Chapter 7: GIOVANNI ROMANO
Nearly three hours passed since I had ‘collapsed’. I awoke underneath the feathered, winter comforter that enveloped my mattress. My body felt rested, but shaky after undergoing the torment I put it through. The single lamp on my nightstand had been switched on; the evening was aging rapidly. I immediately sat up and brought my fingers to my lips; blood was absent from them, and my face had been wiped clean.
I noticed my turtleneck sweatshirt was removed; the gray tank top I wore beneath was icy with sweat; the presence of my medallion against my bare flesh sent chills down my spine. The aroma of something cooking graced my nose; I couldn’t pinpoint its source. Oddly, I couldn’t recall what occurred before—and how I ended up in my bedroom? Paige came in, we drank Merlo together—and I got sick? My hands rubbed my face as I pondered, was she still here, did she leave? I then threw the blankets off my body and shuffled out of bed.
The intriguing fragrance strengthened as I drew nearer to the kitchen. While wandering down my hall, I caught the spectacle of blood smeared throughout my walls, and streaked across the ceiling. How did that get there? I silently questioned as I stepped into the openness of my apartment. Paige stood over my stove—cooking something?
“Paige?” I spoke while examining her doings. She was frying eggs; I didn’t purchase any eggs, when and where did she get them? The sophomore girl jerked when she heard my voice, like she had feared its sound from an intense nightmare.
“It is nice to see you awake. I made you something to eat. You got pretty sick,” she tilted her frying pan to show me her culinary ‘magnificence’. It was pathetically burnt. She kept her focus on the pan, and refused to look at me.
“I appreciate your sentiment, but no thank you. I will pass. I also asked you to leave—why are you still here?” I suddenly realized that she could ‘see’… and did see the O’ri branded on my neck. I instinctively covered it with my palm.
“I have never met someone who owns so many blank turtlenecks. What do you wear during the summer—and don’t bother covering it,” she caught my anxious body language as she looked toward me. Her eyes appeared as if they had been lashed. I rapidly made an appalling connection as I made note of blood present even on my kitchen appliances. I shivered in place; all clues pointed to the obvious.
“…You have seen me?” My body grew colder beneath my soaked undershirt.
“Yes, what’s your power—your totem? It must be something with to do with fire or electricity,” I eyed Paige’s frying pan and shot a direct bolt into it; scorching her eggs to a blackened crisp; scaring her. She flinched as she pitched the pan onto the glass top. Her bloodied eyes were frozen open from shock, “electricity manipulation…” Paige squeaked.
“You are a stubborn girl,” I strode to the stove and forced myself beside my student’s warm body; bumping her out of the way with my sturdy physique. The meat of her hips and torso recoiled off of mine; bringing my attention to their plushness as I switched off the nobs. Though the physical contact was passive-aggressive, it felt comforting in a way. My basic humanity was reminding me that it was still there. “Look at me…” I took ahold of her jaw and forced her head in my direction; I could feel her body shuddering. She needed medical attention upon returning home. Her pupils barely focused beneath her distorted cornea, light was reaching them. Paige was fortunate—she would endure a visual handicap for the rest of her life, but she was not completely blind.
“What is it like?” Her abrupt question caught me off guard.
“I don’t understand what you are asking, Paige,” I sighed and looked to the sapphire, digital clock on my appliance. The time read 8:55—shit it was almost nine o’clock.
“To not be human.”
“Unrewarding, like a void only filled with pure bitterness. To be human is to feel—one day I must sacrifice my humanity—I dread that day,” I responded as I rehashed dinner. Paige needed to eat, she was my unexpected guest, and it was time I took responsibility for her.
“Please contact your father; let him know that I will be cooking you dinner. We need time to address your injuries,” I eyed the mobile phone in a side pocket of her schoolbag.
“He knows,” she replied.
“He knows what?”
“That I am here. He trusts me.”
