Vincent, a vampire, faces a dilemma on Valentines Day.
|“What a radiant journey that was, cara mia.”
I glided down the stone steps of the Galleria D’Arte, basking in the glow from the moon and the stars. Edward stepped softly behind me, modest and nonchalant as usual. I hesitated at the foot of the stairs as he quickly caught up, then locked my arm around his and bustled forward.
“It was a lovely show; thank you for taking me,” Edward said, his velour voice nearly a whisper. He had an odd habit of speaking quietly to me when the two of us were out among human beings, but the lowness of his voice was simply irresistible. His gratitude brought a smile to my face and caused my stomach to flutter slightly.
“You’re quite welcome, Edward. I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.”
The Galleria D’Arte was not exquisitely Byzantine, but the lack of glitz gave it an endearing, intimate atmosphere. It frequently showcased aspiring young talents, who were often the creators of exhilarating masterpieces, always far too perfect to have been truly crafted by a human. Tonight, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the Galleria featured the world’s most beautiful paintings of my most cherished feelings: love and lust.
The show had ended relatively early, and I was so high from the sheer beauty of the artwork that I refused any thought of returning home for the night.
“Cara mia, let’s do something else now,” I sang, my feet bouncing against the pavement. Edward hummed thoughtfully, pushing his thick, rectangular glasses further up his adorable Greek nose. Of course, he didn’t need the glasses, as a vampire’s vision is completely flawless, but they gave him a boyish allure. I smiled even wider as I watched his haggard expression and tightened my grip on his arm.
The excitement was too much for me to bear, however, and I let him go as my enthusiasm exploded. I began to whirl about, grinning madly as I frolicked between the few humans who were still out (though it was early for us, the vampires, it was past one in the morning). I leapt on to a stone bench, then flitted back down to the sidewalk in one fluid motion.
“For heaven’s sake, Vincent,” I heard Edward scold from behind, “calm yourself down.”
“I feel so alive, amore,” I shouted back to him, giggling with delight at my energy. I saw Edward’s lips curl into a smile as he tried to suppress his laughter at my words. It was ironic, after all. Regardless, he maintained his obligatory serious manner.
“You don’t have to vomit your vivacity out where people are going to step in it, you know.”
I chuckled at his metaphor and was readying my own witty retort when I noticed a single white flower, lodged in between the blocks of sidewalk. I nearly shrieked with joy at my discovery, as such treasures are impossible to find in the city. I bent over to gently touch the velveteen petals - not rip the poor plant from its home in the ground. If I had not been so interested in the flower, the next moment would have been lost to me.
It was then that I saw what I could only recognize as an angel on earth.
He was very slender and of slightly short stature, with shimmering black hair that reached his petite shoulders, and skin so vibrant, smooth, and pale that it appeared to be sculpted out of marble. His clothes were less than fashionable, but he carried himself in such an unknowingly extravagant way that, if he were to compete in a beauty contest against Adonis or Narcissus, he would automatically win the prize. There was only one thing that bothered me about this heavenly figure, though, and that was how painfully human he was.
Even still, I found myself unable to keep from staring at the boy as he trudged along the sidewalk.
“Vincent, who are you ogling now?”
Edward materialized beside me with what I could only assume to be a reproving expression, but his voice was completely empty of any jealousy or distaste. I formed words behind my lips, but I had momentarily lost the will to speak. I only wanted to absorb the incandescent beauty that surrounded the angelic boy. He continued to traipse along his own way without taking notice of me, though my ever-watching eyes might as well have burned a hole through him. When he moved completely out of my sight, I managed to stand up straight and sigh with unbelievable disappointment.
“Vincent?” Edward repeated, glancing at my crestfallen face and letting curiosity into his own countenance. I turned my head, gazing wistfully into his frosty blue eyes. “You were staring at someone. A human boy, I think.”
“Oh, cara mia,” I said, coming off a great swoon, “he was so...” I stumbled, searching for an adequate word to describe the boy.
“Edible?” Edward offered, arching an eyebrow. My spirits were too low to recognize the humor, and I merely sighed once more as I shuffled my feet forward.
I knew just how absurd I was, having gone from being more than content with Edward to lusting after a plain old human--though the boy was anything but ordinary. He was absolutely ambrosial.
Edward groaned under his breath and followed me, then walked briskly ahead. I was afraid that I had irritated him with my sudden moodiness, and I felt only worse. The desire to chase after the boy was burning deep within me, but it was subdued by the irrevocable love I already felt towards Edward. My heart seemed to be ripped in two.
