Vampires, the New Endangered Species

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Chapter 2 Marcus

Marcus was nervous; he didn’t know what the heck he was doing. He didn’t know why he was here trying to tell his life to this woman he just laid eyes on three days ago. How was he going to explain things to her without telling her the entire truth? How was he going to be able to tell her anything at all that will make any sense?

“Well let me start off slow and sort of from the beginning. My family has been in England for centuries, and this book store has been owned by my family for almost 200 years. It has also been passed down through the years. Mort got it from his father, and he got it from his; you get the picture. So, I have been working there my entire life it seems. I go in and help out Mort with the book repairs, and after we lock up I do the stocking and cleaning of the things that he cannot get to anymore. He really loves to work with the people, and I love to work with the books. Mort doesn’t have any children of his own, so I’m sure I’ll get the shop when he decides to retire. I really don’t want that, I’ll have to have someone up front; I really just cannot do that. You see, people seem to not take to me very well, for some reason I make them uncomfortable.”

Emily had to interrupt, “Well now, that is ridiculous! Look at you, how can you put anyone off?” She figured she better stop before she said something completely stupid.

“It’s the way I look that bothers people. I know you have noticed my eyes and skin; people don’t like it, so I stay in the back. Besides, I really have had enough of people over the years to be content with being alone. But when I saw you, you sort of brought me out of my stupor, you made me want to be around you and learn all that I can about you. Sorry, that sounds very corny I know.” Suddenly feeling embarrassed he looked down into his hands

“Yeah, pretty corny. I really think that you do need to get out more often. You sound like a hopeless romantic locking himself away,” Emily chuckled, “There surely are no romantics left in the world though.” Not wanting him to feel bad though she chuckled and sipped her tea quickly but kept looking at him.

“That is exactly what Mort calls me, my brother did as well. Maybe that is my problem, one of the many.” Marcus looked down at his shoes then, and thought to himself about what he was doing. How can he continue? He looked up at Emily, saw her looking at him and realized that he was making this much, much worse. “I think I made a mistake by trying to explain all of this to you, I really am sorry about complicating your life here. You need to focus on school and work; you don’t need a fool from a book store ruining your stay here.” Marcus started to put down his untouched tea and was going to get up when Emily’s warm hand touched his, “Please don’t leave, I really do want you to stay.” The look in her eyes made him stop cold, he felt frozen in time suddenly, felt like he had to tell her everything. Then he thought, why is this happening to me, after over 180 years did she have to come back like this?

He shook his head to try and clear it. Emily took it wrong and removed her hand from his cold, hard skin, “Sorry, I shouldn’t make you stay if you want to leave. I can tell that you’re struggling with your story to me. Please don’t stress yourself trying to tell me the truth. Its fine, we can just go back to the way things were before. It seemed less complicated when you were the ‘invisible man’ behind the door.” Emily was angry with him for lying to her and angry with herself for getting sucked into this situation.

Marcus stopped and just looked at her with this blank expression; he didn’t know what to do. If he told her the truth she would go berserk thinking he was really lying then, but somehow she was reading right through him. “Emily, please bear with me, this is very, very difficult for me to even be here much less trying to explain things to you. How about this; you said that you had a bunch of questions, why don’t you start asking, that might help make this easier.” Marcus was now pacing across the cramped room, a little too quickly actually, that when he looked at Emily her jaw was almost to her knees. He stopped moving immediately, “What, what did I say?”

“Say? It’s not just that, it’s everything Marcus. Not just what you say but how you say it, how you move, how you look. You know, I think you are a hopeless romantic and I am a hopeless book nerd. I have all of these questions but I cannot think of a reasonable answer to any of them, I keep coming up with these ridiculous notions and ideas,” Emily was getting exasperated now, “Marcus, please be straight with me. We obviously have some sort of connection here. I have never met anyone in my short existence like you much less someone that makes me feel the way you do. This is so preposterous! I just laid eyes on you for the first time three days ago and here we are fussing around like we have immortal sins to hide!”

Now it was his turn to drop his jaw, he thought, oh bloody hell, does she know the truth, did she figure it out? “Emily, I am at a loss here, really I am. I need to tell you everything; I think more for my sake than yours. Now I think you are actually on the right track with your thoughts. I want, no, need, to tell you everything but I’m afraid that you will not believe me and will never want to speak to me again much less see me again.” He paused and looked at the cold wood in her little stove. Still not looking at her he just spoke without thinking, “I just don’t know, I don’t want to hurt you but I cannot bear to lose you.”

