Vampire Games (Chapter Twenty-three)

I somehow found a parking spot on the street near Allison Lopez's Beverly Hills apartment. By near, I meant three blocks away, all of which I hoofed under the last rays of the setting sun.

Normally I would have been sprinting…and my skin would have been burning and blistering. Even in the setting sun.

But now, all I felt was mildly uncomfortable. No sprinting needed. If anything, I felt like I was coming down with a cold. Or a feeling of weakness. Mild apprehension.

And so, I moved along the tree-lined sidewalk with as much energy as I could muster, knowing that in about twenty minutes, I would have all the energy in the world.

Just twenty more minutes.

I moved between opulent apartments and condo skyrises, some many dozens of stories high, and all boasting glass and steel and smooth plaster. All reflecting the setting sun. Some had limousines parked out front, waiting with doors open, chauffeurs standing ready. I saw no fewer than three Paris Hilton look-alikes, all texting while their dogs squatted on narrow strips of grass out front. The dogs each looked up at me in unison as I passed, baring their little white teeth. One of them even leaped at me, nearly causing its owner to drop her phone.

Whew!

Dogs didn't like me, which was annoying, since I was a dog lover. But I was especially a wolf lover. Except that thought, of course, depressed me instantly, so I let it go.

At Allison's apartment – one of the bigger and more opulent ones, no less – I followed the instructions as given to me by her during our brief phone conversation just a few minutes earlier.

I pressed the pound button on the caller box but nothing happened. I pressed it again. Nothing. No response. There was no sign that the damned thing was even working. Frustrated, I dialed Allison's cell number; it was busy. Unlike New York apartments, few L.A. apartments have doormen. This one didn't. The plush lobby, just beyond the glass entryway, was empty.

I stood there, frustrated.

I looked around. One of the Paris Hilton look-alikes was still texting, even though her dog had finished piddling minutes ago. I looked over another shoulder. No one.

I looked back at the locked glass door. There was no doorknob, just a handle. A heavy deadbolt fastened the door to a thick metal frame. No doubt, everyone within the building felt safe and secure in their posh apartments, as well they should. This bolt was serious business, released only by the occupants within. The sign above the handle said "Pull."

Two things happened simultaneously. The first was that the sun had finally set. I knew this because I suddenly felt more alive than I ever had before, which is saying something. The second was that the deadbolt tore through the metal door frame, ripping sideways through the metal.

The sound was god-awful loud. I looked casually back to the Paris look-alike. She was still texting, oblivious to life beyond her smart phone screen. I did, however, have the full attention of her little dog.

I wiped the handle clean of my prints, stepped through the doorway, waved to the security camera, and headed over to the elevators, knowing full well that I wasn't wearing enough makeup to even show up on camera.

Sometimes it was good to be me.