Jean-Claude sat staring at his phone, half-hoping it would ring and half-hoping he
could muster the courage to call her. He wondered at this hour if she would be sleeping or still occupied celebrating the
holiday with her family, who had come into town to be with her this Christmas Eve.
The oppressive silence around him was like a living entity. He felt its presence
as it hovered over him and enshrouded his living room in nothingness. He rarely experienced such a sensation, and should have
welcomed the peace and quiet, but instead, the master vampire found it unsettling.
Normally his home was filled with people, moving about, conversing, eating, sleeping,
making love. Tonight Jean-Claude was completely alone. Maybe if someone had chosen to stay with him, he would not be wallowing
in loneliness now and feeling the urge to call Anita, despite the fact she had expressly forbidden any contact with her until
after her family had departed.
Jean-Claude sighed heavily and dragged his gaze off the stubbornly silent machine
on his end table and re-focused it in the middle of the room on the white carpeted floor.
This was pathetic and absurd. He knew he didn't have to be alone. He could go to
one of his clubs and indulge himself in the festive, party atmosphere they provided every night. He need only show up and
he'd soon be surrounded by a bevy of lovely, eager ladies who would offer to fulfill his every desire on a whim. After all,
everyone wanted to be with the Master of the City. Everyone but the one he wanted to be with tonight.
Subconsciously, he found himself staring at the phone again, his hand mere inches
from the receiver. He curled his fingers into a fist to keep from touching it. He would not call her. It would only make her
angry and what would that accomplish?
However, there was always the remote possibility she would be pleased to hear from
him. He could always tell her he had just called to wish her a Merry Christmas and leave it at that. Maybe the sentiment would
move her and she would actually speak with him for awhile. It was worth a try.
He snatched up the receiver and stabbed her number on the keypad with his index finger,
silently pleading with whatever omnipotent power who would listen to him, that she would pick up the phone and he would not
get her answering machine.
Half his prayer was answered. He did not get Anita's machine, but the voice greeting
him on the other end of the line was not Anita. In fact it was a man and it caught Jean-Claude slightly off-guard because
he knew Anita had even sent the leopards away in her attempts to project her life in a more normal facade.
"...May I speak with Anita by chance?" Jean-Claude asked, grasping the receiver with
"Yeah, sure. Hold on a second," the man replied. Jean-Claude heard him call out Anita's
name and tell her the phone was for her. Then the man's voice came back over the line. "Can I ask who's calling?"
Jean-Claude hesitated. He licked his lips, debating whether divulging his identity
would be a good thing or a bad thing in this instance. He sighed softly and squeezed his eyes close. "A friend," he whispered.
Again the man's voice became muffled and distant as he relayed this information to
Anita. Finally, Jean-Claude's ears picked up her voice. He opened his eyes and held his breath.
"Here, just give it to me," she told the man. A pause, then: "Hello?"
Jean-Claude released the breath he was holding, but the tension in his body increased
two-fold. She was busy. Her family was with her. She would not be happy he called. But just the sound of her voice made his
heart beat a little faster and warmed his insides.
"Joyeux Noel, ma petite," he purred, turning up the sensuality in his voice a few
For a few seconds, Anita did not respond. Then when she finally did, she growled
"Are you crazy?" she whispered back heatedly. "I asked you not to contact me while
my family is in town. That was my father who answered the phone! If he knew I was talking to you....the shit would hit the
Jean-Claude rose to his feet and stalked around the room in agitation. He had been
anticipating her anger, so why did it pain him now the way it did?
"I apologize, ma petite," he told her earnestly. "I only called to wish you well
and let you know I hope you are having a pleasant time....And to hear the sweetness of your dulcet voice in my ear wishing
me the same." He hoped his sarcasm would make her feel guilty. It didn't.
"I'm hanging up now. Don't call me again."
"Anita, please," Jean-Claude entreated. "I did not mean to upset you. It was wrong
of me to call you, but it's just that I haven't seen you in nearly a month, and being alone as I am tonight, made me long
for you even more than usual. I am sorry and I promise not to bother you again. Do not be angry with me, ma petite."
Anita sighed heavily. "You're alone? Completely alone? I find that hard to believe."
Jean-Claude nodded even though he knew she could not see him. "It is Christmas Eve,
ma petite. There is no one here but me. Who am I to keep my people away from hearth and home, kith and kin on such a night
of sentimental family tradition as this?"
