Copyright © 2014 by Michael Litzky
Lavinia went straight to their camper. Sally hurried into the house, brushing past Jesse at the doorway and Malcolm coming down the stairs without looking at them.
She walked through the living room, ignoring the prickly glare from Tomás, hating him for being so meek and self-effacing. For a shameful moment, she even hated his slight Mexican accent and the way he acted as if he were Charla’s servant instead of her husband. She walked purposefully to the guest bedroom that she and Lavinia had shared for several nights and snapped open the door without knocking.
Charla, hunched on the edge of the bed, jerked her head up. Tears of sheer mortification squeezed from her eyes but she quickly slammed on a belligerent mask to deny what she had only minutes ago realized herself. Soft hope danced in the corners of her eyes. Sally had told Lavinia she was just going to check and see if they had left anything in the room but she had really come to say something to Charla. Heart hammering, she faced the woman who glared at her but whose arms twitched as if even now Sally might throw herself into them with helpless passion.
“You bitch,” Sally said firmly, the joy of throwing back KerriAnne’s unjust word giving her strength. KerriAnne acting possessive and even tender about a vampire she created?
Charla battened down, so menacing and at the same time so powerless that Sally let her have it with full force, all her disappointed hero worship spilling into words.
“I. Don’t. Want. You. I’m in love, deeply in love. Do you even know what that is? I’m not available just because I’m the first dyke you’ve ever seen! I don’t just have sex with anybody! I’m in love. I’m with my wife!” As she yelled, Charla started a response to each thought which, if she’d gotten out more than a few words for each, might have gone: What makes you think I want you, you call what you have love, it’s sick and perverted, I know what love is, how dare you, who do you think you are, what makes you, she’s not your wife, you, you…
Sally actually grabbed Charla’s blouse and yanked her up face to face, unaware of a quiet, stealthy sound behind her. “So you take your fucked up sexual repressions,” she stated, “and you look at them really, really close and quit fucking around with me and that nice little guy you married. Think you’re gay? Great! Go find a woman to be with. Or maybe give a little heart to the marriage you’re in! I don’t care. But you’ll be an asshole to everybody who you even talk to until you stop lying to yourself. Now move your ass! I need to see if we left anything in here.”
Charla had stopped trying to say anything and jerked with each sentence as if the words lashed her very skin from muscles and bones. When Sally released her, she sat numb and lifted her legs obediently as Sally knelt to look under the bed. As Sally stood to leave, Charla said “Here,” and handed her an object on the nightstand without any other comment.
Sally started at the sight of the token. It was a pentagram carved from deep golden wood and blazoned with sightless demon faces and smoothly spiraling helices. She had found it just the day before in the curio shop run by Jesse and Walter’s rainbow hippy neighbor and had wound up reluctantly buying it, partly because of a weird story behind it. Last night she’d put it on the bedside table, telling herself that if she remembered it when she left, then she was meant to take it to Germany. This morning she’d forgotten all about it. Now Charla had handed it right to her. She pocketed it without a word.
She turned to leave without looking at Charla again, but Charla made a gasping start at speech or a sob of anguish. “I, I –”
Sally had never been able to walk away from someone who still wanted to speak. She compensated by snarling, “What?”
Remorse stabbed Sally’s heart at how broken Charla looked. This was the hero who had changed the lives of millions with her cleverness and her daring, however big an asshole she also was. “I, I didn’t…” Charla tried, shaking her head, but couldn’t go on.
Sally almost said, “Fuck you,” and left but she remembered the old man in the apartment the night she Ran for KerriAnne’s life and she remembered the sting of KerriAnne’s slap, and she muttered instead, “Look, I didn’t mean…” But what hadn’t she meant? She’d been right and everything she’d said was justified.
Through the closed bathroom door Sally heard voiceless sobs. She realized that Tomás had, of course, overheard everything, had slipped stealthily into the bathroom behind her with causing the least disturbance (which seemed to be his entire way of being) and was now probably sitting on the toilet with his arms clutched around himself, bent forward with the force of his misery.
