Vampire Agápe 01 - Blood of Anteros, page 11
“Then, why did you leave?” An underlying smile threatened her face. She knew why I left and wanted to let me know she knew.
“Your group was squealing, so I wanted to see who was winning,” I claimed.
“Okay, if you say so,” she said with a questioning tone.
We played a few more hours and I hit a winning streak, but I was bored without Chansey and ready to leave. The guys were drunk, broke and ready to crash in their hotel rooms, so I left the table to find Chansey.
“Are you ready to go home?” I asked.
“I had fun, but I am so ready to go home. Tomorrow is going to be a big day and all of them are going to regret this.”
“I’m afraid you’re right.” She looped her arm through mine as we walked to the parking garage. “Thank you for coming with me and for the ride. It was really nice of you to hang out with my friends and family. They do like you, you know?”
“What’s not to like, babe?” I joked.
Only one more precious day remained, with the girl I loved, before I would be forced to resume a life void of her. It was foolish to allow myself to become so deeply involved with her because she represented life and I represented death. In the end, one thing always separated the two. Eternity.
It was late when we arrived home from the casino and Chansey was so exhausted she went straight to bed. I wanted to be with her and next to her, even if she was asleep and unaware, but it was too risky with guests in the house.
I felt tired myself, which was unusual and I made the decision to go to bed. Apparently, I was very tired because I fell asleep and broke my own record for my most hours of sleep.
I was sickened by the thought of not spending my last day here with Chansey, but I understood she was responsible for helping with the wedding. The day passed slowly while I waited to see Chansey again at Rachel and Christian’s sunset wedding.
Shortly before sunset, I joined the wedding guests at the beach for the ceremony. Chansey began to play Canon in D acoustically, cueing Rachel to begin walking toward the arch. She seem to float down the aisle between the perfectly arranged rows of chairs and met Christian where a pastor and the attendants waited.
The ceremony was short, which I’m certain the guests appreciated due to the heat, and the wedding party returned to the Emerson’s home for photos. The guests were directed to the front porch for cool refreshments during the wait, then joined the wedding party in the garden for the reception.
A huge white gazebo tent covered the majority of the backyard while numerous tables surrounded flooring placed in the center. The tables were covered with white tablecloths and large vases containing lime hydrangeas centered each table.
The reception was less formal and no seating cards were on the tables and I was glad because I had already spied Evan Finley among the guests in the front porch.
Chansey found me immediately after the guests were allowed to enter the garden. She was fanning herself and said, “It’s hot as Hell out here. Are you not burning up?” She reached to touch my arm and looked surprised at the coolness she felt. “You’re so cool.”
“I guess I’m cold blooded because I never get hot,” I attempt to divert her curiosity.
“Reptiles are cold blooded,” she said as she winked at me.
Her hair was swept upward, off of her neck. The heat and humidity caused the loose strands to curl tightly around her face and neckline and she used her fan furiously to cool herself from the heat.
“I don’t know what they were thinking having a May wedding on the beach at sunset. That’s just crazy.”
“They were thinking it was a romantic and it was,” I reminded her.
“I guess you’re right, but I’m sorry, sweat is not romantic,” she complained.
“So, I guess you wouldn’t choose this as your ideal wedding,” I hinted out of curiosity, just to see her response.
“No, I certainly would not,” she replied, as she fanned even harder.
“Then what is?”
“I want to be married here, but not on the beach. I want to exchange vows with my husband at the top of the open arm staircases when it is not this damn hot.”
It sounded like she had described the same wedding I had planned when I was human. I planned to be married between the curved staircases on the porch also. “Sound like you have it all planned out.”
“I’ve really never given it that much thought because it’s like I’ve always known that was what I would do. I haven’t realized that until just now. That’s a little weird.”
“No, I think it sounds perfect.”
Evan Finley abruptly appeared and interrupted our conversation. “What sounds perfect? Me?” and laughed causticly.
“Definitely not,” Chansey said, causing me to inwardly smirk.
“Damn, Chansey, why are you being so cold because you are obviously so smoking hot in that dress?” What a lame come on.
“Stop being crude because you know I hate that,” she scolded.
“Sorry, love, I meant to say that you look lovely this evening. Is that better?” he mocked.
“Yes. Much. I need something cold to drink.” She took notice of the wine glass in Evan’s hand and said, “Curry, would you like me to get you something to drink?”
“No, thank you. I’m fine at the moment.”
Evan’s eyes didn’t leave Chansey’s backside as she walked away. “That is a fine piece right there, my friend. Has she let you tap that?”
Rage boiled under my skin and I wanted to tap him with my fist. Not wanting to appear affected by his words, I said, “Miss Leclaire and I haven’t known one another for long. We are friends, so no, I have not tapped that,” I replied in a slightly more irritated voice than I intended.
“I’m not surprised. I worked on that for two months and she wouldn’t budge. Geez, what a tease.”
