Vampires, the New Endangered Species

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Chapter 6 The Book - Finally

Marcus walked over to his massive bookshelf and reached up to a book that just blended in with the others from the top shelf; it looked like any old leather bound book that you would see in an old shop or collectors den.

He put the book on his desk and flipped on the lamp. As Emily stood and walked over he handed her a pair of white gloves. She didn’t even hesitate to put them on, she knew how dangerous her skin was to the pages. Marcus lifted the corner of his mouth, “Thanks, my skin is safe since I don’t have the oils, but you my dear would crumble the corners with your skin.”

“Oh of course, I was going to ask you for them but yet again you were quicker at the draw than I was.” Emily was so nervous as she walked to the desk as Marcus held the seat out for her. She had been jumping at the moment to see this book and yet now that it was here she was too afraid to touch it, to read what it really had to say. She took a deep breath as she just looked at the outside, “Is it the same cover as when Sebastian gave it to you?”

“No, I put this new one on about five years or so ago. I didn’t want his binding, it was so plain and boring and actually poorly done. I did it myself and repaired some of the pages and tried to add more pages for after my entries are done.” He looked away as he said this last part, Emily knew what he meant, but she didn’t want to evoke more doom and gloom.

The book was now in green leather with a gold embossment on the cover. It was of a very elaborate “V” in gold, “For Vampire I assume,” Emily asked as she ran her fingers gently over it.

“Yeah sort of, “I actually did it with the word, ‘Vrykolakas’ in mind; it’s sort of Greek for the undead.” Marcus went and sat back down on the couch and left Emily to peruse the book at her own leisure and pace. He knew that it could be overwhelming when read, but he also knew how much of a lover and appreciator of books she was and knew that she would want to have the time to devour it in several ways. When she was preoccupied he went and brought up the bottle of wine for her and refilled her glass and put it on the table, far enough from the book but close enough for her to get to it.

He lay down on the couch and stretched out; he bought this couch for that one reason, he wasn’t particularly happy with the design, but he needed to be able to lie full out. He crossed his long fingers across his chest and closed his eyes and listened to the music, then his ears floated over to Emily. He tried to focus on the music again; he had to think of other things or he would go crazy. Then why did he feel like he was going crazy because he wasn’t thinking of her after ten minutes? More of his psychological circles where he drove himself nuts. He took a breath in and out; he noticed that Emily did at the exact same moment, funny. He smiled. She hadn’t even opened the book yet he noticed, he looked at his watch and was surprised to realize that he had only been lying there for about two minutes.

She took in another breath then opened the front cover, flipped the end page that he himself had added years ago; then she flipped to the title page and read his inscription.

Vrykolakas

The Chronicles of Many Lives

Dedicated to all of the loved ones that we have left behind.

Emily took in one more breath before she turned to the first page, the actual page of papyrus painted thousands of years ago. As she flipped the new page with the beautiful dedication with her finger, even though she had the gloves on she still grabbed the little tweezers that were already a standard item on his tidy desk.

The first page was magnificent, breathtaking, mesmerizing and magical. After she took in the color of the fish, birds, palms, horses and people; her eyes went to the real gold that was trimming the page as well as each of the large emblems. She had no idea what any of it meant but it didn’t matter, she knew that she was going to get plenty of examples of what each life contained. She put down the tweezers and gently fingered the plastic sheath that covered the papyrus. Marcus suddenly spoke from the couch, “I just love modern inventions. I put acid free coverings over each of the sheets and wove those into the binding of the book. That way they will be preserved for so many more years. I even cleaned the sheets to try and get them back to their rightful colors. I covered almost all of them up to Sebastian’s entries; his paper is still on the market and with the preservation technique we use it will last for years.”

She turned around to see him stretched to his full six foot three on the couch with his eyes closed and a sweet little smile on his lips. “What techniques are those?” She was curious if there was a secret vampire recipe or something.

Marcus opened his eyes and turned his head to look at her, “A man from Poland a few hundred years back, now they are very intuitive and creative people, found a way to preserve the paper and ink much longer, but only vampires can do it. I will show you the passage when you are ready.” He winked at her then went back to his original position.

Turning back around she carefully turned the page by the very tip. She was spellbound by everything. The way the paper was made, seeing the grains and the tiny shreds of hairs and the brush strokes left imprinted in the paint, the gold even shone in the lamplight like it was just mined last week. She passed through the first twenty pages then paused again when she got to the scrolls that were re-cut into pages again. They were done masterfully. Then she went on to where it was formed into a codex; the fact of having an actual living example of the history of book making right here was one that any book researcher would kill to glimpse for just a second or two. And it was right here, all for her to absorb and explore. She looked around on his large desk and in seconds found exactly what she wanted, a pad of paper and a pencil; she immediately started to take notes on what she saw. Not only for her own personal knowledge to remember details of it, but also for things that she knew would help her tremendously on her paper.

She heard Marcus chuckle, he obviously heard the lead scratching on the pad. She ignored him and kept on looking and writing, gasping, flipping and jotting. After about two pages full of notes on the Jr. Legal Pad, she leaned back from the book to take a sip of her wine. She finally got to a passage that was in English so she was able to read and understand some things now. A mental break was needed first though so she could really soak up what she just studied. She turned back around and Mr. Statue was still right there on the couch. God he was spectacular to look at. It killed her knowing they couldn’t have sex. Then a little light bulb went off I her head… there were lots of things to do without actually having sex!! She grinned, then laughed to herself internally as she remembered what Marcus just said earlier, about her wanting him or the book more. Now on the track that her mind was on, the thought of the book on his firm, naked ass made her cheeks very red.

Putting the wine glass down, she got up and started towards him. He instantly opened his eyes and got into a sitting position, “Now I’m in trouble aren’t I?” The grin on his face was classic boy, “I was right, it is a tossup between me and the book!” He playfully put his arms out to stop her from grabbing him.

She pushed both of his arms out to the sides and straddled him in about a second flat, “You are going to get it now mister.” She gave him the sexiest grin she knew and planted a kiss on his luscious mouth. She found his tongue with hers and the passion grew even more between them. Feeling him in between her legs excited her so much she had to keep control of herself, but she felt like it was a losing battle.

For real this time he pushed her away, “I thought we already had this discussion Doll… why are you torturing us both like this?” Marcus groaned then kissed her again before she could answer. He had her by the waist again and was pushing her pelvis down into his lap harder, he wanted her so badly he didn’t think he was going to be able to stop himself.

She pulled herself away this time, “We cannot have sex because of your ‘Death Sperm’ right?”

He had to chortle at her expression, “Yeah I guess so. That’s really the only reason because I know I would never harm you purposefully,” he stroked her leg and moved his hand up to her left ass cheek as he said this it gave her a shiver up and down her spine. When she opened her eyes back up in a blink his mouth was open, “You don’t have any panties on!”

She had to laugh out loud in a burst, “No I don’t. I haven’t worn any since I was a teenager; well I do for only a couple days of the month at least. Why? Do you find it revolting or sexy?”

He sort of stammered out, “Well, wow, I guess I never really thought of it… you… I… oh God…” Then he kissed her again and gently flipped her over so she was on her back and he was on top of her.

“Look Marcus, there are many, many other ways for us to please each other and express our love without you killing me with your seed… I want to explore those options with you,” Emily looked into his eyes trying to convince him something that she had no idea that he already had been dreaming of for the last few nights.

“Really? You are open to do those things with me? I would love to have several weeks to explore every inch of your body,” he moved his hand up the inside of her thigh and stopped a couple inches short of her inseam. He then moved it up the outside of her thigh, holding on to it tightly, forcefully, and moved his hand up her waist and around her back. “I will take you to so many levels you will be walking on cloud nine for days,” he purred into her ear and started to nibble down her neck.

When he got to the crook of her neck, right before where the shoulder connects, he hit one of her spots. She instantly arched her back and gave out a moan of delight as she grabbed his ass in one hand and his head in the other. She had no idea what it was about that place on her neck. Ever since the first time little Jason Howard hit it when they were necking when they were thirteen and hiding out in his tree house she has always gotten instantly aroused. Her ex even knew that he could get her into the mood anytime by coming up behind her and kissing here there. When Marcus felt her reaction he started to nibble a little harder and lick and kiss it more. Emily was about to go out of her skin, she didn’t know what to do with her hands, didn’t know how far she should go. Then she remembered that Mort was in the next room and her body tensed up a little. Marcus instantly stopped, “What’s wrong?”

“I feel funny with Mort in the house, sort of like we have to sneak and be quiet so we don’t wake up the adults,” she giggled and slapped his ass. The mood had been completely killed now and they both felt it.

He smiled down at her, “Could I love you any more than I already do? You better get more of that book ingested before it gets too late, it’s already after ten.”

“Is it really?” She asked as she started to squirm out from under him, “Shit I have an early class tomorrow also, what day is it?” Reluctantly she got out from under him and went over to her wine glass and sat down again at his desk.

“It’s Tuesday, tomorrow will be Wednesday dear,” Marcus sat back down on the couch but this time stayed sitting and stretched his legs out onto the coffee table in front of him.

Emily rolled her eyes and grimaced, “Yep, early class… I actually had better be going soon then, can I come by tomorrow night and look some more?” She raised her eyebrows and went and sat down next to him.

“Certainly, how about your place? What time will you be home?” Marcus started to play with her hair as she finished her glass of wine.

“Be there at six. That will give me time to get home, work some and eat. That way I will be 100% focused on you… and the book I mean.” She smiled, placed her glass on the table and squeezed his knee with her left hand. “Walk me home?”

“Of course,” and he took her arm and helped her stand as he himself stood up. She took one more glance at the book before they headed out of the door, “There’s no way that you would let me borrow it for the night would you?”

Shaking his head he laughed, “Ha, ha, ha, how much wine have you had tonight? You really had a momentary lapse of stupidity there. Come on, let’s get your bag from the living room,” and he placed his hand on her lower back and ushered her out the door.

She just chuckled knowing that her chance of him saying yes was beyond a long shot, she just asked to see how he would react. And he reacted perfectly, another test passed. They got down to the living room and she packed her bag with the books that Marcus was letting her “borrow”, plus two more that she had to carry because they were too big to fit in the bag.

“I’ll get that,” he took the bag off of her shoulder and hoisted it onto his like it was only five instead of thirty pounds.

“You got it big guy, not going to argue with you on that one,” Emily patted his chest as she passed in front of him towards the door. She whispered goodnight to Mort knowing that he had probably been asleep for hours by this time, but still felt it polite to say bye before she crossed the doorway.

They walked back to her flat hand in hand, both thinking of what happened on the couch, both smiling to themselves with little smirks on their faces. Finally they got to her door and as soon as they were inside Marcus had the fire going before Emily could even get the books onto her desk. She loved that, she hated making a fire more than anything, and he seemed to do it with no effort at all, and never seemed to get dirty either, bastard. She smiled to herself again, damn she was doing that all the time lately, and went to wrap her arms around her loving man. Of course he opened his arms wide to swallow her up into him, they just held each other for a few minutes in silence.

That was a way that Emily judged people. By if there could be comfortable silence with someone, and if they broke it first why and how they did so. She never did that with Marcus though, she was just herself around him. She didn’t think of analyzing him all the time like she felt compelled to do with other people. She took in a nose full of his sweet scent, “What cologne do you wear? I just love the smell of you.”

“Humph, I don’t wear any. That’s just me babe. We do tend to have a sweeter smell though than most. Probably because the sweat glands are a little askew, know what I mean?” He kissed the top of her head and kept his hold on her. “If you think I smell sweet you should catch yourself from my point of view.”

Suddenly she said, “Sweet pea.”

“What?”

“You smell like sweet pea to me! Haven’t you ever smelled that scent before?” She pulled back from him to look at him in the face. By the look on it he seemed a little perplexed, “Is that a flower?”

“Yep. Not very popular in the shops, I guess I never even looked in the one downstairs, but there’s a store at home that has the best lotion in that fragrance.” Emily turned from him and went and got the bottle from her bathroom. She opened the lid and held it under his nose for him to experience her favorite smell in the entire world.

“I smell like that to you?” He had a smile but she wasn’t sure how to read it.

So she stuck her face into his chest, close to his arm and took a big inhale. Then she closed her eyes and backed off and took a couple of breaths of clean air then smelled the bottle. “Oh yes… yes, only you’re a little better. This has been my favorite smell since I was a child. My mom has always called me Sweet pea also. Don’t know if it’s from the flower or that little baby on Popeye though.” Emily shrugged her shoulders and put the lotion on her hands and closed the cap. They sat on the couch and she instantly sat with her side to the back of the couch and her legs flung over his. They stared into the fire and he just lightly caressed her legs as she massaged the lotion into her own hands. To any outsider looking in they would look like your average couple just watching a fire and enjoying each other. She liked the thought of that, she liked it a lot. Then Emily looked over at him and studied his profile. He did look Greek a little bit, in his cheekbones and eyebrows. But he had the long face of an Englishman and the handsome and slightly prominent nose. Thank goodness he didn’t have the honker that some of the old guys around here had!

He turned towards her and returned her smile, “I like that scent, I’m glad that it is one that you like so much”. He leaned forward and pecked her on the forehead, “Do you want me to stay here until you fall asleep again?”

“I would love that very much!” She got up and took a quick shower and got on a nightdress. They both climbed into her bed, her under all of the covers and he put just the top one over himself.

“Why do you do that,” Emily noticed that he did that every time he laid next to her.

“Well for one I won’t get you warm, so I don’t want take your heat source, but also it makes me feel more, well normal, when I lay like this. Sometimes I will lie down when Mort goes to bed and will get up when he does just to remember that I am still human. It makes me feel better, like I’m not such a creature.” He wrapped her up into his arms and she snuggled into him and put her arm over his chest.

“I can understand that. But you are not a creature at all, you are a perfect human being, more perfect than any other that I’ve ever known.”

