Authors: Jennifer Shortridge
The council sat silent, four sets of eyes boring into him as Triton hung his head, trying to gather thoughts that were lost in a daydream of his human lover.
Nala spoke up when none of the others did. “Continue,” She said curtly and folded her arms. Triton sighed and went on with his tale. “She managed an art studio, in the downtown district. Of course, I resisted seeing her. I knew it, our friendship, was forbidden and our kinds belonged apart. She had no idea who I was or rather what I was. I lasted two days before I found myself at her studio; driven by something I can not explain, to see her again.”
Triton stood inside the stoop behind the glass door, intently watching her every move as she explained to two customers about the artist of a modern piece of art, red and orange splashes on a bare canvas.
No better than any five year old could have done
, Triton scoffed to himself and returned his gaze to her. She looked so modern, hair pulled back to a tight chignon at the nape of her neck, black framed glasses and ruby red lips that mesmerized him as they gave way to a beautiful white smile and of course the eyes.
Chiming bells rang lightly as Triton opened the door, causing her to turn her head in his direction, another wide smile filling her face. She excused herself from the couple, and walked directly to Triton.
“Open late?” he asked.
“Until nine, I try to catch the after dinner crowd.”
“I was hoping you could show me some works,” He said taking a quick glance around.
“I will, if,” she said with a dramatic pause. “You tell me your name.”
“My apologies. Triton.”
“Annasara.” She extended a hand, which he, in his old world manners, gracefully took and kissed the top just above her fingers. He smelled her blood scent as if she wore the rarest most beautiful perfume. Triton lifted his gaze as Annasara shyly bent her head and tucked a piece of loose hair back behind her ear. The intense instant attraction felt like magnets millimeters away from each other, about to bond together. They shared a stare for far too long and both laughed nervously.
“Let me show you around,” She offered. They walked side by side to section featuring a new artist who used fruit dipped in paint as brushes.
“Not quite to my liking, I prefer ancient art, old world, relics, icons, antiquities.”
Annasara’s eyebrows rose, “Are you a dealer?”
“A collector.” He said. “I have quite an extensive anthology.”
“I would love to see it; sorry I am being too presumptuous.” She could feel her face begin to flush.
“I would like very much to show it too you.” A deafening nervous silence came between them.
Triton began to sweat a bit, as noticed her cheeks turning a soft shade of pink.
Annasara forced her eyes away to look after her other clients.
“Will you excuse me for a minute?” she asked.
Triton wanted her to stay at his side all night but let her go, “By all means, please.”
She went off to attend to the couple as Triton wandered around looking over the canvas of modern art, at least giving the impression he was. What he really was doing was reading the minds of the two clients, who were merely toying with Annasara for their self-pleasing amusement.
“I don’t know Roger; do you think it will fit in our living room? The woman whined.
“We can measure and come back.” The man said playing along.
moved towards the trio, positioning himself in front of the painting.
“How much is it?” Triton asked.
“Ten thousand-five hundred dollars,” Annasara told him.
“You should buy it, it’s quite a piece. Certainly a reasonable price. ” Triton told the couple and knew they were both thinking they only had $2,500 in the bank.
“I going to purchase this piece, but since you two are so fond of it I will pass and let you have it.”
The couple stood stunned, the woman scrambled for an answer, “We’re going to think it over. Thanks for your time,” The woman rushed her husband out the studio door.
Triton was still trying to make sense of the painting when Annasara turned to him, “They weren’t going to buy anything,”
“I could tell,” he said with a slight laugh in his voice.
“Then I guess you’re stuck with it,” she laughed.
Triton turned his head sideways to view it, “It’s growing on me.”
“The painting or my sales pitch?” she asked. Triton turned his gaze towards her, surprised at her wit.
“Oh.” Annasara said, removed her glasses.
Triton’s heart stopped beating,
, he thought. Her eyes froze him. Only one time had he ever seen eyes this color. Centuries ago, the same brownish-green orbs belonged to the young bride he had taken. Now, once again they were staring at him as if he had lost his mind.
“Triton?” she said, snapping him back.
“Sorry, I trust you have recovered from the incident in the alley?” he asked.
“I am still a little shook up. But I’ll be fine. I took a cab instead of the bus today.”
“I wanted to call on you, make sure you were alright.” He looked down at his expensive watch. “It’s nearly nine, I should go.”
Annasara nodded her head in agreement. Turning towards the door, he stopped in his tracks as Annasara blurted out quickly.
“Would you like to have a drink with me, tomorrow night? There’s this place around the corner. Nine-thirty?”
She hoped he would take her hand again, but Triton resisted afraid the touch would make him shatter into a thousand pieces, so he offered a quick smile and a nod. Triton looked back, a smile filled his handsome face, “I’d like that. Until tomorrow then.”
