A loud sharp knock on the door startled Jada. It was the middle of the day and she wasn’t expecting anyone. She had prided herself on being the modern day definition of a hermit; she took very special specific steps to avoid interacting with people so the knock on the door gave her a shiver of anxiety that ran all through her body and made her draw her shoulders up.
She went to the door and looked through the peephole. It was a girl, approximately her age, modestly dressed and looking a bit uneasy. Against her best judgment and every instinct in her body she opened the door.
“Hi!” the young woman said as soon as the door opened.
“Hello.” Jada said squinting her eyes against the brightness of the day.
“I’m so sorry to do this but I just moved in,” she pointed to a house that movers had been going in and out of two days prior, “and I don’t have power yet. My phone just died. I was wondering if you could let me charge it real quick. I promise I won’t be a bother after this, it’s just I was expecting the power people earlier and they're late and when my phone died it looked like you were the only one on the whole street that was home.”
There was such a rush of information and Jada had no way to process it quick enough to respond. The girl had an energy about her and Jada felt compelled to help her.
“Sure come in.” Her id answered while her ego screamed.
“Thank you so much I won’t be long I promise.”
She walked into the house and hovered waiting for Jada to lead her to an outlet. Jada sensed this and awkwardly moved her into the living room to an outlet that was close to the couch. The girl saw it and bee-lined right to it.
“Oh my god thank you. I promise I just need to get enough of a charge to make one phone call and then I’ll be out of your hair.”
“It’s fine.” What the hell was she saying?
“Perfect. You’re an angel.” She smiled a pretty smile and turned her focus to her phone.
“Come on. Come on.” The strange girl demanded, looking expectantly at the cracked dead screen.
“I need to get a new phone.” She said aloud.
Her tone was hard to read and Jada was unsure if she needed to respond. Before she needed to make the decision though the girl lit up.
“Awesome” she said as she was now looking at her phone power up.
No sooner had her phone powered up then it started to ring.
“Oh my god you have to be kidding me?” the girl said before she picked up the phone.
“Hello? Yes…I’m at my house now the guy said he would be there before noon and it’s almost 2. I had to come to a neighbor’s house just to keep my phone from dying.”
She made eye contact with Jada and gave a smirk and a wink. Then she turned her attention back to the phone.
“Uh huh. Okay well I hope so. It’s too hot for it to be off all day….uh huh and thank you.”
She pushed to end the call and looked at Jada.
“Well that should take care of that.”
She pulled her cord from the wall.
“You sure you don’t need to charge it more. I bet there’s hardly any battery life after so quick of a plug in.”
“Oh no it’s fine. Literally I just needed to know that stupid guy from the power company was coming. But thank you so much seriously.”
As she talked she made her way to the door. When she got there she squared up and looked at Jada.
“My name’s Holland by the way.” She said extending her hand.
“Jada,” she answered back as they shook hands “Holland like the country?”
“Yes,” Holland rolled her eyes “Ugh. My parents were weirdos.”
“I think all parents are weirdos.”
“Too true.” She lingered and then finished “Well again thanks so much. If you ever need anything: cup a sugar, dish soap, whatever just knock on my door I’m home almost all the time.”
“Thanks I’ll keep it in mind.”
“Do!” Holland chirped as she made her way out and bounced like a deer back to her house.
Jada shut the door and noticed right away that she didn’t have to relax her shoulders. They had come down sometime during Holland’s visit. Unusual considering she didn’t even know the girl but she did seem nice and nonthreatening.
The next day as she went out to check her mail she saw a bottle of wine sitting on her welcome mat. Her brow raised in confusion but she bent down to pick up the bottle. Forgetting the mail she originally came out for, she brought the wine inside and gave it a once over. There was no note on it, but the label looked legit and the seal was unbroken. It looked expensive. She was still puzzled until she remembered her new neighbor. Maybe it was a gift, a thank you for helping her out yesterday. She gave the bottle a final look over before curiosity got the best of her and she retrieved her corkscrew.
In the kitchen she undid the foil and twisted in the screw and worked the cork out with a small sweet pop. She brought the cork to her nose. It was red. She wasn’t the biggest fan of red wine but it was free so she figured why not. She poured a little in a glass swirled it for a bit pretending she knew what she was doing before taking a sip. She decided to pour just a little bit more before recorking it and going into her office.
She sat in front of her computer in her pajamas. No zoom meetings today so she could be as lazy and carefree as she wanted. Throughout the day she would pause every so often to refill her glass. Never drinking enough to affect her work but taking enough to keep her feeling good the whole day.
