Out of the Frying Pan
This publication is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
Copyright © 2011 by Tasha D-Drake
Cover art by Natasha Duncan-Drake
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favourite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Thank you to Soph and Rob for their help with this title and thanks to the commissioner. I had a lot of fun playing with a vampire and a chef, I hope you enjoyed reading it as well.
Commissioned by Ann Dolan
On 15th September 2012
Out of the Frying Pan
Waking up was, in Dan's opinion, thoroughly unpleasant. His head hurt, he ached, he was cold and when he actually tried to open his eyes it was as if a solar flare went off in his brain. What made it worse was when he finally did manage to blink back his eyelids and see something other than a bright blob, he realised he was looking at the battery powered emergency lighting in the cold store in the kitchen.
That was when he remembered what had happened and he groaned.
"Daniel," said a voice with a melodic Scottish accent, "how are you feeling?"
He groaned again; some deity or other had to really hate him. He had had Mr Peter Cathal, or rather 'call me Cathal, everyone does', in his restaurant eating his food; possibly the most famous food critic in the country who was actually known for his fairness rather than being a high handed jerk. It had been his dream come true, but nothing in his life was ever that simple.
Cathal appeared in his line of vision and he blinked at the handsome face looking down at him. Cathal was blond with a touch of ginger in the neatly trimmed goatee the man had, and Cathal had the most beautiful blue eyes. God it was a shame the man was straight; he'd tap that any day. When he almost said the last bit out loud he realised his brain was functioning somewhat on freefall.
"My head hurts," he mumbled, mostly to stop himself saying something utterly mortifying.
"Not surprising," Cathal said, helping him to sit up; "you've been out for several minutes and you took quite a knock in the explosion. We were lucky you were showing me the cold store."
Dan rubbed his face and tried not to panic. Now he remembered all the details and his heart beat fast as he recalled what had to have been a gas explosion. It had been the most frightening moment of his entire life. At least he knew that there had been no one else in the building, because he'd offered to prepare his signature dessert after main service while Cathal watched, so he could prove just what a good chef he was. He'd had the perfect magical twist all planned out in his head, but then he'd decided to show Cathal around first.
"Is this going to affect the review?" he asked, trying to distract himself with a little badly timed humour.
Cathal laughed, so he counted that as a win.
It was then he noticed that he was half covered in Cathal's jacket.
"Oh, sorry," he said, "here," and went to give it back.
"Keep it," the other man said and refused to take it.
"But it's cold in here," Dan pointed out.
"I'm from the north of Scotland," Cathal replied with a grin, "it's positively balmy in here, besides, the power is off so it's starting to warm up and you have a concussion; we have to keep you as warm as possible."
Dan wanted to object, but Cathal sounded so reasonable and authoritative that he wasn't sure how.
"Um, thanks," was the best he could manage.
Then he looked at the entrance to the room and almost panicked again. There was no sign of the thick metal door; the opening was completely blocked by rubble.
"We're trapped," he said as the reality sank in.
"'Fraid so," Cathal replied, "but don't worry, the powers that be know we're here and they're working on getting us out."
Just accepting that was Dan's first instinct, something about Cathal's voice and the concussion he suspected, but of course one question was obvious: "How do you know that?"
Cathal picked up something that was sitting on the floor and handed it to him. Dan was instantly impressed.
"Oh my god, is this a Mag T90?"
Okay so he was a little bit of a gadget geek and he was holding the best phone on the market.
"Is it true that with the magical booster you can get a signal anywhere on the planet?"
"Well I only worry about getting a signal in the Highlands," Cathal replied with a smile, "but it's working through most of your upstairs being downstairs, so I think their claims might be valid."
"So how long are we stuck here?" he asked, handing back the phone reverently and watching as the other man put it down to the side.
"It's going to be hours," Cathal replied; "they have to stabilise what's left of the building before they can dig us out. They said to call if either of us needs urgent attention, but to leave the line open for them to call us otherwise."
Nodding, Dan did his best to calm himself down. He wasn't usually claustrophobic, but the fact that there was a building in bits on top of and around them was enough to make him anxious. As if the gods were laughing at him and listening in on his thoughts, to make it worse, the emergency light flickered and then went out and Daniel was enclosed in blackness. He couldn't see anything at all, but he heard Cathal moving. He hoped the other man was reaching for his phone, because he really didn't like the pitch darkness. When the light flicked back on again he couldn't have been more grateful, until, that was, he saw Cathal framed by the flickering illumination.
Dan felt as if his whole world lurched sideways as the lights came back up and he saw Cathal looming above him. His mind flashed back to the explosion and it was almost as if he was back there in body as well as memory. He felt the impact as he hit the wall, remembered the blackness that had engulfed him, but his mind did not then immediately flick to waking up in the cold store. What he saw as he opened his eyes in the memory was Cathal moving far too fast for a human being, scooping him up in arms far too strong and carrying him into the cold store just as the roof began to fall in.
He had suspected then what Cathal was, but he hadn't seen until Cathal had put him down and pulled back. The distorted features, the blood red eyes with tiny glowing pinprick cores and the fangs were all there.
As Dan switched back to the present he panicked and tried to back away, falling off his perch of bags of dry goods and onto the cold hard floor.
"Vampire," he said as if it was a curse.
Cathal did not try to reach for him, but did not move away again either.
"I had hoped the memory block would hold," Cathal said in what was an annoyingly calm tone, "but yes, now you know my secret."
"Stay away from me," Dan said, backing further towards the other side of the room.
"I mean you no harm."
"You just admitted messing with my memory."
A flicker of hurt crossed Cathal's face, but the vampire did back off slightly.
"I also saved your life," Cathal said, "twice."
"Once, I remember once," he said, unwilling to give the vampire more than his due.
"Then your concussion is to blame for the second blank," Cathal told him. "You had a very serious head wound; I believe it would have killed you."
Dan put his hand to his head, feeling the matted drying blood there.
"What did you do?" he demanded.
"I used my blood to heal the injury," Cathal said, clearly reluctant to reveal the truth, "but, please, do not worry, it should have no lasting effects. You would have died and I saw no other option."
Whether he should feel grateful or not, Dan felt horrified. He pushed himself off the floor and backed right into the rack behind him to get as far away from the vampire as possible.
"Daniel," Cathal said in what Dan assumed was supposed to be a settling tone, "you have nothing to be afraid of."
"Tell that to my cousin," he spat back, "she nearly died because of one of you and now she's in a loony bin."
Dan was almost taken in by the stricken look that crossed Cathal's face at his outburst; but there was no way he was ever trusting a vampire.
"I am sorry," Cathal said, stepping further away, "but I promise I mean you no harm. Please, I will stay over here, but you should not remain sitting on the floor."
It was cold on the floor, but Dan didn't want to get any closer to a vampire than he had to.
"You will freeze," Cathal pointed out and then moved to the furthest point from Dan's stack of food bags, "please."
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Tasha was born and raised in rural Kent, England where she still lives with her husband Rob, just down the road from her twin sister and sometimes writing partner Sophie. Tasha has been writing since she was a pre-teen and chose to take it up as a full time career when her company downsized and made the whole software engineering department redundant. After setting up Wittegen Press with her sister as a brand for their books she has not looked back, publishing novels, novellas and short stories in a wide range of genres.
Before taking up writing professionally she was very active in the world of fanfiction and still believes it is a wonderful creative outlet, even though she doesn't have very much time to play anymore. She likes to maintain a lively presence online and welcomes new friends, readers and writers alike.
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