Disclaimers: You know who they are, you know whose they are.
This is my first fan fiction story, so please bite gently at ADTaggart16@hotmail.com
Alex D. Taggart
"You want me to do what?" I couldn't believe the gall of my editor, Gary. Actually, I could, but there were times I wish I didn't have to. Now was one of them.
He looked at me and groaned. "Don't fight me on this, Nevin. We need someone to do it, and as our newest reporter, you get stuck with it. Deal. And bring me some good pictures."
I opened my mouth to argue, but shut it before I stuck my foot in it and had to do some truly awful assignment. At least this one would garner the paper some good pictures. I just had to keep repeating that.
I rolled my eyes at him and resisted the urge to stick out my tongue. He just brought out the worst in me.
"Fine. I'll dress up for Halloween, interview little kids for one story, interview their parents for another, and get great photos doing it. You happy?"
He grunted something I took to be an affirmative.
I just shook my head and stayed leaning against the doorway into his little office. He had stopped facing me the minute he had given out the assignment, and was now working on his nifty new Dell, laying out the editorial page for tomorrow.
"Don't you have any work to do?" he growled as he continued trying to fit the new Marlette editorial cartoon and three more letters to the editor about the need for larger parking spaces around Kentrell, Indiana on the page.
"No more than you do," I replied, finally giving into the urge and sticking out my tongue at his profile. "And I don't see you doing any of it."
He looked up and shooed me from his office with his hands, his gravelly voice chasing me out.
"Get out of here."
The banter was common between the two of us. Although I was the newest reporter, I had already been here eight months by my twenty-third birthday, and we had bonded over a mutual dislike of, well, each other. It eventually, after a few screaming matches and a threatened termination how I wish it had been me issuing it at the time turned into what I imagined was mutual respect, as he responded to my hard work by giving me, unfortunately at times, more. I, in turn, gave him more shit. He loved it, and I loved my job at the Kentrell Telegraph.
Most of the time.
Now was not one of those times. Friday night would not be, either.
I grumbled as I walked to my desk, pulling my long, blonde hair in a swift ponytail to get it off my neck. It might be 45 degrees outside today, but inside it was a sauna. Ah, the pure crappiness of having one thermostat sitting inside the office of a general manager I hate.
I plunked down in my chair and pulled up ACT and Microsoft Word to add my new assignment to an already too-long list. With only three reporters covering a 25,000-person community, we were all running on all engines, almost all the time. Unfortunately, I covered Tuesday through Saturday assignments for the daily paper, so I caught the brunt of the feature articles usually something yearned for in small-town papers, but quickly eating up any time I might have for a social life. I mean, who has off on Sundays and Mondays?
When I had updated my list, I ran over to the photographer, Erica.
"I'm going to need a camera Friday," I told her as she sat stewing in front of her monitor. I poked my head around to the front of the screen to see what was keeping her attention.
"Two Ts in 'littering,' nutball."
She looked up at me and tugged my ponytail.
"What's he got you working on now? An auction? A talent contest at one of the schools? Or, could it be," she put her hand over her mouth, "a costume contest?"
"I wish," I muttered, coming up behind her and setting my chin on her head, and looking at the rest of the cutline she was struggling with.
"OK, I'll keep guessing in a second, but help me out here for just one photo. Please?" She turned to look up at me, her dark red eyelashes fluttering over round blue eyes.
I smirked at her and agreed, knowing she probably had five photos to write cutlines for, and I'd end up doing them all. But hey, she made my crappy photos look pretty darn good when it came to Photoshop, so I didn't complain.
After about 20 minutes of her silently handing me one printed photo after another to write cutlines for, I put a hand on her arm.
"This'd better be the last one," I said, the fingers of my other hand already poised on the keys.
She nodded. "And I'll even buy you a grape soda from the machine for being so good about it."
I grinned and nodded at the obvious bribe. She knew I was a sucker for the super-sweet drink, and used it to her advantage every chance she got. That's all right. I would bribe her to stay after the football game she had to cover, so she could get my photos in early on Friday. I knew her weakness. She couldn't escape the snickerdoodles.
"You'll never guess what he's making me do," I said as I began typing the final cutline.
"What? It can't be worse than that talent competition he made you cover for the elementary school kids. I think you were half deaf for a week from that kid with whatever instrument that was."
I grimaced in memory. "Oh, the trumpet kid. My god, I'm only glad he wasn't playing bagpipes. I felt worse for those poor shmoes in the front row." I giggled, my hand on her arm. "Or his parents, having to listen to him practice."
She fell against me, her laughter and mine making a ruckus in the newsroom. Luckily, deadline had recently passed, and most everyone was out on assignment or at lunch.
Giggling with Erica usually either annoyed the rest, or made them want to be included.
"Oh god, I needed that," I said, still giggling at the memory of the poor boy whose trumpeting skills rivaled the mating sounds of elephants, or at least from what I could tell on the Discovery Channel.
"He's making me dress up," I bit out, finally.
"As what, a hooker? Or an ass, because I know you're a pain in his." I just smirked at her in response, but chose not to say anything. Besides, she was just as much a thorn in his side, or a pain in his ass, as I was. We were just good at it.
"No, although I'm sure some of the press guys wouldn't mind either." She contemplated that for all of three seconds before agreeing.
"So what do you mean, dress up? For Halloween? Is that why you need the camera? Oh, is he making you dress up? He did that to Drew last year, and it was the funniest thing ever. He came in here on Thursday night, still dressed up like a chicken, and couldn't write his story because he had scared every kid away!" At the thought of Drew, a 250-pound, six-foot-five man dressed like a chicken, I began to feel the laughter gurgling up in my chest.
It took another five minutes before the noise of us giggling had stopped echoing off the newsroom's walls. I'm sure Gary was wondering what the braying sound was. When I started laughing too hard, I couldn't control the slightly assinine sound that emitted forth, which only served to spur whomever I was laughing with on. Today's unwitting recipient was Erica.
I wiped my tears with the cuff of my button-up shirt, and gasped out an affirmative remark.
"At least he didn't tell me to dress like a chicken. I think he recommended I wear something more in line with an occupation, as opposed to a barnyard animal." The thought of it started us giggling anew, but I took a step from her desk to keep the laughter from getting out of control for a third time.
"Anyway," I said, my smile aching on my face from the exercise, "I have no idea what in hell I'm going to wear."
She looked me over. "You could wear what you're wearing now, and say you dressed up as a newspaper reporter." I looked down at my navy button-up shirt tucked neatly into cream-colored khaki pants, and brown Doc Martens. "I don't think I look much the part. It's just easier to dress the way guys do, than have to think of new combinations of shirt and skirt or shirt and dress pants every day. This way, I just grab a shirt and voila, I know what I'm wearing."
She shook her head, red hair going every which way.
"Hey, watch it, lady."
She smirked. "You're so lazy, Nev. See, now, I get ready the night before, so I can look this good." I looked at her black pants, tightish around her hips and thighs, and the tight gray, long-sleeved shirt. Her shoes, black boots, lay on the floor at her feet, as they did every day following deadline.
"Gosh, you are so modest, Erica," I say, deadpan. "No, seriously, what should I wear?"
She shrugged and nudged me from her seat, so I moved to sit on her light table.
"You break it, you bought it," she said, with a nod of her head to indicate my choice of butt rest.
I hopped down.
"Well, what about a nurse? Or doctor? You still know that guy you did the story about who saved that kid from drowning?"
I canted my head to the side. "Yeah ... I guess I could borrow some scrubs from him at the hospital. But I don't want to run into Clay there. That guy would not stop asking me out!" I had had to switch extensions on my work phone to get him to stop calling. One bitch session from Gary, and I had not heard from him again. Gary could hound any of his reporters, but he was tenacious about protecting us from anyone else doing it.
