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￭ in return for your navy blue shirt
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2008-06-22 | |
Vampires in the family.Chapter 3 :Dating the vampire`s daughter
"Darling, this is Emmanuel," Mother said, smiling like she knew something I didn't.
I wasn't impressed. I mean, okay, the guy was handsome. Not the cleft-chin, overly muscular, square-jaw and tiny eyes kinda handsome, either.
Mother, unfortunately, knew my preferences.
Emmanuel had a narrow face with high, delicate cheekbones. His skin was pale, almost white, and it was entirely unblemished. His lips were pouty. They were also the color of roses, as though he'd been wearing blood red lipstick during the day and had just recently wiped it off.
I narrowed my eyes, recognizing the signs. Leaning closer, I squinted at the faded remains of a dark smudge underneath his lower eyelashes.
"Emmanuel, were you wearing eyeliner today?" I asked.
He smiled at me and, with one quick glance, all my suspicions were confirmed; he had tiny indentations on his two, upper canines. They were the exact sort of indentations that goth kids got whenever they wore fake fangs and pretended to be creatures of the night.
Mother had brought me a wannabe vampire.
"He could put on his makeup, if you prefer that sort of thing," Mother said.
"Mother! The only thing I prefer is my boyfriend!" I protested. "His name is Micah. You know that!"
"Yes, you're correct, darling Sylvia," Mother said, the barest hint of sarcasm tainting her voice. "I did meet him the night you broke the rules, remember?"
I sighed. She was never going to let me forget that.
"You have a boyfriend?" Emmanuel asked - the first thing he'd said all night, since Mother had shepherded him inside.
"He can join us, if you'd like." His dark, slightly demented eyes glimmered. "I wouldn't mind."
Oh crap. Not only had Mother found me a gothic, vampire-loving weirdo, but he was also friggin' bisexual!
Thanks, Mother, I glared at her, trying to send the sarcastic message to her telepathically. Of course it didn't work. Mother may be a little...different, but she didn't read minds.
She could do other stuff, though. She was really strong, for example. She couldnât lift cars up over her head or anything, but she could beat anyone in a fight. I mean anyone. She routinely brought home men who looked like they spent half their lives lifting weights. She would carry them in, unconscious, slung over her shoulder like an old coat, sometimes leaving me enough time to get a good look at them before she'd chain them down in the basement.
That was another thing that made Mother different. She had...dietary restrictions. The men she brought home helped with that.
Maybe that was the problem now. I wasn't sure, but Mother never really had much to do with men outside of finding ways to get them into our basement.
But that didn't matter. Micah was my boyfriend. Nothing was gonna change that. So I'd go along on this stupid date thing for tonight because it was better than getting grounded, but this was the only time. After that, Emmanuel would just have to be out of luck.
"Well, come on," I said to Emmanuel, rolling my eyes if only to show Mother how unimpressed I was with him. "Let's go."
"Cool," said Emmanuel. "I'll drive."
I followed him outside, not really paying that much attention. His car was some crappy old beater with cracks and scratches all over the paint job.
Emmanuel held the door open for me, which was polite of him, I guess, but the guy still creeped me out. For one thing, he hadn't stopped smiling since we'd left the house. He seemed seriously way too happy to be on this date. I wasn't even trying to be nice to him, so there was no reason for him to be smiling.
I got into the passenger seat and tried to fasten my safety belt, but it wouldn't work. The little metal 'tooth' wouldn't click into the fastener. I tried several times, growing more and more frustrated.
"It's broken," Emmanuel said after he looked over to see where the clicking noise was coming from.
I stared at him blankly. "Then how am I gonna fasten it?"
I'd never ridden in a car without my seatbelt on before. Seriously, not ever. Mother had hammered the importance of personal safety into my head again and again, and wearing a seatbelt was one of her main themes back when I was little.
"You could tie it around your waist," Emmanuel suggested. I tried to look into his eyes and see if he was joking, but I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me or not.
Feeling like an idiot, I wrapped the loose seatbelt around my middle, looping the strap behind me. It wasn't the safest thing in the world, but at least, if Emmanuel crashed the car, I wouldn't go flying out of the windshield or anything.
All the same, as he pulled out of the driveway and into the street, I had a death-grip on the armrests. He drove way too fast.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"Dinner," he said.
Okay then. I'd scarf down the food, maybe force some conversation, and then get Emmanuel to take me home. Our date would be done and my debt to Mother for breaking the rules would be paid.
It was just... The entire situation was weird. Normal parents, like Micah's mom, for example, would punish their kids the normal way whenever they broke the house rules. Micah's mom would take away the Playstation, and my friend Anise's dad would ground her for a week whenever she stayed out too late.
But my mother? Rather than punishing me the normal way, she instead made me to go on a date with some boy who wasn't my boyfriend.
I knew why she'd picked Emmanuel. He was pretty good-looking, the smeared-off goth makeup aside, but he had a horrible personality.
Right now, instead of putting his complete concentration on the road, he was glancing at his reflection in the rearview mirror and making little 'kissing' faces.
Another interesting thing about him? He had a severed Barbie doll head with the eyes gouged out dangling from the rearview mirror in place of fuzzy dice.
It was obvious. Mother was trying to get me to be as disgusted with males as she was. I may only be sixteen, but I am pretty smart for my age. I took psychology in school. I know the basics about how people's brains work.
She wanted me to fall for his looks, and then be disappointed by how self-obsessed he was. But it wasn't gonna work.
If Mother thought she was gonna drive me from my boyfriend this way, she was sorely mistaken. All Emmanuel was doing was making me appreciate Micah more.
The car slammed to a halt and, before I even knew what was happening, Emmanuel was out of his seat and onto the sidewalk. I opened my door and started to get out, but got stuck in the seatbelt. Shoot! I'd forgotten about that.
Feeling embarrassed, I untangled myself from it and stepped out of the car. Emmanuel was waiting for me by the restaurant door.
I glanced at the sign and gave a slow, internal whistle. La Casa Nostra was the most expensive restaurant in town. I'd never been there - Mother didn't like to take me out to restaurants, since she couldn't eat anything and it'd look too conspicuous if I was the only one with food - but I'd heard it cost about a hundred dollars a plate.
"Are you ready, Sylvia?" Emmanuel asked.
I blinked rapidly, completely startled out of my thoughts. "Sure I am."
"My lady," he smarmed as he opened the door and bowed. I blushed...again...and walked inside.
It was really nice-looking. Everything was beautiful: the fresh flower arrangements, the honest-to-god professional violinist serenading a couple in the corner, the sweet smell of baked bread and oregano.
We followed the hostess to a table and sat. The menus were right there, so I picked one up and glanced at the prices. Holy crap! The cheapest thing in there was a vegetable salad for $60 dollars!
"Um," I said, "are you paying for this?"
"Certainly," Emmanuel said. "Only the best for you." He sounded almost sincere, although he still looked way too excited. I wondered what he was so enthusiastic over.
A waitress came up to our table. "Have you decided?"
I opened my mouth to order, but Emmanuel started speaking before I had the chance. "Two of your best fillet mignons, please, for my companion and I."
No way. He was ordering for me? Who in the world would do that on a first date? Emmanuel didn't even know me.
"Very good, sir. And how would you like them prepared?"
"Rare," said Emmanuel, looking directly into my eyes in a way I didn't like. His grin widened a bit more. "In fact, if you can manage it, we'd like them raw."
Uh, no. Didn't he ever learn about the dangers of parasites in undercooked beef?
"Excuse me," I interrupted before the waitress could respond. "Instead of a steak, could I have the vegetable salad?"
"Excellent, madam," said the waitress. She took our drink orders and walked away.
Emmanuel was looking at me incredulously. Literally, his jaw was dropped open and everything.
"What?" I demanded, annoyed. He was looking at me as though I'd just asked for vial of asbestos for dinner.
"Why didn't you want the steak?" he asked. "I ordered them extra bloody just for you."
"I'm fine with a salad, thanks," I replied.
It wasn't like the thought of consuming blood grossed me out or anything - I'd tasted it before, after all - but I wasn't about to eat a piece of cold, bloody dead cow in the middle of a fancy restaurant with some guy I didn't even know. No thank you.
"But..." Emmanuel looked absolutely befuddled. He leaned towards me and I found myself pulling away from him reflexively. "I thought that, you know..." he stage-whispered.
"What?" I demanded. He was being theatrical and, unlike Micah, he couldn't pull it off.
"...that vampires could only eat blood," he finished, whispering.
I stared at him blankly. Emmanuel thought that I was the vampire? What in the world had Mother told him?
"Tonight was supposed to be my big night," he said, his voice growing high and whiny. "The Dark Mistress -" I rolled my eyes. He was referring to Mother, of course. She had that sort of effect on every male she came in contact with. "- told me that if I managed to impress you, she would grant me the Everlasting Kiss."
The way he said it, I could hear the capital letters.
Wait a minute. "What did she promise?" I asked him.
"That she would make me a vampire," he said, lowering his voice to a whisper again. "So that I could be your undead consort, forever acting as your guardian and companion during those lonely echoes of eternity."
What the heck sort of silly drivel was he talking about?
"Um, you know I'm not a vampire, right?" I asked him. I was telling the truth. Mother was the special one. Not me.
"But the Dark Mistress said...."
"The 'dark mistress' was playing a joke," I interrupted, losing whatever patience I might have had. "Mother is no more a vampire than I am."
Lies, such lies. I hated telling them, but growing up with Mother had taught me that sometimes lying is necessary, especially when it came to the truth about Mother's condition.
"Then why'd she give me all this money and order me to impress you?" Emmanuel demanded.
I shrugged, pretending to be all blasĂ© about it while, secretly, on the inside I was burning up with anger.
"Because," I said, the untruths just spilling out of me with the ease of a lifetime of practice, "Mother is very fond of her practical jokes."
I paused. I didn't want Emmanuel near me for very much longer, especially since he'd brought up the 'V' word in public. The less people associated me - and by extension, Mother - with vampires, the better off it was for the both of us. Emmanuel needed to go away.
I continued. "Mother wanted me to have a good time. Just me. She knows I find goth kids sorta hilarious and, you know, this is my favorite restaurant. I guess she lied about the vampire thing because she knew I'd find it funny."
I forced myself to laugh, a horrible fake noise that didn't sound remotely normal to my ears, but Emmanuel was looking at me with a hurt, angry expression.
I guess he believed me after all.
"You. Are such. A bitch!" he snarled at me, pulling his chair away from table so hard that it fell over backwards behind him. Not looking me in the eye, he stormed out of the restaurant, opening the big doors so fast that they smacked against the side wall with a loud bang.
I felt sort of guilty. I mean, it wasn't like I was interested in Emmanuel or anything, but still, he'd looked really disappointed. I guess he really believed Mother would make him a vampire, like it was that easy a thing to do. Yeah, right.
But before he'd stormed out of the restaurant, I'd seen one last glimpse of his face; he was really, honestly upset.
I didn't like being mean to people, but sometimes it was necessary.
I flashed down to the basement where Mother's men would hang, moaning in pain for weeks at a time while they were slowly harvested of blood. Sallow, emaciated, bleeding....
At least in my family, I guess, necessity trumps over kindness every time.
I stood up and walked towards the restaurant doors. On my way there, I passed by the waitress, who was heading towards my table with a tray of food and beverages.
Wow, I guess they were really fast here. Still, they were way overpriced.
Thankfully, the waitress didn't notice me as she walked towards the other side of the restaurant. I slipped outside before anyone could say anything to me about paying the bill. Emmanuel hadn't left any of the cash that Mother had given him, and I never carried that much money with me. Mother always said that carrying too much cash at one time was an invitation for trouble.
Neither of us had left the waitress a tip. Now, that I could feel properly bad about.
Both Emmanuel and his death trap of a car were gone. Good. I didn't feel like riding back anyway.
My house wasn't that far away - only a couple of miles - and walking would give me time to think about what had just happened. More specifically, why in the world Mother had set me up on that ludicrous date in the first place.
Did she honestly think that I would have dumped Micah over a single, bad experience with another guy? The more I thought about it, the more my original theory didn't make much sense. If anything, being in the same space with Emmanuel had only proven how much better Micah was by comparison.
So why the date?
I couldn't figure it out. Did she honestly believe that I would fall in love with him? Why in the world would she like that creep better than Micah, anyway? There wasn't anything better about him; he didn't have any obvious 'great virtues' or anything that I could figure.
But at the same time, Emmanuel hadn't been the worst example of masculinity either. Mother could have found a lot worse out there to use as an example....
I'd been walking home from the restaurant for about twenty minutes now. La Casa Nostra was right on the edge of the city, so by now trees were replacing the buildings and the sidewalk had given out for a shallow ditch by the side of the road. It was darker here, too. The only light came from the occasional house I passed as I walked down the road.
There were only two more miles to go before I reached home, so it wasn't that bad of a hike or anything. Mother would hate it - she didn't like me walking after dark, but I was in no mood to call her and ask her for a ride. It was her fault I had to do this, anyway. It wasn't like I'd wanted to go on a date tonight.
If she complained about me walking home, then I'd just remind her of that. I'd go up to her and I'd --
A man stepped out in front of me.
He was tall, at least four inches bigger than I was, and I was pretty much the beanpole of my school. He wore an obviously expensive suit, probably brand name. His hair was thick, dark brown. It hung down to his chin.
He was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. I'd thought Emmanuel was relatively handsome, but, compared to this man, he was nothing. Like a bit of dog poop on a lawn.
This man was beauty beyond compare and I felt the strangest, dizzying giddiness pass through my brain. Beyond all else, all I wanted to do was what the man told me to do. He was so lovely, so handsome....
Oh jeez! Snap out of it! I ordered myself.
If he were human, the man would be about 21. But he wasn't. He definitely wasn't.
Looking over at me, the vampire held out his hand and flashed me a friendly grin.
"Hello, Sylvia. I've heard so much about you from your mother."
Automatically, I reached over and shook his hand without thinking. Stupid! I was being stupid! I needed to shake myself out of this stupor that the vampire's presence had put me in.
Was this really what it was like for men when they were around Mother? No wonder they behaved so blindly. I had a new appreciation for what they went through now.
Focusing my willpower, I pulled my hand back to my side before he'd finished shaking it.
He looked startled, and then he laughed, loudly and mirthfully as we stood together on the abandoned road in the middle of the night.
"My goodness. I'm very impressed, Sylvia," he chuckled. "But of all the things your mother told me about you, she never once mentioned that you were still a human."
He smiled at me again, but this time it wasn't nearly so friendly.
"How positively delightful."
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