The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper - Romance>Fantasy"The thing to remember about a 'stray' vampire is that there is probably a good reason he is friendless, alone, and wounded. Approach with caution."
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow's only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she'd like. Running their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled Faux Type O—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vamps. Her rules are strict; relationships are purely business, not friendship—and certainly not anything more. Then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and her quiet life turns upside down.
Cal—who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris thought vampires were sexy—offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place. And even though he's imperious, unfriendly, and doesn't seem to understand the difference between "employee" and "servant," she agrees. But as they search for who wants him permanently dead, Iris is breaking more and more of her own rules . . . particularly those about nudity. Could it be that what she really needs is some intrigue and romance—and her very own stray vampire?
The thing to remember about a "stray" vampire is that there is probably a good reason he is friendless, alone, and wounded. Approach with caution.
--The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
How did an internal debate regarding flavored sexual aids become part of my workday?
I was a good person. I went to church on the "big days." I was a college graduate. Nice, God-fearing people with bachelor's degrees in botany should not end up standing in the pharmacy aisle at Walmart debating which variety of flavored lube is best.
"Ugh, forget it, I'm going with Sensual Strawberry." I sighed, throwing the obscenely pink box into the basket.
Diandra Starr--a poorly thought-out pole name if I'd ever heard one--had managed to snag the world's only codependent vampire. My client, Mr. Rychek. When she made her quarterly visits to Half-Moon Hollow, I was turned into some bizarre hybrid of Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother, waking up at dawn to find voicemails and e-mails detailing the numerous needs that must be attended to at once. Mr. Rychek seemed convinced that Diandra would flounce away on her designer platform heels unless her every whim was anticipated. No demand for custom-blended bath salts was considered too extravagant. No organic, free-trade food requirement was too extreme. And the lady liked her sexual aids to taste of summer fruits.
I surveyed the contents of the cart against the list. Iron supplements? Check. Organic almond milk? Check. Flavored lube? Check.
I did not pretend to understand the dynamics of human-vampire relationships.
Shopping in the "special dietary needs" aisle was always an adventure. An unexpected side effect of the Great Coming Out in 1999 was the emergence of all-night industries, special products, and cottage businesses, like mine, that catered to the needs of "undead Americans." Companies were tripping over one another to come up with products for a spanking-new marketing demographic: synthetic blood, protein additives, dental-care accessories, lifelike bronzers. The problem was that those companies still hadn't figured out packaging for the undead and tended to jump on bizarre trending bandwagons, the most recent being a brand of plasma concentrate that came pouring out of what looked like a Kewpie doll. You had to flip back the head to open it.
It's even more creepy than it sounds.
Between that and the sporty, aggressively neon tubes of Razor Wire Floss, the clear bubble-shaped pots of Solar Shield SPF-500 sunblock, and the black Gothic boxes of Forever Smooth moisturizing serum, the vampire aisle was ground zero for visual overstimulation.
I stopped in my tracks, pulling the cart to an abrupt halt in the middle of the pharmacy section as I recalled that Rychek's girlfriend was a vegan. I started to review the label to determine whether the flavored lube was an animal by-product. But I found that I honestly didn't care. It was 4:20, which meant that I had an hour to drop this stuff by Mr. Rychek's house, drop the service contracts by a new client's house in Deer Haven, and then get to Half-Moon Hollow High for the volleyball booster meeting. Such was the exotic and glamorous life of the Hollow's only daytime vampire concierge.
My company, Beeline, was part special-event coordinator, part concierge service, part personal organizer. In addition to wedding planning, I took care of all the little details vampires didn't have time for or just didn't want to deal with themselves. Although it was appropriate, I tried to avoid the term "daywalker" unless I was dealing with established clients. It turns out that if you put an ad for a...