I came back to Bridgeport after leaving my son in the capable hands of my sister. On the one hand I felt relieved and ready to get on with my life; on the other hand I felt an overwhelming sadness and emptiness.
I’m sure it post-partum depression had something to do with it, but I let my sadness and emptiness get the best of me. Oh, I went back to work immediately. My pregnancy hadn’t affected my job except that I hadn’t been present in the office in the last month. But after the baby was born, my work performance plummeted.
I took to heading out to the local hotspot which happened to be right across the street from my apartment. I was lonely. After work, I made excuses to myself saying I just needed to relax. I told myself that the food at the Brightmore bar or even the lounge at Euji’s was actually better than anything I could make at home. I told myself that I needed to make friends and meet people in the community.
I told myself everything except the truth…I wanted to forget.
I met Barry Tenderlove when I was at Euji’s. (I still hadn’t run into Ebenezer since he took me there when I first arrived in Bridgeport. I realized he must have lied about it being his favorite hangout.) Barry was handsome and fun. He bought me a drink or two and we danced most of the night.
He told me he was just getting out of a relationship with a girl named Xun Xu. We seemed to have a lot in common in the bad relationship department.
I actually met Barry there several nights in a row. After Ebenezer, I refused to be a one-night stand or an easy pick up. But I was seriously deluding myself. What makes a second date any better than a first for jumping into bed with some guy?
‘Cause that’s what I did. And it wasn’t even that great. Barry left almost immediately after it was over. He mumbled something about work the next day. I felt even more alone than I had before we were together. And I knew, as I was laying in my bed after he left, that there would be no repeat performance. We weren’t a couple…never would be.
In fact, I found out about a month later that Barry and his ex-girlfriend had gotten engaged.
I’d like to say that I learned something from the Barry experience, but I didn’t. I met Buster Rumble in an elevator heading down from the Brightmore’s lounge after closing time. We actually got stuck together inside for about 30 minutes. I’m not sure what happened. Buster was cute in a scruffy way and I liked how he was fighting back being scared.
In the end I offered to take him to my place so that he could calm down. He didn’t seem to want to go back to his own apartment that he shared with two roommates. I really thought he was cute, and he told me he was a musician, which reminded me of my brother and his friends.
I had had no intention of letting Buster spend the night, but we talked for hours and we were both tired. I let him stay and it just seemed silly to make him sleep on my cramped little loveseat. We cuddled in bed together. It felt good—sweet. I fell asleep in his arms.
The problem was that the next morning we weren’t so tired and I was still in his arms. I was groggy and not really thinking clearly—it had been a really late night. I know that I’m the one who turned into him, but he’s the one who started kissing me. Then his hands were on me and then we were making love. It was slow, soft and sexy and for the first time I think I actually liked it.
But after it was over and Buster got dressed he said, “Thanks for letting me stay last night Kindra. I had a great time. I really like you.”
“I like you, too, Buster,” I said, still basking in the afterglow of my first-ever orgasm. “I hope we can see each other again.”
“Um…about that…” Buster stammered. “I’m sort of seeing someone else.”
“What!” I couldn’t believe that I had heard correctly.
“I…um…sort of have a girlfriend. She’s also a musician. She’s pretty well-known actually. I can’t break up with her. It would be the end of my career.”
“I don’t understand. How can you sort of have a girlfriend and come home with a girl you just met and sleep with her?”
“What my girlfriend doesn’t know…and if she finds out, then we can break up. The scandal would strengthen both of our careers.”
Buster was not the person that I thought he was the night before. The sweet, tender lover turned out to be an ambitious celebrity-wannabe who just thought sex was for fun. He even said he’s made love to me as a ‘thank you’ for keeping him calm in the elevator! By the time he left I was this close to slapping him!
Do you think I learned my lesson? Unfortunately I did not. I continued to club and bar hop all over town. I told myself I was having fun, relaxing, being flirty. I even tried to convince myself that I was looking for Mr. Right. Right.
It was the last guy I got involved with who inadvertently made me see how much damage I was doing to myself and my career. His name was Merrick. He had his own entourage of blondes with big boobs. At first I walked right on past him since I took notice of his followers, but he took an interest in me.
I should have known that I was being hunted, but despite all of the men I’d involved myself with, I was still pretty naïve.
When Merrick ditched his blonde army and paid attention to me, I was flattered. He called me his little cherry, which should have offended me, but it didn’t. He treated me really well and bought me drinks, danced with me and played shuffleboard. At the end of the night he called me a cab and asked me if he could see me again. Of course I said yes.
I was not expecting Merrick to come to my house the next day. It was a big surprise, but I liked him, so I let him into my apartment. He was very intense, but gentlemanly. He didn’t make any moves on me, but spent time getting to know me and allowing me to get to know him. Again, I was flattered…and somewhat relieved that he wasn’t coming on to me. Merrick left after a few hours and he hadn’t made any sort of sexual move. He just asked if I would go out with him another night. He said he’d take me somewhere special. I agreed.