When she got up at the end of her day she went back to the kitchen to find she had drunk the entire bottle. She had a small panic attack and wondered if any of her work had suffered from it but she didn’t feel drunk and she hadn’t felt drunk all day. The realization that she had drank an entire bottle of wine to herself made her suddenly feel very tired.
That night as she slept she dreamed terrible and fantastic dreams; such dreams that she had never had before, foreign lands and unusual sights. The only reoccurring image was her new neighbor. Either as a quick flash or a main component it seemed that her nocturnal fantasy ride centered on Holland.
In the morning, she felt off and blamed the wine. She got out of bed and into the kitchen where she drank two full glasses of water standing over the sink. Then she went upstairs to take a shower and get her body realigned with her soul.
Her day was made slightly more aggravating when she realized that she couldn’t spend the rest of it in the steamy hot shower.
Begrudgingly she got out dried herself and put on clothes. She went again to check the mail and when she did she heard her name being called out. It was Holland.
Jada watched as Holland jogged the short distance to her house.
“Hey I just wanted to make sure you got your gift.”
Jada went fuzzy for a moment before snapping back, “The wine! Yes! It was delicious but you really didn’t have to.”
“Oh it was no trouble. I’m glad you liked it. My boss gets all kinds of gifts from different vendors. I mentioned once that I liked wine now he gives bottles every time I turn around.”
“Sounds like a great boss.”
“He’s alright.” Holland said with a short laugh.
There was comfortable silence and then Holland spoke again.
“Hey umm…I don’t suppose you would want to come over tonight. I was supposed to have this thing with some friends and they all bailed and I ordered these charcuterie platters and it’s all just gonna go to waste now.”
Jada was side swiped and stalled.
“I have more of that wine…” Holland added.
“I think I need to chill on the wine for a bit.” Jada said smiling.
“Oh I understand, but seriously if you do want to come by please feel free to.”
“Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind.”
Later in the evening, after a very uneventful day, Jada (against her own best judgment) stood outside Holland’s door and rang the bell. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that she realized she was holding her breath. Feeling ridiculous, she exhaled right as Holland opened the door.
“Hey…” Jada copied her greeting without any of the excitement.
Holland looked at Jada in a very form fitting dress and responded “Wow. You look amazing.”
Panic was in Jada’s eyes “Thanks?”
“Seriously. I feel underdressed right now.” Holland said referring to her yoga pants and crop top.
“Oh god, I feel like an idiot.” Jada confessed.
“Don’t! Seriously don’t. You look great. Plus it’ll help make us feel fancy.”
Holland was smiling trying to coax a smile from Jada, which eventually came.
Jada tried to take the focus away from what she was wearing. “So what was the thing that was supposed to go on but your friends baled.”
“OH! The Sydney Opera House is livestreaming la Traviata and I was gonna have a watch party but everyone…had other plans I guess.”
“I’ve never seen it.”
“Oh,” Holland looked worried “do you like opera?”
“I honestly haven’t watched much I’ve heard bits and pieces from some and it’s pretty.”
“Well it’s not a massive miss if we don’t watch it. We can start it and if you aren’t digging it by the intermission we can switch it off.”
“No! No. I’m sure I’ll like it. Besides I didn’t dress this fancy for nothing.
They both laughed.
Jada followed Holland as she went further into the house. It was sparsely decorated but she had just moved in so that was normal, Jada thought. They turned the corner into the living room and Jada was taken back.
“Holy shit that’s a big a TV”
“Nice huh,” Holland said with pride “It’s like the only thing I splurged on.
“You sure about that?” Jada said as she motioned to the rest of the room which was decorated with heavy and ornate wood furniture.
“O yea, this stuff. I worked for an antiques dealer for years and I just sorta kept collecting stuff he couldn’t get rid of”
“You got all this for free?”
“Sorta. He couldn’t legally give it to me for tax reasons or something so I paid like a dollar a piece of five dollars for some.”
“You seem to have some pretty good luck.”
“Meh. It’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
“I guess so.”
“SO!” Holland said taking the conversation in another direction
“What do you think of my handiwork? "
She motioned to a long coffee table in front of a big plush couch. The table had two different charcuterie plates, polished ancient wood covered with different meats and cheeses and olives and nuts.
“Wow! That’s impressive. You did that yourself.”
“I looked up a bunch of ideas on Pinterest.” She admitted.
Jada gave a soft laugh as she went to the trays. She gave a very ladylike half squat to reach the table snatched up a piece of cheese and nibbled on it like a mouse.
“Please, we’re not at the Met. Have a seat relax. Can I get you anything to drink?”
“Uhh…sure. Some wine.”
“Wine, got it. I’ll be right back.”
