Bittersweet Endings And Forlorn Beginnings
Detroit, Michigan, USA
An Idyllic Moment’s End
The jazz music buzzed through the floor into our apartment. Dom sat reclined in an armchair, a glass of whiskey to his right, a cigar in his left hand, sketching quietly with his right hand. Callie was dancing jovially, swaying to the music; Dom would look up at her often, clearly sketching her.
I loved them both dearly. They loved each other dearly. And they loved me… Differently.
I knew there was a way for three people to all love one another equally. We’d met many people who had dynamics like that. We just… Simply were not like that.
Callie knew that, but she hid it well. Dom pretended not to know, pretended it wasn’t true, because even if he was not as wholly in love with me as he was her, he at very least was a dear, dear friend.
I had been content to it for a long time. I still was, in fact, and while I didn’t want it thrown in my face, I wished they would not act like it wasn’t true.
I had heard Callie whisper it to Dom, heard him vehemently deny it, but I could see it on his face- hidden from them both as I was. I had convinced myself it was in my own mind until then.
The delivery had hurt, but the knowledge was a comfort. I was not mad.
I walked over to stand beside Dom, looking down at the drawing. He’d had three, almost four decades of practice; the drawing was stunningly realistic, as if it were a black and white photograph. I ran a hand through his soft hair, and he leaned into my touch, closing his eyes and stilling his pencil.
I was content to be less loved… For now. But as time passed us by, I grew more certain that the day was soon coming that being less loved would not be enough for me. I dreaded the day, but I had come to accept its approach. I had not told either of them; it would only sour our remaining years, however many of those there were.
Alice would feel guilty. She would miss me terribly, but of course, I would keep in touch. Dom would be angry and dour and dejected. But, I would, of course, visit- if they’d had me.
I knew almost instinctively that they would. Maybe, after I left, any romantic or sexual dynamic would be lost. But what we had was so much deeper than that, and truer, and I knew that they would understand.
They were true angels. Of that I was certain.
Callie sighed, running her hands down her body. “I’d like to go downstairs and dance, if neither of you mind.”
“Of course we don’t,” Dom said.
“Enjoy yourself, doll.”
She winked at me, then turned on her heel and walked out, hips swaying. I leaned over to kiss the top of Dom’s head; he set the journal aside, beside his wine, and pulled me into his lap. I curled into him, playing with the soft, curly chest hair in front of me.
He never drew me like that. He rarely drew me. It was eating at me, seemingly heralding just how close that day would come.
A week. A month, maybe. A few months. In the grand scheme of things, and to me, it was less than a mere moment, but time nonetheless- time I would treasure. “Will you draw me, my love?”
“Of course,” he said, kissing my forehead. “Tonight. I feel like holding you.”
I closed my eyes and smiled. “You should draw me a picture of all of us, together. Happy.”
“Feeling wistful, pet?”
I smiled, gazing up at him from beneath my lashes. “I’m an old woman. I’m perpetually wistful.”
He cocked a crooked grin. “You don’t look old.”
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and he looked down at me, into my eyes, his face alight with love and fondness and bliss. I etched the image into my very soul. “You are the most beautiful man there could ever be,” I breathed.
A debonair smile graced his face. “You’re very sweet, pet.”
I kissed him tenderly on the mouth for a long, long moment. I loved to hear the quiet sounds of it. Then, I lay my head on his shoulder once again, and began to hum and sing wordlessly along to the music that pervaded into our apartment, the music to which Callie was doubtlessly dancing.
I did not want to be without them. I wished I knew how I could bring them to love me, but… I didn’t. I doubted I could. My face twisted with a sob I did not want to let out before I could hide it from Dom; immediately, alarm graced his face and he shifted me in his arms so he could study me. “What?”
I gave a bitter smile. “It is so terribly much, my love, and saying it will only hurt me more.”
“Don’t say it, then,” he said. I looked gratefully at him as a tear slid down my cheek. He gazed sadly into my face for a moment before standing me, carrying me bridal style to the bedroom, the bed. He lay me down, easily removing my clothing. “Do you want me?”
I laughed quietly. “Always.”
Tauntingly, he turned his eyes up at me, then peppered my stomach with kisses. “Naughty,”
“Insatiable little pet,” he said, kissing up my breast.
He made love to me. He had not finished when Callie returned, stepping in only to pause in the doorway and watch. Her eyes lingered on him for far longer than they did me.
And it stung. I looked to the side, closing my eyes, and tried to lose myself in the love.
