Pretty When She Dies

Page 37

Picking up the few publications she had yet to read, she sat down at her tiny breakfast table and began flipping through them as she munched on the delicious pizza loaded down with pesto and goat cheese. Every once in a while, she had seen announcements for lectures on the supernatural in town. She had never attended, though her curiosity had been peaked. Before Cian, she had not believed in anything supernatural, but God, Jesus and the angels. Now she was engaged to a vampire, a hot one at that, and she was a lot more open about the supernatural. It made life more exciting and a little more scary all at once.

Tapping the end of her purple highlighter against her cheek, she arched an eyebrow as she came across a small announcement in one of the smaller weekly magazines.

“Is the Supernatural Real? Evidence Presented and Discussed by Jeffery Summerfield, owner of Central Texas Supernatural and Occult Bookstore.” Tucking the highlighter cap between her teeth, she tugged it off then highlighted the ad in bright, cheery purple. Then she noticed the date. The cap hit the table and rolled onto the ground as she exclaimed “Holy shit! It's today!”

Beatrice pounced on the purple top to the highlighter and smacked it across the kitchen like it was a hockey puck.

Tearing the page out of the magazine, Samantha rushed through her house into the bedroom and began digging through her fresh laundry for something to wear. What did you wear to an occult lecture? She had no idea, but she didn't want to look like an idiot.

Digging out a black skirt with big white, abstract splotches and a black tank top with a white flower on the shoulder, she made a slight face. All her clothes were so cutesy. After seeing Amaliya lounging around in just plain jeans and a t-shirt, she felt decidedly unsexy. Though, she thought with evil glee, her legs were longer than the female vampire's and her hips were trimmer. At least she had that over the sexy vamp.

As per the usual, trying to hurry only resulted in her dropping the soap in the shower numerous times, burning her eyes with shampoo, falling halfway out of the tub when she tried to get out, and managing to drop her makeup all over the floor.

By the time she made it out the front door, jostling her big white bag stuffed with a notebook, pens, and a Bible-a spur of the moment choice- she felt like she had fought a major battle already. Unlocking her little convertible Volkswagen, she glanced up the quiet street to see a few of her neighbors out walking their dogs. It seemed so normal here, but she knew things were far different below the surface of it all.

Even though she was worried she wouldn't make it by 11 AM to the Spiderhouse, the coffee shop where the lecture was being held, she drove carefully, and listened to her Patsy Cline CD to soothe her nerves. Despite her calm appearance, she was nervous as hell and the last thing she needed to do was have a wreck. It wasn't a long ride from her house on the edge of Hyde Park to the infamous Drag that lined one side of the UT Campus. She parked in the Spiderhouse parking lot and made her way to the old house converted into a coffee shop. It was funky and cool and very Austin. A large board covered in flyers and announcements had one big poster on it announcing the lecture, and she sighed with relief.

Two huge worn stone statues, a lion and winged leopard, stood guard on the steps leading up to the purple house. She patted them as she passed and wove her way past college students animately talking as they exited the building. Following the wrap around porch, she carefully maneuvered past small tables filled with students typing away on their laptop computers or reading their textbooks. The patio was large and full of old statues that were missing pieces here and there, old rusted patio chairs and tables, Christmas lights, and people from all sections of Austin life catching a quiet moment before returning to work or school.

Samantha found the lecture in the patio in the back of the house and there was a nice gathering of people already seated at the picnic tables. On the large screen, that was usually used to show movies or classic TV shows, there was a projected slide of of Bela Lugosi as Dracula with the words “Are they real?”.

Taking a seat at the last table, she set her bag down and took out her notebook. She noted she didn't look that out of place as she looked at the students, housewives, a few elderly people, and a large man in a wheelchair, gathered around the tables waiting for the lecture to start. Looking around curiously, she tried to figure out who was the lecturer. She finally settled on an older man having an animated conversation with a woman with too much lipstick smeared on her lips.

