Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 14 - Contemplation

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Madeleine pulled the sheets off her bed. “Damn blood,” she muttered. They had been nice sheets, some of her favorites, all soft and sateen, and now they were ruined. She stood there, all that fabric balled up in her hands, and wondered what would happen now.

The bigger picture, of course, was that he was a white hat, and she had shown her true colors tonight. Would he be forced to attack her? Would she be ‘relocated’ elsewhere on the grounds of possible threat to humans? Or would Milo and his team just outright behead her? She touched her neck. That was not how she wanted to end her existence. Not by a long shot.

She trudged down the hallway, end of the sheet dragging behind her. The smaller but more significant picture, the thing that was more important in her eyes, was wondering if he thought less of her for what she was. Did he believe her when she said it had been an accident, that she had not meant to bite him? She had not been kidding when she told him that she could have killed him if she had wanted to.

But she had gotten so lost in his kisses, his hands, the depth of his attentions that the restraint that kept her glamour tight had unraveled on the proverbial edges. “At least my wings did not come out, I guess.” She sighed and shoved the dirty sheets into the front loading washing machine. “It’s the small things, right, Maddie?”

She added the detergent, liquid fabric softener and that color safe bleach stuff, and pressed all the right buttons. She leaned against the machine and buried her head in her hands. Everything that had happened over the last few days, how had she honestly expected this to end?

“But I really like him,” she whined to the washer. And as the words spilled from her lips, she understood how very true they were. She really did like Milo. She liked talking to him about anything and everything. She liked how well he understood her, how he had reached around the obstacles that surrounded her and found a path for her to get to him.

Yes, she loved the better part of tonight, all that flesh against flesh. She loved his hands and mouth, and she had not missed how well their personal energies had blended together. It meant something, more so because he was human. It meant more that he had not shied away from the chill of her skin, and when he was done, when she had inadvertently bitten his tongue, he had left her almost as warm as him.

But part of her had known it could not work out. That his nature and her nature, well, they would work great for the moment, but the long term? No, it just could not happen. It was abhorrent, unnatural, and it just could not work between them. Or am I just making excuses? She walked back to her room and laid out on the bare mattress.

It was possible, very possible, that she was looking for reasons to push him away. She was aware that she had it in her, that she was neurotic enough to not want this to work because she really felt like maybe Patrick was right about her. Maybe she did not deserve to be with anyone, because no one would ever want to stay with her.

She moved her arms and legs like she was making a snow angel on her bed. It occurred to her that she had come to an impasse. She was torn between the baggage she carried, the threat of her past and this growing warmth inside her from her interactions with Milo.

“I can’t make this decision right now!” she yelled at the ceiling. “And you can’t make me!” Madeleine shook her fist skyward. It was ridiculous, her indignation, but more so was the difficulty she was wading into with both feet. There was no reason she could not work through it, see what would happen with Milo—did that mean she was not about to give him up? Why, yes, it did!—before she gave in and became a hermit like so many of her kind.

“Screw Patrick,” she muttered. “What the hell does that old vampire know about anything?” She was talking to herself, she was aware, but it felt nice to get all of her system, even if no one could hear her. One hundred years of anger and angst poured out of her in a fury. She had loved him so much, given him so much, but how do you keep giving when what you are offering is left to ash on the floor at your feet? How do you exist when the person who is supposed to love you unconditionally neglects you in favor of other pursuits?

Madeleine shook her head and sat up. “Enough pity party already.”

It was an old battle, one she never could win, because it is hard to conquer when your opponent refuses to play. But it was like picking at a scar left by a wound long healed. Every time she got herself into such a situation, every time she ran into a mountain or a molehill in her love life, she could hear Patrick’s voice in her head, degrading her, bringing her down. Sure, visits from Tamus never helped, but at the end of the day, she was tired of giving power to a man who feigned interest in her for all the wrong reasons.

She swung her legs off the bed and went out to the linen closets to get another set of bed clothes. Dawn was coming, and she planned on being all snug in clean sheets beneath a warm, fluffy comforter when the sun hit her house.

