by Della Van Hise
A Vampire Novel of
Exquisitely Fine Taste
shown here is only the beginning of a pyrotechnic talent
unfolding into the hidden dimensions of the human and
When my fingers closed around the
cold metal doorknob in my attempt to flee, I experienced a profound
moment of relief - a split second before a hand appeared from
behind me to press the door closed again. In that instant, I knew
the dread of a man strapped in the electric chair waiting for a
governor's reprieve, and the ironic sinking in the pit of the gut
that came from a wrong number. I knew what it was to die a thousand
times in the span of a single moment. And I understood what it meant
to look death in the eye and come away with the knowledge that, in
the end, there is never a reprieve for any living thing.
Frozen in time as an unnatural calm fell over me, I stared at
that graceful hand for an eternity. The fingers were long and
elegant, the nails carefully manicured. On the middle finger was a
gold band etched with the Greek symbols for alpha and omega, on the
fourth finger an oval-cut emerald the size of a large almond. His
skin was olive-hued and dark, and as my head slowly turned, I saw on
his wrist a band so smooth it shone like liquid gold. He wore a
simple white shirt with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows and the
three top buttons unfastened, and a pair of jeans so fashionably old
they were more patches and holes than anything else. The scent of
Eternity clung to his body - for he had a keen sense of humor about
himself - and when I raised my eyes and looked into his face, I was
inundated with the profound realization that Miquel wasn't human.
That was the first thought which assaulted me, though the
assault was gentle and dangerously erotic. I knew his name. I knew
what he was. And I knew that he was a vampyre.
He studied me with candid curiosity, keen eyes raking from my
face to my toes and back again, and then he gave an unexpected smile
that caused the color to drain from me completely. The front teeth
were human enough; it was the incisors that formed the exquisitely
sharp fangs gleaming in his full, soft mouth.
"Such terrible anguish in such a lovely bottle," he murmured
in a voice rich with the faintest accent. His words caused me
embarrassment, though that was quickly forgotten when he extended
his hand in a gesture that seemed trite under the circumstances. "My
name is Miquel Kaliq Constantine," he said, his smile turning
bolder. "At least it is the name I've adopted for a lifetime or
Perhaps I was too shocked to do anything but respond in the
expected manner, or perhaps I was already so deep under his spell
there could be no hope left for me. I offered him my hand, and when
he grasped it in an embrace shocking for its strength as well as its
chill, I could only imagine what other names had followed him
throughout history. Eros, perhaps. And Pan. Don Juan. But I also
considered Vlad the Impaler. Ivan the Terrible. Belial, Zamiel.
My breathing stopped. My heart lost its rhythm.
He stood at least six foot five, coal-black hair brushing the
tops of his shoulders in ragged layers and spiked bangs that would
have suited a brooding model or a moody bass player in a rock and
roll band. His features were angular, sharp, and so perfectly
chiseled that he might really have been a Greek god or maybe a
Hollywood special effect escaped from its creator. His lips were
full and surprisingly pink, his strong chin sporting a two-day
shadow which imbued him with an overall ominous look.
His face and body called him 30. His aura told a darker secret
of his antiquity. But what held me captive were his eyes,
substantiating all myths of a vampyre's ability to mesmerize. Green
as the emerald on his hand and flecked with lighter shades of brown
and gold, a hundred flames reflected in those immortal mirrors -
candlelight and history and secrets so profound no human could have
known them and lived.
While Dimitri was alluring by virtue of his ashen innocence
and ballet-dancer grace which could be misinterpreted as fragile,
Miquel wore his power in a far more imposing fashion, not the
willowy body of a youth but the finely-honed sculpture which was the
epitome of all things male. If Dimitri were Gainsborough's ”Blue
Boy", Miquel was the model for David - yet he was the paradigm
whose true physical splendor couldn't be captured even by
He was life and death and pure carnal force, and though I had
always considered myself strong-natured, I knew I had encountered a
creature to whose will I would inevitably bend. I had never been so
drawn to another man, yet I stood before him practically swooning
with the knowledge that this was how he wanted me to feel and there
was nothing whatsoever I could do to change it. If Dimitri had
briefly bewitched me, Miquel had stolen all my reason, and I knew in
that instant that my life would never be the same again.
