Inspired by my friendly cashier at the Whole Foods yesterday. Oh, and it's pronounced "CLAYlee-ah"

As Josef finished dressing in the Victorian style that he had not worn in much more than a century, he felt sure that if he had to attend just one more "themed" charity event this year… he would not make it through this year. This was Los Angeles, home of blockbuster movies and landmark television series. Yet, none of the creative genius that teemed around them seemed to rub off on the vacuous organizers of charity events. "An Evening in Victoria's London", indeed. He'd seen Victoria's London, and he doubted very much they'd recreate it here in California, two thousand nine.

Lately, he had worn platform shoes and unnaturally shiny polyester shirts for the "Disco Ball" held to benefit the South Central Re-entry program. Been a surfer dude at the "Island Breeze" fundraiser to save the whales or whatever sea creature that had been about. He had even thought the irony might amuse him when he'd appeared as Dracula at the "Halloween in May" gala that supported a blood drive for Doctors Without Borders. Nothing about that night had amused him, but that was solely his fault. If he'd paid any attention at all to the invitation, he would definitely have sent his most gracious apologies for being unable to attend. Not only had the high, starched collar brutally chafed his neck, but the bevy of society matrons urging "Dracula" to bite them, combined with the scent of fresh blood from the donations being taken right there in the ballroom, had tested his will nearly beyond his time-honed capacity.

Although it had provided hours of pleasurable fantasies, once the utter frustration had worn off.

And now he was costumed in his own, hundred-fifty year old tuxedo, diamond shirt studs and cufflinks sparkling as impressively as they had so long ago. While he admired the dashing figure that stared back at him in the mirror, he sighed, knowing none of the attendees would appreciate just how authentic his costume was. Fine fabric, finely tailored. Oh well. He could only hope that one of the agreeable, well-kept ladies in attendance would be as authentic in her costume. There was nothing like slowly untying a woman from the restraints of her corset. Or shredding her out of it, for that matter.

He surveyed the crowd as he entered the ballroom; air kissing the familiar faces of the women he saw at every one of these affairs, and shaking with feigned enthusiasm the hands of the men who accompanied them. Some were business associates, and these he greeted as attentively as their places in his sphere called for. Others were introduced to him, and he paid hardly a mote of attention to the names attached to the faces he barely noticed. He would sail directly to the bar, drink the best champagne they offered, and slip out after an hour, unnoticed. If he could survive the assault on his optic nerves that the potted palms and heavy, gaudy table coverings provided.

Luckily, whoever was behind this monstrosity had thoughtfully chosen an acceptable vintage, as well as some very fine whiskey, and he enthusiastically availed himself of both. Leaning against the bar, ignoring the chattering of Mrs. Someone or Other who seemed to think she had something of import to say to him, he was struck by the sight of a lone woman sitting at a table by the French doors, nearly hidden by the ubiquitous potted palms. While her face was hidden by the curtain of glossy black silk that was her hair, the lift of her breasts beneath the sheer bodice of her dark blue gown told him she had bothered to dress authentically right to her skin. Excusing himself from the twittering woman moving ever closer to him at the bar, he wound through the crowd until he reached the mystery woman.

He stood silently beside the small table, awaiting her acknowledgement of his presence. When it came, he very nearly gasped aloud.

Hungry, obsidian eyes fringed by thick, dark lashes, and full, scarlet lips were set into a perfect oval of flawless, pale olive skin. A knowing smile played at the corner of her mouth as she asked if he might like to join her. He took the seat beside her, still staring speechlessly at her beautiful face. Italian, maybe Spanish, he thought, then realized he should probably say something.

"I'm Josef." Brilliant, Kostan. That should make quite an impression on this woman.

"Clelia," she answered, the rich tone of her voice caressing his ears and confirming Italian with the slight accent dancing in her vowels.

"A name as beautiful as the woman who bears it," he said, dipping his head to brush his lips against her offered hand. "You're parents chose wisely."

She laughed, her entire being brightening. "I have to admit that I have never heard that in all my years."

It was Josef's turn to laugh. She looked maybe thirty, and she was definitely not a vampire. "All of your, what, thirty years?"

Her eyes looked very old indeed as she answered, "Approximately." She drained the remaining champagne from her glass, and Josef motioned a passing waiter for more.

