Godric threaded his way through the clusters of mingling guests. The restless bayou breeze shifted across Sophie-Anne’s garden courtyard and he allowed himself a full, deep-chested breath. Instantly, his senses were set ablaze. He was assaulted with useless information about the hundreds of vampires in attendance. He could feel the spectrum of their ages radiating all around him. A spare few warranted more than a glance. Only two were worthy of a nod. Earthy smells rose from the vampires’ shoes and even from their skin; he recognized the turf upon which they had tread, the ground that birthed them. There were not nearly as many humans present, but their scents rose above all other things, swelling up and overwhelming everything else. He could practically taste their salty sweat and the stench of the vampires who had claimed them as meals or pets.
Before the cacophony of smells could thoroughly revolt him, he picked out the faint scent of rosehips. He latched onto it with laser-like focus. His gait instinctively changed. He treaded lightly, toes first, in silent, swift footsteps – the walk of a predator.
He had not imagined stalking up to Rosalyn in a crowded black tie party surrounded by spectators. No. He had fanaticized plenty, but not this. He had thought that, if and when he went to her, he might perhaps happen to “run into” her happenstance one evening in Portland. It was embarrassing, but the temptation to look Rosalyn up online had proven too great. He hated that he couldn’t resist the urge. Damnable internet. It made everything so easy, so instantaneous. He had found her faculty page and spent more hours than he was willing to admit staring at her cheerful photograph. She wore her hair back in a professional chignon which obscenely exposed the gorgeous column of her throat. He had imagined that they might sit down in some waterfront restaurant and talk for long hours, after which they would end up coupling in a commandeered skiff on the Willamette River in the moonlight. Or, he had quite seriously entertained the idea of registering for one of her classes. It pleased him greatly to think of the shocked look she might have on her face as he took a seat while she called attendance. He would even take a backpack -and one of those black and white composition notebooks. Then he would ask to see her in office hours and ravish her on her desk amid term papers and piles of books. Either way, he wanted to crush his fangs into that pulsing creamy neck and sink his member between her slim, beckoning thighs. Repeatedly.
Godric inhaled again. The delicate aroma was richer, closer. The human was perhaps 40 yards away, though he could not see her yet. Rosalyn. Hot, sweet, delicious, beautiful Rosalyn.
Without warning, his fangs suddenly slammed down. A vampiress next to him heard the snick of his teeth and she yipped in terror and flailed backwards, sending her and her table crashing to the ground. Godric was stunned by his own lack of control. He rushed to offer the woman a hand. “Madame, my apologies. Please.” His fangs were still dropped and she scuttled further out of his reach in abject fear. Two of her companions helped her up and they begged Godric’s pardon – regardless that he was to blame. He sucked hard at his gums to force his teeth away and hailed a waiter with drinks, hoping to dispel the scene he had caused. He righted the table and the server quickly passed out fresh blood cocktails. Godric apologized again with a bow and backed away.
He walked a short distance, only to stop in his tracks, unnerved by his own behavior. He was completely unprepared for this encounter – in more ways than one. Godric ran a hand through his hair, mussing the carefully shaped coif Pamela had given him earlier backstage. What in god’s name was he thinking? He had dropped fang like a newborn and was hunting a human he intensely desired with nothing but starvation and lingering fury at his manipulative child as fuel. It was a perfect recipe for a bloodlust-driven disaster. In public, no less!
He was not thinking clearly. He was not even in the realm of good judgment – not by a long shot. Eric was right. He let the revelation sink in. Somewhere along the way Godric had let his ascetic tendencies twist into something horribly wrong. All of his preaching about the importance of stoicism, about the necessity for restraint and absolute mastery over one’s emotions – all of it had utterly backfired. His increasingly vicious attempts at self-denial were not about control. They were obsessive. Compulsive. Only he could not see the forest for the trees.
Until now. How rare that Eric had to step in and guide him, to play the father as he had promised. Then again, his child always did have a knack for seeing through others’ bullshit. The thought made Godric laugh out loud. He ignored the guests that cast leery looks at the odd vampire standing alone, talking to himself. He could care less that they gave him a wide berth.
Whether Eric knew it or not, his child had also given him the missing puzzle piece Godric had been after for months. Just ask her what she wants, Eric had said. Godric had racked his mind for a way to involve a human in his life without degrading her with one of the ugly titles his kind reserved for her species or exposing her to the brutal violence of vampire politics. It seemed impossible and this too had kept him from going to her.
“Just ask her what she wants,” he affirmed out loud. Such an elegant and simple solution. He’d had it completely backwards. He needed to know how she wanted him to be involved in her world – assuming she even wanted him at all. He needed to be honest with her about what and who he was, although secretiveness was second nature to him. The thought quickly formed into a plan and Godric was suddenly filled with a tremendous sense of relief.
He banished his ill-hatched fantasies of river walks and classrooms. These were selfish desires. If Rosalyn was here now it was because perhaps, just perhaps, she wished to see him. He was going to ask. He would allow Rosalyn to lead. He would let a human take control! He would be up front with the realities of vampires and let her set the terms of their relationship. No more self-harm. No more abnegation and denial. Let her shape his boundaries. The idea was foreign and utterly bizarre. He had no idea what that might look like or where such an adventure might take him. And that made it positively thrilling.
Godric was so lost in thought that he did not notice the waiter approach him warily. “Uhhh….wwuu….wuuuould you care for a drink?” a trembling youngling said.
“What?” Godric said.
“AB negative daiquiris, your…um…your highness…your ancient-ness.”
Godric quirked an eyebrow at the rangy kid. “‘Sir’ will do.”
“Ssssssssir.” The tray full of tall glasses with umbrellas and straws clattered dangerously in his shaky hands. Godric took one of the drinks and then reconsidering the gravity of his fang gaffe, grabbed a second one. He swiftly discarded the ridiculous paper umbrellas and straws. The waiter’s eyes went square as the ancient vampire proceeded to chug one glass after the other, not bothering to feign savoring the rare blood.
The cocktails were slightly sweet. No doubt the donor humans had been force fed strawberries or something equally idiotic, as if it really enhanced the flavor. All Godric tasted was high blood sugar and an elevated risk for developing Type-II diabetes. But he needed the blood badly and the heat in his belly combined with his sense of renewed purpose made him feel mischievous. He turned his attention back to the boy, glancing at his nametag. “Who is your maker?”
“Ken O’Malley,” the boy squeaked.
“Of? You mean like where he’s from? Uh, Atlanta.”
“Atlanta, sir,” he corrected. “I do not know him. Tell him Godric says your manners are deplorable and you don’t know the difference between a prince and a pauper. Kings and Queens are Majesties, High Council members are Honors, and Sheriffs are Sheriffs obviously and everyone else is a Madame or Sir. Since you do not live in my Sheriffdom and are not subject to my authority, it is ‘sir’ to you unless otherwise specified. How can you ever expect to become a noble someday if you don’t even know how to address one properly?”
The boy was still so newly turned that a tinge of blush crept across his face and it was obvious he had never considered the possibility of doing anything more than holding a tray for someone else. “I’m so sorry, sir. It’s just…you…you’re so old, man!” He continued to gush compliments and then sobering finally, said, “I’ll tell my maker, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Godric dabbed the corners of his mouth with a cocktail napkin and tucked it into one of the empty glasses. “Very well. Carry on.”
“Enjoy your evening, sir.”
A faint smile crept across Godric’s face. “Oh, I think I shall.”