He gave her a squeeze, “Thanks,” and kissed the top of her head.

She was asleep within minutes. He laid there with her for a bit and was about to get up when she started talking in her sleep. He stopped and stayed perfectly still. He loved to hear her talk, it amazed him what she said while she was sleeping, he had to talk to her about her dreams one day.

Emily started to twitch a little and quietly said, “Craig, please come home quickly, I will miss you so.” Emily clung to Marcus’ chest a little tighter. Then she suddenly had him in a death grip, “No, no, no! Don’t go for that, we will make it together!” Then her grip loosened again and she made light sobbing noises. She was quiet for a moment again, then, in a faint whisper, “The ring will be here forever, along with my heart.” Then Emily was quiet for a couple of hours after that. Marcus was trying to piece all of her dreams together, he thought he was on the right path but he would never know for sure until he talked about it with her one day.

He slipped his arm out from under her and pulled the covers up over her shoulders, gave her a kiss on the head and walked out of her room. He stoked the fire and put more wood on so it would stay warm in there until he snuck back in and relit it before she woke up. He closed the locked door quietly and went back home.

Once back at home he cleaned up his room; put her glass away, put the book on the shelf until tomorrow, placed the gloves in the hamper to be washed and straightened the cushions out on the couch. He laid back down on it after he put in some Tchaikovsky and thought of all of the lovely things that he wanted to do to her on the couch earlier. He was so enthralled that she wanted to try things with him, it meant that she really did want him as a man and companion. That thought made his heart soar higher more than ever before. He drifted to sleep, in his own way, until the sun rose and a new day was ahead of him.

Emily woke up well rested, even though she had a few bizarre dreams, and found another nice fire in her fireplace. She smiled then went and made her tea. She sat at the little kitchenette and drummed her fingers on the table while she stared aimlessly out of the window while she waiting for the water to boil. Another grey day; she was glad that she would be stuck inside then.

Her first class on Wednesday was always at 6:30, way too early but it was the only writing class that was left available that she needed to take. Emily had her tea and cereal then went and got dressed for the day. She wouldn’t be able to see Marcus until later that evening, but at least she would have time to get home and clean up before he got there.

The incident on the couch left her shaken and breathless all over again when she thought of it. She knew it was the wine that made her straddle him; she was never aggressive like that. Well not like she had any sort of experience in that area anyway; but she liked it. The feeling if his legs between hers, she could feel how large his member was by the way he was holding her and that made her even more crazy with desire to have him last night. Then when he found out she had no panties on, the look on his face was classic, she laughed to herself as she put her sweater on. Men now would find that common, but back in his day that was so scandalous. She wanted to get a Kama Sutra book to see what they could do so she wouldn’t get hurt and where they could still share and enjoy each other. Emily was also just dying to see him naked; she loved the human body and his was like a Michelangelo sculpture, perfect in every way. Emily knew that he wanted her as well, the way he flipped her around to be on top of her was a sure sign that he would have done anything last night; at least not if she didn’t hear Mort snore in the next room. Her morals kept creeping in to keep them both in check. Emily just had to scold herself for her lack of respect for both of them, she felt as though she were acting like a dog in heat. But she liked how he made her feel like a woman and not like a child. Their conversations, his trust in her, his longing, it all happened so fast and with such force she suddenly felt like she had matured and grown so much in the last week. Geez it hadn’t even been a full week since she first saw him, was that really only last Thursday? She was crazed by the way time flew, but crept by all at the same time.

And while she now looked at her watch she was quickly on her way to running very late; she dashed out the door and headed to school via the quick alleyway that Marcus showed her that cut about four minutes off of her time.

En route she called his cell to say good morning, but the voicemail picked up instead. She frowned into the phone but left a message that he could be at her place at six and they would continue what they started last night. Of course it had double meaning that she knew he would catch. Before she was able to drop her phone back into her purse it rang.

Marcus said cheerily into the phone, “Hey there, sorry I was about two seconds too late, I was helping Mort out. Good morning, did you sleep well?”

“I did thanks, and thanks again for the fire, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you keeping me so warm, inside and out.” She purred the last part of her sentence and she heard him softly moan into the phone.

Marcus stated a little more seriously, “Oh baby, last night, well, I’m sorry if I was a little aggressive and forward, I just cannot help it, I crave you in every way, shape and form,” Marcus wanted to make sure that she knew that he wasn’t just trying to take advantage of her.

Now Emily snickered into her phone, “You weren’t the aggressive one, I practically mauled you. But no worries, you can toss me around and bite my neck any time!” Naturally they both laughed at her pun, but he loved how he now knew of a spot to excite her, and she loved that there was such irony in the one place she has an erotic button is the same place where her lover would naturally bite her. They ended their call when she walked into her building and started another relentless day.

For both of them the day flew by. Marcus had some books to repair and realized that Mort was very sprite today. By four o’clock he piped up, “Marcus, I’m closing shop early today and I will be out for the evening for dinner.”

“I caught that last night, where are you going if I may ask?” Marcus knew but he had to play along.

“Well my dear boy I thought about what you said the other day and I am taking a young lady out to dinner tonight. I told her that I will be ready by five, so I would like to go up and get bathed and my nice suit on.” Mort started to head towards the stairs then stopped and turned, “Do you happen to know where my suit is by chance?”

He nodded as he turned to look at Mort, “Yes I do, I’ll lay it on your bed while you are in the shower,” Marcus smiled at him and went back to his task of putting books on a high shelf, and Mort scurried away up the stairs. Marcus ran out the door and went to the tailors at the end of the row and bought Mort a new suit. The one the old man was referring to was so old, it probably had mildew on it from being in the back of the closet for so long. Luckily the tailor was almost as old as Mort was and he knew Mort and just what Marcus needed. He had him out the door with a bag full of new pants, shirt, tie, jacket, shoes and socks in about twenty minutes.

After he zipped back to the house and before his nephew emerged from the bathroom, Marcus laid all of the new clothes out on the bed and went back to his work downstairs. Sure enough at ten ’til five Mort came in through the private door to the workroom, “How do I look?”

Marcus turned in his chair and whistled as Mort did a manly spin to show off his new clothes, “You really didn’t have to do all of this, my other suit probably still fits.”

Wrinkling his nose he replied, “I’m sure it does but I don’t think your lady friend would want to smell it nor see the moth holes in it. You deserve a nice new suit, now take Mrs., um, who are you seeing?”

Beaming he answered, “Mary, she lives about six doors down by the butcher shop. Don’t wait up for me!” Mort then disappeared out the alley door so he wouldn’t have to unlock and relock the front shop door. He was whistling a little tune to himself as he entered onto the street and put his hands into his pockets. He noticed that a new wallet was in there; when Mort opened it he saw that Marcus had stuffed it with enough money for he and Mary to have a lobster dinner and take in the Opera. He quickly put the wallet away so as not to cause attention, then decided to pop into the trinket shop that was right next door to his book shop. He wanted to get Mary something nice, but not elaborate. This was going to be a perfect evening indeed!

Emily finally got home about five minutes before five and had just enough time to get all of her stuff done, but she was pleasantly shocked when she opened her door. It instantly smelled so wonderful. She looked in and saw on her coffee table a wonderful bouquet of flowers. When she got closer she noticed they were all Sweet Peas and baby’s breath. Damn he was so good! The card simply said, “To My Doll”. That was all that it needed to say really, perfect yet again. She had to get moving and sanitize her desk before Marcus arrived with the book; she didn’t want the book being damaged at all while she had it in her home for a night. Then she tidied up the rest of the apartment, took a shower and put on a nice but simple bright yellow slip dress. Then not wanting to take too much time fussing with dinner she just re-heated half of her meatloaf sandwich from the school’s deli that was left over from her lunch. As soon as she was finished brushing her teeth her doorbell rang, checking herself in the mirror one last time she got the door.

Marcus was standing there as handsome as ever wearing black slacks, a dark blue dress shirt open at the neck just enough to show off the top of the hairs of his chest, and he had a bottle of wine in one hand and a briefcase in the other. Emily stepped to the side to let him pass and he bent down to kiss her as he walked in, “Hi there.”

She closed the door behind him, “Hi. Thank you for the flowers, they are so wonderful! Did you get them at the shop downstairs?” Emily was taking the wine from him and putting it in the fridge as he was putting the briefcase on her immaculate desk.

Sarcastically he whistled, “Wow, there is a top to this thing! And no I didn’t, they were all out,” He gave her a grin and she knew that he probably took a quick trip to Holland to pick them fresh for her. She just shook her head, smirked and thanked him again.

“So what’s with the briefcase, are you packin’?” Emily sat on the couch and put one leg under her.

“It’s the book. I don’t like to take any chances with it, so I wanted to make sure it got here safely,” Marcus did the combination lock and the lid popped open. Taking out the book, then putting the case on the floor next to her desk he put the book on top of the spotless wood. He also set beside it a little black case, “Here are the gloves and tweezers and such.” He moved over to the couch to sit next to her. Half way down to sit he stopped and stuck his nose into the bouquet and took a huge sniff, “Ahh, those are so wonderful; much better than the lotion you have; sorry, no offense.” He turned his head around to look behind himself and down at her. He gave her a wink to her mock sneer, took another sniff of the delicious scent and then sat.

Emily thought he could stand there all day and smell the flowers, she had the best shot of his ass right there, she wanted to pinch it but kept her hands clasped together in her lap. When he finally sat down he lifted his arms and she swung her legs over his lap as she had done before. They chatted a bit then she told him about the little bit of excitement in her boring day, “So this guy in class today fell asleep; no biggie right, happens all the time right? Well he started to snore like a lumberjack!” Emily started to laugh at the vision all over again as she told Marcus how her professor, an itty-bitty seventy year old coot ,was poking a 300 pound twenty-five year old in the shoulder with her finger. Half of the class was in tears after the first two minutes; then after almost five minutes of Mrs. Applebaum trying everything in her polite, business-like manner that she could think of to wake the beast, most of the rest of the students walked out roaring with laughter. When the door slammed Goliath finally woke up with a start and snapped, “What? Yes Mrs. A. Sorry Mrs. A., what was the question?” Harry looked down at his notes then at the slack jawed woman then around the room. He knew that he must have been sleeping because the class was almost empty and there were a few people around giggling. Harry slowly stood up, grabbed his things and quietly walked out of the door. Mrs. Applebaum just straightened out her jacket and went back to her podium up front.

“Oh it was so funny, but I didn’t laugh once Harry was awake, I didn’t want to embarrass him any more than he already was. He’s a nice guy, works all the time at his dad’s factory. But oh to see her jabbing him with her little finger… it was great.” Emily snickered and Marcus had laughed along with her as she described the tale, people were always the best things to be entertained by.

Once done she asked him, “So how was your day? Oh is Mort out with Mary yet?” Emily seemed funny to be so excited about Mort, her eyes just lit up when she talked about him, she was overjoyed for him like she was his real granddaughter.

Marcus loved to see her like that. “Yes he is. I bought him a new suit. He wanted to wear his old one, but I think it was bought new for $5 in 1977, atrocious thing, I couldn’t bear to let him leave the house with it on.” He stroked her bare leg as they talked and she toyed with his other hand in hers absentmindedly.

“I hope he has a good time, do you know if he’s taking her anywhere special?” Emily was full of questions, she wasn’t the gossipy type, but there was nothing going on around her, that she knew of at least, and she wanted some news. “I think there’s a movie playing at the cinema that they would like… what was it? Oh Chocolate, that would be perfect for the two of them,” Emily smiled and squeezed his hand with hers at her great idea. “Oh, he probably doesn’t have a cell phone though does he?”

“Funny you should say that, I bought him one today and put it in the coat pocket with a new wallet and his ID. Just in case anything, you know, happened, then they would know who he is. But I found out that Mary has her granddaughter living with her on and off so she is into the 21st century, she can help him out.” Marcus pulled his phone out of his pants pocket and hit the speed dial that he obviously programmed in the instant he got Mort set up.

Emily was only able to hear his side of the conversation. “Hi Mary, this is Marcus. Yes. Yes I did.” Marcus laughed but kept it quiet so only Mary could hear, “Tell him I’m sorry. Well Emily had the grandest thought that you should go the cinema tonight, a great movie is playing.”

At once Emily sprang up and grabbed the paper that was on the pile of stuff next to her desk, “It starts at 8:00,” she whispered to Marcus, then tossed the paper back onto the pile and took her seat again.

Marcus relayed the information, “It’s called Chocolate and it starts at 8:00, yes you have plenty of time. Oh and Michelangelo’s is right by there, you can have dinner right now and still have time to see the show. Yes. Uh-huh. Okay Mary. Thanks for helping Mort out for me. Thank you, yes I’ll tell Emily thank you as well. Sure Mary, yes, Uh-huh,” Marcus rolled his eyes as Emily listened to Mary just gabbing away on the other end, she covered her mouth to suppress her laugh.

“Good bye Mary.” Marcus hung up his phone and tossed it onto the coffee table with a sigh, “Whew, wow she is a talker, her and Mort will get along splendidly! So the phone rings and Mort just about jumps out of his skin, hits her hand which is holding a tea cup and spills it on her couch. Luckily she knew exactly what it was and told him to sit still and she took it out of his coat pocket and answered it for him. She told me that she knew that I did it and how it was very nice of me to keep him safe. And she assured me that she will also show him how to use it, so they can call each other on it… I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag when she said that.” Marcus made a face then Emily just burst up laughing.

“Now that is adorable!” Emily proclaimed as she got up to get herself a glass of wine. She started to turn and ask if he wanted one as well but then her mind caught up to her. She went to the fridge and got out the bottle that she didn’t finish from the other night. Before she could stand upright she felt Marcus’ hand on her lower back, “This dress is very lovely on you, you look delicious.” She bit her lip and slowly stood erect, then bit her tongue at the word that her mind chose as she thought about what she was doing, “Thanks,” she said with a gulp.

