Saturday, January 29, 2011

"I have competition, it seems," I say conversationally as I sit next to Raina. "Don't look up just yet… but there's a guy in a booth, sitting with a college girl. He's a vampire. He's - let me see - four booths back on the left-hand side of the room. Don't let him catch you looking…."

"I wonder if the old man knows he's here?" Raina turns as if to snag Patti as she sidles by and gets an eyeful of the vamp. "Maybe we should let him know… don't want him looking me up if Sunshine back there is leaving his leftovers all over town." Star gives me a wide-eyed look, but I just give her an empty smile in exchange.

"He might be acquainted with the local clan, too," I continue. "I don't know how many there are, but it'd be a lot easier to have the whole clan keeping an eye on him - even if the "whole clan" is just, say, three vamps - than it would for us to stretch ourselves any thinner."

"Cl- clan?" Star asks. I give her a big toothy smile.

"Vampires - unless they're loners like Yours Truly - are organized by clans. Any town with a decent vamp population is likely to have a local clan, or at least ties to a clan in another town. This being Exton, I suspect it has its own clan."

"So would that make this one a loner, then?", Erik asks. Star reaches over and takes his hand. Erik's eyes are hard, his mouth a tight line.

"Not necessarily. Vamps are organized by clans, but we tend to be solitary hunters. Depends on how long it's been since he's fed." I look over at Star. "Not to worry, little one. If there's a clan in town, chances are it has rules about hunting, and they'll be pretty strict. You have more to worry about if this fellow is a loner, or worse still, a rogue."

"Rogue?" This time the question comes from Raina.

"There are assholes in every group. Sometimes a vamp will hook up with a clan and decide he doesn't like the rules. Once he breaks with the clan, he's said to have gone rogue. A rogue vamp knows the rules - he just doesn't give a damn. That makes them dangerous."

"I think we should get in touch with the old man and let him handle it," I say decisively. "Let him be the hero."

"Maybe I should just go over there and ask him what he's doing here," Erik says, beginning to rise from his seat.

"Erik - sit down. If he doesn't like you asking questions, he might just throw you across the room - if you're lucky."

"I can handle myself," Erik growls, loosening his sword in the sheath.

"Not against him, you can't. You and Raina together couldn't take me, and I'd try really hard not to hurt either of you. He won't care if he tears your head off - but some of us might."

Erik looks at Star, who looks stricken. Better spooked than a dead boyfriend, I think.

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