Ambrus travels in space and time, a mature and confident vampire, not looking for any permanent companion.
Then in the bloody trenches of WWI, he meets Edward, a beautiful young soldier turned vampire against his will and fighting his fate with bitter anger and resentment. Ambrus is irresistibly drawn to him but Edward rejects him at first.
What then follows is an anguished and erotic courtship throughout the century, as Ambrus seeks to help Edward find his own way to peace as an immortal, and Edward learns what real love – and a real lover – is.
© Clare London
“Are you a Jerry? You bastard, creeping up on me. Filthy, sodding coward!” He spat the words at me and I saw him glance swiftly at the ground either side of him, looking for a serviceable weapon. Unable to find anything, he glared back at me, confusion tangled in with his fear. “You don’t dress like one.” He frowned. “Where’s your rifle? You don’t dress right at all.”
His accent was coarse, his fright making him clumsy with speech. I concentrated more carefully, strengthening my image, making sure he would notice the points of similarity between us and not the anomalies. “I am not your enemy.”
His face went pale under the dirt. “You’re not my friend, neither. I’m not a fucking idiot, you know.”
I nodded. “You are far from that. I can help you, too–”
“Piss off!” He scrambled to his feet, panting. “It was you! Was it you?” He struggled to stay upright, his legs weak. “Damn you, damn you, make it stop…” The breath he sucked in didn’t seem enough for him–his chest dipped up and down, the movements desperate and shallow. His pupils were dilated, I could see that very clearly as he stared at me. He was alert, but barely coherent. Barely there.
“It wasn’t me.” I stared back at him, my gaze fierce, determined that he should understand that, if nothing else. It mattered to me–strangely, suddenly–that he should know I cared. “Calm down, or things will feel even worse. I was not the one who did this to you.”
He shook his head, rocking on his heels. His hands fisted then opened again, the palms lifted toward me, the gesture pitiful. “Look at me! Look at you.” He peered at me, searching my face, my form, his expression becoming even more confused. There were tears in his eyes, now. “Fucking cowards…What are you? You are…you’re not…”
It was pitiful, both to see and hear him in this transitory state. I had no idea who might have passed through here before me, but this job had been ill done, and someone should pay for that. “It does not matter what I am. Do you remember who did this? Do you remember him?”
The young soldier flushed and I knew I had been correct in my assumption that it was a man. “No. Yes. He was…He came in the night, when I was caught under fire, over by the ridge. It was dark. He didn’t listen to me…touched me.” He frowned, anguished at the memory of what would have been his utter helplessness. “I can’t remember his name or how he looked. I tried not to want it…But then I did. I wasn’t fucking scared, you know? No one’s ever going to say I was scared.” His eyes rolled up in his head and I thought he would pass out, but his gaze came back to me, steady again. His pupils glittered with a new slyness. “You know, don’t you? Tell me. What’s happened to me?”
I took a step forward. I wanted to touch him and draw him far closer than was necessary, compared to the other men I took. The stark ferocity of my desire shocked me. How long had it been since I felt that way? It led to vulnerability and pain, I knew that too well. And what was I thinking I’d gain? He was a beautiful young man but he was unregulated and out of control here. I ran my eyes up and down his body. I didn’t mistake the gentle swell of cock beneath the coarse fabric of his uniform. Blood pumped faster in my veins.
“You are responding to me, it’s natural you should. It can feel good–it will feel good. Believe me.” I lifted my arms up slightly from my sides, displaying myself. “Do you want me?” With more concentration, I showed myself to him, shifting the image, making him realise what I was offering. Ecstasy; passion; the best of its kind. The gentle tang of arousal lifted from him like morning dew. Excitement rose in me, thick and thrilling. Yes, he would be willing. I would welcome his body, and I would create joy in return that he couldn’t possibly imagine. I could raise light in this unholy darkness; I could deafen him to the distant gunfire; I could overwhelm the stench of rot in his nostrils with the thick, rich aroma of something that would give him life, not death…
When he laughed, it startled me. It was a harsh, unhappy sound, and a response I hadn’t expected. “You’re fucking mad, mate.” He glared at me. “You want to get me shot?”
“No,” I said quietly. “But that’s what you want, isn’t it?”
He grimaced. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Whatever is in you, it’s new and it hurts,” I continued. I took another step toward him. “It disgusts. It terrifies. It has been growing inside you like a parasite. And it demands things of you. Up until now, you haven’t thought of any way to escape it, except to die.” I glanced at the body at his feet. Its head was thrown back, the pale neck exposed. There was a single trail of liquid running from under the jaw–in the dim light, it showed black against the marble-like white of a corpse’s skin, glinting against the dull husk of lifeless flesh. “You wish you had been hit instead of him.”
His eyes went wide, the whites gleaming around the irises. “How the hell do you know that?”
I shrugged. He would understand his inherited abilities, one day soon. “You can come with me, if you want. I will ease it for you. I will show you what pleasure you can find, what compensation there can be.” I was only a foot away from him and I could smell the sweat on him: see it glinting in the hollow of his throat where he’d opened the top button of his jacket. He was fresh–aching. Truly gorgeous. When I reached out and touched his face, he didn’t pull away but he flinched. “I don’t offer to everyone,” I murmured, piqued. It had been a long time since I’d been resisted, yet an even longer time since I’d been interested enough in a man to offer him companionship. Sex was far easier; far less intimate. The young soldier’s gaze was fixed on my face and I could hear his heart beating very fast. A beautiful, sincere, passionate heart, but now darkened beyond rescue. When the lights flared briefly on the horizon behind him, they lit a corona around his head–a momentary, mocking halo. “You want me,” I persisted. My tone held a plea, something I hadn’t utilized for many ages. “You want to be with me. It will be glorious.”
“Yes, I know,” he whispered, his eyes closing. When I ran my fingers along his top lip, he shuddered. I slipped my thumb into his mouth and let him suck at the stray drop of thick, viscous blood I had wiped from his own mouth. He had been clumsy with the fresh corpse; too greedy with his victim. New travellers so often were. Desperation and disgust, I could feel them both in the beat of his pulse. I would teach him how he should deal with his new life.
“But I won’t go with you,” he said, so softly that I had to lean over to hear.