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Wait For Me (keep me for your sweetness)

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                I had been totally unprepared for what Louis had been about to say. I’d been sitting there, only mildly apprehensive, contemplating Victor and Rose, wondering what it was that filled me with unflustered happiness when I looked upon them: Rose’s lingering grey eyes, my son’s unassailable hand on her thigh, their uncomplicated passion. Two beautiful children of darkness, so intent upon each other that the air between them all but crackled and glowed. Fates be damned.

                But it had been too simple for me to catch really, in my conceit. To see it for what it was. The strangeness in Rose’s proportions, her black hair, her knobby wrists. And my son, a better, stronger version of me. It was an imperfect likeness to Louis and I, had the two of us been born as an heteronormative couple without two-hundred years worth of baggage, and not under a bad sign. So, you can understand why I had been caught somewhat flat-footed by the turn of conversation.

                The council, however, had been riveted at once by my newly reclaimed bridegroom. Eyes slid over Louis’ rainy day allure: his crepuscular essence, that fawn-like gaze, his wind-tossed hair. Ears keening to the hushed, conspiratorial timbre of his voice, like that of a phone sex worker. Cautiously thoughtful, my Louis.

                I died years ago. I actually physically died. I died completely. I died when I deliberately exposed myself to the sun behind our flat in the French Quarter.

                Until he wasn’t. Jesus Christ.

                There was never any warning with him. Ever. In the very narrow margin between two diabolical heartbeats, Louis singlehandedly catapulted me into arguably the most horrific moment of my immortality. You see, I’d been spared the gory details of Nicolas’ death. So I felt as though nothing has ever made me feel more helpless or insignificant than Louis’s suicide. It wasn’t a cry for help, a half-assed attempt. The insufferable bastard had succeeded! He’d very nearly slipped through my hands.

                Can you blame me if I’d come across during that hagridden conversation as petulant and dismissive? It was nothing if not a genuine response to remembered pain: the shock, the anguish, the rush of adrenaline and subsequent trembling that had ripped me from my slumber to the dank odor of standing water, rotting wood, and Louis’ charred cadaver in its coffin.

                It took Louis and I nearly a decade to recoup from those woebegone months together. David glossed over the event in his book, foreshortened it and I refused to dispel the sanguinary particulars to anyone, including myself. Best not to remember Louis’ hellish convalescence. There was no way around it, not for a vampire as young and as weak and as damaged as Louis had been. And at this moment, it was something I would have wanted to repress, but Louis went on, deaf to my suffering, as usual:

                It was after my misadventure with Merrick. Merrick had bewitched me. I didn’t want to go on. I exposed myself to the sun, and I had none of the blood of the elders to strengthen me, and all day I lay in the sun and I burned and I died . . .

                We’d come full circle, right to the shady crux of it all.  I can only guess what drove the two of them apart. As disillusioned with Merrick as he had come to be with me, and with Armand. Louis saw her for what she’d been: possessive, manipulative, narcissistic. Familiar, no? Louis has a type. Or perhaps, the rest of us do. Louis’ afflicted naivete is a siren’s call to the worst of us monsters, richer and headier than blood of an innocent.

                I had tolerated Merrick only because I saw myself in her. She didn’t do anything that Armand and I hadn’t already been guilty of. If I could bring myself to show compassion for what she did than I could forgive myself for being such a shithead to the people I love. And in the end, Merrick had redeemed herself, taking Goblin into the afterlife with her to liberate a pair of lovers.

                What had I done?

                Oh, you know, the usual.

                What I always do in response to the threat of infinite loneliness. I found persons to love. Or rather found people to love me. It doesn’t take much: make eye contact, want me, put me on a pedestal, and I’m yours. I am the quintessential, existentialist slut.

                This too is Louis’ fault (or my mother’s): Akasha, David, Dora, Rowan, Mona, Quinn, Michael, and Amel. I’m sure I’m missing a few. After all, it takes a village to sustain me in Louis’ absence. Strange to think that in lieu of a growing fanbase all I would need is one very stubborn, morbidly boring vampire to open those long, shapely legs to me, wrap me up, and never let me go. I never said I wasn’t pathetic despite my good looks and charm. So fuck you if you’re judging me. You’d feel the same exact way about Louis if you knew him.

                You remember, Lestat, and you remember, too, David. You were both there. David, it was you who found me. I was as dead as anyone can be — until you both poured your powerful blood right into the coffin, right onto my burnt remains and brought me back . .  .

                Yes, David and Merrick had helped with the initial resurrection, providing much needed blood. I spared them most of the horror. I felt the burden of Louis’ recovery was mine alone to carry. I had failed Louis in my self-indulgent coma. I’d been licking my psychic wounds and I neglected him, believing against all tells that he had no need of me. Not knowing that although Louis tended to eschew company, it never meant he did not require some (or a lot) of looking after.

                I was dead according to one ancient and highly significant definition of dead. My heart stopped. There was no blood pumping in me. All circulation had stopped when my heart stopped. That is how I was dead.

                Cold misery swept over me, unbidden, at the memory. All of Louis’ beautiful hair gone. Scattered in the wind. Regular infusions of my blood had worked madly to repair vital organs and nerves first, then atrophied muscle, so that it had taken weeks for Louis’ hair to grow back. And when it did, it had done so in patches, so he had the look of a terminally ill patient. A lovely porcelain figurine left too long in the kiln -- delicate, cold, defiantly beautiful -- those enormous eyes, the persistent symmetry of his skull, his tenuous bones.

                Impossible to describe it, a grown man -- a man I loved, tragically and pathologically -- at 70 pounds; 90 pounds. I wept with sheer joy when he’d broke 100. Nursing him had been a tedious process, a nightly battle of wills. If Louis achieved full mass it was only because I threatened him, over and over. His leathery skin had been midnight black at first, then chestnut brown. Its color and texture diminishing with each coerced infusion of my blood. Had Louis resolved instead to feed on humans during that time his skin may have kept some of its sunset afterglow: burnt apricot, Maruka honey, or autumn leaf yellow. But he’s paler than ever now, eerily luminescent.