She couldn’t believe her ears, this was insanity, “Lose me? You don’t even have me! Marcus, if we’re going to be friends then you’ve got to tell me something here. I’m fine with whatever you want to say, but don’t stand in my living room and lie to me. I don’t deserve anything from you, but I don’t deserve to be lied to. Tell me nothing and leave, that’s okay, but don’t think that I will be enamored by you and be happy with the gibberish that you spew out.” Emily was trying to keep cool and her voice low and calm, but her hand holding the mug handle was starting to quiver slightly.

Marcus sighed heavily and sat down in the chair opposite from Emily, who now had her feet curled up under her as she sat on the couch, “Alright, the truth. But you have to listen to it all with an open mind. Please do not be worried or afraid of what I am going to tell you, but you must understand; we do have a connection, I believe that with my entire soul. If you never want to even go down the same street or will want to leave this country forever I would understand completely.”

Rolling her eyes and scoffing, Emily said, “What, are you going to tell me that you’re in a crazy cult where you run around naked or you’re a werewolf, or I know, maybe a vampire and you want to turn me to the dark side or something,” Emily chuckled and looked over at him. Her chuckle suddenly died away when she saw the look on his face. His eyes were large O’s, his jaw was once again agape and his hand was frozen in place as it was starting to raise to his face. The horrible thought came to her, Oh shit, I was right? No way, vampires are from the movies and fiction, not reality! “Marcus? What? Please tell me that I’m the one being ridiculous here?”

He lowered his hands and after the longest and most awkward pause in history; in which time his mind was racing, soaring through the possibilities and strategies. He looked at his feet, the stove, then to Emily. The look on her face was of annoyance and curiosity; but those eyes were piercing into him. Then it hit him, he made up his mind finally and decided what he needed to do, then he spoke, “No, I cannot tell you that you’re being ridiculous; you are correct, at least about being a vampire; but don’t worry I won’t rip your throat out, we don’t do that sort of thing.” He quickly blurted out, “But let me explain that what you read and see are not accurate depictions of my species,” he was breathless now; if his heart had a beat it would have stopped. Taking his gaze from the cluttered desk back to Emily’s green eyes, that in itself took that last bit of his breath away. He thought how the similarity between her and… well… it was remarkable. Then her eyes changed as her brow furrowed and he snapped back into the moment.

“What!? You are insane Marcus, there is no such thing, and I was kidding!” Emily was up off the couch now and moving towards the kitchen to refill her mug.

Marcus followed her, “Wait please, do you now understand why I was having a hard time speaking before? Mort is the only one that knows about me, we have kept this in the family for so many years and now I am spilling the beans so to speak to you. Do you realize what kind of treaty I’m breaking by telling you this?” He kept a good distance from her but stayed in the tiny kitchen, but he needed to let her know why this was so convoluted.

As she put the kettle back onto the stove she spun and said, “Then why are you telling me? So will there be a vampire jury coming after me so I don’t go starting a lynch mob?” When he started to open his mouth to speak she raised her hand to quiet him, “OK just stop, stop right there,” Emily took a deep breath and closed her eyes to balance herself. When she opened her eyes Marcus was standing two feet from her now looking at her with a pleading and worried expression. He was so tall, he seemed massive in her mouse-house. And God how she suddenly had the urge for another kiss from him. But she also wanted to tell him that she believed him and that it was alright, he was safe with her. Sadly she didn’t think she could do that; not that she was afraid of him, not at all, she had never felt safer with anyone in her entire life. It was just that this was too surreal to be true. But of course this would answer so many of the questions that have been forming in her head the last few days.

After a few moments when her stomach stopped flipping and she took in a couple deep breaths she said, “Marcus, I want to hear your story, the entire thing. But you have to have patience with me. I’m just a plain girl from an isolated state in the US that has lived her life through fictional stories and other people’s dreams that have been written. But there is something about you that I can trust, I feel like I have known you all my life and am sure that we are connected as well, as horribly silly that sounds now that I’ve said it out loud, but anyway. So you have to bear with my questions and astonishment during this exposure of yourself.”

