I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but when Lexia asked me to accompany her to a friend’s wedding reception last Saturday night, I found myself agreeing.
I arrived fashionably late, of course. It was necessary to do so as the nights have been getting shorter. The evening dinner had ended and the party was already in full swing. Music and laughing mortal voices could be heard as I drew nearer to the building. I stood outside the entrance after sending her a text message to indicate that I had arrived. Every fiber of my being was telling me to walk away while there was still time, but I couldn’t disappoint her. She had been excited about this event all week.
Lexia had explained the reasoning behind her request and I had attempted to understand. My comprehension of social interaction between humans in this modern world is limited at best, but I had given her my full attention the night that this subject came up. She was concerned about how she appeared in the eyes of her family and friends these past few years. A single mother of a beautiful little girl whose father she refused to name, often receiving vast sums of money and gifts from anonymous strangers. Then there was her career with a secret organization that she could not speak of to those who are not directly involved in it. Would I play a role for just one night? Help provide the illusion of some sort of stable relationship in her life? The irony was not lost on me, but I could not deny her what would be such a simple thing to give.
The door opened and she stepped out into the cool evening, high heeled shoes clacking on the on the concrete as she made her way to where I stood.
“Thank you for coming,” she smiled, moving closer to take my cold hand in hers.
She was breathtakingly beautiful – a picture of elegance. She wore a long, form-fitting evening gown of deep blue silk, slit up the left side to provide a glimpse of one tanned thigh with every step she took. The bodice was trimmed with faux pearls and the gown was completely backless. Her golden brown hair was swept up and pinned into a thick bun back of her head with a few soft curls loose around her face. Dark eyes gazed into mine and lips the color of red wine curved upward in a smile.
“Louis…?” It was then that I realized she had been speaking.
“Yes?” I replied, watching the lamplight glisten on the tiny pearls woven into her hair.
“I asked if you’re ready,” she repeated and I nodded in acquiescence.
She smiled again, then reached up to straighten my tie before leading me inside.
The banquet hall was thankfully dimly lit, as most of the bright lights were focussed on the dance floor. Several faces turned in our direction as Lexia escorted me over to a group of people on the far side of the room. After the initial introductions were made, the awkward questions began. How did Lexia and I meet? How long had we been together? When were we going to “tie the knot”? Though the words were never spoken aloud, I knew that some of these people even believed me to be Mirella’s elusive father. Lexia gracefully navigated her way through all of these questions while I barely spoke a word. Instead I simply smiled and pretended to sip the drink that she had placed into my hand, while trying to block out the flood of thoughts and accusations that surrounded me.
I was almost relieved when she took my arm and asked me to dance.
I nodded politely to her friends as we made our way onto the dance floor. Normally, I would have declined any sort of dancing in public, especially with so many eyes upon us, but I could see that even Lexia’s usual calm and confident demeanor was beginning to crumble under such an interrogation.
The music was some sort of modern love song, familiar, but not something I could easily identify. I led her in a simple waltz and was pleasantly surprised to see how well she could keep up, while still muttering apologies for the way her friends had behaved. As we traversed the room, I threw in a few more advanced steps and she followed effortlessly. Clearly, she’d had lessons.
“I’m sorry,” she said. Her dark eyes met mine. “I know you’re uncomfortable here and I shouldn’t have asked you to come.”
“It’s fine,” I replied, while reaching out to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. “I’m glad to be here with you.”
She seemed to fall into me then; wrapping her slender arms around my neck in a warm embrace. We continued to dance in this more common, modern manner for the next few songs. Swaying side to side and holding one another close. She rested her head against my shoulder and her hair was soft on my face. It smelled of sunlight and the long summer days of my youth. My fingers traced the curve of her spine.
As the song came to an end, she tilted her head to press her lips to mine in a gesture that had become familiar and even comfortable between us over these past few months as we have spent more and more time together.
I can’t define what Lexia and I share. I know I should walk away from this, but I find myself getting closer instead. I have always been the rational one; the one who understands the importance of keeping a safe distance between our world and theirs. I know from experience how frequently things like this can turn into disaster, but I don’t want to let her go.
For the past few nights I have contemplated whether or not I should share my feelings about this in such a public setting and I have finally come to the conclusion that I have nothing to hide.
