Vampire Agápe 01 - Blood of Anteros, page 10
I listened closely from where I stood in the backyard, and knew she was sleeping, but not restfully. I heard her tossing and turning, never still for more than a minute at a time. Her restlessness mimicked my own, and I wanted to be near her, to comfort her.
I tried my key to the backdoor. Fate commanded it to work, and the lock obeyed. I knew it was wrong to enter the house uninvited, but I didn’t care. I didn’t have the luxury of limitless time with her and I wanted to make the most of every second.
I imitated Chansey’s graceful routine as I silently let myself in the backdoor and moved down the hallway toward her room. I opened her bedroom door and silently shut it behind me. She laid on her stomach, to the right side of her bed and her hair was loose and spread across the pillow under her head.
Her ivory bedding puddled on the floor and I straightened it to cover her chilled body before I walked to the left side of the bed and gently laid next to her. I was careful to not wake her as I gently rolled to my side to face her. I knew she was sleeping soundly when her body relaxed. Her breaths became deep and even and I sensed my nearness brought her comfort, just as her proximity did for me.
I stared at her sweet, delicate features as I laid next to her and I didn’t want to return to an existence without her. I couldn’t fathom being forced to walk away from something so true and beautiful, but in my heart, I knew our separation was inevitable.
I might temporarily win this battle to be with her but the monster always won the war and my dreams of happiness withered when I imagined her reaction to discovering the depths of my dark existence. Fate dealt the cruel hand that made me this monster and it appeared that it wasn’t finished inflicting misery upon me yet.
The arrival of morning forced me to leave Chansey’s side so I walked to the beach and my destination was completed at the end of the long pier over the turbulent waters. I propped my arms on the pier railing and watched the sun rise in the East, the ascent of it’s rays symbolizing the press of the start button on the timer counting down my limited hours with Chansey.
When I returned to the house, it was already crowded with people preparing for tomorrow’s wedding. I showered and dressed, then went up to invite Chansey to spend the day with me because I couldn’t bear to lose one minute with her.
She answered the door, holding a cup of steaming coffee and greeted me with, “Good morning, are you finding it a little difficult to sleep late this morning?”
The countdown to our separation was what prevented my sleep, but I said, “Yeah, it’s just a little bit noisy.”
“Do you want to come in?” she invited.
I accepted her invitation and walked behind her to the living room where she sat on the couch and said, “I’m happy to see you managed to not die from the embarrassment of facing your friend last night. I wasn’t sure I would see you again because you looked wigged out when you saw him standing there.”
“He just surprised me is all” I lied.
“Okay, if you say so,” she said as two people hired to prepare for the wedding walked through the living room. She continued, “Everything’s a little hectic around here right now, so would you want to get out of here for a while?” Was it possible she read my mind?
“Yeah, I do,” I said, welcoming her invitation.
She looked at her watch. “I’ll have to be back around two to get ready for the rehearsal. Is that okay?”
“Would you want to go to the beach? I really don’t need to get too far from home since I have to be back so soon. It’s supposed to be windy today, so it shouldn’t feel so hot.”
Spending time with Chansey in a swimsuit sounded perfect to me. “Sounds great to me.”
“Okay. Let me get ready and I’ll be down in about thirty minutes.”
* * *
As promised, Chansey arrived at my door thirty minutes later wearing a swimsuit coverup and carrying a huge bag over her shoulder.
“Do you have the kitchen sink in that bag?” I joked.
“No. Just the refrigerator, smart ass.” She began to pull things out of the bag to show me. “I have a towel and sunscreen and I can’t go to the beach without music.”
“Okay, okay, got it. You need stuff, lots of stuff.”
“I also have lunch, but I don’t think I’m going to let you have any since you think you’re so smart,” she threatened.
“Please, forgive my foolishness. You are a wise, wise woman,” I begged dramatically.
“That’s more like it,” she laughed.
We made the short walk to the beach and chose the spot we wanted. She spread her towel on a lounger, then removed her coverup to reveal an incredibly fit body in a black bikini and I hoped my sunglasses disguised the fact that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
She opened her sunscreen and began to cover her legs, arms and stomach. “Do you need some sunscreen? You don’t have much color going on there, albino boy.”
Luckily, I was dark complexioned before I was turned, so I wasn’t pasty white like some. The sunscreen would do nothing for me, but I couldn’t resist the offer of feeling Chansey’s hands on my skin. “Do you mind?”
“Of course not. Take off your shirt,” she directed.
I pulled my shirt over my head and sat next to her on the lounger. She spread the lotion on my back and shoulders, taking her time. The feel of her hands rubbing my body stirred feelings that should have been long dead, never to return again. As she massaged the lotion down onto my arms, she asked, ”What does this mean?”
I didn’t have to ask what she was referencing. She was asking about the black branding tattoo that wrapped around my upper left arm from my shoulder down to my elbow. It was Marsala’s brand, marking her ownership of me, like an animal.
