France, April 1918
Wars have always existed. From the simple foot soldier on the battlefields to the generals, hundreds of miles away, safe, I have watched. The stench of blood, the rot of fear, the roar of rifles and cannon fire is well known to me. Before the battle, after the skirmish, during the fighting, I watch and I wait. Then I walk through the carnage and set free the suffering, the anguished and the dying. I set their souls, if they even have them or believe in them, free.
Over the many years, the many soldiers who have slipped past me, to go on with their lives and live, have given me a reputation. They talk of a dark figure that huddles over their fallen comrades, only to walk on and leave their friends dead. I am called many things: the Angel of Death, the Grim Reaper, even the spawn of Satan. I was born and named Caleb. I am neither an angel nor devil. I am a vampire and I go from battlefield to battlefield, trying to stop the suffering of those who are about to die. My bite ends the pain and eases the soul into the next life. I don’t do this out of any sense of justice. I am a hungry man who must feed, and there is no better place to dine than a war torn countryside.
Tonight I walk over the lines, slipping into the trenches of the German soldiers. I found a young boy, perhaps twenty, who was ripe with fear. His heart beats rapidly, knowing deep down that he will die. He has given up. I can smell it on him. Even if there is no battle tomorrow, he will die. His soul has given in to the fear. I slipped down beside him, speaking the archaic German I’d learned over the centuries.
“Do not fear, little one.”
“Who are you, sir?” His smile is tremulous. He is already dead.
“I am no one. Just another soldier like you.” I caressed his face. He pushed it into my hand, letting me feel the barely there stubble on his cheek. So young, so new to have already given up, I felt a moment of pity, a second of hesitation. No one this young should die. But I stamped it down; the hunger already riding me. I slipped beside him, lowered my body to his, lying on him as I pressed him back into the dirt wall of the trench.
My power reached out to him, quickening his blood, stirring his lust. My lips found his pulse, deep in his throat. My power calls it to the surface, where I licked it. I undid his trousers, feeling him hard and leaking in my hand. I can give him this as I take him. I can give him pleasure. I find his gun and in his pocket is a glass bottle of gun oil. I poured some out onto my hand and pressed it to him, parting him, stroking him. The boy has already given himself to me.
Once he opened, I pressed myself to him, joining with him, sinking deep into his body. As I began to move, the soldier’s heart started beating with passion instead of fear. I hate the taste of fear. It sours the blood, taints it with its negativity. I wanted purity. I crave the flavor of lust and love. I could give the boy lust, and when he is consumed with it, end his life.
I feel his body quickening below me. He fisted me with his warm body, pulling me towards my own release. As I kept pushing into him, his belly tensed and his moans filled the night air. With the first jet of his release, my teeth entered his flesh, drilling into his neck, searching for his vein. The first drops hit me scalding hot and full of youthful lust and the rush of orgasm. I continued to pump my hips, feeling my own body quake with the explosion of release. My last pump of semen coincided with the last drop of blood I took from the boy. I felt his heart beat one last time, and then stop.
The boy lay against the dirt wall, his trousers around his knees. No matter how many times I’d taken a life, even one so close to death, I have never left them as they died. I straightened his clothing and wiped up the spilled blood along his neck. I sat him back against the dirt wall of the trench. As I left, his eyes were closed, but he had a trace of a smile on his lips. I had fed for the night.
Through the trees of the Ardennes, I made my way slowly towards my home. The late April night and full moon made the bare branches look like claws waiting to rend the flesh of unsuspecting nightwalkers. The dead zone between the lines is always so silent, so still. I liked walking it. There are owls and a few other birds of prey that hunt in the night, but all other creatures were gone. They should be gone. No one should be here, not even the soldiers.
My home was a simple stone structure, built two hundred years before. The previous occupants were a miller and his family, all of them stricken with small pox. As I took their lives, I took their home. I was born over five hundred years ago and I have seen many wars. I have amassed a fortune greater than most of the world’s wealthiest people. Yet I always come home to France, to my mill by the river. With the new steamships, I have traveled all over this world, and yet I cannot abide to be away from my home for more than a few months at most.
The sun would soon rise, the horizon already purpling as I made my way through the woods and the rocks until I got to my house. There were soldiers all around it. I plunged into the river, knowing I had an emergency entrance if need be. I slipped behind the old wheel and let myself into the basement through the wheel casings. I was so weary of it. All I wanted was to lie down and sleep. The rising of the sun would take care of that for me. I made my way deeper into the flooring, past the old grindstone there was a door. It led down into a deep chamber that was damp and cold, until I reached a door. Inside was my private keep. The room was hidden deep within the earth, no windows, and only the one door. If need be, I could stay here, outside of the sun for as long as I needed to be.
I slipped out of the German uniform I had taken and trudged over to my bed, I could tell the sun was rising, my arms and legs became heavy, and my heart was slowing. The warm blood of the soldier was becoming sluggish in my veins. As the sun pierced the horizon, my body stopped. My heart stopped its beating and I died, sprawled on my bed.
