Laurel and Hodges Cemetery Crypts
While Alice was talkative and full of questions as they wandered through the long corridors of the crypt, Vlad was tense and distracted.
He knew he had lost track of the conversation when he answered her question about what he’d killed down here.
“A Sasquatch. They love tombs. Regular weapons won’t kill them and they aren’t friendly no matter how they look.”
“Cool. But I asked if you built any of this down here…you know…or did you just stumble upon it?”
After that he tried to calm down and pay more attention.
As they neared the bottom floor, Vlad watched Alice for signs of her reaction.
“What do you think?” he asked hopefully.
“I think I wore the wrong shoes for walking down thirty million fucking stairs,” she grumbled.
But once they got to the ground floor, she stopped abruptly, finally seeing the easel.
“H-How did you? W-What is this?” she stammered.
“For you. You said that you painted and I thought you could paint a portrait,” he explained. Now that the moment had arrived, he had doubts. William almost certainly would have told him that this was too much too soon.
“Mine.” It came out calmer than he actually felt. Centuries of practice had taught him to lock away his emotions, but if she said no now, Vlad was sure he’d be unable to hide his hurt.
She rubbed her hands on her dress, suddenly nervous, almost shy. “Okay, well…I haven’t painted in a long time so…”
“Would it help if I were nude?”
She did a double take. “What? Yes. No. Yes. Well no, if you’re naked, that will lead to—” she stopped talking and began to laugh.
“Oh, I see what you did there. Okay, I’m fine.”
As she examined the canvas, he began unbuttoning his jacket.
“Hey! I thought we agreed—”
“I’m not taking all my clothes off,” he assured her. “Just my shirt. It’s…easier this way.”
“Easier for what?” she asked doubtfully.
He took a deep breath. “I want you to paint me as I really am.”
“As a vampire? I guess that could be—”
“Not quite,” Vlad told her, but didn’t elaborate. Instead, he turned and let the darkness envelope him. It felt easier now. The wings tore through the muscles in his back. A chorus of whispers swelled to a crescendo before they died down and Vlad was left with just a singular voice.
The thing that wasn’t quite Vlad, that was never quite calm, practically preened.
He let out a few hisses that he couldn’t contain before he got himself back under control.
“Holy fucking llamas.” Alice dropped her paintbrush.