As I entered Mickey's, I regretted telling Cher and Lisa that I would meet them here. Friday nights in downtown Shreveport were busy, filled with people making their way from one hot spot to the next. It was Tuesday, however, and people were sparse. I spied several creepie men eye-ball me as I walked to the bar. Unfortunately, tonight was the only night the three of us would have off together for a while. Nurses schedules were often crazy like that.
"Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, please", I nodded to the bar tender. I didn't expect to get here so quickly, but the drive from Longview on I-20 was unpredictable. I had 30 min to kill before I expected the girls. Great. I dug around my purse for my phone and decided it would be best if I acted busy on my phone so no one would bother me.
"Waiting for friends?" an Irish accented guy asked next to me. So much for acting busy.
"Yes..." I turned to face the man, expecting one of the undesirables I had seen earlier, but was caught off guard. "Yes, I am." It was his eyes that threw me. Only in movies and fake contact lenses had I ever seen eyes as icy-blue as his.
"May I join you while you wait?" He smiled warmly.
I had to force myself to break contact with his eyes. "Sure," I managed to say as the bar tender brought me my beer.
The Irishman seated himself next to me. He smelled as incredible as he looked.
"Are your friends late or are you just early?" He leaned in towards the bartender, "Red Breast on the rocks."
I quickly glanced over him as I took a pull from the pale ale. Black hair, handsome face with a prominent nose and full lips, dressed in what appeared to be just a button up and jeans, but they looked expensive. Perhaps his late 20s, early 30s. "I'm early. Wasn't sure what the traffic would be like."
He smiled. "Yeah, me too." His drink was quickly brought to him and he held up his glass of what could either be scotch or whiskey. "Here's to being early."
Irish was friendly enough, but it was always the hot men you had to watch out for. I clinked my beer against his glass and smiled. I wondered who was he waiting for? A girl perhaps?
His eyes roamed my face for a moment and then jumped as if remembering something. "I'm sorry. Forgive my manners," he said as he put the drink on the bar and held up his hand. "I'm Donovan Kelly."
"Natalie Silver, but people call me Natty."
His hand was warm wrapped around mine as we shook. I felt a large ring on his middle finger. "Natty," he smiled.
I started feeling a bit strange... I could only imagine the feeling like the forest right before it is engulfed in a raging wild fire. I ignored it. "So, Donovan, fresh off the boat?"
He laughed. "Is my accent still that strong?"
"It's not strong, just noticeably different from southern."
"Yeah, I suppose that it is." Donovan stared at the glass in his hand for a moment, smiling. Slowly he lifted the drink to his lips and downed the last of the beverage.
He turned towards me and smiled again. Crystal blue eyes searched mine and traced my face. "Do you know how beautiful you are, Natty? Every man in this bar has their eyes trained on you... and I'm the lucky bastard sitting here."
I smiled and looked down at my beer. How was one supposed to answer that? Thank you? I know? That accent was hot too!
"Please forgive my forwardness," he said, apparently catching my fluster.
I just shook my head. When I looked back up, it seemed as if something had just caught his eye over my left shoulder. His face grew serious, his icey blue eyes found mine again. "Natty, I have to go love, but I will find you later tonight." Donovan lifted my left hand to his lips and kissed it softly. "I promise." With that, he left in a hurry. I stared at my hand for a moment, then turned to watch him leave. But, he was already gone from the bar.
I looked down to my hand where Donovan's lips had been just seconds before. What did he mean he'd find me later tonight? I had no idea where I'd be, how would he? That had to be the strangest encounter with a man... no... a hot man that I had ever had. I took another sip of the beer. I hoped I'd see him again... but I knew better.
For 30 more minutes, I sat at that bar and had two more beers. I glanced at the bar top when a blue light caught the corner of my eye. My cell was ringing. Glancing at the number, I saw it was Cher.
"Hey, where the hell are you?" I asked into the phone.
"We are at Mickey's.. where the hell are you?"
"I AM at Mickey's!"
