"Where will you go, Peter?" As I stared across the space separating me from my older immortal brother, I couldn't help but feel as though the world was crumbling, piece by piece. I still bled from the inside after what had happened two weeks ago, but found the nerve to carry on despite my grief. It was what he would've wanted, I told myself, even if I didn't want it.
Looking in Peter McCaffrey's eyes, I could tell he didn't want to, either.
He drew a shaky breath, hardly resembling the vampire of one hundred and seventy years I knew him to be. His gaze looked haunted and his expression fraught with pain, something I wondered if I mirrored. His irises brown and his hair the same color chestnut, Peter always struck me as being what the humans would call 'a catch,' although all of that was now clouded in a shroud of despair. A part of me wished I could hold him, while I knew I had no comfort left to offer anyone.
My maker, Matthew Pritchard, was dead.
Peter swallowed hard and shook his head. "I don't know. As far away from this goddamned place as possible. Maybe Canada. Maybe Europe. Heaven knows." His voice caught momentarily. He shut his eyes in an effort to regain his composure. "I can't find a fucking part of this city that doesn't remind me of her."
"I know." I felt his words pierce through my soul, a sharp edge plunging into the marrow. So many words danced on the tip of my tongue, burning skin with acid as though holding it in any longer had become a cancer and I, a terminal patient. I struggled for a response, but muscle memory stopped me from blurting out a eulogy for the only person I'd ever allowed into my heart.
"Just say it, Allen. You can't find a part of this city that doesn't remind you of him, too."
I don't speak to others about Matthew for a variety of reasons. Humans might be tempted to assign some form of guilt or shame to my actions, especially if they learned the truth of things between us. I've often found mortals miss the subtle complexities about the vampire world, though. Before our world was torn asunder, it was important Matthew didn't show favoritism from one child to the other. I wasn't his first, certainly not his last, and experience had taught us to keep our private life behind closed doors.
Matthew encountered me in November of 1835, when the wind blew him to New York City with Eunice and Peter, his two immortal children at the time. Eunice, he had turned at a mere thirty-one immortal years, from loneliness and out of pity toward her station in life. She had become a prostitute at the age of sixteen and lived on the streets of Baltimore until Matthew came upon her. Peter, he found three years later in Pittsburgh, after Eunice had become smitten with him. As she was too young to turn Peter, Matthew did it himself. This was in the year 1811, the very year I was born.
Matthew Pritchard himself had been a British soldier during the Revolutionary War, of Welsh ancestry and twenty-two years old when his maker Jonathan dragged him from a British encampment on the edge of Trenton. Had he not been kidnapped, he might have died at the hands of George Washington's army as the famous 'crossing of the Delaware' took place a few nights later. Being kidnapped, though, only extended his life a few months longer. 1776 became 1777 before Matthew finally let Jonathan turn him, although it didn't stop Jonathan from feeding on him in the interim. And it didn't stop Jonathan from enslaving Matthew even after he accepted the immortal gift.
I learned more about my maker than he allowed others to know. He shared countless stories about his earliest years while resting in my arms. "Our food supply became barren after the Revolutionary War," he once had said, his head positioned on my shoulder and one of his hands pressed against my chest. "The battles we scavenged from disappeared and the cities filled with the problems of a fledgling country being formed. We had to be overly careful, not because of law enforcement or wary mortals, but because the mortals themselves were at unrest. Fights and minor riots broke out over simple political debates. We witnessed one mob lynch a British loyalist who declared we'd return to King George someday."
The mental image caused me to huff a chuckle. "My grandfather was a Patriot, you know."
"I know." I could hear Matthew grin. "You remind me of that every time I'm tempted to drag out my tattered old uniform." He lifted up to look me in the eyes, shifting so our lips hovered inches apart. "I still love you anyway."
I remember the kiss and little else because we quickly became swept up in the moment. So many of our discussions ended similarly, with me becoming more determined each year to stay by Matthew's side. I served not just a master, but a lover, over the course of one hundred fifty-three years. Matthew, on the other hand, could not boast of such a warm relationship with the vampire who turned him.
He became rapidly disenchanted with Jonathan's presence, but for good reason. Jonathan raped him on a regular basis. The first time, he said, Jonathan had lured him into their sleeping quarters with a mortal woman promising not only would Matthew feed, but he would indulge the carnal pleasures he'd been denied since leaving Britain. They indulged the mortal woman, but Jonathan pinned Matthew down afterward, holding him in place while he violated my maker.
