Most of the night was spent talking. Athan was not a talkative person but Evander more than made up for it. Evander locked up Divine Readings and the two of them walked to Evander’s apartment with Evander reciting stories the entire time. He could find all manner of topics to talk about and most of them where centered on ancient folklore and mythologies. He was in the middle of such a tale about Persephone when Athan stopped him.
“The sun will be up soon,” Athan said.
“Yes, I guess it will. There is nothing here and it’s only a matter of time before she comes after me again. I wish I knew what it was that she wanted and why she is after me, of all people. You know that night that I met her, when she was alive of course, she thought that I was the suspicious one that could have been after all of those kids. But she must know by now that it isn’t me. She was the one who killed Brandon,” Evander paused. “Why would she do that? Why would she kill someone who was one of her own?”
“It just doesn’t make any sense. He was just as alone in the world as she was, and she still went after him.”
“Evander? Is it me?”
“You would have thought she would have gone after someone else instead of Brandon. But, then no one would go looking for him would they? He was alone. No one would miss him.”
“Evander? What about me?”
“But that’s just it isn’t it? There has to be more than one killer. It’s not only Diane. Someone was killing these runaways before Diane was ever killed and became a vampire. There was the one who turned her, wasn’t there? We are looking for another one aren’t we?”
“What, Athan?” Evander turned to him in mid thought, annoyed at the intrusion since he realized that he was obviously onto something here.
“Maybe it’s me.”
“What? Don’t be absurd. You were…wait. What?”
“Maybe it’s me,” Athan repeated. “Evander, I can’t stay here much longer. The sun is beginning to rise.”
“What?” Then it hit him. Dawn. He had never seen Athan during the day.
“How is that possible?”
“I don’t know. There is a lot I don’t know. I remember waking up this way several months ago and I don’t know anything of my life before this and I’m afraid. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Was it you?”
“I don’t know. It makes me sick to even think about it.”
It wasn’t until now that Evander noticed that Athan had been pacing again.
“Stay with me.” Evander’s words came before he thought about them. He had known people in his life that had been more evil than this man could ever be. He wasn’t threatened by Athan. Every moment he’d spent with him had brought him the safest memories of his entire life. This was what frightened him the most—not that he was listening to this unbelievable man revealing his dark secret, but that he was feeling something deep for this man.
“You said that you don’t know if it’s you or not. If you stay with me, I can watch over you and we can be sure that it isn’t you that is the cause of the murders.”
“I can’t do that. It would be too dangerous. For both of us.”
“Stay with me.”
“Evander, I care for you more than you can ever imagine. But if I am the cause, then I don’t want you anywhere near me. Diane is dangerous enough, but I can’t trust myself around you all of the time. Please don’t ask this of me.”
Athan had just shared his deepest darkest secret—that he was a vampire—and yet the thought of life without Athan frightened Evander much more. He should be afraid for his life, but yet he wanted Athan. He wanted nothing more than to lie in Athan’s arms and he couldn’t imagine Athan to be the monster that he was claiming to be.
“Yes,” he answered quietly.
“When did it happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“Has it been the entire time I’ve known you?”
“You have never once tried to harm me.”
“No, I haven’t, but it wasn’t without extreme care on my part. There are times when I can barely control myself, but to take another life would be against all that I know I am. I am an abomination and I don’t deserve whatever life that I have. I don’t know how it came to be, only that I exist the way you see me. I crave to take life. I have come close to ending the lives of others more times than I care to recount. But I’ll admit that I don’t know how long I can hold out or what my limitations are. I do know that when I am with you I feel stronger. The craving is lessened, though the pounding of your heart even now beckons to me. You make me feel alive, like the man I could have been rather than the killer I know I am. The potential to kill is still there, Evander, do not ever deny that part of me.”
“Can I ask how you eat?”
“Seriously, E? I’m a vampire. What is there to elaborate on? I drink blood.”
“Well, yeah, I know that…”
“You want to know the detailed mechanics of it? Do you want to know if I attack innocent babes in dark alleys and leave them drained of blood with silent screams on their lips?”
Evander stared at him with his mouth hanging open.
“You’re an ass.”
“Maybe. But I had you going for a while and the look on your face was worth it.”