“What are you doing exactly?”
Nikoli paused a moment to look up at Jessa distractedly, books scattered all around. He had been hard at work scribbling in a notebook he found in one of the drawers in the basement.
“Reading. Listen to this:”
Mine eye hath play’d the painter, and hath stell’d
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.
His strong voice echoed off the concrete walls and floor. Aside from the shackles in the middle of the room, a bench near that with a couple of drawers, a bed, the couch and the recliner, the room was pretty bare. Jessa had never been one for having too many possessions not being the sentimental type.
“What the hell is that?” Jessa asked, her nose wrinkled up in disgust as she picked at her fingernails, obviously not impressed.
“Shakespeare’s sonnet 24. It’s the perfect way to explain romance. Don’t you think?” Nikoli’s eyes were bright, seeming to glow that unnatural golden shade.
Jessa laughed, “If you say so. I think romance is a bunch of rubbish.”
Jessa stood up and sniffed, gesturing with her hand towards the notebook, “What are you writing? You’ve been scribbling away for hours.”
“I’m trying my hand at writing poetry.”
“Really? What have you got so far?” Jessa raised an eyebrow.
“Seriously? Why are you so interested?” Nikoli said with a smirk, one dark eyebrow raised.
“I’m bored. I need entertainment and I don’t like to read,” Jessa’s honesty made him chuckle.
“Alright, it’s terrible, but here goes:
What is love?
’Tis but the sweet, fair face upon which I gaze
Heaven’s stars are in your eyes
Your smile is the creation of a thousand moons
Glowing radiantly in all of your existence
When I glimpse your splendid allure
I dream of you by my side
Anticipating my arrival
Gazing at me tenderly
Caressing me gently
Leaving a smile to play about my lips...
Awaiting another moment alone with you
Nikoli put the poem in an envelope with Leila’s name penned on the front using black ink, and tucked it inside of his leather jacket pocket.
“That’s how you’re going to win her back?” she scoffed, a glimmer of jealousy in her dark eyes as she crossed her arms in front of her.
Somber, Nikoli looked up at her, his eyes full of a piercing sadness, “I don’t know. I’m out of my realm here. The last two times I tried dating, they ended horribly. You’re probably not the best person for me to be talking to about all of this, considering what lengths you’ve gone to trying to destroy me,” he looked away, having caught the flash of hurt in her eyes.
“For your information, I wasn’t trying to destroy you,” Jessa said sitting down beside him on the couch, “I just wanted you to look at me that way. Like I was special. I held on too hard. I got bitter and jealous, i’ll admit that, but I won’t apologize. I don’t feel sorry.”
“Well, I will apologize then.”
“For not being the right guy for you, for taking my anger out on you for all those years,” Nikoli patted Jessa’s hand, sincerity in his eyes and smile.
“Eh. It’s cool. I survived,” Jessa pulled her hand away and stood, shrugging as she walked over to play with the chains on the spinning wheel, “You really love her, don’t you?” Her voice was softer as she avoided looking directly at him, curiosity getting the better of her.
Silence filled the room as Nikoli hesitated to answer, not wanting to set her off again.
“Yes,” he finally replied, hoping that she wouldn’t blow up.
“So, you never did tell me about the girl you dated before me. What happened?” Jessa changed the subject quickly, turning back around to face him.
Inhaling a deep breath, Nikoli looked down at his hands for a moment before replying, “Kira...she just disappeared.”
“Like she left you?”
“No,” he said looking up, his face a mask of guilt, “At least I don’t think so. I found a lot of blood, never did find her. It was the night I was turned.”
“So...you were turned and someone stole your girl in the middle of a date?” Jessa sat down in the recliner once more, one leg crossed over the other as she leaned back against the cushions, eyebrows raised.
Nikoli coughed lightly, uncomfortable, “Yeah basically. It was all foretold though, that’s the thing that sucks the most.”
“Yeah. Kira, the girl I dated, she dragged me to some gypsy woman named Faith. I remember that I didn’t want to go, but she insisted because she was curious about the caravans and the people within them. She just thought it would be something fun to do,” Nikoli remembered, tugging at his lower lip.