“A couple of guys and I thought it would be really cool to get matching tats. It’s stupid really. I haven’t even seen those guys in years.” It was partially the truth. Wythe, Madon and I were branded with the same tattoo and I hadn’t seen them in years, but I failed to find solace in trying to convince myself it wasn’t a complete lie.
“Like a fraternity, or something?” she asked.
“Something like that,” I lied, again.
She traced the swirls with her finger and said, “It’s mysterious and beautiful. I love it.”
“Never say that,” I said, a little too sternly. She looked at me with pain in her eyes and realizing I had hurt her, I added, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s just that I hate it and what it once symbolized and it will always be a permanent reminder of a time in my life I rather not remember.”
“Got it,” she said.
“Look at me.” I lifted her chin and added, “I really am sorry.”
“Apology accepted.” She held out the bottle of sunscreen toward me, changing the subject. “Do you mind getting my back and shoulders for me?” She unfastened the back strap of her top and laid face down on the lounger holding her top in place.
This girl was killing me. Again. I squeezed the lotion into my hands and rubbed them together, creating some warmth, before laying my cool hands on her skin. I started high, across her shoulders and worked my way down her back, to her small waist. Her tanned skin was warm and I enjoyed the feel of my hands on her skin. Her tensed muscles relaxed and her respirations were deep and steady. She covered her legs with sunscreen earlier, but I pretended she didn’t, and she didn’t stop me when I started at her ankles, working my way up. As my hands climbed higher, so did her heart rate and I rubbed slowly and deeply on her upper thighs, remembering how I reached under her skirt to stroke her legs last night.
I was so engrossed with the feel of Chansey’s skin, I didn’t sense the presence of another and was startled by the unexpected voice. “Hey, Chansey. Who’s your friend?”
The words startled Chansey as well and I quickly jerked my hands away from her body, looking up to see a teenage girl standing over us.
Linley, like the other members of Chansey’s family, extended a hand. “Hi, Curry, it’s good to meet you.”
“It’s very good to meet you, Linley.”
“I had to get away from Mother. She is driving me crazy and I’ll be so glad when this wedding is over. Do you mind if I hang out with ya’ll for a while?”
A while turned into Linley hanging out with us the next few hours, until it was time for them to get ready for the wedding rehearsal. I wanted to be irritated at her for interrupting my time with Chansey, but I found it impossible because her company was so entertaining.
Chansey looked at her watch. “Linley, it’s almost two o’clock and we need to get ready for the rehearsal, so why don’t you start heading toward the house and I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Okay. Curry, will I be seeing you at the wedding?”
“I don’t think so, but I will be around the house if things get too crazy for you. You can come hang out with me downstairs.”
She smiled and said, “Cool, I might do that if Mother doesn’t calm down.”
“Don’t be too hard on your mother. She just wants everything to go well,” Chansey encouraged.
“I know. Well, I better start getting ready so she doesn’t have a duck. I’ll catch you later.” Linley gave me a wave and started toward the house.
Chansey waited until she was out of hearing distance. She looked at me with a big smile on her face. “You better watch out. I think she is crushing on you.”
I laughed out loud and said, “I think I’m a little too old for her, but she’s a sweet kid.” Of course, I was too old for everyone, including Chansey.
We gathered our things and started walking toward the house. “When I returned my RSVP for the wedding reception, I included a guest. Could I twist your arm and get you to agree to be my date for the wedding, along with the rehearsal dinner?”
“Can I agree without the arm twisting part?”
She laughed and said, “Shoot, I was looking forward to inflicting a little pain.”
* * *
Following the rehearsal, Chansey found me on the front porch swing. She was wearing a white sundress that accented her sun kissed skin perfectly. Her hair was down, but her former waves hung in loose ringlets and one side was pulled away from her face, adorned with a white flower.
When her eyes met mine, I said, “Well, that’s totally unfair.”
She looked confused. “What?”
“You’re more beautiful than the bride. She won’t be happy about this.”
Her smile was breathtaking. “How do you know, you haven’t seen her, yet?”
I laughed and said, “I don’t have to see her to know. Come on, the caravan is leaving.”
I drove at the back of the pack and we joined the wedding party at a formal restaurant downtown for the rehearsal dinner. We entered the restaurant and round tables were draped with white tablecloths, adorned with fuchsia floral arrangements and countless burning candles.
We searched the name cards for our seats and found the seating cards for Chansey Leclaire and her companion, Evan Finley. “I’m sorry, the placement cards were already printed and the seating arrangements had already been made.”
I felt a spark of jealousy. “It’s alright. I just hope he doesn’t show up to claim his seat. Who is Evan Finley, anyway?”
“He was the guy I was dating when I responded to the RSVP.”
That couldn’t have been more than a few months ago and the idea of another man touching her had my stomach turning flips. “How long did you date?”