                Not at all unusually, plagued by nightmares, Louis would neglect himself by refusing to hunt and so I’d forced myself on him again and again. Fuck all and sundry if they thought the Vampire Lestat would allow his suicidal fledgling to persist as organically frail as he had been. I personally went about making it impossible for Louis to hurt himself by going out into the sun. He’d need to be more creative than that.

                It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I had in the past, and continue well into the present to fantasize about sharing blood with Louis as frequently and passionately as physically possible. I envisioned it since the very first night of his dark birth. But the realization had overshot its mark and Louis turned a lifelong dream into a nightmare. It had been joyless, perfunctory; resentful. And somewhere, underneath the shadowy turmoil, the implacable guilt gave way to the monstrous appetite I’d harbored for him forever. Trust that miserable, sullen wretch to find a way to fuck up my plans.

                This desire is a shared feeling. I’m not the only one to have been turned down flat by Louis. Sometimes it amuses me and other times it annoys me to no end that I’m included in his long list of would-be lovers. But I’m glad there is no one else on God’s green earth living to enjoy that pleasure.

                It is beyond hilarity that our dearest imp Armand, is often dismissed as the frosty bitch of our ad-hoc coven. Armand is as easy as I ever was. Armand’s issue is Marius-sized and Marius-specific. Both Armand and I need love to thrive. We shrivel up without it. We understand each other in that sense. We might not be able to inhabit the same room but we do understand one another. And let me tell you another thing few ever mention: Marius is an even bigger asshole than I am! Yet I’m the one with the reputation! The irony is not lost on me.

                Long story, not short enough, thank you, by the end of Louis’ reclamation, I had been too emotionally spent to fight the cagey Ice Prince when he left for Trinity Gate to return to Armand the moment he could fend for himself. How Louis must have despised me for controlling him; for scrutinizing his every word and gesture for signs of melancholic relapse. How indifferent he had seemed to me, unconscious of his beauty: those poisonous eyes, his Lucullan pout, the unsparing rise of his cheekbones, the wicked fall of his hair -- all of his beauty conspiring to weaken me and offend his brainy sensibilities.

                Well no one scattered my ashes and I was brought back — by your blood, and David’s and Merrick’s blood too.

                Slapped in the face by it, I realized I never appropriately processed the trauma of Louis’ death. By this point I’d stopped giving a flying fuck about the conversation in the room, nodding, saying what I needed to; expressing enough understanding to placate those around me. Because all my energy went into fighting the compulsion to strangle Louis for having tried to die, to leave me in that damnable courtyard.

                Oh, it hadn’t been typical histrionics: ‘I’m deserting you, setting you on fire, and taking our murderous child with me; I’m moving in with my stalker; I’m abandoning you to die of pneumonia and potentially killed your dog; I’m back to shagging your arch nemesis; I’m shacking up with a rapey witch and banging your best friend.’ But the piece de resistance was the part where he bought a house with crazy stalker, arch-nemesis Armand and adopted Benji and Sybelle. Truly, the only low down dirty thing left for Louis to do is fuck my mother.

                To be fair, the extent of Louis’ infidelity has been ambiguous at best. I believe it makes me crazier not knowing than if Louis would outright admit to it. The last time I tried to get to the bottom of it I made a fool of myself to David and all I had to show for it was a mouthful of David’s blood that told me nothing except I was a total tool and deserved worse than what I got.

                Oh, I lived up to my reputation as a slut with gusto. But God forbid Louis ever partake of a vampire gang-bang because I would go on a murder spree not seen since Akasha’s resurrection. You don’t believe it? Try me.

                In conclusion, by the end of our lurid little meeting of immortal minds, I had made the executive decision Louis should be appropriately punished. I would extract from his parted lips –- that cruel, pretty, upward-sloping pout -- words of unwavering adulation and devotion until the giant fist squeezing my heart relents and I am sufficiently satisfied. I notified Amel of my intentions and preemptively asked for privacy.

                Louis needed to be reminded that I, Lestat alone, dictates his destiny more so than God or Science or the mysterious genetic code manifesting and mutating the cells of his body. And it was good that our minds remained closed to one another and that I learned to school my face into the mask of temperance itself.

***

                We feed quickly in Paris before rising into a haze of stars, violently outdistancing our dutiful companions in a foggy grey wake. Louis’ hand in mine, solid and strong. I detect none of the listlessness of the fatalistic creature of years past. He doesn’t recoil from the creep of my fingertips feeling his skin through his clothes, or the press of my face into his hot, sweaty neck. It’s obvious I’m blind with love to the exclusion of all others. Often mesmerized, abject with want, I am given over to touching him in public now, even though Louis has never been one to display affection openly. Physically remote for most of his life this habit of his lingers. Albeit he abides his Prince willingly now.

                In Auvergne, we land softly on the terrace of the South tower, Cyril and Thorne at our backs. Thoughtfully, Louis follows close behind, lagging in a rosy haze of inebriated blood, without question or apprehension, attuned only to his own unknowable mind. So he didn’t notice my pause and pivot mid-step, until he barrels into my chest and instinctively clings to my fancy red coat.

                I smile indulgently at him, feeling a little lightheaded, precariously balanced, as if the two of us were standing on a steep precipice, and looking in to his eyes would be as dangerous for me as looking down, or away. The heat of his warm body, the feel of his soft hair on my face, the resounding intake of breath served to ground me. Proof of Life. His life.

                “Lestat.” No one says my name quite like Louis does. It resonates deep in his chest, straight from his quick-stepping, impenetrable heart.