Jessa leaned forward, listening intently as if she was a little kid hearing a bedtime story, rapt with attention as he continued to speak.
“She told me three major life events would come to pass, and then I would meet the one who could change everything if she found true love in the enemy. I remember that I laughed in her face, which was filled with fear, and called her a liar. I felt so horrible after things started coming to pass, that I tried to track her down to try and stop it, but I always just missed her. She must’ve known I was coming.”
“What were the three major events?” Jessa’s voice was full of skepticism.
“She had foretold the death/disappearance of Kira, my future of becoming a vampire and the disappearance of my best friend Shamus. It was all out of my hands. Exactly as she said it would be,” Nikoli cradled his head in his hands, reliving the horrible memories.
He hadn’t had many good experiences with psychics and had developed a pretty irrational, but justified, fear towards them. After all, a psychic had pretty much predicted his life or at least the major parts of it.
“I’m so sorry, Nik,” she patted his knee, “Did you ever figure out who turned you?”
Nikoli sighed, shaking his head side to side, “No. It took a long time to get the hang of being one of the undead and my senses weren’t yet heightened enough to figure it out. Really, I didn’t understand what what was happening. Even the psychic had seemed confused by what was going to happen when she said that my life would be forever changed due to the darkness that would soon take over my life. She was completely right.”
“Why did you never tell me this before?”
“I didn’t think you’d care, honestly. You were never the sentimental type,” Nikoli offered, rubbing the back of his neck.
Jessa simply hardened her eyes, nodded and looked away, “Fair enough.”
“She had this...haunted look about her, like she was scared. When I realized she was legit, I couldn’t help but to wonder if she could have helped me prevent some things if I hadn’t of laughed in her face,” Shaking his head, he sighed, standing up to further inspect the room.
“You okay? You look tired. Are you hungry? I have some blood bags for emergencies. I usually prefer to drink live, but we don’t really have that option down here. Sorry, poor planning on my part,” Jessa narrowed her eyes and stood up, walking over to a mini fridge and pulling out two blood bags.
His energy levels were depleting and he needed to feed. Without human blood, he would begin to show his age. He knew this because he had tested it out once. It didn’t work out too well.
“Thanks. I guess I am,” he took the bag she offered, sucking it down quickly.
Jessa scrunched her nose up at the taste, “Ugh. It’s like cardboard!”
“Yeah it’s definitely gross, but it’ll do for now.”
“Yuck. I hope so, otherwise that was so not worth it.”
Nikoli chuckled dryly, attempting to toss both bags in a nearby trash can, but missing. He got up and placed them in the can, wiping some blood that leaked out on a paper towel, throwing that away as well. After a moment’s hesitation, he grew serious and looked back at her, hands in his Jean pockets.
“Have you already spoken to them?” His voice was low and steady, his gaze unmoving from her face, watching her expression.
“Who?” She licked her lips and averted her gaze to stare at something on the table between them.
“Don’t play dumb. You know how I hate that. The Elders. Have you told them where I am this time?”
“No. Of course not… How-how did you know I was working with them?” She looked up at him quickly.
“Because I’m not an idiot,” he moved towards Jessa to tower above her small frame sitting on the couch, “And they always show up shortly after you find me.”
“Well I haven’t this time, they keep reneging on their end of the deal. Why do you ask?”
“Their end if the deal? What deal? Tell me.” He squatted in front of her, capturing her gaze.
“They said they’d put me on the council if I followed your around and reported you’re whereabouts.”
“Why would they care though?”
Jessa shrugged, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask questions. You never did answer my question.”
“Which question?” Nikoli muttered, sifting through the information she had given him.
“I asked why. Why were you wondering about them? It felt like there was a specific reason you were asking.”
“Oh that. I think I’m being followed,” he said flippantly, pacing, “ But it’s probably just the Elders.”
“That makes no sense. Why would they ask me to follow you if they were just going to follow your anyways?” Jessa stood up, hands on hips.
Suddenly Nikoli stopped pacing and turned around quickly, his eyes burning with intensity, “Maybe because they weren’t following me.”
“What? Who would they be following then? I haven’t seen anyone.”
Nikoli’s voice came out as a breathless whisper and his eyes widened, “Leila. They were following Leila.”