The Vampire’s Angel
Damian Serbu © 2018
All Rights Reserved
One: Angel Sighting
14 May 1789
The night at last darkened as Thomas wandered the Parisian streets, feeling the people’s anger. Though the current French environment shunned the wealthy, Thomas’s commanding presence allowed him to walk about with little resistance. Besides, if his personality failed to assuage someone, his American citizenship placated them soon enough. Coming from a land that had already tossed out a king provided him a certain reverence.
The evening proved calm, however, with no one shouting or rioting. Perhaps later, Thomas might venture to the salons for conversation, but for the moment, he watched the common people as he headed from his flat along the Seine toward the Bastille. He sought the poor that evening, not the stuffy rich who bored him even in their nastiness.
Thomas dodged a puddle of mud and almost ran into a wealthy woman.
She grunted but then smiled when she looked up at him. “Pardon me.”
“It was my fault.” Thomas bowed. “I should apologize to you.”
She giggled and walked away, but not before turning around to glance at him one more time.
His reflection in a nearby window reminded him why so many women and men stopped to admire him. His muscular frame, his long black hair tied in a bow at the base of his neck, and his all-black attire, which defied the contemporary fashion of men wearing bright colors, combined to create an allure. Thomas knew he possessed a sex appeal. He captivated them so much they seldom commented with their usual prejudice on his darker complexion.
He turned onto Rue St. Louis and headed north. The houses there were dingier, the streets narrower, and the people dirtier. He traveled well into a residential area and found a secluded corner, the perfect place to watch for that night’s prey.
A few workers stumbled by, already drunk and searching for their homes, then some children frolicked along with a group of women. Still, nothing tempted him. Next, a soldier patrolled the streets and stared at him with suspicion, a prey that proved more to Thomas’s liking. Unfortunately, he saw goodness in the soldier’s face. He would not tempt fate with that one. The young man brushed a lock of blond hair out of his eye and passed as Thomas watched and marveled at his beautiful tight backside when he faded into the night.
Thomas nearly lost his breath when he turned and looked the other way. An angel?
The man had short brown hair, piercing hazel eyes, and soft skin. He carried the slight tone in his muscles, which so attracted Thomas, with a hint of nervousness. Not too masculine, but neither too feminine.
As the gentleman passed, Thomas fell in behind to study him further.
Only after Thomas almost drooled over the beauty in front of him did the clothing hit him. A priest. Thomas shook his head. How on earth did a godlike creature end up serving that vile Catholic Church?
He followed, anyway, hiding among the buildings and trailing so quietly that the priest never suspected a man behind him scrutinized every angle of his body beneath the black robe.
As they passed a narrow street, the priest turned and peered toward the cramped passage, then dashed down it. Thomas rushed to follow and hid in a doorway nearby.
“Can I help you?” the priest asked. “What is it?” He knelt before a young girl, perhaps no more than four, and placed his hand on her shoulder. She sobbed and slumped against the priest, who wrapped his arms around her. “Talk to me. You’re safe. What can I do?”
Her breathing finally slowed. “I’m lost.”
“What’s your name, dear?”
“Delphine,” she whispered.
“Well, Delphine, we’ll find your home. Can you give me some clues?”
Thomas listened as the priest quizzed her. She relaxed as the conversation continued and giggled as the priest joked and moved down the long alley with her, talking to her until he stooped down and picked her up while continuing to chat.
“Do you think we’re close?” he asked.
“I think so.” She looked around, clinging to him.
“Ah! Delphine!” A woman ran toward them, so the priest put the girl on the ground and stood aside as she sprinted to collapse in the woman’s arms.
“Mama,” she shouted.
“I’ve looked everywhere for you,” her mother replied. “What did I tell you about wandering away? We have just moved, after all. You’ll get lost in this big city.” Then she crossed herself. “Abbé, God intervened yet again to save my daughter.”
“Merely one of his servants, Madame.” The sound of his resonant voice sent waves of passion through Thomas.
“How can I repay you?” she asked.
“You owe me nothing,” the priest said as he turned to Delphine. “And you, little one, you must be careful in Paris. You can get lost easily, so stay close to your mother.”
She giggled as he tickled her stomach. “I will, Abbé.”
After they left, the priest turned and his eyes widened when he saw Thomas. He paused.
“Monsieur, pardon me. I didn’t see you.”
“I didn’t mean to startle you, Father. Good evening.” They gazed at each other for a long moment.
“No harm. Good evening, sir.” The priest nodded and walked away.
