Maternal Instincts by Jeffrey Ricker



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Raising two kids and running a household is challenging enough. It's even more challenging when the bag boy down at the grocery store has turned you into a vampire. Despite the transformation, Lisa is determined to keep life as normal as possible for her family, but when you've unwillingly joined the ranks of the undead, even grocery shopping is a trial. When a disastrous parent-teacher conference leaves her in more trouble than ever, Lisa has to seek help from the last person she wants to trust in order to keep her family together. A work of short vampire fiction from our Orbits line.

Excerpt:

Lisa hovered in the shadows by the basement door.

“Honey,” she said, “close the curtains.”

Pete looked toward the picture window, then back at her. From the hard set of his jaw, Lisa could tell he was itching for a fight. She couldn’t blame him. She’d been gone for two days, after all. She hadn’t picked up Christina after violin practice yesterday afternoon. She could also tell he was worried, and across his face a struggle played out between anger and concern. And here she was, looking like nothing had happened. If their positions had been reversed, she would have been screaming.

Pete didn’t scream at her, though. Maybe he hadn’t decided yet whether to be mad or relieved. He got up and shut the curtains.

Lisa entered the room and sat on the sofa, watching Pete watching her. She sensed the change in him almost at once. She could smell the sweat on him. The metallic tang felt like it was coating her tongue.

“Honey,” she said, “everything’s going to be okay.”

“What’s going to be okay?” he asked. His voice pitched higher, and when he spoke next, he’d dropped it unnaturally low. Her husband, she realized, was scared. Of her. “Why did I have to close the curtains before you’d come in? Where were you last night?”

“That’s what I’m trying to explain,” she said. “I have to tell you something.”

She told him why she’d been missing. She showed him her teeth. She stood and demonstrated how she could move so much faster now. She swore that she still loved him. She also said she didn’t know where the car was, but she thought it might be at the grocery store, probably full of spoiled food.

Lisa hadn’t expected Pete to react well to the news, but she was surprised when he suggested they call the doctor right away.

“Honey,” she said, gently at first, “there isn’t really anything a doctor can do for me now.”

“But how do we know? Couldn’t this be viral or something?” He even looked like he was about to reach for the phone, which made her panic. She reached it first, leaving him to stare at his hands.

“I can’t go to a doctor. What’s he going to say? ‘Mrs. Weiss, I’m very sorry, but it appears that you’re dead’? Besides, isn’t the common treatment for this condition stake-based?”

He lifted his head from his hands and stared at her blankly. Then something in his expression cracked, and he started to cry. Lisa sat and put her arm around him, guiding his head to her shoulder. It was alarming; she’d never heard Pete utter such gutting sobs. Then again, she’d never died. This must be what mourning’s like, she thought, even though she was still there.

“Oh, God,” she said. “What am I going to tell my mother?”

Pete wiped his eyes on his sleeve. “Your mother?”

“You know she’ll find some way to blame this on me.”

He laughed a little—the reaction she’d been hoping for. “Jesus, Lisa. How did this happen? Who did this to you?”

“I don’t remember,” she said. This was a lie, though. She remembered precisely the young blond man who helped load her groceries into the car two nights ago. She hadn’t really needed help, but he had been so earnest that she relented. His hair, where it fell from under his baseball cap, was so fair it had been almost white, but when she glimpsed his eyes, she was surprised to see they were so dark, a brown that bordered on black.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads


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