Lazarus sat there stunned and slightly confused. Melissa had left her violin on the floor, the smooth wood glinting in the early sun filtering through the window. He wanted to reach out and touch its surface, as if it was a link to Melissa somehow, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave smudgy finger marks all over something that clearly meant a lot to her. ‘I think I love you’. Her words echoed in his head and he looked up at the sun rising over the city of ants. He understood why she had tried to keep it hidden. His own insensitive words played back and the fake smile on her perfect face as she tried to brush it aside. ‘Ugh, first I sound like I wanted some kind of romance’ ‘I think I love you.’
The words played around in his head, each time he heard his own voice talking so tactlessly he winced and he reached for the beer by the sofa. He threw it back as if it were water and wiped his mouth on his loose sleeve. He got up and sat back on the piano stool, drawing out his cigarette box as though it contained something precious and lit up, without bothering to move to the window. The breeze blew in, forcing the smoke around his face to rise and kiss the ceiling. He instead stared at the violin on the floor.
It looked so fragile, much like Melissa. He got up and walked to the kitchen, looking in the cabinet under the sink for a clean dusting cloth. The garish yellow material almost leapt out of the cupboard at him and he reached in with his free hand for the soft material. He pulled it out of the noisy cellophane packet trying not to drop either the packet or the cigarette in his other hand. He ended up dropping both, and swearing loudly at himself as the cigarette bounced burning little black dots into the cheap linoleum. He threw the packet of duster cloths on the counter and picked up his cigarette again, brushing the dirt off the filter before putting it to his mouth again.
He wrapped the yellow cloth around the neck of the violin and carefully picked it up, putting the bow between two fingers of the same hand so he could open the door and keep a hold on his cigarette and not burn the whole place down. Not bothering to shut his door, he took the two steps to Melissa’s door and knocked.
‘You left your violin on the floor...’ he said when she finally opened the door. Her face was stained pink by her bloody tears and he grimaced. He tried to smile, but her face became a mask of confusion as she noticed he was holding the violin with a duster.
‘Why... are you holding it with a duster cloth?’ she enquired, trying to sound as though she hadn’t been crying, though her face and the quiver in her voice gave it away.
‘I didn’t wanna get any finger prints or smudges on it.’ Lazarus mumbled, embarrassed.
‘Thank you,’ she whispered taking it gently from his long bony fingers. ‘I’m so stupid, sorry.’ She said quietly, placing it on the floor carefully beside her. ‘Don’t worry, though, I’ll be out of here tomorrow. Lazarus looked into her emerald eyes as she turned around, ignoring her stained face.
‘What? There’s no need to go anywhere...’ He stammered, uncertain.
‘There’s no reason to stay.’ Her words were confident, but he heard a hint of pain in her voice as she spoke. He frowned and tried to keep her eye contact, but she looked away.
‘What are you talking about?’ He asked, the firm, concerned words spilling from his mouth effortlessly. He realised his cigarette was about to burn his fingers and dropped it on the floor, extinguishing it with his foot, kicking it away.
‘I have nothing here but upset and battles, I might as well go.’ She turned and picked up the violin, leaving him standing at the door dumbly as she put it in its case.
'Upset and battles? Sure... there's a vampire on the loose killing people, but he won't last long. I see no upset for you here. Unless you count the condition of your flat?' She turned back to him and smiled lightly, dodging his questions.
‘What about you? Surely just the sight of me would repel you?’ Lazarus’ face contorted, his expression one of pure confusion. How could someone so beautiful be repulsive? Even if she was a vampire, they seemed to be getting on okay, at least until she bewildered him so.
‘Why the hell would the sight of you repel me?’ he asked bluntly.
‘I'm a vampire.’ She replied equally blunt. ‘A vampire that l-’ she choked on her own words but forced herself to say it ‘that loves you.’
‘Melissa if you repulsed me, I wouldn't be talking to you now, would I? I wouldn't have invited you in that first day, either. Stop being stupid and stay!’ Lazarus exclaimed, frustration lining his voice. She was taken aback by his tone and apologised. Lazarus put a hand on the doorframe above his head and leant on it, sighing. ‘You don’t need to be sorry, Melissa. You don’t need to be sorry for anything.’ He told her, trying to soften his voice.
‘Yes I do, I shouldn’t have troubled you.’ She looked at the floor, avoiding his soft, acute gaze.
‘You haven’t troubled me. Look at me.’ His voice began to take a commanding tone that he hadn’t used before. She reluctantly looked up. ‘I’m actually quite flattered that you think you love me. I’m just... unsure.’ He continued.
‘I know.’ She sighed and looked out of her window. ‘Oh!’ she cried. ‘Look how early it’s getting, I should get to sleep.’ She looked around at her bed-less apartment, disgusted at its state. Lazarus considered his proposal for about two seconds before it left his lips.
‘Why don’t you sleep at mine? I can’t believe you’ve been sleeping in here like this!’ he followed her gaze and instinctively reached out his hand for hers. ‘I’ll change the bed sheets for you and sleep on the sofa.’ He wrapped his fingers around her wrist gently and tugged. She smiled and pulled her hand away.
‘Thank you, it’s a generous offer, but I couldn’t impose.’ She told him.
‘You wouldn't be. I was going to change my sheets anyways.' He said with a faint laugh.
‘But...’ she trailed off, realising she had run out of excuses.
‘C’mon.’ He gripped her wrist again and this time she had no choice but to follow. He sat her down on his sofa while he changed his bed sheets and his the empty alcohol bottles carefully, hoping she wasn’t the nosy type. He grabbed one of the pillows for himself and dragged it back into the living room, with a smile.
‘Drink?’ he asked lightly.