I regretted my decision to walk home before I had gotten more than two streets away from the bar. It wasn’t that far a walk, but I was a bit wobbly on my feet from having danced for so long. I’d used muscles I didn’t realize I’d been under-utilizing. It was perhaps time to take up a more comprehensive work-out program.

Thankfully, the night air was cool and helped clear my head. If my earlier shadow sparring had been like unfulfilled sex, then the last few hours were akin to the ultimate orgasm. All my limbs felt loose and languid. I was going to be sore in the morning, but for now I was euphoric.

My euphoria was short-lived. I was passing the high school football field when a red pickup truck skidded to a halt at the corner of the side street in front of me. Kurt and several friends hopped out of the cab, nasty smiles aimed in my direction. All of them sported variations on the “biker tough” look – lots of leather, chains, and tattoos.

“Well, lookie what we have here,” one of his friends laughed. “Nice hair. Does the carpet match the drapes, I wonder?”

All four men laughed, menace and lust pouring off them in waves thick enough to drown in.

Can you get any more childish? I thought irritably. My entire body went into high alert for the second time that day. I had wanted this level of heightened awareness in my shadow-match, but there were too many variables here, too many chances for somebody to get seriously hurt. Relaxing back into a fighting stance, I let them come to me while I examined my surroundings for anything to help me if things got ugly.

“Too good to dance with me, but you spent the entire night with that God-cursed freak,” Kurt spat as he advanced toward me, his hands clenched into fists.

Great, a Fey-hater. Nothing within reach would make a very good weapon, not unless I could scare them away with crushed soda cans. And I couldn’t expect Sam to swoop out of the shadows to help even the odds. Romance clichés didn’t get any more ridiculous.

I was stronger than a normal human male, but even a strong man can be taken down when it’s four on one. If we were all going to walk away from this, I was going to have to make my opening attack so fierce they wouldn’t dare come near me again.

The lights were too dim in the club for a casual observer to notice my claws, but the overhead lamps here by the school’s football field were plenty bright enough. I wiggled my fingers just enough for the lights to glint off them.

One of the men caught the sparkle of light and nudged the others. Soon, all four of them were laughing, as if the idea of a woman carrying weapons was somehow comical.

Goon number one faded away to my right, hands spread out in a false gesture of peace.

“Shit, chickie, what you doing walking around armed?”

Can’t exactly help it, dumbass, since they’re attached to my fingers.

Goon number two arced off to my left, not even bothering to hide his intentions.

“Watch out boys, this little lady’s dangerous.”

More than you realize, blondie. I flashed him a nasty smile, envisioning my claws imbedded in his skull.

Goon number three stayed next to Kurt right in front of me, not looking particularly thrilled with the night’s proceedings. He wisely kept his mouth shut and his eyes cast down to the ground.

            “What’s she gonna do? Gouge our eyes out with her keys?” You have no idea how much I’d like to, Kurt-baby.

“Keys?” I asked innocently. “I’m not carrying any keys, boys.”

I raised my hands, fingers spread wide to show they were empty. They all paused their slow advance glancing at each other, hesitancy written all over their faces. I smiled widely, showing them pointed teeth.

“The fuck? I thought you said she was human, dude!”

“Shit, I thought she was.” Mild panic was starting to spread throughout the men. They had expected to go up against a defenseless human woman, not an unknown Fey with inch long claws and a mouth full of fangs.

I dropped down to squat on my haunches, a sharp barking laughter forced from my throat. Even more worried glances passed between the four. I bounced around on the balls of my feet, staring up at the four men. Their unease grew by the second.

Who to choose? It was a delicate decision, I couldn’t pick on the weakest, his fear wouldn’t infect the others quite as much – that excluded Goon number three. Kurt was out because his hatred for non-humans would simply turn fear to violence and I was looking to avoid that if at all possible tonight. That left me to choose between Goons number one and two.

I sized them both up, and decided to go with Goon number one, the one who had wondered if my pubic hair was the same color as my hair, although in much less polite terms.

With a lunge too quick for their alcohol delayed reflexes to react to, pavement and loose stones ground into exposed flesh as we tumbled together into the school’s parking lot, out of reach of the others. I bounded back to my feet, hauling Goon number one along with me by the scruff of his neck.

I held him close, his back to my chest, my face pressed in close to his.

“Are we having fun yet?” I whispered in his ear, loud enough for the others to hear. He jerked in my grip and I pulled him in tighter, burying my nose into the crook of his neck, My eyes never left the three men before me. I made a big deal out of sniffing his flesh, letting my breath gently caress the sensitive skin of his neck.

He smelled of cigarette smoke, beer, and fear. Lots of fear. I let myself bathe in his terror, not bothering to hide my enjoyment of it, which only served to increase the fear coming off them.

“Bitch!” he hollered, struggling to get away. I lightly dug my claws into his sides. Not hard enough to draw blood, but enough to let him know I was serious. “You’re fucking crazy!”

Maybe I was. I certainly felt a little bit crazy, bathing in the negative emotions flying around. It couldn’t be completely sane to get such a rush from other people’s fear, could it?

“Crazy?” I asked, mock offended. “That’s not a very nice thing to call the person who has you trapped in her embrace. Especially not when you smell so delicious.”

I laved his cheek with my tongue, resisting the urge to gag at the taste of stale sweat and nicotine. He flinched away, eyes as round and wide as daisies.

