"This is not a good idea, Jackson."
"Come on, Sonal. It's just a hay barn." Holly Jackson turned to her best friend and gave him her most sincere half-smile, as sincere as she would get at half-past midnight on a very dull Saturday night.
Sonal brushed back his limp, black hair. "It's not just any hay barn, Holly. You know that."
"Don't. Call. Me. Holly." Jackson punctuated each word with a smack to the back of Sonal's thick head.
"Touchy, aren't you?" He rubbed his head as if she'd actually hurt him this time.
"One rule, that's all I've had since I was ten. You don't use the first name, you don't get smacked. It's as easy as that. Now are you coming with me or not?" Jackson didn't wait for Sonal's reply. She scrambled over the splintery wooden fence and pushed through the knee-high weeds toward the back of the deserted Milford hay barn.
She pushed against the peeling barn door. Sonal's brown hands grabbed the weathered barn doors above hers and together they pushed. Groaning metal protested against their efforts but the door slid back on rusted rails, leaving a dark, two foot gap into the barn.
"How do you know this place isn't haunted like they say?" asked Sonal as the two of them stood before the open barn door, looking into utter darkness.
Sonal wrapped his arms around himself. "Let's go home. Wisconsin summers are dull, but not this dull. We can grab some beers and go tip a cow or something."
Jackson wasn't sure how the rickety barn managed to completely block out the silvery glow of the full moon that hung in the sky above them. The oily blackness beyond the barn door was almost enough to make her turn back. Almost.
"Give me the flashlight," she said.
"I'm not going in there."
"Fine, just give me the dang light."
Cool metal slid into her hand. Jackson flipped on the flashlight, and a beam of white sliced through the darkness. She stepped into the dusty interior of the barn. Old strands of bleached hay crunched under her shoes as she walked past a pair of empty feed stalls. The air inside the barn smelled of old manure and something else she couldn't quite figure out. She shined the light over the interior of the barn, illuminating crushed bales of old hay, rat droppings, and a wooden loft about ten feet above her, nothing at all unusual or haunted. Her initial fear mingled with excitement faded to boredom as she poked around yet another dull, deserted barnyard.
"It's empty," she called back to Sonal. "I don't even think the rats live in this mess anymore."
"That's an inhospitable attitude to take about my home," said a deep, raspy voice from above.
Jackson's pulse thundered as she flashed the light up into the hay loft again. A lean figure, dressed in what could only be called early eighties grunge, leaned against a support post, staring down at Jackson. The beam of light reflected off a young woman's alabaster face surrounded by coppery-red hair.
"Could you point that thing somewhere else?" The thin figure shaded her eyes from Jackson's flashlight.
"Sorry," said Jackson, shifting the light to the left. In the shadowy penumbra of the light, the woman stepped off the hay loft and landed with a thud next to Jackson, who took a reflexive step backward.
"Apologies if I'm invading your personal space, but really, you are trespassing in my home."
Keeping her eye on the woman before her, Jackson called back to her friend. "Sonal? You need to come in here now."
"I'm afraid your friend is indisposed at the moment."
Jackson held the flashlight like a weapon, between her and the strange woman. "What do you mean, and who are you?"
"He's dead, and I'm Elvira, Mistress of the Dark."
"You've got to be kidding." Now that Jackson saw that the young woman barely came up to her shoulder, she brushed off her irrational fears.
"Not kidding about your friend, but okay, I'm not really Elvira. I miss that show though, don't you?"
Ignoring the woman, Jackson turned and stomped through the hay dust back to the open barn door. "Sonal, where are you?"
A figure appeared to her right, outside the barn. Jackson stifled a squeal when she realized it was the same woman. "How'd you get out here before me?"
"You didn't even stay long enough for proper introductions," said the woman with a mock pout. "I'm Aly." A smooth, white hand shot out from a tattered flannel sleeve.
"Uh, I'm Jackson." She took Aly's cool hand in her own. "Now where is Sonal?"
Aly slouched against the side of the barn, looking mildly distraught. "I said I killed him. Why don't you believe me?"
Jackson laughed. "Where's the body then?"
"Oh, alright. He left. I scared him off, satisfied?" Aly folded her arms as a frown creased her elfin features.
