Like most college towns, State College was never truly asleep. There was always a bar, a frat house, or a minute market open. Dark Horse Tavern was a club that catered to the Goth faction. In a back corner booth, Anthony Caprera leaned closer to his girlfriend. "Jewel, did you see that dude at the bar? The one with the white hair?"
"Who could miss him? He sticks out like a sore thumb."
"I don't think so. I think he epitomizes what we're trying to say." A touch of hero worship glittered in his brown eyes. "I don't know why I didn't think of it before." He snuck a quick glance over his shoulder. "The white hair and frosty blue contacts make a great contrast to the black clothing. It's actually much more effective than black hair." Pushing against the table he started to rise. "I'm going over to talk to him."
Jewel's black nailed hand stopped him. "Tony don't. Something about him creeps me out."
"Don't be such a pussy." Tony slid out of the booth and sauntered toward the bar.
As soon as he left, Phil Sasser took his place, resting an arm behind Jewel. "Your man leave you, sweetheart?"
Jewel inched closer to the wall. "No. He just went to talk to that weird guy. You'd better leave, Phil. Tony's not going to like you sitting here."
"Fuck Tony." Fingering his new spiked collar, Phil pressed closer to her. "You were mine before you were his." His arm fell possessively around her shoulders.
Uncomfortable, Jewel twisted, trying to dislodge his arm. "I mean it, Phil. Get lost. You had your chance and blew it."
"I told you Mandy didn't mean anything to me." He captured a wisp of jet-black hair between his fingers. "I remember the feel of your hair sliding over my stomach."
Yanking her hair out of his grasp, she whispered, "Shut up, Phil. Go get Mandy to give you a blow job."
"She's shit. Nobody gives head like you, baby." His hand settled on her thigh, sliding upward, but was met by a slap from Jewel. "Don't be like that, honey. Old Tony won't mind if you slip outside with me for a few minutes."
Laughter bubbled up. "That's about how long you last, Phil."
Anger suffused his face. His fingers dug into her leg. "Bitch."
"You're hurting me, Phil."
"You used to like me to hurt you, Jewel." He didn't lessen the pressure he was exerting.
Jewel squirmed. "Well I've found a man that can get me off without pain. And you know what? I like it. I like it a lot." Glancing up she was relieved to see Tony wending his way back to the booth. She sat up straighter. "Here comes Tony now."
Phil jerked his hand back.
"What the fuck are you doing here, Phil?"
"Just keeping Jewel company till you get back."
Not waiting for Phil to get up, Tony slid onto the bench across from them. "You gotta hear this," he addressed them both. "That guy, Rassiv, invited us to a party."
"You can't be serious." Jewel frowned. "We don't even know him."
Without acknowledging her interruption, Tony continued, "You'll never believe this. He claims he's a vampire."
"No shit." Phil leaned across the table. "Does he have teeth and everything?"
"Yeah. They must be caps because they look damn real, not like the ones we ordered online."
"This is so cool. I'm going to get the rest of the guys."
"Phil, wait." Jewel's words fell on deaf ears as Phil hurried to the group of guys he'd left to harass her.
"Tony, really, I don't like this." She cast a worried glance at the man sitting alone at the bar. "He's creepy."
Tony scoffed. "You haven't even met him. I tell you he is way cool. I never met an older guy that was into the whole Goth scene."
"Exactly my point. He could be some kind of serial killer or something."
Tony rolled his eyes. "It's not like he invited just the two of us. He invited the whole gang. What could happen? You think ten, twelve guys are gonna just stand there and let somebody kill us one by one?" Pushing up he leaned way over the table to kiss her. "If you don't want to come, I'll tell you all about it tomorrow in psych class."
"I don't have a ride home."
"Somebody will give you a lift."
"But I came with you."
"Then come along. I'll see that you get home after the party."
"It's late now. I have to do a presentation in criminal justice tomorrow."
Shrugging his shoulders, Tony grinned. "Look at it this way, maybe Rassiv will turn out to be a serial killer, and we'll catch him tonight. Wouldn't that make an impressive presentation tomorrow?"
Jewel's face paled. "That's not funny."
"Lighten up." Grabbing her hand he tugged on it, encouraging her to follow him as he stood up. "It's going to be awesome. A real vampire."
"There are no real vampires."
Lowering his voice he reminded her, "Of course he didn't call himself a vampire, but he said he lives on human blood, and he's got the teeth for it. And what about that Norwegian band? They actually drank the blood of their victims." His eyes widened. "Hey, Rassiv sounds Norwegian, doesn't it?" He picked up his pace, pulling her along behind.
Jewel shuffled her feet, slowing down their progress as much as she could. Tony gave her arm a yank and picked up his pace. When they neared the bar, the platinum blond man turned to observe their progress. His smile sent chills up Jewel's arms.
"Is this beautiful creature your woman?"
Tony straightened, puffing his chest out. "Yeah." Wrapping his arm around her waist, Tony pulled her close to his body. "This is Jewel."
Dipping his head slightly Rassiv smiled. "Enchanted." He did have an interesting accent, and the pale blue eyes were almost mesmerizing. "Will she be joining the party?"
"I don't think--"
"Sure she is." Tony applied pressure to her waist. "She wouldn't miss it, would you, honey?"
Jewel squirmed. "No, I wouldn't miss it."
"Then I am doubly glad I stopped in here tonight." Rassiv slid off the bar stool and headed for the door, his long black coat slapping against his legs. "Let the good times begin."
"Hey, Rassiv." Tony jogged to catch up to the older man. "Why don't you give us directions and we'll drive our own car."
A pale brow rose. "I have no automobile. I walked down from the hills where my friends and I are staying."
"Walked? Are you crazy?"
With the speed of a striking viper Rassiv's hand whipped out to grasp Tony by the throat, lifting him completely off the ground. "I thought I saw something in you," he ground out, "something worthy of notice. But if a simple hike into the woods is beyond your capabilities, I want nothing more to do with you." Releasing the younger man, Rassiv executed a sharp turn and strode across the parking lot, heading toward the line of trees several blocks away. An excellent judge of men, he recognized a beta searching for an alpha to lead him. Rassiv knew the young Earthling would pursue.
Rubbing his neck and grinning like an opossum, Tony addressed the gathering group of black clad guys, "Did you see that? He picked me up with one hand. What'd I tell you? Were those fangs awesome or what?" Grabbing Jewel by the hand he headed off at a trot. "Now there's a man I could follow."
Huffing and puffing, Jewel wished she had on a good old pair of tennis shoes instead of the leather biker boots that looked so good with her black jeans. "I think you're insane. All of you." She had plenty more to say but not the breath to back it up. She and the rest of the entourage struggled along, barely able to see Rassiv's platinum hair bobbing along like a silver specter.