One of my favorite excerpts from Blood of the Dark Moon. There's just something about a story that begins with "Two vampires walk into a bar..." that just gets the brain churning. :D
Love & Magic,
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Amanda watched, trying not to feel self-conscious as the elder vampire studied her for a moment before heading inside the pub. Déjà vu. I feel like I've done this before, somehow.
"Here, put this on," Lynne ordered.
Amanda started to ask what it was she wanted her to wear, but Asherael pressed a small silver ring into her hands. She looked at it. It had an amethyst stone, but she could discern nothing else about it that was special.
As if in answer to her unspoken question, Asherael informed her, "The amethyst has special magickal properties. Wearing it will enable you to drink alcoholic beverages."
"Oh, yes. Of course. It's sacred to Dionysus."
Asherael smiled. "Yes, exactly. Plus," she added, "the ring itself is enchanted. Enjoy, it's yours."
Slipping it onto the ring finger on her right hand, she found it fit perfectly. "Thank you. I—I promise not to abuse it."
Asherael chuckled. "Just enjoy it. It's okay to take a break every now and again. I just don't want to see you trashed all of the time, okay?"
Amanda nodded. As pissed as she still was at Jesse, it wasn't likely. Tempting, but not her style. Besides, she was robbed of much of her wits around him as it was. Why make it worse by being drunk all of the time?
"Good." Asherael walked up to the bartender behind the counter. "Hi, I'll have a martini. What would you like, Amanda?"
"Cabernet, please. House would be fine."
Asherael made a noise that sounded like a cross between a snort and a sigh. "Screw house selection. Whatever you recommend as a really good cabernet, sir, would be fine with us."
The bartender nodded at them both. "Right, then. One martini for you, and for you, miss," he looked at Amanda, "I have just the thing."
Lyrael gingerly sat down at the bar. When she managed to speak to Asherael, the words stumbled out awkwardly.
"You really didn't have to—I mean—this is nice and all, but—"
"Amanda, the beginnings are always uncomfortable. And difficult. Mine were pretty harsh as well—harsher than yours, if you can believe it. But that's a tale for another time. I just want you to have the chance to unwind and…I don't know…forget about it for a while."
The bartender brought them their drinks, and Asherael took a sip of her martini before continuing.
"Whatever's going on with you, I can't solve it. I can maybe guess at the problem—or problems—perhaps even sympathize, but…." She shook her head. "It's been a long time for me since I was an apprentice. Say, do you like jazz?"
"I—yes, I do."
A nostalgic smile spread across Asherael's face. "I used to sing in a blues band many years ago. In pubs like this, actually."
Amanda looked at her, stunned. Asherael, in a blues band? "When?" she asked.
"1920s, shortly before the Depression started. Down in New Orleans."
Asherael pronounced the city's name differently than Amanda was used to hearing it. To her ears, it sounded like "Naw-lins". Then she did a small double take. 1920s. How old was Asherael, exactly?
And another disturbing thought came to her—just how old was Jesse, anyhow?
"But that was a long time ago," Asherael stated in a dismissive tone. "Anyway, I didn't come here to ramble about myself. Other than Turel, not many of us have had the chance to really talk to you. While some of us can be terribly stuck up and with our noses in the books, it's still no excuse. And especially after reading your essay. I would've loved to have had the chance to meet you before this. I just wanted you to know that. I'm really…grateful…to have the opportunity to meet you. Seriously."
Amanda regarded her. The blonde vampire spoke very plainly, with few frills or preamble. While she had the feeling Asherael held back certain thoughts, she didn't get the feeling of bullshit from her—and she rather liked that lack of bullshit.
Not knowing what else to say, she smiled back at the older vampire and sipped her wine. As she tasted the beverage, she marveled at the way it glided down her tongue like silk. It was neither bitter nor overpowering and had an aftertaste that reminded her of berries.
