Prince had just been bitten and turned by Count Floyd. Until moments before he hadn't even known the count was a vampire. After his own fangs burst forth Prince had roared,
"What the hell, Floyd?"
The count backed away a little and hastened to explain,
"My dear Prince, compose yourself, I was simply thinking how you and I could own this city if you were like me. I like your style. Anyway, sometimes I get a bit lonely for the companionship of a fellow vampire who understands my way of life."
"What is up with that? You were thinking 'Hey look; we're both undead now so we can, like, hang out together; a bloodsucking tag team'? Are you kidding me, Floyd?" Prince exploded, "I have a business to run, you Transylvanian blockhead! And look at me! Look at me! Major, expensive, orthodontal work will have to be done. My skin is gray now and my tan is gone. How many trips to the tanning booth do you think it will take to get that back--huh?"
"Hmm, if that booth has anything to do with sunlight I wouldn't advise trying that ever again. As for your fangs you're going to need those so stay away from the dentist. Although you have no reflection you may be assured that you are more handsome than ever before. When women are ravished and then bitten by you, truly they will not care about your skin color. Oh, no, my friend; they will belong to you. You can now effortlessly have any woman you desire."
"Excuse me, but when it comes to women, I was already doing more than all right on my own," Prince snapped. Then he thought, wait, I can't use a mirror? Well that sucks big time. How am I supposed to gel my hair?
You just need some advice and help at the beginning," the count assured him and then shrugged with casual regret, "However; it is lamentable but I am on my way to London for a brief but happily decadent vacation. Upon my return, though, I will check on your progress and--"
"Oh, that's great, that's just perfect. You turn me into an undead bloodsucker without my permission or any courteous word of warning and then leave me to figure out the rules the hard way."
"Yes, well, perhaps I didn't really think it through as well as I should have in regard to the timing. Nevertheless I must leave, and soon. If worse comes to worse, see one of the witches downtown or even the gypsy fortune teller."
"Huh! If worse comes to worse I would assume I'll be a pile of ash and it will be too late to hunt down any old hag with a broom, not to mention some bogus psychic," Prince grimaced. The count frowned, quite tired of the conversation by now,
"Well then, shun the sun completely. I did have the foresight to place a coffin in your house tonight before I came; quite a nice one if I say so myself. You certainly have a plethora of windows in your home, don't you? Most unfortunate. So relentlessly bright and cheerful. I suggest you get window coverings as soon as possible. You will find you are much more comfortable with things dark, gloomy and forbidding in your home at all times. More restful to your vampire system.
"Wait--you were in my house? How did you get past the security system?"
The count smiled slyly,
"It was not a problem, I assure you. You can do the same and you will have many other surprising abilities, too, but you'll learn all of your powers in time. Evidently you don't remember inviting me to visit you at home that time? That can be taken as permission to enter your abode."
Prince let that subject go for the time being and then had a reaction to something else the count said,
"Oh, man, I have to sleep in a coffin? For real? This just gets better and better. You forgot to ask if I'm claustrophobic, Floyd."
"Don't tell me you are afraid of small dark places, Prince," the count had the nerve to smile evilly.
Prince shrugged, backtracking to keep his pride,
"Well, just a touch. I'll manage. The point is you never asked me first and I thought we were friends."
"We are, my lad, but please don't whine; it's so unattractive. Soon you will appreciate my magnanimous gift. In the meantime, avoid the sun and choose your victims carefully. You may find it takes some time to really get proficient at this, in more ways than one. I must take my leave of you now so good luck."
As the count became a mist and drifted out the door Prince muttered,
"Yeah, right. Bon voyage, you old bastard and thanks for nothing. I hope your next meal turns out to be a heroin addict with a social disease."
Right now he needed to get home as quickly as possible--how many hours before sunrise, anyway? Curtains, he kept saying to himself, curtains, he must have curtains.
As soon as he got to the house Prince phoned his administrative assistant, Pepper.
"Um Pepper? Hi, it's me...I said it's me. Your boss. Pepper, it's Prince! Did I wake you?"
The question was a little unnecessary since Pepper's voice sounded groggy and she was having trouble forming words. Prince had actually never called her at home not to mention the middle of the night. Well, it was earlier than he'd thought it was--11:00 pm, but she evidently went to bed before prime time. She cleared her voice and then said,
"No, it's okay. What's wrong, Mr. Everhart?"
"I just need you to go get some stuff for me--hopefully very early tomorrow morning."
"Sure, but something must be wrong, what is it? I mean...since you called me at home."