                “Do you trust me?” I tip his chin, run my thumb along the sharp edge of his jawline, my fingers splay and curl just under his ear. There is no softness to him here. He is all angles, jaw gracefully tapering from the prominent cuts of his cheekbones. No jewel in the rough; as multi-faceted as the Centenary diamond, my lover, my Louis.

                No pause. “Without a doubt.” Seamless. I don’t believe him.

                I know Louis to be the best poker-faced liar in the world. I can never grow accustomed to it. He looks so shiny-new to me every time I thieve an idling glance at him: lazing in my armchair with a book, zoning out half-dressed in bed, eyeing my misadventures with crossed arms and a baleful, worry-bitten mouth.

                He is a casketful of tender secrets and I feel as I have always felt that he would, at any given moment, reveal himself the moment I blink. Unveil that hidden thing at his core, the orphic heart of his beauty — what I’d yearned to take into myself that long ago night in New Orleans in a moment of pure bliss and pure terror when I thought I’d surely killed him. Or lost my mind because he was a three dimensional being and not merely the idealized image of filthy desire residing in the secrecy and darkness of my deviant mind.

                Acutely aware, with begrudging, closed eyes I lean in and kiss him, finding his mouth by rote, running my tongue over the curves of his lips, licking his palate, tripping along his blood-slick teeth, worshiping at his unholy altar; one arm crawling around his cinched waist, negligible even under three layers — shirt, sweater, wool coat – pulling, pulling, pulling to grind our hips together. His skittering hands on my shoulders, first locked tight, then pushing at me. Insolent to the last; social stature be damned.

                “What’s wrong?” I ask out of duty. But I know.

                “Not here,” he says. He won’t look at me, irises completely hidden behind black, beauty-queen eyelashes, his chin tucked back and turned just so the violet shadow in the hollow of his cheek faces me. I kiss it. Tongue it playfully until he scrunches his nose in disgust and plants a hand over my mouth.

                “Send them away,” he says, the blush dawning over his features deepening to the excruciating pink of skin beneath a scab.

                “Who?” Of course I knew who. I don’t need to turn my head to see Cyril and Thorne perched on the stone balustrade to either side of us like gargoyles, sentinels to the Prince and his unspoken consort, the Duke to our nocturnal populace. Although Louis rearward shuffles away from my ravenous attentions, he compromises by leaving a single, sweetly palpable hand on my wrist. Squeezing it and stoking the hellfire in my blood.

                “Please.”

                “Okay,” I snort raggedly and impatiently. I gesture over my shoulder for my bodyguards to depart. They do as they’re bid and dispatch at once to give us the illusion of privacy. Out of sight and out of Louis’ mind so to speak.

                Entering the bedchamber, Louis immediately toes off his shoes. Removes gloves; coat. Places his grey sweater and black slacks on the walnut valet near the armoire. I’m more than pleased to see that he’s not skirting around the issue of my sudden state of depravity. Although I could just as easily blame it on the uncertainty of the upcoming procedure than shared lust. But does it really matter if it achieves the same coveted result? I am who I say I am and no one should expect otherwise. I’m wickedly shameless about my ambitions. And Louis is dead center in the Devil’s eye.

                Shy of wool pants, I leave most of my clothes in a puddle on the floor in front of the chest-of-drawers. On the flat surface I open a delicately filigreed box to expose a large vial and two syringes. Vaguely, I register the pinprick in my deltoid muscle when I administer the hormones. The cocktail stronger now, perfected by Fareed. The warmth spreads evenly, bit by agonizing bit. I sway forward and backward. Take a lilting step; sensitized everywhere.

                And that smell. I could smell Louis: the seductive wenchy scent of his last victim. Back when my grief still pursued Nicki’s jeering ghost, I’d stumbled upon Louis bumbling around in a dark alley. The lowly, musky perfume on him indistinguishable from a harlot’s to my unsuspecting nose. So you can well imagine my initial confusion at finding such an exquisitely skinny, undeniably male specimen at the tail end of that fragrance, provoking me unlike anything. Save deep arterial blood. At once rich and wistful and unique to him.

                I wrought no hesitation then or now. I would have him. Would have gladly set tongues a-wagging and a-lolling in the Auvergne of centuries past. Would have left no doubt amongst the vulgar peasantry that Louis belonged to the Marquis alone. And here I was, a fitful King to my kind with more power than I ever cared to wield over anyone aside from Louis alone. Irony upon irony upon irony. The joke compounds and I’m embittered.

                “Do you trust me?” I ask him again, almost afraid to look. What I mean to say is will you give this to me? A solitary curl of sweat trails down my temple as I slowly approach with the remaining syringe. Could he see it? Did he know? Did he guess at my misery: how I schemed to take him at every quiet turn in the one way left for us yet to know?

                Indulgently, I had envisioned bringing it up casually in conversation; warming him up to it, like a properly solemn gentleman seducing the most virtuously belligerent maiden. I force myself look at him, blood of my blood; love of my life. And find myself unsurprisingly ambushed by his beauty. My heart pounding ominously like a fist on a door at night.

                Behold, Louis.

                How prescient of Amel. How wonderfully articulate in his inarticulation.

                The fire roars to life in the hearth with the vitality of an implied sun as Louis busily tends to it. His skin sheened with the gold-limned radiance of cast off heat. Hair tucked behind his left ear and gathered to spill over the opposite shoulder: denuded black ribbons, untamed, in all their violent sexuality as boldly uncaring as the slender length of his exposed legs. My bedeviled beloved wears an Oxford shirt. Nothing more. Inconveniently (for me) the shirt tail ends in the unequivocal shadow where the slender turn of his thighs meets the jut of his buttocks.

                Not for the first time I find myself wanting to mark him in some wild animal way, brand him with my teeth, display it for the entire court. Draw out any residual blood left behind by quondam lovers until nothing remains inside him that isn’t expressly mine.