I do not stay dead throughout the sun’s journey across the sky. I am old enough, been a vampire long enough that my heart starts beating relatively quickly after sunrise. It is only the new ones that stay dead until the sun sets. I slept for a good part of the day. But I rose and stretched my body, feeling and touching it. I died in the prime of my life. For the time, I was tall. Now, I’m still tall, but not as tall as some. At five-nine, I have a wiry, rangy build that is lithe and muscular. My arms are defined, as are my legs, belly and chest. There is some chestnut hair fanned across my chest, between my nipples. There is a dark swirl of it around my navel. I let my beard grow out; I hate to shave. My hair is clipped close to my head. I slipped on my clothes, the clothing that I wear around my home. It would be a few hours before I could go above.
My hunger was met; I hardly needed to feed that often anymore. It is only during times of war that I gorge myself. I can, if need be, go months between feedings. But while the foolish nations tried to garner territory, and the feeding so plentiful, I would take advantage of it. I slipped out my door, going into the dank, damp antechamber. There was scuffling in the grinding room. I opened the door and hid behind the old grindstone. The unmistakable sounds of rutting filled my hypersensitive hearing. I peeked around the old stone to see a man pushing into a woman. Her eyes were glazed with hatred, her body tense and bruised. She had been used before, broken but not lost. She wasn’t fighting; she was biding her time.
The sight before me filled me with disgust. In all my years, I had never once found it necessary to take what wasn’t freely given. I had seen men take their pleasure, force women and some men into satisfying their lust more times than I could count. I moved silently from behind the grindstone, walking stealthily behind the soldier. Once behind him, my hands reached out and in a flare of fury, I snapped his neck. His body hit the floor long after he was dead.
The woman looked at me with fear, until she realized I had helped her. Tears of gratitude filled her eyes and she blinked furiously to clear them. She stood shakily, and when she stumbled, I reached my hand out to steady her. She shied away from my touch, but nodded her head in thanks. The woman looked down at the body of her attacker, kicking him viciously then spitting on him.
I didn’t want to leave the carcass on the floor. The body would let go and soil my home. Slipping him out the same hole for the turn wheel wouldn’t have been a problem; my superhuman strength would easily let me. But she was there. The woman got dressed. I hefted the body while she dazedly fixed her clothes. He slipped out the hole and landed in the river.
Her French called to me. “Merci, monsieur.”
Her face was no longer lost; anger had taken hold. “Madame.”
“My sisters, monsieur.”
Helplessness stabbed at me. Her concern I could taste in the air. I could do nothing until the sun set. “Madame, I will save your sisters, but I cannot go to them yet.”
Her despair shimmered in her eyes as she blinked back tears that pride would not let fall. “You must.”
She walked closer to me, her hips swaying in a timeless beat of seduction. She had just been raped, but still hoped to use her wiles on me. “Please monsieur. I will do anything you ask.”
Shame had me turn my head. “I cannot go above until the sun sets.”
She reached out to me and turned my face to her. The woman looked into my eyes and I opened my mouth, so she could see. Shock widened her eyes, but she did not move away. “Monsieur vampire, thank you.”
I took her hand in mine and raised it to my lips, kissing her hand gently. “Madame, I am at your service.”
We waited together the few minutes until sunset. After five hundred years, I can always tell when it happens. The last sluggish bit of sleepiness left me. I took her hand and walked towards the stairs to the main part of the house. I touched my finger to my lips, asking for her silence. Once above, we found two soldiers drinking and smoking in the main room. There was male grunting and female screaming coming from one of the rooms. It was simple to take the two mostly drunk soldiers. Their necks snapped as easily as the other’s had.
I whispered to the woman. “How many others were brought with you, Madame?”
“My two sisters.”
I opened the door to the bedroom, peering inside. One man pounded his body against a woman who had lost consciousness. Another man was hitting a woman who fought him as he tried to undo his trousers. I was loath to go near either man. Their emotions tainted their blood, poured out in their sweat. I steeled myself against the feelings and moved behind the soldier who seduced with his fists. His neck snapped in my hands. Before he even fell to the floor, the other died as well, but not by my hands. The woman I had rescued had found a knife and slit his throat.
The sweat and blood were too much, filled the air with the negative, raw hatred. But I stayed. I moved the bodies and dumped them in the river. Let the water cleanse their wounds of the stench. I left the women to care for themselves, they knew I would not touch them. I walked out into the night, searching for I knew not what.
Wearing a French uniform, I walked the lines away from the Germans. I had had my fill of their kind for the night. Even though I knew that had this been German soil that French or British soldiers would be found doing the same, tonight I wanted clean, pure, and fresh. I did not need to feed again. But I craved something that would cleanse my nose, clear the air, and wipe away all that I had felt earlier this night.
I walked the lines, staying just inside the dead zone, near the trenches. I could feel the men. I could taste their feelings. There was fear, but nothing like death. I had been walking for a few hours when I sensed something different. There was a new taste on the air. It was compelling, as if it reached inside me, pulling me towards it. The siren song of the scent called to me, I was powerless to resist.
I was unaware of the stony, tree limb covered path I took through the night, searching for the source of that call. I found him in one of the outer trenches, alone. He was American. I slipped into the trench with him, moving a little loudly, so I wouldn’t startle him. He raised his rifle in alarm, but recognized my French uniform.