*****

Madeleine kept running her hand over the empty side of her bed. The scent of him had left the bed when she had stripped it, but she could still smell him, all musk and man, in her room. Maybe she was imagining it, but just as she had imagined him memorizing the lines of her, all of her senses had done the same with him.

“I wonder what you look like when you’re sleeping,” she whispered to the open space. “I bet you look peaceful.” She smiled. “I bet you’re one of those guys who likes to watch his woman sleep, too. All that hopeless romantic and sweet.” She sighed and rolled on her back.

She needed to sleep. Exhaustion pulled at every bit of her. Crying, she had found, always hurt worse after she was turned, and part of that had been explained to her as simply this: the only liquid vampires could excrete from their eyes was blood, because that was the only liquid they ingested. (Oddly enough, that did not apply to her nether regions, but for that, she was grateful.) She had drank again, but it was not the same, not what she needed, and somewhere in the tingling flesh of her mouth, she could still taste Milo, all hot and metallic. She needed fresh blood, pure and simple.

But worse than that hunger was the knowledge that she might not be able to retrain herself and resist the kill. Human blood gained an exotic chaser as it pushed closer to death, like a good line of liquid cocaine. In a way, Tamus was right. She was playing at being human, and while she was really rather good at it, at the end of the day, she was undead at best, a monster at her worst.

But thankfully for every human within her reach, she had an alternative.

Madeleine walked her fingers across her nightstand and snagged her cell phone. She flipped through the contacts until she came to the ‘D’s. “Where are you?” Her finger stopped. “There you are.” She touched the number, and as it did, the words ‘blood doll’ blinked on the screen. She had stolen the moniker from a very popular vampire role-playing game. After all, that was what the living donors were: dolls who donated blood.

That there was an entire subculture was a little disconcerting at times, but the professional ones were in it for something beyond the appeal, the apparent cool factor that went with being submissive to ‘dark lords’. They saw the monetary value in extending the service to the real vampires, and as such developed their own clientele, not unlike their sex-hawking counterparts.

Her doll du jour was an older man—older being relative to her pretend age, of course—who doted on her like a favorite girl or that girl next door he kept hoping would let him cross that line. She would not. She just was not interested in him beyond their shared conversations and the little moments they enjoyed.

But the truth, the hard, ugly truth, was that she was using him. Occasionally for the attention he was so willing to give her. Sometimes for the pretend relationship they had cultivated over the years. And sometimes she was just hungry and he was willing to stick out his neck or wrist. Add in that Martin had developed a way to keep her from, well, killing him, and that made him a high commodity in her book.

“Hello, Madeleine, it’s been a while.”

“Martin.”

He chuckled. “So formal. You must be starving.”

She smiled into the phone. “How well you know me.”

“I’ll be over in about twenty minutes.”

She paused, suddenly ridden with a horrible sense of guilt. “No, Martin, that’s not why I called.” Was she really going to do this? “I thought you deserve to hear it from me…” She covered her eyes with one hand and shook her head. “…but I need to cancel my subscription to your service.”

Martin did not say anything, and Madeleine’s stomach tightened. “Are you certain?” His tone was empty, lacking any emotive hint. Professional.

“Yes,” I’m insane. “I’ve enjoyed our time together, but like most things, this too must come to an end.”

“If I may inquire, you have not found a replacement service, have you?” A spark of human insecurity wafted over the phone line.

“No, you have not been replaced.” She cringed.

Sometimes it was worse, the whole not being replaced thing. It meant you could not just blame another person, in this case, another entrepreneur, for taking what had been yours, be it person, partner or service. It meant there really might be something so wrong with you. And no one wanted to feel like that.

“But I am recommending your service to two of my colleagues,” she added in quickly through the thickening silence. “You should hear from them over the next couple of days.” He started to say something, but she had had about all she could take in her attempts to placate him. “Good bye, Martin.”

She hung up the phone and held it to her chest. Well, great. Not only did she feel guilty about hurting his feelings, she had hurt him because she felt bad about seeing someone else, no matter how much the blood doll had pre-dated the mage. All over a man she had been talking to for just over a week, had seen twice.

And worse, it did nothing to change the fact that she was now famished.

Continue: 15

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