“I could not believe the total lack of tact the man had,” Nadine continued. “And that wasn’t the half of it. Before I could I remind him where my eyes were, he put his hand on my forearm and started stroking it with his thumb.”
This time I couldn’t stop myself. “Let me guess, that’s when he started telling you how pretty you were, and what a crime it was that you were sitting there all by your lonesome. Am I right?”
Rolling her eyes, she nodded. “Then he suggested I join him and his friends at their table so we could all get to know each other better.”
“Did you tell him you were waiting for someone?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” she groaned and took another sip of her hot chocolate. It seemed to calm her down, at least a bit. For when she spoke again her voice was more controlled as she continued her story. “Of course, he didn’t believe me. Kept telling me not to be shy. But when I insisted someone was coming, he kept pressing me to come over to his table and we could all wait together for my ‘friend’ to show up. Otherwise, every Joe in the place would be pestering me for the rest of the night.”
“So what did you do?”
“I bit him,” she replied simply,
I stared at her in shock. “In front of an entire room full of strangers?” I cried in disbelief. “I thought you liked keeping a low profile on the whole vampyre bit!”
“Okay, I should have been more specific,” she corrected herself. “I didn’t lean over and bite him, my forearm did it for me.”
“Your forearm,” I repeated.
She nodded. “He hadn’t removed his hand from it and had actually started squeezing it while insisting that I go with him. So, I grew a mouth there and let him have it.”
I couldn’t help smiling. “Oh, I wish I could’ve been there to see that. What did he do?”
“Well he jumped back so hard, he fell off the stool and landed on the floor. I made sure I looked as startled as everyone else. A couple of his buddies came over and helped him up, while he started accusing me of having a taser or something. I was ready to play all ‘innocent’ but didn’t have to because one of them pointed out I still had a drink in my free hand and he’d had a hold of my other arm. That just pissed him off more and he shot me a dirty look then stomped back to their table. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of it. One of his friends began apologizing and taking over his friend’s seat. Naturally, HE offered to get me another drink and before long his hand wound up on my thigh.”
“Really?” I said in mock surprise. “How long before your thigh decided to take a bite out of him?”
Nadine grimaced at the memory. “It didn’t. Much as I wanted to, but I decided to ask for his opinion of my perfume. Naturally he leaned in close and I let him breathe in some of my mist and changed his mind that way. As he got up to leave, I gave him an extra dose so he could take it back to the table so his friends could get a whiff. Which they did! And thus I was left alone until Michael showed up half an hour later.”
“Nicely done,” I told her approvingly.
She smiled but it quickly faded, and her expression became more thoughtful again. “Afterwards I didn’t think too much about it because by then we were hunting for the Cannibal and… well you already know how that went down.”
“Oh yeah,” I nodded and took another sip of my chocolate. It was the only way I could keep from shivering at the memories of what she’d told us all. I’d been surprised that she hadn’t asked Lisa or Marisa to leave the room, but I didn’t protest. They weren’t children by a long shot. Both of them were young women who needed to know the truth about what dangers might be lying in wait for them or one of their friends. The world could be cruel, but I at least felt a bit safer having them and Nadine in my life. But I also knew not everyone was as lucky as me, and I never let myself forget that fact.
Looking over at my companion I asked, “So what got you thinking about your experience in the bar again?”
“I’d gone over to the college where Brian works, to see what classes might be available next fall,” she began. “I know I could simply look them up online, but I really like that campus. And I don’t stick out too much like a sore thumb in the evenings. There are a lot of other people who are my ‘apparent’ age taking classes and I just enjoy a change of scenery once in a while. Anyway, while I was there, I spotted a couple of girls about Lisa’s age walking ahead of me. Coming the other way were some guys heading the other way who started hooting and whistling at them out of the blue. At first I thought they knew the girls, but apparently they didn’t because I saw how uncomfortable their smiles were as well as how fast their pace increased. And it got me thinking again about what had happened to me.”
“You know that kind of thing goes on all the time, right?” I asked.
“Yeah, but some of those guys were closer to my ‘apparent’ age,” she pointed out with a look of disgust on her face. “I mean, teenager boys doing that kind of stuff is bad enough. But these jerks were in their mid-twenties, I would’ve thought they’d know better by that age.”
Here she paused to shake her head, then continued. “That’s when I started wondering how often stuff like that went on. Did it happen to Lisa and Marisa, or any of their friends? If so, why did they never mention it?”
I was about to answer her, only she started talking again and I decided to sit back to see where this was all headed. Besides, if it came up later, I’d have time to look up the saying about fish, how they don’t know what water is. Women grow up with this. For girls like them, it may just seem like a nuisance. Me, I’d had to pay more attention to stuff like that. Figure out who was a threat, who was a sale. Worst in a way were the ones who were both.
I told myself not to think about the past. Besides, this was all new to my friend, even if she could go back to being a he any minute. I wouldn’t wish the sense of being trapped on anyone, and I liked that Nadine was trying to walk a mile in our too-narrow heels. But that was only a dip of the toes in the water of a woman’s experience.
“And what about Isabella? She’s still very young but one day she’s going to start ‘blossoming’ and then what? She’s still trying to get used to how people act these days compared to what she was used to back in the 1860’s. That’s when I decided to start going around as Nadine again. I wanted to know firsthand what women have to deal with…”
TO BE CONTINUED…