That was our first night as husband and wife. It was a painful night, in many ways. I had never performed the change before, and I had forgotten much about my own change. So many centuries had passed since then.
I had forgotten, for instance, how painful it is for fledgling drinkers to expel the remains of human waste from their newly perfected bodies, how uncomfortable the sensation of one’s new blood mixing with the old, as it takes over the capillaries and infuses the brain with different chemicals.
I am no doctor so I cannot pretend to say I know the inner workings of our kind. In the thousand years that I have roamed the earth, I have come across very few of our own kind, and have learned little about our condition. But I have a feeling that the large amount of blood Marisa drank from me, plus the fact that my blood was unchanged from my second awakening, since I’d never, ever drank blood until that night, helped her through the change.
By morning, she was herself again. Well, her new self.
When the sun came up, she was full of questions, mostly about my change.
“How was it for you? Did you have the same horrible thirst that burned right through you? Who changed you? When?”
And then she asked the question that I had been preparing myself for all of this time: “How old are you?”
I looked right into her vivid emerald eyes and answered directly, “I am a thousand years old.”
But that only stopped the flow of questions for a moment before she blinked and continued.
“Where were you born? Whom else have you changed? Where do you feed? On whom or what do you feed? Will I live forever, too?”
I held up a hand to stem the unceasing flow of her questions. She was insatiable for answers. “I will explain, wife. But first, we must destroy the evidence. It won’t do for the servants to find you all bloody and bedraggled, would it?”
“It could just mean we had a wild wedding night, husband,” she said with a wicked smile. But she let me bathe her, change her. In an hour we were both respectable again.
After I helped her into a fresh night-shirt and passed a comb through her gnarled tresses, removing the knots, we lay back down on the bed to rest for a while. The servants would not be bothering us until at least noon, as was custom on the morning after the wedding. We had plenty of time to talk.
Marisa lay curled up at my side like a child. I was unaccustomed to the feel of another body next to me in bed. For so long I’d lived a monk’s life, ascetic, celibate. Undrinking. Not partaking in any temptations, human or otherwise.
“Are you going to answer any of the questions I asked you before, Lucas?”
“In due time, my insatiable little wife. You must let me tell you my story. I have been waiting a very long time for you.”
“Yes, I know, four years.”
“No, my beloved, for centuries.”