A sharp odor attacks. Nail polish.
Opening his eyes, Steve finds Sabrina sitting beside him. She wears a black tee nearly covering her pink panties. One leg stretched out across the bed, her other foot rests close to her buttocks as she paints her toenails pink.
“Must you do that here?” He rolls away, but the odor follows.
“This is my bedroom.”
“My apologies.” Grunting, he sits up. The bandage appears fresh, again.
“I overheard you talking to that bitch,” says Sabrina.
“Yasmine?” He rubs his eyes and looks at the window. City lights twinkle in the valley. “Why is she a bitch?”
“She won’t let me into Necropolis!”
“Is it because you were asking about venom?”
“God no!” Sabrina slaps the bed sending waves sloshing over. “I know not to talk about that.”
“And you get your fix from Kandy.”
“Shut up. God! You suck sometimes.”
The bed wiggles sending nausea rising.
“Please, I’m sorry.” He stands before Sabrina turns the bed into a war zone. Maybe it is the pain or the dizziness in his head, but he can hardly imagine dealing with a girl. Maybe there is no daughter out there somewhere. No trick-or-treat. No family waits for him.
“No, I’m sorry, Steve.” Sabrina closes the cap on the nail polish. Pulling her legs up, she hugs her knees. “It’s Kandy that needs the fix. I don’t think she could last a week without me.”
He nods. Kandy’s addiction is powerful enough to attack while mending a bullet wound. Maybe the near death experience will persuade her to consider facing her addiction.
“Torx.” Sabrina buries her face into her legs. “You asked me about him the other day, and I lied.”
“Torx gets venom from some guy. Julio, I think.” Lifting her head, she looks him straight in the eye. “That’s all I know.”
Steve shuffles out the door into the hall noticing he walks around in his underpants. He needs new clothes. If he can keep from getting shot, clothes will last longer. Can he avoid getting shot in the Sanctuary of Sin? Can he change the past? Not if he wants to catch the shooter. Maybe he can be the bait. It’s a crazy idea, but makes sense in a world that forgets the Sanctuary of Sin. A record store? A store full of strippers performing bloody rituals maybe.
At the turn in the stairs, he looks at the front door where two men rolled a dead body sometime in the night. Someone died for Kandy’s sins, and his name isn’t Jesus. Or maybe it is, but it seems unlikely in Roseland. No, Kandy needed blood. She needed all of it.
Steve shakes the prickles from his backside, and heads down the stairs. Pushing the door open, he peeks inside. Across the room, in candle light, Kandy rests on her bed.
Closing the door, he shuffles over. Every few steps, he winces, but makes it to the bed. He throws the satin sheets back and gazes at Kandy’s nude body. She looks back, her brown eyes simmering, both from her Itoril nature and the look on her face. More gray, nearly white, shoot through her dark hair. Kandy appears near middle age, which for an Itoril means she is older than old enough.
He crawls in beside her and pulls up the sheet. “Sabrina kicked me out.”
“Well, her nail polish forced me out.”
“You ever see anything strange.” He tries to think how best to describe the wraith. Smoky dark, faceless creature sounds crazy. “In the quiet place. A dark thing like someone’s watching.”
The bed wiggles as Kandy rolls over facing him. Her fingers brush his elbow. Like a person moving in slow motion?”
“No. It moves like us. A dark smoky form.” He takes in a deep breath and exhales. “I call it a wraith.”
“Once. I saw something.” Kandy squeezes his arm. “It wasn’t faceless, though.”
“What did it look like?”
Scooting closer, she places her lips to his ear. “Death.”
A shiver races down his spine followed by a shower of tingles.
“I saw it at Necropolis,” says Kandy. She shakes her head. “It walked right through people like a ghost. I could feel the cold as it drew near, and I looked at its shadowy face. Deep violet smoke poured form its eyes.”
He tries to imagine the wraith with a face, a crooked nose, a shifting smoky jaw, and empty sockets for eyes where the purple smoke puffs out.
“I thought it was going to take me, Steve. I thought Death had me.” She shivers against him.
Leaning over, he touches his lips to hers. Without the sweet lipstick, her lips taste even better. The kiss sends warm currents washing over, and he relaxes burying his face beside hers. It almost feels like home, familiar. And dangerous.
Warmth returns, and they both stop shivering. They hold each other for what seems like hours. It might only be minutes, but time doesn’t seem to matter. Just the two of them holding each other, forever. He kisses her again, his tongue finds her fangs, and the touch ignites him.
Foreheads knocking together, he gazes into her eyes. The soft red glow from deep within the dark pools shines through her irises like the red moon through stained glass windows, beautiful and threatening.
Her lips tickle his cheek. “Sure about this?”
“You don’t bite, do you?”
Her giggle electrifies his chest. “No, sir, not you, anyway. But I’m a screamer. Wake the goddamn dead, I do.”
“Good.” He kisses her neck. “The dead need music.”
It isn’t long before he realizes that Itoril don’t mate like humans, but Kandy obliges him. Her fangs are scary sharp, which adds to the thrill his heart has trouble keeping up with.