Jonathan over three hundred years Matthew's senior, he was far stronger than his immortal child and had dabbled enough in dark magic to form binding spells. When Matthew resisted, not only did Jonathan secure him in place, he would be rougher with him, beating him before finally penetrating him. Had Matthew not been a vampire, the constant lashings might have killed him. As it was, being a vampire locked him in a purgatory he could not escape.
Not to say vampirism held no enchantment for him. Matthew said from his very first night as an immortal, he relished the world he saw through changed eyes. And not every evening featured Jonathan's sadistic brand of torture. Jonathan allowed him to keep a trunk of personal possessions and hunt on his own once he could be trusted not to flee. Matthew acquired a violin and learned how to play while Jonathan would lounge in a chair and listen. "Those were the few times my maker was a pleasant man to be around. If he did take me that evening, he was kinder about it. Sometimes, he stroked my hair while I played, and other times he mercifully left me alone. So, I became a very apt pupil."
When Matthew became proficient enough, Jonathan would force him to play for money. They formed a racket they took to several cities in the newly-formed United States, acquiring a small pocketful of gold along the way. Close to the turn of the century, however, an excursion to Boston landed them deep in the middle of trouble. As Matthew hunted, Jonathan became intoxicated and trapped inside a pub as a riot broke out. Matthew said he watched from the outside while two men lit the tavern on fire. "I stood several feet away, staring at the flames, and let them consume Jonathan without motioning to save him. Strangely enough, I didn't feel guilty."
I hardly thought the idea was strange. I would have felt the same way in his shoes, watching timber catch and smoke rising from the conflagration. After twenty years under Jonathan's thumb, I imagine my maker was relieved beyond belief.
I wouldn't have blamed him if he lit the fire himself.
He said he returned to their quarters and gathered everything of value he could into his trunk. He pocketed their gold and called for a porter the next evening, starting the slow journey to Baltimore. Eunice and Peter followed thereafter. They went underground during the War of 1812 and waited out the storm in the safety of a small town overlooked by the British as they marched their way to Washington, D.C. The closest they came to being trapped in the thick of things came during a trip to Baltimore when food in their small town became scarce. From there, they lived in quiet until Matthew planned a whimsical retreat to New York City in 1835.
By this point, my father, the first of our family to be born in America, had worked his way from a clerk to an entrepreneur. The former capital of the United States had become a bustling financial center, and several fortunate investments made after the opening of the Erie Canal thrust our family into the socialite way of life. I was a mere teenager around the time, forced to polish up and play nice with the debutantes and other aristocrats. When I turned eighteen, I rebelled by becoming the family black sheep.
I drank myself to overindulgence. I attended college, but scored poor marks and shrugged each time my father threatened to stop funding my education. He forced me to work for his company after I barely earned my degree and I found myself trapped in the mundane business world. My mother introduced me to several young ladies in some attempt to lure me into a marriage proposal. I finally agreed to become engaged a few weeks prior to meeting Matthew.
I did not love the girl, but there were so many things which had me disenchanted, I figured marriage would only be another one to add to the pile. We planned the wedding for the spring and I busied myself with work, using the excuse of securing our future as a cover for the fact that I didn't want to participate in the decision-making process. Sometimes I slept in my office and other times, I wouldn't return home until the latest hours of the evening. This is the habit which caused me and Matthew to finally cross paths.
One night, I paused outside a church on my way home when I saw a figure slip into the shadows and heard a door creak open, one leading into the church itself. Believing this to be a vandal trying to steal from the church, I turned for where I saw the figure disappear and saw the door still open, enough of a temptation for me to slip inside and see what sort of person would not only rob from a church, but invite themselves to be caught. "Hello?" I said, glancing in and stepping past the threshold warily. I took a few additional steps, stopping close to the edge of the sanctuary.
My parents were not religious, it should be noted. I saw the inside of a church on rare occasions when social standing called for us to be in attendance. My father considered himself 'enlightened', which translated loosely into 'dyed-in-the-wool skeptic', and I'd never encountered anything to inspire belief in a higher power. As I stepped inside, though, I felt like I was committing some grievous sin in being there, staring at the religious icons and feeling them all stare back at me. "Hello?" I asked again when I failed to see anybody stuffing chalices or offering plates into a sack. "Is somebody here?"
