“Nina! Drop everything you’re doing. We need to get you dressed up now.” Tabby was so loud every one of Nina’s neighbors must have been able to hear her shouting and banging on Nina’s door. “I got you a date!”
Nina seriously thought about pretending she wasn’t home and just lurking in the apartment until Tabby finally left. If it weren’t for the fact she could actually hear the girl screaming over her hairdryer, she might have. Shaking her hair out on the way, and still wearing her shower towel, Nina went to let Tabby in.
“First of all, no. Whatever this date is, forget it! We’re not going to have a repeat of the van incident. Second– Tabby are you listening-“
“Great! You’re already showered.” Tabby seized Nina by the arm and hauled her toward the bedroom, shaking a large black shopping bag at her. Her booted heel kicked the door shut behind her. “One of these should fit you unless your dress size has changed recently. I can just return the others. Look, I promise this will be fine! He’s a really nice guy. I’ve known him for years.”
“I really appreciate you thinking about me, but I actually can’t tonight. I’m going to meet Jay at the club tonight to hang out.” They were also going to talk about some of the things on her checklist, but Nina didn’t want to get into that with Tabby.
Since Tabby did go through all the trouble, Nina dug into the bag to see if anything was actually salvageable. They had very different ideas of what looked good, but ever so often there would be a gem. Tabby had been right about the club, after all.
“You’re not trying to re-conciliate me with that Anton jerk, are you? Because that’s not happening. I’ll pop him in the nose again, Tabby, I don’t like him.”
“No, no, I get it. You don’t get along.” She sighed in exaggerated exasperation. “But come on! You can hang out with Jay later! Marcus is a member too, I’m sure he’ll be down to go to the club after you have drinks. Just don’t tell him you’re meeting Jay of all people.”
The dresses in the bag looked like Tabby had bought them from whatever specialty shop she bought her own wardrobe from–at least, Nina assumed it had to be a specialty store. Or one very interesting thrift shop. All four dresses were black and admittedly did look like the sort of thing people wore to the club. There was one with a jagged, lacy trim and grommets across the neckline all the way to a second pair of off-shoulder straps; one insanely short minidress with extra belts that didn’t seem to serve any purpose and a mesh piece which covered the shoulders and throat but had a large hollow right over the cleavage area; a backless mini that was fairly plain other than decorative angel wings outlining the open back; and a spaghetti-strap romper with embroidered roses on the bust and a chiffon duster skirt.
“Since when are you and Jay all chummy anyway?” Tabby demanded. “I didn’t think you’d be into him.”
Nina laid the dresses out on the bed so she could get a good look at her options and her hopes were not high. Immediately, the one with the belts and the mesh was tossed over to Tabby. Not even teen Nina on Halloween would’ve been caught in that, it was ridiculous. She went ahead and discounted the one with angel wings. It wasn’t awful, but the skirt was so short and the style too young. Nina would’ve felt like one of those middle-aged women trying to desperately recapture their high school years.
“Into him? He’s my friend, which is kind of refreshing after the Tinder marathon.” Nina rest her hands on her hips, debating between the last two. The long dress with lace was pretty, but it was also the safe choice and didn’t really have that spicy vibe she wanted to live up to. The romper, on the other hand, was perfect- if it weren’t for the silly duster. It was so unnecessary!
“What kind of guy is this Marcus, anyway, and what’s so wrong about Jay? You didn’t already tell him I’d meet him did you?”
“At least try that one on before you look at it like that! You will look so good in it.”
Tabby crossed her arms, making a face. “It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Jay, I guess. If you’re into that sorta thing. I just didn’t figure you for being all Daddy’s little princess.”
She moved around to sit on the bed, playing with her hair. “Okay, yes, I told him you’d meet him already. But Marcus is a good guy, I swear. Unlike Anton he’s been part of the scene for years. He’s looking for a new sub and he’s not bothered by you being a newbie at all. And he’s good at bondage. You like bondage, right?”
Whoops. Nina had been talking with her face again. Squinting her eyes at Tabby, Nina went ahead and snatched up the romper along with a pair of underwear from her dresser and disappeared into the bathroom.
“I want to try bondage, I guess, yes…” she sounded reluctant, but only because now she was trapped in this blind date. Bondage was one of the first things put on her checklist, at least in terms of being tied up in one fashion or another, but Nina wasn’t keen on trying that with someone she didn’t know yet. Of course, she could easily just blow it off, but that seemed so impolite the dude who probably already set aside his night. There wasn’t any reason Nina couldn’t at least have a drink and talk to him for a bit.
