Guest post! Guest post! Guest post! Rejoice all ye’all!
It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s always well worth it. Today’s guest writer is the heretofore unknown and mysterious Cécile de l’Ortolon: a fellow bibliophile, connoisseur of the absurd, and world-traveler. I hope you will welcome her (or him) warmly, laud her (or it) lavishly, and snicker with me (or me) smugly.
How It Really Happened, Vol. 1
Christy glanced at the clock. Still a half hour until she could start the closing routine, and an hour til she could turn off the wi-fi and watch the squatters scurry out, anxious for their next stable connection. No one was going to buy anything at this point; she let her perky attentive expression fade, and picked up her book.
She had meant to keep one eye on the cafe, but as we all know, it’s impossible to read with one eye and survey the room with the other, unless you have some kind of one-in-a-million congenital defect. And Christy didn’t. She was ordinary in every way. Five foot five, no more than five pounds overweight. And really, who isn’t? Ten fingers, ten toes, no magical powers, no matter how desperately she wished for them. Two eyes, always working in tandem. And it was due to the lack of independent vision that the man arrived at the counter, and stood there for a solid minute. Sixty seconds is a really long time to stand looking at someone who is ignoring you, especially when that person’s job is to not ignore you. He finally startled Christy out of her skin by clearing his throat with that film noir “ahem” sound.
She did her best to deny the heat that prickled over her skin, even though she knew it appeared as an unattractive blotchy flush on her skin. No sweet roses on her cheeks, damn it. And this mattered mostly because the man standing at the counter with the empty demitasse in his hand was by miles the most attractive man she had ever seen. Better than the guys in the American Apparel catalog, even though he was fully dressed. Well dressed. He smiled. She flushed again.
“I’m sorry to disturb you. I was wondering if you had shut down the espresso machine, or if I might get one more.”
“I… um…” Where had he come from? She was sure she hadn’t served him before, and her shift had started five and a half hours earlier. His smile became slightly confused, and Christy felt guilty for causing this beautiful man discomfort. “No! Yes. I mean, yes, let me get you another one. Double shot?” He murmured asset, and she hid behind the shining machine to gather herself for a moment.
Just as the last drops fell into the cup, he asked, “You’re reading Jane Eyre? For a class, perhaps?” There was a hint of an accent. Christy couldn’t place it.
“No, I read that one about once a year. I have a rotation. Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, The Brothers Karamazov…” She left out Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games, because she instinctively knew that this man read nothing that had been turned into a Major Motion Picture. BBC adaptations would probably be acceptable.
“Me too.” His eyes twinkled, as if he were admitting something slightly embarrassing, but he was determined to own it. “All those, plus a few. I wrote a paper for a class a few years ago about how St. John was Bronte’s dig at the Church. Well meaning, but narrow minded and humorless.” Christy’s jaw dropped a little. Was she having a conversation about literature with this god of a man, in the most ordinary coffee shop in this medium sized town?
She made some inquiring noises about his theory– it was brilliant, and she couldn’t believe she never saw that– and they moved on to The Count of Monte Cristo. The beautiful man stood at her counter chatting with her and sipping his espresso until she realized the she could have started shutting everything down fifteen minutes earlier.
“If you don’t mind, I could sit while you finish up here, and then perhaps take you out for a drink?”
The damned blotch again, as she was forced to admit, “I’m not 21. And the coffee shops all close at 9.” She bit her tongue before she blurted that McDonald’s was still serving coffee. She was loath to let him get away, but she couldn’t imagine his elegant self coming into contact with a molded plastic bench. He looked shocked.
“I thought you were a graduate student at KU… what with your taste in literature and such.” Christy sort of felt like he might be putting her on, but didn’t care. She smiled a mature smile befitting the mature person who would read Jane Eyre and Rebecca over and over. “Perhaps a walk, then? There’s a beautiful moon tonight.”
Christy raced through the closing, forgetting to turn off the drip coffee warmers. When the morning shift arrived, they would find the pots scorched beyond redemption. As she locked the door, the man said “Now is as good a time as any to introduce ourselves. I’m Henry. I’m thinking of transferring to KU, so I came to see the campus and meet some of the philosophy professors.” A college student. A student of philosophy. No wonder he was so smooth and knowing and well-spoken. Christy was in awe. She told him her name, which he seemed to already know somehow, and downplayed her own in-between-things position in the world.
Henry steered her to a wooded part of campus, one that had always annoyed Christy for being in between where she was and where she wanted to be. In the moonlight, with Henry, she wished it stretched for miles and miles.
The conversation slowed. He took her hand naturally and calmly, as if it had been predestined. He gently pulled her to a stop. She looked up at him and he laid a hand on her face, stroking a wisp of hair back toward the rest, still restrained in its scrunchie. “I hope you don’t think I’m too forward, Christy. You’re so very beautiful that I can’t seem to help myself. It’s as if my hand moves on its own, in a desire to know your luminous skin.”
Christy was dumbfounded. A gorgeous, older guy was romantically walking her through the woods– amazing in itself. And now he was calling her beautiful and using words that she had only seen written, never heard said out loud. She was utterly incapable of reply.
“May I kiss you?” She nodded and stretched her neck a little, pretty sure that this wasn’t going to be like kissing Brandon at Alison’s party. And that had been very satisfying. Henry’s lips touched hers, and she was proved correct– this was nothing like Brandon. For starters, it wasn’t satisfying. Henry’s kiss inflamed her. Like a piece of classical music, it started soft and quiet, then repeated on the same theme with ever-increasing intensity and complexity. She couldn’t keep up, didn’t know how to respond. But it didn’t seem to matter, as Henry had the matter in hand. He had other things in hand, too. As his touch roamed her skin, blood seemed to rush to his caress, and then head immediately south, making rational thought impossible. Her body responded to his, with no conscious decision on her part. Her back arched, her head fell back, and her hips thrust forward. She heard herself moan, and it wasn’t a sensual sound– more a gasping sort of grunt– and she didn’t care.
Henry’s lips moved down her jaw, and he nibbled around her ear. Then, he tore Christy’s throat open with his teeth, drank her blood, and left her dead in the campus woods. Her half-unbuttoned blouse fluttered a little in the spring breeze. He strode away without a backwards glance. Because he was a vampire, and that’s what they do.
© 2014 Cécile de l’Ortolon. All rights, rites, and writes reserved.