Chapter 23:

A Vampire Ventures In (Part 2)

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice

My manager looks between the mysterious silver-haired woman, myself, and the suspicious sickle-wielding woman I’m barely holding back.Bookmark here

“...Haru, a moment. I need to have a word with you.”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah? Uh, I’ll be right there! ...Stop struggling, miss. You can’t ju—”Bookmark here

“I told you already. It’s Ayame.”Bookmark here

“Right, sure. Ayame, could you put that rage on pause until I finish talking to my manager? You, too. No fighting.”Bookmark here

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I point at the other woman, waving my finger in warning, as my manager beckons me over with a wave. I jog up to him, and he lowers his voice to a rough whisper. Bookmark here

“...Haru. Even for the most cautious of men, balancing a relationship between two women is an impossible challenge.”Bookmark here

“...Um, what’s this about?”Bookmark here

I...don’t think my manager has the right read on this situation.Bookmark here

“Is this not...a tumultuous affair that has ended badly? That’s certainly what it appears to be, in any case.”Bookmark here

“Of course, it’s not!! Manager, I’m not that kind of guy!!”Bookmark here

“...Oh, but we believe you are the ideal ‘kind of guy’.”Bookmark here

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While I was busy setting my manager straight, the silver-haired woman slipped up behind me.Bookmark here

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“Wh-...?! When did you...?! Haru! You stay away from him, or I’ll...!”Bookmark here

Ayame calls out, but her threat is completely ignored.Bookmark here

“...Hmm? Oooh... Why, young master, your companion... His scent is simply divine.”Bookmark here

Breathing heavily, the other woman wraps her pale, thin arms around my manager’s bulging forearm.Bookmark here

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The kuchisake-onna drags me away from the stranger, shoving me behind her.Bookmark here

“That sweet perfume... So, it was yours, good sir? We desire...more. Yes, come closer... Look into our eyes... And become our most loyal servant. Yes, you wish for nothing else...”Bookmark here

The silver-haired seductress gazes up at my manager with a piercing stare.Bookmark here

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“No! Manager, don’t look into her eyes! I don’t know how, but she—”Bookmark here

I call out a warning, but it comes too late. He’s a goner.Bookmark here

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“Heh heh... We are descended from only the most regal of vampire families. There isn’t a man alive who can resist our charms. Strip, my servant, and subject yourself to your new mistress.”Bookmark here

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The vampire pulls out her lace fan with a smug grin, fanning herself as my manager starts to unbutton his shirt.Bookmark here

“Wh-... Manager! C’mon, snap out of it! Manager!!”Bookmark here

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Shouting at him doesn’t change a thing. He’s already stripped down to his undershirt. He reaches up, stretching his arms out to...drape his uniform top around the vampire’s shoulders.Bookmark here

“...What are you...?!”Bookmark here

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The vampire snaps her fan shut, clearly annoyed.Bookmark here

“...With that much of your chest exposed, you’re sure to catch cold.”Bookmark here

“Pardon?! E-Exposed...?!”Bookmark here

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My manager’s face turns bright red as the vampire pulls the shirt tight in a sudden show of modesty. No, seriously — why bother hiding anything now?Bookmark here

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“Never mind that! Merely peering into our eyes should have put you into a powerful trance! How have you not fallen under our spell?!”Bookmark here

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“...‘Trance’? I don’t know what you mean by that, but I...find it difficult to women. It’s...embarrassing. Making eye contact only makes it worse.”Bookmark here

My manager buries his face in his hands, overcome by even this level of conversation.Bookmark here

There he is!! The return of our big, blushing wallflower!!Bookmark here

“Why, you insolent...! I say! Good sir! You must look at us! Were you not told that it is rude to ignore the person you are speaking to?! Come now, be quick about it!”Bookmark here

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The vampire flips out, pulling on my manager’s thick arms to the point where she’s hopping up and down. But no matter how hard she tries, he stays still as a statue, not budging an inch.Bookmark here

Honestly, the whole thing’s kind of cute.Bookmark here

Stomping her feet in frustration, the vampire lashes out again — but my manager still won’t look her in the eye, sparing him from her inhuman charms.Bookmark here

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“We ventured all this way for the express purpose of dining on YOUR blood...!”Bookmark here

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“Oh,’re hungry? Still, you really shouldn’t be wandering the streets in an outfit so ill-suited to the evening chill. But...why are you so fixated on me?”Bookmark here

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“We haven’t had so much as a single drop since we set foot in this blasted realm! And to make matters worse, most humans’ blood smells so vile! Yours is the first truly delicious scent that we have encountered. ...We can wait no longer! We shall take our fill!”Bookmark here

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Without any further ado, the vampire bites down on my manager’s extended arm.Bookmark here

“Manager!!”Bookmark here

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I call out, another cry echoing my own.Bookmark here

