Your writing can change so much in ten years! I recently re-wrote a starter piece from a for-funsie project, and the difference was so phenomenal I figured it’d be a great example for fledgling writers in my communities. Mind you, neither of these are copy-edited so if you stumble over one of my classic typos, you’ll just have to eat it. If you’re ever feeling insecure about your work, take a look at stuff you wrote a few years ago. You’re always improving.
“I’m sorry, I don’t do this much. Uh, blind dates that is.” Faith apologized, reaching for her glass of wine and taking a huge swallow. Much was an understatement. Try never. Except when ambushed by busy-body friends with too much time on their hands.
The man chuckled. A soft sound, not unfriendly. He was handsome at least. With dark blond hair long enough to curl behind his ears. Bright blue eyes, baby smooth skin and an angled jaw. His whole frame looked like those thin wiry magazine models. Men that looked eighteen years old for their entire lives. Even the way he tapped his perfectly manicured fingers on the table was fluid and smooth.
“Nothing to be embarrassed over. I have learned to take life’s surprises with grace.” he grinned, flashing a pearly white smile. “Tell me, Faith, were your friends truthful? Are you a virtuoso of vampires?”
Faith choked on her water, setting down the glass quickly to pick up a napkin. “Vampires…?” Those jerks. They didn’t.
“Yes. Vampires. Your charming friends mentioned that you write books. Stories about vampire love affairs? They explained they chose my profile specifically because I asked for a woman interested in vampires.” His eyebrow raised in a curious gesture.
They did. God damnit! She hated her friends! “Uh, yeah. I have a series that’s gotten pretty popular lately.” Her momentary embarrassment shifted as she cast him a dubious expression. “Did you seriously add that to your dating profile?”
He shrugged his shoulders, casting a wry grin. “What can I say? I like a woman who shares my interests. Do you like vampires, Faith?” He leaned forward on the table, resting his elbows as he clasped his hands together. The look he gave her reminded her of a few exboyfriends. Where they’d try to give that deep, mysterious stare that usually came off creepy and disturbing. He kind of looked like he wanted to eat her.
Here it comes. That moment when a date turns totally awkward. Lucky for her, she knew when to bail! “Wow, look at the time. I can’t believe it’s almost midnight. I better call myself a cab.”
Her date chuckled, dropping his gaze to lift a hand and summon for the check. “Let me drive you home, it’s the least I can do for taking advantage of this ambush.”
“Really? Thanks.” Faith grinned appreciatively. Grateful it wasn’t going to turn in to one of those ‘Why don’t you like me?!’ scenes.
A few minutes later they were outside, walking down the ramps in the parking garage, looking for his car. They got down to the bottom level and turned a corner. The entire place seemed to be empty.
“Do you even remember where you parked?” Faith asked, turning to face her date. With a glance at his face she jumped, stumbling back a few feet as she raised a hand to point a finger at him. His eyes were… they had changed color! Instead of the bright blue, now they were dark red, almost black.
“I’m afraid I fibbed a little. I don’t have a car.” He smile was unnerving. Now he had glinting white fangs. Vampire fangs.
That was just the last straw. Faith’s moment of being startled was gone, replaced by the still slightly disturbed, but much more manageable annoyance. Her date was clearly a wacko and slipped himself some contacts and teeth in while she wasn’t looking. “Okay, I gt it. You’re one of those roleplaying freaks. That’s cool, but if you try to bite me, I’m going to kill the hell out of you, okay?” Faith’s hand slipped in to her coat pocket and curled around a handy spray bottle of mace she kept on her keychain.
He laughed out loud! Apparently her words were hilarious. In a blink of an eye he jumped in the air, practically flying before he landed right in front of her. His fangs grew longer as he grabbed on to her shoulders. Instincts prevailing, Faith whipped out the mace and sprayed him in the eyes! While snarling in pain, she shoved him back and took off running. Vampire. Real vampire! One that was recovering quick as she could hear him growling her name and darting closer!
A stumble over something on the ground had nearly took her off her feet, but she snatched up the object – some discarded piece of metal – last minute. Just she turned, the vampire was there and she thrust it forward in to his chest! He looked surprised as blood slowly oozed from the wound. His head tilted slightly to the side as his lips turned up in to a smirk.
“You missed.” His fingers curled around the metal piece, jerking it out of his chest in a swift motion.
“…oh shit.” His arm swung, striking her with enough force to send her flying backwards. Crashing in to a wall and crumbling on the ground in an unceremonious heap of pain. As he approached, Faith scooted backwards until her back caught the wall. Looked like she was going to be a vampire’s dinner. A fangirl’s dream come true!
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” Faith mumbled softly, casting the small phone sitting on the marbled bathroom counter a frustrated frown. Though the laughing voice on the other end couldn’t see it, Faith knew Marianne could feel it and that was enough.
