Isaac was hungry.
This wasn’t a hunger that could be solved by going to the fridge or ordering at a drive through. Unfortunately, this hunger could only be solved by one thing-
The sun had just gone down, the cool autumn air nipped at noses but Isaac wasn’t bothered by the cold anymore. This quiet suburban neighborhood was as sleepy as it got, making it a perfect place for Isaac to strike. Sure in the cities, it was easier to find prey outside their homes, but they tended to be more guarded. They expected danger.
No one would expect something like Isaac out and about.
Now it would be a bit trickier talking himself inside of a home, needing an invitation and all that. But Isaac had learned many ruses over the years. Broken down car, dead phone, lost, the right excuse would open the right door for him.
His eyes landed on the house on the corner, which still had lights on in the living room and he could see movement inside. Perfect. Isaac turned up the sidewalk and headed to the front door. “Let’s see what’s behind door number one,” the vampire murmured to himself before he reached to knock on the door.
The door whipped open and Isaac was left with his hand raised awkwardly in the air.
The woman on the other side of the door was likely in her early thirties and judging by her dress and make up, she was dressed to go out. Isaac dropped his hand and was about to make an excuse when the woman said, “Oh, finally! God, what took you so long? Get in here!”
Well. That was convenient. The woman grabbed Isaac by the shoulder and dragged him inside, the door shutting quickly behind them.
“Honestly, you really need to pick up your phone. I was starting to think I’d have to cancel.” The woman paused in front of a mirror in the living room as she put on a pair of silvery earrings. “It’s not a good impression to ditch on a first date. But it’s also hard to date when, you know- well of course you know. Hold this for a second?”
The woman thrust her purse into Isaac’s hands and Isaac just took it on instinct. “Um, excuse me-” He tried to speak but the woman started talking again.
“Sorry, right, you’re going to need the instructions. So the formula is on the counter, Cole will need to be fed before he goes to bed. He’s a cuddler, so just rock him until he’s sleepy. Don’t forget to turn on his sound machine, he can’t sleep without it. Marley’s going to need to be in bed by eight, Serena will need to have her lights off by eight thirty, but she probably won’t sleep until I’m home anyway. Feel free to just watch TV, but try to encourage play time away from the screen too. Marley likes to play pretend, and honestly Serena’s pretty determined to stay self sufficient, so just let her read in quiet and you won’t have any trouble from her.The pizza should be here in twenty minutes, feel free to help yourself to a slice. I hope you like pepperoni.”
What? “I’m sorry. I think there’s-”
“It’s fine, everyone can be late once. I’m just… it’s just a bit nerve wracking, dating again after all this time. Thanks for holding my purse,” the woman took her purse back and looked over her shoulder. “Guys, if Izzy tells me that you were up to nonsense, you’re all grounded for the weekend, mmkay?”
Isaac slowly looked over the woman’s shoulder to see two children peering into the living room.
The woman gave Isaac a pat on the shoulder. “I’ll be back by ten at the latest. Everyone can have one- and I mean just one,” She gave a meaningful look to the children, “scoop of ice cream after dinner. It’s in the freezer. Well, have a good night!”
The woman practically bolted out of the door, pausing only to slip her heels on, and then she was gone.
Leaving Isaac with the children.
This may have been the worst case of mistaken identity he’d ever experienced in his entire life. And he was 171 years old.
The older girl tossed her black ringlet curls over her shoulder. “I’m Serena, that’s Marley,” the little girl with just as curly but brown hair waved, “And Cole’s chilling in his swing in his room. You good, Izzy?”
“It’s Isaac.” Isaac cleared his throat, watching the woman’s car vanish down the road. “I… well, I guess your mother said we could just watch television.” Awkwardly, he made his way over to the couch, sitting down while watching the two children. “What… what do you like to watch?”
Marley giggled before she bounced over to the couch. “You have weird eyes!” She chirped as she hopped onto the seat next to Isaac. “Are you a kitty?”
“A… I beg your pardon?”
“You have eyes like Mr. Meow!” Tiny hands smushed against Isaac’s temples and the little girl stared into his scarlet eyes. “They’re all thin in the black part!”
“I have a condition,” Isaac leaned back, trying to find a way to untangle this small child from him. His brain had completely blanked on the proper way to respond to this situation.
Isaac heard a snort and he looked up to see Serena standing over him. “Here, remote. She likes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, it’s on Netflix,” she said as she handed him the remote.
“Ah, thank you,” Isaac took the remote and clicked the tv on.
“You don’t like kids, do you?”
