The tumbler, beaded with sweat, sat on the coffee table. Ice cubes, now flimsy slits of glass, floated in the amber liquid, while a moat of water rimmed the outside bottom of the glass. Moira sat in the dark, shadows from the flickering candlelight dancing across the wall toward her face.
Moira sipped her whiskey and closed her eyes. Poco played on her stereo; the shimmering intro of “Spellbound” wrapped her like a lover, caressing the wounds of her soul. When she couldn’t face the world, when she’d rather hide, music was the friend she turned to for everything she never received from those she loved. It didn’t judge her. It provided solace. Her balm of Gilead in 2/4 tempo. It bled for her. It cried for her. It raged for her. It soothed her.
On nights like tonight, when she couldn’t sleep, she would play her music and drink her drink until she faded away into her world of dreams. Most of the time she woke not remembering those dreams. Sometimes she would wake screaming, images of a night long ago when her innocence was wrested away clawing into her psyche. Those were the nights when she wished she never had to sleep again. When sleep was her enemy and dreams her prison camp. Fear and shame were never far from her, and at times she wondered as she stepped out on the streets in daylight, if people could guess the dark secret she carried inside.
Tonight she was simply restless. An undefined energy kept her awake. The twins, Derek and Tristan, were asleep in their crib. She had only her cat and her drinks to keep her company. Eyeing the bottle of Jameson, she contemplated a refill when a panicked cry made her jump. Every hair stood on end as her stomach clenched. She raced to the nursery and stopped in the door frame, dumbstruck. A dark figure stood over the crib, casting shadows on her two sons. Tristan smiled while the stranger traced half-moons with his finger across the boy’s forehead. Derek lay beside his brother and cried.
“Get the fuck away from my kids,” Moira said through clenched teeth. Her lips pressed together; her nostrils flared.
The stranger turned slowly, eyes glittering in the dark. Moira sucked in her breath when she saw his face. He had jet black hair and pale blue eyes. His porcelain skin seemed to catch and reflect the moonlight pouring through the window. She was simultaneously repulsed by and attracted to the man. Something in the way he looked at her made him seem inhuman–he couldn’t be. The word vampire floated through her consciousness as if he put it there. But it was ridiculous. This was real life, not some horror movie. And here was a stranger with his hands on her child. She glanced around the room and looked for a weapon. She wondered how long it would take her to reach the ceramic lamp on the nightstand just inside the room.
“I wouldn’t bother if I were you. About as useless as tits on a bull.”
The man grinned. VAMPIRE. With each syllable he spoke, the word rattled inside her brain. Her body, electrified with fight hormones, became tense and reactive. She leapt toward the lamp, but before she could make it half-way the stranger was standing in front of her.
“Amn’t I here for you, lass? Can’t you feel it to be true? And here I am after speaking sweet nothings to your páistí. You plan to throw a lamp at me? Think it’ll stop me, do ya?”
Moira tried to sound brave.
“I don’t give a fuck who you came for. You need to leave.”
She needed to control the situation. To protect her children. Her brain dropped into survival mode. She slowed down, looking for solutions, weighing all possible alternatives. The lamp, a heavy book, even her own fingernails–anything she could use to attack.
A slow, rapacious smile passed over his mouth. The hint of a sharp canine disappeared as his lips closed. He glided toward her and brushed red ringlets of hair from her face. His touch was like ice, sending shivers through her body.
“Get your hands off me, you fucker!” Moira yelled.
She pushed his hand from her face. Raising her fists to her chin, she assumed a fighting stance. The man laughed.
“Got a bit a spice in ya. But don’t be baring your teeth if you can’t bite.”
He grabbed her wrists as she screamed and kicked, aiming for his shins, wriggling to get away. Her boys, mirror images, bounced up and down as they hung onto the crib bars, tears coursing down their cheeks. They wailed.
Moira looked at them and tried to yank free, but the stranger’s grip was preternaturally strong.
“Bígí ciúin,” the stranger said, his voice cold.
She stopped. Her breath was ragged, her forehead sweaty. The stranger was calm, barely seeming to breathe at all. Derek and Tristan stood in silence, wide eyed and panting, and watched their mother.