Once dressed, Nina excited the bathroom and went straight for her standing mirror. She turned a little to the left, and a little to the right… Okay, she had to hand it to Tabby. Nina didn’t know how she could go through life making so many questionable decisions, but somehow accidentally still stumble over the perfect things. The sheer duster still felt a bit dramatic for Nina’s tastes, but she had just the right strappy heels to go with it. And if she put up her hair into a long pony tail and maybe some red lipstick…
“Fine, you win, I like it. And I guess I can meet Marcus, just for his sake, but this is the last time, Tabby, I mean it! I can find my own dates.”
“Your own dates are accountants,” scoffed Tabby, rolling her eyes. She looked pleased though when Nina started to fix up her hair. “Seriously, it’s just drinks. I’ll drop you there and we can all meet up at the club after if you want! I was gonna go tonight anyway. Things are getting serious with me and Scorn.”
It didn’t matter how many times she heard the name, Nina was always instantly smiling when Scorn came up. There was no way she could take that guy seriously.
“One accountant. Only one was an accountant!”
It only took her a moment to pull her hair up into a high pony that could rival Ariana Grande’s. As for her makeup, she skipped everything but the red lipstick. Now if she got to dancing or over-heated she wasn’t going to look like a hot mess, and the lipstick would be a good excuse not to kiss any strangers.
Once she was done and had on her heels, she did a little turn for Tabby.
“There! I don’t look like a princess now, do I?” One last thing was missing, though. She snapped her fingers and went digging in her jewelry box for a necklace. “But seriously, you’re making it sound like Jay’s into something weird like… dragon dildos or something.”
“Dragon dildos aren’t even weird, you giant prude!” Tabby seized her arm again, jumping up. “You look great. Marcus isn’t going to know what hit him. Come on, you’re meeting him in like, thirty minutes.”
She glanced up at Nina, squinting. “It’s not that what he’s into is weird, but why do you even care if you’re not into him?“
Nina wanted to pinch the bridge of her nose, first because of course dragon dildos were weird, but mostly because Nina wasn’t the one that cared about Jay was into, it was Tabby that kept making the big deal about it!
“I was just- ugh! Friends! We’re just friends! Maybe I just want to know I’m not friends with a serial killer,” Nina mumbled. Before Tabby got over eager and started dragging her out, Nina found her purse and her phone. “Let’s gooo, then. Wait, where am I even meeting this guy?”
It turned out she was meeting Marcus at a bar called Last Drop. Tabby had told her they made amazing cocktails. What she hadn’t told her was that it was going to be vampire-themed.
After introducing Nina to Marcus, the little traitor had downed her drink and split. Now Nina was sitting alone in a red velvet booth with the guy, sipping on a fizzy red martini with a cherry sugar rim and a ridiculous name.
“So Tabby tells me you’re interested in exploring new interests,” Marcus was saying. His own drink was a glass of Merlot. “I’d like to hear a little more about what you’re looking for.”
The guy was cute, at least. Athletic, dusky-skinned, killer smile. He was wearing a red silk dress shirt with a black brocade waistcoat and ascot, and making even Nina feel under-dressed, but he was cute.
Nina had no idea where Tabby was finding all of these good looking men, and it felt so wrong to be inwardly complaining about it. But half the people in this bar were dressed like they walked off the set of an Anne Rice movie and Nina didn’t know if she could play this straight. At least at the club the people there understood it was all a roleplay. Here, Nina was a little scared to admit that biting was on her list. You couldn’t say that in a room full of vampires!
“Um! Hm. Well, I’m open to exploring a different kind of lifestyle I guess? In my dating life, I mean. Mostly, I’m dating and looking to date people that are open to trying things outside of the traditional bedroom stuff…”
This was so awkward. How could someone so gorgeous pull off an ascot like that. Somehow it worked on him. She was trying not to swallow her drink too fast and have a repeat of last weekend, but this one was actually pretty good, so every time she fell into a silence she ended up taking a drink to hide it.
“What about you? I didn’t get to hear much about you.”
“I’m looking for something new myself,” he told her. “I have had my share of playmates, but I’d like to spend time with someone less… jaded by the world. Someone who isn’t scared away by my particular tastes would be ideal, but a little companionship is all I really want right now.”
Nina’s phone buzzed in her purse.
“I’m a lawyer,” Marcus went on. “And a very private person. I work odd hours. It makes meeting compatible people difficult.”
“I can absolutely understand that,” Nina replied. She was honestly surprised to know he was a lawyer, considering the usual suspects in Tabby’s circles. Then again, some of Tabby’s friends needed lawyers. She suppressed the urge to laugh at her own wicked joke.
The phone she tried to ignore, since it’d be rude to be texting away right in the middle of a conversation.
