Thursday, October 30, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Five

From the Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Friday, October 31

“Morgan, I love you.”

Jean Baptiste’s voice and words reverberated inside my head. Aside from my parents, no one had ever said those words to me in such earnest fervor.

I’d found love, and beneath the handsome exterior lay a monster ripped from the pages of fiction. Unable to speak, not knowing what I felt, I slumped against the railing of the pier. Behind me ships sounded their horns. Music from the many, many parties drifted and mixed with the soulful sound. Jazz, rock, trumpet, piano, clarinet… the sounds swirled around me, but none of them drown out the sound of two heartbeats perfectly matched in rhythm.

Yes, Mama, you and Papa both counseled me many times to find a moment of quiet and think things through when the world seemed at its most chaotic. So I stopped to think. Jean Baptiste stood stiffly before me, making no move to come closer but I could see a level of nervousness breaking his cool exterior. Despite that, I knew loving him would be more than just words.

Vampire lore began to rise to the surface. Tales of horror, mind control, sexual frenzy, blood-thirsty rampages… each one rose with a picture in my head. Each one more horrid than the previous and I shuddered against the terror.

Stop. Think.

I cleared my mind and more modern interpretations came to me. Less violent. More humane. Sensual. The new, kinder, gentler vampire of popular fiction. The Jean Baptiste I’d grown to know this past week. To my horror, I felt my body yearning for him. I craved the comfort of his arms. I needed to talk about this but there was no one, no one but him. I hadn’t seen Mattias all day, though it would be interesting to get his view point about now.

“Talk to me,” I said at last and his body relaxed only a tiny bit. “Have you bitten me?”

“Yes.” Like a man with nothing left to lose, he faced me squarely, without flinching.

My hand covered the side of my neck. “Does that mean I’m… like you?”

“Not unless you choose to be.”

I didn’t dare allow relief to set in. Since Vampire myth has many variations, I wasn’t sure, exactly, what he meant. “Explain.”

“You have the choice, Morgan. You can drink of my blood and spend eternity with me, or you can walk away and never see me again. You’ll live out your days as normally as anyone has a right to expect. You won’t remember any of this.”

“Never see you again?” What was the constriction that wrapped around my heart at the words that sounded so final? Live out my days without him? And yet, if I denied his words, that was exactly what would happen.

“If you choose to walk away,” he turned aside, letting his words drift away from me, “I shall stand here and await the sunrise.”

The bleak expression on his face touched something deep inside, something beyond the fear. “And that will…?”

“I will depart this plane, this dark existence.” How he said those words without flinching is something I may never know. Like a man facing the gallows, he spoke plainly with little emotion.

“And go where?” I’d seen Jean Baptiste stop and seemingly talk to an apparition and heard the word Hell, but little else. As a Christian I believe in the afterlife. But for vampires, is there one?

“Where I go will be of no concern to you. Believe me, my love, it will be a fate I richly deserve. My existence in this world will cease and I will bother you no more.”

Wait, I may be repulsed by the idea of vampires, but I didn’t want to let him go. There was so much I wanted to know. So many questions I had and, remembering what he’d said earlier, I only had until midnight? Since it didn’t seem like he wanted to rip my throat out, some of the terror left me to be replaced by curiosity. “So you’re saying you’d commit the vampire equivalent of suicide if I reject your offer of life eternal?”

Something deep flickered in his eyes, an emotion that couldn’t hide in the shadows. “It will be a life clothed in eternal darkness. You are my sunlight, Morgan. If you turn me away, there is no doubt in my mind I will never find the peace that only you bring me.”

“Isn’t that just a little melodramatic?” I’m ashamed to say I scoffed. I flinched when Jean Baptiste closed his eyes.

“No. After two hundred and forty seven years, I’m tired of living this way. Had I not met you, I could have continued on in my apathetic way, but you’ve shown me what joy can exist. But that joy is to be had only with you. I’ve waited long enough… lived with the horror and this blackness on my soul for way too long… I want it all or I want nothing. I want you,” he said, the depth of his emotion making his body tense, but he didn’t move toward me, “but I want you willing.”

“So you haven’t tried any mind control tricks on me? How do I know this for certain?”

His dark eyes flew open and his gaze locked with mine. “No, I’ve not bent your will to match mine. I think it should be obvious by the way I let you run, by the way I told you it was your choice. Had I used mind control on you, we’d be writhing in your bed, taking and giving life to each other. Had I used my powers to compel you, at this moment I’d be buried in your body, our fangs in each others’ necks.”

