I had racked my brain again and again about that afternoon. Still, all I ever did was go round and round in circles, without even figuring out as much as how I felt about the news, let alone how I should react.
“You’re home, bella mia!” Ezio sounded surprised, but we kissed.
“Where else would I be?”
“Where you normally go after work. The cemetery.” Ezio replied in a way you reply to a very obvious question.
“No need.” I replied, my mind wandering.
In my peripheral vision I saw Ezio’s puzzled look, he shook his head and proceeded to the fridge. We had already eaten, so I assumed it was wine.
“How about a comfy night in, just you and I on the couch, some classic movie and this.” Ezio held up the wine.
The movie had just started, both of us snuggled up together on the couch, when his phone rang. In a near reflex he looked at it, then answered. I could tell from his facial expression and words that it was work and important. And I knew our date night in had crashed into a wall when he ended the call with “be right there!” He was apologetic and promised me a do-over soon. I asked if he needed me, which he declined. In less than 10 minutes I was all alone in the big house. Both kids were staying over with friends.
“Oh well, just you and me then ‘Vino Speciale'” I told the bottle, as I poured myself another glass, while following the murder mystery on the screen. Eventually I poured and no more would come. Darn it. I got up to get rid of the evidence and maybe find a suitable replacement. On my way to the glass recycling bin, which we kept in a bottom cupboard I looked out the window and saw a face. It startled me, I shrieked and dropped the bottle, which burst into a million pieces on the kitchen tiles. I looked up again. Unlike in all the movies, the face was still there, now a hand, waving at me. Blaine. My heart was racing. He was gesturing towards my left. The patio door. Oh no. I closed my eyes, unsure on what to do when I already heard gentle knocking on the glass door. I inhaled deeply. It was no use, I had to deal with this. Now.
When I arrived at the door and looked at him I really did not know if I was ready to face him again. I unlocked the latch and slid open the door.
“Hey!” he said with that Blaine smirk.
“Is it too late to act as if I am not home?” I tried to joke, while actually telling the truth.
He laughed. Those fangs again. Caleb had been a lot better at hiding his. It took me months to realize he was a vampire and I had a near meltdown then when I realized those were real. Then Ezio’s brother married Caleb’s sister, also a vampire. And now here was another. My best friend, no less.
“Just a heads up, that no longer works with me anyway. I can sense it now. Same way I can tell that it is just you and me here tonight.”
“Some trick. Ezio probably drove past you, since there is really only one way up. Or sorry, did you just turn into a bat and fly up here?” I sarcastically stated.
“That too. And no, I do not turn into a bat. That is just movies.”
“Of course, silly me. Totally normal to have dead people crawl from their tombs, but shapeshifting is really utopian.” I rolled my eyes. Where I had the courage from to be so cocky, I did not know.
“I am glad to see you are able to laugh at it now. That and the sarcasm tells me, you are almost over the shock.”
“Not for a long time.”
“Is that why you have not come visit me?” he asked, there was a sadness in his eyes. His eyes. They looked the same, yet different. Still light green, but there was some preternatural sheen to them. Creepy.
“Blaine, this is not an easy situation for me. I have mourned your death for many months. And suddenly you are alive again. Or not alive, which is an even bigger whammy. I really do not know how to handle this. Plus, I do not even know how to tell Ezio.”
“He does not need to know.”
“He is my husband. And he already thinks something is up. Since you … since … umm.. our hike in Spring I have been running to your frigging EMPTY grave nearly daily, and suddenly I don’t go at all anymore. Yeah, I am pretty sure he’ll have questions. You know he is a very smart and observing man.”
“So go to the cemetery then.”
“And do what? Waste money buying flowers for an empty grave? Sit there and stare at them bloom?”
“Do what you always did.”
“I used to go there to be near you, to talk to you. Kind of redundant, don’t you think?”
“Vik, look …” he took a step towards me, in a reflex I stepped back, out of reach. He closed his eyes as if in pain and inhaled sharply.
“Blaine, I just can’t. Not now. Do your kids know?”
“My son does. We both agree that the girls may not take to it too well. We are waiting for a good time.”
I shook my head. “I …. just can’t.”
