I had envisioned that I would make his acquaintance, ask him some questions, take my time. I’d learn all about vampires and make a solid decision, gradually befriending him and maybe, one day, asking him to turn me. I would be calm, rational, patient.
Like most of my plans, it went totally bum up.
“I know what you are,” she whispered to me, again. She was trembling, her fear finally bubbling to the surface. I tried to ignore that, lest she tip me completely over the edge her mother had already pushed me towards. I tried to focus on her words.
What you are.
What was I this time? Beast? Idiot? Weirdo?
I was fed up with her, fed up with everything. “You do, huh?”
He laughed at me in a mocking fashion and said, “Then perhaps you should know better.”
“Do enlighten me,” I said. “I read that the whole Vatore family was beheaded some three hundred years ago for being vampires. And it’s not a common name, Vatore…”
No it bloody isn’t. That threw me. “How can you know that?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I read about it.”
Now I was intrigued. She’d read about me? Had she somehow planned this meeting? “Where did you read it?”
We had never found any mention of ourselves; we assumed our story was lost to time. After cycling through various guises over the years, I had protested when Lilith had suggested using the Vatore name again. She wanted to completely disgrace the name with her reformed ways, she’d said. It’ll be fine, she’d said.
I couldn’t wait to tell her she was finally wrong about something. But that would mean I’d have to tell her I’d come here. Never mind.
“A book!” I said. “Encyclopaedia Vampirica?” He looked at me blankly. “Now here you are, named ‘Vatore’ with ice cold skin and no reflection.”
I took another step towards him but he had nowhere left to go. Being this close to him was like standing in front of the fridge with the door open, except it didn’t make me hungry.
“How did you manage to escape? Are there any others?”
For all she seemed to know about vampires, she was behaving incredibly recklessly getting this close. I had become fairly numb to my vampiric desire, my lust for blood. Heck, I’d lain with enough women and only slain a few of them. I’d hardly even taken a drink from the later ones, barely enjoyed their orifices. I had become pretty numb to everything.
At least I thought I had. Even though I wasn’t touching her, I could feel the flutter of her heart as if it were my own. It was deafening me; I couldn’t think, couldn’t speak.
Had she asked me something?
He couldn’t even answer me! He must be hurting so much, the poor guy. “Have you been alone all this time? Oh my gosh, that’s so sad! That’s such a long time to be alone. I understand what that’s like. Loneliness. I’m alone, too.”
“You understand?” I couldn’t understand my own thoughts let alone try and understand hers. The words tumbling from her lips sounded like nonsense. All I could hear was the incessant pulsing; my senses becoming completely overwhelmed with her. Was it because she was so beautiful? So young? So close?…
“We’re not lonely anymore, Caleb. We have each other, now.”
…So stupid? I could smell her blood. Divine. It was destroying centuries of carefully crafted control. I tried to laugh but it sounded like a choke. “You really don’t want to be with me, Miss Moss.”
“Call me April. Why not? Is it because you’re a vampire? I don’t mind that. I might want to be one, perhaps, one day. Then we can run away, start again.” I smiled, thinking of my friends.
Definitely stupid. Oh, the sweet voice of someone who didn’t have a clue. I had to get away from her. She was deluded. I shouldn’t have come here.
My voice was surprisingly calm, “Miss Moss, April, it’s been… interesting. Now please, let me past.”
I couldn’t move her, couldn’t touch her now. I was creeping past the point of rational thought. I could practically taste her, I couldn’t stop staring at her. I wasn’t sure I’d ever let her go.
“Why are you leaving?” she asked. I recognised that expression. Sadness. It didn’t suit her and yet I felt it was an expression she wore a lot. “I only want to talk to you, Caleb. I want to know everything about you, about who you are. Why do you want to leave?”
“You want to know who I am?”
“Of course! I’ve never met a vampire before and you seem so nice. Please stay with me.”
He was looking at me so intensely. He didn’t look ancient at all; he looked very young, maybe a couple of years older than me. The way he was looking at me. Did I dare to believe it? Did he… oh my gosh. Did he want me? “Are you leaving because you don’t want me? Or because, maybe, you do?”