She was now standing in front of him with her back to the open fridge. Emily looked up into his eyes, he was a good foot taller than she was, and she loved that. He moved his hand to take her fully around the waist and brought her closer to him and kissed her. He pulled back a little and looked down at her chest and got a huge grin, “Well either you are very excited or we need to close the door here,” Marcus stepped back and pulled her with him and he closed the door behind her. He then let her go so he could get a glass and was instantly ready for her to pour the wine.

Emily raised an eyebrow as she looked up at him, “Are you trying to make me frisky like last night or something, even though I don’t know how much the wine had to do with it,” Emily walked back to the couch and put her feet up on the table. Marcus went and stoked the fire, “No need for the wine my dear, I do know that. I can just tell that you had a long day, that’s all.” He moved the flowers to the kitchen table then was back on the couch at her side stretching his legs out across the table next to hers. He laughed when he saw that her legs stopped to just below his knees, “You are a tiny little thing aren’t you? How tall are you?”

“Five-two and a half, thank you very much. Being short has its advantages you know.”

“Like what?” Marcus put his arm around her shoulders and kissed her hair.

“Like I never have to duck under low branches, and I never lose anything on the bottom shelf of the kitchen,” Emily replied smugly and sipped her wine. She had been teased her entire life about her height, she was used to it.

“Sure but you can’t even use the top shelves of the kitchen either!” Marcus jabbed her in the ribs to make her laugh more. Then knowing that he was really here for a specific purpose he added, “So my little Doll, we can sit here all night, all millennia actually, doing this; but would you like to pick up on the book where you left off?” Marcus really wanted to take her to the bedroom and take that silky little dress off of her, but he knew that he shouldn’t, couldn’t; so he needed to get her attention to something else also.

“Yes I suppose so. You can grab a book off my shelves and put some music on if you like. Granted my collection isn’t as vast as yours is, but I think you should find something that you’ll like. But before we get up,” Emily put her hand on his leg and leaned over and kissed him. Not a passionate kiss, but one that a lover would give to the other after a long day; just to say hello and that ‘I missed you today’. He kissed her back but held the same tempo as she did. She stopped and smiled into his eyes, he smiled back then they both got up and went to their places; he walked to the shelves to see what treasures she had, and she went to her desk to dive back into the treasure that he had.

Emily put the gloves on and noticed they were either new ones or he washed them because they were crisp and bright white. He placed the red, satin bookmarker for her where she left off last night. She gently ran her fingers over the cover before she opened it; it was such a luscious green, and the gold “V” was so elegant, so bold in comparison to the green leather. Gingerly she flipped all the pages to her spot, she didn’t want to handle the book too much even though her fingers cried out to flip through the pages again to look at this or that.

Before she started to read she noticed that he had put Enya on her CD player and was lying on her couch with a book in his hands. “What did you find to read?”

“Something called ‘Weaveworld’, Marcus looked at the cover then opened it to the inside flap.

“Oh you will love that. Barker is amazing, his detail makes you feel like you’re right in there immersed into the entire story. You’ve never read anything of his before?” Emily was shocked. She figured that he had read almost every book ever written by now.

“No I haven’t. Actually come the early 1970’s I stopped reading new books. I would catch some really popular ones here and there, but never really kept up with the times. But this one caught my eye, something about it made me want to pick it up.” Marcus looked at her over the top of the hardback book and blew her a kiss with his lips then looked back down again.

She had to shake her head as she turned back around to the book, amazing that this man was with her, he was too good to be true. Then it hit her, oh yeah duh, he’s a vampire idiot, there’s always something wrong. She sipped her wine then turned her full attention to the name on the page. She put her glass down to look again at it in front of her, “The first English entry was from a woman!” Emily spun back around in her chair to look at Marcus.

“Oh yes, Tabatha Montgomery. You will love her story, you and her are a lot alike actually now that I think about it.” He looked back down into his book and ignored her so she wouldn’t ask any questions and would read it for herself.

Emily turned back to the book and started to read the eloquently styled letters. They were loopy with a lot of zealous curvatures and grace. It was still very legible though, even though she had to concentrate on reading it, it wasn’t something that you could glance at and know what the words were.

The story went as such: Tabatha was only seventeen years old when she was turned by an old man when she was walking home from school one day. Her school was an old house set just out of her town of Knockroe, Ireland in the year of 342. Her parents were potato farmers, not well off, but not poor either so they were able to send Tabatha to school so she could manage the farm when she was old enough to take it over. The only other sibling she had was a sister eight years her younger, who sadly had crippled legs so she would be of no use on the farm.

Emily read Tabatha’s heroic tale of her life before she was turned that day, this entry, it seemed to Emily, was sort of a story that Tabatha had written. Tabatha took care of her parents, sister, the animals and their crops of potatoes all through her life. She went to school and did her homework and studies after everyone else went off to bed. Her parents were older, so they needed all of the help they could get, but sadly they couldn’t afford more than the three hired hands they already had living in the barn with the milk cows.

On a typical spring day Tabatha was walking home exhausted, practically dragging her books behind her when an old, fat, ugly man popped out from the little patch of trees that separated the school Mistress’ home and the rest of town. He took her into the woods as she tried to fight him off, then he violently changed her from an innocent girl into the blood thirsty monster that she would be for the rest of her life. Of course she tried to fight him off with all her might, and she was a strong girl due to her constant physical labor every day. But to no avail he took her down with ease and bit her on the thigh.

The next thing she remembered was waking up in an old hut on a sea cliff. She was dirty, sore and thirsty. The old man was hunkered down in the corner doing something and she attacked him from behind. He was not aware that she had woken up and she was able to take him by surprise. She was amazed at her sudden burst of strength and energy and she started to claw at his head and face. He stood up and flung her off of his back and through the thin wall of thatch and dung. Then going out the door he grabbed her in both hands and shook her hard enough to make her stop hissing and gnashing at the teeth. He told her in a rush what she was then drug her to the edge of the cliff. He ordered her to look down, and hesitantly she did. It must have been a fifty to sixty foot drop onto a small ledge of rocks that seemed as though they instantly dropped off into a thousand foot plummet into the water below. The old man looked at her and asked if she was thirsty; when she very reluctantly nodded her head once he held tightly to her hand jumped off the cliff.

Tabatha was terrified the entire way down and screamed for the eternal ten seconds it took for them to hit the ice cold water. They popped back up to the surface of the icy waves and the old man just laughed and laughed. After that he showed her how to hunt in the water and they fed on seal, whales and a shark. It was invigorating for her to be able to hold her breath underwater for what seemed like forever, and she was able to swim with such speed and stealth.

Emily stopped reading and turned to Marcus, she was surprised to see that he was almost half way through the book. “So when a human is changed, do they stay in that form no matter whether it’s healthy or not, forever? It seems as though all vampires would be perfect in every way.”

He tilted the book down, “If they are fat, they stay fat, if they are thin and diseased, then they stay thin, but the disease will be cured. And naturally if they are healthy then their health only improves. Make sense?”

“Yeah, it does. I guess I just need to get the stereotypes out of my mind that all vampires are either gorgeous beauty queens or GQ hunks.”

Marcus chuckled, “No they surely are not. I have met my fair share of grotesque looking people in my life, vamps included.” He then tilted his book back up and started reading, “This is a great book also by the way, thank you.”

Emily smiled as she turned back around, “My pleasure, I have most all of his books, borrow them as you want to.”

He didn’t reply and she picked up her story where she left off at. Tabatha stayed with Liam for about four months in his nasty little hut in the northwest coast of Ireland. He told her how to hunt people as well as animals and about the book and that she must keep the book going. He also tried to mate with her, but to no avail she would not get pregnant. She loathed it and despised him for it, but he was still much stronger than she was and she couldn’t stop his sexual attacks on her.

Then finally one day when they were going about their usual hunting for the week, she decided to turn on him instead of the bear they were tracking down. He wasn’t expecting her at all, he was actually telling her a story about when he was a boy. When he stooped down to pick up a tuft of bear hair to smell it, she made her move.

She didn’t waste time jumping on his back again, instead she waited until he was starting to stand up, then coming up from behind she grabbed his head in both of her hands and twisted as hard as she could. When his eyes now faced hers she saw that she completed her plan of attack; he had the rigid look of shock permanently affixed to his face in death. After completely ripping his head off she threw it into the woods for the bear to have. She left his fat body lying where it was knowing that the wolves and bears would love to have their fill of him.

Tabatha went back to his hut, took the book and a knapsack with flint for fire and burned everything else to the ground. She flung the book filled sack onto her back and headed back to her home. She knew that she was north of her town and still on the coast, but how far away she was not sure, nothing looked familiar to her from the one time she went with her father to the shore.

After traveling for weeks by foot Tabatha finally found a sign that had some direction on it. She only had about 500 kilometers to go before she hit the coastal town that was due west of Knockroe. She thought long and hard about how she was to tell her parents what happened, then she thought that she would tell them she was kidnapped and decided to keep her new body a secret to them.

Emily thought that this must be where they started to learn to hunt more animals and fewer people. She was right, Tabatha revealed that her parents were overjoyed that she was home and was still alive, they thought she was lost forever. They asked about her skin, hair and eyes looking so different, but her mother said that it must have been the shock of the ordeal that did it to her. Tabatha kept the book hidden and decided to no longer attend school. She was almost done and she knew enough of what was needed to run the family business. Her father was fine with not having to spend the extra money and took her under his wing to teach her all there was to know about running their little farm. She became his shadow and retained every detail of everything that he told her.

Her parents died about seven years after she returned, they were already very old, but then a horrible fever came through the town and wiped almost everyone out. Tabatha was the only one that survived in her family, her sister was taken by the illness along with her parents and the entire town, she was now alone in the world. She stayed on the farm for some time and made more money than her father could have ever dreamed of. She had one of the few farms that survived the plague so when a food shortage hit, she was able to supply the demand.

Emily noticed that as time went on Tabatha wrote less and less. When Tabatha was over 100 she decided that she no longer wanted the burden of the book. She still wrote about her life, about being a woman business owner, how it was very difficult for her to live off animals and stay around humans so much, she wrote about how she failed several times and took the life of a human and how ashamed and sickened by it she was. Tabatha finally hid herself in a cave on the shore and wrote her final few passages. She didn’t want to turn another human for this book, nor for the procreation of her kind. But yet something in her felt compelled to. Even though she never asked for this life, she was part of it now and felt an obligation to continue it. Seeing the years of writers before her, knowing their struggles and hardships that they overcame, they made solidity for her decision.

Tabatha decided that she would have to find a man to take it on next because the thought of killing another woman sickened her too much. She cleaned herself up, bought a dress and some elegant jewelry from a shop and went out to a Gentleman’s Club in one of the larger towns that were starting to appear. She found a man that looked wealthy and she snuggled up close to him. Convincing him to take her somewhere private where they could be alone was easy; he quickly complied to it since Tabatha was a very striking woman.

Once she had him alone in his apartments above the Post Office in the small town outside of Dublin, she started to seduce him. She thought that maybe the sperm of a human male could make her conceive. Liam explained to her the many times vampires have tried to breed and the long tales of failures and successes over the years. Tabatha was very successful in making the man come into her several times over a few hours. Finally when he was sleeping she bit him and changed him from the living, heart-beating man that he was into the blood thirsty creature that she needed him to be.

When he was recovering she wrote her final words, this last page was to tell him to please keep the journal and their breed continuing. She also left him a very long letter explaining to him what he was and what he must do, for his life and the book. Then she left him and the book behind her forever. The next entry was a month later by Johann Alfarr. He told of a beautiful woman that seduced him and left him half dead with a note and this book.

Emily sat back, took a deep breath and then grabbed her empty glass of wine and refilled it in the kitchen. When she got there she realized she must have been sitting hunched over for some time because her back ached a little. As she was reaching her hands above her head Marcus came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist and kissed the nook of her neck and shoulder, almost on the spot. “You’ve been reading for some time now, it’s already ten.” He kissed her again and held her tight.

Leaning back into his firm torso she sighed, “Is it really that late already? It’s amazing how time can fly when you are immersed in a book huh?” As she turned around she set her glass down mid-turn onto the counter, “I can now really appreciate the hardships that some of you have had to go through. I can also understand how you said it was sad before; it really is. Tabatha’s story is a very interesting one. And thank you for the likeness comment, only I wish I was as strong and brave as she was, oh well still is I guess. Have you ever met any of the past authors of the book?” Emily hugged him and buried her face in his chest.

“Not that I’m aware of. It seems they usually disappear after it has been passed on. I’m sure most of them are still around though. But I’m not aware how many met Liam’s fate when the passing happened.” Marcus kissed her head, then decided that he was tired of them both just reading he kissed her ear, then kept creeping down her neck slowly.

Emily giggled and lifted her head and caught his lips. She kissed him hard and he returned her passion. He let his hands slide down her back along the silky dress to her buttocks. She gave a little moan and moved in closer to his body. She wanted to feel every part of him beside her so she moved her knee up along the inside of his thigh. He gave his own little moan and squeezed his hand. As they stood and kissed she let her hands roam over his back, butt and chest. He seemed to love every part of it because he kissed her harder and deeper and then his hands started to move over her body as well.

Emily wanted this so badly, she knew he did as well; why were they holding themselves back so much? Morals, respect? That was all she had, but every other part of her wanted every part of him in any way. She moved her knee up higher to feel his penis, it didn’t take her long, it was huge as it was, she couldn’t imagine what it turned into when he flexed the muscle in it. He pulled her in even closer to him and then moved his hand to her left breast. She didn’t have huge boobs, they were a perfect handful for him, she gave a little gasping moan and started to push him backwards towards her bedroom door. He eagerly followed her lead but never loosened his grip on any part of her.

