The sky was just starting to lighten when Steve pounded on his best friend’s door. Not hearing any movement, he pounded again and again until he could hear Mark‘s muffled curses coming from within.

A few second later the door swung open and Steve pushed past his friend to get inside. “Man, I was set up. They took her. I can’t believe I was so stupid and they just snuck in and took her. Right from beneath my nose dude.” He paced back and forth in the small kitchen, hands bawled into tight fists.

“Slow down man. Obviously your pissed about something, but you gotta give me more than just rambling. Start from the beginning.” Mark walked Steve to the kitchen table and sat him down. “Now, just tell me what happened.”

Steve took a deep breath trying to control his anger. “I went on this hunt, well a rising really. Some chick was murdered and the details screamed vamp. So I went to the morgue. I was just gonna stake her when she rose, ya know? Easy gig, right?” he nodded towards Mark for agreement. “So I bribed the attendant, gave him $50 bucks to let me stay the night. God I was stupid! I should’ve seen right through him. But I was lazy!” He banged his fist on the table rattling the salt and pepper shakers.

“Ok man, just keep going. Then what happened?” Mark asked.

“So I wait all freaking night. Then finally this chick rises. Man, she was hot. And she knew it too. She tried to seduce me at first, but I just let her talk ya know? Same old song and dance. These vamps they always try the same shit.”

“Did you stake her?”

“Yeah I got her. But I got curious I wanted to know what her name was so I looked at the charts. Every single one said Gretchen Walker and listed our address. So I took off running for home.” Steve stood again and starting pacing.

“So what happened? What did you find?”

Steve ran both hands through his hair and faced his friend. “They took her, that’s what I found. They took her!”

“Gretchen? They took Gretchen?” Mark jumped to his feet, his chair sliding backwards with the force.

“Well, yeah, they took Gretchen. But they took HER too.”

“Uh, her who?”

“Betty. They took Betty.” Steve sat down again. He held his head in both hands for a moment, then looked at his friend from between his arms.

Mark grabbed his seat and pulled it back to the table. He turned it backwards and sat with his arms across the rails. “Okay, let me see if I can get this straight. You had both Gretchen and Betty at your place while you were hunting.”

Steve nodded.

“The vamps set you up for a distraction while they went to your place and snatched them. And you are very upset that they took this Betty.”

“Well of course I am. She’s been in my life since I was a kid. I mean, I left her protected. No one knew where she was, not even Gretchen.” Steve got up and walked to the counter across from the table.

“Gretchen didn’t know Betty was at the apartment? How the hell did you manage that?”

Steve turned to look at Mark. “Because I had her hidden. And I never took her out when Gretchen was around.”

By the look on Mark’s face, Steve could tell his best friend was still confused. Sighing heavily, he sat back down in the kitchen chair, looking dejected.

“Steve, who exactly is Betty?”

Steve looked at Mark for a long moment. “You know who Betty is. I used to take her everywhere when we were kids, remember?”

Mark shook his head showing he still wasn’t following Steve’s point.

“Dude,  my grandma gave her to me? You know, right before she staked my mom?”

“Oh shit, that’s right. I remember, the bear. Your grandma told you to always keep it close, to remind you of your family. Yeah, she was all decked out in some little leather outfit. You still have that thing?”

“Yes I still have her and she’s not a thing. Betty has been with me through everything. When my mom got staked and when my dad got beheaded. She was there when my grandma got slain. She went to training with me, too. That bear is my family, man.”

Mark reached out and patted his friend’s shoulder. Steve looked back over at him, “I’m gonna get her back. No matter what.”

“You mean them. You’re gonna get them back. And I’m gonna help you.”

Steve stood and walked into the adjoining den. He opened the armoire and studied the weapons inside. Picking out the biggest spear gun, he turned and faced his friend. “Whatever dude. You can go get Gretchen. But I’m bringing Betty home.”

To be continued…

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