Vampire Agápe 01 - Blood of Anteros, page 13
“See. You’re a natural,” she said with a grin on her face.
I returned the bottle to Lily’s mouth and realized that caring for Lily felt very natural to me. I hadn’t expected to enjoy the company of a little one, so even after all of these years, I could still be pleasantly surprised.
Chansey interrupted my internal thoughts and asked, “Do you want children someday?”
If I told her I couldn’t have children, she would expect an explanation and I wished to avoid that conversation entirely, so I answered, “Yes. I would like to have children very much.” It wasn’t a lie, just not a possibility. “What about you? Do you see a house full of children in your future?”
“I don’t know about a house full. Two or three sounds more like it to me,” she answered.
I asked the question, forcing myself to hear her tell me she wanted something I could never give her. I thought hearing the words might make it easier for me to leave but my selfish heart wanted to be with her forever. It pleaded to tell her the truth and allow her to decide if she wanted to risk the danger and be with me even if it meant never having children. My urge to protect her and give her all the things she desired won out and I tucked away the temptation of telling her the truth. Any doubt in my mind was dissolved because my decision to leave was well warranted.
“I have no doubt you will make a wonderful mother,” I complimented.
“Just going off of how well you did this, it’s looks like you won’t be so terrible yourself. You sure look natural for someone that has never done any of this.”
“How long do we get to keep her?” I said, then realized how my words must have sounded. “I mean, what time are her parents picking her up?”
She smiled and said, “I have to work tonight, so Adam and Amy said that they would be here by one so I could get ready. Do you think that will give you three enough playtime?”
I lowered my voice so Lorelei couldn’t hear me and said, “You know, you can be a very cute little smart ass when you want to be.”
“What can I say? I aim to please,” she kidded.
“So, what are you and the girls planning today?”
“Amy left Lily’s stroller, so I thought we would walk down to the park and let Lorelei play in the little water park since the weather is so lovely today. Would you want to come with us?”
Since I wasn’t leaving today, I might as well have fun with her and the girls. “Alright, I think I will.”
Chansey packed the diaper bag with everything plus the kitchen sink, but I didn’t mention it, and we strolled down to the park. We sat on a bench under the shade of a large tree and let Lorelei began getting drenched by the squirts of water shooting up into the air.
“You must know their parents well if they trust you with their children.”
“I have known Amy all of my life. She and my mother were best friends because she grew up in the house next door. She inherited the house when her parents passed away and since she had lost her parents and my grandparents had lost their daughter, they somewhat adopted one another,” she explained.
“I would not have guessed that since their children are so much younger than you.”
“Amy and Adam didn’t meet and marry until about ten years ago. They experienced some fertility issues, but now they have been blessed with these two beautiful little girls and couldn’t be happier.”
Lorelei ran over, dripping from head to toe, and said, “I need to go to the bathroom,” as she leaned up against Chansey, soaking her also. She gave me a smile and said, “Should have worn my swimsuit, I see.”
“Probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea,” I agreed.
“Okay, guess we’re making a bathroom run. Can you manage a sleeping baby while I’m gone?”
“I’ve managed just fine since we’ve been here,” I boasted.
“Alright, big talker, I hope she bawls and squalls big time while we’re gone,” she teased.
“She wouldn’t do me like that.”
“Want to bet?” she laughed as she and Lorelei started walking toward the bathroom and I panicked for a brief moment until I convinced myself they wouldn’t be gone for long. Lily began to cry as they began to walk away and Chansey couldn’t have timed it better if she tried.
She turned at the sound of Lily’s cry and laughed, saying, “Good luck with that.”
“Hey, you’re not leaving me with this, are you?”
“I’m certainly am, unless you want to attempt the potty break.”
I didn’t care for either prospect. “Well, hurry.”
She held her palm up to me and said, “Talk to the hand, Mister I’ve managed it just fine since we’ve been here,” and she continued laughing as she walked.
This was going to be a piece of cake because Lily liked me, so I reached into her stroller, picked her up, and began to try to sooth her. When she didn’t calm, an aging woman walking by said, “Try bouncing her gently.”
I did as instructed and asked, “Like this?”
Lily quieted and I said, “Thanks, you seem to know what you’re doing.”
“I had four of my own, so I guess I know a thing or two. You have a beautiful family,” she added as she continued walking, not giving me time to correct her and I realized I didn’t want to correct her because I liked the feel of being told I had a family and it was beautiful.”
Chansey and Lorelei returned from the bathroom and Lily was calm and back to sleep. “I guess I owe you an apology, I underestimated your abilities.”
“Yeah! How you like that?”
“I like it just fine,” she replied and I decided to end that conversation before I provoked thoughts, better left alone, in her mind.
“We should go back to the house, so Lorelei can have lunch before her parents come for her.” She started gathering our things and said, “You can put Lily back in the stroller.”