The smile that crossed his face lit up the entire flat, he looked like a boy on Christmas morning. This made her smile and relax, a little. “So can I safely assume that you don’t want more tea since you’re probably not drinking it anyway?” Emily grabbed her mug and noticed how hot it felt in her cold hands. Then she realized that she hadn’t lit her fire yet this morning and it was freezing in here.

He blinked several times and chuckled, “Ha, actually no I don’t, you are very observant you know that?” Marcus was so pleased that she was giving him the chance to explain himself. Even if she did throw him out afterwards, at least he told her the truth. He saw her clutching her mug to defrost her fingers and he instantly spoke, “Oh man you must be freezing, here I can get your fire started real quick.” Emily started to protest but he was already stacking the wood and grabbing the matches from the box on the small mantle.

After watching him for a second she said, “Not to sound completely like a teenager but I have been trying to watch and notice every little thing about you to try and figure you out. Like your eyes and skin… so why aren’t your eyes red like other vampires? Or is that one a “Hollywood myth” as well?”

The fire was blazing and he turned to her and saw that she was on the couch with her feet tucked under. He didn’t smile but instead answered her question, “Yes it is. You see, when we turn, the pigmentation in our bodies lightens up by several shades. That’s why the skin is so pale and the eyes are so light. I was already pale to begin with but my eyes used to be a dark blue. My hair was black actually, and now it’s brown. But this is why we cannot go into the sun. Not that we’ll burn up and turn to dust; so, so silly; but it is that our skin is so pale that it looks translucent in the brightest light. You can see that if a person saw our bones and veins it might be a little freakier than the red eyes.” Marcus shook his head, the depictions of vampires in books and movies cracked him up.

Nodding her head Emily said, “That makes sense. So how old are you, um, in real life and in vampire life? You look like you’re only about 25 or 29 at the most.” Emily looked him up and down but of course kept to herself that he looked positively in his prime in every perfectly delicious way.

Marcus casually shifted himself in the chair and crossed his long, lean legs out in front of him, “Well, I was 27 years old when I was turned. And that my dear was about… 185 or so, years ago.” Marcus had to pause to think of the math. He was astonished at how long it had really been. He stopped staring off into space and looked over at Emily, her mouth was dropped open. “1825 was a long time ago, does it offend you to be speaking to such an “old guy”?”

She snapped her jaw shut, “No, um sorry, no. I was just shocked to hear that you are that old. You look so good!” Instantly biting her tongue and feeling stupid she tried to cover herself, “So who is Mort to you then, not your grandfather obviously if you’re an 185 year old vampire?”

“Mort is actually my great, great nephew. He is about 90 years old now, I think. I’m sorry, I seem to lose track of time here and there. After this long what is five or so years? Know what I mean? But I can still remember the day his great grandfather was born!” Marcus smiled on the memory of his brother’s wife giving birth; it was such a happy moment for the family.

Emily was so intrigued now, she had so many questions, “So then what happens when you eat and drink? I saw you sip tea yesterday, what happens?”

Marcus thought it might be easier to let Emily ask her questions to ease her mind a little before he told his tale, “Since we don’t need sustenance like that anymore, our bodies’ just dissolve the food and liquid. I guess you could say that we don’t have blood, saliva, stomach acids, that sort of stuff, but it is more like acid venom. When we eat and drink to blend in, the venom destroys the consumption and no one knows any different. I could eat a three course meal with you and you would never have a clue that it never even gets past my esophagus. We choose not to eat and drink because it is a waste, but it really doesn’t taste good either. I remember that shortly after I was turned I was watching a kid eat an ice cream cone; I had to have one, it smelled and looked so good! But when I took the first bite I spit it out; it tasted so disgusting to me suddenly.”

“Hhmmm… I guess that makes sense. So obviously you don’t feed on humans, what do you eat?” This was one question that really bothered her, she knew she wasn’t in danger, but the thought of him sucking the blood from something was gross.