They finally made the odd walk to her room where she pushed him down onto the bed and crawled on her knees over him. Marcus gave her that dashing smile and she returned it with a mischievous little grin. “Well now that I’ve seen the book, it’s your turn,” she sat straddling his hips and started to undo the buttons on his shirt. He just let out a low groan, closed his eyes and started to move his hands up her thighs, under the thin dress to her bare ass, it was perfect and he couldn’t keep his hands off of its firmness; especially since she was now over him with no panties on. He knew that tonight was their night, she wanted him as badly as he wanted her, there was no reason for any sort of interruption, they were all alone and they had the time they needed. Marcus decided to see how ready she was, knowing that she was in the perfect position, he flexed the muscles in his cock for her and pulled her head down to kiss him at the same time.

Emily was ready; she gasped in his mouth and pushed herself onto him. He slid his hand down her right cheek and lightly grazed the outer lips of her vagina. Emily moaned and kissed him so hard and started to rip his belt off with the free hand that wasn’t being used to hold herself up. Now that his belt was off and his pants were unzipped successfully without making a debacle out of it, he rolled her over and had the rest of his clothes off before she could even get her dress half way up, he was there instantly to help her with taking it off the rest of the way. She flung her dress on the ground and he undid her bra with ease. They were now both on their knees on the middle of her bed just looking at each other.

Emily took in a breath, “Wow you are more spectacular than my dreams led me to believe.” She reached out and lightly touched his firm chest and flat stomach with the tips of two fingers; his eyes fluttered closed as he enjoyed her fingers running through his hair. She crept in closer and he touched her chest, playing with the nipple that was becoming harder with each thumb stroke. Emily wasn’t sure what to do next to him or with him; she thought and dreamed of a thousand and one things that she wanted to do, but now that they were actually here she was at a loss. So she just kissed him again, that always seemed to get things moving. But she kissed him gently with love, not just the lust that she felt some of the time, like three seconds ago. He seemed to respond to this more than anything, he was a helpless romantic.

Marcus pulled her in closer as he moved in towards her as well; he gently grabbed her ass fully with one hand and her breast with the other then moved from kissing her lips down her neck to her spot. He felt her shiver into him and felt her hands also start to roam is body again in loving caresses. He was so excited, he wanted to have sex with her so badly but knew that he had to control himself and just enjoy pleasuring her in every other way that he knew how. He kept nibbling on her neck and was stroking her smooth skin everywhere. Emily finally moved one hand down to his member, he knew that she was timid about it; she hadn’t really had much experience in this area so he knew that he had to take the lead but slowly and gently for her. He made that muscle flex so she would know that she is exciting him as well and let a moan escape his lips.

Emily was beside herself with ecstasy. She pulled him forward as she leaned backwards so they could lie down. He willingly went down beside her and kept stroking her butt and legs. She moved her hands from his enormous cock to his ass and back. He slowly went from kissing her lips again and moved his way down her body.

She arched her back and squirmed when he got to her tummy, “Whoa, now that tickles a little,” she giggled and she pulled at his hair, sadly that was the only part that she could get her hands to. When Marcus reached between her legs and started kissing the inside of her thigh she arched her back more and let a pant escape her lips loudly. She moved his head gently towards her vagina, there was no way that she wanted him to stop doing anything.

He decided to toy with her a bit and didn’t kiss her where she wanted, instead he kissed right above her patch of hair and rimmed his fingers around her inner lips, when he moved his finger inside her he took his own gasp of air, “Oh my God you feel like silk,” he whispered into her. That was enough for him to bear, he kissed her where his fingers were for a moment then moved his way back up her body and suckled on her prefect breasts again.

“Please, please, can you be in me?” Emily was barely able to breathe, she felt like she was gasping for air.

Marcus groaned into her ear and she kept stroking him with her right hand and when her left grabbed a handful of hair from the back of his head he almost whined, “Oh baby I want to be in you so much, but I cannot hurt you.”

“Oh you can find a way,” Emily started to pull him into her, he started to pull back a little but when he felt her wetness on the tip of his cock he couldn’t stop himself, he thrust into her.

She gasped at the girth and he started to pull out but she grabbed his ass and pulled him back into her, “Don’t!” She demanded. He moved as slowly as he could so as not to come into her but also to make it last as long as possible. Emily had an orgasm in about two seconds, she started moaning and screaming with such pleasure that she bit his shoulder so she wouldn’t wake the neighbors upstairs. He didn’t stop what he was doing though, he kept up his easy tempo and kept kissing her on the face and neck.

Emily climaxed again three more times within the following half an hour. He was able to stop himself from climaxing a few times as hard as it was. Finally he pulled out of her and held her for a long time. “Thank you,” she breathed into his chest, “I know that was not what you wanted to do, and I know how hard it must have been for you to keep control.”

Marcus had to snort, “Ha, you have no idea how hard it was to keep control. You are so magnificent, and delectable! Thank you for wanting to be with me.”

“I love you so much Marcus. I need to be locked up in a loony bin for falling in love with you in a matter of two days then making love to you in six, I have set new records for myself,” she laughed and snuggled in closer to him.

They laid there and held each other for hours, they talked for a while about the book, about their lives and his. Then she asked, “So did Tabatha get pregnant by Johann?”

“I have no idea, never heard word about her from any of the circles I ran into,” he put his arm under her and they snuggled in closer. She fell asleep in no time. He was so pleased, so enthralled that they were finally, ha, that was odd, finally, a week later, making love. He felt like he had been waiting for years for her, and in a way he had been.

For the first time he stayed there the entire night. His cell phone never rang so he knew that Mary was taking good care of Mort tonight, and there was no way that he wanted to leave Emily now, not after what they had just shared.

When Emily woke she was expecting to be alone but was overjoyed when she stretched and felt Marcus next to her still, “Good morning Doll,” he smiled over to her, “Did you sleep alright?” He kissed her on the forehead.

After a huge yawn she moaned with delight, “Yes splendidly, thank you. Thanks for staying last night, and thanks for last night. I really don’t know what came over me, I am never that forward but you just flip that switch in me I guess.” Emily felt sort of odd how forward she was, but she loved Marcus with all of her heart and soul and was happy they finally shared that love with each other. Even though she thought, Ha, finally had sex, it had been less than a week, she said, “And the best part, I didn’t melt… so we’re all good!” She kissed him on his bare chest. “What time is it anyway?”

Ignoring her melting comment he looked over at the clock on her night stand and answered, “I think it is almost eight, and it’s Thursday, I think you missed your first class.”

Not caring one bit she replied with a sultry tone, “Oh well, class can go on without me today,” so she got in closer to Marcus’ body for another soft round of heavy petting and penetration.

Emily slept for a couple more hours so Marcus got up, dressed and lit her fire. He called his flat to check on Mort and the phone was answered groggily. Mort stated that he had the best time ever and he and Mary will be seeing each other more often. Marcus told him that he was with Em and that he would be with her for most of the day but will pop in this morning to finish Mrs. Claire’s books for pick up at noon.

When Emily woke she knew she was alone this time. She went to the bathroom then got on her robe and padded to the kitchen. The kettle was just done boiling and her mug was there ready with a note:

Emily my Love,

I had some work to finish this morning but I will be back to you before lunch. I left the book for you to finish, I trust you and know you will know what is right.

Love you, Marcus

Emily poured her still hot tea into her favorite mug that was there waiting by the stove, thinking of the last part of the note, it was a little confusing but she figured she would figure it out. Letting the tea cool a bit she saw that her two plants in the little window needed some water she poured them a cup, then went out to curl up on the couch in front of her fire. As she thought of the night she smiled to herself, not ashamed of herself at all anymore. Feeling now more than ever that she was a grown woman able, and very willing, to do what she pleased. The love she felt for Marcus way surpassed any she had yesterday as well. The fact that he was so gentle, so caring and loving with her all night last night meant the most to her. He put her before himself the entire night, the entire time they’ve spent together actually.

Suddenly looking over to her desk, the book was back in the briefcase. She knew that it must kill him to leave it out of his sight for even a few hours, and then she looked again and noticed that the case was even closed and locked. She laughed to herself, but then understood his reluctance about it. What if for the short time that he was gone someone would break in here and take his book? If anyone had any sense at all they would think that this was just a fictional book, not that it was a journal of history and time.

She sipped her tea for a little longer then stood and went over to her desk and sure enough the case was locked. It was a four digit combo, and he didn’t leave it on the note… dang it… a test for her. That’s what the second part was about…dang it! She loved him, she would have done the same thing to him, just for fun. She went through a few numbers, all random. Then she thought maybe it was a clue, then she used the four numbers coinciding with the word ‘love’. Thant didn’t work. Then she tried ‘book’, that didn’t work either. Damn it, what could it be?

Going back to the couch Emily drank her tea and thought some more on it. She ended up grabbing a piece of paper to hash out some ideas. After she had about five different numbers and codes on her pad she went back to her desk. She tried all five combos and none of them worked. So she drummed her fingers on the case as she took another sip. She thought more over the last week, then it hit her. She moved her fingers to the lock and entered in 1031 and it popped open, the date they first met, Halloween. How could she not have thought of that first? After that she realized that she had to do something for him, he was such a romantic and so thoughtful, there had to be something that she could do for him that he would appreciate. She called the store right away and thankfully Mort answered the phone, “Hey Mort it’s Emily, do you have a second?”

“Of course I do for you! What’s going on dear?” Mort sounded so chipper this morning.

Emily heard his upbeat tempo and inquired, “So, did you have a nice evening last night with Mary, was the movie alright?” Emily wanted to make sure he was good and well, she really did care about him.

The old man giggled childishly, “Oh yes thank you, Mary was holding hands and such, great advice, remind me to ask you what to do the next time I take her out!”

Literally biting her lower lip to stifle a laugh she asked, “And when would that be sir?” Emily had to chuckle, love was so cute with old people!

Not minding the gossipy questions one bit he boasted, “Tomorrow night as a matter of fact. I think the movie and trinket were the ticket to winning her over!” Mort sounded like a teenager.

“What trinket?” Emily had no idea what that was about.

Mort cleared his throat, “Well I’m sure Marcus told you that he got a new suit for me, well he filled it with money and I decided to stop into a little shop and pick up something for her. Now nothing too elaborate, I didn’t want to look ridiculous you know. So I went to the “Collectables Place” and picked up an antique book marker. It is splendidly designed to look like a flat rose made of copper burned to create the lifelike image, I’ve never seen anything like it! Well I thought that if I got her something that related to books, well then she would come in here more, you know?”

“I don’t think Mary would need a reason to go in there any more than she already does. She goes in there just to talk to you and never even looks at a spine Mort!’ Emily had to laugh, she had been in there enough to know Mary and how she and Mort spoke with each other.

Knowing that the little lady was right but not wanting to sound conceited he tried to say humbly, “Oh well, yeah, sure. So what did you need kiddo?” Mort knew that she didn’t call to chat, they chatted all the time as it was.

Getting right to the point she answered, “Well, I want to do something nice for Marcus. I know he can buy himself anything that he wants, and well I’m at a loss at what to get a guy that can get anything he wants on his own.”

“Hmmm… well you are right there, he doesn’t really need any, thing.” He let the last word linger a bit for effect.

Emily caught it, “Okay… so what do you think that I can do for him that he would love and appreciate?” After that crossed her lips she squeezed her eyes shut as she thought about the things she did last night that pleased him pretty darn well.

“I actually don’t really know. You are the only thing that has made him smile in a long, long time. So put a bow on your head and call it good!” Mort chuckled into the phone liking his own joke.

Having to stifle her own giggle, knowing how true his joke was, she said, “Funny… but seriously, he’s done so much for me this last week or so and I just wanted to show my appreciation.” After a second or two of silence she figured she wasn’t going to get a good answer from Mort so she finished up their call, “Well if you happen to think of something let me know huh?” Emily thought Mort would be of more help than he was and she tried not to sound disappointed.

Not being able to think of a darn thing, he didn’t try to just say anything so he told her, “I’ll put some thought into it and I will let you know as soon as something clears past the cobwebs in my head. Will we be seeing you today?” Mort really did enjoy seeing Emily every day, especially now since her and his uncle finally got together, he knew in his heart that Emily was sent here for Marcus, especially at this time in his life.

“Definitely. Marcus said that he’d be here about lunchtime, so I’ll pop on over with him later today to see you.”

“Sounds great, see you later.” Mort hung up the phone as Emily heard the door chime which meant someone was entering the store. She didn’t even have time to say ‘bye’ to him before she heard the dial tone.

Emily got dressed and went back to the desk to start looking at the book again. She was fascinated by how the book was made, just as much as she was fascinated by the stories within. She wanted to read as many of the passages, in English of course, that she could before Marcus came back. The thought that vampires are an endangered species was hard for her to wrap her head around. She guessed most people would think that was a great thing, but she now knew that vampires were normal people, not at all like the monsters in books. Well she knew some of them were at least, by Marcus’ stories, some still preyed on humans for their food, but luckily they were in remote areas where not too much damage could be done.

Marcus had told her that these vamps, The Clan as they were called by the majority of vampires that didn’t feed on humans, were few in number now. Sebastian thought there were about a thousand at his last estimation over a century ago. These lethal killers kept to the old beliefs and didn’t want to live with the rest of society. They were happy that they no longer had to live like humans and have to follow their rules and confinements. They were not human and thought they were far more superior to the weak and pathetic human race.

As she started to read the very few pages that Johann had written her mind started to wander back to her prospective gift for Marcus. Johann didn’t bother to write legibly so anyone would want to read his sad tale, and Emily had to strain to read the scribble. Suddenly it struck her that Mort said that she was the only thing that made him happy, so maybe Mort’s idea wasn’t so bad after all. Gently closing the book, Emily put it back into the case and grabbed her purse and went out the door.

Emily walked the two blocks to the lingerie shop that she had seen but never dared to enter. She looked into the window before she entered to see if it was classy or raunchy stuff, there seemed to be a little of both, but mostly demure, in the front of course, so she walked in. Instantly being greeted by an older striking and elegant looking woman dressed in a smart pale violet silk pants suit that made the silver in her grey hair stand out beautifully, she said in a very thick English accent, “Good morning darling, is there anything special you are looking for today?”

