Scott had had an eventful first week of work. He had been attacked in the courtroom by a client, possibly saved a judge’s life (at the very least, saved him from a beating), won the respect of damn near everybody in town, and had even managed to line up a few paying clients. He felt he deserved a quiet Friday night playing Angry Birds.
He was interrupted in his pig-smashing, however, by a loud voice in the lobby.
He paused his game, looking up. Was someone yelling, or did the man just have a loud voice? For a moment he thought it was Attorney Rutherford—he had a booming voice which echoed through the old building—but it was nearly nine o’clock; surely he wouldn’t be out so late.
And then there was a gunshot, followed immediately by Josie’s scream.
Scott vaulted over his desk and jerked his office door open, skittering to a stop in the hallway. His office was at the back of the building, but he could clearly see the front door—and the man standing in front of it.
“You ain’t going to take her from me,” he declared, raising his arm.
Less than a second later, the gun went off again, and Scott jerked. It felt as if a red-hot poker had been jabbed through the meaty part of his right arm.
Before he could complete his sentence—and shoot again—Scott ran up the hallway. In a fraction of a second, he was standing in front of the man, and just as quickly he punched him in the face with his left hand.
The man dropped to the hardwood floor like a ton of bricks and didn’t move. Scott bent down to take the gun away from him, but stopped himself before he touched it. Worried about preserving prints, he picked it up by the barrel instead of the grip. It was hot, even to him; it would have burned a human.
He turned around, and noticed Josie was missing.
“Josie?” he asked.
There was no reply.
“Josie!?” he said again, hurrying over to her desk, expecting to see her dead on the floor behind it.
But there was no one there.
He was confused for a moment, then a slight movement caught his eye. He bent down, looking under the desk.
Josie was huddled there, her knees pulled up to her chest.
“Josie, are you hurt?” he asked.
She shook her head slightly.
“Are you sure?”
She hesitated, then nodded a little.
He put the gun down on her desk and held his good hand out to her. “Come on,” he said coaxingly, as if she was a frightened animal.
She didn’t move.
“It’s okay,” he said. He glanced briefly at the gunman, but the man was still laid out on the floor. “He’s not getting up any time soon,” Scott reassured her.
Finally she put her cold, clammy hand in his and let him help her to her feet. She glanced at the gunman too, then began shaking.
“Shh,” Scott said, putting his left arm around her and pulling her close. He stroked her hair as she huddled against him. “It’s okay. Shh…” he repeated.
She began to silently sob, her face buried against his shoulder. Wincing in pain, he put his right arm around her, and reached over with his left to pick up the phone and dial 911.
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“This is Attorney Scott Cunningham at 2-2-2 Second Avenue. Someone just came into my office and started shooting. The suspect is down, and I’ve been hit in the arm, but that’s all the casualties.” He amazed himself by sounding so calm. Maybe he was already getting better at dealing with violence.
“Are you in any danger now?”
“No. I knocked the suspect out and took away his gun.”
“It would still be a good idea for you to get out of the building, if you can, or go to a safe room.”
“I’m a vampire,” Scott confessed. “I’m not worried about him.”
“Okay, sir. I’ve dispatched the police and an ambulance; stay on the line with me until they get there.”
Scott noticed Josie seemed to be gasping for breath. Worse than that, he found himself ravenously hungry—despite the fact that he had had blood only about an hour before. Apparently violence—coupled with searing pain, blood loss, and a weak and vulnerable human—whetted a vampire’s appetite.
“I need to put the phone down,” Scott told the operator.
“No, sir, I need you to stay on the line,” she replied forcefully.
“Look, I can’t hold the phone and take care of my secretary—not when I’m down an arm.” Before she could say anything, he pressed the speaker button on the phone.
“Can you still hear me?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” the operator replied.
“Good. I have you on speaker.” He laid the receiver on the desk and pulled Josie’s desk chair closer.
“Sit,” he commanded Josie, pushing her into the chair. She collapsed into it weakly.
He knelt in front of her, holding her hand in his. He felt marginally less hungry with some space between them. Now he just needed to calm her down.
Her skin was as white as his, and her brown eyes were too wide. “Josie, you’re hyperventilating,” he warned. “I need you to look at me and do what I do.”
She looked at him, but he wasn’t sure how focused she was; it was better than nothing though.
“Take a deep breath with me,” he said. She took a deep, shaky breath through her mouth while he counted, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7.”
“Now, hold it,” he instructed. She closed her mouth—looking rather uncomfortable—but she managed to hold her breath while he counted to four.
“Now, let it out.”
She released her breath in one burst, but Scott calmly counted to eight.
“Again,” he told her, beginning the inhalation count.
By the time the police arrived a few minutes later, Josie had control of her breathing and was beginning to look calmer. For that matter, Scott was beginning to feel better too. The pain in his arm was lessening marginally, and getting Josie calmed down calmed his hunger. She wasn’t nearly as tempting calm as she was when she was so clearly vulnerable.
But ended up being all for naught. Between the entire Clarksboro police department swarming into the lobby, and half-a-dozen paramedics from two ambulances fussing over them, Josie started hyperventilating again. She ended up sitting in the back of an ambulance, taking some oxygen, while a paramedic tried to calm her breathing, as Scott had done.
