DJB: J’Adoube


“I need your help.”

Morena’s response was immediate. “What can I do?”

I hadn’t asked Valerian for help. For whatever reason, I had pushed the Panic button and not followed through. There was not going to be some cleaner team of fifteen military trained Conclave sanctioned assassins coming to Seattle rid it of a dangerous Carpathian vampire. I was left to my own devices. And my own choice of allies.

I projected through the phone line. This was the trickiest bit in a Vampire’s existence, revealing one’s abilities unaltered by charm or influence to a human. No softening the strangeness. I’d been interacting with her in this way, albeit with more subtlety, since we met, most of our online interactions mixed with a bit of presence to make sure she was discreet. But not in any way she would be aware.

I came all the way through, my mental projection taking shape in her apartment moments before my bare feet felt the seam in the boards of her old wooden floor. I groaned at the effort; it hurt like Hell. My body strained as thought became form, bone, muscle, flesh. My skin sweated, my scars itched, and I felt nauseated, shaking and panting like a junkie in front of her.

She dropped her arm, still holding the phone, shock and awe written all over her face. I had just materialized out of thin air in her apartment. As much as she probably would have questions about what else I could do, this was exactly what I needed her to know that I could do.

“How?”

“Through…your phone.”

She turned her head, raising the device as if it had sprouted hair and was sending secret signals to satellites. I dropped to a knee, struggling with the aftereffects of transformation and her attention returned. She ran over to catch me before I completely collapsed. I needed to get much better at this very quickly. Like now.

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

I smiled. “I could sure use a drink.”

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Morena set her phone down, all emotion tied down, perfectly calm, resolute.

“Camille is on her way.”

She tied her hair back. I hadn’t asked it of her. It didn’t feel right to do so.

I sat on the floor, shivering under a blanket. She’d brought me the lemons like I asked but in this state, I felt unsure of the results and wary of being knocked unconscious. It was four in the morning. Which meant it might take Camille a little while to get here.

Morena kneeled beside me, her hand on my bare shoulder.

“This would be for her,” I explained.

She nodded. “I know.”

“Then why?”

“Because she’s someone worth protecting. Like Nick is. And Camille.” She got closer. “I get the sense you’re going to need a lot more than you planned. And I don’t want to put Camille at risk in any way.”

I nodded but kept her gaze. She moved closer.

“What about the girl vampire?” I could smell the basil in her blood. My fangs grew against my apprehension. I shook.

“Lucy? She’s gone dark. I think she’s helped as much as she could. I left the kukri with Sophie.” Morena sighed as she sat down, pulling the front of the blanket down. “I’m not sure how it’s supposed to help but Lucy said it would.”

“Morena, I don’t want this.”

“I know. That’s why it’s ok.” She needed more Vitamin D in her diet. Her blood was low in it. Perils of life in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’ll hurt. I don’t have the strength now to prevent that.”

She smiled and it was the most sincere I’d ever seen her. “Good,” she said softly, her brow creasing. “I think I need it to hurt.”

With that, she eased into my lap, her arms sliding around my naked back, her head turned away, carotid artery pulsing beneath my face. I brushed my lips against her throat all on instinct before catching myself. Before the fog took over, there were things she needed to know.

“Try to stay calm. If your heart races, it’ll be harder for me to stop because of the adrenaline in your blood. Long, deep breaths.” My hand weakly cradled her head as she better positioned herself.

“Like Yoga.”

I licked at her skin. Her heartbeat remained steady. Good.

Her hands clasped together behind my back as she was anticipating her own weakness from anemia. I couldn’t help but smile. She felt it.

“What?” she asked.

She wasn’t expecting it which was what I wanted. My fangs slipped into her skin like needles, causing the smallest cry. It was almost an out-of-body experience for me; I felt such hatred for myself wash over me.

“Please,” she croaked. My anger at having to do this crashed against her and she felt it all. “Think of Sophie. This is for her.”

At the sound of her name, as the blood rushed into me, I pictured the woman I knew as Helene, gone from my world and my thoughts for so long. Too long. She sought only to help others, through all her lifetimes, the purity of her soul and her beliefs constantly challenged by the world she lived in. In this lifetime, she was Sophie Quinn, Vampire Psychologist. And she was not mine.

But she needed protection, as did her wards, one of which now trusted me beyond all else that, with this offering, I would be able to protect them all. I forced myself to relax into what I was, what Sophie needed me to be right now.

The steady rhythm, Morena’s heart pumping blood directly into me through tiny slits in her carotid. Her hands clenched, her cries becoming more vocal, and I pushed her mouth against my shoulder as I felt renewed vigor flowing into each of my cells. She bit into my shoulder hard, breaking the skin. I didn’t really know how much pain she was in and, for a little while, I lost all caring. Several breaths later, her mouth released and her cheek slid against my shoulder.

With sustenance came clarity. I needed to be careful, not to take too much. That was why we called Camille. Morena was worth more than her weight in blood in a fight to come. After a few moments that felt like forever, I felt her grip slacken around me. I retracted my fangs, licked her skin clean. The two slits were imperceptible. She lay in my arms, very quiet, her pulse a little weak but her heart strong, her bone marrow already at working to replenish. On my shoulder, the tiny break in the skin where her teeth had drawn blood had already healed. I tucked the blanket carefully around us. Unintentional and the effect very likely temporary but it would help her recover more quickly.

“Jesper,” she whispered.

“Yes?” I brushed the sweat from her brow.

She turned her head to me, eyes clear but fatigued. “Make sure Camille doesn’t feel anything.”

All new strange abilities aside, there was one thing that remained constant and I knew full well how to use that, especially after the influx of rich, strong, vibrant blood.

I am Vampire.

“Don’t you worry,” I promised her. “When I’m done, she’ll never remember she ever met a real live Vampire.”

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