"Well, what about an astronaut?" I just looked at her.
"Yeah, let me call down to NASA, and see if they'll send me a suit on loan for a few days. That'll go over like a lead balloon."
"Fine," she said, pretending to be hurt. "See if you get any more grape soda. Now I just owe you the one, and then you're not getting any more." I scrunched my nose at her, smacked her lightly on the arm, and waved as I walked back to my desk.
"I am so abused," she yelled as she watched me walk away.
"Yeah you are," I said, grinning over my shoulder.
* * *
Years of elementary and even middle school costume contests stuck with me, and I finally figured I'd be a farmer for Halloween. I might have only figured it out at 3:15 p.m. on Halloween day, but at least I'd figured out something. So here I was, wearing overalls, a checked flannel I'd had to steal from a friend's closet, some dirty hiking boots Erica suggested I roll around in manure to "accessorize," and a straw hat with a wide brim.
A red bandana around my neck and some hay stuck in various places little did I know I'd be finding it in very fun places later completed the look. My long hair was tied back with an elastic and just the tail stuck out from under the brim.
I was ready.
Armed with my camera, a notepad, and not much else, I left my house feeling absolutely ridiculous. The curtains moving on the Miller's house next to mine left no doubt in my mind that old Mrs. Miller, the nosiest old biddy ever to walk the planet, had already seen my absurd getup, and was probably plotting my demise on the phone with Netta Jackson, down the street.
Ever since I had mistakenly watered her gardenias on a day when they were not supposed to be watered who knew flowers were watered on an eight-hour schedule? she and Netta had seen fit to give me as much guff as possible. If only I could say it was done with the same kind of affection as Gary gave.
I hopped into my navy blue Civic and sped off toward Olira Elementary School, where the majority of the children lived and played. Sped until three blocks later when a large group of children dressed in Spongebob Squarepants outfits wandered aimlessly into the street.
Another four feet, and two princesses and a dog scurried out in front of my car. After three more stops on the same block, I was exasperated. Didn't anyone teach their children to use sidewalks anymore? And where were the parents?
I pulled off to the right at the end of the block, grabbed my camera and notepad and began the long night ahead of me.
* * *
At about 6 p.m.., I found myself taking a much-needed break, satisfying my hunger with a Snickers, and calling Tom, a friend of mine at the Kentrell Fire Protection District.
"Hello?" he grumbled into the phone.
"Are you still in bed? Get your," I started to curse, but realized that little children have ears like sonar dishes, and there were many little sonar dishes nearby. "Butt out of bed and talk to me. I need a break."
I could hear the rustle of bed sheets and a few muttered curses before he grumbled, "From what, pain in the ass?" I almost told him to not swear, but realized that even the sonar dishes wouldn't pick up his sleep-soddened voice. "Come on, lemme sleep, I just got in bed a few hours ago."
"Why?" I asked around a mouthful of chocolate and peanuts. I love the houses that give out regular-sized chocolate bars on Halloween.
"I picked up an extra 12 at the station. I'm just so glad I'm not working tonight. Do you know how many rescue and fire calls come in on Halloween? I think it's almost as much as Thanksgiving, with people burning those poor birds. But what's wrong with you? You said it wasn't going to be that hard tonight."
"I am out on the most horrendous job possible. Gary had me dress up, as you know, and go trick or treating, asking kids and their folks what it's like and all that. But get this. You know how kids are a pain to get to talk normally, unless of course you want quiet, in which case they won't shut up? Well, they're on sugar. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it. Now it's the parents who won't talk, because they're tired of being dragged around by miniature people hyped up on sugar, wearing costumes that don't protect them from the cold, but which don't cover enough, so they're complaining about the chill halfway down the block, or so I can hear, and the kids who are flocking around me and trying to talk my ear off. One woman gave me a Snickers for keeping her kid occupied and talking to someone else for a few minutes. I have pictures coming out my, well, you know, and interviews tucked in there, too, but...."
I was frustrated, to say the least. Despite all that I had gotten from kids and parents, including a few innocent, "Aren't you too old to dress up?" questions that I so dearly loved from the little demons, there wasn't a centralizing theme. Kids talked about candy and costumes, parents talked about the possibility of razors and madmen on Halloween, but there was no central interview. No one I could centralize my story around.
"But," Tom prompted, a yawn with a squeak ending the sentence.
"Bite me," he said. "Why'd you call? It sounds like you have everything." No sooner had he said it, than I looked down the dimming street and saw a magnificent sight.
"I gotta go," I said into the phone, immediately clicking it shut.
Walking down the center of the street was a tall figure dressed as a vampire, complete with a closed black, satin cape, tall collar with red satin lining, shiny black shoes, black hair, and white face paint. Next to the figure stood a child, dressed in almost the same stunning costume, but shrunk down a few sizes. The full moon rose behind them, outlining their identical forms, the smaller one's hand tucked into that of the larger figure, and I knew that was going to be my photo.
I pulled the lens cap from my digital camera and shoved it in my pocket, already flicking the switch to automatic as I looked through the window. I scurried in front of them, no longer concerned with the flow of traffic down the street, which seemed to stop as they walked the path of moonlight down the pavement.
I didn't even stop to ask for permission, just clicked away to my heart's content, the flash bright in the dark of the street. There was no outside sound as I repeatedly pressed the button, just the fake shutter click that assured me a photo had been stored on the tiny disk in the camera. My hat fell from my head, and I stopped walking backward to grab it and crush it under my arm. When I looked up, the two had halted in the street and were looking at me, as I imagine they must have been the whole time I was taking photos.
So I get a little wrapped up in what I do.
I grabbed my notepad from the back pocket of my overalls and the pen that was tucked in front and ran up to the pair.
As I got even closer, I noticed that both had small fangs protruding barely over red lips and the taller one, a woman, I realized with each step, was quite an imposing figure.
"Hi, my name's Nevin Taos, I'm a reporter with the Kentrell Telegraph, and I wondered if I could get your names for the photos I just took?" My pen was poised over the clean page of the notepad, ready to write.
The woman looked at me with eerily clear red eyes, and smoked out her words, "I am Reeve. This is my nephew, Sayer." She placed her hand on his slicked back hair and looked at me, waiting.
"Uh, last names? Where are you from? And," I knelt down, "how old are you, Sayer?" He held up six fingers, but did not speak. I added his age to my notes.
"Sayer's last name is Virum," she said, her voice pouring over me like mist. "Mine is St. Vrain. " I nodded, thinking to myself on how regal her name was, but wrote the new information down without a word. She continued, and I had to fight closing my eyes at her smooth voice. "Sayer is down from Chicago, and I live here, in Kentrell." I again nodded, continuing to write her every word.
I cleared my throat, the smoke from her voice coating my own.
"I am writing a story in the paper on the dangers of trick-or-treating, and I wondered if I could ask you a few questions." At her nod, I began.
"Um, well, what are the dangers you are most concerned with on this night?" She cocked her head to the side, questioning. "Well, some parents say something in the candy, others are afraid of people lurking, that kind of thing."
She nodded, understanding, but paused before answering.
"As this is my first time trick or treating, I was not aware of the potential dangers the evening's entertainment could bring," she said, a slight accent giving her voice new weight.
"However," she smiled, her red lips curving ever so dangerously to intersect further with the white of her face, "I would say that the problem we fear most is..." She paused again, and I waited for an eternity for her answer. "The sun."
I couldn't tell if she was joking, but smiled anyway. I moved to ask another question, but she cut me off.
