Shadows of Night

Deep Ellum

Just a few blocks from downtown, Deep Ellum is the arts and entertainment district of the Dallas. 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 area is prone to gaffiti 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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It's been a long, overcast day, and the night hasn't been much different. The temperature is still in the high 80s, and the air is muggy, humid. Desiree's been at a party hosted by one of her student's families; the girl is on her way to college in Wisconsin, and her parents wanted to give her a formal dinner for her birthday. So, dressed to the nines, Desiree is a tempting morsel in her red silk dress, even if her arm is still in a cast. Thankfully, it should only be another couple of weeks before she gets that plaster off and can go back to dancing.

She's been inside the studio already, but has come back outside to take out the garbage for pick up in the morning. At the back of the building, she stands in the shadows and looks up at low-lying clouds scuttling across the sky. The wind has at least picked up in the past hour or so. Perhaps the overcast skies will clear, or a storm will come to cool things off. The fire-escape leads up to her patio, and she's almost willing to risk breaking her neck to climb it instead of walking all the way back around the building to the front door.


Darcy emerges from Dahlia, the vampire restaurant, out of one of the kitchen doors leading to the alleyways. He has decided to keep to the shadows, and walks with caution and absolute silence through the filth and stink of refuse left to heat in the Dallas weather. For a human, the smell could best be described as rank; but for one of his kind, the stench of rotting trash has an extra level of unpleasantness. With the garbage, Darcy nonetheless makes his way through the winding pathways until he happens to stumble across the sight of Desiree in the distance.

"Does it always toss out the waste?" Darcy murmurs to himself. Several even steps allow him to approach Desiree and, without revealing himself, the vampire pauses near the aforementioned fire escape. Leaning against the iron steps, Darcy watches and waits — but for what?


The scents of the city are a strange thing to Michael, who's long ago learned it's best to consider each single thread rather than the whole thing, and then focus on the more pleasant. He'd intended to stop by the Studio, see how the renovations were going, and let Desiree know he's back; phones are far from secure, after all. He, too, approaches quietly/ After Darcy speaks, he hears the words, his eyes managing to pick him out even in the shadows. When Michael speaks, it's with the same almost bored tone he's taken to using around Darcy. Ironically, it's quite often a good reflection of his mood. "I'd presume she does." This is said louder, perhaps even loud enough to be heard. "It's a fine evening, isn't it, William?" Not that such things as weather concern vampires overly much. "It would be better if not quite so humid, however, I think."


It's at least quiet outside, with the night turning to early morning hours. Traffic in the area is almost non-existent, merely a few taxis cruising the area looking for a last passenger, or a delivery truck heading from one destination to the other by way of Deep Ellum. Desiree takes a deep breath, sighing, feeling slightly depressed as the weather refuses to make up its mind. She wouldn't mind rain. Rain is cleansing, soothing, cool.

Incongruous, taking out the garbage in an evening gown. Fortunately, Desiree is careful to not snag the silk, or brush against the dusty exterior of the garbage cans. The stench of restaurant and nightclub refuse drifts on the humid air, sour and rank. "Thank God they pick that stuff up in the morning," she says to no one. After all, she doesn't see anyone, so that mean no one's there, right?

Without the preternatural hearing of the vampires, Desiree has no idea there's even a conversation going on in the shadowy darkness of the alley. No clue she's being observed by two pairs of eyes. Her blood continues to flow in her veins, unaware it's being heard and scented from nearby predators. Truly Marius has the right of it: the human woman could be a lamb for the slaughter, should the vampires' wish it so.


Darcy whips around to face Michael, his fangs bare and ready. He has obviously been startled by the other vampire's silent approach. A curt bow of his head is offered to the older vampire, once recognized, before Darcy answers, "Is your business tonight with me or elsewhere, Michael?" To the point, he does not waste time with small talk: quite out of the ordinary for Darcy. Desiree is ignored, for the moment.


Michael's tone takes on a somewhat annoyed edge. "This is my business William. I believe we discussed that in the past, and I believe we spoke of you indulging your … pastimes on the woman who runs my studio. It would do well for a man in your position to not make enemies, 'Darcy.' There's no need to do so, if you keep your feeding away from my businesses."

He then steps out of the shadows, raising his voice enough so the woman nearby can hear him. "Desiree, it's good to see you. I thought I'd let you know I was back in town personally." He smiles at her, yet there's that cool edge he maintains around other vampires. "William, here, seems quite interested in your garbage habits. I'm sure he intended offering his help?"


There's a moment when someone is startled that their heart races, their pulse pounds and their blood cools with fear. Desiree, totally not expecting to hear a voice of any kind, let alone Michael's, whirls around, sending the silk of her skirt flaring. It's fortunate she has good balance (at least when it's not raining and she's not trying to dig something out of a dumpster), else she might've fallen. As it is, her feet hold her upright, but her good hand goes to her throat. Her eyes widen in sheer terror, and she backs away several steps. Her breathing is rapid, gasping — at least until she recognizes the vampire coming her way.

