It wouldn't be so hard to believe. Unless you knew Katie.
Katie shuddered violently.
"I guess they'll wonder all their lives...." Her voice trailed off. Jamie's throat was so tight he couldn't speak. "Jamie," she said suddenly. "Make love to me."
"W-w-what?" he stammered, drawing back from, searching her eyes.
"Make love to me. Now."
"Katie, don't, come on, don't... I told you, I can't let you go." It killed him, that she'd try even this, she'd be this desperate to escape.
"I know. It's not that—I don't expect—I only have a short time to be alive—I can be alive, Jamie, not much longer! I want to feel all I can, do all I can, be alive all I can. There's so many things I wanted to do! I thought I had the time ... go back to school, maybe try to write ... get married, have lots of babies ... I wanted to ice-skate in downtown New York at Christmas ... I wanted to know what it was like, making love ... And now, there's no more time ... That... thing is going to ... I won't let him be the first!"
Her eyes were feverish as she clutched his arm.
"B-b-but Katie, you don't love me."
Jamie knew that was important to nice girls, important that they were loved in return. He never understood why they had to play that game, it was so pathetic, how they didn't seem to realize "love" was an easy word from a man with a hard-on. But now, when it was true, he was too scared to speak....
"No, not like I do Mitch...," she was saying, "but in a way, I do—in a way I always have; I've always known you were lonely, Jamie, and somehow, we've been together, now ... I do love you Jamie, a little...."
"I couldn't. It'd be like raping you or something, taking advantage ... Katie, I don't want to do wrong stuff anymore, and I'm having a tough time figuring out what's right."
"Jamie, please ... don't let him be my first time. Let me get to choose...."
She was unbuttoning her shirt, it hung open, she released, removed her bra. "Katie, don't—"
Her lips on his stopped his breath. So soft. So gentle...
He groaned as his hand slid almost involuntarily inside her shirt, found and caressed her breast, the nipple hardening in his hand....
It had been so long ... and Jamie hadn't even been sure he'd be able to again, had thought maybe that part of him had died.... He'd lived so long with cold and death and darkness ... Katie was warmth and life and light....
She fit in his arms like she belonged there. Her kiss said more than words. Slowly, he pushed her back down. She drew him to her. He kissed her eyes and cheeks, went back to explore her mouth....
She took in his tongue, gently sucked it. Her hands caressed his back. He had never dreamed such tenderness ... she did love him, just a little....
He'd always wondered what the girl felt, how it was for them, and it was like Katie was telling him ... he knew what she was feeling, what should come next... he forgot what he'd learned from other women. There was only Katie now. In a way, it was his first time, too ... he felt alive ... so much alive....
She gasped when he put his mouth to her breast, removed her jeans, settling between her legs. He couldn't stop kissing her.
Their hearts seemed to beat together, their minds intertwined as well. A comfort, a healing, a sharing ... alive ... alive ... alive....
The welcoming movement her body made as he entered her made him sob aloud.
Katie Katie Katie
When they climaxed together, their tears mingled on their faces, Jamie thought his heart would crack.
He lay on top of her, his face buried in her neck. Oh, God he loved her....
Her arms tight around him, she whispered, "I'll never forget you, Jamie, never ... no matter what."
(And always, when he dreamed of this, and he did as long as he lived, the dream was kind—not till this moment would he awake, her voice still in his ears.)
He rolled over, drew her head to his shoulder. They lay in silence.
He's not going to do this, Jamie thought. I won't let him. He'll have to kill me first.
How strange that he was happy... but true ... here and now he was truly happy....
Katie raised her head.
"Did you hear something?"
"No. You think he's comin'?"
Jamie stood, adjusting his clothes, listened. Usually he felt it, when the Monster left the coffin.
Sometimes It had a job for him right away, commands would flood his brain. Sometimes he was there before the coffin finished opening...
"No." Katie stood, looked around. "I just thought I heard a voice ... a woman's voice."
Jamie whirled around. "Don't listen to her! Get out of here, you goddamn ghost!" he shouted.
He clamped his hands over Katie's ears. The only sound was their harsh breathing. Gradually, he relaxed enough to let go.
"How much ... longer?"
"'Bout an hour, I think," Jamie answered. He and Katie wrapped their arms around each other. Their hearts still beat together. Alive Alive Alive He was resolute. Not this. Not her.
It would have to kill him first.
"That can be arranged."
Grenville stood before them. Katie made a small sobbing sound, frozen where she stood.
Grenville glanced at her, then turned to Jamie.
"I believe you were musing on your death?"
Jamie said, "You can't do this. Not to her. It's not right."
"And how do you propose to stop me?" The Vampire took one step, his cold finger brushed Jamie's head.
Jamie's knees gave out, he rolled helpless on the floor. Grenville turned again to Katie. She still stared, openmouthed, her eyes wild and empty.
"Come, my heart," the low voice beseeched the air. "Come and join me."
"All right!" Jamie shouted as he struggled back up. "You go ahead and do this, kill Katie, I can't stop you. I seen people kill before—for money, God, or country, and you with your 'necessity for existence.' I even did it myself once. But don't you call it love! This isn't love!"
If a dog had suddenly sat up and spoke, Grenville would not be more astonished.
"No, my dear, my dearest love."
It wasn't Katie's voice. A low cool voice, musical and vibrant.
They both turned to the young woman. Jamie shivered. There was a glow to Katie's face, her features indistinct in a shimmering mist, her clothes blurred into a gown.
A low groan escaped Grenville's throat, and Jamie saw tears run down his face.
"Sophia Marie." He took her in his arms, stared down at her, as if he stood on the edge of hell, and she his hope of heaven.
"I am with you, always." She gently placed her hand on the side of his face. For a moment it seemed as if that face would shatter, then he groaned again and nuzzled into the caress.
"Always," he said, his eyes closed.
"But not like this, dearest heart."
He opened his eyes in instant comprehension.
"I cannot bear it," he whispered, holding her nearer.
She pulled back a little, stroked his face as if in wonder.
"Ah ... love."
Their lips met, and Jamie turned away.
The shimmer faded, the glow dissipated ... the word "always" echoed in the air. Jamie, startled, looked back.
Katie hung limp in the Vampire's arms. The Vampire touched her hair. Once again her eyes were empty....
"Take her and go." Grenville almost tossed the limp body at Jamie. "Both of you, go!"
Jamie found he could use his legs again. He scrambled to his feet, half carried, half dragged Katie with him.
He didn't know how they got out of the house. He ran, dragging Katie by the wrist, looking down at the muddy road just in front of him—scared to look behind, to see if they were being followed, scared to look up, in case It stood before them. It was very fast, when necessary, faster than any human.
Safely across the peninsula, where the town's main street met Hawkes Hall Road, near the marshes and old docks, Katie stumbled, bringing Jamie down with her,
his foot twisting under him as he fell. Exhausted, he lay there for a moment, then raised his head.
His heart pounding. Katie's gasping sobs. He listened intently. Nothing else.
No birds. No crickets. No frogs. No sound at all.
He had a strange flash of memory—clear water, white sand, but no bright fish—
He pulled Katie to her feet.