“It’s not as good as it’s cracked up to be,” he said.
“How long have you been this way?” I asked, visions running through my head of Liam fighting in the civil war and living like a cave man.
“3 years,” he replied. “That’s why I left Hollywood. But I couldn’t leave acting altogether, I just couldn’t. The years I spent in Hollywood had already made me push people away, except for superficial friendships, so it wasn’t hard to continue that way. Peter was…the only one I remained close to and the only one I kept by my side through all this. He’s very understanding…of all of it. Of this, the old ways, the curse.”
“The curse?” I asked, and Liam shook his head at me.
We fell into silence for a moment, and then I asked him the question that had been playing on my mind the whole time.
“How the hell did this happen to you?”
He watched me silently for a few minutes. It was hard to look at his face but I held my gaze.
“Would you like to know?”
I nodded, and he took a deep breath.
“Then perhaps you should make yourself more comfortable, because it’s a long story.”
The paparazzi were getting worse every day and veterans told me it was just the beginning. I was starting to associate outdoors with danger and indoors with safety. Lately, so much of my vision had been tunnel; focus on the door to the club; the store; the studio; and get to it. It wasn’t really acceptable for male actors, especially at my age, to have bodyguards. So I was on my own. I weaved through the crowd, keeping my head down and my mouth shut as I tumbled through the door to the club.
The atmosphere inside was smoky. The club was packed to the rafters even though the sun was just setting. Every hour was Happy Hour in Hollywood. All I wanted was a stiff drink, perhaps an illicit cigarette, and to get lost in the crowd.
“Triple Vodka on the rocks,” I half screamed, half signed to the barman, who nodded. Bar language was different than regular language and I had a theory that only actors succeeded at it because of their extensive facial expressions and powerful lungs.
My drink arrived swiftly in a tall water glass that tempted me just to take a few swift chugs and send it back. Instead I gripped it and turned around to look for an empty table. There weren’t any actual seats - just the tall bar tables where people half stood and half danced the night away.
Squinting into a dark corner, there was a table with only one person standing there, alone. Getting closer, I was stunned. And that didn’t usually happen in the land of Hollywood beauty. Tall and thin; she was dressed all in black, with a sheet of dark hair falling down her back. Her skin was as pale as snow and her eyes were rimmed with kohl. She didn’t seem to be performing the usual charade of a single person in a club. Instead, she truly seemed to be absorbed in her own world, quite content in her loneliness.
“LIAM!” I turned around, surprised to find Kaitlin and William crunched along a table full of familiar faces. They were mostly actors, but some were behind the camera; a producer and a makeup artist. “Come here! Scrunch over everyone, make room for Liam!”
“Uh…” I paused a moment, looking at the smiling faces that welcomed me. I suppose if I wanted to be alone I shouldn’t have come out to a club…yet, from behind me, I could feel the mystery woman. I could feel her eyes burning through me. I glanced over my shoulder, and found, to my surprise, that she was looking right at me. “Perhaps in a bit…I’m meeting someone.”
Everyone laughed and nodded knowingly. Apparently my reputation for womanizing was well known, as it should be. But this…this felt different. This woman, even as I approached her, was a divine creature. There wasn’t one ounce of imperfection that I could see on her; not one wrinkle or blemish. She did not react as I neared her as most people did these days. Instead, a slow smile spread across her face.
“Hello,” I replied, pointing to the empty spot at the table. God, she was beautiful. “Can I …stand here?” When exactly did I turn into a quivering child? There was something about her that made me unable to take my eyes off her.
“Of course.” When she spoke, she had a thick French accent that added to her exoticness.
“I’m Liam.” I extended my hand and she shook it. Her fingers were thin and her nails were perfectly manicured. What surprised me was the coolness of her skin, even in the sweaty club.
“Selene,” she drawled, her eyes giving me the once over that I had given other women many times over the past few years.
“And what do you do?” I asked her. With looks like this, I was certain she was in the industry.
“I’m an … ambassador,” she said smoothly, and I assumed by her French accent that she meant between France and here. I was impressed. I took a sip of my drink and watched how she moved ever so slightly to the music. “And you?”
