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Eternally I Do
 
Two Eastern vampire bloodlines subsist, cousins, Yoshinaka and Yoritomo.
One bloodline is the protector of humanity while the other is the
destroyer. They are at war. Four hundred and fifty year old samurai
vampire, Hideaki Kinoshita, with the bloodline of Yoshinaka, genuinely
thought he had experienced all that immortality had to offer. That is,
until he awakes to find Forensic Anthropologist Bonnie Charice Hudson, a
Black woman with big curves and big legs in black silk stockings and
4-inch heels reconstructing his face in a Miami Florida morgue. Vampire
or not Bonnie must save him. Placing her life on the line for Hide,
Bonnie doesn't realize her selfless gesture will change her entire life
making him eternally…hers.
Eternally I Do
PROLOGUE
 
 
Kyoto Japan   
December 1602
 
The mist of darkness shaded the informal meeting place of two vampires.  One male.  One female.  Both Samurai. 
Her nearly translucent pale hand rested on the hilt of her sheathed sword of pure silver.  Silently, she waits for the unscrupulous murderer to give her a reason to remove his head from his body as he had done to her husband on that winter day in 1184. 
The years to follow ensued in an unforgiving blood feud, causing numerous vampires to die fruitlessly as the war between them commenced.  With only a few remaining members of the Yoshi and Yori bloodlines, both vampire and human, Gozen Tomoe and Minamoto Yoritomo were summoned by their daimyo, feudal lord.  A creed of peace was set forth to protect the secret and the future of their kind.
Tomoe had promised her vampire sire and husband, Yoshinaka, that no matter what, his bloodline would continue and his greatness would not be forgotten.  With reluctance, she had agreed and they had managed to replenish both of their clans.
It was the last vampire Yori brought into his care that forced Tomoe to call this private meeting.  Yori’s latest vampire was getting out of hand.  The wayward vampire was stalking and terrorizing the last human that carried a small trace of the Yoshi blood, driving him to the point of madness. 
Gozen Tomoe called this meeting with her nemesis to give him a chance to defend those he was supposed to watch over before she took her grievance to the daimyo for an amicable solution.  If it were left up to her, she would have killed the nuisance, but he hadn't physically harmed Hideaki.  Yet.
“Did we have to meet this close to the Koyasan Monastery?  It makes my skin crawl and my bowls ache to be up here.”  The male of the two asked with a deep growl.
“Only the most hallowed ground would be safe enough to meet the betrayer of all bloodlines,” she answered bitterly.  “It is safe for those who lived and were reborn of pure heart.”
“You will never let go of the past, will you Gozen Tomoe?”  He smirked at her as his midnight eyes grazed over her petite frame.  Silently, he admired her flawless pale beauty and the way her raven blue-black hair billowed behind her in the gentle breeze.
“Yori, don’t look at me in such a lustful way!  You have no right to look at me at all after what you have taken from me,” she hissed at him, her dark eyes casting an eerie reflection of the light although it was a moonless night.
“Such desolation,” he uttered shaking his pale, shaven head.  “Yoshi preserved your beauty by making you an immortal.  Why would you want to spend forever emotionally withering internally with your bitterness?  You might as well wear your bitterness upon your face.”
She smirked at him.  “Yoshi made me an immortal because I was fatally wounded during the Gampei battle against the Taira clan.  Selfishly he took away my choice to die.  I did not wish to live this way even though I knew what he was.  He knew this and went against my wishes.  It was ruthlessly unkind!”  Her voice broke.  “Now, I'm so alone.”
“Tomoe,” Yori's voice softened.  “Share your eternity with me.”
“How?  It disgusts me to stand here before you.   The thought of your hands on me sickens me.  I would fall upon my sword and remove my own head.  I wouldn't even spend a mortal’s lifetime with you, Yoritomo.”
She noted his set face, the muscle that flicked angrily at his jaw.  His anger would have intimidated a lesser turned vampire, but she was beyond caring. 
“As a non-pureblood, it is you that should keep your head bowed in my presence,” he snarled, baring his incisors. Lines of discontent deepened along his brows and under his eyes.
“You and your brothers murdered the only man I have ever loved,” she reminded.  “I am destined to spend eternity alone due to your wish to covet all that your cousin had.  No, Yori!”  Tomoe spit at his feet like a venomous snake.  The spot sizzled and smoked.  “I will kill you before I let you near me.”  Her eyes narrowed. “I wouldn't turn to you even if we are the last two immortals standing.”
The wind increased as the two vampires’ animosity for each other unconsciously manipulated the surrounding elements
“Yamero-yo!  Stop it!”  Yoritomo raised a hand.  A streak of lighting streaked and illuminated the sky followed by a deafening clap of thunder.  “Nanka monku aru-no?  Tomoe if this is why you called me here˗˗”
“It is not,” she interrupted. “You were warned a year ago Yoritomo no Minamoto to bring your underling, Ishida Mitsunari, under control,” Lady Tomoe, pointed out. “Why does he continue to haunt my husband's human kinsman, Kobayakawa Hideaki?”
“Has he harmed him?”
“He believes he is insane considering Ishida is assumed to have died after being captured and beheaded two years ago in an enemy village,” she argued.
“Maybe it is Kobayakawa’s guilt that is making him go mad,” Yori reasoned.  “If Ishida has not physically harmed him, I do not see any reason to intervene.”
“By the time that happens, it could be too late for Hideaki!”
“You wail on about my betrayal, yet you protect this human that betrayed Ishida when he was mortal.  You disclosed his position to his enemies to seek revenge for some wrong you thought he’d done. What is the difference?”
“The difference is I am his protector and in his current weakened condition, he wouldn’t be able to defend himself if Ishida grows tired of the game and wants him dead.”  Tomoe pushed back her windswept hair from her face. “Are you going to do nothing about this matter?”
“I will not chastise or punish one that has not crossed the line I’ve set forth.  He has the right to seek some form of retribution towards his murderer.”
She released a bitter laugh.  “If that is so then wouldn’t that give me the right to haunt your ever waking thoughts?”
He leered at her and her nails elongated at the thought of tearing his throat out.  She winced as she balled her hands into fists and felt the crescent shaped sharpness cut into her palms.  The pain reminded her of her oath to do no harm to the man that stood before her. 
“Shimpai shinai-de, don’t worry, Gozen Tomoe, you’ve haunted my thoughts for centuries and my passion for you have not faded in the least.  If you ease my madness for you, I will make sure Ishida never bothers Kobayakawa Hideaki.” 
“I chose to come to you first on this matter!” Tomoe shouted above the wind as she manipulated the element into a mournful wailing gust.  She grasped the ends of the red shroud around her shoulders and draped it over her head. The wind caught beneath the soft folds billowing like the sails on a ship, lifting her up into the air as if she suddenly weighed no more than a feather.  She looked down at her enemy and added, “Remember this moment Yori.  Whatever happens from this moment is on your head.  Hideaki is at a disadvantage.  Being human, he is vulnerable to your minion. It shall no longer be so.”
“If you are about to do what I think you are about to do, then I warn you, do not do it, Tomoe!”  Yori warned.
“Only if you remove the threat from Kobayakawa Hideaki once and for all,” she threw back at him.  “Kill Ishida Mitsunari before his meddling puts an end to the peace we have built over the years.”
“I will not kill one of my own Tomoe.  If you make Kobayakawa vampire after our agreement to not change over any more humans, I will see it as an end to our talks of peace.”
“You do not fool me, Yori.  You made Ishida your last changeling knowing that he used his last breath to swear revenge on Kobayakawa.”
“Butsu butsu iu-na,” he chuckled.  “Stop complaining.”
“Yori, you knew the hate and personality one has as a human is carried over into his life as a vampire are multiplied.  Not only does your minion hate Hideaki, he’s obsessed in his desire to destroy him!  Just because he has yet to draw blood, what he is doing to him is worse.”
“Nani itten- no?”  He asked in feigned innocence.
“Yes.  I’m accusing you of intentionally breaking the peace between our bloodline and allowing me to take the blame.”  Lightning snapped across the sky followed by a lingering clap of thunder.
