A week had passed since that day spent in each other’s arms. Xavier and Khryssa had not managed to find time for each other. Both of them had hectic work schedules and Khryssa had a full life with family as well.
began to appreciate the family situation that took up Khryssa’s time. If the
Helsing clan was with her, they were not pestering him. It was not as if she could tell her great-grandfather Henrik
Helsing and her cousin that she was sleeping with the vampire after all.
Khryssa staggered back to bed with a glass of water and a couple of pills. She was sick. Unsure of what it was, she guessed it was most likely the flu. Given where and what she did for a living, it wasn’t a huge leap to assume such. Khryssa was doing as she would tell any patient to do; take medication for the symptoms, rest and stay hydrated. Since influenza was a virus, it was the easiest route to feeling better.
She had called Harcard Industries very early that morning, informing Xavier’s driver that there would be no need to pick her up. Khryssa called her assistant next and asked her to let Greta know that she would not be in as well.
There was just no way could she muster the strength to even get ready for the workday, let alone go into the office. Xavier was out of town on business. He would be returning tomorrow. The little bit of vanity that she had made the decision for her to stay home; Khryssa hated the thought of Xavier Harcard seeing her in such a state, even if it was just at the office. If she did not rest, it would only get worse. Curling up under the many blankets strewn across the bed, she finally fell into a dreamless sleep.
The tall blond man strode into his office. Greta, his assistant, looked up in surprise. She had in Xavier’s schedule that he was not due to be back until tomorrow. He started shouting orders at various people. Greta was the only person at Harcard Industries that did not fear Xavier Harcard’s wrath, besides Khryssa of course. The meeting apparently had not gone well. He knew he was being lied to; it was just to figure out by whom.
“Greta, have Dr. Hart come up to my office immediately. I need to speak with her on a few matters.” Khryssa was quite possibly the only person in the world that could calm his anger at the moment. At least he wouldn't take it out on her.
“Mr. Harcard, I am afraid that Dr. Hart is not in today.”
He sputtered in anger. Where the hell was she? “Where is she Greta?” He snarled. This day was getting worse.
“I am not sure, Sir. I was given a message from Dr. Hart’s assistant that she would not be in today.”
He gave a crisp nod to his secretary and strode right back out of the office. Xavier’s steps were sharp. The anger writ on his face kept even the friendliest of employees at bay. He walked down to the parking garage. Not bothering with his driver, he took the Maserati GranTurismo. Pulling out fast, he headed straight to Khryssa’s home.
Khryssa didn’t live far from Harcard Industries. The sports car roared into the drive and was snapped off as soon as it came to a halt. Xavier marched up to the front door and pounded on the hard wood. There was not a sound coming from within. He knew there was something or someone in there. He could feel the life. Cursing beneath his breath when no one came to the door, Xavier wondered where in the hell she could be. Or what she could be doing.
Khryssa stirred beneath the blankets. She had heard something. With a slow blink of tired eyes, a glance at the clock was given. It was a little after three in the afternoon. A moan escaped her lips and she burrowed back down under the blankets. If it was anyone important, they could call her. Most likely, she thought, it was the postman trying to deliver a package. That could wait. Sleep was much more important.
Xavier found his keys once again, including the one to her home. It had not been given to him by Khryssa Hart, instead Harcard had it made himself after procuring her keys from the office.
Unlocking the door and letting himself in, he smiled a cold smile. She had given him permission to enter her home once before and that, of course, still stood. He had also memorized her entry code for the alarm. The lovely home was filled with silence. He walked around the lower living space before heading up the stairs. He stopped abruptly in the doorway to the bedroom.
A small looking figure was on the bed. Curled up in a ball and tucked neatly under several quilts, it was only by the streaming curls of dark that he recognized her, visually. The scent of Khryssa Leigh Hart, on the other hand, he would know until the end of days. The steps of the vampire were silent. The sleeping woman did not stir. He crouched down next to the bed and lifted the quilt back. Dark eyes blinked rapidly and she bolted upright. There was a scream that hung on her lips.
“Xavier! What in the bluest of blue hells are you doing here?” Her heart was beating rapidly. Fair cheeks were flushed with fever and surprise. “How did you get in?”
“You do not wish to see me Khryssa?” The rich and cultured accent hid the menace behind the words. He was still angry. He also didn’t answer her question.
“You scared me.” She replied as the fear dissipated.
“You did not answer the question Khryssa”
“What?” She blinked a few times, not quite comprehending. “Of course I wish to see you Xavier. I was not expecting you or anyone in my home at this hour.” The reply was curt.” I was also not expecting you to return until tomorrow. What on earth is wrong with you?” It was that moment she started to cough heavily. A deep cough that rattled her body and shook the bed, consumed her.
