Bite Me 4: Claws

By India Taylor

Action & adventure, Paranormal, Fantasy

Paperback, eBook

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6 mins

Chapter 1

“No you are not sick, school is important Sarah,” Grace said, hurrying through the gates just as the bell was about to go.
“Just one day, please,” Sarah whined, pulling back as Grace pulled forward.
“Not a chance, not today, get your short self into that classroom,” she said, leaning down to kiss her daughter.
She waved to her as she disappeared behind the floaty skirt the teacher wore to hide the biggest set of hips Grace had ever seen. She hated the school run; firstly Sarah didn’t like school and it was always a fight to get her in, and secondly, Grace was a single mother and every other mother at that school was not.
Grace needed to get home; she had a date, the second in as many months. She had joined an online dating service after reading enough romance novels to make her long for a little something extra in her life; something other than juggling bills and finding new ways to entice Sarah to eat real food. She needed a grown up life.
She drove her car back home, wishing she lived close enough to the school that she could walk and save the petrol money for something nice, or new, or even just something necessary. She pulled up outside the small townhouse she rented and dashed for the front door before her nosy neighbour could start a conversation with her. She had a habit of moaning, and extracting herself from the conversation could be the difference between painting her toenails or not. Although, she knew he wasn’t going to see her toenails, but painting them would make her feel better.
She grabbed a slice of toast and a large coffee before turning her bedroom and bathroom upside down in the process of making herself ready for the lunch date. She checked her laptop three times just to make sure that he hadn’t cancelled on her and by late morning, she was not only presentable but pretty, shiny, and terrified.
Meeting a man from an internet dating site filled Grace with fear. She wasn’t an experienced dater, and meeting men had become difficult since most of her time and energy for the past five years had gone into raising her child, alone. Since Sarah had started school Grace had found a bit more time, and someone had suggested to her that she should give internet dating a try. This was the first time she had physically met a man, the first few attempts had ended in sleazy phone calls or pervy emails asking for photos that didn’t include clothes.
She parked in the underground car park and took the lift to the food court floor. She felt like a fool for painting her toenails, she was wearing boots. She looked around nervously before heading into the American diner section. He appeared from nowhere as she sat down and her heart raced as he bent down and shook her hand. His hand was cool against her clammy warm palm.
“Let me get our food, you can save the table,” he smiled and it brightened his pale face.
“Thanks,” she smiled and chose from the menu.
The diner only did breakfasts and burgers so it wasn’t difficult to choose, and she’d been several times before with Sarah so she knew what to order. She chose a cheeseburger with a plain bun so there was no chance a stray seed could stick between her teeth and embarrass her without her knowledge.
She watched him as he went to get the food. He’d insisted on paying and she didn’t know whether to be pleased or scared, she wished she knew the rules of dating. His floppy blonde hair was bright under the fluorescent lighting and he looked beautiful in an angelic way. She was definitely attracted to him but couldn’t understand why he felt the need to get dates online. He should be turning heads as he walked by but he wasn’t; he seemed almost invisible to the lunch crowd and even the group of girls near the entrance hadn’t flicked their eyes up to linger on him.
He came back to the table with the tray of food and she admired how well his jeans fit him before she realised that she was looking south of the tray and flipped her eyes up, blushing. He set the tray down and slid into the seat opposite her causing his scent to wash over her. Expensive aftershave tingled her nose, but there was an undercurrent of something else, something less pleasant; it was quickly replaced by the smell of juicy meat when he flipped the lid of his burger box.
“I love this place, it’s understated. Great food and cheap as chips,” he grinned.
“Yeah, the burger smells delicious,” she replied, popping open her boxed burger.
They didn’t speak for a moment while they took their first bites. She washed her mouthful with ice cold cola, hoping that she didn’t get the hiccups. He didn’t take big bites but ate slowly as if he was relishing each mouthful. She noticed how pale his skin was up close, it almost had a blue tinge to it as if it was cold and his veins were hiding his blood deep inside. She wanted to touch his cheek to see if it was as cold as it looked, but she kept her hands firmly around her burger.
“So, you work from home,” he said, snapping her out of her thoughts.
“Yes, I was working in a sales team when I fell pregnant with Sarah and when she was born they allowed me to continue part-time from home. They want me to come back full-time now but I’m not sure yet,” she replied.
Her job had been a lifeline to her. It wasn’t quite enough to support them but it came close, she was good with money and had taken on a role in accounts as well as sales which helped to boost her wages, but being a single mum and running a small house was difficult. She’d never regretted having Sarah, just the circumstances with Sarah’s father.
“That sounds quite convenient with a child,” he smiled.
She had been upfront about her situation, she didn’t want to throw in a curve ball at the end of a date so she had pitched it right up front and several men had politely declined, one had just deleted her and another had made a crude remark that she wanted to forget she’d heard. Matthew, the cute blonde who was slowly popping chips into his mouth after dipping them carefully into the ketchup, had taken it in his stride. He hadn’t seemed bothered, at all.
They chatted over the rest of the meal, small talk with light-hearted banter, and she relaxed in his company. He didn’t bowl her over with charm or make any sleazy comments; he seemed stable and normal. She wanted to ask him why he used the online dating service, but in the end, she didn’t. He cleared the table when they had finished and slowly walked her back to her car in the underground car park.
“I’d like to see you again, are you able to get a babysitter Friday night?” He asked as she reached her car.
“I’d like that, I’m sure I can get a sitter,” she smiled, and he took her face in his cold hands and kissed her, slipping his tongue between her lips.
She went weak at the knees, she hadn’t been kissed in years and it felt so good. His lips were cool but the kiss warmed every inch of her including parts that had remained cold for the last few years. She gasped for breath as his lips slid from hers down her chin and found the sweet spot on her neck. She sighed as he sucked lightly.
She snapped out of her daze as he removed his mouth from her neck and she almost stumbled. He smiled down at her and she gripped the wing mirror on her car to stabilise her balance. The kiss had been mind blowing, literally.
She barely registered that they had parted and she was halfway home when the fuzzy feeling cleared. She looked up at the mirror and noticed that her eyes looked different, sparkly, unfocused, and the pupils were large; no wonder she couldn’t concentrate on the road. She pulled into her driveway and made the quick dash from her car to the front door, slamming it shut before her neighbour had time to accost her. She needed time to herself.
She wanted to remove her makeup and change into leggings and a t-shirt ready for the school run. She swept her hair into a ponytail and lifted the cotton wool to her cheeks. She stopped and turned her head; on her neck, around where Matthew had nuzzled and kissed, were two red bumps. She reached for her magnifying mirror and leant in. Two small wounds were encrusted with blood.
She cleaned the wounds and got ready for the school run, she didn’t know what could have caused the holes but they were so small she didn’t need to worry. It wasn’t mosquito season but her old car attracted all sorts of creatures and she probably should take the time to fumigate it.
She went to bed early that night: she had planned to catch up on her work having missed a whole day, but instead she’d ended up curled up in front of the TV with Sarah and woke with her daughter leaning on her way past her bedtime. She settled the little girl into her bed and then crawled between her own sheets. Just as she switched off the light a text came through. It was Matthew saying that he was looking forward to Friday night. She sent a simple text back to him and then fell straight to sleep.

Matthew watched her lights go out from across the street. He liked her but the problem was that when he’d tasted her blood it was sweet; too sweet. He was capable of living a fairly normal life and could drink unnoticed from a woman. His vampire gift had been his kiss; when his lips or more specifically his canines touched human skin the women became putty in his hands and they felt drunk and relaxed. It made for easy feeding.
He should never have tasted her; he had only met up with her because he wanted to date. He just couldn’t help but have a little taste and now that he’d found her blood was sweet and addictive, he wanted more. He was an idiot.
The previous night he’d been excited; waiting for the date, wanting to get to know her. He wanted to see if he could naturally woo her like he did when he was human. He wanted to be wanted for his personality for once and not his vampire mojo. Now he’d tasted her he couldn’t go back to just dating, the thought of her blood was too distracting. He had completely ruined it. He banged his head on the steering wheel and growled at the hunger that called for him to seek her out.
He was now stalking her, and he knew she had a kid. This was bad, he was being very stupid and incredibly careless but he couldn’t bring himself to drive away. The nosy neighbour next door had twitched her curtain twice and if he sat there much longer she would probably call the police.
He started the engine and convinced himself that he could drive away, drive all the way home and maybe even cancel his date with her before Friday came. He felt like such an arsehole. He drove for a while but somehow he found himself parked a couple of doors away just half an hour later. He was a weak man.
He couldn’t see in her windows because her curtains were drawn. He hovered near the front door, traced his finger on her car leaving a line in the condensation. His craving was strong but he wasn’t hungry; he only needed a mug full of blood each day. His craving for her blood had nothing to do with real hunger; it was all about chemistry. Her blood had drugged him and he wanted more.



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