Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One) (10 page)

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
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He was
astonished. “A diner?”

“Of course, if you’re sickened by
the smell of food, or if you hate the idea, or if it’s not fancy enough…” He was right- a
diner
? What the hell was I thinking? This was a man accustomed to the very best in life, not yokel greasy spoon steak and eggs.


A diner sounds perfect, Mercy. I probably have not been to one in over fifty years, and never one located in a train that was not moving. This will be a treat for me.”

He waited
quietly while I gave Carl directions.


I was just surprised by your choice, that is all,” he stated.

“Why?”
I asked, suddenly feeling very improper.

“Well, as I am
certain you are probably aware, I have a lot of money- more money than most humans earn a thousand lifetimes over.” He wasn’t bragging, only citing a fact. “In the past, whenever I have asked a woman to recommend a location for us to spend the evening, the first places she would think of were always five-star restaurants, exclusive bars, and luxury department stores. Places where she could spend
my
money. You, however, have just suggested a hole-in-the-wall diner,” he smiled. “I find that… fascinating.”


Oh.”

He placed his hand back over mine
hesitantly, looking me square in the face with those hypnotic eyes of his. “And I find
you
fascinating, Mercy.”

 

TEN

 

Every head in Whistle Stop turned when Robert and I walked through the door.

For
a moment, I found the interest perplexing, blaming the majority of the attention we received on Robert’s jaw-dropping handsomeness. It wasn’t until a little girl on her way out the door pointed to me coyly and asked her mother if I was a princess that I remembered our formal attire.

“I guess we’re a tad
overdressed,” I smirked at Robert. For his amusement, I snapped my finger and gasped, “Oh, shoot! Whistle Stop’s tuxedo and ball gown dress code is on
Saturday
, not Friday! Gosh, now I just feel plain silly.” 

H
e flashed his eyes towards the ceiling, mocking me playfully.

The
little girl outside continued to watch me in awe through the wide windows as her parents scooped her up and buckled her down inside a large SUV with Oregon plates. There was a mishmash of suitcases, bikes, and boxes strapped to the roof of the vehicle, which explained why a child her age was up at such a later hour. They were traveling.

When her dad
started the car and backed out of their parking space, I smiled at the girl and curtsied, just like a princess. Her chubby little hands clapped happily and her eyes scrunched up as she let out a squeal. She waved at me sweetly through the back window as they drove off. I waved back with small flicks of the wrist, the same way I’d seen Queen Elizabeth do it on television.

Robert, observing
the exchange, chuckled under his breath.

I look
ed at him curiously. “What?” I asked.

“Nothing.”
He shook his head amusedly. “You are simply enchanting.”

We waited for a few minutes without being greeted, immediately feeling foolish as we noticed the
PLEASE SEAT YOURSELF
sign in the corner. We walked through the main dining area and settled down in a secluded booth near the rear of the restaurant, Robert seemingly taking no notice of the hushed comments and probing glances directed our way.

I, howe
ver, had to bite my tongue in order to stop myself from pointing at Robert and yelling, “Eat it up, looky-loos! I’m here with this spectacular man, and he just called me enchanting. That’s right,
enchanting
!”

“This place is rather quaint. I like it,” he stated.
He grabbed two menus from the metal holder on the side of the table and handed one of them to me. He scanned the menu, running a finger over the selections. “Hmm, let me see. What looks good? You think I should ask if I qualify for the senior citizen discount?”

“You aren’t actually going to eat something, are you?” I asked skeptically.

“Of course not, but I have appearances to keep up.” He said this like it was obvious, which I guess it was. “My, my- listen to this.
The Scary Coronary:
sausage, bacon, onion, and cheese omelet, sandwiched between two king-sized hash browns, all smothered in hollandaise sauce, served with two buttermilk pancakes, and a side of ham. Guaranteed to stop your heart
.” He closed the menu and looked at me sternly. “I simply do not understand this grotesque obsession American’s have with killing themselves with food. People treat eating like it is a competitive sport in this country,” he scowled.

He was so bothered, I had to laugh. “Robert, eating
is
a competitive sport in this country.”