There was another long pause. Jean-Claude gnawed his lower lip, hoping Anita was
softening to his plight. She wasn't.
"So you call me up, thinking if I just hear the sound of your voice, I will drop
everything, leave my family and run to be with you? You've got a lot nerve," she grumbled.
"No," Jean-Claude quickly replied. "I would not begin to harbor such hope in my heart.
Since we cannot be together, I thought perhaps you would want to talk to me for a little while. Wish me a Merry Christmas...and
tell me you love me. Was even that too much to hope for?"
"Yes, damnit!" Anita shot back, lowering her voice, so as not to be overheard. "As
soon as I hang up, everyone is going to ask who I was talking to as it is, and I really don't want to get into it with my
family right now about my relationship with you."
Jean-Claude walked over to his couch and sat down. This was worse than he had anticipated.
"Very well," he murmured. "I will not keep you any longer." He swallowed uncomfortably and lowered his eyes to the floor.
"Good night, Anita."
He went to hang up, but heard her voice again.
"I don't get it, Jean-Claude," she muttered. "What's got into you?"
The vampire sighed. "It's Christmas Eve."
Jean-Claude sunk himself deeper into the cushions and leaned his head on the back
of the couch. "I am lonely."
Anita swore under her breath. "Don't give me that. All you have to do is crook your
little finger and you would have women crawling out of the woodwork to spend the night with you. Not that I would let you
do anything with them, but at least you wouldn't be alone."
At that, Jean-Claude smiled. He sat forward, encouraged. "I considered that, but
even in a roomful of people, one can still feel alone. I do not wish to spend Christmas Eve bantering with strangers, ma petite.
I want to spend it with the one I love." His voice became wistful and breathy. "Holding her in my arms as we gaze out at the
snow sparkling under the light of the winter moon, with only the sound of our heartbeats filling the stillness of the night."
Anita laughed lightly. "Oh right. All you want to do with me is hold me as we look
up at the moon."
Jean-Claude raised his brow. "I could content myself with as much." He drew his legs
up underneath him and curled around the phone he was cradling in his hands as if it were her body he was holding. "I am feeling
very romantic tonight."
"Mmm hmm. Moved by the spirit of Christmas, I'm sure." A distant, muffled voice called
her name suddenly and she paused and took a deep breath. "Look, I have to go. Take my advice, Jean-Claude. Go to Danse Macabre,
find yourself a pretty little atheist or two to dance with, and forget about the moon and the snow and holding me in your
arms, because it ain't gonna happen tonight and you know it."
Jean-Claude frowned. For a moment, he had thought she was actually going to keep
talking to him. "I know," he said simply, his voice losing all of its sensuality. "I understand."
"I'll see you New Year's Eve, okay?" she added placatingly.
Jean-Claude pulled himself to his feet. "Yes." He wasn't really in the mood to talk
"All right. I gotta go. They're waiting."
"Good-bye, ma petite."
With that, she hung up. The dial tone abruptly blared in his ear and Jean-Claude
turned the phone off and tossed it on the couch.
Now what? The vampire walked the length of the living room and back again. He wished
he could just curl up somewhere warm and go to sleep until New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, that was as impossible as it was
impractical. As unappealing as it was, he was going to just have to accept the fact he would be spending Christmas alone.
It was well after midnight by the time Anita's father gathered the relatives and
packed up his car to head to a motel for the night. They'd be back bright and early the next morning and Anita knew she had
another full day on her hands. She loved having her family with her this Christmas, but she was also finding entertaining
them to be more exhausting than she ever imagined.
She had to admit, she was relieved to be alone at last. Since Jean-Claude's phone
call, she couldn't stop thinking about him, and her mood for the remainder of the night had been distracted and sullen. She
wished her family would just accept her life the way it was, and that included the fact that she raised zombies, was the Bolverk
to a pack of werewolves, slept with wereleopards, and was the human servant of a master vampire.
Anita went to the kitchen to clean up some of the mess, but as soon as she started,
she realized she neither had the energy nor the motivation for dishes. As it was, she had to force herself to wrap the leftovers
and stash them in the refrigerator. No sense in letting the food sit out all night.
She grabbed the box of aluminum foil from her catch-all drawer and tore out a sheet
to put over the pie her stepmother had brought. Blackberry pie, of all things. It was good, but Anita thought it was a strange
choice for a Christmas dessert. At least the blackberries didn't come from a can saturated in syrup. Her stepmother had picked
the berries from a cluster of bushes growing along the side of their house and had frozen them to make jams and pies and the
Anita tugged at the refrigerator door and held it open with her foot as she shuffled
plates and tupperware around to find room for the pie. It was then it hit her. Jean-Claude. Blackberries. He had told her
once, a long time ago, that when he was human, blackberries had been one of his favorite foods.