"Now, I'm not sure about that bass player, but the guy on the sax definitely knows what he's doing. He handles that instrument like he's made love to it a thousand times. Now, that's how you play a sax."
Amanda grinned. "What a great description."
"I'm serious. You can't play an instrument like that on the stage and not love it, and I mean, really love it. Heart and soul. Seriously."
The younger vampire nodded in return. "So you used to sing jazz?"
"Oh, yeah." Asherael sipped her martini. "I still miss it. Sometimes when James is locked away in his office, I dream of sneaking down to a karaoke bar and singing my lungs out."
"Why don't you?"
"Too much work to do. Too many students to look after, papers to read…I need to make more time for myself. Speaking of relaxing," she added in a self-deprecating tone.
"I've always loved singing," Amanda confessed. "I sing for the god if nothing else. Apollo, I mean. But I rarely sing for others."
Asherael gazed at her for a long moment. "We should head to this Noraebang nearby here one of these nights. You'd love it."
"Noraebang. It's the Korean version of Karaoke. The videos alone would have you in stitches. You rent a room for a period of time—very reasonable price—and you get to sing to all of these crazy Korean music videos."
Amanda was puzzled. "But if they're Korean…."
"Oh, the videos are all Korean, but it's done to American music. With subtitles and a bouncing ball so you know when to sing a word. It's also quite fun to do when utterly smashed. You need to try it."
"Sounds like fun," she replied with a laugh.
The band stopped playing their song at that moment, and as the lead player strolled up to the front of the stage, microphone in hand, the people in the club were applauding. Asherael joined in, then Amanda.
"Thank you, thank you, folks. For all y'all who's new here tonight, welcome to the Blue Moon. Here's another special tune that we'd like to play for y'all…."
A more lively song played next, and Amanda soon found herself tapping her foot against the barstool. When she noticed her movement, she almost stopped—but saw that Asherael's foot against her own seat and fingers on the surface of the bar behaved similarly, so she figured that she was in good company. The wine coursed through her veins, pulling her under into that stage beyond tipsy and into drunk. She sensed that Asherael was also considerably under the influence at this point—and an equal feeling that the older vampire didn't care in the least.
"I wonder if they have any CDs out?"
"Oh, if they do, I'm getting a copy. Trust me. Hey, bartender," Asherael called out to the man behind the bar, "what's the name of this band?"
"The Original Sin," he yelled out over the music and talking patrons.
"Thanks," she called back and laughed. "What an amazing name for a band. I rather like it." Lynne continued to sip her martini, her green eyes twinkling as she spoke.
"I have an odd question for you, if you don't mind."
"No such thing as an odd question. Well, maybe. I dunno. Go right ahead, Amanda. Ask."
"How—how old are you exactly? I mean, if you don't mind my asking…."
Asherael nearly choked on her drink, and for a moment Amanda wondered if she'd offended her. But she realized that she choked due to laughter, not anger.
Turning to Amanda with a smile and a quirk of her brow, she replied, "I was born in 1908, Turned in the year 1927."
"Hush, you," Asherael admonished with a swish of her finger. "No, I am not nineteen. I was nineteen. Don't make this nice bartender panic on us, okay?"
"I mean…you were—"
"Yes, most of us were initiated in our late teens, a few of us in our early twenties. Remember, different times back then. Different times."
"Wow. I mean….you…you…," Amanda stuttered, trying to explain her reaction, "you don't look a day over twenty."
For some reason, Asherael found this outrageously funny. She put down her drink on the counter as carefully as she could manage in her drunken state and roared with laughter. The elder vampire quickly wiped at her eyes. Pink, she thought curiously. Her tears are pink. She realized it was because they were tinged with blood. She wondered if this was a natural vampire trait and if all of their bodily fluids contained blood. This got her thinking about other bodily fluids and consequently her previous night spent with Jesse. She flushed, both with the pleasant memory of their lovemaking and the nasty recollection of how she woke up that evening.