Phips felt the wind knocked out of him as she pressed him hard against the wall. He'd barely turned the key in the lock before she was on him pushing him through the opening door, kissing, her hands clawing over his shoulders and down to the hem of his T-shirt, her breath soft and hot as it flowed out of her nose.

He'd left his jacket and tie at the office, forgotten in his shock and the frenzy of wanting to get her away—someplace where he could have her all to himself.

In the car she had undone the buttons of his shirt one by one so that when they pulled into the driveway of his little house, he'd simple shrugged out of it and left it in the driver's seat as he'd chased her up the steps to the front door.

Her tongue pressed between his lips and he sucked on it, closing his eyes, listening as he heard her skillfully kick the door closed behind them. He pressed on her shoulders, and she pulled away with a sudden moan of disquiet.

"Wow, you're in a hurry," he said, jokingly straightening up and moving his arm around her waist lifting her lithe little frame up so that she was nearly on tip-toe.

She was light. He'd always imagined she would be—from the moment she'd distinguished herself in class, he'd imagined what it would be like to hold, her lift her up, feel her come down, her hips straddling his. All those smoldering stares, those little smiles he'd thought he'd imagined...

He ran a hand down and kneaded her buttocks through the denim of her jeans, breathing in the sweet smell of her. He kissed her slowly, patiently, and he could feel her squirming in his embrace. Her hands were at his shoulders and then at her side and then she was reaching up as if to hold his head in her palms but she thought better of it. He smiled at her awkward girlishness.

"Relax," he said, rubbing the tip of his nose against hers, smiling and watching her smile. "I'm not going to bite."


He'd been working on the book for almost two years, spending his summers away from the college doing research in New England

It had been early in the fall, the leaves had not yet turned and he'd begun the year as he'd begun the last three, a few more chapters of his book completed and a full load of classes to teach. They'd given him a new office—smaller but he didn't have to share with anybody.

He'd noticed her in class, sitting at the back, her attention duly paid, her questions topical when she deigned to ask them. Of course, he'd noticed how pretty she was but the class was peppered with pretty girls and, after three years as a lecturer, he'd stopped fantasizing, for the most part, about having them.

"Superstition," he said, going into the familiar start of his opening lecture. "Folklore, Myth, the Occult, the Paranormal, the Preternatural," he'd turned from the whiteboard where he'd written his name. "What fascinates us about them? Why do these old wives' tales from the ancient traditions seem never to die but again be reborn and reanimated in our modern culture? Our pop-culture fascination with werewolves, vampires, ghost, goblins, and things that go bump in the night—it seems endless. And what draws you all, in your collegiate co-ed curiosity, to my class to learn about these mythical creatures?"

A few laughs and a few hands were raised. He called on a young man in the front.

"Immortality," the man said. "I think we all like them 'cause a lot of them can live forever."

Phips wagged a finger. "Not so," he said, checking the seating chart. "Mr. Butler, is it?"

The young man nodded.

"In fact, as we will learn, in most folklore the undead, as they are called, only rise to haunt the living for a brief period of days, weeks, or even months. Only very recently have the myths about vampires and werewolves evolved to include immortality as a requisite about the undead."

Walking around and leaning on the table at the front of the room, he pointed to another hand, a young woman with blonde hair.

"They're sexy," she said, in response, lowering her hand slowly. "Vampires, I mean. They have this sort of strong mojo that's so hot!"

Phips smiled, "You're confusing vampires with the actors who play them, Miss..." he looked down at the seating chart, "Miss Grayle." He folded his arms and continued. "In fact, most folklore concerning preternatural creatures describes them as grotesque—disembodied heads or rotting corpses with mangled, mutated features. The super-sexualized representation of the vampire in film and literature is something we can blame almost entirely on Bram Stoker."

Phips looked up to see the last hand, hers, halfway raised at the back. "Yes, Miss..." he looked at the chart, "...Miss Brown," he said, noting the interesting first name. "Miss Mercy Brown," he said it with a smile.

