Thursday, August 12, 2010

Like a Poem

This piece tied for fifth place in the online short story contest at  The second installment, "A Vampire Kissed Future," is currently tied for third place in the second round of voting.  All reviews and votes are appreciated, and I also love comments!  There was a lot of positive feedback for this story -- and several good responses to the continuation so far -- so I've decided to keep the work alive here on my blog as something of a serial.  Voting for round two concludes August 31st, and again, I love feedback!  And votes.  Really like votes.  ;)  You might also enjoy the separate piece I have up at the contest, "The Vampire Kissed Alone."  Check it out, see what you think.  Anyway, I'm growing ever fonder of the two characters in this first story, especially my heroine, which is why I've decided to keep their tale going.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

He was in the poetry section, a book in his hands.  Cassidy’s hand froze in the middle of sliding Hamlet from the bookshelf.  She would have expected him to be stronger looking.  Instead, he was slender and only slightly tall, maybe six inches above her five foot four.  His longish brown hair was neatly combed, dark where it brushed against his egg white skin.  His glasses were old-fashioned tortoiseshell.  She wondered if they were supposed to be a disguise, something to make him seem more human.  A collared dress shirt peeked indigo stripes from beneath a thin cappuccino sweater.  The jeans fit perfectly, tailored all the way to his pointed toe leather shoes.  His profile was lovely, square jaw and strong nose, high cheekbones.  Cassidy took a deep breath and, Hamlet in hand, strolled over to join him.
She could see him glance over as she pretended to scan the titles on the shelf.  Trying to ignore him, she stretched up to the shelf above her head, her auburn hair falling back over her shoulders as she did.  Normally there was a step stool she could stand on to reach for her favorites, but it had disappeared.  Lucky for her.  Chilled white fingers brushed hers as she tried to grasp the book.  She looked up, eyes widening a little.  Up close, she could see his red eyes behind the glasses.
“Millay is lovely,” he said, offering her the collection with a small smile.
His fangs flashed between his lips as he spoke.
Cassidy smiled back.  “One of the best.  Thanks.”
He nodded his head, turning to lean his back against the shelf as he returned to his book.  Cassidy looked at the title.
“Billy Collins?” she asked, curious.
The vampire looked up again, his smile broader this time.  His eyes were jarring in his chiseled face, but Cassidy decided she liked the effect.
“One of my favorites,” he told her, seeming genuinely happy to talk about it.  “I love modern poetry.”
“Really?  You seem like such a classics sort of guy.”
     Cassidy tucked her hair behind her ear, letting herself relax into the gentle flirting.  It wasn’t often she felt bold enough to approach a man.  Bad relationships had convinced her she wasn’t worth the attention.  The vampire’s response was soothing those old fears.
He chuckled at her assessment.  “If I had a dime,” he said rolling his eyes.  “Truth be told, I hate rhymes, except for one poet.”
“Who’s that?” Cassidy asked, letting herself grin at him.  Thank heavens she had put on a little makeup to highlight her ocean colored eyes and fair skin before making her late night bookstore run.
The vampire leaned over.  “Dr. Seuss,” he whispered in her ear.
Cassidy burst into laughter, putting a hand over her mouth to quiet her giggles.  The vampire leaned back again and grinned down at her.  He gave her an up and down as she looked back at the books.  Cassidy noticed and was glad she looked decent in her green cowl neck sweater and black leggings.
“Would you mind handing me that E. E. Cummings, please?” she asked, pointing.
The vampire obliged, sliding his long fingers along her wrist as he passed her the requested book.  Goose bumps ran along Cassidy’s arm at his deliberate touch.
“Sorry,” the vampire murmured, still stroking her wrist.  “My hands are a little cold.”
“No, I didn’t even notice,” Cassidy murmured back.
The vampire smiled as he looked down at his fingers sliding along her skin.  “Your heart is beating very fast,” he told her.
Cassidy cleared her throat.  “What?”
He tapped the veins on the inside of her wrist.  “I can see it.”
There was a sudden roar of terror inside Cassidy’s ears.  What had she been thinking, coming over to flirt with a vampire?  He wasn’t thinking she looked pretty, he was thinking she looked tasty.  In all the wrong ways.
The vampire seemed to sense her distress.  He looked back up at her face, his expression instantly turning contrite.
“Forgive me,” he said, sounding genuinely abashed.  He let go of her wrist.  “I’ve ruined our conversation.  I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“No, it’s fine,” Cassidy said, trying to talk past the dryness in her throat.  She gave him a shaky smile.  “What were we talking about?”
“I think we stopped somewhere around Dr. Seuss,” he replied, giving her a grateful smile.
“One fish, two fish,” she quipped.
The vampire’s grin returned.  He looked at the books she was holding.
“Hamlet?” he asked.  “Are you a fan of tragedy?”
“I’m a fan of beauty,” she corrected.
He cocked his head at her.  “I thought most humans only liked stories with happy endings.”
“Well, I’m not most humans,” Cassidy informed him.  “I don’t believe in happy endings.”
He was silent for a moment, studying her so intently that she had to look down at the books in her hand.  He set his book on the shelf.
“I am used to such sadness in my existence,” he said softly.  “But to hear it from someone as young as you…”  He shook his head.  “What are you called?”
“Cassidy Campbell.”
He smiled.  There were his fangs again.  “Of course you like poetry.  Such alliteration.”
He took her face in his hands.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Giving you a happy ending.”
His kiss was like being kissed by a poem.  Cassidy closed her eyes and gave in to it, her books still held between them.  Finally he pulled away, his chest still as Cassidy caught her breath.  He planted a brief kiss on her nose and her lips again.
“You are mortal, Cassidy Campbell.  That is your happy ending,” he murmured, voice wistful and sad.
She met his eyes as he gazed at her.  With a last smile he let her go and walked away.
Cassidy stared after him for a moment.  She turned back to look where he had stood.   The step stool was sitting there.

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