“There are very few of us anymore that do feed on humans. It is much easier for us to feed on animals, they don’t go running to the authorities. When you get older you have to feed less, I have been like this for a long time now, so I only need to go out and feed every month or so. I go out into the forest and go hunting, for elk usually. The man that changed me was already close to 300 years at that time, so he only fed a few times a year. But I will tell you about him later on. Then there are others that love to feed, they go hunting whenever they can just for the thrill of it. It does make you stronger and more alert after feeding, but my lifestyle doesn’t require me to have an abundance of strength and awareness; books don’t run very fast.” He smiled and looked up at Emily and was very relieved to see her chuckling; whew, hard part might be over with now he thought to himself.

“Alright, so you don’t eat people, you don’t burn up in the sun, are you allergic to garlic, holy water and mirrors as well?” Now Emily felt better and found it easier to go off all of the stereotyping that she has heard over the years.

“Ha; no, no and no. Food doesn’t affect us like I said. I think that myth came from the fact that our sense of smell is so strong now and garlic is already very pungent so the smell can be very noxious to some. Holy water is just water that some guy says a poem over for Pete’s sake, and mirrors, well, how do you think I get my hair to look like this every day?” Marcus laughed out loud now, “Hollywood and Stoker really made a mess of things haven’t they? We really are normal people that ended up getting caught into a terrible mess. Most of the times for the first ten to twenty years you spend time trying to stay away from the people you loved and figure out how to live life with a new body. It really is very sad when you take the bloodsucking aspect out of it I guess,” he shrugged his shoulders and raised an eyebrow.

“Now that is funny!” Emily burst up laughing, “Gee Mr. Pressman, please don’t put that stake through his heart, he’s just trying to find himself!” Marcus and Emily both got the fit of giggles after that and the atmosphere in the room was a great deal lighter and more comfortable for both of them. “So I have one more question, then you can start your story. Now, if this is too personal, or embarrassing, please let me know. I’m actually sort of embarrassed to ask it, but I’m dying to know.”

“So shoot, what’s your fascination now?” Marcus was curious to know what would embarrass them both if asked.

“Well, um, do, or can, um, vampires have sex?” Her cheeks turned a bright crimson as soon as the question was out of her mouth and she instantly put her mug to her lips and averted her eyes to the fire.

Marcus was surprised that she was so direct about it, but very glad that she asked, this will make one part of his tale easier to tell. Granted he really had to stifle his smirk though, “Yes we do. It is quite enjoyable actually. You see all of the senses are much more in tune, so anything pleasurable feels ten times better.”

Looking back at him feeling better that the initial question was over with she continued her inquiries, “Yeah, but how do you, you know? If you have no blood then what goes there to make it possible?” She was totally confused on this one.

“Oh, I can see how that would be confusing. You’re right, there is no blood rush to cause an erection, but there are muscles. And after turning you have the ability to control every muscle in your body at any time you wish. Like, I can move both of my eyes in different directions because I have that ability of muscle control. Now we think there is no sperm, or an egg in a female, so procreation cannot happen. I guess that wasn’t always true, but I will save that story for later.”

“Wow, so you never have to worry about ‘not being in the mood’ then huh? Interesting.” Emily was relieved that he took it so well and that she didn’t bust up laughing like a kid at the mention of it. “Now you mentioned having babies, vampires were able to have families before?”

“Yeah sort of, please let me explain that one in my time; that is a centuries old tale that cannot be answered easily.”

Emily nodded her head, “Got it. Well I really think those were the bulk of stupid questions that I had. Actually you telling me what you are really helped answer quite a few questions I had about you and Mort.

Marcus took in a breath then said, “So if your questions are done I will tell you about my life, my brother and Mort Sr. and Jr. as well as the Third that you know and love today; if you are ready that is?”

“Yep, sure am. At least if you don’t mind talking while I make myself some breakfast? The smell won’t bother you will it?” Emily seemed suddenly very conscious about all of the human things that she has to do and didn’t want to gross out Marcus at all.

“No go right ahead. I have smelled all sorts of things over the years, I seriously doubt your eggs would make me puke. Thanks for asking though.”

Emily stood and took her mug, and Marcus’ very cold full one, to the sink and started to get out the pans for eggs and hash browns. Marcus made himself comfortable at the little table and chairs in her kitchen. As she was puttering around he took the time to look at her home. Tiny little space it was. But Emily did make it a home he observed; she had pictures of her family and animals around, art on the walls, and of course books stacked up in every nook and cranny that she could find. Her little desk seemed like it couldn’t hold another paperclip for the laptop, textbooks and papers all over it. Her kitchen was very clean and he could tell that she liked to cook, there were a ton of spices on the rack on the wall, “Do you enjoy cooking as much as reading?”