She lowered her hand, addressing her answer directly to him, leaning back in her chair in a way that came off as rebellious, as if she already knew all there was to know about this subject and him. "It's simply human nature to fear the unknown," she said, looking down to where she let her fingers trace a couple of little hearts carved into the wood of the little half-desk. "Things people don't understand they fear and label as magical or supernatural. We," she paused, "we don't know why we're afraid of the dark or why that fear intrigues us so. It... It just does."

Phips cocked his head, "Spooky," he said with a smile, aimed in her general direction.

The class laughed and he straightened and cleared his throat. "However, that is a bit of a philosophical truth. Perhaps factual events started these myths. In fact, perhaps all beliefs spread from some phenomenon we simply have yet to grasp as a culture. It is enthralling to think about it."


It was three weeks into the semester when she came to his office. It was after the class meeting, around seven in the evening.

"Professor, can I speak to you?"

He nodded and pointed to the chair by the desk. He took out the package of Twizzlers he kept for students and offered her one. She took it and held it as she sat, letting her book bag drop to the floor beside her.

"What's up, Miss Brown?" Phips asked, leaning back in his desk chair and waiting.

She looked up from the uneaten Twizzlers in her hand, her green eyes meeting his brown ones. "I—I wanted to," she looked back down. "You're writing a book?"

Phips put his hands up on his head, studying her. "Who told you that?"

She shrugged. "I was just told you were writing one, does it matter who told me?"

Phips took his hands down and leaned forward. "It's not finished yet, so I don't like talking about it. Don't you have questions about the class?"

She reached out the hand with the Twizzler and let the red ropey candy lay on the edge of the desk. "What's the subject of the book, Mr. Phips?"

Phips' eyes narrowed and he shrugged, there was no harm in telling her, his author vanity could allow it. "Historical instances of vampirism... community reactions to said instances..."

"Specifically?" She looked up from her hands.

"I'm afraid I don't like to..."


Phips smirked, "Good guess. Of course, Exeter, Rhode Island is the site of the most famous case of documented vampirism in the United States..."

"Shut up, please."

Phips stopped talking, his mouth poised open, his breath caught at the suddenness of the order. He'd never been ordered to do anything by a student. She stood, putting her hands in the pockets of her blue jeans.

Phips let his jaw jut out a touch, showing he was thinking. He stood and walked to the door of the office and shut it, turning and leaning against the frame. "I've only told two people about my work, my brother, and a librarian in Exeter township. How do you know about..."

"You told your brother through e-mail. We intercepted it."


She looked up. "Don't ask questions," she stood and made a few small steps away and then back, as if trying to pace in the confined space. "We mean you no harm. We never have. Like your forefathers, we came here to start life anew, for we are alive and have always been, though we have been persecuted for our differences..."

"What are you talking..."

"You cannot finish your book, Jonathan Phips. I am sorry to be the one to bring you this mandate, but it is for your safety as well as ours that we ask you to desist."

"Miss Brown, I..."

"My name is Mercy."

Phips nodded, and then shook his head. "An interesting name..."

"My father's name was George, and I had two sisters and a brother..." Her eyes narrowed, as she folded her arms awaiting reply.


She nodded. "I understand you've discovered his diary."

Phips nodded. "This is all very amusing and imaginative, but..."

"It is also very amusing that you of all people don't believe me, Mr. Phips." Her gaze seemed to pierce him somehow. "You've read the diary."

"It's a diary kept by a very weak, sick, young man living in a town overcome with hysteria."

"And yet he describes the visitations so vividly, doesn't he?" She let her fingers trail along the seam of her blue jeans. "I'm telling you the truth, Professor. I am Mercy Brown."

"Mercy Brown was a scapegoated corpse. She died in 1891 at the age of 19 from consumption. Now, if you would be so kind as to..."

She leapt at him then, grabbing his left ear with her hand and jerking his head at an angle so that pain shot through him. He wanted to scream out in agony but couldn't—he found himself unable to let out anything but air as a pressure built up at the side of his throat. In a second the pressure was gone and he was on the floor, his legs having buckled underneath him, and she having cradled him as he fell. She knelt in front of him, wiping her lips with a Kleenex.

He looked at her pale, innocent face with horror, trying to scream but unable to.

"Don't panic," she said, putting her fingers to his neck and feeling his pulse as she checked his pulse against her wristwatch. "If you elevate your heart rate too much you'll pass out."

She settled down on the carpet in front of him, crossing her legs and putting her elbows on her knees. "Your voice will return in a few minutes, it's a side effect of the venom. It anesthetizes so that you won't feel pain and so you can't raise an alarm."

She reached out and touched his wrist. "You'll be fine, though, so long as you don't panic and you listen to my voice. Can you do that for me, Jonathan? Nod, if you can do that for me."

He nodded, still wide-eyed and confused.

She uncrossed her legs and pulled her legs up to her chest. "You're afraid, I understand. That's fine, Jonathan. In fact it's good to be afraid—not just of me but the powers that I represent. I am not alone, Jonathan. Behind me is a large community and they wish to make it known to you that they value their privacy more than they do the life of a 28-year old lecturer at a second rate university."

"Guuph," Phips croaked, most of the air coming out of his nose instead of his mouth.

She leaned forward and covered his mouth with her hand. He looked down at her teeth, they seemed like ordinary teeth but as her face came closer he could see the fangs, four of them, two on each side of the roof of the mouth. She shushed him, and ran her cheek over his forehead, as if she were a mother soothing an infant, she positioned herself so that her thighs straddled his pelvis as she cradled his head against her breast.

"They, however, will not harm you. I won't let them, you are safe, Jonathan Phips."

"W-why?" it was a hoarse whisper, but his voice was returning.

She leaned back and smiled. "Can't a girl have a crush on her professor?"

"N-no, seriously," it was getting some of its timber back. "Why?"

"Because you will do what I say when you find out what it is I can offer you in exchange for your silence."


She leaned in and kissed the patch of neck that was already beginning to heal as the venom dissolved in his bloodstream. "If you decide you truly want it, we shall see about it in time. For now, I offer you information—knowledge, Jonathan, of the things you have studied all of your adult life. Our race has a wealth of information that humans have thought lost for eons. We are keepers of the forgotten secrets and these secrets I will share with you if you give up your book and swear on your own blood that you will never, ever, ever take up and write down what you have discovered."

"S—so, you think you can just make me promise not to write about you and you'll trust me to keep my word?"

"Yes, now be silent." She leaned down and pressed her lips to his, cupping his face in her hands as he felt his own hands move up to her hips. She rocked slightly over his lap and the two of them felt his arousal growing between them.

"I-is this a side effect of the venom, too?" he asked, as her kisses moved around to his ear. He felt her nibbling there before she let out a small laugh.

"No," she said. "This is something I've just wanted to do since I first saw you. You're a very attractive boy, Jonathan."

"I—I..." he was cut off by another sudden deep kiss, and he sat up, pushing her back until she was on the floor. He repositioned himself so that he was on top of her, putting a hand up on his desk as if to balance himself.

"Careful, you're still light-headed," she smirked.

"How old are you?" he asked, looking into her eyes as he inched his hand along his desk toward the edge where the drawer was cracked slightly open.

She ran her fingers up along the side of his face, studying his expression with a bit of amusement. "Let's just go with older than you, Johnny." She smirked. "You don't mind if I call you Johnny, do you? It suits your face so well."

"Not at all..." His hand was nearly at the drawer.

"What do you think you stealthily reaching for?" She reached up and opened the drawer, taking out the little rosary, and playing with the beads; her long, pale fingers intertwining with them. "You're a Catholic?"

"Lapsed," he said. "I—I'm sorry, I..."

"Don't worry about it," she said, handing him the talisman. "It's a shock. You're not going to be doing anything too rational for a few days." She put her hands behind her head and lay back on the carpet. "My advice though, is to just go with it."

"I see," he said. "So since you bit me..."

"No," she cut him off, already knowing the question. "You're going to be human as long as you want to be, Johnny." She giggled, "I'm not that kind of girl, anyway. I have to get to know you better.

He looked down at her, he couldn't help but smile at her. There was everything in her all at once, the youthful appearance of a young woman, the anticipations, calculations and patience of someone very wise. When she laughed it was a nice lovable sound.

"So, you came here to tell me to stop writing the book and you just happened to fall for me on site?"

