Inside the Mind of a Vampire: Volume Four
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|During||Immediately after the sun|
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Inside the Mind of a Vampire: Volume Three
Inside the Mind of a Vampire: Volume Five
Moments After The Light, Sitting next to Damali in the sun...
Whatever The Light had done to him, he couldn’t allow Damali to touch him right now. It just brought back too many memories.
He could still feel the horrific cut in his mind, even though he could no longer feel the dead appendage. They’d gone through skin, fibrous muscle, the main vein, all the way through to sever delicate duct work and had left him ruined. He could still hear the tear of gristle-like tissue reverberating in his ears as a taunt. A shiver slipped down his spine—nails down a blackboard. He could no longer see the faces or images of the entities that did the foul deed; they’d gone back into the shadows within the recesses of his mind. But the rest of it lingered, the sensations echoing.
Forget, yeah right. That might have been good advice, but unfortunately his mind was too strong for that. Sad reality was, his brother went out almost the same way. Only critical difference—Alejandro wasn’t around now to put him out of his misery. At least he’d done that right. His younger brother and all his boyz had gone into The Light and stayed there. However, as a cruel parting thank you for all the wrongs he’d committed, The Light must have spewed him back and had left him all messed up, nonetheless.
So, for the sake of his sanity, at the moment it was best to just be still, allow the pain in his soul to dissipate, and to quietly sit beside Damali until he sorted it all out and decided his next move. The question ‘why’ rang in his head like a gong. It didn’t make sense. Scratch strategy. There was no way to work this. He needed space. A private place to just lose his fucking mind.
The agony in his groin had stopped, but it now took up residence in his very soul. But she wouldn’t stop touching him, stroking his back, not understanding what he couldn’t put into words—get off me! But she wouldn’t stop the touches… trying to heal whatever was wrong with her hands tracing his shoulders. She wasn’t hearing his mental cries to let it be… why? Even that connection to her was lost?
Her hands were gentle fire; Damali’s soft caress made him want to weep just thinking about the pleasure they could ignite… something he might never be able to give her again. Not after what they’d done.
They’d all told him to keep his hands off of her, why didn’t he listen? Both sides had been adamant that he not get her pregnant. But even they had to know that was easier said than done; their solution was cold. Brutal ice; he couldn’t have come up with a more sinister way to get a man’s attention himself.
Then again, he wondered if The Light’s tough sentence had anything to do with the trauma he’d inflicted upon a priest? Now that made sense. A body for a body, and fair exchange was no robbery… it was the law of the streets, and the law of the vampire nations… but he thought Heaven might have a little more mercy than that. Then again, what defense did he have? There was no argument, he’d given a virgin cleric a glimpse of what it was to be a man… a man with a woman, and now they’d taken away that from him. The irony was splitting his skull.
Lopez would forever have the images of Juanita burned into his brain. He’d forever have Damali’s carved into his, and neither of them could address all the sensations torturing their minds. Lopez wore a collar; he wore some unfathomable, crippling mark. It was fair, but it was ruthless.
Please, baby, don’t touch me right now. Just let me breathe.
Her wails and prayers had been answered; he was back. But she hadn’t been careful about what she’d prayed for. Hadn’t been specific and had left a loophole in cosmic law. Yeah, he was back, but not as what she’d known. And what was he gonna tell his woman when he didn’t even understand it all himself? Seven years like this, like the original sentence Father Patrick had handed down when they’d first found him—or was it worse than that, like permanent? What was the extent of the damage? Shit.
There was no way he could withstand even glimpsing into Damali’s big brown eyes that were filled with hope, relief, and something else he didn’t wanna see. Raw emotion. He kept his gaze fastened on the sky, searching it for a sign, an answer, while his mind slowly unraveled. He couldn’t look at her—not now.
Her tears shimmered with the future glistening in them probably from her thinking they’d beaten the odds one more time. Her beautiful battle-smudged face held a resolute expression of hard victory that said they’d won the war and had lived to see another dawn, and therefore it was gonna be all right. Under any other circumstances he would have been on his feet, laughing out loud, living in the profound moment, and swinging her around—high fives in order. But she only had half of the facts.
