by Umair Mirxa
Balthazar had never really been attracted to redheads, especially ones with fair skin. Given the choice, he preferred raven hair and olive complexions. The woman who sat before him now, however, was the exception to every rule.
The first he’d known of her approach was a hint of berries in the air. Odd. He didn’t expect such pleasures in the pigsty he’d chosen for his watering hole tonight. Still, he’d known life to be stranger.
“Buy a girl a drink?” she said, casually taking the seat next to him. The perfume of her skin was intoxicating.
“Eh, why ne?” he said. “Wha’ll ye have?” I’ll risk it.
“I’ll let you know,” she leaned in, drawing his eyes. “In a moment. First, I’ll have your name.”
Her voice spoke to him of love and warmth and happiness. Embraced him so as never to let go. Caressed, oh ever so gently, the flames of his desire.
“Balt. Ye can call me Balt,” he said, wrenching his eyes up to look into her own.
There, he found new treasures, buried deep and shining bright. She could finish a man with those eyes. The strain he felt in his breeches told him he wasn’t wrong. Spellbound, he traced her features with his eyes. He could almost taste her lips as they curled up into a smile.
“Short for Balthazar, no doubt,” she said. “And that is what I shall call you. It is proper.”
“Call me wh’ever ye want, luv. Wha’s a lass like ye doin’ in a shite-full dump as ‘ere, anyho?” Why is she here? Could it be a trap?
“Oh, the same as you, I suppose. A girl wants to quench her thirst. Days like these, there are few places she can go.”
“Wha’s yer name then?” he asked. “An’ ye still ha’e nuffin’ te drink. Oi, barkeep!”
“Hush. I shall have one presently. Let me, for the moment, simply enjoy the pleasures of your company.”
She crossed her legs, and Balthazar let his eyes wander. From the toe of her boot, riding up the hem of her dress to her waist, and exploring the abundant delights on offer around her neckline. She was voluptuous in ways no woman had any right to be, and the dress clung to every perfect curve in all the manners a man can commit sin.
“Ye haen’t even given me yer name,” he said. I’m bored, now.
“What, pray tell, would you do with one, were it given?”
“Why, cherish it, ’course. Use it, for te remember ye.”
“My, aren’t you the most charming of devils. And you would wish to remember me?”
“’Course!” I remember them all.
“Even if I were to stand, and leave right now?”
“Look ‘ere, lady. It’s jus’ yer name. Give it or don’t.”
“Ah, but it isn’t, is it? Mama always said be careful who you give your name. They have power, see? Names do.”
“Pfft! Le’ me a’least buy ye tha’ drink.” I think I like her.
“Oh, don’t huff! It ill becomes you. In any case, what does it really matter? Call me Aurora for the dawn. Would it change how you think of me? Think of the prettiest name you know. Remember me by it. Aphrodite, maybe?”
“I’m ou’ta ‘ere, if teasin’ me all ye’s about,” said Balthazar, dropping a few coins onto the bar.
“You did promise me a drink. I think I’ll have it now. Not here, though.”
He offered his arm, and led her out into the street. She directed him into an alley a ways down. Enough of these games already.
He pinned her up against a wall, and sank his fangs into her neck. The taste of her, the scent of berries mixed with blood, the feel of her body pressed against his own – together, they made him almost careless. Almost.
She had neither screamed nor resisted. He was too good a hunter to allow it. Softly though, she now moaned, sinking into his trance.
“Cassandra,” she whispered. “My name’s Cassandra. Will you remember me?”
Balthazar smiled. At last, he could control her. Compel her to his will. He decided to keep her – for a while, at least.
“Of course, I will,” he said, holding her up as she fainted against him. “I remember them all, darling.”
She was right. Names did have power. Her cohorts could wait at the end of the alley all night. He gathered her up in his arms, and vanished into the night. Alexandra would like a taste. She loved redheads.
Umair Mirxa lives and writes in Karachi, Pakistan. His first published story, ‘Awareness’, appeared on Spillwords Press. He has since had stories accepted for publication in anthologies from Zombie Pirate Publishing, Blood Song Books, Black Hare Press, Iron Faerie Publishing, Clarendon House Publications, Fantasia Divinity Magazine & Publishing, and The ReAnimated Writers Press.
He is a massive J.R.R. Tolkien fan, loves everything to do with mythology, fantasy, and history, and wishes with all his heart that dragons were real. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading novels and comic books, playing video games, listening to music, and watching movies, TV shows, and football as an Arsenal FC fan.