Okay, thanks to flattering response and requests, especially from Silvanelf, I caved and decided to make this a two-shot. It's the least I could do, but there won't be a part 3, this is definitely it. I hope this does justice to everyone's expectations, but please don't ask for more.
No Refunds, No Exchanges-Part 2
It's been a year since I took the plunge and signed on for immortality. It's funny that you have to die to be able to keep going forever. It was definitely the gamble of a lifetime, but I'm a lawyer. I'm used to pressure, to making decisions that can make or break you. In law school, you and eat and drink pressure. What can I say? It builds character, or at least that's what you tell yourself.
You can't have it all, no matter what women in the 80's told you. You can eat your cake, but you have to suck it up and deal with the extra calories or the extra time in the gym. Or you have to just stare at it, and torture yourself. It's all about the trade-off; it all comes down to choices. Unlife's like that too. Sooner or later, you have to choose the calories or the torture.
Choosing to be a vampire wasn't a decision I made lightly. I mean, it's not exactly like coloring your hair, right? Sure, on paper, being a vampire looks like a sweet deal, and trust me, it has its perks. There's the whole no aging, quick healing, super strength, and extra agility and stamina that makes your Friday nights a lot more fun than they already were. And I thought I was having a good time before. Oh, and the advanced senses, I've been making good use out of those in court. I can always tell if opposing counselor is bluffing or not, it drives them crazy. But you can't shatter the rules of nature and not have a price attached. Oh, and trust me, it's a bitch.
After that, your life (and I use the term relatively) is a series of lies and paranoia that can drive you nuts if you don't get prospective. Love pizza? Ice cream? Chips? Forget it; you're on a liquid diet now. Don't get me wrong, there's a world of variety in the blood menu, A positive versus B positive, chilled versus heated, etc. And I like the taste, learned to crave it, but nothing can match the bliss of ice cream. Oh, and your family? They're history, liabilities to your secrecy, and you're a liability to their life span. Sure, you might not hurt them, but enemies of your lover (and trust me, mine's got enough to go around) can take care of that for you. So, wave goodbye to everyone you ever loved. Yeah, that was the toughie that almost changed my mind.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to whine, I knew what I was buying. If I couldn't handle the heat, I knew the exit to the kitchen. I'm not Sara Whitley that dreamed of living happily ever after with her prince and ended up being the heroine of a twisted fairy tale. (Sleeping Beauty never was one of my favorites. I'm more of a Beauty and the Beast kind of gal.) I'm a big girl, and trust me, I've been around. I was a member to a highly exclusive club, remember?
If you'd told me a year ago that I would have wanted to be turned; I would have laughed you out of the room. It seemed way too intense, way too much of a commitment. But when push came to shove, I made my choice, chose one set of trade-offs over the other.
Was it about him? Was it about love? Sure, up to a strong point. Maybe that takes women's lib back to the 50's, but at the end of the day, girl power and your six figure career isn't what keeps you satisfied, not in the long run. And no, I'm not talking about satisfaction between the sheets, although I've never had it better in that department. What I'm talking about is feeling complete. As corny as it sounds, Josef makes me feel like I'm whole after years of emptiness. I never knew what I was missing, but I'm definitely getting a clue.
But not to blow my status as an emerging romantic, it wasn't all about Josef. I wanted to live forever; I wanted that freedom, that strength. Isn't there a little bit of darkness in all of us, whispering to just give into the siren's song? Sure, a lot can resist because for them, the payoff's not big enough, and most don't get an invite to begin with. Josef, as a rule, doesn't turn freshies. Hell, since Sara, he hasn't turned anybody. I can't really blame him, trauma's never pretty.
Does he love me? Probably not. I know he loves her. It doesn't bother me. Come on, I'm a former freshie, if I had a jealous nature; I wouldn't have stayed in business for long. To be intimate with Josef is to share him. And really, not to be a bitch or anything, but which one of us is lying in a coma and which one has Josef? What's to be jealous of? And anyway, it's a lot easier to love a memory than your girlfriend. A memory get's glossed over, romanticized, blown out of proportion. A memory can't disappoint you, can't argue with you, can't take up time and work. I don't take it personally.
