Vampires, the New Endangered Species

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Chapter 5 How to Continue

Marcus paused here for a moment; one for himself, and also because he thought that Emily might need a break as well. “Now Emily, let me take pause in my story here to tell you that I am not proud of what Sebastian made me do; for I was forced into this part of my new existence. I wanted no part of any of it, but there was no way that I could leave nor stop what he wanted. But before I continue with my tale now that Sebastian’s is done, do you need to get up and stretch and see a bush?” Marcus smiled a crooked smile at her knowing that of course she had to go.

Emily got up off the rock where she was snuggled up against his body and stretched her hands towards the sky. She was stiff from sitting on stone, for what, at least a few hours. The sun was a lot closer to the horizon now instead of straight above. It was probably time for her to get some food. Sure enough, her stomach growled so loud that Marcus even laughed from a few feet behind her. “Sure, let me use the accommodating facilities here and let’s head back down for some food. Of course you can go ahead and grab something to eat for yourself since we are up here.” It was her turn to flash him that crooked smile as she disappeared into the bushes below.

She was right, he was hungry, it had been several weeks since he had eaten well. So he did as she bade; he took off to the west, above the rock and over the cliff before she even unzipped her jeans. He found a deer drinking from the crick just a few yards away. It was his lucky day. He jumped on the deer and fed, being careful not to get any blood on his shirt and pants, a skill that he had mastered over the last decades. He cleaned his hands and face in the water, then headed back to Emily.

Idly laying on the rock where they sat before, she looked into the trees above her. The sight of her took his breath away every time he saw her. He couldn’t believe how much she looked like her, how every little thing she did was just like her. He stood and watched Emily for a moment as she shut her eyes before he planned on jumping down next to her, for he was on the cliff that made their cozy nook below where he crouched. As he was looking at her lips her eyes snapped open, “How long are you going to stalk there and watch me? Did you not find anything and now I am your tasty prey?”

Marcus jumped down and landed right next to her laughing and took her up into his arms, “You are quite a tasty treat, but I will keep you for dessert.” He then tilted his head down and ever so slightly licked her neck right below her ear.

She shivered into him and wrapped her arms around his back. “Why wait for dessert?” She purred into his ear and kissed his lobe. As she nuzzled his neck she couldn’t even believe her own ears. She was never this coy and open. What was it about this man that made her feel so comfortable that she could just say what she felt?

He picked her up into both arms, “Let’s get back down quickly so you can eat and I can take you home before the darkness and cold sets in.”

“Well if you insist that my couch is more comfortable than here, then fine. Where to for dinner? I don’t really know of many good places here yet. There is only one deli between your shop and my flat I’m afraid.” She made her grip around his neck tighter and squeezed his arm in the crook of her knees as he started the quick decent down the rocky slope. Marcus started to ramble off a good number of places for dinner as he ran down the hill. He wasn’t even breathing hard, Emily listened to every breath that he drew in since her ear was plastered to his chest. No heart beat though, interesting, she wondered if she would ever get used to that part of him? Who needs a beat to prove there’s a heart though she contemplated. Marcus seemed so kind and caring, he had the biggest heart of anyone she had ever met in her life. She noticed that he had stopped talking when the lack of vibration emanating from his chest caught her attention.

“So what sounded good to you?” He said as he set her down, they were already at the car. He was opening the door for her when she looked at him and laughed, “I really didn’t hear anything after ‘Luigi’s’ or something like that. I’m in the mood for some Italian, so we can go there I guess.”

Luigi’s is just a sandwich place, if you want real Italian food then I know of the perfect place, you will love it!” Marcus shut the door after Emily was in and he was seated and starting the car in a blink of an eye.

They sat in comfortable silence for the entire drive to the restaurant. Emily thought of her family and of what her dad would say about Marcus, if he would approve of him; of course still keeping the façade that he was humanly normal. She knew her mom would adore him, and her brother would be jealous of his physical traits. Everything was a competition for Steve. He was in good shape and was nice looking, but he was always trying to be the best at everything. It drove her and her mom nuts every time Steve and her dad fell in love with a new sport or hobby. She also thought of the tale she heard from Marcus up on the mountain. Of course she believed every word of it, even though it was something out of a book and not real life. But what Sebastian performed, and what he forced Marcus do as well; she knew what was coming, she could envision the horror stories of women exploding between Marcus’ legs, or fetus’ screaming and ripping their mothers apart. What she really thought the most about though was the book. She was dying to see it! Wanting to feel the papyrus under her gentle touch, and to smell the old leather that Sebastian put on there hundreds of years ago was on the forefront. She knew it was in Marcus’ room in the shop, or maybe locked away in his home above. Of course she would ask to see it the next time she was there, hopefully tomorrow after work.

Then her mind went to the rest of the evening, her stomach was flipping inside-out by this point, and she was craving lasagna so much. But then what? What were they going to do after dinner, go back to her flat of course she supposed. She was wondering if she should have sex with him or not, she was actually starting to fret and yearn for it all at the same time. Of course she wanted nothing else than to be intimate with her new found love, but she also needed to keep her morals; she couldn’t lose them just because she met him. Could she?

As she pondered her immediate fate, Marcus was pulling into the parking lot of a very fancy Italian restaurant, Michelangelo’s. Now Emily had even heard of this place, there was no way she could afford it, but worse of all she wasn’t dressed for this kind of establishment. She gasped as Marcus cut the engine, “There is no way I am going in there looking like this”, she even held out her dirty shirt for emphasis. Marcus chuckled, of course, “No sweat dear, just follow me.”

He led her towards the side entrance to the restaurant that looked like it was used for deliveries and as the employee entrance. Sure enough he opened the metal door and they walked into the back store room of the kitchen. An old man, who was either the owner or he had worked there forever was there grabbing cans of some olives, he turned towards the couple and when he saw Marcus a huge smile crossed his face, “Marco how are you doing? It has been too long ’eh!”

Marcus smiled and walked over to the beaming man, “Mickey, how are you doing this evening? Do they have you working back here now as well?” They shook hands warmly and Mickey then proceeded to walk and talk very rapidly out of the store room and into the warm delicious smelling kitchen. Emily had a hard time understanding him since he was speaking so fast with a very thick Italian accent. But Marcus was having no problem keeping up and asking questions to keep the conversation going.

Mickey ended up leading the two of them out to a little, secluded patio. The table and two chairs were surrounded by climbing vines of periwinkle and five different colored roses. There was a trellis that created a ceiling covered in grape vines. Emily could see little clusters of green grapes starting to gather in places. It smelled so wonderful back here, along with the flowers there was also the scent of fresh bread and pasta floating through the air. They both sat down and Mickey was talking to himself about some long lost remembered moment as he walked away and a boy with a basket of the fresh bread along with water and a bottle of white wine came out onto the patio. Marcus and Emily were alone in the little piece of heaven before she was even done getting her jacket off.

Emily took a piece of the bread as Marcus poured her wine, “So if you don’t eat then how are you so well known here?”

“I used to come here quite often with book buyers and sellers, and of course it is one of my nephew’s favorites as well. Everyone from all over the world seems to love good Italian food; especially in the middle of England. So please order anything that you want, they also have the most spectacular wine here, so I hear.” He gave her a grin and put a piece of bread on his plate next to a full glass of wine.

Mickey came back and took their order, Emily got the lasagna, and Marcus ordered spaghetti and meatballs, to take home in a doggy bag for Mort of course. The two of them chatted idly about books, wine, and the different countrysides in the area. It was nice for Emily to just have someone to talk to here, it was so comfortable just chatting with a friend and having a great glass of wine. Of course the food was to die for as well. It amazed Emily how Marcus looked like he was enjoying his meal every time someone came by to tend to them; when in fact, she thought he actually only consumed one bite. He mixed the food around on his plate enough so it looked as though he had eaten it; he obviously had mastered this skill a long time ago and any kid would be die to know his secret to avoid meal times. She was so relieved after their plates had been cleared and she was sipping her third glass of wine, her usual limit, that they stopped to eat when they did. She was ravenous, she barely had any left for a good lunch tomorrow, but of course she still toyed with the little box in front of her.

“Are you ready to go dear?” Marcus asked in a husky, sexy way.

Emily smiled, “But don’t you have to pay?”

“No, we’re fine. We have an arrangement with each other. Come, let’s get you home,” he stood and put his hand out to help her up. Marcus opened a little hidden gate that opened up to an ally then led her down about three steps, turned right and there was his car. It was the perfect little nook, she was pleased that he was right again, she did love it!

Of course they were back at her flat in no time at all, it was quite convenient, though a nerve wracking drive. As soon as they were in the flat he had a fire going in her stove. She stopped as she was about to enter her bedroom and turned around, “Wow, thanks. Can you make sure you’re here every morning and evening to do that for me? It takes me forever to get that thing lit!”

Marcus got a little grin on his face, “Sure thing Doll, of course.” He then sat down on her couch in front of the fire and stretched his long legs out, “Go ahead and take a nice hot shower, you deserve it after that hike. Then if you’d like, I will rub your shoulders and tell you the hard part, and the ending, of my tale.”

“That sounds like the perfect ending to a perfect day. I’ll be back in a jiffy, make yourself at home.” Emily walked into her room and got out her comfy, warm PJ’s and started to take off her clothes. Not until she was in the shower letting the hot water run over her shoulders, did she realize that if he turned his head he probably would get the best peep show. She had forgotten to close her bedroom door all the way, and that door was directly in front of her bathroom door; which she always kept open to let the steam out since there was no fan to circulate the air in the minuscule space. The odd part was that she didn’t even care, she felt so natural around him, so familiar. She washed every part of her body in her nice soap, and even quickly shaved, just in case.

Emily emerged from the bathroom to find him in the exact same position, and the room was so comfortably warm, she didn’t even need socks on. She kept her hair up in a bun so Marcus wouldn’t get tangled up in hair; that always ruined a good massage. He instantly had a pillow between his feet, “Please sit here.” When Emily sat he handed her a big pillow, “Now bend your knees, and lean on them with this in between.” Emily did as instructed and leaned forward on the pillow and scooted her butt back against the couch and between his knees. He was actually very warm from the fire and she felt so protected right then and there.

He instantly started in at work on her shoulders like a pro. She was moaning and sighing with every shiver down to her toes. Marcus chuckled and just kept on in silence. Of course any massage, even one that is four hours long, is too short, so when Marcus stopped after working on her for over an hour, she still whined, “Done already?”

Bending down and kissing her ear he whispered, “Yes Doll, come and sit up here,” he scooped her up and laid her down on the couch, and he sat at her feet and started to rub those with expert fingers as well. “Oh man, I’m getting the royal treatment here, thank you so much. You really are a figure from a fairy tale; my Prince Charming.” Emily looked down at him and just smiled, a genuine, soul reaching smile. She wanted to kiss him again, but she didn’t want to break his concentration, nor seem like the tramp that she was feeling like with her desires and tingles.

As Marcus grabbed her foot he looked into the fire then eventually turned to her and said, “So I guess I should finish this long journey huh?” She just simply nodded her head for him continue. He looked back to her feet and did so, “My span of time really isn’t that interesting, but I feel you should know it, I feel I should tell you everything, at every moment.” He grinned as he looked at her, then put his gaze back to his work. He looked like he was loving every moment of feeling her skin, that he wanted to just beam like a kid holding his prize possession. It made Emily wonder why. She thought maybe it was because he was alone so much, so any companionship, much less female, would be devoured.

“Like I told you earlier, Anthony and Sebastian worked on finding out the defects with our breeding problem. But all of that was stopped when Anthony left for one reason or another, let’s just say that Sebastian is a little flippant. But after Sebastian changed me, and had fresh meat so to speak, he wanted to start working afresh again. We started with having me, um, mate with other vampires. We tried newborns, those are people who have been instantly changed and up to two years old, some of them got pregnant but they all ended up losing the fetus’ at one point or another. I even mated with older vampires that gave birth years and years ago but for some reason none of them did again with me. It was a very tedious thirty years.”

Emily’s eyes flew open and she looked at him with her mouth agape, “Thirty years? You traveled the world having sex with women for thirty years, and you describe it as being tedious? Wow… that is a very surprising thing to hear from a man’s mouth.” Emily laughed when she spoke, knowing how men think, mortal men at least, any guy would die to be in that situation.

He kept her gaze but shook his head gently and gave her a half smile, “Oh sure laugh it up. Of course it was great for the first couple of years, I won’t lie to you. Once I got over the fact of being unfaithful to my Amelia, I was like a teenager with raging hormones all over again. But worse; this time I knew how to use what I had, and how to get what was needed. I felt like, what is the modern word for it now? Oh, a gigolo. Yes, that is exactly what I felt like. But mind you, this was only the first round of experiments. After we exhausted every idea, and every willing female vampire, we moved on to human test subjects.” Marcus looked down again. This time with such remorse and sadness all over his face. This seemed to Emily to be the part that he had been dreading to tell her all along. “This was the worst part of it, as you can of course imagine. So I tell you what? We have had such a wonderful day, and I am not going to ruin it by telling you the horror stories, I will just fast forward to the ending.” He looked at her with a twinkling of relief in his eyes when she nodded her head in sanction, “Of course none of the experiments worked. We only had one fetus from a human woman, but both of them died before it went to full term. I was so relieved that it didn’t live; I know that sounds horrible, but I was so afraid of what kind of child it would be and what that would make Sebastian turn into. But then at the same time I was so sad that a human baby would never live from her either. It was fine the first few children that passed, it was more like an experiment at that point, but then after time it really effected me.

“Soon after that I told Sebastian that I was done, that I didn’t want to continue with him any longer. I wanted to go my own way. He was fine with it, acted like he really didn’t care. I woke up one morning and he was gone. No note, just a few of his personal prized possessions were gone and his horse and buggy. I have never heard from him since.

Afterwards he paused gazing into the fire, but never stopping the cadence of his hands on her foot, he took a breath and said, “Now let me back up a little bit here. After Sebastian told me his long tale, I went to my rooms at his home and contemplated for many days. When I emerged I decided that I was no longer Craig, I was now Marcus. I was the same man, but yet not the same, so I wanted to start a new life. I changed the way I dressed, my hairstyle, everything I could think of to start afresh. Sebastian naturally was fine with my decision, nothing seemed to ever phase him.

“After about four years I decided to write to my brother. I couldn’t take it any longer, I had to let him know that I was alive still. We were too close for me to forget all that we had been through. At first I didn’t really think it all the way through. I was just so very homesick and wrote him a letter. I told him that I was abducted, but being treated very well. That I was being used for my knowledge of books, but that I couldn’t say anything further on that account. I let him know that I was no longer in the same country, but didn’t tell him where since we traveled so very much. I asked him to let Amelia know that I did not leave of my own accord and that I think of her every day. I also forbade him to speak to our parents of this letter. I knew that knowing that I was alive but unable to neither see them nor speak to them would be a worse torture than letting them believe that I was dead. This was a very difficult choice for me. That was actually the one reason that delayed my writing by a few years.

“I sent him letters at least once a year, at Christmastime, no matter where I was at the time. I never left a return address so I never knew if the letters were getting to him or not; then after about five years I went back to England one day. Sebastian was preoccupied in his lab for months on end, I had a feeling that I really needed to see my brother. So I went to where I knew he was working now. He had the book store that my father had for years, of course, it’s the same shop that you know and love today. He was living there with his wife, Margaret upstairs and they lived very well, but modestly of course. Margaret loved to have pretty things, so the back room of the shop was actually a large closet for her. She used to say, ‘All that money has to be spent on something’, Marcus made his voice sounds mockingly like a woman and Emily laughed, “Did she really sound like that?”

Marcus was actually pretty good at impersonations, “Yeah she did, and my brother adored her, I could tell that before I ever said one word to him, before he ever even knew I was there. I watched him from across the street for a couple of hours before I got up the nerve to go in there. I decided to make my appearance when Margaret went upstairs and the store was empty of customers. Which was not very often since it was the only bookstore in town at the time. I went in, gently closed the door and walked up to the counter where Alex was standing. As soon as he turned around his mouth hit the floor and exclaimed, ‘By Jove Craig ol’ boy, you look as though you haven’t aged a day! It is so good to see you!’ He came racing around the counter to give me a big bear hug. I had to make sure that I gave him a slight squeeze, but I didn’t want him close to me for too long. I was still trying to play out in my mind how I was going to explain things to him. He started to call for his wife but I hushed him quickly saying, ‘Please don’t. I really only have a few seconds, but I had to stop and see you. I wanted you to know that I miss you very much brother. And one day soon I will tell you everything. But for now, here is an address where you can reach me, write to me often and tell me of the family.’ I handed him a piece of paper with the address to a London Post Office where I started to receive mail. I gave him a good hug again and raced out of the door.