I didn’t want to relinquish holding her because I knew I would never get to do this again, so I said, “I’ll carry her, she’ll probably just start crying if I put her back in that thing.”
“Sure, if you say so,” she replied.
We walked back to the house with a happy Lily in my arms and Chansey prepared lunch for Lorelei. Their parents arrived promptly at one and I was disappointed to see them go. Chansey must have noticed because she said, “Don’t worry, it’s not like they’re never coming back.”
“I’m not worried,” I assured her.
“Well, you look like you just lost your best friend.”
“I do not.”
“Well, you can tell yourself that, if you want, but you don’t have me fooled,” she accused and I wondered how much longer it would take for her to figure out everything, if I stayed. The risk grew greater by the hour and I reminded myself of the need to leave.
I changed the subject by asking, “Guess I’m driving Miss Chansey tonight?”
“I am working tonight, so I guess that means you’re driving me if you’re still up for it.”
“It’s my job, so I’ll be ready.”
I drove Chansey to work, then picked her up, and she sensed something was wrong, but I lied when she questioned me. Her face told me she was mindful of my deception, but I coerced my facial muscles to form a smile when I asked her to spend the next day with me. She delightfully accepted, unknowing it would be our last day together.
I told her to decide how we would spend the day. She had no idea that our time together was at an end and I would spend tomorrow memorizing her face, her voice, her laugh, every hair on her head. I shoved the pain inside a drawer in my head, and tucked it away nicely until I could be alone in my room.
Chansey showed up at my door around ten. She decided we would try fishing on the pier and I didn’t care what we did because I was too preoccupied with how to tell her good-bye. We got the things we needed from Grady’s storage shed and walked to the pier. She chose our spot on the pier and I handed her a rod while she passed the tub of bait to m
“You bait your hook and I’ll bait mine, then we’ll see who catches the most fish,” she challenged.
“So, is this is a competition?” I asked.
“Maybe,” she answered, wearing her mischievous grin.
“What’s the wager?” I asked.
“Loser cleans the fish for tonight’s supper, then does the cooking,” she said, with a raised eyebrow, completely expecting to win. What she didn’t expect was for me to accept the challenge and that’s why I had to do it.
We threw out our lines and began the waiting game. Fishing left a great deal of time for talking and she led with, “I want to know more about you. You haven’t told me anything and we do live in the same house. Don’t you think I should know more about you?”
“What would you like to know?” returning her question with a question.
“How about something you don’t want me to know?” she asked with a smile and a giggle.
“Well, that list could go on and on,” I laughed, but was saddened by the truth of my statement.
“Anything, start simple and build up to what you don’t want me to know,” she stated.
“Okay, I was born here, in Pascagoula. Simple enough?” I joked.
She hit my arm and said, “I know that much, so move on already. Tell me about your family.”
“My parents passed away a while ago.”
“Tell me what your mother like.”
“She was wonderful, so kind and loving and she genuinely wished the best for everyone. Her name was Claudia Grace, but my father never called her anything but, Grace, and he was the only one allowed to call her that.”
“It’s a funny story actually. My parents were just about to be introduced by my mother’s cousin when she tripped and fell into my father. She was mortified and my father only made it worse by jokingly saying, “Well, Grace, are you alright?” He thought he was being witty, but she was so embarrassed she wouldn’t speak to him. He chased her, begging for a date, and it took a whole year for her to give in to him.”
That wasn’t exactly the way the whole story went. After seeking my grandfather’s approval, my father came to call upon my mother at my grandparent’s plantation once a week, for an entire year. He traveled more than an hour one way and my mother declined his invitation every week until exactly one year, to the day, of falling into his arms.
“That is so romantic. I bet your mother was beautiful.”
“She was petite with long blonde hair, and her skin was fair, like a porcelain doll.”
She smiled mischievously, as she reached up and softly yanked one of my dark waves, saying, “Then where did you get this?”
“I’m getting there, hold your horses.” I pointed to my hair and said, “I got this from my father, James. He was so in love with my mother and was never ashamed to show his affection for her. He was a loving father, but a firm disciplinarian. He made me choose my own switch more than one time.”
“He should have whipped you more than he did,” she laughed.
I thought of the times he wore me out with a switch from that little green apple tree in the yard. “He wasn’t afraid to discipline me when I needed it.”
“Was he handsome?”
“Of course, I look just like him,” I said, through a big grin.
“You’ve got a bite,” she informed me.
“Huh?” I grunted, confused.
She pointed to my line in the water saying, “There’s a fish about to steal your bait.”
I jerked my rod too quickly and lost him. “Missed him.”
She bent over the pier railing and said, “I’m guessing your missing your bait, too.”
I reeled in my line. “Yep. You’d be right about that, too.”
I baited my hook again tossed it out for the next contender, but she wasn’t finished with me yet. “What about brothers and sisters?”
