It's Stranger in the Night

Deep Ellum

Just a few blocks from Downtown, Deep Ellum acts as the arts and entertainment district of the city. With a myriad of live music venues, theaters, and a few small galleries, it has become the nightlife hot-spot for the city. In addition to the usual arts, the are is prone to graffiti art and murals, some of which appear overnight.

Deep Ellum is also becoming known as Vampire Central, thanks to the city's first and only vampire accommodating establishment — the Hotel Carmilla.

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After leaving Bloody Mary's, Desiree drives straight home. She's had enough for the night, though time was, she could've partied for hours, yet. But, her arm's throbbing, and her head is still stuffed up from the smoke and drugs at the party. Her hair and clothes stink of cigarettes and pot, and she's going to need to have her leather dress cleaned. A shower for her, then PJs, then bed.

Instead of pulling into the studio parking lot, she leaves her car parked by the curb, then has second thoughts. Although Deep Ellum really isn't all that bad of a place, no sense tempting fate. So, she moves the vehicle to the side of her studio, walking in stiletto heels to the front door. No rain, thankfully, but it's muggy and still hot. She might fore go the shower for a soak in the hottub, except for her arm. They said the cast is waterproof, but no sense asking for trouble.

Pausing to check the mail, she fumbles with her keys, yawning. It's been a long day, and an even longer night.


The strange vampire is lingering by his automobile, leaning against the front fender of the BMW as it sits parked at the curb in front of Studio 10. Darcy's brown eyes attentively follow Desiree's movements as she staggers toward the doorway. Her provocative attire, not to mention the unmistakable stink, confirm his suspicions: she has been at a midnight Bacchanale.

"My, my. Whatever would mother think?" Darcy's voice, crisp and clear on the night's air, carries itself without obstruction. The vampire presses away from the sports car, and starts to casually walk toward the front door. He seems to be in no apparent hurry, and every movement conveys a natural grace and elegance. "Out for a midnight orgy? Naughty girl. But where is your gentleman caller? Surely you are lovely enough to bring one home …"


Damn! Desiree whirls around, back to the glass door, eyes peering into the night, spotting Darcy next to his car. She doesn't say anything for several minutes, mindful of the warning Michael gave her before she left. "Mother would … have a cow," she finally says.

"It's not like that, though," she quickly amends. "I was out looking for someone, and had to go to this really awful party where everyone was smoking God knows what." She makes a disgusted face. "Believe me, if I'd meant to be at a party tonight, it wouldn't have been that one."

Despite what everyone might think of her, Desiree isn't into the drug scene. The most she ever did was OTC caffeine pills when studying for finals. "So what brings you here?" she asks. "I'm surprised you don't have a girl on both arms," she says, making light of things, forcing calm on herself, "instead of scaring me half to death."

The closer Darcy comes to her, the more effort it takes to remain calm. "I was just on my way to a long, hot shower and bed. It's been a pretty hectic day."


"Was that an invitation?" Darcy bemusedly asks. "I should say, I thought you had a taste for our kind; but are you not involved with another?" Darcy stops near Desiree, hovering near the woman. His long fingers outstretch to absently toy with a stray wisp of hair. "I think you are the property of Michael, are you not? Unless he has some other business at this Studio?"

Desiree is standing with her back to the glass door of Studio 10, keys in hand, with Darcy leaning in front of her. There is a black two-door BMW sports car parked on the curb in front of the building, and another automobile parked in the alley way. The night is hot and muggy, and several fat and irritating mosquitoes have started to hover about and bite!


Desiree doesn't move, nor does she look up at Darcy. "No … I'm not … that is to say, Michael and I have an understanding," she tells the vampire, acutely conscious of his closeness. The mosquitos are a palty annoyance, but the blood-sucker in front of her is the real danger. Her heart rate increases, though she still strives for calmness.

"We're very close, and, as a matter of fact, Michael just bought out my partner, so he does have other business here at the studio." She smiles. "Albeit, I'm sure he considers me the more pleasant business with which to deal." She risks a glance at Darcy's face, then down once more.

"If you're needing to see him, he's not here at the moment. Just give me a call, and I'll set up a time for the two of you to meet." A smile as she digs in her purse for a card. "That's my cell under the studio number. I always have it near." If it were possible to bond with glass, Desiree would be one with the door right now.


Smack! That's the sound Ella's hand makes when she slaps a mosquito off her bare neck. She might work for AVL, but she is no blood buffet, thank you very much. "I knew I should have worn repellent," she murmurs to herself, wandering through Deep Ellum in a little black dress and heels. She seems to be going out somewhere, but it's not yet clear just where that is. Her stilettos can't help but click down the sidewalk as she walks — she expertly keeps her balance, despite their height. Tugging her phone out of her purse, she flips it open to check the screen … and frowns at whatever she sees, or does not see. It just so happens that she stumbles across the two, about to pass them by on the sidewalk — but she pauses, taking a couple of steps backward. "Evening," she flashes both of them a small smile.


