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After a night of dinner and dancing, Camryn and Sophie had gone home. I was waiting for a taxi outside the club.

Nearby, a tall, black haired man smoked a cigarette. Wrinkling my nose, I refrained from lecturing him about how he was destroying his health, and scanned the street. Where was that taxi?

“Happy birthday, Layla.”

I whirled around. The man was grinning at me.

“I don’t believe I know you. How did you know it was my birthday?” I snapped.

“Heard your friends tell you ‘happy birthday, Layla’. So I’d take a wild guess, your name is Layla, and it’s your birthday,” he smirked.

“Hmmmph,” I muttered.

“Would you rather I wished you an unhappy birthday?”

“No,” I said shortly.

“If I might say-”

“You may not,” I said snapped, annoyed. He laughed.

“As I was saying, you’re the sort of woman who improves with age,” he said, looking me up and down.”Oh yes, definately.”

What was with this guy? What kind of freak was he? If that was a sample of his pick up lines, I’d say his whole stock was rotten. Damn that taxi dispatch…

I was starting to feel strange. Maybe I’d had too many cocktails. My mind felt cloudy. I shook myself, but it didn’t help. My mind began to drift to thoughts of…that guy.

“Going home?” he asked.

Unable to help myself, I nodded.

“The night is still young, why not have a little more fun?” he coaxed.”We could have a drink nearby, I know a…place.”

To my vague horror, through my fuzzy thoughts and feelings, I realised I was nodding again.

“Al…alright,” I stammered.

I couldn’t resist. I found myself walking away with him.

A few minutes later, my taxi finally showed up. Seeing I wasn’t there, the driver waited, then left.

____

The club he’d taken me to was dark and strange, but surprisingly, I was having fun. The drinks were good, and I felt almost giddy. Euphoric, perhaps.

All around the bar, patrons and even the bartender had that strange glow I’d noticed on the man from the Banzai Lounge, and I thought maybe I recognised some of them. Strange enough, but after awhile, I thought nothing of it.

We danced for awhile.

“Why don’t we go somewhere private?” the man suggested, much later.

“Can’t,” I slurred with a giant, stupid grin on my face.”Don’t even know your name…”

“Is that all that’s stopping you?” he laughed, leading me to the elevator.”Call me…Drake.”

____

We rode down in silence. I was perplexed beyond belief when we didn’t get off at the main floor, instead arriving at a lower level. It was dark and cold, and I shivered in the gloom. Turning, trying to make my mind wake up enough that I could ask why we had come to such a place, the words died on my tongue.

Drake was staring at me, almost…hungrily.

“You smell good,” he said with a smile.

“My perfume-” I stammered, as he moved closer. I swear, he was all but drooling.

“I said you are a woman who improves with age, like a fine wine. I’ve waited a long time for you,” Drake said, reaching for me.”I remember another young peach, she could have seasoned more, but I was impatient. She was…sweet and luscious.”

I had a feeling he wasn’t talking about kissing, or even sex. I took a step back, but he had me in his arms.

“It was hard to let you age this long without a taste,” he whispered in my ear.

“What-!” I gasped as he sank his teeth into my neck, cutting off a cry of pain.

He dropped me on the ground, like a piece of garbage. If I had any strength left, I might have felt it.

There was a vicious snarling, and something heavy made impact with Drake. I lay on the ground, unable to move, listening to what seemed like a pair of ferocious animals tearing at each other.

____

____

And then there was a sudden quiet. A face appeared above me, blurry as I felt myself slipping into unconciousness.

It was the man from the Banzai Lounge. He looked at me with pity, and…regret?

“It will be alright.”

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