Chinatown, Los Angeles. Young men are disappearing from their beds, sometimes vanishing as they cross the street with friends. The few witnesses who actually report a strange, mystical creature soon suffer memory lapses and die. Yet, the young men all return, one by one. They seem the same, but they are different. Strange things are happening all over Chinatown, as if an odd mist enshrouds it. None of the men who disappeared can say what happened to them. Late at night, however, this legion of men, in love and lust with the one they call Banpaia, reach out for one another in the frenzy of their need. For Feng Li, a suicidal young man who feels he was saved by the legendary, centuries-old Japanese vampire, yearns for only him. For him, there can be only one to claim his body and his heart. .
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Banpaia Copyright © 2010 A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly ISBN: 978-1-55487-702-2 Cover art by Angela Waters All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. Published by eXtasy Books Look for us online at: www.eXtasybooks.com .
Chapter One eng took his time finishing his second cup of F coffee at the Korean café on Sixth Street before checking into work for the night shift at the dreary Cedar House hotel. It was late October and LA’s weather was still hot. Too damned hot with Halloween only a week away. Not only did the locals say it presaged an earthquake, but it also felt wrong. Very wrong, when the mysterious fog enveloped the whole downtown neighborhood each night. It was almost five PM. The sun had started to set. He’d been here two hours. Anything to avoid being home. The café was warm, but a slight breeze blew in as the front door opened and three guys walked in. The waitress came from the kitchen with a fresh tray of pastries for the counter display. Feng detected the smell of fresh go mo bang, the peanut butter-flavored bread he adored. No time. And…big inward sigh…he shouldn’t spend the money. 1 .
A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly Feng caught a glimpse of a certain gleaming dark head in the doorway, but the guy wasn’t looking at him. Ki was pointing at the sticky buns, laughing with his friends. Damn. He had to show up right now. Feng hated having to leave. He felt safe here. His evening desk clerk position at the Cedar was the worst job he’d ever had, but he needed it. His dad was still out of work and his mom was drinking heavily. He made sure his head was bent to his ever-present notebook as the three men walked from the front door into the café. He heard movement as they settled beside him at the next table. Feng stayed very quiet, pen in hand, doodling. “So, anyway…they say he just disappeared,” the first voice said. Feng tried to place it. He knew the three guys beside him on sight, but they never invited him to join them, even the nights they all sang karaoke in the upstairs Shelter Room in Little Tokyo. Only one of them ever acknowledged him and that was only after they sang. Sometimes they sang back to back, wowing the crowds. Ki was Japanese and Feng was certain that was the problem. Old country rivalries between the Japanese and Chinese had taken root here in California. The Koreans had it worse. The Japanese street gangs picked on the Koreans. But not this crowd. In this 2 .
Banpaia café, they all blended and got along…on the surface. Ki’s family lived way down in San Pedro, but Ki had recently moved up here to Little Tokyo. He wanted to be an actor and singer. Feng closed his eyes, squeezing his pen a little harder. Each little detail he gleaned about Ki was hard-earned and won, like little nuggets of gold after a long day panning for the stuff. He had such a fierce crush on Ki. He liked everything about him; the man’s smooth, milky-colored skin, his long, dark hair, his absolutely spectacular voice. “What do you mean disappeared?” another voice asked. “They were crossing the street. They stepped off a curb. Joby says he heard a car stop but didn’t look because they were crossing legally. By the time he got to the other side, Vince was gone.” There was a moment of hushed silence. “Nah…I don’t believe it.” This came from Ki. Feng recognized his cadence. He’d had a crush on the guy for six months now, so he was used to the ache, but today, it hurt. Today it hurt worse than ever because Feng’s mom had disappeared the night before and both he and his dad had been secretly relieved. Maybe the mysterious vampire would take her, too…only most people didn’t believe in the vampire. Feng did. He heard the whispers, felt the tremor of fear. He’d prayed once or twice for the 3 .
A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly vampire to claim him. He liked hot, young guys. Maybe Feng wasn’t hot enough. He cradled his cup between both hands. One more sip and he had to be on his way. “Joby says Vince’s family is frantic,” the first voice said again. “Vince disappeared in broad daylight!” Sixteen men had vanished so far. Most disappeared from their bedrooms, one from a crowded elevator and now…this Vince guy. “Nah, I don’t believe it,” Ki said again. “Somebody’s trying to spook everyone because it’s almost Halloween.” Feng had heard this plausible story before, but the vanishings started a few weeks ago. The first one was right here in Little Tokyo, or J-Town, as most people called it. The vampire had crossed the invisible demarcation zones between J-Town, Koreatown and Chinatown. Feng lived in Chinatown on Hill Street, above the seafood dim sum café that could never get better than a C rating from the Health Department and was frequently shut down for code violations. He’d slept many nights with his window open hoping for abduction. Hoping he took the mystery vampire’s fancy. Nah, Ki was right. Vampires weren’t real. His mother’s explanation of kinky sex abductions or maybe even secret organ harvesting made more sense, except…where were the bodies? “Look, he’s listening,” one of the voices said. 4 .
Banpaia Are they talking about me? This shocked Feng. He longed to turn and look at them, maybe say, boo!, but didn’t hurry his movements. Even as he felt the weight of the stares on his back and shoulders, he took his time. “Nah,” the second guy at the table said. Feng wished it had been Ki who’d said it. He left a buck under his coffee cup, shoving his journal into his backpack. He heard the conversation at the next table resume as soon as he started to walk away. He fully breathed again once he was out of the café. Feng could smell human urine now, but then they were almost at Skid Row here. Vagrants didn’t care where they peed. He stood outside, trying to imagine how it would feel if you crossed the road with your best friend thinking everything was okay, only to get to the other side and find he’d vanished into thin air. Freaky, man. Feng checked the time on his cell phone as he crossed the street. Three minutes to five. The Cedar House stood in a semi-decrepit pocket on the edge of J-Town, right at the crossroads of the downtown Toy District. He liked the many Korean cafes lining Sixth Street, just two blocks from the rundown hotel on Fourth. For a shabby looking, four-story building slapped up against Skid Row, it surprised him how many Chinese tourists came there each month. 5 .