                “Louis,” I say, and the vowels writhe smoke-like. I wonder if he could hear it. Sense it: the darkness in my passion. If he suffers it as I suffer. Perhaps, if he weren’t so busy trying to second guess my next move, he’d have the time to cosset fantasies as I do.

                Irreverent, green eyes meet mine, and that lovely, unpredictable mouth (soft and voluptuous now, other times cutting with surly aggression) wondrously frame the phrases I yearn to hear: “I love you. I trust you. I want what you want. Whatever it is.”

                Sweating in the fierce firelight, I reach for him then, clasping him to me and crushing him against the floral wallpaper, I mouth a wickedly impressive welt on his broken-stem neck, indents turning inside out, spectral wash of girly pink contents spilling into the chill. Then nothing. Mark healing too quickly. No time for an outcry or a scandalized hand to his throat. Un-fucking-fair. No one knows yearning like I do.

                It’s true, something does happen to me when I’m near Louis. It has a name now: post-traumatic stress disorder. A neurochemical reaction. Synaptic misfire. An overstimulated medulla oblongata. A series of events ensnared within a web of dendrites and interneurons triggering a cascade of hormones. Desire. Fear. Flip a coin, the outcome will be the same. You will find me in contempt of reason. I am traumatized. There is no antidote. I am poisoned. I am scheming. I am dreaming. I am dying. I am Louis’s.

                And he is mine. Mine until death.

                May he never-ever forget. Dragging him to me, away from the wall, mousing a hand -- an assassin -- underneath the starched fabric of his shirt to deliver the pinprick contents into his right buttock. Belatedly, he registers it in the knit of his fine, dark brows. I drop the syringe, kick it aside into a corner. Filling my circuitous hand, not at all untenderly, with the full ripeness of his ass, like there is nothing more important for me to do.

                “Can you feel it?” I rasp, kissing the corner of his mouth because I can never, ever get enough of it. My mouth flooding wet and wanting against lips that can suck-start a vampire heart in one pull, I’m sure.

                I have him surrounded, storming him against the wall again, I have his wrists pinned overhead with one hand. Haling his legs apart with my thigh: offering it to him until we are rutting helplessly together between layers of fabric –- his shirt, my pants -- like we’re lovesick teenagers and running the risk of pregnancy. A burst of rough glee in the form of a giggle.

                What is it?” He whispers, desperate for want of love; vulnerable in light of my laughter. And suddenly I could see the overlap of the child he’d once been: gentle and delicate, a cultivated changeling raised amongst barbarians, unused to the chaotic violence of human desire, straining and distractible. In need of steering. In need of me.

                You make me crazy, I want to say, but I’m too afraid I’ll choke saying it. I think of Victor and Rose. Wonder if it’s the same with them. You make me want impossible things, I think. You make me think and do terrible things.

                “What would you do if I left a part of me inside you?” I say, dawdling, uncharacteristically introspective. Wrapping the length of his hair, like oiled rope in my hand, too smooth, no grip to it.      

“Even with Victor’s mother, procreation was never the point,” I continue, no doubt determined to make a fool of myself. “But when I’m with you, only you, I understand it. I want it.”

                There. I said it. I couldn’t unsay it. I want him to know the depth of my madness. This is the freedom of insanity. It’s my half-assed attempt to warn him.

                Because I have no filter, I continue against all admonitions to abort; “I think Claudia was the imperfect result of that creative urge. This idling fantasy of mine, knocking you up, keeping you forever.” Wavering, I hide my face in the curls crooked in the hollow of his shoulder. I feel raw. “Would you reject me then?”

                No doubt baffled, Louis answers: “You say strange things.” Dismissing the confession as a mean-spirited jibe on my part.

I won’t dissuade him of the idea. I can’t. I wouldn’t bare it if he laughed. I would rather see him pull back with that characteristic big-eyed, pinched look he gets when he’s trying desperately to make heads or tails of me, smiling his tragic little half-smile, and brushing the finespun bones of his knuckles against the side of my face.

                Or simply, I couldn’t make myself look up at him. I’m transfixed. The fabric of his shirt slips away from his shoulder and I open my mouth to it, biting and leaving a bruise like a thumbprint. Ephemeral proof of my love.

                Shuddering, Louis takes a deep, sorrowful breath, his body interlocking with mine, easy as gravity, like we’ve been doing this forever. And hadn’t we? In my dreams? Hands sweep upward over my chest to brace upon my shoulders, wider and more muscular overall in comparison to his.

                Right leg swinging around my side to pull me in, heel behind my knee. He’s kissing the side of my face, the angle of my jaw. There is an innocence there. I’m sure of it. He’s clumsy, uncertain and hesitant. He doesn’t know how to do this. Turn a lover’s tryst into boyish rough-housing, playful camaraderie, the sort of behavior I took for granted my whole life living with my brothers. Paul had been nearly a decade or so younger than Louis. And Louis never had many friends to begin with. I never considered how lonely he must have been. How withdrawn. It distresses me.

                Considering and somber, I say: “Claudia almost took you with her, didn’t she?” It should say a lot about my love and his reserve that the two of us aren’t fucking right the fuck now.

                Then it happens. The absence of a look: the shuttering of his eyes. Shoulders drawing in like they never, ever had in the past. The real Louis flickers before the memory of him shivering like a shipwrecked child in my bed, hair nothing but peach fuzz, eyes gone manic-wide and Day-Glo bright in his sun-browned face. There hadn’t been enough of him to form a decent bolster beneath the down comforter and he’d been hard for me to find. I would grab for ankles so thin I encircled them completely, and then some. And Louis would kick and spit at my face, wordless.

                Furious I’d pull him roughly, ribs like ladder rungs digging into mine. I’d held him down in rage and thwarted desire, bled into his clenched mouth, triggering his body’s instinct to preserve itself in its emaciated state. I would bleed and he would suck and neither one of us enjoyed it.

