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Falls Like Rain

4.2. Mortal and Brief

As you lay in sleep
I saw the chart
Of artery and vein
Running from your heart.
Plain as the strength
Marked upon the leaf
Along the length
Mortal and brief …

   ??, Cartography

Vachon struggled to put the predator to rest, as well, even managed to keep the vampire tucked behind the hastily erected wall of restraint. He had come so very close to taking her, to forgetting his vow, but the pure trust she showed him, like that of an infant, suffused his soul with love and bolstered the promise of protection. Her face was that of an innocent angel, porcelain tinted pink with the artistry of a master’s brush. He would not allow himself to be the instrument of her destruction.

He shifted them both more comfortably, then wound his arms around her. She sighed in her sleep and snuggled even more closely. This sharing of warmth had to satisfy them both for the time being, as anything more would be too dangerous. Vachon rested his unshaven cheek on the top of her head, and let himself drift into sleep as well.

The setting sun woke the vampire from his light doze. Ravenous, he quickly but gently untangled himself from the mortal still asleep in his arms. Finding his way easily in the dark to the wooden crates piled up in one corner, he pulled the lid from the topmost and lifted out one of the green wine bottles. Losing control for a moment, he all but cracked the slender neck from the rest of the bottle. He raised the glass container to his lips and sucked down the contents in three large gulps. Two more bottles followed before he was sated enough, trusted himself enough, to approach Tracy.

The candlelight softened her features; her skin was as lustrous as a perfect pearl. He gazed down at her face, childlike in slumber but still beautiful, and felt a profound ache within his breast. Their time together was so fleeting. Youth owned her, but the vampire knew from experience how quickly a mortal could be taken from him. Hell, they had come so close already. He had seen far too many friends cold in the earth, and had no desire to see this mortal stiff with death. Yet he couldn’t leave her. Her delicate beauty, long and lean figure just entering maturity, her intelligence, trust and passion, even her high energy level, captured his heart and melted away the thick coating of rime deposited over the centuries. The need to possess, be possessed in turn, was overwhelming. If he could not walk away, he vowed to give himself over completely, and drown in the wash of nearly-forgotten emotions. A wave of love engulfed him, dissolved the last of his reserve.

Vachon knelt by the side of the old sofa, and smoothed the hair from Tracy’s face. He tucked the fine strands behind an ear, as he had watched her do a thousand times. She never stirred. He watched her a moment longer, drinking in the sight of her, before disturbing her slumber.

Cara,” he called softly, moving his hand down to her shoulder and rocking gently. “Wake up.” Tracy shifted slightly and mumbled, but didn’t truly awaken. Vachon called her name closer to her ear, his breath tickling the fine hairs of her neck. “Trace?”

Her large eyes peeled open, revealing orbs delft blue and bright. Confusion was evident for a moment until full memory returned and she recognized her surroundings. A slow smile animated her features, wiping away remaining grains of sleep from her eyes. She raised a slender hand, warm from its place beneath her head, and cupped the Spaniard’s cheek. “I’m sorry I feel asleep on you,” she whispered contritely, voice still hoarse from sleep.

Vachon placed his hand over hers and slid it to his mouth. He pressed his lips to her palm in a loving caress, drinking in the heat and scent of her, thumb catching the rhythm of her rapid pulse. “I’m not,” he replied, eyes crinkling in suppressed mirth. A wide grin was his reward. He sat back on his heels. “Sun’ll be down in a few minutes. Let me take you home.”

“I have my car,” she protested half-heartedly.

He raised an eyebrow and quipped, “And it’s a damn fine ride, too.” She poked him with a long finger. He grunted in mock pain, hands crossed over the point of injury. “Listen, fly with me now and I’ll drive it to the station for you while you’re out tooling around with Knight.”

“And just how will I get to work, mister?”

“I’ll fly you there, too - Javier Express. Gonna turn down two trips in my arms?” he asked with a roguish grin.

Again, that pink tint highlighted her cheeks. She savagely suppressed the embarrassment; she’d overcome that “Button” nickname if it killed her. “No, I love being in your arms, safe, with the city spread out far below us. It’s like living a dream.”

“Then come, querida. The dream begins now.”

She stood up and stretched (the couch not made for such a tall frame), then took the few steps into his open arms. Vachon gripped her securely before moving faster than any human. Tracy’s stomach gave a lurch in protest as they cleared the church and abruptly took to the air. At that height the wind was cool and had a slight nip, the air currents pulling the damp chill up from Lake Ontario to whip it in their faces. She snuggled into him, letting his ubiquitous leather jacket break the worst of the driving wind. Tracy fleetingly placed soft lips against his stubbled cheek before turning to observe the city she was sworn to protect. It was so beautiful from the air; she felt so far removed from the violence the city tossed at its citizens with growing regularity.

The flight ended too quickly. She momentarily spotted her apartment building through the haze of streetlamps as Javier descended sharply, taking her breath away. Suddenly, they were through an open window and standing in her living room. She clung to him, but he cleared his throat awkwardly and stepped out of the circle of her embrace.

“Home sweet home,” he announced, spreading his arms wide then dropping them to his sides. He turned back towards the window in a movement slightly too rapid for the eye to follow comfortably.

“No! Don’t go,” Tracy cried, reaching a hand out to stop his departure.

He looked back over his shoulder at her. “I’m not, Trace. Just closing the window.” He gave her an appraising glance. “You never know what kind of unsavory character is gonna pop through one of these.” Vachon swung the window closed and clicked the latch. “There. All secure.”

Tracy frowned at him, but made no comment. She pulled her holster from her hip and placed it on the countertop before taking a seat on the couch. She patted the cushion next to her in invitation. Vachon shrugged out of his jacket, dropping it on a low table, then joined his mortal love on the small sofa.

“Before, when I said Nick felt like you, I only meant ...,” she began hesitantly, with the barest glance in his direction. “Hell, I don’t know what I meant.”

Vachon took her hand and tugged. She turned to face him. “Tell me what happened,” he requested in a quiet voice.

“It’s not anything I can put my finger on,” she replied after a moment of thought. Tracy looked down, plucked a few imaginary fuzzballs from her pink cropped sweater before beginning to recount the night’s events. “It’s a lot of little things, really.” The detective jumped up from her perch at the end of the love seat, the pent-up nervous energy forcing her into motion as she began her tale; she couldn’t remain still and voice her fears. Tracy went on to explain how Nick’s touch was colder, felt more inimical; how distant he had become, as if she rode with a stranger; his complete fascination with the murder scene and the file photos. “And he just disappeared, then just as suddenly reappeared -- wet. Why would he be wet?” She wrinkled her nose in confusion, but Javier had no answers to give. Tracy ceased her restless pacing and came to stand before Vachon. “Even Natalie is weirded out.” She plopped back down beside the dark vampire and impatiently tucked her tangled hair behind an ear. “All I know is that it all seemed to begin after I brought Nick that bottle of blood. This is all my fault.”

“Trace, Knight’s a big boy. You didn’t force the blood on him. Believe me, if he wasn’t willing, that small amount wouldn’t have had such an effect -- if it did at all.” She shook her head, ready to debate his opinion. He held up his hands to stop the flood of denial. “Listen, Trace. I’ve heard stories from the community, about what’s happened to Knight over the past few months. He’s been heading down this road on his own.”

“Yeah?” she asked doubtfully. Vachon nodded in confirmation. “Well, I still think we were the last straw, you know?”

“Maybe you’re right,” he conceded, more to placate her than any true conviction.

“What should we do? Will you talk to him?”

Vachon frowned, but nodded reluctantly. “Yeah -- okay,” he told her. “I must be out of my mind,” he said to himself under his breath.

Tracy was ready to keep up her end of the conversation, but Vachon leaned forward and quickly but deeply kissed her lips. The subject of their discourse was forgotten under the searing heat the kiss aroused. “Think of that instead of Knight. Deal?”

“Deal,” she replied breathlessly, their lips only inches apart.

“Mind if I use the shower?”

“Hey!” she exclaimed, backing up to see his face more clearly. “That’s the whole truth of this relationship: you love me for my indoor plumbing.”

He chuckled. “You can bet I never kissed the owner of a bath house that way.” The vampire winked over his shoulder as he sauntered to the bathroom, his steps light and jaunty.