Too good to be true. Thomas stalked the priest as he turned the corner and entered the gate of a small church. There, Thomas leaned against a building, breathing heavily from the passion that erupted inside him, a longing he must satisfy. He wanted to stand outside the church and wait for the priest, or even knock on the door and talk to him again, but he was too unsettled. He remembered an establishment nearby that would serve his purpose well, so he raced to it, slammed through the doors, and sat before he fell, when a young man of about eighteen years approached him.
“Monsieur, you look unwell. Can I assist you?”
The youngster wasted little time. He needed a bath, but otherwise presented an adorable face and solid little body.
“What are you offering?” Thomas smirked.
“Come, I’ll show you.” He grabbed Thomas’s hand and pulled him up a stairway and into a dimly lit room. “I assume you know this’ll cost you, and that I don’t play the passive role.”
“Quite the entrepreneur. I can pay what you charge.” Thomas closed the door and embraced the youth as he kissed him. With great speed, he threw the youngster onto the bed and tore off both of their clothes.
“Slow down,” the young man pleaded.
Thomas did so and kissed the boy’s neck. His fangs descended, and he softly pricked the dirty skin to taste the blood before he took their interaction further.
“Do you enjoy biting?” the boy asked.
“Only momentarily,” Thomas replied before he plunged his fangs into the vein for a deeper taste.
As the hot liquid flowed across his lips, images of the boy’s life saturated Thomas’s mind. The vision confirmed what Thomas already ascertained. The young man prostituted himself part-time and was a useless degenerate who attacked and robbed innocent people. He assaulted children, including his brother, for sport. Ah, yes. And, of course, he murdered without remorse.
He grabbed the young man’s hair and kissed him, then rolled him over against his will. He struggled for the first time, but Thomas held him tightly.
“I told you,” he said, “I don’t—”
Thomas clamped his hand over the victim’s mouth. “Relax.” He stopped squirming and Thomas let him go. “What if I double the price? Or triple it, even?”
The lad contemplated for a moment. “Triple? Just to bugger me?”
Thomas petted his hair. “Yes.”
“Fine. But I won’t like it.” Yet he ground his ass into Thomas’s crotch.
Thomas thrust inside of him and pounded. The young man wriggled and bit his lower lip, but he never tried to stop Thomas until the vampire finished, his tension released as he exploded inside the nice bubble ass.
Sated, he released the lad, who pushed him off, cursing. “I told you, and I warned you, you ass.” He scrambled off the bed and snatched a knife from under the mattress, and in his nakedness came toward Thomas.
When the youth tried to stab him, Thomas grabbed his wrist and squeezed hard until the blade dropped to the floor. He pulled the young man toward him and stared into his eyes, his expression terrified.
“I thought we had an agreement? Besides, you can’t win. You won’t haunt this city anymore. Go peacefully.”
Thomas bent the boy’s head to the side and plunged his fangs back into the flesh, sucking the delicious blood until the youth’s heart stopped.
Thomas kissed the puncture wounds to heal them and flung the corpse to the floor before dressing, loving that a large city meant no one questioned yet another death. Sexually satisfied and fed, he brushed his clothing off before hurrying down the stairs and out the door without anyone noticing.
Two: Background Politics
15 May 1789
Nothing excited Catherine in her thirty-one years like the political events swirling around her over the previous few months. She hated the famine and unrest that accompanied the changes in Paris, but still relished the intrigue. Despite being alone, she rolled her eyes as her middle brother’s voice echoed through her mind.
“Catherine, you’re of noble birth. It’s not proper for you to engage in these political discussions,” Michel repeated so often it nauseated her. Of course, he only repeated what too many men of his class blabbered about in order to keep women subservient to them. He always followed that comment with his trope about how “your fierce independence and refusal to marry embarrasses the family.”
Liberty, equality, and égalité. That excited her! Not proper decorum and floating about the house as a mindless idiot.
“Abbé,” she exclaimed, jumping out of her chair at the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. “You’re late, and it’s already dark. But come here, I’ve a lot to tell you.”
Xavier smiled as he walked into the room. She saw her brother almost every day, but never stopped marveling at his angelic face, his dark hair, and his hazel eyes that sparkled. Even his clerical garb added a forbidden allure. Her friends lamented his entering the priesthood, and thus terminating his eligibility, but Catherine suspected Father Saint-Laurent desired something else.
