Vampires and Crosses

Poor Mr. Toussaint. I’ve made he wait much to long for sharing the remainder of Avery’s interview with him. I had the chance to travel so I jumped at it, and everything else fell to the proverbial back burner.

My now is my chance to atone for neglecting that oh so charming yet frustrating vampire. I hope you enjoy it!

Avery and Char…a battle of wits?

“This one is kind of personal,” I chew on end of my pen, unexpectedly nervous about his answer. “Are you married? Do you have a girl friend or boyfriend or are relationships not part of vampire society?”

He arches his brows at me, and for a moment he twirls the stem of the wine glass in his long fingers. “Of course we can have relationships, should we choose to do so. I choose not to do so. No, I am not married. I’m happy just as I am.”

“You know I have to ask a follow-up to that, right? I mean that door is wide open.” I try my own version of a sweet smile, but somehow it doesn’t make an impression on him. Go figure.

Oh, note to self: remember to ask him about that cross. Note added, I meet his eyes. “So, care to share about your non-relationship status?”

He doesn’t speak for what feels like an eternity. Oh crap, have I offended him? And then he releases what sounds like a long sigh, or else I’m just being melodramatic.

“That is something I am still coming to terms with myself,” he admits. “People change over the course of years. What was once forbidden or misunderstood is now on display for the world to see. People are more open about themselves and how they feel. I admire this new generation for what they have done. But I find myself struggling to understand it too. Relationships come in many shapes and sizes. People are more free to be who they are. I’ve recently been studying these things and have come to the conclusion that I am what is referred to as Ace. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with someone, just not in the sense that I suspect you meant it, if I understand you correctly. Does that make sense?”

I ponder what he says for a moment. I’m sure he’s been around a very long time so I understand that he’s witnessed many, many changes in society and the world. Has living become tiresome for him? Or does he not want to become involved with a human only to watch his lover age and die?

“I think I understand most of what you related. I’m sure…” I hesitate searching for the right way to phrase this. I don’t want to call him ancient and have him get up and walk out. “I’m sure you’ve seen and experienced a lot during your time on Earth. Are you weary of the world?” I sit back in my chair, pulling my notebook into my lap. “And what exactly do you mean by ‘Ace’?”

“Weary of the world?” He shakes his head emphatically. “Life is too precious to become tired of. We never know how much time we have, none of us.” He gives me a look that is complicit with all sorts of meaning. “None of us,” he repeats. “There is no simple definition of Ace. This is something everyone must discover for themselves. The easiest answer I can give, at least as it relates to me, is that I have no sexual desire for anyone of any gender.”

Frowning, I soften my tone. “That sounds like such a lonely way to live.” I hesitate, not liking the somber tone the interview has taken. Maybe getting back to “vampire basics” will brighten things. “I don’t expect you will tell me how long you’ve roamed the Earth—of course, feel free if you want—but were you born a vampire or made? How does that work?” I quickly add, “No need to share the gory details.”

He hesitates long enough that I think he won’t answer but then he replies. “Vampires are made, not born. They are created by other vampires. I have heard of half-vampires, but I believe that too is fiction. I don’t think we can breed, which is just as well.”

I can’t help but notice he’s holding his cross closely… for comfort, maybe? And isn’t that just a little bit ironic? I mean, a vampire with a cross? Right?

Guess I can scratch that note off. I can’t believe I almost forgot to ask him about his cross! Nothing like getting caught up in the rest of his story. And is it just me, or readers, did you notice he avoided giving any indication of his age?

“That’s such a unique piece of jewelry.” I motion toward the elegant cross he’s still holding. “Is it a family heirloom? Maybe you could describe the symbolism behind the shape and the gemstones?” I hurry on, “When I say family, is it from your human family or vampire one?”

The cross is ornate yet understated. Almost square in shape, I can see triangles outlined in red stones that remind me of diamonds. And black stones as well, including a large one in the center. On anyone else it would look ostentatious, however, on him it merely adds to his charisma. If I was a betting girl—don’t worry, I’m not—I would say the cross originated in pre-eighteenth century England. I could see a knight of old wearing it beneath his armor. Imagine, he and his fellow warriors are in the great hall of the castle after winning a glorious battle. A large fire blazes in the stone fireplace as the victors recount the details of the conflict and celebrate their achievements. With the cross proudly displayed on his chest, the knight hops onto the rough hewn banquet table and delivers a history-book-worthy speech. The cross would then be passed down from generation to generation, a symbol of bravery and power.