“Okay. I guess we should start. It's ten after eleven and I think this is it,” a young man said as he slid off a bench. He was wearing very battered jeans, a t-shirt that read “Got Blood?” and flip flops. His plain brown hair was kind of scruffy, with long bangs hanging in his eyes.

What was she expecting? Giles from Buffy?

“This lecture series is all about the different popular supernatural creatures that exist in our modern subconsciousness and where their legends originated. We'll address the possible theories as to their attributes. Such as does lycanthropy really make a werewolf? We'll discuss the possible supernatural aspects of these creatures and whether or not there is viable evidence to back up these claims.” The young man spoke quickly, but not as confidently as he was trying to project. He looked a little nervous and he wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans once or twice.

“Will we be discussing your father's works?” This came from the older man in the audience.

“Yes, we will be discussing my father's life works and his conclusions.” The young man bounced slightly on the balls of his feet, then said, “Okay, let's start.”

Samantha settled into her seat, ordered an Italian soda from a green haired girl wearing a white slip of a dress, and began to take notes.

Apparently she was at the first lecture and it was a basic overview of the monsters that Summerfield would be addressing through a six part series. She noticed that vampires were going to be in two weeks. Damn.

It was very obvious that most of the audience was well versed in monster legends and soon the interaction was on a level that was way over her head. She wrote down anything that was on the slides the young man was going through, but she felt very confused by some of the terms.

At noon she ordered a sandwich and another soda and rubbed her cramped wrist. To her surprise, no one else seemed tired or bored and she felt a little guilty. Despite his very youthful appearance, it was clear that Jeff Summerfield was smart, witty and knew his stuff. A few times, she noticed him looking her way, before his gaze darted away.

Finally, it was over and her plate of half-eaten food was being invaded by flies. Closing her notebook, she pondered how long she should wait before approaching Summerfield. He was immediately swamped by several people who were anxious to talk to him. He stared at them intently as they talked and nodded once or twice, but she could tell he was curious as to why she was there. She could see his eyes moving toward her in quick little glances. Maybe she stood out more than she thought.

Finally, the older man clapped Summerfield on the back a few times, then shook his hand before wandering away. The back patio was finally empty of everyone, but them.

She wasn't surprised when he walked over and sat across from her. He looked a little tired now that the lecture was over and he wasn't “on” anymore.

“I've never seen you at one of these before,” he said pointedly.

“I don't come to them,” she admitted. “But you did a really good job today. I liked it.”

“Thanks,” he answered with a slight smile. “I don't have my father's finesse, but it went okay.”

Samantha had managed to glean from the lecture that his father was a well-known paranormal expert, and she said, “I'm sure he thinks you're awesome.”

“I hope so. He passed away a few months ago and taking up his mantle is not easy.”

“Oh, I'm sorry.”

He shrugged his skinny shoulders slightly. “It's okay. I'm Jeffery. Call me Jeff.”

“Samantha. People call me Sam.”

“Like Bewitched, huh?”

“But I can't wiggle my nose,” she said with a smile.

“You're obviously sticking around for a reason. How can I help you?”

“Uh.” She pursed her lips, and then made a face. “Okay, this is going to sound really, really crazy.”

“Okay,” Jeff said slowly. “How could it be crazier than what we talked about today?”

Samantha laughed brightly, and said, “Okay, true.” She leaned toward him, her gaze intense and whispered, “My boyfriend is a vampire.”

Jeff's eyes slightly slitted. “Really?”

“Yeah. A real vampire. or Angel from Buffy. Except I don't think he gets all gnarly when he vamps out. Not sure on that.” She pondered this for a moment, her brow furrowed. “I've never seen his teeth either, but I've seen him do some really vampy things.”

Jeff leaned toward her, and said in a low voice. “And you are telling me this why?”

“Because there is a new vampire in town. And I think she's totally evil. And I think she's doing a spell on him or something to get him to be evil. I need to know what to do.”

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