We walked home in silence. I couldn’t sense what Edward was feeling, but I had a strong notion that he was fuming. As soon as we stepped inside our mansion, he picked his laptop computer up from the coffee table in our expansive living room, disappeared into one of the lavish guestrooms, and locked the door behind him. I nearly fell to the floor in despair.
Instead, I draped myself over the black leather armchair and buried my face in the cushions. I laid there for a ridiculous amount of time, battling against an inner storm of thought and desire. I finally looked up when the grandfather clock in the foyer chimed ominously. It was seven o’ clock, and the sun would be rising soon.
I had never stayed up so late before, and I began to panic at how dangerously close it was to morning. My feet hardly touched the ground as I flew up the stairs, then dove into the windowless bedroom I shared with Edward. I closed the door behind me, flooding the room with solid darkness, and switched from my swanky art gallery attire to a polar opposite outfit: blue plaid flannel bottoms and a black, form-fitting t-shirt that displayed an old band I had grown fond of over the years. I almost put on a different shirt, as that one had been a small gift from Edward, and the subtle reminder of my plight sent a pang of agony through my heart. I decided to be tough about it, however, and collapsed into bed.
Sleep refused to grace me with its presence, unfortunately. My mind was still reeling from the image of the boy on the street, combined with memories of Edward and a debilitating worry that I was being too tragic about the ordeal. I waited in the dark for at least an hour before it struck me that Edward wasn't coming to bed.
Part of my attraction to him was the effect of him being my very own creator, of course. I remembered the night I died so well that it seemed like it only happened a short while ago, instead of almost six hundred years. Edward had confronted me in the streets of Spain, where I had been born and lived for twenty-six years prior. I was constantly sickly and hallucinatory; naturally, when I saw that glimmering, godlike man approach me, I thought I was delirious with a fever.
I realized that my first feelings towards Edward were the exact same as the ones I felt for the boy in the city.
Edward Black wasn’t like any other vampire, however, in ways that extended far beyond my unconditional attraction to him. His powers and abilities were far greater than my own, such that I felt like a completely different species than him. The least of his extraordinary talents was that he could change his eye color without any outside interference, something that a narcissistic vampire such as myself would be extremely envious of. More significantly, Edward could pass through fire without sustaining any kind of damage, and consume any substance he would want to without having to regurgitate it shortly after getting it down. On top of that, he dreamt each time he slept--a phenomenon most other vampires don’t even remember from their human years.
The greatest difference between Edward and myself is that, true to form, I couldn’t be exposed to the sunlight without indeterminable repercussions. He could watch the sunrise over our lake every morning, and even spend the entire day outdoors without the fear of combustion or sudden death.
What I loved most about Edward was that he willfully ignored his ascended preternatural powers so that I wasn’t ever left alone.
As I continued to think about him, the lust I felt towards the boy in the city slowly faded away, and I felt more and more at ease. I slowly fell into a deathlike sleep (no dream, of course), and awoke as the grandfather clock downstairs rang out six times. The bedroom door was open; Edward’s sign that the night had fallen and it was safe for me to crawl out of my cave.
I couldn’t describe the great relief I felt as I made my way down the marble stairs, having been completely refreshed by my slumber. The fact that it was Valentine’s Day, my favorite holiday of the year, greatly improved my mood as well. I even beamed at myself as reflected in the mirrors hung over the banister, pleased by my pallid skin, dark black hair, and jack-o-lantern colored eyes.
There were feelings of slight regret, but I convinced myself that they were only directed at how puerile I had acted the previous night.
“Edward, cara mia,” I called as I floated off the staircase and danced into the living room. There was an excitable, airy sensation in my body, which was how I usually felt after awakening from a full day’s sleep. I spread my arms out and fluidly pranced about the room, as if I were some sort of undead ballerino. I was so distracted by my artificial ballet that it took me a while to realize that Edward was not in the house.
Distress leaked into me as I flew from room to room, searching desperately for him. Each time he wasn’t there, and each time my heart sank further and further into abject misery.
Just as I was ready to fling myself to the floor again, a loud, unfamiliar sound echoed through the hallways. I glanced around in confusion, unsure as to what the noise was or what demonic creature could be making it. Then I slapped my hand to my forehead, mentally reaming myself for my idiocy.
I stepped into the nearest room and yanked the telephone receiver off the hook.