“Un, yes.”  Grinning, he revealed crooked tea-stained teeth. “Ultimately the choice is still yours to make, Tomoe. If you wish to live, allow the last human bloodline of my cousin to die once and for all.”
“I made a promise to Yoshi,” she spoke softly. “I will continue his bloodline, if not mortally, then immortally.”
“I made a promise too,” Yori began ominously.  “I swore to my cousin that as long as I live my immortal life, his direct kinsmen would die until there were none.”
Tomoe gave Yori a long embittered stare.  A war cry of rage ripped from her body.  “The time for peace is over!” 
In a breathtaking squall of air, she was gone.
 
***
 
December 1602
 
Hideaki raced through his small, wood, single one-story high home for the third time in the past hours to assure the screens, paper walls and wooden shutters were shut.  He halted his frantic movement cocking his head to the side to listen for any unfamiliar sounds.  His eyes traveled upward as he leaned back to search wooden interlocked beams of the sloped thatched roof for any signs of the demon that waited in the shadows for him to fall asleep.  He wouldn’t stop until he stole his last gasp of air and owned his soul. 
He hadn't slept for eight days straight.  Or was it eleven?  He couldn't remember anymore.  Everyone in the village stayed out of his way because they believed him to be crazy.  No, it wasn't madness that dimmed his senses.  It was something more horrifying and unforgiving.  Guilt.  Guilt forced him to relive all the wrongs he had done, all the men he had killed in the name of power and to see the face of the man that he once called friend until he saw him as his enemy. Day or night, it didn't matter.  He would come to him in his dreams, haunting him to the point of madness.
At twenty and five, Hideaki was accustomed to war, his first battle at the age of fourteen.  Being the fifth son of his father’s fertile loins, his father could afford to be generous and allow a less blessed daimyo to adopt him and make him his heir.  For a while, Hideaki’s future had been rich and promising for he was to inherit a small fortune of land and the forces to protect it.  Then everything changed, beginning with his adoption no longer being valid once the daimyo had a male heir of his own. 
A lesser man would have given up, but Hideaki knew his skills and ability in warfare would carry him far.  He continuously proved his worth.  In exchange for his loyal services to his liege lord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, his inheritance was restored.  The proudest time of his life was the year he spent as a commander in the second Korean campaign.  He was twenty-years-old at the time, and he should have realized his rise would catch the attention of his seniors, causing jealousy and resentment.
Upon his return to Japan, he was stripped of his position while his inheritance was substantially lowered, and he was relocated from Kyushu to Kita no sho in Echizen.  All of this because of one person, the inspector of forces, Ishida Mitsunari.  Unbeknownst to Hideaki, Ishida had been dispatching to his liege, Hideyoshi, criticism of his every move.
From that moment forward, Hideaki did everything within his power to undermine Mitsunari’s advancements.  He wanted him to fail in his campaign and to feel the same dishonor he felt as his betrayal of trust from one samurai to another. 
He hadn't anticipated that after escaping an honorable death in battle, Mitsunari would be murdered while residing in a village of farmers.  His body was never recovered for a proper burial and now his restless spirit haunted him, and he didn't know what to do to make things right so that he could find peace.
Hideaki dropped down onto the tatami mats close to the irori, sunken hearth.  The licking flames did nothing to ease the chill he felt to his bones.  He lifted the rough-spun blanket from the mat and draped it around his shoulders.  His trembling, thin form began rocking back and forth.  His heart thumped so hard in his chest, he felt as if it was trying to jump from his sickly body.
At twenty and five years of age how could he have fallen so far?  He was now ronin, a drifting person or a dishonored samurai.
There was a time his face was bare and smooth a sign of his rank as a soldier.  Now that all has went wrong he wore a full beard to hide his shame and the long black hair that he wore with pride was shorn telling the comrades he once called friends he was no longer his master‘s favor.
He thought many times of doing the honorable thing and committing oibara seppuku, a ritual suicide, but he wouldn’t.  Not yet because he had to find a way to make amends.
Anyone that died without making amends will rise again and walk the earth troubling others as Mitsunari was disquieting him.  Walking ghostly amongst the living was a hell he wished on no man.
“Hideaki.”
He whimpered.  Tonight the ghost was visiting him with a woman’s voice.  “Gomen-ne, I’m sorry, gomen-ne!”  His shaking hands, with dirty and broken nails, came up over his ears as he shook his head and clenched his eyes tightly shut.
“Hideaki, look at me.  I am here to avail you of the one that threatens your sanity.”  The feminine voice grew softer.
The air permeated with the smell of spring blossoms.   “Jama shinai-de-kure!  Baku-no sei!  Bako-no sei!   Bako-no sei!”
“I will not leave you alone, and it isn't your fault,” the soft voice countered.  “You were deceived to believe that Mitsunari had betrayed you.  You never would have undermined him if you had known the truth.”
His tears turned to sobs as he fought to resist the urge to open his eyes and stare at the holder of such a beautiful and tender voice.  It probably was trickery and if he stared into the spirit's eyes, his soul would forever be tied to this earth.  He couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to find peace from his rampant thoughts even in the peace that death was supposed to give him.  “Jama shinai-de-kure! Leave me alone!” he repeated in a wailing moan.
He fell over onto his side pulling his knees up to his chest while pulling the cover around his shoulders and up over his face. 
“We have no time for this, Hideaki.  As soon as they discover what I have done, all peace will cease, and they will start to hunt us once again.”  The woman then said, “Do you wish that I die for helping you?  Have you wallowed so low in self-pity that you can no longer intellect the proud warrior's blood that you carry inside you?”
He felt a touch on his back.  The male ghost had never touched him, so how could she?  Could she really be a kind and genteel ghost sent to help him?  He quieted himself, but still he was too frightened to turn around.  The touch stayed with him, and he felt a glow of warmth spread through him, causing his aching cold bones to ease.
“Who are you?” he mumbled.
He heard shuffling of clothing and felt her as she curled up behind him.  A deep blush ran from the top of his head to his straw sandal clad feet.  He knew he looked horrible and smelled even worse.  She must be as insane as he, to want to lie with him in this condition.
“Tomoe.”
Hideaki felt small firm breasts pressing into his back.  Gently, a hand stroked his shorn hair and thankfully it was too cold for lice to be present.  Why was she here?  Why was she touching him as if he was her long lost lover?  Even though he was exhausted, a part of him yearned and treasured the touch of her hand.  She felt so real to him. 
“Tomoe?  Are you a goryō, a ghost?  Are you here to seek vengeance for the wrong I have done in my life? Tonight, I die.”  He wailed with a certainty.  A welcoming relief surged through him.  He was weary and found that even though he was frightened by what was to come, he was ready.
“Daijōbu. It's going to be okay.  Shimpai shinai-de.  Don't worry.”  Her long nails glided against the side of his neck and over his shoulder, then tugged at the cover he clutched in his fists with surprising strength.  “For you Hideaki, death is not an ending.  It's the beginning of a new life.  No longer will you be mocked and ridiculed, for you will have a power that goes far beyond your wildest imagining.  I cannot do this unless it's what you want.”
“Why did you choose me?”  He croaked through parched lips.
“Because you are a worthy samurai and there is going to be a war with the Yoshinaka bloodline.  I need to start building my army.”  Her breath blew hotly in his ear as she spoke.  He shuddered.  It had been so long since he had been touched like this.  “Hideaki, you have had a short life and most of it has been spent in battle.  If you give up now, all that I have fought for all these years will be lost.”
Her fingers followed the contour of his body, and although he kept his eyes closed, the tenseness he felt was easing away.  He felt as if he was being lifted and glided gently on the breeze that swept through his home.  Such a breeze should have hurt like hell to his frostbitten hands and freezing flesh but her touch soothingly warmed him to a feverish pitch.  Even though he still wore his soiled clothing, he felt physically and mentally naked beneath her soft words and gentle hands.  To his disbelief, his cock hardened.  How was it possible?  How could he be aroused when each shallow breath he took in pained him?
