Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One) (3 page)

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
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I
cleared my throat. The girl simply had no concept of personal boundaries. She dropped her hand with nonchalance, as if she’d done nothing more than passed me salt at the dinner table.

“Hey, you’re more than welcome to
go down there and use my student ID,” I smirked. “Have at it, Liz, because
I’m
not going.”


Yah, sure, because
that
would work,” she said flippantly. “We look
so
much alike, don’t we?”

She
had me on that one. I was short, petite, curvy- an archetypical hourglass figure. Liz was tall, exotic, and willowy. My figure was suitable for centerfolds aimed at men, whereas hers belonged on the pages of high-fashion women’s magazines. Liz’s skin was perpetually snow-white. She couldn’t tan no matter how hard she tried. My skin, while also on the lighter side, would at least turn a light bronze in summertime, maybe even olive if I was lucky. My hair was long, wavy, and classic. Hers was bold and trendy. We were very different, indeed.

“I haven’t told you the best part
about the contest,” she grinned. “The winner gets-”

“What?
A venereal disease?”

“No,” she
shot me a steely look. “Five hundred dollars.
Cash
.”


Really
?” I narrowed my eyes at her suspiciously, but I knew she was telling the truth. Liz wasn’t one to make up stories. She told me once that she thought lying was beneath her, because people who lied had something to be ashamed of. Liz, of course, had no shame.

“Besides,” she added
, “I seriously doubt if anyone from your hoity-toity Dewhurst will be there. Shwilly Pete’s has more of a State crowd.”

“Oh, God,” I sighed.
I regarded the thick bundle of bills disdainfully. It didn’t take a financial wizard to grasp how much I could really use the money.

“What? What’s wrong?”
Her hazel eyes gazed at me anxiously.

“I seriously cannot believe I’m going to say this
… But, okay, I’m in.”

THREE

What transpired during the competition wasn’t at all surprising.

As expected, the
tavern was full of drunken students- predominantly male, naturally- all jostling each other playfully in order to get a better view of the tacky, PG-13 show taking place before them. Intoxicated, thanks to a shot dubbed “mind eraser,” twenty other girls and I donned our skimpy Shwilly Pete’s branded tanks, and jiggled, gyrated, and strutted our way onto the stage as the rowdy crowd cheered us on.

Each time a new girl would take the stage,
the mob would go wild. As a bell tolled, we would dump a pitcher of icy water down our chests. The applause increased until the hoots and hollers were deafening. No surprise there, either.

What did astound
me, though, was when I was handed five hundred dollars in cash and crowned Shwilly Pete’s
Top Titty.
It was an award I was certain would never grace the “awards and achievements” section of my professional resume.

After the
contest was over, I tossed the crown in the trash and changed back into the demure dress I had arrived in, stashing my winnings securely in my handbag.

Liz and I made a beeline toward
s the bar;
I was more than eager to sling back a few drinks in order to block out what I’d just done. Unlike some of the floozies on stage who’d glared at me resentfully when I was announced champion, I didn’t consider winning a wet t-shirt contest my finest moment. I was an honor student with a brain crammed full of some of the best education money can buy, yet I’d participated in a bar challenge dubbed
Wits and Tits,
for the love of God.

I inwardly cringed, ashamed of myself.
If my Dewhurst professors could only see me now.

Liz and I
nudged our way through the crowd, ignoring the screaming morons who attempted to congratulate me with drunken high-fives. The dj was playing some insufferable boy band tune from the nineties, making it difficult to hear my self-loathing thoughts.

I
t was humiliating, hanging out in a college bar when I was no longer (unbeknownst to Shwilly Pete)
technically
considered a student. Shouldn’t I have already moved on like so many of my other classmates?

Wh
en we finally made it to the bar, Liz made a face. “I have to pee,” she yelled.

I stared at her
in amazement. “Seriously? We just made it through the crowd!”

“I’ll be right back.”

I shook my head at her; sometimes she went out of her way just to be a rebellious. “You want a gin and tonic, right?” I called to her over the music.

“Wha
t?”


Gin. Tonic. Good?” I screamed, cupping my hand while miming a person drinking.

“You got it! Thanks!

She gave me a thumbs
-up, and bounced her way through the tightly packed herd of dancing coeds, totally oblivious to the jaws dropping slack over her splendor. One by one, the heads turned as she passed, like leering human dominos. It was remarkable to observe, particularly because Liz wouldn’t give any one of them the time of day. She’d always denied it when I teased her, but she only had eyes for David.

My mood improved dramatically
when the dj cut the music and went on a break.

A
man standing next to me at the bar chuckled.

“You were quite funny up there,
” he said.

I looked around the room.
“Are you talking to me?” I asked, pointing to my chest.

“Yes
,” he nodded, turning to face me. He had money pinched in his fingers, and was waiting to be served like the dozens of other people mashed against the bar.

Normally, I would
have told a guy like this- a night club vulture- to get lost. There are few things in the world I despise more than being forced to make small talk with a creepy bar fly. The man wasn’t ogling me, though, or attempting any sort of come-on. He seemed to be making a sincere attempt to engage in polite conversation, so I decided to be nice and behave myself.

He
reminded me of the sort of guy a person would go to for help with financial planning, like a hedge fund manager or an accountant. He was good-looking in a conservative, fortysomething sort of way: fit body, handsome, nice smile. His pleasant face was framed by slightly thin, sandy hair that was clipped in a neat, age-appropriate style. He wore a nondescript outfit of a charcoal grey button-down polo, black slacks, and shiny loafers: simple but classy.

H
e wasn’t anything like some of the other older men in the bar who were clearly in the midst of a midlife crisis. This man had taken the high road instead of deluding himself into believing that he could run with college kids, just as long as he dressed and behaved like a total cheese dick.
What’s a boy like you doing in a place like this,
I wanted to ask.

There were
a few things about him that were marginally off, like his watch. It had a large face, forest green crocodile strap, subtle diamond accents, and was by a well-known luxury label that I couldn’t fathom affording even in my wildest dreams. I’d seen the same timepiece in a print ad just a few days prior. Its price was more than what I paid to attend two years at Dewhurst.

Then there
was his coloring. He was beyond ghostly. His skin was blanched to such a degree that his chalky white flesh glowed underneath the black lights above the bar. I wanted to reach out and caress his arm, feel its texture.

H
e was also using a hundred dollar bill to pay for drinks. I found this a little strange when considering Shwilly Pete’s famed two dollar drink menu. He appeared to be at the bar alone, so perhaps he was drinking for fifty.

“I don’t understand,” I said, following up on the pale man’s opener. “How was I funny? I wasn’t exactly performing stand-up comedy.”

“T
he way you threw that drink in that man’s face after he shouted at you,” he chuckled again. “That was brilliant.” I could detect a slight accent; English maybe.

“Oh,” I laughed. “A
nd here I thought that I’d let him off easy.”

“What did he say
to you that got you so fired up, Mercy? I love that name, by the way.
Mercy
. It just rolls of the tongue, does it not?”

“How do you know my name?”


They announced it when you were on stage, remember?”

“That’s right.
Fantastic
,” I quipped acidly. “Now every jackass in here knows me on a first-name basis.”

“So, what did he do to annoy you?”

“He heckled me. He yelled ‘show me your tits.’ What a tool.”

“Y
ou
were
participating in a wet t-shirt contest,” he said good-naturedly.


Exactly
. If he would have yelled ‘show me your ass,’ it would have been a different story. I’d already shown him my breasts, so what was the point? Was he hoping for déjà vu?”

He threw his head back and laughed heartily.
“I take it you do not suffer fools kindly.”

“No sir
, I do not,” I said, attempting to impersonate his posh accent, though I sounded more like a Jamaican.

“You are
funny. A good sense of humor is a valuable thing to possess.”

“So is
five hundred clams,” I said, holding up my clutch bag.

“A
h,” he said. “Now I get it. It is all about the money,
honey
.” He winked at me conspiratorially.

“Hey, it i
s when you’re drowning in debt.”

I had no idea why I
was telling a man that I’d only just met about my personal affairs. I seriously hoped that I wasn’t turning into a pet-less variation of the crazy cat lady due to all the time I spent on my own. I really needed to start getting out more, or else I was in real danger of becoming the sort if weirdo who yapped the ears off of strangers while in line at the grocery store.

“I see. Let me guess,” he said, tapping his forehead. “You have tons of credit card debt because you went wild one day and bought more shoes than you have room in your closet for?”


Ha! I wish.
Nope.
Student loan. I owe over a hundred thousand dollars.”

“That is
madness!” he huffed. “Is that what college costs these days?”

“It is when you
go to Dewhurst. And that’s not even the full amount. Other students pay more, if you can believe it. I actually went there on a partial scholarship,” I smiled darkly, feeling a familiar panic gnawing at my nerves. “So, yah, every bit helps.”


Wow, Dewhurst. You must be really smart. I read somewhere that the president’s kid went there.” His face grew serious. “I thought you seemed too clever to be in a wet t-shirt contest just for the fun of it.”

“Gee, thanks,” I said
dryly.

He put up his palms
. “Hey, no, I did not mean it like
that
. What I am merely implying is that this place, it’s just so…
bourgeois.
” He made a revolted face, as if somebody near him had just passed wind.

“Hey,
you’re
here,” I snapped defensively. I agreed with him nonetheless.

“I have my reason
s for coming to this place, but we both know that you do not really belong here any more than I do.”

“Meaning?”
My feathers were a bit ruffled. This guy knew absolutely nothing about me. Well, except for all the personal information I’d just shared with him.


I intend no offence,” he said. “Look, you are a pretty girl
and
you are smart. I am simply stating that there are better ways for you to make money.”   

“Like what?” W
as he
propositioning
me?

“You look worried. Please do not be
.”

He pulled a
business card out of his front pocket and handed it to me. The card was high quality; smooth like satin while stiff at the same time, and a creamy white color as stark as the man’s skin. I flipped it over so I could read the business name: DIGNITARY. The writing was sleek, bold, and unembellished in a high-end, less-is-more sort of way. Classic old money. I rubbed my finger over the raised text.

“What sort of business is this
” -I looked down at the name on the card- “Michael?”

“It is
a business that my wife and I have run for many, many years. It has made girls like
you
very wealthy.”

“That didn’t answer my question.”

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
2.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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