Jada stiffly bent down again to grab something else. The first piece of cheese hit hard in her stomach reminding her she hadn’t eaten all day. She looked around the room. The furniture was old but there was no moth or mildew smell. It was very pleasant and dark. There were paintings on the wall and she wondered if they were prints or originals. The highly ornamental frames suggested they were probably real. As she made her way slowly around the room Holland returned.
“See anything you like?” She said, passing off the glass of wine.
“It’s all very pretty.”
“Thank you. I spend a lot of time here and my bedroom so those are usually the two places I set up first when I move.”
“Do you move often?”
“Eh, just for work.”
As Jada took her first sip she noticed Holland didn’t have a glass. It hit her as suspicious but she was cautious.
“Are you not drinking?”
“Oh! I’m sorry I don’t really drink...”
“Wine.” Holland finished.
“Sorry.” Jada laughed.
“It’s fine. I used to be real bad. Got used to getting stains out of clothes. And then one day I decided to stop.”
“Well that’s good. Right?”
“Yea I couldn’t control myself towards the end.”
“So what do you do now?”
“I have other vices.” She smirked.
Jada blushed. She had her suspicions and now she was becoming certain that Holland was hitting on her. Usually the idea of being in a strange house with a strange person would set off all kinds of alarms to any normal sane person, but standing in Holland’s presence she felt at ease. They had a moment of terribly comfortable silence. Just two people enjoying the empty air between them and then it was gone in a snap.
“Oh!” Holland spurted, “The thing’s about to start.”
She scrambled for the remote and got her wall of TV turned on. A few different blue screens later a scenic view of the Sydney opera house popped into view realistic enough that it was like they were looking through a window. Jada said the only thing she could grasp onto.
“Freaking nice right? Should be. Cost me an arm and a leg.” She said not looking up from her phone.
"Okay, it should be starting any min…”
Before she could finish the camera cut to the interior of the opera house. The murmur of crowds let Jada know they were watching a live show or at least recorded live. The house lights dimmed the music stirred into the overture and then the curtain rose.
At the end, a visibly emotional Jada was barely holding herself together and then she broke into a soft sob with tears burning an already well-worn path down her face.
“Do you have a tissue?”
“Of course, here.” Holland said as she leaned over the couch to a side table and brought back a box of tissues.
“I’m sorry…” Jada said wiping the tears from her eyes, her voice still not recovered.
“Don’t be. That’s the thing about this opera…it’s…not a happy one.” She said with an innocent laugh.
Jada’s voice went high, “Was that the opera from Pretty Woman?”
Holland had a wide grin, “Yeah.”
“I thought so.” She said her voice still cracking.
“That’s part of the reason I first watched it.”
They both laughed.
Jada took a deep breath in trying to bring herself back together as she pushed herself up. The wine sloshed her. She rocked on her feet and fell back into the couch.
Holland stood and offered a hand “Do you need help?”
Jada gladly accepted and Holland effortless pulled her to her feet.
“Thank you. I stood up and it all hit me.”
Holland nodded. “It does that. You nearly finished two bottles”
“Ohh?” And then she remembered “I forgot I was drinking by myself.” She gave Holland a laughable disappointed face.
Jada’s eyes widened when the wine dropped. “I need to use your bathroom.”
“Right this way.”
Holland lead her down the hall and into the modest bathroom.
Jada went in and once alone tried to pull herself together again. The room whirled. The wine was working but she was still stable enough to know what she was doing. When she was done she went to the sink to wash her hands and noticed there was no mirror above the sink.
“Where’s your mirror?” she asked as she washed.
“Movers broke it when they were bringing it in so I’m in the process of replacing it.” Holland said through the door.
A thought flashed through Jada’s mind and it made her laugh.
“You’re not a vampire are you?”
“Why would you say that?” Holland asked.
Jada swung the door open harder than she intended. Control yourself, she thought.
“Ya know, mirrors. Vampires can’t be seen in mirrors so they don’t put em up.”
“That only works with silver backed mirrors.”
That wasn’t an answer to the question.
Jada noticed Hollands eye’s hazel green with flakes of rust that began to swirl in the dim light.
“O yeah?” Jada’s voice was softer.
“Yeah.” Holland leaned in as Jada backed to the wall.
“How would you know how you look?” Jada spoke barely louder than a whisper.
Jada didn’t know if it was an answer or a request. She reached up and gently touched Holland’s cheek. It was soft and cold. Her breath got shallow and that primordial fear of death rose up her spine, quickening her heart.
“Your heart is beating faster.” Holland said without breaking eye contact.
“Yeah?” It came out as a single puff of air.
Holland moved in a single motion to Jada’s neck. A pair of diamond sharp fangs breaking flushed skin and then a pair of lips closing to set the seal.
Jada’s eyes rolled back as her lids closed forever. Her body hot with passion slowly leaking life.