“You are ill.”
“Thanks for noticing. Now what is going on Xavier? You are acting strange. And how the hell did you get in?”
He told the tale of the meeting in Japan, blatantly avoiding her question again. How something was off and he knew he was being lied to. If this venture failed it could cost Harcard Industries close to a half a billion dollars. The details were sketchy at best, he relayed. Khryssa leaned back into the soft plushness of the pillows. Her brow creased and mind whirled. Another coughing fit began and she reached a shaky hand for the glass of water beside the bed. Taking a drink seemed to help, but now her throat was sore.
“I understand your anger Xavier. I think there is something wrong with the interpreter. Either he did not know the nuances of the language well enough, was tricked, or he lied.” Sliding down further beneath the blankets, she was growing tired once again and cold. “Or there could be a variation of all three.”
“I will have to look into that, thank you.”
“What else is bothering you Xavier?” The voiced question sounded weary.
“Nothing.” The reply was flat.
“Xavier, don’t. Just don’t. If you want to play games, get out. I am not in the mood for it.” She glared at the man. Those beautiful dark eyes were narrowed down. He could feel the heat of anger coming off of her skin as well as the fever.
“I don’t know my dear; you look like you would be a decent enough adversary in chess.”
“Not. Amused. Xavier.”
He sighed. “You worried me Khryssa. You were not at the office, where I thought you would be. I needed you and you were not there. You did not call to let me know that you would not be there either. I had no way of knowing if something had happened to you or even where you were.” Harcard's vibrant blue eyes darkened. It wasn’t so much being angry at her. It was worry. His enemies would kill her given half the chance. It would not be a pleasant nor a slow death. It was one of the reasons why he had kept their relationship out of the public eye, mostly.
“Xavier” she replied gently. “I called the office and let your driver know. I then called and left a message with my assistant, who in turn left a message with Greta. I did not wish to disturb you with the silly notion that I have the flu.”
“You would not have disturbed me. I need to know where you are Khryssa.”
“I have a cell phone. I am fairly easy to find if I am not in the office.”
“This is not a request Khryssa.”
She tried to push the anger down that was rising. “Xavier, we are not even in a relationship. You do not control me nor my actions.”
“We are not in a relationship? What do you think it is that we do then Khryssa?” His voice was mild, but the look in his eyes betrayed the tone.
“Xavier I hold no expectations over what we have done so far. We enjoy being in each other’s company, that is evident. We have spent a day in bed together, once. I do not think you are going to propose marriage tomorrow because of it.”
“You are mine Khryssa.”
It took everything in her power not to lose her temper. “Xavier, I am not yours. We barely know each other. Yes, I have been in your employ for over a year. That is not the same as knowing someone.”
He reached up and stroked her cheek. Xavier wished there was a way to convince this stubborn young woman that she was wrong. She would learn soon enough, he thought.
“You are thinking something, what is it?”
“Even ill, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
His eyes softened looking at her. She did look pathetic and so very young. Even though she was in her mid-twenties, Khryssa was centuries younger than he. Xavier continued to touch her. The light dance of fingertips across heated flesh brought a smile, to both of them. He then frowned in realization. She was burning hot.
“You have a fever.”
She merely nodded. She had figured, but had not bothered to check. Khryssa looked into the eyes of this strange man. She cared about him, yes. She was not willing to admit that to anyone just yet, not even herself. Xavier slid from his jacket and tossed it to the floor, shoes were stepped out of and finally the tie was undone. It was only after all of this did he climb on to the bed and lay next to her. He brought the younger woman into his arms. Burning hot flesh was pressed against him. He stroked a hand down her hip. It was a soothing gesture from the vampire.
There was a whisper of words in her ear. “I can heal you Khryssa.”
“It is just the flu Xavier. There is no need. It will pass soon enough.”
“My darling, please. I do not want to see you like this.”
“You would have me drink from you instead Xavier? “
“No.” She replied and then sighed softly. “No, we do not need that sort of connection yet Xavier. We have known each other for what? Eighteen months? Once again, majority of that was a business relationship.”
“Some people marry and divorce in less time than that”
“You got the divorce part right Xavier. No. It is too soon.”
He gave up the argument and just held her instead. The silence was a comfort to both. He did ponder the fact she said one thing. Yet. The single word made Harcard smile ever so slightly. She was not saying no after all.