Oh goodness, I’d said it now. Stupid thing to say April. Stupid girl. Of course he doesn’t want you; who would ever want you?
He motioned me back. “Move.”
So he didn’t want me. No surprise. Still, that was rather impolite of him. I folded my arms.
“And if I don’t move, what exactly will you do?”
Violate you. Drain you. Pick an order.
I could hear Lilith, shouting in my head. Control yourself.
“Might you try to drink from me?” she asked.
Was there any point even pretending now? She knew what I was and she was looking right at my fangs.
“I might,” I admitted, feeling like I’d been steamrolled. Damn, I hated myself.
“OK.” She made no effort to move. “OK.”
We stood in silence for a while. I could have pushed past her, disappeared in a blur; I could have knocked her out if I’d really wanted to.
I could have. I probably should have. I wanted to look at her a while longer.
“OK Caleb. I’ll let you drink,” I said. “But when you’re done, you have to stay with me.”
This was insane. Drinking from her and spending the night? It was exactly what I wanted and therefore exactly the opposite of what I should do. “No, I can’t do that.”
His teeth looked so sharp. I tried to be brave. If nothing else, I needed to be a good host, right?
“You can. You didn’t touch your dinner, you must still be hungry, right? It’s OK. I really don’t mind but… gently, if you can.”
Holy hell. This was a genuine offer. She was actually willing to do this. My mind was in absolute turmoil. Lilith’s voice echoed amongst my own thoughts.
It’s not worth it.
“Do we have a deal, Caleb?” She reached for my hands and I found myself unable to stop her. She was shaking. Afraid. It sickened me how much I liked that.
I rested his hands at my waist, shivered. I told myself it was his cold touch and I tilted my head back. “If you drink from me, you stay with me, OK?”
It would be absolutely fine, I reassured myself. It would probably hurt, I might feel a bit woozy.
His hand moved swiftly from my waist to rest on the back of my head. His fingers laced into my hair, ice cold against my scalp. He was resisting. Perhaps now that he was this close he realised that I wouldn’t be very appetising.
Now I was this close I could tell she’d be delicious. I hesitated, her silky tresses tangled around my fingers. This was going against everything I’d worked for. It felt natural so therefore I definitely should not do it.
“I can’t do this,” I said to myself.
“You can,” she cooed, pressing her head into my palm, laying her throat bare, her pulse racing. “Don’t fight it. It’s OK.”
I wanted to protest. But as I opened my mouth I completely lost my mind.
Oh! That stings! I gasped and instinctively tried to pull away. He held me closer, tighter. The world was upside-down.
She tasted even better than I had imagined she would. I hadn’t had a fresh drink for so many years and I hadn’t been this close to a woman for just as long. My thirst was not the only long suppressed urge triggered by the softness and the curves of April.
He was touching me! That wasn’t part of the deal, but maybe that was part of the drinking? It was certainly making my heart race. It felt like he was taking a lot but I didn’t really know. How much blood did I have? How much could vampires drink?
After initially feeding greedily, I was now letting her drain slowly, savouring, wanting to keep her at this point as long as I could. I knew that I was playing with fire now, but the sound of her rapid breathing was driving me wild.
Oh goodness, I couldn’t see straight. I needed him to stop; surely I had kept up my part of the deal now? It was poor form for me to take back the offer of dinner, though. Wasn’t it? He must know what he’s doing, right? He must know when to stop. He wouldn’t kill me… would he? My heart was almost vibrating, the room was a blur. I watched the piano warp before me, felt his hand under my skirt.
Um, excuse me?
“Caleb! Stop! Unhand me!”
Her shout triggered Lilith’s voice somewhere in the fog. Control yourself!
I could do that. I could. I had to.
As I pulled back from her, she fainted. I caught her, gently laying her down on the elaborate marble floor.
“April, are you alright?”
Am I alright? I thought I was lying still but my head felt like it was rolling in circles. I could still see the piano etched into my eyelids. I couldn’t feel my feet or hands. My heart was pounding in my head.
I hadn’t taken that much. Had I?
I scanned over her. She was a slip of a girl, a wisp. I could see the shape of her ribs through her sweater, the clear definition of her collar bones. Her breath was shallow, her skin pale, her heart beat rapid. Maybe I had taken too much.
