Friday, October 31, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Eight / Part Six

I don’t think Jean Baptiste expected that.

His eyes widened in disbelief. “What?”

“You gave me until midnight to make a decision. You’re going to answer my questions and when I’m darn good and ready I’ll let you know, but until midnight, I get thinking and talking time.” I released him, fisted my hands on my hips and he stared at me.

I must admit, part of me trembled in fear. Had he wanted to push the issue, he could have grabbed me and made me drink his blood. He could have turned me against my will. Granted, I would have then spent eternity chewing his ass for being a pompous alpha. I let him think I shivered with cold. Despite the heavy costume, my chest was uncovered and a breeze from the river was wafting up under my skirts where I had no panties to keep me warm in certain locations. So I was a bit chilled after all.

“All right,” he conceded. “Let’s stroll until we find a sheltered spot to sit and talk.” He shrugged out of his coat and draped it over my shoulders.

“Won’t you get cold?” I pulled the warm material tight around my shoulders. His scent wrapped around me and I felt the stirrings of lust.

“I don’t feel cold, nor heat. Those sensations ended when I died. It wasn’t until we touched for the first time, the numbness fled. For the first time in centuries untold, I once again felt human. Like a man.”

Jean Baptiste clasped his hands behind his back and tilted his head to indicate the direction of our walk. Down river toward Faubourg Marigny.

As we walked, we passed other lone couples and the occasional person of disreputable appearance. What vibes my companion sent out was sufficient to keep them all well away from us. With the necklace sparkling around my neck, keeping thieves at a distance made Jean Baptiste, for the moment, a desirable partner.

And yet… I shuddered again.

Vampire.

What atrocities had he committed over the years? I was realistic enough to set aside the romance of the age of pirates and I recalled his escapades prior to the reports of his death. He hadn’t been a kinder and gentler pirate in his day. Known for his cold blooded ruthlessness, I eased away from this man who knew death on many levels. Suddenly I was anxious to be away from the shadows. I wanted the milling crowds of Bourbon Street. Safety in numbers.

As we strolled, he answered many, though by no means all, of my questions. He had a house in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. One he’d had for nearly two hundred years. I wanted to see it but he wouldn’t tell me exactly where it was. I supposed I’d have to become a vampire to see it. I asked him what would happen to it if… He told me he had a servant who would burn it and the entire contents to the ground if he disintegrated at sunrise. I glanced to see if he were trying to play on my sympathies, but his face showed as little emotion as his voice. Pure fact.

Questions about his pirate days were answered with facts I already knew. But no hint of where his treasure was. If he left this world, the secret of it would go with him. What did he do for money? As he’d told me before, he occasionally traded antiques. After all, he was an expert in them. How many vampires lived in New Orleans and how often did he mix with them? A shrug answered me. Again, I supposed I’d have to be one to learn more about them. By the time we neared his neighborhood, I was ready to stake him for his lack of cooperation in the questions that haunted me most. I wanted details and he was keeping his secrets!

Frustrated though I was, I could understand his reluctance and refusal to impart certain details. I mean, I am a researcher who tends to write about my research. And he’d kept his secrets for a very, very long time. He was good at it. Just as history was good at holding on to certain secrets. No amount of badgering would move him. Instead he told me of his childhood in France and his escape to the sea. It wasn’t a pretty tale as we of modern times love to embellish the past with romance. It was about as far from romance as you could get. Betrayal, battles, harsh captains, harsher conditions and poverty had marked him deep and young, so very young. My heart ached for the child he’d been and the lessons he’d learned at the hands of men with no soft feelings.

As the crowds thickened around us, Jean Baptiste moved closer to me until his arm was about my waist, his hand on my hip well padded by numerous layers of cloth. Speaking softly, I asked him about the day to day existence of the modern vampire. How often did he need to feed? Did he really like it? What was it like being a fledgling in the eighteenth century, especially since he’d killed his dam? The pain of old memories clouded his eyes, but he answered and I felt his anguish. Something of my dismay must have shown on my face for he hastened to reassure me that I wouldn’t suffer in ignorance. He promised I’d never be alone without guidance…or love.

He loved me. I felt it. I knew it. So why would he want me to suffer as he did? But if I loved him, would eternity with him truly be suffering? My brain screamed at me to flee, but my heart whispered, stay. That lone word pushed away the doubt and pain. I did love him and could picture eternity in his arms.

Standing there, I just wasn’t certain I could pay the price.

“Morgan, it is nearly time.” He turned me around until I looked into his agonized eyes. “What will it be? Life eternal with the only man who will love you for all time, or shall I delve into your mind, wiping any trace of me from your mind? It will be as if I’d never walked into your life, never held you in my arms, or loved you will a passion you have never felt before. The decision is yours to make.”

He stepped away until the shadows nearly overtook him. Staring at him, I wished I had an answer, but all I had was a blank spot in my heart I knew would never heal if I lost him. Would forgetting him erase the ache burning in my heart?

The shouts of revelers counting down the seconds to midnight was but a soft roar, like the sound of the ocean as heard from a shell.

Oh, Mama, what should I do?

5 comments:

Maithe said...

You are killing me! Morgan, you better say yes!! Arrrrrggggg!!

Maithe *biting her nails*

Sutton Fox said...

I'm all for making a vampire feel like a man. The suspense is killing me!!

Grayson Reyes-Cole said...

Being completely subverisive, for the sake of suversivity... make her forget...

Morgan2x said...

As the clock ticks toward midnight, the tension mounts. On the one hand, vampires are cruel and vicious beasts, responsible for many murders by a heinous means.

On the other hand, Jean Baptiste is civilized, or rather, he knows how to keep his inner beast leashed. Sure, he's murdered innocent and not so innocent people. The innocent were accidents, the not so innocent were mercy killings. Morgan understands this.

And he can provide so much...! Details where history has lost the flavor of the times. A touch of reality to bring back the gaiety, the desperation, the dirt, the glitter, the machinations of the past. He can bring history alive in a way no living mortal can.

But what is the greater good? Ridding the world of an unholy beast or taming him with true love? Become one of the undead, one of the beasts of horror to find love? Or is love more pure for the sacrifice? If one cannot entirely tame the beast, must the beast die for the greater good?

The agony of decision. Only a couple hours left until the ending is revealed...

Rita Vetere said...

Got caught up on everything late, but I say bite him. Bite him now!