I've always wanted to write a vampire story, but was always at a loss on how exactly I wanted to write it. So, needless to say, I was rather excited when this idea came to me while I was at work. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed daydreaming about it.
Disclaimer: The story's all mine, but the characters aren't. The rest of the names are made up, and any resemblances to real live people and places is merely coincidental.
Chapter I: The Aroma
Something. Smelled. Wonderful.
With only one step taken into the house the scent teased his nose and tickled a want he had thought died ages ago. Every muscle in his body tensed, an ache in his neck began to form, and his gums burned. He needed to taste that scent; he needed to claim it. Briefly closing his eyes he nodded politely as the man next to him continued to talk.
"This house is not nearly as old as the ones you are used to, Mr. Himura, but I'm sure there will be plenty of aspects that you will find interesting all the same."
Franklin R. Jackson was the current president of the Jackson Estate, great-grandson to the man who had commissioned the old mansion to be built. He was a polite man, well-mannered, and did not simper which Kenshin appreciated. After spending the last week in New York touring houses and museums owned or ran by snobbish children that had no time to look at the person handing them their mocha lattes and laughing at statements that were not in the least humorous Kenshin was ready for home. But the house had been recommended by a friend, his plane wasn't scheduled to leave for a few days, and it was only a short drive to Massachusetts. It was worth it just to get away from that crowded city.
"All houses have their own history, and each is unique to that time. This is what interests me the most, Mr. Jackson."
Franklin Jackson inclined his head in acknowledgement before leading him into the main entrance hall. The ceiling spanned nearly thirty feet with graceful carvings of characters in wood and stone looking down upon them in greeting as they walked by. Tall lamps bracketed the doorways leading outward from the hall and lit the dark interior in shadowed mystery. With the sun now nearly set the house was a place of half-gloom and silent echoes. Much more attractive than the bustling, active, and crowded manses he had visited all week.
"I will apologize before hand, Mr. Himura, but since you are here at a time the house is normally closed there will be workers crossing our path. They have a job to keep up by cleaning our collection and making all that you will see presentable for our guests."
Kenshin waved one long-fingered hand, the low lamplight shining off his hardened nails almost elegantly. "It is no problem. The restoration and maintenance of antiquated goods has become my life. I enjoy seeing any original piece, whether furniture or grand tapestries, receive the treatment they are warranted."
The other smiled and Kenshin was surprised to find pride touch his features. "Then your timing could not have been more perfect. I do not wish to brag, but my employees are the best at their job, if only because they respect everything they touch."
The smell was getting stronger the further in they went, and Kenshin dug his nails desperately into the palm of his hand. Over three hundred years of dealing with the pull and never had it been this strong.
Letting none of his inner turmoil show Kenshin trailed along beside his host, and eyed with appreciation the well-thought out décor of each room. It was obvious the original owner had spared no expense in making the house into a work of art. From the wood lining the walls, the moldings covering the ceilings, the hand-tooled leather on the furniture, and the sheer grandiose of the dining hall with its multiple fireplaces and iron-wrought chandeliers it was easy to tell that it was a cherished home with a soul that happily sang praises of its maker.
There were many portraits hanging on the walls of the family. The men were rather stiff and stern in their appearance, but during that time it had been the style. The women were refined, poised, and graceful. A few of the paintings were halfway sad, and Kenshin wondered what about their life made their eyes seem so sorrowful. One, a full figure painting of a lady with one hand bracing her against a table, looked on the verge of laughter. It made him slightly envious.
The tall span of the windows were amazing, but with the age of the house they had to be for lighting purposes during the day. There were many balconies, even on the first floor, to allow some of the rooms to be opened to the outside. Since it was coming night everything was firmly shut and locked, barring the house from the surrounding world and safely enclosing all of its occupants from danger. A wonderful soul, indeed.
The muscles in his shoulders were now pulled so tight he was afraid to move, and as they stepped over the threshold into the magnificent library Kenshin came face-to-face with the origin of the intoxicating aroma now tugging at his teeth. At first his mind was so preoccupied with listening to his guide, taking in everything around him, and desperately trying to block the terrible want to seize and devour that his amber tinged irises were too dazed to focus. As his host left him to walk towards the ropes separating visitor from collection, however, and called a greeting to one of his employees, Kenshin was forced to recognize the source for what it was.
"Miss Kamiya, your rooms look sparkling as always."
Soft sapphire eyes rose from their examination of a gate-leg table. In her blue gloved hands was a small dry paint brush and a vacuum hose. She seemed to be in the middle of dusting out the intricate designs carved into the dark wood. Seeing her boss she smiled, a truly innocent and beautiful smile that showed pleasure at the small compliment.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Jackson. The house does seem to appreciate the pampering."
Kenshin blinked and some of the haze lifted as her words cut through his desire and spoke of a mind-set that peaked his interest. "What do you mean?"
Blue irises met his and he suddenly understood why her blood appealed to him. She was untainted, pure, without greed or any evil intentions towards those around her. It was something he had never tasted before, never himself felt, and something deeper than just his body craved it. As she started at his appearance and eyed him with wonder he also decided she was more than just innocent. The light dusting of a blush on her cheeks said it all.