                “We’re not doing this!” I shout. “You don’t get to do it again. You don’t get to shut me out anymore. Not after what you brought up. After what you put me through!”

                “Don’t--” he starts but doesn’t finish, kisses me instead, it’s a squirmy, lusty thing that renders me deaf and dumb; my lizard brain short-circuits in an endless loop of nonsense. His knees fold as he climbs me like a tree, heels tucked against my tailbone; arms wound around my neck. Working my tongue in stutters and flutters, rocking his body into it, like I’m already fucking him.

                An incredibly slutty, artfully placed kiss from an unexpected source, like finding the red lace thong peeking over the waistband of the moody academic when all I anticipated was a tutoring session. I should have picked up on the lack of coincidence. But my heart is both hysterical and unreliable and Louis is crafty and cruel with his attentions, mercilessly vigilant to any and all random inquiries by amateur detectives, such as myself, into his disobliged and thorny history.

                Reeling, blind and disquieted, I navigate my way through the room unsuccessfully. Knocking over an armchair, perhaps two, tripping over a rug, regaining my footing by the skin of my teeth before settling down in front of the hearth. I knew we would never make it to the bed and Louis seemed indifferent to any of it anyway, caught up in writhing fitfully against my abdomen, over my lap. Our shadow casting a two-headed, eight-limbed, ungainly creature mid-mitosis across the floor to the opposite wall; unwilling to part even for a second.

                “Let me,” I start, barely cogent as he sucks and bites the skin of my throat without breaking it. “I’m going to chafe if you don’t stop!” I wheeze in a mad rush.

                A pause. Long enough for us to unwind. Falling back, Louis helps me shed my skin, pulling at the pants hobbling my ankles until I’m blissfully naked on my back and he is crouched over me, face over the cleft between my chest muscles, licking it, then across my ribs, arrow-tipped tongue darting into my navel. Kissing me there, pressure building in my gut, heating my limbs. I ache with want. Ache for him to remove the blasted shirt obstructing my view of his naked body.

                “Louis,” I say, totally on the verge of complaint, but then Louis takes my entire cock in his hot-as-fuck-mouth, sliding down, clenching wet all around me. This is quite a feat, you understand. Not once has the most skilled whore managed it when I’d been a proud mortal man at the peak of my desire. Not fucking once. Cursed or blessed with my dimensions, so to speak. Nicolas came close, though not without gagging and much begging. But I could feel Louis’ breath stir the hair at the base, his lower lip brushing the top of my scrotum. I think I shout, bucking into the air. His arms coming up to bracket my thighs, jostling with me to keep me down.

                “Holy shit, Louis,” I moan with all the wet racket of a brothel-house, “holy fuck. Oh my God.”  He’s got a hand clamped over my jutting hipbone, the other on my hamstring, my hands tug his hair in frustration or ecstasy. Thighs spreading ever wider, more than necessary to accommodate his long, slim, exquisitely taut body. The crown of his head a ragged whorl of black ropes as it bobs like a life raft in treacherous waters, diving into my lap again and again.

                As if on cue Louis looks up, tiger shadows from the fire streak his face, his cheeks hollow and he moans like he’s the one getting the epic blowjob. I breathe through the urge to come, distracted by the gleam of my cock pulled into and out of his spread-open mouth, his nose running only slightly with the scandal of it, the licentious abandon I thought him wrongly incapable of. His lips and my dick the same shade of glans-mauve, indiscernible from one another. His throat no doubt rubbed as raw from the just-barely-too-much-too-soon-too-tight fit.

                Then it fucking hits me out of left field because I’m incapable of having nice things or experiencing them as a matter-of-fact without looking the gift horse in the mouth: “Who in fuck have you been blowing?!”

                Not my proudest moment, but not the most shameful either. Louis sits up before I do, my dick slipping out with a lazy, incredulous loll, twitching against my thigh. He tugs the collar of his shirt back over his right shoulder. Eyes agleam with unshed tears that have everything to do with sex and nothing to do with emotion. His beautiful mouth wrecked in that Louis-contingent way of his: martial red, puffy like the moist curve of a candy apple. One finely etched brow perched inquisitively higher than the other because he can hardly believe it about as much as I can -- my audacious jealousy rearing its deadly cobra head between us.

                He must have known this would happen all along. He wouldn’t have been so keenly reticent about intimacy if he hadn’t suspected a less than enthusiastic reaction from me. He could have warned me; he really should have. No one is this good at criminally insatiable fellatio without practiced know-how. Louis and women never had issues in the bedroom, his inclinations are a well-vetted affair. But this! I never knew this, never expected it in my wildest machinations

                I will say that I don’t know if Louis’ unabashed whoring came as a result of Paul’s death or Paul’s death amplified a preexisting condition indicative of overcompensation. One thing had been clear to me when I did finally work the dark trick one monstrously hot and humid night: I was his first gay crush. Me. Not Armand. Me. Although it lasted just about as long: a fortnight or so (yet, I’m the fickle one? Fuck all of you.) Anyway, this blow job Louis gave me just seconds ago, did not give me tingly “first gay crush” vibes

                “You could have told me you were a cocksucker!” I say meanly, aware of my ridiculousness. “Two-hundred and fifty years and you’ve been putting on an act?” I try desperately to shut my mouth, to choreograph my face into an expression of mild disappointment, except I have a bad case of Tourette’s. “God, how long was it before you would even kiss me back, much less allow me to touch you?” I think I was about to start hyperventilating.

                I was losing it. And Louis wanted none of it and if I’m honest, neither would I. He launches himself upward, his shirt clutched in my greedy, too-fast hand. Strings bust (ping), buttons fly about (ping-ping-ping), fabric falls to the ground and a single stumbling step is taken.

                “Don’t go,” my voice is small in the shadows. “Please. I know I’m a beastly hypocrite. Don’t go.”

