The winter wind cut through her like a knife, and she pulled her threadbare coat closed. Her fingers were a sickly shade of blue, matching her lips, and her tears turned to icicles before they could escape her lashes.
Miranda had been wandering through the streets like this for days. Food and shelter were scarce despite the large population. Who was going to give a meal to a nobody like her? Who would let someone like her live under their roof for the night? Nobody would. Those things were denied to people like Miranda.
Then she saw him: the man who would be her savior. He had clean clothes, a healthy glow to his skin, and, perhaps most importantly, kind eyes. Gullible eyes. The sort of eyes that would see Miranda’s tattered clothes and unkempt hair and immediately want to take her in and take care of her.
Their eyes met, and he granted her a dazzling smile. The first person to smile at her in a week. This was going to be too easy.
“Evening, miss. Looks like you need to get out of this cold. Would you like to come with me somewhere warm with plenty of hot food?”
Trying to force some of the frigid blood in her veins to make its way to her cheeks, Miranda found that she didn’t even have the energy to blush. She needed to get warm and fed, soon as possible. She managed a wan smile in return and nodded thanks.
Taking her hand in his, the handsome stranger introduced himself as Rick. Rick’s gloved hands took her bare ones and rubbed them until the feeling started to come back. Then, with a warm arm around her shoulder, he led her a few blocks until they came upon a two-story brick house.
The house was Rick personified: warm, comforting, inviting. Miranda especially liked the inviting part.
Rick led her across the threshold, arm still around her, and shut the door behind them.
Miranda could hardly contain herself. She could smell her dinner, and it made her mouth water. Turning to face Rick, she grabbed his shouldes and opened her mouth wide, ready to–
Rick stared at the vagrant woman’s head as it bounced on the floor like a bloody basketball. That one had been too close. Damn vamps were getting bolder. Approaching strangers on the street? Whatever happened to the days when vampires were classy and seductive? This one looked like death itself as she walked through town.
Shaking his head, Rick dropped his blade and got to work scrubbing the floorboards. Where there was one of these things, there were usually more.
He had a long night ahead of him.