Because it's Vampire Appreciation Week

In honor of Alyssa's birthday, it's Vampire Appreciation week and this is my contribution. To confess, I actually posted a much simpler--and shorter--version of this story on my blog a few years back, though I think I some point I took it down.

Apparition

© 2010 Suzanne Lazear


A golden moon hung heavily, illuminating the ocean on this warm summer night. A light breeze whipped around me, teasing my unbound black hair. Waves, grey-blue in the moonlight, sung to me in haunted whispers as I sat down in the moist sand on the quiet stretch of beach.

It had been a year.

Taking the top off the bottle of Glenfiddich, I took a long swig of amber liquid, savoring the sensation as it slid down my throat. She loved thirty-year-old Scotch. I preferred a good red wine. Tonight I drank to her memory. The memory of Niniane. My lost love.

It had been a year.

A year since we sat on the on the sand, Scotch in hand, talking and looking at the moon in front of her little beach house.

It had been a long year.

Memories of that last night together still haunted my dreams. Sometimes I awoke thinking her pale arms were still wrapped around me. This I admitted to no one. It would be weakness in the vampire world.

My world. A dangerous world. A world where she was no longer there to love me unconditionally, as only she could. To ground me. To remind me that I, Sofia Amoretto, only pretended to be an evil vampire because my job, my life, depended on the fear I instilled in others.

Deep inside, I knew that night when she asked me to take her home, to her little beach house, that it would be our last night together. Even though she pretended that she was fine. Even though she called her best friends and her protector to make plans for us all to meet the next night for dinner. To celebrate.

But when we met the next night it would not be at her favorite restaurant to celebrate her finally breaking the curse that had bound her for millennia. It would be at the little Irish pub in Venice where her kind gathered. For her wake.

I had awoken with the sunset to find that sometime during the day she had breathed her last breath, curled in safety of my arms.

Her death hurt more than a stake in the heart, more than meeting the morning light.

We had pledged our love to each other, our lives to each other, planned everything out...

By all rights, we should have had an eternity together. Breaking the curse was supposed to be the start.

But we were cheated from that happiness, that life together we envisioned.

Who would have thought her crafty, long dead stepmother would have woven into the curse a spell that would cause her to die upon breaking it? She must have been a powerful one indeed to have the magic to kill an immortal. Especially one as uncommon as my Nini.

Nini…

Taking another swig directly out of the bottle, raising it in a silent toast, I stared at the ocean as the waves continued their never-ending dance. She had loved the beach and warm weather.

Oh, I missed her so much. I missed her much more than a vampire should miss someone. I had loved her more than a vampire should love someone. She filled a void in my very being and every day her absence widened the hole her death left in my life.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the golden medallion I had given her long ago when we lived together in Rome. It had been her favorite.

“Why did you have to leave me again, Nini?” The evening was quiet except for the music of the night and my voice carried across the empty expanse of sandy beach.

Our torrid affair in Rome ended badly. We both were betrayed and she was wrenched from my arms. She escaped into thin air, as only she could. Alone. Thinking I had betrayed her. It would be centuries before I saw my dear Niniane again.

Kicked out of Italy, I rebuilt my life in California and rose to a coveted position within the local hierarchy. One day, I was with some other vampires in a bar in Hollywood.

And there she was.

It was as if I had finally been given a second chance.

She looked as she always had. Enchanting. Beautiful. Ethereal.

The Fae always were.

But she was skittish. Nini’s heart was as big as the ocean. She loved with abandon and had been hurt many times. Too many times.

It took awhile to convince her to be with me again. To make it up to her. That I could heal her fragile heart--just like I had in Rome centuries before.

My love for her was still as strong as it had been in Rome. She still loved me as well. We resumed our affair. It was exquisite. Even better than I remembered.

Vampires liked to think that they were the best lovers. So did the Fae.

Together we were pure magic.

Taking another swig of Scotch, I felt it burn the back of my throat, wishing it would dull the pain. It should not hurt so much. After all, I was vampire.

But when you live forever, what else do you have to live for, if not for love?

That was hardly a vampiric statement

The medallion still in my fist, I brought that hand up until my fingers rested against the lapis pendant I wore around my neck. Still wore. She had one just like it, which now rested in my jewelry box. Our pledge to each other.

Her protector had given the medallion to me before he took her lifeless body back to her home, Gwlad y Tylwyth Teg, though her soul was in a place she called Annwyn, an otherworldly paradise where those like her went when they died. A place I would never go. Could never go.

