The walkway and the porch had been recently brushed off, although it had started to snow once again. The ghost dance of patterns left by the snow and breeze made Khryssa smile.
She went inside to change into something more comfortable, jeans and a
heavy wool sweater.. After making a mug of hot chocolate, Khryssa found
a heavy blanket in the living room to wrap herself in. Exiting to the
outdoors, the cold licked at fair skin.
Well below freezing, there was no doubt that this would be a short little trip outside. Looking out to the tree line, she smiled at the snow covered trees. Off in the distance Harcard’s mansion was visible. It didn't even register with Khryssa that it was there.
She sipped the hot chocolate, enjoying the heat and the sweet. A personal cellphone was nestled against a denim covered thigh. It did not ring, thankfully. Instead a playlist whispered into the night. One of her favorite songs, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, played on.
Khryssa's voice cut through the silence of the night time snowfall with certain clarity so few had. She had been classically trained in voice since a very young age. The most delicate of smiles played across a generous mouth. She was content and comfortable with the night. A strange sound crackled nearby, breaking the silence. Khryssa jumped, nearly dropping the hot chocolate.
"What the-?" She looked around.
"Good evening again Khryssa."
She had not heard his approach. That didn't really matter. Khryssa knew what he was. Henrik never spared the details, even when she was a mere child. This was entirely unexpected. Why would he be calling on her at such a late hour? The interruption of Khryssa's alone time bothered her. For some reason, she was not afraid of Xavier Harcard. Although, some vague notion in the back of her mind told her that she should be.
"You have a lovely voice Khryssa; it is quite a surprise to hear you sing with such beauty.”
"W-w-what are you doing here Xavier?" There was an inward cringe at hearing herself stutter. Khryssa was able to keep her face set in stone at least.
Harcard merely smiled at the woman seated before him.
"What do you want Xavier?" She asked stubbornly.
Harcard sat down next to her on the swing. His touch was warm. This surprised her. She had expected him to be as cold as ice. While his fingers trailed across a clenched hand, he looked at her.
"You are not like the others are you?" He spoke quietly, musing over the words as they were spoken.
Khryssa's brow furrowed. Having no idea what he was talking about, she looked absolutely confused. Only after a few heartbeats did she begin to speak once again.
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
"You are not impressed with wealth, obviously. My worldly charms do not seem to work on you at all. You are the most intelligent creature I have ever met. I have tried to show you that I desire you. Yet, it goes unnoticed. Your stubbornness is beyond what I may control. "
"Why would you want to? Control me that is."
He gave her a small smile. Harcard chose his words carefully. "I don't Khryssa. It is within my powers to do so. With you, I want and cherish your willfulness. You are an exotic creature. The likes of I have never seen before. I want to know you. I want to know all of you."
"I know what you are Xavier." The words were blurted out, but Khryssa's voice was firm with a stubborn ring to it.
A blond brow rose slightly. He looked into her eyes. It was like the day meeting the night. Blue skies to the darkest of nights and they locked. The chill in Harcard 's voice was tangible. The words hung in the air when he spoke once again. "And what is that my dear?"
The single word, spoke volumes. He smiled ever so slightly. Harcard started to laugh and the look he gave her was a look of pure amusement. A nod of his head, and then he looked down. Fingertips still brushed across her knuckles, he continued touching her even when he spoke again.
"What would give you that idea Khryssa?"
It was her turn to look amused. "You do not vet your employees very well Xavier. I'm a Helsing. Henrik Helsing is my great-grandfather." She kept her voice firm. Those fathomless dark eyes never left him. "I grew up with stories of you Xavier. Or perhaps I should call you Dracula?"
He still didn't look up. He had to make a decision. To keep her or kill her, instead he just smiled once again. There was a change that enveloped the two of them. "You are not afraid of me Khryssa." He stated.
"Do I have a need to be?”
"Perhaps.” He smiled wickedly at her. He could feel her pulse starting to quicken and it was divine. “You are correct though, I should vet my employees better. So is it you that has been the leak within my ranks?"
