was currently popular, but she was well put together and had a sassy smile that demanded to be returned.
“Oh, nothing worth mentioning.” Jack put down his glass. It wasn’t like he was going to drink it anyway.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” She plucked his glass off the table and took a sip. “Sharing your burden with a friend can sometimes help.”
Jack chuckled. “I’m married, you know?”
“Is that the problem?” She offered the glass back to him, but Jack shook his head.
“It’s just . . . my wife and I are different, and the longer we’re together, the more I worry that we don’t want the same things anymore. I’m in it for the long haul, I want us to be together forever, I’m just not sure she is.” His stomach turned even as he said it, and he looked at the floor.
“Sounds like she’s not worth your time,” the woman purred as she leaned forward to trail a hand down his chest, drawing his attention back up. “See, I’m a ‘til death do we part kind of girl.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“How about I take you home and show you exactly how . . .” She looked him up and down, licking her lips, “dedicated I can be.”
“Sounds fun.” Jack slapped a twenty on the bar as he got up to follow her swaying hips.
The air outside was stuffy and warm. She kept glancing over her shoulder to make sure he was following. “I live near here. Come on, we can walk.”
As she led him past the parking lot, Jack touched the bead at his throat again. It was still burning cold, hiding his power to make him seem human. They passed through an empty lot into an abandoned convenience store. He was a little rusty on this kind of thing, but the vampire remembered this kind of move, and hesitated at the door.
“What, are you saying you live here?” He made it a joke, but his eyes darted around for signs of ambush.
“I’m saying that I can’t wait anymore.” She grabbed the lapels of his shirt and pulled his into the dimly lit building. “Come on. I’ve got a nice comfy mattress in here.”
Eyes darting around to catch any movement, Jack allowed her to pull him in, resisting slightly to keep their movements slow. “You know, I never caught your name.”
“You don’t need it.” The smile fell from her face, and her jaw dropped. A long, black tongue lashed from her mouth, its barbed end going for Jack’s throat.
Jack threw himself backwards while pushing to make some distance. On his way down, he saw a blade swing out of the darkness and slid easily though the woman’s neck. Body and head thudded to the floor. Keening like a wounded rabbit, two halves of a long black slug oozed out of the bloodless corpse to thrash on the floor.
“Ew.” Anise wrinkled her nose as she removed the charm that allowed her to fade into the shadows. “I think we need to burn this thing to be sure it dies.”
“What is it?” Jack picked himself up off the floor, wiping his hands across his pants. Whatever grime that was on them wasn’t coming off easily.
“I forget the proper name, but the Librarians told me that it’s some kind of body snatcher boojum. It hops from host to host, draining them of blood completely before moving on. That’s why I asked for your help. It can’t latch onto a vampire.” Anise squished the end that was in the head with a steel toed boot before spearing the larger end of the worm. She waited a moment to make sure the flattened bit wasn’t still moving before motioning her husband to follow her. “Come on, there’s one of those metal sinks over here. Grab what’s left and some of that trash.”
Nose wrinkling, Jack complied. “I feel filthy.”
“There’s a spigot at the back of the bar. You can wash up there a little bit before we get home, and you can have dibs on the shower.” She scraped the still writhing slug into the sink and stepped back to let Jack dump in his contributions.
“I’ll take you up on that, but it wasn’t what I meant.” He dropped everything on top of the slug thing, and started picking up more paper to throw in, specifically not looking at his wife. “The whole picking up someone at a bar thing. It felt wrong, and I didn’t mean anything I said, and . . . you know I love you, right?”
Anise chuckled. “I love you too. Welcome to playing the honeypot. It’s as uncomfortable as hell sometimes. As for what you said in there, I heard everything over the wire, and I think we need to talk about it.”
Jack snapped up, eyes wide in alarm. “I said I didn’t mean them!”
Having well prepared for this sting, Anise pulled a small bottle of lighter fluid out of her pocket and proceeded to liberally spray everything. “I know you did, and it got me thinking. I think we need to talk about timelines.”
“Timelines?” He immediately perked up.
She pulled one of the disposable lighters she always carried with her out of her pocket. “Yes, timelines. I know I’ve kind of avoided discussing it before, but I want to be with you forever, and I don’t want you to think otherwise. So, after your shower, we’ll lay out everything that needs to happen before I become a vampire.”
“Well, let get this over with then.” Jack beamed at his wife, and she lit a fast food wrapped and dropped it into the sink while what was left of the slug screamed.