For a few moments- as Dom’s expert hands worked me up to an orgasm- I did. After that, when Dom lay between us and held Callie ever closer, however, the sting returned. They would get up and sleep in the casket after I fell asleep; this time in the bed was meant to be for me, and yet, they could not manage that.
A week, then. I turned onto my other side and cried quietly, bittersweet, basking in their company.
When I awoke, Callie and I were alone. She was laying where Dom had previously been, one arm stretched over my head, the other smoothing over my stomach. I was laying on my back; I turned my head towards her. Her eyes were kind, but almost… Sad.
“You cried all night,” she admitted quietly.
“I think you know why-” I said, my voice breaking; tears broke yet again, my voice faltering, and she winced. “My dear, beloved friend.” I could barely manage the words as tears poured freely down my cheeks.
She opened her mouth, likely to deny, only to freeze and close her eyes, letting guilt and sadness wash over her beautiful, timeless face. “I… Do.”
I turned into her just as I began to weep, and she held me lovingly, running her hands through my hair. I lay in her arms for a long, long moment.
“Where’s Dom?” I asked after a long time, my crying finally ceased.
“It’s quite late in the night- you slept in,” Callie said. “He’s out, doing something or other for someone or another. He finished your drawings, though- he’s so terrifyingly fast, isn’t he?”
I sat up. I knew what had to be done. I swung my feet over to the floor, looking at his sketchbook on the nightstand. I picked it up and flipped to the last three pages- one, unfinished, of me crying in bed. I ripped that out so he would not have to see it after I left. The next, another of me- sitting up, laughing, happy and beautiful and serene. I wanted them to have this one, to see me like this. I turned the page to find a drawing of us all, clearly inspired by last night, but so, so much better- happier. Dom was much like he had been, a smaller, simpler version of the sketch he’d made on his tiny sketchbook, but he was looking up at me. I was looking over at Callie, who was still dancing, her body posed beautifully- complicatedly- and she grinned lovingly at Dom.
It reminded me of how we once had been. I pulled that one out, too, to remember them by. We didn’t have very many photographs.
“I have to leave,” I said quietly.
“You- what?” Callie’s broken voice made it clear she knew what I meant.
Fighting back ever more tears, I looked over at her. “I’m so sorry, for all of us,” I said softly. “But I do not belong here. You know that-”
“We love you,” she said, tears falling, face twitching. Her lip quivered for a long time. It broke my heart to see her beautiful face as she struggled not to weep.
“I know you do,” I said softly. “I love you both, dearly. But you two are you two, and I… Am… Here. And that isn’t enough for me.” I wiped my eyes. “Believe me, doll, I wish it was. It used to be. But it isn’t, not anymore.”
Callie leaned onto my shoulder, and I held her for a long moment, kissing the top of her head. “I can’t be without you.”
“You can,” I said. “You will move on and you will be happy- as will Dom. It will hurt wretchedly at first, but… You will both be happy. I know that.”
I laughed. “I’ll… Keep on living, I suppose. Seems to be something I cannot avoid.” Callie frowned at that for a long moment, but I just kissed her forehead. “You won’t lose me. I’ll always be a ring away, a drive. I can’t imagine I’ll leave Detroit.”
“Let us help you find a place to stay,” she said, seemingly having read my mind; I’d been planning on disappearing. I could not handle how Dom would react. I squirmed, uncertain. “Please, Alice. I am absolutely begging you.”
I looked over at her. I knew how difficult things could be as a woman alone in life- especially looking ever-young, as I did. Almost reluctantly, I nodded and lay down. Callie lay her head on my chest, her hand on my stomach again.
In an hour, Dom returned, walking in and smiling at us; he could see the sadness in our eyes, though. The smile was troubled.
I sat up. It had to be done now. I felt it in my bones. “Sit down,” I requested quietly.
His worry tripled, but he sat down in the armchair. I turned towards him. “I’m leaving.”
His jaw set. His brows furrowed. A part of him knew, but it did not truly sink in. “What?”
“I-” I looked down. I couldn’t look at his beautiful, pained face as I ripped his beautiful, pure heart out of his beautiful, sculpted chest. “I’m leaving the two of you.”
He sat there for a long time. I did not have the courage to look up. After a while, all he said was- quite simply, “No.”
I looked up at him then. He looked angry and hurt and yet so entirely sure. “Yes, my love.”
I looked at him, exhausted. “I don’t belong here.”
“Of course you do,” he breathed, tears forming in his eyes, voice quivering. “You belong right here, with me and Callie.”
“No, I don’t,” I said, shaking my head. “I love you both very much-”
“Then stay,” he growled, the first tear falling. I closed my eyes and sobbed, the sight thoroughly breaking my heart.