"No, not Mickey's, Nickey's! Not Mickey Mouse but like Saint Nick!"
I was at the wrong bar. I sighed. "Dammit. Okay, do you guys know where Mickey's is in relation to Nickey's?"
Fortunately, Cher did know. I was just a block away from them. After receiving instructions on how to get there, I paid up my tab and made my way outside.
It was 8:30 in the evening in October. The sun had already gone down. The brick lined streets were illuminated in light... but pretty empty. Now, I needed to walk a block in Shreveport's downtown alleys... alone.
As I walked, my right hand felt in my purse to the beretta I had a license to conceal. The smooth cold metal calmed my nerves a bit.
The ally was pretty quiet. I shared it with couple walking the opposite direction. Apparently, they had started drinking before I had as they seemed quite drunk and enamored with each other. When they turned the corner, I heard real silence of the city. Nothing but my heels clacking and grinding against the worn bricks in the street and the far off traffic from I-20.
I stopped suddenly, hoping I did not just hear what I thought I heard. Every hair stood on end as a shiver ran through my body. No, I heard what I had heard. It was a man, far inside one of the old buildings I was passing, yelling for help. I glanced around. Whoever was yelling was in terrible pain as well.
I could call the cops for him... and wait however long it would take for them to get there. Thirty minutes? An hour? Two hours? Or... I could find this man and help him myself. I knew it was a stupid and dangerous thing to do, but I had to help him. Perhaps I was naive, perhaps it was the 8 years of being a nurse, but I had to help.
I found the door of the building the man was in to be ajar. I cautiously peered inside. It was dark but the several broken windows allowed street light in and I could see fine. Further back in the building, I heard the man whimper out a plea for help.
I pulled the beretta from my purse, pushing the clip into the gun with a click. To hell with concealing it right now. Maybe it was someone that had fallen down some stairs... or maybe it was someone that was beaten and robbed... or maybe the cries for help were bait. I had to be prepared as much as I could.
I continued on, further into the old building that seemed that time had forgotten. It used to be a bar, or a club, at some point. Old wooden chairs were stacked on top of dusty tables. Some had been covered in cloth, others had been revealed by passing vagrants. Just like many of the old down town buildings, this building had good bones, begging to shine again.
I reached a set of large wooden doors and heard the man say something, possibly to himself. I knew he was just past the doors. I leaned forward, peering through the crack and gasped. I could see a man, hoisted up from the ground, hanging by his outstretched arms.
Without thinking, I quickly pulled the heavy doors open and was fully immersed within the horrors that the man had been enduring.
His shirt was hanging open revealing the many gashes and knife wounds on his neck, chest and torso. His muscular body was nearly covered in his own blood. He was being held up by his arms, pulled to either side of him... with barbed wire wrapped around each wrist. Not rope or chain, barbed wire! The mans head hung down and I was afraid that he might die if I didn't cut him down quickly and get him to a hospital.
"Oh my god, I'm going to get you down!" I managed to find that the barbed wire was attached to regular wire. A system of pullies was used to hoist the main up into the air. I unfastened one wire and let it out slowly. When I saw the stranger was now hanging by his left arm, I ran to the other side of the room and let out that wire. The man collapsed to the concrete.
I was at his side in a second, concerned with removing the barbed-wire shackles from his wrists. I winced as I started working them off. The barbs were dug into his flesh at least a half an inch in some places. It took me a good two minutes to remove them from the poor man. Finished, I wrapped his arm around my neck and helped him to his feet. His body leaned heavily on mine. He lifted a finger to point to the doors at the back of the place. Those doors opened out to reveal the Red River right behind the building.
"I have to get you to a hospital," I said and gently put him down. As I was digging for my phone, I felt the man's hand gently on my calf.
"What?" I looked down at him and my eyes locked with ice blue. I felt my heart stop. "Donovan?!" I quickly sat down next him. "Donovan!"
His eyes were half open, his beautiful face streaked with blood and perspiration. "I can't go to the hospital, Natty." He struggled.
"Why not? You're going to die if you don't! You've lost too much blood!"
