The Price of Tea


The smashed tea pot was Chinese, from Yixing, thousands of pots of tea brewed into the pot until the purple clay had so absorbed the flavors that one need only add water to get the flavor. It was a terrible waste. Not that either Valerian or I cared in that moment as his fingers brushed through my tousled hair.

The office was tucked into a far corner of the laboratory, a converted warehouse where our scientific and paranormal research could be conducted with no interruption from curious neighbors. The added benefit of the warehouse was that while it had been boarded up tight so no light could leak in, steam machines roared to produce the electricity that ran through the building, casting a wondrous orange glow around. Valerian often said it made me look like I wore a halo.

After another long embrace, our skin damp and clinging together, he laid back on the small cot, arm tightening around me. I nestled against him, head on his chest, hand in his, catching my breath. The pot on the floor seemed to catch both of our attention simultaneously. I heard him chuckle, the movement shaking his chest and me along with it.

"Well, another splendidly failed experiment. But admittedly, if all failed experiments ended like this, I will have to adjust my success criteria."

As much peace as I felt right now, I had worked very hard to try and synthesize the right dosage of juice and tea. His seizure was both unexpected and intense. I hadn’t know what else to do but push him onto the cot and try to hold him down, pushing a wooden dowel into his mouth to keep him from choking. The panic I’d felt was gone now but the memory of the failure was profound. I pushed myself up, looking down at him.

"Yes, but how do you feel, Val?" I caressed his face, the cuts around his lips already healed where he’d struggled against the dowel. My fingers traced his lips.

He raised one inky eyebrow at me. He could do that."You ask me that after what we’ve just done?"

My hand moved to his chest. I asked, exasperated, "You feel no relief at all? I was certain adding the lime juice in that concentration would have a calming effect. Lind’s work with scurvy in the Royal Navy seemed to be so promising."

He could tell I was disappointed. "I cannot tell if it’s the antiscorbutic….or if it’s you that effects the change."

I blushed before catching all he said. “So you do feel something!” I was excited. He had never before admitted that my silly experiments with what I had deemed sun-starvation had any impact on his vampire self. I was beaming with feminine pride when I leaned over him. "Hmm, perhaps if we didn’t work so hard at confounding the results of said experiments, we could isolate the change agent."

But there was a difference in his kissing after some tea, whether he admitted it or not. His lips were softer and while his mouth sought more, his arms more insistent, it was more to persuade, to intoxicate me into loosening my laces, sliding fabric gently aside so he might touch me more. So while it hadn’t really been my intention to make him into a more tender lover by curing his sun-starvation, I felt the full benefits of it.

With the slightest pressure of his hand cradling my head as we kissed, I felt him push my face gently up and away from him, his eyes boring into mine. I was pleased with myself. His eyes searched mine but still, I hadn’t unlocked that look although I’d begun to see it more and more lately.

Instead of the open emotions that had roamed his face more often, a mask of appraisal clouded his brow. "My darling girl, you need a man you don’t need to fix."

I rolled my eyes. Crossing my arms over his chest, I commented in a huff, "We all need fixing in some measure." My fingers played with the buttons of his undone shirt.

His large cold hand covered both of mine. Again, with the eyebrow. "You’re not ever going to cure me of vampirism, Darcie. It is what I am and where I belong."

I hated when we talked about this, his vampire world. He had worked hard to keep it so separate from me from the beginning. I knew he had a vampire family, what he called a horror. He told me he kept me away from them to protect me. They were unruly, his brood. "Whatever made you think I was trying to cure you of that?" Still not looking him in the eyes.

"I know you. And I know that as much as I treasure these fleeting moments with you, I will never satisfy you.” He lifted my chin, forcing me to look at him. “I am not what you are searching for. And no matter your skills, you cannot fashion me into whatever it is you seek.”

It was just like him to completely misunderstand my efforts and to put a damper on my accomplishments. Whether there was any truth to his words was irrelevant. It was more a matter of the change in his demeanor that he seemed to be fixating on how I thought of him as vampire than it was my wish to change that about him. It was his very vampiric nature that made me feel I could help him, that I was uniquely qualified to find him some balance.

My lip must’ve been sticking out as I pouted because he lifted his head and used his tongue to caress that lip away from the other so he might enjoy another deep kiss. And when he did such things, I forgot all my cares and in some dark part of my heart, I began to fear the day when I couldn’t help him anymore. His fingers brushed my throat until his kisses lead there too and I felt a jolt flow through me remembering his teeth sinking in and the feeling of eternity clawing out of me. I wondered if his fangs would appear now as they often did when we engaged in our scandalous behavior. I waited for him to bite me.

But this was not that day as he sighed, completely satisfied, and sunk back against the cot. “Although, I confess I will miss it when you cease your efforts." His arms wrapped even tighter around me, his hand cradling my head as I relaxed against his chest. Listening to his relaxed breathing and feeling not the warmth exactly of another human being, but instead the strength and electricity that moved all through me wherever his body touched mine. And at this point, there wasn’t much in the way of clothing left between us.