"Nothing is wrong," he lied, "I just need blackout window treatments for the whole house. That's 28 windows all told; I'll give you the measurements in a second. I need them as soon as possible. I'm having problems with insomnia," he paused trying to think of a reason for every single one of the windows needing coverings, "So I, um, I need to be able to sleep anywhere in the house at any time."
"It's just that if they're custom windows they'll need custom draperies which have to be ordered and that can take some time," Pepper worried.
Prince realized he needed to calm down. It was just the thought of being in that coffin every day. He was hoping if he got blackout curtains he could still be up and around the house during the day and even sleep in his own bed. However; he actually had no idea if that would work or not. The count had said the place should look like a dark cellar, which although Prince loved his bright airy house he'd have to live in gloom until he could figure out how to change his condition. Anyway, although the count said he'd provided a coffin he hadn't said Prince had to sleep in it exactly, had he? Maybe he just needed darkness and no sun...
Meanwhile, here he was waking Pepper up and expecting her to be able to round up 28 curtains in 24 hours. It was ridiculous and he concluded he would just have to deal with the coffin for now.
"Don't worry, Mr. Everhart, I'll get them somehow and I'll help you put them up, too," Pepper told him becoming her usual capable self as she became fully awake. Her vow to herself, as always, being that Mr. Everhart's girl Friday would not let him down, politically correct or not.
"No! You can't help me put them up, that's impossible! I mean, well, I have, um, I have the flu--a really bad case. The doc said absolutely no visitors--so of course I won't be in the office for...a while. I didn't mean to sound so frantic, take your time and order the drapes and have them delivered to the office. When you are finally able to get them you can just leave them by my front door. That will be fine. What? No, I don't need you to bring me chicken soup, honey. I mean Pepper."
The "honey" had just slipped out of him for some reason.
Pepper quickly tried to persuade him,
"Are you sure? My chicken soup is quite good I'm told and I always have some ready in my freezer. It's my grandmother's recipe."
"I'm positive, but maybe another time I'll take you up on that."
"Well, okay, give me those measurements and I'll see about getting the drapes as soon as possible. Don't worry, I'll move all your appointments around. And as soon as the drapes arrive, hopefully you won't still be sick, but if you are I'll get them to you immediately day or night," Pepper said in a confidant way.
"No! I mean...no, you should not come at night, it's not necessary. I don't want you over here after dark, this area, well, it can be dangerous then. Thanks so much, Pepper," he tried to end the conversation before she could ask any more embarrassing questions, "I knew I could count on you. I don't thank you enough for all that you do."
He couldn't help smiling to himself. It was true, she was a gift. Who else would be so loyal to him and his company, so intelligent, honest and dependable?
"Oh, Mr. Everhart," Pepper's voice suddenly became soft and eager, "I'm happy to do anything for you, anything at all--you've only to ask."
That made him pause as he thought over the possibilities. Really? Then he shook himself mentally. Absolutely not. Pepper was a sweet innocent kid with a sharp mind, but she had no fashion sense and no figure at all that he could discern. She certainly didn't interest him in that way. In fact she couldn't be farther from the kind of woman who attracted him. Still, the words "I'll do anything for you--anything at all" tended to stick in a man's mind at least for a moment or two. But even he, Prince Everhart, was not that evil. Not yet, anyway.
He reminded himself also that Pepper was the assistant of any business man's dreams. In no way would he imperil that relationship; he didn't believe his company could do without her.
Surely she didn't mean it the way it sounded, anyway. She was naive about men as far as he could tell. And then he realized; she wasn't naive about him, in point of fact she knew all his faults and all his romantic peccadilloes. He suspected she was aware of his criminal dealings, too, although he was trying to cut back on his involvement on that since his business was doing so well. This sudden insight was like having ice water dumped on him. He needed Pepper just as she was and he needed to keep her loyalty--she had the goods on him, truth be told. This vampire crap that had suddenly invaded his life was bad enough; he didn't want one other thing to be changed. He had loved his life the way it was and he wanted to get back to it by becoming human again. Somehow.
"Thank you, Pepper, but for now the drapes will be all. I'll keep in touch with you by phone. In the evenings."
When he ended the call Prince decided he had to get on his computer and take care of a few things to do with his office. He also wanted to get online and search out all the information he could about vampires; which is what he did for nearly three hours.
Afterwards he spent a little time in his hot tub, trying to calm his nerves. His life had just been turned upside down and he hadn't even made a plan to get it righted again. But he would. At least he hoped he would. Right now he was simply in survival mode and that came to another problem. He was getting very hungry...
Next update: Harvey & Lori Ferguson Ch. 22 Jonesin' for a New Baby