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Dead and Loving It

MaryJanice Davidson

Page 1


  (c) MaryJanice Davidson, 2002


  From the private papers of Richard Will, Ten Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts.

  "Becoming a vampire was the best thing that ever happened to me. The very, very best. Which is why I don't understand all the literature, how the vampires are usually these moody fellows who rue the day they ever got bitten, who pray for some illiterate European to plant a stake through their ribs. Rue the day? If the mob hadn't torched my killer the next night, I'd have kissed his feet. I'd even have kissed his behind!

  "After all, what else was there for me? Take over the farm when my father died?

  No, thank you. Farming is back-breaking work for very little reward, and even less respect. And I could hardly endure being in the same room with my father, much less work for him the rest of my life. (Punch first and punch second, that was my dear departed papa's motto. )

  "Lie about my age to join the army, and get my head blown off? (All so sixty years later we can ignore the Holocaust and pretend the Germans are good guys?) But back then, if you didn't fight you were a coward. Of course, two wars later the young men were encouraged to go to Canada, to avoid responsibilities to their country. If they fought, and lived, their reward was to be spit upon at the airport. It just goes to prove, nothing changes faster than the mind of an American.

  "No, life wasn't exactly a bowl of fresh peaches. I was in a box, and each side of the box was equally insurmountable. I wasn't the only one, but I was the only one who noticed the shape and size of the prison. I was always different from my chums. At least, I think I was. . . it was a long time ago, and don't we always think we're different?

  "So when Darak-that was his name, or at least the name he gave me-bought me a drink, then two, then ten, I didn't turn him down. What did I care if a stranger wanted to help me forget about the box? I was big-twenty-three years working on a farm made for a big boy-and if he wanted to get inappropriate, I was sure I could handle it.

  "Yes, there was homosexuality in the forties. People like to pretend it's a modern invention, which always makes me laugh. Anyway, I figured Darak wanted to see what I had inside my drawers, but I had no intention of showing him-what men did with other men was none of my concern. Of course, my drawers weren't what held his interest at all.

  "I'd been supremely confident I could toss Darak through a window if I needed to, which just goes to show I was something of a na?ve moron when I was a boy. Darak took what he needed from me, and never mind pretty words or even asking permission.

  He stopped my heart and left me on a filthy floor to breathe my last. The last thing I remember was a rat scampering across my face, how the tail felt, dragging across my mouth.

  "I woke up two nights later. It was dark and close, but in a stroke of luck I hadn't been buried yet. I didn't know it then, but the town's only mill had blown up, and there were forty bodies to be interred. Plus they'd cornered Darak and set him on fire. Yes, things had been positively hopping in the small town of Millidgeville, pop. 232 (actually 191 now). They were in no rush to get me in the ground. They had more important things to worry about.

  "I was thirstier than I had ever been in my life. And strong. . . I meant only to pop open the door to the coffin, and ended up ripping it off the hinges. I lurched out of the coffin and realized instantly where I was. And I knew what Darak was. . . I'd read Bram Stoker as a teenager. But even through the mad haze of my unnatural-or so it seemed to me then-thirst and the disbelief of my death, the main thing I remember is the relief. I was dead. I was free. I silently blessed Darak, and went to find someone to eat.

  "Being a vampire is wonderful. The strength, the speed, the liquid diet. . . all solidly in the plus column. The minuses-no sunbathing (so?), sensitivity to light (sunglasses fixed that nicely), no real relationships other than those of a transitory nature (callgirls!)-are bearable.

  "I miss women, though. That's probably the worst of it. No more sunsets? Phaugh. I saw plenty of them on the farm. But I haven't had a girlfriend since. . . er. . . what year is it? Never mind.

  "I can't be with a mortal woman, for obvious reasons. She'd never understand what I was, what I needed. I'd constantly fear hurting her-I can lift a car over my head, so being with a mortal woman is not unlike being with a china doll. And being dead hasn't affected my sex drive one bit. I was a young man of lusty appetite, and while I still look young, my appetite has increased exponentially with my age.

  "I've only met six other vampires in my life. Of the six, four were women, and let me tell you, they were complete and unrepentant monsters. They ate children. Children!

  I killed two, but the other two got away. I could have gone after them, but I had to get the child to a hospital and-well, I wouldn't have wished their company on my fiercest enemy, much less welcomed them to the marriage bed.

  "Yes, I'm lonely. Another price to pay for the eternal life and the liquid diet. But I'm young for a vampire-not even close to a hundred yet. Things are bound to look up.

  And even if they don't, my patience-like my thirst-is infinite. "

  Chapter One

  A monkey. A fucking monkey!