“You don’t love me the same as you love her,” I whimpered when I was able.
“That’s bullshit-” he said, sobbing now, shaking slightly. But I heard in his voice that he knew it to be true.
“And she doesn’t love me as she loves you. You both love me, but- it’s not the same. And I cannot bear it any longer.” I hugged myself, all but curling into a ball. “Please, don’t make me stay. Don’t make me watch you love her more. Because I simply cannot. It hurts too much.”
He looked away, brow furrowing, looking angry and broken and utterly pained. Callie was crying beside me, hugging a pillow. We remained there for a long time; eventually, my arms and legs began to ache, so I let my arms fall to my sides, set my feet back on the floor. I was still naked, but I was exposed in much more frightening ways already.
Dom stood and I flinched; he looked further pained by that. He walked towards me and crouched in front of me, staring numbly at my stomach. “I don’t want you to hurt,” he breathed, barely audible. I ran my fingers through his hair and he closed his eyes, face twisting, but did not let a single more tear fall.
“I know,” I said. “And I’m sorry I’m making you hurt. But you- both of you-” I looked over at Callie. “Both of you will recover, and together, you’ll be happy.”
Dom stood and kicked his boots off. I scooted back onto the bed; Callie clambered behind me, holding me tightly. Dom stripped and lay down on the bed; I curled into his chest, and he wrapped his arm around me and Callie.
“We’ll have to get you a place to stay,” he said softly, seemingly to himself.
“I don’t want to talk about that right now,” I said softly. “I want to lay here and feel loved.”
“You are loved,” Callie whispered.
But it is not enough. Maybe I was selfish… But if they had taught me one thing, it was that I deserved to be happy. It was that I was meant to trust my feelings and fight for my own happiness. It was that I was worth loving and being loved in equal parts.
That’s three things, really, but… Still.
When I woke up, Dom was still beneath me, but Callie was gone. There were bags under his red-tinted eyes. Guilt flooded me, but I did not speak, just curled into Dom. “Is she still sleeping?”
“Yes,” Dom said quietly.
“Actually,” he said. “I did. I woke up an hour ago.”
I looked up at his face. He looked down at me, then down at the wall. “You- will be missed,” he breathed, his red eyes growing wet once more.
“As will you, my love,” I said gently, curling into him.
“I could turn you,” he breathed. “I think that’s why Callie and I are closer- because I’m her Sire.”
“I’d still have to watch her love you more,”
“You’d love me more, too, if my theory is correct.”
“We deserve better than that, Dom.”
A pause, then a sigh. “Yes, you do.” We laid there in silence for a while longer. “You will always be welcome here.”
“I hope you’ll come back,” he says, voice shaking.
I wouldn’t. Not back into a relationship. Of that, I was certain.
Detroit, Michigan, USA
The Beginning Of A Particularly Wretched End
They found me a house nearby, small and cozy and warm. Dom would pay my bills. I would talk on the phone with them each for at least an hour.
It could hardly be said that I left them. I went to them often; we all went on dates, though my relationship with them each stayed separate. I was with Dom; I was with Callie; Callie was with Dom. All true and all separate, distinct.
And it was enough. Evermore, it was enough.
Then, the Great Depression. Dom could pay my bills no longer; luckily, there was just enough work for a halfling to get me soundly by. It was a struggle at many, many points, but I managed.
However, Dom and Callie could not sustain themselves enough to keep me adequately fed, even between the two of them. Vampires could get comfortably by feeding once or twice a week; halflings did not have that luxury. I fed almost nightly on top of eating human food.
I had never been an overtly political person. Halflings were rarely invited to be. But I had formed a working relationship with a Militia man by the name of Bo Shore; he would feed me his blood in return for me finding and recruiting humans into blood bags. It was a particularly tricky task; they had to be the sort of person to allow that, and the sort of person who could handle that, and the sort of person who would keep it quiet, and the sort of person who I could convince, and I had to do it fairly quickly to keep the ever growing Militia sustained.
Bo was a dour, quiet man. He was tall and lithe, with pale orange hair and pale skin that bared the consequences of having been tanned by the sun far too many times; it was almost leathery in a strangely pleasant way. His eyes were a pale, pale blue, his lashes pale and long. His entire body was dotted with too many freckles and relatively small scars. I noticed how attractive I found him far more often than I’d have liked to.
By the end of the Depression, I’d aged considerably, until my physical body was somewhere in its early to mid twenties. I felt, for once, at peace- for once, happy- for once, fulfilled.
For once, I felt… Like an adult. There was a strange comfort in that, an exhausted relief.
Life after the Depression returned to some semblance of normal… That was, until, one night, an unexpected knock sounded at my door.
