Authors: S. E. Lund
S. E. LUND
Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.
Friedrich von Logau—
To be left alone
And face to face with my own crime, had been
“The heart is forever inexperienced.”
Michel closes his eyes for a moment, inhaling as if he's trying to gain control over himself. When he speaks, I can barely hear his voice.
“How much have you read?”
"Hardly any," I lie. I didn't even know I'd written down my experiences in an online password protected blog. It reads like a dark fantasy romance – not like a real journal. Ancient French manuscripts. Vampires. Fallen Angels. Murders. Monsters planning for Dominion. It's all there – a record of my thoughts since I found the manuscript after the university released my mother's research files back in May.
I squeeze my nails into my palms. I don't know much about my past with him, but I read far enough to know that pain blocks his touch telepathy and prevents him from reading my mind.
"Don't block me, Eve," he says and takes my hand, lifting me up so that I stand before him. "Not now. Not after everything."
He looks down at my palms, which have been injured from my nails. Blood seeps out of
two wounds on one palm and from a single wound on the other. He shakes his head, and sighs heavily. Then he tilts my head up and strokes my cheek, and he must release some kind of calming endorphin because my sadness evaporates, my shock at learning the truth about myself receding into nothingness. All I see are his black-lashed blue eyes, which are huge now, the pupils dilating, the whites bloodshot as he transforms into a hunter, an ascended vampire – or whatever it is that he has become. I don't really understand what I wrote in my journal. All I know is that huge black and steel-grey wings unfold behind him, and for a moment, awe overwhelms whatever he's done to calm me.
Then he lifts my palm to his mouth, his lips open against my skin, his tongue touching the wounds, tasting my blood. We connect in that strange way I experienced on the beach and when we made love earlier. I relive a memory he has of doing the exact same thing. He did it on that first night we met at the Linguistics Building and I realize that for him, everything that happened with me from then on was a foregone conclusion once he tasted my blood.
It seems like so long ago, but it's really only a few months and to him, it's like we just met for his memory isn't like a human's – fragmented, abstract. It's whole, physical, emotional, as if he's reliving the moment as it happened.
. Not even four months ago. There's a knock at the door to the office he hastily commandeered in the Linguistics Department at Boston University where I'm a student. He compelled the real owner, Professor Steve Cormier, to stay away for the evening so he could use the office to meet me, review the manuscript, see if it was the one he'd been searching for.
To see if I was the one he was hoping not to find…
I look so much like her – Danielle. His first and only love. The years have not dulled the pain he feels at her loss and he relives her death again in the few seconds that he stands at the door and stares at me, a vampire's memory far too vivid and far too long for it to have faded even these eight centuries later. Time stands still for him when he relives the memory. It is that vividness that keeps the memory and his love for her alive.
He remembers emerging from Soren's compulsion, finding Danielle dead in his arms. He remembers Soren throwing her lifeless body over the wall onto the city's garbage heap. He remembers digging her grave outside the walls of Carcassonne, his vision clouded by tears, his fingernails ripped off as he claws at the hard dirt with his bare hands.
His physical pain doesn't matter. His wounds will heal, just as his immortal body heals of every insult – but his immortal heart? It never heals, the wounds still fresh like they were made just yesterday. He remembers covering her lifeless body with the hard clumps of earth, cursing the day he was so weak that he returned to her when he knew he shouldn't. Knowing even then that it would likely mean her death but lying to himself so he could have her.
I am the perfect tool Soren could use to entrap him and make him comply. Anger at his own weakness fills him briefly, so bright and sharp that he can't breathe for a moment. Hatred for Soren tears at his heart.
He tried so hard not to look for me. He tried so hard not to find me. He succeeded for ten long years, dampening down his curiosity so he wouldn't seek me out, check up on how I'm doing to see what kind of woman I've become. Just another decade of loneliness, self-denial, and abstention from his more human needs. He's used to it by now, but his more base desires still dog him despite the constant prayer and the aesthetic lifestyle he's adopted. The rigorous physical demands he puts on himself are intended to drive out all lust and desire. To deny them.
A century of denial.
