“So change me.”
Emma blinked a couple of times as she leaned back and stared up into Andre’s handsome face in confusion. Why was he making such a big deal over this – the answer was so simple!
Andre shook his head, certain he hadn’t heard Emma far too calmly suggest that he Turn her.
Didn’t she realize what…
Turning someone wasn’t just…
Fuck, being Turned wasn’t something…
Of course she didn’t understand – he’d never truly discussed it with her.
“What?” Maybe he hadn’t heard her correctly after all – that would make the most sense. Surely she didn’t just…he felt as through he were free-falling through space and time or something…
“If you change me, then those pissy little bastards won’t have anything to bitch about, will they? So, the logical thing to do would be to change me, right?” Her face showed her slight anger over the threat but mostly her pride in her reasoning.
“No,” he growled surprisingly loudly but forced his expression to remain neutral as he didn’t want her to know his fucking brain had apparently stopped functioning.
When had the world turned upside-down – was it during the daysleep?
Mostly, however, he wondered why in the hell he was refusing to grant his Emma the one thing he most wanted to give her.
His ensuing silence and the impassive look on his face tore at Emma’s heart and quickly made her question their entire relationship. She had just offered to let him to Turn her for fuck’s sake! Didn’t he realize all that would entail? She wasn’t talking penny-ante poker here…
“Wait, what? Why not?” Her eyes grew huge and his heart broke when her lower lip trembled. “You don’t want me to be a vampire?”
Her quiet, small voice broke the impassivity he was trying so hard to maintain.
With hands sure and strong, he quickly lifted and turned her until she faced him then sat her down straddling his lap. As he considered his words, he ran his palms up and down her thighs, and begrudged the thin cotton of her lounge pants.
Finally, as one fat tear spilled from her eye, he took her face between his hands and squarely met her heartbroken, and heartbreaking, gaze.
“Emma, with every part of my being I want you to become vampire,” he confirmed, his voice low but firm. “Not one night has passed when I haven’t dreamed of Turning you, of ensuring that you will have life everlasting, of knowing that you would then be safe from the weakness of your human body. The thought of someone hurting you or taking your life…the thought of losing you to time…”
His eyes rimmed in red as his voice broke, and he quickly looked away as his arms about her tightened and drew her to his chest.
Knowing his pride, Emma refrained from saying anything while he regained his composure. Instead she rested her head on his shoulder and slipped her arms around his broad back. With a sniff she buried her nose in the crook of his neck, and waited.
His admission had healed the small break threatening her heart, but she wanted to hear what else he had to say. Maybe he would tell her why he was refusing what he now said he wanted?
Andre forced himself to calm the fuck down. He was, as she put it, an “antique vamp” – not a babe still in the nursery, so the fucking tears had to fucking go already. Besides, “not yet” sure as hell didn’t mean “not ever”. Just because now was the worst possible time to even consider Turning her (outside of a direct emergency, of course), it sure as fuck didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen someday, especially now that she’d sealed her fate by offering.
But how do I…
Fuck this shit…just fucking roll with it…
“How do I tell you that you are my life and as such, there is no way in hell I would ever choose to live without you? How do I tell you that right now is the worst possible time to even think of Turning you, that the newly-Turned require constant care and supervision for years after they rise? How do I tell you that when I Turn you, and yes,” his voice lowered, his tone sending shivers down her back as though the notes of his voice were caressing her spine, “ma chérie, I will be Turning you one night, make no mistake…but, it will only happen once you are truly ready.”
He tilted her face up enough to graze his lips against hers a few times before almost reverently deepening his kiss. Strongly resisting the temptation to fuck the conversation in lieu of fucking the love of his unlife, he shuddered then raised his head. He needed to say these words, and now.
“There is much I need to teach you of our world before I bring you into it and there will be things you would wish to do before then, and preparations you would want to make as well. All these things will take time, much more time than we have at our current disposal.”
Emma started to speak, but Andre didn’t trust himself to veer back to the topic at hand if his concentration was sidetracked.
So, with a light touch to her lips, he continued, “Later, cher. Let me say these words first.” The understanding warmth in her brown eyes momentarily softened his features.
“Before I Turn you, I need to get through this fucking coronation bullshit, get my kingdom settled, get you installed as my queen, shore up the state, appoint a security detail worthy of your defense, and…and I need to call home my Child.”