He stared at me for a few moments, more than enough time for me to take all of him in. He was a tall, big man. His hair was blond, his eyes the color of the summer sky, at least what I remembered of the summer sky. I hesitated to speak, because my English I had learned from years spent in London. In my travels, I had been to America, mostly New York and Boston, but also San Francisco. But the accent I had been unable to adopt.
There were other men in the trench with us and I did not want to draw their attention. The line was at least five hundred feet long and there were two men at each end and the blond man before me. His eyes were bright and innocent although weary at my presence. He had relaxed once he realized that I was his ally, but his confusion as to my presence was obvious.
Trying out my English, “Who are you?”
His smile was warm, his eyes curious. “My name is Ethan Johansen. Who are you and why are you here?”
The lie rolled off my lips so easily, I had used it before. “My name is Caleb. I was trapped behind the Germans and waited until dark to come home.”
That seemed to satisfy him. He reached into his pack and offered me some water and some food. I shook my head at his generosity. Even though I had tasted neither food nor drink in five hundred years, his simple act of kindness touched me. “You can wait here until dawn, then I suggest you get back to your people.”
A far off explosion broke the stillness of the night and Ethan instantly went alert, raising his rifle to rest at the top of the trench. I knew it wasn’t near enough to worry, so I observed the man who had drawn me here until he calmed. I closed my eyes and let my senses take over. I could smell his essence on the night wind. He was pure and innocent; the breeze was filled with the scent of it. His skin radiated with his energy, his life force. I could taste it, and it was intoxicating. His outer beauty was something that artists would weep for, but his inner beauty was beyond any other I had seen.
When Ethan calmed and sank back into the trench, I opened my eyes and watched him calm himself with a few deep breaths. It wasn’t that he was afraid. His body reacted with adrenalin. I think that is what first caught my senses, his lack of fear for himself. I had to fight the urge to reach out and take his essence from him, take it into myself and savor it. I did not need to feed, but I knew of no other way to share his life energy without taking it away.
Ethan turned to me and smiled, his white teeth showing in the moonlight. I’m sure he could barely see me, but my eyes were long adjusted to the murkiness of night. My hand shook as I reached it out to Ethan, to stroke his face. I think I must have startled him because he drew back. This was something new to me. Usually, I chose those who had given up or who were dying. This boy was full of life. To end his life would have been tragic, but I wanted to share in his energy. I reached out again, and this time Ethan didn’t pull away.
My hand felt the smoothness of his skin, slightly prickly with beard stubble. His cheeks were high and well formed, his skin warm. My hand trailed down to his throat and I could feel his heart beating in his pulse. My power took over and called it to the surface. Beyond my control, I moved to him, letting my mouth cover his pulse, sucking at the skin, feeling his life force beat against my lips. I felt Ethan shudder beneath me as his huge hands reached up to grab at my shoulders.
My powers include the ability to seduce. This time, I didn’t want my powers to do my seduction, but I didn’t know how to turn them off either. So I let my powers go and continued to taste Ethan’s skin, feel his pulse beneath me, and let his body quicken. I unbuttoned his jacket and felt the hard plains of muscle beneath my fingers. He wore a thermal suit of some kind, but it didn’t hide the muscular man beneath me. The crinkly feel of hair beneath the fabric made my pulse stutter before beating hard. All the while, my every basic instinct demanded that I bite into his neck, draining all that purity into me.
As I undid his trousers, I felt him tense. I reached out with my mind, fighting over the seductive swirl of his flavors on my tongue. This was a pure soul. Ethan was untouched. My desire ratcheted even higher. I began to nibble on the tender flesh of his throat as I undid his pants and pulled them down. Trembling beneath me, I pushed Ethan back into the wall of the trench, lifting his legs in my hands, pushing myself against him.
Ethan’s hands were restless against my back as I lowered his thermal drawers, letting my hard, naked flesh press against his quivering opening. The man was hairy; I could feel it where our skin was naked against each other. My body trembled, excited beyond the norm. Sticky essence left my body, coating him, slicking him for my entry. I shook so badly, I knew it would be over quickly, perhaps even before I got inside him. His body, his innocence called out to me. I couldn’t take his blood or his life, but I could have his body. He was open to me. I felt his body opening. His hands became forceful, pulling me to him.
The call of his blood, the sweet innocence that flooded my senses, and the hot body, opening itself to me was too much. I pushed forward, parting Ethan’s virgin flesh as I slid deep inside him. I heard his breath leave him on a slow, earthy moan. As his slick channel quivered around me, adjusting to my length and girth, my body shook hard and I came. My fangs of their own will scraped lightly against his neck, drawing three drops of his sweet blood to the surface. It coated my tongue with his innocence, purity, desire, and lust. If fueled my body, driving me as my body started thrusting hard.
My previous release slicked Ethan’s body, letting me slide in and out with ease. I refused to lift my head from his neck, knowing if I were to see Ethan’s face, it would be over again. The strong legs bracing my hips began to flex with each push of my body. The arms around my back grew tight, pulling me closer and closer against the warm, hard chest beneath me. I felt Ethan’s heart beat it’s rapid staccato, feeling him climb higher and higher. His low moans and throaty gasps fed my ears, knowing there was extreme pleasure happening for my lover. My body, my soul was drenched in Ethan. There was no other focus for that moment as my body plunged harder and faster into his heat.
