A/N- This story follows "The Darkest Hour" and you won't have a clue unless you've read that story first, plus it will spoil that story for you if you read this one first.

Your mandatory musical accompaniment is, of course, Enigma's Gravity of Love. If read briskly, you'll have it timed just right for maximum effect.

The Gravity of Love

Buenos Aires, December 13, 2020

I applied the topcoat to the last nail and blew on it. The pale pink was one I would have worn even a year ago. But not now, given my mindset. Not unless for a ruse.

Once my nails were dry, I put on a small amount of makeup. Just mascara, lipgloss and a bit of blush. Then I looked at the things spread out on my bed. My notebooks, the pink messenger bag with the canister already inside. I looked at the oversized pencil case, the sharpener, the pencils. I glanced over at my pink tank top, the lacy bra, the dark blue jeans with their flared leg cut. The pretty pink flip-flops with the tiny daisy printed at the thong point. All so innocuous looking.

I reached over and picked it up. The smooth ash rod, with its silver flake core and sharp point, felt impossibly light. Traces of runes sunk into the smooth wood swirled around the surface. It sizzled in my hands with a magic that I could actually smell. Perhaps it was just because I knew it was there. I'd worn it in my hair around several vampires in Paris and no one noticed, not even Eduard Delatour, who had been barely able to comprehend that there was a person on his balcony, let alone remember who I was. His security was so piss poor, as Cadel would say. Well, perhaps it was undetectable. Even a vampire 1750 years old seemed unable to sense its magic. It looked almost like an oversized pencil, like one of those tourist items.

I put down the stake and turned the pages of my notebook, with all the color-coding, the notes in the margins, the photos, such as were available. They were masterpieces, my notebooks. The other one was devoted in general to vampires of the pre-Christian era, their history and briefly listing their offspring. This one, though, was the important one. I slowly paged through until I came to Eric Northman, the only photo I had of him. It was a candid shot that Bill had taken for the database back in the Fangtasia days. Following Eric was Andor, then Gunnar, then another vampire who was lost in my investigations named Hjalmar, then Feargus. About fifteen more men turned and then Cadel, then one more and then Stefan. Poor Stefan. And since then, so many it was hard to keep track. Forty-seven in all I had found going back to 76 BC, his first reported turn. I flipped back to look at Stefan's face, then back to Cadel's, Andor's and then finally left it open on Eric's.

I stood up, bent over and brushed my hair into a high ponytail. I dropped the towel and got into my underwear, then slipped on the jeans. I pulled the pink tank top on and adjusted it so that the black lace of the bra was just slightly evident. I put the gold Assyrian-style ram's head earrings in my ears.

I sat back down and flipped through the notes in the other notebook. Ocella the triarius, turned approximately 207 BC in Hispania, by an Egyptian vampire, after falling in battle, or so he had stated fifteen years before. He had been left to die an agonizing death, with a hasta jammed into his diaphragm. Travels and travails throughout Europe, especially Northern Europe. Shadowing the Romans in Britain in the early AD 40's. Shifting farther north, into Scandinavia by 400 AD. Winters in Scandinavia, summers in Gaul or at least in Britain so there would be just enough night to feed. Eric turned around 950 AD near Løgrinn, Lake Mälaren, Andor ten years thereafter in Stavanger, Cadel in 1657 in Cardiff, and Stefan in 1720 in Uppsala. Some of the info was from Bill's footnotes. But I had elaborated it on it considerably and would send them home if things went as planned. It was their history, after all.

I glanced back at the photo of Eric and swept my fingers across the page, touching the faint tracing of the caption I'd written below the photo. "When a person dies, one does not stop loving him, does one?"

I finished off the fifth bottle and closed my eyes. I could hear them making love in the room next door again. I put my earphones on and listened to The Screen Behind the Mirror. I opened the straight razor I'd bought in the shop in the shady neighborhood down the road and scored into my forearm, hissing quietly as I did so. I carved runes and Eric's name, which always soothed me. I watched the skin bleed and reseal with each stroke of the blade. Then I packed up everything, and checked the trigger for the slender gas canister once again, making sure it couldn't release by mistake until I'd set it in the flat. I sat waiting. I looked at the clock and watched the minutes tick by, simply waiting. Finally, at 10:40 pm, it was time. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a simple graduate student. If I still believed in a God, and if that God did not despise me for being dead, I was his avenging angel of darkness, garbed in pink and flowers. I slipped the wedding ring off my left hand and placed it on my right ring finger. I glanced back at the room and then departed.

At 11 pm sharp, just as agreed, I knocked on the door and he opened it. I flashed my best Southern belle smile. About 5' 10" tall, with short cropped dark hair, glittering dark brown eyes and the dry tan skin of his last human days, he gave off a blast of power that could have knocked me over if I let it.

"Mr. Santangelo, how are you this evening? I'm so glad to spend more time talking to you. Bill Compton is just gonna be thrilled with me and with the wonderful information you're sharing..."

He glanced at me from head to toe with an appraising look, and listened closely to hear if there was anyone nearby with me. After a moment's reflection he opened the door a bit wider and motioned to me to enter.

"You may enter."

Without hesitation, I stepped inside.