“Would you please just call me Xavier? I can’t be your abbé. I know too much about your sins.” Xavier held his cross to his chest as he leaned over to kiss her cheek. Then he sat opposite her and smiled again. “I assume that all of this unrest excites you?”
“This is the dawn of a new era! Women may be able to vote. Did you see the riot this morning?”
“I heard about it. People protest the famine. They won’t starve without a protest.”
Dear Xavier, he always worried first about how it affected others. She sighed. He fretted too much, consumed with anxiety and seldom able to relax or enjoy himself.
“You worry too much.”
Xavier ignored her comment. “Perhaps we’ll see something new since the Estates General is meeting at Versailles after all these years, especially since Louis doubled the Third Estate to include more of the masses.”
“These bread riots can’t continue forever.” Catherine smoothed her dress over her abdomen. “The king and church better pay attention. Can you forgive my denunciation of your precious church?”
“Ah, the lovely church in Rome,” he said. “I love that it ignores the poor and supports the elite. God didn’t give Louis some ordained right to reign. I’ve always found the sentiment preposterous.”
“Still defiant after all that training.”
“Stop teasing me. The church owns too much land. It makes too much money at the expense of commoners. And even the common curé suffers in poverty while the church hierarchy lives in luxury. But this turbulence alarms me. The king already sent troops to quell the riot at Faubourg St. Antoine when the workers rebelled in April. How will the violence end?”
“How else will change occur?” Catherine arched an eyebrow. “On the bright side, Louis must listen to everyone now. Can you imagine what Michel must think?”
“I’m sure he abhors it.”
She shrugged. “I hope that this broadens his horizons. Since Father died, he takes such responsibility in caring for us, in acting like the patriarch. He should restrict his ordering people about to the military.”
“But he does have charge over us. It’s custom. What can he do?”
“He can pretend to lead us and do his responsibility without pushing.” Her voice rose as she spoke. “Who ensures the family investments? Who meets with the financiers and managers? Who pays the bills? I do. So, what gives him the right to appear three or four times a year and pretend that he rules the house?”
Xavier nodded without a word.
“I’ve thought about opening the doors of this house to anyone who would like to discuss the current political situation. What do you think Michel would have to say about a Saint-Laurent Salon?”
“I’m sure he’d relish the idea,” Xavier said sarcastically.
“And he still frets about your choice to serve in that god-awful parish.”
“That god-awful parish deserves God’s guidance as much as those who parade off in the finest clothes once a week to pretend to follow His word while they exploit people the rest of the week,” Xavier snapped.
Catherine scurried over to him and gave him a hug, then pecked him on the cheek. “Got you. I knew that some passion hid in that black finery somewhere. Come, let’s go to the terrace.” She turned without waiting and walked toward the wall of windows and doors that led to a large veranda overlooking Rue St. Denis. The Saint-Laurent compound—the largest on the street—housed only Catherine and servants now that Michel served in the military and Xavier slept in his rectory.
Catherine spun around and hugged Xavier again as he walked through the door. “Forgive me for teasing you.”
“Only God can forgive your transgressions,” he said with a sigh, though a smile hovered on his lips.
“Don’t you sound like a Huguenot. I thought the pope bestowed the power of God upon Catholic priests.”
“Oh, and did you hear what else is happening?”
“I can’t keep up with your mind.”
Catherine grinned. “The city formed a new government. I heard rumors in the salons for weeks about it, and when I went to Madame de Tesse’s salon yesterday—and spare me the admonitions of being careful about where I go—they said that the riots prompted a reorganization to a bourgeois militia because of the looting. How exciting! Now, let’s go. Walk me to the church so I may light an indulgence for Father and Mother.”
“Of course. To Notre Dame.” Xavier headed for the door.
“No, I want to see your church.”
“I hardly think you need to venture into that neighborhood.”
“Stop sheltering me. You sound like Michel. Besides, you hate seeing the elders who run that big old church, and the river stinks this time of year.”
Catherine pulled him into the street and they headed east, toward his small parish.
“Stay for dinner,” Catherine commanded Xavier when they returned to the house after visiting his church. “You don’t eat enough, and that parish can’t feed you.”
He laughed. “I’ll stay.” Xavier watched Catherine rushed around the house, telling the servants to prepare dinner. His sister possessed more energy than all of the horses in the king’s army.
Xavier made his way into the dining room, followed soon by Catherine, who raced in and smiled as she fell into a chair.
“What?” she asked, petulant. “Why are you looking at me?”
“I’m in awe of your interest in the revolution. You weren’t the least bit scared today.”