"Perhaps I have not answered you correctly." I opened my mouth to tell her there were no right answers in an interview, but she continued, her voice rolling over my thoughts. "I would say I am reluctant to encounter certain types of lurking people. But that would be on any evening, not just Halloween, would it not?" She smiled again, the small triangles of teeth making dents in her bottom lip.
"Well, as you haven't been trick or treating before, I'm not sure you'd have an answer to this, but what precautions have you taken against this possibility?" I was struggling to comprehend the concept of never having celebrated Halloween. Maybe they were Jehovah's Witnesses, but somehow that concept didn't fit with the little boy, let alone the woman.
"I believe I am enough of a caution against anything we could encounter," she said, standing taller. I realized she had stooped to speak with me, and now at her full height was six or seven inches above my own 5'4". I nodded, writing everything down, including their spectacular costumes.
The rest of the interview continued in much the same fashion, with her giving answers unlike any others I had heard that evening, and my writing every word down, exactly as it was released.
I knelt to the eye level of the boy, who had remained quiet and still the entire interview, his hands hanging at his sides.
"What's the best part of trick-or-treating, Sayer?" I asked, smiling to disarm him, as I did with all children. He smiled back, the first I had seen from him this evening.
"The food," he said, teeth winking in the moonlight. The caps on his teeth were whiter and sharper looking than the rest, but I just attributed that to the material used. Funny, but they didn't look plastic.
I nodded and stood.
"Fair enough," I said, extending my hand to his aunt first. "Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Ms. St. Vrain."
She looked at me her head canted slightly to the side, glossy black hair falling past her shoulder. Yet her eyes were not on mine, but somewhere slightly lower. I rubbed a hand on the back of my neck in uncharacteristic nervousness, my eyes still on the clear red of hers as she spoke.
"The pleasure was all mine, Ms. Taos. Perhaps we shall meet again." God, to be a throat lozenge. I could coat hers for days.
I shook my head to clear it of its thoughts, the feeling of arousal for a woman, of all things, nearly more than I could stand.
"Sayer," I said, my voice cracking under the weight of her stare. "It was nice to meet you."
And then they were gone, their backs to me, walking in the direction from which they had originally come. It was almost as though they had walked this way to speak with me, but...
With the moon still hanging low enough in the sky to potentially grab hold of, I snapped one last photo of their backs in silhouette, picked up my straw hat from where it had fallen to the ground, and walked away.
It didn't hit me until about 20 minutes later that neither one carried a trick-or-treat bag.
* * *
"Aww, you've got some really cute photos here," Erica exclaimed as she pulled the photos up 10 at a time from the disk. "Was this kid trying to be a pink bunny, or do you think his mom washed his costume with a red sock?" Her head was cocked to the side as she enlarged the photo. Her finger poked at her monitor.
"It was supposed to be white! See the splotchiness?" She turned to look at me. I looked back, fatigued from the night's work and overwhelmed with confusion.
After my final interview with the vampire pair, I had stopped at home to change into jeans and a white t-shirt, over which I had tossed a gray sweatshirt from my college, Northwestern. My blonde hair was pulled in a ponytail and tucked through the hole in the back of my Nike cap.
"Sweety, are you ok?" Erica looked up at me, concern on her face.
I nodded and concentrated on looking more alive.
"You have to look at the last batch of photos, Er. I got these two vampires an aunt and her nephew walking down the street. They should be great. It had..." I searched for the word to best describe the photos I had stolen of them walking hand in hand. "Atmosphere."
She grinned at me and rubbed her hands together.
"Let's take a look, then," she said, waiting for the last group to download so she could open up the photos of the vampires.
A few minutes later, I was waiting for the photos to download, excited and decidedly a little nervous to see the intriguing woman on screen.
"You have GOT to see this womans costume, Er. She had these red contacts in, her face was all white, black satin cape, the works. Plus, she and the little boy both had these fangs that looked so real, I almost asked her if she was part wolf." I grinned, waving my hands around as I spoke of them. "But, she looked like she could have me for breakfast if I pissed her off, so I didn't." That wasn't the only thing I wanted to know about her, but I didn't mention that to Erica.
As I spoke, I watched the photos show up on her screen. One by one the photos opened, but each showed Sayer holding hands with a bright flash of light.
"What the fuck?" I couldn't figure out what had happened. "Erica, honestly, I had the flash on for some, off for some, I don't know what happened." She was trying valiantly to darken some photos in Photoshop, but to no avail. They were all screwed.
"I don't get it," I moaned, thinking of how cool the moon had looked behind their forms, the white of their faces contrasting with their hair, their height differences. I buried my face in my hands, unable to look at all my work up in smoke.
"Wait, wait, babe," Erica said softly. I lifted my face a smidge to look at her screen. There, in all its glory, was the photo I had snapped of them leaving, the tall and short silhouettes dark against the bright of the moon. Moonlight glistened in the wetness of the street, and it was as though houses throughout the neighborhood had heard a general cry to turn off their porch lights, as no other lights illuminated the photo.
"That's beautiful," she breathed, enlarging the photo. Up close, we could see the upturn of both collars, the clasped hands, the lift of their feet barely beneath their cloaks. "That's some front page photo there, Nevin. Are you sure you're not the photographer?"
I nodded, unable to turn away from the striking photograph. It seemed as though the photo had been cut from a beautiful black and white movie, as no color could be seen other than the creamy yellow tint of the moon.
"Yo, earth to Nevin," Erica said, snapping her fingers in front of my face. I turned to look at her, missing Reeve and Sayer already. "Where did you go?" I squeezed my eyes shut and focused on her face, taking in her blue eyes, bright red hair, slightly upturned nose.
"I've got to go, Er." I needed to think.
"Are you alright?"
"I'll be fine. Just feel funny. Must be from not checking the candy before I ate it," I said, a slight smile gracing my features.
She put her hand on my forearm, rubbing it through the shirt.
"You give me a call if you get sick, alright? I don't want you staying home alone if you're sick now that Sean and you aren't living together anymore, ok?" I nodded. "I've got cutlines in for all of the photos, so if you just pick one, tell Gary to match it with the descriptions on the slugs when he gets in, ok?"
"Sure, Nev. Feel better."
I nodded, walking away. What the hell was going on with me?
* * *
I didn't figure it out that night, or the next. In fact, I never quite figured out what had happened to me that Halloween, why Reeve had affected me so. In the 10 or so months since then, I hadn't seen her again, so eventually, I ordered myself to forget her. Of course, I never took directions well, so I didn't listen, but it was worth a shot. At night, though, I wondered about her, what she did, who she was, and why it felt strange when she looked at me.
I never told anyone about that night, and what it had done to me.
But alas, it was August in Kentrell and time for the 4-H County Fair. Assignments were divvied up amongst the other reporters, editors and photographers to take as many photos and obtain as much information about the winning children as possible over the two week-long event.
I had to cover the western riding show, and I was perched on top of the wooden split-rail fence surrounding the arena at the rodeo grounds when I felt someone watching me. Now, this had happened before, but it was coming with more and more frequency, and really freaked me out. As a native Chicagoan, paranoia was a part of life, so the feeling of being watched brought goose bumps to my arms.
This time, however, instead of turning immediately, I waited, partially to see if my mystery stalker person would come closer, and partially to see if the feeling would go away. Minutes passed, and still I felt The Watcher. I gritted my teeth and waited a few more minutes, adjusting my navy ribbed tank over my long khaki shorts, picking the rocks from between the rubber grooves on my sneakers, looking through the photos I had already taken on the camera that hung on a thick canvas strap around my neck, anything to keep from turning.
But it was too much, and I had to know.
