As Pepper parked her little car in front of the office building that housed Everhart Financial Services, she considered once again whether she should buy a new car. She'd bought this one used and it was not a looker in the first place. However; Pepper was quite a good mechanic having been taught by her late father. So while it was unimpressive on the outside; under the hood the motor looked and worked like a Swiss watch. She had a certain affection for the bright orange car and just couldn't bring herself to replace it yet.
The packages arrived soon after she got in the office and she checked to make sure they were all there and then piled them up inside Prince's office. He'd been quite specific that she leave them there, telling her that he would have someone come by after hours to pick them up. Of course, in reality, Prince would be the one picking them up, but he had to keep Pepper thinking he was still suffering from a severe case of flu.
After she carried all the packages in Pepper looked around his office and sighed happily. A trace of his expensive and yummy cologne lingered in the air. Pepper tried not to sniff eagerly, but it was hard; frankly, she missed him more than she wanted to admit, even to herself.
After lightly dusting the desk and bookshelves and making sure all was as it should be Pepper locked the door and moved to her own office. There wasn't as much to do right now with Prince gone. It had been necessary to cancel all his appointments for the time being and she couldn't even reschedule them yet because she had no idea when he'd be back to work. His clients were anxious to hear when that would be.
"I'd like to know that myself," Pepper thought as she ate a lonely dinner in her apartment that night. When she'd first moved to Bluewater Village, she'd stayed at an inexpensive motel. Once she'd landed the job with Everhart Financial Services she'd hoped to be able to get a small apartment. Truly impressed and please with her work Prince had given her a raise and a bonus after the first week. This meant she could look at apartments that were a bit nicer. She finally settled on a lovely 2 bedroom, 1-1/2 bath apartment that she was subletting from John Lassiter who, from what she'd learned, was an even bigger name in the financial world than her boss. What was best of all; it had a large garage with plenty of room for her to be able to continue to keep her car in perfect shape.
Prince was, in fact, having a rough time of it but not because of any flu virus. He did not seem to be able to get the knack of biting someone successfully. Meanwhile, he'd had to sneak around the hospital at night and get a few bags of donated blood. It wasn't easy and it wasn't particularly good. Truth to tell, in spite of his previous light-fingered career, he'd felt strangely guilty about taking blood this way. He reasoned that it was donated by humans who meant it for other humans, most of whom were likely to be more deserving than Prince. Nevertheless he was desperate enough to take it.
Just before Prince was bitten by Count Floyd, Prince had been dating a new woman; as usual she was rich and married. Pepper had called her and let he know he would not be around for a while. In fact, she was the second woman he'd taken up with since Katharine Burb's husband had caught them both at Midnight Flows nightclub thereby putting an end to that affair.
Katharine had tried to contact him a few times immediately after the scene at the nightclub but Pepper took care of it as she always did. After one long phone conversation with the woman, though, Pepper had come to his office door and remarked,
"I think she and her husband are going to stay together and try to work it out."
Prince had paused and looked at her, raising one eyebrow; once he broke up with someone they were quickly forgotten and he didn't even like to hear their name much less a status report on them. Pepper looked away quickly; she had a particular yen for him when he did that eyebrow thing; she secretly called it his pirate look.
"I know, I know," she had acknowledged with a tired nod, "But think of it this way, boss; if they stay together, she'll be too busy to call and harass me anymore and he'll be too busy to come over and bust you in the chops."
"BUST me in the chops?" Prince had been incredulous.
Looking back at him again Pepper had then begun to chew on her lower lip, backpedaling, and suddenly Price's eyes had been riveted to her mouth.
"Um," she had fumbled, "I mean he won't be raging in the night planning revenge."
"Yes, well, that's fine...I guess."
Actually he hadn't known what else to say because he knew he needed to back off and not pressure her about her remark. He'd learned that every time she got anxious she unconsciously bit her lip. The problem was that she had these lovely plump lips and when she chewed on them it was extremely distracting to Prince. He didn't know why and he didn't want to find out why.
At any rate, that was the last time Prince had even thought about Katharine and he old man. Until...
...the first night after he was bitten and planned to head downtown to feed. He'd looked out the window because he thought he saw someone out there. It was Katharine's husband Josh Burb and he was muttering to himself and walking back and forth in front of Prince's house as though he were picketing.
"Aha!" Prince thought, "He can just be my first victim. That's what he gets for skulking around here."
He felt a little ashamed since his affair with Josh's wife was the reason that Josh was skulking. Not that ashamed, though.
Sure that he would now automatically be this suave and debonair vampire, Prince greeted him on the sidewalk. It was quite dark and there were hardly any other houses around Prince's home anyway. Josh was just glaring at him but said nothing, so Prince relented,
"Okay, I'm gonna do you a favor; just take it on down the road and we'll let bygones be bygones."
"Bygones?" Josh repeated angrily, "Bygones? I'll tell you about bygones--I--"
Before could go any further Prince reared back and prepared to send a vampire whammy his way. At first it felt right but then...it fizzled. And then died.
Josh looked at him quizzically and asked,
Nothing was happening. Prince shook his hands trying to get sparks to come out as they had earlier and hastily warned Josh,
"Look, I'm only giving you one more chance, buddy. Go home!"
That really was pathetic Prince reflected. Go home? It sounds like I'm ordering the neighbor's dog out of the begonia bed.
"Nope. Not going," Josh replied defiantly.
Giving it one more try Prince aimed his piercing blood red eyes at Josh again, gesturing dramatically with his hands a la Count Floyd,
"Look into my eyes; you are getting sleepy."
Crossing his arms Josh stood there shaking his head,
"So not happening."
"This sucks scissors," Prince muttered to himself.
"Sure does," Josh told him, finally irritating Prince.
Okay, he thought, vampire or not, I've always been able to intimidate anyone I wanted to without any magic tricks. I'm not going to wait around for some vampire spell to work.
He got up in Josh's face, doing his best goodfella impression and growled,
"Either you are going to hit the road, Mr. Burb, or your face is. Repeatedly. Do you understand me?"
Now Josh saw something in Prince's expression that he'd not seen before and suddenly he had an overwhelming desire to go home. And lock the doors and windows.
The rest of the night went the same, unfortunately. At the roller rink Prince ran into a guy he knew slightly so he gave it another shot. At first he thought it was gong to work; sparks shot from his fingers; weird lights like purple St. Elmo's Fire appeared. Then everything stopped; no lights, no magic and the guy was frowning at him and shaking his head. In fact, his hands felt like they were cramping a bit. Maybe he was trying too hard? If he ever saw Count Floyd again. Well, it was lucky he still had some blood bags in reserve in the fridge at home...