“Surely you cannot
be serious,” he said incredulously.

“Oh, I’m serious.”

“What do people eat for these competitions?” he asked with curious eyes.

“I’ve never
been in one myself, but they eat all kinds of things. Usually it’s hotdogs or pie.”

“That is
very odd.”

“Ha! This, coming for a vampire,”
I teased quietly, conscious of eavesdroppers.

“Well, at least we do not
binge-drink on humans for sport.” He looked sheepish. “Okay,” he rephrased, “at least not anymore.”

Keeping my voice low, I asked,
“Come to think of it, how do you guys drink? Michael said that you go to blood banks or something?”

“That is correct. They are all over the city,
run by vampires, naturally.”

“Okay,” I said, waiting for him to elaborate.
“And?”


Well, think of blood like you do human food. Some foods, like rice and beans, are fairly inexpensive; nothing fancy, but you would still be able to sustain a living off them, correct? Then there are other foods, like caviar and decadent cheeses, which you eat because you enjoy. Of course, the things humans take a delight in consuming- the gourmet foods so to speak- cost more. It works the same way with human blood.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but what’s the vampire version of gourmet?”

“The purer, the better. I am not referring to virgins and children, which is Puritanical nonsense, but rather the toxins people have in their body. Sick humans taste the worst because of all the medicines they have in their system. A vampire might as well drink rat blood if they are going to consume plasma from an individual who is undergoing chemotherapy. Women who are on birth control also taste terrible, and so do people who eat processed foods or drink hard alcohol heavily. The best tasting humans are usually vegetarians and athletes, as they tend to be more cautious about the foods and chemicals that go into their body.”


That is so fascinating. I wonder what I’d taste like,” I said without thinking. I trusted that he was smart enough to realize that I had in no way offered him my blood. “So, do you go into the banks and get transfusions? Or do you get it by the liter, like bottled water? And what’s the going rate for something like that?”

Robert
shot me yet another variation of his amused expression.

“Of c
ourse, you don’t have to answer, if you aren’t allowed to, I mean. I’m just curious,” I clarified.

“So many questions.”
He narrowed his eyes at me menacingly. “Are you some kind of spy?”

“What? No!” I said, my pulse
pitching into overdrive.

H
e threw back his head and cackled. “Relax! I was having a laugh.”

“Very funny,” I said humorlessly.

He looked ashamed. “Please, forgive me. It is not very gentlemanly of me to frighten you,” he said. “I can only imagine what it must be like.”

“What do you mean?
And for the record, I was more concerned about insulting you on a professional level. Oddly enough, offending the clients that I chaperone is not in my job description.”

He ignored my last
two comments. “Being out with a vampire,” he said. “Are you not afraid?”

“I’
ve had a bit of time to think about this,” I began, taking in a long breath. “I figure, for as long as vampires have managed to exist without being substantiated, you all must have a huge amount of self-control and have a fair handle on your… urges. Humans are the savages, if you ask me. A human man could just as easily turn on me, so why should I be biased against you just because you have fangs instead of something more traditional like a gun, knife, chainsaw, axe, or one of the million other objects humans use to kill their loved ones on a daily basis? Seriously,” I rambled, “I
just
saw on the news that a woman murdered her husband with a laptop, of all things. She hit him over the head with it while he was in the bathtub, and then finished him off by plugging it in and throwing it into the water. If you look at it that way, vampires have just the one weapon, whereas humans have endless options.”

“I think you give my kind too much credit,” he said flatly. “I have encountered many malicious bloodsuckers in my day. Your trustworthiness concerns me, Mercy, and my advice to you is to never let your guard down around vampires you do not know. Lucky for you,” he said lightly, “I am one of the good ones.”


I’ll keep that in mind,” I said demurely. “So, how do you eat, then? You never told me.”

“Vampires
have different preferences of course, just as humans do. I, personally, buy my blood in bulk and keep it stocked in a wine cellar in my home. I also keep a flask of blood inside the limousine in a temperature-controlled compartment.”

