Graham Logan, teeth set against his lower lip, peered at the three facedown tarot cards on the desktop before him. He’d laid them out with a particular question in mind, but now couldn’t bring himself to turn them over. Did he really want to know if she would come again? And, if she should, how to keep history from repeating?
Since the last time--a hundred years ago--he’d walked a tightrope of deprivation and despair. It was how he avoided entanglements; how he coped with his losses and his lot. Yes, he was lonely and miserable. Yes, he was sick to death of his colorless life, of denial and longing, of settling for scraps. But how could he allow himself more when the price was so dear?
Lighting a Gauloise, Graham rose from the desk and walked to the window, leaving the cards where they lay. Sweeping aside the heavy drapery, he gazed out across the manicured hedges and intricate boxwood parterres of the manor’s formal gardens. The sun was just beginning to rise, bathing the scene in golden light. In the distance, through a veil of mist, rose the private chapel’s bell tower and, beyond that, the treetops of the woodland deer park.
Wicken Manor, Wickenham Village, County Essex. The latest in a long list of posh addresses in the English countryside. And, like the rest, it was remote without being too far from the conveniences of London. Unlike the rest, however, Wickenham boasted a progressive university specializing in the occult--a promising prospect. The library, from what he’d heard, housed a collection of vampire literature rivaled only his own.
Changing residences every five or six years was a necessary evil, but at least he’d been spared the scourge of repeating school ad infinitum, like so many poor sods in the novels of the day. He’d been transformed at the age of seven and twenty, on the eve of his wedding to her—the first time they’d met. (As far as he knew, anyway.)
Was God still laughing about that one?
He sucked the harsh smoke from his cigarette and blew it at the glass. Could he resist her this time around? He honestly didn’t know. She seemed to call to something deep within him—something he might think his soul, if he still had one. But that was unlikely. He’d surely lost it when he joined the legions of the Fae.
Undead, they called what he was nowadays.
A scoff rose in his throat. What did that oxymoronic word mean? How could anyone be un-dead? A body was either alive or it wasn’t. And his was unquestionably alive. It had a beating heart and reasoning brain, among other functioning organs. It just didn’t age, get sick, or die of so-called natural causes. Neither did it digest solid food for nourishment; rather, it absorbed the life force of mortal beings through phlebotomy, among other methods.
He took another drag and exhaled with vehemence. Calling a creature undead was like calling an object very unique. A thing was either unique or it was not. There were no degrees of uniqueness. He shook his head, reining his thoughts back to where they’d started: her magnetic pull.
It was as if she’d been made from a part of him the way Eve had been made from Adam’s rib, and his body longed to have that missing piece restored. Bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Realizing the cherished gold lighter she’d given him was still in his hand, he ran his thumb across the fading inscription. Je t’aimerai toujours. I will always love you.
Me too, m’aingael. To our doom.
Heaving a mournful sigh, he threw a glance toward the unturned cards before shifting his gaze to the windowpane, where his reflection looked back at him with an expression of forlorn. “Dracula was lucky,” he ground out before blowing a stream of smoke at the visage. As he continued to stare, it began to morph. His ginger hair darkened to a chocolate brown; his topaz eyes became sapphires; his angular face softened into a delicate oval; his wide mouth shortened and filled out.
Even more tormenting than his own.