“I can’t believe you’re hiding in the bathroom. He couldn’t possibly be that bad. His profile has everything you asked for!”
There was no denying that. Though Faith was furious when her friends revealed they’d set her up a dating profile on SoulMateMatch.com, they managed to simmer her down with promises of screening all of her potential dates according to her (un)reasonable demands. It’s just that there was nothing Faith hated more than the awkwardness of the dating scene, with all of the probing getting-to-know-you questions, uncomfortable flirting, and her irrational fear of goodnight kisses. She’d firmly decided she would never go on another date again, but her well-meaning friends always seemed to find new ways to get her out of the house and into the crosshairs of Cupid’s arrow.
She could’ve said no. Honestly, she should have. It seemed as soon as her books started hitting the best seller lists, meeting someone that wasn’t creepy had become a herculean task. Write a few books about vampires and all kinds of weirdos start googling you up and leaving you disturbing messages on Twitter.
But… Maybe, a tiny part of her dramatic little romantic heart was hoping something amazing would happen.
“I can almost hear your inner dialogue. Just tell me what happened already!”
“He’s too perfect!” Faith finally blurted out. Even she knew this was a ridiculous excuse, but that’s just how she felt. The man sitting out there in his dark designer suit, with long blond hair softly curling at his chiseled jaw, and the kind of deep green eyes that could swallow a person up, was such a vision of beautiful perfection that it hurt to look at him. Faith didn’t tend to get dumbfounded by appearance, but everything about the man had her flustered. From the spicy scent of his cologne to the quiet way he spoke. He seemed to always know exactly the right thing to say, and it was all the things she wanted to hear.
It was suspicious. It didn’t feel right.
Marianne had already launched into a rant about Faith’s long-held record of finding the most ridiculous things to complain about, and how she would personally jump the man’s bones and shag him thirty different ways if she had the opportunity. It took Faith promising she’d go back out there and give him a second chance to make her stop.
Once she dropped her phone back into her dress pocket, Faith gave an exasperated sigh and peered at her reflection in the mirror. Brown eyes under a veil of long lashes stared back, silently judging her life choices. She refreshed her lipstick and gave her dark hair a quick comb through with her fingers, then she left the bathroom to return to the intimate table where her date was still patiently waiting.
“You’re uncomfortable,” he said just as she was sliding into her seat.
Faith grabbed for her glass of wine and took a heavy swallow.
“Hmm, yeah.” she admitted. “I just- I don’t do this often. Blind dates, that is. Was it that obvious?”
“Generally people don’t have trouble looking me in the eyes.”
Immediately her gaze shot up to his face, where she found him gently smiling with amusement. Had she really spent the entire night dodging eye contact? Faith got a quick reminder of why. He leaned forward, resting his arms on the table, and something in her stomach just flipped upside down. How could any man in real life look so flawless.
“Tonight hasn’t been that bad, has it?” While she was giving a mental rating of their meal, he reached across the table to grasp her hand and all her thought processes went on the fritz. His hand was soft but firm; warm but not sweaty. Now that he asked, it really hadn’t been a bad date at all. If she looked past all her anxiousness, he’d been enjoyable company and wasn’t that what she wanted? “We share a lot of the same interests, Faith. I can even expand your knowledge on vampires when we’re somewhere more private.”
The spell was broken in an instant.
Faith wasn’t sure what snapped her back to reality first. The casual drop of vampires or the fact he said when. As if it were a guaranteed sure thing she was going somewhere “more private” with him. He seemed to mirror her surprise when she suddenly pulled her hand away.
“I’m sorry, this was nice, but it’s got to be past midnight by now. I should get myself an Uber.” Faith reached into her pocket to pull out her wallet and thumbed out enough bills to pay for her share of dinner. For a split second she felt terrible. She kind of blurted it out of nowhere and Faith didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings just because she got spooked anytime someone was familiar with her books. But when she glanced back up, his shocked expression had shifted from simple confusion to this almost irritated, examining stare. As if she were some sort of inconvenient creature that had suddenly taken the place of his date.
“Generally people don’t-”
“Don’t what, say no?” she shot back before he could finish. Because, seriously, what was he thinking? God, this had to be the first time someone had actually said no to his pretty face! Any concerns she had about his feelings were gone and within a second she had slipped out of her chair and shrugged into her coat.
“Thank you for dinner.”
Faith didn’t take another breath until she was out of the restaurant and well on down the sidewalk.
Cool night air helped ease her flaring temper, though it didn’t quell the storm of second guessing now thundering around in her head. Did she over-react? She had a really bad habit of doing that sometimes. Faith had good instincts, though, didn’t she? A good writer needed to have a grasp on people, an understanding of cues and behavior. Her first impressions were typically the right impression. The whole night hadn’t sat well with her, she shouldn’t feel bad for ending it the moment she knew she was done.