I whipped my head to the left, looking into the crowd of people watching the event and saw Her. She was staring at me, her sunglasses mirrored on her face, reflecting my own gaping mouth, a vision I saw even one hundred feet away. Then she smiled, slowly, and I almost expected to see the elongated canines protrude from between her lips. It somehow felt ... wrong ... when they didn't. I continued staring at her, waiting to see what she'd do, when I felt the ground begin to vibrate under me. I broke our gaze and turned just in time to see a dark brown horse with black mane and tail veer away from me, the young rider in a cream-colored long sleeve shirt looking over her shoulder back at me as the horse turned, possibly fearful of the damage she almost inflicted.
I tried to steady myself on my tiny perch, my heart thundering in my throat, forceful enough for me to feel it moving my skin, when I felt a hand on my lower back. I grabbed onto the fence and hooked the toes of my shoes around the second rail to remain seated before turning around to thank my benefactor.
"You saved..." My words died on my lips. It was Her.
"Are you ok?" asked Reeve, her hand still on my lower back. Her voice was different than I remembered, but I chalked it up to Halloween having occurred so long ago. It was the first time I had seen her without her costume, and the difference was striking. The long black hair was shorter, now, it seemed, although it was up in a ponytail so I couldn't be sure. She was wearing a white pocket t-shirt that enhanced her bronzed skin, tucked into olive green shorts, a pair of low-top tan hiking boots on her feet.
I looked back into her face.
"Thank you," I said, turning on my wooden seat to face her, hooking my feet again in the second rail.
"Reeve, right?" Yeah, like I could forget her.
She smiled. "That's me, but I can't say where I remember you from. When I saw you sitting up there, I knew I remembered you from somewhere, I just didn't know..." She spread her hands out from her sides and shrugged.
"Halloween," I said, slightly peeved that I was so easy to forget.
She took a step back and an expression I couldn't identify came over her face. Something between fascination and confusion?
"That was you? I saw that picture in the paper, but..." She looked at me, studying my face, although I couldn't tell with her glasses on. It almost seemed as though her gaze was decidedly ... lower. I rubbed my hand on the back of my neck again, unsure of why this one woman made me so nervous.
"Uh, yeah, that was me," I said, my hand back on the comforting cold plastic and metal of the camera. "Look, I've got to finish my work and I think they're taking their last ride around the ring soon, so I've got to get some pictures. Maybe I'll see you another time?" I wanted to smack myself up the head. I've waited 10 months to see her again, and then I just dismiss her?
I mean, even if I was hurt with the fact that she didn't remember me, conceited though it sounds, I had thought about her almost every night since Halloween. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts, I almost didn't hear her take her leave.
"Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you, then," she said, the strange look finally gone from her face, replaced by, well, nothing. She began to walk away.
"Wait," I yelled at her retreating back. She stopped and looked over her shoulder.
She bowed her head slightly in acknowledgement and began walking back to the stands. I watched her for a few minutes, but remembered the real reason I was there and began taking photos again. Sometimes I hated being a journalist at a small paper and having to take my own pictures. I wish I could have followed her.
* * *
"Page two is done," I said into the receiver of my phone, my voice echoing throughout the newsroom and production. Deadline was quickly approaching, and with the city editor out of town, I was filling in on laying out the pages. Luckily, Gary had taken on the horrendous task of completing front and back, but laying out the rest of the pages wasn't exactly a bundle of joy either.
I cracked my knuckles and waited for the two pages to print out on the printer near my desk.
"Nevin!" my boss bellowed from his puny office across the room. I got up and jogged to the doorway, my boots making hard sounds on the ugly gray carpet.
"Page one's coming out, check it will you? And you forgot to change the weather on page three." I rolled my eyes out of his line of sight. The man was the pickiest person I had ever met.
"Sorry," I grumbled.
He flicked his eyes up to me. "Don't give me that shit, Nevin." A strange look wrapped around his mouth, which the newsroom staff took as his version of a smile. "Go check the pages. Make sure that headline fits alright on the lead story."
I jogged back over to my desk, all the while thinking that I could have been checking them earlier had he not called me into his office to tell me to check them, but editors worked in mysterious ways, and Gary was no exception.
Ten minutes later and I was done, my head swimming with the detail of the city's budget workshop written by Phyllis, the reporter for all the boring subjects like budgets, city council meetings, county commissioner meetings, and basically everything no one went to but everyone bitched about when we missed. I grinned to myself, glad I didn't have her job.
Ring ring ring
I grabbed the phone, "Telegraph newsroom, this is Nevin, how may I help you?"
Holly, the front desk receptionist, spoke, her voice doubling in my ear as her desk was about 20 feet away, if around a corner.
"There's someone here to see you, Nev. Should I send her back or do you want to take the fifteen steps up here?" I grinned, tapping my pen.
"I could use the exercise, I'll be right up." I grabbed a notebook and uncapped the pen, just in case I had to take notes, and walked to the front desk.
She was back, and only two weeks since I last saw Her.
"Reeve?" My voice came out an embarrassing squeak. Holly looked at me and I ignored her. If I don't look at her, I didn't just sound like a jackass, right?
"Hi, Nevin?" She sounded uncertain whether that was my name, so I nodded, taking in the hair falling just past her shoulders, the soft-looking forest green t-shirt and blue jeans.
Strangely, she was still wearing those damned mirrored sunglasses.
I cleared my throat. "What can I help you with?" I waved my hand at her to indicate she should follow, and started walking back to my desk.
"Well, a couple of things, I hope. That photo?" I turned and looked at her over my shoulder before plopping the notepad on my desk and pulling out the chair next to it for her.
The newsroom was empty for once, the end of deadline prompting a mass exodus to lunch.
"I would like to buy it from you, if I can. I know my sister would love to see it, and, well, the newspaper probably didn't do it justice..." She hesitated.
"It didn't," came a voice from behind me. I looked up into Erica's face.
"Oh, uh, Erica, this is Reeve St. Vrain. She's the vampire in that photo. Well," I smiled, "the taller one."
Erica stuck out her hand to the seated woman.
"Hi, I'm Erica, the photographer, although I wasn't sure I would be after that night. You certainly made her job a lot easier," she said, her hand dropping on my shoulder.
Reeve smiled, although it looked a little strained, and finally took her sunglasses off. I gasped softly, expecting an eye color different than the red, and while not disappointed, was quite surprised to see a clear blue looking back at me. She turned a slight pink and cleared her throat.
"So, is the photo for sale?" She looked at me, and I was loath to look at Erica to ask her, although I knew it would be rude to keep my back to her. I glanced up when I heard Erica respond and went back to looking at Reeve, unable to tear my eyes from the mesmerizing blue that might possibly rival that of a chlorine-filled pool.
"...so if you'll just give me your phone number, I can tell you an amount for the printing of the photos when they're done." Reeve was writing her phone number on a sticky pad on my desk when I finally managed to focus on the world around me.
"Here," she said, her voice low but melodious, as she handed the sticky to Erica. Her eyes, however, remained on me. Erica took the little yellow note, from what I could tell, probably said goodbye, though I didn't hear her, and left for what I presume was lunch.
I couldn't seem to break away from her gaze. Or perhaps I didn't want to. Either way, it was a good five minutes before I noticed her lips were moving and sound emanating forth. I focused on it from very far away, my eyes still glued to hers.
"...lunch?" I realized for the second time in the span of about fifteen minutes that I had missed the first part of someone's comment.
She chuckled, low, her mouth closed but turned up in the corners.
"I said the second reason for my coming here was that I was wondering if you wanted to come out to lunch?"
"When?" Great, already through two of the five Ws.