She sighed. "Creature of whimsy," she said, and leaned up to put her elbows underneath her. I'd been watching you for a few months beforehand, too. You're a solitary type, you love books and you like to travel to odd places to do your odd research. And though your information is very wrong, you're enamored of your subject and that's endearing, considering I am one of your subjects."

"I still don't believe you're real."

She reached up and ran a hand through his hair. "Take me back to your place," she said. "I'll show you how real I can be."


They hadn't made it past the doorway to the bedroom. She'd wheeled and grabbed him to her in animalistic passion and he, realizing she was stronger, let himself be grabbed. He was on the floor and his T-shirt was pulled up to his chin. He felt a little stab of pain, and then a bit of pressure over his left nipple. He could feel her moaning as she took a little bit of his blood.

He gripped her by the hair and she released, pulling up licking her lips as she came up to kiss him. He tasted it, the slight metallic flavor of his own blood mingled with her saliva. Her eyes were glistening even in the darkness of the house. There hadn't been time to turn on any lights, too captivated were they with one another to be bothered.

She took the hem of her own T-shirt and pulled it up over her head, tousling her dark brown curls before tossing the shirt away and pinning his wrists over his head, running her tongue lightly over the skin of his jawbone, tasting his sweat and smelling his shaving lotion.

He could hear something low, guttural, like a purring coming from deep within her as she nuzzled and basked in his helplessness. He struggled and she laughed a bit before whispering. "I guess you'll just have to lie there and take what I give, huh, Professor?"

She brought her face back and looked down at him, her smile fading to one of appraisal. After a moment she let his wrists go, sitting up and putting her hands to her flushed face. "Sorry," she said. "I-I didn't mean..."

He sat up and ran his hands up her bare back to the hooks on her bra. "It's okay."

She felt his lips against the skin at the top of her breasts as he took the bra down, the straps coming off her shoulders. She felt the lips move to cover her own nipple. "I-It's just been..." she let out a breath of air as he sucked the nipple between his teeth and bit down gently on it. "Shhh, ah. It's been a long time since I was with a human."

Phips paused in his kissing. "Oh?" he pecked along her breast bone, saying the words between kisses. "When was... the last time?"

She felt his hands kneading her muscles, running up over her spine between her shoulder blades. "Oh, 1908-09, somewhere in there."

He paused and looked up at her.

She shrugged, "You know how it is, every century or so, you've got to let your hair down."

They laughed and he pressed her up, her feet came under her and then she helped him up. They moved into the bedroom, she leading him by the hand. She sat on the edge of the bed and undid his belt and unbuttoned his trousers.

She didn't bother with the subterfuge of stroking him through the fabric of his boxers, he was already aroused. She simply slipped the elastic down over his hips and took him into her mouth.

He gasped at the sensation of her tongue moving over the slit at the tip and then, as she took the length of him down her throat, that same tongue licking along the base of his shaft just above the skin of his scrotum. His knees were weak when she came up for air and he moved his hand down her back over the little bumps along her spine to where her blue jeans puckered. He let his hand slip down and inside the elastic of her panties as she took his length again. He felt her moaning around his growing girth as he felt the moisture beneath her. He groaned as he felt the length of his member unsheathed once more and she, gasping, lay back on the bed, her hands falling back across the comforter as his hands went to unbutton the fly of her jeans. He pulled them down, nibbling at the skin of her abdomen, listening to her laughter.

"That tickles."

He ripped away the panties, and gazed upon her now naked body. She was small and her skin was smooth and white. It seemed that all the light in the room existed just to illuminate her pale skin against the dark blue of the comforter. He ran a hand over her skin, feeling its coolness against his palm and the solidness of the muscles of her thighs and lower abdomen under that skin.

Her hand was over his in an instant, guiding it down to the neatly trimmed tuft of dark hair. He leaned forward and pressed his mouth against her opening, sucking lightly along her outer lips, kissing, licking, then sucking before using his fingers to part her lips as he dipped his tongue inside of her. He savored her as he found her little pleasure button and worked, listening to her panting until he was rewarded with the little flow of juices against his lips and chin. He lapped them hungrily, as hungrily as she had lapped at his wounds for his blood and, when he was finished, he lay atop her, pressing the head of his throbbing cock inside of her.

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