If Sara Whitley were to wake up, it wouldn't work. He's not Charles Fitzgerald anymore, if he ever really was. Maybe that was just a fantasy, who knows? How would I know for sure? My mother wasn't even born yet, and my dad was still peeing in diapers. What I do know is that there's way too much water under the bridge. I'm under his skin, in his blood now. I'm both lover and creation, partner and companion. He might not love me, but he needs me, he's addicted. Sara couldn't accept anything that complicated, that dirty.
I doubt we'll ever find out. If she's been out this long, she's probably not coming back anytime soon. That doesn't make me happy, believe it or not. She was a good person, she didn't deserve the cards she got dealt, and I don't get any delight out of what she's going through. But life's not fair, and there's no guarantees.
Take me for example. In ten years, this arrangement might get old for Josef, the addiction and need fading. He might send me packing with a tasteful parting gift and a pat on the butt, and that'd be that. Trust me; I took that into account when I made my decision. You think I've never been dumped before? You think I've never dumped someone before? I'm a big girl; I know how the game's played.
I may love Josef, but I know I can unlive without him. It'll hurt, maybe even scar, but I can handle that, if I have to. I'm not going to focus on tomorrow, I'm going to ride out today, take it for all it's worth. Why would I want to spoil it?
For right now, I don't think he's going anywhere. He invited me to move in, I accepted, and we're sharing his cool chamber. The room is a work of art, beauty and relaxation in a sub-zero environment. Well, Josef isn't exactly one to rough it is, is he? I wonder how he got along before modern technology took the world over. I seriously doubt he could ever go back. Plus, he's too used to modern hygiene. If he went back in time, I mean far back, all it would take is one whiff of somebody ripe after months of skipping baths, and he'd be waving down the first time machine he could find.
As much of a pain in the ass as he is, he can be outrageously generous. I definitely put up limits on what I'll accept and what I won't. Josef is too comfortable with just throwing money at women, and getting to treat them like possessions he picked up at an auction. Not that you can really feel sorry for them, they made the choice to have a price tag, they knew what they were selling. But this girl isn't for sale, and she won't ever be. I'm a girlfriend, not a toy. Not that I'm opposed to being played with, but that's another subject. The point is, I'll accept gifts from Josef, but I won't accept bribes. And at the end of the day, I don't want his money, I don't want his influence to open doors for me, I just want him.
I can buy my own cars, I can kick open my own doors, and I can pay my own bills. If you don't set limits with Josef, he'll go crazy and start handling your life, and unequal relationships never last long. Sure, the fact he's the big bad sire and I'm the fledgling can add the dominant element in his favor, but I'm a girl who knows how to even the odds.
The first few months were tough; I'm not going to lie. It took me a while to get used to sound, light, even the more basic smells. But the bloodlust, oh, my God, it was bad. I've never felt hunger that like that. It feels like you're the one being eaten alive, and when it comes on strong, you can't even think, just react. Let's just say Josef gave me three months off work. I think he was afraid I'd turn the courthouse into a feeding frenzy.
Josef was the ideal sire. Sure, he's pushy and downright ruthless, but he's got this way of reading you, and knowing what you need, what you can handle. He was with me every step of the way, and if I hadn't loved him already, I would have fallen hard for him after all that.
On the plus side, I don't have to go it alone. I've got Beth as a shoulder to lean on, a sympathetic ear to listen. In return, she get's a heads-up on what she'll be dealing with if she ever takes the plunge. She's still in the 'mortal coil' as Josef often puts it, but she's only 28 at this point. There's no big rush, not yet. She calls Mick an 'anti-vampire's vampire' but I think Mick's got more of a dark side than Beth gives him credit for. Oh, don't get me wrong, Mick's a sweetheart, and that's no piece of acting. But from some of the stories Josef tells me, Mick knows how to have a good time. I'm sure Beth's starting to catch on.
I'm not going to push her one way or the other. Maybe the trade-off won't be enough for her, and I don't need that kind of guilt for the rest of eternity if unlife isn't for her. Only she can make that decision.
As for me, I have no regrets. Sure, I have had these moments when I second-guess myself, but that's normal. I'd question my sanity if I didn't. But if I could go back, I'd make the same choice.
I'm looking forward to the dance with eternity. It's been a rush so far, there's no question.