Below are the next two chapters. Don't worry. They're short.
(Note: if you want to start at the beginning of the story, go here. Chapter 17 is here.)
The suite is huge. I enter from the anteroom and walk all the way through, past a large main room, a dining room, and at least two bedrooms. There are more rooms and a small hallway leading off the main room that I don't even bother with. Then I get to the north-facing veranda, where there's a bar, a small lap-pool, a jacuzzi, and, to the right, a full view of the Strip through a wall of surrounding glass.
The sky is beginning to lighten up, the grey light taking on a tinge of pink. Dawn is coming.
After a minute of watching sparse traffic on the Strip, I go to see who else is in here with me, heading into the bedroom where the snoring comes from.
What was a kind of purr when I first got off the elevator is now a steady, rhythmic buzz.
It's a woman, lying on top of the bed. She's naked, on her back in the center of the bed with her arms and legs stretched straight out. Her head is tilted back, with her chin up and her mouth open.
She's a big girl, almost as tall as I am. Well-fed. Fleshy.
I notice a pile of clothes on the floor at the foot of the bed. They're torn.
I put my hand around her wrist. Her pulse is good, and her pressure is strong. She doesn't smell tainted, but she's out cold.
I wonder if she's been drugged, but then I see the bite on her right arm, inside her elbow. I sniff at it.
Miles. He bit just enough to put her out and make her easy to deal with. But he didn't feed on her. He just spread her out and ripped her clothes off.
I think about drinking. I'm still full from draining Yesenia. In the last few days I've taken much more blood than I'm used to. And my exertions with Miles and Pike didn't tax me much.
I need to watch my bloodlust.
The woman stops snoring. For a few seconds, she doesn't even breathe. Then, with a piggish snort, she starts again.
Of course, now that she's been bitten, she'll need more to not end up like
I decide she's not my problem and go out to the main room. There's a sideboard laden with drinks and platters of food.
I take a bottle of water and sit on the couch and contemplate the enormous remote control on the coffee table. Within minutes, I figure out how to turn on the TV. A few minutes later, I'm able to activate the web browser on the giant flatscreen.
For creatures who never sleep, the only thing better than TV is the internet.
I settle in to do some research.
Once I get better with the remote, I have the flatscreen sectioned into quarters, with 3 channels of TV going, as well as the browser. Two local morning news programs -- one in English and one in Spanish -- and "Double Indemnity" and Wikipedia.
The only time I get up is when the girl in the bedroom stirs. I get to her just as she wakes up, knocking her back out with a quick strike to the neck.
I resist the urge to drink. I stick with water instead.
At eleven, I hear the elevator open.
I turn the flatscreen off just as Iris walks in. She's in uniform, and she's carrying a suit by the hanger. In her other hand is a pair of shoes.
She walks up and holds the suit out to me.
I stand and take it from her.
"You're alone," I say.
"But I come bearing gifts," Iris says. She lays the shoes at my feet and unslings a messenger bag from her shoulder and pulls out a wallet and hands it to me. "Your name is Henry Wanderer. Drivers license, Social Security Card, work card, credit cards and cash."
"I like the wallet," I tell her.
"You should," Iris says. "It's the same one Sammy uses. From our Armani store."
I look at the suit. It's black, with a white shirt and a red tie.
"How do you know all of this is going to fit?" I ask.
"Please," says Iris. "I'm a professional."
I lay the suit on the couch and pull my shirt off.
"Whoa, tiger," Iris says. "How about a shower?"
"How bad do I smell?"
"Yeah, you guys are like that," Iris answers. "Is it pheromones or something? It's powerful, whatever it is."
"You know," I say to her. "My fart's an aphrodisiac."
"It's also true," I say.
"Still," Iris says. "It's disgusting."
"While I change," I say, stepping out of my jeans. "Why don't you do something about that girl?"
"Like what?" Iris asks.
"Like get her out of here," I tell her.
Iris turns. As she walks in the direction of the bedroom, she takes her phone out, and begins mumbling into it.
I open the suit. A little bag hangs inside the jacket. I open it and smile. The bag has a pair of socks, a belt, boxers and briefs.
This is how the country vampire becomes a city vampire.
By the time I'm dressed, Iris is leading the girl out of the bedroom.
She looks hungover. Her dress hangs loosely off her shoulder with one strap torn and its back ripped open. She's carrying her shoes in one hand and leaning on Iris with the other.
I toss the briefs at Iris, who catches them with one hand and slips them into her bag.
The girl doesn't even look at me as she goes by.
The suit does fit, as do the shoes.
I undo the jacket's two buttons and sit back on the couch. I start going through the wallet. I wonder how Iris got the drivers license picture from the shots she took in the limo. The credit cards are Gunn Enterprises corporate cards, and the work card says I'm approved for gaming. There's also the cash. Two-thousand dollars, nineteen hundreds and five twenties.
My phone buzzes. It's Sammy.
"I got my new wallet," I say into the phone. "But I wonder. Why no health-insurance?"
"What," Sammy replies. "You worried you don't have a dental plan?"
"I'm more worried about my job description," I say.
"Just get down here," says Sammy. "I don't want to be late."
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