Dead and Loving It (Page 3)
“That's fairly typical of…of people.” He'd almost said 'of mortals', but no need to push things. As it was, he had a hard time believing this conversation was taking place. She'd insulted him, pounded him, knew what he was, and was now having coffee with him. Amazing! “If your life span is so brief-what? Seventy years or so? Well, of course you want to make every minute count.”
“My family's lifespan is even shorter,” she said moodily.
“Ah. Dangerous neighborhood?”
“To put it mildly. Although it's better since…well, it's better now, and I just hope it lasts.”
“Which is why you can take care of yourself so well.”
She cracked her knuckles, which made the lone counterman cringe. “Bet your a*s.”
“Indeed I would not.” He stirred his coffee. He could drink it, though all it would do was make him thirstier. Instead he played with it; he enjoyed the ritual of cream and sugar. “How long are you in town?”
She shrugged. “Long as I want. The wedding's over, so we'll probably hang out for a couple days, then head back to our homes.”
“And home for you is…?”
“None of your f*****g business. Don't get me wrong, Dick, you seem pleasant enough for a blood-sucking fiend of the undead…”
“…but I'm not opening up to you with all my vitals, no matter how goodlooking and charming you are.”
“So my powers of attraction aren't completely lost on you,” he teased.
She ignored the interruption. “And if you don't like it, you can stop dicking around with your coffee and get the hell gone.”
“I cannot decide,” he said after a long pause, during which he guiltily put his spoon down, “if you're the most refreshing person I've ever met, or the most irritating.”
“Go with irritating,” she suggested. “That's what my family does.” She glanced at her watch, a cheap thing that probably told time about as well as a carrot. “I gotta go.
It's really late, even for me.” She laughed at that, for some reason.
He leaned forward and picked up her warm little hand. The palm was chubby, with a strong life line. Her nails were brutally short, and unpolished. “I must see youagain. Actually, I would prefer to spirit you away to my-“
“Creaky, musty, damp castle?”
“-condo on Beacon Hill, but you're quite a strong young lady and I seriously doubt I could do so without attracting attention. So I must persuade you.”
“Damned right, chum.” She jerked her hand out of his grasp. “Try anything, and-“
“I'll vomit my teeth, or be split down the middle, or my head will be twisted around so far I'll be able to see my own backside-” She giggled. “-yes, yes, I quite understand. Have dinner with me tomorrow night.”
“Don't you mean 'let me watch you eat while I play with my drink'?”
“Something like that, yes.”
“Why?” she asked suspiciously.
“Because,” he said simply, “I've decided. You're refreshing because you're irritating. Do you know how long it's been since I've had a nice conversation with a lady?”
She stared at him. “You think this has been a nice conversation?”
“Nicer than 'Help, eeeeeek, stay away you horrible thing, no, no, noooooooooo, oh, God, please don't kill me!' I can't tell you how many times I've had that conversation.”
“Serves you right for being a walking wood tick,” she said. “Dinner, huh? On you?”
“Of course.” Possibly on you, he thought, suddenly dizzy with a vision of licking red wine off her stomach.
“Mmmm. All right. I'll admit, it's nice to be myself with a guy and not have him be such a f*****g Nancy boy whenever I say something the least bit-“
She giggled again. “But you gotta tell me all about waking up dead, and what it's like to be on a liquid diet. And how come my family didn't know about you and your kind?”
“Why would your family know about my kind?”
“We're pretty far-flung. There's not much going on the planet we don't know. So you'll feed me, and we'll talk. Deal, Dick?”
“I find out you've got a dog named Spot, dinner's off,” she warned.
The phone rang, that shrill “pay attention to me!” sound she hated. She groaned, rolled over, groped for the phone, and knocked it off the hook. She relaxed into the blessed silence, which was broken by a tinny sound.
She burrowed under the covers.
“Jane? Are you there? Janet. Hello??”
She cursed her werewolf hearing. Tinny and faint the voice might be, but it was also unmistakable. “What.”
“Pick up the phone,” the telephone receiver squawked. “I want to make sure you're getting all this.”
“Can't. Too tired.”
“It's six o'clock at night, for God's sake. Pick up the phone!”
