Return to Red Ivy

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Dear readers, this came as a Halloween prompt by my bestie, who knows how to get my interest.  He really baited the hook this time...

*

Nic lounged on his bed, scrolling through reviews of Red Ivy. Good DJ, expensive drinks, expensive drinks, good music... bachelorette party, bad drinks, good looking bartenders, ok drinks, good DJ... Nothing he didn't know already. He sighed and flipped past pictures of girls with lots of makeup holding pink drinks.

No one ever wrote about it being a vampire club. Maybe the owner deleted all those reviews.

Nic's roommate knocked on his half-open door before sauntering in. "Hey, ya getting up yet?" Zane said, crossing his ropey arms over his chest. He jerked his head toward the window. "It's getting dark."

"Yeah, yeah," Nic said, putting his phone on his nightstand. He sighed, trying to get rid of the tension in his body. He was filled with that familiar push-pull he got every time he tried at Red Ivy. Excitement at what he was about to attempt, but also not wanting to experience the failure that would probably result.

"I don't know if I want to go out tonight," he said. Sometimes, Nic thought he'd just like to hang forever in moments like this, where he could just exist in possibility. What could happen was often better than what ended up happening.

Zane sat on the edge of Nic's bed and bounced. "Aw, come on. Don't tell me you're nervous. If it doesn't happen this time, well..."

It didn't happen last few time, either, Nic finished for him. He took off his cap and rubbed his buzzed hair. "Nah, I'm not nervous. Not really," he said. He got a whiff of body spray and stood up to put some distance between them. He and his roommate were tight, but Zane always smelled a little like a locker room, even after he showered. "I was just trying to figure out what to wear this time, but all the photos were of girls."

"Doesn't matter what you wear, dude," Zane said. "It's the bod that matters. That's what they want. You just gotta advertise." Nic's roommate was wearing a tight pink polo shirt that outlined the jutting muscles of his shoulders and biceps. The advertising seemed to work for him, but Zane only went for humans.

"Yeah, but I want to... you know," Nic said, waving his fingers at his neck. "I don't care as much about the..." He couldn't bring himself to make a crude gesture, but he knew his roommate knew what he meant.

Zane shuddered. "Better you than me. But okay, fine. Ya wanna get bit. So advertise that neck. That's what they like, right?" He pushed the door of Nic's closet to the side and pulled out a white shirt. He shoved it back. "Nah, too business."

"I'll look like a tourist." Nic said. According to Nic's friend, who was a regular blood-bank, the last thing vampires wanted was to hook up with a tourist. That's what they called first-timers with a fetish... which was exactly what Nic was.

"Right, gotta look like it's no big deal, like you're a hometown boy. Which you are," Zane said. "Which you are. Born and raised, right?" He reached into Nic's closed again. "How 'bout this?" He pulled a red t-shirt off a hanger and waved it. "And why is this even hanging up?" Looking at the tag, Zane whistled. "That's why."

"Yeah, that might be okay." Nic pulled his shirt over his head and put on the red one. Unlike a normal t-shirt, this one draped over his shoulders and exposed his collar bone with a wide neckline. It was designer, a gift from his sister. The strange, cool material slipped over his skin. "Does it advertise?" he said, pulling on the bottom edge.

"Yeah, but we gotta get you pumped beforehand," his roommate said, making a muscle. Nic groaned, but Zane thumped him on the back. "Gotta get the blood flowing, very important in more ways than one. So change into your gym clothes and meet me outside."

There were drawbacks to living with a personal trainer, Nic thought, putting on his shorts and the shirt he was wearing earlier. Zane didn't seem to realize that not everyone was as obsessed with fitness as he was, nor came with the genetics of a Greek god. Still, he was a good guy and an awesome wingman, so Nic sucked it up and met his roomie on the balcony.

They lived on the middle floor of a three-storey brick building so close to the water, their lawn was half sand. Zane liked nothing better than to lift while in full view of everyone that passed by on the way to the beach. But this time, Nic was the main attraction, and that wasn't nearly as impressive. At least it was getting dark.

"Glad you're here, bro!" Zane said, holding out his arms in welcome, as though he didn't make Nic do this twice a week. "Just a short session to get you pumped tonight. We're gonna do some chest, and then we're gonna do some arms, and finish with squats. Here ya go." He held out two dumbbells. They looked heavy.

Nic sighed and accepted that the next twenty minutes would be filled with pain.

*

After Nic showered, he put on his "hunting outfit," his jeans and that weird red shirt that showed off his neck, or so Zane claimed. He had to admit, he felt better than usual about his chances tonight. The short but intense weight session had burned off a lot of his nerves, and now, the veins on his neck stood out in a way he hoped was attractive to the local vampires.

The red color of the shirt reminded Nic of blood. I'd bite me, he thought, and walked out of the steam-filled bathroom.

They left their place and started walking to Red Ivy. Nic waited for his roommate to start talking, like he always did. Zane didn't disappoint.

"You're gonna live your dream, I can feel it," the pink-shirted man said. "You're gonna get in there and wow them with your looks. I bet blood-suckers go for guys like you, you know..."

"Skinny?" Nic said. He had always been on the thin side, despite Zane's best efforts.

"Naw," his roommate said. "Pretty." He held up his palms.  "No homo, dude, but you're pretty for a man. Your face, like a... like an English lord or something. It's the shirt, all romantic and shit. I bet vampires like that."

Huh. Nic had never thought of himself like that. Maybe all the times he'd failed to become a blood-bank, it was because he was trying to show off the wrong thing. "So the shirt works?"

"Oh, yeah," Zane said. "Definitely. And ya just gotta find a vamp who's hot for it. Those tight little dresses, the wild hair, the red lipstick. And sexy dance moves on the floor, dancing up on you. That's how ya know she's looking to get picked up."

It was good advice for humans, but in Nic's experience, vampires weren't like that. Instead, the vampires he had tried to approach were cool and closed-off, only associating with each other, sticking close to the bar. Nic often thought they were watching him and judging him as a tourist.

He started to touch his hair, but didn't want to mess up the gel job. If vampires just wanted to stand around and look important, why did they go to a bar with humans?

Zane gave an exaggerated grimace. "Bloodsuckers aren't my thing, but whatevs, dude. I'm not the one who's gonna get close to her. Just use the signal if you bring her back to our place."

The signal was taking their shoes off outside the door, something they only did if they had company. "You too," Nic said.

"Oh, I'm not coming back tonight, bro," Zane said, slowly shaking his head. "I'm not coming back."

Don't worry, Stallion Mage readers.  I'm working on that, too.  I'm home with a cold, so I have plenty of time to write :)

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