As a part of my push to start blogging again, and to motivate myself to write more, I’ll be starting a regular weekly feature here: Fiction Friday. This will be a serialization of a piece of long fiction that I’m working on, one chapter a week.
I’m going to try to stay a couple of chapters ahead, but I’ll be posting this more or less as I write it, meaning that it’ll definitely be a rough draft. Once it’s complete, I’ll work on editing it, and then publish the final version as an ebook. I may or may not take these posts down once the final version is for sale; I haven’t decided yet.
If you’d like to support my writing before then, contributions to the Queer Homesteading GoFundMe are definitely appreciated! Anyone who contributes more than the final cost of the ebook (probably about $5) before its publication will receive a free copy.
With that out of the way, here’s the prologue to my queer vampire novel-in-progress, tentatively titled Mish and the Vampire. I’m aiming for a queer, intersectional deconstruction of the vampire romance genre, so I hope you won’t be scared off if it reads a little too Twilight in the beginning.
One of the things I liked about tending bar was the way I got to have a barrier between myself and the customers. They were the ones who controlled my tips and I had to bend to their whims, but behind the bar was my domain.
Well, technically it was my fief within the domain of Wednesday’s, everyone’s favorite family-friendly restaurant chain for when you felt like going a couple of tiers fancier than fast food–so fancy it had a bar inside. The drinks were overpriced, the wine and beer were shit, and the patrons were generally in the process of either failing to impress a date or succeeding at getting quietly shitfaced; I was only supposed to kick them out if they seemed like they might get loudly shitfaced.
Usually I’d femme up a bit and button my shirt low in the name of higher tips, but the first night the vampire came in, I hadn’t bothered to put in that kind of effort on a weekday and was looking pretty butch, or at least pretty unkempt.
I sort of regretted that when he walked in. Not because he was a vampire–he didn’t have cartoonish fangs or anything–but because he was gorgeous. He must’ve been at least six feet tall, more than a head over me, and he walked with an air of amused nonchalance: hands in the pockets of his black slacks, a crooked little smile on his face, eyebrows slightly raised over dark brown eyes. The only fault I could’ve found was that his skin was practically paper-white, but it was also perfectly clear, without a single spot or wrinkle.
“I’ll have a…let’s see…” he said, and my fate was sealed: he had a British accent. I had to have sex with him or die trying. Or, more likely, come up with a few good fantasies and then move on, but there’s nothing like melodrama to get you through a boring workday. “I’ll have a Wild Wednesday.”
He pronounced the absurd drink name with only a hint of the scorn it deserved. I wondered why on Earth he’d come in; for the irony, maybe?
“Sure,” I said, and started fixing the restaurant’s signature drink, a mixture of so many cheap alcohols that you couldn’t really taste enough to be bothered by any one in particular (or at least, that seemed to be the theory).
I moved to put the drink in front of him, but he gracefully took it from my hand, brushing an ice-cold pinky against my fingers.
“I’m Lee,” he said, still with that strangely attractive little half-smile. He didn’t seem to blink quite often enough, which made me feel strangely conscious of my own blinking.
“Mish,” I said, inanely pointing to my nametag.
“Well, Mish, what’s a lovely person like you doing in a place like this?” he asked, and I laughed, because not only had he unknowingly (I thought) managed to compliment me without misgendering me, he’d also pulled himself off the pedestal I’d put him on with a corny opening line like that. I mean, I realized he was doing it on purpose and all, but knowing that someone’s trying to put you at ease doesn’t keep it from working.
One of the other patrons called “Miss?” and I flinched a little, but I smiled gamely at Lee and said “Because there’s no rest for the wicked” and went over to refill drinks.
I thought I could feel his eyes on me even when my back was turned, which made me feel both nervous and bold. Mr. Tall, Pale, and British was apparently into me, and I was going to get on that so hard that when he pulled out they’d make him king of England.
Lee stayed until last call, and didn’t touch his Wild Wednesday the whole time. Even more unusually, he didn’t misgender me even once. He did ask me if my name was short for anything, and I decided to take the gamble; instead of claiming it stood for “Michelle,” I told him I call myself “Mishmash,” to match my gender identity. Instead of being confused or weirded out, he asked me what pronouns I preferred (singular-they, if you’re wondering; he confirmed that he preferred male pronouns). I was in love.
“How long have you been in DC?” I asked the next time I got a chance to chat with him.
“What, you mean I don’t pass for a native?” he joked. I couldn’t place his accent much more specifically than ‘England, I think?’ but I’ve never been particularly good at that. “Only a week. I move around a lot. Think I might stay here for a while, though.” I had to remind myself that I’d get fired if I leaned over the bar, grabbed him by the collar of his button-down shirt, and kissed that smile off his face.
To my disappointment, he slipped out the door soon after last call without my number or anything, although he did leave a few bills on the table for his still-full drink. I’d been hoping he’d stick around, ask me out or just back to his place; I’m easy. But with the way he’d been staring at me all night, I felt pretty sure he’d be back.