This story is by Deborah Wallace and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Jarrod entered the bar, his eyes traveling over the crowd, inspecting each woman, rejecting one after another. Friday night in a small town. Not a bad turnout. His eyes settled on a blonde sitting alone at a table for two. A possibility.
He searched the rest of the women, most with men or in groups with other women. His eyes rested on a black haired beauty sitting with her feet on the chair across from her. She’d take a bit more work, but a challenge was more fun.
He slid onto a stool at the bar and waved at the bartender. The woman approached with raised eyebrows. He enjoyed the display of cleavage. Probably got her great tips. Too bad she was working.
“Whiskey neat.” In short order, his drink sat on a napkin before him. He took a sip and turned around to study the two women he’d picked out.
The blonde gulped down the last of the liquid in her glass and held it up. “Another vodka.” No froufrou drink for her.
The waitress rolled her eyes and snatched the glass from the woman’s hand. She strolled to the bar, set the glass down and leaned over. “Jan, another vodka. No rush.”
Jarrod turned his attention to the dark haired woman. She stared into her glass of red wine before taking a sip. Where the first woman seemed to be drowning her problems, this one exuded control.
He’d lost his taste a long time ago for drunken broads.
The dark haired woman met his eyes across her glass. She didn’t know it yet, but she was the one. He crossed the room and placed his hand on her table. “May I sit with you?”
She frowned, studying him, only seeing the surface, an attractive man with confidence. She straightened in her chair and dropped her feet to the floor. “Sure. Why not?”
He moved the chair kitty-corner from hers, sat, and plastered on his best smile, holding out his hand. “I’m Jarrod.”
“That’s pretty formal for a bar like this.” She took his hand. “I’m Liz.”
A delicious tingle flowed up his arm. He let her slowly draw her hand away.
He planted his elbow on the table and propped his jaw on his thumb and forefinger. “I’m in town on business for a couple days. Couldn’t stand spending the evening in my hotel room.”
She inspected his empty ring finger.
“What about you? Are you a local?” he asked.
She rolled her nearly empty glass between her hands. “Yes. I was meeting a friend here, but she cancelled just after I arrived. I allowed myself one drink and now I’m going home.”
“Would you have another with me?”
She tilted her head and squinted at him for a moment. “All right.”
Jarrod waved at the waitress, indicating he wanted refills. She nodded and turned away.
He didn’t want Liz to end up drunk. He wanted her full participation. “What about a snack? Surely, they have some kind of food here.”
She grinned. “They’ve got the best jalapeño poppers.” She finished the last sip of her wine. “Not that they go with this.” She waggled her glass. “But it’s worth it, anyway.”
The waitress set fresh drinks in front of them.
“Thank you,” Jarrod said. “And a double order of jalapeño poppers.”
“Five to ten minutes,” the waitress said before leaving.
Jarrod scooted his chair in, purposely bumping knees with Liz. A tingle shot up his thigh. From the slight widening of her eyes, he knew she had felt it, too. Perfect. They were connecting.
He loved this part, the gentle coercion. Touching her arm when they laughed, slipping his leg behind hers so that her calf rested on his shin.
She told funny stories of work and play, and he plucked out stories he thought she’d enjoy.
The waitress set a heaping plate between them, a bowl of ranch dressing, and two smaller plates with napkins on top beside it, then disappeared into the crowd.
Jarrod pushed the smaller plates aside and handed a napkin to Liz, careful to have their fingertips touch when she took it. They each picked up a popper. She dipped hers in the dressing, and nibbled on it before taking a bigger bite. Soon, that mouth would be his.
He enjoyed watching her eat, the teeth tearing through the pepper and cheese, her tongue darting out to catch a drip of dressing.
He picked up the last popper, swirled it in the dressing, and held it to her lips. She took a bite. He finished the rest, her eyes on his every move.
Not much longer and she’d go with him.
A constant hum from her calf against his leg ran to his groin. He knew she felt the same.
He leaned close and nibbled her earlobe, feeling her shiver. “I’d like you to come back to my hotel.”
She leaned back and stared into his eyes, and bit her lip. Not quite as ready as he thought. He licked his thumb, rubbed it over her lip and her tongue darted out to touch it.
For several long seconds, she stared into his eyes, then her hand clamped around his and she stood.
He rose, dropped a wad of bills on the table and wrapped an arm around her waist. He paused, enjoying the energy of their connection.
He guided her out the door, and down the side of the building.
She hesitated as they neared the back. “Where are you parked?”
“Almost there.” With a rush, he took her around the last corner, and pushed her against the wall.
“What are you doing?” There was a nervous edge to her voice that hadn’t been there all evening.
“I couldn’t wait. I need you now.” He threaded his fingers into her hair and kissed her, his tongue tangling with hers. The special chemicals in his saliva that had started to affect her in the bar would be ramping through her body now. Their connection was complete, and his energy opened her mind to him.
He pulled back and dropped his illusion, waiting for her to see the real Jarrod. Gone were the smooth black hair and handsome face, replaced with a bumpy, bald head, piercing red eyes, and angular features.
Liz opened her eyes and gasped, throwing her head back so that it hit the wall. She struggled and he pushed closer. Her hands grasped his wrists, but his hands held firmly to the sides of her head.
She struggled, her fear mounting. He smiled, his jagged teeth spiking her terror. Her mouth opened and he reveled in the silent scream as it bounced through her head. He’d numbed her vocal chords, so she uttered no sound.
He plowed into her thoughts and plucked out a fear. Liz’s ex-husband had been a brutal man. Jerrod transformed his face into her ex’s. Her panic catapulted. He laughed at her sudden thought that he was the man she’d been married to and he’d been a monster all along. It was so much more fun when he could use a familiar fear.
He placed his open mouth on hers and drew out the essence of her fear, ratcheting up her horror as he made her relive all those times her ex had beaten her, making her feel small and defenseless.
She struggled and renewed the scream in her head, which drove him deeper into her mind. Her trembling terror fed his body, flowing from her head, her hands, and her mouth.
He pulled the sweetest energy when his victim’s own horrors were worse than the ones he fed them. He twisted her fear, making her feel her death approaching.
She shuddered as her energy waned. His energy overflowed, giving him a near drunk exuberance. He wouldn’t need to feed for days. Because Liz had suffered so long under her ex-husband’s control, her essence had been the most delicious he’d had in years.
Since she’d given him so great a gift, Jarrod decided to let her be one of the rare victims he allowed to survive. She’d be in a coma for weeks, recovering from the tapped out energy and his onslaught to her mind. Maybe she’d remain lost in her terror and wish for death.
A cruel smile crossed his lips. He’d come back to taste her unique essence again. Next time, he’d be more prepared for the sweet treat of coaxing her through the horror, amplifying it, and giving her the death she would crave.
He dropped her to the ground and strolled away, retaining her ex-husband’s features in hopes someone would notice him. He laughed.
Jarrod reached his Maserati, climbed in and drove away, creating the illusion that the car resembled her ex’s Highlander.
It was time for a gay bar he hadn’t visited in a while. He enjoyed the varieties of seduction required for his meal preparation.
He felt exhilarated.