  Janet Lupo practically threw her invitation at the goon guarding the doors to the reception hall. Bad enough that one of the most eligible werewolves in the packthe world!-was now off the market, but he'd taken a pure human to mate. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Humans were okay. If you liked sloths.

  She stomped toward her table, noticing with bitter satisfaction the way people jumped out of her path. Pack members walked clear when she was in a good mood.

  Which, at the moment, she was not.

  Bad enough to be outnumbered a thousand to one by the humans, but to marry one? And fuck one and get it pregnant and join the PTA and. . .

  The mind reeled.

  Janet had nothing against humans as a species. In fact, she greatly admired their rapaciousness. Homo sapiens never passed up prey, not even if they were stuffed-not even if they didn't eat meat! They'd kill each other over shoes, for God's sake. They had fought wars over shiny metals and rocks. Janet had never understood why a diamond was worth killing over, but a pink topaz was hardly worth sweating about. Humans had fought wars over the possession of gold, but iron ferrite, which looked exactly the same, was worthless.

  And when humans started killing, watch out. Whether it was "Free the Holy Land from the infidels!" or "Cotton and Slave's Rights!" or "Down with Capitalism!" or whatever was worth mass genocide, when humans went to war, your only chance was to get out of the way and keep your head down.

  But marry one? Marry someone slower and weaker? Much, much weaker?

  Someone with no pack instincts, someone who only lived for themself? It'd be-it'd be like a human marrying a bear. A small, sleepy bear who hardly ever moved. Fucking creepy, is what it was.

  And there was Alec, sitting at the head table and smirking like he'd won the lottery!

  And his mate-uh, wife-sitting next to him. She was cute enough if you liked chubby, which the boys in the pack did. A bony wife wasn't such a great mother when food was scarce. Not that food was scarce these days, but thousands of years of genetic conditioning died hard. Besides, who wanted to squash their body down onto a bundle of sticks?

  Okay, there wasn't anything wrong with her looks. Her looks were fine. So was her smell-like peaches packed in fresh snow. And the bimbo knew what she was getting into-her old lady had worked for Old Man Wyndham, way back in the day-so the whole family had experience keeping secrets. But to call a sloth a sloth, the new Mrs.

  Kilcurt was not pack. Wasn't family. And would never be, no matter how many cubs Alec got
on her.

  Jesus! First the pack leader-Michael-knocked up a human, and now Alec Kilcurt.

  Didn't any of her fellow werewolves marry werewolves anymore?

  "Dance, Jane?"

  "I'd rather eat my own eyeballs," she said moodily, not even looking to see who asked. Why was she going to her table, anyway? The reception wasn't mandatory.

  Neither was the wedding. She'd just gone to be polite. And the time for that was done.

  She turned on her heel and marched out. The goon at the door obligingly held it open. Which was just as well, 'cuz otherwise she'd have kicked it down.

  * * * * *

  Janet vastly preferred Boston in the spring, and as cities went, Boston was not awful. Parts of it-the harbor, the aquarium-were actually kind of cool.

  Thinking of the New England Aquarium-all those fish, lobsters, squid, and sharks-made her stomach growl. She'd been too annoyed to eat lunch, and when she had walked out of the reception, she had also walked out on her supper.

  She turned onto a side street, taking a short-cut to Legal Sea Foods, a restaurant that did not suck. She'd have a big bowl of clam chowder, and some raw oysters, and a steak, and a lobster. And maybe something for dessert. And a drink. Maybe three.

  A scent caught her attention, forcing a split-second decision. She turned onto another street, one much less crowded, curious to see if the men were going to keep following her.

  They were. She hadn't seen their faces, just caught their scents as they swung around to follow her on Park Street. They smelled like desperation and stale coffee grounds. She was well dressed, and probably looked prosperous to them. Prime pickings.

  She turned again, this time down a deserted alley. If the two would-be robbers thought they were keeping her from supper, they were out of their teeny, tiny minds.

  She could easily outrun them, but that would mean kicking off her high heels. The stupid pinchy shoes cost almost thirty bucks! She wasn't leaving them in a Boston alley.

  If push came to shove, she'd bounce her stalkers off the bricks. Possibly more than once, the mood she was in.

  "Halt, gentlemen. "

  Janet jumped. There was a man standing at the end of the alley, and she hadn't known he was there until he spoke up. She hadn't smelled him, even though he was upwind. When was the last time that had happened?

  He was tall-over six feet-and well built, for someone who wasn't pack. His shoulders were broad and he definitely had the look of a man used to working with his hands. He had blond hair the color of wheat, and his eyes-even from fifteen feet away she could see their vivid color-were Mediterranean blue. He was wearing all blackdress slacks, a shirt open at the throat, a duster that went almost all the way to his heels.