“That is so wild!” I exclaimed.
“How do you know it’s time for a… meal?”


I just know. I will not become ravenous and bite you, if that is what you are asking,” he said puckishly. “In fact, my fangs come out partially if I deny myself blood for too long.” He reflected for a moment. “It does not mean that I am dangerous. It is similar to how a human’s stomach may growl if they are hungry. I must always remain cognizant of my hunger because I cannot risk my fangs becoming visible in the presence of an unknowing human.”

“Do you sleep in a coffin?” I blurted. He flashed me an impatient frown. “This is my last question. Well, at least for a while.
Promise.”

“I could sleep in a coffin just as you could. However, it is not required. I believe that
this myth stemmed from the fact that vampires used to masquerade as the dead when traveling overseas.”


The dead? But why coffins specifically?” I asked.


The only way we could remain undisturbed was to travel in coffins. Petty thieves would frequently break into cargo, but only the hardened criminals would go near corpses. Vampires, worried about sun exposure, would take great pains to use materials of the poor in order to make their tombs appear humble. The criminals would be less inclined to break open the tops if they believed that there were no valuables inside like jewelry or watches.”

“Where do you sleep now?”

“I had sleeping chambers installed underneath my home when I purchased it. That is where I rest.”

A
server halted our conversation by meandering over to our section, finally deciding to grace us with her presence. I recognized our waitress, Marge, immediately. She’d been working at the diner for as long as I lived in California, and probably even longer for that matter. Whistle Stop was the place I used to frequent most when I studied for finals, but it had been a while since I’d been in.

When it came down to it,
Marge was about as inadequate a waitress as anyone could ever hope not to get, particularly when she was dealing with snotty college students. Forgetting drinks was her specialty, which she’d serve along with a big side of hostility. As a bonus, she’d sometimes provide patrons a complimentary fifteen minute wait for the check at the end of the meal.

Marge had
always been nice to me because I’d always been nice to her. Respect, after all, was a two-way street. Grams would roll over in her grave if I ever spoke down to anyone in the service industry, a waitress especially.

I liked Marge
. She was a woman who liked to keep it real. In some distant sort of way, she actually kind of reminded me of Grams.

As she approached our table, s
he looked us over and snorted, “You two comin’ from a wedding or somethin’?”

She
had a nub of a pencil tucked indiscriminately between her breasts, huge false eyelashes stuck crookedly on her eyelids, and a new bright red hairdo that could have doubled for a buzzard’s nest- her locks had been dishwater blonde before. The overhead fluorescent lights highlighted the varicose veins that marked her legs from ankle to thigh, like thin bolts of blue lightning flashing underneath her skin.

“Hi Marge,” I said pleasantly. “No, we
’re just coming from a party.”

Her eyes bugged from her head.
“Holy Toledo! Mercy, is that you?” she gasped. “I didn’t recognize you from over there, or else I wouldn’t have kept you waiting so long. Honey, you look
gorgeous
! What are you, some kind of movie star now?”


No, she is a princess,” Robert smiled from across the table.

Marge did a double take after
getting an up-close view of Robert. “Oh, Mercy! Who’s the looker?” she asked deafeningly, a hand cupped craftily over her mouth.

Hearing her- just as everyone i
n the restaurant most likely had- Robert laughed wholeheartedly. He took her hand into his.

“Hello.
” He winked. “I am Mercy’s friend, Robert.”

Marge shot me an appalled look. “
Did I hear this right?
Friend
?” she scoffed. “Oh, sweetie, if you don’t want this hot piece of tail, I’ll sure as hell take him.”

Robert opened
his arms jokingly. “I am all yours, Marge.”

I shook my head at him from behind Marge’s back. He had no idea the fire he was playing with
. Without further hesitation, Marge bent down and smacked her lips right against his forehead, leaving behind a set of waxy hot pink imprints. I sat back in stunned silence, waiting for Robert’s reaction to Marge’s affectionate assault.

He was unperturbed.
“Careful, Marge,” he quipped. “I think Mercy is the jealous type.” I swatted his arm from across the table. “See what I mean?” he said.

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
4.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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