Without question, he was a vampyre - a being who could drain
away physical defiance and moral inhibitions as easily as he could
drain the blood from my body. With the gods as my witness, I tried
to fight him. My fists clenched, fingernails digging in until my
palms bled like the wounds of Christ, but even that tangible pain
was inadequate to break his spell.
He made a motion that cautioned me not to resist, then took my
hand and gently uncurled my fingers. And though I struggled to look
away, I was paralyzed with sick fascination as he ran the pad of one
long finger over my self-inflicted wounds. Then, never taking his
gaze off of me, he touched fingertip to tongue-tip, moist lips
slowly closing over a single drop of red.
He drew a slow breath, his eyes closing in apparent approval, and
only then did I realize I had been droning incoherently. The words
came as a litany, a prayer, an acknowledgement of doom.
"Ohgod - ohmygod - god-help-me!"
He gave me a look that might have held amusement or curiosity.
Then, with a movement so graceful and quick I sensed more than saw
it, he placed one hand behind my head, the other on my ribs, and
drew me to him in an embrace as intimate as it was inescapable.
"My dearest Stefan, stop talking to God and yourself, for aren't
they really the same?" he asked, his body a cage surrounding me.
Fairy-tale eyes darkened, and when he leaned closer I noticed the
gold cross he wore in one ear as if in defiance of his nature. "If
your Heavenly Father were such a benevolent old man, you and I never
would have met - and that would have been the real tragedy,
don't you agree?"
Because he willed it, the strength had left me until I was
nothing but clay, the raw material of life that could offer no
resistance against the sheer potency of his magic.
"Please," I heard my voice saying, and hated myself for
begging. "Please - let me go!"
He pinned me with those terrible eyes, and for a moment I
thought he might - not because I asked it, but because he detested
weakness and I was behaving like a child. But before I realized what
was happening, he brought me so tight against his chest I could feel
the hard, slow beat of his immortal heart. A soft sigh came through
his lips and, shaking his head in a gesture of tender reassurance,
he forced my body against the cool white wall, compelling me with a
thought not to look away.
The sensation I cannot describe except to say it felt as if
the idea were mine rather than his. I wanted to look into his eyes
and never glance away. I wanted to feel the heady detachment of his
trance like a drug-induced euphoria. And I wanted to collapse
in his arms, a dead weight caught between the world of the living
and the world that belonged to the night.
My head had fallen back, and only now did I realize the
ceiling was covered with mirrors through which I was compelled to
watch the obscene sight of my own seduction by a vampyre. Miquel's
reflection was remarkable, the mirror capturing the essence of him
which couldn't be seen by human eyes alone. An incorporeal radiance
engulfed him, a silvery resplendence reminiscent of the ethereal
glow attributed to the angels themselves.
Lucifer was an angel, too, I thought.
And I began to weep. Yet while I would have been loathe to
give him any credit for compassion, I felt he wanted to make this
easy for me. His arms went taut around me, the full length of his
preternatural body pressing against me as if to shield me from what
was to come. With a tenderness that was cruel somehow, he smoothed
the hair away from my face, leaning in until his lips were brushing
the curve of my ear.
"Ssshh," he whispered, rocking me back and forth. "It doesn't
have to be like this, Stefan. It doesn't have to be so terrible if
you just let go of your fear."
I knew it was going to happen then. He really would have me. A
long feast of my blood. A little drink of my soul. Yes, he would
have me, and there was nothing I could do to prevent it...
