He hated to treat her like this—see her like this—but once again, oblivion was calling his name, and he was all too eager to answer. Deciding that maybe oblivion was the best destination for Shelly, too, he wrapped one arm tightly around her waist, raised his decanter so he could tilt her head toward him, using the side of the glass, and locked his gaze with hers. “Sleep, angel,” he whispered, catching her falling torso as she crumpled sideways against his arm.
It was too loud.
The intensity of it all pierced the darkness.
He extended his forefinger, lifting it from the glass, and pointed at the stereo, which was nestled snugly atop a high, built-in ledge, turning the surround-sound on with an electric pulse from his fingertip.
Without preamble, he took a long, drugging pull from the decanter, testing the various properties of the alcohol and the H on his tongue, and then he sank his fangs deep into Shelly’s throat, savoring each drop of her life-giving blood. As the cocktail began to course through his veins, rapidly slithering along the intersecting passageways like a gentle, erotic snake, just waiting to strike—precious poison appeasing his heart—his head lolled back on the edge of the chair, and his lids grew heavy and dense.
Shellyslid further down on his lap, drooping in his arms, and he tightened his grip on the crystal glass . Dark, sonorous music began to blast through the speakers, saturating the air all around him, and he nearly moaned from the vibrations as his body absorbed the lyrics:
“There is a house in New Orleans, they call the Rising Sun…
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy, and god I know I’m one.
My mother was a tailor, sewed my new blue jeans.
My father was a gamblin’ man, down in New Orleans…”
Damn, the Animals could really sing that folk song—Burdon’s voice was all grit, angst, and brutal melody. A sweet jolt of cocktail rocked him at his core, and he started to drift even further away…
“Now the only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk,
And the only time he’s satisfied is when he’s on a drunk.”
Somethingvisceral seized Julien’s attention, and he pulled himself away from the music, temporarily: Shelly.
Where was Shelly?
She was sliding down his lap, falling over his knees, slumping to the floor—that wasn’t right, was it?
“Oh mother, tell your children, not to do what I have done,
Spend your life in sin and misery in the house of the Rising Sun.”
Julien thought he reached for the female, but rather, he tightened his grip on the glass even more, shattering the crystal into a dozen serrated pieces, each one immediately embedding in his flesh.
As crimson rivulets trickled down his wrist, soaked the pads of his fingers, and stained his nails, he fell back into the chair and dropped the remaining glass.
Nothing mattered in this moment.
Not the pain in his hand. Not the woman on the floor. Not the emptiness in his soul.
There was only darkness, ecstasy, and peace.
That, and the hauntingly beautiful melody pulsing through the dark.