Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1)

Chapter 22




Time seemed to slow.

I arched up and out into the night and stretched my arms to either side. I lifted my face to the stars and felt the wind in my hair and experienced a profound and uncommon silence, as if all noise in the world had suddenly been muted. Slowly, I tilted down into a natural dive.

And then I plummeted.

Only then was I aware that perhaps I should have ditched the clothing. I didn't want to be a bat trapped in a cardigan sweater.

By all rights I should die in the next few moments. No one should be able to survive such a fall, perhaps not even a vampire.

A flash of yellow light erupted in my head. And within that light was an image of something black. Something with wings. Something large and alien and frightening.

And then the image disappeared.

The world began to accelerate. The floors to the hotel swept past me. Some of the curtained windows were open. One man dressed only in his tighty-whitties turned suddenly, as if he had seen something in his peripheral vision. He had�Da falling woman. But I had swept past him before he could complete his full turn.

The image of the winged creature reappeared, but this time taking on greater detail. It was vaguely humanoid with great leathery wings. I felt an immediate and powerful affinity for the creature.

A sliver of sidewalk, once only a silver thread from high above, now rapidly grew into a very real sidewalk. A very real cement sidewalk. Picking up speed, I past a few more floors. Unfortunately for me, the hotel was running out of floors.

I spasmed suddenly.

The ground rose rapidly to greet me.

I had only seconds.

My clothing burst from my body. A huge set of thickly-membraned wings flapped from my arms and legs like a failed parachute.

The ground was upon me.

I changed position, altered my body.

The flapping skin, stretching from my wrists to somewhere around my mid-thigh, caught the wind and snapped taut. My arms shuddered and I held them firm and veered over the sidewalk with just a few feet to spare. I swept up, instinctively knowing just what I had to do.

My right hip slammed into a No Parking sign.

I lost control, tumbled through the air. And as if some ancient memory of flight had been re-born within me, I somehow regained control and righted myself, and flew low and fast over the mall parking lot, skimming over the roofs of a few dozen gleaming SUVs. I lifted my head and gained some altitude, and very quickly I was above the mall.

I was flying.


Born from an innate knowledge I didn't comprehend or question, I skillfully flapped my wings and propelled myself up into the night sky.


I was dreaming, of course.

I had to be. I mean, this really couldn't be happening to me, right?

Any minute now I was going to wake up and discover that I wasn't flying five hundred feet above the city of Brea. That I was back in my hotel room, alone, and miserable.

Dream or no dream, I might as well enjoy the ride.

A blast of wind hit me. I lost control and fumbled through the air. I panicked, until my on-board navigational system kicked in again and I adjusted my wings and lowered my shoulder and smoothed out the ride.

As I flew, and as my panicked breathing returned to normal, I looked over to my right arm. Make that wing. The arm appendage was thin and black and deeply corrugated with hard muscle. A thick membrane of leathery skin was attached to my wrist and ran down below my waist.

Below was Randolph Street. I followed it for a few minutes before lowering my right arm, raising my left, and making an arcing turn to starboard. The ability to turn came naturally to me, as if I had been doing this all my life.

Brea was bustling at this hour; it was still early evening, the streets crowded with vehicles. I flew over a section called Downtown Brea, alive with hundreds of people, all moving purposefully from one shop to another. The sky was cloudless, just a smattering of stars. Against this backdrop, my black skin would have been almost invisible to the human eye. Surprisingly, southern California was ideal vampire country.

I decided to experiment.

But first I wanted to see what the hell I looked like. I found a suitable office structure made entirely of glass. I swept past the second floor in hopes of seeing my reflection�Dand was dismayed to see nothing at all. Same old story.

I swept back up into the sky, flapping hard, gaining elevation. The motion was already fluid and effortless for me. I continued climbing and suddenly wondered how high I dared to go. Already I was many hundreds of feet above the city.

So I continued up, climbing higher and higher.

The sky darkened. The city lights diminished. The wind and cold increased. I felt I could continue forever, tirelessly, across time and space, to other worlds, other stars, other universes. I felt free and alive and for a first time in a long, long time, I did not curse my fate.

I finally stopped ascending and hovered, stretching my arms out, soaring on the currents of space. Orange County shimmered far below. Far off I could see LA and Long Beach. To the south the great black expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

The wind was powerful and relentless. I rocked and absorbed the punishment, battered about like a demon kite. A demon kite with no strings. In this form I knew I could travel the earth. Travel anywhere and everywhere.

I had lost my kids on this day�Dbut gained unlimited freedom. In more ways than one.

I tucked in my wings, the membranes collapsing in upon themselves like twin Geisha fans. I rocketed down like a blood-sucking meteorite. The city lights rapidly approached. Adrenalin rushed through my blood stream. I found myself screaming with delight; or, rather, screeching with delight. Wind pummeled me. I shook and vibrated and kept my eyes barely above a squint. Natural folds along my cheekbones and brow ridges did wonders to keep my vision clear.

Downtown Brea came back into view, seemingly rising up to meet me. The details of the busy street came rapidly into view, and only at the last possible second did I pull up, lifting my head and opening my arms. The sheer gravitational force on me should have been enough to rip my leathery wings from my arms, but they didn't rip. Instead, they performed wonderfully and I swept down the middle of the crowded street, barely above the roofs of the many SUVs and minivans.

People saw me. Many people. They pointed and turned and spilled their drinks and ice creams. But I was already gone, turning hard to port and disappearing down a side street.

The side street led back to the hotel, where I carefully settled on my balcony. At least, what I hoped was my balcony. I was breathing hard. Apparently, I did need oxygen.

My arms were still long, slender and black. The flying membranes, attached to each side of my body, hung behind me like twin capes. As I stood there on my balcony, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do next, a vague image of me as a human appeared in my mind.

I opened my eyes and looked at my arms. They were aglow with pink flesh. I looked down and was not surprised to see that I was entirely naked.

I was back.


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