As the orchestra struck up a waltz, she asked, "Will you dance with me, Josef?"

He rose immediately, taking her hand as he answered, "It would be my pleasure."

She surprised him yet again when she stood. She was as tall as he was, and it was impossible for him to keep from imagining just how magnificent she would look without her gown, her corseted torso set atop a yard of legs. He settled his palm against the small of her back as he led her to the dance floor. Taking her hand, he settled his palm against the side of her narrow waist, and sensing that she wanted to continue the fantasy, he stood many inches from her, using the entire perimeter of the ballroom to dance the traditional waltz, as he would have in eighteen seventy-five. And while their bodies touched only at hands, waist and shoulder, the complete focus each had on the eyes of the other created a bond as strong as any physical contact could.

Their bodies rose and fell wordlessly as they whirled about the dance floor, and Josef felt the electricity between them, penetrating his palm and his shoulder, where her hand lay. It teased at the perimeter of his senses, alternately toying with his brain, then forcing him back to reality as he tried vainly to control his physical reaction to her.

As the song ended, wild applause broke out, and a blush crossed Clelia's face as Josef shyly dipped his head. He meant to lead her back to the quiet table, but she stopped him before they neared it. Gazing into his eyes, she said, "I think we are past conversation, don't you agree?"

He nodded, a silent "Thank you, God" passing through his lust-addled mind. "I'll call for my car."

Her wrap and purse in hand, they waited while Robert brought the limousine around. Josef had chosen the vintage Silver Cloud as befitting the evening, and he was thoroughly satisfied with himself when Clelia ran an appreciative hand across the polished rosewood trim inside. "Beautiful," she commented, smiling into his eyes.

"It pales by comparison." Knowing the car would not move until he commanded a location, he turned to her.

"My hotel is nearby, and quite comfortable. I appreciate the elegance of the Beverly Wilshire."

"Your pleasure is, happily, my responsibility tonight. Robert, the Beverly Wilshire, please," he said as he closed the privacy window, settling beside her for the short drive.

"Tell me honestly, Josef, why were you drawn to me this evening?" Clelia asked as she opened the door to the traditional, elegantly appointed penthouse suite.

He smiled cautiously, hoping honesty really was the best policy in this case. "Initially, it was the promise of a corset beneath your very beautiful gown."

With devilish eyes, she ran her hand through his hair, trailing demurely manicured nails down his cheek and tenderly across his lips. "An honest man. Excellent. And then?"

"You're an old soul, Clelia. You have completely enchanted me."

Another laugh, her breath whispering the promise of ecstasy against his lips. "Older than you imagine, Josef. I am much older than you are, my dear."

Her words should have surprised him, but rather coaxed a further truth. "I know how I have lived four hundred years. I am a vampire. But you…"

"I am immortal, born in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred ten in Bologna. I cannot explain it, though I was forced to flee my home fifteen years later when my mother was executed as a witch." Six hundred years later, a flicker of sadness still crossed her eyes. "Enough, and unimportant. We have this night, Josef. Shall we waste it with conversation?"

If conversation was what it took to wash that sadness from her soul, Josef would talk to her until eternity ended. Though perhaps, as was his wont, she sought the temporary solace of passion. Temporary was his forte. If she would share only tonight, he would call upon all four centuries of his experience to bring her pleasure.

She touched her lips briefly to his. "I hate shirt studs, though yours are particularly flawless."

"I'll have them set into a necklace for you."

She waved her hand in dismissal. "You are too handsome in them. They simply always caused my fingers to fumble. And I do not wish to fumble at you now, Josef." The tiniest gasp of astonishment escaped from her parted lips as he removed jacket, tie, studs, and cufflinks before she drew her next breath. He gazed almost shyly at the floor, embarrassed at his haste. "I hope you do not intend our time together to pass so quickly," she chided.

"On the contrary." He moved behind her, carefully lifting her hair to one side. His lips tenderly met her neck, just above the collar of her dress. "I intend to savor each of your pores individually."

The fingers of Josef's right hand slowly, deftly released each tiny button from its anchoring hole, his mouth reveling in every half-inch of skin as he exposed it, while with his left hand he skimmed his fingers across the soft cloth of her dress, never straying lower than his lips on her back. Her quickening heartbeat, the sound of her blood pounding through her veins spurred his lust, and it took the entire force of his will not to move faster, to turn her to him, capture her lips, to bury himself inside her.