As that unshakable understanding came to me, his embrace
loosened just enough to let me breathe. And as if he'd heard my
tortured thought, he said quite reasonably, "Yes, I'll have you, my
friend, but if you give in to me without a fight, you'll find my
kiss far more pleasure than pain."
Then, with that suggestion murmured against my throat, I felt
the rapid sting of his teeth and the blade-sharp rush that set my
blood flowing. The pain of his bite was acute, that peculiar brand
of anguish which raises the hair on the back of the neck and causes
the body to go taut, then limp, then taut again, the pain that makes
a man surrender instantly in some misguided hope that his surrender
might somehow ease the torment or appease the tormentor.
His fierce fangs easily punctured my flesh to bring a stream
of warmth pouring down my neck, a torrent quickly diverted by the
vampyre's tongue, a crimson well tapped at the source with a
ferocity that coaxed a needful moaning from his chest. Separate from
myself, yet mercilessly more aware of my body than I had ever been,
I became instantly weak as he began drawing hard on the wound, his
suckling so intense I could actually feel the blood being pulled
through my veins.
I must have tried to cry out, for a rush of wind came from my
lungs that carried no other sound. My arms thrashed at the air. My
legs were numb, and I would have fallen had he not held me.
It is impossible to say what went through my mind as he took
me there in the foyer while Dimitri looked on from candle-carved
shadows. Only then did I see the boy, a lanky blond waif leaning
against the wall with a jealous grin as his master drank from me in
what was, to vampyres, the most intimate of all experiences.
At the time, I would have denied it. I would have said the
torment of Miquel's kiss was not something to be described as
sensual. I would have tried to convince you that I found no pleasure
in the eager sucking which drew the lifeblood out of me while
feeding his wicked thirst. I never would have admitted that the
sensation of his arms constricting around me as he fed was the most
repulsive and yet the most comforting embrace I had ever known.
And never - absolutely never - would I have confessed
to being overwhelmed with a yearning so excruciating that I fainted
in his arms and became a believer in vampyres.
My squandered soul liquefied, flowing out of me in twin
rivers: one was red, the other pale.
"Perhaps there's no such thing as true
physical immortality, for even the sun will burn out one day,"
Miquel conceded. "But barring such cataclysm, we can live
forever. There are other worlds, other quantum dimensions. When
we're done searching through the rubble of this universe, we'll
simply go someplace else."
I had to look him in the eyes again, touched by the very misery of
which he so casually spoke. "But what's the point?" I asked. "If
your contention is true - that happiness doesn't exist except in the
search for it - why should any being want to live forever?"
He smiled again, relaxed and entirely radiant as the rain began
falling a little faster. "There are other things besides
"Oh?" I prompted.
"Love, for one," he ventured, a casual offering.
I glanced away, watching the storm scratch at the mirrored sky of
"I went into the city last night," I told him, remembering my
revelations. "And of all the mortals I drank from in an effort to
quell this strange thirst, the one thing all of them had in common
was their abject hatred of love. Oh, they all want it - every
living thing craves it! - but is it love they want or only to
be always searching..."
And in the middle of my sentence, when I was arguing a philosophical
point with my vampyre maker, I suddenly knew what he was trying to
make me see. What terrified me was that I didn't want to see it so
Love was the only reason any of us had for living, yet it was
a reason that had nothing to do with happiness. Love was its own
exegesis, the illusion which was its own reflection in an endless
hall of mirrors. Reason enough for death, reason enough for
Our eyes met in the water. Raindrops gathering on his hair caught
the light, airbrushing a cool silver halo above his head. For a
moment, I couldn't breathe when I remembered what this fallen angel
had done to me.
"Love terrifies me," I confessed as if to a holy man. Paralyzed
with the thought of it, I could barely think at all.
The dark angel smiled at his own reflection. "Good," he pronounced
easily, and I saw just the tips of his dangerous fangs. "Then
there's hope for you yet, my friend."
And with that, he took me firmly by the arm and led me in out of the
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