She muttered something foul, and obeyed the caller. “Whoever the hell this is, you'd better be on fire.”
“It's Moira, and I practically am…the high today was eighty-two. In May!”
“You should see what the humidity did to my hair.”
“I look like a blonde cotton swab.”
“Moira! This is fascinating, but you sure as s**t better not be calling me to babble about your for-Christ's-sake hair. What do you want?”
“It's not what I want,” Moira went on in her irritatingly cheerful voice. “It's Michael. The big boss wants to see you on the Cape, pronto.”
Finally, the silly b***h had Jane's attention. Her eyes opened wide and she sat straight up in bed. “Michael Wyndham? Wants to see me? How come?” And on the heels of that, a panicked thought: What'd I do? And resentment. Come, girl, good dog, here's a treat for the good doggie.
“Mine is not to reason why, girly…and neither is yours. I suggest you get your a*s out here yesterday.”
Jane groaned. “Aw, f**k a duck!”
“I've got a date. Today.” She squinted at her watch. “Tonight, I mean.”
“You do?” Moira sounded-rightfully so-completely astonished. She modified her tone, too late. “I mean, of course you do. Sure. It's only natural, a…a lively and…er…opinionated young lady like yourself. With a date on a Saturday night. Yep.”
“Cut the s**t, you're embarrassing both of us.” Young lady. Right. Moira was at least ten years younger. Half Jane's size (and weight). Twice the brains. Calling Moira a silly b***h was only half right. “F**k! I don't need this now. You don't have any idea what it's about?”
“Come on, Moira, you and the boss are practically litter-mates. Spill.”
“Let's just say that in his newfound happiness with mate and cub, our fearless leader thinks it's high time you settled down-“
“No, no, no!”
“-and he's met just the right fella for you,” she continued brightly. “He's sure you'll hit it off.”
“Doesn't the head of the pack have anything better to do than fix me up on yet another stupid blind date?” She could hear plastic cracking, and forced her fingers to loosen around the receiver.
“Apparently not. Now tell the truth; the last one wasn't so bad.”
“He cried like a third grade girl when I beat him to the kill.”
“Well, you did hog all the rabbits yourself. Tsk, tsk.”
“Figures,” Jane grumbled, swinging her legs over and resting her feet on the floor. “The first halfway decent guy I meet in forever, and the boss wants me to blow him off to meet some new dildo.”
“Sorry,” Moira said, sounding anything but. “I'll leave the dildo part out when I tell Michael you're on the way. And now, having imparted my message, I'd say something like 'have a nice day', except I know you-“
“Hate that s**t. Bye.” She hung up and resisted the urge to throw the phone against the wall. F**k. F**k f**k!
She'd been so excited about dinner with Dick, she'd had a hard time getting to sleep. She'd finally dozed off near dawn…and slept the entire day away. Now she had to beat feet for the Cape, of all places…f**k!
She did throw the phone. But it didn't make her feel any better, not even when it shattered spectacularly against the wall.
* * * * *
She was tapping her foot on the curb, waiting for the sloth-like doorman to hail her a cab. She could hail her own damned cab, thanks very much, but when in Rome, do what the sheep do. Or something like that.
She'd packed like a madwoman and it showed-she could see the corner of her dress sticking out of the suitcase. Aarrggh! Fifty-nine ninety-nine at Sears, and she'd probably never get to wear it again. Like clothes shopping wasn't an unending horror anyway-now she'd have to go again.
And Dick. She felt really bad about up and leaving town. He'd think she stood him up. Like that would happen. He was ridiculously good-looking but, even more important, she could talk to him. Not be herself-not completely-but close.
S**t, she couldn't even be herself with the pack; they'd written her off as an old maid a decade ago. Pack members mated young, dropped kids young, and died young.
And she didn't want kids, which, among her people, made her El Freako Supremo.
Getting knocked up-assuming your mate could get you pregnant without getting his bad self hurt-was one thing, but then you were a slumlord to a fetus for ten endless months. At least the humans only had to suffer for nine. Even worse, you puffed up like a blowfish and ate everything in sight, then squeezed out a kid during hours of blood and pain…blurgh.
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