It was not unwarranted for her to be so shocked by his looks, though. He had been born Japanese, and so his facial features were undeniably shaped to match. His body structure was slight, his accent noticeable, and he would have been completely normal had not one of his parents blessed him with hair as red as the blood he now survived on. It was long and supple, and he still had others that teased him for it.
It was probably only his hair that surprised her, he realized, as she herself was obviously of Japanese heritage as well. More than likely a third or possibly even fourth generation, however, as the color of her irises suggested she wasn't of pure nationality either.
"Miss Kamiya, I'm sure you have heard of Mr. Kenshin Himura." If possible her eyes widened even further. "He requested a tour of our lovely house. It seems he has friends that were impressed when they visited before and we were recommended."
"That's wonderful. I hope that you enjoy your visit, Mr. Himura." Hesitantly she bowed at the waist, and he was intrigued with her traditional response even as she had most likely been born and raised in America. So she had interpreted his birthright and reacted respectfully to it. For one so young she was unexpectedly courteous.
Taking in a controlled breath first as he was afraid his proximity would break his already slim restraint, Kenshin stepped closer to the ropes. "What you said earlier, Miss Kamiya, about the house. What did you mean?"
"Oh." The blush on her cheeks darkened in embarrassment. "Only that… I think it enjoys being cleaned. I am here five times a week cleaning different rooms in the house, and each day I see just how much my efforts are appreciated. Take this table, for example." One gloved hand touched the gleaming surface lightly. "I have only just dusted half of it and already it glows. As if it is happy I am paying it attention. Everyone else thinks it's just my imagination, but it truly seems as if it is smiling." Affectionately she eyed the side table next to her, a seemingly plain piece of furniture next to the more impressive couches and hand carved steps with curved iron work railings. "It's smiling because it is loved."
Next to him his host chuckled lightly, though it was not a condescending sound and Kenshin understood that words such as these were not uncommon from the mouth of this young human girl. She truly loved her work, and she could clearly see how she was loved back. A few moments of silence passed and she looked up to meet his gaze as he studied her. Suddenly her face closed defensively as she waited for a patronizing reply, and he felt a surge of anger at everyone who had ever disparaged the young lady.
"And I can see the difference, Miss Kamiya. Over the last week I have visited many open houses showing off their design and style, but not one of them has seemed this welcoming or, if I may, proud of itself. If the rooms you are responsible for are any of the ones I have already passed through then I commend you. This place is all the more beautiful for your care."
One hand was wrapped around the thick, velvet-covered ropes separating them to steady his resolve to stay away. Bowing slightly in a return gesture of her earlier actions that hand tightened in desperation. The scent she exuded abruptly doubled in strength under his praise and he was glad he had closed his eyes as he was sure they would have crossed. The sturdy legs holding him up threatened to buckle and he could feel the burning in his mouth that signaled the shifting of his teeth. He needed to get away.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Himura." All but beaming, her cheeks were happily flushed and her eyes glowed a striking azure. She was the most amazingly attractive person he could ever remember meeting.
Self-control weakening, Kenshin stood straight and signaled for his host to continue on. "It was a pleasure meeting you Miss Kamiya." Turning away before anything untold was caught on his features he left the room even before his guide.
"Keep up the good work."
There was a definite note of pleasure in Jackson's voice as he was apparently happy that she had impressed such an important guest. A moment later and he was back at Kenshin's side. Relaxing slightly in relief as the smell began to dissipate the further he walked away he once again tried to concentrate on the man talking next to him. At the far end of the adjoining room, however, he felt a presence behind him and after glancing quickly over his shoulder confirmed it to be the girl. Blue eyes peeked after them from around the large library doors, and it was apparent she was interested in him as well. She had recognized his identity, though, and considering how much she enjoyed what she did there was no helping her curiosity over his presence.
As they made their way up to the second floor and began walking through the bedrooms and private quarters of the family they toured in silence. It was quickly apparent to Kenshin that though these rooms were just as well maintained and beautiful they were missing the cherished feeling of the first floor. They were happy all the same to be cared for, but it was obvious just who the house preferred.
They crossed paths with many other workers, vacuuming the carpets and curtains, polishing the hard wooden floors, and each of them were careful and thorough which earned them praise from their boss. None of them smelled like the girl downstairs, and none of them seemed as much in love with their job as she. It occurred to him then that she would be a great asset for any employer, and began to wonder if her skills stopped only at the cleaning stage of such fragile and delicate pieces.
"The young girl downstairs, Miss Kamiya, you must be glad to have her working for you." Studying a two sided desk with gold linings and several small drawers he spoke the words nonchalantly. He could still smell her.
"Yes, she is a very lucky find especially considering her age. Many young folk now-a-days do not appreciate the craftsmanship of our ancestors. They are all too busy with their new technology." He laughed at a private joke, and pointed to a small round table for Kenshin's perusal. "I was here the day she discovered that little piece of art work, and I could not begin to describe her enthusiasm at finding that the top will actually hinge down for storage. Every aspect of it completely amazed her. The entire table is made out of papier-mache, painted black with gold-leafing, and the inlay design on the top is mother-of-pearl. It is a beautiful work of art, and yet it was the simple clasp that holds the top level that struck her the most. It's shaped like that of a clothespin, you see. She told me that it is just the thought of such a simple design on such a marvelous piece of well-loved art work that amazes her."
"It sounds to me as if she is wasting herself on merely cleaning the collection. She should look into learning the restoration process."
"You are a very good judge of character, Mr. Himura. Miss Kamiya is actually taking college classes during the day to learn conservation and restoration of various studies. I am hoping when she graduates that she will find somewhere she will enjoy, somewhere that has plenty of pieces for her to awe over."
Looking up from the small black table Kenshin blinked in puzzlement. "Then you would not wish to keep her here?"
"I'm afraid most of the restoration for this house is already complete, and while accidents do happen and things will continue to wear and be broken I already have a good team. Besides, I doubt she will wish to simply fix already restored pieces and wait around for another to break. She is young and enthusiastic, she will need a challenge."
"How much longer does she have before she is done?"
"I think she has four or five semesters left, at the least. I would have to ask her to make sure." Jackson turned to him curiously. "She has really captured your interest, Mr. Himura. Are you in need of someone to restore pieces you yourself have collected?"
The thought had not yet crossed his mind, but in afterthought he could tell it had been hiding just behind his fascination. It would be a perfect way to make sure he knew where she was and what she was doing. A way to keep her close and to claim that wonderful aroma that wafted from her. A way to hide her from anyone else that could smell it. To pull her away from everything familiar, sink his teeth into the soft flesh of her neck, and drown in the ecstasy of her essence.
Shaking his head to be rid of such disturbing thoughts he sucked in a deep breath and his lungs were filled with her. How was her scent so overwhelming it could follow him up two floors and still obscure the other humans in his presence?
"Actually, I am in the midst of negotiations for the purchase of a sixteenth century castle in southern Europe. It is in disrepair, but the original family no longer has the means to keep it up. My only demand of them is that all of the furnishing be part of the deal. They are still thinking it over, but if the requirements are met and the papers signed I intend to restore the building to the best of my abilities."
"If you are looking for a recommendation, Mr. Himura, I will gladly have a list compiled and emailed to you. In fact, there are a few names I could give you now if you wish."
"I'm well acquainted with many of the people in the field, Mr. Jackson. A few of the better ones work for me already on other various projects I have undertaken. I have a few years of interest already wrapped up in this European castle, however, and I want to know it will be taken care of as well as it should be. Someone young and enthusiastic may be just the type of blood I've been waiting for." The words left his mouth and he inwardly winced. He knew the other man would not pick up on the innuendo but he was ashamed never-the-less at his lack of propriety and control.
"But Mr. Himura, Miss Kamiya is not even out of school yet. For something so obviously important to you would you not think it wise to find someone with a few years of experience at the least?"
"And yet experience can sometimes hamper and limit a person's abilities. Miss Kamiya would be learning as she goes, and would be much more careful in her work. Already she has proven that she treats each and every piece with a measured amount of consideration and sensitivity. Your tour of this house has proven to me that she is a rare person. Even though the other employees do their job well, and in fact better than most, they are still lacking what she is not. Would you try to discourage me from offering her a job simply because of age?"
"Of course not. I would be delighted for her to find such a job. It only seems a little hasty for you to completely hand over such a large and important task to a novice you have only just met. Perhaps if you were to find someone to work with her, to train her, since it would be her first."
"Do not worry yourself, Mr. Jackson. I plan on performing a thorough background check. If I have any doubts I will simply have to find someone else." Though a part of him already knew that it didn't matter what he would find, his control was much too weakened to stay away. After seventy years of abstinence he was craving fresh blood, and it could only be hers.
A/N: Well here we go again. I actually started daydreaming about this story about two years ago. I think. It was so much fun to think about, and as the time has gone by I have changed and altered mainly background facts and so the story itself has not changed. Anyway, like I said before I really like vampire stories, but I haven't ever been able to bring myself to write one. I think it has a lot to do with I don't really like the thought of someone else's blood in my mouth or the thought of someone else biting me. Needless to say I don't like zombies, but that's an entirely different story. And so I was never able to come up with a story that I like that included vampires and what I thought they had to be like. It just suddenly clicked in my mind one day, though, that… I don't have to follow the status quo. I can do whatever the hell I want. Now I'm not going to say it is necessarily original, and I'm sure there is going to be someone that says "this sounds just like such and such, or you watched this or read this didn't you?" Well, I can't really say there is any one story that I have taken my ideas from, but perhaps there are multiple stories I have taken pieces of ideas from, compiled them in my head, and turned them into something that just made sense to me.
Please leave a review and tell me what you thought. The chapters are going to be short, but they may get a little longer as the story progresses. Not by much though, I want to keep this style. Thanks for reading.