From behind the tinted windows of his sedan, Triton watched Annasara turn the closed sign on the door, shuffle some paperwork, shut down the computer, turn off the lights, and finally, lock up for the night. Following her with his eagle sharp night vision, he made sure she got to the bus stop without incident. As the transit pulled away from the curb with her on board, Triton followed making sure she arrived safely back to her townhouse. Triton sat for nearly an hour until the lights turned off from what he presumed was her bedroom. He thought about Annasara in the studio, how her smile widened as he walked in…and when she removed her glasses.
“Those eyes,” he sighed aloud and drove away.
At twenty past nine, she locked the door and walked briskly down one city block to the small pub, Triton followed far enough behind to keep her in his sights but not close enough so she detected him. She entered, scanning the room for him, finding him at the bar, his swiftness of movement unnoticed by the three patrons and one barkeep. He stood, and greeted her warmly.
“You look lovely.” He said helping her off with her coat.
“Thank you. Should we stay here at the bar?”
“Let’s take that table back that one back there.” Triton pointed to a cozy, secluded booth. The oversized bartender sized up Triton and gave Annasara an approving wink.
Placing two glasses of merlot on the table, Triton slid in across from her, the perfect spot to stare into her eyes. She thanked him for the drink, sipping the potent wine.
“So, besides rescuing damsels in distress, what do you do?”
Triton laughed, “That is all I do. No, seriously, I am what you could consider a collector.”
“Art, antiquities, ancient text, anything old and valuable.”
“Value is a relative term,” she said.
“What do you mean?” he asked intrigued by her.
“That which one person would hold valuable is not the same as another.”
“Particularly in art?” He sipped his wine.
“Especially in art. You should know, being a collector.”
Triton sipped the bitter tasting wine, choking it down, “I have pieces in my collection that men would kill for.”
“Kill? Isn’t that a harsh term?” Annasara asked setting down her glass and straightening her spine. Triton laughed at the irony of it.
“Throughout centuries, men have lusted after hundreds of paintings, statues, jewels; lied, cheated, stole and murdered for them, to possess them.”
, he thought.
“I would be happy just to sell a piece.” She sat back and sipped her wine, her eyes peering over the glass seductively at him. Triton nearly went mad as her long eyelashes flickered at him. Her eyes stirred his insides, a feeling he long had forgot he could feel. Trying hard to distracting is desire to reach out to touch her beautiful face, he asked, “How long have you been at the gallery?”
“Five years, since I moved to the big city.” She said.
“Out of towner?”
“I grew up on a farm about fifty miles south of here. I went to college in Parkville and came back after I graduated. What about you? Where do you herald from? Because I detect a slight accent, Scottish?”
“Prince of Wales?”
“Prince of Darkness,” he said and she laughed not realizing he was dead serious. Suave and debonair could only describe how he looked this night, the deep red dress shirt under and expensive hand tailored black suit coat. Thick dark hair slicked back to his nape. Triton the smoothness in her speech, words, and conversations, but he knew she was dangerous, dangerously beautiful. The danger drew them together.
As if they knew each other like old friends, the conversation flowed free and smooth all night. Talking mostly of art and art history, they conversed for nearly an hour with what seemed with out taking a breath. Triton got up to fill her glass at the bar.
As the barkeep filled the glasses, Triton looked over his shoulder at her. She smiled sweetly at him as he glanced back and he was for once in a century’s time, happy to forget he was vampire.
“Cheers.” Triton offered handing the full glass to her.
“To new friends and old art.” She said, touching the glasses together. Before they realized the night had passed, they shared a shocked expression between them, when the bartender yelled out the last call. They were so caught up in each other’s conversation, neither realized time passed. Triton went to the bar to take care of the tab as Annasara excused herself to the washroom. Holding her coat until she returned, he helped her into it and cursed to himself that the date ended. He wanted to talk for hours more; the night was relatively young for him. Annasara wanted to know more about him and his art collection; but mostly what exactly was under that expensive suit.
“Can I drive you home?” he asked holding the door for her.
“I’ll take a cab, if you don’t mind.” She said guardedly.
He backpedaled embarrassed.
“Not at all, I was not implying…”
“I wasn’t saying you were.” She blushed. Triton led her out to the curb as an uncomfortable silence fell between them. Annasara looked at him with baited breath hoping for a good night kiss. Something she hoped for since the moment she saw him standing so suavely at the bar. Triton held up his hand to hail a cab. Annasara let out a deep sigh as the taxi pulled up. Holding the door open for as she stopped and turned to him, she hoped would take advantage of the opportunity.
“I had a lovely time tonight. Thank you.”
Triton smiled slightly. “I enjoyed your company very much and I would like to see you again.”
“I’d like that. Goodnight.” She said and paused before slipping in the cab.
Closing the door,
Triton stood in the night air, watching until the taxi disappeared.
I should have kissed her; she wanted me to kiss her,
he thought, snapping his fingers once in the missed opportunity
. Next time