Xavier had to think. Why did this woman create such a desire in him? Humans were tools to be used and food. Even though he realized that Khryssa Hart would be a very worthwhile acquisition, it was still not the same. She was neither. She was special to him.
It did not take long for Khryssa to fall back asleep. Xavier laid there with her, awake. Warmed by her heated body and contemplating how and what this was. He cared for her. How could he not? At the same time, she was also a Helsing. The thought of her family lineage both intrigued him and worried him.
Xavier began to consider what he wanted from this woman. He admitted to himself that Khryssa Hart was very much like a possession at times. He wanted to show her off. He wanted people to admire what he had. Then he wanted to take her back where only he could see the true beauty of what he owned. Xavier also knew that because she was a Helsing she could be an excellent bargaining chip if it ever came to that. Jaded were the thoughts, but also realistic.
Xavier Harcard was not human. Humanity had disappeared centuries ago for him. Looking down to the sleeping woman in his arms, the jaded thoughts spun away. He contemplated what he truly felt. Was it love, lust, or possibly the desire to control what he wanted to be given freely? He did know one small thing though. He would protect this woman from anything in this world.
There was one exception and that would be Xavier Harcard himself.
Night had fallen. Xavier was still awake when Khryssa stirred from a restless sleep. She burrowed deeper beneath the blankets for a moment. Then those deep dark eyes parted, opening to stare up at him.
“Hey.” She croaked.
“Hey yourself.” A single digit traced across her dry lips. Xavier reached over to the nightstand; a glass of water was taken. He took his time tipping the glass to her so that it would not spill, she drank gratefully.
“Thank you. Xavier? I know you haven’t moved from this bed for hours. Do you need to” She paused briefly. “eat?”
This was something that had never been spoken of before. She never inquired after his feeding ritual and he never mentioned it either. Xavier was taken aback by what she said. There was no good way of answering the question. Staring at the young woman resting, it was a bit before he spoke.
“Yes, I do.”
She nodded. Not quite sure what to say, she rose from the bed instead. There was something about the affirmative answer that bothered her. Heading to the shower, the water was turned on and Khryssa just stood there. The hot water made her feel better physically. Heat helped with the body aches and cleared the mind. It took no time at all for thoughts to drift. Was ‘dinner’ a beautiful woman? Sighing softly at the thought of her one time lover dining upon a woman, Khryssa tried to purge that image from her mind. It was not like her to feel this sort of jealousy. Then again, it was not like her to have a lover either.
Turning off the water and stepping out of the shower. Painstakingly drying off, so that she wouldn’t catch a chill, Khryssa slid on a very old button down shirt that had belonged to her father. The old shirt hung on her, many sizes too big. Her father was a tall and physically imposing man. It was Khryssa’s preferred sleepwear. Hands quickly braided thick dark curls back and out of the way. Stepping back into the bedroom Khryssa spotted him sitting on the bed still.
“I thought you would have left by now Xavier.”
“I have no wish leave you in such a state Khryssa.”
Instead of climbing on the bed, Khryssa sat on the floor next to the bed. She shivered a bit from the fever and the chill of the room. Neither Xavier nor Khryssa reached out for the other, it was unusual. He broke the silence first.
“What are you thinking Khryssa?”
The raven haired beauty shook her head side to side before speaking. “It is hard to explain. It is the fact that you must feed off of humans Xavier. You kill to survive. It troubles me.”
“Why does this bother you?”
She couldn’t bear to tell him that there was a spark of jealousy in her heart. “You could look at a crowd of people and see dinner the same way I can go to the grocery to plan my meals for the week.”
His anger rose fast. “Spare me your revelations! You talk in these ardent tones and what hypocrisy is this? You kill to survive as well. Do you think that fine leather you wear is made from plants? Perhaps that steak you have dined on before is made from potatoes?” The words were spat out. He looked at her for the first time ever with the bright yellowed eyes. It was the eyes that bespoke the change in him. The thin veil between appearing human and being a vampire was crumbling.
“It is not the same Xavier. You know it as well as I do.”
“Oh please my dear doctor, explain this to me.”
“This is insane. It is like a vegan trying to tell a carnivore that eating meat is wrong.”
Xavier started to speak. The anger dissipated quickly; it was not a moment later that he was laughing.
“What is so funny?”
“My dear Khryssa, as charming as you are, sometimes you are equally as infuriating.”
“I shall have to put that on my resume.”
“You don’t need a resume. You are not going anywhere.” Then he changed his mind. “Except back to bed, get in.”
“Since when did this become a dictatorship?” Khryssa shot back, while climbing back beneath the blankets.
“I would like to consider myself a benevolent dictator, but I am sure others would disagree.”
