Authors: Tisha Wilson
She took another spoonful of the beef stew he had made for her. Caned stew had never tasted better. She seemed to be starving lately. She finished off the bowl with barely a breath. She looked up and saw him watching her and had the good sense to look bashful.
“I could make more,” he offered.
“Thank you,” she said. She would have liked to decline but she was still very hungry.
“We need to go into town for supplies this afternoon. You need fresh food,” he said as he used a sharp knife to open a can.
“Why do you keep food in the house when you don’t eat?” she asked before drinking some water. She would be glad for some coffee. Her body nearly cried out for it.
“I keep canned goods in case Bateman or Saul were to come. Plus, it is a rule of the woods. You always leave wood in the box and canned goods in the cupboard in case there is a storm and someone seeks shelter while you are away.”
She appreciated his logic and was again amazed by his generosity. She imagined it would be hard to care about such things after being alive for a thousand years, or maybe it was just habit. A thought came to her.
“Will you… eat while we are in town?” He spared a glance for her before he turned back to stir the pot.
“Hunters don’t have to feed everyday and we can stretch fresh blood out a few months by supplementing with bagged blood. It’s expensive to use bagged blood but it’s what I do when close to home. People would become wary of me if they kept having vague encounters with me.”
They were quiet until the soup bubbled. He brought the pot to her bowl, poured it in and then took it back to wash it up. Again the food was gone almost before she took a breath. He was sitting in his chair watching her in that way he did, like he knew everything there was to know about her just by looking at her, when she finally surfaced.
“What did you mean by vague encounters?” she asked at last as she dabbed at her mouth with a paper towel. Paper towels were really average and ordinary things for a vampire to have in his house. She supposed she shouldn’t stereotype. It wasn’t like she had met a lot of vampires before.
He finally answered interrupting her very random thought. “Humans can sometimes have fragile and impressionable minds, especially when things happen that are outside their realm of possibility. I meet a woman at a bar. I take her to a hotel room. She is inebriated. She thinks we are going to have a sexual encounter. When I push her to the bed and swoop down over her body, I puncture her with my fangs. It’s quick and painless followed by the pleasure.”
She swallowed hard feeling her pulse quicken at his description. All other thoughts fled her mind save one. His large body hovering over her as she waited expectantly. She didn’t want to ask the question but curiosity got the better of her. “The pleasure?”
“When we take blood it brings the human body to a state like orgasm. One or two draws is enough to make them cum. Then, I whisper in her ear all the naughty things we’ve done together. I strip her, tuck her in and she falls asleep feeling sated and satisfied. She sees the bite mark the next morning but assumes it’s a hickey. Our encounter will forever be a hazy shadow in her life, and she’ll wonder what really happened that night, but forget about it after the hickey fades.”
He said it without any emotion. He said it like it was as common as showering or brushing your teeth. It was both frightening and exciting. What would it take to make him claim a woman for more than just food?
“She’ll think it was a one night stand. Too many one night stands in a small town would begin to add up,” she surmised for him in a slightly shaken voice. She had to get control of herself.
He nodded. “The less they encounter me, the better. Still, every fifty years or so I move.”
“Makes sense. So… are you going to let me buy you some new clothes?” she asked letting some of the tension fade from her shoulders. His stone face broke as he rolled his eyes and she giggled. He wasn’t as much of a badass as he pretended to be. She bet he was a big old soft kitten underneath all those layers of gruffness.
“I suppose I could indulge you but I won’t be buying any shirts with any types of hearts or that say I love anything,” he said sternly.
He rose and cleared her place. He washed the dishes without a complaint. She wished she could help him but his stove and sink were too high for her. She didn’t even have the stick she used at home to get things off the top shelf. Maybe she could rig up some sort of ramp.
“Don’t even think about it,” he said when he finished wiping down the counter.
“What?” she asked innocently.
“You have that look in your eyes that a woman gets when she wants to start ‘fixing’ things in a man’s house. You aren’t going to be here long enough to change the curtains and put flowers on the table. Besides. You won’t have time to worry about such things with all the training you’ll need.”
“I wasn’t thinking that at all,” she said with a smirk.
He crossed his arms over his chest as he looked down at her as if he didn’t believe her.
“What I was thinking-”
“No,” he cut her off as he strode towards the door. She wheeled fast after him.
“Just hear me out.”
“But all I’ll need is-”
She had some trouble getting over the roots in the yard but managed to get to the truck in one piece.
“If you let me I could just-”
He picked her up and strapped her in to the truck before he looked at her again.
He slammed the door closed before she could respond. They were nearly down the mountain before she opened her mouth to speak again.
“No,” he said again cutting her off.
“I need a-”
He stopped on that last part and glanced at her. He turned onto the highway and she kept her mouth shut this time. He tried putting on his stone face but she saw it slip.
“A ramp?” he asked at last.
“If you’ll get me a few materials I can build a small moveable ramp. Then I could get my own glass of water if I needed it in the middle of the night,” she finally said.
“Oh,” was all he said and she wanted to laugh in his face.
They entered a small historic town filled with tourists here to hike the trails. He pulled in front of a small hardware store and then helped her into her chair. He was right. People eyed him as if he was about to jump on their backs and beat them up. It made her a little upset the way they acted towards him. If only they knew what he did to keep them all safe. She rolled herself ahead of him and entered the store. Yep. She definitely had Stockholm Syndrome. Here she was in the center of humanity and not only did she not have the inclination to run for help, she was mentally defending him as if he were Batman!
