Is this chapter late? Yes. I said I was back on my bullshit, remember? I probably need a week and a half between chapters given how busy work is now. Oh, and this chapter is a good time remind you that this story has adult language and adult themes, including sex so you know…be warned.
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
— Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
Sulani – Amisyia’s Beach Rental
“Are you trying to kill me?” Caleb moaned, his body at war with itself as he attempted to slip out of Amisyia’s grip. “I need a break.”
“You do not,” she tutted, “You are an immortal creature and barely a century into your prime. Again.”
“No,” he laughed as she shoved him back on the bed and straddled him, “I cannot go again.” He was an immortal creature, true, but immortal did not mean immune to sore muscles. “Let’s go to the festival,” he begged her, “Feed me, let me replenish my strength, and then I promise you another round.”
“You do not keep your promises, Caleb Vatore.” She grabbed a fistful of his hair and yanked on it in a way that almost made him rethink his declaration.
“I keep my promises to you.”
And he did—keep them. They might be carefully worded to allow multiple interpretations, but he never actually left her hanging. Not even that one time in Selvadorada when they had been dangling over a cliffside and he had to choose between her, and the trunk of gold Vlad sent him to collect.
The siren pursed her lips, but clearly, she was going to capitulate. “Two rounds,” she huffed, rolling onto her side.
Amused and content with his small win, Caleb tucked a pillow beneath his head, “Can a vampire not take a vacation?”
She gave him a solemn look. “No.”
The crowd was small since the festival was just beginning. Though Amisyia’s beach rental offered every comfort, the islands of Sulani still fascinated Caleb. Ages ago, he’d nearly given his mother a heart attack by threatening to move here. Her worldview was small—his father saw to that—and she was sickly. Looking back, he couldn’t imagine what caused him to lash out and give her such a fright. The cruelty of being a teenager? Anger at his father? Lady Vatore had been a saint and Caleb had been—
He cut the memory off at the knees. Forcing himself to refocus on the present, he watched as Deacon swirled ropes of flame and moved his hips in time with the music. A few weeks ago, Caleb would’ve called him an idiot and demanded the zombie settle down. But that was the old Caleb—judgmental, over involved. The new Caleb’s motto was “live and let live.”
“I’m getting more kalua pork!” he shouted as he headed towards the food stand.
After tossing a few simoleans at the salesperson, the vampire eagerly filled his plate. For centuries he’d eschewed food, but now, Caleb delighted in every morsel. There was no island delicacy that didn’t pass his lips—poke bowls, pork adobo, coconut cake.
Amisyia motioned for him to speed up. You’re going to need your strength, she mouthed.
He laughed, feeling light-hearted. He wanted to do everything he could to protect this new sense of peace.
Soon you’ll have to look for Lilith.
With a start, Caleb smothered the traitorous thought.
“Hey,” Deacon called out as he jogged over, “I was trying to tell you earlier, I can get in touch with Grim. We can check on Alice and Mr. Death, see if everyone is okay.”
“No,” Caleb replied, still focused on Amisyia. He blew her a kiss.
“Uhhhh…no?” the zombie scratched the side of his head. “But like…what if they need you?”
Caleb did not want to be needed. The thought sent a shiver down his spine, and despite not needing to breathe, his throat began to close up.
Soon you’ll have to search for Lilith.
“No!” Caleb shouted. A few heads turned, and Amisyia and Deacon looked stunned. He forced himself to take a deep breath and soften his voice. “I mean no, they’re fine. Besides, I’m on vacation.”