                Louis’ back is turned to me, shoulders slightly raised as though he were about to take flight. Buttock muscles tensed and poised to lunge. His skin is marvelously unblemished, my doing. You’d never know I’d broken him; had sent him on a downward spiral of self-destruction almost to his death. Normally, Louis would be gone by now, but I’m literally on my knees, one hand cuffing his wrist: the little bones crepitating in my palm.

                And even in my reduced position, I waver only slightly, rationalizing the repossession of him in the space between seconds. He casts a sharp-eyed glance in my downward direction, processing, analyzing, and calculating the best course of action. No longer willing to become the passive recipient of my unexpressed anger and misplaced loneliness, the target of my poisoned barbs and poorly-hidden fears. I should let him go, but I don’t.

                The crime scene has all the elements of a classically-themed fresco. An arrogant, heliotropic God and defiant moon maiden. Rich spread of a Golden Fleece tufting around my naked shins and between Louis’ toes. Soft scatter of clothing all around, knocked over armchairs like felled trees. It’s perfect. I besiege him with half-mad words of apology aimed to distract, even as I yank him roughly backward, herding him underneath me with a hundred invisible gestures and kicking his legs apart, pinning his wrists to either side of his head.

                He has that look about him again -- distant, toplofty -- which I find, as ever, to be both unpleasant and provocative. Things never go as I like them to. His dispassion is the very thing I sought to avoid and now here it is. Here he is, as hard as I am, yet unmoving, unbreathing, lax thighs akimbo on either side of my hips. If seen from above we could form a geometrically precise shape like a diatom, a structure which should have no life but does.

                I want to kiss him but I’m afraid he will refuse, so I duck my face into his neck, plant baby sucks into his skin. I don’t know how to save this moment, improve the mood, and if I manage it I wouldn’t know what that success would look like. And it isn’t because I’m an asshole, but because my assholiness is context specific, and these fits usually occur in Louis’ immediate vicinity. I never get around to showing him how sorry I am because he often leaves before I get the chance.

                Somewhere, in one of Louis’ modern books by some Swedish horror novelist or another, I read that our flaws are the variable that determines the nature chaos takes in our lives, that these flaws can drive us to great achievements or despicable deeds. The author didn’t say if we get a choice which path it takes. I’m hoping against despicable, as I undulate against Louis, dick riding the smooth nether loveliness in the sweat-wet groove of his silky thigh. Louis’ grooming habits, too, are a mystery to me. It had amused me much to learn during our first night in my coffin together (you know the one. It’s in Daniel’s book) that the scorched earth policy was a permanent situation. At the time, the only reason I could think for it was delousing since shaving the area wasn’t a colonial trend I was aware of.

                It was both funny ha-ha and strangely arousing (Louis had no idea I took a peek. Yes! I am disgusting and unworthy! We know this.). But I’m thankful for it now, because if Louis were to bar entry, I can still find satisfaction against his naked skin. Which reminded me that I had left the lubricant in the nightstand with the other toys. Oh, I had big plans for us. Spread out over the course of a year or so, but there, nevertheless. Potentially ruined plans.

                “Let me make it up to you,” I say, imploring, almost desperate, my eyes heavy-lidded with longing. “I’m going to release your arms, but please don’t leave.” I add another “please,” for good measure. He had that “fuck-off, Lestat” look that said he’d no intention of answering me.

                In spite of that expression or because of it, I find him impossibly beautiful: hair mussed, fanning into a corona-in-the-negative against the oxidized-red of the Peshawar rug, his exposed skin turned to gold by the firelight so it had the look of expensive oil. His witchy, green eyes with their subtle feline cant-- which I’d only seen from the half-inch of added stature my height affords me -- now evident with the lengthening of the shadows cast off from his sex-doll eyelashes.

                For a long, pregnant moment I stare at him, uneasily holding my breath until I convince myself he won’t bolt, stroking the insides of his thighs, tracing the long, wishbone bezel of his tiny waist then scuttle down to cup both halves of his ass in each hand. Lowering my head to take the faint pulse and throb of his engorged cock in my mouth. Immediately familiar with the feeling of it, although lacking the taste and smell I was used to in my time as an amoral youth: not salty, not bitter. Simply skin and the deeper signature of Louis’ blood humming underneath. I suck harder at him, taking him deeper and faster, but found I couldn’t muster the whole length without gagging when it took a right turn down into my throat.

                That annoyed me. Louis made cocksucking seem an elementary effort. I’d been so fucking sure I was much better at fellatio than he could ever be, having had plenty of practice and a decidedly big mouth. But Louis is no slouch, bigger than Nicki easily, which exposed the problem. Outside of Nicki I’d typically been the receiver of oral attentions, never caring to expand my dick-in-the-mouth experience outside of us. That I’d lived for the moment Nicki begged to come on my tongue, or on my face (if I could get him to avoid my hair) was surprising to learn but not all that much of a revelation given I craved control. And fucking my rather pretty mouth on someone’s gormandized cock came as naturally to me as breathing. But Louis made it look like he could do it in his sleep and it offended me.

                Oh, I’m royally fucking pissed but I’m determined to keep my mouth busy because it is infinitely easier to do than keeping it shut with Louis around. And I only now just convinced Louis to stay if the rising shape of his knees on either side of my head is anything to go by. Louis’ hips rock imperceptibly. Ass squirming in my open palms like an offering as I suck his cock sloppy and wet, allowing moisture to gather around the base and following it. His hands fisting and toes forming ballerina points on the rug, navel sinking down, down, down deep as thought diving to meet his spine with every exhale. No moans come from him, nothing but labored breathing and a certain mindless writhing of the body that I wasn’t used to or have ever seen outside of someone in pain.

                I follow the trail of wet to the taut sac, suck the entirety of it into my mouth and hold it there to feel around and bounce the contents on my tongue which earns a blast of warm air ruffling my hair, a cue to move my thumbs medially to the tender declivity at Louis’ dusky core. Pushing into its heart as though cutting into a rind of a fruit until it reveals its dark pink inside. I kiss him there and find him trying to scoot away.