She quickly pointed out the things she would need. He added a new bathroom door and doorknob and a few other things to repair the damage that had been done to his house to the basket. He paid for the purchases. The dour faced man behind the counter looked as if he might pull out his shot gun and blast Braden should he make any trouble.
They exited the hardware store, dumped their purchases in the bed of the truck and then started towards the clothing stores. “You weren’t kidding Braden. You seem to have made the wrong impression on people around here.”
She stopped in front of a place that looked promising. He shrugged at her comment as he opened the door for her to precede him. She entered and wheeled her way towards the youngest female clerk she could find. This clothing was a little bit trendier than some of the places she had seen and the young girl with too much make up, too many earrings, and a megawatt smile greeted them happily.
“It is good ta see a smiling face around here,” Miranda commented happily.
“I know. This place can be a real drag some times, especially when the old heads think your being too outrageous or loud,” the girl said conspiratorially.
She looked like a dark haired Madonna with her skirt over fishnets, combat boots, and large garish hair bow to top it all off. She looked like she walked straight out of a nineteen eighties punk rock video.
“I love your gloves. They are badass,” she said as she lifted one of Miranda’s hands to look at the embroidery across the knuckles. “I would love to get my hands on some of these to sell in the store. Those hikers would kill for something like this.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Miranda said happily as she gestured towards Braden.
“I need you to help my friend here.”
He did not look at all happy to be in this store with the loud music blaring out on the large speakers mounted to the walls.
“Yeah. I see what you mean. That look went out with seventies rock. McJagur might still pull it off but he’s old, and you are way too young and way too hot to rock this,” she said as she flicked a piece of fluff on Braden’s fur coat. “Do you have a price range?”
“Do what you must but if you would, avoid shirts with logos that say I love anything,” he said seriously.
Miranda giggled and the clerk smiled brightly as she motioned another of the young ladies over. They began to pile clothes and then ushered Braden towards the fitting room. He sent a pleading look over his shoulder but Miranda only laughed and smiled.
After they finally shut Braden into the fitting room with a selected outfit, they waited. The new clerk admired Miranda’s gloves as well and asked where she got them. Miranda was just in the middle of explaining how she made them when Braden stepped out of the fitting room.
Her mouth watered at the sight of him. He had on a pair of low slung jeans that, even with his t-shirt, showed off his eight pack right down to his hip bones. A silver chain looped from his front pocket to the back which the black combat boots with silver buckles complimented. His T-shirt read ‘I hate everything… including you’. He looked down at the t-shirt and back up to her and her heart nearly stopped. He was smiling ear to ear at her and the girls beside her nearly swooned.
“I could learn to like this shirt,” he said approvingly, crossing his massive arms over his broad chest.
“So will every woman you walk past I’m sure. That might be good for hanging out around the house but…” She shook her head and made a face.
He nodded in agreement. “You’re right. I don’t think these pants would be good for crouching or fighting.”
“Are you into martial arts?” the young Madonna, whom Miranda had learned was called Gwen, asked. It was such an old name for someone so young and trendy, but people rarely got to choose their own names.
“You could say that,” he said slowly.
“Well then. That changes everything now doesn’t it.”
She and the other young woman, Windy, went off in search of more clothes. Miranda took a moment to look him up and down. He rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Are you going to drool?” he teased.
“Well don’t. I couldn’t hide my holsters anywhere in this get up.”
“Still, it’s like telling someone to look at every thing on the David except for his…”
The girls returned, piled his arms, and shoved him back in just as he gave her a curious look. This time when he came back out she nodded in approval. He had traditional black BDU’s on and a black thermal shirt. He wore a clothe trench coat lined with some heavy material designed to keep the wearer warm. There was also a dyed black wool vest beneath the jacket and the black tie up combat boots. It worked for him.
“Now you look less like you just stepped out of a Viking long boat,” she teased and he cast her a warning glance.
The two girls giggled as they picked out varying shades of the pants and shirts and the t-shirt he insisted on keeping. He wore the clothes out of the store, leaving everything else besides his calfskin britches, and the under armor he kept on him at all times. People still looked at him because of his size, but not like he was about to punch their lights out and eat their children.
He nodded in approval as he helped her up into the truck. He then went to his side of the truck and started it up before looking at the sleeves of his new jacket. “It feels too light to be so warm,” he commented.
He rolled his eyes as he saw the warm look she was giving him. “Don’t,” he warned before he headed off towards the grocery store. He would never say she was right about the clothes, even if he did like them.
When they were on the way home from the store she chattered on at him about the merits of organic fruit versus not organic fruit and commented several times on their local grocer’s lack of variety. She was nervous again and he could guess why. The sun was going down. It would be dark when they got home. Nearly time to sleep. Then would come the morning. Despite her earlier bravado in the clothing store, she was now nervous.
It was hard for him to breathe when he thought about how much he wanted tomorrow to come. He tried to control his thoughts but they seemed to have gotten completely away from him lately. Clips of her writhing beneath him… of the taste of her, of her mouth, her breasts, her clit and deeper inside kept running through his mind as he looked at her at various times through the day. It was all he could do to string together more than two words around her.