“I was the oldest of three. My sister, Scarlet, looked like our mother and had her same loving personality. My brother, Sully, looked just like me and since there was only eighteen months between us, people always thought we were twins once we got up a little older.”
”You spent your life with people thinking you were a twin while I was a twin, but spent my life with no one knowing I was.”
I didn’t know that. Grady told me she had a younger sister, not a twin. “I didn’t know that. What’s her name?”
“Her name was Emelyn, but she died when we were born.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, not knowing if it was the right thing to say.
“I use to carry a lot of guilt because I survived, but it’s okay, now.”
“Why would you feel guilty?” I asked.
“We had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, meaning we shared an unbalanced blood supply and I took my share plus most of hers. When I was younger, I felt like I was the who killed her and I was ten before I understood it wasn’t my fault. Kids have a weird way of taking on the responsibility of things they have no control over.”
“What happened to make you realize you weren’t to blame?”
“I don’t think I really feel like fishing right now. Can we just walk instead?”
“Sure. I don’t think I’m much of a fisherman anyway, as you saw.”
We removed our shoes and walked on the beach, away from the house and I waited for her to continue her story. When she was ready, she continued, “My parents and younger sister were killed in a car accident eleven years ago. It was hours before we were found and I fell in and out of consciousness as I sat trapped in our car, knowing my family was dead, so I begin to pray I would die along with them.”
Her wound was old, but her pain was still fresh, as though it just happened. Tears threatened to spill at any moment and my heart broke for her as she continued, “My twin, Emelyn, appeared to me in what seemed like a dream, yet it wasn’t. Somehow, I was transported and found myself standing on the beach wearing a long white dress. I raised my eyes to the heavens as Emelyn descended to stand with me by the sea’s turbulent waters. I began to cry and tell her how sorry I was for killing her, while she held my face with her hands, then she told me that she was created to protect me and gladly gave her life for mine. She told me to stop praying for death because there were amazing things in store for me and I was being given the gift of life a second time. Everything became black and I awakened in the hospital.”
“The painting wasn’t a dream from your sleep at all, it is what you saw when the accident happened.”
“It’s been eleven years since the accident and I’ve never told anyone about that. I described to Granna, but I could never bring myself to tell her it actually happened.”
“Thank you for telling me.”
We walked farther down the beach and when I noticed she no longer walked by my side, I turned to see why. “Is something wrong?”
She stood on one foot with the other turned upward for assessment. “I stepped on something and I think I cut my foot.”
I went over to investigate. “Sit down and let the doctor have a look.”
I sat on the sand by her feet and took her left foot in my hand to investigate. “There’s a small cut, so we need to go back to the house to clean and dress it. You don’t need that to get infected.”
I helped her up and she began to walk with her foot turned over to the side. “It’s too far for you to hobble back to the house.” I bent at my knees and lowered to her level saying, “Here. Get on my back.” I expected an argument and she fulfilled my expectations to the fullest.
“It’s too far for you to carry me all the way back to the house.”
“I kinda know how far it is since we did walk here from the house, so stop arguing and hop on already or I’ll throw you in the water.”
I stood there squatting and waiting. “Are you going to let me continue to squat here looking foolish, or...” I turned around, p
Using her truest, southern belle accent, she said, “You wouldn’t dare. I’m a helpless, injured young lady.”
“That cut is saving you a trip into the water because I might feel responsible if your foot got infected and had to be amputated.”
“Thanks a lot. I’m glad to know your guilt is saving me a foot amputation.”
“Just get on my back already.”
She finally jumped on and I bounced her higher, up around my waist. I reached under each side of her thighs for support and she stretched her arms over my shoulders.
“I’m sorry you’re having to do this, but I do appreciate it.”
“Well, I know you cut your foot on purpose so you could make me throw my bad back out,” I kidded.
“Put me down now, I can hobble,” she said, frightened she already caused serious injury.
“You crack me up sometimes; I don’t have a back injury.”
She slapped me about three good times across my shoulders and upper back. “Well, I might have one now.”
I walked back slowly, enjoying the feel of her body pressed against mine and I never wanted it to end so I was sad to see the house getting closer. I began to walk even slower and she said, “Almost there. I think I will be owing you a massive back massage after this.” The thoughts of that made me happy, but it was a shame I wouldn’t be around to take advantage of it.
“Yeah. I think you do owe me at least an hour long massage, so when can I take you up on that? Would now be a good time?”
“Can I disinfect my foot before it has to be amputated?”
“Let me think about it, hmm, no.”
I turned and backed up to the steps for her dismount on the top step, then she crossed her leg and turned her foot to evaluate the damage. “Can I ask another favor?”
“Let me guess, you want me to piggyback you to work?”
She hit me in the thigh with her fist, kinda hard and I was impressed.
“Will you go to my bathroom and get the peroxide so I can pour it over my cut out here. The light inside is dim and I want you to make sure nothing is left in there.”