And then, there I am at his door, so young and fresh, my skin so creamy white like my northern Irish ancestors, the hazel eyes with flecks of every color fringed by thick black lashes from my French side, a slight blush to my cheeks from the unnaturally cool weather the region's experiencing. A spray of freckles over the bridge of my nose making me look younger than I am – just twenty-one.
A flash of fear crosses my face and he knows immediately that I suspect what he is and my expression makes him hate himself even more, if that's even possible. He's tried so hard not to be that monster, denying his most basic nature. With the rare exception, he's fed primarily off donated blood since transfusions were discovered earlier in the 20
Century after the Spanish Civil War, from glass bottles and then plastic bags, but it never fully satisfies, for vampires crave that connection to humans that a feed from their bodies allows. He's rowed competitively, he's fenced for sport, he's run endless miles, he's pumped iron, he's swam hundreds of thousands of laps, all of it to quash the lust that he can't deny through force of will alone.
He's too weak.
He's barely touched a human in the past one hundred years except to compel them. He hasn't even been with another vampire sexually or to share blood in an effort to completely eradicate any lingering physical desire. He's tried to live as the priest he always intended to be, but it's still there, simmering just under the surface.
And then, there I am at his door.
He holds a mug of coffee in his hands to warm them so I won't flinch when we shake hands, because he has to read me, see what I know, how much I suspect.
"Are you Professor Cormier?" I say, my voice shaky.
He doesn't want to lie and so he evades the question.
"Eve?" he says, extending his hand so that I have to take it or look rude. He doesn't let go, and in the brief moment he enters my mind, he sees that I know all about vampires, and that I suspect he's one but my desire to get the manuscript translated makes me hesitate and not follow my first instinct to flee.
I smile back and hold up the envelope. When he sees my dimples, desire fills him, for my dimples are like a gift – like brief flashes of sunshine through the clouds on an otherwise-dismal day. He opens the door and waves into the interior, forcing me to turn sideways to avoid touching him. As I walk by so close, he catches my scent. It intoxicates him, the combination of my human scent, my female scent, my blood, my perfume – gardenia, citrus – and something else he can't place. He imagines how soft my naked skin would feel against his fingers and mouth. He tries to keep those thoughts out of his mind.
He can tell I'm forcing another big smile, trying to look like I'm not afraid, but he knows all I really want is to run away. My need to know what the manuscript says despite my fear of him and what he might be keeps me there, and part of him wishes I was more afraid and would run right now. He could catch me, but if he had to restrain me, he's afraid where such rough physical contact would lead.
Already, he admires me. He thinks I'm brave. He thinks I'm strong, despite everything that's happened to me.
Above all, he wants me.
He's sure I'm her – the girl he tried to forget but never could entirely, my fate a mystery, one he hoped would remain that way for my own sake. But in his eight-century long existence, stranger things have happened. He has to be certain.
He asks me questions and then he's certain it's me for he remembers a conversation he had with my mother when I was just a child performing at a recital in London.
My mother wanted to call me Lilith but my father said no.
When he sees the manuscript, he can't believe he's finally found it. The pages are old but well-preserved, the ink still dark, the colors barely faded. He touches the vellum and it's smooth under his fingertips.
He asks me how I came into possession of it, but he already knows. He's just testing me to see how I respond and he sees that I can't lie. He can read the lie in my face and in my body language, in the tone of my voice. This makes him both pleased and sad, for he sees that I'm lying to him, but he also knows that he can tell when I lie just by my face and body.
Then, as much as he wants to just accept this turn of events, take me into his life, hide me away in his estate and have me as his pet, his blood slave, and eventually turn me so I'll be his eternal companion, he knows he shouldn't. If he does, my life will be at risk. Unless he turns me, I'll most likely die in the line of duty as has every other Adept who has worked for the SCU. My mother tried so hard to keep me out of this life, wanting me to be a dancer or musician so badly, and he feels an obligation to see her wishes come true in some kind of repayment for her own sacrifice.
He knows what he must do – he must compel me to forget the manuscript, forget about vampires, forget about him. He must wipe my memory of his face and of this meeting. Send me on an entirely different path – one in which my gift for music, rather than my gift for seeing death and violence, will be nurtured and preserved.