“Okay, then please sit down,” I demanded, finding her words unconvincing. Paige fumbled with the back of a barstool and jerked it toward her, “not there. At the dining room,” I nodded to the dining set located just off the kitchen. It was an arrangement that would due for entertaining small company—such as Paige. She returned the chair to its former position; then took her bag and relocated to my dining area. “Leave that elsewhere; I want to be entertained with each other,” Paige took my suggestion and situated her possessions near my living room couch. I removed the burnt pan from my stovetop; I had warped it beyond practicality. After two centuries of limited use, I had forgotten the strength of my sacred abilities. “Did I burn your hand—you never said anything?” I huffed while tossing the damaged pan into the trash.
“I am okay,” I, again, found her words unconvincing. I added
the broth to my stockpot, placed it on the stove after setting its temperature. My guest would be the one to share the neighbor’s stew; I was positive she wouldn’t notice a bowl missing.
The lid of my stockpot was oddly misplaced? I soon discovered it on the floor and bent down to retrieve it. Its reflectivity instantly conjured the memory of my true reflection. I could hear the deafening echo of my ghastly wail and Paige’s scream.
“Urgh!” I slammed the lid in place, and then came to Paige’s side. She appeared to shut down as I hovered; her right hand was thoughtfully concealed from my view. I slapped my palm on her round shoulder and jerked her body forward enough to seize her forearm. “Hey! Let go of me!” She writhed violently as I forced her palm open like a clam. Its skin was oozing, and severely burnt, I presumed its condition due to the shape of the pan. I sent her a powerful scowl—she lied to me.
“Is this what you do—lie to people?”
“You don’t know anything about me, or what I do,” her voice trembled; I could sense greater fright swelling inside of her. It wasn’t put there by me—but was the result of years of external abuse. She was cornered; shutting down, and lying was her way of sheltering her already crumbling emotions.
I elected not to probe her any further; though my wrath begged me to flay her alive. It was the darkest part of my soul, I had spent years trying to tame its vicious impulses; this was one of those opportunities. I could sense it salivating inside me, like a dog eyeing a bloodied bone.
“Speaking of lying, what does Sil’nei mean?” She fought back. I unconsciously squeezed her wrist to the point of nearly crushing its sesamoid bones. I closed my eyes momentarily, and conjured my limited empathy. She had gone through a significant amount of torment resulting from my doings. Paige’s whole body quaked; her hand was growing purple from the tightness of my grip. I lessened it, and chose to be gentle with her.
“It is what I am called,” I sighed—electing not to interrogate
her any further. Though I was curious where she had gotten the name.
“Don’t ever speak it again.”
“Who is Giovanni Romano?” Her voice shivered.
“One of my…human names. Please just address me by Giovanni. Come with me,” I softly spoke. Her frightened, ruined eyes looked to me for amity, and I offered it to her. I slipped my palms to her torso as she rose from her chair. It was soft; its physique teased my hands and my thoughts. Though undead, I was still a gentleman; the more I made bodily contact with her frame, the more my desire grew. My forth wife deceased at the ripe age of 92; a year had not passed since her death.
Her expiration consumed me with insufferable guilt; I couldn’t do it again. She bore my only first dimension son—who just reached the age of seventy in January. I had not seen him since he was in his early sixties; I was mistaken for his son the last time we were in public together. Since then, he had sent me a card from my great grandchildren—we had not been introduced—or would ever be introduced.
I lead Paige into my one, and only bathroom. It contained an early century claw-footed tub as its centerpiece. I requested its installation when I first purchased the apartment thirty years ago. I brought Paige to its edge and began to run her hand under ice cold water that trickled from its chrome faucet. She winced as I cooled, and cleansed her injury. Her eyes danced around my bathroom, she could scarcely make-out its features, they lastly fell on me.
“I guess this makes us even?” She tried to lighten the mood
of our evening. My brown eyes met her benevolent, clouding corneas.
“Si… it does,” I coaxed Paige’s palm away from the frigidness
of the water and began to pat it dry. She hissed slightly from its disgusting sting. I then removed a medical kit from below the sink and presented Paige a gauze wrap and tube of antibiotic gel. “It is hard to believe that your people have had to live centuries without basic medical supplies,” I shook my head as I nursed her burnt palm.
“My people?” She questioned my unusual remark.
“You should be fine now, just keep it clean,” I finished wrapping her hand and returned my eyes to her youthful freckled complexion. Paige extended her fingertips to the O’ri on my neck; their touch sent tingles through-out my entire body; I shivered. I felt soothed by her touch as her eyes examined the detailed brand in my deep, olive skin.