Scott sat on a stretcher behind the other ambulance while a couple of paramedics helped him out of his shirt and tie. There was a hole in the sleeve of his shirt, and it was soaked with blood from shoulder to elbow; there was no salvaging it in some cold water.
“Do you want to see something really cool?” the paramedic asked his partner, as he examined Scott’s arm.
“What?” the other young man said, leaning closer.
“I think the bullet’s still in there. Give it a few minutes, and it should come popping out.”
“Are you serious?” the other man asked, sounding fascinated.
“Yeah. I did a special training course on vampires last year, and I got to see it. Basically, you just leave a vampire alone, and they’ll heal themselves. Unless something’s gotten amputated; then you have to pick up the pieces and let a surgeon reattach them.”
Scott was feeling highly annoyed; he didn’t like being treated like a freak show. And being angry made his hunger flare up again. He began to have rather disturbing fantasies of biting the men violently.
“I need to get something to eat,” Scott said, sounding rather snippy. “Can you two postpone the science experiment until then?”
“Oh,” the first paramedic responded, sounding as if he had forgotten something. “Dave, get him some blood out of the back.”
Dave reached into the back of the ambulance and pulled something out of a metal drawer. He handed a bottle to his partner—who took the lid off and handed it to Scott.
A little surprised, Scott took it from him and began to drink. It was warm, but not hot and close to body temperature, the way he liked it. But he was hungry enough that he didn’t complain.
“You should always feed a vampire who’s been injured,” the first paramedic said to Dave, resuming their lesson. “Between blood loss, and the energy their bodies expend healing themselves, they’ll need at least a bottle of blood—maybe more; give them as much as they want. You do not want these guys hungry; they if they get too hungry, they’ll go crazy and start attacking people. And that’s why you never respond to a vampire injury without having a vampire squad with you to handle him if things get bad.”
Scott was really getting tired of—he looked at the patch on the man’s jumpsuit—Terry. He was about to get short with him, when there was a fluster of activity.
“Look at that!” Terry exclaimed, grabbing Scott by the wrist and holding his arm up. The two men looked at Scott’s arm eagerly, and even Scott looked, grudgingly curious.
The hole in his arm—which had already stopped bleeding—was slowly, but visibly growing smaller. At the same time, something began to emerge from it, like his arm was giving birth.
It was probably the most fascinating and revolting thing Scott had ever seen.
Slowly, a piece of gray lead pushed out of his arm. Terry held his hand up, and the next second he caught the bullet as it dropped out of Scott’s arm. “Save it for evidence,” he told his partner. Dave nodded and zipped the bullet up in a plastic bag and labeled it with a permanent marker.
Scott continued to watch as the bullet wound slowly closed up; less than a minute later, there was no mark on him—no record of what had happened—save the dried blood on his skin.
One of the paramedics working inside the office—presumably treating the shooter—came out and motioned to his crew. Josie went to sit next to Scott, while the other paramedics wheeled a stretcher into the office.
“How are you doing?” he asked her.
“I’m… okay,” she said, sounding almost convincing. Then she looked at him. “How are you?”
“Fine. All healed up.” He downed the last of the blood, then handed the bottle back to Dave.
“I think he was looking for Mr. Rutherford,” Josie volunteered.
“Really?” Scott asked, surprised.
“Yeah, he was talking about his divorce and how ‘that lawyer’ wasn’t going to take his wife. I told him he was in the wrong office—that we weren’t handling anyone’s divorce—but he said someone told him that it was the vampire lawyer’s office, and we were the only vampires in town. I told him again that we didn’t have a divorce case, but he pulled the gun on me. I think I was already halfway to the floor when he fired.”
“I… wonder if that might have been Mrs. Stanley’s ex-husband?” Scott asked. “He’s stalking her.”
“I don’t know. Maybe. But I got the impression he was talking about a divorce happening right now—a new one.”
“I guess we’ll find out when the police get done.”
“My mother told me not to take this job,” Josie confessed. “She was worried that you’d hurt me. But, hell, our clients are more dangerous than you. You’ve been beat up and we’ve both been shot at. And this is just our first week.”
“It’s not boding well,” Scott admitted. Then he looked at her. “I would never hurt you,” he promised fervently.
A moment later, before they could say anything else, the paramedics inside the office came out, wheeling a stretcher between them. Scott and Josie both gasped at the same time when they saw the body—encased in a black bag—laying on top.
An officer walked over to Scott, his face grim. “Looks like you killed the suspect,” he told Scott. “The paramedics aren’t sure if you crushed his face or broke his neck—or both. We’ll have to wait for the autopsy.”
Scott winced. “I only hit him once. And with my left hand.”
“I think it’s a pretty clear-cut case of self-defense,” the officer continued. “But I’ll be surprised if you don’t get some shit over this. People are scared of what vampires are capable of doing, and this just proves that an angry vampire can kill without even intending to.”
Scott didn’t know what to say. He glanced helplessly at Josie, who was staring at him with wide eyes. So much for promising to never hurt her—or anyone else.
Read the entire series–The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee