Scott was starting to feel as if he had reached cruising altitude. There were still bumps of turbulence, to be sure, but he was starting to settle into a routine and become comfortable—even reasonably confident—with what he was doing.
He spent his weekdays meeting clients and going to night court, and on the weekends he read books on home maintenance and watched a lot of HGTV, trying to figure out how to be a handyman. He made some improvement on his basement apartment, although it was far from professional-grade.
For good or bad, everyone in town knew him now, and about half would greet him like a minor celebrity when he appeared at Wal-Mart or at the gas station. The other half hurried to another aisle.
Scott was in his office, proofreading some divorce papers Josie had drafted, when he heard her voice rise. He was already on his feet when she hastily knocked on his door and opened it without waiting for permission.
“Mr. Cunningham,” she said, a frantic look on her face.
“What?” he asked, anxious. His hand was already reaching for his top-right desk drawer, where he had stashed a .45. After the last incident in the office, he had decided it would look better if he shot raging lunatics rather than broke their necks. People seemed more accepting of that because it seemed more human. Or maybe that was more “humane.”
Josie didn’t answer him. She just stepped aside, revealing the woman behind her. It took Scott a moment to see through the blood on her face to recognize his client.
“Mrs… Stanley?” he asked in shock.
She stepped into his office. “I just wanted you to see that I’m not making this up.”
It took Scott a moment to recover. “Um… please, have a seat,” he said, gesturing for her to sit. He sat on the edge of his desk, still looking at her in horror. Her nose had clearly been bleeding, and there was still a faint hint of blue under both of her eyes. A scalp wound had bled down the left side of her face and there was a smudge of blood at the corner of her lip.
“Tell me exactly what happened to you,” Scott said.
“When I got up this evening, James—my ex—was sitting in my driveway in his truck. When he saw me looking out the window, he got out and came to the front door and beat on it. I… didn’t know what to do. He said he was going to kick it in if I didn’t let him in, and I believed him.”
“So you let him in?”
“Yeah, because I didn’t want him to bust up my door. I can’t afford to fix it if he does.”
“Did he attack you then?”
“He yelled first. He heard that I had hired you, and he was really mad about it. Then he started slapping me, to prove that there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. And…” tears began to well up in her eyes, “and I was afraid to hit him back, because I was afraid I would kill him and end up in trouble, like you did.”
Her bottom lip began trembling and she turned her face away.
Scott looked at Josie—who was still standing in the doorway, listening. She looked at him with dismay.
He looked back at Mrs. Stanley. “Have you been to the police, yet?”
She shook her head. “No. It won’t do any good,” she said, her voice heavy with tears.
Scott stood up. “Come with me.”
Mrs. Stanley reluctantly stood up and meekly followed him out of his office.
“Josie, I’ll be back shortly,” he instructed, as he made for the front door.
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
Scott walked—with Mrs. Stanley still trailing behind—the block and a half to the police station. The woman sitting at the front desk behind bulletproof glass looked startled when Scott and Mrs. Stanley came before her.
“My client would like to report an assault.”
“Um… okay. Let me… let me get someone.” She got up and hurried out of her room.
A minute later, a police officer came into the waiting room carrying a clipboard, and he showed them into a tiny office off to one side.
Scott and Mrs. Stanley sat down on one side of a desk and the officer sat on the other.
“What’s your name, ma’am?” he asked kindly.
He quickly wrote her name in big, block letters on his form. “Now, Mrs. Stanley,” he said, looking up at her, “before we do any further, are you a vampire?”
“Yes,” she replied. She sounded weary—almost as if she expected him to ask.
“Hmm,” he said, pursing his lips. He checked a box on the form.
“Don’t tell me that it’s legal to assault a vampire,” Scott said angrily.
“Well, it’s not illegal to do it, at the moment,” the officer said, sounding apologetic.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
The officer shook his head a little.
Scott pointed to Mrs. Stanley. “Do you see her?”
“Just because she can’t be killed doesn’t mean that didn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that it’s not humiliating. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t scare her. Fear is a normal response to being attacked, regardless of whether you will ultimately die.”
“Mr. Cunningham, you’re preaching to the choir. But there’s nothing I can do other than take down the information for statistical purposes and hope that the law changes.”
“Godamnit to hell,” Scott spit, standing up.
“Where did this happen?” the officer hurriedly asked Mrs. Stanley.
“At my house.”
“Did the person who did this break into your house?”
“No. I let him in because I was afraid he was going to bust my door in.”
“Next time, call 911 and let him break the door in. We can get him for trespassing and breaking and entering in that case.”
Scott wheeled on him. “So, what you’re saying is you’ll protect property, but not her? Not vampires?”
The officer had the decency to look ashamed.
He took the rest of Mrs. Stanley’s information and promised to send patrol cars through her neighborhood to keep watch.
“See, I told you,” she told Scott, as they stepped out of the police department.
“I am not through with this,” Scott swore. He was so angry, he felt like breaking something… namely Mr. Stanley’s face.
“Maybe you can lobby to get the law changed,” she said half-heartedly.
“I mean to do something more immediate than that.”
“Like what?” she asked, looking at Scott curiously.
“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something,” he swore.
Read the entire series–The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee