Til Death We Meet Again
by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Selina Rogers peered into the mirror, her blue eyes shining bright. The wrinkles around the corners crinkling as she smiled. Her fingers fumbled, trying to put her hair into a style her lover would approve of.
“Here Selina, let me,” Bobby said. He brushed her hair, sweeping it back, trying to twist her short tresses into a French braid. Wisps of gray strands stuck out, refusing to be tamed. “Well I tried,” Bobby said ruefully, attempting to push the stray wisps behind her hair. “I can try again in the morning.”
Selina’s eyes twinkled, “It’s not morning I am thinking about. Francois will be coming for me tonight.”
“Who is she talking about,” Ginger asked, whispering into Bobby’s ear. This was Ginger’s first night at Sunnydale Resorts, which wasn’t so much a resort, but a retirement home for the rich and elderly.
“Francois Delacroix,” Bobby said, “the vampire in her book series, ‘Til Death We Meet Again’.”
Bobby helped Selina over to the bed, sitting her down and then lifting her legs and tucking them beneath the blanket. The elderly woman brushed his hands away.”
“I think I would like to sit in my chair. I will be more presentable that way. I shouldn’t be waiting for him in my bed like a common harlot.”
“Selina,” Bobby said, “I promise if Francois comes calling for you, I will come straight away and make you presentable. In the meanwhile, lights out is lights out.” The orderly pulled the side rail up on the bed, made sure the tray was close enough for Selina to reach her cup if she needed a drink and put the button where she could reach it.
“You promise Bobby,” Selina asked.
Ginger followed Bobby out of the room, a puzzled look on her face. “What was that all about?”
“She’s old,” Bobby said, “and her mind is going. Reality and fantasy sometimes blur. You’ve read ‘Til Death We Meet Again’?”
“I don’t read romances,” Ginger said, “especially vampire romances.” The disdain in her voice indicated what she thought of such tales.
“'Til Death We Meet Again' is a cult hit, even with teenagers today. The series ended with Francois telling Amanda that he was leaving her so she could live. He promised her he would return for her at the end of her life.”
“And she believes he is real and that Francois Delacroix is coming for her?” Ginger sounded amused.
“We go through this almost every night. So far no Francois, but Selina doesn’t give up hope; she puts on her best dressing gown every night, fixes her hair and sits up waiting for him.”
“Why do you go along with it,” Ginger asked.
“What harm does it do to play along? It makes her happy. The longer you are here, you will see, sometimes their illusions are all they have. We are all going to die someday, why not have some joy before we go, even if it is just in our mind?”
Selina closed her eyes and fell asleep. In her dream she was young again. Francois held her in his arms and covered her with kisses. Tears filled her eyes as he let her go.
“You are young,” he whispered, kissing her tears away. “You will forget me in time.”
“I will never forget you Francois. Please take me with you.” Selina threw her arms around her love, sobbing into his shoulder. She felt his breath on her neck. His kiss covered her throat and she felt the scrape of his teeth, the sharp point of his fangs. She thrust her neck forward, urging him to finish it and take his bite, making it possible for them to be together forever. Instead her lover pushed her away, making it clear he would not grant her wish.
“You do not know what you ask,” Francois said. “You have barely lived.”
“I am 18,” Selina said, defiance in her voice, her eyes flashing with anger, “I am old enough to know what I want.”
“I have lived for more than a hundred years,” Francois said. “I have seen many things, but I wasn’t given a choice. The vampire that turned me took me from my bed and stole me away from my home without a thought to my wishes. If given a choice, a chance to do it over, I would live my life and grow old. Get married Selina, have children. Travel. Live.”
“I cannot even think of marrying another,” Selina protested.
“You will in time,” Francois said, backing towards her window. “You will soon forget me.”
“Please come back!” Selina fell to her knees beside her bed, crying for her lost love to return. In her mind she heard his voice.
‘Someday, my love; after you have lived. I will return after you have lived.”
Selina kept that memory with her throughout the years. She began writing, putting her memories of Francois and their love to paper. It made a great fantasy romance and was an instant hit with young girls and housewives. She married a wonderful man and had three children. She continued writing, keeping her memories of Francois alive, refusing to forget him.
“Everyone thinks it is a fairy tale,” Selina whispered in her sleep. “If they only knew.”
Opening her eyes, a tear made its way through the maze of wrinkles on her face, coming to rest at the corner of her mouth. The room was quiet. Francois had not come. “Maybe it is all a fairy tale,” Selina said.
“Do not cry my love.”
Selina jumped, startled to hear the thick accent from a voice she had not heard in years, except for her dreams.
“Francois,” she said, sitting up, “you came!”
“I promised you I would.” The vampire caressed Selina’s face, his fingers tracing the wrinkles that were set deep in her face.
“I’m old,” Selina said, looking sheepishly away from Francois, who looked just as she remembered him. His hair was still black, his face smooth, with a strong jaw line. His muscles stood out against his shirt, which was more modern than the suit he had wore when she was young.
“You have lived,” Francois said.
“And do you regret it?”
Selina thought over her life. Thomas had been a good man. She had loved him, but not with the passion she’d loved Francois. She loved her children as well and had enjoyed being a mother. When they’d grown and moved, she and Thomas had retired, traveling and living off the royalties from her books and the pension from his job. He had been a successful executive at the publishing company she’d signed with. When he’d passed away, she felt his loss almost as deeply as she had felt the loss of Francois. And she had grandchildren. And great grandchildren! Her life had been full. She was happy.
“No, I have no regrets,” Selina said.
“Then I made the right decision,” Francois said, relieved. “I thought so. I was there at your wedding. You made a beautiful bride.”
“Why didn’t you come to me,” Selina asked, amazed that he had been there.
“You were his wife. It was not my place to come.”
Selina thought about what he said. She remembered the strange feeling she had felt while she was praying in the chapel before her wedding and then again later, alone in the dressing room. She’d had these feelings off and on throughout her life.”
“When Gabe was born,” Selina said, “I had a dream you were in my hospital room. When I woke, there was a teddy bear…”
“Guilty,” Francois chuckled. “You have such beautiful children. The youngest is the spitting image of you. The oldest though looks so much like Thomas.”
“He is every bit his father’s child,” Selina agreed. She was quiet for a moment before asking, “The flowers that appear on his grave every year?”
“He loved you. I met him once. I had to know for myself what kind of a man he was. If he hadn’t, if he had ever hurt you, I would have stepped in. But he loved you and for that I pay my respects.”
“He did love me,” Selina agreed, “Even when I couldn’t…wouldn’t give him my whole heart. I never told him you were real, but I know he suspected. There were nights I know I called out your name.”
“I am sorry for that,” Francois said. “I never should have made myself known to you in the first place. I should have disappeared that first night.”
“I still would have longed for you,” Selina said, recalling the ball where she’d first seen him. “You were so dashing. All the girls swooned when you entered the room and you didn’t stand a chance once I set my sights on you. What Selina Black wanted, Selina got. Except eternal life. You did manage to hold that back from me.” Her voice wasn’t bitter, she was just speaking the truth.
“I took your innocence,” Francois said, “I could not take your life.”
“I am dying,” Selina said. “I can feel my heart growing weak.”
“I know,” Francois said. “It is time,” Her old lover leaned towards her neck. Selina felt his breath approaching and put out a hand to stop him.
“My teeth are no longer my own and I am old. What kind of vampire would I make?”
Francois chuckled, “A beautiful one.” Then he kissed her neck, his mouth moving its way towards the spot he remembered she loved. He nibbled a little, teasing her. His fingers twisted themselves into her hair, memory of their passion inciting a desire in him he had not felt for any other woman. Selena’s heart raced, threatening to burst through her chest. Then she felt a sharp pain pierce her neck, for just a brief moment. Her blood drained from her body, flowing into Francois and Selina felt her body dying. Then she felt Francois put his wrist to her mouth and the sweet tasting nectar of his life blood filling her.
Bobby was nearly finished with his night rounds. He’d sent Ginger on her break, tired of her constant chatter. He hated training newbies. Opening the door to Selina’s room he was shocked to see her bed empty. Then he saw movement by the window. A woman was there, half in and half out. Their eyes met and he wondered how she could look so familiar. Then she smiled and the eyes, a bright blue, twinkled at him. He knew those eyes.
“I told you he would come Bobby,” Selina said. “He kept his promise, and look, I am young again!”
Bobby took a step towards her, then stopped, his heart hammering in his chest. She smiled at him one last time, mouthing thank you, before disappearing out the window.
“Wait,” he called, rushing to the window, where the woman he’d come to love as he did his own grandmother had been. “Take me with you.”
In his head he heard her say, “Live Bobby. Enjoy life and one day we will meet again.”
copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.