Blood Tint, Part 2
The gallery entrance opened into a spacious single room display area, with partition walls that didn’t go all the way to the ceiling carving out the space. The artist on exhibit was a crossbreed pop-art painter/sculptor; this his first big show – or else he’d just found a patron, because there were hors d’oeuvres and wine circulating, even for people just off the street.
A fortuitous pass of a server allowed me to snag a pair of glasses for us – an inexpensive local red – at the door and turn to hand one to Daci when it became my turn to stop in my tracks.
A painting – a portrait, clearly not from the show’s main attraction, held a semi-prominent place just to the side of the entrance, under a sign reading “Next Opening, April 14”. The painting itself was gorgeous; the subject, a man of indeterminate age, painted in bold, dirty strokes in a palette of greys, blacks and rusty reds. That color-
“Yes, this is it, Alak.”
I knew she was right. I had at last caught the scent at the doorway myself, but it was much stronger here. The reddish tints in the portrait – they were, at least in part, dried blood. Even dessicated and dead, like a pressed flower, the lingering smell spoke of something surpassing. This close, the inescapable scent brought with it an unbidden, early hunger. My fangs wanted to descend of their own accord, as if I could drink the painting itself.
I caught Daci laughing quietly to herself.
“You know, the face looks a little like you.”
“I bet you say that to all the boys,” I snorted, but, looking again, I allowed how she wasn’t entirely wrong.
“Do you think it’s the artist’s blood?” I asked.
“Good question. Artists are an odd lot.”
My mouth twitched at the old joke, and I decided not to mention any of our many creative flirtations.
“Perhaps we should find the artist and ask.”
“Oh, I’d bet she’s here.”
“She?” Daci’s sense of smell is so good that-
“She,” She said, pointing at the sign under the painting. “Neave Flynn”.
“Huh.” I’m supposed to be the one with the better eyesight, dammit. I blamed it on the painting’s distracting composition, and began scanning the gallery crowd as Daci sniffed the air.
“The living source is somewhere close – artist or not. The painting is stale by comparison. I’m sure I can sniff them out. Even in this crowd the sweetness should be like a beacon… Alak?”
“What have you found?”
Maybe it was the instigation of the painting, but my senses were all coming alive now, and my eyes had picked this one out like rose among lilies. I moved to stand behind Daciana, nosing the blonde lock of hair behind her ear and pointing with a hand resting on her shoulder.
“Do you see her, Daci?” She turned away from the painting cocked her head to one side, scanned the milling arts crowd for a moment, then paused.
“Ah, Yes,” she purred, “You do have an eye, Alak. She looks divine.”
She settled her frame back against me as we both watched the crimson-clad woman navigate the room. Dark brown hair swept across her shoulders as she turned to converse animatedly with a man in a blazer and turtleneck, her full bosoms nearly spilling from her frock, but not quite. Everything about her was animated and alive. And the way she canted her round hips, and placed her hand on the man’s while she laughed at his words-
“She hunting,” Daci said.
“Seems so. And she’s good at it.”
“In her own way.”
“Do you think she would want to catch me?”
Daci chuckled again.
“So you’re going to play and leave me to hunt for our artist?”
“You are the lioness, Daci.”
“And you are what, a gazelle?”
“Sometimes. When I choose to be.”
Daci snorted. Very unladylike
“Yes. I think she will be happy to hunt you. She may not like what she catches, though.“
“Oh, you know she will. One way or the other.”
I left a little lick behind Daci’s ear, and stepped away, winding through the crowd.