“I think I ran until I was up on the cliffs, where we were today. That is when I found the place. I just had to get out of there. I wanted to cry, and I knew that my heart was crying even though my eyes were not. As wonderful as it was to see Alex, it also broke my heart into a hundred pieces. I now understood why Sebastian told me that I needed to stay away from everyone that I knew. But all in all I was happy that I saw my brother’s face; even if it was going to be the last time.

“After about a month or so I went and checked the post office. I was shocked to see so many letters in there. It seemed that Alex had been writing twice a week. I took the letters and went back to a small flat that I had by the train station. I still had to get back to Italy to check in with Sebastian. He wouldn’t let me go too long without making me ‘play out’ one of his new theories. I read all of the letters from Alex in one sitting. He told me all about the family, his book shop, and his marriage with Margaret. They have been trying to have a baby since they have been married, which was almost two years at this point. They don’t know why, but she just wouldn’t conceive. Luckily for them both they were very passionate about each other and didn’t mind trying.

“I was so pleased that my brother carried on with his life very well. And my parents did as well. My mum appeared as if my “death” took a part of her away, Alex said that he rarely saw her smile anymore. That letter made me weep. Even though no water escaped my eyes, I wept like a baby for my mum. Then the flood of emotions on what I should do there started to perplex me all over again.

“Alex and I exchanged letters on a weekly basis. I only found time to write back to him once a week, then we eventually cut back to twice a month. His life wasn’t very eventful, and I couldn’t talk about my life at all. I did tell him about the places that I traveled to, and the books that I either picked up or saw along the way. Occasionally I would send him a book that was so rare and valuable that I would get pages and pages of thanks and appreciation the following week. I was so happy that Alex was back in my life again.

“Then after about four or so more years Margaret finally got pregnant. Now mind you they had been married for almost seven, give or take, years, and my brother was into his forties at this point. Luckily Margaret was five years his younger, but still quite old to be having a child. I had been a vampire for maybe thirteen years at this point. I knew that I had to be there for my brother when his child was born, that was something that I couldn’t miss for the entire world. When the due date arrived I made sure that I was close by. I spied on them every other day to make sure she was alright, and also to see how Alex was doing.

“When she was about to have the baby any day, I stopped Alex on his way back from the market one evening. I tried not to startle him, but it was getting dark and I needed to stay out of the setting sun, it happened to be a sunny day here for a change. He almost dropped his sack when I came out from an alleyway and called his name. ‘Good heavens Craig, why the devil are you peering around in dark alleys. Come up to the flat, Margaret is at her mums’ until the baby arrives. She couldn’t take the stairs anymore with the weight that boy is putting on her!’ Alex was very cheerful, and I was glad that we could be alone to talk. I decided that morning that I was going to tell him the truth. All of it. I had to if I wanted to keep up our relationship. How else could I explain why I wouldn’t be able to see him in another ten years when he has a head full of grey hair, and I am still young and fit as a fiddle?

“We got up to his flat and he put on some tea for us. I could tell that they had a very happy and loving home here. There were paintings here and there, daguerreotypes hadn’t come out so there weren’t any photographs as of yet, so there was needlework and quilts either hung or placed about. I commented on his lovely home and we made small talk for a bit to catch up. I made sure that I sat away from the lamp on the table, I didn’t want Alex to get the wrong impression before I had a chance to explain.

“It finally came to a moment of silence when I decided that it was now or never. I told him that I had some truths to tell him about my life and what really had happened to me all those years ago. He settled back in his chair without a word and let me speak. He stayed silent for the entire play of events. He just calmly sipped his tea as I told him all that I told you earlier today. I spoke of everything, how everything felt, how things looked, even the little things that bothered me or were annoying. I don’t know how long I sat there and expelled my life to him, but when I finished I felt so much better. I think mostly for finally just speaking the truth to someone for a change. Alex took another sip of his tea, which had to be his twentieth cup, and just looked at me.

“I chuckled and said to him, ‘Well aren’t you going to say something? Have me carted away to an asylum, call me a drunk and get out, something?’ He smiled, that wonderful smile that only a brother could give to another to let him know that everything will be fine. He leaned forward on his elbows so he was closer to me and said, ‘Craig my brother, I knew something was different about you the first moment I saw you all those years ago, how could I not know? I knew you couldn’t alter your eyes or hair, so obviously something had happened that was a serious alteration of your body. Now with all of my travels and with all the people I have met over the years, as well as all of the stories I have heard and read, I knew something very bizarre had happened to you. I had little clues here and there over the years; like you never mentioning your job of course, or any friends or love interests. I knew you were hiding an entire life from me. And now I understand completely why. If you came and told me that first day, I would have locked you up myself. But having the chance to get to know you all over again through your letters, it has helped me deal with this news a little better. Now don’t get me wrong, I am shocked as hell, but I can accept it. I know you are a good man, and I know that you will always strive to be the best that you can be. So please know that I am thrilled that you have told me, and please feel confident that I will keep your secret forever.’ I will never forget those words’ all of my life. My brother is the most important person in my entire existence.”

Marcus stopped his story here. Actually all of him stopped. Emily tilted her head to look closer at him, he looked like a statue. Not one thing moved for several minutes. Then he slowly started to rub her feet again in a nice, rhythmic pattern. “I’m sorry, I tend to get a little emotional about certain subjects.”

Emily softly replied, “You don’t need to apologize for naturally being yourself. I can empathize with your feelings, well to a certain degree of course. I am very close to my brother, so I feel sorry for your loss.” She leaned forward and gently touched his hands. They actually felt warm because he was so close to the fire on this end of the couch. Feeling this she smiled and started to stroke his hands all over again, like she had every chance she got all throughout the day. Marcus gently took one of his hands out from hers and brought her hand up to his lips. He gingerly kissed the tops of her fingers and took in a nose full of her luscious scent. He couldn’t get enough of her scent. He envisioned bottling it up so he could keep it in his pocket all day and night.

Emily’s heart started to beat a little faster, she tried to slow it down because she knew that he would hear it. Of course he did, so he stopped kissing her hand. He put her hand upon her knee. Emily knew what he was signaling so she sat up and slid down to where he was sitting. She snuggled up against him and wrapped her arms around his torso. “This is the warmest seat in the entire place. And with you here it’s ten times warmer.” Marcus put his arm around her shoulders and brought her in closer to him. If he could have put her into his skin he would have; he couldn’t get close enough to her. He fretted having to be away from her tonight, he didn’t know if he could make it until tomorrow evening to see her again. The thought of it made him pull her closer to him and he kissed her on top of her head. Again, he took a nose full.

Emily noticed it this time, “I love when you do that, but why do you?”

He made a throaty chuckle, “I love your scent. It is so comforting, sweet, it’s you. I don’t think that I could really explain it. It’s almost like catching the scent of your grandma’s apple pie past a window; you then think of how much you love that scent for so many reasons. Does that make any sense?”

Of course it made perfect sense, that was why she loved touching him. She rubbed his hand with hers, “Yes, it makes all the sense in the universe. Marcus? Why do I feel like that I have known you forever? With little things that we do, it feels like we’ve been doing it forever, it feels so natural.” She looked up at him and he had a perplexed look on his face.

Marcus knew that if his heart beat that it would have tripled in speed at this moment. “I don’t know Doll. But I agree with you, it does feel so natural, and I want to be with you always.” He looked down into her eyes, her majestic, green eyes. They were vivid green today, not like the other day when they were more of a brownish hazel. He could tell her moods by the color of her eyes. She was obviously very happy and excited. Not that he needed her eyes to tell him that. Every other part of her body told him that. Now was the time that he had been dreading; he wanted to be with her so badly, but he knew that he couldn’t. What sort of a gentleman would he be if he took advantage of this wonderful creature after just meeting her? He knew that she wanted him, but he was afraid that it was just sort of lust for her. He had no clue that she was having all of the same thoughts at that very moment.

Was she sure that this was a man that she felt destined to be with for the rest of her life? And that’s just it, a huge IT! She has a life, he doesn’t. Would he let her go and watcher her get old, sick, and die? Would he change her? Then she asked herself a question that threw her for a complete loop; would she want to change? The color must have changed in her face because Marcus suddenly had her chin in his hand, “Are you okay Em? You have a funny look in your eye?”

Emily sort of shook her head to clear it and blinked her eyes, “Yeah I’m fine; sorry, my mind tends to wander off on tangents sometimes. Marcus, I don’t want to sound silly, or melodramatic, or anything of the sort. But, I feel like I love you. I love you with every cell in my body. I feel that now that I have you in my life I need you in my life. That you are part of my air and without you I’ll die. But then there is a part of me that gets a grip on reality, you are a vampire, and I am not. Plus the fact that we just met a couple of days ago and this feeling in me is very strong. And that leaves a big empty hole, a hole that I need to figure out how to fill. I am so happy that I have you in my life but yet it leaves so many questions that need to be answered and so many feelings that need to be understood. Does that make sense or am I just rambling on?” Emily kept her chin still so he wouldn’t remove his hand, but she did look down and away from his eyes. She wanted to cry for the confusion she suddenly felt.

“Emily, you don’t sound dramatic, nor silly at all. I was thinking all of the same things actually. I am very confused and I have the same strong feelings as well, I have been waiting for you all of my life and now that I have you there is no way that I want to leave you; ever. I want to stay attached to you every second of every day. This is very hard for me also, we are not in a normal or easy predicament here at all.” Marcus took both of her hands into his, “Emily, I know you have had a lot of information to process from today, I have told you so very much about a world that you never even knew existed. And now here you are crazy about a vampire that is crazy about you as well. What do we do next, where do we go from here? What do you want to do?” He still held her hands in his and looked at her with a longing look in his eyes.

She didn’t know what to say because she wasn’t sure what she really wanted. “Marcus, I want to be with you, that I know for a fact. I don’t want to be without you, not even for a second either. But as for what we do next? I have no idea either. What I want and what reality is are two totally different things. I just don’t know Marcus.” She took her hands from his and scooted down to the end of the couch so she could lay her head in his lap. She curled up into the fetal position and put one hand on his thigh and closed her eyes for a moment. Marcus started to stroke her head and hair, he thought of the days when he and Amelia would lie together just like this and talk for hours on end. He sighed heavily, “I love you so much Emily.” He leaned down and kissed her on the head. She gave his thigh a squeeze, “I love you also.”

They stayed like that for some time staying still and silent. Marcus thought about what she said and how she didn’t know what to do either. What he really wanted he was having such a hard time processing in his mind. Of course he wanted to change her into a vampire so he could always be with her. The thought of losing her tore him apart. But if he really loved her how could he even think of taking her life from her, taking her away from her family? He was almost sick with the confusion!

When she spoke it startled him out of his thoughts, “Marcus, would you turn me into a vampire to keep me?” He was shocked she just asked such a thing, “Well, honey, I really don’t know. I have been contemplating that for some time now actually. I want you to be with me, but I couldn’t take you away from your family, that wouldn’t be right. What would you want when the time was right; I think that is the important question here?”

Emily sort of sighed, “I don’t know. I feel the same as you do; I want to be with you but I cannot be without my family. I just wish there was a way to do both. It’s hard just because I want it all I guess. I don’t want to be confused, I want to know and move forward with you.”

Marcus just held her as she laid there in his lap, “Why don’t we just take this one day at a time then huh? No one says that we have to make a decision that will affect the rest of our lives tonight. You are very tired and it is very late.” She didn’t know how, but he scooped her up and carried her into her bed and put the covers over her then lay down next to her on top of the blanket. She rolled over to face him, “Will you stay here with me tonight please? I just want to know that you’re near me.”

Marcus gave her his dazzling smile, “Of course I will stay here with you, I am so happy that you asked me. “ He put his arm over her and pulled her closer to him, he kissed her very gently on the lips, “Goodnight my Doll.” Emily kissed him back and smiled. She loved to hear those words out of his mouth.

Now that she was in bed she realized just how tired she really was; it had been a very hectic day, mentally and physically, and the hike wore her out more than she thought it did. The questions of the day could wait until tomorrow, and Marcus was there with her now and that was all that she really wanted, so she fell asleep very content, and very quickly.

Of course she started dreaming immediately. She was back in the house with her Craig. She couldn’t see his face, as usual, but he was holding her tightly and telling her that he will never leave her. Then the dream shifted to her nightmare instantly. She was suddenly alone and she could see a black shadow taking Craig away from her. She was trying to call out to him, grab for his hands, but no sound came and he was too far away for her reach. She started screaming in her dream and calling his name. Then the dream shifted again, she and a vampire were in an alleyway and he was trying to grab her. She started screaming for help and for Marcus. This vampire was about to kill her by ripping her throat apart. Emily was so scared and horrified in her dream, then it ended so abruptly that it startled her awake. She lay there for a moment when she realized that she was awake and Marcus was not in the bed anymore.

Feeling afraid that he left and went home, she suddenly could hear him rustling around in the kitchen and eased back and let the tension of her dream erode from her mind. She smiled knowing that her dreams were just horrible dreams and Marcus was still here with her. She rolled over to look at the clock and was surprised when it said 5:00. She was happy that she woke up early enough to get ready for her morning classes, but sad that she had to get to her life today and be without Marcus for most of the day.

Laughing at herself and her childish silliness she got up out of bed, she was acting like a lovesick teenager. Of course she could make it through her day without him, even though she knew every moment was going to be occupied by thoughts of him and their day together yesterday. What a bizarre world she was in now, her life had changed so dramatically, but yet not at all in some ways. After getting her slippers on and her robe she padded out into the living room.

The fireplace had a big fire going, and Marcus was coming out of the kitchen with a steaming mug of tea for her, “Good morning dear.” He handed her the cup and kissed her and they went to the couch. “I would ask you how you slept, but I think from the way you were thrashing about it was not very peaceful?” Marcus didn’t want to mention all that he heard her say in her sleep. She cried out the name ‘Craig’, then was squirming and crying. At one point he almost woke her up because it bothered him to hear her so upset. But he didn’t, she needed her sleep even though it was not as peaceful and restful as he had wanted her to have. She did end up sleeping all night and now that she was awake and looked well he felt better.

“No not very well, I had the strangest dreams last night. But at least I slept until morning, so at least my body got the rest that it needed. Thank you for starting a fire and making me tea, I appreciate it.” Emily smiled at him, sat at the end of the couch closest to the fire and tucked her feet up under her. She just sipped her tea and looked into the flames thinking about nothing. She loved to sit like this every morning and let her body get going in its own time. She was glad that her first class didn’t start for two more hours, so she had plenty of time to get ready and eat breakfast. “So what are you planning on doing today besides being at the book shop with Mort? Actually, do you have any other hobbies or like to do anything else?”

Marcus kept looking at the fire, “That really is all that my life entails, the shop. Since my brother passed away I have been running the shop for so many years. Well Mort took it over when he graduated from college when he was 25, and he has been doing most of it since then. I do travel though to buy new and rare books, I like to take a trip to the coast every now and then to ground myself. Ha, actually my life is pretty darn boring, until now of course.” He then looked away from the flames and looked over at Emily, who was still gazing at the fire; the sight of her still took his breath away. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

She turned her head to look at him, “No, not boring any more. Even though I cannot see how being a vampire could be boring at all.” She paused then sighed and continued, “I have classes and work until about five o’clock tonight, I will come by then to see you. Sorry that it has to be so long.” Emily looked into her tea and swirled the bits of leaves in the bottom. Her mind went back to the conversation they had last night about their future. Naturally she still had no clue how to proceed, so she decided to do what was natural, “I was thinking about you and me. We both feel the same way and we really do want the same thing, in the end. But I think for now we need to just keep living our lives like we have been, but now we will see each other every moment we can. And then after I’m done with school this year then we can really sit down and talk about the future, our future.”

Marcus was quite pleased to hear this, “Good. Great actually. Now stop me if I am moving too fast or if this is too crazy for you. After you finish school of course can you, uh, well I would really like it if you stayed here in England. I cannot leave Mort, nor the shop now for a bit, I am the only family that he has left, and the shop is his life and world. After that, then we can evaluate things again. But Em, I want to be in your life, I want to meet your family, and that is possible. I think I have proven that you really do not have to leave your family, not for any reason. I want you to be as happy as you can be in your life, and I want to be part of it.”