I raised an eyebrow. There wasn’t anyone in this town who didn’t know who I was. Either she was lying or she really had just arrived.
“I’m an actor.” Already the few sips of the drink were warming me. I felt more relaxed and utterly entranced, watching her every movement.
“Ah…acting. Believe in untrue circumstances,” she said, with a small smile. “And do you believe things that used to be untrue, Liam?”
“Of course,” I nodded, and she leaned in, those exotic eyes glinting in the light.
“I hope I can make you believe a few, tonight.”
“I hope you can,” I replied with a smirk, my hand inching across the table to take hers again.
“Yours,” she replied, drawing closer to me. She didn’t have a bag or purse to pick up and I instantly liked that about her. Women could be so complicated, I wanted something simple. “It’d be better if you were to wake up there.”
“Alright then,” I wrapped my arm around her waist, which was small and lean but compact with muscle. She leaned in and her lips teased the soft flesh behind my ear. It was all I could manage to not grab her and take her right there. But before we got to the door, I stopped her. “Listen…I’m rather well known here. So it’s likely there’ll be a cloud of paparazzi outside.”
“They’ll forget one night,” she said, huskily in my ear. “But you won’t.”
Sure enough, the cameras began flashing as soon as we exited. I put my arm around her neck, pulling her head down a bit to protect her identity. She didn’t seem to mind or even notice as her hand slipped under my shirt, indicating things to come. I chalked up the oddness in her speech to the fact that English was clearly her second language. She spoke slowly, and deliberately, looking at me for what I assumed was an indication that I understood her words. Still, there was no lack of confidence that usually came with speaking a second language … no pause of uncertainty or flicker of embarrassment. It was almost as if she was trying to imply a double meaning with everything she said. But whatever that meaning was, I was too lost in her eyes to get it.
I felt drunk on the limo ride back, my senses swimming. It didn’t make any sense, I had left my drink half untouched. But something about this woman, her accent in the setting sun, turned me into a stumbling teenager about to get his first kiss. We barely made it up to my apartment before the clothes began to come off.
I locked the door and pushed her down on the bed. She ran her hands over my body as I struggled to unbutton her dress. I stood up as the sunlight disappeared, causing her to moan.
“Just wait,” I said, heading towards the light switch. “You’re the most stunning creature I have ever seen and I want to see every inch of you.”
I flicked the light switch on, and my heart almost stopped there and then.
“Creature is right,” she said, with a sneer, showing fangs. She was what I brought home, yet extremely different. Paler than before, with dark circles around her eyes, her mouth had stretched as fangs appeared. And those beautiful eyes were now black as night.
I stumbled back against the wall, shocked. I felt my breath coming in gasps as I tried to make sense of what I saw in front of me. How much, exactly, had I had to drink?
“What the…” I said, as she got up, approaching me with such slow deliberate movements that I knew I was finished. “What are you?”
“Well, Liam, I’m what you are,” she replied. “Or…what you will be. You’ll be our ambassador now, and you can never hide. So you’ll keep us safe.”
“What are you talking about?” I gasped, reaching behind me. Even though I knew it was there, my hand was trembling so badly I couldn’t open the door knob. “What are you?”
“I'm a vampire, Liam. And so are you.”
I put my hands up to block her from coming at me, but she was impossibly strong and fast.
“Liam, Liam,” she said, as she held my hands in a death grip, almost crushing my bones. “Don’t look so afraid. You were chosen from thousands. With your fame, you will protect our identity forever; we know you’ll do anything to make sure our secret is safe. Because now our secret is also yours.”
The last thing I remembered was the instant pain of her fangs sinking into my neck; the slow agony as her poison filled my blood. I felt my head hit the ground, and then, blessed darkness.
When I awoke, it was still dark. My head was pounding, my mouth was dry, and I felt like I was coming off a nine day bender. I groaned, dragging myself upwards from my spot on the floor, not entirely sure how I got there.
My stomach felt like it was made of acid and I couldn’t decide if I was ravenously hungry or about to be sick. To be safe, I made my way to my bathroom, my legs unsteady as I leaned against the wall. I was trying to make sense of what happened; trying to remember.