"Who are you and how do you know my name?" I asked through gritted teeth. My hands kept clenching and unclenching in tight fists and I could feel my nails digging into my palms.
He walked towards me, his hand outstretched. I kept my back to the door, one hand on the doorknob now. He was a tall man, easily towering over me, and his features would have looked attractive on another man, but on him they were breathtaking. His eyes were large, the pupils bright scarlet, and they were fringed by thick black lashes. He had long black hair pulled back in a ponytail and a high, smooth forehead. His physique was that of a forty-year old man. Though tall and lean, he had impressive arms that all but strained through the cloth of his gray suit.
He came to a stop in front of me. When he saw I wasn't proffering my hand to shake his, he dropped it and smiled again.
"I don't blame you for not trusting me. I would react the same way, coming home to find a strange man in my living room."
"I think the word 'man' is questionable here, since you clearly aren't human," I retorted.
He turned his back on me again, clasping his hands behind him. He walked towards the window again and stared through it. "Yes, it's true I'm no longer human," he said. "In fact, I haven't been human for over 100 years."
This made my jaw drop, but only for a second. I couldn't help the surprise in my voice as I echoed, "100 years?"
He turned around again, a peculiar smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "I have seen more of the earth in my century of traversing it than you can imagine. I have even met others of our own kind. But I've never come across someone like you. Tell me, Alice, beautiful little fledgling, why are your eyes golden and not red like mine?"
The breath caught in my throat and for a moment I couldn't respond. Something about this man made me want to move towards him, but that same something made me want to flee. I hated feeling like this, so unsure, without my visions to guide me as they usually did.
He cleared his throat and one of his perfectly groomed eyebrows lifted in inquiry. He was still waiting for a response. "I'll answer your questions," I said, "after you answer mine."
He smiled again and spread his hands in a very European gesture. "It's only fair, you're right. My name is Alistair Llewellyn. I know your name because I've been following you for quite some time. I grew curious and had to meet you. I've been following you from Pennsylvania."
I'd lived in Pennsylvania for two years before moving here to Chicago. The thought of this man -- this vampire, I mentally corrected myself -- following me in all that time made the skin at the back of my neck crawl. I took pleasure in the very human feeling.
"Why have you been following me?"
"I already told you. I was curious. You are clearly one of my own kind, and yet you walk among humans, live and work among them without feeding on them. You hunt deer and elk to sustain yourself, but surely that is a paltry substitute. And your eyes are golden."
"You already said that. Haven't you figured it out yet? For all your talk of traveling the world, you apparently don't know everything. My eyes are golden because I don't feed on the blood of humans. I may be a vampire, but that doesn't mean I have to be inhumane."
I was shocked when he answered with a mocking laugh. "Oho, so you are a humane vampire. What a play on words, fledgling. Well done."
"Thank you, Mr. Llewellyn. And now I'm sorry to say you need to get the hell out of my home." I reached behind me and opened the door, standing aside so he could pass through it.
My thoughts were already racing ahead, picturing the mountains in Alaska, to the north, where I hadn't traveled yet. I would have to leave soon, that much was certain, and I would have to guard my steps very, very carefully this time. There would be no time to say goodbye to Mrs. Elderberry, and I regret that, but my way of life was at stake -- no, my very life was at stake. For the first time in my short existence as a vampire, I felt the chill menace of danger creeping up my spine.
The vampire inclined his head in a curiously regretful manner before stepping out the door. "And I am the sorrier for it. I had hoped we could reach some sort of compromise, Alice. Maybe next time…”
And then he was gone so suddenly I was left wondering if he had even been there at all.