My hand flew to my neck and I shivered, the memory of our lovemaking exquisitely fresh in my mind. My body ached for him. I wanted him in me, I wanted my body wrapped around his, our hearts beating against each other. Loving and laughing, like I’d only experienced with him. My entire being reached out to him and only with great control did I keep my hands from grabbing his lapels and pulling him to me.

“Wait. Did you say two hundred and forty seven years?” Did this mean…?

“Yes. I am the pirate you’ve been seeking all these years.” His mouth twisted into a mockery of a smile that held a bitterness that tore at my heart.

“And you want me to let you die?” This was history, my thesis, living, breathing, standing in front of me! My heart pounded with a new excitement. At last! A true accounting of history, a chance to know, for real, just what life was really like, to get the answers to so many mysteries…

Jean Baptiste chuckled softly. “No, Morgan. If you join with me, you cannot write your paper and reveal to the world what happened to me, nor reveal where my pirate treasure is hidden.”

So he’d read my mind. Or I’m just that transparent. The scholar in me pouted. My pout must
have showed on my face for he stepped close and cupped my cheek, his thumb gentle as it brushed the corner of my mouth.

“The records have been destroyed for a reason. No vampire will allow the truth to be published. We like hiding in the shadows of legend. Right now we’re fashionable because of some clever writers, but in reality, if our existence were ever proven as fact, we’d be hunted like animals.”

To my almost chagrin, I felt feminine wiles rising and I tipped my head coquettishly. “So, I couldn’t use any of it?”

“Nothing of what I tell you, if I tell you, can be verified, therefore it is useless to you.” Jean Baptiste tipped his forehead to meet mine. “Besides, I’m not about to become your lab rat, history project or something to be studied. You’ve studied me enough and come damn closer to the truth than anyone else. I want you as my lover, not my keeper.”

Of their own volition, my hands touched the lapels of his coat. I’m still not sure if I meant to pull him close or push him away. The man was seriously in my space and I felt my libido stealing all the control I so desperately needed. I only had two more hours to decide my, our, future. Suddenly I felt the weight of the world upon my shoulders and it nearly knocked me to my knees. Except Carlo would have my head for ruining the dress by falling down on this filthy pier. And because of the corset, I’d need the help of a crane to get me upright again.

“So, if I choose to bite you and join you, what will become of me and my career?” The thought of leaving my position, giving up my life’s work was painful.

I loved my job. I loved teaching. I loved the feedback from my students, I loved breathing life into dull and dusty history. To lose all that would be agony. To finally know all of Jean Baptiste’s secrets – what had he been doing for the last quarter of millennia, what was life really like in New Orleans each past decade, who were the movers and shakers and what shady deals had they made in dark rooms, how had he survived the wars, what sides had he backed and why – would it be worth it? Could I keep it all to myself? I lived to share with the world the secrets of the past I uncovered. I had a devoted following of people who waited for each paper I researched and wrote. All that would disappear if I chose Jean Baptiste and eternity with him, or would it?

“Morgan, you’re killing me here,” he groaned. “My future—our future—rests in your hands. Chose to love me, or damn me with your denial. One way or the other, end the agony of the suspense.”

He was in agony? He’d sprung this on me, terrified and confused me, and he wanted me to make a snap decision? “Hey, you gave me until midnight.” As if I could sort out my turmoil that fast. I pushed him away just far enough to give him a good glare. “I’m thinking here.”


Anonymous said...

This is really good. I've just gotten caught up with most of it....oh my!!!

She has to join him....she has too, the poor soul. She can't let him die!!!

RIght? Right???


Maithe said...

*rolling eyes* Come on Morgan! Get with the program...the guy is hot and he adores you! Forget those musty books...bite him!! Bite him good! *L*



J. Morgan said...

Maithe, Jean Baptiste told me in confidence, he wants you to bite him. Bite him good! LOL

Maithe said...

*snicker* I don't think Jean Baptist can handle me...I might scare him off. *L*




J. Morgan said...

LOL. He wants you to know, he doesn't scare easily.

Sutton Fox said...

Well done. I've thoroughly enjoyed this. I thought I'd feel differently given my penchant for angst. Bite him, I say. Do it now!