The very next day I got a promotion at work—finally! My boss, Katrina Pala, called me into her office. She looked concerned. I actually worried that she might be calling me in to fire me. I’d been burning the candle at both ends for too long and I knew it.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to give you this promotion,” my boss said. “You have a reputation as a party girl. We’re not sure we want to have that sort of person in management.”
“You think I could be management?” I asked. I really wanted to become CEO. I was only being promoted to drone, but if I worked hard, I had to believe I could eventually manage it.
“I think you could go far, Kindra, but your after-office activities aren’t going to help you. You’ve been seen with some…questionable…people.”
Of course I promised to quell my clubbing activities. I left work feeling like my purpose was renewed. I was so excited!
Over the next week, I kept my nose clean. I didn’t go out. I only left my apartment for work or to go get food. I made myself into a model employee and tried very hard to show my boss that I was worthy of promotion.
Of course Merrick called me practically every night asking if I would go out with him. I said no and told him it was because of work. I could tell he was disappointed. He asked to come over to my place, but I refused that, too. I needed to put my past behind me. That included Merrick, even though I thought he was the nicest of the men I had met in Bridgeport.
One day I came to work to find my boss looking a little ill. She was distracted and her complexion was off. I was concerned. When I saw her stagger out of her office, I followed. She headed out of the building and then collapsed on the pavement outside. I didn’t know what was wrong.
Of course I called 911. When I leaned down and touched her, her skin was cold and I had trouble finding a pulse. I was really scared.
The ambulance came and the EMTs and firefighters pushed me out of the way. They converged on my boss and then took her away. They didn’t let me go with her because I was not family.
I reluctantly went back inside to finish my work, but I went home feeling uneasy. I had two messages on my voice mail that night. One was from my boss assuring me that she was fine. She had become dehydrated and had fainted. She said that sometimes things like that happened to her and I should not be worried. She thanked me for calling 911.
The other message was from Merrick. He insisted on taking me out. He gave me an address and told me to meet him. He said he’d come to my apartment and take me if I didn’t show up. His tone was teasing and light.
“I guess I better go,” I said to myself. Besides, I thought, I could use a drink after today. It had been a really stressful experience seeing my boss collapse like she had.
I went to the address that Merrick had given me. It was a place called Plasma 501. I was explaining to the girl at the door that I was there to meet my friend when my boss walked in.
“Katrina!” I exclaimed, “What are you doing here. I thought you’d be at home recuperating!”
“No,” she said. “I found out that you were going to be here, and I had to come.”
“What?” I didn’t understand. “Why would you want to see me here?”
“Actually I don’t. I came to warn you not to come here. You need to leave right now.”
I stood there stupefied. She wanted me to leave. She’d come to warn me. I didn’t know why. “Why shouldn’t I be here?” I asked.
“It’s funny,” Katrina said, “For such a genius at business, you sure are blind to everything else.”
“I don’t understand.”
“My husband, Merrick, you are to meet him here, no?”
I stammered, “Wh-what? Your h-husband?” I shook my head in denial. I had no idea that she or Merrick was married.
“Yes. I know he didn’t tell you. We live apart, but he is still my husband.”
“I didn’t know. I’m so sorry!”
“Don’t be. But I came to warn you. You also don’t know that he wants you more for your plasma than your person.”
“Plasma. He’s a vampire. We both are.”
Ok, I had heard rumors of vampires, but I had dismissed them as just stories to scare a country girl like myself. There were no such things, right? I was shaking my head, but Katrina continued.
“Merrick is the worst sort. He still feeds from live humans. Most of us don’t. We have plasma fruit now—we’re vegetarians, if you will. That’s why Merrick and I aren’t together anymore. I’m a vegetarian and he’s not.”
“I’m really confused,” I said. “Vampires? Vegetarian vampires?”
Just then Merrick came into the bar.
“Ah, Kindra,” he said, seeing me. And then he looked at his wife and frowned. “Kat. I can see that you are spoiling my dinner.”
I gasped. “Dinner!?”
“Just an expression,” he said and smiled, flashing a bit of teeth. “I suppose you won’t me joining me then?”
“Pity. Kat, I’ll see you upstairs.” He turned and left as abruptly as he had appeared.
“Ohmysims! Vampires are real!” I almost fainted, but I managed to stay upright.
“Not all vampires are bad,” Katina assured me. “But some are. Merrick is.”
“I have terrible taste in men,” I muttered under my breath. Then I asked my boss, “Why are you going up with him if you dislike him so much?”
“I have to. He controls the plasma fruit. He cut me off earlier which is why I fainted. He knew I was going to warn you away from him and he was trying to stop me. It didn’t work, but now I have to go grovel a bit in order to regain my supply.”
She gave me a grim smile. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” she said and then she turned and pushed the button on the elevator. She left me standing in the lobby looking at all the people around me. Now that I knew, I realized I was surrounded by vampires.
I wasted no time getting out of that place. Katrina was right. I needed to leave right now.