Emily’s mouth dropped open, she was shocked to hear him say this. Marcus took her look the wrong way and got a frown on his face. He turned away from her and looked down. The change in his look saddened her instantly, “Marcus no, don’t be sad. I’m sorry that I looked like that. It is just that I am a little shocked,” she leaned over the couch and took his face to turn it towards her, “I want to be with you also, I want you to meet my family, I want to help you with Mort and the shop. And I most definitely want to travel the world with you and do all the fun and exciting things that life has to hold.” She gave him the biggest smile she had and leaned over and pecked him on the check right next to his lips, “Marcus dear, we are on the same page, so please don’t fret. It’s just that I’m not so used to a man being so open and honest with me right off the bat, books have been my main source of company for so long. But I am happy to hear this from you, I was just surprised to hear it that’s all.”

He looked so relieved that his smile spread up into his eyes, “Excellent. That’s it then. One day at a time with each other. Thank you so much,” he said after a pause. He didn’t move anything but his lips, Emily was still very close to him and he wanted to savor it.

“For what?” Emily looked at him with a raised brow and nestled back into her warm spot.

“For everything. Listening yesterday, being here, just being you and being in my life.” Marcus slid down to her then put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed her. “So, what would you like for breakfast?”

Emily grinned at him, “You’re quite welcome, and I think I’m still full from last night, but don’t worry about it, I’ll just get a bowl of cereal before I have to leave. Right now I don’t want either of us to move.” She put her head on his shoulder and snuggled in closer to him and sipped her tea.

After a while they stopped chatting and she decided that she had better take a shower and get ready for school. Emily really thought about skipping classes today so she could spend it with Marcus, but she knew that would be impractical and childish. Plus then she would have twice as much work to catch up on tomorrow. She dragged herself off of the couch and got into the shower. Marcus decided that she needed a better breakfast than cereal so he decided to see what he could find in her kitchen.

He walked the two long paces from the living room into the miniscule kitchen that was just big enough for a small fridge, tiny oven with an over-the-range microwave; an obvious recent addition by the landlord, a sink and maybe three feet of counter space. He was surprised that there was enough room for the tiny bistro set that she used as a dining table. As he was perusing the fridge and cupboards he could hear her in the shower. He so desperately wanted to join her. It was everything he had to focus on food and not her wet and nude body just twenty feet away. He found a few eggs, potatoes and some mushrooms and decided upon making her an omelet with hash browns. He had never had hash browns himself, but he knew that Americans liked them and figured she would as well. Marcus didn’t realize how much he enjoyed being able to take care of someone else besides his nephew, especially a woman. He could smell Emily putting on some very nice lotion, and could hear her humming to herself. Realizing how much he liked these little things, he didn’t grasp just how much he really missed them over the years. Then it dawned on him that since he was a child he had never lived with a woman at all. He had spent nights with Amelia, but never anything longer than twenty-four hours at a time. Women were such wonderful and fascinating creatures to him, the little things they did with their hands and feet, how they used their eyebrows and mouths so much more than men when they spoke. And of course their scent was far more intoxicating. Just the certain lotions, powders and natural aroma was just sweeter than a man’s; he enjoyed smelling every one of them. But Emily had a different scent to him; hers was far more exhilarating than any other being he had ever beheld. He heard her start to make her way out of her room so he cleared his mind of his indecent thoughts as she came into the kitchen.

Emily walked into the kitchen and once again his breath stuttered in and out, she was wearing a beautiful purple sweater and jeans. Nothing special, but the way the color accented her hair and skin, she looked like she shone. Marcus felt a fire in him grow every time he saw her. This fire didn’t even exist before he laid eyes on her, at that moment he felt a huge bonfire instantly start in his chest; in the hole where his beating heart used to be. She looked at him and laughed, “What’s wrong with you? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”

“You just take my breath away that’s all, you look very lovely.” Marcus turned his head, he knew that he would be blushing if he could. “I made you breakfast, I hope you like it. I like to watch cooking shows at night so I learned what a typical American breakfast is,” he pulled out the chair for her at the little table; it was set so eloquently with napkins, silverware, juice, tea and a little purple mum in a vase.

“Marcus, this is so wonderful, thank you. I cannot believe you did all of this in the twenty minutes that it took me to take a shower. Oh, I love hash-browns, and you made them perfectly! Nice and browned and crispy!” She then started to devour her food, everything tasted perfect. She didn’t know if she was just hungry from staying up so late, or if he was just that awesome of a cook and it didn’t matter if she was hungry or not. She looked up at him as he sat across from her, he had the silly little grin on his face as he stared at her. Smiling a full mouthful she mumbled, “Now what? And what’s that silly little grin for?”

Marcus just shrugged his shoulders and toyed with a small piece of string that he found on the table, “I guess I am just very happy being with you. You make me feel normal, like I’m not a monster from the story books; that I am a real person in a real world.”

After swallowing hard she replied in a sort of snappy tone, “You are a real person Marcus, and in no way, shape or form, a monster! Now I don’t ever want you to speak of yourself that way again!” Emily then smiled, “So, what’s on your agenda today while I am dying of boredom in class and at work today?”

“I have a stack of books to repair today, and I know Mort would love for me to finally clean some of the shelves that he cannot reach. But nothing interesting in the life of the vampire bookseller! What time will you be off of work, can we have dinner together?” Marcus looked eager when he asked her this; he was dying at the thought of being away from her all day, so he had to at least see her as soon as she was free.

“Yeah dinner would be great, I’m done at the library at about five o’clock, so by the time I walk to your shop I will be there at about a quarter after, can you wait that long?” She chuckled when she asked this, she thought that he felt the same as she did, like a lovesick puppy that would perish every second they were apart.

“I think I can handle that Doll.” Marcus smiled and thought to himself what time she took lunch so he could see her then, but he thought better of it, he didn’t want to smother her and seem clingy; even though he really, really wanted to be as clingy as possible!

Emily finished her wonderful breakfast and was starting to get up to clean her dishes when Marcus stood up quickly and started to clear the table, “I’ll get this, you finish getting your stuff together.” Before she could argue he was already washing and drying her plate and cups, she just went to get her book bag since she could say no more. As she was gathering her papers and such she realized that Marcus needed her, not in a way that made him less manly, but she felt that because he had been alone for so long, and had gone through so much mental anguish over the many years that he needed some normalcy and stability to keep him grounded. She was glad that he chose her to be normal with, with every passing moment with him she felt more and more whole. It was the strangest feeling, but she just felt like he was made for her, that he was her perfect match.

As she was grabbing her sweater out of the closet she felt hands come up behind her and grab her around the waist, “Thanks for having me here last night, I love spending time with you,” and he gently kissed her neck and left his lips there for a moment. Emily wanted to just melt! She leaned back into his chest, “It was my pleasure to have you here, thank you for wanting to stay. And thanks again for dinner as well as breakfast. Oh! I forgot, you have to take Mort his food from last night!” Emily spun around to look at him but made sure she didn’t break the hold that he had on her.

“I brought it to him last night when you were getting your pajama’s on. I’m sure he’s having it for breakfast already; he loves that restaurant. But thank you for remembering, you are very thoughtful,” and with that he kissed her on the lips. Emily completely melted into his arms and kissed him back. Probably a little too passionately for this time of the morning, but he ignited a spark in her that was truly spectacular.

Marcus pulled back from her, “You better get off to school or I might start having a very hard time being a gentleman with you.” He gave her another little peck and led her by the hand out of the room.

Emily was putting on her sweater and grabbing her book bag as Marcus was opening the front door, “Would you like to walk with me to class or do you have to get back to the shop right away?”

“I have nothing else to do but escort you my dear,” Marcus took her hand once again as they headed off. “If you don’t mind letting me lead the way though, the sun is coming up and I know of a few shortcuts that will keep us in the shade.”

“I don’t mind at all, you can even take the long-cuts if you wish.” Emily grinned as she squeezed his hand, she really wished that she didn’t have to leave him, but she made up her mind last night that they had to live their normal lives for a while. She still couldn’t think of their long term situation, it was still way too early plus there were too many questions and too many feelings that she had yet to filter through. But as she looked up at his wonderfully handsome face she knew that all would be fine and their fate brought them together for one reason or another, she felt there was no way that anything would separate them now; heck not even death really.

The walk to the school was too short and quick, for both of them. Marcus stopped in the shade of one of the massive buildings that made up the college campus, “Well here you are, safe and sound.” Marcus let go of her hand just to take all of her up in his arms, he wrapped his arms tightly around her like he was leaving for a year, “I’ll see you about five then?”

“Yep, with bells on,” and Emily got on her tip toes to kiss him gently on the lips. He held her longer then let her go, “Have a great day Doll, I’ll see you this evening,” then he kissed her again and disappeared silently into the darkness of the alleyway.

Emily stood for a second looking at the place where he once stood and let the wonderful sensation of love engulf her. Then she turned towards her building and floated to her first class.

As soon as she sat down in the hard wooden chair that was one of fifty in the large auditorium style room all thoughts of her weekend and of Marcus evaporated, she got swallowed up in the history of literature. The rest of her day was pretty normal at school, lessons, notes, reading and then lunch with the two other women she befriended. One was Julia, who was from Italy and very open, honest and quite adventurous. Emily and Patricia, a single woman in her mid forties from Devonshire, England, were listening to Julia tell them about her madly passionate weekend with her new lover of the month. As Julia was rambling on about the Kama Sutra book he bought her, Emily’s thoughts strayed to Marcus and of course her feelings of wanting to make love to him. She was very proud of herself for not losing her morals over the weekend, but part of her wished that she was like Julia and had no inhibitions. She snapped out of her daydream when Patricia laughed, “Julia, you better get all your wild oats out now while you’re still young!”

Emily looked at her watch and stood to leave, “Thanks for lunch ladies, I’ll catch up with you two later.”

“I better get to my next class as well, thanks for the wild mental pictures Julia!” Patricia scooped up her books and tote and scurried off in the opposite direction of Emily. Julia waved at both of them as she ate the rest of her sandwich that got ignored while she told her tale.

Finally the school day ended and Emily walked the four blocks to her job at the library. She realized how tired she actually was on her walk there. Thinking that she obviously didn’t get as much sleep as she originally thought this morning, she was just hoping that the rest of her day would fly by quickly. As she walked into the break room to put her bag in her locker her favorite coworker snuck up behind her, “BOO!” Harriet shouted and grabbed Emily’s waist.

“Oh shit!” Emily screamed as she almost jumped out of her skin, “Dang it Harri, why do you always have to do that to me?” But Emily was laughing as she scolded her friend.

“Because you are the easiest person in the world to scare, I swear, you are always off in your own little quiet world! So, anything new and exciting happen to you this weekend?” Harri was a tiny, troll like woman. Not ugly at all, but beautiful would not be a description of the five foot tall plump woman. Her grey eyes were small and beady and her hair was almost the same color of grey. But what she lacked in looks she made up in personality. Harri was a very caring, thoughtful and hilarious person. Emily thoroughly enjoyed working with her more than anyone.

Emily chewed on her answer for a second, she wasn’t sure if she should even tell her about Marcus, then it just spilled out, “Oh my god yes! You know that little book store down the street from my flat?”

Harri nodded as she poured her cream into her mug of tea, “Oh yeah that really old one with the cute, little, old man at the counter?” Harri knew all about Mort, most of the women her age in town did.

“Yep, that one. Well his grandson works with him and I met him on Thursday, and holy cow is he gorgeous! But we hit it off and we ended up spending most of the weekend together.”

Arching her eyebrows and smirking she replied, “Wow, that was not what I was expecting to come out of your mouth! You’ve been here how long and you never saw this guy before? Don’t you practically live at that store?” Harri looked at her sideways as she was stirring her tea.

Emily took her mug out of the cupboard and held it out for Harri to pour her a cup from the hot kettle that always seemed to be on the little burner, “Yes I do, but he’s sort of a recluse and doesn’t really like to be around people too often. Sound familiar for a truly dedicated book nerd? But anyways, I really like him and I am amazed that he likes me as well.” Emily shrugged her shoulders and tried to make the entire situation sound as normal as possible.

“Well good for you dear, is he good in the sack?” Harri arched one eyebrow to accentuate her question.

“I don’t know for Pete’s sake! I just met him a few days ago, geez, what’s with you guys over here, it seems that sex drives everything here!” Emily did chuckle though at her question.

Harri shook her head, “You Americans are so afraid of sex and nudity, cut loose, relax; God gave us these things to enjoy to the fullest extent!” With that they both left the solitude of the tiny break room giggling and out into the solitude of the large catacomb of books.

Of course work just crept by for the three hours of her shift until five o’clock. Emily only had the last of a few repairs of books to do from the leaky roof, then she put away all of the returned books and swept the floors. After that she still had over an hour to stare at the clock.

Harri must have been bored as well, “Hey, Janet is gone for the rest of the day, want to play some cards?” She was already taking out the deck that she kept stashed away in her bottom desk drawer from their persnickety boss.

“Sure, it has to make the time go by faster than it is now!” Emily pulled her chair over to Harri’s desk and moved the books out of the way as Harri started to deal out the cards for a game of Hearts. They played a few rounds when Harri looked over Emily’s head as she was tallying their scores. “Oh my, oh my, look what the wind just blew our way,” and she was standing and starting to make her way towards the front door.

Emily finished her math and looked around, she laughed as she saw Marcus standing in the shadows of the doorway, “Back off Harri, I’ll take care of him.” Emily had the biggest grin on her face as she rounded the desk.

Never moving her gaze from the Adonis in the doorway, Harri asked, “Is that your new man Emily,” she whispered it as Emily got next to her.

Trying very hard to keep the smugness off her face but failing she replied, “Yes it is, and his name is Marcus.”

“Heaven would be more appropriate! Why don’t you give him a tour?” Harri was grinning as she was eyeballing Marcus as he stood with his back towards them inspecting the architecture of the archway.

“Harri, he’s seen the library before, he lives here remember?” Emily really didn’t want to give him a tour because the setting sun was still coming in through most of the windows on one side. She left Harri’s side and put her arms around Marcus’ waist from behind, “Hey you, I thought I was going to meet you at the shop?”

Marcus turned around, “I couldn’t wait another fifteen minutes actually, pathetic huh? Is it alright that I came here?”

“Of course it is, well, granted my co-worker might try to jump your bones when you aren’t looking.” Emily laughed as she pulled him behind her to introduce him to Harri, “Harri, this is Marcus, Marcus, Harri.”

“Very pleased to meet you Harri,” Marcus held out his hand for her to shake. Emily had to suppress a gasp when she realized that he was going to let her touch him.

“Well very nice to meet you as well, Emily sure is a lucky woman to have you on her arm,” and she took his hand very eagerly but shook it politely. At that moment Emily realized that Marcus’ hand happened to be the same one that she was holding, it must have felt warm to Harri for she didn’t even flinch for the coldness and hardness of it.

Marcus took his hand back and retrieved Emily’s hand again, “Are you done with work yet by chance, I didn’t look at the clock before I left the shop?”

Emily looked at her watch, “Well I still have about five minutes left…”

Getting the hint Harri piped up, “Oh no you don’t! You get out of here, Janet is gone and I can lock up. You two go and have some fun!” And with that Harri gave Emily a wink and turned to start locking up.

Quickly clearing off her desk Emily said, “Thanks so much Harri, I really owe you one!” But she didn’t get a reply from the short woman that was already walking away but got just a wave.

Emily and Marcus walked to the break room to get her things. “I forgot how lovely this library is, and I actually remember when it opened,” Marcus sighed as he looked around as they walked. “It was a great thing for this town; the library was built right after the church was, so everyone was ecstatic that we were growing into a real town. It’s odd to see the modern shelves and doors put in though; the metal clashes with the original woodworking and moldings. Tsk, tsk.” Marcus shook his head as he inspected how the large metal door that separated the break area from the main hall was destroying the original frame made of three inch solid oak.

Emily thought that if they scrapped off the thirty years of layered paint there would be the most splendid color of luscious brown wood. Now as she really stopped to look at a door she had been walking through for months, she realized why Marcus had the reaction that he did. Buildings were a work of art; this was like stapling a paper dress upon Botticelli’s Venus in his eyes. “I guess it is a shame how they modernize these places and destroy the original design huh?” Emily took his hand once more and gave it a squeeze and then she opened the door to expose more raping of the architecture in this area.

Emily went to her locker and grabbed her things quickly so Marcus wouldn’t notice too much. This room used to be a reading room when the library was first designed. Now as a break room it had a sink, fridge and dishwasher on one end and a row of metal lockers installed against the opposite wall. Then there were also metal grates soldered to the windows on the inside. If Emily took the time to look she would see more destruction but that was of no concern to her really. She appreciated and enjoyed architecture very much, but she wasn’t as passionate about it as Marcus was; and the fact that he saw this building erected when he was a child probably made it worse for him.

