66. Doing Business
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"Then I found out my sister and her husband moved into the area last autumn," James said with a grimace. "And after that first accidental meeting, the poor girl became obsessed with finding me again. At that point me and Mitch figured the safest thing was to move on. Otherwise we risked being found out."

The blond vamp made a face as he added, "It wasn't an easy choice. Not after twenty years alive and almost fifty years dead in that town."

That was one of the more surprising things. Mitch looked younger, but he'd been a vamp for almost fifty years. So technically he was around seventy years old. The older-looking one, James, was turned when he was twenty-four. That was nearly twenty years ago, so he was in his mid-forties.

And the two of them were telling the rest of us their story, about how James' younger sister - who was now in her early forties - ran into him by accident last winter. She thought her brother was dead, and instead found him seemingly alive and well, and looking like he hadn't aged a day in two decades.

All eight of us were crowded into the guys' little motel room, and they both put on some clothes so they weren't standing around in their underwear. And despite all the precautions and concerns we had up front, it turned out the vampires were actually pretty friendly.

James was more talkative than Mitch, and also seemed the friendlier of the two. Although I was pretty sure neither of them was going to pose a threat to us. He continued the story, "We decided to try Kingston first, but ran into some uptight queerphobic witch coven who didn't want a gay vamp couple living on their turf. Then we figured Toronto was big enough that we could just disappear there without any trouble."

"No luck there either," Mitch scowled. "The whole damned city's been claimed by some messed-up vamp cultists. They leave the humans and other supernaturals alone, but any outside vampires step into their turf and it's join them or die. Me and James just barely managed to escape that mess."

Paige asked, "So you ended up stopping here? Our town's not that big, why'd you pick this place?"

"After we got out of Toronto in a hurry we were going to head further west," James replied. "Maybe Calgary or Edmonton, or maybe all the way to Vancouver? The plan was to head north through Owen Sound then take the ferry across to Manitoulin Island before continuing west, but we only made it this far when Mitch's car broke down. We were stuck here while it was in the garage, and something about this place seemed nice."

Kaylee frowned, "Well you can't stay here. You can't go around attacking people in parks and outside bars!"

Mitch rolled his eyes and replied, "Don't get your knickers in a knot, missy. We have a right to exist, same as anyone else. And unlike you humans, we don't need to kill anything to sustain ourselves."

"Maybe so, but you can't keep leaving victims for the local authorities to find," Brooke responded. "Odds are the police are already looking for you."

James sighed, "It's a risk. We only did that to get the word out? So folks in the know would realize there's new vamps in town. If we can find at least a half dozen volunteers then we don't need to go out hunting anymore."

"What do you mean, volunteers?" Paige asked. "What are people volunteering for?"

The blond vamp shrugged, "Some folks enjoy our feeding aura, they get off on it. So they let us have a couple mouthfuls of blood, we give them a good time and a clean high that won't show up on any tests and won't give them a hang-over. It's win-win, like a business arrangement."

"That's why we need at least a half dozen volunteers," James added. "Ten would be ideal. With that many, we can take smaller meals more often, while rotating through them so we're not drawing too much from any of them."

Mitch continued, "We look out for our volunteers, and we never take too much from them. We make sure they're safe, and we want them to be healthy and happy. When we don't have enough of them, then we need to make up the difference by hunting. And we're not as delicate in that case, because odds are we'll never see those people again. We don't kill folks though, we don't even do any serious harm to them."

"And you're planning on staying here?" Melody asked. "Like permanently?"

James shrugged, "At least for a while. Over the winter anyways. We've got a line on a place to stay, so we can get out of this motel. And we've already got our first volunteer. She'll help us find more, we should be all set up before the snow starts falling."

"That's assuming you girls aren't looking to cause us trouble," Mitch added. Then he gave me and Melanie a hard look and commented, "I know at least some of you aren't human, so how about you answer a few of our questions now?"

Both Cerys and Nina stayed quiet, and Kaylee mostly kept out of the conversation too, but the rest of us were more talkative with the guys. We basically explained that we were two demons, one werewolf, and the rest of us were witches. We didn't tell them about Club Luna as such, and we didn't go into too many details about ourselves. Then Paige repeated what she said earlier about keeping the town safe from supernatural threats.

In the end the guys promised to be more careful and not attack people in public places anymore, but they seemed pretty set on staying in town, at least until spring. It maybe wasn't a perfect outcome, but most of us were happy to call the incident resolved. The fact that we'd handled it without a fight was a big plus too.

So we all left Mitch and James, then Melody and Brooke drove the gang over to a restaurant so the eight of us could all get dinner together.

• • • • •

After all the excitement with the vampires ended peacefully, the rest of the weekend was downright boring. The only fun part was when me and Nina hung out for a while with Cerys and Melanie, and the four of us played video games together. Monday morning felt like the start of another boring week, right up until I actually got to school.

I found a certain bunnygirl impatiently pacing around my locker again as she waited for me to arrive. She didn't look as anxious or uptight this time, but she was definitely as energetic as always.

"Hi Cass!" she dashed up to my side as soon as she spotted me. "Can we talk? In the library again, like last time!"

I shrugged, "Sure Kenzie. What's up? More news about your dad?"

She blushed but nodded, "We need to talk in the library, but yes."

Like last time I made her wait while I put my jacket and lunch in my locker, then casually walked towards the library while Kenz did the bunnygirl equivalent of bouncing off walls and generally zooming around impatiently.

"Good morning Ms. Sutton," I greeted the old librarian as we passed her office.

This time she called back, "Good morning Cassandra, hello again Kenzie."

I was tempted to stop and chat with her a bit, since I hadn't seen her much this year. But I had an excited little bun trying to drag me towards the study cubicles in the back, so I decided I could talk with Ms. Sutton some other time.

