Jesse loves Digger and accepts him for the creature of the night he is. He gives freely his body and blood to the man who holds his heart. But it’s time for him to take the final step, before his attractiveness fades and he has nothing left to offer, and accept Digger’s gift of eternal life. He must choose to walk through death in order to live forever by his lover’s side.
Jesse shivered, his hands buried deep in his leather jacket pockets, and let the chill breeze wash over him as he gazed at the hues of vibrant lavender and rose that swept across the sky.
He closed his eyes, breathed deep of the salty sea air, and let the winter rays of the setting sun seep into his skin. The last sunset he’d ever experience.
The years had been good to him, but it was time. His forty-third birthday had come and gone a month ago. He couldn’t allow himself to age any further, because he didn’t want to be an eternally old man. His youth had passed him by, and the aches and pains from living the life of a professional athlete made themselves known each morning when he woke stiff and aching.
He needed to remain beautiful for his lover.
The sun slipped below the horizon, sending a blaze of color into the sky, intensifying the golden glow of the clouds wafting overhead. He reveled in this last glance at daylight. After tonight, he would walk the shadows. The life he’d known, spent in gyms and boxing rings around the world, ended here in Seattle, where it had all begun over twenty years ago.
The sky slowly darkened, the colors seeping from the clouds, growing pale then gray, then fading into darkness. Stars dotted the sky, and behind him the lights of the houses came on. He turned and looked over his shoulder, across the street, to the home he’d shared the last year with his long-time lover. The curtains were drawn, as always during the daylight hours. The one dark spot on a row of bright lights.
Digger would awaken soon. And then Jesse would begin his new life.
Pushing himself away from the low brick wall overlooking Puget Sound, he walked up the hill toward his home. It was night now. Dark. As he reached the steps leading to his front door, he turned and looked out over the ocean, listened to the sounds of foghorns, and knew that from this day forward, this was the only scene he’d know.
A sense of peace settled over him. It was the life he’d chosen five years ago when he let Digger drink from him the first time. When he’d pledged his love to a vampire. Now, he would make the ultimate sacrifice of love.
He would join Digger in the world of darkness.
Jesse climbed the steps to his home and slipped through the door into the warm, dark interior. He dropped his jacket over the newel post of the stairs, then made his way up the steps to the bedroom. Silently, he pushed open the door.
He listened for a moment, standing just inside the room, and smiled when he heard Digger’s deep breaths of slumber. Lazy vampire.
Five steps across the room—he’d become an expert at navigating the house in darkness over the years spent with his lover—he reached the high dresser. On the corner, he found the lighter. He flicked the flint, and the flame flared to life, momentarily blinding him. It didn’t take long for his eyes to adjust, however, and he glanced at his reflection in the mirror on the wall.
“Do vampires have reflections?” he’d asked Digger not long after they met, before they’d become lovers.
“There are fables ‘bout us,” Digger had said, a sexy, teasing grin playing on his lips, his rich Irish brogue making Jesse hard, “and there are realities. Do you honestly think in this day and age people wouldna notice a missing reflection? This is no’ the early eighteen hundreds. Science has killed much of the mystery surroundin’ our kind.”
The one truth was that they couldn’t have their pictures taken, but in the digital age, even that was no longer true. Their image didn’t show up on film using silver halide, the compound used to coat photography film. But a digital image could be captured, much to the disgust of many vampires.
“Times are changin’, me friend,” Digger had said to him. “Humans are learnin’ ‘bout us. We’re no longer a mystery that goes bump in the night. We’re no longer a fairy tale or simply a nightmare.”
Jesse touched the flame of the lighter to the candles lined along the dresser top, sending a soft, vanilla-scented glow over the room.
Someday, perhaps, they wouldn’t be feared, either. He wouldn’t be feared. For now, he’d have to keep a low profile. He’d officially retired from the boxing ring two weeks ago, said his farewells to his daytime friends, and now would hopefully slip into anonymity, never to be seen again in the light of day. His job as a bouncer at The Starlight would keep him employed and keep him from becoming a recluse.
He laid the lighter back on the corner of the dresser and turned toward the bed, reaching for the buttons of his shirt. Digger still slept, his breathing heavy and steady. The sheet only covered him to his waist, leaving his chest and arms bare. He was the most gorgeous man Jesse had ever met.
He’d been turned in his prime, nearly six hundred years earlier. He looked thirty-five but had the wisdom of an eternity. Jesse still wondered at times why this beautiful creature had chosen him. Digger never answered, simply looked deep into his eyes, his lips tilted in that teasing, seductive grin, and Jesse knew their love had no bounds.
None but mortality.
He slipped his shirt from his shoulders and dropped it to the floor as he toed off his shoes.
Digger made it clear he would love Jesse until Jesse took his final breath, should he decide to remain human. He believed in his lover’s oath, but as the signs of age crept upon him, the lines bracketing his mouth and fanning from his eyes...
The beauty Digger saw in him would fade all too soon. How could he ask his beloved to watch him grow old and eventually leave him? He couldn’t. Jesse wanted eternity with Digger, and Digger had told him it was his greatest wish.
He slipped his jeans off and stepped out of them, climbed onto the massive bed, and scooted next to his lover. Long black lashes rested against Digger’s high cheekbones. His midnight, shoulder-length hair splayed out over the white satin pillowcase.
Digger’s eyelashes fluttered when Jesse laid his hand over his lover’s heart, admiring the contrast between his own dark brown skin and Digger’s white flesh. He never grew tired of discovering the differences between them. Jesse was tall and had spent years in the gym building muscle to pound his competitors into the ground. Digger was shorter, lean. Yet Digger’s vampire strength made Jesse feel safe.
“Mmm. Happy Valentine’s Day, me love,” Digger murmured.
Jesse dragged his palm over a tight, flat nipple, down the center of Digger’s body, over firm abs, and pushed the sheet away from the growing erection nestled against the sexy triangle of jet-black hair.
What better day to pledge his love to Digger than this one? The day of love. Of hearts. The perfect day to exchange the blood that would bind them forever.
Ice blue eyes opened, and Digger smiled, his fangs already descended. “Ready to play?”
Jesse shook his head. “Ready to die.” Gripping Digger’s cock, he stroked it to fullness with two slow pulls. “Ready to join you in darkness.”