A Vampire's Desire
m/m urban fantasy
Chapter 1: Job Search
Two Weeks Earlier
Janae and I waited for the movie to start and munched on popcorn as we discussed our post-college plans. She had a job lined up; I didn’t and was starting to worry. I had a temp job working at a nearby fast-food place that had served me well during classes, but now I needed something full-time and jobs were scarce, especially for a History major like me and especially one with a specialty in Human Culture.
“Maybe you should work for a vampire,” Janae said, and I laughed.
“I’m serious, Kairos,” she insisted. “You studied them, why not put your knowledge to work?”
“They weren’t my focus,” I pointed out. “Humans were. And I’ve never even met one. Don’t you have to grow up around them to work for them?”
“Usually,” she acknowledged. “One of my friends works for one, though, and she had never met one. You could try. You know it pays really, really well.”
“Maybe,” I said. It was a possibility I had never considered. Vampires almost never hired outside their cities and I didn’t even know anyone who knew a vampire. As the lights dimmed and the movie started, though, the idea kept floating through my head.
Vampires were a class apart; they lived almost entirely in their own cities with little contact with humans aside from the humans that served them. I had taken several classes on vampire history and was fascinated by them, but I hadn’t grown up anywhere near one of their cities and had never met one, so it had never occurred to me to look for a job with one. I wasn’t exactly qualified. I had almost no marketable skills and had planned on finding a generic job for a few years to save up money and go to grad school. Once I had my PhD, I could get a job teaching, but until then my degree was almost worthless. Maybe I could find a job with a vampire. They were usually hiring, and Janae was right: the pay was insanely good.
Part of the reason for the pay, though, was due to the risks of living among vampires. While most vampires respected the humans who worked for them, some didn’t and there were occasional casualties. It was always a risk around them. The vampires had a society of hunters among them who maintained order and killed any vampires who needlessly fed on or killed humans. Maybe one of them was hiring. I would be safe around them, I thought. They of all vampires wouldn’t kill their servants.
I kept thinking about the possible opportunity throughout the movie and when I got back to my apartment I looked up openings I might possibly be qualified for. There were the usual jobs requiring considerable physical strength, as vampire cities required massive imports and movers were always needed. But I’m not especially strong and a job moving boxes wouldn’t be worth the money. There were a few other menial jobs, but I wasn’t interested in doing chores. Maybe if I got desperate.
I had almost given up when I noticed a job at the bottom of the listings. It was a single line long and I had nearly missed it as the other listings were quite lengthy.
“Intelligent assistant, vampire or human, knowledge of human culture required.”
Nothing else. No indication of what exactly that assistant would do but it was interesting that anyone could apply. I selected it and it went straight to an application with no more information given. I considered. My specialty was human culture, which was a fairly obscure field given that humans tended to assume their culture was the default culture and not worth studying. It was one reason my degree was so worthless, though since few people studied it I was almost certain to get a tenure-track job teaching in the field once I had my PhD. I had never thought to find a job where my knowledge came in handy before that, though. This job was perfect, but I hesitated. I didn’t like the lack of information. It didn’t say which vampire this was for, or even which house.
Of course, I didn’t know any of the houses, or what those houses did, but I could look them up. Each house had anywhere from five to twenty vampires in it, all specializing in the same field. I vaguely knew the historical houses but almost none of them were still in existence after the Species War last century. Most of the ancient vampires had been wiped out. But vampires were usually quite proud of their houses and it was odd that the house wasn’t mentioned for this job. Unless it were a human looking for an assistant, a human who lived in a vampire city. That would be unusual but not unheard of. Maybe I should apply just to see who it was. I could always turn the job down if I didn’t like it, after all.
I brushed up my resume, emphasizing both my human culture specialization and also the classes in vampires I had taken, to make up for the fact that I had never met a vampire. The application asked for two human and one vampire reference and I stared at that for a long time. The human references were easy; two of my professors had already offered to be references for any job I picked. I was the best student in the field, they said, and they wanted to help me get to grad school. But I didn’t know any vampires. I left that section blank, attached everything else, and submitted the application, fully expecting it to flag the area and demand input. To my surprise, the application went through. I hadn’t realized the references were optional. I received a message that I would hear back within two days. Short turnaround and it looked like I would actually receive a response. A lot of employers simply ignored the applications they rejected, not bothering to send a rejection.
With my application in, I went to sleep and dreamed about blood dripping from a crescent moon. The next day I had one final late in the evening and spent the day studying. It was a class in modern human culture and I studied especially hard in case I got a job interview. I had honestly never expected to use my degree so soon, though it was unlikely I would get an interview without a vampire reference. The final went well but as I turned it in, my teacher gestured me aside. She was smiling so I wasn’t too worried, and I had wanted a chance to thank her in person anyway.
“You applied for a job with a vampire?” she asked. “I’m glad you listed me as a reference. I know many vampires.”
“Did they contact you? Already?” I asked, surprised. “I didn’t think I stood a chance.”
“They asked about your degree,” she said with a smile. “Vampires value this specialization very highly. They don’t bother learning our culture so anyone who does study it is in demand. I didn’t think you were interested in working for a vampire, so I didn’t think to suggest it.”
“I never considered it,” I admitted. “But a friend suggested it. I’ve never actually met a vampire.”
