“Hannah, how was today?” he asked, this time preferring to stand instead of sit.
“Fine” I had full control of my speech tonight.
He looked a little upset at my response. He walked over to an ornate dresser made of a dark varnished wood. I couldn’t see what he was looking at inside one of the drawers but he snapped it shut when he saw me craning my neck.
“I thought we could share memories tonight. I’m afraid I wont have much time for you after tonight, Morrigan has some very interesting ideas for The Nightstalkers” he said, walking back over to me.
My mind started to send out warning signals. Sharing blood memories involved Trace biting me, something that would make me a vampire before my time. And once he tasted my blood he would know I was human and what are the odds I would live to see the sunrise? I didn’t even know if I could share blood memories. Trace walked back over to the dresser and opened another drawer. He was dressed casually again today. He wore a white short-sleeved v-neck and black jeans. From the drawer he produced two champagne flutes and padded back to me again.
“This is the more civilised way to share blood. I’ve never been a fan of taking it straight from a person’s neck. Blood is like wine, if you rush it you’ll miss out on all the flavour” he said, handing me a flute and a knife.
He held his arm out, the knife poised by the crease of his elbow. I followed suit. He smiled at me.
“To eternal life” he said and sliced across with the knife. I did the same and watched the red fluid pour out of my system and into the waiting glass below. Trace had to reopen his cut a few times to keep the blood flowing and I pretended to do the same. It was getting it to stop bleeding that I was worried about. Eventually mine and Trace’s flutes were half full and we stopped collecting our blood. When Trace inquired about my still bleeding arm, I told him minor injuries made me bleed a lot. He seemed to understand and gave me some muslin to wrap around my arm. We swapped flutes and drank, both experiencing memories at the same time. Or so I hoped. Trace had better control over what memories I saw. Maybe that’s why he preferred to swap blood in a glass. Nonetheless, I still saw some emotional things though it took a lot out of me to witness them. Every one of my muscles seemed to tense, as if I were playing tug of war with Trace’s own will.
Trace was running through a forest. For each cut that healed, he gained another from the branches that whipped against his face. There were shouts behind him, propelling him forward. He hadn’t meant to bite her. He’d just been so hungry, but when he’d tasted her blood… It had been so bitter. There was no way he could drain her. And then the people had found him. They’d never liked him, they always knew he was different. He’d had death threats, been beaten up several times and had come close to death just for courting her. So when they found her dying from blood loss, they set after him intent on revenge. He had to get away. If he could get away from the town things would be easier. If he could get out of the country things would be almost too easy. But he wasn’t sure if he was even going to make it out of the forest. He’d waited too long to feed and all the cuts were taking their toll. Eventually the townsfolk would catch up with him and he would have to drag himself back from the blackness that awaited the dead.
He stood impatiently in the back alley of a seedy club. One thought danced around in his head, ‘where’s Steffi? She should be here by now’. A man and a clearly drunk girl burst out of the club, knocking Trace backwards. Any other day he would have stopped them, taught them a lesson. He couldn’t now, he had to wait for Steffi. Why wasn’t she here yet? She was never late so where was she now? He paced for a while, narrowly avoiding the speeding car that raced in his direction. Before the car had even stopped a scruffy ginger girl jumped out of the driver’s side and pulled open the passenger door. She dragged a thin boy out of the car and threw him onto his knees in front of Trace.
“Sorry I took so long, T, your latest catch was more trouble than I thought he was going to be. I had to sedate him. You’ll be lucky if he’s awake before tomorrow” she said.
“That’s okay. I just want this one for feeding,” Trace said, looking down at the boy, “Thank you, Steffi. Really”.
“Aaw, come on, T. You know I’d do anything for ya. Which reminds me… T, honey, we gotta get you a car” she said with a wink.
She kissed him on the cheek, jumped back in the car and sped off into the night.
“Steffi! Steffi, I did it! I don’t have to kill anyone else!” Trace shouted happily.
“That’s great, T. Now, would you do me a favour and get the hell out?” Steffi said, annoyance raw in her voice.