In regards to the situation between Lestat and Armand which has recently come to light, I believe that my reaction has been misunderstood by some and I would like to make myself perfectly clear. What I felt that night was not jealousy; that simple human emotion was long ago lost to me. The wound inflicted upon me by that revelation cut far deeper. I suppose it could be compared to a betrayal, of sorts, but even that does not adequately describe it. I am nothing if not a creature of habit and over the past two hundred years, I've grown accustomed to certain things. No matter where I may wander or what might come between us, it is only when I am in the company of one other soul that I truly feel as if I am home. There are very few things that can disrupt that sense of belonging, but those rare individuals who have also shared the centuries with him pose a very real threat.
It is no secret that I too have played companion to the auburn-haired devil with the face of an angel. None can truly resist him. But throughout the decades, as I traveled the world by his side, my thoughts always drifted back to Lestat and when we finally found one another again it was as if the pieces had fallen back into place.
Since then, we have fought to preserve this; whatever it may be, and I am still here tonight because I am not willing to give it up so easily.
The fire crackled in the hearth and with that familiar sound came a sense of peace and contentment.
Lexia sat beneath a knitted blanket in the leather recliner to my left and to my right, Juliet lay dozing on the couch with her head resting upon Lestat's lap. If I concentrated, I could block out the sound of the television and hear the steady beating of her damaged heart as Lestat stroked her long, blonde hair. I can barely recall what we were watching that night, though I think it may have been "The Shawshank Redemption", "Amistad" or something from that era, as the sound of Morgan Freeman's voice was unmistakable. The film was not nearly as memorable as the comfortable feeling evoked by that particular moment in time and those who surrounded me. My eyelids grew heavy as the warmth of mortal sleep began to embrace me.
"Mummy, I'm thirsty."
The soft voice pulled me out of my dreamlike state and when I opened my eyes to see the tiny figure standing on the stairs, it was as if I had been thrown two hundred years back in time.
Mirella, who is now almost five years old, made her way down the stairs, pausing at the bottom with one little hand on the rail when she realized that there were guests in the house. I heard the creak of the chair as Lexia rose to her feet and I saw Juliet stir out of the corner of my eye, but my gaze was locked onto the child before me. Her dark hair was still in loose ringlets, as Lexia had styled it earlier that day and her wide eyes glittered in the light of the fire. She wore a pink nightgown of what appeared to be an old-fashioned style, with silk ribbons at the neckline and sleeves and lace trim at the bottom that nearly touched her feet. One arm clutched a doll to her chest. The resemblance was uncanny and I think I may have gasped aloud.
"Uncle Lestat!" She exclaimed, rushing toward him as he stood to greet her.
Despite the frequent visits we pay to Lexia and Juliet, Mirella is rarely seen due to the fact that she is fast asleep well before we arrive. Months had passed since we last had any sort of opportunity to interact with her and she had noticeably grown in that time. Despite her rosy cheeks and cupid's bow mouth, she was no longer the baby who would shake her rattle or drink her bottle as the adults talked; she was a little girl now and her eyes gleamed with excitement.
Lestat scooped her up into his arms and spun her around as a fit of giggles overcame her. He kissed the top of her head and hugged her close to his chest, telling her what a beautiful young lady she had become. Lexia cleared her throat from somewhere nearby and Lestat set her down gently. Mirella moved toward her mother, one arm reaching for the glass of water Lexia held. The doll had been dropped to the floor by her feet. It was at that moment that she turned her head in my direction.
"Uncle Louis?" She questioned.
I didn't realize that I was already on my feet nor had I intentionally moved myself into the shadows near the door. These were both subconscious actions. Her dark eyes met mine and I couldn't speak. I couldn't even think. I was out the door without an explanation or even a single word. That was when I ran. I ran until I has put as much distance between myself and that house as I possibly could. I ran until my heart pounded and felt as if it may burst from my chest.
I stopped only when that little voice in my head finally ceased calling my name.
I do not wish to seem as if I am being impolite or intentionally ignoring anyone, but I do not comment on any journal that logs my IP address. Though you are all aware of which city I am presently located in, I do not wish to make it easy for anyone to pinpoint my precise location. That is not to say that I do not trust those of you whom I have known for so many years, however, I am very private by nature and I hope that those who know me well enough will understand.
I have failed to update this online journal of mine since my return to it, so I am making a public post to inform those who still remain on my friends list that I am indeed back. While this may not be a permanent solution to carrying on our conversations outside of the Sublime Requiem Forums, it is a viable option for the time being and one that brings back many old memories.