I felt the fluttering quivering of Ethan’s belly beneath me. I knew he was close. From somewhere deep inside, I found the energy to pull back and look in his eyes. What I saw stole my breath, making me teeter on the edge of completion. Ethan’s eyes were filled with the wonder of what was happening. They were heavy lidded and drowsy as I felt the first signs of his release. He opened his mouth wide, as if to cry out. On instinct, I covered his lips with my own, kissing someone for the first time in almost five hundred years. I drank his moans and gasps as his body exploded beneath me.
The taste of Ethan’s lips, the sweetness of his mouth was too much and I found myself shaking and shuddering hard into him. My arms shook too badly to brace me. Ethan’s strong arms came around me, holding me to him as my ear rested over his heart, hearing the strong beat slow and steady. I felt a sweet drowsiness descend over me. I wanted nothing more than to sleep in his arms, but the tingling in my spine let me know that dawn was soon approaching. Slipping gently out of Ethan’s body, I kissed his cheek then straightened my clothing.
I left the trench, moving quickly through the pre-dawn. My body still throbbed and quivered from what had just passed. The sun was nearing the horizon when I reached my home, slipping in the door and moving quickly down the stairs to my private room. I reached my bed, barely slipping out of my clothes when the piercing sunrise caused all functions to cease. I had no recollection of my body landing on my bed.
Far too early, I was awakened by the sound of mortar fire. I had only been down for a couple of hours. I strained my ears, listening for more shells, but there was none; at least none nearby. In my head, I could hear the explosions. I felt the heat and raining dirt. I could smell cordite and loam. What was happening?
My senses spread out from my body, so I could look around. The sunlight was so bright; I wanted to shield my eyes. My mind turned, and there was Ethan, his face dirt smudged, his uniform torn. Panic filled me. Why was I seeing Ethan? What was I doing in this field?
After searching my mind, wondering what had happened, the memory of last night sparked some reason. I had tasted his blood. The three drops I had taken from him must have bound him to me and I to him. I was stuck inside his mind, his fear, and his adrenalin; perhaps even his memory of last night had called to me. There was a clamor amongst the soldiers and my senses took over, searching out over the field. Mustard gas! I could see it coming over the dead zone. I spun my senses to Ethan. I had to make him understand.
Put your gas mask on! I called out to him, willing him to hear me through the new bond we shared. I shouted it over and over. After the third time, I watched as Ethan paused and looked down at his belt, at the mask. All my senses drew together, willing Ethan to believe in me, in what my powers were telling him. Countless moments passed as I watched him grab his mask and cover his face. Mere seconds later, the cloud of noxious fumes covered the field and obscured my vision of him.
Caleb? His disembodied voice came to me softly, hesitantly.
Yes Ethan? My heart was pounding, overwhelmed with new and what I had thought were long dead emotions. He never answered me. Not until Ethan had returned to the base camp did I sever our connection and try to go back to sleep. It was a wasted effort. Every primal instinct in my body demanded I go to Ethan. But until the sun disappeared from the sky, I was bound to my dank chamber. I had never hated the prison I was in before that day.
Never before had I ever risked the light of day, but I stood at the door’s threshold, watching the last few rays of sunlight fade. Once the tingling in my spine ended, I left, moving swiftly through the night. One other bonus of our being bonded, I could sense Ethan from miles and miles away.
I didn’t see anything that I walked through. Not the forest. Not the dead soldiers lying in the field. Every sense in my body was tuned to Ethan. I drifted through the night, searching for him. Before long, I knew he was near his camp, standing amongst the trees. I walked up behind him, whether I said his name aloud or in my mind, I couldn’t say, but he turned to me.
We came together in a flash of raw need. Arms entwined, I buried my lips against his pulse, letting my hands wander over him, making sure he was unharmed. My fingers felt irritated skin against his wrist and burnt skin at the nape of his neck. As we sank to the ground with our hands skimming over each other’s bodies, unbeknownst to me, my powers reached out and healed the chemical burns on Ethan’s body.
As I plunged myself into Ethan’s body, the bond between us opened, and I could feel all that he was feeling. I was given double the sensations of our coupling: what I always felt during sex, and now what Ethan was experiencing as well. It was the most erotic feeling I had ever known. His body surrounded me, fisting me in pleasure, but I also could feel Ethan and his pleasure; his absolute pleasure.
After it was over, we lay on the ground, holding each other, staring at the moon. I lost count of the number of times I found release inside him that night. Each time seemed to bind us together stronger and deeper. When we parted just before dawn, it was with a promise to return the next night. We met every night, just outside of his camp, over and over again.
As April faded into May, there was a large battle. Many men lay wounded and dying on the battlefield. Their pain and suffering called to me. All I could do was dream of Ethan, but their torment overrode my desire for my man. Pulled between my two halves, I waited for sunset, and then I set out for the battlefield intent on stopping their pleas.
It took hours as I went from man to man, German, French, British, and American, it didn’t matter. I ended their torment, draining their pain as I took their life force. I was kneeling over the last one, letting my powers calm the scared boy, when I felt his presence. I wanted to hurry, I didn’t wish for Ethan to see what I was. In my haste, the young French boy felt my fangs sink into his neck. His panic overwhelmed me and I worked harder to calm him. I had taken his last heartbeat into me when Ethan came across us.