Yes, he was alive, but in this condition, it was only a half life. What, be with her and live as her brother? This was bullshit. What was he supposed to do; watch her stricken expression once he told her, and then just go on as her neutered compound drone? And he knew her so well, the depths of her love, she’d suck it up in his presence and later find a quiet place all alone to scream and cry until she was limp. That’s where he was at right now, so he could dig it. They might as well have cut out his heart. Perhaps they had. Correction, they did.
It was all so crazy. He’d even told Jose out of his own mouth to be with her and make her happy if he’d died. He did die—a thousand deaths with the slice of one blade… and he knew his woman. Carlos cringed. When she pulled her hand away from his back, he began breathing again.
Near madness, he wanted to laugh at the cruel twist of fate. He’d sent her to Jose on a silver platter, just like he’d jettisoned a li'l somethin’ somethin’ to Yonnie, just in case. But in the transaction, he’d played himself all way around this time. He wasn’t supposed to come back. His distant line brothers weren’t supposed to respond to their DNA call. Her prayers weren’t supposed to be half answered. He was supposed to be dead, and half was. And he knew his woman too well; she’d never let it rest.
She’d try to make it better, and that would only make it worse. He’d feel that compassion in her touch, in her hugs and it would eventually begin to corrupt into pity. She’d tell him it didn’t matter, that there was so much more to him that she loved… sweet liar that she was. He knew how this would go, for a while that would be her truth, until enough time passed and her body would wake up hungry and remember, then remind her how much she was lying to herself. Then she would be compelled to lie to him. But he loved her so much, what would he be able to say? Nada.
That gorgeous, passionate, profoundly awesome creature deserved to live more than a half life… deserved to be held, caressed, gentled till she moaned, then loved hard and righteous… so he’d have to turn a blind eye, pray that she’d at least be discrete, and let her go where she had to when the night called her like it used to call him.
That was the bitch of it. They hadn’t completely stripped his mind like they’d stripped his body and pride. Neither Heaven nor Hell had been able to get into the black box that secured his knowing of her within it. Both sides had left him every private moment with her unblemished. And given what he knew about what they’d shared, the night would definitely call her.
Carlos closed his eyes to the bright horizon. Then take this from me, too, he almost sobbed aloud, but didn’t. Knowledge was power, but he never wanted to know up close and personal, anything about something like this. Instead of a silent mental purge, the black box in his head opened with visceral force, sending fast frames of memory into his agonized brain.
It came back in hard flashes. Damali. Sweat laden salsa nights, her voice a crescendo bouncing off his lair walls. Damali. Her hands were instant liquid heat down his spine. Damali was every element in his universe. She was a will-dissolving phenomena. She’d taught him that Dananu was only a word game; her sultry murmurs put his old language to shame. Damali. That was what sent his kind into the sun--her. There was no negotiating anything when she begged him sweetly and breathed requests for more of him over his tongue with a kiss.
Jesus, what was he gonna do? Her arch was a lightening strike of sanity-eclipsing pleasure. Made him drop fang just to look at her. Her scent produced delirium, her skin like butter, the seal of her body against his, melted wax. Her throat marked by him and only him; her body wired to respond to him and only him. Taught by a master until she mastered him, mind-lock like a motherfucker, his woman was bad. Brought the panther out in him. Loved it on all fours. Then could go good girl in a minute, made the missionary position a religious experience.
Don’t take that from us, I’m begging y’all, please…
Oh, God, Damali… Her gasp, he’d miss the way it cut his skeleton as he entered her paradise found until he was lost… making his back work to her choked whispers of his name. He remembered working so hard he forgot about dawn, didn’t care, just vaporized on the fucking spot in her arms… took her with him as pure mist, ‘cause he couldn’t let her go or pull up.
What was he gonna tell this woman who had siphoned his vampire seed, him calling her name while he was in her to the hilt, and then transformed that into new living creation? Her passion was so strong that it had even ignited the dead. She was life. Pleasure. Healing. Redemption. Hope. Belief. His next breath. His every breath. His heartbeat. She’d given him that, too, by sharing hers. She was the employer of every sensory awareness he’d owned… and it only worked for her like that. Yeah, he was marked, but first by her. To the marrow.