Their body language and expressions told me Kurt and his buddies were unaccustomed to being on the receiving end of such an assault. They didn’t know what to do or how to react. That upped my odds for walking away unscathed.

I growled deep in my throat. If he hadn’t already been scared, he would have laughed at my attempts at a suitably scary growl. It’s a hard sound for a human shaped throat to master and not one I practiced very often. I don’t often need to use a growl to intimidate people. The other three men were too far away to hear it, but the one in my grasp shivered hard enough for it to be noticeable to the others.

“Let him go!” Kurt took one threatening step forward, but halted his progress as I tightened my grip around his friend’s throat.

“Let him go?” I stared straight into Kurt’s eyes, channeling a little bit of hunger into my gaze to spice things up. “Why would I do that?”

I snuffled behind my captive’s ear again, earning me a terrified whimper.

“I came out tonight looking for a little bit of excitement, and here it is. All wrapped up with a pretty little bow.” I let the breath from my words tickle along his ear and ruffle his hair. You can scare a person with a big dramatic show, but for a good scare that will make grown men wet themselves you need the smaller touches as well to slowly build their terror to a fever pitch.

“And he smells so yummy.” I dropped my voice until it was an almost seductive murmur.

“Oh God, oh God.” The streaming chant, heartfelt and full of belief so close to my ears was painful. It felt like I had put my head inside a ringing bell. I suppressed my instinctual urge to react and pretended to ignore it. Something must have shown in my face, though.

“Vampire,” Kurt whispered, his eyes widening nearly as large as my victim’s. The men simultaneously made the sign of the cross with the forefingers of both their hands. It was pathetic and I hoped they didn’t try that if ever faced with a real vampire. They’d be dinner in no time. Just because something has the shape of a cross doesn’t give it the power of a cross. Cheesy horror movies had some things so ingrained in people’s heads…

“Nope, sorry fellas. I’m not a vampire and that symbol doesn’t work on me.” I grinned even wider, making sure none of them missed my pointed teeth.

Reaching up, I traced along the line of my captive’s jugular vein with the tip of a claw. I didn’t draw blood, but he’d have a noticeable scratch there tomorrow that would hurt like hell.

“Oh please…” Tears had formed in the corner of his eye and trickled down his cheeks.

“Please what?”

“Please…” Whining has always gotten on my nerves whether it’s from a child or an adult, but more so when it comes from an adult. I had to forcibly restrain myself from choking him.

“If you don’t tell me what you want, how can I grant your request?” Like a mother talking to a child, it made me realize why I never wanted children of my own.

After a few more seconds of inarticulate whimpering, he managed to spit it out.

“Please don’t eat my soul.”

I laughed.

“I’m not going to eat your soul, silly boy. I merely want to have a bit of fun with you. Whatever gave the idea I was going to eat your soul?”

“You’re a demon.” The other three stood completely still as their level of fear skyrocketed. I breathed deep, savoring the energy.

“And how do you know that?”

“Because you smell like one.” Oh my. Somebody had Fey blood he hadn’t told his friends about yet. And he’d had contact with demons before, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to place my scent. Somebody was going to have a lot of explaining to do in the morning. I didn’t think Kurt would appreciate the dishonesty.

“If you know what I am, then you also know how foolish it was to attack me.” I didn’t phrase it as a question; anybody who knew anything about demons knew how dangerous they were. Nor did I aim it toward the man in my grasp; Kurt was the one who had instigated this fiasco and I wanted to drive home to him how stupid it was.

“Yes… uh… no… I mean… we didn’t…” Kurt was stuttering so badly he couldn’t finish his sentence. Not a very inspiring leader.

“You didn’t?” I asked mildly. “Do you mean to tell me your purpose in stopping me tonight wasn’t to rough me up?”

“We weren’t…”

“Yes. You were.” I cut him off before he could continue his lie. “I’ve had an enjoyable evening tonight and this little party here has re-energized me, so I’ll make the four of you a deal: I’ll let you all walk away from here with both your lives and your souls intact, but if I ever see any of you again, you had better hope I don’t remember this night.”

They didn’t need to know that, as a mere half-demon, I was incapable of stealing (or eating) anybody’s soul. I was surprised none of them gave themselves whiplash from the vigorous head nodding they did.

I flashed them all one last nasty smile, then shoved my boy forward so hard the others had to catch him before he face-planted into the sidewalk.

They ran. They didn’t even take the time to get into their truck, they just took off sprinting down the street as fast as their feet could take them. I debated whether to chase after them a short ways but decided against it. Their fear would wear off after a bit and when it did, they were going to be angry and in need of reasserting their machismo. I didn’t want to be around when that happened.

A part of me felt bad for the shit Goon number one was going to get from Kurt and the rest merely for being part Fey. I was always amazed at how intolerant some people were toward others based on factors that were completely out of their control.

I continued on my way home, my thoughts dark and full of self-recriminations. For as long as I could remember, I had suppressed my demonic instincts in a quest to be “normal”. Now, in one night, I had thrown away an entire lifetime’s worth of work. I couldn’t even fully blame it on Death’s morning visit.

Taking an inordinate pleasure in the death and destruction at Liam’s house was one thing; it had been set in front of me and I merely sampled from what I had been given. Tonight was different. Tonight I had gone looking for a “fix” just like a junkie. I had even gone so far as to elicit fear in others. And I had lapped that fear up like a dog.

I was turning into a true demon and I didn’t know how I felt about that.

Talk To Me

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