The luscious redhead at the bar kept giving Barry the eye, her dark auburn lashes sweeping downward coquettishly when he tried to meet her gaze. Emboldened by several stiff drinks and the ribald encouragement of his friends, Barry rose from the table and tried to appear nonchalant as he approached her. She crossed one long alabaster leg over the other and swung her delicate foot in a leisurely, tantalizing fashion. His eyes fell to the sharp stiletto heel, black as night, shiny as oil. With great effort, he moved his gaze up to her face. Swallowing hard, he loosened his tie with one hand, cradled his drink in the other.
“Is this seat taken?” he asked, as he slid onto the stool without waiting for her answer. She leaned close to him and inhaled deeply.
“Mmm,” she murmured. “You smell very …healthy.”
Her voice shocked him. He had expected sultry melodic tones, but her words were harsh and guttural. Unlovely. His disappointment was not strong enough, however, to dampen his desire.
“Healthy?” Barry quizzed, puzzled by the description. “Yes, I guess I am.” He threw a look over his shoulder toward the table he’d left. Celebrating Halloween with his work buddies was a pretense, for they were on the scene for one purpose only: to pick up women this dark, magical night. It looked like Barry would be the first to score. His friends grinned at him like idiots, their vicarious enjoyment obvious. Tim waggled his bushy eyebrows. Rham gave him a thumbs-up, and then made an obscene gesture with his fingers. Eric tipped his drink in a silent toast to Barry’s luck.
Barry turned his attention back to the voluptuous woman beside him. He cleared his throat and tugged again at his tie. She pushed her long hair back, revealing an ear with a slight point at the top, but pale and beautiful nonetheless, and adorned with a glittering cluster of diamonds. “You appeal to me,” she said.
“Really? I’m flattered. What’s your name?” he asked.
“Does that matter?” Her laugh was garbled, strange-sounding. It didn’t match her divine, feminine face at all.
“No, I guess it doesn’t,” Barry replied.
She placed a gloved hand on his knee, and the movement caused the slit in her evening gown to ride up her thigh. Her touch was cold, even repulsive, but Barry hid his surprise. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t take his eyes off her leg, her smooth supple skin.
“What do you want my name to be?” she whispered hoarsely into his ear.
Barry almost pulled back; her breath was fetid, unexpectedly foul. He chuckled to cover his discomfiture and gave her an appraising look. “Avril,” he said. “Or Lola. Sybelle. You look like a Sybelle.”
She licked his neck and his skin involuntarily retracted. It felt like the slathering tongue of a beast. But she was so gorgeous, actually stunning. He pushed aside his revulsion.
“You have a gypsy heritage,” she said in her gravelly voice. “I can see it in your features. Perhaps you would like to call me Urdu.”
“Yes.” He spoke slowly, as if dazed. “Urdu. Urdu, you are an enchantress.” As her name rolled off his tongue, he felt mesmerized. He slipped his arm around her slender waist and was shocked at its thick flabby feel. Looking down, though, it appeared trim and taut. Shaking his head, Barry felt the dizziness that preceded inebriation. The alcohol must be skewing his perceptions. How could he think this goddess was anything other than beguiling? Urdu was a vixen, a temptress. She was exquisite.
“Come with me,” Urdu said, her auburn brows an arched invitation.
Barry nodded. He took her elbow to help her down from the bar stool and noted the distasteful feel of bloated sagging flesh. Startled, he looked down, but saw only a perfectly formed, dainty arm in his hand. His wooziness grew more pronounced as he escorted the feminine morsel out of the club to his car.
“I’ll drive.” She took the keys from his numb fingers and slid behind the wheel.
Barry stumbled around the car to the passenger side and got in. He sunk into the seat and fumbled with the seat belt. The vehicle began to move.
Feasting his eyes on Urdu, Barry noticed the lack of engine noise. He raised a finger to speak, but Urdu turned in her seat to face him. Without warning, her hands were all over his body. And still, the car kept moving.
Who is driving? Barry wondered foggily. Before he could process the thought, Urdu covered his mouth in a long wet kiss. Barry recoiled from the slimy feel of it, backed up against the door, and stared up and her ripe red lips, her pearly teeth. She smiled and licked her lips with a delectable pink tongue.
“I’m fertile,” she cackled as she plastered her body against Barry’s. She sought and found his mouth again. It was a sordid kiss; her breath was a blast of decay, more ghastly than before. And she tasted vile. Barry’s desire fled. He fought her advances, twisted his head from side to side, and weakly tried to push her away. Dizziness overcame him and he lost consciousness, his head rolling back against the headrest as the car slid silently down the darkened streets.
When Barry woke up, his clothes were in disarray, but his head had begun to clear. The car was stopped in a rundown deserted neighborhood. Drizzle covered the windshield, blurring the few streetlights overhead. Barry pressed trembling fingers to his forehead and looked around.
In the driver’s seat hunched an aged lumpish crone with thinning gray hair and grizzled chin. She slowly turned her head and met his stunned gaze. Black eyes burned within a nest of deep wrinkles. They were topped by bushy gray eyebrows, like fat hairy caterpillars.
“Feel better now?” Her thin lips spread in a toothless grin, and she cackled. Drool hung in wet strings from the corners of her wrinkled mouth.
“What?” Barry struggled to sit upright. His entire body ached and his skin felt aflame as if it had been doused in kerosene. Glancing down at his bare chest, he gasped. Deep red gouges rent his skin and dripped blood into his lap. “What happened to me? Where’s Urdu? What have you done to her?”
The hideous old woman gave a nasty laugh. “Urdu?”
“My date,” Barry shrieked. “Where is she?”
“I am Urdu. In my natural form.” The hag nodded sagely, and then reached a bony hand to Barry’s face. She pinched his cheek hard, then slapped it. “And you, my dear boy, are now the father of my unborn child. Conceived in black lust on this sacred night.”
Barry gagged. He reached blindly for the door handle and tugged. The door flew open and he fell naked onto the cold pavement. Climbing painfully to his feet, he braced himself on the open door. Shuddering, he bent down to confront the crazy old witch, order her from his car. But the seat was empty.