In seventeen hours of driving I only stopped once for a refill of gas and a quick feeding followed by compulsion – the travelling vampire standard. New Orleans met me with glittering lights and the spirit I remembered from many decades throughout my life. Like every other town or city I had enjoyed in the past, it had its own unforgettable flavor.
A bittersweet wave of melancholy accompanied me to the green door and yellow lights of French 75 Bar. The guy behind the counter was new since I had been here last time. I sat at the counter, observing the patrons. A few groups, couples, more than a dozen old customers who were always easy to tell by the comfort percolating from their content faces.
A young woman sat at the counter with an elderly one to the right of me. The elderly one sat with her back to me, her hair – once dark – wore many silver strands. The girl in her early twenties beside her was beautiful, strikingly so. She caught my eyes for a longer moment, stirring something in me that could be recognition if I had known her, which I didn’t.
“What can I get you, sir?” the barman asked. I cast a quick glance at the menu and ordered La Louisiane. While he made it, I made an effort to keep my attention away from the women to my right and looked absently out of window. After I took a sip of my drink, a hand lay on my shoulder. I smiled, failing to turn and look.
“Long time no see, good sir,” a pleasant female voice said quietly. The owner of the voice was smiling.
“Long enough for you to forget I never was any good?” She laughed and settled to the left of me, pushing her empty glass towards the bartender across the counter, nodding for him to repeat. She barely changed in those fifteen years I hadn’t seen her.
“Neither did you,” she responded to my unaired comment, making me chuckle. Her gray eyes – dark in the soft lights of the bar – glistened with her usual teasing. I shrugged and took a sip of my drink.
“I work out.”
“You sleep around. What brings you here this time? Any more search for a heartache you could very well do without?”
“Ha, how perceptive. I wish I listened in my day. No, not that. Just… drifting.”
“Ah,” she gave me a thoughtful look and accepted her refilled drink. “So, your roots didn’t suffice?”
“Nah. I got bored.”
She smiled. “Liar. But I get it. Sometimes it’s best to start a new page than fix the current one.” I nodded. “Staying a while?”
“Not sure yet. Think I should?”
She considered and grinned wilily. “Perhaps there’s something to enjoy. You know, it’s a place where magic lives.” I laughed.
“Hard to forget. How you doing?”
“Pretty well so far, no complaining there.”
We drank, enjoying the hum of people’s voices and laughs. Those sounds gave a certain feeling of peace. I missed it. I needed it. And Amanda had sensed it, as she did many things about me I rarely showed. She drained her cocktail and squeezed my shoulder.
“You look like a guy who needs to be alone.” I made an agreeing sound.
“Of course I will, Mira. You know this,” the voice from the right invaded my ears suddenly as though amplified. I scowled involuntarily, caught by how peculiar the accent sounded, and turned. The voice belonged to the young brunette, and again her face captured me for a moment longer than I would want. There was something imperceptible about her face and demeanor that was killing me for a flash of recognition that didn’t quite follow. It beckoned from around the corner, ever escaping when I hurried there.
“What is it?” Amanda asked, her eyes darting to the two conversing. “She’s pretty,” she mouthed with a wry smile. I composed myself, forcing my focus back to the witch beside me, and smiled back before taking another good swallow of my cocktail.
“You still live where I know?”
She squinted with mischief and slipped off the stool. “Why don’t you find out sometime?” With her smile growing wider, she left the bar. I simpered to myself and got back to my lazy reflection. I still had no plan on where to head, but trusting it will come to me where I would want to stay was still very much fresh and alive. I could stick to no plans from now on.
Thinking it suited me, I drained my drink, and unwittingly caught the end of the elderly woman’s phrase she relayed to the pretty brunette, “Somethin' that will change you - to the worse. Somethin' dark that will consume you whole.” An unexpected inner response, no more than a tingle of foreboding, crossed my soul like a brief chill. Magical readings weren’t new around here, but I rarely heard of such being held in a bar at a lively hour. Probably, the girl had no need for too much privacy. Don’t care, I reminded myself and nodded at the barman for a repeat.
- Blood Ties (2)