"Do you consider yourself fortunate, sir?" a voice asked from the darkest portion of the sanctuary. The moon shone through a sparse collection of windows, but all the candles had been extinguished and an entire side of the church was cloaked in darkness.
I turned in the direction of the stranger and raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean by fortunate?" The man sounded to be around my age, so I figured I was dealing with a peer, at least. The fact that they could have been armed didn't occur to me as I stepped closer.
"Does fate favor you?" He shifted position slightly, but not enough to give the illusion of fleeing. Rather, the movement drew my attention toward where he stood, as though he wanted to be seen. I walked closer, seeing a shadow roughly my height tilt his head as though to study me. "Are you one of the lucky ones it shines down upon?"
"I don't know." I walked one pace closer before stopping. "Why would you ask me such a thing?"
"Because you entered this church, sir." I heard him chuckle. "Without knowing who or what I might be."
I laughed. "Who, you're right about. You could be a deranged killer for all I know, but I find it curious you added a 'what.' You're a man."
"A man, yes, but not any human man."
"What in God's name else could you be? You look human to me."
"Appearances are often deceiving." He crept from the shadows, granting me my first glimpse of his face. Young, but not too young, he had dark hair which fell atop his head in short locks with piercing brown eyes staring at me. His mouth crept open, but only slightly, and he bore a pale pallor which suggested him to be sickly. The way he walked lent credence to his words, though. Lithe and confident, not labored. Appearances certainly were deceiving.
Ashen skin and nimble movement aside, he still looked very human to me. "If you aren't a human, then what are you?" I asked, folding my arms across my chest.
He smirked. "Does the word vampire mean anything to you?"
"You think you're a vampire?" I barked out a laugh. "I'm an educated man, sir, so yes I've heard the word. They're shady myths from uneducated people attempting to explain how..."
In that moment, he smiled and two sharp fangs descended where his incisors should have been. I stopped speaking abruptly and gawked at them, mouth hung agape as they gleamed in the moonlight. "Dear God in heaven," I muttered when I found my voice again. "Those teeth..."
He sped close to me before I could finish, far faster than I'd seen any man move before. I stepped backward, but he clutched my arm and pulled me close to him before I could even think to turn. Our eyes locked, chests touching with his gaze turning menacing. "These teeth go in your neck," he said. "And your blood spills down my throat. I haven't eaten in a few nights, Allen."
"How do you know my name?" I trembled, but refused to look away. "If you're going to kill me, then at least tell me yours."
"Matthew." He grinned. "Your name is stitched on the inside of your coat."
Raising an eyebrow, I hazarded the risk and quickly regarded the thick wool coat which hung from my shoulders. One side had folded over, revealing the tailor's insignia and my name finely embroidered on the lining. Allen R. Hughes. My gaze shot back toward his. "How could you read that? There isn't a candle lit and the moonlight is sparse here."
Matthew laughed. "You have a vampire clutching onto you, fangs extended, and you're curious about my vision? I see in the dark. Vampires are nocturnal creatures."
"Maybe I'm petrified and that was the first thing my mind could latch onto?"
"True, but I've killed enough humans to know you should be pleading for your life by now."
I blinked, almost afraid to ask the question, but issuing it anyway. "You intend to kill me?"
He tilted his head. "I'm not sure, Allen. Do you want to live?"
I couldn't figure out how to respond, so I deflected. "That accent... Where does it come from?"
"Britain." Matthew's facial expression fell. "You inquire about my vision and my accent, but when I ask if you want to live, you avoid my question. Why is that?"
All of the myths surrounding vampires didn't prepare me for the look of sympathy which surfaced in his eyes. He almost seemed to be asking himself what sort of wretched existence this human had to be carving out for himself in order not to fight to live. I even had to ask myself the same question. "I don't know if I want to live, Matthew."
"But why?" He touched my face and I felt weak inside. Not small, but in need of something what, I didn't know. His words became quieter, almost a whisper, while I stared as though compelled by a force outside myself. "What has you questioning your worth, Allen?" he asked. "I would guess you lead a privileged life if you can afford such finely-tailored clothing."
"I live a hollow life, more like it," I droned, feeling my lips move as though they'd gained a mind of their own. "My father dragged me into another world with his wealth and I've been drowning ever since. I was happy before we were rich. Now, everybody is shallow. I'm engaged to a woman I don't love and work a job I despise."
Matthew blinked and I did, too. Mental clarity returned without me realizing it had departed in the first place. The hand Matthew placed on my arm fell, but the one caressing my face lingered. "Allen, would you escape this life if a way was provided to you?"
"How?" I frowned, wondering what was happening, feeling exposed and vulnerable all of a sudden. "Do you offer all the humans you feel sympathy toward an escape?"
"Not all." Matthew smiled softly. "For many the best escape is death. You, though..." I felt his thumb stroke my cheek, then stop, his hand falling quickly to his side. His eyes never wavered, though. "It doesn't seem like you want to die. You want to live, just not with your existence."
"What other option do I have?"
"You would make a good vampire." He raised an eyebrow. "I should know, I have turned two others and they have taken very well to being immortal. My children." Matthew smirked. "We're looking for a more permanent home, but if you know your way around money, perhaps you can help us with that."
"You want my money?" I blinked.
He laughed. "No, your mind. Your knowledge. Your talents. And
your blood." Matthew's lips parted in a broad grin. "But I will give you my blood in return and you can be like us. Ageless. Limitless. Free. You will know hunger, but you will know eternity as well. And you can fill it however you see fit."
I stared at him, attempting to understand the offer being extended to me. "I'd live
"For a very long time, Allen. Possibly forever. Vampires struggle for survival the same way humans do, we're simply not bound by their rules."
"How long have you lived?"
"Fifty eight years as a vampire. Twenty-two years before that."
"Ageless." I studied him again, seeing the twenty-two years, but not the fifty-eight. Not bound by society's rules, no longer a puppet to my station in life; I allowed myself to think of a world without parties and false smiles, marriages of stature and children to continue a family name and nodded. I had no soul to sell, no God to anger. So, I said, "Make me a vampire, Matthew."
He leaned closer. "You ask me for it?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you want to say goodbye to daylight first? Vampires cannot be in the sun, it will kill us. If you need another sunrise, I will find you tomorrow. My maker never gave me that opportunity."
"The vampire who made me what I am."
I nodded, drawing a shaky breath inward. "No. I don't want to return to that world if there's a way out of it. Let them think I died. I never cared for the sun."
"As you wish." Matthew nodded once, a hand lifting to settle on my neck. Gingerly, he tilted my head to the side and drew our bodies together in an embrace, the action so intimate it should have unsettled me at the time. Instead, I felt a strange comfort in the arm wrapped around me, and clutched onto him in return as his face drifted closer to my throat. He kissed it once before whispering in my ear, "My son. Your blood in my veins and mine in yours. Make me just as proud as your siblings do."
I furrowed my brow, but before I could speak, Matthew's teeth plunged past skin, forcing a long, pained moan from my mouth. Distantly, I felt the hand on my neck shift to my shoulder and caress as though to calm me. The hand on my back fanned its fingers and brought me closer still. If he hadn't been draining my blood, his ministrations might have aroused me. Instead, I felt exhaustion wash over me before I could even think to wonder why I enjoyed being touched by him.
My head lulled when he pulled away, the world fading in and out with my pulse fluttering. Matthew gripped tightly onto me, but lifted the hand settled on my shoulder just as my eyes began to shut in sleep. I felt cool skin press against my lips and sampled a metallic taste on my tongue. The instinct to swallow became an impulse to drink and before I knew it, I was taking in mouthfuls of his blood.
The coppery taste melted into a bouquet sweeter than honey and more decadent than the richest food I'd ever eaten. I felt it cascade down my throat in a river of bliss until a sharp burst of pain ripped me from the experience and into the black void of death. Five days later, it was his voice which summoned me to wake and when I opened my eyes, I found myself lying in a cellar with two other vampires seated beside Matthew. Both of them were brown-haired, and the woman looked young enough to still be her father's ward.
They introduced themselves to me as Peter and Eunice. "Matthew said your name is Allen," Peter said with a grin. I remembered thinking he looked ethereal; as though my eyes could take in so many features I'd been blind toward before. He patted my shoulder. "Welcome to our nest."
"Thank you." I blinked, disoriented and unable to remember too much about who I was and where I'd come from. Within a few days, though, the fog had cleared and a few days after that, I could even remember the night I drank Matthew's blood. The recollection made me self-conscious at first. I looked at him, wondering if he had noticed what an effect he'd had on me. When he gave no indication one way or the other, I shrugged and let the matter rest. His apathy might have saddened me, but it gave me a chance to figure out more about the world around me at the same time.
The cellar belonged to a local tavern that'd been shut down and left vacant for at least a month or more. Nary a human stopped by, and just as well. I could barely control myself around a pulse those initial weeks. I drank blood and killed, and remained enthralled by the taste of that warm, viscous liquid which had made me what I became. After my first month, though, my hunger subsided and allowed me to disguise myself amongst the human population of New York.
I learned more about Peter and Eunice. They slept together every night and spooned and chuckled like two lovers. I smirked and asked them about it one night while Matthew played idly with his violin. "Does anything ever separate the two of you?"
Matthew laughed. "Not since the day I turned him." He looked up at Peter and nodded. "I remember when Eunice first met him, with the intention of feeding on him. She forced herself to keep him alive, which was saying a lot from her then. I didn't have that sort of control at her age. And he took one look at her with stars in her eyes I swore could stretch past heaven itself. When I turned him, I knew I was saving Romeo and Juliet."
Eunice giggled. "Oh stop it, Matthew. You even said he would make a fine vampire." She looked at Peter and the two of them shared a conspiratorial wink.
"Oh, I did." Matthew directed his attention toward me, a soft smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "I offered him my blood for a reason..." His gaze shifted back to Eunice. "And not because of your constant begging and pleading."
Eunice laughed and Peter chuckled, but I continued studying Matthew, sensing something more behind the way he looked at me. It made me curious enough that I watched the way he acted with us all, in some effort to figure out how he related to us. Doing this didn't help me at all, though. He shared affection without any prejudice from one child to another.
"It's Matthew's way," Peter said to me as he took me out hunting. "I think he was treated so poorly by his maker, he overcompensates with us."
"His maker treated him poorly?" I slipped my hands inside the confines of my coat. "What did he do?"
Peter shrugged. "He never talks about it. He only ever says he tries to avoid what he went through without going easy on us. Eunice and I only guessed his maker must have been a bastard."
"But he's not alive any longer?"
"No." Peter shook his head. "Died in a fire in Boston. We can recover from a lot of things, but definitely not being cooked to ashes." Grinning, he winked at me.
I flashed a quick smirk, but remained silent for the rest of our outing. Another piece to the puzzle, yet still nothing which told me what he saw in me or why I even cared. It made me wonder if I had gone queer, but Peter didn't arouse me and neither did Eunice. Each time they asked if I wanted to lie with them, I declined, genuinely disinterested.
"I wonder if I'm more unusual for refusing or if they are for offering it," I said to Matthew one morning after they'd retired for the day. "I wouldn't think such a committed couple would be so willing to extend intimacy toward another."
"They know you lack a partner and are concerned." Matthew smirked. His eyes remained set on the strings of his violin. "You're much like me, though, Allen, and we seem to be the anomalies of vampire kind."
I raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "I haven't had the same compulsion toward sex the way other vampires do. I've met so many along the way set on bedding me, I've had to dismiss a lot of strange looks when I refused. From men and women alike." Matthew held the instrument to his ear and plucked a few of the strings. "Sexual intimacy pales in comparison to a good feed, in my opinion"
"I would agree." A slow grin surfaced on my face. "But you're aware of how I feel about blood."
Matthew hummed. He lowered his violin and set it on his lap. "The indulgences that make us what we are." Our eyes met briefly before Matthew forced himself to look away. As I settled in to sleep that morning, my heart felt heavy, resigned to the thought that I might never understand what it was that drew us together.
Within a few months of my turning, we moved our nest to Philadelphia and decided to form roots there. As I oversaw Matthew's investments, Eunice and Peter helped find property for us to purchase and mortal familiars who would manage our legal affairs. Matthew turned another immortal child, this one a woman named Constance. Demetrius followed, as did Elizabeth and Ingrid, and by the time I reached twenty-four years of immortal age, Matthew led a coven of eight vampires with Eunice as his second in command.
