You roll your eyes, nodding along in habitual response as your dad retells the story for what can only be described as the LITERAL millionth time. However, you can never stay too mad at him. He came into your life when you were a teen, having been unaware of your existence until you grew the courage to seek him out for yourself. Everyone was shocked how immediately protective of you he became, and how quick he was to insist on you living with him. He was seen by the public as a notorious player, the infamous Peter Vincent, and no one exactly expected him to win father of the year... but he stepped up, and always made sure you were happy and safe.
Even now, in your early 20s, every phone call or visit with him included stories of warning. But this one... This one was his favorite. Even Aunt Amy and Uncle Charley vowed it to be true, although you didn't believe a word of it, they all 3 swore to the existence of vampires.
Your dad believes to have faced a particular vampire not only when he was a child, but again 10 years ago (not long before you came into the picture), which is actually how he says to have met your Aunt and Uncle in the first place. The experience with the vampire, 'Jerry' as they called him, is what they claimed made them a family.
Side-note, how lame is the name Jerry for a vampire? Not exactly a name that instills fear is it? You didn't think so as a teen, and you definitely don't think so now. Why they continued holding onto the story was beyond your understanding...
Yet here you are, trying not to doze off as your dad drones on over the dinner table. Aunt Amy and Uncle Charley both shiver when the story finally ends, then squeeze each other's hands comfortingly before raising their glasses to toast.
Your dad raises his, and motions for you to do the same. "To family, to health, and to making sure we keep both." He says with a smile, and you all clink glasses briefly before sipping your drinks.
"Listen..." Your Uncle speaks up just as everyone sets their glasses down. He clears his throat and hesitantly looks up to meet your eyes, his brows furrowed with concern. "I know that you don't put much stock in the story." Your Aunt moves to interrupt him but he puts a hand on her shoulder before turning back to you. "I know you don't believe in vampires... or understand why your dad or any of us acted the way we did while you were living here. But, we just want to keep you safe."
Glancing to your dad, he gives a smile reassuring smile. "I don't mind that you don't believe us, and I honestly hope that you never have to find out the truth."
Something about those words, and the way your dad said them, brings a slight chill to your spine. You think back to the strange lessons he instilled after you agreed to move in with him: spar lessons, weapon training, vampire lore, and even language studies. He wanted to ensure you would always be safe, and if you had to run away to start over, well you would be prepared for that too. While you actually enjoyed the training, and used it to carve out a very lucrative career for yourself... you can't help but wonder if perhaps the story was true?
After dinner you say goodbye to your Aunt and Uncle, walking them out to their car, and wishing them well on their late-night drive home. Your dad squeezes your shoulder as they drive away, then kisses your cheek before turning to go back inside.
He pauses at the door as if waiting for you to follow him, but you take a seat on the front porch instead. "I think I'm going to stay up a bit longer, maybe finish the last few chapters of my book." You hold up the novel, the bookmark sticking out near the end as proof it wouldn't take long to finish.
He glances out into the night, straining to scan the trees surrounding the house.
"I'll be fine, dad." You reassure him.
Hesitantly, he nods, and flips on the porch light. Pausing in the open doorway, he moves as though to offer his company.
"Dad..." You warn playfully. "I'll be fine."
Nodding again, he gives a quick smile, and then disappears inside as he shuts the door behind him.
Opening your book, you pretend to ignore as the curtains shift in your peripheral, knowing your dad would probably check out the window 50 more times before you came back inside.
Smiling to yourself as they shift closed again, you turn to the next page in your book.
Roughly an hour later you realize you hadn't seen the curtains shift in quite some time. Hoping that he had been able to fall asleep, you turn another page in the book. Finally, you're at the last chapter.
Before you can even read the first word on the page, you notice movement in the trees. You squint into the darkness, but to no avail, and attempt to return your attention to the book. Just as you glance back down, you notice the movement again, in the same area of the trees. Pursing your lips, you glance to the door beside you, and then back out into the darkness, debating whether you were really that stupid.
Unfortunately, after reading several chapters following a rather dramatic tale, you decide that you ARE in fact... that stupid...
You stand, book in hand, and move to place your hands on the porch railing, peering out into the darkness with eyes straining to make out the slightest shape.
The soft creak of someone, or something, stepping onto the wooden porch startles you. Spinning around, you nearly bump into a tall figure.
"Woah." He puts his hands on your shoulders in attempts to steady you, but immediately withdraws them when he notices your confused glare, holding them up defensively in front of him as he takes a step back. "I just wanted to come say hello."
Looking him over curiously, you glance around him toward the front door, knowing you wouldn't be able to make it past him if anything were to happen. "Who are you?"
With a somewhat cocky grin, he points a finger over your shoulder toward the woods, although you don't dare take your eyes off him. "I just bought the place through there. Was looking for a fixer-upper project." He shrugs, but when you seem less than impressed, he adds, "I didn't think anyone was here actually."
Recalling a conversation with the gas station clerk earlier that afternoon, you allow your shoulders to somewhat relax. Afterall, it's not every day that a handsome man wonders onto your porch. "Yeah, I think I heard someone mentioning how it finally sold."
He seems to take this as an invitation for further conversation. "Do you come out here often?"
Eyeing him again, you take another step back to lean against the railing. "Is that some kind of line?"
Quirking a brow, he takes a large step forward. "What if it is?"
You shrug. "Is that how you charm all the strange women on porches?"
He takes another, smaller step forward, stopping just in front of you. "Maybe I was just making polite conversation?" He glances around briefly before returning his attention to you, his lips turning up in that sexy smirk again. "It really is a nice place."
Glancing around for yourself, a soft smile spreads across your features with fond memories. "Yeah, my dad bought it for my 16th birthday. It was our vacation spot for a long time, but we hardly come anymore."
Nodding, he glances down, motioning in question to the book in your hand. Having honestly forgotten you were still holding onto it, you bring it to your chest, allowing him to read the cover. He raises a brow in question and cocks his head to the side, "Dracula?"
Chuckling, you place the book lovingly on the railing beside you. "Yeah. Another birthday gift from my dad. He has a thing for vampire lore, but it's a great book, I've read it a bazillion times."
"It's one of my favorites too." He glances at his watch. "I really didn't mean to barge in this late, if you have someone waiting inside..." He throws a thumb over his shoulder, offering to leave.
You shake your head. "I'm pretty sure my dad already went to bed, but it IS getting pretty late, and I should probably do the same." Grabbing your book, you move to make your way past him toward the door.
His footsteps tell you he's leaving, but just as you reach for the door handle, you hear his voice. "I would say it was great meeting you, but I don't think I ever got your name."
Turning to face him, you tell him your name, which earns another one of his charming grins. He moves off the porch and begins to walk away, but you call after him, "Don't I get to know yours?"
He turns to face you again, putting his hands in his pockets as he slowly saunters backwards. You can barely make out the details of his face anymore, but you swear his teeth seemed sharper as he cocks his head to the side and says, "You can call me Jerry."