Damn, this girl could read between the lines. “It’s not that I don’t like children, it’s that I don’t know what to do with you,” Isaac responded, which was the truth. He might be a vampire but he had standards. You don’t eat children.
Besides, they barely had enough blood to make it worth it.
“Then why are you a babysitter?” Serena tilted her head to the side, her dark eyes analyzing everything about Isaac to the point he would’ve been more comfortable dealing with being questioned in a police station while covered in blood.
“I’ll help you then. You better give me a cut of your paycheck.”
There was a small part of Isaac that was relieved as Serena left the room, returning a few moments later with the baby, bouncing him in her arms. “He’s our cousin. Our aunt dropped him off a month ago and hasn’t been able to come back yet.”
“She’s on an adventure!” Marley chirped.
“Is that so?” Isaac hit play and the cartoon horse show started to play. “This is… very… brightly colored.”
“My favorite’s Rainbow Dash!” Marley proclaimed. “My mommy likes Rarity, and-and Serena likes Applejack! Applejack’s a pony, and Rainbow Dash is a pegasus. Rarity’s a unicorn. There’s also alicorns! Do you know what an alicorn is?”
“A magical horse with wings and a horn,” Isaac replied without even thinking much about it. Beautiful creatures, even if they were rare nowadays.
Marley gasped. “You watch My Little Pony too!? Who’s your favorite pony?!” She said.
“Uhhh…” Isaac glanced over pleadingly at Serena, who mouthed words at him. “Twilight… Sparkle?”
“She’s an alicorn!” Marley flopped over on Isaac’s shoulder. “I like you.”
“Thank you. You’re not so bad,” Isaac managed a weak smile. All right, new game plan- take care of these brats for a few hours, wait for their mother to come home, and then have her for a snack. Obviously he couldn’t drain her, leaving these children as orphans would be a bit too cruel, but after a date the woman’s guard would be down. It’d be the perfect time to strike.
Serena then plopped Cole into Isaac’s arms. “I know you don’t know what you’re doing, but you at least need to hold him,” she said.
Oh boy. Isaac glanced down at the baby, who cooed and squirmed to get comfortable in Isaac’s arms. “Am… am I holding him right?” Isaac asked.
Serena snickered. “You’re fine. Just snuggle him for a bit, then you can put him on the floor. You gotta get used to holding babies if, you know, you’re going to be a babysitter.”
I don’t intend on being one after tonight. “I suppose you have a point.”
Luckily the girls were more than happy to relax and watch this magic horse show, and Cole was actually quite relaxed in Isaac’s arms. It was more than a little surprising… and kinda nice. Isaac was feeling quite comfortable by the time the doorbell rang, signifying the arrival of the pizza.
“PIZZA!” All thoughts about the horse show were gone as the girls bolted for the kitchen.
“Wait, what about-” Isaac sighed before looking down at Cole. “Well, you’re going on the floor. I’m not going to attempt to carry both pizza and an infant.”
Cole only burbled in response. Thankfully he didn’t protest being laid down on his blanket, and Isaac fetched the pizza from the possibly bored and definitely high delivery guy. The girls were ecstatic as Isaac brought in the pizza boxes. “All right, so we have pepperoni pizza and breadsticks. I remember your mother said ice cream after pizza, so dig in,” He said as he left the pizzas on the counter and he headed back into the living room to fetch Cole.
By the time Isaac returned with the baby, Marley was going ham on the pizza but Serena was up at the counter, mixing up a bottle. “He’s gonna be hungry soon,” she said.
“Thank you,” Isaac watched over her shoulder. “So why aren’t you babysitting?”
“I can watch us just fine but Mom wanted an ‘adult’ here. Too bad the adult’s mostly useless,” Serena put the bottle in the warmer. “It’s cool though. You just got in over your head. It’s not your fault you’re dumb.”
Serena grinned up cheekily. “Just wait for the bottle warmer to beep, and then you can feed Cole. Another rule of babysitting- kids eat first,” she said.
“I… I have an allergy… to gluten.” Wow, that was the worst excuse he gave tonight. “I’ll get myself something to eat later.”
“Oh that sucks. Oh well, next time you babysit us, we’ll just get you something gluten free.”
“Ummm… thank you.”
That was. Oddly considerate. Serena went back to the table and snatched two slices of pizza for herself while Isaac bounced Cole up and down in his arms. The older girl was definitely a bit rough around the edges, but she wasn’t a bad child. Just. Direct.
After dinner (and after the girls laughed because Cole spit up on Isaac’s perfectly good jacket), they all returned to the living room. But, much to Isaac’s disappointment, Marley didn’t want to watch any more My Little Pony.
