Mike rubbed his eyes. The lack of sleep caught up with him like a tidal wave crashing over a child’s sand castle. The adrenaline rush faded as the vampires exited the building. He could feel them leaving deep within his bones. He never could explain how a hunter knew a vampire was near, but they always knew. Crandall had sensed them only two seconds after he had, his instincts kicking in quickly despite his inexperience.
After locking the door and turning off the lights, Mike turned in a circle in the narrow entryway. He checked the lock again knowing full well that he had locked it, and that the simple deadbolt wouldn’t keep Angelo at bay if he decided to come back for blood. Most vampires couldn’t stand to be near a hunter long enough for a taunting warning before an attack, yet Angelo and Jackson had been… almost civil. It didn’t set his mind at ease, but instead made him even more wary of the club owner and his apparent bodyguard.
Okay, Mike admitted. Mostly civil. A bit over-the-top with the whole I’m a tough ass vampire thing, but otherwise, tolerable. He sighed and rubbed his face. His body dragged with exhaustion but his mind whirled with more than he could organize into coherent thought.
“One thing at a time,” he muttered.
He trudged down the hall and paused in the doorway to Crank’s bedroom. The man was reinforcing his nickname tonight. They disagreed plenty since that fateful night when, stoned off their asses, Crandall suggested he might be gay. They had not, however, slept alone, since then. Not even once.
Crandall had already crawled back into bed, the sheets torn from the mattress and wrapped around his body. His back was to the door, so Mike couldn’t tell if he slept until he spoke. “Go away, Mike.”
“C’mon man,” Mike said. He walked into the room and, after a moment of hesitation, sat on the bed. “You got your way. Don’t be pissed at me for it.”
“If you had your way, I never would’ve known we had an offer.”
Mike twisted to stare at the back of Crandall’s head. “I get that you need to sing, but I don’t want to risk my ass for you to come out of your shell.”
Crandall flopped to his back, his piercing stare still proficient in the shadow-filled room. “What did you tell Jon? That you’re too fucking scared to go back there?”
With a sigh, Mike closed his eyes and forced his anger to subside. When he opened them, Crandall was still staring at him – no, through him – either way he could feel the effects of the infamous Crank glare working chinks into his resolve. He looked away, straightening his back, but staring at the carpet. “He agreed with me. The gig was good, but it wasn’t worth the bruises. What if they try to kill us next time?”
“They did try. They fucking failed. Bastard fucking, Fangs.” Crandall, his fury still strong, but shifting towards the Immortale, pushed himself up and hugged his knees to his chest. “I don’t need you to babysit me,” he said.
Mike turned, folding one leg on the bed between them. “It’s not just about you. Yes, I admit, I don’t want to see you get hurt, but I don’t want to be in a building full of vampires either. They’re not usually this civil, Crandall. It’s against their nature to let us live. We’re asking for trouble, pushing our luck at that club.”
“I want to do this.”
“I don’t.” Mike stood and looked down at Crandall. “You’re right. I should’ve told you, but I didn’t because I knew you’d be a stubborn ass about it. I don’t want to risk my neck for a gig. There will be other shows at other clubs, and you know that. We’re good. We can perform elsewhere. We don’t need to get our asses whipped just to play music.”
Crandall stared at the sheets twisted around his feet. His jaw twitched but he said nothing. Mike shook his head and left, leaving Crandall to his own thoughts, as rare as it was that he kept them himself.
Up Next: All Apologies