Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One) (4 page)

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
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“Without revealing too much, it is a very exclusive service we provide to wealthy clients who… prefer their privacy. Members only.”

“What?
Like a
brothel
?” Now I was offended. Who in the hell did he think he was speaking to?

“Look,”
he said calmly, “I think you may have the wrong idea, but I really cannot get into it any more right here. How about you come by tomorrow evening so we can have a chat? You would really like my wife. She is feisty, like you.”

“I don’t think so,” I said coolly.
I turned away from the bar, crushing the card in my hand.

“That is
too bad, because you would be out of debt in no time.”

That
got my attention.

Still, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go
there
.

Just
what was he suggesting? What
was
this Dignitary place? For all I knew, the guy could be a psychopath. Anyone with a few bucks could have fancy business cards printed up. I’d have to be pretty desperate to even consider his offer.

S
adly, I kind of was.


You would probably enjoy yourself while you were at it,” he called after me.

I
quickened my pace, but the fortress of sweaty drunks waiting for cocktails reared violently against my efforts.

“I’ll take your word fo
r it,” I called without turning around.


Call me if you change your mind. No pressure.”

“Don’t
hold your breath,” I called back. I whipped my hair over my shoulder, feeling like a badass vamp in an old black and white movie. I contemplated yelling “Well, I never!” but I thought it would be overkill.

After about two solid minutes of struggling,
I was finally able to wiggle my way through a wormhole in the crowd, which I realize was the lamest dramatic exit in the history of dramatic exits. To add insult to injury, the overzealous mob tossed me like a beach ball, and I slammed into a guy holding a pitcher of beer. The beer slopped down the front of his shirt, and he was angry.

Then he realized who I was.

“Hey! Top Titty!” he yelled, clapping me hard on the back with his clammy hand. I flashed him a pained smile, contemplating just how long it would take to drown myself if I put my face in his pitcher.

I
finally made my way to the restroom just as Liz emerged from the double doors. She looked ready to commit homicide.

“Hey, sorry it took so long
. The line took
for-ever
,” she grumbled, wiping her wet hands on her designer skinny jeans. “I don’t understand what these bitches find so damn complicated. You go into a stall, drop your pants, take a piss, and get the hell out of there. I could hardly get in the door. There’s, like, a hundred chicks crowding around the mirror. One of them elbowed me in the ribs!”

I tried to interject
my two cents, but Liz was on a roll.


Sorry, girlfriend, but just because you put on your best ‘come fuck me’ red lipstick, it doesn’t make you a sexpot. Elbow me in the ribs all you want, but it still won’t change the fact that nobody wants to sleep with your skank ass.
Nobody
.”

I almost felt s
orry for the invisible woman Liz was berating. “Geez,” I raised my eyebrows at her. “Somebody is in a bad mood. You are aware that I’m the only one standing here, right?” I shook my finger at her like a matron. “Tsk-tsk, young lady. You be nice, now.”


Sorry,” she said with chagrin. “I don’t know why I even bother going out to these meat markets. Every time I do, I just get fired up about all the wasted girls crunching on my toes with their high heels, and end up spending half the night bitching about how loud the music is.” She looked shamefaced. “Is it sad that I’d rather be at home, curled up with a good book and a glass of wine? God, when did I get
so old
?”

“I’m right there
with you, Grannie,” I said. “I’d happily choose a blanket and a book over this any day.”

“Come on! W
e can’t be the only ones who feel this way. Look at this place! It’s a total sausage fest. How could
anyone
find this appealing?” She laughed self-consciously, rolling her eyes.

I looked around at t
he sea of men sporting thick chain necklaces, uneven spray tans, and rhinestone-encrusted t-shirts with ironically-faded tattoo detailing. “Let’s get out of here, then,” I suggested.

“But we
haven’t even had a drink,” she sulked.

“Fuck it,” I said, grabbing her hand. “Let’
s just go. We can grab a bottle of wine on the way home.”

“Sounds good to me.
Hey, what’s this,” she asked, pulling the crumpled card from my fingers.

“Oh,
some creeper gave me his business card while I was waiting for a drink, which,” I said, making jazz hands, “obviously, I never received.” I smiled drolly, placing a hand on my hip. “Seriously, who do you have to flash your tits at in this place in order to get a drink? Oh… wait.” I slapped my forehead, pretending to remember the wet t-shirt contest.


Ha-ha,” she said dryly. She gazed at the business card. “Damn, and here I thought you’d met somebody.”


Right!” I snorted. “Not likely in this hellhole.”

“Not to get all
after school special
on you or anything, Mercy, but I do worry about you at times,” she said thoughtfully.

Oh, God. Not this again.
A tacky nightclub was no place for us to have a pity party in my honor. Liz was so preoccupied with my love life that she tended to approach finding a mate for me like it was her sole responsibility in life. Honestly, I would have given her a salary if I’d actually had any money to pay her.

“Y
ou shouldn’t. Nobody ever dropped dead of celibacy.” I sniffed.

“How long has it been?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I stalled.

“How long
, Mercy?”

“Oh,
you know… maybe around...mmm-hmm-mmm.” I wouldn’t meet her eyes.


Yah, sorry, I didn’t catch that.” She leaned in close to me. “
How long
?”

“Okay, okay!
It’s been… a little over a year.”


Jesus Christ!” She spat. “YOU HAVEN’T HAD SEX IN A YEAR?”

A few men standing near us
gaped at me disbelievingly. “I can change that,” one of them snickered, eating me alive with his gaze.

My man
had a barbed wire tattoo on his bicep. He was also wearing sunglasses, saggy jeans, and, the
pièce de résistance, a shirt with a pot leaf embroidered on the collar. He was also sporting the largest pendant I’d ever seen; the thing had to weigh at least ten pounds. It was rendered all the more ostentatious due to its faux yellow diamond detailing and chunky gunmetal chain from which it dangled.

I was
unexpectedly disconsolate as it occurred to me that my only take-home option for the night was this walking cliché. I’d been cheated; I suffered the same sort of disappointment a serious wine connoisseur would probably feel after spending all evening hunting for a rare vintage chardonnay, yet only managing to net a musty old case of Ripple.

I shot the group
a filthy look before turning my back on them.


God, Liz! Next time, try to say it louder,” I snapped. “I don’t think people east of the freakin’ Golden Gate were able to hear you.”

“Sorry,” she muttered, lowering her voice
“But
a year
? I knew it had been a while, but not
that
long.” She let out a long whistle, shaking her head at me pityingly, as if I’d just informed her that I’d been diagnosed with a terminal illness and only had a week to live.


I’ve been busy,” I said lamely. She shot me a dubious look.

I
pulled Michael’s card from her finger and shoved it in my handbag, desperate to change the subject. I hadn’t had sex in a while, so what? It’s not that I’d become a nun or didn’t feel a desire to have a man around. Of course I did.

Anyone could
have sex, though. Not everyone could have intimacy. What I truly craved was closeness, familiarity. I missed having a man around who knew that I found runny eggs repulsive, and took my coffee with half and half, never milk, and who would embrace me in the early hours of dawn, holding me close until I fell asleep.

The
longing was so constant that it had become a dull aching that I didn’t quite know how to soothe, an itch that I couldn’t scratch, a sharp splinter underneath my skin that I couldn’t dig deep enough to remove. I felt the void so strongly at times, it was nearly intolerable.

I liv
ed in a city of millions, but somehow I was still all alone.

“You’ve got to start putting yourself out there ag
ain,” Liz harangued.

I’d heard this lecture
before. Soon she’d start sounding like a coach giving a hopeless pep talk to the losing team two minutes before the end of the game.

“I know. You’re right,”
I said, reduced to spouting platitudes.

“Not every man is a cheating bastard like Mathew
...” She drew in a sharp breath as soon as she said his name, ending her tirade.

B
ut it was too late. The damage had been done.

Mathew.

I gnashed down on my teeth until my jaw hurt. Why did she have to go and bring him up? It had been over a year, yet the hurt and anger were still as fresh as the day I caught him in bed with another woman…
In the bed we’d been sharing for over two years, our bed, balls-deep inside of a sleazy bleach blonde whose name he later admitted he didn’t even know. He swore that she and her fake double-D’s had meant nothing to him. But if he was willing to throw away all that we had over “nothing,” then what did that make me? Less than nothing?

I squeezed my eyes closed
, trying to block out the memory. I’d grieved enough. He wasn’t worth getting upset over.

Liz,
recognizing her faux pas, threw her arm around my shoulder. She rested her head against mine. “Sorry,” she muttered.

“Nah,” I said
, trying my best to sound as if I really didn’t give a shit. “I’m over it.”

She nodded her head, mollifying me.
We both knew that I was anything
but
over it.

“Want to get
out of here?” she asked, breaking the tense silence.

I smiled up at her
. It was the best idea that she’d had all night.

 

FOUR

 

I woke the next morning to the sounds of Liz gagging.

I sat up on my elbows
, worried that she might be hurt, but then the memory of the night before came flooding back, along with a ferocious wave of queasiness. I collapsed back down on my pillow and groaned. The ceiling spun out of control above me. I rolled on my side to stop whirling inside my head. It helped very little.

Liz and I
emptied two and a half bottles of merlot between us after we escaped the polyester hell at Shwilly Pete’s. Like all things in life that felt good, carelessness with alcohol came with a price. My penance for behaving like an out of control lush came in the form a blinding headache. Liz, on the other hand, sounded like she was atoning for an entire year’s worth of binge-drinking.

She continued heaving, and I began to feel guilty for just lying there instead of providing her aid. I threw back the covers and staggered out of bed, feeling my brain slosh around inside my skull.  I shuffled into the bathroom where I found Liz hunched over the toilet.

“Hey,”
she said weakly. Drool seeped from her mouth. Not a good sign. “I don’t really know what happened last night, but I think I was visited by the Hangover Fairy in my sleep.”

At least she hadn’t lost her sense of humor.

“You look tore up from the floor up,” I said, snapping my fingers in a pathetic attempt to be funny. “Ouch,” I muttered, the snap banging through my ears like a drum.

She laughed, but I think it was more
at
me than
with
me.


Want me to get you anything?” I offered, hoping that she wasn’t going to request something that required any real effort on my part. Water and aspirin I would do, but if Liz wanted breakfast, she’d have to leave the apartment. Mercy’s Kitchen was closed until further notice, or at least until the chef was able to walk more than three feet without stumbling.

“Yah,
can you bring me a time machine so I can travel back to last night and cut myself off after one glass of wine? Wine… Oh, God.” She dry-heaved into the toilet. “I’m better now,” she panted, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. “Let’s not bring up booze anymore, though, okay? I think I’m having merlot flashbacks.”

BOOK: Mercy's Debt (Montgomery's Vampires Series Book One)
11.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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