He lifted his glass to his mouth for a drink of wine and I hoped he didn’t stay long enough to drink much because I doubted I could tolerate a drunk Evan Finley. I tried, unsuccessfully, to remove the thoughts of him trying to tap her and I was even more furious.
“Hey, since you two are just friends, you won’t mind if I put it on her tonight, right?”
I debated if he was serious or trying to bait me for a reaction and decided both were unacceptable. I stepped closer to him and looked deep into his eyes. “Chansey isn’t receptive to your advances and it would be best if you didn’t cause her any further discomfort.”
“Whoa, back off. I was joking. Don’t be so serious,” he said as he took two steps away from me.
I made no reply to his cessation, but my eyes instructed him I could take it another step further should the need arise. Chansey returned with a glass of champagne and Evan excused himself saying, “I just recognized a friend that I haven’t seen in years. Please excuse me.”
He walked away and I said, “I cannot believe you dated that ass. What were you thinking?”
Chansey laughed and said, “Well, she didn’t act like an ass when he was trying to impress me.”
“I would hope he didn’t act like that, otherwise, you have incredibly low standards.”
“Oh, I assure you my standards are quite high and I have very specific requirements that have yet to be fulfilled.”
“It would suit me just fine to never see that crude ass again.”
“I feel the same way. I was surprised to see him last night, but I did a good job of being courteous. It still surprises me Christian and Rachel are friends with him. I didn’t really think he would come to the wedding because this kind of thing isn’t his kind of gig.”
“He came here to tap you,” I said with a matter of fact tone.
“To what me?” she asked, confused.
“He came with the intentions of getting in your pants and it seems he is rather bitter about the two months he spent trying unsuccessfully.”
A blush came across her face and she asked, “Is that what he said?”
“Some things never change.” She turned to find him in the crowd. “Good. He’s sitting at a table with some friends. Let’s grab some seats so we don’t get stuck sitting at the same table with him. Agreed?”
“Absolutely!” I agreed.
We chose to sit with some of Chansey’s cousins and when dinner was served, I felt an unusual urge to try the rare filet placed in front of me. So many physical changes had occurred to me, what was the worst thing that could happen if I tried it? I abandoned my normal routine of pretending to eat and tasted the meat with red juices. The flavor on my tongue was shocking because I didn’t expect to taste anything at all and I ate faster than I should have because it was so delightful.
We finished our meals and enjoyed some wedding cake before Christian and Rachel took their place on the floor for their first dance. The band played soft ballads and the guests were invited to join the bride and groom for dancing.
The band began to play Van Morrison’s “Steal My Heart Away” and I knew Chansey loved that song. I had heard her listening to it multiple times and I knew what I had to do.
“Would you like to dance?”
She flashed a big smile before she answered, “Yes, I would love to because this is one of favorite songs.”
We stood and I reached for her hand, leading her onto the dance floor. I had years of experience and dancing was something I was very comfortable doing. We stepped into a clearing on the dance floor and I took her in my arms. I cupped one of her hands in mine and she rested her other on my shoulder. My free hand rested loosely at her waist and we stepped rhythmically with the music.
We were silent as we danced and I enjoyed the feel of her in my arms. She occasionally looked up into my eyes and smiled, almost appearing like she wanted to say something, but couldn’t muster up the nerve.
We didn’t dance a full minute before Evan took the opportunity to interrupt. “May I cut in for a dance with this lovely lady?”
I looked at Chansey for a response and inwardly begged her to refuse his offer. She never broke eye contact with me when she smiled and simply said, “Go away.”
He stood there briefly, shocked at her bold refusal. Her message was clear and once his brain absorbed it, he walked away with his tail between his legs.
The late evening sun was gone and the sky turned ebony. The ceiling of the gazebo tent was covered with thousands of tiny lights, resembling stars in the sky. We gradually moved closer to one another until air couldn’t exist between our two bodies and my loose hold at her waist became tighter as I almost forgot we were surrounded by others.
We looked at one another regretfully when they announced the last song of the evening. When they finished Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey,” the few remaining guests clapped loudly for the band and we stood motionless on the dance floor.
“Does this mean it’s time to leave?” I regretfully asked, still holding her in my arms.
“I think that’s the general idea,” she replied and didn’t make a move to leave my embrace. “What if I don’t want it to end?”
“What if I don’t want it to end?”
Her face took on a serious appearance and she said, “Show me my portrait.”
I would have given her anything she asked for in that moment so I wasn’t surprised to hear myself say, “Okay.” We left the dance floor hand in hand and I opened my apartment door for her then entered behind her.
She sat on the couch and I went to my bedroom to retrieve the portrait she wished to see. I walked into the living with it hidden behind it’s protective cloth as she watched expectantly on the couch waiting for the unveiling.
I stood like a nervous child before her, fearful of her reaction. What if she hated it or thought it was no good? What if it creeped her out? I immediately regretted my decision to let her see it, but it was too late now.
Her eyes watched as I removed the cover and expected the worst. She looked at her portrait and remained silent, so I couldn’t gage her reaction by the expression on her blank face. After an awkward moment of watching her stare at her portrait, I said, “You’re not saying anything. Does that mean you hate it and don’t want to hurt my feelings?”