“Do Inventors get this tattooed? Or…” The tone of her voice was tranquil, and I could feel myself leaning into her; her charm was entrancing my soul. The vanilla scent of Paige’s shampoo was still fresh in her hair; it was intoxicating, I wanted to inhale every bit of it—I needed its potent aroma. I smoothly came over her slouched body and slid my hand along the line of her narrow jaw.
“We are branded when we mature into our sacred abilities…” My gentle Corsu-French accent filled her ear as I buried the arch of my nose deep within the curls of her full, auburn hair. Her rounded breasts gently rose and dipped as her breathing accelerated. My lips dragged along the crest of her ear until I took its lobe between them; biting it gingerly. She jolted away and rotated her head until our eyes locked. I sensed that she was puzzled—yet curious of my intentions.
“What do you mean—that it just appears?” I repositioned my
palm on the side of her chin and drew her within centimeters of me. Her warm breath interchanged with mine. I thought little of the consequences of becoming involved with Paige—she greatly
amused me. My guilt drew me nearer to her. It had been decades since I copulated with anyone, including my wife before she deceased.
“In a way…” I replied as I brought my thin lips to Paige’s. Her taste was everything I hungered for; she opened up as I kissed her passionately. My hands enveloped the sides of her plump cheeks; I could feel my foundation slipping away to her; to lust; to desire, and to my gentlemanly urges. I ousted a breath from the heat mounting within my core. She reciprocated a similar sound as I abandoned her lips and began to taste the unprotected, ivory skin of her neck.
It bore a salty, but wholesome tang; I sought to steal every bit of her virginity. My soul required every bit of her; it was rapidly growing greedy. My hands voyaged freely from her face to the bottommost seam of her knit sweater and dipped beneath its elastic. Paige’s sensitive skin quavered as my fingertips skimmed her torso; my loins burned as their hunger intensified; I ached to liberate their seed. My member was destined to become encased within her tight, but delicate pistil. Its unspoiled form would bring me to break inside of her; its grip was simply fantastic.
In our short time spent together, Paige rejuvenated many pieces of my humanity that had long fallen subject to neglect. Something about her sheer presence seduced me; I dreaded her knowledge and drew her under my wing in order to administer strict censorship. There she would stay silenced—to not repeat one syllable of what she acquired. I was determined to somehow lure her in, and make up for all that I had caused.
Shame incapacitated me. I powerlessly stood with my fingers locked behind my neck and my elbows propped on my bar top; my head hung tiredly between my arms. The stiff ends of my lengthy trench coat dangled freely past my knees; I was dressed to take Paige home. She noiselessly departed my bathroom outfitted only in her knit sweater; her bare, painted toes sunk into my cottony, plush carpeting as she sauntered along, dragging her fingers on the wall.
Before she emerged, her cellphone rang; I answered. Her father’s raspy—concerned voice was on the other end; as assumed, he expected her home hours ago. He was shocked when I answered, Paige lied to me. I was furious; I just wanted the night to be over.
“Take a shower,” I snapped as soon as I sensed her presence. She reeked of intercourse. Paige froze, surprised that I noticed her without moving a centimeter. “Be quick. I am taking you home; your father has been expecting you for hours. He also agreed to take you to seek professional medical attention. I told him that you came to me like this.”
“My father?” She swallowed as her eyes made note of her cellphone relocated to my counter.
“I have changed my mind; I will prepare your dinner to go,” I grumbled. Paige came beside me and swooped her hands across the counter until she reclaimed her mobile device; she seemed bothered. “It rang, I answered. Don’t fret; your personal business is none of my concern.”
“I wish you hadn’t answered his call…” dread was buried in her words.
“He is ignorant to what transpired tonight,” I presumed what fueled her anxiety.
“No… I know that,” Paige stashed her phone in her bag; she left a lot unsaid. I reached out and took ahold of her shoulder; her mannerisms troubled me.
“Then what is it?” My question was firm; something wasn’t right inside her mind.
“Please, it’s nothing…” Paige brushed me off and stormed down the hall to my bathroom; she closed the door rather hard. Its slam buckled the few pictures I had hanging on my walls.