I was not expecting him to come back to the apartment.
Part of me wished he would stay away, and go hide wherever it is that vampires go, when they are done doing whatever it is they came to do in the first place.
But what had been Aidan's intentions? He gave me hope, and warmth, and laughter during a time when it was kind of rare in my life.
So a few days later, when there was a knock on my door, a part of me fluttered when I heard that clunking sound on the door to my apartment. Chubbs ran away, since he was no fan of visitors in general. My palms started to sweat.
But when my eye peered out the peephole of the door, it was Andrew who looked back at me, not Aidan.
I un-hooked the chain and opened the door.
"You can come in." I muttered insincerely.
There were still bruises all over Andrew's face, and he was looking thin and nervous, but he seemed a hundred times better than when I'd seen him last time. His rat-like features were unfortunately highlighted by a shiner under his left eye.
"Thanks" Andrew abrupted. "Hey. Ashley... you want your job back or not?"
I eyed him with skepticism. "What's the catch?"
"No catch. I think we can be mature about this."
"You mean after you went missing and showed up at Jessica's place with no explanation as to your whereabouts, with your whole body stinking like sex, she dumped you- then quit- and you need a magazine editor, pronto, to make your deadlines, or you'll probably loose your job."
Andrew seemed like denial crossed his mind, briefly tried to look offended, then gave up and grunted, "Yeah, pretty much".
I sighed and swore under my breath.
"I didn't notice that Aidan guy around here. You two break up or something?"
I opened my mouth, but then shut it again. "It's personal." I said politely, shrugging my shoulders. I wasn't sure exactly what Aidan and I were anymore. He scared the hell out of me. But I missed him. A little.
With Aidan gone- temporarily or not- the fact remained, I was out of a job- any job. And my rent would be due at the end of the month.
"Shit." I concentrated very hard on the floor. "I'll come back and work for you, Andrew."
"Oh that's great!" Andrew sounded genuinely relieved. "Check your email, okay? There are about thirty articles you need to go over by Thursday."
Of course there were.
"Alright I'll do that. I'll try to stop back in the office sometime later today and get the departments up and running again."
I could use a little distration right about now anyway, I thought, with a longing glance at the black motorcycle boots paired up at at corner in my kitchen.
I ushered Andrew back out of the door, feeling a little bit of relief about the money, and some pity for what he's been through, and a tiny bit less angry with him.
Then I showered and got dressed, and locked up my apartment.
I didn't live very far from the fashion magazine office. It felt weird being back in there, again, under entirely new circumstances. After greeting the few friends I had in the building, I carefully checked my old desk and rolling chair for boobie traps. Finding none. I sat down and got to work.
Jess had been pretty, but she was a crap editor. From the looks of it, she had done almost nothing during her time here. As all usurpers go, Jess was all talk and very little substance, and she eventually earned exactly what she deserved.
I worked until about seven, which meant that everyone else had left about three hours ago, so I had the whole building to myself.
I only started noticing how creepy the building was at night, because there were no longer any of the familiar office sounds; no voices, no fax machines and photocopiers running, no music playing quietly at someone's cubicle.
I shut down my computer, and headed home.
It was still very early in the evening, so there were plenty of people on the street. This was better.
Navigating my way through a crowd, I heard a very familiar velvety voice from behind me.
"You still mad at me?"
I spun around- and there he was, wearing one of the black thermal shirts I had chosen for him, and a dark pair of jeans that looked so good on him a nun would sweat.
He was tall and broad shouldered, and stood as still as a statue. The streetlights glinted off of his blonde hair in such a way that he appeared to have a halo, like an angel.
Again I swore under my breath, but of course he heard me.
He frowned, "That word is not becoming of a lady such as yourself, and I am ashamed that it was me who caused it to cross those perfect lips."
I flushed a little bit.
"Okay, so what's the deal?" I spoke as I walked, and to my delight he followed alongside me.
"You mean that it disgusts you how we treat each other" he was referring to vampires.
"Well... yeah." I admitted.
He nodded slightly. "You have to remember most of us came from times when people were a lot more brutal. Death is just... part of life."
"But it's horrific" I remembered Esperanza's face. "Death is very serious"
He laughed when I said that. I turned my head to glare at him.
His chuckle stopped. "Let me explain, please. It's very different for me. For people like me. I am much older than you are... and I've seen a whole lot. Believe me, nothing should ever be taken too seriously."
We waited for an older couple to walk past our path. They seemed happy- one of those couples that shares a lifetime of memories, made it through two wars, raised their kids, grew old together, and would inevitable be separated by tragedy sooner or later.
Were all things less than serious?
I shrugged. "I guess that's a positive outlook on life."
People had always said I was extremely sensitive. I felt a little befuddled by the whole concept of respect for life, versus every man for himself.
"If you had fun, that's all that really matters" He nodded to the couple "It doesn't matter that one of them is going to die- they had a good life. Time is irrelevant."
"I did enjoy our time together" I admitted.
He grinned at me wickedly. "I am honored to have shared in your life, and your bed, for the brief time we did."