She wanted to play Barbies. And dress up.
“Oh no, the evil Isaac’s got the princess!”
Isaac winced as a plastic doll was thrown against his chest. “Umm… oh… yes, I have her. She’ll never escape from me, the evil Isaac,” he droned, ignoring Serena snickering behind him. Somehow Marley had convinced him to put on a hot pink feather boa and a princess tiara that was definitely too small for his head.
Marley lifted up her doll, doing her best to make the aluminum foil sword stayed still in the barbie’s hand. “I’ll slay you, Isaac! So Princess Pretty and Princess Angel can get married!” She proclaimed.
Even the word ‘slay’ made Isaac internally shudder, but he managed to repress it. Marley guided her barbie into poking Isaac with the sword, and Isaac just flopped back on the floor. “Oh dear. I’m slain,” he deadpanned.
Marley cheered and scooped up the kidnapped barbie. “You may now kiss the bride!” Marley said before making the two barbies ‘kiss’.
At that moment the clock struck eight and Isaac had never been more grateful for early bedtimes.
“Time for bed,” Isaac sighed with relief.
“Awwww, but I want to play moooore,” Marley pouted.
“We can play more next time,” Isaac said before he remembered there wasn’t going to be a next time.
This did seem to placate Marley a bit though, and with a little more shooing the girl was tucked into bed, dressed in a Rainbow Dash nightgown and snuggling a well loved teddy bear. “You’re the best babysitter ever, Izzy,” Marley murmured as Isaac went to turn off the light.
Something in Isaac’s unbeating heart twinged a little. He’d never managed to have a family of his own before he was turned by that accursed woman, and his vampiric ‘siblings’ were… well, all sorts of dysfunctional, to say the least, so he didn’t bother contacting them much.
The house was much quieter without the TV on or the kids playing. It was a strange kind of peace. Isaac found himself clearing off the table, putting the toys away, straightening up the living room. He should be just leaving now. There was still plenty of time to hunt.
But it just didn’t seem right leaving the kids alone. What if Cole started crying because he was hungry? Or Marley got scared from the dark, kids hated the dark, right? He’d just duck out when the mom returned home.
After he put the rest of the pizza in the fridge, he paused when a photograph caught his eye. It was easily over ten years old, and the woman was much younger but she was definitely the mother that had rushed out the door earlier that night. It was clearly taken on her wedding day, and she was right up next to the man that was the groom.
In silver, elegant script the words Juliette and Zachariah Grey were written across the bottom.
“Wonder what happened to him,” Isaac murmured to himself. If she was on a date, clearly Zachariah was out of the picture. Divorced? Maybe. Passed away? That felt right. The way he was looking at her in that photo, it was clear they were in love. Must be hard, raising two children on your own, and now add in her sister just dropping off her kid at the doorstep before taking off to god knows where.
Even if she did seem a bit rushed to get out the door… clearly she was just doing her best. Perhaps Isaac could find his dinner someplace else. Odds are the bars were still open, a wayward drunken fool would be edible enough.
After he finished straightening things up, Isaac lounged about on the couch, watching the clock tick to ten.
It was ten on the dot when Isaac heard the back door open. He didn’t rush to get up, just listening to Juliette go between her children’s rooms before the woman walked into the living room.
It didn’t take a genius to see she’d been crying. Her mascara was smeared around her red tinged eyes and although she was trying to hold her head high, it was clear she’d been hurt. “Wondered where you were? Taking a nap once the kids were asleep?” She asked, her speech brusque as she stared at the spot next to Isaac.
“More or less.” Isaac sat up, cracking his back. “They were wonderful, if you want to know. It was… more enjoyable than I thought it would be, watching them tonight. Are you all right?”
Juliette sighed, her shoulders sagging as she walked over to the couch, plopping down next to Isaac. “What gave it away?” She asked.
“You’ve been crying.” Isaac reached into his pocket and produced a handkerchief. “Here.”
“… Oh. Thank you.” Juliette took the handkerchief and rubbed off her eyes, taking off the worst of the mascara but still smearing it about. “God, you’d think he would understand. I told him, I’m a single mom, but he took that to mean I could just. Dump my kids off with their dad or my parents while we went off and had fun. When I made it clear I wasn’t into that, he… went to the bathroom and left me with the bill.”
“That arsehole!” Isaac blurted out, cringing at his crass language. “I didn’t mean to come out and say it so bluntly, my apologies, but it’s true.”
Juliette snorted. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s fine. It stings. But I’ve lived through the worst things a person could. No way that jerk can drag me down to his level. I won’t let him,” she said.
