You might remember Nathaniel from last Satórday’s post. You can expect to see more of this precious boy in my novels one day, but since those are still under construction, here’s your sneak peek.
I do not consider the following snippet to be canon. The events of my canon universe may be vastly or slightly different from this, but Nathaniel’s character remains the same. Please enjoy.
Nathaniel shut the door to the old Boston brownstone with more force than intended. He turned back toward it, pushing his shoulder against it—the deadbolt refused to lock without some pressure. His tired green eyes browsed the room as he stepped away from the door, slowly taking his bag off his shoulder and setting it against the wall in the foyer. He reflected on the day, taking his keys and his university faculty ID from his pocket and setting them on the counter in the kitchen. He didn’t much need the kitchen, so it was covered in file boxes, storing old drafts of stories and poems he intended to return to one day. Nathaniel felt one of the boxes with his fingertips, trying to remember what works he’d put in this one. It had been too long since he’d written. Perhaps it had been some sort of blessing to have been approached by Ira that day. A reason to write again. He didn’t even have a word down or an idea of his own about it before being guaranteed payment, assuming anyone bothered to buy a ticket to the show when it went on in the winter.
He’d slept at the theatre, so he could have been more tired. It wasn’t as though he wasn’t used to staying up until sunrise or later, but he’d made the mistake of staying at the theatre until the sun had risen and beyond. So here he was at 8:30PM finally returning home. Perhaps it was only because Ira’d had something he needed to do elsewhere that he even managed to escape him—not that Nathaniel had minded the company.
Penelope would be by soon, he realized. He took his phone from his pocket while he kicked off brown dress shoes in the middle of the kitchen, checking to make sure Penelope hadn’t tried to contact him. No word yet. He pocketed the phone again and sighed in relief. He loved Penelope; she proved herself loyal and caring over and over again. However, he didn’t enjoy how he had to behave around her.
It wasn’t that she had imposed a set of behavioral rules upon him. She loved him no matter what. Nathaniel’s dissatisfaction—no, his fear—of the way he acted stemmed from a change he could not control, but that was an inevitable outcome of his existence. He didn’t know any other vampires with the same condition.
Penelope would bring a “friend,” and Nathaniel would feed off of said friend. Then he wouldn’t be Nathaniel anymore.
It always happened that way, no matter how often they fed him or how much he drank. They had come to learn that feeding daily had consistent outcomes. It meant he became that Other Him every day, but it was briefer, and generally milder, than if he waited in between feedings. And Penelope was there to keep him in line, keep him in the house, out of trouble.
Of course that was no small part of why he hadn’t been laid in years, and he had to wonder if the long drought had anything to do with his sudden, very strong attraction to Ira, whom he’d just met. Ira, tall, handsome and just… charming. And married.
Nathaniel sighed, diving into his light purple sheets. He pressed his cheek against the cool, unslept in sheet and stared at the wall. It was too quiet here. He didn’t have to be lonely. He had Penelope and her… well, Nate didn’t know what Trevor was to Penelope, but he considered himself friends with both of them. There were the other vampires in the area, the ones who were capable of feeding responsibly, the ones that told Nate if he couldn’t control himself, they would find out, and they’d make sure he would never do it again. When he was alone in his home like this, when it was quieter than quiet, and he became conscious of the slow beat of his heart and the breath that powered the dangerous machine that he was, he could admit to himself that part of him welcomed the solution: to just terminate him and end everyone’s suffering at his hands, including his own.
He closed his eyes and rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. Life had become monotonous. Everything was expected to happen just as it did. He expected Penelope to show up every day. He expected to go to work during the week. He expected his student Teresa to ask unnecessary questions after each class. He expected to spend from 1:00AM to 3:00AM answering emails and grading homework, and to spend his time until bed reading or writing or talking on the phone with Penelope. Lately, however, he’d received a few calls from Sam during those hours. He found himself surprised he enjoyed it. A change of pace. Sam took interest in what he had to say, no matter how mundane and boring Nathaniel’s stories about his own life had been lately. On the weekends, he expected to visit the bookstore and read there until close, and sometimes Penelope would come over for a social visit and not just to feed him.
But today—no, it was yesterday—class ended, and Teresa asked her question. Then Ira dragged him away to the theatre and gave him a new job. It was anomalous, to be sure. He knew on Monday he would teach the same course, and Teresa would ask her question, and he’d answer other students’ questions, and then he would go home, press his shoulder into the door to lock it, set his keys and his ID in the kitchen, and flop into his bed, wondering if life would ever come to remotely reflect his ideal version of it.
But tonight—yes, tonight—the sun went down, and Ira smiled at him for the hundredth time in twenty-four hours, and Nathaniel felt his heart beat faster than it had in years. He drank brandy, and he enjoyed himself with someone new—the beginning, he felt, of a new friendship, one he hopefully wouldn’t ruin with feelings. It had just been so long since—
The phone rang and Nathaniel sat up to answer it. “Hello, Penelope,” he said with a soft smile.
“Hey, baby. You thirsty? Trevor’s still resting up, but I can bring Sasha. She’s always excited to see you,” Penelope replied, a big smile in her voice.
“I remember Sasha. Bring her, I guess. I don’t have a preference.” He picked at a fuzzle on the sheet, his voice falling flat.
“I know you’re not excited about this, baby, but just be happy I can find these people.”
“I just hate to put anyone in danger. You know that.”
“All right, sweetie. What happened to you yesterday? I thought we was gonna do this last night. I mean, we done it every night for four-and-a-half years, ain’t we? What’s going on, baby boy?”
“I got a new job. I mean, I still have the old one, but I was offered a gig as the author of an upcoming play for a local theatre. We started work right away, and I should have paid better attention to the time, but I had to spend the day there.”
“I didn’t know you was looking for a job.”
“I wasn’t, actually,” Nathaniel said, eyebrows raising as he recalled Ira’s arrival in his class. “I was approached just after class by a man who’d walked in while I was lecturing. He didn’t really even ask much. He just literally dragged me to his theatre and told me how much he paid and that it wasn’t really even my writing that made him want to give me the job.”
“Hoo boy,” Penelope said with a laugh. “If it ain’t your writing and you ain’t looking for a job, then what—oh no, Nathaniel-baby, you didn’t…”
“Didn’t what?” He knew what, but wasn’t really willing to suggest that he got a job because of his looks or simply because Ira was just weird or… because he’d performed some sort of sexual favor. He liked to think he had professional merit, perhaps in the way he conducted himself or… something else. Just not his hot bod. Did he even have a hot bod?
“You ain’t fuck him, did you?” She laughed again.
Nathaniel laughed. “No! Of course not. He’s married.”
“And that’s the only reason you didn’t do it.”
“Oh, you sooo wanted to!” She cackled through the phone, causing Nathaniel to pull the phone from his ear.
“It’s not like that,” he said, putting the phone back to his ear with a bit of a laugh he couldn’t help. “I just met him. Plus, our relationship is strictly professional… despite all the brandy we drank and spending the night and day together…” He chuckled at himself. “Okay fine. I would have enjoyed it if it were to happen, but it didn’t and it won’t. It’s not really an option. Even if I was okay with it being not just professional, he’s still married.”
“You know, people think vampires ain’t real. Anything’s possible, baby.”
“Married, Penelope. That means something to me, and to him too, I hope.”
“Aight, baby. Well I’mma get Trevor taken care of. I’ll be there in an hour. Love you, babe. Bye.”
Nathaniel hung up and set down the phone with a small smile. Aight—…all right. Time to find something to do. He breathed in deeply through his nose and looked around to see if he had a book nearby.