Shadows In Savannah
Jorge liked the man. The pale one. The one who was just like he was, only more beautiful, elegant. Younger. He could sense the vampire’s confusion at being observed and not being able to see who was doing it. Jorge could also sense a measure of elation coming from the man just before he’d disappeared into the building.
He slid his hands into his pockets and turned down the cobblestone street, doing his very own disappearing act.
The citizens of the cities he visited never saw him unless he wanted them to, and he rarely ever did. He was happy out of sight. Sometimes he liked making skin crawl with unease, hairs stand on end out of an uncertain fear, a ripple of fabric that should never have moved causing question and suspicion. That was his entertainment.
And until tonight, until he’d seen the beautiful man, it had been enough.The cobbled stairs leading to a lower, no longer used level of the walkway put him in front of a disregarded iron gate, beyond which were the infamous tunnels beneath the city of Savannah.
He’d heard the stories. The myths and fables and ghost stories. He’d heard all the denials and explanations of why none of it could possibly be true. But he hadn’t been satisfied. He’d wanted to see, explore for himself and being a creature of the night, he was able to do so unseen, unheard, and relatively undetected.
There were others in the tunnels. Others like him. Others not so much. It was no wonder Savannah kept such a tight lid on their hidden secrets. It was fascinating, the dark underworld of such a city prized for her Southern charm and beauty.
It didn’t matter that many of the creatures beneath the city streets could cloak themselves when they desired or were forced to do so. They were there and many of the city’s patrons knew it. Or, at least heavily suspected it.
Within the tunnels were doorways and mazes that became more intricate, more elaborate, the deeper one went.
He’d swear it was a scene out of a movie if he hadn’t seen it for himself. It had a Phantom of the Opera feel to it that was haunted and full of wonder.
He was always taken aback when something could exceed his expectations, when a place could steal his breath and light his soul. Or, make him think in prose, in varying shades of purple.
Jorge turned right at the first bend in the tunnel, then through another, smaller gate.
He walked parallel to the river and, though he hadn’t ventured there, he’d heard of a few tunnels leading directly under the water. Perhaps he’d visit them. Perhaps not.
Small ripples washed against the cobblestone from the outside. Inside, the walkways were paved exactly as the historic city above. Including the walls.
Some areas were damp, with trickles of the river or rain water, but many were simply musty and chilled from being underground.
As he traveled deeper, voices and laughter reached out to him, echoing off the stone caverns. He followed the sounds.
“Jorge, mi amico.”
Roberto, a vampire dating back to the seventeenth century where he’d been a wealthy nobleman, smiled as Jorge ducked his head and stepped into the candlelit room. Old tapestries hung from the walls, depicting wine vineyards in Italy. Wine barrels lined the longest wall and Jorge imagined they were filled with blood. Most vampires could train themselves to take liquids or foods on very small quantities as they once could when they’d been human, but Roberto would need rich blood to sustain himself.
“Good evening, friends. What are we celebrating?”
“Why, how good it is to be alive, of course.”
The creatures burst into a fit of laughter again at their joke. Creatures because none were human.
Including himself, there were three vampires total. A ghost. And two demons, who could masquerade as humans better than any vampire could.
The creatures residing in the tunnels fascinated him, but the man up above, in the hotel, fascinated him more.
“You missed our card game,” Roberto commented. The jovial voice brought Jorge back to the present.
“Did I? And what was tonight’s wager?”
“The only thing we have to bargain with, of course. Time.”
Jorge joined in on the laughter. It was true. None of them had anything of material worth that another couldn’t procure for himself with minimal effort. But they could bet time. More or less. Being otherworldly or creatures of death, they could manipulate time to their liking. Extend it or lessen it. Of course, that’s where demons came in handy as well as witches and warlocks. Vampires felt time differently.
They also, depending on their age, when and how they were made, could adapt through time and space. They could appear exactly as a human and could tolerate being exposed to the sun, if they so desired. Or, they could become little more than a wisp of haze in the air.
What make and model was his current crush? Did the beautiful creature enjoy his existence or did he loathe it and wish for it to end?
“You’re quiet of late,” Roberto commented, coming to stand beside him as Jorge stared without seeing at one of the tapestries. “You haven’t been in our delightful city long enough to be bored of her just yet.”
“No, no. I am not bored,” Jorge assured him.
“But I don’t sense that you’re troubled, either. Yet, there is…something.”
“There is… A man. A vampire. He lives in the small hotel overlooking the river.”
“Ah, yes. Dane, is his name.”
Jorge turned, shocked that Roberto would know anything about the man. “How do you know him?”
“Mi amico, I know every creature that ventures into Savannah, whether they come by way of the tunnels or not. I have not always resided below the streets.”
“What can you tell me about him?”
“He’s a young vampire. Maybe two hundred years old. He is a very wealthy one, though, even by human standards. He owns the hotel you mentioned and the restaurant below it. He owns several other businesses and companies, secretly, of course. But his favorite is a bookshop. He is there more than anywhere else. He has traveled extensively to stock it. He also was not willingly made.”
Jorge listened intently, hanging on every one of Roberto’s words. Dane. A beautiful name for a beautiful man. And a love of books. Enchanting. Jorge wanted the younger vampire more than ever now. But that Dane did not come to the immortal life by choice, but instead by force…? That made him unpredictable in temperament. “Where is he from?” Jorge asked, wanting every piece of information he could get, every angle, every weakness. He had no intent beyond pleasure, but he also had to know what he was getting himself into by engaging.
Roberto shook his head. “That, I am unsure of. I have never heard him say. Being that he was forced, he may not know his human history. What is your interest in him?”
“I don’t know, yet. Well, I don’t know beyond the pleasure of his body.” Jorge hadn’t been with men nor had he wanted to be with men before he became a vampire, but most didn’t pick just one sex to explore the intensity of physical need with. Most wanted both, male and female. Most gloried in no disease, no need for caution, no ability to procreate. There were only delicious orgasms so pleasurable, so painfully exquisite that they could become an addiction if one wasn’t careful.
And Jorge was always careful.
“He mixes with humans well. Is completely immersed in their world and dealings. He’s terribly sharp.”
Jorge loved intelligence. He loved to learn. He loved everything about it and that his crush was smart only made Jorge want the young vampire more.
“Just take care with him, Jorge.” Roberto rarely called Jorge by his given name and when he did, Jorge knew to listen. “He is beautiful, yes. It would be so easy for you to become taken with him. But you know how those who were not willingly made, who never consented to this existence, wish to die. I would hate to see you hurt in anyway.”
“That makes two of us,” Jorge said with a short laugh, trying to lighten the mood. He clapped Roberto on the shoulder and moved them back toward the table in the center of the alcove. “What do you say to more card games? I find I am feeling very lucky at the moment.”
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Is the prospect of love worth dying for?
Vampires exist, and travel through space and time. Immortal, beautiful creatures. Neither dead, nor living.
Dane has no memory of being human. He only remembers waking after being unwillingly turned. He is left with a parchment with one single line written upon it: his human birthday. For this one day a year, he can live and die as a human. He is ready. It is time. 126 years after becoming a vampire, he is ready to let go.
When he meets Jorge, with his dark good looks and brilliant blue eyes, Dane reconsiders his choice. Can he take back the life that was stolen from him by dying? Or can he make a life with a soulmate he never imagined having?
Publisher: Lissa Matthews
Genre: M/M, Paranormal Romance
Length: 57 pages
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