Slow movements over his chest and down to his hips and up again along his ribcage.  Her fingers lingered there, tracing the outline of bone under flesh.  She didn't seem to find his unseemliness appalling.  Under her tender care, he felt once again, hopeful.
She stopped caressing him and urged him over onto his back and straddled his hips.  Hideaki chanced a peek from beneath closed eyelids, preparing himself for the usual horrific scene that met him when he was dreaming.  He was relieved and awestruck by the ethereal beauty that was leaning over him. 
Midnight black long hair, small and pale face and a full ruby-red mouth.  There was a fire in her and beneath her fragile appearance and serene expression there glimmered something unspeakably horrifying.
She cupped the back of his neck tilting his head back enough to expose his throat to her wondering mouth.  He released a contented but shaky sigh as she pressed her lips against his feverish skin.  “It was his time to die,” he surmised.    No one told him death would be so beautiful.  Hideaki was tired, ill and feverish and all of this was a wonderful hallucination.
No words passed between them, but he felt as if he was gaining a wealth of information, giving him the feeling that he had known her all of his life.  His entire body bent to her will like a reed bowing from the weight of a heavy breeze.
He managed to lift a hand to hold her had to him.  She licked the artery at his throat.  A light frown came to his face as her knees clamped about his hips so tightly he felt she would crush him.  He felt a moment’s panic like a trapped animal as nails sharp like tiny daggers bit into the back of his neck.  She had him in a vice, and he couldn't protest, squirm or move.  A sharp pain rushed to the area where her teeth sank deeply.  Hideaki’s penis jerked and semen poured forth into the cotton loincloth.  His twitching cock throbbed with each beat of his heart; both, easing, as the stillness of death beckoned to him.
His body succumbed to the sweet release.  His hand dropped to his side as he became completely limp beneath her deadly kiss.  A glazed look came over Hideaki's dark eyes, and he sighed with relief as all the anguish, disappointment and worry dissolved into darkness.
 
 
 
1
 
Miami Florida, 2008
 
“Heart, please don't fail me now.”  The young Cuban pathologist declared before letting out a long appreciative whistle. “You're throwing off an aura of fineness, Dr. Bee.”
“Yes-I-am.” She emphasized each word.  “Therefore, you better have a damn good reason for calling me away from the annual Forensics Associates New Years Ball!”  Bonnie Charice Hudson, PhD declared, placing her hands on her hips giving her assistant Ramón Garcia a hard glare.  “When you see what was brought in here tonight, you will be thankful we got to it first.  You won't believe it,” Ramón assured her.
Bonnie could see he was practically doing the samba in his sneakers.  Although his obvious excitement tantalized her curiosity, she had been looking forward to tonight for months.  Tonight was going to be the first night of her new single life.
“Ramón, it better be a body with bones dipped in gold.  That will be the only thing that’d be worth spending tonight in the morgue with you instead of enjoying a twelve course meal from one of the top chefs in Miami,” she fussed.
“It’s even better than that, trust me.  This is a find of a lifetime.  You were the first person I thought to call.”
“That’s all good Ramón, but I had to starve all week on celery and water to keep the steel bone in this corset from cutting into my fat so I could wear this gown,” she mumbled.
“I know, dear.  Didn't I encourage you every step of the way?”
“I'm hooked and laced in this dress so tight, you could bounce a quarter off my stomach and a smile off my ass,” she continued cocking a perfectly arched and drawn forties-styled eyebrow at him.
“I know and you look good, girl,” Ramón appeased.  He grasped her shoulders and turned her around.  His nimble fingers worked at the lacings on the back of the gown.
  “I don't care if you think I look good, child,” Bonnie muttered.  “You're gay.  You don't count when I’m trying’ to handle my business.  You know what I’m sayin’?  What I do care about is what my date was thinking.  Did I tell you about my first date in months?  He’s this big beautiful black man with big beautiful hands.  A Morris Chestnut look-alike!”  She smacked her lips.  “When he picked me up tonight, he made it clear he liked what he saw.  He kissed me hello and grabbed my butt in his hands.  Do you know how hard it is for a big woman like me to find a man that can appreciate all of this?”  She spread her arms wide and did a graceful turn.
“Disculpe, por favor.  Dios!   Don’t tell me you let him get a feel of the goodies before the night even got started, girlfriend?”  Ramón squeaked pushing her shoulder to turn her back around so that he could look her in the face.  “Haven't I taught you anything?  I knew you weren't listening to me.  How many times have I told you that you can't make it easy for a man unless you just want to be a one night stand?”
“Please Lord, let someone make me a one night stand,” Bonnie's eyes swept heavenward, the heavy false eyelashes nearly touching her eyebrows.  “It's been over six months since I've had any intimacy that wasn't with a double cheese burger with extra cheese.  So, Ramón, I'm not trying to marry this man.  I just want to get me some, so tonight he was getting a sure thing.”
“If that is the case, I apologize for my intervention.  Under any other circumstance, I would have never bothered you,” he reasoned.  “I know you feel as if your vagina is gaining dust bunnies as we speak, but what I discovered this evening is more exciting than you getting your feet wet again,” he assured her.  
“It wasn't my feet, I was considering,” she murmured.  She grasped the bodice of the dress in her hands as it dropped in a bunch at her waist and turned to face him.  Taking in the serious expression on his face, she gave in to the fact her plans were ruined.  It was time to go to work.
“I wouldn't have called you if it wasn't.”
Holding her breath, she shimmies the dress over her full-figured hips and reached to hold onto Ramón’s shoulder for balance.  Lifting one black, leather four-inch heel pump off the ground, she stepped out of the dress.  Standing, she straightened her shoulders clearing her throat to get his full attention.  “You like?” 
Placing her hands on her hips and striking a pose to show off the black lace and satin bustier with tricot low back, she ran a manicured shortly clipped buffed fingernail under the attached garter that was hooked onto the off black silk stockings.  “No real divine diva ever wears cumbersome pantyhose under their clothing.”
“Damn if I wasn't gay˗” Ramón teased plucking the garter and releasing it with a resounding pop. 
She slapped him on the shoulder with a scowl and a shriek.  “Ouch!  You're such a jealous bitch!”  She grinned and licked her blush colored tongue out at him.  “If there was anyone else here this evening, I would waltz my butt through the entire building to show it off.  It should be seen, considering all the hard work I went through to get my ass into it.”
She was used to discussing her wardrobe, undergarments, sex life and everything else with Ramón, fondly called Ramona, away from work the lab.  When she didn't have time to sew her own pieces after designing the plus-size pattern of reproduced vintage fashions, Ramón’s friends helped her out.  When she was too tired to drive back to her hometown of Crestview, Florida and stayed in Miami, Ramón allowed her to crash in his and his wealthy lover's guest pool house.   Even though he was thirteen years her junior, she couldn't ask for a more dedicated pathologist or a better friend.
Bonnie noticed how Ramón quietly pouted as he admired her forty-two D-cup breasts nearly spilling over the bodice.  She didn't waste her breath reprimanding him.  She already knew he had what she called “big tit” envy.  He adored everything about the female form except for fucking it.
“What do we know about the deceased?” Bonnie questioned.
 “He had no identification on him when they found him on a private residential road up in the hills.  First conclusion is that he was attacked by some wild animal but I have yet to identify what the hell kind of animal would do this to him.  Honestly, Dr. Bee, the markings appear to have been made by a human with very long and sharp fingernails.”
“Maybe the perpetrator had a special claw of some kind made up for the occasion,” she offered.
“Not unless he had them made up of human fingernails.” Ramón supplied.  “I found a broken fingernail embedded deep in one of the wounds.  I sent it, a DNA sample to the lab along with blood from the femoral vein to the toxicology lab to be checked for any drugs that could prevent the body from livor mortis.”  Ramón explained.
“That’s not possible.  If the man’s heart isn’t pumping, gravity will pull the blood to the part of the body nearest the ground.”
“I know this.”
“Well, how did they find the body lying when they picked it up?”