It was Khryssa's turn to laugh. A shake of the head and curls danced down softly. The dark cloud painted a picture of innocence that mystified him.
"No Xavier, I did sign a nondisclosure agreement.”
She sighed softly. The musical tones of a gentle voice silenced for a bit. They continued to stare at each other. It was unknown to either of them if they were lost within each other’s eyes or maybe there was just nothing else to say.
"I have nothing against you Xavier; you live your life the way you see fit. I am not your mother, child, lover, nor god. I have no right to cast judgment upon you."
Xavier Harcard abruptly changed the subject. “Sing for me Khryssa."
"What? No." She puzzled over the request.
“Tell me why you say no.”
“I do not sing for an audience.”
“Then invite me in and show me your skills upon the strings.”
Were all CEOs this difficult or only the vampiric ones? "What do you wish for me to sing?"
"Anything you wish, I want to be wrapped in your dulcet tones once again."
She nodded. The change in conversation was a surprise to say the least. A twitch of lips and her hand slipped from the brushing touch, only to actually hold his hand. The only thing she could think of was a Bird York song, Wicked Little High.
You're a wrong turn
a big fat No
you're the fifth drink before a long drive home
you're the thing to avoid
the bars to my cage
you're all I think about everyday
you've got that thing
that my wildest dreams are made of
you set my world on fire
I die every time you walk by
I can't hide that I'm drawn to you
Desire is such a wicked little high
when the one you want is blind to you
The words faltered when he leaned in. A firm mouth pressed against a softer one. The kiss was gentle, tender even. The fullness of Khryssa's lips parted, accepting the kiss. Embracing her sleek form, Xavier pulled Khryssa to him. She wound slender arms around his shoulders. Her long delicate fingers, the hands of a surgeon, tangled into his blond hair. Harcard broke the kiss first. Lips lingered close when he spoke.
"I have never been blind to you dear Doctor, not since the first moment I laid eyes upon you."
"I-" She couldn't finish the sentence. She wasn’t singing about him, was she? Honestly she didn't know. She noticed he was handsome. Who wouldn’t? Xavier Harcard was 6’3 with thick blond hair and piercing blue eyes. He was a physically imposing man but he was far more imposing psychologically.
She had no experience with men, other than platonically. It had been impossible to have a relationship with a man without the media getting a hold of the news. Besides, with her schedule, what man would want to put up with that?
Khryssa Hart was a genius, literally. Her name littered the record books with trivia. She was also the daughter of a Senator and the god-daughter of a Governor. She had family members that sat in the presidential cabinets. It was taken for granted that someday one of her family members would become the President of the United States. Her life was for the public to view. It was one of the reasons Khryssa didn't live in the US. It was more peaceful here. Finally she spoke; there was sorrow in the words.
"I’m sorry Xavier, I cannot do this."
The words slipped from parted lips before she even knew what she was saying. It was a mere blink of the eye and the door slammed shut with her behind it.
Xavier heard the near silent footsteps of feet hitting the stairs and running. He believed there was a sob within the silence of the night. He rose, with the quickness that would startle most people. His hand lay upon the door. Words were whispered to no one.
"We are not done yet.”
He would have broken the door down and gone to her if he could. There was a singular problem with that; he had never been given an invitation into her home.
The weekend passed without another word between the pair. Khryssa wasn’t sure if she was bothered by that or not. Pushing the thought of her employer away, she continued to work.
She worked until the early afternoon on Christmas Eve. Deciding that that was enough, she went about the business of shutting everything down. When the last light was off, Khryssa headed for home. She was supposed to be at Henrik’s later, but she had no desire to go. Calling over to the family, she feigned being ill.
“I’m sorry Papa. I am under the weather. I will have a courier bring by everyone’s gifts.”
“Khrys that is not necessary. We shall see you tomorrow yes?” Henrik asked.