Emily was a little shy since she had never bought herself anything like this at all, the sexiest thing she ever had was a pair of thong undies an ex-boyfriend gave her in high school. “Yes there is, but I honestly have no idea what it is.” Emily started to walk towards a nice, black silk short nightie with matching panties.

Following her customer over to the inexpensive and conservative garment she stated, “Oh that is a lovely set. May I ask what the occasion is, maybe I can help you find something?” She was trying not to sound nosy, but just very helpful and friendly, and it seemed to help Emily to relax a little.

“Well I want to get something for my boyfriend. Oh wait, not for him, I mean, um.” Emily was stammering and the lady chuckled, “I think your figure would look better in this, but I know what you mean sweetie. Let me guess, he’s the kind of man that buys himself everything and anything and you have no idea what to get him? Does that hit it close?”

Emily sighed, “Yes, perfectly! There is no occasion, just me wanting to thank him for being so wonderful.”

“Alright.” The lady thought for a second then asked, “Now dear, don’t be offended, but since you look like you have never bought anything from a shop like this, I would like to ask you a personal question that will help us decide on what to get your special man. Is he a romantic man, or does he like the whips and such?”

Her mouth dropped open, that was not what she was expecting, but she could see how it would help the woman find something appropriate. “Oh he’s definitely a romantic, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind it if I tied his hands either…” Emily was surprised to hear that come out of her own mouth. But then the woman chuckled and it made her feel less embarrassed.

Smiling and leading the way towards the back of the sweet smelling shop she chimed, “Oh excellent, come this way, I know just the thing. What is his favorite color?” Emily followed the woman as she wove through the shop towards the back. “Here we are, now you have a darling little figure, can I guess your size at a four or six?”

Showing her emotion of being completely impressed Emily answered, “Wow, you’re good, I’m a four in bottoms and a six in tops. And he loves blue, or black.” Emily had to guess at his favorite color, she just saw in him in those two colors most of the time.

The woman held up a very sleek and sexy floor length nightgown that had lace trimming the bottom and straps as well as lace for the bodice part. Emily noticed that the breasts would be seen through the lace. It was a midnight blue that shimmered black and purple in the light, it was gorgeous! “I also have these if you like,” and the lady handed Emily a bundle of silk ribbons, two thin ones for the hands and one thick one to go over the eyes. They also were in a matching deep blue. She laughed at the look on Emily’s face, “Is it too risqué for you dear?”

Swallowing she replied “Um, no. It’s just that this is new for me, but they are perfect, I’ll take both.”

Happy that she made a great sale, the tall saleswoman glided towards the front of the shop, “Did you want matching panties, I have them in three different styles to match this color.”

“Nope, no panties,” and Emily raised an eyebrow at the woman who had turned around to look at her customer.

Giggling she went behind the counter to ring up the purchases, “Excellent choice. They end up on the floor in a matter of seconds anyway!”

Emily left the shop with her present in hand, it was more than what she wanted to spend, but oh well, she had plenty of money in her savings account. Besides, she thought, with the way things went this last week, she hadn’t had to buy any food so she saved a bunch of money already in her grocery expense.

Hurrying back home so she wouldn’t miss Marcus, she was glad to see that he hadn’t been there yet. She called him on his cell to see what his plans were for the day.

He answered on the second ring, “Hello?”

Emily thought he sounded distracted, “Hey there, you busy?”

Once hearing her voice he put it on speaker and set it down so he could talk and work at the same time, “Oh hey baby, yeah sort of, I’m trying to get a book done for a customer and she should be here soon.”

Sensing his frustrated concentration, Emily got right to the point, “Sorry, I’ll let you get back to work, I was just wondering if and when you planned on coming over tonight?’

Marcus chuckled, “If? Of course I’ll be there, do you actually expect me to go a day without seeing you? I can be there in about an hour or so, unless of course if you want me there later. Do you have stuff to do?”

“Nope, I usually go to school on Thursday, and I already ran some errands, so I’m here and available for the rest of the day.”

Not moving his gaze from the torn page that was inches from his nose he said, “Sounds good, do you want me to bring some dinner over for you from Michelangelo’s? I know how much you liked the lasagna.”

Emily sighed, she wasn’t used to anyone except her parents, who wanted to take care of her so much. “Thanks, but I can just eat here when I’m hungry, no need for you to keep spending so much money on me!”

Now that made him laugh out loud, “Doll, if you only knew how much I have to spend, it wouldn’t phase you one bit to have me buy you dinner every night. But whatever you want to do is fine with me. Let me finish up here, then I have one stop to make and I will be over. Does two o’clock sound good?” He didn’t want to even wait those couple of long hours, but he wanted to pick her up something before he went over to see her.

“Two sounds perfect, I’ll see you then.” Emily was about to say bye but Marcus spoke first, “Bye darling, I love you.”

She beamed into the phone, those words made her shiver, “I love you also Marcus, see you shortly.” They ended their call and Emily went to put away the negligee and ties but decided instead to put them on the counter in her bathroom for a quick change. She knew he wouldn’t go in there and when the time was right then she would slip into it after dinner.

Deciding to pick up where she left off, Emily went back to the case and got the book out, after she gloved her hands again of course, and started in on reading. She immersed herself into the stories, one after the other, she flipped the pages in sequence and read the ones that she could; a few she had to skip due to them being in a different language, but all in all she was able to read most of it after Tabatha’s entry. It seemed the book transferred from one person to the next that could speak and write English very well. There were some entries that were of people that were apparently not very literate; these must have been blunders of the previous writers, or they didn’t care who the book went to just as long as it was out of their hands. Some new owners never even wrote in it; there were a few gaps in times, but for some reason, even though they never wrote, they still passed it along; Emily thought that was very interesting. She thought that maybe they didn’t want their lives to be known but still believed in the cause.

Emily was fascinated with the procreation part of the stories though. She ended up grabbing a note pad and started to jot down all the times that breeding was mentioned. There were a few men and women that tried to procreate. There was actually one entry where a man in 952 in Greece that kept taking prostitutes to breed with. He felt that they were despicable and if they died it was alright with his conscience; that bothered Emily, but what else could she expect? She was astonished to read that one woman did give birth to a child, but then she died a few days after birth; apparently the child tried to nurse and drained her of all her blood through bites from feeding from the teat.

Then there were a few more entries of failed experiments and disastrous endings. She knew why Marcus skipped past this section of his story, it was a little gruesome. But there were a lot of women, more so than men, who tried to breed. Maybe it was the maternal instinct of women that caused the passion to have children. Emily thought that the only reason the men tried to breed was the reason to have sex with as many women as possible, at least that was her impression from what she could read.

Emily stopped when she had a good page of notes and got up to stretch, only one more hour before Marcus arrived. She had a quick bowl of soup for lunch and decided to change the sheets on her bed and clean up some. Granted the house was already tidy, but she knew that he observed everything and she was more conscience about how her place looked when he came over. Granted he could probably care less, but it made her psyche feel better. After she was done she decided that she had better work on her paper for a bit. She cleared Vrykolakas off of her desk and replaced it with the books that Marcus let her borrow for her studies.

Instantly, Emily was immersed with reading, taking notes and creating her rough draft. She loved to write papers, that must have been the internal geek in her. She was working diligently and listening to the Rolling Stones when Marcus suddenly was kissing her ear and whispered, “Hey there, miss me?”

She about jumped out of her skin, “Holy shit you scared the hell out of me!” She turned and slapped him on the arm and laughed. “Dang it you are too damn quiet! And yes, I did miss you, very much!” Emily got up and hugged and kissed him.

Marcus picked her up so he didn’t have to bend over and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He wanted to bend over and take her instantly on the desk but controlled the raging passion in him and instead askedHe picked her up to hug huhe , “So did you get all of your work done today?” He let her go and set her down on her own two feet. She sat back down at her desk chair and turned it so she could look at Marcus as he sat on her small recliner only because it was closer to her desk than the couch was.

Clearing his mind he answered, “Yep sure did, Mrs. Claire had books in her attic and it was amazing how moldy and mildewed they were. She brought in about 20 of them last week, some were beyond all hope and a couple had to go through a four step process to finish, very tedious work! But luckily for me I don’t wear out, I get bored faster than anything with some of the work that I have to do.”

Not wanting to sound brash she asked, “Have you ever thought about doing something different? How many years have you been working with books, over 100 years Marcus, no wonder you’re getting bored with your work at times.” Emily got bored with reading every now and then so she had to find a new hobby to take up her time and mental capacity.

Marcus pondered for a moment, “Yes I have been at it for a long time, but I stopped for a few years here and there to travel, I got into music, art, theatre, and I do like plays and the opera. Do you by chance?”

Emily shrugged, “I love to see plays, but I’ve never been to an opera. The music is nice to listen to in short bursts, some of it’s too much for me though, but all in all, yeah I like it.”

“Cool, we should catch a show sometime; there are a bunch coming up soon for Christmas. You will be here won’t you?” Marcus got a concerned look on his face.

“Actually I’ll be gone for five days over the Christmas break. I have to go home and see my family Marcus, you understand don’t you?” Emily was worried that he would be upset.

“Of course I understand babe, Mort and I just do something very small, nothing to worry about missing. You will have a great time seeing your family; I can tell how much you miss them. I think I can survive for five days without you… maybe…” then he twitched his finger to beckon her over to sit on his lap.

She jumped up and sat comfortably on his lap and curled up into his embrace. They kissed softly for a little bit then just sat in comfortable silence as they held each other. Emily thought of her being gone, she wondered if she should invite him home with her. But then as all of it started to go through her head she thought the better of it. It was too soon and she needed to tell her mom about him more so she loved him before she ever even set eyes on him. Emily was so concerned that they would know that something was different about him and would be on guard.

Emily had a thought and voiced it, “You know what’s going to be strange this month? No Thanksgiving. It didn’t dawn on me until the other day that you don’t celebrate it here. Bummer that I don’t get the time off school… oh well.”

Marcus made a little noise that sounded like a grumble of understanding in his chest, “Oh yeah, that is an American holiday. I guess I didn’t even think it. That’s the day you celebrate the union of the Indians and English settlers?” Marcus didn’t want to offend her, but he had a different view point than she would.

Emily laughed, “Yeah that’s one way to describe it. I think the truth is a little different from what we celebrate these days. It’s another way for grocery stores to make more money I think. We don’t do anything with the Native Americans at all, it’s just us stuffing our faces and watching football for a day.”

“Football… ha! Now I will take you to see a real football game, rugby. Do you like football though?” Marcus hated American football, it was so boring to him, stop and go, stop and go. There was no speed or action, just a bunch of big guys smashing the crap out of each other. Mort loved it though so when it was on the telly Marcus always found something else to do in another room.

A grunt and dramatic eye roll partially answered him, “My dad and brother love it, they love most sports actually, but I really couldn’t care one way or the other. I actually really like basketball, have you ever seen that?”

“Of course. Mort loves to watch all sports. Basketball is cool though, more action and speed. Now hockey, that’s an interesting sport to watch!”

“It’s pretty cool, I’ve only been to a couple of games back in Alaska, and of course it’s huge there with the high schools. So to completely change the subject, I read more of the book today, thanks for the combo by the way!” Emily looked up at and gave him a mock scowl. “But I was wondering, how is it so well known that you guys are ‘Endangered’, I wouldn’t think there’s a census for it or anything, so how do you know that there are so few of you left? And why are some of them trying so hard to figure out the breeding debacle, why not just make more if everyone is so freaked out that you’ll all soon be gone. AND, if you never die then how in the world are you guys disappearing?” Emily had about a thousand more questions that arose from her jotted notes, but she figured she better start off with the ones that left the biggest question marks on her brain.

“So I take it you have been doing some research instead of just fanciful reading?” Marcus raised a brow as he looked down at her.

Emily held up her hands in a mocking gesture, “Of course! Would you expect anything else of me?”

Giving her a smirk he answered, “There have been a few vamps that sort of took a census believe it or not. They traveled around to the known families, or covens, and documented how many there were, when they were changed as well as if any of them were born that way. I don’t think any of it got written down in the book though or not.”

Her shock was apparent, “What do you mean you don’t know? You haven’t read that thing from front to cover over a thousand times by now?”

“No I haven’t actually. Some of the languages I don’t know how to read, or only know a few words that would render useless in this case. I think once people have grasped the idea that they are not human anymore, you feel like you have to be part of something. So even if you hate the being you are now, it is what it is. There have been many that have tried to take their own lives, some actually succeeded; and don’t ask how please. But the reason that we never die is that disease and other typical ailments don’t affect us. There have been many that died in a war sort of speak. About 800 or 900 years ago there was a huge war between our two different kinds, The Clan and the rest of us. They went to a vicious battle, I think it was in Africa but I’m not 100% sure; but so many men and women were killed at that time. I think Sebastian told me that about 250 Vamps perished at each other’s ferociousness. I don’t really know for sure, I lost track so many years ago, but there must be less than a thousand of us now. In some ways that is good, but in others it is sad.”

“Why sad?” Emily knew it would be hard to be part of a dying breed, but she wondered what his reasons would be.

“If you only knew how many medicines, inventions, books and works of art had been created by my kind. We have actually been a huge contribution to modern society, even if no one knows who created these things, they are still very important. Take Sebastian for instance, he was one of the people to help create machines that hospitals use to find tumors and abnormalities that save people’s lives every day. There are so many writers that go by fictitious names to hide their identities and to keep writing over the years, so many pen names. I think this is where I get myself into a quagmire actually. As much as I love this book, and have written in it, I still don’t know how I feel about the breeding. Now don’t get me wrong, I have always wanted a big family, many little ones running to and fro around the house, but the way I was thrown into it by Sebastian, he sort of took the appeal and the want out of it. He turned it into mad experiments that left more destruction in its wake than help and that just ripped at my soul. And then that leads me to you.” Marcus paused and rested his cheek upon Emily’s head and sighed heavily.