“Field report indicates he was found lying on his back with arms and legs spread eagled.”
“Dressed or naked?”
“Dressed.  I removed his clothing myself, and I logged and bagged them.”
“Did you have someone here to help you turn him over?  The pooling of blood should be in his back.”
“Of course,” he released an exasperated sigh. “I'm telling you there are no signs of rigidity, Dr. Bee.  There is a pooling and darkening on the side of his face but the color clearly show bruising as if something hard slammed into his temple.”
Bonnie nodded, accepting his diagnosis.  “Does the subject have any infectious agents I need to be aware of before I go in there?”
“Not from the preliminary work I’ve done,” he answered.
“What are your findings during the autopsy?”
Ramón shifted on his feet.  “I… I haven't opened him up yet.”
“Why not?” Her voice seemed loud in the room, and she brought it down a notch.  “Usually you've completed all of this before you call me in on the case.  What is really going on here, Ramón?”
“There is something you need to see first, and afterwards I'll let you decide on how we should proceed.  What I have done is extract vitreous humor, eye fluid, from his right eye to test his electrolytes and glucose levels.”
Bonnie found Ramón’s handling of this particular case unusual from how things are usually done around here, but she refrained from making any accusations until after he told her the reason he had called her in on the case.
“I’m assuming I’m here because you couldn’t get any finger prints or is his face unrecognizable due to trauma?  Is he far along in the stages of decomposition?”
“I have all this information on the chart.  He is reasonably fresh, so he must have been found within twenty-four hours of his death. There are no missing body parts.  I ran his prints.  Nothing came back on who he is.  It’s as if he doesn’t exist at all.”
“Nothing unusual there since the ‘Headhunter’ serial killer has been on the prowl from city to city and country to country.  We’ve had a lot of unidentifiable bodies.  Did you call me in because it’s part of the ongoing case?”
“It‘s bigger than that,” Ramón quietly confided.  “You won’t believe what I’ve discovered, Dr. Bee.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve ruined my night out just to play twenty questions with me, Ramón.”  She said, rubbing her temples with her fingers.  “What I can’t believe is that you would ruin a night you know I've been looking forward to for weeks.  Tell me immediately why I am needed tonight?”
“You’re here because you’re my best friend and if I’m wrong about my conclusion, I rather no one else knows about it.”  He answered truthfully.
“Okay. You have me intrigued,” Bonnie admitted.  “Tell me what conclusions do you feel I need to validate?”
“I called you here because you're one of the people that the Federal Bureau of Investigations calls in for unusual cases.  This is definitely one of those bizarre cases.”  His expression was strained and derisive.  “I'm going to need someone with your reputation to back me up on this one.”
“Now, you've lost me again,” she balked.  “Will you stop being your melodramatic self and tell me what‘s going on with you?”
“After the finger prints turned up nothing about who the guy is, I did dental x-rays; several times as a matter-of-fact and I have never seen human teeth like these.  He has two sets of teeth.”
“Huh?”
“Yeah, my sentiments exactly,” Ramón grunted.  “It's not visible to the naked eyes, but you can see the second set which are keen like wolves’ or dogs’ teeth above the gum line.  Look at the X-rays.”
She gave him a wary glance.  “Are you saying he wears a dental prosthetics that is similar?  If this is the case we can get a serial number or the manufacturer--”
“No, Dr. Bee, these fucking secondary teeth are as real as his visible adult teeth.” Ramón interrupted.  “You also won't believe the other X-rays.  Again, that's why I needed you.  You're the bone specialist.  All I know is that his skeleton makeup is not humanly possible, or I’ve never seen it before.”
“Okay, let’s say we suspend all logical beliefs for one minute and I ask you what you discovered tonight, what would your answer be as to why this corpse has two sets of teeth, Ramón?”  Bonnie asks.
“I would say what we have in there is a˗," He paused. “Vampire!”
Her eyes narrowed on his face.  She released a long frustrated sigh with a shake of her head.  “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“Come on, Dr. Bee; don’t be looking at me like that.”
“Then stop the crazy talk.”  Bonnie started to laugh.  “Okay, what’s going on really, Ramón Garcia?  You want me to think you lost your mind so I will tell you to take the rest of the night off and get some sleep?”
“It’s the truth!  I swear it on my mother’s grave.”
“Your mother is still alive,” she crossed her arms over her breasts.
“Well, on your mother’s grave.  Hell, both of your parent’s graves!  I’m telling you the truth, Dr. Bee.”
The twinkle of laughter left her eyes.  He knew the pain that still festered in her heart over her parents’ murder fifteen years ago; she knew Ramón wouldn’t make the statement about her parents as part of some big joke.
She didn’t believe it was really a vampire, but she did believe there was something strange going on here, and they were getting nowhere this way.  She needed to see the body.
“You do believe me, don’t you?”
She took in his expressive eyes and said, “I believe you believe what you saw.  Nevertheless, I deal in science, Ramón.  I will need to examine the remains and make a determination of my own.”
“Of course.”  He nodded.  “That’s all I ask you to do.”
“I take it the body has been properly cleaned of any evidence that could be used in this case?”
“Of course.”
“Well, let’s do this.”  She cleared her throat.  “Look in my locker over there, please, and hand me my scrubs?”
“Scrubs. Got it!” He sauntered over to her locker and opened it.  “Dr. Bee, there’s nothing in here, not your flat shoes or scrubs.”
“Oh damn, I took everything home.  I’m scheduled to be in Michigan all next week and from there I’m supposed to go on vacation.”  She looked apologetic at Ramón as she asked, “Could you be a sweetheart and do me a big favor?”
“Since I’ve ruined your evening and you didn’t run out of here screaming when I mention vampire, I would do anything for you.”
“If it is a tall dark and gorgeous vampire like the ones I read about in the romance novels, then you’ve done me a favor and I’m eternally in your debt.”
“Are you serious?”
“However, since we know there is a chance this man, or whatever has been running all over the country killing and abusing corpses, he can’t be the unforgettably sexy type of vampire I would be expecting to sex up all night long.”
“I can’t believe you managed to say all of that with a straight face,” he teased.
“Me neither,” she agreed.  “We aren‘t getting anywhere with all this talking.  I’m a scientist.  I have to see it to believe it and then break it down to explain its existence.  I’m going to need you to go to the second floor to see if they have a size two-extra-large pair of scrubs in the supply closet.”
“No problem.” Ramón nodded.  “I'll be right back.  If I can't find a pair in there I'll go across the street to the hospital and sign out one from them.”
“Thank you.  But, you don't have to go all the way over there,” she called out to his retreating figure.  “I'll take a lab coat, and if you can't find one of those, a bed sheet will do.  I'll take anything to keep me from freezing to death.”
“Dr. Bee, I promise you, if you have to do it up toga style, I'll join you.”  He stopped and added, “If you don't want to go in there where the body is until I get back, I understand.”
“Oh good grief, Ramón,” she puffed.  “It's the living that scares the hell out of me, not the dead.  Go ahead, I'll be fine.  We will have to order a pizza soon, I'm starving.”
“My treat,” he promised.
“Of course it’s your treat.  Also, I get to choose the toppings.”  Bonnie chuckled as Ramón shot her double middle “fingers” and backed out the door. 
The door closed quietly with a resounding click and suddenly the room seemed very quiet.  Only the continuous whirring sound of the cooling unit that held the bodies disturbed the silence.
“Vampires?”  She shook her head.  “I wish I could be so lucky.”
Visions of countless romantic versions of the “blood suckers” went through her head.  A big smile came to her lips.  There was a time when they thought that if such creatures could really exist, it would be horrifying.  Yet, that was before the vampire became cool.   Well, for people who always admired the vampire myth and had a ferocious appetite for old horror films, they were always cool.
Her love for this particular mythical creature was probably the real reason Ramón called her in on his findings.  She knew him well enough to know he didn't give a rat’s ass about FBI protocol.  She wasn't sure if he had discovered a real vampire, but she knew he had discovered something that was unusual.  In her business, she had seen all sorts of human anomalies, but ultimately they were not aliens, just humans with unique to macabre birth defects.  