She straightened and released the refrigerator door, her mind off and running as
she stared down at the silver encased pie. After the none-too-friendly way she had spoken to him on the phone, she should
take the pie to him and eat a piece, so he could taste it. It would be a good way to make amends. She hadn't meant to be so
harsh with him, but having him call out of the blue like that, and then of all things having her father answer the phone,
had put her a little on edge. Thank God, Jean-Claude had had enough sense not to introduce himself.
Anita was certain Jean-Claude would think she was still angry with him. He was probably
still sulking in fact. Her showing up at his door tonight with a blackberry pie would be the last thing he would expect. Anita
couldn't wait to see the expression on his face.
With newfound energy, Anita recovered one of the larger gift bags from the pile of
trash in the corner of her living room. It had a garish angel on it, but Anita didn't think Jean-Claude would mind too much.
She slipped the pie into the gift bag with the can of whipped cream she had retrieved from the refrigerator door. She threw
in a clean fork and several napkins and rolled the top of the bag over to keep the contents from spilling out onto the seat
of her car. Then she hurried to the bathroom to freshen her makeup and refluff her hair.
It was just a little after two in the morning when Anita arrived at the Circus of
the Damned with her prize. It occurred to her as she parked her car around the back, that no one was at the Circus but Jean-Claude,
and since he wasn't expecting to see her until their date on New Year's Eve, she might have problems getting underground.
She would have to call him. It would spoil the surprise, but that would be better than freezing her ass off waiting for him
to wander by anytime soon.
Anita sat in her car to ward off the frigid temperature outside, and fished out the
cell phone she kept under her seat for emergencies and dialed Jean-Claude's number. It took a few rings before he answered,
and when he did, Anita could hear faint strains of the Ronettes singing "Frosty the Snowman" in the background before he zapped
it off with a remote and said hello.
Anita started to laugh. She knew he had an affinity for 60's music, but 60's Christmas
carols were too much. She laughed harder and couldn't stop long enough to greet him back.
Of course she didn't need to. He knew her laugh.
"Ma petite? Is that you?"
"...Yes," Anita managed feebly, wiping her eyes. "My God, you really are infected
with the Christmas Spirit this year aren't you? The Ronettes?"
She could almost see him smiling over the phone. "A timeless classic, ma petite."
"Yeah okay. Just not the kind of classic I ever imagined a master vampire would be
listening to on Christmas Eve." Anita glanced at her watch and sighed. "Well, Christmas actually."
"Yes," he replied enthusiastically. "Have you called to wish me a Merry Christmas
after all?" He sounded infinitely happier than he did the last time she spoke with him.
"No, not really," she teased. "Actually, I called to get you to come open the door."
There was a long moment of silence as he digested her request. "Open the door?" he
finally asked, his voice a little breathless as realization began to sink in. "My door?"
Anita grinned. "Yeah, your door. I've got a little surprise for you."
There was another drawn out pause before he found his voice again. "You came to see
me? But I thought--"
"Never mind what you thought," Anita cut him off. "I'm freezing my butt off out here,
Jean-Claude. Just come open the damned door."
"I am...on my way." With that the phone disconnected.
Satisfied, Anita turned off her phone and slid it back under her car seat. Then she
gathered up the angel gift bag and opened the car door. The snow crunched under her feet as she made her way towards the extra
wide steps leading below. She wasn't really surprised to see the master vampire had made it to the door before she did. Number
one, he didn't have to walk across ice balancing a package in one hand, and two, well, he was a vampire.
He smiled genuinely at the sight of her and hauled the door open wider, stepping
aside to let her in. Anita blustered through, leaving a small trail of snow behind her, and turned around to face him as he
closed the door after her.
"Quick, kiss me, my lips are going numb," she mumbled.
Jean-Claude laughed lightly and stepped towards her. He put his arms around her back,
rubbing her briskly to warm her before he covered her mouth with his in a soft, almost chaste kiss.
"I had not realized it was so cold outside," he told her, pressing his cheek against
hers. He wasn't exactly warm himself, but his skin held a little more heat than hers did at the moment.
"Yeah, well, you can forget about watching the snow sparkle under the moon tonight,"
Anita declared. "This human ain't up to it."