"Whenever you like, although I have off today, so... I tried to find you yesterday to ask you for today, but they said you have off on Mondays. Something about working until Saturday? And here I thought I had odd hours. Anyway..." I placed a finger over her lips, belatedly realizing the brazenness of the action, but too late to pass it off as something else. Besides, her lips were soft.
"Ssshhhh. We can go now. Let me just grab my bag." My voice was soft as I took my hand away and opened the top drawer of the filing cabinet to pull my handbag out by a strap. I looked at her, still sitting there with a slightly dazed look on her face, the same look on her face from a few minutes ago, when I had stopped her mid-babble.
"You ready?" She looked up at me, that confusion-fascination look overtaking the dazed one, and stood.
* * *
We ended up in a small diner after a five minute discussion in the parking lot on whose car we should take. She won. Apparently, with legs as long as hers are, or so she said, a ride in my Honda Civic would be akin to scrunching her form into a sardine can. Gee, thanks. Why the thought of taking separate cars never occurred to either of us, I don't know.
But, we were soon on our way, my legs given plenty of room in the front of her pickup. At least it was a nice truck, not one of those muddy, dusty and dingy contraptions that look like they've been around, and in use on a ranch, for the past 30 years. Rather, this maroon Dodge truck was quite clean, probably because the owner of it managed one of the two banks in town, as I later found out, instead of working on a farm or hauling lumber.
It's one of Kentrell's many quirks: there's a higher number of pickups here than Wisconsin has cows.
We were led to a small booth in the back of the restaurant, the young hostess smacking her bubble gum as she told us Debi would be with us soon.
I glanced at the menu, deciding on my usual cheeseburger dinner, then put it on the edge of the table, leaned back against the cold vinyl, and looked at my lunch-mate.
Her eyes met mine above her menu.
"Why'd you invite me to lunch, Reeve," I asked as soon as her menu joined mine on the table.
She almost looked perplexed, as if she hadn't stopped to ask herself that question yet.
"I ... I guess I just wanted to. I mean, you took that beautiful photo of Sayer and I, and I never even got to thank you for that." Her hands started twisting the top of the salt shaker off, the small granular crystals falling in a circle around the base with each turn.
"You could have just thanked me there," I said, my hands moving to the edge of my napkin, pulling off tiny tufts of tissue.
She had finally gotten the top off the shaker, and was sweeping the excess salt onto her coaster. She looked up guiltily as I watched her and began screwing the top back on. Her hands moved to her fork and she began making square dents in the top of her napkin with the tines.
"Reeve?" I felt like I was at a table with a four-year-old.
"What are you doing?" She looked down to her napkin, where a constellation of tiny punctures had taken residence. She laid the fork aside.
"Uh, look, Nevin, I'm not really sure why I asked you to lunch. I'm not really sure about a whole bunch of things that seem to involve you, but I'm definitely confused." That explained the looks she gave me to some degree.
"When I first saw you, at least, that I remember..." She smiled slightly. "You were taking a photo of a check passing at Creel Bank. I manage the branch here in town, and was talking with a customer because most of my girls were out on the floor behind the check, and I saw you moving them closer together, directing them, and couldn't, uh..." Her cheeks turned a dusty rose, but she sat up straighter and continued. "I couldn't take my eyes off you, I guess. For whatever reason. And, until I spoke with you at the rodeo, I just kind of, well, watched you when I saw you."
Her hands were back to lightly stabbing her napkin with the fork. I waited for her to continue, glad to know the identity of my stalker, but unsure why she was it. And why I didnt mind.
"I think it must've freaked you out or something, and I know you could tell, because you'd whip your head around, and I'd have to hide."
I raised a brow at her confession, unable to keep my mouth closed any longer.
"So, let me get this straight." I smirked at that. The thoughts I'd had about her at night were anything but straight, even if I still claimed to be. "You saw me at the bank, couldn't stop staring but didn't come up to me, watched me every time you saw me, even though you knew I was freaked out about it, and hid any time I turned around, for fear of being discovered?"
She paused before nodding.
She leaned over the table toward me, her fork forgotten by her side.
"That's just it, Nevin. I haven't a clue. I have no idea what in my life would drive me to act like such a ... I don't even know a word to describe it. I mean, I go to work every day, feed my fish, eat, drink, sleep, all the normal stuff, but around you, it's like, I became a different person."
Her hands had moved to running up and down the outside of the plastic cup holding her water, gather condensation as they moved, and I felt, no, I saw, a flash of her moving her hands up and down an expanse of skin. My skin. Then it was gone.
"But then I saw you at the rodeo, and you caught me looking at you. I didn't worry about having a place to hide because I thought, oh, she doesn't know me, and I'm in a crowd of people, she'll never be able to tell it's me. And you looked at me. Hell, you looked through me. And I couldn't turn. I couldn't, or wouldn't, or didn't want to, and then that girl was riding up and I wanted to yell for you to move, to get down, but you turned away, and wouldn't have heard me anyway. So I went to you. And I couldn't resist coming down to the paper, once I figured out where I had known you from even before seeing you at the bank." Reeve's voice had increased in volume and speed over the course of her recounting until her words were moving faster than water molecules in steam.
Her napkin was in shreds, but then, so was mine.
"So, what's this all mean to you?" I was still struggling to tie everything together.
Reeve sat back in her chair, her hands finally coming to rest by her sides on the padded bench, perhaps tired after shredding her napkin into a small, fluffy mound in the center of the table.
"Have dinner with me tonight," she said, her voice soft, a smile just hugging the corners of her lips.
It was my turn to sit back, the vinyl protesting under my shifting weight.
"You mean, like a date?" Reeve looked as though she were about to speak, but then closed her mouth and nodded, her eyes on mine.
"But I'm not like that. I mean, it's ok if you are, but I'm straight." I almost smacked myself for not censoring the shit that piled in my head before I let it out of my mouth. I'd been having erotic thoughts and dreams about this woman for about a year, and when she asks me out to dinner for a date, I turn her down? Some days I just marvel that I can tie my shoes in the morning.
The smile never left her face.
"So am I, I think." She continued to look at me expectantly and I realized I'd have to gather my courage to turn her down again or just suck it up and go out to eat with the beautiful, possibly intelligent this was our longest conversation thus far, and didn't speak much for her intelligence quotient and very desirable woman that was sitting across from me.
"OK." The grin she flashed my way made me very glad I could give her what she wanted.
But what was that?
* * *
She took me out to dinner often over the next few weeks, wining and dining me more than any boyfriend ever had. But I had yet to feel her lips on mine. And, I shockingly realized one night after a "getting to know you" session with myself, I wanted to. Had wanted to for awhile, now, despite my apprehension at this budding relationship.
I mean, I wasn't even sure if she was my girlfriend, friend with potential benefits, what? I think she wanted to be girlfriends, though. At least, from the flowers or candy or teddy bears that I received almost every other day, that's what I'd thus far deduced. Nope, don't have a job as Sherlock Holmes waiting for me.
But no one in the newsroom knew of my suitor, other than by the gifts she sent. Even Erica remained stymied, although she tried to wheedle the information out of me in one capacity or another a few times a day, even going so far as to offer me grape soda in exchange for the information. I almost caved.
I didn't want to cheapen it, however, and I knew if they found out, then I'd either get the religious nuts from the right in the Ad department breathing down my neck to move out of town as quick as possible, or hooting and hollering and jeering from the many males that warmed the seats in the newsroom. Nope, it was my little secret. Our little secret.
* * *
"Reeve, hon?" I asked as we sat in her living room, eating popcorn and playing Scrabble.
Turns out she's very intelligent and tends to beat me at almost every game. But I was a good sport and enjoyed the challenge. Or something.
