The Volvo parked on the driveway, its bright neon lights turning off at the same time as the engine. Andrei got out of the driver’s seat, hair disheveled from raking his scalp during his drive home. He locked his car and hissed at the cold, wrapping his arms around his chest. He took three steps towards the front door. The sunrise peaked, and its unwelcome glow spread around him. His skin tingled, uncomfortable with sunlight. A reminder that his sunscreen had stopped working hours ago.
He glanced at the sun. His blood-shot eyes peeked over his shoulder, longing for comfort that would never be. Not even when modern technology allowed him to walk in the daylight, could he enjoy it. He took the steps up to his minimalist home with a sigh and unlocked the door by punching in the correct code.
Upon entry, dim lights activated. Andrei closed the door, locked it, and leaned over to unlace his dress shoes. His closet was bare, except for two other jackets and few shoes. Hanging his evening coat and putting away his leather derbies did nothing to fill the void. Next, he pulled off his socks and padded in as he unbuttoned his dress shirt. He didn’t live in a lavish mansion, and his furnishings were far from extravagant. He furnished his living room with mid-century modern style Scandinavian furniture. The walls were somewhere between off-white and grey. Every bit of technology in his home was wireless or installed so that the wires were hidden. He walked passed the living room to the kitchen with its black quartz countertops, sink, and white tiles. A quick sweep around the place revealed that his aesthetic was monochromatic. Favoring deep blacks wherever practical and pale walls to create more space and brightness.
He had untucked his shirt as he made his way to the fridge. Taking a large glass out of the cupboard beside it. He placed the glass in the water dispenser and poured. Socks in one hand and cup in the other, Andrei stared off into space until water overflowed on his hand. Andrei sighed and pulled out the glass with care. Bent over and sipping from the top, he avoided spilling more water on the ground. He made his way up the stairs and beelined to the bathroom.
Van Halen’s Runnin’ with the Devil played from his pocket.
The vampire’s face fell flat, his eyes locked to the ceiling. The bright lights from his bathroom made his bags extreme. He closed his eyes as he put his glass down and let out a long, tired groan.
Once the song made it to the first refrain, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and answered it.
“It’s way too late for anything, Sven.” he greeted.
“Well, a good morning to you too, sunshine!” replied a warm, cheerful voice.
He pressed his lips together into a single line at how happy and energetic Sven sounded. The fact that the fucker didn’t have the slightest trace of an accent when speaking in English annoyed Andrei more.
“I hate that you’re a morning person,” Andrei said with a face to match his expression.
A deep chuckle came back to him. “No, you hate that I’m the more handsome person in this relationship.”
Andrei nodded with a pout. “That too.”
Sven burst out laughing. “SO! Checking, I got this right – Ambrose is coming to our pub-er?”
Andrei pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why are you still calling it that?”
The vampire’s eyebrow twitched. “Yea, that. The word I refuse to use because it’s undignified.”
“Dude, come to the dark side already, if Brunch is acceptable, then Pub-er is a no brainer!” Sven objected.
“I disagree about the concept of Brunch too-”
“But you call it Brunch, like a normal person!” Sven cut in.
The edges of his lips drooped, while his eyebrows rested on his heavy-lidded eyes. “A normal person, right?”
Sven snorted. “You’re right, that ain’t you. We eat supper or dinner or whatever you posh idiots call your last meal of the day at a Pub, so Pub-er. It’s genius!”
He tapped his fingers on the bathroom counter. “Theophania is really rubbing off on you.”
Sven burst out laughing. “Oh, my god, are you ever grumpy! Should I even ask about how your date went?”
Andrei’s face and fingers froze. “Mixed bag.” he squeaked out.
The vampire heard sounds of shifting and shuffling on the other line. “Oh?”
He groaned and rubbed his temple. “She – uh, well – it’s a bit involved, and if I don’t shower and get this sunblock off of me, I may spontaneously combust!”
Sven hissed. “‘Kay, not gonna lie, that shit makes you bitchy, glad you’re done with day shift.”
Andrei gave a weak chuckle. “If you only knew how much this itches.”
The werewolf snickered between mouthfuls of something. “On that lovely note, Imma let you go.”
A groggy lyrical whisper hovered at the edge of Andrei’s hearing, but he couldn’t make out the words.
“Oh, and Theo says hi, by the way,” Sven added.
Andrei smiled despite his mood. “I say hi back.”
“We talked about eating in bed, no?” Andrei heard her say.
“Oh, shit!” Sven exclaimed.
“Escape! Escape!” Andrei added.
The line went dead, and Andrei put his phone on airplane mode. He downed the rest of his water and turned his shower on. Andrei wasn’t the beefiest man you would encounter on the street. He didn’t prescribe to the modern man’s obsession with being muscle-bound or bulking up. He came from a time where functional strength came with mobility and flexibility. You didn’t survive three wars without it. And he’d done so before becoming a vampire.
In fact, Andrei didn’t prescribe too many of modern man’s indicators of beauty. He was built like a martial artist and as pale as one could get. His human life had been as a Russian serf, which meant being outside and cold all the time. His face was gaunt from years of living on the precipice of starvation and frostbite. Deep, dark bags highlighted his blood-shot eyes. He smirked at his less than ideal visage and pulled out his colored contacts, which revealed ox-blood-red eyes.
“There, that’s the bastard I know.” he mused.
He stripped and folded his clothes into a neat pile before stepping into the water. Hot water ran down his body, and the patchy sunblock that whitened his already pale skin ran off in droplets. He grabbed his loofa and rubbed with rigor. A deep, visceral sigh of satisfaction echoed in the bathroom.
He didn’t linger in the shower long. He raced to the bedroom to get in a pair of boxer briefs, toweling off his hair all the while. As soon as his clothes were in the hamper and his towel was up to dry, he jumped into bed. The weighted comforter wrapped around him and swallowed him as he climbed under it. He grabbed his pillow and wrapped his arms around it with a deep sigh.
“Svetlana, lights off – lock up.” he breathed.
“Sleep mode engaged.” An automated voice replied.
The block out blinds rolled down. The doors and windows locked. And an alarm turned on. As complete darkness enveloped Andrei, he gave a final sigh in his pillow.