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The Vampire's Assistant

By:Stormy Glenn

Chapter One




Fucking perfect!

Jon Brighten kicked the obviously flat tire of his truck and growled. This was not good. He was going to be late for his job interview. Just what he needed. It only added to the things that had gone wrong since the second he had opened his eyes that morning, starting with his alarm clock hitting the floor and breaking into a zillion little pieces. Stupid cheap plastic.

His day just went downhill from there. He burnt his finger making breakfast, spilled coffee on his brand new shirt eating breakfast, and his sister’s cat shredded the piece of paper with the address to his job interview.

Now this!

Jon just wanted to sit down, bury his head in his hands, and forget today ever happened. Of course, if he did that, he’d never make his interview, and he needed this job if he was going to be able to give his sister some money for rent and food this month. It might not be much, but she needed every penny. Times were tough for everyone.

Jon picked up his small briefcase bag and started toward the bus stop. He wasn’t going to get to his interview by truck. That much was obvious. The public transit system wasn’t that much more reliable, but at least he’d get there at some point.

He could only hope that they would still interview him when he got there. He walked down the sidewalk to the closest bus stop, standing just outside the little enclosure as an older woman sat on the only seat at the stop. He pulled the collar of his coat up around his neck as the winter wind blew through the already chilly air.

It was just another reason to go to the job interview. It wasn’t his ideal job—receptionist for some fancy law firm downtown—but it was a job. It would help him give his sister money for letting him crash on her couch. If he was lucky, he might have enough left over to pay his cell phone bill. Right now, he couldn’t even pay to call and reschedule his interview.

Being an adult sucked!

Jon saw the transit bus coming and stepped closer to the bus stop. He heard the older woman stand then cry out. He turned just in time to see her slip on the pavement. Jon dropped his briefcase and reached for the woman, catching her as she went down. They both landed hard on the icy ground, Jon grunting when the older woman fell on him.

“Oh, dear boy, are you okay?” the woman asked as she rolled off of Jon.

“I’m fine,” Jon quickly replied. He sat up and looked over at the woman. “What about you? Do you hurt anywhere?”

“No, I’m fine.” She laughed nervously. “You seemed to have broken my fall.”

Jon looked down at his wet and soiled clothes, the small rip in his brand new shirt. “Yeah.” He tried to smile at the woman even as he kissed his job interview good-bye. “I’m just glad you weren’t hurt.”

“No, no, I’m fine.” The woman looked Jon up and down. “You look a little worse for wear, I’m afraid. I hope you weren’t headed anywhere important.”

“No, ma’am.” Jon smiled, hoping she couldn’t tell he lied through his teeth.

“Oh.” The woman’s faint eyebrows pulled together as she stared down at the papers that had fallen out of Jon’s briefcase when he fell. She leaned down and picked on up. “Your résumé?”

Jon sighed. “Yes, ma’am. I was headed to an interview.”

“Oh, and I’ve caused you to be late.”

Jon plastered a smile on his face. “I didn’t want that job anyway. Something better will come along, I’m sure.” Or not.

Jon planted his hands on the ground and started to get up when an agonizing pain shot through his ankle. Jon cried out and sank back to the ground, grabbing his ankle. The pain was excruciating.

“Oh my, you’re not okay,” the woman said as she quickly reached for him. Jon jumped, jerking his leg away when she reached for the hem of his pants. “It’s okay, young man. I’m a retired medical professional. Let me look.”

Jon carefully stretched his leg out and laid it on the ground by the older woman. He watched as she gently pulled his pant leg up, revealing an ankle that was quickly swelling and quite painful.

The woman probed around the injury with her fingers for a few minutes before sitting back on her legs. “Well, young man, I think it’s sprained pretty badly, but it doesn’t seem to be broken.”

Jon supposed that was good news. He didn’t have any medical insurance. If it was just sprained, he could stay off of it for a couple of days and hope it got better. If it were broken, he would need to go to the hospital and he’d be off his feet for weeks.