"That would be quite satisfactory. Perhaps you might invite me in for another drink my —" Darcy appears ready to say something more in reply to Desiree, but Ella's clacking approach not only causes the vampire to recoil from close proximity to her but to abruptly silence his speech. Two long digits reach forward and grip the offered business card, and then discreetly slide the paper inside a finely-stitched suit pocket. Having assumed a "safe distance" (if only for appearances sake), Darcy turns around to glance at Ella.

"Evening. Yes. A very astute observation," Darcy dryly answers Ella. The mosquitoes do not seem to be bothering him tonight.


There's no way Desiree could prevent Darcy from entering, considering the fact her studio is public. However, just as she's about to tell him it wasn't an invitation, she hears the clacking of heels on the sidewalk. Never has a sound been so beautiful to her ears. Darcy's abrupt withdrawal allows Desiree to take a breath of relief, and she smiles, recognizing Ella. "Evening. What brings you out this way?" she asks, taking a step to one side of Darcy.

She cuts her eyes to the vampire as he takes the card, uncertain what he was about to say, but the smile she turns on Ella is positively radiant. "Looks like you've been out on the town," she says, grinning. "I love the dress. I don't know of a woman alive who doesn't have a Little Black Dress. I love mine." She leans against one of the metal poles holding up the awning. "Oh, have you two met? I'll be happy to introduce you, if not."


Ella skeptically arches a brow at Darcy, but she says nothing and thus does not dignify his smart ass comment. With a lift of her chin, she rolls it all off her shoulders and turns askance toward Desiree. "I'm on my way to see a friend, maybe grab a couple of drinks. I taught three classes today, so goodness knows I need it," she laughs, wryly. "You free for lunch tomorrow? Or the day after? I still need to take you up on lunch at the bistro. I keep hearing good things about it. Anyway, still need to grab you for that." No, she's really not paying Darcy any attention at that moment, as she is much more interested in what Desiree's response is. With a shy smile, she brushes a hand over her dress, sliding one foot behind the other. "Thank you! It's the most flattering piece one can own, I swear. So versatile, too." With nothing but a dimpled smile, "We have. Are you headed out or calling it a night? My apologies, I don't mean to keep you—" Her gaze slides from Desiree to Darcy, then toward the street before her.


"We are acquainted." This is the only verbal expression from Darcy's lips before the tall vampire determinedly walks toward the sports car. Stepping into the street, he rounds to the driver's side and deftly opens the door before sliding inside upon the black leather seat. A key is placed in the ignition, and with a roaring hum, it sparks the engine to life. Within a few seconds, the peal of rubber tires against asphalt announces the automobile's thunderous departure down the electronically-illuminated city street.


"Oh, sure, I can do lunch with you. The Bistro has an after church buffet which is to die for, too," Desiree tells Ella, her eyes still occasionally darting to Darcy. "Oh, well, three classes!" she teases. "I usually teach six per day, then one in the evening, so you get no sympathy from me, yoga-girl!" Laughter follows. "Oh, you have met, then. Good, 'cause I suck at introductions." More laughter, almost nervous. "It's a very attractive dress— "

Desiree no sooner gets those words out than Darcy is peeling off in his BMW. She stares after him, sagging a little against the pole. "Oh, thank God you came along," she says, voice soft. "He makes me … I don't know. Michael warned me about him, and there's just something about him that— " She stops. "No, I won't say anymore. Just be careful, all right? Not all vampires are to be trusted. The ones in the AVL, they're fine, and a few others. Him — I don't know all that well."


"If he's not one of the rudest people I've ever met, I don't know who is." Ella doesn't look the least bit impressed as he storms off in his carm. "I didn't mean to interrupt, I - you know, where I'm from it's polite to greet people you recognize on the street. Clearly he does not share the same feelings." Her jaw gapes open for a moment, and she shuffles back a couple of quick steps. While Desiree may have been joking about the classes, she looks a tiny bit upset. "On top of running the desk for 8 hours straight, but, you know. Silly little me. Got a crap job that barely pays for my crap rent and crap food." Tucking her purse under her arm, she is ready to hit the streets again. "Good night," she calls out, before starting to slip away.


"Well, if you ever need to escape, come by here. I'll let you teach a class in the Studio for nominal rent," Desiree says, naming a very reasonable price. "You could do it on your days off and supplant your income. Guarantee the Studio's quieter and more conducive to relaxation than the gym." She grins. "We can discuss it over lunch, if you're interested. See you about 1:30-ish? That'll give me time to change after church and meet you at the AVL."

She looks after Darcy, breathing a sigh of relief. "I'm so glad you came along. I've a feeling I'd have been in serious trouble if you hadn't been here. I owe you one," she says, grinning. "Have a good night. I'm locking all my doors and windows and getting some well-deserved rest. Later!" And she disappears inside the studio, locking the door firmly behind herself.


Ella, sadly, doesn't really hear a word Desiree says! She's mildly upset and mentally distracted, and slips off into the night.


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