When his fingers caressed the underside of her breast, adoring its weight in his palm, his name became an urgent whisper on her lips. "Josef, please, hurry."

The game had grown too frustrating, and he opened the remaining buttons with the same alacrity he had used to remove his own constraints. Moving his hands to the hem of her dress, he pulled it up and over her head, his eyes held by the sight of her long dark hair cascading over the pale skin of her back, drawing his eyes to her firm, pear-shaped bottom. Before he could decide how to worship it, she turned to face him, pressing her mouth to his as she tore at his shirt, pulled at her lingerie, wild in her desire to feel his skin against hers. "Clelia," he whispered, moving his mouth to tease at her ear, "Leave this to me."

Clelia, he thought as he moved only far enough away from her to use his speed to remove his remaining clothing. Her name melted through his head, oozing into his blood, infusing every cell in his body. One hand behind her back to steady her, he tore the silken lingerie from her, tossing it across the room in his haste.

While her hands reached to touch him, to grasp him to her burning flesh, he knew that he could be satisfied forever merely staring at her perfection. Full, firm breasts trembled sensuously above the slimmest of waists, accentuating the flare of her hips, the slight, taut roundness of her stomach. He dropped his eyes to the floor, and drank in the glory of her legs, slender ankles swelling into shapely calves, receding to delicate knees and firm, perfect thighs, curved, he was certain, to perfectly accommodate his hips between them. Yet perfect as she was, her most beautiful asset lay at the top of those thighs, pale mound surrounding just a peek of swelling, shining moist inner lips, her scent promising the taste of ripe peaches, bursting nectar, aching to be savored.

He could bear his desire no longer. Sweeping her into his arms, he carried her to the bedroom, his mouth drawn to any skin he could taste, her shoulder, the arm that wrapped around his neck, her lips as he raised her closer to him. Lifting her, turning her so her slick lips bathed his straining erection as he laid her on the bed and settled atop her.

He did not move, could not move, but only stared into those ancient eyes, drowning in her hunger. "Taste me, Josef."

Her words drew him back to the moment. Smiling down at her, he dipped his head, teasing his teeth against her jugular, working his way to the base of her throat, where he did stop long enough to make a tiny puncture, take just a small sip of blood that overwhelmed him.

She tasted like paradise, and he was lost in her.

He moved slowly across her breasts, attending each one until she pleaded for release, interspersing his tender manipulations with firm, sensual bites that drew her blood to mingle with his own. Mesmerized by the sight of her tender skin healing before his eyes, the marks on her upper body disappearing before his mouth reached the curve of her hips. She never stopped touching him, anywhere she could reach with hands, or legs, or lips, and each aching spot became an erogenous zone of which he was previously unaware.

"Josef, Josef," she repeated his name as her hands pulled at his hair when her body spasmed its release as his mouth explored her inner thigh. His cheek wet with her juices, he turned his head to draw from their source, his tongue lapping the nectar that flowed from her center as his hands kneaded her behind. Aware that she was calling to him, pleading for his kiss on her lips, whimpering her desire for his penetration of her, now, even as her body thrashed against the bed in the throes of another orgasm, still, he could not respond as she wished.

Until she forced him, closing her thighs like a vise around his head, drowning him in her pleasure, tearing at his shoulders, pulling at his hair, urging him inside her. Moving quickly, he positioned himself above her, lowering his face just close enough to kiss her, she surged toward him, licking her essence from his face, capturing him in a kiss that alone threatened to carry him to his release. Slowly, he slid into her pulsating center, his head filled with his name, carried on her voice until he had filled her completely.

As if they had been together forever, her rhythm synchronized immediately to his, building until they moved as one, and when he felt her clench tightly around him, he could control himself no longer. He rose high above her, and plunged one final time, holding her still, sinking his teeth into her neck to drink her blood as he had her body. Not alone, joined, together, he felt his soul rising, rising, until he lost consciousness…

Weeks passed, yet still he was changed, all his sadness, four hundred years of loneliness and pain, erased. He would never be certain if it was her immortal blood, or the woman herself. Clelia.

This comes to you both unbeta-ed and unbidden. If it's truly awful, I apologize. It won't happen again.