The petite little woman turned with spatula in hand to look at him then answered “Yeah a little. My family cooks and some of it rubbed off on me I guess. No offense, but the food here is so bland! I don’t eat out very often so I try to have everything I need here on hand.”

There were a few moments of, luckily, very comfortable silence. Marcus was so happy to be here with her, even if they weren’t speaking or looking at each other; just her presence made his heart sing with joy! Emily was also glad for the company, especially his. It has been a long and lonely few months with no friends here and no one to come over and talk to, and it was a bonus to a have a hunk for conversation, even if he was older than her great-grandmother.

Emily plated her food and sat down at the table with Marcus, “So are you going to tell your grandiose tale now or do I have to wait longer?” Emily was smirking as she put a forkful of eggs into her mouth.

“Yeah sure. You know Emily, thank you.” He folded his large hands in front of him atop the blue laminate table and gazed at them.

“For what?”

“For being here. For not freaking out and calling the cops. For wanting to listen to me, for wanting to be here with me. I have been so alone for so long, even with Mort around; that I became such a recluse I didn’t think I would even be able to hold a conversation with anyone. So for all of that I am very grateful to you.” Marcus gave her the most sincere and astonishing smile ever, “Why do you look like that when I smile at you?”

Emily swallowed the piece of toast in her mouth hard and had to blink away the thought of how crazy it was that he was saying almost the same thing that she was just thinking. After another couple of seconds of thought, like a nut she blurted out the simple and blunt truth, “Because, well, because you are so damn gorgeous. Your smile just makes you even more amazing than when you don’t smile. Oh sorry, me being completely corny again sorry. It’s just that people like me, that look like me, never get to be around people that look like you.”

“What do you mean ‘people that look like me’? What is that supposed to mean? Emily you are the gorgeous one in this room, not me. Your eyes are magical, your hair is like silk, your skin is so smooth and sweet smelling… oh sorry, now I sound like the dork huh? Emily you are very, very attractive, don’t ever tell yourself otherwise.” Marcus suddenly looked back down at his hands and kicked himself for actually saying that out loud to her.

Emily just looked at him. She really didn’t know what to say, or what to do. Then she realized that she had her fork half way to her mouth, and that was hanging ajar. “Never mind, this is a ridiculous conversation. Please start telling me about your life.” She put her fork down and pushed her plate to the side. After she thought for about two milliseconds she decided to reach across the table and touch his hand. For the first time she really stopped to feel it. She lightly caressed her fingertips over his long, thin fingers, across the knuckles and then along the veins on the back of his hand. She looked up at him and he was sitting there as still as ever with his eyes closed and an innocent smile across his lips. “Marcus,” She said in a breath, not even a whisper. He opened his eyes slowly and looked into her eyes, “Yes dear?” he said in the sweetest little sigh. She couldn’t help but smile as her heart did a summersault. “I was wondering about your skin. Is it hard like this because there is no moisture in your skin?”

Marcus looked at her more seriously this time as he cleared the dreamy fog from his eyes, “You are quite an intelligent young lady. Living around books has benefited you.”

“Whatever. Anyway what I was thinking is that it isn’t as hard as I was expecting. It’s still pliable, not stiff like stone. It actually feels more like… Tupperware,” Emily smiled at her analogy.

Marcus looked puzzled, “Well, I guess I never really thought of it that way; but yes, it is flexible like that. We do have joints that need to move though, so the skin has to give a little. My skin may be tough to you, but to another vampire it feels quite normal. So it really is all a matter of perception.”

“Humph, guess so,” Emily smirked, “And about that wonderfully exciting chronicle you have to tell me about now?”

Marcus looked down at the table now, her hand was still resting on his so there was no way that he was about to move; her warmth felt so nice, knowing that she wanted to touch him felt exasperating. He was dreading this part; he wanted to keep chatting idly about silly things like this, not jump headlong into a depiction of centuries of families. Then the thought hit him, “Hey I have an idea. There are not many nice days left, especially ones where both of us are free, let’s go somewhere.”