“I don’t know, it depends on how I am feeling.” They chatted for a couple of more minutes. After wishing each other a lovely Christmas, they hung up.
Khryssa curled up in her large rocker with a blanket draped across her lap. The fire was roaring and her home was nice and cozy. Still, she felt homesick of all things. Chiding herself gently, she believed that 26 was far too old to be homesick for her parents. Turning on the television, Khryssa drifted off to the sounds of a Christmas cartoon from her youth.
There was a knock upon the door. The loud banging woke her up. Stretching and rising, Khryssa went to see who it could be. A glance to her watch told her it was just a few minutes after midnight. She looked out the window and saw no one. Frowning, she opened the door and found something sitting on her doorstep. It was a small package wrapped with white paper and tied with a red ribbon. There was a small card on the top. Khryssa brought the package in and closed the door.
Taking the time to carefully open the card, it had written on it in neat script a simple message.
-Thinking of you on this cold night. Merry Christmas, Xavier-
Deft fingers pried the box open, she was careful not to destroy the pretty wrappings. In the package was a small silver frame. A piece of old parchment was inside of the frame. On the parchment, written neatly, was a quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Did my heart love till now?
Forswear it sight,
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.
Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 53-54
Khryssa almost dropped the frame. It was more than unexpected. The frame was lovely and the quote was beautiful. She wasn’t sure how she should feel about it. Yet, there was something about the gift that made her smile.
The gift also amused her. Romeo and Juliet were mere children, not just the star crossed lovers people think they were. Their story was a parody of true love.
Looking at it once more, Khryssa realized something. This was William Shakespeare’s actual handwriting. It was not a copy nor was it something that Xavier wrote out himself. This little sentiment that showed up on her front doorstep was literally priceless. What Khryssa didn't know that it was a rough draft that Harcard procured from Shakespeare centuries ago.
Something more tugged on her heartstrings. Looking out into the night, Khryssa spoke. “Thank you Xavier.”
Christmas had come and gone. It had been a lonely one for both Xavier and Khryssa. While she had her great-grandfather and cousin nearby, this time of year the want to be at home with her parents was too much. Xavier, on the other hand, had no one to spend the holiday with.
Khryssa penned a note on beautiful paper. It was a thank you to Xavier Harcard for the gift. It did not seem appropriate to see him at the office in such a way. Dropping the note into the mail and sending it to the vampire’s home rather than the office, the days moved forward.
Khryssa spent her days locked in a containment unit working. There was no access into the unit unless you were properly trained on handling infectious diseases. She felt oddly safe there.
Working with things such as influenza gave her peace. This was a space that she knew what she was and what she was doing. Her coworkers noticed a difference about her, although they never would say it to her. There was a quiet sadness that shadowed Khryssa Hart.
Many flights above the lab, there was another issue. Xavier was furious. He was shouting at his staff and nothing could counter his fury. Xavier had even taken to throwing items across the vast office. The members of his personal staff were more afraid of their boss' wrath than normal. In other words, it was just another day.
She had showered after being in the containment unit all day. Having just put on fresh jeans, boots and a rather heavy sweater, Khryssa Hart sat down for the first time since the wee hours of the morning. Having arrived at the office around four a.m. and not bothering for any meals, she found herself hungry and the hour was growing later and later by the minute. A quick glance to the clock on the desk told her it was shortly after nine in the evening.
"You need to stop this Khryssa Leigh. You are not going to see thirty at this rate." She spoke out loud and it broke the tension that seemed to engulf her. Mentally saying screw it, Khryssa did not bother with the paperwork that covered her desk. A quick grab of keys and her purse, she found herself walking out.
Waiting on the elevator, she leaned against a pillar. Exhaustion over took the young woman. The bell dinged. Khryssa stepped into the elevator and right into Xavier Harcard. Bumping up against her employer, Khryssa took a step back. They both looked startled. There was an urge coming from her to smile at the look on his handsome face; instead Khryssa kept her face impassive.