Trace looked down from Steffi’s face and saw a pathetic human boy trailing kisses up her neck. Trace turned and walked calmly out of the small house that Steffi rented. He never saw her again.
There he was. The pale-skinned, mousy haired angel. Something about him just seemed so inviting. Even if his nose was broken and he had a few teeth missing, he was still the most beautiful thing Trace had ever laid eyes on. It wasn’t a lack of courage that kept him from introducing himself, it was a matter of pride and morality. He had been brought up a Catholic, and everything that was running through his head was a sin. Sure, he’d lost his faith the day he became a vampire but what he’d been taught was still embedded in his skull. Today, though, he would forget his Catholic heritage and would speak to him. If he was going to live forever, he might as well enjoy it.
He lit a cigarette with a match. It had become a habit of his lately. Then again, quite a few things had become a habit of his. He sighed, sending a jet of smoke out of his mouth. That involuntary action attracted the attention of his mousy haired angel. Trace held a hand out to him.
“I’m sorry, Trace, I’ve got to go” he said in his beautiful Southern accent.
“You always have to go. Who is it you keep running back to?” Trace asked with almost no emotion.
“It… It’s nothing. I just…have to go”.
“I hope there isn’t someone you haven’t told me about” Trace said teasingly.
His angel smiled and leant into his face. His eyes were so gentle; he couldn’t help but get lost in them. Trace pushed his angel’s hair back and smiled at him. Passion welled up inside him but he never moved. He always let his angel move first, he couldn’t afford to be reckless around him. But his angel always teased him. Trace got the impression he liked teasing him. But he liked being teased, it just made him love him more. The angel pressed his forehead to Trace’s and stood up.
“I really have to go” the angel laughed.
Trace pouted. “Yeah, I know”.
He sat cradling his angel. Things had gone as wrong as they possibly could have. He’d been careful, never let things get too far, always fed before he saw him. Yet somehow he’d managed to bite him, and now he lay dying in his arms. He had to get more venom into him, to make sure he turned. But each time he caught the scent of his blood it was all he could do to stop himself going into a feeding frenzy. All he could do was wait and comfort his angel…
Trace looked more like he did now, the only difference being the thin ring of metal that threaded through the left side of his nose.
“Trace, I can’t stay” his angel said.
Vampire blood coursed through his veins now but Trace was still protective of him. Trace lounged on a sofa, a cigarette pursed between his lips.
“You really should quit” the angel said, brushing past him.
“It’s not doing me any harm. Besides, I thought you liked it”.
“Well, it makes you look cute but do you really want to be hooked on them forever?”
“Let me think…yes?”
The angel brushed past him again. Trace hooked an arm around his waist and pulled him onto the sofa.
“Trace, get off me” the angel said.
“Aaw, come on, Rutherford, I just want a goodbye kiss” Trace said teasingly.
“Why don’t you call me Nate anymore?”
Trace didn’t have an answer for that. For some reason he hadn’t called him Nate in a long time. Nate sat next to Trace, awaiting an answer he would never get. He tried to charm an answer out of him, playing with his hair in the way he knew Trace liked but it was pointless. Trace couldn’t give him an answer when he didn’t know himself. He just kissed Nate’s hand and stayed silent. He felt a hand on either side of his head and Nate’s lips crushed against his. Love and adoration swallowed him and he realised why he had stopped calling his angel ‘Nate’. It was because he was afraid. He was afraid that Nate wasn’t his anymore, that he was someone different. He’d been stupid to even think that. Nate withdrew from the kiss but kept his hands in place.
“Trace, there’s something I have to tell you,” he said nervously. Trace cocked his head to one side as best he could and Nate continued, “There is kind of someone else. But it’s not like that, I promise”.
Trace growled and Nate stared into his eyes. They were so gentle, how could he stay mad at Nate?
“Trace, I have a brother. A human brother. His name is Zakyn, he’s thirteen years old and, well, he can’t find out about us”.
And in that moment, Trace’s entire world collapsed around him.