Incredible. Isaac could hear the power behind those words. A truly strong woman. “I have no doubt about that. If you have another date in the future, don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll happily watch your children again,” He said.
“Well, that’s the other shoe that dropped.” Juliette scooted closer to Isaac, the vampire now noticing that her hand was in her purse. “I got a call on the way home. Izzy didn’t show up because he was in a car accident. Pretty bad, he’ll be fine, but he just couldn’t reach me until now. And then I remembered how you seemed a bit confused, your lackadaisy way of walking up to the door… then I remembered hearing through the under about a streak of attacks in quiet neighborhoods just. Like. This. One.”
It was so fast Isaac barely had the time to react, catching Juliette’s wrist at the last possible second before the stake could penetrate his heart. Juliette’s sorrowful exterior melted away to the cool determination that Isaac had seen only a few times in his life, and only by a certain kind of person.
“Huh, a slayer?” Isaac pushed Juliette’s hand back, staring right into her pale green eyes. “I must say, you’re full of surprises, Juliette.”
He shoved her back and Juliette jumped to her feet, carefully backing up without so much as stumbling. “Well, I’ve been retired since Marley was born, but it’s a lot like riding a bike,” Juliette kicked her heels off, taking up a fighting stance. “You don’t really forget how to do it.”
Juliette charged again, Isaac leaping out of the way to avoid the stake. “You carry a stake on all your dates then?” He asked.
“Only the first ones. I also bring along salt, a pistol with silver bullets I casted myself, aaand this,” Juliette pulled out a small vial from her purse, uncapped it, and flung the contents at Isaac.
This time he wasn’t quite fast enough to dodge all the droplets, and as they landed on his bare skin they popped and hissed like cold water on a hot pan. Isaac yelped, clamping a hand over his mouth to prevent himself from being any louder. “Holy water. Clever girl,” he growled, glowering at Juliette.
“I also have a rosary, but that’s in my other purse with the daggers.”
Isaac rolled out of the way of another strike with the stake, but the burning on his skin was already causing him to slow. Juliette tackled him the moment he stumbled on the carpet, sending them both toppling into the couch. Juliette landed on top and used that opportunity to pin him down, sitting on his waist and grabbing onto one of his wrists and bending it back.
The stake came down and Isaac barely dodged, the stake embedding itself in the couch right next to his ear. “I think you’re supposed to aim for the heart, not the head,” He said, trying to ignore the tingle of fear that shot up his spine. Too close. That was too close.
Juliette huffed and tossed her curls over her shoulder. “Maybe if you stopped moving so much, I would have-”
“Oh mom, ew!”
Isaac’s head snapped to the side to see a preteen’s silhouette in the hallway. Serena gagged loudly. “Why are you making out with the babysitter in the living room?” she asked.
… Oh. On second look, this position was a little compromising. Juliette’s face went bright pink as she sat up. “Serena, I thought you were asleep!” She yelped, adjusting the strap of her dress that had fallen down her shoulder a bit.
“Nope. Still awake. And scarred for life.” Serena covered her eyes and blindly walked back to her room. “At least go back to your room!”
The door slammed and Isaac cleared his throat. “Since there’s proof that I didn’t drink your children like blood filled capri suns, can you please get off of me?” He asked.
Juliette jumped up, brushing down her skirt. “I know you didn’t, I checked on them before I came in here. If you did, I would’ve slayed you without the small talk beforehand,” she said.
Isaac slowly sat up, careful to keep his eyes on the surprising slayer just in case she decided to make a dash for that other purse she mentioned. “I did come here looking to feed, I won’t lie, but I also did enjoy watching your children tonight. It was… rather fun.”
Juliette sighed, turning around and pinching the bridge of her nose. “Well, you didn’t set the house on fire, neither did the girls. And you cleaned up after the kids, which was pretty nice, I didn’t even ask you to do that. So, a vampire babysitter wasn’t a bad choice. I mostly just feel like an idiot for not realizing you weren’t Izzy… what is your name, anyway?”
“It’s close- Isaac.”
“You’re screwing with me.”
Juliette smiled a tired kind of smile. “Just get out of my house before I change my mind about slaying you, Isaac,” she said.
Isaac nodded. “Better tell your daughter you weren’t ‘making out’ with the babysitter. It may make things a tad awkward if you call on me to babysit again,” he said.
“Dream on, bloodsucker.”
Isaac smirked back at Juliette before he opened the door and shifted into a bat form, flapping off into the night. Now he was really hungry.
Wonder if the blood banks are open this late.