Chapter 1: The Business Party from Hell
The only reason I even went to the party was because Ben begged me…and promised to pay for the next five midnight coffee sessions. I knew I was out of my element before we even stepped in the door. I avoided the industry for a reason; and the stares that followed my unsuccessful attempt at a subtle entrance (which involved hiding behind Ben at a strange angle) provided a more than convincing reminder. I probably could have tried harder than a t-shirt and jeans, but, much to Ben's chagrin, I wasn't here to impress.
Ben was here on business – he's an up and coming stylist. He's done a couple TV shows, more recently a few movies, one of which he almost won some award for (it was obscure - call me a horrible friend, but I just can't remember right now). His invitation had a plus one attached, so he dragged me along in his endless attempt to "help" me move up the Hollywood food chain. Bless him for trying; I'll be the first to say it – I'm a real piece of work when it comes to doing things I don't want to.
We mingled. Or rather, he mingled and I stood awkwardly holding my drink wishing I was somewhere else. What can I say, I'm a small time writer for a small time music magazine and I like it that way. All these people with their plastic smiles and personalities just get to me after a while. I'll never understand how Ben handles it. He was in the process of introducing me to another well known photographer or editor or something like that (I wasn't really listening) when a wave of discomfort rushed over us all and I felt a cold presence brush my arm. Holding said arm with a not so silent gasp, I looked up and who of all people should be standing there beside me grinning wickedly but the Vampire Lestat.
Ben trembled for a second, then recovered his A-game in record time and allowed himself to be introduced by the other man, who evidently was already acquainted with the newest music sensation. When it was my turn I watched as Lestat's eyes roved up and down my body, sizing me up in a very obvious way. I bristled like a cat, feeling an incredible desire to run and at the same time a paralyzing inability to do so. He stood there in all his rock star glory, black leather, lean and muscular, striking features, staring me down. But luckily, like Ben, I was able to regain my composure in time to shake hands with the tall, dark stranger and return a hesitant smile. However, with my senses intact again, I wanted to smack that self-important smirk right off his face. I guess Ben must have sensed my shift in mood because he quickly brought up the subject of me the music journalist (damn him…).
"A journalist, you say", Lestat mused in my direction, "Who do you write for?" That stupid smile was driving me crazy; I could swear he was baiting me.
"Just a small underground magazine", I returned tersely.
"Now, don't be modest Evie," Ben jumped in, "She's really a talented writer; she could write for anyone if she'd just get out there and try". He gave me one of his "play along, this is for your own good" looks. I scowled at him. My best friend is hawking me to a vampire, wonderful.
"Well Evie, you're in luck – I haven't granted any written interviews yet. Perhaps we could set something up."
The way he said my name made me shiver, and my first glimpse at fangs in such close proximity had me holding my breath. Still, I wasn't letting him intimidate me.
"That would be great, but I'm sorry, I only write for bands that need the publicity. I'm afraid you're too big for me," I said, trying to keep my contempt for his ego from seeping into my tone. I was struggling between the pulls of my own (admittedly stubborn) pride and his piercing gaze.
Ben looked like he was going to faint. The photographer/editor had already tired of us and made a quick exit after the introductions. Lestat just looked at me with amusement in his black eyes.
"You're sure? I'd let you ask me anything you wanted." His smile turned suggestive.
Ben made to elbow me in the side, but I held fast. "No, thank you, really, I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding someone to do just the interview you want. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to powder my nose". I walked off before Ben could grab me and I could feel two pairs of eyes boring holes into my back as I made my way to the Ladies Room. Honestly, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or faint.
I took my time in the bathroom; I didn't even need to go, I just plopped myself down on a giant ottoman in the corner and watched all the fashionable ladies make their way in and out. Finally I decided it was getting a little weird, my sitting there, and I was feeling a little bad about leaving Ben out there by himself (granted, he could handle it, I was sure). I went out behind a small group of women, trying to stay out of view of, well, everyone. I hightailed it back to the bar for reinforcements in case there were any more uncomfortable encounters planned for the evening. And it was a good thing (or maybe bad, I left myself out in the open), because no sooner did I have a strong drink in my hand then I felt a familiar alarming presence making its way towards me. Lestat took the seat next to me and ordered something by making a swift movement with his hand towards the bartender. I could only guess what it was and I certainly wasn't going to ask. I sat there for a few moments wondering whether I could just get up and leave to go find Ben, but I spent too much time thinking because before I could take action Lestat was staring right at me.
"So, I'm too big for you?" he said patronizingly. I was beginning to wonder if he actually could smile without smirking, or showing a fang or two.
"That's right." I took a big gulp of my drink and did my best impression of that ridiculous grin.
"Too bad, I'm sure we would have got along just fine." The bartender handed him what looked like a glass of red wine.
"Uh huh, well I was just refreshing my drink. I should go find Ben now, it was nice meeting you." I stood quickly, almost spilling my drink in the process. Smooth, Evie, very smooth.
"If you change your mind we'll get in touch," was the last thing I heard him say before I got myself purposely lost in the crowd. Those last words…call me an idiot; they were both tantalizing and terrifying. And just how was he going to get in touch with me anyways? He didn't even know my full name, let alone the magazine I wrote for…