The bond between us roared to life, throwing me into the maelstrom of his emotions. Fear; gut wrenching, confusing fear rippled between us. I watched in extreme sadness as he turned from me and fled into the night. My seldom-used heart was breaking in two as I sat, trying to decide to go after him or return to my lair. All I had to do was remember the two of us together, and I was on my feet and using my superhuman strength to run after him, overtaking him quickly.
I didn’t temper my strength as I grabbed his shoulder, spinning him around. “Ethan, wait.”
The look of raw fear in his eyes could have ripped me in two. But my man was always courageous. His voice may have trembled, but he found the courage to talk to me. “What are you?”
I swallowed around the lump in my throat, blinking back the unfamiliar and unwelcome moisture in my eyes. “Does it matter?”
Incredulity sparked in his eyes. “Hell yes it matters!” He kept blinking his eyes rapidly and his face was flushed. “I worried about you when you didn’t come to the camp.” He swallowed. “I’ve fallen…” His voice trailed off.
Frustration filled me, and I did the only thing I could think of. I kissed him. All my frustration, fear, and hurt went into it. Except for that first night, we hadn’t kissed since. His taste filled my senses; the texture of his mouth overwhelmed me. Without meaning to, my fangs scraped his bottom lip and his precious life’s blood filled me. I tasted his fear and confusion. What seared my heart was the pain and hurt. Underlying it all though, I could taste love. It was a foreign and long unfamiliar sensation, but my body recognized it, blossomed with it. My need for him was great, I wanted so badly to take him in my arms and love him through the night. But the sun would rise all too soon.
I broke the kiss, pulling away from Ethan. His golden hair shone in the moonlight. His lips were bruised and passion filled. I stepped back, moving slowly away from him. “You have no need to fear me, Ethan.” I was about to turn away from him, when his voice halted me.
“What you are, it’s nothing but a scary story told to kids.”
I turned back and smiled, letting my fangs show. “Not all stories are make-believe. But I mean you no harm.” Hope forced me to continue, to make myself vulnerable to this mortal man who had captivated me. “Think on what you feel today. I’ll be back to the camp after sunset.” I swallowed audibly with what I was about to do. “If you are not there, I’ll never bother you again.”
With those last words, I fled into the night, moving as quickly as I could to my sanctuary. When the sun rises, my death is compulsory. My longevity as a vampire allows me to wake early. This day, it was barely an hour after sunrise when I awoke. All I could feel through our bond was his confusion and indecision. If I knew more about my powers, if I had had an instructor, I might have known how to comfort, perhaps even ease his anxiety. Instead, all I could do was feel his torment.
The coming summer and the increased sunlight made the time before I could go to Ethan unbearable. Thankfully, I wasn’t helpless underground. There were things I could do. I grabbed candles from my storeroom and placed fresh linens on the bed. At some point during the long day, I had decided that if Ethan were waiting for me, I’d bring him to my home, my sanctuary.
Once I moved away from my mill, I let my senses go, searching through the countryside for the life signature of Ethan. When my senses came upon the field hospital, I wanted to shy away, lest their plaintive call for an end to their suffering pull me away from my mate. It was strange, but in the five hundred years since I had become a vampire, I had never once taken a partner. When I was young to my immortal life, I had been drawn to others like me. I looked in large cities, and the first of course being Paris. But their decadent life and disregard for the humans they fed on quickly drove me away. I knew from my observations though, that I could bind myself and in the process bind to me a human. He would draw from my powers and I from his vitality, increasing his lifespan and decreasing my own. For if anything happened to one, the other would perish as well. Fear alone, plus lack of prospects had kept me from considering it. But with Ethan, for the first time, I felt more than bloodlust and sexual hunger. I had never known love before, but this felt very much like it.
The initial attractors were his life force and his inner beauty. But it was his strength; his own feelings for me that had made my own emotions explode. I had barely left the stream bank when I could feel Ethan in the distance. My feet moved swiftly over the ground, as if they knew every branch, every rock and avoided them. In mere moments, I was standing in the trees, slightly away from the American army camp. I stood under the trees where we had made love that second time. There I waited. And waited. And waited.
After an unknown amount of hours, after watching the shadows and silhouettes of the tents, there was a rustling behind me. I turned and found Ethan, looking down at his feet, shamefaced. He shrugged his shoulders, as if he were unburdening himself then looked directly in my eyes. “I’m sorry I was late, I had night patrol duty.”
Relief made my chuckle almost hysterical. “It doesn’t matter. You came. That’s everything.”
Ethan placed his hand in mine and we left the trees, moving towards my mill. My powers reached out and included him. We moved fast, avoiding obstacles in our path. Within minutes we were crossing the stream and entering my home. I led Ethan down the stairs, past the old grindstone into my private chambers.
Once I shut the door to my room, I moved around my space, lighting candles. My own senses were sharp, but tonight, I wanted to see all of my love. Once the last candle was lit, I turned to find Ethan staring at me. Then I realized he hadn’t seen me except in shadows. I moved slowly towards him, feeling my blood boil as he continued to stare at me in an almost feral, hungry way. I watched as he swallowed.
