The house was quiet when Emily arrived home later that afternoon. Mary was no doubt still over with James, trying to untangle the mess left by his previous accountant. Her friend’s love of numbers was one of the few things she truly couldn’t wrap her mind around; it just didn’t seem right that someone could possibly want to do math problems for fun.
She shivered slightly, heading for the kitchen to start dinner. She’d recently come across a recipe for Jamaican jerk pork chops she’d been dying to try, and had finally remembered to put the ingredients on the grocery list. Her thoughts of Scotch Bonnet peppers and allspice instantly vanished when she noticed she wasn’t as alone as she thought she was.
She’d only had time to register ‘top hat’ and ‘tall’ before a scream rose in her throat. Someone had broken into her house -- in the middle of the day, no less -- and she’d had the unfortunate luck to walk in on them. She was already half way turned around when she realized the intruder was talking to her.
“I did not mean to frighten you.” Emily stopped mid-turn at the familiar voice, just catching herself before she tripped over her own feet. “I only wanted to see you, to be near you. When I arrived and found you were not home, I took it upon myself to wait for you to return.”
“J— Jacob?” She closed her eyes tightly before opening them again, attempting to make sense of her gangly neighbor standing in her kitchen. “Christ all mighty, you scared me half to death! Why… No. How did you get in here? Have you been here all day?”
“I’ve only been waiting less than half an hour; don’t worry yourself.”
She paused, more confused by Jacob’s behavior than usual.
“Are you feeling all right?” she asked, taking a tentative step forward.
“Now that you’re here with me, there’s nothing that could ever possibly be wrong. Please, sit. Have some wine; I brought it for you to enjoy.”
“Maybe in a few minutes,” she replied, wondering if it was such a good idea to continue the conversation. “Seriously, how did you get in here?”
“Locked doors mean nothing to me.”
“That’s pretty well established. What I don’t understand is how you got over here in the middle of the day. Last time I saw you even close to dawn, you were in agony.”
“You know what I am? You know my nature?”
“Yeah, that was pretty well-established from the time you tried to eat me in that hotel courtyard.”
“Yet you don’t fear me.”
“Been over this before, too,” Emily said. “No, I’m not afraid of you, despite your dire warnings.”
“Then you will know, though I am a creature of the night, I am still able to move about during the day. My powers are weaker, but it’s nothing that would keep me from you.”
She wasn’t so sure she had known, if she stopped to think about it. Still, there was something more pressing than whether or not vampires went prancing around on sunny days she felt the need to address.
“Look, I really hope I haven’t given you the wrong impression or anything. You and me? We’re friends; that’s all. You’re a really swee— you’re a nice— you’re a very interesting kid, but you’re just not my type.” She found herself tripping over her own words, trying to find a balance between causing emotional duress for either her neighbor or herself. “Romantically, that is; I’m very grateful for our friendship, of course. Besides, I’m very happy with Tristan.”
“He’s nothing more than a mere child.” His voice was harsher than she was used to hearing from him.
“Jacob, he’s at least a hundred and twenty-something years older than you.”
“Our love is timeless.”
Emily blinked hard, more confused than ever. She briefly considered asking if he’d missed out on his meds, but couldn’t think of a way to phrase it so it wouldn’t come out sounding completely rude.
“I really think you should get going; you’re actually finally managing to freak me out.”
“I have offended you; I am deeply sorry. I can only beg forgiveness and take my leave of you.”
“I didn’t mean…” Emily faltered, not sure of what exactly it was she did mean. “…it’s just that you really don’t seem yourself today. I’m a bit worried, actually.”
“My heart is full of both the highest of joys and deepest of sorrows. I will leave you now, as you desire, comforted in the knowledge that I shall see you again soon.”
In a single liquid motion, he leaned forward and took her hand in his own, his skin strangely cold against hers. He lifted it to his mouth, giving her a quick and delicate kiss, his eyes never leaving hers.
She was still in a stupor when she realized he was already about to open the backdoor.
The setting sun poured through the opening, bathing Jacob in golden light. Emily was sure she’d just condemned him to his death, that there’d be little more than a pile of dust and ashes where he’d been standing only seconds before.
There was a moment of silence, broken only by the sound of the sharp intake of her own breath. She stumbled forward a few steps, freezing when she saw there were no flames, nor dust or ashes.
“I thought… the sun… I thought for sure you were going to burn up! How on earth…”
“I told you, the daylight only makes me weaker, my love; it’s hardly fatal. I am, of course, touched by your concern for my well being. I will return to you, soon. Until then, I beg you stay well.”
He lightly touched the side of her face before stepping through the door and into the sunlight. Emily could only watch after him and wonder just what the hell had just happened.