Think of the blood as a fine wine, Ellen had told her. Suzan hoped she could comply, drink blood in the same way she would drink the fine Shiraz her lover now offered. Take a little at a time and build up to the taste...
But in the ensuing days, Suzan found she had no thirst, no desire, no need, no craving. Ellen even offered her small aperitif glasses of blood to help her ease into the need, reserved blood that she had collected from Destry Lundegard. Suzan forced herself to drink the contents in order to please her lover, if not to prove to herself that she could do it, acquire a taste for it. She even thought of the deep red liquid as a Bloody Mary, cold and delicious. But no matter how hard she tried to convince herself, she became ill afterward, gagging, choking and vomiting...her physical anguish soon affecting her mental and emotional well-being.
“It’s no use,” she told Ellen after her fifth attempt. “I must not have gone through with the transformation completely.”
“But you have, mon cheríe,” Ellen assured her with a patient smile. “I witnessed your rebirth after your death. You have definitely changed. Perhaps it will take longer for you to develop your need. But don’t despair, my pet, we’ll keep trying.” Suddenly, she donned a pensive look. “Then again, perhaps...”
“Yes?” Desperate, Suzan would grasp at any suggestion, any hint, and any analysis that could help her.
“What about the serum you took? Perhaps it affected the outcome.”
Of everything she had pondered and agonized over, Suzan hadn’t thought about the serum as a possible qualifier, a side effect of the transformation process. She had been too busy wallowing in her predicament to think clearly. Now she actually smiled as hope filled the void left by anguish and doubt. “Yes, it’s very possible! Of course, I’ll need to analyze the serum further in order to find a correlation between it and the elixir, how it might have effected, or even changed, the process.”
“Just think!” Ellen declared, flushed with excitement. “If it has changed the process, then you have found the perfect formula and broken the curse! There will be no more need for blood to appease my hunger!”
If only, if only...
“It may take some time,” the doctor warned as she returned to her scientific mindset. “Not only to prove the serum has changed the process, but to incorporate its properties in the elixir itself.” If Ellen would ever need to use it again...Suzan didn’t want to think about the possibility should her own immortality fail as it had Charles and the others—not yet anyway, and hopefully not ever.
“Of course, take all the time you need.” Cupping Suzan’s face in her hands, Ellen offered a gaze steeped in the warm, golden glow of utter happiness. “My darling,” she murmured. “You are my life, my love, my joy. But even these words are inadequate to describe the depths of my feelings for you.”
“And mine for you.” For a moment, Suzan put aside her clinical mode and donned the smile of a woman in love, soft, sensual and inviting.
Ellen sighed, her eyes misted. “Just think, to be free of such a wretched curse! I must take the serum so I may join you in complete freedom, free to live and love together.”
The doctor’s optimism suddenly faded. What if she couldn’t find the connection after all, isolate the components in the serum that caused the cessation of blood sustenance? At this early stage, she had no idea how the serum would affect Ellen—whether it would cure her of the need, make no difference at all...or destroy her.
“I should get to work right away,” Suzan declared.
Breaking their embrace, Ellen stepped back. “I’ll leave you to it then. But don’t work too hard, my love. I want you in my bed and in my arms each and every night. Promise me that.”
Suzan forced a positive smile, her mind already racing with formulaic possibilities. “I promise.”