"Yeah?" She looked up into my face from where she had been rearranging tiles on her tile deck.
"What are we?" Ever since my revelation the other day about us not kissing, I had been meaning to ask her this to find out if I needed to start things or if she didn't want them or whatever was going on in that brain of hers.
"What do you mean, like girlfriends, partners, friends, that kind of thing?" I nodded, glad I didn't have to spell it out.
"Well..." Reeve dipped her head and looked up at me, her eyelashes partially obscuring her view. "What do you want us to be?" I could almost hear the funeral music at that question. I mean, if I thought my question was the kiss of death in a relationship, hers was worse. But that was with a man. Maybe this was different.
"Um, well, you send me flowers, candy, stuffed animals, that kind of thing, usually only people in a relationship, or who want to be in a relationship, do that." I paused to take a breath, then continued, plowing over anything she might have said in the rush to get out as much as possible. "Because if we are something, then I'd like to understand what it is. And if we're not, then I want to understand why you send me stuff. Plus, if we are, then I'd kind of like to know if you're interested in, er, doing more about it. Hell, we don't even touch when we're alone, much less outside in the public. I can understand part of it, we live in a conservative town, but..." I stopped to breathe and looked up into her slowly widening eyes.
"You mean, like physical stuff? Touching and hugging and that kind of thing?" Does she look frightened or interested? I couldn't tell. I nodded, meek, unsure if I was breaking some kind of relationship rule between women. Don't men usually make the physical overtures? But with two women, who knew? I was definitely out of my element.
"Well..." She looked away sheepishly, then turned back to face me. "I couldn't tell, you know, if you were interested in that part of it, or if you wanted to do that, or if I could, 'cause when I first asked you out, you know, you told me you were straight and I know we've gone out a lot, and I thought of you as my girlfriend and all..." A light pink hue blossomed on her cheeks as she continued, "But I wasn't sure if that's how you thought of me, even though you send me flowers too, and leave me notes on my back door or car windshield when I'm at work and stuff like that..."
I couldn't help it. I had to shut her babbling up, and the best way I could see to do it was by kissing her. I had been slowly tuning out her comments as I focused on her lips, the dark pink coloring, the way they glistened in the light as she spoke, the way they fit together with different words, all of it, and all of a sudden, I found myself leaning in, cutting of her nervous chatter. With my lips. And they fit, just as I had envisioned they would, almost every evening since our first meeting, to be exact.
It occurred to me as I kissed her, my top lip fitting neatly in the open space between hers, that all the Seans of the world really never had a chance.
The kiss continued, and once Reeve got over the initial shock of my stopping her verbal momentum, she was a willing and active participant. Very active.
At first, I was content to just sit there, our lips barely moving, as I got used to kissing a woman, a thought I couldn't seem to get out of my mind. But then instinct took over, and her warm, soft, pliant lips were just begging for more. I had to give in.
I licked the very edge of her bottom lip with the tip of my tongue before sucking it in, slightly. I felt the vibration of her moan more than heard it, as my aural membranes were consumed with the sound of my blood rushing from my head and pooling ... elsewhere.
She pushed the Scrabble board aside, tiles skittering across the rug and floor, and scooted closer. My right hand moved to her left arm, stroking her bicep, and my left slid up her side, over her back, and into her hair, pulling her in further. She didn't resist.
Her tongue slid into my mouth, and as she gently stroked my tongue, it felt like she was stroking the area where all my blood had headed, the area where a wayward heel was already digging, even though I knew her hands were both on my thighs.
Our tongues greeted one another again and again, moving from new acquaintances to old friends in the span of seconds. The taste of her mouth, her lips, intoxicated me more than alcohol ever had, and I felt light-headed, although I wasn't sure if that was from the kiss alone or the migration of blood. Either way, I never wanted it to end.
But, like some dead person said, all good things must come to an end, and after a few hours or so of trying to devour each other's mouths, and a few mishaps of trying to kiss laying down with a number of Scrabble tiles beneath us, I gently broke the kiss. Again. And again.
Thirty minutes later, I stood up abruptly, then swayed. I reached out and put a hand on the wall and looked down into her smirking face.
"If I don't leave now, Reeve, I'm not going to. So I'm going to get going." My voice was shaky as I hurried around, looking for my jacket, wallet and car keys. I almost ran to the door, knowing I wasn't ready for sex, but about to let my libido do my thinking for me. Does being a lesbian make me think like a guy? I hoped not.
She stood up when I reached the door and came up behind me in a hug.
"I enjoyed tonight, Nev," she said, each word a break between small kisses on my neck. I shivered.
"So did I, babe, so did I." I swallowed hard and turned in the circle of her arms. "And that's why I'm leaving. Because if I don't go right now, I'll do something I may regret later." I reached up and gave her a soft kiss on her still-swollen lips. I took a small step back and ran my hand across her cheek.
I growled softly in my throat, as much to let her know I was feeling the same thing she looked like she was feeling, as it was to let some of that built-up energy out. I turned and left.
Amazing, neither of those questions at the start of our Scrabble game had been the kiss of death. In fact, everything in our relationship looked better than ever. Was everything I knew about relationships backwards when they involved two women? Or was I backwards when I had been with men?
* * *
I sat at my desk, happy to hear that Stacy, the new reporter whose desk bumped up to the front of mine, would be taking on last year's horrendous trick-or-treating assignment when Halloween occurred in a week. Although, I reminded myself as I fixed the leading and kern on page one's lead story, I had gotten Reeve out of the deal. I smiled.
"What's the grin for, chickadee?" Erica asked as she passed my desk, her hand running across my upper back. I continued fixing page one, deadline minutes away, but glanced at her quickly, the grin growing with my thoughts of Reeve.
"Oh, just thinking about someone," I said as I repositioned a picture of a kid carving a pumpkin into the center four columns on the page.
"That wouldn't happen to be your mystery admirer, would it?"
I just grinned wider. She shook her head as she walked away, her ever-present package of snickerdoodles in her hand.
"I can't believe you won't tell me!" she yelled over her shoulder. The grin stayed in place.
As soon as deadline hit, I checked my messages, excited to hear one from Reeve. I called her back first.
"Creel Bank, Reeve speaking, how may I help you?"
"Hey babe." Ever since Scrabble Day, we had become comfortably ensconced in the physical and pet name aspect of our relationship, although we had yet to get to know each other in the biblical sense. I was patient. I could wait another week.
I started twirling the phone cord around the fingers on my right hand. "What are you doing answering the phones?"
I could hear the smile in her voice as she spoke. "Darla's out sick, and John's kid got the flu. So we're short-staffed and I'm out here, playing teller for the day."
I chuckled. "Do you need me to call you back another time?"
"Actually, I was wondering if you could stop by tonight. I was hoping we could talk about something." I found myself nodding as I answered. "Sure, hon. Anything wrong?"
"Not really, I just need to talk."
I agreed and we hung up without the usual lingering and "You hang up first, no you hang up firsts." Uh oh.
* * *
I arrived at her house at just after 6 with a bag of Chinese food and a bottle of wine.
She opened the door looking slightly haggard in worn jeans and a sweatshirt, although I couldn't tell if it was from the long day or her news. Whichever it was concerned me.
Once inside, I put the things in my hands down on the floor just inside the door, and gathered her in a hug.
"Are you ok?"
I could feel her nod as she clutched me to her.
"What's wrong, baby?" There was a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach as I waited for her answer. Maybe something was wrong with a family member. Maybe she was sick. Maybe she was being transferred to another state. Maybe someone had seen as and she had been threatened. Maybe she wanted out. That thought made me blanche. After a few moments of my agonizing hypothesizing, she stepped out of the hug and ran her hands through her hair.
