When my feet touched the floor, I stepped back enough to look up at him. His eyes were as dark as his hair and as old as his smile. He kept his arm firmly around me.
“You're new here,” he said.
I explained about attending college and then, because I really did not have months to waste on this project, I told him my name.
“I'm Dominic,” he said. That seemed correct—slightly foreign, slightly old-fashioned.
When he talked, I stared at his teeth. They looked like normal teeth, what I could see of them in the moving shadows cast by the strobe lights. He surprised me by staying with me the whole evening, despite a parade of women who tried to cut in on us.
“My turn with Dominic,” was the line.
Each time he'd say, “Sorry, love, not now,” and whirl me away.
Those other women continued to flirt, even after they found other partners. They would dance past us and lean toward Dominic and make clever remarks and roll their eyes as well as their bodies.
“Save a dance for me,” each would say.
He answered each request with a silent smile. And so I wasn't surprised when he led me back to the small table in the corner. What did surprise me was that he pulled out the other chair and sat down.
“Where are you staying tonight, Georgia? May I drive you home?” he asked.
If the circumstances had been different, I might have tried for a romance. I'd never experienced romance, not with my medical problems. True, I'd read every word I could find about Elizabeth Barrett Browning and had a secret dream or two in my heart, but I was smart enough to know that she had not been on her deathbed, plus, a Robert Browning is a rare occurence.
Might as well tell Dominic the truth. “Are you a vampire? Because I am looking for a vampire.”
He grinned then and sorry to say, I didn't see any pointy teeth.
“A vampire? Why would you think that?”
“This area is famous for vampires,” I said.
“Georgia, you've been reading romance novels.”
I nodded. “But I've also done considerable research on the internet.”
“And you found websites that promised you vampires in this neighborhood?”
“Something like that.”
He pressed his cool fingers over mine. “And you've heard that a vampire can give you the most romantic experience of your life.”
“I'm not looking for romance.”
He sat back and stared at me, startled. “Then what is it you want?”
“I want to be turned.”
He really did sound shocked. “Turned? Turned into a vampire? But, Georgia! You have to die for that to happen.”
“Well, and afterwards, when you're turned, you can never go out in the sun. You can't eat real food. You can't go home because if you do, no one will understand. Or if they do, they will no longer want you in the family. Believe me, there isn't a normal family around who wants a vampire sleeping in a box in the basement all day.”
“I know all that.”
“Vampires drink blood! Have you ever tried to drink blood?”
“No. But I will if I have to.”
“Eeew.” He looked away from me and I thought that he would leave.
Had I misjudged? Except for the lack of fangs, he looked type-cast with the dark hair and white skin and cold hands and those very old eyes in his smooth young face. Plus, when we were dancing I had put my raised hand on the side of his neck. Years of experience as a patient had taught me the exact sites of pulses. He had no pulse.
There was no way to politely say that I thought he looked more like a vampire than anyone I had ever met.
“Do you know any vampires?” I asked quickly.
He drummed his fingertips on the table top. He tapped his shoes on the floor. He frowned and shook his head.
“Why, Georgia? Is there a reason?”
“Of course there's a reason. I am dying. And I am only eighteen. Somehow that seems premature to me.”
That stopped him. He stared and stared and I thought he might sit there speechless until dawn, although if I was right and he was a vampire, he'd have to leave before dawn.
Finally he said, “Tell me your whole story.”
And so I did. He watched, his face perfectly still, not giving away a thought. But he kept his dark eyes on me and I knew he was listening to every word and making a decision.
I'd been right all along. Dominic was a vampire.
“For more than a hundred years,” he admitted. “In all that time, I've never turned anyone.”
“You know how, don't you?”
“I never hurt anyone,” he explained. “When I take blood I am very tender and romantic and gentle. Are you sure you wouldn't like romance? No? With a century of experience, I can kiss you to the edge of ecstasy so that when I draw blood, you won't feel it. And I am always careful to limit the amount. I would never leave you weak or faint.”
“I'm weak and faint most the time, anyway,” I said. “And as for drawing blood without pain, I've had blood drawn for hospital tests hundreds of times and it always hurts.”
“Ah. I can insert a tooth more gently than a nurse can insert a needle. Isn't that odd?”
“Terrific if it's true,” I said. “So how do you do the first part, the dying part? Do I have to wait until I die naturally? What if you aren't around?”
“That won't work at all,” he said. “When the heart stops on its own, bringing back life is usually impossible. No, to be successful, I would have to drain you until you took that last breath, and then I would give you enough of my vampire blood to bring you back to life and turn you.”
As that sounded like a solution to me, I asked him when he would like to do this.
“Georgia, do you think I take appointments? I am not a monster!”
Apparently vampires have rather tender feelings about some things. A century of experience hadn't hardened him the way I'd thought it would.
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