“Let’s blow this popsicle stand.” Emily led the way out of the break room and back into the main part of the library. Harri was nowhere in sight, she was probably in the back area making sure the doors were locked and no one was lingering around the isles. Emily shouted into the void, “Thanks Harri, have a good night!” Emily and Marcus could hear the faint goodbye coming from the back of the library.

Once they were outside Marcus started to walk hand in hand with her down the street towards her flat, “What kind of dinner are you in the mood for?” Marcus had that sly smile like he was planning something.

“Oh I don’t really care, we just had Italian, and so did Mort, what else does he like, what can you bring to him tonight?”

“Well let’s go get some good Irish stew and beer? There’s this little place, well out of town on the coast that he loves and hasn’t been to in years. You will want to get a good rain coat with a hood, we will have to get there by different means.”

“Ha, we’re not going to Ireland are we?” Emily laughed as they walked back to her flat so she could drop off her school stuff and get her coat.

“No, but it’s on the coast and the car will take ten times longer if we took it, it’s much quicker if we cut through the suburbs and farmland.” Marcus knew that Emily would love the ride on his back much more than in the car. They reached her home in no time and she quickly got her things and they headed right back out the door. He ignored the questioning look on her face and just kept looking forward to keep the suspense.

They walked from her apartment and Marcus led her down an alleyway where he picked her up on his back, “Wrap your arms and legs around me and hold on tight, I’ll be going pretty fast so you might even want to close your eyes.” Once he felt her grip tighten he was off in a flash. Marcus took off at a speed that was way faster than any rate that the Martin could do legally on the roads. Emily loved it, she kept her eyes open for most of the time. She only closed her eyes every now and then just to really be able to feel the wind on her face. She imagined that being on a motorcycle with no helmet on must feel just like this. Plus she loved to be like this with him, it was nice to be so safe on his back knowing that no harm could come to her at all. They were starting to slow down when Emily realized that she had put her head down on his shoulder and had closed her eyes, “Are we there already, how long have you been running?”

Without having to pause to catch his breath at all he answered, “It’s about 30 minutes carrying someone to get here; we pop out right on the road near the docks. I would bring Mort here when he was still young enough to hold on to my back, I don’t think I have been here since then though. I hope the restaurant is still there.” Marcus took Emily’s hand after she had gotten on her own two feet, her legs were tired and she was looking forward to sitting down and having a beer. Marcus was right, the simple two lane road was right there and it led down to the docks that were old and rickety. There were new boards on the walkway that were still nice and brown compared to the old ones that were white from the wind, rain and sun. The happy couple walked towards the far end of the dock past a few old fishing boats to where there were lights and a bar and restaurant along with a small motel that looked like it used to be an old warehouse at one point decades ago.

As they got closer Marcus held Emily’s hand a little tighter and pulled her a little closer, “It’s the same place, but it looks a lot different now. I don’t know about it though, I have a very funny feeling about it.” Marcus’ eyes were opened very wide, and Emily also noticed that his nostrils seemed a little flared, like he was smelling the air around him.

She gave his hand a squeeze, “Are you sure? I don’t want to have any issues, but it would be nice to get something to drink before we headed all the way back. Or is there somewhere else besides this place?” She looked at his face that was so set and tense it concerned her what he could be sensing.

Trying to slough it off he nonchalantly replied, “Maybe I’m just being a little too over cautious, let’s get you something to eat and drink, quickly, then we can head on out. Everything will be fine, I’m sorry for making you nervous.”

Emily looked up at him, “I’m not the nervous one here darling, you look like you’re about to jump out of your skin in a second. Come, let’s take a look inside and if it’s too creepy then we’ll turn right back around. Relax, everything will be just fine,” she hugged his arm and kissed his shoulder and led him forward.

The walk to the end of the dock was actually short but nice. The water was lapping on the buoys and wood, the boats were rocking back and forth and they could hear laughing coming from their destination. To Emily all seemed cheery enough, the Irish were supposed to be happy and fun people right? Granted they were still in England, but Marcus told her on the trek over that this was the westernmost point of our island, so it was the closest port to Ireland.

Marcus was still on edge though, but he had no idea why he had this feeling. He thought that it was possibly because Emily was here, and that the place looked, and felt, different from before. It was not all new and clean as when he and Mort would come here; it seemed like it was a seedier and rougher place than way back then.

When they got to the door Marcus paused for a brief second, then opened the same old, large slab of wood with a rough iron door knob for Emily; granted he did not let her walk in first, he was able to get himself in there along side of her the millisecond that she walked past him. The interior still looked the same from when he was there last with Mort. There was the long bar that ran along the entire back wall of the place; it was a massive piece of polished wood, typical for a good Irish joint. Behind the bar was a large mirror planked by old sailing pictures and at least fifteen beer taps in the center of the bar. The tables were all scattered about the rest of the room from the bar to the other three walls. It wasn’t as bad looking as Marcus imagined, but that was the sad part of it as well. It was all the same, from at least fifty or so years ago, the wall hangings, curtains, tables, chairs, possibly even the dust. Granted he could see where a few tables and chairs here and there had been replaced, mostly the cause of bar fights he thought. The crowd that was in there was different though from his last visit. It was not full of the happy-go-lucky sailors that used to park themselves here for a day or two; it was now filled with all sorts of people. There were not only the old, crusty sailors sitting in the back tables where it was a little darker, but also a ton of tourists, businessmen that must have worked at the large shipping port that was around the bend, and a handful of just normal looking residents from the town.

Emily looked up at him and smiled, “See, not so bad is it? Let’s get a seat and relax for a bit, you must be… oh no I guess not…” Just then a young gal with a ring in her nose walked up, “You guys can sit wherever you can find a seat.” Then she went off through the swinging door to the kitchen. They both looked around and there were only two tables available, one was by a family of six which included a snotty little boy that was fussing about everything; and the other was closer towards the back by the sailors. “Well I would rather take my chances over there than lose my wits next to that child.” Emily wrinkled her nose towards the little boy, who just happened to throw a handful of mashed potatoes all over the floor and a waitress that happened to be walking by.

“I agree with you, I would rather be more in the dark anyway,” Marcus led Emily by the hand over to their table and he pulled the chair out for her. He made sure her back was towards the rougher crowd in the back, and his back was against the wall so he could see the entire establishment. ‘Okay relax now man and enjoy your dinner with your lovely companion!’ he told himself. He took a deep breath out of habit of it being a relaxing and calming gesture, not because he actually needed the oxygen to clear his mind. He looked at Emily who was already taking the menu from the little metal holder on the table. It was a pretty small menu so he guessed this was more of a pub than eatery now.

“Wow, so many things sound so good, there’s the beef stew, but they also have corned beef and cabbage and Sheppard’s Pie. What did Mort always get?” Marcus leaned in closer to her so he could keep his voice down, “I think he ate almost everything on there, he raved about everything. But get what sounds good to you Doll, by the looks of everyone else the fish and chips seem to be a pretty hot item along with the roast beef and potatoes. But you have to try their ale, they make it themselves, well at least they used to.”

At that moment the young gal with the piercing walked up to them, “What can I get ya?” She had such a thick Irish accent Emily had to listen close to hear what she said then answered the question that she assumed was asked, “I think I’ll have the fish and chips and a pint of ale.”

Rolling her eyes from Emily to Marcus she almost snapped, “And you, what you want?”

Ignoring her rudeness and horrid grammar Marcus got what he thought Mort would enjoy, “I will also have a pint of ale along with the roast beef special. Thank you. Oh before you go, do you still make the ale and porter here?”

“Ha, that’s a joke mate, they ain’t done that for years and years,” she snickered to herself as she walked away and tucked her pencil into her messy purple and hot pink bun on the top of her head.

“Well then I guess I cannot promise how good the ale will be then, sorry,” He lifted his wrists off of the table and shrugged his shoulders as he looked at her. “So, what do you want to talk about? How was school today?”

Emily laughed, that just sounded so high school to her, “It was fine. There’s this woman Julia that I have a few classes with that is just insane. She seems to have a new boyfriend every month, sometimes two or three at the same time. Her philosophy in life is get as much as you can in what little time we’re here. But I don’t know where she finds these guys; they all seem to be extremely wealthy and love to treat her out all the time. Today she was telling us about her weekend with her new beau and his new gift of the Kama Sutra…”

He had to interrupt her, “Ha, ha, well seems that she likes to frequent the Margeaux District. That’s where all of the rich, and bored, youngsters go these days. There are some clubs where you pay hundreds of dollars to get in just to have a gorgeous woman, who’s barely dressed, whip you with a leather thong. Many men and women have bizarre and erotic fantasies, and that is the place to explore and learn all about them.” Marcus shook his head and looked at his finger as it picked at a grove already dug out of the table.

“Well I can see that you know all about it so you do get out of the book store every now and then huh?” Emily smiled as she tenderly stroked his hand.

Giving her a look over the bridge of his perfect nose he let the jab slide and answered simply, “You are quite humorous this evening darling. But I know about every nook and cranny of this city. I do not rest often so there’s much to do and explore. I also keep an eye out on things. If there’s a lot of dangerous activity going on in a place then I tip off the police,” raising a hand to quell her response he quickly added, “I know, comic-book corniness, but it’s what I do.”

Stifling a burst of laughter she said through her fingers, “Wow, that’s great, you’re like the guardian of Foxborough. That’s another thing that I love about you, you are so selfless, and you care about everyone else around you.” Emily stopped stroking his hand and entwined her fingers with his, and completely changing the subject, “It’s absolutely insane that I have fallen in love with you so quickly Marcus, this feeling is so foreign to me.”

Marcus didn’t care about the change of course in conversation, he wanted to talk about her and listen to her all night long, “I know exactly how you feel; it was like a shockwave between us the moment our eyes met. I am at a crossroads when I say that I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” Marcus said this last part quietly and ducked his head lower. He brought Emily’s hand up to his lips and kissed it softly. He loved the scent of her and took in a nose full of her sweet, vanilla skin. Very quickly and indiscreetly he licked her ring finger’s knuckle then let go of her hand and sat back upwards.

Emily giggled and kissed the spot where he licked, then put her hand in her lap as she blushed at her own frivolity. She was quiet for a moment as she thought of his comment, she also thought about their future, as much as she tried not to. As they sat in silence people watching, their drinks arrived by a large woman with a dirty apron on. She slammed the beers down as well as two small water glasses. Emily looked at her hands as she walked away wondering how in the world she held all four glasses in her paws. “Is the water actually good to drink,” Emily eyed the small glass for clarity and particles, it seemed clear enough.

“Actually it is, there’s a fresh stream that runs just to the southeast of here. They must have figured out that if they serve water people end up drinking more beer.”

“How so,” Emily raised one eyebrow in confusion, “I always thought it would fill you up and you would drink less.”

“It does sort of, but it also keeps you more hydrated and able to get drunk less quickly, especially if you eat. People come here to get drunk so they actually end up drinking more beer, make sense?” Marcus sipped the beer and looked over to the sailors that were tucked in the back corner.

“It does actually, that’s why the glasses are small also, so they get the sobering effect without getting full; ingenious business strategy. And the beer is very good, granted I am from America,” Emily gave him a wink as she took another sip of her drink. “So, one thing that we need to finish discussing, later tonight, is the rest of your tale. I need to know about when Mort was born and how the last few decades have been. I would also like to ask you something? If you say no I will totally understand… can I see the book?” She looked down and wiped away the frost of her glass with her thumb.

Marcus knew she was going to ask, he was actually amazed that she went this long before she did ask, “Of course you can. I will show you the next time we’re at the shop.

“Oh awesome, thanks. What are you thinking about now as you get that funny look?” Emily tilted her head to the side as she looked at his features. He seemed so happy for these last few seconds as his thoughts wandered on a tangent.

“You always seem to ask that at the most peculiar time. I was thinking about you in my home, and just being with you and being able to cook for you.”

The beefy woman came back with the plates; she put the fish and chips in front of Emily and the beef in front of Marcus. As she did, she gave him a sideways glance. Marcus noticed that as she was turning back towards the kitchen she looked over to one of the sailors. Marcus followed her gaze and found a very old man in a wheelchair sitting in the furthest and darkest corner of the room returning her gaze. He looked down quickly, and the woman continued her path back to the noisy kitchen.

Emily didn’t notice the exchange and was already dipping her fish into the tartar sauce. Marcus of course started to tend to his food like any other human being; he buttered his potato and vegetables, poured a minute amount of the sauce on the beef and started to cut. He didn’t know how he was going to handle this one; he wasn’t very fond of roast beef even when he was still human. He was only thinking of Mort when he ordered, not that he would have to fake it with an old man watching every move that he made. So he started in on the potato and decided to start talking, that always made the illusion easier. “So you’re expecting to have your Masters degree this June then?” Marcus put a small fork full into his mouth and started to chew.

“Hmm-mmm…” Emily was stuffing another bite of the wonderful fish into her mouth right when he asked his question, of course.

“Oh sorry, inevitable huh?”

Once she swallowed, “Yes, it’ll be so nice to be done finally. It has been a very long seven years. Yes, seven. I went to community college for the first few years and still tried to work full time. It proved my father’s point that I had better stay at home and put all of my time and energy into school so I could finish sooner. Of course he was right; even though I knew his real motive was to keep me home longer so he could keep a protective eye on me,” Emily smiled as she thought of her dad and took a nice big gulp of the beer. “I do miss my dad very much, and I cannot wait for you to meet him,” she stuffed some chips into her mouth. These were so good, and different from what she expected. They were super thin and very crispy, not greasy nor soggy at all. She put a little bit of the malt vinegar on a tiny section of her chips and fish, just to see why it was so popular. She tried to think if she ever really had malt vinegar before or not. “But anyway, after I’m done in June I’ll be able to work in England and the United States. Granted if I decide to work in a school in the states then I’ll have to get a teaching degree in that state first. Wow this is really good with the vinegar, not what I thought it would taste like at all.” She again shoveled more food into her mouth. She didn’t know why everything tasted so wonderful lately, it wasn’t like her to really enjoy food, she normally didn’t really even think about eating.

“So what do you want to do after you’re done? Are you going to stay here or go back to Alaska? I’m sure you want to be close to your family,” Naturally he wanted to hear that she would stay there, but he knew that was his fantasy and not necessarily her reality.

“I do, but I hate that they live there. I don’t know what I want to do actually. I told myself that after the New Year I will really put my thoughts and energy into it. I just wanted to focus on my studies while I’m here. But of course all that has changed now, now that you’re in the picture, it changes what few ideas I did have emerging.” Emily leaned back from her plate, “I’m eating like a glutton, this is so good.”

“Yes it is very good,” Marcus looked up at the old man when he said this; the man was looking at him but looked away immediately as soon as Marcus looked his way. Marcus gazed back down at his plate, he had done a pretty good job of looking like he ate some of the food. He was hoping that no one noticed that he shoved four or five pieces of the roast beef into his baked potato. He just couldn’t bring himself to actually putting it into his mouth. “I’m glad that you’re enjoying your meal as well. I think I’ll need a doggie bag though, there is no way that I can finish his huge piece of meat. Guess my eyes where bigger than my stomach huh?”

Emily just chuckled knowing his shtick now, “I actually don’t think I have enough worth boxing up, my stomach was as big as my eyes were this time.” She took another swig of her almost empty glass of beer. She noticed that Marcus had actually put half of his glass somewhere as well. “Thank you for bringing me here, I really needed a good dinner, and I haven’t ever had beer this tasty, even if it isn’t ice cold.” Of course this last part she whispered so incredibly low so as only Marcus could hear, she didn’t want anyone to overhear her and think she was being rude.

“So as soon as the gal comes back I’ll get the check and one box, and then we can be on our way. Did you want to do anything after this? Dancing on the riverfront by the Bridge, or going south along the coast to see the amazing cliffs?”

“No actually, I would love to go back home and just snuggle with you by the fire, and hear the rest of your story, you never did finish it you know.”

Giving her his usual shrug of the shoulders he nodded, “Sounds like the perfect thing to do, I would like nothing better. There really isn’t much more to tell you though.” Marcus looked around for their waitress so they could get going and get out of here. He was getting that feeling again, and this time it was because of the old man. At one point while Emily was speaking, Marcus took a good, hard look at the old geezer; he realized that he was the same man that used to run the bar years ago. He must be the original owner; Marcus thought the girls had to be his daughter and granddaughter. He finally caught the eye of the pierced one and she came strolling over to their table.

“Ya done here?” She started to take Emily’s plate and glass when she nodded her head yes to the rude server.