Bonnie hung her beautiful formal dress on one of the scented sateen covered hangers she kept inside.  Her fingers reached out and stroked the velvety black formal laced-up bustier gown.  It took her two months to create the pattern and make the dress.  She had wanted everything about today to be perfect.
She began the day with a body massage in warmed, almond scented oil before waiting three hours in the hottest hair salon to get her hair touched up and fingered waved into this perfect Veronica Lake side-parted hairdo.  Her makeup had been professionally airbrushed applied, and she had dressed with the utmost care to detail from new expensive lingerie to the elegant evening gown.
Bonnie shook her head.  No more regrets about this evening.  It didn't matter that for the first time in the six months since she ended a five-year relationship, she had a date.  It was probably best.  The reason her last relationship ended was because she spent too much time away from home and when you don't slow down long enough to take care of your man, there was always another woman waiting to do the job.  There was no anger at the break up.  For her, it was just what it was, over.  She loved what she did.  She made a difference in the world, and she hadn't loved him enough to walk away from her career.  It was that simple.
Bonnie sauntered over to the sink in the ante-room and pulled a disposable cap from the dispenser.  She tucked her hair beneath the paper hat before tapping her foot on the water peddles to turn on the water.  Releasing antiseptic soap into her palms, she washed her hands and forearms.  Elbowing the hand dryer beside the sink, she placed her hands and arms underneath it to dry.  Her eyes drifted to the adjoining post-mortem examination room at the body awaiting her attention. Once again, her conversation with Ramón about this body being confirmed as one of the men who had committed several atrocious murders came to mind.
If this man had believed he was a vampire, could he have been beheading his victims to drain their bodies of blood before burning them beyond recognitions?  Had he consumed the blood of humans?  Would he take such a risk considering all the health risks?
Releasing a long breath, Bonnie turned her attention back to the sink area and with a paper towel in her clean hand she opened a cabinet where she removed a sealed packet that held a white disposable bibbed apron.  Opening the packet she slipped the bib strap over her head before securing the plastic strips behind her at the waist.  She was motivated to take a look at the body for herself.
Snatching two latex gloves from the box, Bonnie snapped them onto her hands.  A soft whiff of the musk oil perfume she had dabbled at the pulse points of each wrist blew up her nostrils reminding her once more of her spoiled plans.
If she had left her cell phone at home she would be waltzing around the dance floor under a bright chandelier to live orchestra music, putting her ballroom dance lessons to good use.  By two a.m. she would have been immersed in lingering hot kisses before it turned into mind numbing sex.
Making her way into the adjoining autopsy room, she saw he was stretched out on a stainless-steel table in a stain-less steel room.  His head was propped by a large white plastic block, and he was naked except for the drape of cloth over his genitalia.
“This isn’t quite the rigid tool I wanted to spend tonight playing with, so John Doe, you better at least make this night interesting.”  She muttered.
Bonnie could see that Ramón had carefully cleaned the torso and face of any dirt or debris that may have been embedded in the gaping wounds.  At first glance, she saw a reddish purple bruise-like discoloration covered his right temple while the left side of his face looked to have been severely clawed.  Whatever had done the damage appeared to have tried to remove his jugular with its teeth.
“My God,” she breathed.  “What got a hold of you, Sweetmeat?”  She spoke to him as if he could hear her.
Picking up the chart she skimmed the notations Ramón had written down, noticing he left out his suspicion that he had discovered a vampire; that was smart.  It’s one thing to let your best friend think you were crazy, but to put something so ludicrous in an official report could cause him to lose his job.
Placing the chart down, she studied the cadaver.  He was an Asian male in his early to mid-twenties, with blue-black hair.  His face was covered with deep lacerations to the bone.  Bonnie fingered and prodded the gaping flesh figuring out what tools she would need to close the wounds.  Something small, she thought.  It would be easier to cover smaller stitches on the face.  She hoped they had the right colors to match his skin tone in stock; otherwise, she would have to go home for her personal restoration kit.
“Don’t worry darlin’, I’ll have you presentable in no time.  Hopefully, we can find out who you are and who you belong to.”
The shrill of the intercom caused Bonnie to jump.  Her heart raced in her chest.  She looked up at the round circle on the far ceiling.  “Dr. Bee, I couldn’t find anything useful here, and I couldn’t get in the closet where they keep the sheets.  I’m going across the street to the infirmary.”  It grew quiet once more before another piercing noise sounded.  “I’ll pick up the pizza from the food court while I'm there.”
“Ass,” Bonnie murmured to John Doe.  “He’s picking up the pizza instead of letting me call it in so he can get what he wants on it.  I swear if Ramón gets mushrooms and jalapeños peppers on it, he’s going to be lying on the empty table next to you.”
“Dr. Bee, just in case you’re thinking I’m trying to pull a fast one on you, I'm getting all your favorites, extra black olives, onions and Italian sausage on a thin crust.” Ramón’s voice drawled and added.  “Also, Doc Bee, no cutting on John Doe 163 without me.”
Bonnie rolled her eyes and chuckled.  He did know her well, but he was the attending pathologist in this particular case.  She was only assisting in his findings.  Never had she took it upon herself to overstep another doctor's work, no matter how much more experience she had over them, unless she was invited to do so.
Her dark eyes studied the structure of his face.  She was pleased to see that regardless of all the damage, he didn’t appear to have any fractures or crushed facial bones.  She moved the lid up on each eye to assure the eyes were still intact. They were and she was pleased, otherwise she would have to pack them before gluing them shut.
“You weren’t just a handsome man when you were alive,” she crooned.  “You were gorgeous.  Actually, I might even have thought you were beautiful if I‘d seen you on the street.” 
Bonnie didn’t think in all of her years as an anthropologist she had seen such perfect facial structuring of bones on a man.  He had a refined, thin face with a prominent straight nose, chiseled high cheekbones and an angular chin. Truthfully, his features were so exquisite he might have been mistaken for a woman if not for the fact his lean muscular body was very much male.  The bulging outline of a flaccid penis beneath the white covering was another positive clarification that he had been blessed with more than good looks.
“My Lord, what a waste,” she sighed.  “Who were you?  The name John is just too plain for you.”  She touched his dark hair.  “Were you married?  Is there some distraught female wondering what happened to you?  Do you have children?”
Bonnie lingered on his face once more and found herself taken aback by the deep sadness she was experiencing.  Why dose it feel like a personal loss?  She hadn‘t had feelings like this about a corpse since her second year internship.
She had become like the doctors she admired and worked under during her residency.  Death and how a body came to be in her care no longer bothered her.
In the beginning she experienced nightmares and wondered why a healthy ten-year-old with a full life ahead of them would hang themselves in their closet? 
Why would a supermodel adored for her beauty starve herself to death just steps away from a kitchen full of food?  
Bonnie releases another deep sigh as she stares down into his face.   It bothered her that years in the death business had made her emotionally numb to her subjects, making this rush of emotions she was feeling right now
This is why it pains her to look down at this handsome man on her work table she welcomes the unsettling feeling of loss.
  She wondered if he would have given her the time of day if he was alive.  Her fingers smoothed over his hair; probably not because beautiful people only paid attention to other beautiful people.
She pulled his nicely formed lips apart to look at his teeth.  Admittedly, his canines were a bit on the pointy side but not enough for her to believe him to be a vampire.  Ramón must have been seeing things.  Then again he said it was the second set of teeth that were the sharp ones.  There were no indications to the second set at all to the visible eyes. How was it possible for them to be there and no hint of it except through X-rays?
Her eyebrows drew together in a look of askance at the man on the table.  “What happened to you?  Who did this to you?  You’re so young.”  Tears clouded her eyes and fell down her cheeks.  She quickly brushed them away with the back of her gloved hands.  What the hell had gotten into her?  Damn, was she actually standing here crushing and mourning over a dead guy?  She must be losing her mind.
After years of loving her job, Bonnie was coming to realize she needed more lively contact in her life.  Her ex had broken up with her because she put her career before his needs and now that it was too late, she longed for all the things she walked away from.  How could such a short time alone make such a profound difference in her way of thinking about the future?