Damn it, Avery. Get back in the here and now!

He looks down at the cross then up at me, and when he speaks, his voice seems softer than before. “It was given to me by someone very dear to me.” He falls silent for just a moment, before he resumes. “According to vampire lore, red diamonds symbolize passion. They teach us form and flexibility in form. The black onyx absorbs and transforms negative energy. They say it helps to prevent the drain of personal energy. Personally, I think someone has a very vivid imagination.” He gives me a smile which seems sad yet manages to be dazzling at the same time.

This is one vampire who is particularly good at being short and to the point. It’s enough to make a grown blogger cry. I just know there is more to the story of the cross. This whole interview, though, feels like a game of cat and mouse. And I don’t have to tell you which one I am!

Trying to determine my next move, I grab my notebook and pretend to take some notes. I quickly flip the page and place my pen gently on top of it, like this damn vampire hasn’t gotten to me in the least. I reach for my iced coffee, but it’s nothing but watered down slop. I guess we know whose fault that is? Mr. Tall Dark and Annoying, of course.

“Mr. Toussaint, I’m passionate about history. Can’t you relate any details of the origins of the cross? Personally, I can’t imagine giving such a remarkable piece of jewelry away without sharing some of its story. Or this person who gifted it to you…what you can tell me?” I lean back in my chair and rest my hands on the arms lest I cross them in front of my chest and outright glare at him.

He gives me what I can only describe as a very smoldering look as he leans toward me across the table, as if he’s about to give me some very confidential information. He holds the cross out slightly, but still as far from me as he can. “This is what is known as a Canterbury cross. The original was of Saxon design and cast in bronze. This one is silver. Nowadays, it is most closely associated with the Anglican church. The woman who gave it to me didn’t know its history, but it was the most precious thing she’d ever owned, and she gave it to me.” He stops speaking, as if he’s said more than enough, and for a moment I find myself mesmerized by the shape of his lips, how they might feel on mine, before he sits back and the spell… was it a spell?… is broken.

Suddenly the night has warmed…or is that just me? Again, this vampire seems to hold all the cards! And I’ve totally lost my train of thought. Where were we? His lips? Sheesh, no! The cross, Avery, the cross. That exquisite piece of jewelry that’s now tucked safely beneath his shirt.

I clear my throat, quickly trying to regain my composure. “Thank you for sharing some more information about the cross. Somehow it’s very fitting that you wear it, you know, with you being a…and it being a religious symbol.”

Shaking my head, I hold up the remains of my iced coffee. “Would you give me a moment to get a refill? I haven’t seen our server so I’m just going to pop inside.” I push back my chair and grab my wallet from my bag. “Can I get you anything?”

“Nothing, thank you,” he replies in that oh-so-polite way he has, like he’s been smooth and charming all his life. Hell, maybe he has?

I hurry inside, order my drink, and play a drum solo on the counter, waiting for it. I know only a couple of minutes, but could they take any longer? Impatient much, Avery? Finally! I hurry outside, the perfect question on the tip of my tongue. I’ve got that wily vampire now…

Only to discover his chair is empty. Wait, is there something written on my tablet?

Sorry to leave but I’m meeting an old friend for dinner. Be well in the blood.

The end

I hope you enjoyed the time Avery spent with Char—ah, Mr. Toussaint. Julie is continuing his story in her weekly flash. Head over to her blog to check out the next chapter!

Julie’s Bio and Social Links

Julie Lynn Hayes was born and raised in St Louis, Missouri, and still calls that city home. She first began to write over fifty years ago, and doesn’t see that stopping anytime soon. She likes to write in different genres, to stretch herself in order to see what is possible. When someone tells her something can’t be done, she feels compelled to do it. Much of her writing is in the m/m romance category.

When she isn’t writing, or working at her day job with a third party elevator inspection company, she enjoys crafts, such as cross stitch and crochet, and watching her favorite programs. Her favorite chef is Geoffrey Zakarian, and her favorite historical character is Aaron Burr—she is obsessed with all things Hamilton!  Never say never is her motto! 

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