A couple of minutes later, Tracy heard the water running. Javier was humming the same tune he had played for her earlier. She moved a few steps closer to the bathroom door. From that angle, she could view Javier in the full-length mirror hung on her closet door. His body had been frozen at the prime of his youth, sinews not bulging yet well-defined. His arms were muscular without being bulky, and his legs were long and lean; his limbs hinted at the power he possessed. Tracy loved to watch him, the play of hard tendon against harder bone, the rippling beneath unblemished flesh. He was pale over his entire body, the dark hair in a sheaf-of-wheat pattern a sharp contrast to the alabaster skin. His buttocks were firm and tight; she had always admired the shape through his jeans. And when he turned...

Tracy swallowed, biting a lip in indecision, then took several steps closer. Without conscious thought, she peeled the vivid sweater over her head. She kicked off her sneakers, then wriggled out of the slim-fitting jeans. Javier had noticed her approach and stopped his motion to better appreciate the striptease he was sure was for his benefit.

It seemed Tracy’s hands had belonged to another while she removed her outer garments, but she suddenly turned shy and self-conscious clad in naught but nearly transparent underwear. His eyes raked over her slender form with the heat of white coals, pulling the blood to her forehead and cheeks.

He gestured, encouraging her to remove her remaining clothing. She reached back and unhooked the pink lacy bra, then skimmed the matching panties down her legs and toed them aside.

Javier slid the glass door wide and made room for her to enter the large shower. A cloud of steam enveloped her, dampening her velvet skin. Sparkling droplets clung to her hair like loose diamonds. He took her into his arms, hands chasing each other up and down the length of her back. She was willowy but strong, and of a height with him. The Spaniard liked that - liked that she fit him so well. Her hands settled on his narrow waist, then dropped down to cup his nether cheeks. She leaned forward to lay her full lips on his. His tongue prodded her mouth open, and he plunged in to give her pleasure. One hand lazily explored a small, firm breast, while the other tangled in her baby fine hair. Tracy moaned and molded herself more tightly to his hard body.

The lovers were lost in the heady sensation of warm spray cascading over them for many long minutes. The vampire firmly in check, Javier spread moist kisses over her throat; his teeth nibbled at her earlobe, worrying the tiny pearl she wore there. Then Javier broke away and pushed the thick, sodden hair from his face. Picking up a mesh sponge, he poured out a generous portion of her favorite scented gel. He ran the netting over the rounded tops of her rosy breasts, through their valley and followed the trail of suds to the triangle of platinum curls. Sliding the sponge between her thighs, he found the center of her desire and moved his hand in a light circular motion. Tracy gasped and canted her hips forward to match the rhythm of his gentle massage. The young mortal threw back her head, her breath coming in ragged sobs of pleasure. Her hands found his and urged them into a faster dance, frenzied with need. She called his name huskily as she climbed the stairway he had built to bliss. A balloon filled her head and grew larger and larger with each round of movement. She was a mere step from the brink of the ultimate release. With a cry of utter delight, Tracy reached the height and the balloon burst, sending waves of endorphins through her body, the natural drug flooding her with contentment. Javier guided her back against the tiled wall and continued soaping her glowing skin. He didn’t think any woman could be more beautiful than this flaxen-haired doll.

Mi alma, tu eres hermosa,” he whispered endearingly.

He ran the mesh sponge down her back, over her pert derriere and along each shapely limb, his hands following in loving caress. Tracy reveled in the sensations he inspired, happy just to stand still and be loved. She feared movement would shatter her peace, break the fragile spell, end the magical dream.

Javier dropped the sponge to the shower floor and pulled Tracy under the spray. Hot water plastered her blond hair to her forehead and cheeks, tumbled over angular shoulders and chased the soapsuds from her legs to spin away into the circular drain.

“Is this Heaven?” she asked dreamily, rousing herself momentarily from the pleasant indolence.

“If only it could be,” he replied, turning off the water.

Tracy smiled, the brilliance of her eyes like a memory of the sun. She slid open the shower door and, stepping out, grabbed a fluffy towel from the chrome rack. She reached back and their fingers intertwined; she pulled her lover along with her. Javier took the terry cloth from her hands and wrapped her in its softness. He pressed his lips to the nape of her neck and rained light kisses along her hairline, the feather’s touch causing a shiver to thrill through her in exquisite anticipation.