“You’re very pale Caleb.”
I chuckled and touched his arm, feeling electricity spark between us. “I haven’t seen the sun in over five hundred years.”
The embarrassed way he rolled his eyes and blushed charmed me deeply. I had known he was tall, but in this room, with the stark candlelight, he was almost larger than life. I reached out to him and began to unbutton his jacket and Ethan returned the favor on me. Once we stood before each other naked, I spent many long moments drinking in his frame.
He was muscular, but not overly so. His shoulders were very broad. From head to toe, the man was covered in a light blonde fur that once touched, proved to be as soft as down. Ethan possessed an outer beauty, now that I had finally seen it that simply took my breath away. All the time I spent looking at him, feasting him with my eyes, he did the same to me. He swallowed deeply before placing his hand to my chest, running his fingers through the wedge of hair there, scraping over my nipples, causing me to gasp loudly, because of which he dropped his hand. I took it in mine and kissed his knuckles before pulling him towards me, back to the bed.
I lay back against the sheets and pulled Ethan on top of me, taking his lips with mine. His body shifted so it lay fully on top of me, his erection pulsed and leaked against my thigh. Our difference in height made it obvious in what I intended. Except for the night I became a vampire, I had never allowed someone else to enter me. This night though, I was giving myself to Ethan, to cement the bond we shared.
I slipped my legs around Ethan’s hips, wiggling a bit to center him, pressing my own aroused flesh hard into his belly. He then looked down into my eyes, bracing himself on his arms, and trembled in excitement. As he began to press into me, I pulled him by the back of the neck and kissed him deeply as I felt the loud rumble of his moan as he slipped inside me. Ethan lowered to brace himself on his elbows, framing my face in his big hands as he began to move.
Arching my back against his chest, I cried out as he slipped in and out of me swiftly but not roughly. My hands became restless as I scratched up and down his back. I watched as his breath began to pant and his face beaded with sweat, all the while his grin and soft moans told me of his pleasure. My own body reached for release and I heard my own cries of joy as he filled me, over and over again. As he reached his peak, I kissed him again, tasting his pleasure, his rapture on his heated breath. It swirled inside me, adding to my own pleasure as I cried out, emptying my seed against his belly.
We collapsed into a pile of sweaty, entwined limbs as we kissed each other gently, tiredly. I stayed awake for a long time, watching Ethan as he drowsed. Finally, I had found my mate. Once he woke, I would ask him if he would bond with me permanently.
Once I felt the first tingles of dawn’s approach against my spine, I gently roused Ethan. He yawned and grinned big as he grabbed me, kissing me deeply. But I had so little time to tell him. I pushed him away gently, even though I could feel his desire pressing hard against my belly.
“Ethan, when the sun rises in a few minutes, I will sleep. You will not be able to rouse me.”
He seemed a bit confused but nodded his understanding. I could feel the sun, nearing the horizon. “After a few hours I will wake. We need to talk.” I had mere seconds left. My limbs grew sluggish and my eyes were drooping. “Don’t…” I never got a chance to finish, as the sun broke free of the horizon.
I awoke, confused and disoriented. It was near sunset. I hadn’t planned to sleep so late. I looked around my room, searching for Ethan. I opened our bond, but couldn’t locate him in my home. That’s when I noticed his clothing was gone. I reached out with all my might, searching for his life force.
Standing in the middle of a battlefield, with mortars exploding all around, was Ethan, dragging a fallen comrade towards the safety of their own lines. My mind shattered with fear. All my control slipped as every doubt and petty fear ran through my mind. Why had he left? Why did he go back? Will he come back? Over and over it swamped my mind.
I could only dress in frenzy, going out of my chambers, ready to flee across the fields to my mate. I couldn’t cut off the images of him, dodging bullets, dragging his friend to safety. The sun would set soon, I could go to him, bring him back and bond with him. A few minutes before sunset, I doubled over in pain as fire lanced my belly. I wasn’t hurt. But my mind was filled with pain and horror as I watched Ethan sink to the ground, grasping his middle, where a bullet had caught him.
Willing all my powers over the weak link we had, I begged for him to be okay, long enough for me to reach him and share the link with him so he could be healed. I had never risked the sunlight before, but I stood at the door, letting the last rays burn into my skin. The moment the sun sank below the hills, I ran. I pushed myself harder than I ever had before. I used all of my powers, focused only on the weak heartbeat of my mate. The troops had moved north during the day, I was further away from Ethan than I had ever been before.
Hours seemed to have passed when I finally made it to the battlefield. I combed over the bodies, searching for a beloved face. His heartbeat was getting weaker; I could feel him slipping away. The search seemed to take hours, but probably only lasted a few minutes. Then I found him, lying facedown in the mud, his beautiful golden hair caked with dirt.
Not even thinking of his pain, I rolled Ethan over. His sharp cry tore at my heart. All I wanted to do was seal the bond and save him. His heart was starting to beat erratically. We had little time left. I wiped the dirt off his face, cupping his cheek in my hand. “Ethan! Ethan!”
He choked on some blood dribbling from his lips. “I’m so sorry Caleb.”
