The Beast

Rain beat steadily against the windows, filling the apartment with its sound. The noise was distant though, muffled by the many layers of blankets hanging over both the window in the bedroom and the one in the living room, hiding away the sun during the day and keeping out the city lights at night. It was night now, had been for almost a half hour and even though I was lying in bed I wasn't ready to sleep. The bedroom was almost pitch black, with the only illumination coming from the stove light in the kitchen, but it did little more than reveal the silhouette of the closed bedroom door.

Against the soft backdrop of the rain my own breathing sounded amazingly loud in my ears. I wasn't alone but my companion wasn't breathing, at least not that I could tell. She was just a silent shape, resting peacefully beside me. I could feel her presence, the weight of her body on the mattress and the sensation of her skin under my fingers. Touching her, I was reminded of rose buds, but that analogy seemed contrived and needlessly poetic. She was naked and that allowed my hand to wander across her flesh. The fact that she had no hair made her seem even more silken.

I was still fully clothed. Even my boots were still one, now uncomfortably hot on my feet, but I didn't want to move, didn't want to risk waking her. I was surprised that my laying down hadn't roused her. She must have had a long night to be sleeping so deeply. I wasn't sure if I could call it sleep though. Even though she was resting it wasn't the same thing as a human sleeping. I wonder if she dreams, and if so, what would she dream about?

It had taken a while to get used to the fact that my lover was a vampire. I wasn't bothered by her drinking blood; it was down right normal next to some of the things I had seen. The point of contention was the fact that our schedules were so different. We only saw each other briefly in the morning and the evening. In the morning she was too tired to do much other than kiss me goodbye and by the time the sun set I was usually too tired to do more than the same to her.

I felt her stir under my hand. Her chest rose and fell as she took a deep breath. I slipped my hand around her slender waist and pulled her against my chest and gently kissed the back of her neck. She giggled softly, her hand caressing across my forearm.

"Evenin' sweetheart." I mumbled into her skin, which felt cool against my lips.

"I love waking up like this." Nyoki crooned as she rolled over, snuggling into my chest.

I made a sound halfway between a grunt and a sigh and hugged her tighter. She kissed me on the chest, right over my heart, and then moved her way to my neck. I caught her chin and pulled her up to my mouth and kissed her. Her lips were just as cold as the rest of her, she wouldn't be warm until she fed, but I wouldn't be the blood donor. Not tonight, maybe not ever. She didn't argue with my 'artful' dodge and kissed back.

After a prolonged lip lock she leaned back, I could feel her eyes on me and I stared back at where I knew her face was. Her hand moved from my hip to my cheek, she made a disgruntled sound.

"You forgot to shave again." She protested in weak annoyance.

"Sorry." I smirked and playfully nuzzled into her hand.

Nyoki quickly snatched her hand back making a pained sound. "Watch it! I almost cut myself!"

"Alright, alright, I'll shave tonight." I grumbled and moved my hands up her back and then over to her chest.

Her breasts were small but pert, just big enough to fit in my hands. Like the rest of her they were soft. She all but purred in pleasure then made a disgruntled sound. I withdrew my hands and sat up, swinging my feet over the edge of the bed.

"Sorry..." She said quietly, I could feel her shifting to a sitting position behind me. "But William wanted me to come by tonight."

"You know, if he didn't like men more than women I'd almost be worried." I joked, standing up and heading towards the door.

"He may be my lord but I'd never go that far to please him!" Nyoki laughed softly and the bed squeaked as she left it.

I opened the door and looked back at her. The tiny bit of light briefly gave me a glimpse of her as she crossed the room on her way to the bathroom. Her dark skin almost blended into the shadows around her, but the light reflected off her dark brown eyes and caught her smile. I smiled back and waited until she was in the bathroom before I turned on the light. Vampires eyes were well adjusted to the darkness and it would be more than a little unkind of me to turn on lights when she was least expecting it.

Moments later the shower turned on and I retreated into the kitchen. Tonight I obviously wasn't going to have any sex, so I might as well have a stiff drink. I opened up the fridge and pulled out my half empty, or half full depending on your outlook, bottle of vodka. Snatching the glass I'd used that morning, I filled it up and replaced the bottle into the door of the fridge. Normally I'd mix myself a vodka tonic but I was feeling lazy and I was running low on limes.

The last few hours of working had been mind numbingly boring. I had been following a supposedly cheating husband only to find he had gone out to dinner with coworkers, of which only one was female and she had gone home with one of the other men, not my target. After the dinner he went straight home, making him one of the few people I'd investigated that hadn't cheated. I couldn't help but wonder if his wife would believe me when I gave her the news. It wouldn't be the first time they'd thought I was wrong. Some people just want to believe the worst, even if it destroyed their marriage. At least they didn't have any children to get caught in the crossfire. I hate when that happens.