She rose from the couch and came to me. She took the canvas and propped it safely against the wall, then returned to me and stared into my eyes, confusing me. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to kiss me or slap me.
“It is beautiful and I love it,” she said before she raised up on her tiptoes to place a kiss upon my lips and I gladly returned her kiss. She playfully nipped my bottom lip with her teeth and her intoxicating scent overwhelmed me. I wanted this girl in a way I’d never known before, and I believed she wanted me, but the fact remained the same. Sebastian and Solomon would arrive tomorrow and I would be forced to leave her and this was a fast moving train I had to stop before it was too late.
I pulled away from her intimate kiss and rested my forehead against hers. I smiled and attempted to reduce our level of urgency with humor. “Wow, you must have really loved it.”
She returned my humor and said, “Could you tell?”
My forehead remained against hers and I said, “Yeah, I could sort of tell.” I hesitated before I added, “This is getting a little intense.”
“Yeah, I agree.”
“Come sit with me on the couch and let’s be a little less intense.”
She joined me on the couch and we talked for hours. She deflated my hope for squeezing in some time together tomorrow when she told me she had plans for the following day and I realized this was quite possibly the last time we would ever be together.
I saw her weariness and became quiet, allowing her to fall asleep during the lull between conversation. I covered her with a blanket and laid next to her on the couch, putting my arms around her. Her presence relaxed me and I fought the urge to go to sleep because I didn’t want to miss one single second with her.
Morning approached, and although I didn’t want Chansey to leave, I woke her. I knew she wouldn’t want her grandparents to know she spent the night in my apartment, even if was entirely innocent. I hugged her tightly and contemplated never letting go.
“Hey, you act like you’re never going to see me again. I’m just going upstairs.”
The irony of her words forced me to swallow my pain and smile because she had no idea she was about to walk out of my life forever. ‘Yeah. I’ll see you later,” I lied.
There would be many that would take back the experience of falling in love if it meant also carrying the pain associated with losing them, but I couldn’t agree less. To feel the pain of loss is to know you once had something worth losing and I would always carry the memory of how the world was once right, when I laid on a couch, holding the woman I loved in my arms while she slept.
Sebastian's arrival left me with mixed feelings. He was a wise and I respected him immensely. He had showed me kindness when my own maker showed me none and had become like a father to me. Now, he would be the one to drive a wedge between me and the only woman I would ever love.
I opened my apartment door and welcomed Sebastian and Solomon inside. He stepped forward and embraced me like a father and said, “Curry, I have missed you and I’m glad to see you are well.”
“It’s good to see you as well, Sebastian.”
“Solomon has explained your predicament to me. Have there been any changes?”
I couldn’t lie to Sebastian. “Only one. I love her more today than yesterday, or the day before. I’m sorry, I know it isn’t what you wish to hear.” I expected myself to feel shame as I confessed my feelings to the man I thought of as a father, but I didn’t. I felt pride in having the honor of loving such a perfect woman.
“Curry, only the truth will reveal the answers we seek, so do not fear it and do not withhold anything,” he directed.
I knew he was right. “I have no intentions of misrepresenting myself or the feelings I have for
“Curry, I have seen Chansey and your affection for her. Solomon and I have observed you together for the past two days and I have seen her affection for you It is quite obvious she loves you as well.”
That was impossible. “When did you watch? I never sensed your presence.”
“You were too engrossed in your young lady to notice us and we didn’t want our presence known to you. You wouldn’t be natural with her if you knew we were watching, do you agree?”
I thought of our actions during the last two days and I wondered how much they saw. “Yes, I agree very much.”
“I know you are wondering and I should tell you now, we saw everything. It’s better to go ahead and put it out there. I’m sorry to invade your privacy, but it was the only way,” he explained.
I braced myself for the inevitable. “Do you know what is happening?”
“I believe I have figured it out. The return of your humanity was triggered by something and I believe that something was Chansey Leclaire. Your plan to return here doesn’t have a thing to do with forgiveness and moving on. Although you were entirely unaware, it was your need to be near her. You have unknowingly been preparing to receive her since she was born.”
This would either be the best news of my life, or the most devastating, so I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “What does that mean?”
“Chansey Leclaire is a Daughter of Anteros, which makes her your agápe. She is your gift....and your curse.”
“I don’t know what a Daughter of Anteros or an agápe is.”
“It is complicated and the beginning is the only place to start. As you know, vampires believe Lamia was a vampiric spirit of the Underworld and although Lamia exhibited vampiric characteristics, she was not the first vampire. She had a love affair with Erebus, a primeval god of darkness and their relationship produced a daughter named Nosophoros. Her name is Greek, meaning “plaque carrier” and pairing the perfect characteristics from each parent, Nosophoros was the first true vampire. She was beautiful and longed for true love, but her nature prevented her from finding it because each time she found a potential love, she couldn’t control the temptation of drinking his blood.”
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