“Odd,” she mumbled to herself, touching the gaping laceration on his face again, noticing a change.  It wasn’t possible.  She couldn’t see the bone any more.  It was as if it was…healing?
His eyes opened.  Bonnie released a loud shriek and leaped back, tumbling off her four-inch heels onto her ass.
 
***
Hide Kinoshita hurt all over and the black woman poking at his face wasn’t helping matters.  Shit.  It appeared as if he woke up at the mortuary once again.
This was the third time it has happened in four centuries.  Back in the old days, a man could drop anywhere and be left to rot in the elements and no one would be the wiser.  Unfortunately for him and his kind, society had become quite nosy to say the least.  This time he didn’t feel like he had enough strength to call the mortician to him so that he could feed, regain his strength and speed up the healing process.
He turned his head to look at the adult female on the floor.  Her mouth was spread as wide as her thighs and under any other circumstance he would have been able to appreciate the humor of finding a woman half naked in a mortician apron tending the dead.
His eyes roamed from the sexy black pointed-toe pumps, and up the black sheer stockings attached to matching garters and a corset that wasn't leaving much to the imagination.  A frown caused his black thick eyebrows to meet over the bridge of his straight nose.  It was rare to see a woman dressed in fashionable Victorian lace under garbs these days, and it was even sparser for him to see one with her curves dressed in such a manner.  But why in the morgue?
It was embarrassing that the Deserter had nearly gotten the best of him before he killed him, which he shouldn‘t have done so.  Deserters—the vampires that didn’t want to conform to the new ways—were caught and reformed to the taste of the artificial blood.  Mostly, it was the hunt and the kill that was the addiction for the vampire.
Mortals were no longer considered an option on their food chain since the invention of Fluosol-DA-20, manufactured by Green Cross of Japan in 1989.  Even though it was pulled from human consumption five years later, it was perfect for them and with further development, they had advanced a pill formulated to keep their hunger down and build their immunity to tolerate the sunlight.
Hide released a long sigh that turned into a loud whimper as dry coughs seized his body.  The last time he remembered hurting this badly was the time he was transcending from the mortal world into the immortal world in his sire, Tomoe’s, arms.
He caught her movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see her coming up on her feet.  He realized she was actually shorter than he assumed.  He took in her full hips, small waist and the full expansion of smooth brown breasts threatening to pop out of the corset and apron.  She had enough curves to make a man dizzy.
The woman had removed her four-inch heels and was warily coming towards him with them in her hand. Looking at the spiked point on her stylish pumps, he knew in his weakened state she could do some serious damage.  So be it.
“Go ahead,” he gasped.  “Kill me…I’m dying anyway.”
“Dying?  Hell, you’re in a morgue, Mister.”  She spoke to him.  “You’re lucky that Ramón waited until I got here to do the autopsy or you would be a hollow shell of yourself about now.”
“I…need…blood,” he managed.  His throat felt as if he had swallowed the Sahara.  “I’m so, thirsty.”
“Damn, Ramón was right,” she breathed.  “You…you are a…ah…vampire?”
He nodded.  He would worry about her and this Ramón character knowing the truth later.  For now, he needed to survive this ordeal and make it home before daylight.  Without his pills and a high resolution sun screen, he would burn horribly in the sun in this form.
Vampire research amongst his kind had come a long way from when he was transformed.  Yet, even with the blood pill, they could only sustain no more than three hours in the sun.  It was their hope to one day have day jobs and careers in the legislation.  A vampire president someday; wouldn’t that be impressive?  An Asian vampire would be even more awe-inspiring.
Since they had removed his clothing, he didn’t have his blood pills, which probably wouldn’t have aided him in his current state of dehydration.  He would need liquid fortification so that it may enter his system quickly.  Hide saw the woman leaning over him with her brow creased in concern; she had set aside the lethal shoes and was checking his pulse by her watch.  He could smell her blood.  Oh damn, she was a priceless treasure; AB negative, his favorite vintage.
AB plasma for his kind was a natural aphrodisiac.  Hmm.  It was like vampires milk chocolate candy.  Yet, their “chocolate” supply was limited with a waiting list.  Hide was lucky if he could get a vile of it every once in a while.  The blood type was so rare even the mortal hospitals were always on the lookout for a carrier.  Whoever this woman was, he could guarantee she was in their database of protected species.
Even if he couldn’t taste her, he could enjoy her scent.  He leaned into her heaving breast.  He sniffed. “You…smell…delicious.”  He stated in a hoarse weakened voice.
“Oh God, I’m so sexually deprived that I’m fantasizing about a dead man coming alive and feeling up my tits.” She grasped his thin muscular shoulders and pushed him back down on the table, his head resting once again on something hard.  It wasn’t the most comfortable position he’d ever been in nor was it the most uncomfortable.
“This isn’t happening…this isn’t happening,” the woman chanted.  “Okay, just in case this is happening, I’m going to call for an ambulance to be sent from the infirmary.  You need to be admitted into the hospital.  We aren‘t equipped to handle someone that isn’t dead.”
“Technically, I am dead.”
“You better be glad I’m used to dead people, or my black ass would be freaking out on you about now,” she murmured.
The Black woman attempted to move away, and he reached and grasped her hand.  “Please, don’t leave me.  If I am to truly to die this night, I don’t want to be alone.”  His eyes closed.  “I’ve been alone so long.  I don’t wish to die that way.”
“I…I don’t know what to say, handsome.  No one usually dies on my watch because they’re already dead.  Most of them have been dead for months, years and centuries.  I should have been suspicious when I was called in for a ‘fresh’ body that this would not be a typical night,” she murmured.  “The phone is just in the other room.  It will only take a moment.”
“No.” Hide halted her before admitting to her, “I’m thinking seeking eternal sleep will not be so bad after all.  I’m tired and old.  Please, just allow me to die and find some peace.”
“Old?  You can’t be a day over twenty-seven.”
“I was twenty-five when I died in 1602.”
He could see the stunned disbelief on her face.  To his surprise she started to laugh.  “Okay, I admit you and Ramón had me going.  For a moment, I thought you really were a vampire.  But now you’ve taken this joke too far. Born in 1602, my ass.”
“You got plenty of it,” Hide chuckled and was racked with dry coughing.  He calmed down and took a deep breath, moaning in pain.
“See, that’s what you get for making jokes,” the black woman taunted him.  “If you aren’t dying for real, you will be if you make another comment about the size of my ass,” she warned.  “Who did that make up job on your face and body?  They did a damn good job.”
“It was a compliment,” he reasoned. “About your derrière, I mean.”
“Uh huh.”  She yanked her hand from his and placed them on her hips and yelled, “Okay, come out of hiding Ramón and bring the video camera with you.  If you think you’re going to use this footage at the memorial day picnic this year, you got another thing coming!  I‘m not going to be the county morgue’s prank victim two years in a row!”
“I don’t know this Ramón fellow,” Hide said. His breath was shallow and strained and his senses reeled in dizzying waves as he fought to draw air into his longs.  “I truly am a vampire, and if I don’t have blood, I will dehydrate and die.  It’s slow and painful, but effective.”
He saw the moment her analytical mind kicked in and she realized this wasn’t a joke.  He was real and so was the situation she found herself in the middle of.
She took his hand in hers and squeezed.  “If you are what you say you, my calling for help would put you at a greater risk because others will find out what you are and God only knows what will happen to you then. Can you drink the blood of the dead?”
Hide turned green at the thought.
“Sorry,” she grimaced.  “I don’t know how this vampire thing works.”
“I’m like you; except I need blood instead of water to sustain life.  “Would you drink the piss taken from the bladder of the dead?”
It was her turn to turn green.  “Point taken and for the record, I wouldn’t drink the piss of the living to survive either.”
“You will be surprised what you would be willing to do to survive,” Hide told her.  Unfortunately, he was speaking from the voice of experience.
“There is only one thing to do.”  She leaned down, brushing her hair to the side and bared her throat to him. “Bite me.”