“Can I have a box please for mine actually, it was great but a lot there.” Marcus gave her his movie-star smile and the girl looked away and blushed, “Sure thing.” She scampered her thin, scrawny legs into the back to retrieve his box. No woman could resist that smile, no matter what type of man she preferred, he was just too hot not to appreciate.

She was back in no time and had their check as well, “Here’s your bill, but take your time in payin’, you can stay as long you like,” she gave Marcus a mischievous smile and this time sauntered away to another table. Emily chuckled and took the last of the water from her glass, “I bet you can get anything you want from a woman can’t you?”

“Are you jealous Doll?” Marcus smiled as he put enough cash on the table to cover not only the check but also the girl’s next utility payment for a tip.

Emily rolled her eyes and scoffed, “Not at all, but I just find it amusing how every woman you must come across has the same reaction. You must know how handsome you are?”

Sarcastically he answered, “Of course I know, I have had this face for quite some time. But thank you for the compliment. I actually don’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m not that good looking, I think it’s just that I’m unusual looking and that women in particular find it so attractive. But as long as you find me attractive, that’s all that matters to me. He took her hand once again, “Alright, now we can get you home, you ready?”

“Yep, ready to go, I might even fall asleep on the way home.” Emily removed her coat from the back of her chair and started to put it on, she was sure that it was much colder outside now than it was when they arrived.

As Marcus helped Emily with her coat he took a quick glance in the direction of where the old owner was once sitting, he was gone along with some of the other men that were gathered there. Marcus just figured that it was getting late and people were already starting to head on home. The restaurant area had already emptied of all the families and half of the tourists. More young men were walking in to start their evening of drinking as Marcus and Emily were heading out.

They started to head towards the dock that led back up to the road so he could take the same route back to their side of the island when they heard a shout from behind them. Marcus closed his eyes the second he heard the first syllable and breathed, “Bloody hell.”

It was the young sailor that was sharing the table with the old geezer, “Hey you, where you going?”

Instantly Marcus was in front of Emily with his arm extended out to keep her behind him, “Emily, stay behind me and don’t say one word,” Marcus’ voice was so serious and stern it made her afraid for what was going to happen.

Speaking now to the young but robust looking man he said casually, “We’re done with our meals and we are taking our leave, is there something you need?” Marcus instinctively took a half step forward as he put Emily behind his back even further all in a matter of a mili-second.

The old man and three other scruffy men stepped out from behind the bar. He was no longer in his wheelchair but now propped on a cane, “You sure look very familiar boy, have you been here before?” The old man hobbled closer to the young sailor but never dropped his gaze from Marcus, “Because it’s funny, you sure look exactly like the same kid that used to come here years ago. But how could that be, you couldn’t be over twenty could you?” With these last words all four of the men were now in a line before Marcus, one was even holding a two foot metal bar in his hands.

Trying to quell the tension but knowing that it was futile he replied, “You must have me mistaken with someone else old man. We don’t want any trouble, we paid our bill and now we’ll be on our way.” Marcus knew what was coming and he knew that trouble was in the midst of it.

The huge ugly one with the bar in his hands took a step closer, “We don’t like your kind here, and we won’t ever be seeing you here again,” he slapped the bar into the palm of his other hand as he took another step closer to prove his point.

Emily stood on her tip-toes to look over Marcus’ shoulder, she was afraid a nasty fight was about to break out any second now no matter what Marcus tried to say to stop the inevitable. Of course she knew that Marcus couldn’t get hurt, but she could, and she really didn’t want their nice night ruined by a bunch of idiots. But the way the old man looked at Marcus made her very nervous, he knew that Marcus was the same guy that came here so many years ago, and if he knew that then he would surely have an inkling of what Marcus was. She whispered into his ear, “Can’t we just turn and run, you can surely get away fast enough.”

“I told you to be quiet!” Marcus whispered this back to her but the venom in his voice startled her, how dare he speak to her that way?

Marcus took one step closer towards the pipe wielding man, “Look man, I told you that we didn’t want any trouble, so why are you starting this. What is it that you really want?”

The old man answered, “We want your death of course, you cannot come ’round here and think you’re immune to laws, and nature. You’re not natural what so ever, and therefore you shouldn’t exist. We’ll take care of your pretty little girl for you though, don’t you worry about that.” He gave a raspy chuckle and the other brutes laughed out loud as well.

“Yeah, I’ll be sure to take really good care of your tart for you,” the sailor eyed Emily up and down and licked his lips.

That was the final straw for Marcus, he took the final three steps toward the man with the metal pipe and pushed him in the chest so hard that he flew backwards about ten feet. “I said that we don’t want any trouble, but if you insist then I will give you enough to last you the rest of your pitiful lives.”

With that the sailor and one of the other thugs came rushing towards Marcus with their teeth barred and fists raised. The old man took a few feeble steps backwards for he knew that there was no way he could actually fight, much less a man half his age.

Emily screamed as one of the men swung at Marcus’ head and landed a strong fist with a thud to his skull as the other tackled Marcus around the waist to knock him to the ground. Marcus was able to stay on his feet and grabbed the man from around the waist and threw him to the side like he was a rag doll. The one that landed the head blow was much shorter than his opponent but looked as though he had been lifting kegs all his life for his arms were enormous. He started to throw another punch but Marcus was quick and dodged the knuckles that were about to connect with his cheek. Marcus then spun around and pushed the man in the back so hard that he went flying face first into the large dumpster that was on the side of the bar.

Emily didn’t know what to do so she just stood there in shock as the melee took place before her eyes. Next thing she knew one of the men, a greasy looking sailor came up behind her and grabbed her and started to lift her off her feet to drag her behind the building, “Marcus!” She screamed and she tried in vain to kick and scratch herself free. This bear hug was nothing like the kind her brother used to give her when they wrestled as a kid, this was much more powerful and menacing. Marcus was fighting off the two men who kept coming back at him as this one was dragging her to where the old man and the young scruffy kid were standing. They obviously were not about to try and take Marcus on.

Seeing that he had to shake these two and get to Emily quickly he snapped, “I have had enough of toying with you two,” Marcus made a low growl emit from his chest. That noise stopped the men in mid strike, which was the split second that Marcus needed. He went in for the kill, he took the first man, the larger one that originally had the pipe, by the throat and threw him with such force that he hit the side of the bar with such a smack that the siding split and the man fell to the ground unmoving. He then turned to the other one and grabbed him with both hands by the shoulders and looked as though he were about to the rip the man in two. Emily didn’t want to witness a murder, especially by the man that she thought of as passive and calm, “Marcus please don’t!”

Her shout went beyond his ears, he was in a different frame of mind; his mind was not the boring book seller that stayed holed up in a shop all day, he was now the savage killer that Sebastian made him into so many years ago. He took the man’s shoulders and started to pull them out of their sockets; the man screamed in agony, “You’re breaking my arms man, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Not caring one bit he growled into the man’s pock-marked face, “Too late now fool,” then let go of one arm and flung the man by the other arm across the pier. The fierce snap of bone separating rang out into the night. Emily screamed again as the man that had her in a tight grip flung her around and threw her to the ground so he could go after Marcus himself.

Emily scampered to her feet and took hold of the cane that the old man was leaning on, “You! Why are you doing this to him?” She was suddenly so angry that she pulled the cane loose from his hand and he toppled forward. She held the cane in her hand and was debating whether or not to strike him with it. The younger kid was backing away from her obviously petrified and contemplating to flee or to defend the old man. He decided to retreat back into the bar, Emily didn’t know if he was going to come back with more men or just hide but she didn’t wait to find out. She took the cane and hit the old man in the back, not hard enough to break anything, but she used enough force to knock him flat and cause a bruise that will hurt the next day. She then turned to attempt to help Marcus, not like he really needed it.

The final man was charging for Marcus now that he dropped his bundle of screaming annoyance, but Marcus didn’t move but stood firm waiting for the man to strike. Emily raced after the brute and whacked him over the head with the cane. This time she did use all of her strength to hit him and it stopped him cold. “You bitch!” he shouted and turned on her. Marcus took that moment and leapt forward like a cougar. He landed on the man’s back with his feet and grabbed the man’s head in his hands and twisted his neck. Emily could hear the crack and saw the brute’s face go suddenly blank. When he fell to the ground Marcus grabbed Emily, “Let’s go!” He threw her up onto his back and they were off like lightning. It was all over in a matter of seconds.

When they were deep into the woods he stopped and shrugged her off of his back. He stopped and leaned up against a tree, obviously not for a rest Emily thought. She didn’t know what to say or do so she just stood there and watched and waited. Marcus took a deep breath, “Well I guess we won’t be going there any more. Dang it, Mort won’t be getting his dinner either.”

Emily was shocked, “What? You are worried about Mort’s dinner after all of that! You probably killed two of them Marcus, what do we do?” Emily was furious at his lack of consideration for their lives.

Spinning towards her with a look of utter shock he barked, “Excuse me? They were going to kill me then rape and probably kill you as well and you’re concerned about them? They are pure evil Em, and I do hope that I killed those bastards. I should have broken the old man’s neck as well. I cannot believe you!” Marcus was furious with her and her ignorance to what men can really be like and what they are capable of. “Look, I don’t want to argue with you about this but you really need to realize something about the world. It is full of rotten, evil people that will do what they want for the pure enjoyment of it. They had no care or regard for us, our lives or our families. I needed to protect you and I did what had to be done. I tried to stop it but they wouldn’t have any of it. I didn’t go after them with the intent to kill, it just happened. But for the record, I really don’t care that they are dead.” Marcus sat on the ground and shook his head.

Emily closed her eyes and took several shaky breaths to calm herself down as well. “Fine, just fine. But you need to also realize that this is a new world for me. I have never seen anyone killed before my eyes, hell I’ve never even been attacked before much less seen such a violent fight. I’m from boring Alaska for God’s sake! And to see you do such things puts my mind into a place that I never could have imagined. I don’t know, I think I’m just shocked and appalled at the entire ordeal.” Emily sank down next to him, she didn’t know if she should hug him or walk away, her feelings were so mixed up right now. Of course she was so thankful that he saved her life, but she was also aghast that he could kill with no remorse.

Marcus stood up, “Come on, let’s get you home before it gets any colder.” He held out his hand and helped her up. “I’m sorry. Sorry that you had to be a part of that, sorry that you had to realize something about me that you didn’t want to deal with. Emily, I’m a natural killer. I could have easily killed all of them before you ever even took a breath, but I didn’t. But if it puts your mind to rest at all, with those two I have only killed four people in my life, and never while I was still human. The others were many years ago. Just because I can be a killer doesn’t mean that I like to be. You need to realize who I am, 100% of me, not just the parts that you want to see and hear.”

Emily looked down at her feet that were wet and starting to get numb, “I understand Marcus. Sorry that I am so naive. Let’s go home now.”

“Hop on,” Marcus helped her onto his back and started off at a quick pace again. They were silent for the entire rest of the way back. Emily was tired but she didn’t rest, every time she closed her eyes she replayed the event over in her mind again. He stopped when they got to the alley behind her flat, “You awake?”

“Yes. Of course,” Emily quickly got on her own two feet and headed for her home. Again they traveled in silence to her door, she unlocked it and they both went inside. Emily went straight for the bathroom and Marcus started a fire and put the kettle on for tea to warm Emily up. As he was waiting for Emily to return he sat on the couch and stared into the growing flames. He had no idea what he was going to do now. Emily needed to know the full force of who and what he was, as sad as it may be. He was in such a mental quagmire, should he leave her be since she cannot handle the full impact of what a monster he is inside, or should he try and hide who he is so she can handle it. The only thing that he could hope for was that a situation like tonight never happened again; but that was something that he had no control over.

As Emily was in the bathroom she as was contemplating what to do now as well. Of course the side of Marcus that she witnessed was very troubling and disturbing, but didn’t she already know what he was capable of? If she was to love him, truly love him with all of her being then she had to love all of the bad along with the good. Besides, she thought, what were the chances of them getting attacked again by a band of hooligans? She washed her face and brushed her hair then got into her pajama’s, it was a lot later then she thought it was and she had class and work again tomorrow, it was still only Monday night. She emerged from her room to find Marcus sitting on her couch with his head in his hands. He looked so sad to her; she went over to him and wrapped her arms around him. He gave a heavy sigh and returned her embrace.

“Oh Doll, I am so, so sorry. If I could have lived another century without you ever having to see me for who I really am it would have been too soon.” Marcus rested his head on her shoulder and sighed again.

“I have seen you for who you really are. This was just a part that I knew was there but I didn’t think that I would actually have to witness it. I’m sorry again for my outburst, I should have known better, and I should have displayed more gratitude towards you,” Emily kissed the top of his head that was still on her shoulder. “Listen,” she pulled away from him a little so she could look into those wonderfully pale blue eyes, “Marcus, you are not evil, not unkind nor dangerous in any way. If you really want to contemplate the human psyche, we all have the capability to kill with no remorse, you being immortal doesn’t alter that emotion. It just makes you, well, able to do it with more ease and without getting hurt in return. So let’s move on from this, we have to. I do not want to stop seeing you, in fact, now that I have had to absorb the events, as ridiculous as this may sound; I feel that this has brought me closer to you. I didn’t realize it at the time, but you snapped when they mentioned hurting me Marcus. And that response from you shows me how you really feel about me. So thank you for that.”

Marcus chuckled, “So I needed to commit first degree murder for you to realize that I love you?”

Shaking her head, “We’ve known each other for only four days Marcus, granted I know that we love each other, which is an anomaly all on its own; but yeah, I guess so. Granted if you sent me a bouquet of flowers with a great poem by the end of the week that could have done it as well,” Emily laughed.

Marcus took her face in his hands and gently kissed her lips, “Thank you. I was so worried that you would be mortified and never want to see me again. But I will make this promise to you; next time, we will run, and I will not be so rude to tell you to stay quiet.” Then he kissed her again, this time with the passion that he actually felt for her. She returned his kiss with such vigor and passion that he had to stop himself before it went too far.

Reluctantly he pulled away, “Now, it’s late and you have another long day ahead of you, you should probably get some sleep.”

“Oh please don’t leave just yet, there’s no way that I can fall asleep just now. Just stay until I fall asleep please, then you can go home.” Emily looked at him like a little girl pleading to get a puppy.

“Ha, ha, sure Doll, I’ll stay here with you for a bit.” Marcus put his arm over her shoulder as she lay down on the couch and put her head on his lap. They both just stared into the flames for a bit, it was nice to have the tension gone between them Emily thought.

Emily said softly, “Well I must say that this has turned out to be a very interesting evening. Oh, you still need to finish your story to me by the way.”

As he stroked her hair he shook his head which she couldn’t see, “Maybe tomorrow, it’s late, and I honestly don’t have the energy to tell it. Sorry, but I think I have had enough excitement for one day. But I promise, tomorrow I will make you dinner, at my house; nice, safe and very boring. I promise there will be absolutely no excitement what-so-ever.”

She kissed his leg, “Sounds good to me, I look forward to boring actually. I think being a book nerd is a pretty good thing compared to what really happens in the world. I like just reading about death and destruction instead of actually experiencing it firsthand.”

Marcus lightly rubbed her arm and hair as they sat there and in no time she was sound asleep. Marcus sat there looking down at her for a while before he finally picked her up and took her into her bed. She never even stirred as he pulled the covers over her. He lightly kissed her lips and went out the door. He walked home very slowly and went over the events of the day in his mind.

Of course he was troubled by what had happened, he wasn’t a killer, even though he sort of was in all actuality. He thought about the other two people that he took life from. The first was one that happened so fast that he didn’t even think of it. He was walking down a street in France one day, about ten years after he was first turned when he heard a scream coming from a dark alleyway. He sped into the darkness to find a man brutally beating a woman. He grabbed the man by the head and ripped it from his neck within seconds, not even realizing what he had done until the woman started screaming in terror and fled the scene. He looked at his bloody hands and the body laying on the ground and suddenly wanted to throw up. He ran from the scene and didn’t stop until the vast openness of water appeared. He didn’t know if it was the ocean or the Sea, but it didn’t matter. The guilt he felt was enormous, but then the feeling of such strength and power was even more thrilling.