Moira realized this man was controlling her, controlling her sons. She wanted to rail against him, to hit him, to bite him, but all she could do was stand silent, unmoving. He loosened his grip and held both her hands. She glanced at her sons in the crib. Their little faces were red. Derek’s hand covered Tristan’s. Tristan’s other fist was raised in the air, pumping, open and close, open and close, gesturing for his mother. As she watched them, she breathed in and exhaled slowly.
Her muscles relaxed.
“What do you want from me? And how do you know who we are?”
“And haven’t I been watching you since you were a child? You were a special baby, born for a special time.”
The stranger began tracing lines down her arm, caressing her with the back of his hand. She was frightened and repulsed, but curious, as she saw genuine affection flicker in his eyes.
“And don’t you know how special you are, Moira? You come from a long line of witches. It skipped a few generations, true, but I knew it was you. You carried the mark.”
He traced an invisible line from her collarbone to the back of her neck and circled the strawberry birthmark that blossomed there.
“I knew you were the one. Your mother and grandmother were utterly normal. But not you, Moira. You’re special.”
Moira blinked, wondering if the stranger was insane. Witches? Special? Mark?
“No, I’m not crazy, Moira. And you are most definitely a witch. And although you haven’t realized your full powers yet, I know for certain you’ve used them.”
Moira wondered if she would wake up and realize she’d had too much Jameson the night before. She listened to his words, his voice soothing. A very slight Irish lilt hid beneath the timbre of his voice. Rhythmic. Enchanting. Memories, like flashes of old movies, flickered through her mind. She recalled the family friend. The one who hurt her. His body mangled. She blinked and focused on the stranger.
“You’re not plastered either, I assure you. No, I’ve been watching you since birth. I’ve been following your family for thousands of years, waiting for the one to fulfill the prophecy. That one is you, Moira. And tonight, I’m going to help you fulfill it.”
Moira glanced past him toward the window. The full moon shone through the sheer curtains. She looked back at the stranger.
He pulled her close and lowered his mouth to her neck. She saw the twins behind him. They too were entranced, watching the stranger hold their mother. They had stopped crying and were breathing in unison as they stared at their mother. She glanced towards the sheers fluttering in the breeze. A crow settled on the window pane, observing, silent.
The stranger breathed in her scent, savoring it. “Moira,” he whispered. She could feel his breath on her shoulder as he spoke her name.
“If you’re a vampire, don’t I have to invite you in?”
“Moira, Moira, Moira.” The stranger made a tsking noise. “And don’t they only tell you that in fairy tales to make you feel safe at night? And vampire doesn’t quite define all that I am.”
He kissed her shoulder and moved his mouth slowly up to her ear, stroking her hair. Confusion swirled through her. She was lost in his scent and touch.
He bit into her neck and began to suck the blood from her vein. The longer he drank, the more Moira wanted him to drink. She grew weaker with every sip he took, yet she yearned for him to consume her. Her body craved his. She arched her back, pressed into him, and moaned. For a brief moment, she forgot about Derek and Tristan. She forgot her Jameson. She forgot about her nightmares and her shame and her guilt. She wanted him! She loved him!
The stranger drank until she was nearly lifeless. Her skin was clammy and pearlescent white. He watched her, as he held her in his arms. Her beauty struck him. The waxy pallor of death colored her cheeks. The perfection of her lips, her eyelashes, her high cheekbones–she was exquisite.
He bit his own wrist, drawing blood, and placed it over her mouth.
“Come on, Moira. Drink the drink of everlasting life. Partake of my blood and become mine in eternity.”
She tasted the saltiness of his blood on her tongue. Her mouth watered yet she felt too weak to move.
“You can do it. Taste it. Moira. Taste and see it is good!”
Moira opened her eyes, and looked at him. She sucked on his wrist, the blood filling her mouth. Her veins alternated ice and fire. With each drink, she became stronger. She drank harder, panting, wanting nothing more than to take him the way he had taken her.
After many minutes, he pushed her away. He breathed heavily through half-parted lips, as impassioned and aroused as she.
“It’s time to sleep now. Oiche mhaith, mo chara.” He tapped her lightly on the head, and she slumped over, unconscious.
He placed her gently in the rocking chair beside the crib. Stroking her hair, he hummed to her softly. The crow cawed, flapped its wings, and flew back into the night. The stranger kissed each little boy on the head, and leapt through the window. Derek looked at his mother and began to cry.