The anger and recrimination didn’t matter anymore. “Don’t. Don’t speak. It’ll be okay soon. I’ll take you home. We’ll be fine.” I didn’t realize tears streamed down my face.
He tried to lift his arm to my face, but it fell back to the ground. He started coughing. I willed all my powers into him, trying to heal his wound. But it was too late. “Don’t leave me Ethan. Please.”
His smile was fading fast. There was no time to seal the bond. Ethan was going to die. “I love you Caleb. I’m sorry I have to leave you.”
I shook my head, sobbing loudly. “No… don’t leave.”
Ethan laughed a little, and then winced from the pain. “I don’t have a choice in this. I love you Caleb. Always.”
The pain was so great, but I swallowed my anguish. “I love you too Ethan.”
He smiled at me, and then with the last of his strength, he grabbed my hand. “Make the pain go away. Please.”
Horror shook me. “No… please no.”
Ethan tilted his face away, baring his neck. “Please Caleb. I hurt so bad.”
The tears doubled, trickling into my mouth. I had no choice. “I love you Ethan. Always.” Then I lowered to his throat and called his pulse to the surface, using my powers to calm him, let him feel my love. My fangs sank deeply into his neck and I drank of everything that I loved. His goodness. His purity. His love. His undying, everlasting love for me I tasted. I had never once known someone else’s love before.
In less than a minute, Ethan died in my arms. I felt his last breath against my arm. When it finally sank in that he was gone, I bellowed all the hurt and anguish I had ever felt, both my own and my victims, into the night sky. I know not how long I screamed my anger to the moon, but once my voice was ragged, I crushed Ethan’s body to me, cradling it as I wept.
I seriously considered staying where I was to let the sun turn me into cinders. My pain would end with the rising of the sun; it would be over. I couldn’t do it. When the night sky started to purple with the impending dawn, I set Ethan down and left through the dark, back to my lair. Once back in my sanctuary, I lay back on my bed, still filled with Ethan’s scent, and let dawn’s oblivion take me away.
I didn’t leave my mill, let alone my room, for thirteen years. The only thing that did make me was the undying hunger I felt. I would have gladly let my life end, but the hunger won out. The world’s economy was in tatters and it was worse for the peoples of Germany. I headed out and feasted on the poor, malnourished and starving until I had gorged myself.
Over the next few years, I followed wherever war and strife would take me. I was hollow inside. My only source of comfort I had was easing some poor, lost soul out of his miserable existence on earth. The only difference was now I simply used my powers to calm, not seduce. Because once I had known what true love was, no simple act of sex could compare.
I started dreaming of Ethan again, in the winter of 1937.
The Germans invaded my beloved France in 1940. They stormed across the Ardennes and overtook Paris. I feasted on the wounded and dying very well those few weeks. Over the next four years, whenever I could, I’d sneak out and set free those who were suffering. It was the only source of pride, the only thing in my life that had any meaning now.
In the autumn of 1944, the Germans were in full retreat, but fighting hard for every inch of land that they gave up. The mortar fire and cannons blasted long into the night. German, American, French or British, it didn’t matter, I would go out in the night and silence their pain filled cries.
One night, the Germans had been pushed to the east of my mill and the Americans were on patrol, scouring the countryside, looking for stragglers. Normally, I would have stayed inside, hidden down in my lair. Something, some force pulled me outside. I cannot explain what it was that compelled me, but I had to be there as soon as evening fell.
I stood outside, watching the wind blow the last of the leaves from the trees along the stream. My senses picked up the sounds of foot soldiers, off in the distance, but they were getting closer. Self-preservation would normally have had me hide. Something, some unknown force kept me rooted in place. There was a familiar scent on the air. It was as if I were swept back, to 1918 again. It was impossible, but I could smell Ethan on the air again. My pulse quickened and my body thickened, throbbing with long dead desire.
When the American soldiers entered the clearing, my throat ran dry and my palms began to sweat. My super-sensitive eyesight flashed onto each of the soldiers as they cleared the forest, lighting upon each of their faces. Every nerve in my body thrummed with recognition, but I didn’t see who was connected to what was quickening me.
After the first of the soldiers passed by, the rear guard cleared the trees. Two men, one tall, one short, dressed in the drab olive of the American Army walked into the clearing. My eyes were unnecessary. I recognized the walk, the almost swagger of the taller man. Ethan.
As the soldiers made their way to my mill, the emotions running through me clogged my throat. Silent tears trailed down my cheeks, unchecked by my hands. The smaller of the men ran off, following his comrades. Ethan stayed behind, staring at me from across the meadow. I could see in his eyes loss and confusion. He stopped his walking and stared at me.
In the moonlight, I could see tears well in his eyes before he started walking towards me. Within seconds, he was running. We met by the stream, standing a mere three feet apart. The confusion in his eyes startled me. I recognized him. I don’t know how, but it was Ethan. He was a bit taller than last time, his coloring a tad darker as was his hair, but it was Ethan.
“What’s going on?” His voice was a bit deeper, I think.
I smiled, not bothering to hide my fangs. “I do not know, but it’s a miracle.”
I could tell he was thinking, remembering, feeling. “I’ve had dreams; lots and lots of dreams. They were always your eyes.” He shook his head in wonder, his eyes not focused here, but somewhere, some other time. “Caleb?”