“April?” I was suddenly, acutely aware that Sandy was only two rooms away and could walk in at any moment.
“Will stay me… now?” Did that make any sense? I tried to get up but I failed.
“No. I’m leaving,” he said, firmly.
I wanted to be elegant and refined in my response, but made a weird whining noise instead. “Why?”
“Why do you think?! I could kill you.”
I tried to focus through the soup in my head. “Nah! You… shilly.” Were these even words? Goodness. How embarrassing. I’d only had one glass of wine at dinner. Whatever must he have thought of me?
I remember thinking that Mother would be so cross with me for embarrassing her. I remember noticing that a patch of the ceiling needed to be repainted. I remember thinking that Caleb could probably see my knickers and that at least I’d worn nice ones.
The rest was just a dream.
She was losing consciousness. I didn’t know what to do.
“Carrreb… Cal…ub.” She reached out towards me again. “Stay me.”
“I can’t stay now! What the heck’s wrong with you?”
“We… together…” she mumbled and fell silent. The sentence lost.
“We together?!” I was angrier than I meant to be. Angry at myself for doing this, for still being there. “Do you think that vampires and humans can just live together? That I won’t just drink you dry?”
Isn’t that what Lilith thought, back then? What she’d always hoped for?
“There’s a reason why I’m alone.”
“Naw! Got me,” she slurred, her words so quiet I could barely hear her; a jumble of soft syllables. “Come ‘ere,” she whispered in a tantalising fashion, like she was about to tell me a huge secret.
Against my better judgement, I leaned in towards her. I felt her hot breath on my cheek, could hear her pulse racing.
“Take me with you,” she murmured.
“You want me to take you with me?” Oh this was ridiculous.
Her eyelids fluttered.
Holy hell. She was gorgeous. I would take her away in a heartbeat. Live happily ever after.
If she wasn’t the best thing I’d ever tasted.
If she wasn’t helpless and warm.
If I had a modicum of restraint.
I stroked my thumb over her lips. The heat of her skin rushed through me as I brushed my fingertips against her soft cheek, down her smooth throat.
“April?” No response. Well, no response from her.
I caught myself as I was grazing my teeth against the neat holes I’d made in her skin, begging myself to leave her alone.
I really needed to get out of there, but I just couldn’t leave her.
I’d completely screwed everything up this time. Killed the daughter of the world’s most famous woman. In her own house. While pretending to be my sister. If I left her here they’d go after Dr. Vatore, it’d all be over for us both.
I should stay here and accept my fate.
Damn. Hell. Darn.
Should I go and fetch Sandy? Speed things up?
Hey, Sandy. I killed your only child. Sorry about that. Here’s a coupon for your facelift.
I brushed April’s hair back gently from her cool forehead. Wiped away the stain of a tear from her cheek and her thick layer of makeup with it.
I wiped the other cheek, revealing another bruise, an older one. This girl barely left this house, had clearly never lifted a finger in her life. Why on earth would she be covered in bruises?
I sat back on my heels, looking her over.
The way her arm didn’t quite lie right, like it had been previously broken. The half-moon shaped scars in the soft flesh of her forearms. The more I looked, the more I saw.
Holy hell. Someone was doing this to her. Had she been looking to me for a way out? Well, I’d certainly given her that. If only I’d known. I could have… I would have…
Take me with you.
It was possible. I knew it was possible. When Nathaniel had died, Lilith had considered turning him post-mortem. A kiss of death, she had called it. But ultimately, she had changed her mind. There was probably good reasoning in that. So that definitely meant I shouldn’t do it.
Definitely shouldn’t try to save this beautiful, vulnerable girl who knew I was a vampire and still wanted me for some reason.
What the heck. We were both screwed anyway.
I didn’t realise that I tasted so bad. I guess monster has its own kind of flavour. I could feel something stirring inside her as the black fluid trickled down her throat but I didn’t know if that was enough, if there was anything else I needed to do. Lilith had been careful not to give me details. She likely thought I’d go out slaying and turning random women on a whim if I knew how to do it.
As I struggled with the strangest feeling of déjà vu, I got a heady waft of Merlot long before I heard the click of high heels approach from behind me.
Time was up.