He was at his best and his worst when he was with her. He could only hope she’d felt the same way. But there would still be that night when she’d silently slip away from his side and disappear only to return the next day with tears in her eyes and no words. He would have nothing to say, either. It would never be spoken upon; they would both know the deal. There’d be plenty of remorse on both sides, but no anger. Just very quiet tears. How could he deny her what was only natural when he loved her so much, especially when he’d taught her that self denial, like that, was a crime and a sin? Yet it would be the beginning of the thing she’d never had… a black box in her head… which would slowly become a wall between his soul and hers. He also knew that like he knew his name.
Awakened nature was a force to be reckoned with; and Damali was that, too. After time and tension, she’d instinctively go to Jose for comfort and so much more… and her Guardian brother would be the one to inherit all the treasures he’d once privately held—that’s who would pillage his black box and steal her every diamond tear drop. Jose would have her in his arms, would encircle her every ruby ounce of blood, as she naturally bled all over his shoulder when she couldn’t take it any more. Then the natural loser of her invaluable treasure—him, yes, he would then be the outsider with his hand pressed to the top of an abandoned box… a black glass wall that he couldn’t see through. But it made sense; it was the way of the world… was the natural order of things.
Yeah. Nature, they’d killed that in him. So, she and Jose would do what was only natural, would share what she’d lost for the cause in quiet, understanding conversations; they were already friends… and after that, Jose would eventually heal her by never leaving her side as a friend, and would be handsomely rewarded by the priceless sound of her laughter, her voice, the gold threads of her joy, the sterling friendship that went even deeper into an untapped, virgin mine. There, in the mine of her sweet soul, he’d dredge and pick up more precious stones to be set into her music, their music, creating a new rhythm that she’d respond to, while what they once shared would tarnish to become only tense exchanges of discordant civilities. Breathing was next to impossible.
Because he knew, after that, Jose would then rightfully inherit every amber stroke of her supple skin. Every glistening smoky topaz of her eyes as she neared the edge of release and fell over it… until her sweat pearled on her beautiful body. And he couldn’t even be mad about it. His passionate tresora did not deserve to live like a nun. He just wished Jose would have left him as ash so he never had to know or see it. To be robbed was one thing, disinherited another, but to witness one’s treasure being thoroughly enjoyed by another man because you were no longer man enough to do so—that was unbearable. He could not stay with the Guardians and watch it all go down.
Carlos opened his eyes. The glare of the solar rays became blurry, but he refused to let a single tear fall. This humiliation was way too private. This abomination of his body was a discussion for one-on-one when he and Damali got home. The truth needed to be swift to end all pretenses, and he had to have a place to explain to her how time would indeed rob them when it was all said and done. The facts had to be delivered without bullshit or recriminations. Because, if they stayed together, everything they’d had would become murky as the lies built each time she had to quietly slide out to do what she had to do… then Hell would own his black box. Jealously would hand it to them with a sly smile.
And while she tried to sustain their relationship on life support, holding it in The Light by grasping some sentimental memory to keep what had been alive, she’d smother it in a death grip—which would send that section of his guarded black box heavenward to live with weeping angels… while the truth would sit squarely between them on earth in the gray zone. The unsaid, like the undead. There, but not, always siphoning life from the relationship. Invisible lethal nicks. Smooth invasion done without a trace… leaving what had once been hot and vibrant, shivering and pale in the cold light of day.
The box itself was that truth, a coffin, and the empty box would be robbed of what it once contained. Made useless. Like him… until neither of them remembered V-point or St. Lucia. All the laugher would be gone, their conversations flat-lined to the mundane. Secrets between them would vanish, become mist. Stolen glances would be turned into glares. Whispers transformed into sarcastic hisses. Soft murmurs changed into barks and snaps. Names would be said with sudden strikes of anger, not with impassioned pleas of ‘don’t stop.’
By then both their mental boxes would be filled with the sludge of recent pain, the dirt dug from the grave of not addressing it head-on. He’d seen his parents go there. It was ugly. No. He was out before it came to that. It would be a parting gift to her and himself—her freedom from guilt to live fully; along with the salvation of his shredded pride.
He almost laughed out loud, but didn’t. Couldn’t. The Chairman was a crafty, old sonofabitch. All this time he thought he’d been brought back. Carlos shook his head and finally allowed the tears to stream down his face. He was still in Hell. What had he been thinking? The shit hurt so much it had made him stupid. This was all an illusion. The old bastard had beaten him and won, and he knew how the game down there was played… break the body, then torture a man’s mind with his worst nightmare till he hollered and gave up his soul.
His most agonizing torture hadn’t been getting his bloodied guts ripped from his abdomen by Harpies… Obviously, the Chairman had finally figured that out. His Achilles’ heel was having his entrails inadvertently tangled in a knot by Damali’s soft hand and yanked from him by her tender pull… all because he couldn’t be to her what he’d been. That was his worst nightmare, the thing that slithered through him so hard and fast that it nearly broke him. It was so simple that it really was almost laughable. Almost. Why didn’t they think of that before?
Carlos squinted. Nice representation of the sun. The fire, the burning part, yeah, Hell could duplicate that. Hellfire pain was their specialty. Fatigue, you could count on it. Mirages, please—any time, anywhere. Angels… well… they probably had battled some a time or two, especially the Chairman. The imagery was deep; he had to give the old boys in the chamber that. Castration? Lightweight, truly, given where he was incarcerated now. Just kinda messed with his mind for a minute, that’s all. At least the physical pain had stopped for a few.
Now that he was clearer, he was sure that wasn’t even Damali sitting next to him, was probably a lead henchmen, or the Chairman, just waiting to twist the knife one more time.
What looked like Damali glanced at him and offered him a tender smile. That’s when he knew for sure. The Chairman was fucking with him royal; it was gonna be a looooong bid. Carlos drew back, tried to quickly gather Dananu in his mind, but failed. His legs felt like lead. He couldn’t stand without help. Oh, yeah, this was Hell—they’d siphoned all his vamp powers, all his best, lightening swift, battle moves. He couldn’t even bulk to defend himself. If he couldn’t even stand unaided, then yeah, aw’ight, he had to admit that they’d truly kicked his ass on round one. But if another beat down was coming, he would stand on his own and wouldn’t be no punk.
She was about to say something, but that wasn’t his boo, so he wasn’t listening to shit. Good imitation, but nope. He wasn’t crazy, wasn’t no fool. He strained trying to remember the negotiation syntax so he could ward off what this imitation of Damali was about to say. But the words failed him. They’d stripped the language. Damn! Worse yet, he’d opened his own black box!
“I know there’s so much twisting your head around right now, baby,” the entity representing Damali murmured softly. “We’ll get to that real soon, and get it all out. Just you and me, I promise.”
Aw… maaaan… Harpies hadn’t gotten it, but this one mighta got some of it and was promising to go into his head again to try to get some more. Sheeeit… she’d told him as much with a sweet, knowing smile. Yeah, aw’ight, we’ll see on round two.
He watched in abject horror as the illusion slowly reached for his face and cradled his cheek in her palm. His natural instinct was to rip the entity’s arm from the socket. But he needed to lay, be strategic, and think, heal, gather more strength. If he couldn’t feed to regen, then he had to be cool and conserve what he had. The only thing he wanted to know was, how in the hell did they work with silver? Humans at sub levels?
Carlos glanced around at the team wondering. Paranoia had a stranglehold on him. Did the Chairman transport him to a darkened lair, built up this much illusion around him, and have human helpers administer silver torture? He wouldn’t put it past him. It would be nothing to pull off something that slimey… but… wait, that didn’t make sense, either. He’d burned by daylight. Once ash, that was it. Unless this was part of the whole Sea of Perpetual Agony bid, where your own mind made your soul wail in confusion. Mind games. Okay, let’s play. He got it; he was straight.
Carlos jerked his attention around as the entities posing as Damali’s squad started moving closer toward him. The big, six foot eight one had to go down first. His gaze quickly scanned the group and then narrowed on the one who’d been jacking with his mind the most—the one in drag as Damali.
Cut manhood or not, if he was still a vamp and if they were still fucking with him, with a good feed that could regen… but in the meantime, he would whup their asses for even taking him there.
Carlos smiled as the entities stopped advancing and the illusion-caster covered her mouth, stifled a sob, and turned away. That’s right, dammit. Back up. Think about your next move very carefully, now that I’m clear. Act like you know.
Even down here, power was power and he was a Councilman that could still snatch a bone out of their asses while injured. He got to his feet and staggered a few steps to get out of their immediate lunge range. Their tears didn’t make sense, though. Not for master destroyers, even in a mental war. He hesitated, unsure.
What was that all about?
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