Saturday, October 5. Evening.
Janelle was a flurry of activity when I got back to our room. Her computer was blaring music with some guy screaming over a double bass drum. Her side of the room looked like a Chinese laundry with black clothing draped over all of her zebra print bedding and hot pink accessories. Still in her skull and crossbones pajamas, she kept going in and out of the room, sometimes bringing another girl I didn’t know very well in from down the hall to ask her opinion on clothing. I was relieved that my opinion didn’t seem to count anymore. This new girl was also clad in all black and seemed to be a little more in touch with her inner vampire than I was. Was I the only one who just didn’t seem to get it?
The new girl was named Lindsay or Lizzie or something like that, I couldn’t really hear her over the music and I just didn’t care that much either way. I wasn’t sure if she was coming out with us tonight or not, again I didn’t really care too much. She and Janelle were giddy and giggly over something. I feared whatever it was would be happening tonight and I would be dragged to it whether I liked it or not.
Oh, wait a minute. No I would not, I smiled to myself. I had Blade to bail me out of their nonsense.
I had to start getting ready for dinner as well. Since I was never going to fit in with these people, I was over the all black thing and the club scene. I got my pretty new scarf out of its bag. I wanted to base my outfit around that. I picked a long slim brown crinkly skirt that had white lattice detail, a white men’s style tank top, topped it off with a jean jacket and my china doll shoes. My hair was pretty unruly from being whipped around in the wind at the Hoover Dam so I strategically rolled it up and fastened it with a flower. It’s a proven fact that any outfit can be made better simply be adding a scarf and putting a flower in your hair.
I had correctly guessed that our dinner was set for eight and it was indeed at one of the restaurants at the Alta Vista. Janelle, Lindsay/Lizzie and I drove down to the strip together and would meet up with Amanda, her mom, and whoever else was involved in our evening there. I sat in the back seat and let Janelle and Lindsay/Lizzie sit in the front and gossip and squeal about vampires and bands and whatever else rocked their worlds. I blocked them out, looking out the window at the Strip scenery that I would probably forever find fascinating and replayed my afternoon in my mind. I was smiling, so if the girls in the front seat paid any attention, they would think I was completely happy to be there with them.
I realized just then that Janelle hadn’t asked me one question about my afternoon, after grilling me all week about Blade. Hmm. Something big must really be going on tonight or I really had been replaced. I definitely didn’t mind a break from being on the hot seat but something seemed a little odd about it.
Amanda and her crew held court outside the Serenade Cantina. Amanda was perfect in one of her signature mini dresses with her thigh high stockings and high heeled Mary Janes. There were two slightly older women with her, in what were obviously their “going out” outfits—sparkly blouses and stretch pants that bordered on inappropriate with comfortable shoes and another girl who looked like a slightly shorter, stockier, less well put together version of Amanda. They probably dyed their hair red out of the same bottle.
Janelle and Amanda greeted each other with the enthusiasm of friends who’d been separated for years. Everyone seemed to know each other already, besides me. The girl who looked like Amanda was sister Ashley, her mom’s name was Donna and her friend was Kathy. The girl from our dorm turned out to be Lindsay. We did have a reservation, which turned out to be a good thing because the restaurant and hotel’s common areas were packed even more than a normal night. We just had to wait a few minutes for our table to be cleared.
Being at the Alta Vista without an invitation always made me a little uncomfortable. I felt like I was sneaking around someplace I didn’t belong. At the same time, I was slyly keeping one eye peeled just in case I might see Tristan. I don’t think with his celebrity status he’d be roaming the common areas freely, but you never know. This place made my brain go into Tristan overdrive, which was complicated by my secret escape plans with Blade later this evening.
As soon as we were seated, we ordered drinks and started perusing the menus. I texted Blade we were at the Alta Vista, which on my number pad only phone, was less discreet than I hoped for.
“Who are you texting?” Amanda asked.
“Just a friend.”
“Are you texting Tristan?” Kathy asked in a thick New York accent. It was blunt and strange that she would say that, she just met me. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“Noooo,” I said carefully. “Why would I be texting Tristan?”
“Well Janelle says you used to date him.”
I thought my eyes were going to fall out of their sockets. I finally had the full attention of everyone at the table. I glared at Janelle. She shrugged. “You told me you did…didn’t you?”
“We were friends. Years ago.” Why did I feel like I was defending myself to these women?
“Janelle says you came here just for him.” Amanda interjected.
Now all I could see was red, and I wasn’t talking about Amanda and Ashley’s dye jobs. “I’m here for school.”
“Oh honey, it’s OK,” Kathy continued. “We’re all here for one of them.”
“There are certain women who are genetically drawn to certain vampires,” Donna explained, in a very motherly way. “It’s called Bloodlust. And the ladies at this table, including yourself, all seem to have an attraction to one of the vampires in Immortal Dilemma.”
“It’s a proven fact,” added Kathy.
I sat there in stunned silence. This was absolutely crazy. First of all, these women thought that these people were actually vampires. Secondly, they thought it was a “proven fact” that they had some sort of bond with them. This can’t be, for a thousand reasons this just can’t be. There is no way I can be like these women. I had actually shared something with Tristan in real life, outside of my wild imagination.
“So can you text Tristan and see you can get us on the list for the event tonight?” Ashley asked.
“What? No! I haven’t even talked to him in years. I can’t get you all in to…some…event.” I practically spit out the last word. So that’s why I was invited out tonight.
Now it was everyone else’s turn to look surprised. Almost everyone. Janelle looked a bit triumphant while dipping nachos into salsa. Amanda broke the silence. “I didn’t think so, but the girls thought it was worth a try.”
I buried my head into my menu. I couldn’t even focus enough to read it. When the waiter came for our order, I think I ordered fish tacos. If they wanted to use me for whatever connection they hoped I had with Tristan, I could use them right back for a decent dinner. Once the waiter took our menus, I texted Blade immediately. One word: Help.
While I waited for my tacos, I played with the fringe on my scarf absentmindedly. The rest of the table was working together frantically to come up with Plan B on how to get in to this big event tonight, since I had failed them. However they were going to pull it off, I’d never know. Blade had responded to my desperate texts, he would meet me by the entrance to the Tattoo Parlor at 9:30.
By the time food had arrived, the table had agreed on a way in to their event and now they were talking and laughing about the latest episode of Immortal Forever. Thankfully, the tacos were delicious, although they weren’t worth the ordeal I had to go through to get them.
As Blade predicted, I was executing my escape plan as soon as the check came. The rest of the group was going to head over to the theater. “I’m not old enough to get in to the theater, and I don’t have an ID. My friend who I was texting is going to come pick me up.” I explained.
“Blade?” Janelle asked with a bite to her tone. The rest of the table looked puzzled, searching in their brains for who Blade could possibly be.
“It’s hard to date someone when you have the Bloodlust.” Kathy said. She always seemed to have something to say. “It gets in the way, you know.”
“No, I don’t.” I said as sweetly as possible. “Thank you for dinner, ladies. It was delicious. Good luck tonight.”
Did you miss the first excerpt from IMMORTAL DILEMMA? You can read it here.
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