A growing boy needs an iron-rich diet.
Reeling from grief, closeted vampire Gabriel Colin bites the hand that feeds. After a heart-wrenching tragedy, he goes on the warpath, leaving Raiden, his costar and maker, to lick his wounds solo.
Eager to enact the next phase of his Raiden-centric revenge, OG big bad Justus makes it his mission to seduce Gabriel. As Justus welcomes the bloodsucking newb into the fold, his spouse-cum-Stockholm-Syndrome-sufferer Naomi covertly flexes her mental muscles, testing the strength of her growing resistance to her husband’s tyranny.
All the while, Raiden takes greater public risks to fill the void of his sorrow—and unwittingly enters the crosshairs of Gabriel’s blooming wrath.
Raiden picked up the gun. “It’s come to this.”
“It’s come to this,” Gabriel repeated.
“I never thought—”
“You took my wife. Murdered my kin.”
Raiden cocked the trigger. “I did what I had to do.”
Gabriel pointed at his head. “If I could go back, I’d make sure she never laid eyes on you.”
“Do you think things would’ve ended differently?” Raiden smiled bitterly. “We’ve always been at odds.”
“I loved you, Akemi.” Gabriel fell to his knees. “You were like a brother!”
Raiden’s hand trembled on the trigger. “I felt the same.”
“Cut!” Baza yelled. “Merde! This long take is ridiculous. We need to break it down into sections.”
While he consulted with the cameramen about which angle to shoot next, Raiden put the gun on the prop table.
“You must be one of the only dudes I’ve ever met who doesn’t seem to enjoy holding one of these.” Fagan pointed to the weapon.
He shrugged. “It’s not really my thing.”
“You’ve been so low lately. What gives?”
She slung an arm around his neck. “Come hang out with me after work. I’ll give you something to smile about.”
She dropped her arm and cupped her hands around his ear. “It rhymes with ‘hot.’”
“Ah.” Raiden managed a ghost of grin. “Haven’t had ‘hot’ in a while.”
“I knew you’d be game.” She gave him a side hug. “I’ll ask Gabriel too.”
Raiden’s face fell. “Don’t do that.”
“It won’t help.”
“Are you questioning my people skills?”
“No. I’m saying the issues we have are not, um … We can’t just smoke them away.”
“You can try. Seeing y’all mope around is a total drag. We’ll be done with the shoot soon. It’d suck to end it on a bitter note, ya know?”
“It’s not bitter between you and me.”
“Yeah, but can’t we all just get a bong?” She batted her lashes at him.
Raiden shook his head.
Fagan pouted. “I’ll ask Gabriel and see what he says.”
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
“I don’t give a hoot! I’ll do what I want.”
“If you must.”
As she skipped over to Gabriel, Raiden felt the anchor dragging down his spirit grow heavier, especially as he lip-read his creation’s response: “Not a chance in hell.”
After Baza finished his finicky directions for the shot, Raiden and Gabriel repeated their lines. And again—from fourteen different angles. Weary of the mind-numbing repetition, Raiden started to drift off.
“Raiden! We need to finish this today.” Gabriel glared at him. “If you don’t pull yourself together, we’ll go over the time limit. We need to stay on schedule.”
“I know. It’s just hard to concentrate when you’re giving me the evil eye.”
“I’m supposed to. It’s in the script.”
“You’re supposed to be hurt, not hateful.”
“I can be both.”
“Buddies …” Baza wrung his hands. “Stop bickering. It is better to finish on a high note, n’est-ce pas?”
“See, Raiden?” Gabriel gestured expansively. “Everyone knows we’re not getting along. No need to fake it. Use it as inspiration for the scene.”
Heat rushed to Raiden’s cheeks. “Fine.” He got into position and cocked the trigger. “Ready.”
“Take Forty-six. And … action.”
“I never thought it would be you,” Gabriel gasped.
“I never thought it would be anyone else.” Raiden pulled the trigger. The gun blasted. A single tear trickled down his cheek.
Gabriel collapsed, holding his chest. “You broke my heart.”
That wasn’t in the script.
“Cut!” Baza shouted. “Raiden, that was beautiful! I felt it right here.” He put his hand over his sizable paunch. “Right in the guts.” Holding out one hand to Gabriel, he offered the other one to Raiden. “Now let’s say a little prayer.”
Raiden placed the gun back on the prop table. “I don’t pray.”
“You do today, mon cher.” Baza grabbed his stiff fingers. “Now, sourpuss, tout de suite!”
Raiden dragged his feet as though he were walking to the electric chair. Gabriel, who had gotten up from his prone position on the ground, accepted Baza’s hand with a scowl etched on his face.
Baza brought their hands together. “Oh, Heavenly Father! Unite us in our mission to bring big bucks out of the multiplex.”
Raiden rolled his eyes. He glanced at Gabriel to see if his reaction was the same, but Gabriel’s attention was focused on the churning waves spraying saltwater below the Golden Gate Bridge.
“Amen,” Raiden said, to end his torture. He extricated himself from Baza’s grip. “Gotta bounce. I’ll see you next Tuesday.”
“Are you calling me a cunt?” Baza chortled. “Or is that your version of flirting?”
“Neither. My last scene with Fagan’s literally next Tuesday.” Raiden’s mouth tightened. “Break a leg, Gabriel. Or maybe a shoulder.”
His creation’s silence was more than he could bear.