The second killing was completely different though. He would never tell Emily of this one, this was a secret he would keep forever. This murder was one of complete selfishness and rage, there was no reason for it at all, especially since it was an innocent man that he took a life from. Marcus heard that his Amelia was very old and sickly. He had to see her before her life was over. He found her in the same town where they lived years before. He saw her with her granddaughter slowly walking down the street. They must have been going back to her home from the flower shop, Amelia loved fresh flowers and her granddaughter was carrying a lovely bouquet in her hands. They were starting to cross the street when a carriage was speeding down the lane towards them. Marcus was mortified, he knew what was going to happen but he was too far away and he also knew that there was no way that he could reveal himself to his love, she would be horrified to see him again, especially looking the exact same as he did sixty years earlier. The driver tried to stop the horses but to no avail he couldn’t. The horses struck her and her granddaughter. Amelia was killed instantly; her granddaughter who was thrown a few feet back seemed to have only suffered some broken bones. Marcus was furious, he was out of his mind with sadness and rage in an instant. As soon as the driver left the scene Marcus followed him and when he was on a lane that was deserted he attacked the driver. He jumped onto the carriage and instantly broke the drivers neck then fled the scene as quickly as he arrived. It was days in solitude before he took into effect what he actually had done. By that time the sadness was deeper but the rage was replaced by remorse for what he had done. He couldn’t believe that he had taken an innocent life so carelessly. He was furious with himself for being so heartless. After that he never returned to Endsbrooke, he couldn’t bear to see her house, nor the lane where her life was taken.

Marcus was now at the back entrance to the shop, he opened the door that was never locked and went to his workshop. He thought that if he did some work it might take his mind off of everything. He hated the man that Sebastian had made, hated that he really was a killer, a monster. No matter what Emily said, he knew the truth about himself. He worked on repairing Mrs. Martinelli’s books until Mort came down, when he saw the clock face that read 4:15 he was glad the time had flown by.

“Good morning Uncle, have you been here all night?” Mort rubbed his eyes and replaced his spectacles as he peered over Marcus’ shoulder to the book in front of him.

Marcus had to laugh when Mort called him that, he sometimes forgot that he was really his uncle and not his grandson as they pretended to be. “For most of the night, I took Emily to the coast for dinner then took her home.”

“Oh did you bring me anything yummy to eat?” Mort was now wide awake with the thought that he might have some great stew or fish and chips to have for breakfast.

“Sadly no, I did have some roast beef for you, but we, um, got sidetracked and I lost it, sorry.” Marcus was not about to tell him what really happened. He didn’t want Mort to have that on his conscience as well.

Disappointed but not really caring he shrugged his shoulders and yawned, “Oh no worries, it’s the thought that counts, thanks anyway,” and Mort went back up the stairs to get dressed to start his day.

Marcus decided to dash over to Emily’s to light her fire so it was warm when she awoke; he was back in his chair when Mort came back down twenty minutes later. “So may I ask how you and Emily are progressing? I can only assume she knows the full truth about you now?” Mort made himself some tea from the little stove that was in the room and sat on the couch and put his feet up on the little wooden coffee table.

Marcus put down the book he was rebinding and spun the stool around, “Yes, yes she does. You know Mort, I am so lost here with her. In such a short time she adores me and I ’m mad about her, that alone is not natural…”

Before he took another sip of his tea he raised a bony hand to stop Marcus, “Hold on right there, yes it is. May I remind you of the time Pa met Mum, and Alex with Margaret? That was love at first sight as well. It does happen Marcus, all the time. Now continue.” Mort then took his sip and nestled further into the old broken in couch.

The way Mort spoke always cracked Marcus up; he was so blunt and truthful all the time, with everyone. Some people it put off and some loved him for it. “Well, it’s just that I, I don’t want to hurt her. I want to be with her but yet again to watch her grow old and die like… like… well I just couldn’t live through that again.” Marcus looked down and shook his head then spun back around to finish the book.

Mort stood up with his tea and walked over to Marcus, “My boy don’t fret over it. Fate will tell you what to do and when to do it. Just enjoy every day with her, she is a rare jewel that you need to cherish.” Without another word he started out the door that led to the shop.

Before he got too far into the shop Marcus called out to him, “Oh and she’ll be here for dinner tonight, so please try to bathe before that time my dear nephew.” He said the last word with the authority of an elder to a young boy.

Not having to yell in return he said as if his uncle were right next to him, “Ha, sure thing, is it that time of the month already?” Mort laughed as he shuffled up to the counter to watch the morning news and thought to himself, that he hated to bathe all the time. What was it with the young people that you needed a bath every day?

Emily woke up and stretched like a cat, she had another dreamless night so she felt very refreshed and renewed. She didn’t want to think of what happened last night, so she thought of her classes and her paper that was due next week. There was actually a reason to go to the book store today, she had to do some research on papyrus and the process of the Egyptians. Between her library and the store she would get all the info she needed for an ‘A’ paper. As Emily went out into the living room she found that a fire was lit and the room was so nice and warm. The thought that Marcus was there and did that for her was too much; she went to her phone and called his cell phone.

Marcus didn’t even wait for her to say anything, “Good morning Doll, warm and cozy this morning?”

The fact that he answered so quickly startled her, but she was able to speak normally, “Good morning, and yes, thank you so much, that was very thoughtful of you.”

“Well you did ask me to do that for you and I always keep my promises. Do you have a heavy load today with school and work?” Marcus set his phone down onto his desk and put the speaker on so he could finish his work and still talk at the same time.

Rolling her eyes to the ceiling to herself she answered, “Of course. But I will be at the shop at about five or so, do you have a lot of books on how the Egyptians made their scrolls and books, I have a paper due next Wednesday.” What a stupid question, of course he did, but she needed to say something normal to him.

“Yes we do, I‘ll gather all of them for you. You’ll still be joining us for dinner right?”

“Nothing would ever stop me. I look forward to it, what are you making for me? We’ve already done Italian, and I think I’ll be fine without Irish food for, well the rest of my life now.” She grimaced at her words, she should just never mention that ever again.

Marcus also frowned on the other end of the phone, “Yeah, me too, sorry again about all of that…”

Instantly cutting him off, “Nope, no more, never to EVER be spoken of EVER again, agreed?” Emily was speaking so enthusiastically that she almost spilt tea leaves on the counter as she was spooning them into the kettle.

Nodding to the air he answered her with gusto as well, “Most definitely!” Then changing the subject to optimism he said, “I’ll make something very special for you, an old family recipe. Something that Mort hasn’t had since he was a boy even I think. Well, maybe it isn’t that old,” Marcus gave Mort a wink as he just happened to walk into the room at that time. Mort gave him a scowl and threw a pencil at him, that of course missed him by about two feet and landed on Marcus’ workbench. They both chuckled and Marcus turned back towards the phone, “So then five o’clock is it?”

“Yep. Should I bring anything? What kind of wine or beer does Mort like?” Emily felt that she had to bring something. Her mother raised her properly, you always brought something over for the host.

“You don’t need to bring anything at all, just your lovely self. I’ll see you later then darling.”

“Not soon enough, have a good day Marcus,” she said sweetly before she hung up.

They ended their call and Emily got her day started. Tea, breakfast, shower, and she went through her e-mails and was very happy to see one from Steve. Everything was fine and boring as always. Dad was off from the oil plant for a few days, they had an accident there and it was closed down for investigation. Of course that was driving mom nuts since dad was always ‘under foot’, she stayed at home and does odd jobs for extra income. Luckily the oil company paid dad very well and she didn’t need to work, but their mother always needed to stay busy so she did this and that to keep herself active. At the moment she was making booties, blankets and such for the babies at the hospital. And with dad being there all day that meant that her friends couldn’t come over and chat all day long as usual. But Steve was still working for the forest service and started dating another new girl. He went through women like most people went through underwear. He loved it but Emily thought that he would have to start looking into Canada soon; he must have already been through all of the available women in Alaska, at least all the ones that still had all of their teeth. Emily replied and told him about school and after some consideration told him that she met a man and she was so very happy and hoped that they could meet him soon. After she hit ‘Send’ she knew that she was going to get the barrage of questions from him; her ever protective brother. He was always trying to scare away the few boyfriends that she had, no one was ever good enough for her according to him. Whatever, the chances that Steve and Marcus would ever meet anytime soon was very slim. She wasn’t planning on being home until Christmas, and that was still almost two months away, and Marcus wouldn’t be going with her, she was only going to be home for about five or six days.

After gathering her school things she headed out the door. She was just hoping that five o’clock came quickly, she really wanted to hear what happened after Mort was born and she was beside herself with curiosity about seeing the book. She just hoped that Marcus would show it to her tonight.

Marcus’ day couldn’t have gone any slower. He repaired all of the books that needed to be done, restocked the shelves after the fantastic turnout from the weekend, he even got on top of the shelves and dusted the areas where only the spiders saw. Finally at about four o’clock he told Mort that he was going upstairs to tidy the flat and get dinner under way. Mort just grunted, he was watching some game show that he loved and couldn’t be bothered with looking up.

Marcus made sure the living room was dusted and everything was in its place. Granted their home was always pretty clean, but Mort had the tendency to leave things about and forgot about them. As Marcus was picking up a mug that Mort left on the coffee table from this morning he suddenly had a thought and slumped onto the couch. My God, Mort was almost 90 years old, he thought, that was the only family that he had left, and how long was that going to last? Maybe five more years, ten if he really hoped hard enough. Marcus sat and cried, well crying for him. Of course no tears came from the ducts, but he was still crying inside. He instantly flew down the stairs and went to Mort behind the counter.

Mort was startled at seeing Marcus suddenly there, “My god boy, what’s gotten into you, you scared the hell out of me!” Then Marcus had him standing and was giving him such a hug that it took his breath away. “What’s the matter Marcus? Why the long face?” Mort had never seen Marcus so emotional before.

“Mort, I just wanted to let you know that I love you. You have always been like a son to me and I appreciate you being with me all of these years and standing by me through it all.” Marcus felt like he was welling up again and had to stop talking or his voice was going to crack.

He patted him on the shoulder and sincerely said, “Well, um, I love you too Marcus. So what brought this all on?” Mort looked at him above his glasses which meant that he knew something serious was brewing.

“I don’t know, I just think that I don’t tell you enough how much you really mean to me.”

“Uh-huh, sit down.” Mort turned off the TV, “what is this really about? Or let me guess, it’s that I’m an old geezer and you have no kids of your own and you’re really starting to feel your immortality again? By the look on your face I think I hit the nail on the head huh?”

Marcus just nodded at first then said, “Mort, you know me so well don’t you? Yeah that’s it exactly. Can I ask you a question? How come you never married and had your own family? I know you dated plenty when you were younger, you never found the right woman?”

Mort chuckled, “Well I guess that’s part of it really. Remember Rebecca? That little cutie from Spain that I dated for a few years?”

“Yeah I remember her, she was a spit-fire! Whatever happened to her anyways, I thought she was the one that you were going to settle down with?”

“I thought so too. Well I think it was one day when she said that you looked very strange to her and that she wanted me to move back to Spain with her. I told her that I couldn’t leave you alone with no family, and well, she really didn’t care. She said that you made your own choices in life and you chose not to have a family and why should I stop my life for you. Now I thought that was very hypocritical of her seeing as how she wanted to go back to Spain to be with her family. And well, that got me to thinking. I am all that you have. So I chose my life, and that life was with you. Now don’t go there in your thinking, I know you too well Marcus. I didn’t choose a life of solitude to take care of my vampire nephew, I chose my family. And in all reality, I never did find a woman good enough. I felt that I had to be with you as well as be with a family of my own, but the latter never really happened. So I choose to live the life of solitude and bachelorhood, and to help you in your difficult life, and yes, I know how difficult it is for you. So, on that note I cannot tell you how happy I am that you found Emily and she knows your secret. That secret has almost killed you over the last eighty years. So maybe now I will ask little Mrs. Hopkins out on a date, what do you think?” Mort beamed his wrinkly smile that always made Marcus laugh.

“Mort, thank you, but that was very stupid of you. I cannot believe that you sacrificed your life for mine. You shouldn’t have done that, I never expected nor would ever have asked you to do such a thing. Now I feel so guilty.” Marcus’ shoulders hunched lower as he sat upon the counter.

Wrinkling his brow he spoke sternly, “Now knock that off young man, I will have none of that! I chose my life, you didn’t choose yours. I have been very happy here, with you. You have no idea how you’ve helped me through the struggle of losing mum and da’, I felt that I lost part of myself that day. But here you were, you kept me going, you kept my feet grounded even though my head was off in another land. I love my life, I’m the most eligible bachelor amongst the widows in this bloody town.” Mort then got the funniest smile on his face and a faraway look in his eyes, Marcus just had to laugh.

“Alright Mr. Stud. Thank you. Emily will be here soon, I need to get dinner ready.” Marcus hopped off the counter and gave Mort another squeeze, “I do love you old man, and thanks again, I didn’t really realize how much you have done for me.”

Waving his hand to make light of it he said, “No thanks needed, you’re my family, and to find the irony in all of this, I have always thought of you as my son as well, well after I hit forty at least.” At that they both had a good laugh and Marcus went back up the stairs and Mort turned his TV back on.

This was a time that Marcus was very thankful for his ability to do things quickly, he wanted to make his great-great grandmas recipe of spanikopata and baklava for Emily, Greek it will be tonight. He was able to get everything prepped and in the oven as well as clean himself up and change his dusty clothes before he heard the little bell over the shop door chime. He stopped and took in the scent of her, he would never get enough of it. He heard Mort greet her warmly and then told her to head up the stairs. Marcus went down the stairs to head her off before she even got half way through the shop. He took her into his arms and kissed her, “Hi, I’m so happy that you are finally here.”

Emily returned his kiss and hug, “Me too,” she purred. She just stood there for a moment to take him in, he looked so handsome in his jeans and vest. It amazed her how he could dress like it was still 1920 mixed with 2009 and pull it off smashingly well. “You look great, here are some cookies for dessert, it’s not much but that’s all that the bakery had left at this time of day.”

As he took the little pink box from her he said, “Thanks, but I told you that you didn’t have to bring anything. I have those books that you needed upstairs, would you like to come up, dinner is still in the oven and Mort will close up early to join us for dinner.” He took her hand and led her up the stairs to their flat. She had never been through this door so she was anxious to see how they lived.

Of course it was as she expected, nice and clean but no womanly touch at all. It was warm, for Mort’s sake of course, but there were few colors around. It seemed to be mostly browns, greens and some blues here and there. There were photographs on the walls, of their family she guessed, and of course there was a massive book shelf in the living room with their private collection of masterpieces. The couch looked as though it was bought when Mort was in high school, even though it was in good shape, and a recliner sat next to it that didn’t look much younger. The walls still had wallpaper on them that held faded stripes, everything was so 1970’s.

Marcus looked at her taking it all in and had to chime in, “I know, it needs some updating, but we’re men, we don’t care.” Marcus gave her a shrug of the shoulders and handed her a glass of wine as she put her bag by the door they had just come through. “The books are right here, please, make yourself comfortable.” He led her to the couch and sure enough there was a large stack of books there for her on the coffee table.

“Oh this is wonderful, thank you! I have to write a paper on how the Egyptians discovered how to make paper, well so to speak, and then how that evolved into the books that we have today. Of course, there is one book that would really help me in my research,” she gave Marcus a grin and raised an eyebrow.

Marcus scoffed, “Yeah I know, you’re jumping out of your skin to see it. And you will, but sorry, it really wouldn’t help you with your paper, unless of courses you can read hieroglyphics. But even so, it doesn’t talk of that process.”

“Oh fine, I guess these will just have to do then.” Emily said sarcastically as she smiled and sipped her wine, “This is great, is it the same from what I had the other night?”

“Yep, I picked up some from Mickey today because I knew you liked it so much; I have a few more bottles for you if you would like to take them home. Mort tends to drink red wine more often lately. I need to check on dinner, be right back,” then he disappeared into the kitchen. Their flat was way bigger than hers was, she couldn’t even see him in the kitchen from the living room. In her place you could see every room if you stood in the right spot. She turned back to the stack of books on the table and dug out her notebook from her bag to start making notes.

She could hear Marcus humming to himself as he cooked, and it smelled so good in there, she had to go and investigate. She tried to sneak up on him and wrap her arms around him, but he spoke just before she grabbed him, “I thought you were working in there?”

He startled her and she jumped, “Dang it, I guess I’ll never be able to scare you huh?” She laughed and as he turned she hugged and kissed him. “What ‘cha cookin’?”

“A specialty, Greek tonight… sound good?”

“Of course, it smells absolutely wonderful. I bet you spoil Mort with your great cooking?”

“Actually, no not really. As he’s gotten older he doesn’t really eat as much, and he’ll order food more than anything. I rarely even cook anymore. It’s nice to have you here, I love to cook actually, and it’s relaxing for me. But I guess you can relate huh?” He smiled down at her and let her go so he could get back to making the salad.