                Apparently, I had less reservations about taking it further than he did, which I couldn’t understand given our vampire physiology all but rendered it loathsome. Yet shame and guilt refused to relinquish him to me. Like I always do, I chase him, shouldering his knees, embracing him by the bi-iliac garland of his slim hips, lift the glorious pink heart to my lips and shamelessly kiss him there, mouthing and holding him open with nothing but my rock-star tongue. Teeth wreathing the ring of it as I sought to get deeper. Slicking it with my watering mouth.

                Have this, I say without words, let me give you pleasure. Stop fighting it. And that was the gist of it. He didn’t want to enjoy it for whatever Louis-ish reason.

                “Lestat,” a wind-borne vesper tickling my skin. “Lestat, please.” I pause, letting his hips fall into my lap, ankles bouncing on my shoulders unsupported. I want to lock eyes, need more than anything to know that he wants this, that he needs this from me: wants me holding him down, loving him hard, ass up like a bitch, or on his back like a wife -- my wife -- and every permutation of the Kama Sutra thereof, except I choke on the words. Behold, motherfucking Louis. Just kill me now. Put me out of my misery. I’m too pathetic to live.

                My beloved looks unlike anything, mouth and cheeks bloody, tears welling in his Lucifer-bright eyes, imploring. He was so utterly unselfconscious. Something about the quivering light and the extended languid arm silenced me, then slowly, like a cat stretching he pulls me over him like a blanket. Taking my cock in both hands and guiding it to where my mouth had just been.

                I want to say something beautiful and significant, or at the very least let him know he isn’t close to ready, but I never get that far. He’d wound his wildly clever legs around me during my preoccupation and with one violent squeeze used his calves to drive my hips to meet his volley. He made a sound of pure agony. And I missed the opportunity to relish the pressure of him splitting apart. I don’t move. I’m stunned. I have one hand on the back of his skull and the other planted on the ground left of us, lifting me away so I could look upon him. His surgeon’s-artist’s-priest’s hands span the breadth of my back, fingernails cutting into my skin. He had drawn first blood.

                I intend to wait it out, kiss him until he accommodates. But it’s as if he knows and thwarts me at every pass, lifting his hips and impaling himself in one shuddering stroke, moving like he can’t get enough of me, like he’s chasing the feeling of love, or warmth, or devotion on the tip of my dick. At that point I stop caring, stop fighting: thrusting in, pulling out, it was all made of the same ebb and flow of the blood inside him. Same rhythm, his long, prehensile limbs, his heart punching a beat against my lips. Such delirious ecstasy and anguish in that bloodless moment; exquisitely carried on by momentum and sound. His breath a counterpart to the resounding moan issuing forth from my throat at the pale end of every stroke.

                It’s too much. My strength is too much. I knew. Drenched with sweat. Racked with convulsions. His body clinging to me, lustrous skin breaking, arms out-flung, his toed feet forming arabesques in the air behind me. Eyes a shade wilder, dark irises lost in the expanding pupil. Possessively, I think of wanting to keep my dick in him always, plant it right behind his navel. The fit of his body is wedding band tight, the way one might get after a lifetime of wearing, when it’s too late for dish soap to slip it off.

                He will never be rid of me. Never. His scant frame contends against mine, every part of me touching every part of him, chest to chest, cheek to cheek, my fucked-wild hair in his mouth, his head pillowed in my arms, the only thing moving are my hips, back and forth, in and out, lulling me into a state of complete and utter happiness. Nothing could be more right in the world. There is no Lestat. There is no Louis. There is only this. My entire life reduced to this one moment. This one feeling. Like I could burst.

                “You didn’t answer my question,” I say, not losing stride, but altering the pace and depth into a tap dance of half-aborted thrusts. His long toes wiggle, tickling the backs of my clenched calves.

                I wasn’t aware you asked anything,” he husks, his eyes feral and sharp with the lie of unknowing; inciting me with his heels on my ass. I refuse to budge, and his face darkens with angry helplessness.

                “My baby,” I remind him, pressing my nose into his hair, catching his ear with my mouth, tasting char, tasting sun. “Would you let me put it in you? Would you have it? If it were possible?”

                “It isn’t,” he says, between panting breaths, tongue darting between his teeth, kittenish. “It never will be. I won’t answer your question because it’s a moot point . . . with questionable consequences.”

                “But what if it was?” I insist, pitching my voice sleep-soft in spite of the possessive surge splintering my resolve to be gentle, to keep my thrusts patient and shallow and even, but I’m manifesting memories. Old wounds. Old hurts. “Think on it. Distended belly full of me. I’d make a home inside you if I could. It would be the closest thing to it. Imagine it! Your eyes! My mouth!” Of course, I was joking. I only want him to play along with me.

                “No.”

                I bite my lip. Hurt. “You didn’t give it much thought!” I was dashing myself to pieces on his rocky shore.

                “I don’t need to,” he says, his face smooth, his brow pinched, his body taut. “That is my answer, Lestat. It will never change. You might be jesting now but I can’t afford answering like it’s not a possibility in the future because one thing I’ve learnt being with you is that you have a knack for bending reality to your will. You make things happen.”

                When I close my eyes I taste ash and blood and bitterness. I don’t mean to do what I do next, pulling out like he’s burnt me, flipping him over onto his bare knees on the hard floor, pulling him back onto my cock, shoving my palm between the broken wings of flexing shoulder blades, so that he’s in full lordosis, his forehead to the ground like a man in prayer.

                “What if it’s an accident? What would you do then?” I’m breathless in full rut. Sight of his white knuckles bunched on the red carpet forcing a helpless, unhideable groan from me, shoving into him. Musical sound of skin on skin.