Hide could see the beckoning artery pulsing, calling to him.  It had been over eighteen years since he pierced the skin of a female that wasn’t vampire.  He couldn’t do it, not even if he wasn’t too weak for his teeth to extract the blood that ran in her veins that was forbidden for him to take.  As starved as his body was, his instincts for survival would make him continue until he was out of danger.  Her body would be empty before he was sated.
“Thank you, but I can’t.”
She pulled back with a scowl.  “You really want to die that bad?  This is another chance for you.  People who come in here don’t get second chances.  When I came in here and saw you on that table, all I could think was, what a waste.  You’re handsome, young, fine, sexy and packing so there isn‘t any reason for not wanting to live a full long life if you can.  I see death all the time and you are fortunate, regardless of your circumstances.”
“Packing?” He asked.  Hide wasn’t quite sure what packing meant, but he assumed it was a good thing, considering she found him handsome and sexy.  For some insane reason, he was pleased.
Noticing the blush spreading over her brown colored shoulders and face under his unblinking stare, he dropped his eyes.  He realized that his black, unblinking stare could be unnerving for mortals.  However, he wasn’t amiss on noticing for the first time that she was actually pretty.  Not drop dead gorgeous like the vampire women he had associated with over the centuries, but different and oddly refreshing.  It was a prettiness that shined from the inside out, making her lovelier than lovely, making her more dangerous because it sneaks up on you when you least expect it and grabs your soul.
“If I had had a chance to eat, I would think I had something in my teeth,” she fidgeted under his stare.  He looked away.  “I don’t know what living forever young is like.  Those of us who don’t have that ability are envious because the thought of living forever is I’m sure more appealing in theory than actuality.”
“It’s easier to live in these times than the years before,” Hide admitted.
“You’re lucky I’m a doctor of sorts and I’m aware there are illnesses that required continuous blood transfusions. So easing my own mind until I can grasp the reality of what you are, I will think of you as a patient with a medical condition.”  She grinned and squeezed his hand once again.  “By the way, what is your name if I’m allowed to ask?”
It was a nice grin.  “Hideaki Kinoshita,” his raspy voice replied.
“Japanese?”
He nodded.
“You speak English so well. I don’t even hear an accent.”
“I’ve lived in the Americas for the past hundred and fifty years.”  He grinned at her wide eyed stare.  She has huge and beautiful eyes, he thought to himself.   “You are?”
“Dr. Bonita Charice Hudson but everyone calls me Bonnie,” she answered.  “All right, Mr. Kinoshita--”
“Hide.”
“Hide, I can graciously assist you if you wish to live.  Otherwise I will walk out of here because I don’t want to be witness to you giving up,” she said sternly.  “I’m sorry but if you want to die, you will have to do it alone.”
He eyed her stubborn stance and would have laughed if it didn‘t hurt so much.
 “Bonnie, might I ask you a question?”
“Yes.”  Her stare became wary.
“Why are you dressed like this in the county morgue?  Is this the latest uniform?”  She laughed.  She had a nice laugh.
“I’ll tell you only if you allow me to help you.”
Hide nodded.  A complacent smile was on his dry lips.
“Great, I can also stitch up your face and other wounds and you will only have minimum scarring.”
“Not necessary. Once I feed and sleep on my native soil, I will heal.”
“Really?”  Her voice grew loud with excitement.  “Do you actually sleep buried in dirt?”
“I sleep in a bed like you do.  That is, unless I’m mortally wounded such as I am now.  Then I must rest in a special chamber where I and my wounded Kenin can rest in our native soil with its mixture of healing herbs from the monastery of Koyasan.”
“Kenin?”   Her right eyebrow arched in question.
“Housemen…vassals.”  He saw that she was still confused.  “Those who care for me and my home to assure of the safety of those under my protection.”  Hide entire body tensed as hacking coughs tore through him.  He didn’t know how much longer he could go on. 
“I’ll go and get you a bottle of water,” she offered.
“Water is not what my body craves, Bonnie,” he rasped.  “Do not bother.”  He regretted the gentle reminder of how he was not like others after hearing her teeth clattering with her growing nervousness. 
Her hands continued rubbing over her arms as she looked at him.  Hide felt a pang in his heart at the slight tilt of her upper lip.  She was disgusted by what he was and was failing miserably at trying to appear otherwise. Why would he assume she was different from everyone else just because she worked with the dead?
“This chamber…..is it one big coffin of dirt that everyone crawls into like a big orgy or what?”
He could only manage a half-grin seeing how the side of his face that the muscles had been severed was paralyzed.  So, she wasn’t disgusted by him, just the thought of naked bodies grouped together lying in a coffin of dirt.  She was different after all, but it didn’t change the fact that she was also frightened of him.
“No, not a coffin,” he answered complacently.  “It’s quite comfortable I assure you.  It’s like camping out.  Once in the chamber, a hibernating sleep will take place and stop the heart completely instead of slowing it down like I did tonight to maintain whatever oxygen is left in my blood,” he imparted.
“I would love to monitor you doing this state and see what changes your body temperature, metabolic rate, heart rate and--”
“That’s impossible,” he interrupted with a grave face.  “I can’t stay here, Bonnie.”
“I know. I'm just saying...”  Her eyes dropped from his face and her words dwindled.  His eyes fell to the full swell of her large bosom as she took in a deep breath and released it in a long sigh.  “Look, I can understand why you feel you must live secretively.”
“I don’t live secretly.  I…we live amongst you,” he corrected softly.  “It’s what we are that is the secret.”
“Either way, the world is not ready to know such things really exist even though some will argue the point.  People can’t even face the fact that there is a serial killer in their mists until it’s happening at their back door.  They don’t want to believe these things.  It’s too much for the psyche to imagine without living in constant fear,” Bonnie reasoned.
“I am in the medical profession and your being a vampire is something that could benefit mankind.  Your blood could hold the answers to preventing aging, curing illnesses.  I could study why your body needs blood to sustain life instead of water!”
“We have a full medical staff of doctors and scientists in Japan working on all these matters.  The progress we have made are far more advanced than what you have,” Hide spoke honestly.  He didn’t see any reason not to.  Once he was gone, they would make her forget he had ever been here.  For some reason it saddened him that she wouldn’t be able to remember him; to mourn him after he was gone; to speak to him in that tender way and shed a tear for him as she had done when she thought he was unaware.
“Ramón and I could--”
“No, please!”  He lifted his head to glare at her.  “No one else can know!”
“I’m afraid Ramón is the one that told me what he suspected you were.  He has dental x-rays that show your retracted canines to extend, with a tubule opening.  I assume it allows you to draw the blood into your body like a straw effect.”
“Amongst other things,” he said.
“Such as?”
Choosing to ignore her question and not go into details that with her would definitely lead to more questions, he gasped, “X-rays, you say?  That explains the hypoxemia.”
“Too little oxygen in the blood,” she reiterated.
Hide nodded.  “Not knowing what I am, he x-rayed me and it caused my blood to boil.”
“It’s like putting a glass of water in the microwave.” Bonnie surmised.
“Yes.  That is why I’m dehydrated.  Slowing my heart beat as much as I did should have been enough to sustain me long enough to wake up, clean up all traces that I had been here and return home before I started feeling the effect of dehydration.  It’s also why I‘m not healing like I should.”
She reached out and touched the worst of his many wounds as she’d done earlier when she surmised he couldn‘t feel her touch.  Hide couldn’t help himself.  He was dying, and he craved to feel the warmth of this human’s touch one last time.
He ignored her involuntary gasp of surprise as he rubbed his face against her hand.  Her heartbeat sped up, but this time he sensed it wasn’t her fear that caused the rapid successions.  It was his turn to be surprised and amazed.  She was attracted to him.
“I’m sorry Hide, Ramón didn’t know.  I would have done the same thing if they had brought you in to me without identification among other things.  Unlike Ramón, whose minimum years of experience made him wait until I arrived before performing an autopsy, I would not have needed to wait on anyone.  I would have killed you.”