As she put a piece of cucumber in her mouth she said, “I wish you ate so I could cook for you. But maybe I’ll have you and Mort over to my place one night,” Emily took another piece of cucumber off of the cutting board and popped it into her mouth before Marcus tried to slap her hand away.

“Get out of the kitchen and get some of your school work done would you? Because once dinner is ready there will be no more time for you to look at the books tonight.” He gave her a smile and she was hoping he meant what she was wishing for.

“Oooo, what do you have planned for me handsome,” she growled in his ear, then gave it a quick kiss and scampered out into the living room again. She knew that it wasn’t the one thing she wanted, Mort would be in the house of course, but she was thinking that they would talk and hopefully he would show her the book. At that thought she put down her notebook and decided to look at the books on the huge shelf across the room from her.

Of course there was a great collection of old and rare books. Some were even in foreign languages that she had no idea what they said. She heard Marcus chuckle, “It’s not there Doll so stop wasting your time looking for it.”

“How the hell did you know what I was doing?” She grumbled and went back to the couch and flopped down and picked up the book that she was taking notes from. He didn’t answer but just laughed again.

After what seemed like an hour he called out, “Can you please get Mort for me and tell him that dinner is ready?”

“Yes, I’m famished!” Emily jumped up and went down the stairs. There was a lady at the counter talking to Mort and giggling like a school girl,

“Oh Mortimer, you are so darling!” she cooed.

Emily stopped and ducked behind a shelf so she wouldn’t disturb them. She noticed that they were looking at each other with googly eyes, she had to cover her mouth so she didn’t laugh out loud, they were so cute looking! She always wondered why Mort never married, he was very nice and she could tell that he was very handsome when he was a younger man.

“Well Mary, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night. Shall I ring you or do you want to stop by here first?” Mort took her hand very gently and held it as he walked around the counter and led her to the front door. “Oh you can ring me at my flat, you still know where it is don’t you?”

“But of course, I anticipate our meeting again, until then have a very grand evening,” and he kissed her hand as she started to open the door. “Oh Mortimer!” she exclaimed and looked as though she was blushing.

Emily was so thrilled to see him speaking to a woman, and man what a smothie he was! After she saw Mort float back to the counter she waited a few seconds before she emerged, she didn’t want him to think, nor know, that she was snooping. “Hey Mort, dinner’s ready. Do you have any more customers’ in here?”

She startled him out of his daydream but he recovered quickly, “Nope, the last one just left, I’ll lock up. Sure smells good up there, I love Grandma Annabelle’s baklava!” He went over to the door and locked it, flipped the sig to ‘Closed’, then followed Emily up the stairs. “Hope our little flat isn’t too musty for you. I know it needs a woman’s touch desperately, but I’m so old to really care much anymore and Marcus really isn’t up there much anyway to care either.”

“How come he isn’t there much? Where is he?” Emily thought that was a little odd for him to not ever be in his own home much.

“Well he’s in his workshop most of the time, then he flutters around. But the last few days I think you know where he’s been.” She turned to look down at him and noticed a funny little smirk on his face; she decided to let it go and smiled to herself.

When they got back into the flat they went to the kitchen but Marcus was already in the dining room. Emily was shocked, “You guys have a full dining room in here? How big is this place?”

Mort was surprised, “What kind of a host are you Marcus, you didn’t give her a tour of the house? Geez, Grandpa Alex would have been dismayed at your rudeness. Darling Emily I will be more than happy to give you a proper tour after we have finished our dinner.”

Emily looked over to Marcus and he just rolled his eyes behind Mort’s back, “So sorry Mort, I have no idea where my mind was.” Emily held her snicker in as Marcus pulled her chair out for her, he didn’t want to be accused of not being a gentleman now.

Naturally dinner was superb, “Marcus is there anything that you don’t do amazingly well?” Emily was putting her fork down upon an empty plate.

“Oh brother,” Mort exclaimed and looked to the ceiling. “Oh sorry, thank you Marcus, this was exceptional,” and gave a mocking smile to Marcus as he was stuffing another forkful into his mouth.

“Well I’m glad you both liked it. Let me get dessert now, be right back,” Marcus was off into the kitchen and back with a huge pan of baklava in seconds.

“Oh, now this is what I’ve been waiting for!” Mort licked his lips and was already pushing his dinner plate to the side. Marcus served Emily first then gave Mort a huge slice, “I know it’s your favorite, there’s plenty more.”

Marcus sat back down and watched the two of them eat. It was actually quite boring for him to just sit here, he wished there was something to do while they chowed down. “So, were you able to get any research done Emily with those books?”

“Humm-mmm…” She looked up at him as she swallowed a bite, “Um yeah a little thanks. Do you mind if I take the books for the weekend? There’s so much information there and it really needs to be in full detail, I really want to get an ‘A’ on it,” she then shoved another bite into her mouth, “this is so good!”

“Of course you can have them, keep them, no worries,” Marcus just shrugged his shoulders and looked at Mort who obviously couldn’t care less.

Her eyes bugged out, “No way,” she swallowed, “there are eight books there that probably cost about $300, I’ll give them back when I’m done.” She looked over at Mort who rolled his eyes again and shook his head. He never even stopped chewing.

Marcus looked at her, “Whatever. The money doesn’t matter. When you’re my age money is no issue, I would think that you would know that by now. But if you want them, keep them, if you don’t then give them back, I really don’t care one way or the other.” He shrugged his shoulders again and started to play with the spatula that he used for their dessert.

Emily noticed his bored mood and put down her fork, “Well I just can’t fit anymore in there, thank you again, this was fabulous.” She started to get up to take the plates to the kitchen when Marcus stood up as well, “Don’t do that, I’ll get it,” and started to grab more of the plates so she wouldn’t.

She didn’t relinquish her plate to him, “Oh knock it off, I will not have you do the dishes as well,” and gave him a stern look. She took what she had into the kitchen and started to wash them.

Marcus came up behind her, “We do have a dishwasher you know. You are my guest, I cannot have you clean up.”

“You have a dishwasher? Man I am so envious! I couldn’t’ even fit another drawer in my tiny little kitchen. But anyway, my mother raised me right, I’ll help you do the dishes, and you will like it.” She gave him a nudge in the ribs with her elbow and smirked at him. He obviously knew that he couldn’t win and opened the door to the dishwasher and started to load it along with her.

“So Mort will head off to bed in about half an hour, then we will be alone to talk. And yes, I will show you the book, I know that’s been on the forefront of your mind all night.”

“Well not the forefront, but it has been there.” Emily smiled as she handed him a plate.

“Em, I want to say something, but please do not take it the wrong way.” He paused and stopped what he was doing to look down into the washer.

“Uh-oh, what’s wrong?” She was wondering what could be on his mind.

He turned towards her and grabbed her wet, soapy hands, “Look, um, I, um... Whew. Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. I want to be with you, very much. Almost too much. But I’m a little worried.”

She laughed, “I thought we already had this talk, remember? We will just take one day at a time?”

“Oh yeah, that, yeah. But what I mean is, well, I want to be with you.” He raised an eyebrow and looked at her sideways.

It took a second but Emily got it, “Oh… OH,”, and the look of disappointment on her face was so obvious.

He was afraid of that, “Emily just from what I had to endure in the past it makes me completely afraid that I might hurt you, not physically, I learned how to not let that happen. But I don’t know what will happen to your body after, well, you know.” Marcus held her hands tighter in his, he just hoped that she wouldn’t be too upset. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t let anything like that happen to you especially from something that I caused. And especially not doing something that should be so wonderful and loving.” He let go of her hands and went back to doing the dishes.

Emily was shocked, that was not what she was expecting at all. “Oh, well, I see…” She didn’t know what to say. Of course her disappointment was overwhelming, shattering actually. “Whatever you say, you know what’s best, I understand.” But of course she was just saying that to make him feel better, she was so disappointed, she wanted to make love to him so badly, it was everything she had to not attack him at every moment she laid eyes upon him.

Marcus stopped again and looked at her, “I know you don’t understand; I know you don’t agree with me. I can see the hurt in your face. Trust me, I’ve wanted to have that experience with you since the second I set eyes on you, but I’m more scared than anything.” The look on her face was so sad to him. Her lips where set in a thin line and she was rinsing the dishes with such force he thought they would shatter in her hands. “Listen, stop, just stop.” He took her hands again and she tried to pull them away but he held onto them, “Emily, please don’t be so angry with me for wanting to protect you. I love you too much to hurt you, or kill you, especially while having sex for god’s sake. It is almost appalling that you’re acting this way.”

She pulled her hands from his and turned around, “Oh now I’m appalling? That’s great!” Why was she being like this, she was surprising herself with her own reaction. She took a deep breath in as Marcus finished the dishes. When she turned around he had already started the washer and the kitchen was spotless, it took him no more than fifteen seconds to do all of that. Even in her anger she snorted at that, “Amazing.”

“I’m sorry…”

She shook her head, “No, not that. It must have been killing you to have to take that long to do the dishes with me helping.” She gave a half smile.

“Oh, no, well, yes. I’ve just gotten so used to doing things at my own pace it’s hard to slow things down a bit. But let me tell you, there is one thing that I don’t mind slowing down at all,” then he moved and took her in his arms and kissed her. It was a very passionate but gentle kiss. He had to slightly pry her lips apart with his tongue so she would give in, but he was happy that she gave in so quickly. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

“Oh get a room!” Mort snorted as he walked in to put his plate in the sink. They pulled apart and laughed. That was the tension breaker they needed. “If you two love birds don’t mind I will be off to my room now. Marcus, thank you for a very wonderful meal. Oh by the way, I will not be home for dinner tomorrow night. So please lock up the shop, I will be leaving here at about six.” With that said he turned and left without another word.

Marcus looked down at Emily with the biggest look of shock on his face. She put her finger to his lips to keep him quiet and said in a whisper that she knew only he would hear, “I’ll tell you about it in a sec.”

When Mort was out of ear shot Emily put her head on Marcus’ chest, “I’m so selfish, stupid and foolish sometimes. My outburst, again, was completely unnecessary. You’re right, we can never have sex because it would probably kill me… but what a way to go!” She looked up at him and laughed at his bug-eyed expression. “Kidding! Well not really… but Marcus… it’s just horrible knowing that we will never be able to go to that level, it breaks my heart. I don’t want you to think that I am a ‘horn-dog’ or anything, I’ve only been with one guy my entire life, it’s just that I feel sex is a way to show someone how much you love and care about them. And not to mention how good it can feel. And man, your body is one that I would love to explore… oops, I’m off on another tangent, sorry.” Emily took a deep breath and shook her head to clear it of the filthy thoughts and Marcus just smiled and waited for her to finish her thought, which she didn’t.

“It’s fine, I understand how you must be feeling right now and no one is sorrier than I am. If I can figure this out then trust me, I will be over to your house in a… what’s the American expression? A ‘New York second’?”

“There must be a way. Did every human woman you made love to die?”

Needing to correct her he quickly said, “First of all, I never made love to any of them. What Sebastian made me do was purely physical, there were no emotions at all. And not all of them died, but about 95% of them did. There is no way that I’m going to take a chance on hoping that you will be in that five percentile.”

He led her out of the kitchen, “Come see the house before we get settled again. The last thing I need to hear is Mort saying again what a bad host I can be.” He grinned and led her through the downstairs, which contained not only the kitchen, living and dining room but a nice den, half bath and laundry room as well. Then he led her upstairs to where there were three bedrooms. One was Mort’s which they skipped since the door was shut and they could hear him watching TV, then there was a guest room that looked as though it never held a guest in its life. Then there was Marcus’ room. Emily was shocked at how big it was.

“Do you have the biggest room in the house?” Emily walked in and started to take it all in

“The second biggest, funny seeing as how I’m not really in here too much. But I like to have my things, and after so many years there’s been quite a bit that’s accumulated I guess.

“No bed I see, but I guess you don’t need one.” There was a huge overstuffed couch and matching chairs all done in the 1920’s Art Deco style. The tables, bookshelves and pictures were all in glass and metal, they looked as though they were still the originals from over 80 years ago. She liked the original Art Deco, not the horrid 1950’s re-do of the style, even though it wasn’t as warm and inviting as wood and plush fabrics, but he had it decorated very classy.

As she expected, the book shelves were crammed packed with all sorts of literature, but there were also a ton of CD’s and records as well lining the shelves. As she looked through them he took a seat on the couch and watched her. “Put on any music that you like.”

“Gosh I wouldn’t know where to start, you have a little bit of everything in here. No country music though I see.” She had to laugh at that, she hated country music. Finally she chose an old Nina Simone CD that he had and popped it into the player. Then she went over to the books, still no luck in finding what she was looking for so she decided that she would try and have more patience and wait for him to bring it out in his own time. She took the seat next to him and curled her legs up under her. He handed her a glass of wine.

“I didn’t see you bring this up with us?” She looked at him inquisitively.

“I didn’t, I grabbed it when you were looking for some music to put on.” He gave her that dazzling smile and she just shook her head again at how amazingly fast and quiet he could be.

As she sipped her wine she asked, “So, now what?”

“Now what? Let me guess? So where in my story did I leave off at, I can’t remember?” He scrunched his eyebrows together as he scanned his memory of two days ago when he was at her flat.

“You ended where you finally told Alex what had happened to you and Mort was about to be born.” Of course she knew right where he stopped, she was dying to find out how Mort came to live with him and be his confidant.

“Huh, why does that not surprise me that you would know exactly where?” Marcus put his arm around her shoulders as she snuggled in closer to him, “Well then, let me think…” he put his head down and furrowed his brow then began. “Let’s see… Alex and I sat and chatted for most of the night that night. Since Margaret was gone we had no interruptions so it was easy to fall back into old patterns for us. We used to always sit and talk for hours on end. Anyway, after I told him what my life had entailed for the last few years he was very empathetic and understanding, it was such a relief to have him react, well, normally I guess for him. You see, he was always very calm, cool and collected. I hardly ever saw him lose it. He said that he understood and knew that there was something amiss; of course, we were always so close to each other we almost could tell what each other was thinking at times. But the night was over before we knew it, Alex was starting to yawn and his eyes were drifting, the hundredth cup of tea was wearing off I think. So I told him to head off to bed and I would be there when he woke up.

“As he was sleeping I roamed around their house and the shop and I learned a lot about them. Of course I didn’t quite snoop around, but I learned a bit from the pictures they had hanging about, their books, her needlepoint that she was working on. I realized that my brother was still the same man that I always knew and his wife was a perfect companion for him. They seemed to like the same things and the way Alex spoke of her he was absolutely madly in love with her. I could only assume that she felt the same way. Of course I had never spoken to Margaret, Alex was the only one that knew I still existed. He didn’t want to put his wife in the position of having to live a lie and keep secrets from our parents, that just wouldn’t be very fair to her at all.

“I heard him waking up so I made him some tea and lit a fire to wait for him to emerge. It didn’t take him long to come out into the living room, he was still tying his robe closed, I smiled knowing that he was very happy that I was still there, he smiled in return, ‘Good morning Craig, nice to see you’, he said. You know, it’s funny how I remember certain things, and now that I say them aloud it’s odd; I let him call me Craig all night long, I never told him I was going by Marcus, well not right away at least.

“We sat in silence for a while then chatted some more for a bit about nothing really. Like I said, it was just nice to be together again. He told me that our mum was getting pretty sick, he really didn’t think she would see another full year. I was devastated! I was so close to me mum, Alex being the first boy was a Papa’s boy…” Marcus paused in his story and got that far away look in his eye.

After collecting himself he continued, “Sorry, where was I? Oh, Alex had to go and visit Margaret for a bit at her mum’s, he said that he wished I could go, and of course I would have loved to go. So instead I made a plan to get acquainted with the town again. He ate some breakfast and told me all about mum’s illness, now I know that she had cancer of the stomach. When I last saw her she was skin and bones.” Marcus looked down at Emily with such love in his eyes, “I knew dad was taking her to the cemetery one last time to see her parent’s for her to say her ‘goodbyes’, or ‘see you soon’, before she knew that she wouldn’t be able to make the trip; so I followed and spied them from yards away hidden behind a tree. Dad and Alex pretty much carried her the entire time. Alex placed her so gently down upon a blanket on the grass, like she was made of glass. Of course I would have cried if I could have, but I think I still did in a way.” He sighed heavily and Emily nodded her head to empathize with him. She thought of seeing her gram wither away in her final years of life.