“Edward?” I asked expectantly.
“Of course,” he responded in an amused tone of voice, “who else has ever called you?”
No one had. The telephones were only in the house to disguise the fact that two cadaverous creatures occupied it.
“Cara mia, it was pure lunacy when I called for you and you didn’t respond. Where are you?” As happy I was to be speaking with Edward, I wasn’t in much of a mood to make small-talk.
“I’m sorry, Vincent, I had to go to the other mansion. There’s a conflict with some lawyers that needs to be settled, but I’ll be home as soon as I possibly can.”
So, my beloved was in Transylvania. I felt absolutely abysmal.
“But cara mia,” I protested, “it’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t want to be alone.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before tomorrow, I promise.” Then there was a slight shifting sound on the other side of the receiver. Even though I couldn’t see him, I could tell Edward was smiling. “In the meantime, why don’t you go see what I left you in the guestroom at the end of the hall?”
I grew ebullient at the idea of a present, and wasted no time in rocketing to the room he mentioned. The door was slightly ajar, but it was no obstacle as I barreled over the threshold with my eyes closed. There wasn’t much I loved more than a surprise.
“Well?” Edward asked.
“I’m too nervous to look!” I exclaimed, bouncing on my toes in excitement. There was a dull thud, as if Edward had smacked his head against something.
“Open your goddamned eyes, Vincent.” All I needed was the invitation.
My mouth fell agape with stupefaction.
Tucked into the queen-sized bed was the boy from the city, just as stunning as I remembered him to be. I completely forgot how to speak, and if I needed to breathe I would have temporarily lost that ability as well. The boy was fast asleep, but he looked just as alive as he had on the street. I was captivated by the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he drew in tiny breaths, such that I forgot that I had Edward at my ear.
“I assume your silence is a good thing?” He said, retaining his audible grin. I racked my brain trying to figure out how to respond.
“How in the world did you find him?”
“That’s not important, is it? Don’t worry about that. Just have your way with him.”
I felt my heart pulse once or twice before falling dormant again. My body was riddled with supernatural adrenalin and overexcitement.
“Thank you, Edward, amore, I couldn’t be happier. This is the second greatest gift you have ever given me.” He knew that the first was eternity. “I love it, and I love you.”
We said our sweet goodbyes, and in a moment of uncontainable bliss I let the phone drop to the floor. The clatter caused the boy to stir, and it seemed that heaven itself was awakening. His eyelids fluttered, revealing eyes of such a deep, dark blue that they seemed almost inhuman. He glanced around the room as he slowly regained consciousness, tucking a lock of his silken black hair behind a colorless ear. Despite having woken up in a foreign bedroom with a creature such as myself staring at him, the boy made no impression that he was frightened or confused.
“Good morning,” I said, my voice lilting and quiet. He turned his head to get a better look at me and let out a faint gasp. He remained unconcerned, however, and his gorgeous eyes locked with mine.
“Good morning,” he replied, sounding uncertain. I smiled at the sound of his voice; he couldn’t have been more than sixteen or seventeen.
“I’m surprised at your lack of fear,” I said mellifluously, inching closer to him.
“I know what you are,” he explained, not budging an inch. I stopped and narrowed my eyes.
“Then surely you know what will become of you.”
He was silent, but there was determination in his expression. He knew, but he was unafraid. I mentally frowned at the foreboding that fell over the room, then put on a cheerful face.
“Well, there’s certainly no need to be all dramatic about it!” I exclaimed. “Besides, we haven’t even properly met yet. My name is Vincent, what’s yours?”
“Vitale,” he said, “Vitale Valentino.”
I squealed in delight at how appropriate his name was--the latter half, at least, as “full of life” would be a contradictory description of him within a few minutes.
“How perfect,” I boasted, as if the name were my own. “Vitale Valentino. It fits together wonderfully.”
Vitale’s lip quivered, and I took on a look of apprehension.
“What is it, miele?” Already, I had found a term of endearment for him. He was betrothed to me forever.
“I’m ready,” he pleaded, fumbling with the buttons on his shirt. He pulled his collar so that I could see the beating artery beneath the pale skin of his neck, and my eyes fixed upon it. I climbed on to the bed beside him and lightly grasped his shoulder. He flinched at the iciness of my touch and shivered at the coolness emanating from my body.
“Miele,” I whispered. He shut his eyes and relaxed his tensed muscles, a gesture that I took as a green light.
My first impression had been spot on. He was delicious.