Your voice is the only sound I hear

Falling over me like waves

My heart beats in time with yours

Shaping every breath I take


You could say you need me always

You could call my name again

We could walk between the trees

And then and then and then


From "And Then . . ." by The Shroud

Lyrics by Lydia Fortner




Chapter Six

Revelations and Declarations


The passage of time to my kind is nothing more than the smallest ripple across the face of a calm pond. For we are immortal — creatures that defy the very existence of time. Centuries pass us by in the merest blink of an eye — entire empires rise and fall without our notice — for we stand outside of time, immune to its influence . . . and that is our curse.

Perhaps there are some who believe that immortality could never be a curse; but they do not know — they could never understand the longing, the aching loneliness, or the quiet desperation for the companionship of another. No, they could not understand how the very earth itself changes and yet we do not . . . we cannot. Truly it is a curse and not a boon . . . but until I met Charlotte Elbourne, I never realized how stifled and suffocating my existence had become. In a few months time, one human woman was able to change what centuries of life in death could not.


Despite the doctor's prognosis, Charlotte's father made a steady recovery; however, his convalescence put a great deal of strain upon my beloved. Charlotte was ever at his side, leaving only when her exhaustion and hunger could no longer be held at bay. Her wretched brother, Alan, once again departed on one of his extended journeys; leaving Charlotte to shoulder the burden of caring for their father on her slight shoulders. But my love would hear not a word against him — defending him whenever necessary. More than once I left her, leaving angry and disparaging words trailing in my wake.

Perhaps Charlotte was right; I didn't understand the bond that held a family together — the love of a parent and child . . . and how could I? I had no family — no children — I had no one other than myself. But I could understand love — well a little anyway — but enough to know how much Charlotte loved her father and how she would fight for his life until she had nothing left to give. I had always admired her gentleness and her soft-spoken, giving nature; but during that time I also came to respect the core of iron within her that all her softness wrapped itself around.

I still sat with her at night while she rested — watching over both she and her father. I also brought her food and harried her until she consumed all of it — for I would not see my love fall ill and wasted. For the first time in my long existence, I had someone to care for — to watch over and to protect — and it was a task that I found very much to my liking.

Charlotte had become everything to me — she had become the sun that lit my dark-shrouded night . . . the stirring of desire that made me cry out while I rested the day away. How I wanted to take her, to hold her and let her feel my love for her — to share that ultimate closeness; and yet I held myself back — afraid that I would once again lose control and let free the hungry beast that I knew myself to be.


Charlotte met me at the back door, just as she had so many nights in the last few months. The night was clear and the moon shone brightly down, giving the garden a soft, pearly glow. But instead of inviting me in as she had in the past; she stepped out to meet me, closing the door softly behind her. I could sense her nervousness and felt her racing heart. I reached for her hand, only to find it trembling. "What is it my love? You're trembling . . . has something happened to your father?"

She shook her head, "No, my father is fine." She glanced around nervously, "Alan is here — he arrived this morning. I'm sorry . . . but — but I can't . . . I can't invite you in Meier." She dropped her eyes from mine.

Releasing her hand, I cupped her chin and raised her back up to face me. "I understand Charlotte — you needn't feel sorry, I know how awkward this is for you." I gave her a small smile, "Can you — do you have a little time to walk with me?" Quickly glancing around once again, she nodded her head and took my offered arm.

We walked in silence, the sounds of the night loud around us. As we came to Charlotte's corner of treasured lilies, I stopped and Charlotte slipped her arm from mine as I turned to face her. How beautiful she looked — the moonlight giving her skin a silvery glow, its light reflected in her luminous eyes . . . like a goddess of the night, who had just stepped down from the heavens.

I bent my head and brushed Charlotte's lips with a kiss. As we stood and looked at one another, my love raised her hand and stroked my cheek; her touch as light as a feather. I turned my face into her palm and kissed it, savoring the touch of her skin on my cold lips. Capturing her hand in mine, I pulled her to my chest and kissed her — the press of my lips on hers more eager than before. Pulling her hand from my grasp, Charlotte reached up and wound her arms around my neck intent on pulling me closer. A small growl escaped from my throat as I felt the press of her body against mine. Tightening my arms around Charlotte, I plundered her lips and forced my way into her mouth. But instead of pulling away, Charlotte welcomed me into that warm sweet cavern. I could feel my desire starting to rise and gently I lowered her down to the soft grass.

Charlotte let out a small cry when I released her mouth; but her cry became a contented sigh as I made my way from her passion-swollen lips and down her pale neck. I felt a rush as my lips found the pulsing beat in her throat. With a groan, I kissed and licked the tender flesh; all the while relishing the rush of her blood just beneath the surface. I breathed in the intoxicating scent that was Charlotte — her perfume, her blood and the heady scent of her own rising passion. With great effort, I pulled my lips away from that life-giving pulse and let them travel farther down and across the pale flesh above the neckline of her dress. I could hear Charlotte's voice as she murmured my name over and over. Her hands were deeply entwined in my hair, for the ribbon that held back my pale locks had dislodged and was long lost in the grass. Moving my way back up Charlotte's neck, I once again captured her mouth and she welcomed me eagerly.

Gasping for breath, we slowly pulled apart — both of us trembling with the force of our passion. Looking down at my love, I could see the glitter of tears in her amber eyes. Afraid that I had done something to hurt her, I took her in my arms. "My love — what have I done to make you weep?"

Charlotte pressed her face into my chest, "Oh Meier . . . I . . ."

I tightened my arms around her, "Please Charlotte, tell me what is wrong."

After a few moments, Charlotte lifted her head from my chest and looked up at me. Reaching up her hand, she cupped my cheek, "I'm in love with you, Meier — I love you . . . gods help me, I love you!" Dropping her hand, she buried her face in my chest once again.

For some strange reason I found myself stunned by Charlotte's declaration. For months I had hoped to hear those words from her — but to finally have them said aloud was a shock to my very core. I had long felt that Charlotte held me in some regard — I knew that she cared for me, but loved me? Could it really be true — could this radiant, human woman really love something like me?

Still holding Charlotte within my embrace, I kissed the top of her head. "Oh, Charlotte my love . . . my beautiful love." I felt her arms snake around my waist. "I've loved you for so long Charlotte — I only dared to dream that you could feel the same for me. To hear those words from your sweet lips, my love . . . you have given me hope, Charlotte . . . for you have opened my eyes and awakened my cold dead heart." Kissing her once again, I rested my cheek on her soft hair. We sat wrapped in the tight embrace of each other for some time.


It was long past midnight when we finally stirred and relaxed our arms from each other. Cupping Charlotte's face between my hands, I bent my head and kissed her — a soft, almost chaste kiss. Looking intently into her dark eyes I simply said, "I love you Charlotte Elbourne." Charlotte gave me a small smile as she reached up and brushed the disheveled hair from my face. "Such a handsome, noble face . . ." Her fingers trailed down my cheek and across to gently brush across my lips. "I love you too, Meier Link . . . with all my heart, I love you." Lifting up her face to me, our lips met once again.

Taking Charlotte's hands, I pulled her up from the grass to stand beside me. Still holding her hands, I looked down at her. "It's very late, my love. Dawn is only a few hours away . . ."

"I wish you didn't have to go, Meier." Charlotte looked into my eyes, her voice soft. "I wish that you could stay . . ."

I shook my head, "If only that were possible Charlotte — I would like nothing more than to stay here with you. How I would love to awaken every evening to see your beautiful face . . ." I brushed a soft kiss on her forehead.

She looked down, "I don't know how long Alan is going to stay . . . he maybe here for quite sometime." Charlotte hesitated, "I don't know what he would do if he found you here." She raised her eyes back to my face, "I want to see you — I want to be with you . . . but . . . Alan . . ." She trailed off, a sad look on her beautiful face.

"I won't allow anyone to come between us Charlotte — not now, not after tonight."

She pulled away from me, "Alan is my brother, Meier. I — you can't . . . please Meier, promise me — promise me that you won't hurt him. I know you don't like him, but he's my brother . . . you wouldn't — I won't allow it!" I could see the fire of her emotions in her eyes.

"Shhhhh, my love; I did not mean it that way — your brother is safe from me — I give you my pledge, Charlotte." I replied as I gathered her back into my arms. "I will think of a way for us to be together." Kissing the top of her head, I continued, "I love you Charlotte — I don't have the words to tell you how much. I will not be parted from you — not after all the time it has taken me to find you."


We stood at the gate that led from the garden to the back door of the Elbourne house. I held Charlotte's hand, reluctant to let her go. "I will come again in a few days . . ." I raised her hand and kissed it.

"I'll watch for you." Charlotte took her hand from mine and reached up to stroke my cheek once more. "Be careful, Meier . . . " With that, she turned away, went through the gate and up the steps to the door. "Goodnight, my love." Charlotte slowly opened the door and stepped inside.

I stood for several minutes staring at nothing. There had to be some way that Charlotte and I could be together — some place away from prying eyes and prejudice. The harsh cry of another predator in the night broke through into my musings. With a weary sigh, I started away from the Elbourne house — sunrise was fast approaching and I would be of no use to Charlotte if I were dead, burned to ash by its harsh rays.

Chapter 7
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