“That’s not remarkable.”
“Do you think the violence will persist? I hate it. I have to shelter people in the sanctuary while everyone runs around the streets fighting like lunatics. If the bishop found out how I assisted with this mess—”
Catherine barked a laugh to interrupt him. “How on earth can the bishop claim you’re involved in the riots by harboring innocent people?”
“The sanctuary is a holy place and reserved for appropriate worship of our Father in Heaven.”
“Please. Maybe we should ransack Notre Dame to give them a taste of reality.”
Xavier laughed. He tolerated church politics because the Parisian elders seldom ventured into his impoverished parish so near the Bastille.
“Did you hear Madame Bregat when we passed her?” Catherine asked, polishing her silverware with her napkin.
“Yes, she was so terrified that her voice quivered.”
Catherine rolled her eyes. “Typical aristocracy. All of this has them in a complete tizzy. Don’t they see the chance for profound change?”
“Did you ever think that most of them despise the thought? They’re not accustomed to the bourgeoisie running about demanding governing rights, let alone peasants rioting on country estates.”
“Well,” Catherine stated flatly, “I’m not afraid.”
But instead of launching into another polemic, Catherine grew quiet and stared past Xavier.
“Your silence unnerves me more than the rioting.” He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. “What is it?”
“You know what today is, don’t you?”
“I try to forget. This entire month brings sad memories.” Xavier fought the pain that had weighed on his mind all day.
“I wish I could forget. It hurts. What would he think about the turmoil?”
Xavier rubbed his forehead, remembering how his father had tried to mediate between the monarchy, the bourgeoisie, and all the lower sorts. He died the previous year of “natural causes,” though it seemed unnatural at the time because of his age. The doctor had said his health failed. Xavier missed him. His father, more so than anyone else in his family, understood his choice to enter the priesthood and even accepted his decision to avoid Catholic politics in so doing. His eyes welled with tears.
“Oh, dear. I didn’t mean—” Catherine took Xavier’s hand and squeezed, as if to pinch the pain out of him.
“I’m fine,” he muttered, brushing at his eyes. “Don’t worry. I think about him anyway. Talking about him feels good.”
“How can this be good?”
“Because it honors him, reminds me of what he taught, and keeps me focused on helping people.”
“It’s peculiar. Until I went abroad to tour, I never realized our privileged position,” Catherine said. “Not because he sheltered us, but because he didn’t. He wanted us to see all classes of people and consider ourselves members of mankind without concern for wealth. It surprises me that he instilled this so well in all three of us.”
Xavier patted her hand. “I have the strangest conversations with fellow clergy because of him. They either come from the aristocracy and spurn the common people or from the lower ends of society and sneer at the rich. I see both points of view, and they think me insane, on both sides. Only Father could create a theology that allowed me to enter the rigid Catholic Church, with all of its emphasis on power and privilege, and not forget to honor everyone.”
“I miss him, too,” Catherine said. “He’d be so proud of you.”
“Speaking of the unrest,” Xavier mused aloud, “how would Father handle this? He insisted we obey the king and act as middlemen between the monarchy and the people.”
“But what happens when everyone wants to overthrow the king?”
“No one wants to overthrow the king. You always take things to the extreme.”
She snorted. “If Americans threw King George out, perhaps the French will dismiss Louis. Father envisioned stability so long as everyone respected each other, but with starvation and poverty and high taxes, things have to change. See why we need a salon here?” She stopped when a servant entered the room. “Oh, look, dinner.”
“How can dinner possibly surprise you when you ordered it?”
“Don’t patronize me.”
He rolled his eyes. “I wonder what Michel thinks.”
“Our brother probably ignores it.”
“Stop it. Try to consider his point of view. Michel must be having a hard time reconciling his loyalty oath to the crown and what Father taught us.”
“Father made one big mistake.” Catherine gripped her fork. “He allowed Michel to enter the military too soon. The army shaped him too much. Michel got lost in that disciplined world.”
“It was a noble calling, Catherine. Michel wanted to please Father by following in his footsteps.”
“I know that. But Michel doesn’t have Father’s independence. For example, look at your name. Everyone expected Papa to name you after some member of the monarchy, but he refused because he had served with a Basque general. To honor their friendship, he named you after that man’s favorite saint. So you walk around with a Basque name in the middle of Paris because of Father’s friendship and respect for someone who helped him.” She said her monologue in one breath, paused, took a drink of wine, and continued. “The difference being that Michel would obediently name you Louis and be done with it.” She set her glass back down. “That’s all I’m saying.”