My voice was thick and rough with tears. “Yes, Ethan.”
He laughed an almost breathless sound of wonderment. “How? Why?”
I laughed loud. “I don’t know.”
He swallowed deeply, still looking disoriented and confused. “You came to me, always at night. You took me here, down the stairs. We made love.” He looked right into my eyes. “I was injured. You came to me and I begged you to make it go away.”
I looked down, the tears, the raw pain of that moment still as fresh as it was all those years ago. “I didn’t want you to suffer anymore.”
I felt his fingers brush the tears off my cheek as he pulled my face up. “All I remember is hating that I was leaving you. You always seemed so lonely. When you bit me, I wished with all my might to never leave you.”
I smiled at him, probably the brightest, most sincere smile since the day I crossed over to the immortal life. “Perhaps that did it. Perhaps you were granted a miracle.”
Ethan looked into my eyes, his blue irises sparkling. “Perhaps it’s our miracle.” He lowered to my lips and kissed me. His flavor, his innocence, his purity, everything that I remembered was there, only more so, more precious. I ran my hands over his body, relearning him.
We made our way back to the mill, always touching as we made our way to my room. Once there, Ethan toured around, lighting candles as I removed my clothes. When he came back to the bed, he looked at me, stared at me with raw hunger and lust. My hands were trembling, my body shaking as I removed his uniform, slipping each item off his body as I kissed his newly bared skin. As he stood before me naked, I took in all that had changed. His face was mostly the same, but his body was more muscular and a few inches taller. His chest was more densely furred, but it was darker. I reached out my hand, and grinned when I discovered his chest hair was still soft as down.
We were both so hard as I pulled him down onto the bed with me. Ethan started kissing my neck, licking at my skin just below my ear. My whole body shuddered under his. He pulled up to look at me, staring into my eyes. He chuckled, “I was going to say I’ve never done this before, but that’s not true.”
“Be with me Ethan. There’s been no one but you.” Ethan lowered his head to me, kissing me deeply.
“You didn’t have to.” His words were honest, but his face showed his delight at my confession.
“Yes, I did. You’re my mate. I couldn’t find another.”
With those words, Ethan maneuvered his body over mine and pressed into me gently. My body arched against his at his invasion, purring in utmost pleasure. Ethan arched into me, moving swiftly, but surely, over and over, pulsing and hard inside me. I could feel his pleasure. The link between us was now gone, but I could watch his face, see the strain, lick at his sweat and I knew he was lost in bliss. I was close to the edge, my voice keening in moans and gasps. I felt Ethan speed up his stroking and my body exploded in such exquisite release, I blacked out from it.
I awoke with my nose pressed into a wall of muscle and fur, snuggled deeply against this miracle. Now that I could think again, the night that Ethan died came back to me; the horror, the desperation tensed my body. Ethan must have felt it, because he tightened his arms around me. “Don’t think about it Caleb.”
I rose up, linking my hands together against the broad expanse of his chest. “I can’t help it. I nearly stayed in that field when the sun rose, just to be with you.”
Tears welled in Ethan’s eyes. I watched as he swallowed deeply. “I’m so sorry I left you.”
I placed my fingers over his lips. “Don’t. You couldn’t help it.”
He smiled against my fingers before kissing them. “I love you, Caleb.”
I grinned against a fresh wash of tears. “I love you too, Ethan.”
We kissed again, which led to more kissing. As I slipped inside Ethan, I realized that I really did want to open our bond again, to feel all that he felt, to have him be safe and by my side forever. I watched as pleasure rippled across his face as I kept pushing my body into his, over and over. My own pleasure was secondary to his. It didn’t matter what I was feeling, I got pleasure from watching his.
As he found his release, I sped up and within seconds, joined him, filling him with everything. Ethan pulled me down to his lips and I kissed him. At some point, he had bitten his lip, because his blood spilled across my tongue and the bond instantly flared between us. Ethan?
“I was trying to tell you, before you left that morning, that I wanted to bond with you.”
His look was skeptical, but he was listening. “We would be together forever. My life force would fuel yours. My need for blood would diminish, you would live longer.”
Ethan looked in my eyes. Would we be like this always? Would you be able to hear me?
Will I be immortal?
I chuckled. No. But you would live for a long, long time.
I smiled. “The first part has already happened. I tasted your blood, from where you bit your lip. Now you would have to take of mine.”
He stared at me, but didn’t see me for several moments. It was a big decision, so I wasn’t hurt. “How?”
Instead of speaking, I bit my lip, letting my blood pool against my teeth. Taste of me Ethan.
He lowered to me, kissing me, taking my blood into his mouth. The moment he swallowed, I felt the last barrier between us disappear. My thoughts were his as his were mine. All the love he had felt for me, over two lifetimes filled me, flared inside me until there wasn’t a single inch of me that wasn’t filled with his love. The shock of it made me tremble and tears leaked from my eyes in a great flood of emotion.
When I had calmed, I looked up and saw the same had happened for Ethan. His eyes were wet; the tears clung to his long, long lashes. I knew that he was filled with my love. We came together in a hot kiss, sharing a love that time couldn’t stop.