She snorted at him with laughter. “Who would have ever known that the great Dracula had a sense of humor?”
Xavier pulled her to his chest. He laughed softy at her sarcasm. Tucking her back under all the blankets, he gazed into her eyes.
“Don’t let my secret get out.”
Xavier glanced around the room. He noted something. Sitting upon her dresser were a few personal items. Items that were obviously objects she treasured. There was an old teddy bear, a hair comb that had belonged to her grandmother, a small jewelry box, a few other indiscernible items, and next to everything else was the framed gift that he had given to her. Kissing her cheek, he let Khryssa drift back to sleep. Xavier was amused by how they started to fight and ended up laughing together.
He let her sleep for a while before rising himself. Going downstairs, Xavier explored the house. It was quiet, clean and comfortable. He considered the four bedroom home rather small, especially for someone with the wealth that she possessed.
To Khryssa it was perfect. When he found the library, Xavier smiled. The perfect way to get to know a person was by what they were reading. Looking around, he saw how she arranged everything. It was a simple plan. A certain area contained her scholarly texts, another held collectables and classics; the smallest section was her personal common tastes.
Everything on the shelves had the feel that it has been read lovingly before. Glancing at the classics, it was quite an eclectic collection. The more personal selection made him smile. There was a bit of everything from Nabokov to Ellis. Xavier picked up a copy of American Psycho and sat down in a large chair that had been placed in the corner.
Having made himself comfortable, Xavier leafed through the novel. He caught just the barest scent of her perfume. A glance down, he noted that there was an iPod sitting in a dock with another iPod beside it. Turning the little box on, he just selected the first playlist available. The song was called ‘Going Home’ and the artist was someone by the name of Mary Fahl. The bittersweet melody charmed the vampire.
The book had been forgotten and her music selections examined. Like the collection of books, the music was quite eclectic. She had everything from the most famous of classical works to the most obscure rock tunes. Something caught his eye. ‘Miserere’, Xavier knew the music. The screen tapped, so that it would play, Andrea Bocelli’s voice filled the room.
“Now why are you asking God for mercy dear Khryssa?” The words were spoken to the quiet of the room.
“To wash me thoroughly from my wickedness of course” The soft reply came from the doorway.
Turning at the sound of her voice, he smiled. “Excellent response my dear, it was the perfect time to use the music against itself.” Khryssa had quoted directly from Miserere’s translation from the Book of Common Prayer. “What are you doing out of bed?” Xavier questioned.
“You were not there when I woke. I heard the music so I came down.”
Xavier looked at her legs when she stepped forward. The hem of the white shirt skirted the upper parts of bare thighs. How could something so simple be so very erotic, he mused. Taking her hand, he pulled her gently to his lap. Khryssa curled against him. He could still feel the fever that coursed through her body.
“I need to call a doctor for you.”
“I am a doctor Xavier.”
“Already you fight me so, Khryssa.”
“This is fighting?”
“I am used to my wishes being obeyed implicitly.”
Closing her eyes, Khryssa could feel the exhaustion wash over her like the crashing waves during a storm. “I never claimed to be the obedient sort. You realize this yes?”
He pressed his cheek to her hair, she smelled like expensive soaps and something even more intoxicating, herself. “I know. Come. We are going back to bed.”
Xavier picked her up. Leaving the music and book forgotten, he carried her back upstairs to bed. Laying her down, he rearranged the blankets. Covering her up, a kiss was pressed to her forehead.
“Xavier? Why are you doing this?”
“Because I want to. Do I need any other reason?”
“I suppose not.”
“Good now rest. I want you healthy.”
“Do you mind if I read?”
Shaking his head in amusement, he replied. “Fine, just rest and relax. I am going back downstairs.”
“Thank you Xavier.”
Heading back down the stairs he realized something, he had been here for nearly twenty-four hours and she had not eaten. For that matter, neither had he. He could grab a quick bite later. Khryssa, on the other hand, needed sustenance now. A wrong turn and two doors later, Xavier found the kitchen. He tried to figure out where everything was in the vast kitchen. It was not easy. The size of the kitchen was quite large for the size of the house. It was obviously a well favored room.
Opening and closing cabinets, he found what he was looking for. It would be nothing fancy that was for certain, Xavier did not know how to cook. A can of soup, a bowl and a spoon were all that he needed. Putting the bowl of soup into the microwave, after reading the directions on the can, he started to push buttons. The microwave would not turn on. Getting frustrated, he tried again. Finally working out the right sequence, the soup started to heat. It took him a little bit, the microwave had already announced that it was finished, but he found napkins, a tray and a plate. A small bowl of chicken and noodle soup was placed upon the tray. He added an array of crackers. Finishing it up with a glass of water, the meal was prepared. Cooking for one person should not be this difficult, he mused.