Jean-Claude sighed. "That is quite all right, ma petite," he replied cheerfully.
"Just the fact that you are here...I cannot begin to express how that makes me feel." He gestured down the hall, welcoming
her further inside, then looked back at her hesitantly. "Did you intend to stay for awhile?"
Anita started down the hall to let him know she was accepting his invitation. "Yeah,
but I really can't stay long though. My family is gone for the night, but they'll be back around eight or so tomorrow." She
forced a smile, hoping he would understand. "I need to get some sleep."
Jean-Claude nodded, drawing up beside her. "Of course." His eyes flicked to the brightly
wrapped gift bag and he raised his brow inquiringly and sniffed the air. He licked his lips almost subconsciously. "What do
you have there?"
"That's your surprise," Anita informed, shifting the bag to her other hand, away
from him. Damn those vampire senses, she thought.
Jean-Claude grinned and leaned towards her, brushing against her shoulder. "I thought
you were my surprise," he purred.
"No, not just me," she answered, trying to sound exasperated, as they stepped into
the living room together. "I'm only the free bonus gift." She carried the pie to the coffee table and set it down, then turned
to face him. "And actually, I have something else for you back at my house, a real Christmas present, so even this is a bonus."
Jean-Claude stood beside her, gazing down at her fondly. "Ma petite, you should know
there is no need for you to buy me anything." He reached up and trailed his fingers down her arm. "I have everything I could
possibly ever desire right here."
Anita looked up at him and shook her head. "God, you're so easy to please," she muttered,
stretching up on her toes to kiss him again. "Can I trouble you for a cup of coffee?"
The vampire nodded. "No trouble, ma petite. I'll be right back." He turned to leave.
"Oh, one more thing!" Anita called after him. Jean-Claude spun around on his heel
to face her again, his expression bright, obviously eager to please her. "How 'bout some Christmas carols?"
Fighting a smile, Jean-Claude narrowed his eyes. He knew she was baiting him, but
he stalked over to the remote and picked it up. Keeping his eyes fixed on Anita, he stretched out his arm and zapped the compact
disc player across the room.
The Ronettes immediately resumed their rendition of "Frosty the Snowman" and filled
the pristine silence of the living room with holiday cheer. It made Anita chuckle. The vampire grinned and tossed the remote
aside, then turned to resume his task of fetching coffee.
By the time he returned, bearing a small silver tray, Anita had taken off her coat
and was sitting on his sofa with her hands folded in her lap. She looked up at him and smiled, reaching out for the cup he
handed her. He put the tray down in front of her and sat down next to her as she spooned sugar into her coffee.
"Oh thank you, you are too good to me," she murmured, taking a savoring sip. She
sighed and set the cup down and reached for the gift bag, placing it on his lap. "Don't tilt it, whatever you do," she advised.
Jean-Claude carefully picked up the bag, keeping it balanced in the palm of one hand
as he opened it with the other. He peered inside and then turned his eyes to her with unabashed delight before removing the
pie from the bag. Reverently he peeled away the aluminum foil covering.
"Ma petite! Blackberry pie?" He closed his eyes and inhaled the scent deeply, then
moaned in cusinary ecstasy. "Oh, Je t'adore!"
"And whipped cream too," Anita added, taking the bag and removing the rest of the
items. She placed them on her silver tray and then reached for the pie itself. "I'm sorry it's half-eaten, but it was our
dessert last night."
"It does not matter," the vampire whispered, ogling the pie in much the same way
Anita had seen him ogle beautiful women. "You still thought to bring it to me. Oh ma petite, you are an angel."
Anita smiled and picked up the fork. "I'll eat as much as I can, but I have to warn
you, I'm pretty stuffed as it is."
Jean-Claude licked his lips in anticipation, watching Anita pile whipped cream on
the crust. "Just a taste, that is all I will ask of you."
Anita delved the fork into the pie and slowly, teasingly took a bite. Jean-Claude
fairly collapsed into the couch cushions as she chewed, closing his eyes again and groaning rather erotically. Anita tried
hard not to laugh while she was swallowing.
"Jesus, you're not going to pass out on me, are you?" she taunted between bites.
Jean-Claude opened his eyes and sat up a little to face her. "It has been so long...I'd
nearly forgotten how sweet, how delectable blackberries were. Even why I loved them so much."