When he refuses to translate the manuscript, using the excuse that he has to verify it wasn't stolen, he enjoys my resistance and wishes so much that he could have me as his and his alone, for it’s been so long since he had someone and he would so love to train me, discipline me, initiate me into his world and into his life. It would be such sweet reparation for all his long years of sacrifice.
When I go to the door to leave, my emotions at the surface, tears of frustration in my eyes, he's so tempted to kiss me just once and show me what I'll be missing even as he plans to wipe the memory from my conscious mind. Surely one kiss wouldn't harm anything. Hasn't he suffered enough loneliness all these years?
He forces me against the wall, enjoying how his blood responds to my nearness, his heart rate increasing to match mine, his arm on the wall beside my head. He senses my attraction to him and it momentarily unsettles him for he was sure I'd find him horrific because he's a vampire. When my body responds to his nearness, his responds with lust, and he wants so much to have me, to just break all his own rules for me.
God must understand…
My tears move him, not because he wants to see my pain but because I feel so much emotion and it reawakens his own, reminding him that he can feel. That to feel is human and he wants to be human again – the way he was before he was damned, innocent of the bloodshed and death that surrounded him in the secret world he now inhabits.
He runs his finger through my tears and they taste like me, the way my body would taste if he were to lick me. I taste salty, with just a hint of my genetic inheritance. He's already sensed it in the scent of my blood on my breath, which he can't ignore despite his strength of will.
He demonstrates his power to affect my body, touching my cheek, causing my brain to release pleasure endorphins so intense that it makes me weak-kneed and forces me to close my eyes. He loves how I look when I'm in the grip of that much pleasure and he knows that's how I'd look when I'm having an orgasm. He wants so much to give me one so he can watch, so he can feel it with me for there's nothing that breaks down walls between a man and a woman more than shared pleasure.
He smells my hair, enjoying the fresh scent of shampoo on it, how my perfume clings to it and mixes with the oils in my skin to deepen the scents. He looks into my eyes, noting the flecks of violet – just like Danielle. His gaze moves to my freckles – just a spray across my nose, giving me a youthful look, a bit mischievous. He imagines I'd be a handful to try to control. If I were his, he'd keep me on a long leash just so he could enjoy reining me in when I rebelled too much. He'd want me to rebel. He wouldn't want me to be completely compelled into obedience.
He'd want me to choose submission freely.
He knows that I'd fail and that would mean he could spank me, turning me over his knee, baring my buttocks, which he knows will be creamy and round. That thought almost makes him lose control and throw away all his plans to let me go, wipe my memory and send me back into obscurity. My dimples save me. They remind him that I'm just a girl, barely out of my teens, innocent despite the pain I've experienced in life. I deserve a life.
I don't deserve a monster.
He doesn't want to forget my dimples. He wants to make me smile once more before he sends me away so he can see them again. He can't help but imagine waking me in the morning, me all warm and still sleepy, kissing my neck and seeing my dimples when I smile, my eyes still closed. He imagines kissing each cheek, dipping his tongue into each dimple to make me think of him dipping his tongue between my thighs.
He's worked himself up into a very thick and very aching erection and it would be so easy to just take me now on the couch. He could overwhelm my resistance with pleasure but then, he knows he'd never be able to stop himself from claiming me as his own.
But he can't resist at least one kiss. God knows he's denied himself so much this past century, he deserves just one …
He takes my face in his hands and presses his mouth against mine and it intoxicates him, the warmth of my body against his, the softness of my lips against his cold ones. The press of my breasts against his chest. He rubs his erection against me and enjoys how my body responds, and it almost undoes him then and there for despite everything, I want him. Despite him being a vampire, pale and undead, a threat, I
He can't help himself. He opens the door between us to show me what could be if only he was able to have me, to claim me. How good it would be to feel his lust as well as my own. To know how he feels, how his body responds to me, how his blood responds to mine. When my legs weaken from the intensity of his senses and emotions, he is so tempted to pick me up and carry me to the couch and take me, but he fights it with every ounce of will that remains.