Dark One n. [Origin: Czech, also known as vampires] A Moravian Dark One is doomed to spend his liftime cruising the singles' scene in search of the one woman who can redeem his soul. You think dating is hard? Try it when you're nine hundred years old and you've used every pick-up line in the book. Forming a lasting relationship is even more difficult when the woman who makes your heart sing sees dead people and likes to play with demons.
Summoner n. [Origin English] Someone who summons ghosts, poltergeists, and demon lords. Summoners tend to hang around cities like London that are filled with portals to Hell, haunted inns, and other locations dishy vampires might be found lurking. Most Summoners are female, which makes for difficulties when it comes to explaining to the man who haunts your dreams and fills your soul with love why your pet ghosts can be found hovering around even the most romantic of circumstances.
EXCERPT FROM SEX AND THE SINGLE VAMPIRE
The message waiting for me at the hotel desk was short and concise: "Either you come back from England with bona fide proof of a spiritual entity, or you needn't bother returning to the office. There's no room in UPRA for crackpots and never-beens."
It was signed by my boss, and the head of the western U.S. division of the United Psychical Research Association, Anton Melrose II.
"Well, isn't that just Jim Dandy fine," I muttered to the message as I crumpled it up and tossed it into the appropriate receptacle situated at the end of the reception desk, wishing as I did so that I could Summon up a demon or two, minor ones, just bad enough to scare the bejeepers out of my employer. "I'd pay good money to see him eat his words."
The woman at the desk smiled as she passed me the key to my room. "I'm sorry, Miss Telford, we're not responsible for the quality of the messages. We have to deliver them no matter what they say."
I smiled back, secure behind the sunglasses I wore everywhere. "That's OK, it's just my life falling apart, nothing to worry about. Is there a computer free now, do you know? I'll only need fifteen minutes."
Tina, the receptionist at the St. Aloysius Hotel in jolly old London, checked the log for the two computers kept in a small dark room for the use of those businesspeople who couldn't live without an Internet connection. "It's all yours."
I gathered up my bag, ignoring the clinking that came from within, and mumbled my thanks as I limped down the short hallway that led to the computer room. One of the two computers was taken up by a skanky-haired young man of about twenty who raised one pierced eyebrow as I carefully set my bag down next to the chair of the second computer. The clink of glass bottles was loudly evident.
"It's holy water," I told him when his pierced eyebrow rose even higher. "For the ghosts. Nothing drinkable. That is, you could drink it, but I've had it on the best authority that holy water tastes like tap water that's oxidized for a couple of days."
He blinked at me.
"Bland," I explained, then turned my attention to the computer. I waited until he was busy with his own screen before pushing my sunglasses up so I could better see the computer screen, logging quickly into the e-mail account I'd set up for those rare times UPRA had seen fit to send me outside of the Sacramento area (which is to say, twice), just as quickly scanning the six messages collected. "Spam about an herbal product guaranteeing to make my penis grow larger, spam about low mortgage rates, e-mail from Mom, spam about something to do with furry barnyard friends that I'm not even going to open, e-mail from Corrine, and spam asking me if I'm single. Well, it's nice to know I'm missed."
The young man snickered and logged off his computer, pulling up a briefcase that had the name of a major software company embossed on the side. "Do you see lots of ghosts, then?" he asked as he shoved in the chair.
I pushed my sunglasses into their normal position and gave him a little moue of regret. "So many I hardly have a moment to myself. They're very simple-minded, you know. Really no different than a puppy. Just a kind word or two, a little pat on the head, and they follow you around forever."
He stood staring at me for a moment as if he couldn't decide if I was serious or not.
I held up both hands to show him there was nothing up my sleeves. "I'm joking. No ghosts to date."
He looked relieved, then managed to twist his relief into a familiar sneer common to all young twenty-somethings. I ignored him as he left, pulling my glasses off as I scanned my mother's e-mail, filing it to be answered later before I clicked on Corrine's.
Allie: this is just a reminder in case you've forgotten—the Dante book signing is at the new Hartwell's store in Covent Garden, tomorrow night, 7pm London time. Be there or I'll do something so horrible to you, I legally cannot put it into writing.
Hope you're having fun! I don't suppose you took my advice and left the shades at home?
PS: don't forget to give Dante the key chain I made him. Be sure to tell him how long it took me to embroider his name into the warding pattern. AND DON'T FORGET TO WARD IT! I doubt if I will EVER live down the embarrassment of the time you handed over an unwarded key chain to Russell Crowe!
"Mmm. What a shame. The C.J. Dante key chain was mysteriously left at home," I told the computer as I logged off and popped my sunglasses back on just in case I ran into anyone in the hallway. For a moment I just sat, exhausted, listening to the sounds of the hotel and the noise outside the window of London on a busy winter afternoon. Anton's message did nothing but add to my exhaustion. I had seen the handwriting on the wall for the last six months—"produce or else" was his motto, and I was lamentably lacking in the proof department.
"This is it, Allie," I said aloud to the empty room. "Put up or shut up time, and I have to tell you, the job openings for an unproven Summoner are pretty slim."