Lovely: Chapter TwentyMature

This is how it ended.

The streets of Venice gave way to the great building where I resided. My loft apartment was high, so high. It must have been miles of stairs to reach the top. I was breathless and broken but still I pressed on, fueled by fears. Maybe by love.

All my life I'd doubted my abilities to feel, to really understand the way my heart might flutter when I was pressed to the chest of someone else. I was a demon, a dark and soulless creature. And that was all there was to it. This was not some fairytale; I was no princess. I was a curse.

The stairs fell away from me as I ran, clinging to the railing to keep from falling. Somewhere along the way I'd kicked off my heels, leaving them behind. I was moving faster, faster, and all the while my panic was building into something much like apathy.

I blinked hard, trying to feel Everette's presence. Instead everything felt empty. I didnt know if he was here or if he was already ten-thousand miles away. I didnt know much of anything, really, except that I needed to find him. Throw my arms around him and never let go. Because finding love was rare enough, so when it stumbled into your life, you were meant to hold tightly no matter what. Without love, the world was left to darkness, devoured by the maddening ways of the hopeless. Without love, the sky would always be gray and the roses would never, never bloom.

At last I stood before my door. My hand was trembling as I reached for the handle, fingers shaking as they wrapped around it. Behind closed eyes I could picture him perfectly. His black hair always falling into his bloodred eyes. His sardonic smirk as he pulled me into his arms, pressing his lips to my forehead. I could hear the way he sounded when he moved through me in the night, when he whispered that he loved me.

I threw the door open and stepped inside. I was met with darkness, shadows and nothing else. A thin trail of moonlight filtered in from the open window, but there was no breeze to move the curtains. All was still. Still, and deathly silent.

"Everette," I called out, speaking softly in an uneven voice. No reply.

And then I heard it, like it had been waiting for me all along. One sound to shatter the reverberating silence. It was loud enough to wake the whole damn world from their slumber.

I was but a blur of movement, running past the kitchen, the bedroom. Both were dark. At the end of the hall, the bathroom door stood open. I fumbled for the light switch for but a moment, and when at last I found it, I was forced to squint against the brightness of the fluorescent lights coming on overhead.

It's hard to describe exactly what I felt in that moment. First came the screams, ricocheting off the walls around me. My hands flew to my mouth as my eyes took in the scene before me. All the while my heart was thudding dully in my chest, a fading beat I so longed to simply stop. Maybe then this all would make sense, when I was gone. Because there couldnt be any sense in staying here with the pain, not now.

"Everette!" I cried, falling to my knees at his side. My bare leg brushed against the cool metal gun; I kicked it as far away as I could. The vampire had one hand over his chest, a hand coated in the blood that now bubbled up from the bullet hole. The one driven straight to his heart.

"Calla," he croaked, a voice painfully soft, as if he could barely even speak. He turned his face towards me, trying to muster a smile. In the end it came out as a grimace, and tears were pouring off my cheeks onto him. I took his hand in my own, clutching it tightly. Brought it to my lips and kissed every finger.

"Why...What..." I tried to find the words, but nothing would come.There was nothing to be said.

Everette laughed a little at my stuttering. He almost sounded alright again, but then it turned into a harsh coughing sound, one that had me wincing."I love you, Calla," he whispered. "I love you enough to set you free. I lived my life. Now it's your time to shine. You cant do that with me around."

He turned away from me again, his face concealed by darkness. Like he didnt want me to see him anymore, to see the way he'd given up. I realized then that we werent monsters, not really. Maybe we were soulless and damned and killers by nature. But who you are doesnt make you a monster. It's what you do that makes you a monster. And I didnt think any true demon could love the way we had.

I leaned in towards him and rested my head against his shoulder, letting the sobs take over my body. For a long while I stayed like that, holding tightly to the only thing I'd ever been sure of. At last Everette's breathing faltered. Then stopped. And I was left alone again.

I lifted my head to look at him. His pale skin was even colder than before, and the fires had all died out in his thirsty eyes. With one final tremor of tears, I leaned in to kiss his cheek, his forehead, and finally his lips. "Goodnight, angel," I whispered against his mouth. Then I let go of his hand, stood up, and turned off the lights.

The End

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