“Why me?”

Marcus’ reply was simple, “Because I love you, I want you to be with me forever, as my wife and I would love to have children with you. And I know that cannot happen and it saddens me to no ends.”

Emily was shocked into silence; married? Kids? Wow… she knew she should say something but she was speechless.

Sensing her sudden shock he said, “Well, I can see that we have two different viewpoints on our life together, sorry I ever even said anything,” Marcus got up from under her and tended to the fire that was already blazing all on its own.

Emily could feel his aura, he was very upset now, “Marcus, please don’t take my shock the wrong way. I love you as well and trust me, I would love to be your wife, after some time when we get to know each other more and know that we are meant to be together, forever. And as far as children go, I really don’t think that can ever happen after all that I’ve read today. There have been so many things tried and failed, why would we want to do that to ourselves? And I’m thinking completely of you, what if something happened to me by accident, that would be just horrible for you to deal with, and I never, ever want you in any pain.” Emily sighed and looked down at her hands in her lap, “Marcus, it’s only been a week for Pete’s sake. I know that we’ve gone through what most couples take years to, or never even do; but you have to remember, I’m still human. And just on Sunday we said that we would just take one day at a time, not rush things, I know last night changed a lot of that, but seeing as how we’re in two different situations in life we still need to evaluate reality.” She really didn’t know what else to say or do so she sat in silence and waited for him.

After a few minutes of him staring into the fire he finally said, “You’re right, about everything. I’m being foolish for asking so much of you, and asking for the impossible of myself. I guess after last night I just got carried away with myself and our relationship. As wonderful as it was, last night might not have been the best thing for us to do.” He signed so heavily and put both hands on the mantle and turned completely away from her. “It’s just that, well, I don’t think I can explain it to you.” Another heavy sigh escaped him. Marcus wanted to tell her everything, but he knew he couldn’t, she’s had enough news of reality to deal with mentally for the moment, and he didn’t want to add any more complicated dynamics to it. Now he was struggling with to stay or go, he could feel the tension in the air and he didn’t want it, but it broke his heart to hear her say to take things slowly, but isn’t that what they already agreed upon. Last night brought him so much closer to her, and knowing that he could feel human around her made him feel ecstatic! But then knowing that he never will be, and she will never be like him, the turmoil made him want to run away and not look back. Finally he turned to look at her, when he saw her face he rushed over to her and scooped her into his arms and held her tightly. “Oh honey please don’t be upset like this, it tears my heart out to see you so sad.”

Emily looked up at him and a tear finally fell down her cheek. She angrily wiped it away, she didn’t want to cry, and she didn’t even know why she was crying. This was too much; maybe she was fooling herself thinking that she could handle all of this, she wasn’t as strong as she wanted to be. She took a shaky breath, “Whatever. I think you’re right, last night was a mistake in the fact that we are moving too fast for me, and I’m not as strong as I want to be, nor portray to be. I’m confused Marcus! The fact that we can’t be together, normally, is always looming over me, but then the fact of being so overwhelmingly crazy about you and not ever wanting to be without you leaves my head in a constant spiral. It’s like there’s no way for either of us to win this.” She put her head into his chest and closed her eyes. Whew, no more tears fell, she thought.

They stood like that in silence for a long time, both pondering their thoughts and their future. Marcus suddenly felt like he had to go away, only for a day or so, to think of all of the ramifications and possibilities, and most of all he had to get his feelings and reality into check. Finally after the twentieth heavy sigh he said, “Emily, I think I’m going to go take the chance then and go to a book convention in Rome, you need time to think, as do I.”

She sprang her head up and looked at him, “You’re not running away from me are you?”

“God no! I would never, I could never, even if I could never touch or kiss you again I will be in your life forever, nothing will ever change that. I love you for the person that you are and for the time that we spend together. Honestly, I have never had a friend like you before; we have so much in common and enough differences to keep things fun and interesting; you’ve become my best friend Em.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “But you’re right; this is way too fast, for both of us I think. The fact that we professed our love to each other is a little crazy to start with, then to add all of the other stuff on top of it, I’m sorry, I overwhelmed you way too much and the last thing I ever want to do is hurt you in way. I think if we had at least two to three days apart then we can get our lives, and life,” he gently hugged her tighter to emphasize the word life, “ back into check, and create some normalcy. And that’s just it Emily, you make me feel normal again, not like some storybook creature!” They sat on the couch and Emily put her legs over his and held his hands in her lap.

Taking a moment to absorb all that he just said, and agreeing with his reasoning after the initial reaction of hurt dispersed, she knew that would be a smart thing to do. Then a thought hit her like a ton of bricks and she suddenly felt a little pang of fret, she asked, “Rome? Is it the same convention, so to speak, that you went to all those years ago?” Emily sort of gulped then got the biggest twist in her stomach, it almost made her want to puke.

“Yes it is. I will stay at the villa there, it’s in my name now and that was the only piece of property that I kept, I guess I never felt like it was really mine to sell even though Sebastian put it into my name about 50 years ago, so I know he’s still alive at least. I ended up getting the papers “willed” to me. But anyway, I can see that this is killing you, I feel no matter what I do right now I am ripping you apart in one way or the other, and I hate myself for it.” Marcus looked from her eyes down to their entwined fingers.

Emily was flabbergasted that he would be leaving for a few days, and maybe it was harder on him than it was for her. She just couldn’t get a grip on anything in her mind right now. She looked down also and started to lightly stroke his fingers with hers, she still loved the way his skin felt, cool and firm, but not ‘monstrous’ in any way. She wondered how it felt to other people that didn’t know what he was. Finally she looked up into his eyes which were already scanning her face, “Sure, if you think that is the best thing to do. I think we both got so caught up into the moment we didn’t stop to think of real life, maybe we live in our books too much, and now when a story comes to life, for me at least; then it just confuses and scares the hell out of me. I don’t want to lose you Marcus, like you said, even if we have to be friends and that’s all, then I’m fine with that, I just don’t want you out of my life now that you’re in it.”

Marcus was at a loss. Since he had no idea what to say he decided to say nothing at all and chose to give her a slight smile, then turned his head to look at the flames. After a while he quickly glanced at his watch, it was already half past six, how did the time go so quickly when they were together? “You need to eat darling.”

“I’m not hungry at all,” Emily thought she was going to throw up still and the last thing that she even wanted to think about, much less do, was to eat.

Marcus was at a loss for words but stated, “The convention is the day after tomorrow, I’ll have to leave first thing in the morning to get there and register in time. I’ll only be gone for three or four days,” he almost chocked on the exact words that he said to the other woman he loved so many years ago, and he lost her forever that time. Suddenly he took Emily back into his arms and held her so tight, he lightly and softly wept, in his own way with no tears.

Emily wrapped around him as well, knowing what was going through his mind; it was the same place, same reason and probably the same amount of time, he must have feelings of dread right now even though nothing could take his life this time. “You’ll be home in no time, and I’ll be right here for you darling.” She said no more and just held him during his time of need. She knew this was best, a few days apart would put things into perspective for them, they can clear things up for their own mental sakes.

Marcus let her loose and leaned forward to put his elbows on his knees, “I better get going soon so I can pack and make sure Mort is all set before I go.”

“Mort? What do you have to do for him?” Emily didn’t think Mort was incapable of taking care of himself at all.

“Emily, Mort is very sick, he has good days more than most, but when a bad day hits, it’s pretty bad. I just need to make sure the neighbors know, as well as Mary, and I make sure the house is arranged so he won’t fall into anything. I make enough food for him to just pop into the microwave to heat up; otherwise he would sit there all day and forget to eat until someone told him that he needed to.”

Emily put her hands on his back and lightly stroked him. She wasn’t aware that Marcus had such a responsibility living with his old nephew. “Oh, I see. Well I’ll pop in there every day to check on him, no worries about that.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that, so will he. If you can just head over there after your classes tomorrow that would be great. I’ll call you every day, promise.” He stood up to leave, Emily thought that he was tired of the heavy feeling in her flat that was sickening to her, she couldn’t imagine how it felt to him.

She followed him to the door and he paused before opening it, he turned around to her and was surprised to see that she was right behind him, to kiss him or kick him out he wasn’t too sure of though. Then she suddenly flung her arms around his neck and kissed him, very lovingly. He returned the kiss and was relieved that she wasn’t too upset with him.

“Call me before you go please, and as soon as you get there. And Marcus, don’t fret my pet, this will all work out. Hey, you can find me a cool book huh? That won’t make it seem so bad for you. And as silly as this sounds, please be careful.”

“I will do all that you’ve asked of me Doll,” he hugged her and whispered into her ear, “I love you Emily Cook, no matter what.” Then kissed her ear and turned to leave.

As he was walking out the door she couldn’t help but take his hand and give it a squeeze, why was she having this horrid feeling that she would never see him again, it was ridiculous, and he would be home by Monday at the latest. He squeezed her hand back, gave her one last lingering closed lipped kiss and went out into the hallway and down the stairs.

After hearing the outside door close she closed and locked her house door and went to her couch and curled up into the fetal position and cried silently for what seemed like hours. Emily didn’t realize that she had fallen asleep because when she opened her eyes it was dark outside, it must have been about eight or nine o’clock to her surprise. She got up and went to take a nice, long, hot bath. When she got to the bathroom she saw the nightgown and ties that she got earlier that day, “Guess this won’t get worn for a while now” she said to the air, then put them away in her dresser with the rest of her PJ’s. As her bath was filling she got a glass of wine and turned on some classical music. She couldn’t bear to hear any words right now, she just wanted to melt away and think of nothing.

After her bath and fourth glass of wine she didn’t feel so melancholy any more. She relit her fire and looked at the case that was locked and beside her desk, “Damn book.” She wanted to read more but then didn’t at the same time, so she decided that she might as well work on her paper for a little bit more instead. She had a long day tomorrow and she wouldn’t be able to do much work on it. Then she sighed when she remembered that she also had all of the work that she’ll have to make up for missing classes today.

Emily woke up to the distant sound of her alarm going off and her head felt like it was stuck to her desk. Damn it, her neck was so sore and her back felt like it was soldered together. After getting up and stretching she looked down at her papers, she didn’t get very far on her work before she dozed off for the night apparently. As she was walking and stretching, her phone rang and that made her almost jump out of her skin. “Hello?” She said groggily into the phone, it was only 6:00 AM as she turned off the alarm clock in her room.

A smile came to her lips as she heard, “Good morning, did you sleep alright?” Marcus sounded as sweet as always to her.

Answering truthfully she said as she stretched her back again, “Um sort of, I feel asleep at my desk working, just a little stiff, that’s all. Are you on your way to the airport?”

“I’m actually in Italy now, my flight left so early that I didn’t want to call you at one to tell you I was leaving. The convention starts at noon, then will go on until tomorrow evening. I needed to get some newer books for the shop and replace some old ones that people have been searching for, hopefully I can find them quickly and be home by tomorrow night, but we’ll see, you never know how these things will go.” Marcus felt weird, it was awkward right now between the two of them, at least he felt that way.

“That would be great, hope you have fun! I have a full day but I will stop by and see Mort on my way home from school.” Emily thought it felt like a strained conversation, she didn’t know what to say at all. Should she act like nothing really happened yesterday and all was well and normal, or should she have the attitude of not caring?

“Emily?” Marcus could feel her tension, “Are you… alright?” He asked her this with much hesitation.

“Yeah I’m great,” then she regretted sounding so chipper, “Marcus, this sucks! I can’t pretend with you. I feel like we had a huge fight and now everything is different between us, and I don’t want that at all! I want to be in your arms every night, I don’t care about anything else but you and me, together! Right now I would give up my life to spend forever with you.”

Marcus’ mouth dropped to the floor, he couldn’t believe what he just heard her say, “Now let’s not be too rash my darling, your life is splendid and there is no way that I will ever take that from you or allow anyone else to. But let me just add that it’s so awesome to hear you be honest with me, I want to be with you as well. I‘ve been thinking a ton on the flight over, and I’m seeing this now as a forced business trip, it was the pretext of the departure that got a little messed up”. He felt like the anxiety in his manner was gone and shortly he heard a slight sigh from Emily and the tension between the two of them dissipated. Marcus took in some air then continued, “Emily, we’ve been through a lot together so suddenly, for some reason or another, so I agree, let’s stop this silliness, why fight what feels so right and natural?”

Emily sighed once more into the phone, the angst was gone, she felt better getting out her feelings and felt better hearing his. He then purred into the phone, “Call me when you are done with your classes, I want to hear your voice as much as possible.”

Emily was about to start crying again, mostly out of relief and needing to release some pent up feelings, but she wondered why she was feeling like this? She almost told him about her dream last night but thought better of it, it was probably from all of his stories and the book anyway. She swallowed hard, “I’ll call you as I’m walking out the door of my last class, I promise!”

“Good, I look forward to it. Please don’t be worried, everything happens for a reason and you came, (he almost said ‘back’), into my life for a reason. My cab is here, I have to get going, love you!”

As she closed her eyes and smiled into the phone at his sweetness she replied, “I love you also Marcus, talk to you soon.” When she hung up she felt a little better but not entirely. She hated not knowing why she felt certain ways, hated not being in control of her own mind at all. While her tea was steeping she tried to remember as much of her dream from last night as possible.

In it she was with Marcus, in that house she always dreamt of, and they were on her front step and he was leaving, going to Rome to buy some books. He kissed her hand with the engagement ring on it and told her he will see her in four days. Then her dream flashed her to that horrid black room with the creature in the corner, growling again. She was screaming in her dream and then she flashed to her house again and she was putting the ring in a secret place in the window seat of the room in the attic. This part of the dream was the exact same that she had the other night. Then Marcus was back with her but he looked like those demonic vampires from the movies. He had large red yes, huge bloody fangs and was coming towards her. Right when he was about to bite her she woke up.

