To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 15
The vampire’s lips tasted of something oddly familiar to Charity, but it did not have pleasant connotations. It took her a moment to place it, but then it came to her. It was the same taste she’d had in her mouth when she’d bitten her own tongue... when she’d cut her own lip...
Oh God, it’s blood.
Sickened, she pushed him away.
“Charity, what is the matter?” Reginald asked her. She had kissed him willingly enough at first. Surely he hadn’t forced something upon her she wasn’t ready for.
“I thought... ” Charity whispered haltingly, “I... thought I could taste... blood.”
“Ah.” Reginald said, and that was all. He sat back down on the bench and looked quietly out into the velvet dark. There would come a time, he was sure, when Charity would relish the taste of blood, but it was not this night.
“I’m sorry,” Charity said.
“No, it is I who should apologize,” Reginald said. “I had forgotten I had just come from the hunt. I should have been more sensitive.”
“It wasn’t you, you know,” she said, “... it was that taste... ”
After a time, Reginald stood and held a hand out to Charity. “Come, darling. Join me in a glass of wine.”
She took his hand. “You drink wine?”
“Of course.” he said, tucking her hand into his elbow as they walked. “I have quite an extensive collection in my cellar. Some of which are very rare and valuable.”
“Oh.” Charity said, falling into step beside him. Reginald moved with an easy grace which belied the sheer strength of his body, and she was feeling quite overwhelmed by his nearness. She looked around her as they made their way through the house.
"How did you acquire all this?" she asked suddenly.
Reginald stopped. "What, my dear?"
"This." Charity answered, casting about her. "The furniture. The paintings. " she eyed him. "your wealth."
"Oh, that." The vampire replied. Not meeting her eyes, he shrugged. "Many of my previous homes have sometimes been... occupied... "
"I see." Charity murmured. "And this one?" The building seemed vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn't place where from.
Reginald shook his head. "Not this. This building was vacant, and had apparently been so for many years."
"The asylum!" Charity exclaimed. "It's the old asylum, isn't it?"
"I know not, Charity."
"It is." she nodded, remembering. "It was a private estate once, but when the owner died without an heir, the government took possession and turned it into a mental asylum. After thirty or forty years, it became too expensive to maintain, so the asylum moved to SimCity, and the mansion has been empty ever since.
I've only seen it from the outside." She gazed around again. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Very." Reginald agreed.
He left her in the formal dining room and came back a few minutes later with a bottle that he said was one of his finest. Charity read the inscription on the label but not knowing much about wine, she had to take his word for it. He poured them two glasses and held one up to her.
“To beginnings,” he said, and drank.
“To beginnings.” Charity agreed, and sipped the wine. It was very good, certainly the best she had ever tasted in her life. She caught Reginald’s fiery gaze over the rim of her glass, felt her heartbeat quicken, and quickly drank more wine to steady herself.
“Charity, I must confess something,” Reginald said softly.
Charity set her glass carefully down on the table. “What is it?” she asked breathlessly, her hands trembling.
The vampire crossed the space between them in one step and took her into his arms. “I know it may seem precipitous,” he whispered huskily, “but I have fallen in love with you, Charity. I loved you nearly from the moment I first saw you. You have an innate ability to see good in all things, and you draw love to you. You do not even realize it, but you do.”
“Reginald...” Charity began, but he put a finger over her lips, tracing them softly.
“Shhh,” he said. “I realize you cannot love me yet, but it is my fondest wish that you might. One day.” He tangled his fingers into her long hair. “I wanted you to know this.”
Charity tipped her face up to his and looked into his eyes. When she had first seen him, she had been appalled by those eyes, as they looked like the eyes of a monster. Now, however, as he clasped her to him, she realized what she saw wasn’t a monster, but a man. Just a man, who was in love with her, and a man whom she might love in return, given time.
She wrapped her arms around him, closed her eyes and sighed. I know it’s crazy, she thought, but I could love him. Not what he is, but what he truly wants to be. I can see it in him, even if he can’t see it in himself.
Before she realized it, she was pulling him closer to her and brought her lips to his. She tasted only the wine, and she savored it as she deepened the kiss. Her tongue lightly grazed his fangs and it sent a sudden, unexplainable shock of excitement through her. Her breath caught and she pulled away, looking at him with dilated eyes and flushed cheeks.
“Dance with me, my love,” Reginald whispered, and he led her to a large living area where soft music was playing. Expertly, he brought her into a dancing posture, and spun her in a circle before drawing her close to him.
Of course he’s an excellent dancer, Charity thought. To be any less would not have fit whatsoever with what she knew of him. The gentle grace he had already displayed in his movements translated effortlessly to the dance.
She put her hand softly on his shoulder, closed her eyes, and let herself be swept away.
To Be Continued