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Ex-Wives of Dracula


Many thanks to Carl Hoffman for permission to use extracts from his book, Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II.


“Over there, what about her?” Regan asked with the proxy desperation of the married friend.

Wendy glanced over, feeling like she needed binoculars to see through the strobing lights and the mist that was rolling around like the Hound of the Baskervilles was about. Yeah, she was cute. Black, with a modest afro, about Wendy’s age, maybe a little older, pushing thirty. Dressed not too shabby, but not trying too hard either.

“Okay,” Wendy said. “I’m going to try to psychically implant in her mind a desire to come over here and make the first move, while she tries to do the same to me. Brace yourself. Psychic combat on this level can be a hard thing to watch.”

“Or you could just go over and talk to her.”

“No, no, this is the lesbian way. Loser has to speak first. It’s a time-honored tradition.”

Regan sighed and sipped her drink empty. “Well, you have me as a wingman. How does one lesbian wingman? Do I just go over there and loudly mention how hot and single you are?”

“You’re my sister, so no, that would be creepy.”

Not that either of them needed a reminder. Five years older, and infinitely more mature, Regan looked like the finished model of what some sculptor was trying to do with Wendy. She was several inches taller, with long, limber legs and yoga-tightened arms, and the fashion sense of a swan turned into a human. Her face was narrow and elegant, (whereas Wendy’s was round and ‘cute’), with a pert nose, high cheekbones, long dark hair that obeyed her will out of loyalty to the crown. A face made for rouge and eyeliner and smiling. Her eyes were a piercing shade of blue not found in nature, while Wendy’s were an unremarkable brown. Wendy didn’t consider herself unattractive unless she was on her period; Regan just looked like some ethereal elf queen or something. It made Wendy want to start an Instagram account: My sister wearing white and quotes from Tolkien.

Wendy looked at herself in one of the many mirrored surfaces that composed the bar. She liked the way she looked, she did: sweet and natural, and she fashioned herself a little mischievous, even with eyebrows that she couldn’t quite bring herself to love (after all, they might’ve been proof her mom fooled around with Peter Gallagher behind Dad’s back). But one day of looking like Regan, and she would have no problem finding someone. And she could wear a corset, just because.

Regan jostled her again. “You’re feeling sorry for yourself again, I don’t know why. You have a great job, you’re young, you’re pretty—who cares if you have a girlfriend?”

“That’s good, let me down easy.”

“Oh, you’re a pill.”

“A pill with a great job.” Wendy toasted it. “Great job.”

Wendy Cedar worked for Savin Aerospace, a small but lucrative company that built helicopters for military and civilian use. Her job was in Safety & Risk Management. She worked as an intern directly under her manager, Donnie Parsons, whose job (and thus Wendy’s job) was to collate the various findings of safety experts within the department and submit a recommendation on the technical risk margin (TRM) up the ladder.

“It pays well,” Wendy reasoned.

“Not when you’re an intern.”

“So I used the wrong tense. It will pay well. It’s important work.”

Wendy grumbled the way she did when the person she was arguing with was right. Successfully distinguishing between a design flaw and random chance within the testing apparatus could mean millions of dollars, not to mention lives. So she tabulated and calculated, took one memo and ground it down to its essential points and wrote it out again in the proper formula and passed it on to another department. Six years for a Master of Science in Engineering and she double-checked figures. It was frustrating.

“Fine. I won’t be frustrated with my boring, monotonous, grindstone job—”

“That everyone does as an intern,” Regan finished with her, singsong in the way all sisters were when they got a chance to torture their siblings. “What did you think, that they were going to let you build a Heli-Carrier fresh out of college? Or—” Regan gestured around in the impressed-with-herself way all mothers had when they stumbled on a teachable moment “—that the perfect woman is just going to fall into your lap while you sit at home wondering which crappy horror movie Netflix should shoot into your eyes next?”

“I know that was meant to be discouraging, but all I can picture is some kind of Die Hard situation where terrorists have taken over my building and some lady cop is crawling around the air vents in a tank top.”

“Terrorists haven’t already taken over your building? How do you explain the rent?”

“You’re the one who took me out. I could be getting my money’s worth right now, working on my bike or something.”

“I don’t think ‘money’s worth’ and ‘your bike’ belong in the same sentence.” Regan took another sip, then slapped her empty glass down on the bar. “If you didn’t want to go to a gay bar, then why’d you let me take you out? We could’ve gone to a cheese-making class.”

“Do they let you eat the cheese?”


“You’re right, we should’ve gone for that.” Wendy tried to signal the bartender, who was gazing soulfully into a soft butch’s eyes, getting ready to give her a free drink. Christ, if Wendy worked here, she’d be doing better. “You wanted me to meet someone. Your idea.

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