Jeff Holloway is a twenty-five-year-old skater with a killer smile and lots of free time on his hands. He’s also a vampire who prowls the dark corners of San Francisco looking for entertainment and his next meal. Lately, he’s been spending lots of time watching a tattoo parlor in the Mission District, where someone tall, artistic, and handsome has caught his eye.
Santiago Alvarez, the forty-three-year-old owner of Iron & Ink has a huge secret. He lives a quiet life, finding joy in his career and his friends, but it’s caused him to shut himself off from dating and getting close to anyone romantically. When he bumps into Jeff on the sidewalk near his shop, he’s intrigued but hesitant to let anyone get close.
An unexpected event one night will change everything for both men, and neither of their futures will ever be the same.
“I cannot offer you any coffee or tea, I’m afraid, but would you like some water or a soda?” Santiago asked a few minutes later. “I keep some in the break room.”
“No, thank you. I had a drink earlier.” Jeff grinned at him.
“Oh? Anything good?” Santiago seated himself on a rolling stool nearby.
“Quite. It was a red. My favorite.”
“Mmm.” Santiago nodded. “Reds are my preference as well. A good Tempranillo or Valpolicella is nice.”
“This was more of a blend. Great body though.”
“You know wine fairly well?”
“No,” Jeff said truthfully. “Just what I’ve picked up from other people.”
Puzzlement flickered across Santiago’s face, and he tipped his head toward Jeff. “You said you had some ink?”
“I do.” Jeff pulled up the hem of his hoodie and T-shirt and showed off the tattoos on his side and chest.
Santiago stood. There was no mistaking the heat in the gaze that moved along the skin from the top of Jeff’s low-slung jeans and across his abs, but a surprised laugh burst from his lips as he went higher.
“Is that … is that Sonic the Hedgehog?”
Jeff grinned. “It is.”
“God, I haven’t thought about that for at least twenty years now. No, probably longer. That would have been the mid-nineties, right? You weren’t even born yet.”
Oh, you might be surprised, Jeff thought. He had, in fact, been born in 1974. And turned into a vampire at twenty-five. Nineteen years ago. If he’d continued aging, he would have been forty-four this year. Not so far off from Santiago’s current age, he guessed.
“You are in your mid-twenties or so, right?” Santiago asked. “How on earth did someone your age end up with a Sonic the Hedgehog tattoo?”
Length: Short Story (15,642 words/54 pages)
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