She didn’t volunteer additional information, so I took that as a sign to discontinue my line of questioning. We took our assigned seats and servers came around to take our orders. I was in the middle of deciding on a new topic of conversation when I was interrupted by a tapping butter knife against a wine glass. We turned our attention to the pastor and he asked us to bow our heads as he asked the blessing over our meal.
I played my usual game of charades, as I pretended to eat the food placed before me. Those seated at our table laughed, as Chansey and her family reminisced about stories from their childhoods. My eyes rarely left her and I found myself staring as I hung on her every word.
The number of guests dwindled as the rehearsal dinner ended and we were the last ones remaining at our table. “I heard the others talking about going out tonight. Are you not going to join them?”
Her elbow was propped on the table, supporting her chin. “I was thinking about it, but I was waiting to see if I got a better offer.”
“Such as....?,” I questioned.
“Come with us. Everyone is going to the casino. It will be fun.”
I didn’t need time to decide, but I hesitated to make myself not look so desperate. “I will, if I can take my truck.”
“No problem. They’re about to leave. Are you ready to go?”
I resumed my place at the back of the caravan on the drive to the casino. After parking, we walked in as a group and Christian spoke up, “Hey, Curry, do you play blackjack?”
I was once something of a card shark and I had robbed quite a few casinos with my ability to know how to place bets. “I have, but it’s been a while.”
“The guys are gonna hit the blackjack tables. Do you want to join us?”
I turned to Chansey. “Is that alright?”
“Go for it.” She pressed a kiss to my cheek and said, “A kiss for luck.”
I didn’t really want her out of my sight, but didn’t want to appear excessively concerned. “What kind of gambling are you going to do?”
“I think we’re going to play roulette,” she said as she pointed in the general direction of the table.
I took my wallet from my back pocket and handed her $200. She put her hands up and said, “No way. I’m not taking your money.”
“Yes, you are. It’s an investment, so if you hit it big, you’ll owe me big,” I argued.
“That’s not why I asked you to come,” she defended.
“I know. Now, take it. Go win me some profit.”
I joined the guys at the blackjack table and dropped a$300 for chips. I positioned myself so I could see Chansey at the roulette table, but it was difficult to concentrate on the hands being dealt when I only had to lift my eyes to see her.
I decided to win a hand or two after my chips began to dwindle. I placed my bet, all of my remaining chips and won the hand, receiving a sweet payoff. I repeated my wager with the next hand, earning a second large reward and my fellow gamblers slapped me on the back, congratulating me on my earnings.
I raised my eyes to see Chansey and noticed a man standing behind her at the roulette table. It wasn’t unusual for spectators to watch and study the game, but it wasn’t the game holding his interest. and my protective instinct urged me to go to her. “Hey, guys. I’m going to go check on Chansey and see if she needs some chips.”
“No way, Curry, you’re on a winning streak. You can’t leave now,” Christian encouraged.
“I won’t be long,” I promised.
I walked to Chansey’s table, keeping my distance and stood back, waiting to see if the man had motive or was just enjoying the view. He smiled when Chansey squealed delightfully over her win.
Chansey told Rachel she was going to the restroom and as she turned from the table, the man reached out and touched her arm. I protectively stepped forward to intervene, but stopped when I heard him say, “Chansey Leclaire.”
She turned at the sound of her name and broke into a large smile before she said, “Evan, what are you doing here?” So, this was Evan Finley. He leaned forward to embrace her and kissed her cheek. I felt a pang of jealousy and didn’t want to witness this display of affection for another man.
“I’m in town for the wedding. How have you been?” he said.
“I’m good. I’m rea
“I can’t believe it’s already here. It seems like they just got engaged.”
“I know.” Chansey asked.
“Listen, I’m here with my brother and we were on our way out when I saw you, but I’m in town all week and I would love to get together.”
“It’s so nice of you ask, but I’m tied up with this wedding stuff for the next couple of days and then I go back to work.”
“What if I swing by your apartment one night?” he suggested.
I had heard more than I wanted to hear of this. I walked up next to Chansey. “Hey, did you win anything?”
“Not really, but I ran into my friend, Evan Finley.” She turned to Evan and introduced me. “This is Curry Brennan. It’s so weird because we were just talking about you earlier.”
I watched his ego inflate and it irritated me. “How was I lucky enough to be your topic of conversation?”
“I replaced you.” I let that linger a minute before I added, “As Chansey’s date for Christian and Rachel’s rehearsal dinner, that is.”
“Oh. I see.” He turned his attention back to Chansey and said, “I think we were interrupted when you were about to tell me when to come by your apartment.” He was determined. I’d give him that.
“I don’t live in my apartment anymore. I’m back home with my grandparents.”
He appeared dissatisfied with that answer and said, “Well, perhaps another time. It was really good to see you.” He leaned in and gave her a hug. He cut his eyes up at me and said, “Very good to meet you, Curry.”
“And you, Evan,” I replied politely, as he turned to leave. “I think I’ll head back to the blackjack table because I seemed to be having some luck before I left.”
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