He shook his head and leaned back on his elbows. "No I won't, but, and I hate to ask this," Donovan leaned his head back with his eyes shut for a moment. "I need you to help me, once more."
I stared at him. "How can I help you?"
He swallowed hard. "I need you to trust me and not be frightened."
"What?" If I wasn't already on edge, I'd be hanging by my fingernails over a cliff right now. What was he needing from me? "Okay....?"
Donovan leaned forward and towards me. His eyes watched me as he gently took my left hand with his right. He pulled my hand his nose and inhaled the inside of my wrist slowly with his eyes closed.
What the hell was he doing? He was bleeding to death and he had to smell my perfume?
"Please don't be upset with me," his lips brushed against my wrist as he spoke softly. Without warning, Donovan sank his teeth into the inside of my wrist, biting into my flesh and the blood rich veins that live there.
"Donovan!" For some reason, I could only say his name. I was frozen. I watched in horror as he pulled blood from my veins into his mouth. My blood trickled down the corners of his lips. Was this how he needed my help? He was going to kill me? No way. I had to be dreaming, I thought. I felt myself teeter as I became light headed.
Donovan pulled his mouth from my wrist and steadied me. "No, stay with me, Natty." He slowly lowered me to my back on the concrete. "Stay with me."
My eyes fluttered, but I didn't faint. I looked up at him, "why did you..." and I noticed that there wasn't a trace of trauma on him, except for the blood he had already spent. No cut, no open wound... no puncture wounds where the barbed-wire had dug into his wrists. It was all gone. Had my blood healed him?
"I don't understand," I managed to say.
Donovan was holding my wrist tightly with his hand. When he released pressure, it began bleeding profusely. "Watch," he said and bit his own finger, making it bleed. Quickly, he swirled his bloodied finger against my torn wrist. Almost, as if by magic, my wound started closing up, the bleeding stopped. I could feel the skin, vessels and muscle going back to normal. The dull throb eased.
He pulled me to a sitting position next to the raised cargo wall, and leaned up next to me. Donovan took my hand in his and sighed.
"I mean, I've been in medicine for 8 years now and have seen all kinds of quote unquote wonder drugs... but nothing... I mean nothing, that could accomplish this."
Donovan raised his eyebrows slightly. "Nurse?"
"Are you afraid of me now, Natty?"
I rolled my head against the concrete and looked at him. "Something tells me that I probably should be..."
A faint smile tweaked the edges of his lips. "But you aren't."
No, I wasn't afraid of him. Everything screamed to me that I should be and that I should leave and never want to see him again... but I wasn't listening. "Are you going to tell me?"
"Yes, I will tell you, but first, I want to hear what you think."
What I think... what do I think? How did he not die from those wounds? "I'm a person of logic, proven science... When a person is wounded, their bodies need time to heal. Lymphocytes, phagocytes, cells, the body can only heal itself so fast. A simple rose thorn scratch can take weeks to fully recover, but still leave a scar." I sat forward and inspected his chest, running my hands over his skin. When Donovan drew in a sharp breath, I tried to move my hand from him, but he caught it and placed it back on his chest. He simply smiled. He had been enjoying my fingers on his chest.
The wild fire feeling I had felt before started creeping back. I didn't know what to say, so I continued. "You healed from mortal wounds in mere minutes. I'm positive that it is not possible in the medical world. So...I'm left to guess at the supernatural?" I felt so silly saying that... but what else could explain it?
"And your conclusion?"
"You can't be an angel, they don't drink blood. You can't be a vampire, they don't bleed and you aren't cold. But...I don't think you are a werewolf either, but then again, it could explain the color of your eyes." I guess I didn't have a conclusion.
Donovan brought my hand down from his chest to his other hand. He held mine tightly with both of his. "It's amazing how time has a way of messing with the truth. What starts as fact, becomes contorted into a legend, then it is twisted into a myth."
"So it is one of those?"
It took me just a second to mull it over. "You're a vampire"
"Yes, I am Natty."