                Not missing a beat, coldly, like I’m not fucking him into the ground, like I haven’t brought him back from the grave (twice), like he can’t bring himself to pander my harmless joke, he answers: “Kill myself,” then shunts a breath like I’m breaking him open on the beveled edge of a knife.

                And isn’t that just like Louis? Keeping the tables spinning like the cylinder of a revolver, until I can’t tell my asshole from my elbow? Of course. What did I expect? This is what he does. He fucks me up. I thrust in, retreat, thrust in again, each time more room, more give with the lie of surrender. He feels so small suddenly and I feel monstrous in comparison. But this is us. This is our way.

                The first time Louis kissed me coincided with the first time he’d punched me in the face (for some well-deserved reason or another). Instinct overtook judgement and I’d nearly driven him through a wall and he’d fallen in such a way that I ran to him, sick with horror and remorse and self-loathing. My restless hands shook sweeping over him, blood dripped from my mouth onto his upturned face. Then, he’d curled his fingers in my hair and brought his mouth to mine, angrily, desperately. And I had no idea where I stood with him then or how we’d arrived at that place together.

                It’s the same thrill now, the same obscure feeling I have no words for. Because I’d never learnt proper fear, never learnt the properties of no.

                I haul him up to me by the hair, like he weighs nothing, like his delicate bones were avian. Drive my teeth into his neck, blood swelling in waves, an uncontrollable tide hitting my palate and I can’t tell if his half-swallowed breaths are discomfort or pleasure. And it should be terrible that I can’t, wouldn’t know what it would sound like. Funny that.

                Lestat.

                I’m dissolving. Or Louis is. And there is someone on the periphery behind a scrim of leaves watching slyly from the shadows in Louis’ mind. I’m about to take a look. My hand over Louis’s inexhaustible heart beating senseless under his sternum, my thumb over his nipple, and the unmistakable feeling of tenderness blooming for him suddenly. Like that first night I awoke with his hair in my mouth and his arm tight across my chest in sleep, and I’d been on Earth for all of 30 paltry years at that point but already came to understand how much fear there is in loving someone. How fear can save you. And that I lacked it.

                Lestat.

                My breathing shallows, becomes erratic, and then I’m coming with a hymn sung deep in my chest.

                “Prince?”

                “Fuck!” I’m not yet ready for the world I’d been actively ignoring. Hell, I haven’t so much as pulled out, my teeth are still wet with blood. Jesus, Louis is still in my lap, still riding quiet underwater waves, swooning. My heart is still racing. My skin is still hot, still tight.

                “What in fuck do you want, Cyril?!” I’m being needlessly put upon. Cyril would never intrude unless he’s exhausted every measure to do otherwise so whatever it was I knew it had to do with Rhoshamandes.

                “Kapetria is on the phone. She’s been calling your cell and when she couldn’t reach you she tried mine. I waited as long as I could outside your door . . .” since I wasn’t taking his telepathic calls, he didn’t say. He’s halfway across the room from us already, ready to hand over the offending mobile.

                Cyril’s face displays only mild amusement, one eyebrow—the one with a thin bisecting bald spot where a scar once was -- pitched high as if to congratulate me. Then Louis stands up from my lap, rising tall and accusatory as an angry middle finger to us both: dignity intact like we weren’t just savagely fucking, like he isn’t dripping with me, like Cyril hadn’t confessed to hearing most of it. Surprised as fuck, as they say, Cyril turns crimson. A color I don’t associate with him, not with a humble being as massive and ancient and nearly indestructible as a Sequoia with a predilection for sarcasm.

                It says much that Cyril is as speechless as I am. No glances spared us, Louis wipes himself off with his shirt (the one I sacrificed), leaving the high round of his ass as untouched and pink and perfectly suited to overeager hands and an ill-meaning cock as it had been before I got a hold of it.

                Now, certain that there will be some sort of misstep, that Louis will compromise his chilly military bearing, anticipating to see the vulnerable pink shadow of his exposed scrotum between his thighs, I follow with greedy eyes . . . only to have my expectations dashed when, with a graceful, cantilevered movement consisting of arm and leg in a layover spin, he lifts my shirt from the floor; slipping it on once fully upright. No fucks given to his captive audience of two, he comes back toward me, retrieves my wool pants from the leg of an overturned armchair and slides them on, oozing with inviolable grace. They’re much too big, sit halfway on his ass.

                “Hello. Lestat? Hello?” Kapetria. I’d forgotten. So had Cyril. “Lestat?”

                Poised and pink-cheeked, Louis looks to me, then looks to Cyril’s hot, blushing face and then Cyril’s palm. When I don’t answer, Louis grabs the phone from Cyril and plops it into my upturned palm.

                “Talk,” Louis says, buttoning my shirt, then frowning when the belt doesn’t do much to sit my trousers on his waist even after he’s tucked the shirt in. I can smell myself on him. All over him. The room stinks of us.

                Sorry, Lestat can’t come to the phone right now . . . Correction—Lestat doesn’t want to be on the phone right now . . .

                “We are done here and I’m hungry,” he says by way of . . . something. Excuse? Accusation? Then moves around the room collecting things: my red velvet coat and scarf, his boots, his gloves. His clothing is in the walk-in of his bedchamber so it doesn’t strike me as a calculated logistic maneuver until he says: “I’m going out, my Prince. Cyril, come,” then smiles coldly at me from the balcony threshold, daring me to run after him with crown jewels on full display for all and sundry.

                “Boss,” Cyril looks to me apologetically, teeth bared in a sorry attempt at a sheepish smile. “Do you . . .” He looks pointedly at the IPhone in my hand.

                “Yes! Fucking go! Follow him.

                Cyril considers me with narrowed eyes, processing, analyzing, and categorizing in the space of milliseconds, shrugs then follows Louis into the night.

                Directing my attention to Kapetria, I say: Someone better be dead or dying!”