Under the cover of dusk, the city lights came alive. Her view, slightly obstructed by the rickety fire escape, did not keep her from seeing the flashing neon signs lining the street below.
That’s it. She’d wasted hours on this novel, immediately deleting every word she typed. The cursor blinked mockingly on the otherwise blank page of her document. Write something. Anything.
With her apartment now shrouded in darkness, intermittently illuminated by the street lights, Marisa Clements lit the white pillar candle on her desk. Its orange flame cast long shadows against the wall. So I can see what I’m not writing. An eclectic mix of music serenaded her from the neighborhood, a reminder of Lincoln Park’s active nightlife, a distinct contrast to her quiet Friday night at home.
The candle flickered and a cold shiver travelled down her spine. Then it came to her. Fingers poised over the keyboard, she typed.
And his eyes glowed with unholy flames.
She squirmed in her chair. Marisa could see the dark stranger, clad in black, standing before her like a real being. He blended with the shadows, the dim room serving as apt camouflage, except for his eyes. They bore straight through her.
What do you mean “like a real being”?
She jumped in her seat. Yikes. A little too real. Alone in her apartment, the voice could only be a figment of her imagination. She shivered with anticipation as her fingers flew over the keys of her beloved laptop. This would be her best story yet. To hell with all the non-believers—her wealthy, socialite parents who’d disowned her when she’d left business school, and the “so-called” friends who told her to get a real job. This was a real job… It paid the bills, after all. Sort of. It paid the minimum balance on her credit card.
Why did people choose the mundane office job—she shuddered—plastering themselves to a desk from nine-to-five? Sitting at a desk to write was completely different. No boss, no stress… No money, if she didn't get her head out of the clouds and back to her latest vamp.
He didn't have a name yet, but he had a face. A dark, mysterious face with a century's worth of secrets. Secrets he would tell her, only her, if she would listen.
Marisa took a deep, calming breath. “I’m listening.” She closed her eyes, waiting. A cool breeze shifted her hair and her eyes popped open. The old floorboards creaked, and she spun her chair around. “Who's there?” The candle blew out. “What the—”
Time—and her heartbeat—stood still. Paranoia set in, the consequence of writing too many vampire stories. She must've left a window open. Or something. She re-lit the candle and turned her attention back to her laptop, staring at the last words she'd typed.
She didn't remember typing that.
“Corgan Halton.” She said the name slowly. “I like that.” She'd written a dozen vampire stories and this would be her best name yet. It had an old-worldly feel to it. Like a real name. She'd better look it up to make sure it wasn't a real name; she didn’t need a lawsuit. Did people sue for name infringement?
“Okay, Corgan Halton. Are you real?” She typed the name into a search engine.
“As real as you are.” The distinctive male voice resonated in the otherwise quiet room.
Marisa froze. She didn't dare turn around. It was her overactive imagination at play. There was no one there. She hoped. Maybe one of her friends? Is this a joke?
“Not a joke, Marisa.”
Gasping, she stood and spun around toward the sound of his voice.
As he stepped out of the shadows, she took in the man before her. Pale with black, curly hair, dressed in an impeccable suit. Dark and intimidating, he stood in her living room, shrinking the already small space.
Exactly as she’d imagined. She conjured him from her imagination? No… This is not happening.
She rubbed her unbelieving eyes. There couldn't actually be anyone there. When did she last eat? Did low blood sugar cause hallucinations?
He smiled at her, and the temperature in the room dropped several degrees.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
“Corgan Halton.” He gave a courtly bow. “At your service.”
No… She stared at him in shocked silence. It isn't possible.
“I assure you, my dear, it's entirely possible.”
“Do you read minds, too?” She held her breath and waited for his reply.
“You tell me. You're the vampire expert.”
Vampire? He’s a vampire?