Grinning at him and knowing that he was delaying yet again she just shook her head slightly and replied, “Where do you want to go, it’s sunny outside?” she replied with surprise, “We don’t want the world knowing that you ‘came out of the closet’ today.”

Marcus chuckled, “No of course not. I know of a place where we can be alone and enjoy one of the splendors of nature around here.” He took her hand into his and stood up with her, “Get some sneakers on and a light jacket.”

Emily was totally enthralled, this was the most exciting thing that her pathetic, little life held. “Sure thing, anything you say,” and she bounded off to her room to get her things. As she was getting on socks and shoes she thought how submissively stupid that sounded, ’anything you say’. It was just that she felt like she could trust him, totally and completely. She put those thoughts from her mind, this was too wonderful of an event to mess up with her own psyche.

When she was dressed she brushed her teeth again and pulled her hair back into a high ponytail. She was expecting him to be sitting back at the table, but in fact he was standing at the front door. “Oh, let me just get the dishes real quick before we go, I hate leaving a dirty house,” Emily turned towards the kitchen and within two steps she realized that it was already spotless. She turned to see Marcus standing there with his arms out in a guilty gesture, “I just thought I would help you out a bit so we can leave quicker. Ready?” He opened the door and waved his arm out to usher her out the door.

Looking back to the kitchen then back to him, she shook her head again for the tenth time this morning then turned to go out the door, “Where are we going and how do you plan on getting us there? Do you have wings under that blazer?” Emily teased him as she lightly patted the front of his coat as she passed him onto the landing.

“No I wasn’t planning on flying, hope you are cool with driving in a Martin.” As they went out the door from the stairwell and onto the street there was a beautiful black Aston Martin sitting in front of the flower shop. Emily’s mouth dropped open, “Now I am no car buff, but that is the most spectacular ‘Martin’ I have ever seen!” He had her in the door and was sitting beside her pulling out onto the street before she took her next breath. She gave him a sort of startled look.

Marcus looked from the street to her, “Oh sorry, I just didn’t want to be out very long, you understand right?” He gave her a smirk, shifted gears as smooth as a professional driver into third gear, then were leaving the rows of houses and were starting to enter into the surrounding, sparse woods.

The outer farmland was now flying on past them in a glittery, green blur. She was trying to take in the scenery around her since she had never been this way; she never really went any way actually. When she got here she went from the airport to her flat in the middle of the night so she never saw anything besides the thin road in the headlights through tired and bleary eyes. Now looking at the rolling hills she asked, “Where are we going, is it very far?” She was really hoping that it was a five hour drive to get there.

“We’re almost there actually; this is a place I found long ago when I needed to get away for a while. There’ll be a short hike if that’s fine, otherwise I could carry you.” He gave her a smirk and one raised eyebrow.

Rolling her eyes, she replied, “No, I can hike just fine. It will be great to get out and walk somewhere else besides town. I used to go for long hikes and snowshoeing with my brother for miles and miles; we would just walk in one direction then turn around in time to be home before dark. So I think I will have no problem with your little hike, thank you.”

“Okay if you say so, but let me warn you that it is uphill for most of the way. The view from the top is breathtakingly spectacular; obviously I have never brought anyone here before, so I hope you think it’s as wonderful as I do.” Marcus pulled the car off the street and onto a narrow dirt road. They drove on in silence, and Emily was thankful it was slow going through some thin pine trees and underbrush. He soon just stopped on the road and turned off the car, “Here we are. “ He was out of the car and opening her door before she even got her seatbelt off.

When she stepped out of the car the wonderful scent of fresh Christmas trees filled her nose; she couldn’t help but take in huge intakes of breath of the fresh, sweet scent through her nose. “It smells so wonderful up here, so clean, so different from town! I can only imagine how much more wonderful it smells to you,” Emily turned and looked as he was reaching for her hand to lead down a spindly trail that went towards a hill ahead of them.

“It is amazing, pine is one of my favorite scents,” Marcus stood to the side to let Emily pass so he could walk behind her. “Do you mind leading? I’m afraid if I walk ahead I’ll lose you in a matter of moments without realizing it. I tend to walk much faster than the average guy.”

