As a vampire, Canan Longblood has been around for long time. He’s fallen in love and watched the men he loved die, time after time, never finding one who wants to go that long, eternal distance with him. When he returns to Baltimore on the advice of the man who gave him Evening Life, Canan hopes to find healing. Instead what he finds is a man so full of pain and laughter that Canan knows he must meet him.
Stafford Savoy has lost many people -- his father, his mother, the man he loved. At forty, he’s determined to no longer pursue online dating, and swears the only way he’ll fall in love again is the old-fashioned way, if chance and passion bring a man into his life. So when Canan Longblood comes knocking on Stafford’s door, claiming to need a little help, there’s only one thing Stafford can do -- invite the sexy man inside. But is an old-fashioned man really what Canan wants?
When ancient man and modern man collide, there’s more than a little chemistry, but is it an explosion they both can stand?
As he gazed into the glass door, Canan noticed the tidiness of the house. Everything was organized and appeared to be scrubbed, but the vibe Canan was getting from this house told him that there was such pain coming from it that what needed to be fixed in the heart of its owner went way behind organization.
An open door from the kitchen allowed Canan to see into what he guessed was the living room. A man lay on the couch, the light of a TV that Canan could not see reflecting off of him.
Canan focused his eyes to see through the dark kitchen and into the dimly lit room. He looked the man over from head to toe, stopping at his face.
Beautiful, Canan thought. The ones that feel this sort of pain so often are. Why does the world like to hurt beautiful things?
Canan tried to look at the man more objectively. He appeared to be about forty, about the age Canan was when he was given Evening Life. The man wore sweatpants and a purple shirt with a Raven on it. Edgar would have been shocked if he’d found out that even sports teams in this town would be named after his work, Canan thought.
Canan closed his eyes, trying to find his way into the man's mind. It took only a minute, and he was there. The man’s dreams were superficial, moving about the house, organizing it, dropping someone off at the airport, thank you cards, cleaning a bathroom, heating a casserole, planning a funeral.
That was it. It had only taken a minute to surface. Canan allowed himself to follow the train of thought. The man was pushing the pain down now, just moving past it in a hurried frenzy. He was greeting mourners, and then making sure there was enough to feed them. He sent someone to the store for extra soda. An old woman wanted a ginger ale. Another woman hugged him as she laughed about a memory of ... Who was the woman laughing about? Someone joyous and fun, and the man laughed with her. They were in a kitchen alone, in some other place. It was not this kitchen, and the laughter was uncontrollable. It started with the old woman, but it spread to this man. It was the sort of laughter that one could not escape. It was the best laughter, the kind that appeared in the midst of horrible times and in its arrival, annihilated sorrow. Canan could not hear the joke, he did not know to what they referred, but he still almost began to laugh. It was contagious. As he felt himself start to join them, he pulled out of it, opening his eyes. It wouldn't do to be found by a neighbor laughing hysterically on this man's porch. After all, he planned to stay in Baltimore for a bit this time, and this was the area where he always felt most comfortable.
With his eyes open, Canan looked at the man on the couch again. A smile crossed the man's mouth, and Canan wished he could see the man’s eyes. The man's dark blond hair was tussled, and Canan could see the innocence in him that he had felt in the dream. It was an innocence that Canan was not willing to dispose of this evening. He walked toward the end of the porch, and jumped back to the ground. His jump was not as subtle as the one going up, and Canan realized this.
Not exactly my A game, he thought to himself.
Canan walked back the path he had taken, feeling different than he had initially.
“I’m flustered,” Canan mumbled to the empty sidewalk.
As he crossed the busy road, and headed back toward the Inner Harbor, Canan smiled. It had been forever since he had felt this way, and he was determined to figure out why.
There’s nothing unusual here he thought. I had approached that porch planning to help this man make his next journey. I’m just pulling back. He doesn't need it. There’s more hope in him that I could have imagined.
Canan could not get the stupid smile off his face as he walked, and he shook his head as he thought about it. No matter what he said, it had been unusual. First that level of despair, and then the laughter. That goddamned laughter had been overwhelming, and Canan couldn’t stop thinking about it.
“I'm calling it a night," Canan said to himself, as he made his way back to the hotel he had checked into only the night before. “Perhaps tomorrow, I’m going to meet that man.”