"Let's sit." She took me by the hand and led me to the couch, turning her body to face mine once we were both seated. She took my hands in hers, clasping them together, and looked down. I waited, anxious to speak and find out the source of her stress, but unwilling to rush her. She looked like she wanted to start a few times, her mouth opening and head coming up, but she kept stalling at the gate. Finally, after five or six false starts, she spit out the last phrase I ever expected from her.
"I'm a vampire," she whispered, her head still down.
"Excuse me?" I wasn't quite sure I had heard correctly. She looked up, her eyes worn and guarded.
"I'm a vampire. Or at least, partially one." OK, so I had heard what she'd said, I just didn't know what she meant, apparently.
"You mean, you want to be one again on Halloween?" She shook her head, slowly, and stood up, pacing as she spoke.
"I mean, on one night a year Halloween I turn into a full, blood drinking, can't go in anywhere without being invited, hates sunlight kind of vampire." I opened my mouth to protest or question or comment or who knows what, but she didn't notice or didn't care and kept talking.
"It was part of a family curse. In 1865 in Massachusetts, my family was filled with farmers. They lived on a small farm, growing wheat, and were regular church-going, God-fearing, friendly social types who lived by the rules. Well, one evening, this traveler comes to the door, dressed in all black, a cape folded over his arm, and asked to have a place to rest. My par..." She glanced at me and continued, although I filed her slip away for later.
"The family invited him in for the evening meal, but were very concerned when he did not participate in grace prior to eating. Later, when the man was to retire to bed, he simply asked for a place in the root cellar, hardly an area fit for sleep, although his request was granted. The family simply was too thoughtful and naive to say no." Reeve's pacing increased as she got into the meat of the story, and I was too enraptured with the tale to jump in at her pauses.
"When one of the children went down to get some food from the cellar, she found the man his name was Lester asleep with his eyes open behind some of the barrels of wheat. She screamed, but he did not waken. None of the family members could wake him, and a priest was called in. Now the priest had heard of men like Lester from other travelers, and knew what was needed." Reeves pacing increased, up and down her living room.
"He left the family watching the man with a silver cross, saying they should hold it to his cheek if he woke. He warned them, though, that the man was evil, and would eat them in their sleep. They, hearing this, were afraid, and the women and children were sent back to the house. The priest returned with holy water, and as he quoted from the Bible, emptied it onto the still-slumbering figure."
"Apparently, he sizzled as he died, his skin cooking under the weight of the water, and as he breathed his last breath, he said..." Reeve's eyes closed as though she were quoting the exact words, "'I place upon your family a curse, that on one day each year, the day of All Hollow's Eve, each of you shall be like me. But beware the heat of your God's gaze.' And with that, he died." She turned to where I sat on the couch, my mouth slightly open, and looked into my eyes.
"I know that it happened, Nevin, because I was there, hiding behind the door to the cellar, watching it."
I blinked. Again.
"I'm sorry, what?" It seemed the only appropriate response. My mind was swimming with the implications behind it, and although my rational self wanted to not believe, my imagination was alive and dancing with each word she spoke.
Reeve sat on the couch and again took my hands. Hers were hot against the iciness of my skin.
"I know it's hard to believe, Nevin, but it's true." She looked away. "I wanted you to know why I couldn't see you on Halloween. I also wanted you to know why I didn't remember you from Halloween, at least, in my conscious mind. Most of the things that happen on that day are a blur, a vague memory, further away from me than the events of that day more than 100 years ago."
I withdrew my hands from hers, not missing the look of hurt that flew across her features.
"So you want me to believe that not only are you a blood-drinking vampire, but that you are more than 138 years old and get amnesia one day a year because of a curse put on your family in the 1800s by some dying guy named Lester?" I couldn't keep the incredulity out of my voice.
She bit her lip and nodded. Now it was my turn to pace.
"How is that possible? And why can't you remember? Have you ever drunk someone's blood? What happens if you do?" I couldn't believe I was buying this, but at least it made my ego feel better on why she didn't remember me, and it was far too elaborate for her to bother making up for my benefit alone.
She smiled, the first one of the evening.
"Then you believe me?" I moved to stand in front of her, nudging her knees open so I could stand between them.
"It's like I can't not believe you. Trust me, it'd be a hell of a lot easier to just pass you off as some kind of crazy kook, but you don't seem like one. And in the past few months, I feel like I've gotten to know you to the point where I can tell you're lying." I smiled at her. "Your nose flares when you lie, and it didn't do it once the entire time you were talking. Plus, it helps that you have someone who always believed in ghosts and ghoblins and that kind of thing. Believing you're a vampire when I think my own house is haunted really isn't too much of a stretch." I leaned down.
"But don't think you're getting off that easy. I want some answers."
Over the course of the next few hours, until about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, I discovered that she was technically 147 years old, had never killed any of what she called her blood donors, frequently fasted on Halloween, lost much of her family to their disbelief in the curse to the sun, which she called "the heat of God's gaze," could only age until 27, the age at which Lester had died, after which her mind aged, but her body didn't, and couldn't see me on Halloween for fear that she'd bite me and transfer the curse.
Had I been 28 or older, it wouldnt have been a problem, as I wouldnt have been able to get the curse a loophole I imagine Lester never thought of but I was only 24.
Throughout the course of a few generations, it was uncovered that although her family could die by the sun or holy water, they were for the rest of the time, immortal, and could transfer the vampirism and immortality to someone they truly loved in their heart if they bit them in the middle of sex. It was this last fact that fascinated me.
"So," I said at the end of the night, "You don't want to see me on Halloween because you're worried, with your heightened sexuality that day, that you won't be able to resist me and will have sex with me and bite me, and then I'll be like you, correct? That is, if I'm your true love?" It sounded terribly complicated, if a little far-fetched, but as I had believed this far, what was just a hop, skip and a jump farther going to do?
"You've got it. So, unless you want to spend eternity with me, watching your friends and family die around you, having to move from place to place every 10 or so years to not allow suspicions to arise about why you don't age, and avoiding the sun one day a year, I don't recommend stopping by. It's not a reflection on my like or ..." She hesitated. "Feelings for you, Nevin, it's just a precaution."
I told her I understood, but wondered what it would be like. My parents and I had never had a very good relationship, so I wasn't worried about that aspect, and I didn't have any siblings to think of. God, was I actually considering this?
I grabbed the forgotten food by the door and put it all in her fridge, hoping it was still good before kissing her tenderly. I cocked my head to the side.
"Don't you worry a thing, Reeve, alright? Halloween's going to be fine." She looked up at me from her perch on the couch and nodded once, as though she knew I was considering the consequences.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" I said with a yawn, finally realizing that dawn was approaching and birds were already in song for the day.
* * *
The next week went smoothly between us, the subject not brought up again. I had thought a lot about it, though, weighing the pros and cons she had listed out ever-so-conveniently for me. From what I could tell, the pros outweighed the cons, and if she felt about me the way I did her, eternity wouldn't be a problem. Besides, I told my pragmatic core, if I got sick of her, there was one day a year I could die. I shut that thought up pretty quickly, although it factored in as a pro in favor of disturbing her peace that night.
I knew from midnight to 11:59 p.m. of Halloween, she would be in the house with her blinds drawn and heavy draperies placed over to prevent light leakage. She had explained all of that.
It took me until about 11 p.m. that Saturday night of the holiday before I made my final decision. She was worth it, and I only hoped she felt the same way for me. The way I figured it, if she didn't feel the same way for me, I wouldn't turn into a vampire, or so she said, and if she did, then she'd be worth being a vampire one night a year for.