“Thanks for the history lesson. Are you finished?” His stomach clenched, knotting like it always did when he and Catherine argued.
“No. One more thing. Michel already cautioned me about the riots, remember? He can’t decide what to do. That proves my point,” she exclaimed.
“No one put you on trial. I agree, Michel’s afraid. I remember sitting with Father while Michel asked over and over again about the paradox of obeying the king and helping the people. He explained that the monarchy, by its very nature, rules because we need an established order. But the king’s privileged position prohibits him from understanding the bourgeoisie and the poor. So the nobility exists to explain to each group how to behave.”
“You listened to Father’s lessons. I forgot half of what he said. I liked to look out the window. Michel must have stared at the ceiling too much too.” She smirked.
He set his fork down. “Can we forget about Michel before you start arguing with him, even when he’s not here?”
“You’re too good. You need a little more spite in your blood to spice up your life.”
“That’s why I have you.”
She giggled. “It is hard to live up to our name and change with the times.”
The name. Xavier heard a million times growing up about the importance of the name. Saint-Laurent. A noble clan. How many times did he hear about his great-great uncle who tutored Philippe D’Orleans? Or others who served kings or rose to prominence in the army and church?
“Since you almost empathized with Michel,” Xavier announced as he pushed back from the table, “I’m leaving on that peaceful note.”
“I have to return to the church.”
“Why? Do you have to wax a crucifix?”
“I’m sorry. Seriously, stay.”
“I really have to leave.”
Too late. She had figured it out.
“The garden!” She laughed as Xavier turned red with embarrassment. “You still try to grow edible food in that garden?” She escorted him to the door.
“Well, I do have some business to review. So I’ll let you go off to your futile enterprise.”
Xavier shook his head, still marveling that she managed all family affairs. Thank heaven their father recognized Catherine as the most intelligent of his children and thus defied convention by tutoring her to run the family, not one of his sons. Xavier kissed her on the cheek and headed down the front steps with a backward wave before walking away.
Back at his church, Xavier worked in his small garden even after darkness fell and the nearby lantern barely illuminated the street around it, let alone his humble plants.
Startled, he whipped around.
“I’m sorry to startle you again.”
Xavier cleared his throat, nervous. It was the man from earlier in the day, with the long black hair, piercing brown eyes, and American accent. “I didn’t hear you approach.” Xavier wiped his hands on his robe.
They stared at each other until the stranger broke the silence. “Perhaps I should introduce myself. Thomas, Father. Thomas Lord.”
Xavier cocked his head, quizzical. “You’re not from Paris.”
“What gave me away?”
“Your accent. And complexion.”
“I’m here on business.”
“Welcome to Paris. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.” Xavier wanted to say more, to keep the man near him, but he was at a loss for words. How strange.
“I—I wondered if… Can I go to confession? With you.”
Xavier smiled. “You’re not Catholic, either.”
“No,” Thomas said. “I’m not. I’m not Catholic, nor of any religion. And I’m not in Paris on business. I’m here by myself and felt lonely. I saw you protect that little girl earlier this evening and thought perhaps you could show me around Paris. I’m from America and wanted to see the rioting.” He stopped. “Sorry to babble.”
Xavier studied Thomas, noting his musculature, even in the dark. It prompted the most sinful of thoughts. “I doubt you’ll find Paris too welcoming these days, but I’d be happy to show you around.” He paused, considering. “You needn’t lie anymore. Just ask if you want my company.”
“Can you forgive me, Abbé? I was confused about your being a priest and what etiquette to use,” Thomas said, watching for Xavier’s response.
“You weren’t sure if I had the time for a heathen?” Xavier smiled. “Or did you fear some divine judgment? Well, don’t. As I said, I’d be delighted to show you Paris.”
“You don’t mind that I’m not Catholic?”
“Not all of us are so narrow-minded as to demand a certain brand of faith from everyone we meet. All of us are God’s children, after all.”
“What am I supposed to call you, then?” Thomas asked, picking at the sleeve of his coat. “Abbé? Father?”
“Since you don’t seek spiritual counseling, and so long as you promise not to enter my confessional, how about Xavier?”
Thomas grinned and a strange little spark danced down Xavier’s spine. “Agreed,” he said. “What would you think of starting my tour of Paris at the Seine? I love the breeze and view of Paris from there.”
“I’d be delighted.” Xavier nodded and smiled in retur