Emily got her tea and started to get dressed and get her books for class together. The dream kept replaying through her mind, she finally came to the conclusion that it must be her imagination running wild from the book and stories from Marcus’ life. Oh that book! Now she thought that she really wanted to finish it, she wanted to read what Marcus had written; she was surprised with herself that she hadn’t read it before now. Well that was to be on her agenda for tonight, after checking on Mort first of course.

She got to class on time and it went by with her in a fog. She was able to get her assignments that she missed from the day before, and luckily it wasn’t anything too daunting. Lunch was with Julia and Patricia again; and when Julia finally raised her voice did Emily snap into the here and now, “Emily! Wake up girl what’s your deal today?”

Emily snapped out of her daze, “What? I’m sorry, just a little out of it today, that’s all.” She didn’t realize that she hadn’t even opened her salad container much less started to eat it.

Julia flipped her long brown hair over her shoulder and stared squarely at Emily, “Does it have anything to do with that hunk you’re seeing now? Love always gives that look in the eye when something is amiss!” Julia knew all about love, lust, infatuation, or anything of the genre.

Patricia stepped in, “Julia don’t pry into Emily’s love life. If she wants to talk she will.” Then she looked at Emily with a wink and waited, hoping that Emily would spill it out.

“Well…” Emily paused because she wasn’t too sure what to say, but she had to talk to someone about it and these two women were the closest things she had to friends that she could speak to about a relationship. “Marcus and I, well um, I guess we just got off to a very fast start and we need to pull away a bit. He went to Rome for work and will be gone for a couple of days. I guess I just feel a little, I don’t know…” Emily started to open her salad but wasn’t hungry at all so she sipped from her water bottle instead.

After a few moments of silence while Emily toyed with her drink and Patricia ate, Julia put her sandwich down and piped up, “That’s it? What did you bop him and now you feel bad about it?” Julia was rolling her eyes that it took her that long to figure it out.

Both Emily and Patricia said at the same time, “Julia!”

“What? Tell me I’m wrong here. You meet Mr. Wonderful, what last week, you hit it off splendidly, you had the best sex of your life, now you are freaking out because you think you love him, but hey, it’s only been a week and that’s impossible. You said so, he freaked out and decided to give you some space and now that’s freaking you as well.” Julia sat back, folded her arms across her chest and looked at Emily dead in the eye, “Well?”

Emily looked over at Patricia who had her fork frozen half way to her mouth and looked from Julia over to Emily. Emily started to laugh, “Shit girl, you know too much about this stuff.” Then she sighed heavily, “You hit the nail on the head,” then she shrugged her shoulders and took another sip of water.

Julia said smugly, “Thought so. Now this is what you do. Stop freaking out! Marcus is not only gorgeous but well off, owns his own business and makes you glow. Enjoy the sex, enjoy his company, and let something major freak you out, not this stuff! When he starts seeing other women or tells you that he’s gay, then freak away, but not until then.”

Emily was not only startled but amazed, “How do you know that he’s well off and owns his own business?”

“Haven’t you figured out how small this place is yet? I saw him with you when he dropped you off at school on Monday and well, one question to one person just leads to the next and wham-o, you find out all sorts of stuff. Plus, the way that man dresses is no way a poor one does, he was wearing $100 jeans over that great ass. Oh, sorry, disrespectful, so sorry!” Julia didn’t mean that last part to slip out, but man, Marcus was too hot and sexy not to drool at!

Smirking and holding her hand up she snickered, “No offence taken, you should see it without the $100 jeans on!” Then all three women had a great laugh and that helped Emily more than anything. She finally started to eat her lunch and Patricia started to tell them about the horrid research paper on the anatomy of jellyfish that she had to do. They all agreed that they had to learn the most unrelated garbage of their fields to get their degrees.

Mort was busy in the shop when Mary entered at about 4:00. He didn’t hear her come in and when she snuck up behind him and gave him a goose he actually screamed. She laughed and then felt bad that she could have given him a heart attack, “I’m so sorry to scare you dear, your hinny looked too cute not to pinch!”

After he spun around and got his heartbeat back to normal he said, “That’s okay, you can goose me anytime!” Then he gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “I wasn’t expecting you until later, wasn’t our date at seven?” Mort was always questioning time, he forgot almost everything. If Marcus didn’t leave him notes all over and make sure everything was as it should be, he would be dead in two days!

“Yes it is, but I was passing by and thought I would pop in to say hello. That is alright isn’t it?” Mary didn’t want to impose upon him, but she loved to sit and talk to him and wanted to see him every chance she got. It had been that way since the first time she walked into this shop twenty years ago. She just never had the nerve to be one of these ‘modern women’ and ask him out on a date first.

“Of course, you can come in anytime you want, even if we’re closed!” He took her hand and led her over to the couch that was in front of the large side window. “But why do I also have the feeling that Marcus also asked you to ‘pop on in here’? He seemed to have called even the Bobbi’s to let them know to keep an eye on me!” Mort laughed, he secretly loved having the attention.

Mary admitted, “Well he did call me and ask me to check on you, but I would have done that anyway without his phone call.” Mary gave him that coy smile and looked down into her lap.

Mort took her hand and kissed it, “Well thank you, it’s always such a pleasure to see you!”

They sat there and chatted idly while a couple of people came and went, with only one person buying anything, Mort was more annoyed by the interruptions than concerned about the sale. No one had a clue that the store was just a front for Marcus after all these years. They surely didn’t need any money, heck if Mort had ten grandchildren they would never have to work a day in their lives; but it was home for Marcus and Mort loved it here, so it all worked out perfectly.

At about six Emily walked through the door with phone in hand talking to Marcus, and smiled when she saw Mort and Mary sitting there, Mort’s face went from a scowl to a smile in seconds. “Yep, he’s here with Mary and looking happy as a clam,” Emily knew she was interrupting them so she walked to the back of the store to finish her conversation. The tension from the day before seemed to have vanished at lunch; she told him about her day, her paper, and the guy falling asleep in class again today. He told her of the books he bought and the off-color people that he saw. The villa was the exact same as the last time he was there, the staff was keeping it up every month as he paid them to and he told her that he would bring her there one day very soon.

Emily exclaimed, “I would love that, I’ve always wanted to see Rome. Well everywhere actually!”

He promised, “When you graduate we will travel all over the world, anywhere you want to go!” Marcus was so overjoyed that they were speaking normally to each other again, the conversation this morning left him spinning and sick.

As she slowly started to turn to make her way back up front she told him, “Well let me see to Mort and help him then I will call you when I get back home, does that sound good?”

Marcus paused for a second, “Actually let me call you when I can, they are doing more bidding and there are a few people that I need to talk to. But I will call you no later than 8:00. Does that sound good?”

“Perfect, I’ll be home. Love you.”

“Forever.” Marcus hung up and put his cell back into his jacket pocket and walked back into the main room where there were tons of booths full of books of all sorts. He had a long night ahead of him, there were still three more books he had to buy, and one more thing for Emily that he needed to find. He didn’t tell her that he was going to be home in the morning, that surprise he could spring on her in person.

Emily smiled, pocketed her phone and went back out front to see Mary leaving and Mort gave her a sweet kiss and said that he would see her in about an hour. He turned and looked at Emily, “So are you my other guardian today? I swear that boy probably called the British Guard to pop on in tonight while I sleep!”

Mort tried to make a sour face but Emily could see through it and just laughed, “You love it and you know it.” She walked over to him and gave him a big hug.

“Come and sit here dear, I have some questions to ask you,” Mort shuffled back over to the couch where he and Mary were sitting earlier.

“Uh-oh, what did I do?” Emily mockingly gave him a little girl, big-eyed look.

Mort settled back into the fluffy couch and looked at her inquisitively, “Well I don’t know, what did you do? Marcus was in such a foul mood last night when he came home then said out of nowhere that he was going to that convention after all and will be back on Sunday or Monday. What in the world did you end up getting him as a gift?”

Emily sat back and took a deep breath, she could talk to Mort, he knew what Marcus was and would completely understand. “I didn’t get a chance to give him his gift actually. I was reading the book and…”

He gasped in shock, “The book?! Are you serious? He’s letting you read that thing?!” Mort was astounded, he read it years ago and it gave him nightmares for days, weeks actually.

“Well yeah, why? I love it.” Emily scrunched her eyebrows and looked at him like he was crazy, then continued, “It’s giving me so much information about the world we live in, and well, about Marcus as well. I haven’t read his entries as of yet, I will tonight.” Emily mentally kicked herself again for not reading that first off and questioned herself why she didn’t. “But anyway, we started to talk about us and I guess things just got a little convoluted from there.” Emily ended up telling the old man, the one she now considered family, almost everything; her and Marcus’ love for each other, hinted at what they had done last night, Marcus mentioning wanting to marry her and wishing to have kids… everything.

Mort just sat there and listened and nodded his head every now and then to let her know that was listening and understood. Finally when she was done, he patted her hand and sighed heavy as though he were mentally weighing two very heavy objects. After looking at his hands over Emily’s for a long moment he looked up into her lovely and bright green eyes and said quietly, “Come here, I want to show you something. And I know Marcus will kill me for doing this when he finds out, but I don’t care, I’ll be 95 in a few months so there’s not much of me to take.”

As Emily followed him to the back of the shop she gasped, “95?! Really? Marcus thought you were just about 90 or so, man you’re doing awesome for your age!” Emily knew he was doing great for 90 even, but he was closer to 100 years old at this point.

Mort just shook his head and thought to himself, Mr. Perfect even has his flaws, but voiced, “Yep, that boy looses all track of the years.” Mort chuckled as he went into the office where Marcus did all of his work. Emily sat on the couch while Mort went to the back wall, far into the dark corner and started to dig around. After a few moments Emily could hear a muffled, “Oh, here it is”

Emily jumped up to help him when she saw that he was taking out a painting from a stack of things piled against the wall. It wasn’t a large one, only about three feet by two. He had it held with the picture to his chest and motioned for her to sit by raising his chin towards her seat, “Please, sit back down dear.” He had such a perplexed look on his face. Emily did as she was told and was now more curious than ever as to what he needed to show her. Finally he spoke, “You’ve heard of Amelia of course.” Not waiting for a response but instead leaned on the stool at the work table he continued, “Well this will explain a lot to you, especially how he reacted the first time he saw you on Halloween.” With that Mort turned the picture around.

At first Emily thought it was very pretty; it was of a lovely woman in a velvet blue, floor length dress, it looked as though it was from the early 1800’s. She had very long brown hair and lovely green eyes. She was holding a brown leather book in one hand and a pale yellow parasol in the other. “Wow, she’s very lovely, is that Amelia?”

“Yes, now get up and look closer at her face please,” Mort was very serious as he said this.

Emily got up and walked the three feet over to him and bent down to get a better look at the picture that was on the ground and leaning against Mort’s legs. Her eyes about popped out of her head when the face registered in her mind, “Oh-my-God,” was all that she could say, she almost fell over and had to grab the table next to her to balance herself. It was her face, she looked exactly like Amelia.

With shaky legs she went back to the couch and sat down, Mort replaced the painting where he found it and poured her a cup of tea that always seemed to be on the ready here. Her hand shook as she took the cup from him, “Wow, that does explain a lot, a whole lot!”

Mort sat next to her after he poured his own cup, “Now my dear, you can tell him that you saw it or not, that is your choice. But the reason why I showed you that was so you can have a clue as to what is going through that man’s head. He has been through hell and back for over 200 years, and when you shook him up I knew it was pretty serious. Not only is he in love with you for the person you are, but you also remind him of the love that he had so many years ago. You are the second person that man has ever loved, in 190 years Emily! Grasp that, of course he wants to marry you and have kids; and of course he cannot. I can tell every emotion from him whether he knows it or not, we have been together for too long and have experienced too many things for us not to know each other too well”.

He paused to take a sip of his tea and to let her absorb all that he just said. “Let me give you this bit of advice now, love him. Love him with all of you. And I know you do love him, I knew that the second I saw you two together. I do believe in “love at first sight” and all that jazz, and that is what happened for the two of you. Marcus wants nothing but the best for you and wants nothing but to be with you. And it kills him that he will lose you as well one day and the fact that he’s able to have you with him forever, by changing you, kills him even more.” Mort looked off in the distance for a bit, then without looking at her he confessed, “I asked him to change me once when I was about 40 or so.”

“What? Why would you do that?” Emily was still flabbergasted at what she had just seen and heard, so that one flipped her again.

The old man just lifted his bony shoulders and sounded nonchalant, “My parents were dead, I had no wife, didn’t want one actually, and I knew that I was all that Marcus had; just me. It’s hard to love someone and see a sadness that you cannot heal. My grandfather used to sneak me to see my Uncle Marcus when I was a kid. My father loathed him so much, he would never even let me say his name in our house. So I grew up knowing that he was different, I saw a picture of my Papa Alex with Marcus, who was still Craig at that time, and he looked the exact same. I knew, knew it when I was about ten years old or so. But it didn’t matter, this was my uncle that took me to museums, parks, book stores, bought me every toy I ever wanted, spoiled me with love, affection and gifts. We talked about anything and everything, he was my best friend. When I talked about traveling one day in my last year of college I woke up the next morning with a passport, several plane tickets and a wad of cash on my bureau. After I traveled I came back here. And we’ve been here ever since.”

Mort sniffed hard, “Then I found out that I was sick.” He now looked over to Emily and looked at her in the eye and made another confession, “I have bone cancer Emily. No one thought that I would live this long, I have amazed all four of the doctors that I have outlived, and baffle the young one I have now. When I first found out, I wanted Marcus to change me so I wouldn’t have to endure the sickness and the horrid death that was surely soon to follow. But he refused. Said that he would do everything in his power to keep me healthy, and somehow he has. He feeds me well and makes sure that I don’t stress; he takes me to every appointment on time every month and makes sure all of my medicine is fully stocked and taken every day at the right time. But now he has you as well, he has a family again. As small as it may be, we’re it kid; we’re all that he has.”