Javier bent and, snaking a hand under her knees, easily lifted his young lover into his arms. He walked slowly, ceremoniously, to the bed and gently laid her down. Her body still burned from the heat of the shower, and a hint of warmth lingered in his flesh as well. With trembling hands, she spread the towel aside, revealing the milky smoothness of her skin to his admiring gaze. Passion smoldered in his brown eyes, all but consuming her will.

“Take me, Javier,” she pleaded wantonly, “I want to feel you inside of me.”

Unable to resist such an invitation, Javier leaned closer. The Spaniard had made love to many women in his four centuries on earth, and he would bring all that knowledge to bear in order to please Tracy. Their first time together had been so frenzied, so filled by his need to feed, that he doubted he gave any pleasure to the woman lying beneath him now. He wanted to take his time with her, explore her leisurely, show her all he could do to enflame her passion.

Tracy had other ideas. She grew impatient and demanding. As he knelt above her, she reached up, grabbed his staff and boldly stroked along his length. Javier, senses more keenly sensitive than any mortal, groaned in ecstasy.

Madre de Dios,” he gasped out.

Emboldened, Tracy encircled his stiff member with her strong fingers. She teased the tip with the pad of her thumb, massaging his scrotum in the palm of her other hand.

Javier was wild with the need of her; her sweet scent seemed to fill every corner of the bedroom, her heartbeat pulled his own into a frenzied throbbing. Yet he took care with her, remembering that she was merely flesh and blood, that the bones and tissues beneath the moist, resilient skin were fragile, delicate. He fell upon her, trapping her under his weight. Javier kissed her deeply, once, twice, but his control grew ever more tenuous. He parried her tongue from his lengthening fangs, trying to keep from tasting her as long as possible. He tore his lips from hers, dropping down to savor her breasts; encouraged by the delighted cries of pleasure, he nipped at her hard little peaks.

“Take me,” she asked again, with an emotion akin to desperation. She tugged his head up once more and grabbed one of his lips in her teeth quite playfully. His mouth covered hers with a swiftness that stole the breath from her lungs. Her tongue traced along his canines, and this time he could not resist. He bit into the tender flesh; champagne flooded his mouth. Traced winced in pain, but didn’t draw away. Instead, she lowered her hand to his belly and guided his sex into the warm musky entrance to her body. His hard length settled into her as if he belonged there and should remain for all eternity. Her love canal formed a tight sheath around him, melding the two together seamlessly.

The vampire glided slowly, carefully into her snug depths. Tracy clutched at his shoulders, spread her fingers over his well-muscled biceps, stroked his buttocks with feverish desire. Javier rained kisses over her delicate features, her throat, her breasts, his lips stained with her red life. He quickened the rhythm of his thrusts. She arched her back, hips meeting his, and matched the cadence of his rocking motion within her. It seemed music filled her from an unknown source; bright colors exploded behind closed lids. The point of his rod touched that sensitive spot deep in the core of her, the target of lovers throughout the ages. The ecstasy they shared built to a shattering crescendo, so intense that he swore he had indeed been granted a glimpse of Heaven.

At the moment of her climax, Javier plunged his fangs into a large vein running along her breast. Ambrosia sweeter than any before tasted filled his mouth, flooded his soul. Spasms rocked Tracy, waves of pleasure rolling over and through her, battering her with the force and fervor of a summer squall. They floated in a place not quite earth, the rather pedestrian bedroom transformed into a garden of love, a plane of nirvana. Never had she felt so fulfilled, so loved, in her short years; she feared she’d never find such bliss in mortal arms again.

Tracy still flexed from climax, Javier’s suckling pulling all her muscles pleasantly taut. Although her apartment was warm from the summer breeze blowing through an open casement, her nipples were still hardened in rosy peaks, aureoles crinkled, and a fine network of gooseflesh raised the skin along arms and legs. A shiver ran through her.

Javier, sated, gave a final lick to the wound in her breast, lapping up the few drops of blood still pooling from the twin punctures. His eyes were like the setting sun, golden with a corona of red ringing the edges of each iris. Tracy kissed each one in turn, then tasted her own blood from his expressive mouth. She gazed deeply into eyes slowly fading to that of clover honey; a languid smile graced her lips. Her cornflower eyes twinkled with barely contained glee, and her voice held more than a trace of laughter.

“Talk is so overrated.”

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