“I’m actually looking for a more sincere relationship myself. I mean, I don’t want to jump into something serious right away, but I’m kinda hoping along the way I fall in love? Meeting new people has been tricky for me too, since I’m not really a bar and clubbing person and there’s only so many ways to meet new people outside of internet apps.”
Dang, she was such a phone addict. Knowing she had a text and not looking at it was driving her nuts. She snapped open her purse and pulled out her phone.
“Sorry, I’m just gonna take a peek at this real quick in case it’s important. But, um, tell me what you’re looking for in a companion? I’m personally not all that experience with, well, just about everything so it’d be nice to find someone that can be patient with it. Or even explore things with me.”
His lips pursed slightly when she went for her phone, but he waved off her apology regardless.
“I’m looking for someone who will accept me for who I am. Love is something I can’t hope for until then. For the rest… yes, I can be patient.”
The text was the latest in her conversation with Jay. It was a little surprising how easy it had been to text him off and on all week, but they’d just naturally fallen into it. This one was in reply to her frantic text letting him know Tabby had ruined their plans.
Tabby’s here. Where are you?
Nina smiled at Marcus and gave a little shrug of her shoulders.
“Tabby said you were a dom, and I know there’s a lot of bad perception about that. It’s gotta be difficult slipping it into conversations without your date thinking you’re some kind of serial killer– Which-” Nina pointed to herself with a wry twist to her smile, “Guilty. And I’m trying to get into the scene. Oh, but you go to the same club Tabby does, yeah? It’s been a good experience with meeting people?”
While she was talking, Nina thumbed out a quick response for Jay.
ambush date. didnt want to be rude
Then set her phone aside on the table.
“For the most part, yes. I belong to a particular subset that some in the scene find off-putting.” He frowned, toying with the stem of his wineglass. “Apologies if I seem to be dancing around the subject, Nina, but I’m used to poor reactions. While I would classify myself as a Dom and do favor some of the more widely accepted kinks–bondage, for instance, is a favorite of mine–I have a greater need than that. Some might dismiss it as bloodplay, but for me, it’s part of my identity.”
Nina’s phone buzzed against the table, much louder this time thanks to the hard surface on which it rested.
Nina slapped her hand over the phone to stop it’s racket and then just held it in her lap.
By now Nina had picked up that he liked to talk fancy, and that wasn’t so unusual since a few of the professors at the univeristy sometimes fell into the habit, whether they were English profressors, or teaching medeival history. But once he’d brought up bloodplay, it all started to click. Vampire club, dramatic clothes, glass of merlot, fancy language, blood.
Before she burst into laughter, Nina grabbed her drink and finished it off.
“Oh? Hm. Since I’m so new to everything, I’m trying not to judge anyone’s interests. Especially since I’m not even sure what I’m into myself, and it’s so much easier to try and discover things when you can trust your partner to be open to listening.”
A little more subtly this time she read her new message.
A date Tabby picked? Yikes. What’s wrong with him?
“It’s refreshing to meet someone so open-minded,” Marcus was saying. “I assure you, it’s a lot safer than it sounds. I don’t play with anyone who hasn’t been tested recently, and I get monthly testing myself. I also don’t take much. Feeding is more… symbolic. Spiritual. A way to be close to my partner.”
omg he’s a vampire
“I can respect that,” she replied honestly, but was still finding it difficult not to start giggling. At best Nina was able to temper her smile. It’s not like she thought roleplaying was dumb. There was a lot of fun to stepping into a different life and playing around with it. Even the vampire thing by itself wasn’t so weird – she did like biting after all. There was just a line for Nina where it was just too much.
“I do have to admit that this- um. All of this doesn’t really feel like me. Not that I’m scared or anything! Hm. But, it’s- I feel like I might not live up to your, uh… expectations?”
“I see.” From his tone, it was fairly clear that he did see, despite Nina’s best efforts. “I think you might be surprised if you give yourself the chance, but of course I won’t pressure you. Might I at least buy you another drink? As I said, companionship itself is quite nice, and it’s been a while since I met someone at least polite enough to listen.”
Has he tried to sell you on drinking blood being a religious experience yet?
Jay was a monster. Swallowing another giggle, she set the phone on her lap to give Marcus her full attention. Nina did feel a little bad to shoot him down, especially since she knew what it felt like to have someone just flat out not be interested or even want to listen. Hanging out for a few minutes was the least she could do.
“One drink,” she held up a finger. “And don’t get me wrong, I might eventually dabble in the art of vampirism. There’s plenty intriguing parts about it, but I’m not sure I’m ready for something like that yet? I also appreciate that you’re not trying to seduce me. I am- hm. I get nervous and then weird.”
“I think I might find your nervousness charming.” Marcus smiled. “But as you wish. No seduction, I promise.”