"Figures," said Jackson. "So, why are you hanging around Milford's farm? You're not from around here."
Aly pushed herself off the barn. "Yes I am, or at least I was, before I died."
Jackson flipped the flashlight beam back into Aly's face. "You're a ghost?"
"No," said Aly with a gleam in her eye. "I am your worst nightmare. I am the undead."
"Undead, huh? Explains the desperate need for a tan," said Jackson sarcastically. She turned off the flashlight and stuffed it into the back pocket of her jeans.
Aly huffed herself up, her hands on hips surprisingly narrow under her oversized blue jeans. "I am the undead. Spawn of Dracula. Blood-drinker."
"Really?" Jackson leaned against the aged oak tree that grew beside the barn. "Prove it then." This woman was certainly a character, cute in her own slovenly way. Maybe the night wouldn't be a total waste.
"Okay, check these out, then." Aly took a couple of steps closer, leaned over Jackson and displayed a remarkably sharp set of white teeth. "And you can smell blood on my breath." She blew out over Jackson's face.
It smelled of the earth and something else, something spicy, and to Jackson's surprise, midly arousing. She grinned mischievously. "You know, if you're looking for the goth chick appeal, with the sharpened teeth and all, I think you need more black makeup or something. You've got the pasty-white skin, but your wardrobe is too Pacific Northwest."
With a huff, Aly pushed away, obviously offended.
"I'm still not quite the believer that you're a vampire," teased Jackson.
"Yeah, whatever." Aly turned her back on Jackson and waved her off. "Go away. Nobody invited you here anyway."
Jackson skipped in front of Aly, walking backward. "Hey, come on. You're giving up too easy. There must be some way you can prove your point."
"It's always about the proving, isn't it," Aly pouted. She looked up into Jackson's eyes. "So how would you propose I prove it?"
Jackson studied Aly's near-black eyes. She slipped a hand around the pale woman's thin waist and pulled her close. "Give me the kiss of death."
She saw Aly's thin red lips part as a faint blush of color crept up the alabaster cheeks. She wondered if a real vampire could blush like that.
"I, uh." Aly stuttered. "I'm not sure we know each other well enough yet for that."
Jackson tried to hide her disappointment as she let her hands fall from Aly's side. A heartbeat later, cool white hands enclosed hers, pulling her back in.
"Maybe just a nibble, just so you'll believe me," said Aly with a shy smile.
Jackson watched, mesmerized, as the pale woman pulled her lower. She closed her eyes, anticipating the feel of soft lips brushing her own. To her surprise, Aly's lips pressed a stream of small kisses down her jaw and along her neck. She sighed, wrapping her arms around the smaller woman. She felt Aly's tongue trace along the inside of her exposed collar bone and back up to lick and nip at her ear lobe. She stifled a moan. Strange or not, Aly had undeniable sensual talents.
A nip at her neck sent shivers down her spine. Another nip and a sharp pinch, as something hot trickled down her neck. A slow moan escaped her lips as Aly suckled at her neck. Hot desire raced through Jackson's veins, building her arousal so intense and so fast as to be nearly painful. She felt her knees give way, but instead of falling, small, strong arms held her up, pulling her close. Nothing existed but the feel of Aly's lithe body wrapped around hers and the sensual, hot fluid that the other woman drank from her.
Aly sank to the ground, cradling Jackson in her arms. To Jackson's dismay, Aly broke their passionate embrace and lay Jackson on a bed of old leaves.
"Don't stop," pleaded Jackson, barely able to open her eyes. A peaceful drowsiness filled the void left by her receding arousal.
Aly traced a cool finger along the outline of Jackson's warm face. "I promised just a nibble."
"And if I want more?" asked Jackson, staring into Aly's now deeply black eyes.
Aly smiled and stretched out on the leaves beside Jackson. "There's time enough for more, when we've gotten to know each other better. I don't believe in going beyond a small taste on the first date. I wouldn't want you to think I'm easy."
Jackson chuckled. "It's okay if I'm easy, though?"
"Huh. Easy? I had to give you proof that I'm a real vampire. I don't call that easy."
"I believe you now," said Jackson as she pulled Aly into a lazy embrace. She smelled Aly's earthy scent and that spicy something that was much stronger now on Aly's breath. Moments later, she fell fast asleep.