“It can be a shock,” she said. “You’re certain to get an interview, so try not to be overwhelmed when you meet them.”
“Who contacted you? The job offer didn’t have a lot of detail.”
“An assistant,” she said. “He was human. I’m not sure who he was representing but if you put me and Gary as your references, you’ll get an interview.”
“Thank you so much,” I said.
She grinned. “No problem, Kairos. You’ll learn a lot, make some good money, and get your PhD in no time.”
“I have to get the job, first,” I pointed out, and she laughed.
“Any vampire would be lucky to get you. They don’t advertise the type of job you’d be good for usually, since it’s often in-house hires, but once they find out someone qualified is looking for work you’ll get requests. Be as picky as you like, and don’t work for a vampire you don’t think you can handle. Pay attention to their other servants. If any of them seem unhappy, don’t take the job. But I think you’ll land on your feet.”
I thanked her again for the advice, the reference, and the great class. I promised to keep in touch and left in a good mood. When I saw a message from the job the next day, I held my breath as I opened it. Then I grinned. An interview. I had actually gotten an interview. Then I noticed the time and date of the proposed interview. They had given me two options: one in an hour and one in two hours. The city was forty minutes away. I checked when the email was sent but it had just been sent. My address was on my application; had they bothered checking where I lived? I had to hurry, that was for sure, and I responded with a request for two hours, hoping that was all right. If there were traffic I didn’t want to be late. Then I hopped in the shower and got ready as quickly as possible.
As I drove to the vampire city, I tried to keep calm. There was indeed traffic and I fretted as I inched into the city. Once in the city boundaries I couldn’t help but look around, wondering who was vampire and who was human. It was day, so only rich vampires would be out, if any. The potion that granted temporary immunity from sunlight was extremely expensive, so it was likely most of the people walking around were humans but there were so many of them. I hadn’t realized the cities were so crowded.
The address was on the other side of town in a wooded area and when I reached the spot on the map, I stared. It was an enormous mansion and I stopped at a large gate leading to the estate. There was a call box and I rolled down the window, looking for something to push to indicate my presence. Then there was a buzz, and a voice asking for my name.
“Kairos,” I said, adding that I was there for an interview.
After a moment of silence, the gate opened. I glanced at the clock. Fifteen minutes early. Better early than late, I assured myself. I wasn’t unreasonably early.
I parked in the small lot and went to the immense front door, feeling intimidated. As soon as I stepped in front of the door, it opened. A man stood on the other side in a pristine uniform, looking exactly like a butler from the movies. He couldn’t be the vampire, could he? Very unlikely. I wondered if I would have to wear a uniform like that as well. I knew vampires were strict about appearance and manners, and while I was always neat and polite, I suddenly realized that my standards might not be good enough for a vampire. Well, I had gotten the interview. That was enough.
The servant let me in and gestured for my coat. He didn’t say anything, though, and I felt awkward taking off my coat and handing it to the man. As the servant left with my coat, leaving me standing in a large entry hall, I straightened my collar and was glad I was in a nice outfit. I was in khaki slacks, a white dress shirt, and a navy blazer, my favorite outfit when I had to dress up. I had even taken some time with my hair, trying to corral my blond locks into a decent style. I hoped it was enough; I needed to make a good impression.
There was an arch leading to another room in front of me and I could make out a grand piano at the other side of the room. I had never been in a house as nice as this. The servant returned and I wondered if he were the only servant here. I scanned the man’s neck for the tattoo that I had heard all servants had on their necks to ward against vampire attacks and spotted it. The tattoo was a simple symbol, almost like a clover, and hardly noticeable.
It wasn’t a real tattoo, I knew, and it indicated the house he served. When a servant was admitted to a job, the house granted him the symbol as a way to identify their servants and protect them from vampires outside of the house. Vampires within the house could still feed on them, and that’s where the trouble was, but those outside of the house were unable to drink a servant’s blood. But this man didn’t look like he’d been fed on. He was studying me carefully and I worried that I was already failing the interview.
“You’re Kairos?” the man asked.
“Yes,” I said, and the man gestured for me to follow through the door. I obeyed and we entered a small study with a mahogany desk and white leather chairs. The man pointed to one of the chairs and then sat in the chair opposite it, and I was nervous as I sat down. I had never actually done a job interview, I realized. The fast food place had just asked for basic information before hiring me. They didn’t really care. But I hadn’t had any time to prepare for this or even look up the types of questions potential employers asked.
“Is this your first time in Redmond?” the man asked, and I nodded. The man hesitated. “First time in any vampire city?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Have you ever met a vampire?”
“No,” I said, wishing I had a different answer because the man looked annoyed.
“Do you realize how difficult these jobs are to find?” he asked. “It’s rare enough that we’re considering a human, but one with no experience with vampires is highly unusual.”
I shifted uncomfortably. Why had they invited me here if I were unacceptable? Just to yell at me for daring to apply?
“Enough,” another voice said from behind me. I jumped. That had to be the vampire. There was something in the voice, something powerful and smooth and, for some inexplicable reason, sexy. I shut my eyes briefly and wondered if I had failed the interview completely because hearing that beautiful voice, I realized just how desperately I wanted this job. Then I turned to look at the vampire and my eyes widened. He was absolutely stunning.