I moved over to my desk and flopped down into the chair. It creaked loudly in protest but remained in one piece. I knew full well that one of these days I'd sit down and be flung to the floor, but that day hadn't come yet so I continued to mistreat it. Rocking back in the chair I kicked my feet up on the desk, right next to my grandmother's book. After a second of staring at the leather bound novel I picked it up and dropped it in my lap. Several book marks jutted out from between the pages, only two were mine while the last belonged to my grandmother. I ran my fingers over the cover then gently opened it up. Even though it had survived relatively unscathed over the centuries I still treated it with gentle reverence. It had belonged in my family since it was created, passed down from mother to daughter, at least until my mom came along. For whatever reason she had been left out of the loop and it came to be mine. In a little way I felt weird being the first male beneficiary.

Only a few months ago I thought it was just a simple book. Sure, I had thought of it as a really old ugly book, but nothing special. That all changed when I met Nyoki and became one of the 'enlightened'. Funny how the supernaturals and their human counterparts had their own little lingo. Of course now I fell into that category, as one of the human counterparts that is. I was just a mage though, oh sorry, a mage in training.

Even after three months of training three days out of the week I could do little more than struggle through reading magical text. It was a difficult task learning one new language but I had to learn three and once. There was the written language, the spoken one and the actual magical one that was used to cast spells. Though, admittedly the last one was little more than memorization of words. It wasn't that important that I knew what they meant right away, just had an idea of what the results of using them would be.

On the inside cover of the book a list of names took up a good portion of it. Half of them were written in the language of the magi, while the other half were written in a mix of human languages. The last two were mine and my grandmothers. Mine was the odd one out. Apparently I was the first Italian mage in the family. Granted, I'm only half Italian; the rest of me is good and Irish. I even looked more Irish than Italian, with my fair skin, dark brown hair and one blue eye. My other eye of course couldn't really be attached to any real region, though my grandmother claimed it meant I had a bit of fairy in me. As a child I thought that was nonsense, but of course that also changed around the time I met Nyoki. Now it seemed perfectly plausible that one of my ancestors was of fae origins, which would easily explain having one purple eye. That seemed to be a fairly common eye color amongst the fae, or so Dris claimed.

Dris of course was my fairy friend. He's a Ganconer, whatever the fuck that means. All I knew about the Ganconer is that they are supposed to be real pretty and carry around a flute. Once upon a time I would have found that indicative of how limp wristed fairies are but I'd seen him banish both an angel and a demon with a simple song played on his flute. On top of that I had a little altercation with a group of Sidhe, who were supposedly even prettier than the Ganconer and also carried swords, which are a hell of a lot more intimidating than a flute, no matter how you cut it.

I finished off the last drop of vodka and set the glass on the desk, pushing it away from me. After another moment of staring at the list of names I closed the book and put it down beside the empty glass. The shower turned off, and once again my apartment was eerily silent. I leaned over and flipped on my old radio. At first it was silent jazz music suddenly poured out of the speakers. I turned it down, making it little more than background noise slightly louder than the rain.

"I'm going to go now Richard." Nyoki said behind me.

"Alright." I dropped the chair back down to all four feet and stood up.

"You sound so thrilled." She said with an almost audible smirk.

I turned around and felt even less thrilled than I did a second ago. She was wearing a pair of simple jeans that clung tightly to the gentle curves of her hips then continued to hold close to her long slender legs. Her small feet were enclosed in a pair of painfully pointy tan boots. I slowly drew my eyes up to her shirt, which had the bottom half gracelessly chopped off, but revealed her nice flat stomach. It was made to look like a baseball jersey and had red three quarter sleeves. It was the most casual outfit I'd ever seen her in but she looked damned sexy.

"Now I'm jealous." I said putting on my best pouty face.

She walked over to me and leaned against my chest kissing me on the chin, reminding me again how much shorter than me she was. I quickly hugged her, briefly lifting her off her feet before putting her gently back down. She giggled, sounding a lot more innocent than I knew she was.

I ran my fingers across her hairless scalp, far too used to her being bald. By far she had to be the most unusual woman I've ever dated, being a black vampire with alopecia. Though one of my exes was a werewolf, but I didn't know that at the time we'd dated.

"Don't worry; I'll make sure William keeps his hands to himself." She kissed my chin again and wiggled out of my grip.

"What'll you do if he gets too grab happy?" I asked, sticking my hands in my pockets so I could keep myself from snatching her up again.

"I'll tell him you learned fire magic." Nyoki winked and turned around walking towards the door. I enjoyed the view as she retreated out the door.

She wouldn't be lying if she did tell him that. I had recently learned a fire spell. Unfortunately, all I could do was light a candle. I suppose if I was pressed I could use it to singe someone's hair.

The door slipped shut and I went over to lock it. Even though I was weary from work I wasn't physically tired. I glanced at my watch, it was only seven o'clock. After a few moments of consideration I decided to go out for the night. Considering it was a Thursday night the bars would be fairly empty, so at least I wouldn't have to contend with a throng of people. I reached over to the coat rack, picked up my shoulder holster, complete with my Glock 21 and two extra clips of ammo, and pulled it on. After settling it into place I pulled on my duster. In the summer I wore it to keep me dry but in the winter it was invaluable. With the rain and cold weather it was down right unpleasant outside.

*                      *                      *