"Michael —?" The question would seem to be unnecessary, since the voice is so recognizable. "You're … you're back?" She sounds surprised; perhaps she'd expected him to be away much longer? Or could it be she didn't expect him back at all? "It's good to see you safe," Desiree quickly adds, all the fear flowing out of her in a wave of relief. "I didn't expect you so soon." Calm and composed once more, the momentary fright eased. "I trust your business in Italy was concluded successfully?"

That there is another in the shadows seems disconcerting to her. It means she was being observed before Michael entered the picture. "William —?" For a moment, she thinks he means William Grant, but there is another William of her acquaintance. "Ah … yes, Mr. Pemberly," she says softly. "M-my … what?" she then says, taken aback. "Oh. Oh, he assisted me one night just after you left. It was raining and I almost fell. It was very kind of him." Creepy and stalker-like is more like it, now she knows of Darcy's … proclivities.


"Feeding? I should think Dahlia quite outside your influence, Michael," Darcy answers. The fangs have since vanished back inside his mouth leaving only gleaming rows of even teeth. "And, yes, you have a pretty pet, but I have no interest in squabbling over property."

Before Desiree approaches, Darcy adds, "If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. if the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double."

The younger vampire is all smiles when Desiree enters into their conversation. "I would hate to see your chattel damaged, Michael." Desiree's comment does interest Darcy, however, and he looks from her to Michael. "Italy?" His brown eyes are expectant, as if waiting to hear something more; or possibly something valuable.


Shrugging Michael looks to Darcy. "Well, as far as our other business, I suppose we would have to bring in others with some experience to help us decide that matter." He then looks to Desiree, a brief flicker of irritation apparent. "Hardly business at all. It would seem that Alterius was merely getting nostalgic in his old age." Michael smiles at that. "He also invited Bianca, and she helped a great deal with what little business we had. Very creative for one so young." He takes Desiree in for a moment. "And you? How have you been?"


Desiree follows Darcy with her eyes, smiling pleasantly when he appears. Either she chooses to ignore, or didn't hear the "chattel" remark, probably the latter. No way could Desiree ever ignore being referred to as chattel. "Good evening, Mr. Pemberly," she says, her head inclining with just the perfect degree of respectful politeness. "I'd no idea you were close by. You should've said something," she says, obviously admonishing him in the most polite of ways. "It's always nice to see you."

Michael, on the other hand, gets a confused look when he begins talking of "other business," to Darcy, but she says nothing, her attention on the other topic. "I see. Well, I hope you enjoyed your stay with Alterius and … Bianca, was it?" There's no sound of jealousy in her voice. "Is she a … sibling?" she asks, head canting to the side. "I don't know the proper term for another vampire made by the same person, I'm sorry."

Michael's regard of her has her cheeks flushing. Despite her desire for distance, it's flattering to be found so attractive by someone. "I've been well," Desiree says, smiling. "Busy, but well. The renovations are nearly complete, and I'm working on the new fall class schedule. I've some ideas I'll need to run past you, by the way, but … some other time? It's getting late — rather, early. I'll be more alert earlier in the evening." She takes a step toward the front door, perhaps indicating she'd like to make an end to this impromptu meeting. (Over garbage, no less.)


"It is nice to meet you again," Darcy answers Desiree. He then sniffs at the night air. "The sun is over the horizon," he says. It is a feeling that every vampire intuitively experiences in the very core of their being. "It is time for me to go to ground. Welcome back to Dallas, Michael. We must find another chance to … chat, yes? Do enjoy your human." His brown eyes glance from one to the other before the vampire vanishes in a swift blur of speed.


Michael nods to Darcy, giving him time to get out of hearing. He turns to Desiree. "Be careful. I'm beginning to suspect he has designs on you." He seems thoughtful for a moment. "He certainly had no intention of making himself known to you, but he was right about one thing. It is almost dawn. I should go — but feel free to call me when you wish to discuss business." Michael bows his head to her before likewise disappearing into the night.


Left alone by the departing vampires, Desiree barely has time to register they've gone, let alone wish them "good night." Or, good morning, as the case may be. "'The grey'ed morn smiles on the frowning night, chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,'" she quotes Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Sighing and shaking her head, Desiree turns her steps to the front door of the studio, entering and locking it behind herself.

Upstairs, Nip & Tuck wait for her in the middle of her bed, sprawled only as cats can lie. The grey clouds are tinged with faint light when Desiree makes sure both sets of sliding glass doors are firmly locked — though why bother? She's safe from invading vampires during the daylight hours. It's in the shadows of night which lies the peril.


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