I knew that he was likely to arrive tonight, but I could not be certain of when, so I showered quickly, dressed, then made my way outside armed with a pair of long-handled pruning shears and a hand saw. I had promised to take care of the banana tree in the courtyard and that was exactly what I intended to do.
The streets were alive with sounds of music, laughter and drunken revelry, but I paid it no attention as I set about my work. The tree had grown tall enough to pass the second story windows and its large waxy leaves drooped into the neighboring yard, effectively blocking the sun from the flower beds that grew there. Complaints had been received, but the gardener who usually tended to these things was nowhere to be found, so I decided to take matters into my own hands before the warmer weather encouraged even more growth. I hacked at the thick branches above my head and time seemed to slip away as I became completely absorbed in the task at hand. Massive leaves fell to the ground around me and it was only when I stepped back to survey my work that I realized I was no longer alone.
He had appeared in near the back door like a phantom and I couldn't guess how long he might have been standing there watching me. He was somewhat concealed in the shadows beneath the veranda, so I set aside my hand saw and moved closer to see him better. Never before had he seemed as inhuman as he did in that moment. Ghost was the first thought that his appearance brought to mind. He wore a long, gray coat and shirt of almost transparent white fabric, open at the neck to reveal tanned skin which was covered in a thin layer of ice. His hair was windswept and tangled with bits of ice attached to the end of every wild curl. Having experienced travel at high altitudes myself I knew just how cold he must be and though such frigid temperatures do not affect us in the same way that they affect humans, they can still cause a great deal of discomfort.
We stood face to face and without a word I reached out to touch the frozen skin of his cheek. Ice melted instantly beneath my fingers and his entire body relaxed as he stepped forward into my arms. He bowed his head to my shoulder, burying his face in my hair and began to weep. His cold lips moved against the skin of my neck, uttering confessions of guilt and shame as I held him tightly. He told me that it was all his fault and that he no longer knew what to do or where to go from here. Sobs wracked his powerful from and his fingers gripped my arms hard enough to bruise, but that didn't matter. He seemed so completely helpless in that moment that I wanted nothing more than to comfort him and ease his pain.
There was a howl of laughter in from somewhere nearby and a plastic, liquor-scented cup sailed over the fence and landed on the ground near our feet. The Mardi Gras celebrations had barely begun and the night was destined to become far more rowdy.
I led him inside and he followed without question or complaint, pausing with me at the door as I knelt down to remove the sodden boots from his feet. We continued on to the large couch in the main room and I slipped the coat from his shoulders just before he sat down with a weary sigh. I left him there for a moment to start a fire. The weather has been unseasonably cool in New Orleans and though I had yet to make use of the fireplace myself, the kindling and larger pieces of wood were already in the grate. Before I could even strike a match, the wood burst into flames casting an orange glow on the dark room. I turned to the fire-starter, who had pulled an old blanket around his shoulders and was wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand.
He didn't set out to destroy a life, but the price we must pay for such close contact with the human world is high.
He looked absolutely miserable as I joined him on the couch. Water dripped from his tangled hair and his eyes were lined with red. He raised one arm in invitation and I moved closer until we sat shoulder to shoulder and I could feel the dampness of his shirt through the thin silk of my own. The blanket closed over us both as the fire crackled and shadows danced on the walls around us.
“I never thought it would come to this,” he said, drawing a deep, shuddering breath and leaning against me. “It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I only wanted --”
“I know,” I replied before he could even finish the sentence.
Despite all my protests and arguments about bringing the mortal boy into our lives, I had always known that it was done with the very best of intentions at heart. One whose every action is driven by such powerful emotion never intends to cause any harm to the object of his desires, but the boy was singed by the intensity of his passion just the same. I also knew that, like all things, Lestat would overcome this and rise again from the ashes of despair stronger than he had ever been before.
My hand closed over his and his fingers were still cold as ice.
It is not easy to explain exactly how it happened. Being as caught up in the moment as I was makes the details somewhat difficult to recall, but I write this here for him because I know he will soon have questions that only I can answer.
I had promised to entertain him in Lestat's absence and that is all I intended to do. Our swim had been pleasant enough. The pool is heated to make the temperature comfortable to mortal flesh even on the coolest nights, though that is usually unnecessary in a tropical climate such as this. Having been in my company for as long as he has, Gitano is well aware of the fact that certain things he says or does will stir various reactions from me. This time it was a death defying leap from the high diving board which ended in something resembling a belly-flop that had me laughing out loud. Ever since his arrival here on the island, he has been relentless in his quest to know me better and his efforts have not been entirely in vain.
