A low moan vibrates her mouth; if I look closely enough, I can see the tiny tremors racing up her throat and over her lips. I don’t know what she’s dreaming of, but it can’t be anything bad, not from the sound that just escaped.
Black silk slides down the line of her legs, revealing bare flesh, curved and pale from lack of sunlight. It’s been less than a year since she joined us in the night, took her place at my side…though, if I’m to be honest, I’m the one at her side. I’d follow her into sunlight itself; she alone holds my heart in her all-too-capable hands.
I hope she knows that, because I don’t have the words to explain it otherwise. Rarely do I want to voice my thoughts; I prefer to keep them here, within my mind, where I can peruse them at my own leisure. For her alone do I strain to find a turn of phrase, a grouping of words that will express what I can’t seem to, except within my eyes and my touch.
Rose petals slick with blood aren’t as soft as her skin against mine; their color pales when compared to her, as well, though the darkest shade about her is the dark blue of her eyes. The black centers, when she blinks awake at night, seem to bleed out into the circle of color until it is a blur between blue and black, neither overwhelming the other.
Now they are closed, hidden from my gaze beneath thin lines of skin. I wonder if I could tear them away to reveal that which I love most about her and my fingers twitch with the urge to take what I want, but I would never do such a thing to her.
I may strip away layers of her soul each time I take her into my arms, but her physical essence is safe.
Another moan, this one not so pleasant. She rolls into me, one arm nestling against my body until it lies across my chest, a cool weight I find pleasant indeed. I cannot keep my hands off of her, not while she sleeps, not while she is awake.
My hand settles against the curve of her ass without my consciously choosing to put it there. The rounded flesh fills my palm and I squeeze, kneading her until the marks from my fingers will be visible when she awakens. She shies forward, though she cannot escape my grasp, and one leg nudges between both of mine, bringing our bodies in closer contact.
Her hair falls forward, strands brushing over my lips, and I drift, freeing my mind. This is why I wake while the sun is still in the sky. These moments when my family sleeps are precious to me, almost as much as the killer in my arms. Even more so, this day is precious. It’s not often we leave the Cave to rest; the safety it offers isn’t something to be taken lightly. But she desired a night of solitude, and we couldn’t have made it back to the cave before the sun rose.
This hotel room offers shelter from the sun, and for today, that is enough.
I don’t remember ever loving as a mortal; my human family, yes, as a child would, but none beyond that. I don’t understand when poets claim their hearts pound and their palms grow damp. There is much I don’t know when it comes to humanity. I am far from it, no matter that my face, my body can be mistaken for one of that race.
All I know is my love for this creature who wears a human face, who is so close to her mortal roots that there are moments I wonder what she really is, inside, human or vampire. Then there are times when her power rises and I forget that she was ever mortal, for she could have been born into this, forged from darkness and ice.
I want to devour her, not only with my mouth and my fangs, but with my mind and my essence. It isn’t the same urge that David feels, to dominate her so he can call her strength his own. No, it runs far deeper than that fleeting need, though the wish to control such power does fill my body at odd moments.
This need for her transcends death and life, the ache for blood, and the bonds I’ve forged with my vampire family. She brings me closer to the truth of my existence, not my humanity, but to the death that roils within my empty lungs, useless entrails, and unbeating heart.
She laughs at me in the nights while we stalk the Boardwalk. The play of neon lights over pale skin entrances me just as it does the humans we seek out for food. It is my silence that causes her amusement; she who keeps secrets beneath her dancing tongue claims she doesn’t understand the balanced quiet in which I envelope myself.
As a child, my voice sounded only during the tribal celebrations when I had to take my place amongst the other youngsters. I remember when the white man first came to my shores, and the memory brings a wash of red throughout my body: fury, hunger, and blindness.
I watched my people die after I’d been claimed by a hunter of the night. His blood filled my veins while I sat and watched the orange embers flicker, all that was left of my once mighty village. Blood scented the air and I dragged the smell into my nose, into my mouth until I could taste the tang on my tongue.
The time with my Sire I do not speak of. I do not think of. Words failed me while I learned at his side; words fail me now. My beloved wants to know every moment of my history and I can deny her nothing…I do not know how I will find the descriptions she will need to hear.
Only when Marko entered my life did I begin to talk. He is my Childe, I his Sire, and he is my greatest achievement. His life was molded from childhood by my influence; I’d marked him at birth as mine. When at last I came to induct him to vampiredom, he was beyond ready, overripe, aching for the change, the escape from mortality.
He brings words to my lips before I realize I will speak; his smile is enough to make my whisper sentences for hours just to see it. I love him, though not as I love the sweet woman I hold; he fills my life as my family once did.
Marko’s power is testament to my influence, though it is his own. My pride in the vampire is beyond comprehension; one day he will be strong enough to challenge for leadership, and I will acquiesce to his request, will help him gain what he desires.