I frowned. Generally, I would assume it to be either Callie or Dom, but I had hung up from being on the phone with them not a minute earlier. My house was close, but certainly not that close.
I walked to the door, adjusting my hair, and peeked through the peephole, seeing an entirely unfamiliar face outside. Keeping the chain on the door, I unlocked it and opened it a slight amount.
“Are you lost, sir?” I asked.
He looked at me with cold, cordial eyes. I was immediately sure that he was a vampire. “No, I do not believe I am. I’m looking for a woman who, at the moment, goes by Alice Klossner. I do believe that would be you.”
I tensed, inhaling almost sharply through my nose. “Who are you?”
He tilted his head to the side. “I’d be more than happy to discuss inside-”
“I’m not letting you in without knowing your name, sir.”
His eyes grew darker. He leaned in a bit. “It would be rather illegal to discuss out in the open as we are.”
“Tell me your name, or you can very well turn around, sir.”
He straighened, all but glaring at me. “William Smith, ma’am.”
“Thank you, Mr. Smith,” I said. “I will be right back.”
I closed and locked the door, then scurried to the phone, calling Dom and Callie. Dom answered, luckily. “Hello?” The stranger was knocking.
“Do you know a vampire by the name of ‘William Smith’? Dark hair and eyes, pale skin, mid thirties?”
There was a pause. “I know of one. The Prince of the Michigan Legionnaire. Why?”
“You- is he in front of you?”
“How do you know his name?”
“And you left the Prince standing on your doorstep?” Angrily, the stranger knocked again.
“Well, yes. I’m not letting him in until you get here.”
Dom gives a sigh. “I’m on my way- let him in, Alice. I beg of you, for once, trust me.”
I sighed. “Hurry.”
“Go- let him in.”
“I am. Get here quickly.”
“I will. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I hung up the phone and moved to unlock the door, opening it fully this time. Looking very nonplussed, William Smith sauntered inside. I closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked. “Forgive me, sir. But I do not go around letting strange vampires into my house- from my history with them, it would lead to trouble.”
“I am Prince William of the Legionnaire,” said the man, turning to look down his nose at me.
I hated Legionnaires. More than words could express. Regardless, I smiled at him. “I’m aware. I called a friend of mine- I would not have let you in until he got here unless he had been so… Sure that I ought to.”
“Your friend is quite smarter than you, isn’t he?” the prince said. I quirked a brow.
I knew better than to send a scathing quip back at Prince William, but several burned my brain.
“You have been working for the Militia,” the prince snarled. “That is illegal.”
“Have I?” I asked. “I’ve been feeding them. Didn’t realize that was illegal.”
“You have been trading goods for services. That is illegal.”
“Humans are ‘goods’ to the Legionnaire?”
William’s eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched. “Any other halfling would be executed for such a crime.”
I quirked a brow, leaning on the counter. “And not me?”
“Regrettably not,” he all but spat.
“Why is that?”
“The King seems to think you’d be useful, for some reason or another,” William said.
“The King?” He was in charge of every vampire in North America.
“King Benjamin- yes. There is a condition, however.” William seemed very pleased with himself. I stood there waiting for him to continue, utterly unimpressed- something that seemed to get right under William’s skin. “You will stop working for the Militia, and you will work for the Legionnaire.”
I laughed, something that made his face turn red with anger. “And what, pray tell, would you have me do?”
“You would work under Betty Babcock, the Duchess of the Detroit Legionnaire. You will report to her for assignment- this is non-negotiable. Should you not report to her tomorrow morning, you will be a wanted criminal.”
I stared angrily at him for a long moment, until Dom opened the front door and walked in. He nodded at the prince, who nodded in return.
“Your- friend- is the most foolish woman I have ever met, Mr. Klossner,” William said coldly. Dom gave me a stern, worried look. “And that is saying quite a lot.”
“You’ve spoken your piece, sir. Now get out of my house.”
William straightened and glowered at me for a long moment, before stalking past Dom and out the door, closing it behind him. Dom gave me a chastising look.
“Don’t-” Dom sighed, then cracked his neck. “You’re going to get yourself killed, pet.”
“Maybe,” I said quietly. I ran a hand through my hair. “Morning is going to be here soon enough,”
“Callie is out,” Dom said quietly. “Left just before I did. Mind if I crash here?” I had a casket in the spare room just in case. I smiled fondly at Dom.
“Of course I don’t, love.” I kissed him tenderly on the mouth for a long moment, until he pulled back and, with a sigh, headed towards the spare room to retire.
“I love you,”
“I love you, too.”