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“OUCH! Ooooh...! Ow ow ow...”Bookmark here

Odd. The shriek of agony isn’t coming from my manager, but the vampire instead.Bookmark here

She drops to the ground, clutching her mouth as she writhes in pain.Bookmark here

“Sorry, I... I’m not used to having ladies cling to me like that, so I just...tensed up.”Bookmark here

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He grins sheepishly as he scratches the back of his head. Oh my god, this overly timid version of my manager is just too freaking adorable.Bookmark here

“Why, you oafish fool! You bumbling imbecile! Our fangs! Our beautiful fangs! You’ve surely bent them! How could any man possibly have arms as impenetrable as stone?!”Bookmark here

The vampire collects herself, her eyes brimming with tears. She staggers upright, then angrily jabs her finger at my manager.Bookmark here

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“Tsk! ...I see. So, the most decadent meals come with an equivalent cost. We suppose the risk must justify the reward...”Bookmark here

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“I don’t know that I have any soft spots, though. Even my ears are rather...sturdy.”Bookmark here

Wait, not a single one? Okay, that’s a little outrageous.Bookmark here

Still, there’s something kind of funny about how my manager’s bending over backwards to apologize to someone who tried to turn him into a meal. Bookmark here

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“You know, I have heard of vampires who drink tomato juice...”Bookmark here

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“...What manner of beverage is that?”Bookmark here

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We all head back inside the convenience store, where my manager buys a bottle of tomato juice for the vampire. She promptly drains the entire thing in a couple of quick gulps.Bookmark here

“Ah... What a delightful drink this is. Why, it’s even reminiscent of fresh blood. And so nourishing, too. This ought to see us through several days.”Bookmark here

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The vampire sits at a table in the seating area, happily slurping up the last drops.Bookmark here

“...So, vampires DO like tomato juice.”Bookmark here

My manager’s relief is short lived, though.Bookmark here

“If you assume that we have lost all interest in sucking your blood, you would be horribly mistaken. Mark our words — one day, when you least suspect it, we will take our due.”Bookmark here

“Miss, I would much rather you didn’t. Drinking my blood couldn’t possibly be good for your health. ...Why don’t I treat you to more tomato juice, instead?”Bookmark here

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I watch this conversation play out from behind the register, with the kuchisake-onna leaning up against the counter.Bookmark here

“Oh, right. So... Ayame? Earlier you said that we were, uh, a couple...?”Bookmark here

“I did. But you knew that already, didn’t you?”Bookmark here

She says this like it couldn’t be any more obvious.Bookmark here

“Uh... How long have we been, well, involved?”Bookmark here

“Since you first told me that you thought I was pretty, of course. Didn’t you ramble on about the things you liked about me? Was that not a confession? I told you that I was taken by you, too. And you didn’t dispute my offer to visit you again.”Bookmark here

Oooh...right. That. But...since when has telling a girl that you thought she was pretty been the same as asking her out? ...Maybe my manager knows. I’ll ask him.  Bookmark here

“Well, I...”Bookmark here

“I’ve been watching over you ever since then, Haru. From outside the store, that is. I was too shy to come in and speak with you, though. Being able to have a conversation with you like this is...nice.”Bookmark here

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Ayame smiles so brightly, I can see it through her mask.Bookmark here

I feel my heart unconsciously skip a beat, and I have to bite back the urge to call her pretty again.Bookmark here

“I’ll see you again, Haru. If you ever find yourself in trouble, just call. I’ll come rushing to your side, without fail.”Bookmark here

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She suddenly leans in, her face only inches away from mine.Bookmark here

“Uh, sure. Gotcha.”Bookmark here

I’ve gotten just as bad as my manager — I can’t seem to look her in the eye.Bookmark here

“One more thing. Don’t act so friendly around other women. You’re such a charmer, they’re bound to get the wrong idea. ...If you cheat on me, I won’t ever forgive you.”Bookmark here

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Ayame’s tone drops to a deep, dark rumble and I know that the first time I double-cross her will most certainly be the last.Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah, okay. Thanks, though. For saving me today. You really helped me out back there, Ayame.”Bookmark here

I mean it, too. I flash the kuchisake-onna a smile, and her face flushes crimson.Bookmark here

“...Oh! Um, I... That’s...only natural, isn’t it? To want to save your significant other from harm. (Oh, Haru... You’re so sweet...)”Bookmark here

Ayame mumbles something under her breath that I can’t quite catch. I wonder what that was about?Bookmark here

“So, um! I’m off! Haru, I’ll...see you a-around?”Bookmark here

She gives me a shy wave on her way out through the automatic doors, making the whole situation feel more like a couple parting after their first date.Bookmark here

“...Man, she’s adorable.”Bookmark here

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The words slip out of my mouth before I can stop myself, and I bury my face in my hands.Bookmark here

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