She stirs again, rolling over onto her back, her arm falling away from me. I keep her within my grasp, but let her fall into whatever position is most comfortable. She will not be happy if my Childe challenges for leadership of our Pack. No matter how she denies it, leadership is in her blood.
How can I choose between the Childe I brought into this darkness and the Mate who terrorizes by my side?
It is adoration versus admiration; possession versus pride; love versus…love. She is what I want to draw into myself, hold tight in my arms until our bodies are one, melting together at hip and thigh and chest. He is what I once could have been but never had aspirations to; he is my creation, the toil of my blood and my sweat, my determination.
He is my Childe.
But she is my Mate and I don’t know which bonds run deeper. The ones that tie me to Marko have existed for decade upon decade longer, true, but time isn’t always important, especially to vampires. We have so much of it at our disposal.
Cool breath rushes over my chest, rising tiny bumps along the skin. Nails drag down over my stomach and the muscles flutter beneath her faint touch; part of the motion is an unconscious reaction to the light sensation, part stems from conscious thought because she enjoys the response.
I do not try to warp my thoughts and reactions to what she wants; I am not manipulating her, no matter how it may appear from my thoughts. It is more the desire to please her, no matter if it is what I want or not.
This is new, to me, this need to make her happy. I do not altogether approve of the change within my body, but I can’t return to the way things were before. Nor do I want to; her sacrifice is worth the tiny flecks of control that I’ve given up to her.
“Brooding again?” Her voice sweeps over me, thick with sleep, but lovely still; I would follow that sound to the very ends of creation. “I thought we talked about this before….”
We did, of course, between a shower of blood and a shower of lust. We’ve discussed my silent thoughts more times than I can count; I’ve spoken more words to her than I have in my entire life, though it spans centuries.
“You’re awake early,” I murmur, reaching down to wrap a strand of blonde around a finger. She smiles up at me, the expression stealing across her face slowly, chocolate dripping down the edge of an ice cream cone, and my world is suddenly filled with a rainbow of color.
I do not mean that literally, of course. I did not live in a black and white universe before she came along. I could see red, gushing from the throats of my victims; I could see blue, the never-ending wash of color of the ocean and green, the shade surrounding my home.
She, however, gives it meaning.
“So are you,” she returns. Her voice is clearing, lifting from the newly awakened rumble to something brighter, just as lovely, but not as dark. Only her growls in the midst of hunting, or of sex, remain in the low register. “Besides, I can’t sleep when you watch me that heavily…I can feel you.”
I know she can; she’s awoken many times claiming that I was staring too hard. It doesn’t bother me, and though she complains upon occasion, it doesn’t bother her, either. She will never admit it, and I’ve come to accept that, but it makes her feel safe, that reminder of her beauty to me, of my love for her.
“Marko will be bringing Sprite to the Boardwalk tonight,” I remind her, not knowing why I bring up the topic. She stiffens, for no reason I can see, and I lean into her, breathing in the scent at her hair and at her throat.
“Family dinner,” she says at last, drawing up, away from me, rising to her knees, her body swaying and dipping in interesting places. “I remember. The four of us, without David making awkward inquiries as to where she comes from…”
She is worried. For Marko? Or for herself? I slide from the bed, standing to regain the height difference, and capture her arms under my fingers. The pressure I exert is enough; she ceases all movement and tilts her head up to gaze into my eyes, revealing the blue circles I so adore.
“I feel a change coming,” she whispers for me, answering the question she must be able to read in my gaze. My expression remains neutral, unreadable, but she digs past it with each look. “I worry…for us all.”
I want to refute her statement, but even if I knew what words to use, I wouldn’t. I too have felt it, sensed the vibrations in the essence of Santa Carla. Something around us is changing, and if David knows not what—which he mustn’t, because he hasn’t come to us—then I cannot know what, and she cannot know, but it is there none-the-less.
The balance of…something…is shifting, and until we discover what, the danger both she and I feel will be an uncomfortable presence in our every waking—and sleeping—thought.
All I can do is gather her to me; my hands slide along her arms until my fingers can wrap around her throat and higher, tangling within her hair, the silken strands sending fine tremors down through my wrists. Her hands land on my waist, digging into the hard muscles hidden beneath velvet skin and I lean into her, over her, surrounding her with my presence.
She drags my scent into her mouth, tasting it with a pale tongue, and her eyes drift shut, but cannot hide her true self from me, who has her beneath his skin, within his mind, in the flow of blood through his body.
Tension bleeds from us both, leaving our bodies pliable and at peace. I breathe in as she releases the air she’s held and the taste is sweet when it floods past my open lips. I can feel the faint flex of her jaw, feel the vibrations dragging along her body, a reaction to my nearness, and I would fling my head back and cry my triumph, but I cannot pull away. I continue my descent, overwhelmed by the need to…to touch…
“Anna,” I whisper the words as our faces brush together, caught in this moment. Time is unnecessary and though life goes on outside this room, outside this instant, for me it is all I will ever need. “My Anna.”