I never seemed to forget about it, though the things I felt whenever I was with him. Around the others, we conducted ourselves with gentlemanly candor, a growing formality in the way he held himself and the way I did in return. My siblings knew I was fiercely loyal to him, but nobody seemed to know why or question it enough to get to the root of my affections. I was grateful for his sake, but not for mine, because it meant he might not see it, either. I had come to terms with the pangs of desire he made me feel, and shortly after that, realized I had been in love with him. For several years, I kept it private, though, afraid that I might change things by admitting it.
When Ingrid reached the age where she could hunt with the others, Matthew's time freed up a little more. The estate we occupied was large enough for him to have his own quarters and each of us (aside from Peter and Eunice) to have a room of our own. Matthew claimed a spare room as an office and I spent many nights walking past, asking how I could be of help. Within weeks, I became a permanent fixture, and soon after, a silent tango commenced between Matthew and me.
Our eyes would converge and drift apart as though merely glancing at once another had become something hopelessly torrid. Once, we both held a gaze so steady, I felt a shiver crawl the entire length of my spine. That shared experience haunted me for nights afterward, with me drifting closer to him and him, closer to me. I watched him wrestle each time we brushed against each other, stepping away as though he faced some sort of consequence for lingering. One night, I felt brazen enough to sit on his desk, one foot resting against his leg as he sat in his chair. Staring, I refused to look away, until finally my maker glanced upward, his expression turning pained.
I furrowed my brow. "Matthew?" I asked, leaning closer. "Is something the matter?"
He drew a shaky breath. "Allen..." Suddenly, he rose to his feet and I watched, crestfallen, as he walked away, his back turned to me and a sizeable distance between us now. "You have to stop looking at me that way."
"Why?" I stood as well, but remained in place. "Looking at you how?"
"Your gaze entreats me. I know what you're looking for, but I can't do it." He brought a shaky hand to his head. "I refuse to do it to you."
"Do what to me?"
"What my maker did." Finally he turned to face me, blood tears welling in his eyes. "Allen, even if you are willing, I can't take advantage of you like that. I won't. You don't deserve it."
"Take advantage?" I damned the consequences and walked closer, taking hold of his shoulders with both hands. "What in God's name makes you think being with me would be taking advantage of me?"
Matthew shook his head. "I still remember it, Allen. The last time I had a shred of lust for somebody was when my maker took advantage of me. He... bound me and beat me and forced me into more. I won't do that to you." He looked into my eyes. "I let him die in that fire. I could have rescued him, but I didn't."
"Oh, gods." Throwing my arms around him, I clutched him tight against me as I shut my eyes. "I didn't know that's what your maker did to you."
He sighed, his breath still shaky. "I never tell anybody. You couldn't have known. I simply
I can't exploit a moment of weakness for you."
His words made me frown. I pulled away, but only so he could look me in the eyes. "This isn't a moment of weakness. I love you. I've loved you from the first days of my turning and have known it for years now. The first time you... pressed me against you and bit my neck, I wanted to cling onto you and kiss you. Even when I was still mortal." This time I looked at him with a hint of sadness in my eyes. "You aren't your maker. If you needed anybody to tell you that, I could have said it eons ago."
Matthew stared at me, an indistinguishable expression on his face that made me afraid I'd said something out of turn. Just as soon as I thought to open my mouth and apologize, though, he wrapped an arm around me and brought our bodies together, the action reminiscent of my turning. "I loved that mortal," he said. "I made him a vampire whom I have loved for twenty-four years. I just
didn't want you to think I'd force you to do anything you didn't want to do..."
Before he could finish, I pressed my lips against his, kissing him as I'd seen myself doing a thousand times in my mind. Both of my hands lifted to touch each side of his face while my lips continued motioning, waking his and forcing them to respond, even if I'd stunned him frozen by taking charge. Gradually, his hands began to slide over my body, and after moments of this, he was kissing me just as fervently as I was him. I was the one who lifted the first article of his clothing and it was me who shut the door before anyone else noticed.
We made love for the first time on the hardwood floor, with me on top and him quivering beneath me until we forced ourselves into completion. We bit into each other to muffle our screams, and caught our breath before commencing another couple rounds. He brought me into his room afterward and, for the rest of the night, we held each other tight, afraid to let go. My last thoughts were of the way he tasted and, as sleep came, my heart felt lighter than air.
It was unequivocally the happiest evening of my life.