As I was still asking myself that question I stared up at the Aurora Borealis over head.
I could make out the stars through the swirling colors. It’s an incredible sight. I can understand why Nathan comes up this way every so often. I don’t think I’d ever tire of this sight. According to Lisa and Otto, Nathan also goes to Norway, Sweden, Finland or one of the other northernmost countries where you can see these lights. Those countries also tend to have open wide expanses of wilderness which allows him to ‘cut loose’ with his abilities. Those countries also haves long periods where the sun may not appear for weeks or even months, which makes it easier for him to be out and about even during the ‘daytime’ whether he’s out in the woods or in a city.
As I lay there I understood that the night, or those periods of long-nights, do have a lot to offer a person. But, to actually have to live that way most of the time? I mean, I know Nathan can ingest extra blood so he can go out into daylight for a few hours a day (then load up some more if he needs to in order to keep being out in it) but it’s still physically uncomfortable (even painful at times) for him to be out in it.
I shook my head. I wanted Nathan more than anything… but to be like him?
One of the wolves who was cuddled up to me must’ve sensed my distress, for he suddenly raised his head then nuzzled and licked my face as if to comfort me. At first I thought this was more of Nathan’s doing, but he was no longer with us. I figure he must’ve silently got up and headed who knows where, leaving me with my protectors. Carefully I reached up and stroked the licking wolf’s face and then scratched him behind one ear. He seemed to like it. Then one or two others took notice and they decided they wanted some attention too. Eventually, after I gave them all a bit of love, we all settled down and sleep quietly overtook us.
The dreams that followed were the most vivid I’ve ever had. I was in the middle of a greenish fog which slowly dissipated and I found myself staring at a woman I’d never met in my life, but who’s face I knew quite well.
It was Madeline, Nathan’s first wife and Lisa’s great-great grandmother. I recognized her from a number of paintings Nathan has done of her over the years. He keeps practically all of them in his art studio which is located on the top floor of the same building that houses his club “The Crypt” in the basement.
She was standing in the middle of a room with shelves with canned (meaning jars) of fruits and pickled items, a large mound of potatoes in one area, and carrots in another. I quickly realized this was an old root cellar. But instead of gathering any supplies located there, Madeline was simply standing in the center of the room looking down at the dirt floor. I caught the gleam of anticipation in her eyes. A moment later the ground began to ripple, as I had seen it do many times before, and Nathan rose to the surface.
He was standing upright as he emerged from the rippling soil with his arms open wide. As soon as the ground became solid again, Madeline stepped eagerly into that waiting embrace, and I couldn’t blame her. Nathan was clearly as glad to see her, in more ways than one (since he was naked as usual when he came out of the ground). As they kissed, I swear you could practically hear their hearts pounding in unison.
Then the scene changed, I now saw the two of them curled up in front of a fireplace. Nathan was wearing clothing now and there was a little boy, from Madeline’s first husband who died during the war, fast asleep on a chair nearby. Nathan was holding Madeline in his arms as they were talking softly so as not to wake the little one. While I couldn’t make out what they were saying, I saw a number of occasional kisses and caresses being exchanged with genuine affection.
Feeling like a voyeur I turned only to find another scene playing out before me. The boy was now 8 or 9 years old and smiling as he watched Nathan and his mother dancing a waltz. They clearly had eyes only for one another, even though there were a dozen other couples around them. As I watched the scene seemed to melt and now the two of them were dancing alone in their bedroom. Madeline was wearing a white chemise, while Nathan was wearing what was then called a man’s dressing gown, which was basically a more elegant version of the modern bathrobe. As I watched them, I caught the first signs of crow’s feet in the corners of Madeline’s eyes. Her figure also seemed slightly fuller now, not that it seemed to bother either of them. I swear they were acting like a young couple about to celebrate first anniversary.
Other scenes of domestic life rolled out before my eyes like a movie with the occasional fades which revealed a new scene. I witnessed walks, trips, travel to foreign lands, gatherings with friends, and a number of quiet personal moments. I knew time was passing, but the emotions and passion between Nathan and Madeline never seemed to diminish even slightly.
Then a new scene began, and for a moment I thought we were back at the beginning, for Madeline was standing in the root cellar again. Then I realized she was wearing a robe instead of one of her dresses. I also noticed there were traces of gray in her hair, along with a few extra lines here and there. But as soon as Nathan emerged she opened her robe and let it fall to the ground to reveal she was wearing nothing underneath. And although time and gravity had been at work on her body, she was still quite desirable. I became a little envious watching Nathan scoop her up in his arms and begin kissing her like a sailor who’d been away at sea for way too long.
As he spun her around in his arms, more time passed and her hair became more gray until nothing but long silver tresses crowned her head. But the thing that got me was the fact that Nathan’s attention and affection towards her never changed. He was still at attentive, flirtatious, and devoted to her as ever. And neither did their passion for each other.
Just then the Chainsmokers/Coldplay song “I Want Something Just Like This” started running through my head.
“Yes,” I murmured, holding my arms out as if to hug someone, “That’s exactly what I want.” Now I’m going to admit, I was so caught up in the tune, that it took me a moment to realize that I my arms were wrapped around someone because I could feel the warmth of that person.
‘But I’m asleep,’ I thought to myself in confusion. ‘Aren’t I?’ Instinctively, I began to grope around with my hands to try and figure out what was going on and awoke to a wolf licking my face. Sighing I muttered, “So much for waking up in the arms of a hot guy.”
“In spite of technically being a vampyre, I am not undead, so I resent that remark,” came Nathan’s voice from just above my head.
Looking up I found that I was lying in his arms. Glancing around I found the wolves had not only surrounded but covered us in a huge puppy pile. As I became more aware of our situation, I quickly realized that Nathan was naked, and that one of my hands was very close to a certain ‘region’ of his anatomy.
My eyes locked with his.
“Careful, I can be very ticklish,” he warned.
Instead of answering, I looked around and spotted our friend and his mate curled up together. Clearly she was very happy to have him back, Sangui-sapio and all. Then I thought about Madeline and all I had seen about her life.
Turning back to Nathan, I kissed him with everything I had. Then I moved my hand lower and took hold.
His eyes widened, but instead of admonishing me as he had in the past, he said, “Are you sure?”
“Why?” he pressed.
“Madeline,” I answered after a moment.
“You saw her memories,” he said and began nodding to himself.
Her memories?” now it was my turn to be taken by surprise.
He gave me a gentle smile. “You now know firsthand, that I remember everything that ever happened to me because of the Sangui-Sapio. And you know I have access to the memories of its previous, and currents hosts.” Here he gestured at me and our wolf friend. “But what I didn’t tell you, was that I also have the recollections of those who’ve ever had even ‘some’ of the Sangui-sapio in them.”
“Madeline had some in her?” I gasped.
Nathan sighed, “Yeah, I hadn’t realized it myself for the longest time but eventually I figured it out.”
“How did it happen?” I pressed.
He gave me a disappointed look, then sighed, “Someone wasn’t paying attention in biology class. Okay, when a man and woman are really into each other, certain activities can lead to an exchange of body fluids which…”
“You guys weren’t using protection?” I cut in.
Nathan shook his head. “She caught an infection after giving birth to her son, and wasn’t able to conceive after that, so we didn’t bother worrying about protection. And since I was still getting used to my new existence, I hadn’t realized what had happened until much later.”
I started to frown. “But she never became like you.”
“She never wanted to. And as I learned later on, the Sangui-Sapio respected that and simply gave her a healthy long life,” Nathan explained at gazed out at our wolf friend and his mate. “Just as it will with him.”
I thought briefly about how good Madeline looked and moved during her later years. “Can the Sangui-sapio that’s in me, do what it did for Madeline?” I began.
Nathan nodded. “I already asked it to. Not that I had any idea what you were about to decide, mind you. It’s just,t I like to make sure those I care about are ‘taken care of’ so to speak. Especially if there’s the possibility of them one day contracting something serious.”
I knew he was referring to my father and his fight with cancer. I’ll admit, I have wondered and worried from time to time if I might develop that same form of cancer one day. So hearing that Nathan had already made ‘arrangements’ for me, was a huge relief.
“So, the Sangui-Sapio will have to remain in me, but I won’t become like you,” I asked, just to be clear.
“Only if you wish to. Whether it be now or one day many years down the road, you’ll have the option,” he told me reassuringly.
“And if I choose not to?”
“It will return to me, and I will have a bit of you to carry with me always,” he smiled.
Feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders I relaxed into his chest and kissed him deeply once more. I knew where I wanted things to go next, but my stomach had other ideas and started to growl.
Talk about a mood killer.
A couple of the wolves who’d been keeping us warm raised their heads and gave me a funny look.
“You haven’t eaten since before we met up last night,” Nathan observed and slowly sat up. “And you don’t strike me as the type of person who’s into raw bison.”
“Definitely not,” I replied, doing my best not to look over at the remains of last night’s kill.
“Luckily, I know of a nice place less than an hour from here, where we can get you a good meal and I can hide from the sun for the day,” he continued.
That made me do a doubletake. “We’re in the middle of the tundra, how can there be a place to stay that close by?”
“I never said it was close by,” Nathan corrected. “I said we can get there in less than an hour.”
“But it took us a few hours to get where we are from the airport,” I pointed out.
“That’s because we were trying pick up the pack’s scent and then zero in on their location,” Nathan replied reasonably.
Apparently, him having an answer for everything was one of those little quirks I was going to have to get used to. Still, as much as I wanted him in that moment, I was sorely tempted to smack him on the arm. But I resisted and pulled out my cellphone. I knew there probably wouldn’t be any reception here, but since it was still kind of dark I was curious to know that the time was.
You can imagine my surprise to see it was 7 in the morning. Then I reminded myself where we were and that the nights were longer here. However, I could see the first hints of the coming dawn way in the distance. Nathan then informed me the sun would not be up proper for another 2 hours, which meant we needed to get him indoors as well get me food.
Around us the wolves began to meander amongst themselves, while our friend and his mate came over. She came to a stop just out of arms reach, while he came right up to me. Bending down, I ran my hands through his ruff once more and gave him a hug which he readily accepted. “Take care of yourselves,” I told him, knowing that a part of him understood my words perfectly.
He in turn, nuzzled and licked me. Then he looked at Nathan and gave him a short bark. To which Nathan smiled and said, “Thank you, I will.”
Then the pair returned to their pack and slowly moved on.
“He invited you to come and run with them again sometime, didn’t he?” I asked Nathan who was already transforming back to his own wolf form. Once shifted, he nodded, then gestured for me to climb onto his back once more.
Obediently, I climbed on board and felt the fur stretch and wrap around me once more. And boy was I glad for it. When we took off, we were moving way faster than last night, and I couldn’t help but keep a death-grip on Nathan as we went.
But as he promised, we reached our destination in just under an hour. Although, I was more than a little shocked by what we were looking at as I climbed off him.
“Are you serious?” I asked Nathan as he began putting on the clothing I had been keeping safe for him since the night before. “I thought you said there was a ‘nice place’ we could go.”
“It is a nice place,” he protested.
“It’s an ICE place!” I cried gesturing at the white curved structure. “It’s a frickin’ igloo! It’s going to be freezing inside.”
“No, it’s not. Take a closer look,” he instructed.
Frowning, I did as he instructed and got closer. Now I could see that it wasn’t made of ice but was a geodome partly covered in snow and frost. I could make out a chimney of sorts and as I moved around I spotted a wooden section that acted as the entrance to the structure. I was slowly becoming less annoyed and more impressed. I’d seen pictures of such places on the internet. Most of them were found in the Nordic countries. However, I had heard there were some here in Alaska but those were located way north of where we were.
“I had it built by some friends from Norway a few years ago,” Nathan explained.
“So you own this land?”
He nodded. “I went the ‘homestead’ route back in the 1960’s. I own several pieces up here in fact, and before you ask, yes, I do have cabins/homes built on them too. And all of them are well stocked with food, warm beds, and heating materials.”
Taking another look at the dome I could see there was a huge window looking out onto the tundra and the sky. Having slept under the Northern Lights outdoors, I started thinking about being able to do it again but inside a nice warm place with a bed.
My mind suddenly switched over to sharing a bed with Nathan all alone up here under those lights…then I started thinking about Lisa. My best dearest friend, who also cared for Nathan every bit as much as I do. While she and I had talked many times about one of us being with him, we hadn’t really…
Suddenly, my phone started to vibrate. I had a signal? All the way out here? Pulling the phone out I saw that I had full bars and a message. It was from Lisa. “It’s your time. Go for it.”
“What?” I stammered, staring at the message in confusion. She knew? But how?
Nathan came over and placed a hand on my face. “Open your mind and listen,” he told me.
Then I heard Lisa’s voice inside my head saying, “Welcome to the family, Bestie. And remember, I love you too.”
“The Sangui-Sapio,” I whispered in shock, “She has some in her as well?”
Nathan nodded. “I only do it with certain people who are very dear to me who I want to keep a close eye on. This way I can be there all the faster in case I’m… needed during an emergency.”
The way he said that last part told me it wasn’t something he wanted to discuss right now. And I was fine with that. Just knowing that my bond with Lisa had become even stronger and made us closer than ever, made me extremely happy.
But not as happy as Nathan did over the next few days and nights…
THE END – as promised