Stuck for ideas on what to get his wealthy, blind, vampire lover for Christmas, Kevin comes up with the idea of recovering Danton’s long-lost but much-favored glass eyes from their home in a Wild West museum. But one touch of the eyes and Kevin is swept by his developing clairvoyant powers into a psychic nightmare of the old Wild West the eyes ‘witnessed’ while still in Danton’s head. The journey reveals a gunslinger Sheriff Danton, brings to light the lingering threat of Danton’s violent vampire ex-lover, and ultimately seals a new bond between Kevin and Danton in a Christmas to remember.
A Very Vampire Christmas
Author: Mark Lesney
Release Date: December 10, 2018
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 21600
Book Length: Novelette
Sex Content: Non-Explicit
Warning: graphic violence
A Very Vampire Christmas
Mark Lesney © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Christmas shopping for your boss, who’s very, very rich, when you are comparatively poor, can make for a difficult start. Throw in the fact he’s your lover of less than two months, and it complicates matters even more. Add in that he’s a 1200-year-old vampire and also blind, and you maximize the difficulty a hundredfold.
So, I wasn’t exactly eavesdropping on his phone conversation as I stood outside his office door in the residential Georgetown townhouse—more like mansion—we now shared—so much as I was trying to get ideas before I felt compelled to ask him what he wanted. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than taking away the surprise of Christmas gifting by filling out requests. But I was getting desperate.
I was also trying to be polite rather than bursting in. Because one of the few things I’d already learned on my own, without any coaching from Diana—Danton’s literary agent and the woman who had actually hired me—was how my vampire boss hated to be interrupted when he was on the phone. It wasn’t hard to listen, as the call was on speaker phone, something Danton seemed to prefer.
“So, how’s the Kevin working out? It’s about time you took up with some human toy again. We all worry about you, you know.” A gruff voice I didn’t recognize reverberated in an accent I had never heard before.
“I don’t think he’d appreciate being called ‘the Kevin,’ as if he were something I picked up from an online catalog,” Danton replied.
Hearing my name being talked about by my relatively new employer and some unknown caller was also more than enough to pause my knock on the wide oak door to Danton’s office slash writer’s retreat. I didn’t recognize the voice on the phone, but I certainly recognized the hint of humor in Danton’s reply. Of course, he knew I was out here listening. You couldn’t eavesdrop on a thousand-plus-year-old vampire—who, even though blind, could probably sense a hummingbird fluttering in the Georgetown townhouse garden next door if he really set his mind to it.
“Kevin, Kyle, the Fonz, even a Brad…what difference does it make? Human males are all interchangeable, I should think—especially for you, after all these years. You are blind, anyway… Surely all cocks and arseholes in your endless dark are pretty much the same, aren’t they? I would imagine. I presume he bathes. Or do human males still stink? I know human females are tasty little things and tend to smell all right. I used to find the Barbies nice when I was a few years younger…then there were the Mariettas and the Griseldas of my prime…”
I hoped the caller was being metaphorical about the taste issue. Given the fact Danton was a vampire, one couldn’t necessarily be sure. He’d told me he hadn’t seen or heard of many other vampires in the past few centuries, and the only one he was willing to talk about was one he stumbled upon in 1787 in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention, when he had managed to keep Ben Franklin from succumbing to the bloodthirsty charms of a woman whose lustiness was due to far more than just a life of ill repute.
The encounter had proved sadly fatal for that bloodthirsty lady, and Danton once said he had run into only one other vampire since then, with or without a makeshift wooden stake made of a convenient table leg. And it was someone he refused to talk about. So who—or what—was he talking to?
“How do you know about Kevin anyway? I can’t believe Diana filled you in,” Danton said.
“No, your tight-lipped little human slave—or agent as you prefer to call her—kept her pretty lips shut when I tried to ask questions. But she had to email me the salary checks to sign. And the other vouchers. Though how you expect me to deduct soiled Halloween costumes from your taxes as a business expense is something I will have to give my son to deal with. He’s the most creative cheat I know.” Filial pride shined in the words almost beaming from the phone.
“Like father, like son,” Danton muttered, but loud enough even I could hear beyond the door.
“You’re lucky my family readily took to business, as so few of my kind do. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone else you could trust across four centuries. Haven’t I made us all rich, even enough for your hobbies and peccadilloes?”
“Yes, indeed you have. And I am grateful you took up being an enforcer for a loan shark back in the Renaissance. But I have to say goodbye now, or “the Kevin,” as you call him, will start wearing out the Persian carpet in the hall. He’s fidgeting outside my door, like a bona fide employee waiting for the boss.”
“Good. Treat your lovers like servants and your servants like lovers, and you’ll never a teary day.” The words rolled off the strangely gruff voice with ease. As if it were a motto or a cliché. But from what sort of culture? Hopefully not one Danton put much stock in.
“If I did that, I’d have to buy you dinner, wouldn’t I?”
“Yes, but I could get it deducted from your taxes as a business expense.”
“Goodbye, Karlan,” Danton said firmly. And the other voice laughed but said nothing more before hanging up. “Come in, Kevin.”
Having spent a bizarre two weeks of my aborted college career in a student production of The Importance of Being Earnest, I knew enough to take my cue and hurried in. It was not an inapt comparison. Because Danton’s study was like something a stage designer would have come up with to portray the inner mind of an old moneyed aristocrat whose sense of comfort was tied closely to expensive furniture and wooden wall paneling, sculptures, and dainty bric-a-brac—all of which were priceless antiques.
In the theater production, they would have been fakes. But these were very, very real, and every time I went into the office, I was terrified of scratching a priceless wooden chair or breaking some fine porcelain creation. There were no paintings on the walls, only carved and pounded masks—of every time and culture: ancient, old, and modern, in every form of media from bronze to wood to clay, to papier-mâché harlequins from New Orleans or 17th Century France; I forgot which was which. Who could tell? The mantle over the fireplace was covered with porcelain figurines—dainty shepherdesses, nimble fauns, and posing unicorns with virgin damsels hanging on.
Every item in his sanctuary was a wonder of tactile complexity and almost begged to be touched. Even if I didn’t dare, since a certain clumsiness was one of my more endearing traits.
But I presume Danton enjoyed exploring their complexity with his long, delicate, pale fingers. Fingers with considerable expertise in a number of areas, as I had learned to my delight when we first met on Halloween not so very long ago.
There weren’t any paintings in Danton’s private office. Which made sense for a blind man, even one who could detect the subtlest changes in infrared and the faintest air currents around him through his skin, and echo locate from every slight noise in the room.
But none of that could help him look at the flat surface of a book or a painting. Or a computer screen or smartphone, for that matter. Such things were lost to him, even when he went full out, subvocally clicking his tongue to create sonar-like sounds usually only he could hear, unless he became desperate or excited and needed to “see” in a finer detail than normal ambient sounds of movement could give him.
That’s why the phone he’d been talking to was not the latest smartphone, but more like some telegrapher’s relay, with dozens of buttons marked with braille tying him to the relatively few people, and I use the term liberally, he knew and talked to in the outside world.