“Trust me, I would have awakened the moment the blade seared my flesh. However, in my disconcerting moments I would have killed you.”  He admitted and understood when she flinched at his blunt honesty.  Facing one’s own death was always harder than accepting someone else’s.  Still, she didn’t remove her hand from his face.  “It must be difficult.  You are dealing with so much death, Bonnie.”
“This is part of my job,” she continued quietly.  “I see the people that come in here as someone with a story to tell.  How they died is their last story.  It’s up to me to put the pieces together and give a face and name to those that don’t have one.  There is nothing dignified about dying, no matter how you leave this world.”
“You are telling me this?” He managed a little humor, hoping to bring a smile back to her face.  He failed miserably.
“I make the dead more presentable so that the last picture they take won’t horrify their loved ones.  That is if there is anything left.  Most of the time, I get bones to work with.  Either way, I want to be able to put their families’ minds at ease by answering the question that is always asked, “Did they suffer?”  They also want to know how much. Rarely was I able to tell any of them the truth.  It’s easier on them,” she paused.  “It's also easier on me to be able to say they didn’t suffer much.”
“Bonnie, I can tell by your touch, you are kind,” he spoke softly.  His cold, ashen hand came up over hers and through blurred vision, he took in her dark loveliness.  It was the first time he had allowed a mortal female to touch him. Even those that knew what they were and willingly worked for them, he wouldn’t allow them to touch him. He feared their warmth and was embarrassed by the coolness of his own skin.  But Bonnie was different.  She touched bodies colder than his as a normal way of life and somehow, the thought made him feel as if she could understand his loneliness.
“What happened to you?” she found herself asking.  “Tonight, I mean.  Who did this to you?”
She sensed his hesitation before he answered.  “Just like amongst you, there are people that take pleasure in the misery of others and wreak havoc on all that they come into contact with.  It’s the same with us,” he confided.  “It is due to these individuals the legend of fear dwells heavily over our heads to this day.  Although I don’t like it, your apprehension at knowing what I am is not unjust.  There are some truths to the myths.”
“Should I be getting the hell up out of here is the only truth I need to hear.”  Bonnie lifted an inquiring eyebrow.
“You should.”  He managed a nod.  “However, I am duty bound to take care of those individuals before they can do anymore harm.  That is what happened tonight; I misjudged my opponent based on the fact his being turned not too long ago.  Apparently, he was a hired missionary in his mortal life and very skilled.”
“You’re like a vampire cop!”  She laughed aloud.
A closed laugh escaped him. “Sort of.  Most would call me a bounty hunter, except I don‘t get paid.  It is my duty to protect my territory and the mortal and immortals that dwell in it.”
“To me, Hide, you’re a wonderful scientific find.  If we could study you and your inherited components, there is no telling what we could discover or what your metabolic system could teach us.  The information on how your body can heal itself, not age, and --”
“Does your mind always process things in such an analytical way?”  He released her hand, and she scratched her forehead in embarrassment.  He found the movement endearing.  Her big round eyes gazed at him from beneath foolishly long lashes; he judged partly artificial adding to her cherub doll-like features.  He didn’t think he would make it through the next hour much less being around for her to study him.
“Hey, can I ask something?”
“If you must,” he groaned. “I’m only dying here, no big deal.”
She grinned again. “The only reason your body is in the morgue, I take it, is because you weren't actually dead. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here would you?”  She shook her head.  “Damn, that doesn’t even sound logical to my own ears.  Forget it!  I have to figure out how I can help you without alerting anyone.”
He reached out and clasped her wrist as she was about to turn away.  “I know what you’re asking,” he said hoping to ease the clutter of questions that must be in her mind.  He wished they had more time.  “If I had died, I would have dissolved into dust because of my age.  Younger vampires that die must be disposed of.  But no, when I die tonight on this table, there will be nothing here for you and your co-worker to dissect and study, if that is your intent.”
Once again, he noticed she flinched at his bluntness, but he didn’t know how else to say it.  If he hadn’t awakened, she willingly admitted she would have treated him like any other cadaver.
“Bonnie, no matter what happens, all traces of my being here will be cleaned up by my own.  This is what we do to maintain our secret.  Sometimes, we fail to get it done before someone stumbles upon the remains.”  He paused to draw in a ragged breath.  “If the vampire is newly turned, then his flesh corpse does not decay and change into nothingness.  We must set fire to it hoping to rid it of any clues.  It worked well in the old days, but now not so much. People like you who do what you do are making things very hard on us.”
Her eyes grew wide. “Hide, this may be an odd question, but have you removed the heads of any of your victims?”
“They are not victims,” he said forcefully.  His throat was growing more parched by the minute.  “They are menaces to society.  Yours and mine.  They are aware of the chaos they cause.  They just don‘t give a damn!”
Uncontrollably his hand tightened on her wrist as muscle spasms shot through his arms.  Bonnie she cried out and tugged, but regretfully he couldn’t open his fingers.  His fingers eased and she jerked away from him.  He watched fretfully as she massaged her wrist.
“Gomen, I’m sorry.”  He could see his mark upon her.  She would be bruised come morning.  He was disgusted with himself for hurting her.
“It’s okay.  I can see your muscles have started to seize on you.  Hide, there is only one thing you can do.  Take some of my blood,” she urged him.
“No,” he said sternly.  Please, keep asking me questions,” he encouraged.  “To answer your question about the removal of heads, the answer is yes.  It is the best way.  If we only eliminate the heart so it can’t be revived and not remove the heads, the heart can be replaced with one of another living being to bring them back.  Organs can be replaced and heal the vampire with blood and sleep, a head cannot.”
“My God.  You are the Headhunter!”
“Headhunter?” Hide asked.
“It’s in all the newspapers,” Bonnie answered.  “That‘s the name the media gave to the unknown serial killer that has been terrorizing unsuspecting victims along the coastline.  Because of similar cases worldwide, we believe now that these were ritualistic killings done by more than one killer.”
“I am one of many.  We make up a worldwide security group that tracks and hunt down renegade vampires.  We only kill those who cannot be reformed,” he explained.  “However, we clean up behind ourselves more than not, Bonnie. Unfortunately, sometimes we run out of time.”  Hide whimpered, rolling over onto his side to hedge the pain that ripped at his insides.  He swallowed several times, forcing back the bitter bile that arose in the back of his throat.
“We have to do something!” Bonnie cried out.  Her hand pushed back the damp clinging tendrils from his temples and the side of his neck.  “If you won’t take my blood, is there someone I can call that can help you?”
“They won’t make it in time.  I sense no others vampires in this area, and I don’t live nearby.  I came across a deserter by accident and like a fool rushed directly into a trap.  They were waiting for me.”
“More vampires?”
“Vampire Trappers,” he said flatly. “Sometimes they hire a renegade vampire to help track us and trap us.  The more of us that they can get rid of, the better it fits their cause.”
“It’s hard to believe that while I’m living my life, there is this whole nether world warring about us, and we’re completely clueless.”  She shook her head.  “Knowing that there are vampires like you out here fighting to keep us safe makes me feel all the better.  This is why you have to let me assist you.  We need you to keep fighting for us.”
“Bonnie,” Hide called her name.  The more he said it, the easier it rolled off his lips.  He could feel the weight of death upon his tired body.  “I’m dying.  My fellow security officers will come.  They will clean up all signs that I was ever here.  Yu will forget you ever met me.  This nightmare will be over for you soon, I promise.”  His voice faded into a whisper.
“No!” She leaned in, her breath touching his face as she spoke.  “I don’t want to forget you, Hideaki.  Do you know how remarkable you are?  You can’t die on me, now.  There are so many more questions I want to ask,” she said in teasing voice.  “Please, take my blood.”  She offered him her wrist.  “I trust you to take only what you need without killing me.”
“I cannot,” he wheezed. “It’s forbidden.  Besides, I don’t know if I can stop myself.  I’ve never been this dehydrated before.  “It’s okay if you leave me alone now.”  Hide blinked once.  His eyes closed for what he thought would be the last time.
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