“I have no problem with that; seeing as how it’s for a good cause. If you wanted to follow just to look at my ass that would have been a different matter altogether,” she giggled and started her trek uphill. Marcus just laughed and concentrated on keeping this horribly slow pace, even though he did enjoy looking at her bottom once or twice.

They walked in silence until they were about half way up the hill. Emily was enjoying being in silence again. It was much quieter at home than her flat. She was just starting to get used to the trains and busses, much less the tons of kids’ that lived on her lane, so this was a nice reprieve for her. He was just enjoying hearing her heart beat, hear her breathing, and her earrings jingled just a little so it sounded like tiny bells to him. He noticed that she was starting to breathe a little heavier and he perceived that she needed some water, “There’s a fresh spring right over here, come this way.” He grabbed her hand and gently pulled her to the right and held back a branch for her to pass.

Once they emerged from under the limbs they came into a clearing that had a little waterfall and creek going down the way they just came. “The water is nice and cold, so it should be very refreshing, you can just cup it in your hands under the falls.”

Emily went over to the falls to quench her thirst. She closed her eyes after she knelt in the wet grass, the spray from the falling water felt so good on her skin, after a moment she leaned forward and took several handfuls of water, she was quite parched and this was the best water that she had ever had. When she felt she was going to start sloshing she stopped and went to sit next to Marcus as he leaned against the largest pine tree she had ever seen.

As she sat with a sigh she smiled and looked over at him. He rolled his head to the side to look into her eyes and he smiled. “You really are very beautiful Emily. Your eyes are just so mesmerizing I could get lost in them forever.”

She rolled those mesmerizing eyes and scoffed, “Oh you are a hopeless romantic!’ She knew she shouldn’t do it, but she did; she leaned in and kissed him ever so softly on the lips. He had a taste to his skin that was sweet like honeydew. When she leaned back to look at him, his eyes flickered open and he took in a slow breath of air. This made her smile that she could take his breath away; this was very new territory for her.

Breaking the mood completely she quickly asked, “Ready to get hiking some more?” Emily sprung up, dusted off her pants and went back to the main trail; she started to reach for the branches to hold back for him as he came up behind her. But before she knew it Marcus suddenly had her by the waist and spun her around to face him. It was so fast and so forceful it made her gasp in shock, “What’s the matter!”

His face was expressionless, like stone almost, “Do you understand what happens to me when you do that? Maybe you don’t realize who exactly you are dealing with,” Marcus said in a menacing but not frightening growl. “The mere scent of you drives me wild much less the taste of you, you should be careful,” he looked at her with the same firm gaze.

Emily was trying to pull away from him but it was completely useless, it was like trying to push a MAC truck over, “What is wrong with you? Let me go!” She thought he was joking at first, but his face made her think again. He was trying to prove something that was for sure.

“No, I won’t, until you tell me one thing. And you better tell me the truth!” Marcus had his arms securely on her, but not tight at all, he didn’t want to hurt her or scare her; he just wanted her to realize what he was capable of. “I want to know why you are here with me, why do you want to be with me or even wanted to listen to me at your flat?”

Emily stopped her struggling and looked up at him. “Seriously, that’s what this is about? Well in that case…” Her fright turned to confusion then relief in a matter of seconds. She got the message that he was sending loud and clear; now she needed to send him her own message, the one that she felt she had to send. She put her ear to his chest and hugged her arms around his waist, “I feel so secure with you. I don’t know if I can explain it to you without sounding ridiculous, or if I can even explain it to myself. The moment that I saw you I felt like I already knew you. And when I am with you it feels so natural and comfortable like we’ve been together forever.” Emily had to pause to gather herself and to make sure nothing incredibly stupid came out of her mouth. “I knew you were different in a second, and it intrigued me, it didn’t scare me.” She pulled away from him a little to look him in the eyes, “Being the romantic that you are, this shouldn’t sound too insane, you are strange enough to want to be with me.”

Marcus hugged her closer to him again, “Yes, I feel the exact same as you do. Thank you, for being honest and for wanting all of the same things that I do.” He sighed and rested his cheek upon her head feeling better that she understood and she felt the attraction between them.

“Well we better get to walking again or we will never get down before dark.” She slowly pulled away from him, gave him the best smile that she had and held his hand as she started to lead the way again. “So how much further do we have to go? Seems like we are about half way there already.”

