Nica led Crandall back to the dressing room, no more than an old storage room, incomplete with concrete floors, yellowed, unpainted drywall, and a toilet and sink behind a hastily constructed wall. Obvious to her, the room had been converted for musical guests after vampires bought the club. Her kind loved comfort, but they cared not for human bodies with weaknesses the Immortale would rather (and often did) forget they ever had.
She knew the drummer had a stake in his hand when she turned her back to him, but she also knew that Sidney, while charged with protecting the band, wouldn’t let them harm any Immortale either. It was either a show of stupidity, trust, or power to let the Hunter keep his favorite weapon and Nica didn’t know Sidney well enough to decide which. Angelo, on the other hand, probably didn’t give a damn about the blessed wood. He had enough others that would jump between him and the Hunter if their truce disintegrated without warning. As if he even needed such protections.
Crandall didn’t stop to let her pass, but Nica squeezed his arm, slowing him just enough to slip through the door first. She couldn’t care less about chivalry, but to find a man who didn’t automatically put forth his best manners upon meeting her was beyond rare. Between her natural good looks (thanks almost exclusively to her mother) and her immortal blood that burned out the last of life’s imperfections, she could turn heads and command attention as well as if not better than any vampire in the area.
She wrinkled her nose, dismissing the thought. There were several old ones in town tonight, and she only had a passing notion that they’d come to discuss the band consisting of two vampire hunters and two mortals.
Plastering a smile on her face, she waved at the human half of Inertia Stand. Their guitarist sat on the arm of a new, but inexpensive sofa, strumming the strings and subtly twisting the keys to tune it. She’d dated plenty of musicians, but she never developed an ear for that. Most musicians didn’t seem to notice or care, and that was fine by her. The bassist studied her reflection in an unframed mirror resting on a low shelf and leaning against the wall. Nica turned away before she said something about using too much eyeliner even as the woman added another stroke. Stage lights required more. Or so she’d been told.
Crandall slunk away from her and flopped down on the sofa. Mike squeezed past and put his back to a corner, his gaze darting between her and Sidney in the doorway. “Get over it,” she said to Sidney in her favorite sweetheart voice.
“Yeah, get over it.” Crandall said to the wall.
“Who the hell are you?” Nica met Beryl’s challenging stare.
Crandall smirked at his bassist who’d abandoned the make-up to scowl at Nica. “She’s a fan, so shut the fuck up.”
“Fuck you, Crandall,” Beryl snapped. “We have to get ready.” Her eyes snapped at Nica. “This is not the time, honey. Come back after the show.”
With a sigh that only the vampires could hear, Mike pushed himself away from his corner and crossed the room. “Settle down, Beryl. Some of us like having fans at our shows.”
Beryl sneered but said nothing. She turned her back to the room and resumed her preening in the mirror.
“Don’t mind her,” Mike said. “She’s our crowd control.”
Nica grinned up at the drummer, tall, long-hair, and a shyness to his stance that told her he wasn’t interested in hitting on her. Refreshing. “It’s okay,” Nica said. “I appreciate the time. You know? I love to hang out with musical people since I can’t even sing right. Maybe after the show?”
Mike raised an eyebrow, but Nica batted her eyes, feigning innocence. She said, “You’re due all kinds of company. I suppose I’ll have to wait my turn, but I promise I’m not as stuffy as the old ones.” She offered her hand and while Mike hesitated for a split second, he did shake it and that widened her smile.
With a wave to the room, Nica said, “It’s nice to meet you all.”
Crandall, nonplussed at her direct eye contact, said, “Go already. No need to make a fucking production about it.”
Once she left, Mike closed the door and turned to Crandall who stared past him. Mike said, “What was that all about?”
Crandall’s gaze flickered past him. “She’s okay,” he said, “I like her.” And that was the end of it.
Up Next: Never Say More than Required