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Flawed Beauty

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“Your son is extraordinarily beautiful.” Thomas nudged LaCroix with a sly smile which could have some secret meaning…or mean nothing at all. Both vampires had been shaped at a time when the Roman Empire had been at the height of its decadence, capable of assuming many contrary faces. “I understand many an artist in this rising tide of humanism yearns to capture his beauty in pigment or the newly vaunted oils.” He allowed a melancholy sigh to escape from his lips. “A pity humanism is such a flawed if fair concept.”

“Much like my son.” LaCroix turned to Thomas with a smile, but there was a dangerous glitter in his blue eyes. “Have a care what you say next, old friend.”

“All I wish is to express my concern for you, my bold, foolhardy general.” Thomas reached out to touch LaCroix’s cheek. “The one vulnerability you’ve allowed yourself is your heart. It makes you weak in the presence of favorite slaves, your daughters, and now your son.” He arched his head topped with thinning hair, the curse of many a Roman patrician towards the other man who could still recall that curse. “A flawless interior can’t hide a flawed heart. Not forever. Don’t let yourself be blinded by beauty as the Greeks and the Carthaginians once were.”

“Don’t generalize the Greeks and the Carthaginians like the fools we once were, nor hide behind such generalities.” LaCroix turned his face from the other vampire. “Speak plainly, Thomas.”

“One day your son will betray you.” Thomas leaned his head forward to press against the other man’s brow. Or he would have, if Lucius hadn’t turned away. “You love him too much, my dear. Such love breeds dissatisfaction and rebellion.”

“As I always have?” LaCroix backed away, only to whirl towards Thomas. “If you criticize my creations, you criticize me.”

“Few have the courage to do so. For friendship, or even love’s sake, I shall do so.” Thomas stepped forward, meeting the angry eyes of the former general. “Watch Nicholas. Take care he doesn’t stray too far, taking you along with him.”

“I never intended to do otherwise.” LaCroix cocked his head and chuckled, banishing the tension vibrating in the air. “One night, my friend, you’ll see just how entertaining Nicholas can be.”

He vanished, taking flight into the air.

“And one night, you’ll find out just how flawed and dangerous your Nicholas can be.” Thomas looked up in the dark sky the other Roman had vanished into. “I fear that night will come all too soon.”