Neither idea sat well with him.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Jon said as he pushed himself to his feet and hobbled over to the seat she sat in minutes ago. “I’m just going to sit here for a moment then head back home, get off my foot for awhile.” He pointed to the bus that stopped in front of them. “You don’t want to miss your bus.”

“I can’t leave you here on your own.” She sounded outraged. She looked outraged. Jon inwardly groaned. He really didn’t need this. He just wanted to go home and pretend today never happened.

“Seriously,” Jon said. He pointed down the street. “I live right over there. I’ll be fine. I’m just going to head home and put my foot up. I promise.”

“Well, at least let me help you to your apartment.”

Jon thought of the small apartment he lived in with his sister and her husband. It was small, just barely big enough for two of them let alone three. Jon slept on a futon in the living room. His sister kept the place clean, but it still showed the wear and tear from years of disarray and lack of repairs. Damn slumlord.

The paint on the walls was faded and peeling. The wind blew in through cracks in the window sill. The carpet on the floor had so many stains, it looked like mixed-color carpet instead of the once-vibrant tan it used to be. His sister would be devastated if he brought a total stranger into the place.

Jon shook his head. “No, I’ll be okay, I swear.” He struggled to his feet and grabbed his briefcase then started hobbling back down the sidewalk toward the apartment. Each step felt excruciating.

“At least tell me your name, young man,” the old lady called out after him.

Jon took a deep breath and plastered a smile on his face as he turned and faced the woman. “Jon Brighten, ma’am.”

“My name is Penelope Redgrave, young man.” She smiled sweetly, reminding him of his own grandmother. Jon had adored her. “And I have you to thank for saving me.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Jon insisted, “not really.”

Penelope walked over and patted Jon’s hand. “Nonsense, young man, I am fully aware of the fact that if you had not broken my fall, I would have been seriously injured.

Jon knew he wasn’t going to get away without giving in to the woman. He nodded, patting her hand back. “I’m just glad you weren’t hurt. Remember to be careful when walking out here. The ground can be pretty slippery this time of year.”

Jon gave her one last smile then turned back toward his apartment. He bit his lip to keep from crying out when pain blasted through his ankle with each step he took. He tried to keep his eyes on his destination and off his injured ankle.

He finally reached the door and leaned against the archway for several moments, taking deep breaths. As he started inside, he noticed the little old woman still standing halfway between him and the bus stop. He waved then stepped inside.

The apartment was on the third floor and there was no elevator. Halfway up, the pain became too much for Jon. He sat down on the closest step and buried his face in his hands. This sucked on so many levels.

Jon didn’t know how long he sat there, but he began to notice the cold seeping into his body. He lifted his head and looked around. He grimaced when he spotted the window in the corner of the second floor landing cracked just enough to let the cold air inside. Someone was probably smoking again.

Resolved to get upstairs to his apartment, Jon climbed to his feet and began hopping up the stairs. He was sweating by the time he reached the third floor, wishing he’d never gotten up when the alarm sounded. Sometimes it just didn’t pay to get out of bed in the morning.

Jon finally reached the apartment, let himself in, and collapsed on the futon. He sat there for a moment, then eased his shoes off and set them beside the futon. He carefully pulled his sock down, frowning at how swollen and purple his ankle looked.

Penelope Redgrave said it wasn’t broken, but Jon wasn’t so sure. It hurt enough to be broken and it sure looked like it. But it wasn’t like he could go to the emergency room and have it checked out. He didn’t have insurance. He’d just have to wait and see what happened.

Jon pulled his shirt off and tossed it over the back of the futon before crawling under the covers. Even with the heat on, the room was still chilly.

Jon was pretty sure the superintendent of the building was turning it down to save money then turned around and charged them full price. He just seemed like that kind of sleazy guy. Jon disliked him from the moment he moved in, but he didn’t have much choice when he couldn’t even afford a roof over his head.

Jon grabbed all of his pillows and stacked them at the end of the futon, resting his leg on top of them. He pulled the covers up snuggly against his shoulders and closed his eyes. Maybe he could just go back and pretend this day never happened?

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