I drove slowly to her house, taking in the thick coverings over the inside of her windows upon arrival.
I rang the doorbell.
The vision that answered the door was exactly as I remembered, complete with the silken cape, shiny shoes, elongated, bright white canines showing between her lips, and clear red eyes. She looked at me for a moment before holding the door open, silently moving aside, dim lights illuminating her form, an echo of the picture I took when we first met. I shivered but stepped over the threshold.
"Nevin," she husked, her eyes traveling slowly down my body. I could feel the weight of those red eyes and the trail of fire they blazed, even outside my clothes. "You came."
I stood up to full height, my chin raised in slight defiance of her original wishes. "I did."
She kissed me then, and it was unlike any other kiss we had experienced before. It felt like she was consuming me, trying to draw the breath from my body as she sucked on my tongue, dagger-like teeth brushing gently against the hard muscle. Her cape opened as she continued to kiss me, and she wrapped me in it, my body coming to press against her black suit-clad form.
My head was tilted back from our closeness, but I barely registered it as I gave in to her oral assault, my tongue quivering, my lips begging for more as she started sucking on each one. Her lips moved to my jaw, and then to my throat as she paused over my pulse point, and I thought, "This is it." Even as I thought it, before it happened, I felt I had made the right decision in believing her, in coming here. Part of me had come to simply verify her story, and I was glad to discover her truthfulness. The rest enjoyed, delighted in the possibility of doing this with her every night, forever.
But she simply kissed my neck where the skin jumped with my heartbeat and moved on. I leaned my head back, begging her to take what she wanted with my body, though my voice remained silent. My eyes closed as she loosened the ties of her cape, and I felt the wisp of satin as it fell from our shoulders.
Then, slowly, she guided me backwards, her hands on my shoulders, my eyes still closed.
"Reeve," I groaned, not wanting to be walking, but on the floor, doing her bidding. She chuckled, a deep, dark sound that came close to a staccato growl in the back of her throat, and continued pushing me backward.
We entered her bedroom, the darkness closing in on us, and she pushed me to sit on her bed.
She knelt before me, her hands going to the hem of my sweater, her lips finding mine in a possessive kiss. I gave in, as I knew I always wanted to and would with her. She licked along the edge of my lips, then pulled back as she lifted the sweater over my head. If I thought I had wanted her before, none of it compared with how much I wanted her now. I reached down to yank off my t-shirt underneath the sweater before she even brought her hands down.
Despite the lack of light in the bedroom, I could still see the gleam of her teeth as she smiled.
I grabbed the back of her head and pulled her into a kiss again, lips sliding together, her mouth even hotter than I remembered from a few minutes ago as she reached behind my back and unsnapped my bra. She broke the kiss and stood up, flicking on a small lamp on her dresser, which illuminated half of her and left her half in shadow. I began to stand up to follow her, my bra hanging from straps on my forearms, but she shook her head and looked at me, eyes raking over my mostly naked chest, her tongue poking out between those deep red lips to lick. I pulled the useless silky material off and threw it in a corner before falling back on my elbows to give her a better view.
Her eyes stayed on my chest for a few seconds longer before flicking up to mine, and then I was supporting her, her mouth on my neck, prompting me to wonder whether this was the time. Instead, she licked and sucked her way down my neck, to the hollow of my throat, where she dipped her tongue, and along my clavicle. I closed my eyes at the onslaught, and arched my chest up into her body, begging her silently to touch my breasts. She took the hint and licked and kissed a wet and fiery path down to my right breast. She blew a stream of cold air onto my nipple and I shivered before a hot, wet mouth enveloped the hard, pebbled flesh.
My back arched further as her hand reached up to palm my left nipple. I opened my eyes, wanting to see, to know who was making me feel this way. She looked up as she sucked, her tongue fluttering lightly over the nipple, and a moan escaped my throat. Her red eyes captured me as she continued to suckle, before she looked away and started moving further down.
A breath caught in my throat as I felt her working her way down my body, canines grazing over the flesh of my stomach before reaching the top of my jeans. Her eyes flicked up to mine again before she turned to look at her hands unbuttoning the top button, then the additional four underneath, of the jeans, and easing them off my hips. My shoes fell to the floor with a thud, followed quickly by socks and jeans, and, finally, underwear.
I lay on the bed, right leg bent up, left leg straight out, watching her face and eyes as they crawled up my body before her hands followed the same path. Her fingers trailed slowly over the tops of my feet, up my shins, over my knees, thighs, onto my hips and all the way up to my breasts, which she caressed gently. I wanted so badly to close my eyes, to feel her touching me with only my body, but couldn't stop watching the play of hunger and desire fight with wonderment on her face. It was as though these were two separate people fighting for dominance over who got to touch me with each second we were together.
She encircled the fullness of my breasts with her fingers before spiraling in toward the nipples. My need for her hands on me spurred the motion of my hips as I bucked up into her.
She smiled again, then, a dangerous smile, and kissed my stomach before removing her hands from my breasts before they could reach their goal. I almost cried out at the lost touch before I felt her placing my legs over her shoulders. My eyes widened at seeing her head dip down to blow a soft breath across my swollen, wet center, before she took a swipe with her tongue and almost all coherent thought left my head.
I arched into her, one hand grabbing at her head, pushing her face where I needed her, wanted her to stay indefinitely. I looked down at the slowly bobbing head, her hair almost a curtain around her face, under eyelids made heavy by want. She centered on my clit, her tongue pushing and fluttering, my breath coming out in short pants as my release approached.
Just before I came, she looked up at me, red eyes pounding into mine, before she dipped her head and a sharp pain and pleasure sent my blood south and me into a world I'd only wondered of before. It was like living and dying, a thousand centuries of pain and pleasure, a world of good and evil, love and hate.
The sucking into the pulse of my groin as she made me feel the passion and an overwhelming craving I couldn't identify, made my release seem like it lasted hours, days, weeks. A rushing I'd never experienced, a want and desire I'd never known, a warmth I'd never felt, or even knew I could, infused my being for a length of time I could not determine.
And then it was over, her mouth no longer stealing my blood, my mortality. I relaxed my eyelids, which had scrunched in the sensational overload, and opened them. Reeve smiled at me from between my legs, blue eyes wary. The clock behind her head, which I hadn't noticed upon entering, showed 12:04 a.m.
"Did it work?" My voice was hoarse from screaming, which I didn't remember doing.
Reeve nodded, easing her naked body from the floor and onto the bed beside mine. I was nervous, but elated at the thought behind why it had worked. Ever the practical one, I had something to know, first.
"Where did your clothes go?" She looked down, somewhat sheepishly.
"Whatever I'm wearing when the clock strikes midnight is what I'm wearing when the clock strikes midnight for the next day. I went to bed naked, thinking I'd be in bed at this point, but..." She looked embarrassed, and I wanted to cover myself up, thinking it would ease her discomfort.
"Are you sorry?" My voice was quiet, and I dreaded hearing her answer.
She glanced up sharply.
"No. I would never have known your true feelings without this, no matter what you might have said." She looked down, shy, then reached her hand out to run along the skin of my thigh, almost reverentially.
"Reeve?" Her head snapped up and she took her hand away. I replaced it and she smiled.
"I love you." She shut her eyes at my admission, a single tear escaping, and grabbed me in a tight hug. Her lips caressed the skin of my neck and I didn't wonder whether this was the time anymore. Now I had all the time in the world.
She moved her face in front of mine, her dark hair hanging like a shroud over our faces as she pushed me slowly to lay down on the bed.
"I love you, too." And she captured my lips in a passionate, loving kiss.