Anita popped another bite of pie into her mouth and sent the vampire into more fits
of rapture. By the fourth bite of her second piece however, despite Jean-Claude's appreciation, Anita's enthusiasm for the
dessert began to fade. She had to force that piece down.
"Oh, I can't," she moaned finally, laying down the fork and setting the pie on the
coffee table. "I'm sorry. I'm soooo full as it is, if I eat another bite, I'll be sick."
Jean-Claude smiled and opened his arms to her as she snuggled back against him. "That
is quite all right, ma petite. What you ate was wonderful." He gathered her in his arms and kissed her brow before laying
his head on top of hers.
Anita curled around the vampire's body and placed her head on his shoulder. "Did
you enjoy that?"
Jean-Claude laughed softly. "Very much, ma petite," he replied, stroking her hair
with long, languid passes of his hand. He felt her wriggle closer to him and shifted his position on the couch, drawing his
legs up underneath him to cradle her in his lap.
"I'm glad," Anita said, her voice getting thicker as the weight of her fatigue descended
on her. She smiled crookedly and sighed. "You know, never in a million years would I have believed I'd ever be spending Christmas
Jean-Claude bent his head to whisper in her ear. "How do you mean?"
Anita closed her eyes and hugged him. "Curled up with a sexy vampire, listening to
60's Christmas carols, ready to fall asleep after having stuffed myself into near-delirium with blackberry pie on his behalf."
"Perhaps this is not your ideal, but it certainly is mine," Jean-Claude replied,
his voice soft and lulling. "I can think of no better gift than what you've bestowed on me tonight, ma petite."
"Oh I like it, it just struck me as kinda funny," she said and yawned widely. "God,
I'm tired. I should go."
Jean-Claude nuzzled her hair and kissed her. "Stay with me a little while longer.
Sleep in my arms. I will watch over you. I promise to wake you before the dawn so you can be on your way. Just rest now, my
love. Be at peace. Dream."
By the time Jean-Claude had finished talking, he could tell Anita had fallen asleep.
Her warm body was limply slumped against his; her breathing, soft and regular. The vampire smiled and wrapped his arms more
securely around her and happily settled himself in for the duration of her slumber.
A half-hour before sunrise, Jean-Claude began to feel the tell-tale signs. His own
body was slowing down, his heart stopping more frequently and his respiration shallowing. It was only then that he bent his
head and kissed the woman he was holding to wake her.
"Ma petite, it is time," he murmured, stroking her cheek with his knuckle. "You must
wake now, my love and I must prepare for sleep." Her eyes fluttered briefly before opening and focusing on his face. Then
she smiled drowsily and reached up to take his hand in hers. She kissed his palm.
"I fell asleep on you, didn't I? God, I'm so sorry. I was beat." Reluctantly, Anita
pulled out of his arms and stood up to stretch.
"Do not apologize, ma petite," Jean-Claude told her, climbing stiffly to his feet
as well. "I was more than content to hold you and listen to your heart beating next to mine. I could not think of a sweeter
way to pass the night. Do you feel better now?"
Anita nodded. "Much. I can't remember the last time I slept so well. Thanks."
"You're more than welcome," he replied, flexing his back and shaking out the kinks
in his legs. He had not moved a muscle in over three hours.
Anita regarded him sympathetically, but laughed lightly. "I'm really sorry. You poor
thing. You must be aching sore now," she lamented, stepping up to him.
The master vampire stopped stretching and faced her fully. His eyes glittered with
adoration as he gazed down at her. "A little achy, but certainly not poor, ma petite." He leaned forward encouragingly.
They came together as if by some unspoken command and kissed deeply. Minutes passed
before they parted and stood staring back at each other knowingly.
"Go now," Jean-Claude whispered. "Do not keep your family waiting. I have had my
time with you and my dreams this Christmas have been fulfilled because of your gift."
Anita reached for her coat and pulled it on. "I wish I could stay with you. I wish
I could hold you while you sleep, like you held me."
The vampire smiled a little sadly. "It would not be the same," he relayed quietly.
Anita lowered her eyes and nodded. "I know. But--"
Jean-Claude bent to kiss her again before she could continue. "I appreciate the sentiment
though, ma petite," he told her sincerely and drew her into his arms.
Anita sighed wistfully and hugged him. She forced a smile and stretched up for another
quick kiss. "I'll see you New Year's Eve." With that, she turned towards the hall, but looked back at Jean-Claude one last
time. "Merry Christmas, Jean-Claude."
Jean-Claude smiled. "Merry Christmas to you too, ma petite."