The more I learned from Mariska, the less I liked what I had become. Hatin’ her would come easy except she seemed to hate herself enough fer the both of us, which I found plumb peculiar. Even odder, was my body’s yen fer her. I couldn’t be anywhere’s near her without touchin’– or more. And while she was obliging, as my mind came back to me I began to see signs she wasn’t as happy about our couplin’ as she might be.
“Why you cryin’?” My chest grew wet, not for the first time. She stilled in my arms, then went to push me away, but I held on. My strength had grown in the past weeks. She could have fought to free herself, but this time chose not to. “Mariska, you don’t act happy to be with me, yet you never deny me. Why do you suppose that is?”
She lay silent fer a spell, then propped an elbow on my chest and looked at me. “You know that it is in our nature for the lusts to mingle. The lust takes you each time you feed. To consummate the sexual act we must feed and feeding is sexual.” Her mouth twisted in the semblance of a smile. “Your urges are powerful, Thomas. Mine are…less so.”
I brought her face to mine, kissing her eyelids before licking the blood from her cheeks. She—we—cried tears of blood. Vampires were all about blood. I suspected if I took a piss, that would be blood too. But I didn’t—piss—not anymore. “Why?”
She caressed my face and sadness filled her eyes. “You are most desirable Thomas. My body enjoys what we do, but my guilt eats away the pleasure. All my vows, broken.”
“You said that before. Vows to who?” I eased up in the bed, letting my eyes wander to the window and the shadowy bodies moving about outside.
She drew a deep breath, which shook her lithe body. Vampires don’t have a need of air. She exhaled in a loud sigh. “The time has come for you to know all, Thomas. Have you felt the desire to couple with the others?”
“No.” I said quickly and hard. “Them gals seem a bit off and they act sort’o scared of me—you too. Why, do you suppose?”
Her smile was brighter this time as if she were pleased by my answer. “Ashamed I may be, but I did choose well. You are very bright Thomas. You notice the small things. Such vision will keep you safe if you nurture it. We are different from the others. What else have you witnessed?”
“They kill more often than not.” The words came out harsh and cold. They fed like a pack of wolves, not caring about their prey. Mariska had taught me to only take what I needed, which while more than she, was little enough. A body need not die from our feeding and we never fed from the same person more than twice in a row. “Sweet Jesus –”
Tormented howls rose out of the dark. Mariska raised a brow in question.
“Why do they do they scream like the devil’s after them?”
“It is not the devil they fear.” Her other brow rose to join its sister.
I stared at her in puzzlement. Not the devil? “What in God’s na–?” The dark erupted in wails. “Dear Lord!” The wails grew louder. “When I take the lord’s name in vain they howl?”
“Just so.” She nodded her head and her raven tresses cascaded over her shoulder to cover her breasts. The motion seemed to awaken her to her nakedness. Reaching to the foot of the bed for her shimmy, she tugged it on. “But it does nothing to you when you say it, even though it is disrespectful to do so.”
“Nor you. Why?”
“Our souls remain, Thomas. Of this I am certain. They do not believe it to be so and because of this, for them, it may be truth. They think they are damned and for that, perhaps they are. What do you believe?”
My face hardened into a frown. What was she askin’? “You wantin’ to know if I have faith in God?” I ignored the wails. “Or, if I believe he has forsaken me?”
“One will answer the other, will it not?”
I rolled my eyes. “Why would he?” I had done nothing to bring down the wrath of the Almighty. Sure, fornicatin’ and drinking people’s blood were sins, as was the killin’ I’d done in war. But sins got forgiven… “I ain’t perfect, unless it’s perfect at sinnin’, but my soul ain’t lost. What about you.”
“I too am a perfect sinner, Thomas. Perhaps more perfect than you.” She looked at her hands clasped tightly in her lap then raised her eyes to mine. “My maker found me in a convent in Romania. I was a bride of Christ and he, truly a spawn of Satan.”
She shook her head violently as if to clear an image then thrust out her chin defiantly. “Under his tutelage I did unspeakable things– until the light dawned on my soul. All he had stolen from me was my human life. As a test of my faith I re-entered the sacred ground and found only peace, he followed—and did not. I swore then I would never again be like him. I would not kill, I would not corrupt, and I would keep myself chaste. I did kill if only to ease suffering. I corrupted you to ease my loneliness and to have a kindred spirit to share my existence, even knowing my vow of chastity would be forsaken as well. I broke all my vows and doomed you to a life such as mine. I am a weak vessel but do not ask forgiveness.”
I couldn’t wrap my mind around her words. Was I the one should be asking forgiveness? I’d coupled with a nun! The thought rang through my brain like church bells. Ma must be spinnin’ in her grave. “Why didn’t you say somethin’? Why did you let me…?”
She put a finger to my lips to silence me. “It is the nature of the beast, Thomas. Until you master the change, sex is necessary. As your maker, the responsibility is mine. You are not at fault. It was my choice. You did not ask for this.”
A notion struck me square betwixt my eyes. I remembered the night we had come to Bitter Creek. I seen her watching me from the shadows as I bathed and remembered thinkin’ how like Colleen she was with her dark hair and tiny body. When she brought me food I saw the loneliness in her eyes and felt it mirrored in me. I had no one. She could have let the others have at me, but didn’t. She had saved me, after a fashion. “Why me?”
“I had to bring one over. I wanted another like me.”
“It is time you knew. You’re seduction was planned by your superiors. Only those housed in the stables and barn were turned. The officers stayed safe within the houses. Your fellows may well be like the others, Thomas.” She waved a hand toward the dark fringe of buildings where the others lurked. “If we can convince them they are not damned, they need not follow orders, we may save them.”
“Wait. Wait! You’re sayin’ the government ordered y’all to make more vampires? But now you’re tellin’ me they don’t have to?” The anger I held since the night I died flamed through me, scorching away the lust which had buried it. My hands found her throat without a thought to drive them. I could snap her neck and toss her head at those lifeless things who stared at me in the dark. She had a choice but had given no quarter! I gazed into her bottomless eyes as my hands tightened and yet she did nothing to defend herself.
Words whispered through my mind. “We were not to save the strong ones.”
My mind returned to that night. I had brought her to my cot, planning to have my way with her but she turned on me. She drained away my blood, my life…
“Drink. Drink or forever die!”
I had seen my Ma and Pa and sweet Colleen waste away and die and my friends shot down in their prime. I didn’t want to die. I drank. The last decision of my life had been to keep at least part of it. My fingers eased on her throat. I swung my legs over the ticking, bent and picked up her dress from the floor then held it out to her. “Cover yourself. We need to talk.”
Don’t miss Chapter Four coming December 3rd!
Learn more about Debbie at her website: Get Bit!