Ugh, this was why she hated dating. She always had to replay the night in her head and pick apart all the things she probably did wrong.
The sound of a second pair of shoes crunching over sidewalk gravel had her looking over her shoulder. A habit she picked up when she moved out to the city, especially at night when it was important for a girl to be wary of her surroundings. Faith expected to see another pedestrian nearby, but not the familiar suit and head of long blond hair trailing several feet behind. Her heart skipped a beat.
He shouldn’t be walking. She knew, because he’d picked her up in his fancy car and the valet had parked it off in the opposite direction in the restaurant’s private parking lot. Maybe he decided to catch up to her and apologize for his assumptions. She could respect him for that and even appreciate it. Faith held her breath, waiting for him to call out her name. To try and get her attention. Anything really. When she couldn’t stand it any longer, she spun around to face him.
No one was there.
Faith let out a sigh of relief. He must’ve needed some fresh air himself, unaware of her presence, and turned a corner somewhere. When she turned back to continue on her way, she ran face first into a solid chest and a pair of firm hands gripped her arms.
“You don’t like me, do you. I thought you were interested in vampires, Faith?”
Faith nearly jumped right out of her skin as she jerked back and out of his grasp.
“What is wrong with you?!” Anger overshadowed her fear as she balled up her fists and stomped a foot. “I didn’t mean to insult you or hurt your feelings, okay? I’m just- I need to go home.”
His only response was to burst into laughter, leaving Faith even more furious. A narrowed-eyed glare was her only parting word before she turned to stalk back in the opposite direction.
In a blink he was blocking her way again.
“You don’t seem to understand.”
That was… completely impossible. Faith stumbled backwards, trying to find some logic to it. She had an over active imagination when she was sober and daydreaming, so of course she’d see things a little weird being alone and scared on a dark street after two glasses of wine and an awkward date.
“Let me take you home, Faith.”
His smile turned wide. A hint of sharp white teeth glinted in the moonlight. Not teeth. Fangs.
“Nope,” she whispered.
Faith took off running. She didn’t have a plan or an idea of where she was going, she just ran as fast as her feet could carry her. In the back of her head, she knew this was probably the fun part for him. Predator chasing the prey. At the first opportunity of cover she saw, Faith made a sharp detour and ducked into a parking garage filled with vehicles. She crouched behind an old Nissan, digging her hands into her pockets until she came out with her phone and her keys.
Should she call for help? Who would believe her!
Something heavy landed on the car roof beside her, shattering one of the windows and raining glass down over her head. It grasped the back of her jacket, trying to haul her up along with it, but she slipped out of the fabric and went scrambling. His laughter echoed against concrete and metal in every direction, and no matter which way she spun Faith couldn’t seem to catch a glimpse of him by the light of her phone.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” She felt hot breath against the back of her neck before arms locked around her. Faith shrieked, her phone slipping out of her hands as she kicked her feet to get loose. She could hear the screen cracking when he slammed a heel down on top of it. His laughter grew heavier and more muffled when she felt the prick of something sharp scraping against her shoulder.
Faith sucked in a breath and squeezed her eyes shut. Hissing out a curse, she jerked her head to the side to give a clear firing shot of pepper spray from her keychain. She was rewarded with a snarl of pain and her sudden release. Faith only paused long enough to kick him in the balls before she darted away.
Her freedom was short lived. He recovered quick enough that she could practically feel him bearing down on top of her. An askew piece of metal grating stubbed her toe and Faith hit the ground hard, grinding a long scrape of gravel and sand up her arm. Another glint of metal caught her eye and she grasped for it.
The next thing she knew, she was on her feet shoving that piece of metal into his chest. Wide eyes of blood red stared down at her in shock. Not green. Dark, unnatural red, filling iris and sclera with bloody nightmares. Her gaze fell with his to the sharp chunk of grey, dripping thick streams of blood down his torso. Faith watched as his fingers curled around the metal and with a quick, sharp motion, yanked it out. She flinched when it slipped from his fingers and clanged to the ground.
“You missed.” All the amusement and laughter in his voice was long gone. Now his tone was nothing but ice cold.
“…oh shit,” she whispered.
The next moment the wind was knocked out of her. Faith felt the blow to her chest, but not the brick wall her body collided against. Everything went bright white for a split second, before a wave of pain washed over her. When she touched her hand to the back of her throbbing head it came back dry, but now she was seeing in triplicate and with the brick baring her way, there was no where to run to.
This wasn’t happening. She wasn’t going to get eaten by a real actual vampire. None of this was real.