Now I regretted my part in breaking the curse. My fingers curled around the medallion so tightly it cut into my palm. I wanted her to know what it was like to be free of it before I asked her to be my mate, to stand by my side, to stay with me for the rest of our centuries.

It was uncommon enough among vampires to take a permanent mate. After all, forever was a very long time. But for a vampire to take up with a non-vampire, even another immortal, in such a manner…

Also, faeries and vampires didn’t exactly get along. But my Nini was always an uncommon faerie.

When she finally found the information she needed, I pushed her. I pushed her to go through with it and finally break the curse. After all, what harm could come from being free?

The breeze brought me a scent that should not be there, interrupting my rumination.

In the moonlight, the intruder walking down the beach looked like a marble goddess from the ruins of Ancient Rome. I had not been born yet, when Rome was an Empire. We met in Rome in the latter part of the 17th century. But Nini had been there and told me stories of a time when Rome was more than a city.

She had many stories and was an expert at telling them. Nini was an old faerie, chronologically. But the curse kept her young in so many ways.

Sometimes I had been jealous of her, which made her loss all the harder. Nini had it all. She could walk in the sun or under the moon. She had undying youth and beauty. She had magic. She was immortal. All without paying the price we vampires did.

All she had was her curse. Eventually I’d find out that it was hard on her. That she was so weary that it ate at her very soul. An eternal teenager cursed to never to come of age. To forever be on the brink of womanhood.

The apparition’s hair was a billow of platinum. Bare feet left footprints in the damp sand. All she wore was a satiny purple negligee, the same color as her intense eyes.

Something Nini would wear. They were her favorite sleepwear this decade. Purple her favorite color.

Pale lavender wings stretched out behind her in a splendor few had ever seen.

Wings?

If I still had a heart, it would have skipped a beat. Holding up the bottle I confirmed that I hadn’t drunk that much.

The apparition made me miss my Nini all the more; mourning the centuries we had not spent together...

Yes, that was it.

She was just a vision caused by the mist, the salt, and the full moon. Dawn would be here soon. I would need to go inside before then.

Still, I watched. Enthralled. Captivated.

Closer she drew until I had to stand up, angry at being disturbed. This was my private sorrow. It was not to be shared, even with apparitions. Already I mourned her more than a vampire should.

Finally the specter looked at me with violet eyes luminescent in the moonlight. The sculpted face was more beautiful, more radiant, than I remembered.

Part of me wanted to yell for her to go away, to leave me in peace so I could learn to live without her.

Part of me wanted to run into her arms.

Sofia.” Her voice was soft and accented, as always. Now she stood in front of me. It was her face, her voice, her body.

What had I done in life to deserve this?

Reaching out, I wanted to touch her, but I hesitated. She looked like Nini, but my Nini was dead. I had held her lifeless body in my arms. I had attended at her wake. I had watched as her faerie protector, charged with watching after her until the curse was broken, walked though the gate that would take them back to the Otherworld, the realm of Faerie. To take her body back to her father, back to her court for them to mourn.

“Nini?” My voice shook slightly. My love. My dearest. My darling.

We were supposed to have been together forever. We had so many plans.

“I missed you, Sofia,” she reached to me, but didn’t touch me.

Why would she? This was just an apparition, a figment of my imagination and sorrow.

After all, it had been a year.

But I missed her.

Reaching out, I touched this figment. This specter. For a long moment all I did was touch her. I stroked her face, her unbound hair, those pale purple wings.

“I miss you so much. A year should be nothing in the life of an immortal, but I swear it was the longest year in all my centuries. “What are you doing here?”

Even someone as uncommon as she could not come back from the dead. Could she?

Or was it just madness?

She put a finger to her lips. With a coy smile, she drew me close. Her familiar scent wrapped around me like a blanket.

Then she kissed me.

I kissed her back.

Quickly, I stripped off her nighty and my own clothes. Lowering her down on the sand I reacquainted myself with her body, with her. I had her back. Happiness filled me.

“Don’t leave me ever again, Nini. Niniane was my everything. She made eternal life worth living. Without her...

“I won’t, Sofia. I’ll never leave you again.”

I could feel her all around me as we entwined our limbs, our hearts, our souls. All that existed was each other. I was so immersed in our reunion, in the elation of being with her once again, that when the rays of dawn hit my exposed body I never felt the pain.


1 comment:

Alyss said...

This is beautiful Suzanne. :) Bitterly sweet. Thank you for sharing it with me and for me, :)

Alyss