“We can make this quicker,” Marcus scooped her up in his arms and cradled her to his chest, “Hold on.”

Emily wrapped her arms around his neck and chest and held on tightly as he raced up the increasingly steeper slope. The twigs and branches were whizzing past them that it was just one olive green blur to her. They were at the top and rounding the peak in minutes. Once they were on flat ground he gently set her down and turned her to face the remarkable view. Emily gasped as she took in the vast landscape in front of her, “This is amazing! I cannot believe how you can see everything, how high up are we?”

Marcus smiled at her reaction, it was the same as his was the first time he came to this spot so many years ago, “I’m not too sure, but this is the highest peak around. You can see London from here just past the Thames, and if you look to the right you can see the North Sea.” He turned clockwise and she followed suit, “And through the trees you can see the English Channel.” Marcus loved it here, he actually came here quite often; to him it was only a twenty minute walk to the peak from the shop.

“I can’t believe that’s the Channel.” Emily turned back around, “And that’s London? Wow, it looks so big, yet not really, from up here. I thought the Sea was further away than that. Oh I want to come back at sunset, I bet that is spectacular!” Emily’s eyes were wide with amazement. This truly was the most breathtaking view she had ever seen with her own eyes. To see the landscape from this vantage point was awesome. When she looked to the left there was nothing but trees and towns scattered around. If she squinted hard enough she swore she could see the ocean; but probably not.

“Of course, we can come here anytime you want to. Tomorrow even,” Marcus put his arm around her shoulders to cradle her under his arm. She was about a foot shorter than he was, but they fit perfectly together he thought.

Emily sighed, “I wish we could but I have class and work tomorrow. I won’t be able to get to the shop until after sunset as it is. Speaking of which, how is Mort? Is he upset with me being in your office, or with you for that matter?” Emily really wanted to make sure that all was well, she loved spending time at the shop and she hoped that wasn’t ruined.

“Mort’s just fine. He was actually fine that night. There was so much business all day that any worries had dissipated as he closed the till that night. We talked as we cleaned and he completely understood. He actually felt very sorry for scaring you off, he wants to apologize to you as soon as he can. Come, let’s sit over here,” he led her over to a little crevice in the rock; it made the perfect love seat sized bench.

After they were all settled and more comfortable than Emily first expected, she turned towards him and gently turned his face towards hers with one finger, “I think you have a story to tell me Mr., um Mr.? See, I don’t even know your last name Marcus. Please tell me everything, you have stalled long enough to drag me up here, now spill it. And don’t tell me that you fear for my soul by me knowing an ancient secret. No one but you and I need to know what is said today.” She folded her hands on her lap but kept her gaze steady with his

Marcus sighed very heavily, not because he needed the air, but because he just wondered how much he should tell her today. Should he tell the entire story, or just parts of it? It was an overwhelming amount of information spanning so many years.

Emily shook her head slightly as she saw his emotion change, “Marcus, stop stressing over it, just tell me like it is from the beginning. Stop when you get tired, or I’ll stop you when I get tired or overwhelmed. But please relax. I think you’ve kept so many things bottled up for too long you’re worried that once you open the lid it will come exploding out. If it does that’s fine, I can handle it. I’m really not as fragile as I seem. And I know you can handle it as well, you need to tell it, for your own peace of mind. But take it at your own pace, in your own time, I have nowhere to be. Well at least not until 7:00 tomorrow morning.” Emily smiled and took his hand into hers and entwined her fingers through his. She loved holding his hands. They were so strong and masculine, and the texture just fascinated her so much she couldn’t resist feeling it.

Marcus huffed out a short breath, “It’s amazing how you knew that I was stressing, and you gave me the answer I needed, thank you. And I think you’re right, I have kept too many secrets for way too long.” He gave out one more sigh, wrapped his arm around Emily’s shoulders, and kept his other hand entwined in hers. “Are you comfy enough, do you want to sit somewhere else?”

“Nope I am perfectly fine here with you, thank you though,” Emily snuggled into the nook of his arm and she rested her head on his shoulder, it was amazing how they just seemed to fit perfectly together. She looked out over the horizon, it was close to noon now she thought, she didn’t think of putting her watch on before she left. It was nice and cool up here, not cold though, the patchy sun felt good and the wind couldn’t get them from the rocks they were sheltered behind.

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