An evening of horror films is what I had agreed to and his room contained one of the finest entertainment centers in the house. With a sixty-five inch plasma television, six speaker surround sound and a bed large enough to hold a small group of people, I could not disagree that this would be the ideal location in which to watch them. Gitano had traded his damp swimming trunks for a pair of faded blue jeans onto which he was constantly dropping tiny pieces of buttered popcorn. I ignored the sickening scent of human food, but was thankful when he eventually put the bowl away.
Part way through the second film, I realised that he had moved closer. His hand now rested upon my arm and his head leaned against my shoulder. It seemed like a completely subconscious movement as his attention was still focused upon the television screen, so I allowed it because it felt comfortable and natural to do so. His body twitched involuntarily at several unexpected scenes and his warm fingers closed over mine. He groaned at his own unnecessary reaction and and rolled his face into the crook of my neck as he laughed. I could feel his heart pounding as he pressed even closer against me.
I cannot say for certain when that line was crossed. One moment he was laughing and mumbling his embarrassment into my shoulder and in the next, I felt the subtle movement of his lips against my skin. I should have stopped him then, but the feeling was not entirely unpleasant so I let him continue. Dull human teeth scraped along the line of my jaw and when he closed his mouth over mine, I felt no reluctance.
His hand moved up my arm to the collar of my shirt and I did not try to prevent it, not even when I felt the buttons loosen and the fabric slip away. I gasped as he bit down on the thin layer of flesh covering my collar bone. He could not break my skin, but the sensation was appealing nevertheless. I reached out for him, but he caught both of my wrists, pinning my arms to the bed while he kissed me again. I could have thrown him off of me when he shifted his position to straddle my hips, but I didn't. I could have crushed the bones of the hands that held me down, but I allowed him this brief pretense of control. His triumphant smile almost seemed familiar and I had never wanted him more than I did in that moment.
The tables were turned in an instant. I twisted free of his grip and grasped his forearms, forcing him down to the bed beside me then positioning my body on top of his. I didn't need to hold him there. This sudden role reversal had left him more than a little aroused and I could feel the heat of passion emanating from his skin. I dipped my head to lap at the pulsing artery on the side of his throat. The taste of his flesh was intoxicating and I tested its resistance with my teeth. His hips pressed up against mine and his breathing quickened.
“Do it,” he breathed into my ear and that was all the encouragement I needed.
He cried out as my fangs broke his skin and I felt my entire body react the the fount of hot blood that filled my mouth and ran thickly down my throat. It wouldn't come quickly enough, so I pulled back, tearing the puncture wounds wider and causing the blood to flow faster. He made some sort of pained sound and his muscles tensed. I drank deeply, savoring every long-awaited mouthful. Images and thoughts flickered through my mind, but I paid them no notice.
“Louis, stop,” the words meant nothing to me now. His fingers clawed at my arms, but the only thing that mattered was the frantic beating of his heart and the euphoric heat in my veins.
The flow of blood eventually slowed and as I held him there in my arms, I was overcome by one urgent thought – I don't want to leave him. It was his, not mine, but the desperate fear that accompanied it was enough to snap me out of my swoon. He wasn't afraid of dying, as so many humans are in that final moment, but he was absolutely terrified by the thought of losing Lestat. In his mind, this was a fate worse than death and as he slipped into unconsciousness, I was certain that I understood exactly how he felt.
My head was spinning as I was struck by the realization of what I had just done. Gitano was on the bed beneath me and his breath was coming in shallow gasps. There was a tear on the side of his neck that trickled tiny drops of blood every time he inhaled. In a panic, I gashed my own wrist and let my blood flow into the wound then watched in morbid fascination as his skin began to close. Lestat's mortal lover was dying and there was nothing I could do to prevent it, so I did the only thing I could think of. I wrapped him in a bed sheet and called for a car, telling the driver that there had been an accident and the he must get us to the hospital as quickly as possible.
What should have been a very short trip seemed like an eternity as I held him in the back seat of the car. His skin was pale and cold and more than once, I pulled him close to listen for the sound of his breathing over the hum of the engine. When his heart finally lost its battle, I felt as if mine might stop as well. I was sure he was dead when I thrust him into the arms of a nurse I found just outside the hospital doors.
I am thankful that he is not, but I can never forgive myself for what I have done.
Easter, 2008Lestat: We are late!
Lestat: Someone is already arrived.
Lestat: Come now, don't keep them waiting.