Kenzie pointed as she led the way, "C'mon, it's this one in the corner!"

When we got there I was surprised to find someone else already in it, then did a bit of a double-take when I realized the person waiting there had cat ears and a tail. And she wasn't studying or reading, she was leaning against the wall at the back of the cubical, looking a bit embarrassed.

I stopped and quietly looked the catgirl up and down, while Kenzie moved to stand sort of between us but off to one side. By that point both of them were blushing a little, and maybe cringing slightly too.

The catgirl was certainly small, in fact she was almost as tiny as the bun. I stood five-foot-two and I'd guess Kenzie's height at about four-foot-six. I figured the catgirl was only an inch or two taller than the bunnygirl, maybe about four-seven, four-eight if she stood up straight. Her figure was slim, but her hips and bust were attractively curvy.

Her sandy-blonde hair was cut in a short bob style, and her fuzzy triangular ears were coated in a thin layer of fine beige fur that got darker at the tips. Her tail was long and thin, and covered in more short fine fur the same colour as her ears, including the dark tip. Finally her eyes were a striking shade of light green, and looked just a tiny bit larger than usual. She had a very cute rounded face, with a small button nose and wide pink lips.

Age-wise she definitely fit in, she looked about seventeen. And the way she was dressed nobody would think twice about her being in high school. She was currently wearing a pair of tight patterned black and grey leggings and a large loose dark purple tunic top. She had some black and pink sneakers on her feet, and a black hoodie was folded over her left arm.

"Hi there," I finally greeted the stranger with a smile. "I'm Cass. And you're...?"

Kenzie spoke up, "Her new name is Kirstie."

The catgirl's cheeks coloured a little brighter but in a quiet high-pitched girly voice she confirmed, "I'm uh, like she said my name is Kirstie. I understand I have you to thank for the plush cat that Kenzie brought home last week?"

"I'm sorry Cass!" the bunnygirl added before I could respond. "We need help and you're the only one I could think of to turn to? I haven't told anyone else, I promise! But I figured it was ok to tell Kirstie, since she's the one that used the plushie?"

I sighed, then looked back at Kirstie and said "As far as I know there's no way to undo or reverse the change. So it's this, or a cat. Those are your only options."

"I know," the catgirl replied. Her tail twitched around a bit and her blush got brighter as she continued, "And um, I'm ok with it? I mean, um, the ears and tail took a bit to get used to. Same with being so small, it's an adjustment not being able to reach things anymore. I think the thing that's causing the most problems though is suddenly looking so young?"

She grimaced, "I have no idea what to do about ID. People won't believe it's really me, I look like a completely different person now! And I don't know what to do about work, for the same reason. Nobody there will believe it's me. And finally my um, my wife is pretty upset about all this too."

Kirstie sighed before continuing, "Kenzie said... I was hoping that whoever you got that plush toy from, maybe they'd have some solutions to those problems? I guess I'm wondering, what am I supposed to do for ID? What am I supposed to do about work? And how do I explain to people what's happened to me? I can't be the only person to ask these questions, whoever created those plushies must have some answers."

I frowned as I thought for a few moments, then pulled out the chair and took a seat. I could feel myself putting on a calm and confident act, but for some reason that actually made me feel more anxious and uncomfortable inside.

Leaning back in the chair I asked the catgirl, "What do you want to happen, Kirstie? Pretend there was some magic that could give you anything, what would you ask for? Do you want to be older again? Do you want to go back to what you were before? Or what exactly do you want?"

She continued to blush as her tail twitched around behind her. Then she crouched and caught it, before straightening up again with the end of her tail in her hand. She remained quiet as she stood there fidgeting with the furry appendage, almost playing with it and stroking the fur along its tip.

Then as her cheeks grew even brighter she finally admitted, "I don't want to turn back. I want to stay just like this, but that's why I'm worried about things like work? How can I go to work when I look young enough to be Kenzie and Kimmie's sister? And what do I do about ID?"

I nodded slowly as I kept up the calm confident act, while inside I felt more anxious and uncomfortable. There was an idea forming in my mind, it seemed to come out of nowhere and I wasn't sure I liked it.

Despite the internal conflict I responded calmly, "You're right. The person who provided the plushie can fix your ID and take care of your work problem. They'll want some kind of favour in return later on, but they can definitely get you sorted out first."

Kirstie glanced at Kenzie then looked back at me again and asked, "For real? They can fix my ID and make arrangements with work, so I can stay like this forever?"

"Yes they can," I replied in a relaxed tone that I absolutely did not feel inside, "I'll ask my friend to take care of it for you tonight."

I reached out to offer a handshake, and the catgirl took my hand in hers. Her skin was soft and warm, her fingers slim and delicate.

As we shook on the deal I felt the corners of my lips trying to curl into a grin, but instead I stayed calm as I said "Pleasure doing business with you, Kirstie."

She gave me a funny look followed by an awkward smile, "Thank you Cassandra, and please thank your friend for me too."

"Oh I will," I grinned.

The first bell rang just as I stood up, then I started to walk away. I glanced back and added, "See you two later."

As I made my way through the halls towards my first class my anxiety stayed strong but the calm casual act started to fall away. And as it went I began to second-guess myself. I didn't know why I'd promised to help Kirstie when I had no idea how to do it. The handshake thing felt even more peculiar, like we were closing a business deal or something. Then I remembered actually saying something about that to the catgirl, and she'd looked as confused as I felt.

By the time I got to class my stomach was churning from stress and nerves, but I did my best to ignore it. I tried to focus on the teacher and the lesson instead, and for now I pushed all the uncomfortable thoughts and awkward questions away.

~ End of Episode Eight ~

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