The widening of her eyes would have been almost comedic if the state of his weren’t resting so precariously on her reaction.
“Your…your Child? You hadn’t said anthi…when do I meet him? Her?”
He couldn’t believe it. He saw no wariness, only surprise and excitement in her expression. Granted she didn’t know the circumstances that had caused said Child…
“Him. His name is Aillard. If he had more names I never knew them. Ah,” he paused, dread filling his heart at seeing the love for him falling from her face, but he could not keep this from her. She deserved better than that.
After a hard swallow he continued, and refused to meet her gaze. “Em, there is something you should know about me, and about him.”
The silence following that ominous statement intrigued, then scared, Emma. She knew her Andre. She knew he was a very complicated individual, and she knew his reputation in the Palace. She also knew of his previous “proclivities” and she knew he had given up that “part-time hobby”, too. When she had first starting spending time in Queen Sophie-Anne’s court, the Palace gossips had been thrilled to find a new ear to fill with all the information they’d felt chilling, titillating, or just plain interesting enough to share, so she knew more about her Andre than he realized.
However, she also knew that he showed her a gentleness, even a tenderness, foreign to that reputation, and she sincerely appreciated the consideration and respect with which he treated her. She knew to trust her heart, and her heart recognized that, to her at least, he was a damn good guy who would never knowingly harm her.
For whatever reason, Andre was obviously having a hard time telling her about this Aillard situation, so she placed her hand on his chest in support. She would listen, but she would also hear what he had to say, and go from there.
Sometimes, shit just happens.
“Bluntly, I tortured him for several nights until I discovered that he was innocent. By that time he was so far gone that I wasn’t sure if even my blood would save him, but he didn’t deserve to die because of my lack of information. I was cruel, brutal, to him in my quest for information, but he was tough, very tough, and courageous.”
Lost in a memory for a moment, he snorted. “And fucking stubborn. He was innocent of the crime he had been betrayed of committing, but even considering my tender mercies, he steadfastly refused to name anyone who would also have been innocent, not even to avoid more torture.”
He gave thanks to the universe that her hand remained on his chest. That small act helped him to continue his sordid confession.
“When I discovered his innocence, I did something I had never done before. I gave him my vein. Three nights later, he rose. Very quickly thereafter I discovered that he had no wish to become vampire, but by then, the deed was done. In my guilt and inexperience, I hadn’t realized how much of my blood he had taken until after he had fallen unconscious. When I felt a strange bond forming between us, I didn’t immediately realize that it was the bond that forms between a Maker and their Child. Eventually I did recognize it for what it was, and then realized what I had done. So, with a heavy heart I had him taken to a light-safe room in case he completed the transformation. He did, and so I have a Child.”
As he stated the obvious in a voice devoid of emotion, he realized with amazement that Emma hadn’t run screaming to the other side of the room. Hell, she hadn’t even tensed up, and he would know as he had been keeping a part of his mind tuned to her reactions. Her heartbeat and respiration were a bit more rapid than normal, but the muscles of her thighs resting atop his were as relaxed as they had been before he started.
Her hand still rested lightly on his chest.
Although he still couldn’t bear to look into her face, he did allow himself to relax somewhat.
“He should never have been questioned, much less tortured, Em. Never. But I failed to verify my information and instead believed the word of one who was sloppy in their own research. Because of our failures, because of my failures, he suffered some of my best work,” he said with a painfully ironic laugh. “Aillard is a good man. He should never have been brought to my attention, much less should he have suffered at my hands. He should never have died, and he should never have been Turned. We do not get along…well, and why would we? I had not wanted a Child, and he had not wanted to be made vampire, yet he became the Child of his torturer, and I became the Maker to my victim.”
Emma sat straddling his lap in stunned silence. The grief and remorse he felt were obvious on his face – he wouldn’t even meet her eyes – and she couldn’t imagine what all else he was feeling as he told the horrible story. Somehow she was sure that while she’d been told the truth, it was a massively abbreviated version…and that was fine.
She didn’t need to know the particulars to see how terrible the situation had been, and how badly Andre still felt about it. She wanted to throw her arms around his neck and hold him tight and tell him that it was going to be ok, that she loved him any way, that sometimes shit just happens, and that she would like to meet his Child if he ever did come around.
And so she did.
**A/N: So…there’s part of “the conversation” out of the way. What did you think of Emma’s offer? Of Andre’s refusal?**