“She died about three months later; in her bed with everyone around her. Alex said that she opened her eyes from sleep, looked around at each person and held all of their gazes for a good second or two, then moved on to the next. She got around the entire room, looked my dad in the eyes then looked up at the ceiling and whispered, just loud enough for Alex and dad to hear since they were right at her bedside, ‘I love you Craig Marcus’. She opened her yes, smiled and looked around the room again quickly and finally looked at Alex, and then held a gaze with my father for several seconds then closed her eyes and died with her sweet little smile on her lips.” Marcus stopped and then wrapped both of his arms around Emily tightly, but of course not too tight, and he cried.

Emily placed her wine glass on the table and hugged him back with all of her might. What happened next amazed her to her soul. Marcus started to sob. He curled up into a ball onto Emily like a little boy and sobbed in her arms. He had the same shaking, the same gasping for breath, the same sad noise that one makes with the profound feeling of loss. The only thing that made his sobbing minutely different, was that her blouse was not wet with his tears.

He eventually got it out of his system and started to breathe normally again and his grip loosed a little bit from around Emily’s waist. He was quiet for a moment longer then said, “I was sitting on the eve right outside the window that night. I told her that I loved her back but I know she couldn’t have heard me. Now I’m going to tell you something that I never admitted aloud. It actually took me a while to admit it to myself… a couple of seconds after my mum exhaled for the final time I saw her in front of the window. It was like she was walking out of the window like it was a door; then when she was parallel with me she stopped and turned to look at me. She blew me a kiss, the same kiss I had gotten at least a million times in my life. Then she turned back forward, walked a few more steps then was gone.”

Emily was baffled into silence for a moment. “Wow. I’m sorry Marcus,” she gave him a good squeeze around his arms and back. She couldn’t squeeze him too hard because she would hurt herself more than anything; she already had a few more bruises here and there from what would be normal human to human physical contact.

“Thank you. And thanks for allowing me to get it out, you really are the best. I don’t think I ever really did that.” Marcus started to straighten up but still kept himself wrapped around his darling little Emily.

“My pleasure. You have to get those emotions out eventually, everyone does. It’s not good for the soul to hold in such grief, it’s still a form of negativity that you shouldn’t burden yourself with carrying. “

“I think some of those tears were also shed for Mort. He’ll be having another birthday in April, I think he’ll be 91 or something. That’s just crazy for me to wrap my head around; he’s the last of my family,” Marcus shook his head and it sunk down lower.

Emily was shocked, “That cannot be all of your family. Don’t you have any cousins, or more uncles, surely there are the generations after Mort right?” Emily didn’t have a huge family, but it wasn’t tiny either. It still took her and her mother two days to get all of the Christmas cards out every year.

“Well Alex only had Mort, Then Mort and his wife, Elizabeth, had Mort Jr. and Lizzy died in childbirth. Then Jr. had Morty the Third, with his wife Ingrid, and he never had any kids; obviously I didn’t have any kids either. My father’s brother had a son but he died in a war… there might be some forth cousin on my mother’s side somewhere, but that’s just blood, not family. Mort, and now you, are all that I have left in my life. I can see why Sebastian left when he did, I guess when everyone around you dies then you have to move on; you have to start a new life.” Marcus rested his head on Emily’s shoulder again.

Emily knew where the mood was going and she didn’t want it to go there, “So when your brother went to see Margaret, what did you do? You mentioned that you hadn’t seen the library since it was built, what else was there in town to look at?”

Clearing his mind out of the black fog he switched gears, “Ha, funny that you caught that, you’re right, there really wasn’t much to look at. I remember sitting in the church for a long time and thought about life and death and where I was in between. I went to our rock place for a bit, I wandered the streets and avoided the crowds. I was actually on my way to the library when I was passing along the street of Margaret’s family and Alex came running up to me, ‘The baby is coming, the baby is coming. I have to get the doctor, come with me!’ Alex was in such a panic and a rush and grabbed my hand and dragged me along behind him for a moment. Once I realized what was happening I took his hand and led him to the doctors’ house a little quicker. As soon as the doctor came to the door I vanished in the alleyway and followed them back to the house. I hung around in the alley for about four to five hours before Alex came out to find me. Of course I was pacing up and down, I could hear her breathing and screams, and hearing a woman give birth is not a pleasurable thing to listen to. There were a couple of times where I thought she was gone, the smell of blood became so strong at times.

When Alex saw me he leapt with joy, ‘It’s a boy! He is so wonderful and healthy!’ Alex grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously.

“’How is Margaret?’ I asked concerned. Alex reassured me that she was fine but she will no longer be able to have any more children. It was going to take her a few months to heal, but she would be just fine.

“And so Mort came into the world. I still had to touch base with Sebastian at that time, but I always kept in constant touch with Alex. I saw him again when my father died about five years later. That was also the first time that I met Mort.” Marcus smiled and straightened up a bit more, “Alex and I were back in the shop after the funeral services and we were just talking when Mort came jumping up behind us and shouted ‘Boo!’

“Alex jumped but I knew he was coming about a millisecond before he was there. I think I was so caught up in our conversation and I felt so comfortable there I let my guard down. Of course nothing gets by me now, but there have been a few moments through time. Anyway, Alex was sort of scared at first as what to say, but I knew there was something very, very special about this boy. I stuck my hand out to the little replica of my brother and proclaimed, ‘Hi Morty, I’m your Uncle Marcus, your daddy’s brother.’ I figured since the only people we really had to hide from were our parents and that was no longer a factor now, so why not be a family, at least as normal of one as possible.

“He shook my hand very firmly, ‘Hi there, are you the traveler that my mommy has mentioned? If you are can you tell me where you have been? Have you ever been to Africa? Have you ever seen a monkey? Do they really swing from their tails?’ His eyes got wider with every question and the fear in Alex’s face, and the shock in mine both crept up into smiles then laughter as the questions kept on bubbling out of his cute little mouth. I tried to answer as many as I could catch and scooped him up into my arms and we went into a little nook of the store where I got some books of maps out and showed him all of the places that I had traveled.

I found out that Margaret was very clever and was able to deduct who I was through little quips of my brother’s, or possibly even overhearing us when we thought she was asleep upstairs. It was fine, she obviously had known for some time, we were fine with it if she was. She didn’t have to know the full truth, just enough to know that I existed. I trusted Alex to do what was right by me and the rest of his family.

“And not really too much more happened for a few years after that. I came by every Christmas and sent gifts for every birthday, for all three of them. Then one day when Mort was half way through college we were both home for the holidays and we were roaming around in the store. There were a few people in there at that time so I was trying to linger more in the back to stay out of the view of the shoppers as well as the windows. I was looking through some of the old books that were starting to pile up in the back store room when Mort came in there after me. He was very intelligent and very inquisitive and came right out with it, ‘Okay Uncle Marc, spill it,’ he closed the door behind him and cleared off the stacks of books on a bench. I didn’t turn around from the books I was looking at on the table, I knew what he was referring to but I wasn’t too sure what he was thinking nor did I want to reveal too much to him. I laughed and turned around, ‘Alright, you got me ol’ chap, I took the last of your mum’s rum cake.’

“He chuckled and looked down at his feet, ‘Yeah right, like you eat any food at all,’ then he looked up at me over his eyebrows and gave me a smirk. ‘I can see that you are not going to spill it, so I will. I’m on to you Uncle, and its fine, really. I started to do some research when I went off to Egypt last summer, and I have read Stoker and Polidori; well one thing led to another in my mind, you know how we think, and I came to the conclusion that you were obviously born by Mima and Pop, but you are not like my Papa at all, he’s old and well, you’re not. So can you tell me or do I have to play the charade for the rest of my life?’ He crossed his arms over his chest and gave me that Fitzgerald look. I couldn’t go back now, he had me and I knew it.

“I did laugh then, a good laugh, ‘Alright Mort, what’s your theory on your strange traveling uncle’, I asked him. He picked it right off, Vampire he said. He rambled off all of the same signs that you noticed, my skin, avoidance, hearing, sight, blah, blah, blah. So I told him the truth. Not all of it you see, only the parts that could make sense without overwhelming him. He didn’t find out about Sebastian’s crazy experiments or some of the other nasty details; but I told him how I was changed, and that I had to hold on to a treasure so to speak. He didn’t ask what it was, he respected all that I said and didn’t pry where I didn’t elaborate. Eventually he found all of the truths out over the years when it was just the two of us for so many years.

But he really took it well, said that he would never tell a soul and that he would always be there for me and that I could count on him as sure as his father. We got even closer after that afternoon. We traveled some here and there when he was off for college and corresponded all the time and always enjoyed sharing books, music and looking at the pretty ladies when we were together. Mort really was a ladies’ man, he loved all the women.

“When Mort was about twenty-two or so he was in Italy with some college buddies on break and I was in Asia on one of my little expeditions when I received a telegram from Mort. Alex and Margaret were in an accident. They were on their way for holiday in the South of Whales, not far at all; they just wanted to see some friends and do some shopping and such. They had been there a thousand times before. Well they were out on a boat and something happened, I’m not too sure if it was a flash storm or what but another boat collided with theirs, or if it was some sort of negligence and the two boats collided; Mort and I never found out the full and true story. But both of them were gone just like that; then it was just Mort and I.

“I came back right away and took care of the arrangements since I knew Mort would be in no state nor would he know what to do. Then I was shocked to see that Alex left everything to me. Of course Mort got the book store, but I got the flat and all of the possessions. Mort and I knew that there was no monetary nor materialistic thought behind Alex’s wishes, it was all for the sake that we knew the truth of how the future was going to be. Mort came home for the services, then finished his last two years at the university here in town. He decided to travel the world for a while. He said that I could run the shop if I wanted or shut the doors, he really didn’t care; and I didn’t blame him. I shut the doors for the first year. I went to the other three houses that I kept here and there and gathered what I wanted and left the rest for the neighbors to have or sell.

“I came back to the shop and redid the entire thing. I modernized the shelving, replaced the old windows, made the back room to be a working repair shop, got rid of the falling apart books, ordered the newest and most popular books and rearranged everything. I took out the tea bar that Alex had in there, our little pet project years before that seemed to fall to the wayside, and just made it look totally different. After about almost two years the shop was ready to open; Mort was off in Germany or something and I was still alone.

“As I sat in the new shop I gazed at the door and the sign that needed to be flipped from ‘closed’ to ‘open’, but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t see people every day. I sat in there looking out the windows in a certain chair where no one could see me. They would try the doors, they wanted to come in, to see what had been done, to see what new things they could read now; but I just couldn’t unlock the doors. I think it was complete but unopened for about six months or so. It was the end of December and Mort came home, finally. You see, I had never really been totally alone before. Even before I had Sebastian then Alex, I always had a confidant to have around. The time when Mort was gone I had to really be by myself and get to know myself all over again. It’s funny how they say every seven years you change; I wonder what that means in vampire years?”

“Probably every fifty or so then darling,” Emily patted her hand on his.

“Hum, probably. So when Mort came back I was so elated and he was overjoyed with what I had done to the shop, he was more than ready to take it on. He said that after his mum and da’s death he really needed to contemplate, search and explore his life. He was almost thirty by this time, I guess it was about 1845 or so by now.

“Then he met Lizzy, she captured his heart in a lasso and never let go. They loved and adored each other so very much. They traveled for a while, then when Mort was about fortyish they had Mort II. It was so wonderful for me to see another generation being born, but it was sort of odd how history repeated over again. Mort and I were talking in the shop and Jr. came walking in when he was a pre-teen or so. He looked me hard up and down, then he looked at his father, then back to me. He said what he wanted to his father then turned and went back upstairs without looking at me again.

“Since I obviously came with the shop’s inheritance, Jr. and I had to have a heart to heart when he got back from college. See, I was gone for a lot of his childhood, I did a lot of traveling and such. Mort told Jr. that he was going to get the shop if he wanted it, and of course he did, in a few years. And there were some things that came with the entire package. Now Mort was a very smart boy, he prepped his son for the family news. He pulled out different books on folklore, mystic creatures, then vampires and the paranormal and the like over several months time. Jr. was totally into it. He said that it was very fascinating and he started to soak it up like a sponge. For several months he read every book on all the paranormal that he could get his hands on.

“Naturally Mort was very pleased, he thought that our introduction would go splendidly then. Oh how wrong he was. I came back from Holiday in the Netherlands and Mort called Jr. into the shop late one night. At first Jr. came up and shook my hand very eagerly, like seeing an uncle he hadn’t seen for so long; but then he noticed that I still looked the exact same. He dropped my hand quickly and took a few steps back, ‘Impossible. You look the just like you did when I was a boy, that is impossible.’ He looked over to his father and back to me, just like he had done so many years previous.

“His father said to him, ‘Jr. my boy, this is your Uncle Marcus, he is family, he is blood. I grew up with this wonderful man by my side most of my life, there is no reason for you to be intimidated.’ Mort was trying to calm his son down with his words.

“‘What?’ Jr. shouted, ’Blood? He has no blood. Yes, I know what you are, I have always known. But when you,’ he jabbed a finger towards his dad, ’you started to fill my head with all of these books. Now I see why, I thought you were just starting to show me different parts of the shop, that I needed to learn about all that was sold in here. But no, now I know. You sneak, you were trying to make me love this man, love him for being a monster just because he’s was your father’s brother. No way. I want no part of this, no part at all.’

“Then he left. He left out the side door within a matter of seconds. Mort and I just stood there with our mouths agape, we didn’t know what to say. He and I spoke for several hours, and I decided that I should continue traveling, so I was no interference to Jr. After many good-byes, and after I had given him my new post office box address so we could always stay in touch, I left and went back to the home in Italy, Sebastian’s place.

“So to make an already very long story not too much longer; Morty Jr. married Ingrid and Morty III was born in 1915 I think. I would go home to see Mort when Jr. would drop Morty off for visits when he and Ingrid went on Holidays. So Morty grew up knowing me. He was always comfortable and we had so much fun playing together. If Jr. ever knew, nothing was ever said to me. So after Mort had passed and Morty was an adult, we still stayed in touch without his father knowing. It was strange when he found out the truth about me.

“He was so nonchalant about it. He had come back from Spain and I was in the shop. Oh, Jr. decided after all that he didn’t want to be tied down in a shop and he and Ingrid traveled all over the world on the money that our family had been making over the years. He was the only one that never contributed to the family in a monetary way. But anyway, Morty came home to me here and we stayed up drinking one night. He was so smashed, and of course I acted like I was drinking. Then out of nowhere, in the middle of a sentence he stopped and looked dead at me. ‘Uncle Marc, you’re not like us are you?’ He placed his tumbler down and leaned his elbows in his knees and looked at me very closely, and right in the eye.

“I told him I was not. I told him the same story that I told his grandfather, now the forth human to know the secret. I left out the gore and bore and just told him about the book. Jr. never knew about the book, he wanted no part of my life so he never knew anything about me. But Morty was great, he just had a few questions, similar to the ones that you had, then laid down on the couch and passed out shortly after.

“Then it was like nothing had changed from that point on. We just spoke like two normal men in a family. It was great, life moved on and nothing else exciting happened. Mort and I have been here ever since. I never had to deal with the customer’s and Mort fell in love with reading about all of the places he had been and telling everyone all about it. When he finally started to get grey hair we devised the “Grandpa-grandson” scheme and it has been going well ever since.

“It always surprised me that Morty never married. I asked him about it the other day and he said that he never wanted to leave me. Now how is that for being another romantic Fitzgerald?”

Emily laughed, “Oh, so funny that you said that, I heard him talking to a lady in the shop and that’s where‘s going tomorrow night for dinner. How cute is that?!” Emily laughed and was surprised when she saw the “O” mouth on his face. “What’s wrong with that?”

Marcus blinked his eyes a few times, “No, nothing is wrong I guess that I’m just quite surprised. I just said to him this evening that I loved him and we talked about him never marrying. I guess he feels now that I have you in my life then he can get one of his own. I actually feel bad that he has self sacrificed part of his life for my happiness.”

“It’s amazing the things we do for the ones that we love,” Emily looked down at Marcus and he lifted his head off of her shoulder. She bent down and kissed him. She loved the taste of his mouth, loved how their tongues touched gently together.

He stopped and pulled back to look into her eyes and smile up at her, “You are a dream come true for me, you really are.” Marcus stood up and went over to the stereo which had stopped a long time ago and put on some classical violin music. “You must be exhausted by now, do you want me to take you home?” Marcus looked over at Emily and laughed at her expression.

Emily put her hand out like child waiting for a gift, “No way, now it’s time, hand it over big boy!”

“Alright, I guess I have kept you waiting long enough to see it. He started to unbutton his shirt and looked at Emily with a grin.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked with her mouth open and her yes popping out of her head.

Marcus just started to laugh and laugh, “You are so easy kiddo, I have been wondering if you wanted my body or the book more?”

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