Without warning I ran, out of the kitchen, through the hallway, which seemed much longer than usual, up the stairs and into our bedroom, locked the door and leaned up against it, my eyes closed, bracing for the discussing that would ensue once he made it up there. I was waiting for the banging on the door. Footsteps. Nothing. Maybe he had left. To give me time. I needed to sit. I walked to sit on the bed, which was just around the corner from a small wall, behind which the master bathroom was. I turned the corner and my heart stopped. I screamed at the top of my lungs, until a cold hand was pressed up against my mouth to muffle the sound.
“Viktoria, please!” Blaine begged, a plea in his eyes. He looked genuinely uncomfortable. “Can I take my hand off? You won’t scream?” I shook my head. What was the use anyway? He removed his hand, but remained immediately in front of me. I looked up into his eyes, while mine welled up.
“How did you do that? How … I do not understand?”
“Babygirl, it’s hard to explain. While there are things that I can no longer do, there are others that I can do better now. Heightened senses, kinetic skills have increased, I am just lightning fast now, I can sense people’s … intentions. I am now very strong. I can demonstrate, if you do not believe me.” he carefully explained.
I shook my head “No need. I have seen enough. Are you going to hurt me?”
“How could you ask that? You know I would never hurt you!” he seemed appalled.
“Ok, how am I supposed to know. You are you, but you aren’t. And even I know that vampires need blood. And if you try to tell me now that is only in the movies, I know you are lying.”
“No, that part is true. But as you pointed out at the cabin, I was always a lousy cook, so it’s probably for the better.” he attempted a smile while keeping his teeth hidden. It looked distorted. Blaine’s smile was always broad and open.
“Glad at least you are amused by the fact that you kill people as food now. I am not!” I stated.
“Vik, I do not kill people. There are many ways to go about this. That is what takes so long, to learn how to properly feed, how to move, when to move, how to know what you can do when. You can drink small amounts and be fine for days. You can even find some synthetic alternatives. Or animal blood…”
“If I ever see you kill any animals, I will drive a stake through your heart personally! But let me guess, that is all Hollywood, too?”
He chuckled “No, that part is actually true. And yes, garlic too.”
“You came to the wrong household then. We cook mostly Italian … I do not have to mention that pretty much everything short of pastries contains garlic?”
“That is part fact, part fiction. That garlic powder in your cupboard may make me sneeze, but won’t kill me. The cloves you are growing in the garden on the other hand could ruin my night pretty badly.”
“Duly noted. Blaine why are you here?”
“Here as in your bedroom or here in your home?”
“Either, or both.”
“I wanted to see you. I miss you. More than I can say. And I thought you missed me too, and maybe, just maybe you’d be at least a little happy to see me. Did I make a mistake with … this?” he gestured up and down himself.
I looked at him, at a loss for words. When he realized he would not get an answer from me, he continued.
“You fear me. You are disgusted by me. You didn’t even look THAT appalled when you had to clean up my vomit over and over again. And when you cleaned me like a mother bathes her child. Had I known this I would probably just stopped trying to cheat nature and let it all take its course. I guess even in death I still mess everything up.” He sat down on the bed, looking defeated.
This really pulled on my heartstrings. Oh for heaven’s sake Viktoria. You yourself had considered Caleb’s idea to turn Blaine, except when he told you, it was supposedly too late. Had it not been, I am pretty sure I would have had Caleb try. The outcome would have been the same. So, who was I to judge? I sat next to him and took his hand. His ice cold, pale hand.
“You know what Blaine? You didn’t. This time it is on me. I messed up. With this situation, I have been the type of narrow minded ‘can’t be what mustn’t be’ person that I despise so much. Truth is, I am glad you are here. Maybe not here in my bedroom, for various reasons, but I am glad you are back. Or still here. Whichever. I just need to learn what being a vampire entails. If you help me with that, and promise to be patient, we’re gonna be fine.” After I spoke I just pulled him into a tight embrace. Ugh, he was cold. But it was Blaine. I whispered next to his ear “Oh, but one thing, Blaine, just so we are clear; you ever try to bite me, I will punch those fangs out and use them as fishing hooks!”
We both laughed till we cried.