Khryssa was leaning back against the pillows reading when he walked in. She chuckled when she saw the tray. Setting the journal to the side, Xavier saw what she was reading. ‘The Journal of Surgical Oncology’ was opened to a page discussing something about tumor infiltration. Gently placing the tray upon her lap, he looked both amused and annoyed at the same time.
“You need to eat.” Picking up the journal and placing a bookmark to the page she was on, he set it off to the side. “You also need to relax, you work too much.”
“You made this?”
He laughed. “Of course, I do not bring staff with me everywhere. You should be impressed. I believe that was the first time I cooked for anyone. Ever.”
“Thank you Xavier.” Taking a spoonful of the soup, she looked over to him. “This is so very strange.”
“This. You are taking care of me. It is somewhat surreal to tell you the truth.”
“A dashing vampire cannot take care of someone?”
“Xavier, you have people that you can pay to do this.”
“Of course I do, but there is satisfaction in doing some things myself.”
Finishing about half of the soup, Khryssa pushed it away.
“You need to eat more Khryssa.”
“I am full Xavier, but thank you.”
“You are a stubborn woman; thankfully on you it is charming.” He responded wryly.
Xavier took the tray and put it to the side. He sat back on the bed with her. “I am going to have someone bring me a few things. I need to clean up. I look rather distasteful.”
“You can go home. You do realize this right? I will be fine.”
“You need to be looked after.”
She gave his thigh a little shove, playing more than anything. “Really Xavier I am fine.”
He kissed her gently. “No. Now you need to rest again.”
For once she did not argue and of that he was surprised. A quick tap of fingers across the keypad of his phone, Xavier placed a call. Informing his driver to bring him some toiletries and clean clothing, it would be expected shortly.
It was less than a half an hour when his driver arrived. Xavier retreated to one of the guest bathrooms to clean up. A quick shower later, he was changing into a pair of slacks and a cashmere turtleneck. They were the most casual of all his clothing. Not bothering to shave, and merely shoving his hair back into place, he was once again dressed.
Settling down in a chair in her bedroom, Xavier watched Khryssa sleep for a while. Rising, he went back to wander through her home. He felt the draw of her library once again. Perhaps he could glance through the book he had started earlier.
Walking back into the library, Xavier Harcard put the other iPod on. His eyes widened in slight surprise. This was quite a find, he decided. The music was of Khryssa Hart herself. He could detect a faint line of cursing when the cello played and then began again. Harcard wasn’t for certain, but he was inclined to believe that she was in the process of composing music herself. Switching back and forth through playlists, he found something else. Arias that were being sung by Khryssa and it made him smile. This he listened to for a while. Relaxing back in the chair, he let he music drift over him. She did have a beautiful voice.
After a while, he decided to look once again at the tomes upon the shelves. Tucked away in a corner near the medical library was a small clothbound notebook of sorts. Curiosity struck him. It did not look like it belonged there. From what he knew about Khryssa it must be there for a reason, to be disorganized was not part of her nature. Pulling the notebook down, his fingers touched the well-worn blue cloth that covered it. The first page had Khryssa’s name in it, written in childish script. It was an old diary. Xavier began to read.
Much of it was just the day to day writing of a young girl that was brimming with life. Her brilliance, even at such a young age, was shown in the diary. Much to his dismay, Xavier was mesmerized by her childish dreams. The writings of a child with the mind that no one could comprehend had poured her heart out into pages of what she had considered her own secret. He reached the halfway point of the small diary and his eyes hardened.
I do not know what to do. Papa Henrik, Nana Margaret, and Arne are here. I do not like Arne. He has a mean streak that scares me. He keeps pinching me and leaving bruises that hurt. I tried telling mom but she said he was just trying to play. He is OLD! He is like twenty years older than me and he should know better! Before I came back here to bed Dear Diary, he tried to show me his thing. Yeah I know it is called a penis, but I hate that word. I am going over to Margalo’s house tomorrow to stay so I can get away from him. I am scared. Good night Dear Diary, love Khrys.
Xavier skimmed through the rest of the diary. There was nothing mentioned about Arne again. He could feel his fury rising. That damnable adopted son of Helsing’s tried to hurt Khryssa? Then not a single person did a thing? Tossing the diary onto the table beside the chair, Xavier turned and went up the stairs with anger burning so bright that it eclipsed everything in his sight.