She just gave up. She wanted to get the hell out of this house, especially if what she suspected was true. “I’m sorry,” she said brusquely, to the unseen Tomás as much as to Charla, and wrenched herself away, aware of Charla’s rage and anguish so intense it flared white. But Charla let her go.
She walked quickly past the living room where Malcolm had gathered with Jesse and Walter. She didn’t want to see their faces but she couldn’t avoid noticing that Jesse and Walter were sitting apart again. Of course.
“Hey, what?” Malcolm’s voice called to her as clumped down the stairs again and walked out. She hurried across the open space before any vampires could get the idea that she was alone, and climbed with intense relief into the familiar camper with her beloved. “Let’s get out of here,” she said, feeling like she was leaving the devastation of a war.
Once again she saw KerriAnne’s outrage and the white face of her thrall. She thought she understood now, though it didn’t all add up. But finally she shrugged, pulled out her smart phone and started working out the logistics of getting to Germany on their own.
As KerriAnne’s arms snaked around him, pinning his own to his side, Jeremy panicked. The front door hung mockingly open behind her. He had invited her in, he had been a fool! He struggled to reach the wooden stake on his belt and kill her.
But two things stopped him.
The first was a fleeting glimpse of her face just before he started struggling: it was nestled against his chest with the innocent expression of a child taking comfort. And the second was her face an instant later as she sprang back, hurt, frightened, confused.
They stood facing each other. Jeremy felt guilty and ashamed and angrily reminded himself that he didn’t have to feel either. But he did, he felt terrible, just like he had when he’d called MaryAnne in fourth grade “Two-Ton Elephant” while trying to suck up to the school bully.
To his embarrassed shock, KerriAnne knelt before him and, as if she were acting out a scene long remembered, kissed his foot. She looked up like she expected to be hit and whispered, “Please? Let me serve you, let me… let your humble servant please you.”
A weltering confusion of thoughts and feelings swept through Jeremy’s giddy mind: shame at being a white male with an Asian female kneeling before him (but at least she’s not black, he thought), elation at having a vampire so helpless before him, relief that he hadn’t been wrong about her, aching excitement as she made it clearer and clearer that she would do whatever he said.
Then he realized that the front door was hanging open and that if the neighbors opened their blinds (but thank god they didn’t!) they would see into the house, see him in this position. As it was, two or three tentative vampires had crept up the steps and were whispering at the door, let us in, let us in too.
Quickly he closed the door, stopping it just before it slammed and woke his parents up. Then, breathing hard, he turned to KerriAnne, who was still on her knees in the front hall. He could see her eyes on his erection tenting the front of his pants and her hopeful smile, as if she were on familiar ground. His face went red.
What was he going to do? It kept coming back to this question. She was the enemy — but she was so sexy. He was dizzy with the heat. And she seemed so adorable. Jeremy had at his core a very tender heart. Nobody ever knew how many nights he had cried himself to sleep after Alec died, how often had had replayed the nanosecond when he had (or maybe hadn’t quite) twitched against Alec and pushed him that inch beyond the boundary of the house magic.
Feeling like he was signing a contract with the devil, he walked to where she knelt. In a porno video (and he watched them even more than he’d ever jokingly talked about with his friends) he would have unzipped his pants and – but he couldn’t bring himself to do that. She was looking up at him with big glistening eyes. Quivering, she ran her tongue along her lips, watching his face and getting more suggestive as he showed he liked it.
His breath hitched in short jerks. Trying to remember that she was a vampire, he pointed toward the end of the hall. “My bedroom’s on the right,” he was about to say, but he stopped, flustered, unable to say “bedroom.” She’s not a girl. She’s not human. I don’t have to worry if she’ll be mad at me! Feeling like a bad porno actor, he snapped, “Get into the bedroom. It’s, um, the first door on the right.” He blushed even more.
But KerriAnne gave an excited gasp, nodded once, rose gracefully to her feet and glided down the hall and around the corner. Jeremy was stunned at the sight of her swaying bottom under her tight gold skirt and the graphic thought that she was going to let him see it naked. He hurried after her and rounded the corner without his usual care.
But she was opening the door to his bedroom, slipping inside like a video image. He followed after her, heart hammering at what was almost certainly about to happen. He closed the door, keeping just enough sense not to turn his back on her.
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