Mort patted her hand again as she just nodded her head in agreement. Then he suddenly looked at his watch, “Sorry to drop a bomb on you and leave, but I have a hot date!”

Emily laughed and helped Mort up off the too low couch and assisted him up the stairs. He went into his room and Emily remembered what Marcus said before about Mort leaving stuff around, and sure enough there were a few mugs laying here and there, his glasses on the floor and the newspaper all over the coffee table. As she was cleaning up she heard him from the other room cry out, “That damned boy!”

She went flying into his room to find him with his undershirt and pants on and holding up a new suit, then chuckled, “He does take great care of you Mort. Mary will love it on you!” Then she shut the door on his smiling grumble and left him to get dressed.

When he was done she helped him back down the stairs and out the front door of the shop, he locked up and they walked arm and arm to Mary’s door. Mary was so happy to see Emily and asked her in, but she politely refused, too much homework to do, then Emily was on her way back to her house.

Once Emily got into her flat and lit the stupid fire again, she went straight to the book. Now she wanted to read about what Marcus had written, Mort said nothing to the effect of what might be printed there. She did the combo, put on her gloves, took the book out and gently placed it on the desk and flipped it to where she saw the date, 1825. She flipped back one page to see what Sebastian had written but it was in Italian so she flipped back to where Marcus had written his first page. His handwriting was of the elegant and flowing style of the times. Marcus toned down the loops and long lines so as to save space as well as make it easier for people to read. He started it like every other author; who turned him, how it happened and the first few months thereafter of his life with Sebastian.

To her absolute astonishment he wrote one more page touching lightly on saying that he was back with his family and living a normal life, but that was that. In 1900 there was a line simply stating, “Still here”, but that was all that was written. Then in 2004 he wrote that he rebound the book and described what he did to it and the types of materials used. But the final line, dated one week ago, he wrote, “Emily, I love you”, and that was it. Emily flipped forward to the empty pages, then flipped back to make sure she didn’t accidentally flip two pages at a time. She leaned back into her chair and whistled, “Wow!”

So he was one of the ones that didn’t write in it. No mention of his travels, his experiments that Sebastian made him do, he touched on that in the beginning very, very little, but nothing even of his family. Her name was the only one written there. She wanted to talk to him so badly now but she knew that he was busy and shouldn’t call him. So she closed the book, put it back in the case and took off the gloves.

Realizing that she had eaten only half a salad since yesterday when her stomach growled in response to her aimless spinning in her chair, Emily knew that her hunger finally caught up with her. She went to the kitchen and made a quick red sauce and pasta. As she ate she contemplated why he wouldn’t write in the book. He seemed to love it, cherish it even; but then why wasn’t he a participant in it? She was expecting to see pages and pages filled with his words of his adventures, good and bad, of his family and the shop. But nothing, nothing at all. She knew the last note was for her only and written only in the last day or two. Why else would he say that?

The phone rang exactly at eight like Marcus said, she answered on the second ring, “Hey love!”

“Um, okay, you’ve never called me that before!” Her brother Steve was a little surprised to hear her answer the phone that way.

Totally feeling like she just ate her left slipper she stammered out, “Oh, sorry, thought you were someone else. What’s up bro?” Emily hadn’t spoken to Steve in a few months. They sent e-mails back and forth about every week or so, but the calls were expensive so they kept those to a minimum.

There was no way that he was going to let her slip go unnoticed so he jibbed her a little, “So who’s your love huh? This guy you mentioned last week in your e-mail? Love already, I know you better than that Em, let’s see, he must be eight inches tall by eight inches wide, and three inches thick with lots of crap in between!” Steve laughed at his own dry humor.

Emily had to snort, her brother was such a dork, and coming from her that was pretty bad, “Whatever, his name is Marcus and he’s actually about six-three. But I am not having this conversation with you. So why’d you call, what time is it there, 11 in the morning?”

“Yep, bright and early, and mom wants to know when you’ll be here for Thanksgiving and what you want to have? She’s knee deep in cookbooks right now and demanded that I call you right this second.”

Emily could hear her mom yelling at him in the background, “I didn’t demand you Stephen Anthony, now shush it!”

Making a lame attempt at not yelling into the phone he snapped back at his mother, “How can I shush it and talk to Em at the same time mom? Geez!” Then he put the receiver back to his lips and finished where he left off, “Anyway, when does your plane come in, you got your tickets already right?”

Emily had to shake her head and roll her eyes, she was exasperated because she had told her mom this several times before she ever packed a suitcase, “Guys, I won’t be home for Thanksgiving, I’m in England, not America… hello!” Emily should have known that they wouldn’t think of it, she was just reminded of it herself actually.

Steve knew he was going to get an earful now but he relayed the message to the five foot ball of anxiety glaring at him, “Oh hell that’s right. Mom, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in England, she has school still.” Wanting to miss the shit storm, Steve blabbered into the phone then took off, “Oh hell, now mom’s pissed hold on…”

Before Emily could say another word her mom was on the phone, “What? You have school? You don’t get any time off to come home an’ see us?” Her mom sounded very upset, not angry but quite disappointed.

“No mom, it will be a usual Thursday here. But I’ll be home for Christmas, as soon as I get my ticket I’ll let you know the dates. Sorry mom, this isn’t The States.”

Naomi plopped down onto the chair by the kitchen phone and frowned like a spoilt child, “Oh crap, I was just hoping to see ya before then, I miss you so much Sweetpea.” Getting over her bout quickly she asked about the other thing that was pressing, “So who’s this love that I heard all this talkin’ about?”

Emily had to stifle a snicker at her mother’s ever present Texas accent. That part of home her mother would never lose. Emily also knew this drill and was expecting it from her mother sooner rather than later, “His name is Marcus, and he’s wonderful mom, I’m crazy nuts about him!” Emily told her mom all about him and Mort, the shop and how Marcus has been spoiling her. She also boasted about all the time they spend with each other and how supportive he is about her schooling. Emily promised to send everyone pictures as soon as possible.

As she rambled on, she noticed that she was speaking to her mom as a woman, not as a kid. It made her feel good when her mother said, “Oh honey, I really do miss ya. Goin’ over there has really been good for ya. You sound so happy and pleased with your life there; you also sound so mature now, you’re not my little girl anymore.” Naomi paused for a moment to catch her breath, “I can’t wait to see ya at Christmas, you’ll call me as soon as you get your tickets? You better get on line now an’ get them before they get too expensive. Oh, speakin’ of which honey, how are ya doin’ on money, do you need daddy to send ya any?”

Emily answered, “Nope, I’m good. I’ve been stashing away the meager paycheck that I get, but everything is really inexpensive here. I was able to get a killer deal on the flat, granted its freezing ass cold in here all the time…”

“Oh geez babe, if you say it’s cold there I’d be absolutely miserable!” Naomi laughed her cute little laugh and Emily laughed with her; her mother being a native Texan, hated the cold weather. Dad had to pay a fortune heating the house all the time. Emily had to back-peddle real quickly though, “It’s not that cold mom, it’s just that I’m the only other source of heat in here, people and animals make a big difference with the warmth.”

“Why don’t you get a cat then honey, or a ferret, you always wanted one of those things, your dad can’t stop ya now.”

Thinking for a second she said, “I could, but I’m just not home enough, it would be so neglected. Once I’m done with school then I will.” Emily always wanted a ferret; they were so darn cute and smart but her dad would have a fit calling them rats that poop in a box.

“Oh, well you have your Marcus to help and keep ya warm dear,” her mom whispered this into the phone and they both giggled.

Of course Emily couldn’t admit that he actually gave off no warmth at all and he was no help in that area, “Yeah I do, he actually is great at keeping a good fire in the stove all the time. Don’t tell daddy but sometimes he comes in before I wake up and lights a fire so when I wake up it’s all warm in here.”

Naomi sighed into the phone, “Oh my goodness, he’s one of those ol’ fashioned romantics isn’t he? Right out of one your books. Hon, not to jump the gun, but to hear ya talk I think you found your Prince Charming,” her mother sounded so sincere and loving when she said that.

Knowing she was right because she felt the same Emily agreed, “Thanks mom, I think I did, I really, really do. I don’t know how you felt with dad, but this was love at first sight. Hey, we’re both total book nerds, we don’t have very many people to choose from!” Her mom laughed hard, it was always a joke between the two of them about being book nerds, since she was where Emily got it from. Her dad and Steve were always teasing them relentlessly, especially on camping trips.

“So do ya know when you’ll be off for Christmas darlin’?” Naomi didn’t want to sound too blunt, but she had been talking for quite a long time and the bill was going to be outrageous.

Emily glanced over to the calendar that was hanging on the fridge, “I’m not positive on the dates, but I think it’s the 18th to the 3rd, they take a nice long holiday here. But when I get the flights you’ll be the first one to find out, promise. Well mom I know this call is costing you a ton, so I’ll zap you an e-mail soon with some pictures.” Emily knew that Marcus was going to be calling soon and she didn’t want to miss his call.

Relieved that she didn’t have to be the one to say it she made her farewells, “Alright darlin’, well we love ya and miss ya so, so, so very much!” Naomi made a kissing noise into the phone, “I’ll talk to ya’ soon Sweetpea!”

“I love you too mom, give dad a kiss for me and hug Scruff and Mitz for me too huh?” Emily missed her dog and cat very much, her mom mentioning an animal got her wanting to hold them both suddenly.

“Will do baby, love you, see you soon, bye.”

“Bye mom, love you too.” Emily hung up, her mom always had the longest goodbyes. Emily was cleaning up the dishes when the phone rang, of course right when her hands were full of soap. She snatched a towel from the oven door handle and dried them as quickly as she could to grab the phone with a half wet hand, “Hello?” She decided to answer properly this time just in case.

Marcus thought she sounded a little breathless, “Hey Doll, you doing alright?”

“Yeah fine, I was doing dishes when you called, of course, Murphy’s always on my shoulder! Did you get the books and stuff you were looking for?” She tossed the towel onto the counter and finished the dishes as he spoke.

“I did. Man it’s so good to hear your voice, you sound great, very chipper.” Marcus was in the villa packing his things so he could leave on the next flight.

Grinning into the phone she said, “I am, I just got off the phone with my mom. She’s bummed that I won’t be home for Thanksgiving, but is looking forward to Christmas. I told her all about you, she loves you already and said that I have my own Prince Charming with you.”

Marcus laughed, “You obviously didn’t tell her everything about me then, she has delusions of grandeur.”

“Yeah, I left out a couple of things, like your age and diet, but otherwise I told her the truth of your fabulousness. So do you know when you’ll be home?” She didn’t want to sound desperate, but she really did want to see him.

Marcus had to bite his lip, “Not too sure, maybe tomorrow evening, I’ll call you in the morning and let you know for sure. So what do you have planned for this evening dear?” He loved surprises and couldn’t wait for this one.

Drying her hands completely this time and hanging the towel properly on the oven door, Emily walked to the couch and flopped down, “Nothing actually, probably working on my paper. But you know, I read pretty much all of the book today and I noticed something quite interesting. Your passage was, well quite short.”

“Ha, you think?” Marcus didn’t know what to say actually, he hadn’t planned for the conversation, never really even thought about what he had written, or not written. “Well I was more interested in the book, not my life in it. And I didn’t want people to know about my family… I don’t know really. I didn’t think that I’ve done anything that was really noteworthy. Well except for my last entry, that has been my most remarkable entry yet.”

Blushing at the dual meaning she moved on, “Humph… well if that’s all you can give me in there, then fine, I’ll take it.” They let the topic of the book drop and Emily then chatted about her conversation that she had with her mother, and that she walked Mort to Mary’s house for his date, and how nice he looked in his new suit. She left out the part of the picture; that was something that needed to be said in person, not over the phone. Marcus talked more about the books that he got and saw at the convention and told her that he found Mort a wonderful book on Italy, and a book for her that she will love and cherish. Then he talked about the people he saw, and then spoke about some of this and that.

It was like their conversation yesterday left its mark, but a positive one. Why did everything seem to happen in warp speed for them she thought? They talked for a long time, she even took a bath with him on the phone. Nothing kinky but he loved knowing that she was doing it.

After she was dressed and snuggled into bed she reluctantly said, “Well I better get going, your phone bill is going to be outrageous, and it’s getting pretty late there huh?”

“Yeah so? On both accounts. No worries on the bill Doll, and I don’t need to get to bed. So unless if you’re tired and want to get going, I’ll call you first thing in the morning.”

Emily quickly piped up, “No, if you don’t have anything else to do, can you talk for a little longer? I’m not really that tired just yet.” Emily snuggled into the thick quilts a little deeper, “So tell me what Rome looks like? What do you see from your villa?”

Marcus told her that it was so beautiful, even this time of the year. “It’s in the mid 50’s and the sun was out today, I think it will be cloudy though tomorrow. But from the villa you can see the lights of the vast city, and the main drag. There is an assortment of beautiful flowers in the boxes under windows and in pots on the stoops. A guy is playing a guitar a few doors down and he’s really quite good, the tourists love him.” Marcus just talked about what he was looking out of the window when he heard her breathing change, he stopped mid-sentence and quietly asked, “Emily, I’m going to let you get to sleep, I’ll talk to you first thing in the morning.”

Knowing that she was falling asleep, “Sounds great, good night.” After hanging up she was instantly off into dreamland as soon as her head was back on the pillow.

Marcus hung up and put his phone into his pocket. Then grabbing his suitcase, mostly full of books than clothes, he put a card with money for the cleaning crew for Christmas on the kitchen counter and left the villa. His flight was leaving in an hour so he had just enough time to catch his plane and be home before dawn.

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