I had just signed off when I heard the main door open. I closed the laptop and moved towards the unfamiliar voices in the next room, knowing that we now had company, but unsure of who exactly our guests might be on this sacred eve. He had mentioned Easter dinner, but some part of me, which should probably know better by now, assumed he wasn’t serious.
The men who stood in the parlor next to Lestat were strangers to me. The first to make eye contact was the older of the two. I could guess that he was in his mid forties and certainly not born in this exotic land. His skin was tanned, but not dark and dirty blond hair was combed neatly behind his ears. A gold and diamond watch sparkled beneath the cuff of his expensive suit jacket as he extended a hand in greeting. I reluctantly returned the gesture and before I could ask his name, I felt a pair of arms slip around my waist from behind.
A quick glance back revealed a devious, but familiar grin. Whatever he was up to, I already wanted no part of it.
Once the introductions were made, it became obvious that there would be no easy escape from this rather awkward meeting. Lestat led the blond to the sofa while the younger, dark-haired mortal took a seat in the armchair nearby. This one had very little to say, but watched me constantly as if I might do something unexpected at any moment. He was tall and broad-shouldered, but seemed nervous and slightly on edge despite the fact that he was, by far, the largest man in the room. I couldn’t guess who they might be or why they were here, but I knew I would find out soon enough.
“Can I get you something to drink?” Lestat asked us all, as I sank into the lush velvet of the recliner, wishing it would swallow me whole. The men placed their orders and looked to me as if expecting that I would do the same.
“Monsieur does not drink,” he explained to them with a laugh, then wandered towards the bar behind me. I was the only one who caught that little joke and I wasn’t amused.
All eyes were on him and not a word passed between us as he moved around clanking bottles and pouring some rich colored liquid into three crystal glasses. It came as no surprise that they seemed captivated by his every gesture. Lestat always has that effect on humans and this time he seemed to be making a conscious effort to attract and hold their attention. He was barefoot and the buttons on his silk shirt were all undone now. His loose fitting pants slipped lower onto his hips with every step he took and by the time he returned with their drinks, the two gentlemen seemed to be in dire need of them.
He perched on the arm of my chair like some sort of trophy with his long legs stretched casually over mine and a drink in one hand. I might have shoved him off and left the room, but our superficial conversation had taken a rather unexpected turn and I wanted to know what all this was about.
The older man was telling me about the type of operation he runs - details about his annual profits and the quality of his “boys”. He hinted at how much money I might get for a fine creature like the one I kept and a moment of bemused silence passed until I finally realized he was referring to Lestat.
His icy blue eyes moved over Lestat’s body as he questioned my hospitality, asking just how far my generosity might extend. What he wanted was obvious, but what I couldn’t understand was why he was asking me if he could have it.
“I think you and I can do business,” he said, though his gaze never met my own. “But how about a little pleasure first?”
Now utterly confused, I looked to Lestat in hopes that he might drop this ridiculous charade and give me some answers. His eyes positively gleamed with mischief as he smiled at me and got to his feet. If some unspoken understanding passed between us, I must have missed it entirely. He walked behind the sofa, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder while leaning in close to his ear.
“I keep out of business,” his tone was low and seductive. “But pleasure is my specialty.” I was almost certain I saw the man shiver.More to come.
A chicken wandered into my library earlier this evening. It paused for a moment by my feet and looked up at me with the most quizzical expression before ruffling its feathers and leaving the room.
I've learned not to question these things.
I've lost count of how many nights have passed since I last heard him laugh.
He tells me that he should tend to the garden before the heavy rains crush the flowering Mandrinette shrubs and the strong winds uproot the giant palm trees which have towered over this place for years. Hours pass and eventually I look outside to find him sitting alone in the midst of a flooded paradise with his head tilted back against the bench, completely oblivious to the pounding rain. Tiny twigs and flower petals have become entangled in his unkempt golden hair and eyes as gray as the storm clouds above stare into the heavens as if imploring them to open wide and swallow him whole. The clothing he has been wearing for the past few nights are torn and smeared with mud and his shoes have been forgotten once again. He is no longer the shining Apollo, but the primordial Erebus surrounded by darkness and mist. Even in suffering, there is beauty.
He doesn't notice me standing in the doorway. In fact, he doesn't notice anything at all. He has withdrawn to some dark place inside himself, locked away with his own thoughts, unreachable even to me.
Though it troubles me to see him like this, I know that the storm will soon pass.