Being the parents of a rambunctious four-year-old left little time for each other, and using what little of that time to conceive a second and third child certainly didn't help. However, now that the twins were walking, the couple decided that they were long overdue to spend quality time together. So Jeremy called in the reservation, and Candace called a babysitting service, and both of them anticipated a night out.
At first Candace had thought that her internal reaction to the woman was jealousy. She was gorgeous! Olive skin and dark, thick hair that fell in curled waves around a figure that many models would kill for. Wide, expressive brown eyes gazed at the pair as Candace rattled off instructions, her gaze never leaving the pretty babysitter's face.
"We'll be at Chez Shayxez, the number is on the refrigerator along with emergency numbers and the numbers to my mother and father."
"Yes, Mrs. Johnson," the girl responded. Candace took in the girl's black capris and white top. She wore a snakeskin belt. Who wore a snakeskin belt anymore?
"Xavier and Fred are to be in bed by eight o'clock, but please feed them beforehand, or they won't sleep well."
"I assure you," said the girl with an air of confidence, "I will make sure they're put down properly."
Something twinged in Candace's chest, but she ignored it and went on. "Amanda will try to tell you that she is allowed to stay up an hour after the boys, but that isn't true."
The girl smiled and sighed. "I've heard all the tricks, Mrs. Johnson. Trust me, nothing will get by me."
Candace's brow furrowed, but she nodded and went out to the living room where Jeremy was waiting. Still tall and slender, his hair was only beginning to thin. Candace had always thought it made him look distinguished, but she didn't peer at it long; he didn't like the idea of going bald.
"It took you long enough," he said, a good-natured tone covering his ire. "We're going to be late if we don't go soon." Candace scowled and lowered her voice, straightening Jeremy's tie.
"Don't you think something is odd about that girl...?" Candace looked up worriedly at Jeremy, but was met with a cooling gaze.
"I know you're nervous, Candice, but we need this time together!" When he didn't see what he wanted in her face, he pulled away, hissing, angrily, "Next you'll be accusing me of ogling her!" Jeremy sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I left the tickets on the dresser," he mumbled, and walked off without a word.
Candace stared after him, her usual impulse to lash out drained from her by his accusation. Was she really being that crazed? A throat clearing behind her caused her to whirl, startled, and the babysitter smiled kindly.
"Mrs. Johnson, I wouldn't worry... I mean, if what I overheard was true... um... I'm not going to do anything with your husband."
Candace blushed and looked down, her hair hiding her face. But she felt the blood drain from her face when the girl spoke next.
"I'm here for your children."
The babysitter looked down at the little girl, situated in the bed between two cribs where her brothers slept. Amanda looked up, trembling, eyes filled with terror, but unwilling or unable to stop the woman's story.
In a soft lilting voice, the babysitter continued, savoring each word as if describing a prize meal, "The woman, in her grief and anger, hunted down the children of mortals, devouring them as she was forced to devour her own. She developed a taste for young flesh, and traveled across the lands, becoming twisted, deformed, but never, ever losing her peculiar taste."
Amanda shrunk back when the babysitter reached down to pat her head, but still didn't find her voice until the woman stood.
"Mommy and Daddy won't like that you told us scary stories!"
The Babysitter's head whipped around, long, curling hair obscuring her mouth and nose, but leaving her eyes glaring at the little girl. "But I like the fear. It seasons the meat so..."
Amanda sank back into her bed, whispering, plaintively, "But you're supposed to take care of us..."
"Don't worry, Amanda," the woman said, her hair falling away from her mouth to reveal a wide smile, "I'm going to take care of you."
As Amanda watched, the smile grew, tall and wide, impossibly so, the babysitter's teeth lengthening, narrowing to points, her grin widening, it seemed, beyond the confines of her face, lips peeling back like drying dough....
Amanda's breath caught on a scream as the creature's maw opened.
Candace had to agree, though she'd had niggling worries in the back of her mind the entire night. It had been wonderful to get away with her husband, however. She determined to tip the babysitter extra.
As if on cue, the woman opened the door and waved, walking toward them. Her bright red blouse seemed to cling to her, but she walked easily, smiling softly.
"I'm sorry to meet you outside. I've just taken care of the children; they're in their beds. I didn't want to disturb them while we spoke."
Candace actually smiled. The girl was thoughtful. She thrust her supposed terrors down into the deeper recesses of her mind and pulled out her wallet.
"How were they?" she asked as she handed over the woman's fee, along with a decent tip.
The woman smiled as she tucked the money into her belt. "They were delicious," she crooned, then chuckled. "I'm sorry to rush, but I have to be somewhere at 12:15 tonight." At the sounds of concern, she chuckled again. "I know, but my kind of work is never done. Good night, you two!"
"Wait," called Candace, and the woman stopped. "What's your name, in case we need you again?"
The sitter blinked, a slow smile spreading across her face. "Lamia!"
With that she sauntered away. Candace turned, to see Jeremy's face stuck in a look of thoughtful concern. Candace blinked at him. "What is it, Jeremy...?"
"Nothing, nothing," he said, leading his wife into the house. "It's just... I could have sworn her blouse was white..."