by Judith Freudenthal
Halloween was right around the corner, as was the yearly masquerade ball.
Natalie had convinced Nick that it would be fun. Schanke pestered Nick and
Natalie about their costumes the entire week. They had both refused to tell
him, stating that it was a secret and that he would find out soon enough.
The night of the ball had arrived. Nick and Natalie were at his loft
preparing for the ball. He helped her into her rather elaborate costume.
"Nat, this is a little twisted," Nick said with a mischievous grin.
"I know. Can you think of a more perfect costume for me?" Natalie responded
"We could've had matching costumes."
"I know. Somehow I didn't think it would work quite as well that way. Are
all my organs in the right place? Do you think it needs more blood?" She
looked like someone had ripped her open.
"No. I think it looks just fine," Nick said. He added a bit of teasing to
his voice and continued, "you make a lovely corpse."
"Why thank you," Natalie responded teasingly.
Nick heard the elevator start. They looked at each other fighting to repress
the grins threatening to break out.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Nick asked.
"Yes. He deserves it."
Natalie was laying on the floor surrounded by fake blood with Nick poised
over her in a rather incriminating position, his back to the elevator.
Nick heard the elevator door slide open and turned around eyes glowing and
fangs bared. He snarled one of his more vicious snarls as he faced Schanke.
All the color drained out of Schanke's face. He then saw Natalie and
could've sworn she was dead. Natalie had her eyes open for effect and
couldn't believe the shock on Schanke's face.
"Nick, what happened?" Schanke asked totally stunned. He wasn't totally sure
what to make of the situation.
Natalie suddenly sat up startling Schanke even further.
"Trick or Treat," both Nick and Nat said breaking into a giggle.
"You two nearly scared me to death," Schanke said, very relieved and a bit
"Sorry, but it serves you right, Schanke."
"Next time, remind me not to bug you," Schanke said as he walked over to Nick
to examine his makeup more closely.
Nick smiled letting Schanke get a good look.
"I have a friend who's into special effects. All we had to do was explain
what we wanted and he was more than happy to help."
Schanke wandered over to Natalie and took a closer look. He was almost afraid
to touch it. It looked extremely realistic right down to the texture.
"Natalie, did he frighten you?"
"Yes," she said with a grin. "Though only the first time."
Nick got the hidden message and had to fight back his grin.
"Natalie, you look terrific. A bit twisted, but I like it. Very realistic,"
Schanke said. "Nick, how do you make your eyes glow like that?"
"The contacts are coated with the same material as glow-in-the-dark road
signs," Nick said with a slight speech impairment due to the fangs.
"Can you see through those?"
"Well enough so I won't bump into everything around me."
Natalie couldn't repress her giggling because she now knew why he rarely
talked when vamped out. Nick was not amused but grinned when he realized how
humrous he did sound.
"Nick, it would be better if you could make your voice a bit deeper. Also
where did you get that growl from?" Schanke couldn't resist putting hin his
"Like this?" Nick said in his deep rough vampire voice. "I modeled it after a
lion. It took a while to get it perfect."
"Perfect," Schanke said.
Natalie tried hard to keep from laughing.