I caressed his chest, my hand moving lower. I didn’t want him to be anything but his best self. But at what point this dark angel would find me lacking, keeping me separated from the world that was his, that he surely ruled, now that was another matter entirely.

"Then perhaps we should endeavor to not make these attempts so brief. Fleeting moments indeed. You’ve made me a ruined woman in appearances, Val. You might as well ruin me completely. Again."

And my heart hammered as we once again put anatomical pursuits ahead of scientific ones.

symbol_infinity-color

My heart beat like the sound of the hoof beats that approached the tent. At any moment we could be found out. The caravan, while it had been travelling for days and had orders to leave our cart and our tent allow under strict order of the Sultan, was now a long way away from Kostantiniyye. But the hooves stilled and so did any doubt that it was the horses and not the fingers stroking just there below my veil that caused my heart race.

“Jesper! Shhh!” I complained, trying very weakly to still his hands.

“Indeed, shhhh,” he murmured and caught at my mouth. I gave into him completely as there was nothing for it. Even if we were disturbed, his growing abilities to charm the intruder would have them leaving the tent wondering why they’d come, even as they saw us here, my sitting in Jesper’s lap on the rug and pillows with my veil unwound around us, my red hair tumbling down.

His charm wasn’t the only ability in which his cock sure attitude was apparent. He’d boasted just this morning that he’d spent the full afternoon under the scorching sun helping the captain of our expedition to find water. But I wasn’t currently concerned about his divining besides how his hands, one still wrapped in bandages, managed to remove my salvar trousers with little assistance from me.

I pulled my lips away, “Jesper.” There, I said it. Now I had no idea why, his hands moving to push my tunic over my head. When he’d swept into the tent after his nightly sojourn, it had been most of the day since I’d talked with him, and we both seemed particularly needy tonight. As the tunic came over my head, so was I over any hesitation, pushing him back against the rug. He hummed in appreciation for my newly found enthusiasm.

It wasn’t fair. He’d come in perfectly naked and yet I still had yards of fabric between us that I struggled with. I never hated our palace garb more than now. He seemed oblivious to my frustration, just enjoying how I was moving against him in trying to free myself.

“All day without you. All day without you in full sun and not able to share it with you until now.” He marveled, his mouth finding a particularly sensitive crease in my neck.

I couldn’t help but smile as he helped rid me of the last stitch of fabric. “Mmm, Kemal would not have appreciated it much if this was how we celebrated your first midday sun.”

Jesper’s warm amber eyes glowed as he looked up at me playfully. “No?”

“No,” I shook my hair out over him and he cupped one side of my face with his good hand. I put my hand over his and then pulled his other bandaged hand up to look at. The Sultan might indeed be benevolent in most cases to this strange visitor from the North, but there were limits to his patience. The dropping of the Valide Sultan’s favorite tea set, smashing it to bits by his reckless fit, had brought a severity that had surprised me.

“Oh, something else for you to see.”

I looked at him confused as he unwrapped his hand, showing four perfect fingers and one thumb, the skin tan and new. He turned his hand in front of me so I might fully appreciate it. Two days ago, back at the Palace, I had wrapped his hand myself after his smallest finger had been amputated to protect the rest of his charred fingers.

I touched his hand, grasping it in both of mine. I pressed it to my lips, smelling none of the decay from two days ago. I met his eyes, “It has regenerated? This is amazing.”

“You still believe I am no demon?” His eyes held a doubt. It was the old one, the one that he would not, could not let go of.

“My heart, you are no demon. You are one of the Djinn. Sacred,” I kissed his thumb. “Kind,” another kiss. “Noble, wise, immortal.” Each finger, I kissed in kind, until he cupped his hand behind my head and drew me down to him.

It wasn’t until much later, as I held him and watched him dozing, that I felt the fear growing. If the Sultan knew that his strange Northman who had wandered out of the forest to save him from a runaway horse was capable of such miracles, what would he do? Would he see him as the sacred Djinn and revere him? Or brand him an Ifrit, an evil demon, and cast him into some ritual sacrifice?

Or worse, would the Sultan, upon finding out that a guest at his palace, an emissary, was taking liberties with one of his wives, however married for political and intellectual convenience, seek greater retribution than a burned hand and a chopped off finger?

I clutched him, partially rousing him so that he wrapped his overly warm body around mine to stave off the evening chill. Hours spent under the fierce Persian sun now emanating from him like he was some smoldering star. I whispered it to him and the kisses that followed did much to reinforce my thought. I would have to write it in his book. He’d like that.

symbol_infinity-color

The suckiest part of waking up out of a dead faint is the disorientation and the general sense that nothing is right in the universe. And I didn’t want to wake up. I couldn’t remember if I’d dreamed or recollected but whatever it had been, my lips still tingled from it.

So imagine my disappointment when I finally sat up in bed, hand to my pounding head, to see Skovajsa sitting there at the edge of my bed with flowers and a bottle of wine.

“Fuck!”

His brow furrowed.

“I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

He didn’t bother to nod. Universe 2, Vampire Psychologist 0.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: