Friday, July 25, 2014

#mentalhealth matters

One in four Americans are living with mental illness.  Many refuse to seek help because of the stigma associated with mental health. Look at the way mental health is portrayed on TV and in the media. Chances are it won’t be in a positive light. In fact, mental illness is often trademarked as a character flaw rather than a health issue. The truth is that bodies get sick. Brains get sick too. Depression doesn’t care how old you are, what you look like, where you are from or the color of your skin. Depression doesn’t discriminate, it just takes your soul.
In a classroom of 30, three people will be hiding their cuts and/or scars. Self-harm is a real, serious epidemic. People who self-harm don’t do it for attention. For them it is a coping mechanism, to which they are dealing with a much larger pain. Untreated or undiagnosed, mental illness can lead to suicide or a suicide attempt, after which you are never the same. In 2012, 483,596 people visited hospitals for self-harm injuries. That same year one person committed suicide every 16 minutes.
If you are suffering, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you know someone who is hurting, REACH OUT. If you need help there are so many ways to seek it, and you are STRONG AND BEAUTIFUL for finding the courage to stand up. If you are bullying and judging someone, PLEASE STOP. One day it could be you. Depression don’t judge. Remember, we are all someone’s baby, someone’s brother or sister, a mother perhaps, a wife, a father, a lover, or even a son.
I struggled with depression, ED and self-harm through adolescence. I jumped from doctor to doctor with no proper diagnosis ever given. Writing through the pain was my savior. I found solace through pen and paper. It wasn’t until my first real psychotic break where I was hospitalized in 2008. My diagnosis was Bipolar One. I was 24 years old.
Since then I have endured my own hero’s journey. I have learned to accept my demons instead of trying to outrun them. I embrace my illness as part of me, a character trait instead of a tragic flaw. I also never gave up on my writing. I can channel my racing thoughts into character streams of consciousness. My rage became the voice of my villains. When the world I was living in made me feel like an outcast, I dreamt up fantasies and new places to venture in. I created characters with quirks and flaws that were relateable. I put them on journeys and set them out on tasks of self discovery.
Writing has always been therapeutic to me. I was born with an active imagination and the need to tell people stories. Curiosity about the world around me made me ask questions of everything. Stories are the ways we explain the extraordinary or become the answers to questions which we do not understand. The myth and the legend were born this way. Our ancestors used storytelling s a way of teaching their young about how to survive in their world.
This was, and still is my outlet. I still struggle with SH. You have to stay proactive in your individual treatment. Educate yourself about what ails you. Empowerment of self slays demons. It also helps reassure that you are NOT ALONE. Ask for help when you need it. Give back to others when you are able. Stand up for those who may not have a voice yet, because we are all going through something. Find your voice.
Smile often, even through the hard times. Smiling takes less facial muscles than frowning does. (Learned that in cosmetology school!) I’m not saying I’m healed, Bipolar is a lifelong journey. But now I struggle less, and smile more.

These are organizations I have worked with, that help me help others:
www.namicalifornia.org
www.7cupsoftea.com
www.attemptsurvivors.com
www.reachout.com
www.eachmindmatters.org
www.afsp.org

email me at now.what.5150@gmail.com
follow me on twitter @bayareavamp

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chapter One-Dead Sexy-Insatiable


The room had an eerie glow from the full moon casting her lunar spell through the window. It

was impossible not to feel her power, not after a night like tonight. I am a vampire. His words

echoed in the back of my mind. I am bringing a vampire back to my place. Alone. ARE YOU

CRAZY?? My instincts were screaming at me, but something deeper within me wanted this

more. I was burning with desire, an  insatiable need for the dark unknown and a dangerous lust

for a man I just met. I led the vampire to my sitting area, in the far corner of the room. He needed

no further instruction to enter my dwelling, no magical incantations so far. He sat and peered out

the window, looking rather forlorn. I smiled. They are always melancholy in literature. I lit

several candles around the room using matches, because they are more magical than using a

lighter.

“The light does not bother me, Maya.” He startled me when he spoke.

“Oh. I prefer soft lighting. It is always more forgiving.” I sighed. I sounded

giddy. I padded around the room turning on a few small lamps.

“I am going to get myself a glass of wine. Can I get you anything?”

I wasn’t sure if he could eat or drink.

“If you are having wine, I shall have a glass too.”

 His words were spoken with eloquence.

I presented him with a glass of old vine zinfandel, and took a seat on the end of my bed to face

him. I inhaled the robust scent and took a very large drink of my wine. I waited in the silence

between us for what seemed to go on forever. The night air surrounding us was pregnant with

mystery, my heart heavy with suspense, the energy between us was palpable.

“I am still a living creature.” There was a magnitude to his voice, when he spoke he commanded

attention without force. I listened attentively, quieting the questions that began to float to the top

of my head.

“I have been this way for a few years now, though I appear to be your age. We must reside in secrecy, or blend into modern society, which proves very difficult. Every lifestyle has its own sets of rewards and challenges. But I hate to kill.”

I swallowed hard and my throat felt like sandpaper. Wine would have to do. It burned going down.

“Do you kill often?” I shuddered, anticipating his answer.

“Not anymore.”

I would need more wine. But anything and everything would have to wait. The vampire had me

more captivated than all of my twenty-six years. His energy was electrifying.

“I was a young kid who thought he knew everything. My life was my car. Nothing came before

it. I had a strong sense of pride, growing up Chicano in an area that represented the movement. I

spent a lot of time cruising in the Mission, and that’s where I met my fate. “

“I was given the choice of immortality, and I had nothing binding me to my life in the city. In

this way, I would ensure my life would not end on the streets in vain. And just like that I

exchanged the day for the night.”

He drinks his wine and gives me some time to digest all of this. I am fascinated by him and I

watch him closely. He is not looking at me, but he is aware of my every move, calculating every

moment as it passes by.

Listening to him telling stories of his past was more like listening to the deliverance of a

message; it was as if every word spoken from his lips had some deeper meaning. And then he

said something humorous and just like that snapped me back to reality. He was so human, he

I admired his features under the soft flicker of candlelight. He had a strong brow, with just the

slightest onset of lines showing his age. I hate to call them wrinkles, because that just doesn’t

sound sexy. He smiled at me and I looked into his eyes. They were brown, the depth of them still

holding so much sorrow.

 The vampire was devastatingly handsome. A warm sensation courses through my veins and

although I entertain this evening with great trepidation, I am not afraid. I do not want to look

away. He breaks the spell and looks away first, taking in another sip of wine.

“This is very good, Maya. Thank you.”

The way he said my name released a million tiny butterflies in my stomach. To hear the syllables

gently roll off his tongue seemed the most amorous compliment anyone has ever paid to my

endearment. His accent I was unsure of, but he was definitely of Mexican origin.

“It’s from a local winery, well from Lodi.” I say, delighted to fill up our glasses.

 I am hosting a vampire.

And I shake the thought away.

He swallows some more wine, and looks at me. He smiles at me, lifting one eyebrow playfully

and his eyes catch a glimmer of the moon. He is dead sexy.

“Zinfandel, circa 2009. I do prefer merlot myself, but zin comes a close second.”

He smirks, quite pleased with himself.

“You know your wine! “I exclaimed.

“A vampire’s senses are amplified and I have acclimated very distinguished taste buds during my

time.”

“I am impressed!” I say gleefully, and before I can think it through the words just pop casually

right out of my mouth.

“Do you eat too?”

I regretted it the instant I said it. The muscles in my face visually tense and I roll back

in my seat wishing I could crawl into my shell like a crab as I wait for his response.

“We do eat,” he said harshly and he turned to face me only moving his head.

He never looked more inhuman.

 ”We are the creatures of the night where we are the hunters searching for prey.” He stared

intensely at me, with a piercing gaze I felt could see through to my soul. I shuddered, but I dared

not to look away.

“We rip out your entrails and feed on them in front of your children!!”

My mouth gaped open in horror.

How do I respond to that? I wanted to run but couldn’t make my legs move. I wanted to scream,

but my voice would not cooperate. I was terrified. He was literally face to face with me, we were

almost touching noses. And I just stood there like a deer in headlights. And then he burst out

laughing, completely breaking character. Here I was like a gaping fool and he laughed

hysterically, buzzing about with adolescent humor.


“I’m only kidding. I don’t eat people. You should have seen your face though!”

As he laughed his eyes twinkled again, and for a moment he looked like a mischievous boy, not a

monster of a man.

“Well I am glad you find scaring me funny.” I said tartly.

“I find humor in the most delightful places.” He smirked, and I can’t help but smile. He has such

a captivating effect on me.

 “As to blood, well it fascinates me. To speak of it merely as a food source does

not do it justice. Blood is necessary to satisfy my thirst, and it is the lifeblood that connects me to

the human world. It is more potent and its origin so deeply rooted, more than you could possibly

know.” He sighs heavily, frustration set on his brow. He looked older like this. I was eager to

learn more about him.

“Being that we are banished from the pleasures of the sun, we must consume a diet rich in

vegetation, as well as living blood in order to survive.”

“I had no idea it was that complex.”

Now I was getting nervous, I had no idea when the last time he fed.

I could be in here, alone, with a hungry vampire. Yet I am mystified by his presence, something

about him makes me feel the kind of closeness I craved tonight. And I had to admit to myself, I

was  a little excited by the danger.

“When one has much time on his hands it is advantageous to acquire great knowledge.”

 He said with a smile that lit up the room.

I thought about that for a moment, what it would be like to live forever. The amount of books

you could read, the wealth of knowledge that experience would bring, the places you could

travel, sights you could see and exotic tastes of foods to try. Which brought my mind back to the

vampire and his diet. Could he eat regular food too?

 “How does the wine affect you?” I asked out of curiosity.

“I can get quite inebriated if I am not careful. Alcohol is potent to our kind as well. You could

well take advantage of me if we carry on this way.” He smirked, and I think he winked at me as

he took another sip of zinfandel.

“I cannot eat any kind of meat however. It is my understanding that our bodies do not

digest animal proteins the way that yours do. We become violently ill and incredibly weak until

the next lunar phase. When we are sick we are most vulnerable.”

“You’d get steaked!”

 I roared with laughter. It was my turn for quick wit. I even got a laugh out of the vampire.

I took a step closer to him, my heart pounding into my throat. I was terrified of overstepping my

boundaries. And I put my hand on his shoulder.  He moves, and gently rests his hand on top of

mine. His skin feels smooth and cold and strangely comforting. He looks up at me with those

deep, sorrowful eyes and just like that I am no longer afraid of him.

“It is unnecessary for me to kill humans. I can drink from them, most even willingly, and make it

so they do not remember. This is why I remain to walk alone.”

He looked out the window again, as if he feared something out there in the night. What could

frighten a vampire? I shuddered at the thought.

“One of my conditions, for lack of a better word, is to uphold a positioning in a caste system.”

His words jarred me from my thoughts.

“What does that mean?”

“It is the nature of our survival. Take honeybees for example. You have a queen and then you

have the worker bees. The queen gives the orders to construct the honeycomb to make them most

productive, and the worker bees carry suit. Without one another, the honeycomb concept would

not work. Cooperation ensures the survival of the colony.”

He pauses for a moment to let this all settle in. My mind is swarming with questions, my insides

humming with curiosity.

“I do not wish to seek and destroy as the queen insists. A crime of that nature in human law is

treachery. Punishable by execution.”

The vampire looks dark and sensuous; he is a creature both beautiful and deadly.

“Death?” I ask quietly.

“Muerte.”

As he responds I steady both hands on his shoulders and bend forward to gently kiss the top

of his head. I suddenly realize I have developed feelings for this person, real feelings that I cared

deeply about him. I thought about how long his life has been, the things he must have seen. I did

not want to lose him. I want to understand him, what pains him, what makes him smile and what

makes him tick.

“We all are just searching for someone to understand us in the end,” he said.

 It was as if he read my mind.

“Do you believe in magic, Maya?” he asked me, staring into me with those soulful eyes.

 “Yes,” I replied.

“To see my real self, truest in form, well, it is a lot of keeping up of appearances, Maya, to

deceive the beholding eye of our nature,” he said darkly.

“Are you damned? Are you being punished for something you have done?”

 I could not hide the urgency in my voice.

“Our soul is our energy, and since I am immortal I believe I walk the Earth with heavy karma.

My soul is bound to this form.”

 His accent is hypnotizing; everything he says is like poetry. I ache to know more of

his roots. More of him.

“And what a beautiful form it is.” I say gently, and I run my fingers through his hair.

 He smells different than any man I have ever been close to. Clean, like freshly shampooed and

shaved and washed man.  And yet there was a faint odor of something not unpleasant but not an

average smell, almost like the residual of tanning lotion. It was irresistible and masculine and

very sexy, I wanted to bottle his scent like cologne I could spray on my bed sheets.  He takes my

hand in his and faces my palm up toward the ceiling. With the tip of his finger he swirls around

my palm, clockwise. It tickles and feels good at the same time.

“It is like magic, Maya. A master who reveals his trickery loses his effect.  The world around

you is teeming with it. You can feel its energy within you.”

My hand is heating up where it was once cold. His touch is like fire and ice. He stops swirling

and pulls away from the center of my palm slowly, drawing out an energy that glowed like static

electricity on a tee shirt in the dark.

“The mysticism is all a great illusion; we believe what we want to, and only what we can

comprehend. Most of the mythology is untrue to my kind. We do not disprove it because we

prefer ourselves to remain shrouded in secrecy.”

He kissed my palm and the energy shocked me, sending a pulse through my body, reverberating

even there. I fluttered my eyes and he released my hand. I smiled; there was no sense in trying to

be coy. Everything he is saying excites me, my skin prickles with great anticipation. I felt

honored to be privy to the vampire’s dark secrets.

“Living forever is misery if you have to endure it alone.”

His eyes burn but produce no tears, dry and red and menacing. His beautiful face now tortured

with sadness. My heart swells; it pains me to see him like this. I reach out to touch him and he

recoils. The flicker of candlelight cast shadows on the wall, giving the moment a very Hitchcock

feel.

“I am a killer. I am a monster. Even as I free myself from reign I am haunted by a karma I cannot

atone for.”

We stood in close proximity, and I could hear him breathing. He stood with his eyes closed and

his head down, yet still so regal in his presence. By his sorrow for wrongdoing and his

willingness to expiate it, he showed the greatness of his soul.

“Dawn is upon us; shortly I will need to find a place to rest.” He said, staring out the window. He

must be watching the moon like an astronomical alarm clock.

“You can stay with me if you’d like.” I nervously offered.

I had no idea if he slept in a coffin and asking now would surely kill the mood.

“There is a strong price to be paid on the head of a rogue vampire. It would be unwise to harbor a

fugitive, Maya, I do not wish to bring you harm.”

“I know you are not going to kill me,” I began.

“Maya, I kill no more. But there is a bounty for my fangs. I defied a direct order, and for that I

will pay.”

He looked grim. I have been put in danger by his confiding in me. This vampire trusts me. He is

in far greater danger than me. Someone wants to kill him, or has been ordered to. How many

people, er, vampires would be after him? Just how long did I have left with him? I cannot

pretend to try and understand how he feels.

“Please, stay. I feel like you are safer here with me. I know that’s silly,” I stepped into his

personal space again, “I want you here with me.”

“You know not what you ask of me.”

He stared at me intently, piercing me with his gaze. And then he kissed me. It was everything I

hoped for. The sensation was electric, yet a little awkward, and afterwards I felt all giddy.

He helped me cover my windows with heavy blankets. My apartment was now

vampire safe. The last hour of night seemed to go on forever, and I wished it would. The vampire

and I lay in the same bed. He respected my underwear rule and held me close instead of trying to

pursue farther.

“Maya, I must sleep during the daytime hours. You would do well to sleep too.” He kissed my

forehead and sent sparks down my spine.

“I can’t possibly sleep! How am I supposed to after all you’ve said tonight? I’m like a kid on

Christmas!”

I beamed and kissed him gently on the lips.

“I will let you sleep. If you hold me on your chest I might just fall asleep with you.”

He sat up in bed and looked at me, stunned. I have never seen this look on him before.

“I do not feel like a human anymore,” he said and he looked sad again.

 But he took off his shirt reluctantly, and bore a beautiful if not perfect chest. He was not overly

muscular or overly hairy (thank you!) and slightly pale for a Mexican, but not in an unflattering

way. I curled up under his arm and laid my head on his bare chest. I ran my fingertips up and

down, feeling his smooth skin. It felt like cold satin, delicate to the touch. I could not only hear

his heartbeat, but felt it pounding against my cheek. When he spoke quietly even, his voice

echoed through his chest.

“Thank you, Maya.I am forever in your debt for your hospitality, and eternally grateful for our

bond that we share.”

And in that moment, the sun fell in love with the moon. I wanted to heal his longing, to be the

answer he had been searching his long, long life for. My very own prince of darkness.

 

His story of bravery and betrayal brought clarity to his demeanor.

He hated to kill.

He hated himself for the lives he has stolen.

He lingers in this world, but he is not of this world.

He is a demon, but above all he is a man.

 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

About Me.


So my daughter, Carmella is like most kids and is attached to her phone. She likes to “face time” chat with her friends. (I never imagined we would really be able to make face-to-face phone calls) Anyway, I overheard a recent conversation where Carmella was asked what her mom does and my girl did me proud. She said Mommy is a writer and she’s trying to change the world. Priceless! Truth is I am a writer and to my family I’m always writing something and they feel ignored. I owe them lots of playtime, that’s for sure. Writing does take discipline and time, precious time. Honest though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I’m on a kick I will get up hours before the kids and write then over coffee. I do some of my best creative stuff during this time because my mind is fresh from dreamland and my imagination is at its peak. Lately, I have been staying up late to write at night when all the lights and kids go down. I have been able to start a successful rewrite of my first draft. Other times, and if the mood strikes me, I have to snatch time to get a moment at the desk. I call these mini-marathons and they, like my bipolar mood swings, are apt to change anytime. It’s the no rules write time where you just pound away at the keyboard.

What other qualities define me? I’d like to say that I am happy and confident. Those two strengths are the glue that holds me together: my family. Without them in my life to reassure me and believe in me and support me in the way that they do I would surely break under pressure. They are what keep me grounded and humble. I used to put all my eggs in one basket. I used to place so much pressure on myself to look a certain way; I thought my confidence came in my concealer. I needed to look thin; I have always had to watch my weight. I had to have certain material things to make me feel good. And I never went anywhere without full makeup and hair. Now, I‘m not saying I don’t enjoy these things now, but I don’t feel the pressing need to look or be a certain way. I no longer feel that my looks are my only quality. I know my worth.

 My favorite color is black. I have playlists for everything. My music is the soundtrack to my life. I am reaching a transition point this year when I turn 30. With age comes wisdom. When I was in high school I was angry. I was never sure where to direct this so I hurt a lot of people I loved. I was on my own by 16 and grateful to have a full time job. Working has always been very therapeutic for me. And I had Nick. He has always been there. We had our daughters and were married before either of us was old enough to buy a drink. We were divorced by the time I was 21. My girls saved my life. I grew up quick, but because I wanted to. My 20’s were about finding myself. I found myself drinking a lot and since I love to dance I was naturally a regular in the club scene.  I made my mark as an Esthetician and MUA in Saratoga, before the economy crashed that dream. Again, working is very therapeutic for me. I experienced a lot, traveled, and met lots of new people. I fell in love, experienced a love lost, and that taught me that I could love again. I was diagnosed Bipolar just before my 24th birthday. I got worse before I got better. My path led me back to my first love, my Nick. He was always there.


Now we have a beautiful and healthy baby boy and we are a family again. For all the trauma and drama I endured I finally have found my place in life. I survived my 20’s; I’m going to thrive in my 30’s.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dreading the Editing


March 12, 2014

 

Dreading the Editing

That moment hits you when you have finally finished the novel. The first draft of one, anyway. Blood, sweat, and tears labored over this piece of art. This is the calm before the storm. The editing process is the hardest part for me. As they say, we are our own worst critics. I hate picking apart something I fell in love with, but it is true as Stephen King said we must “kill your darlings.”

I have a process I go through, a ritual perhaps, as I enter the world of editing. I assume most writers do this kind of thing too. There is always method to the madness.

Phase one-You did it

You’ve finished your novel, you feel euphoria. Now, take your manuscript and print it out hardcopy. Hide it. That’s right, out of sight out of mind, put it away and don’t think about it for a week.  Once the week is up, prepare to spend many nights alone focused solely on the book. It will be like a time capsule. And many cool ideas come to mind as you get deeper into the story.

Invest in Post-its. These little babies make your life so much easier. You can color code them, mark off a note in a chapter, good for note taking, green for dialogue, and of course, my favorite, the storyboard. Writings, pictures, chapters, anything goes.

I have a special red pen I use on the hard marks editing. This is where you write in the columns of the printed manuscript. I do all my hard editing first, and then I like to tackle it chapter by chapter on the computer.  Everybody has their own way.

Quiet time is essential to your success as a writer. This proves to be difficult in a house of five, so I have been working the Vampire Hours to get a good chunk of me time. I like writing when it’s dark and quiet. I have a pretty eclectic playlist for this project. Music makes creating art so much more intimate.

Phase two- the Rewrite

Tackle this write chapter by chapter and stay true to your red pen editing. As you start to flow, keep in mind that sometimes the characters call the shots in your journey.

That’s about as far as I’ve got. I am still in the rewrite process. But writing is a journey and it is a spectacular ride.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dead Sexy

This is an exclusive snippet from the novel, Insatiable. I am in the rough editing process and am seeking feedback, so please comment or email me your thoughts! Thank you for taking the time for me today! v-v

M.T.Moreno
 
 
The room had an eerie glow from the full moon casting her lunar spell through the window. It

was impossible not to feel her power, not after a night like tonight. I am a vampire. His words

echoed in the back of my mind. I am bringing a vampire back to my place. Alone. ARE YOU

CRAZY?? My instincts were screaming at me, but something deeper within me wanted this

more. I was burning with desire, an  insatiable need for the dark unknown and a dangerous lust

for a man I just met. I led the vampire to my sitting area, in the far corner of the room. He needed

no further instruction to enter my dwelling, no magical incantations so far. He sat and peered out

the window, looking rather forlorn. I smiled. They are always melancholy in literature. I lit

several candles around the room using matches, because they are more magical than using a

lighter.

“The light does not bother me, Maya.” He startled me when he spoke.

“Oh. I prefer soft lighting. It is always more forgiving, and a little romantic.” I sighed. I sounded

giddy. I padded around the room turning on a few small lamps.

“I am going to get myself a glass of wine. Can I get you anything?”

I wasn’t sure if he could eat or drink.

“If you are having wine, I shall have a glass too.”

 His words were spoken with an eloquence of another time.

I presented him with a glass of old vine zinfandel, and took a seat on the end of my bed to face

him. I inhaled the robust scent and took a very large drink of my wine. I waited in the silence

between us for what seemed to go on forever. The night air surrounding us was pregnant with

mystery, my heart heavy with suspense. The energy between us was palpable.

“I am still a living creature.” There was a magnitude to his voice, when he spoke he commanded

attention without force. I listened attentively, quieting the questions that began to float to the top

of my head.

“I have been this way for thirty-five years. Though I appear to be seen as a twenty-something loner. I enjoy my privacy. I don’t like being questioned. We must reside in secrecy, or blend into modern society, which proves very difficult. Every lifestyle has its own sets of rewards and challenges. But I hate to kill.”

I swallowed hard and my throat felt like sandpaper. Wine would have to do. It burned going down.

“Do you kill often?” I shuddered, anticipating his answer.

“Not anymore.”

I would need more wine. But anything and everything would have to wait. The vampire had me

captivated. His energy was electrifying.

“I was a young kid who thought he knew everything. My life was my car. Nothing came before

it. I had a strong sense of pride, growing up Chicano in an area that represented the movement. I

spent a lot of time cruising in the Mission, and that’s where I met my fate. “

“I was given the choice of immortality, and I had nothing binding me to my life in the city. In

this way, I would ensure my life would not end on the streets in vain. And just like that I

exchanged the day for the night.”

He drinks his wine and gives me some time to digest all of this. I am fascinated by him and I

watch him closely. He is not looking at me, but he is aware of my every move. He calculates

every moment as it passes by.

Listening to him telling stories of his past was more like listening to the deliverance of a

message; it was as if every word spoken from his lips had some deeper meaning. And then he

said something humorous and just like that snapped me back to reality. He was so human, he

made me laugh, and he made my heart swell.

“I remember when we all idolized OJ Simpson. He was an American hero. Throughout my life I

have seen the man fall from grace, and as I watched it saddened me. The whole story is a

tragedy, but watching the transition made me realize just how short a man’s life really is. His

pain shows in his age. So much changes in the world around me, and yet I remain the same.”

 I admired his features under the soft flicker of candlelight. He had a strong brow, with just the

slightest onset of lines showing his age. I hate to call them wrinkles, because that just doesn’t

sound sexy. He smiled at me and I looked into his eyes. They were brown, the depth of them still

holding so much sorrow. As I stared at them I noticed a hint of gold flecks glistening like tiny

embers fighting for life slowly in a dying fire. The vampire was devastatingly handsome. A

warm sensation courses through my veins and although I entertain this evening with great

trepidation, I am not afraid. I do not want to look away, anticipating hearing his story. He breaks

the spell and looks away first, taking in another sip of wine.

“This is very good, Maya. Thank you.”

The way he said my name released a million tiny butterflies in my stomach. To hear the syllables

gently roll off his tongue seemed the most amorous compliment anyone has ever paid to my

endearment. His accent I was unsure of, but he was definitely of Mexican origin.

“It’s from a local winery, well from Lodi.” I say, delighted to fill up our glasses.

 I am hosting a vampire.

And I shake the thought away.

“The area is a good place to harvest wine. Many have made their settlement because it is an

opportunity to acquire land themselves. I have seen much growth and development through the

years.”

He swallows some more wine, and looks at me. He smiles at me, lifting one eyebrow playfully

and his eyes catch a glimmer of the moon. He is dead sexy.

“Zinfandel, circa 2009. I do prefer merlot myself, but zin comes a close second.”

He smirks, quite pleased with himself.

“You know your wine! “I exclaimed.

“A vampire’s senses are amplified and I have acclimated very distinguished taste buds during my

time.”

“I am impressed!” I say gleefully, and before I can think it through the words just pop casually

right out of my mouth.

“Do you eat too?”

I regretted it the instant I said it. The muscles in my face visually tense and I roll back

in my seat wishing I could crawl into my shell like a crab as I wait for his response.

“We do eat,” he said harshly and he turned to face me only moving his head.

He never looked more inhuman.

 ”We are the creatures of the night where we are the hunters searching for prey.” He stared

intensely at me, with a piercing gaze I felt could see through to my soul. I shuddered, but I dared

not to look away.

“We rip out your entrails and feed on them in front of your children!!”

My mouth gaped open in horror.

How do I respond to that? I wanted to run but couldn’t make my legs move. I wanted to scream,

but my voice would not cooperate. I was terrified. He was literally face to face with me, we were

almost touching noses. And I just stood there like a deer in headlights. And then he busted out

laughing, completely breaking character. Here I was like a gaping fool and he laughed

hysterically, buzzing about with adolescent humor.


“I’m only kidding. I don’t eat people. You should have seen your face though!”

As he laughed his eyes twinkled again, and for a moment he looked like a mischievous boy, not a

monster of a man.

“Well I am glad you find scaring me funny.” I said tartly.

“I find humor in the most delightful places.” He smirked, and I can’t help but smile. He has such

a captivating effect on me.

 “As to blood, well it fascinates me. To speak of it merely as a food source does

not do it justice. Blood is necessary to satisfy my thirst, and it is the lifeblood that connects me to

the human world. It is more potent and its origin so deeply rooted, more than you could possibly

know.” He sighs heavily, frustration set on his brow. He looked older like this. I was eager to

learn more about him.

“Blood and plants are almost molecularly exact. Chlorophyll and hemoglobin are distinguished

by one atom: the first has magnesium and the latter has iron. Being that we are banished from the

pleasures of the sun, we must consume a diet rich in vegetation to absorb chlorophyll, nutrients

produced only with the aid of the sun, as well as living blood in order to survive.”

“I had no idea it was that complex.”

Now I was getting nervous, I had no idea when the last time he fed.

I could be in here, alone, with a hungry vampire. Yet I am mystified by his presence, something

about him makes me feel the kind of closeness I craved tonight. And I had to admit to myself, I

was  a little excited by the danger.

“When one has much time on his hands it is advantageous to acquire great knowledge.”

 He said with a smile that lit up the room.

I thought about that for a moment, what it would be like to live forever. The amount of books

you could read, the wealth of knowledge that experience would bring, the places you could

travel, sights you could see and exotic tastes of foods to try. Which brought my mind back to the

vampire and his diet. Could he eat regular food too?

 “How does the wine affect you?” I asked out of curiosity.

“I can get quite inebriated if I am not careful. Alcohol is potent to our kind as well. You could

well take advantage of me if we carry on this way.” He smirked, and I think he winked at me as

he took another sip of zinfandel.

“I cannot eat any kind of meat however. It is my understanding that our bodies do not

digest animal proteins the way that yours do. We become violently ill and incredibly weak until the next

lunar phase. When we are sick we are most vulnerable.”

“You’d get steaked!”

 I roared with laughter. It was my turn for quick wit. I even got a laugh out of the vampire.

I took a step closer to him, my heart pounding into my throat. I was terrified of overstepping my

boundaries. And I put my hand on his shoulder.  He moves, and gently rests his hand on top of

mine. His skin feels smooth and cold and strangely comforting. He looks up at me with those

deep, sorrowful eyes and just like that I am no longer afraid of him.

“It is unnecessary for me to kill humans. I can drink from them, most even willingly, and make it

so they do not remember. This is why I remain to walk alone.”

He looked out the window again, as if he feared something out there in the night. What could

frighten a vampire? I shuddered at the thought.

“One of my conditions, for lack of a better word, is to uphold a positioning in a caste system.”

His words jarred me from my thoughts.

“What does that mean?”

“It is the nature of our survival. Take honeybees for example. You have a queen and then you

have the worker bees. The queen gives the orders to construct the honeycomb to make them most

productive, and the worker bees carry suit. Without one another, the honeycomb concept would

not work. Cooperation ensures the survival of the colony.”

He pauses for a moment to let this all settle in. My mind is swarming with questions, my insides

humming with curiosity.

“I do not wish to seek and destroy as the queen insists. A crime of that nature in human law is

treachery. Punishable by execution.”

The vampire looks dark and sensuous; he is a creature both beautiful and deadly.

“Death?” I ask quietly.

“Muerte.”

As he responds I steady both hands on his shoulders and bend forward to gently kiss the top

of his head. I suddenly realize I have developed feelings for this person, real feelings that I cared

deeply about him. I thought about how long his life has been, the things he must have seen. I did

not want to lose him. I want to understand him, what pains him, what makes him smile and what

makes him tick.

“We all are just searching for someone to understand us in the end,” he said.

 It was as if he read my mind.

 “You have awakened something inside me, something long forgotten. I am eternally grateful for

that, Maya. It took great bravery for you to trust in something you do not know or fully

understand. I admire that in a woman. Do you believe in magic, Maya?” he asked me with those

soulful eyes.

 “Yes,” I replied. “My abuelita was a bruja.”

The memory of my Tia Lupe warmed my heart, yet at the same time filled me with fear. She had

great wisdom, and I had witnessed her healing powers, but her stories of times long ago terrified

me as a little girl. Oddly enough, it was her passing that inspired me to seek truth behind those

tales. My curiosity and fascination with the unknown was inspired by her ways,

and that same wonder has inadvertently led me to the events of this night.

 “To see my real self, truest in form, well, it is a lot of keeping up of appearances, Maya, to

deceive the beholding eye of our nature,” he said darkly.

“Are you damned? Are you being punished for something you have done?”

 I could not hide the urgency in my voice.

 

“Our soul is our energy, and since I am immortal I believe I walk the Earth with heavy karma.

My soul is bound to this form.”

 His accent is hypnotizing; everything he says is like poetry. I ache to know more of

his roots. More of him.

“And what a beautiful form it is.” I say gently, and I run my fingers through his hair.

 He smells different than any man I have ever been close to. Clean, like freshly shampooed and

shaved and washed man.  And yet there was a faint odor of something not unpleasant but not an

average smell, almost like the residual of tanning lotion. It was irresistible and masculine and

very sexy, I wanted to bottle his scent like cologne I could spray on my bed sheets.  He takes my

hand in his and faces my palm up toward the ceiling. With the tip of his finger he swirls around

my palm, clockwise. It tickles and feels good at the same time.

“It is like magic, Maya. A master who reveals his trickery loses his effect.  The world around

you is teeming with it. You can feel its energy within you.”

My hand is heating up where it was once cold. His touch is like fire and ice. He stops swirling

and pulls away from the center of my palm slowly, drawing out an energy that glowed like static

electricity on a tee shirt in the dark.

“The mysticism is all a great illusion; we believe what we want to, and only what we can

comprehend. Most of the mythology is untrue to my kind. We do not disprove it because we

prefer ourselves to remain shrouded in secrecy.”

He kissed my palm and the energy shocked me, sending a pulse through my body, reverberating

even there. I fluttered my eyes and he released my hand. I smiled; there was no sense in trying to

be coy. Everything he is saying excites me, my skin prickles with great anticipation. I felt

honored to be privy to the vampire’s dark secrets.

“Living forever is misery if you have to endure it alone.”

His eyes burn but produce no tears, dry and red and menacing. His beautiful face now tortured

with sadness. My heart swells; it pains me to see him like this. I reach out to touch him and he

recoils. The flicker of candlelight cast shadows on the wall, giving the moment a very Hitchcock

feel.

“I am a killer. I am a monster. Even as I free myself from reign I am haunted by a karma I cannot

atone for.”

We stood in close proximity, and I could hear him breathing. He stood with his eyes closed and

his head down, yet still so regal in his presence. By his sorrow for wrongdoing and his

willingness to expiate it, he showed the greatness of his soul.

“Dawn is upon us; shortly I will need to find a place to rest.” He said, staring out the window. He

must be watching the moon like an astronomical alarm clock.

“You can stay with me if you’d like.” I nervously offered.

I had no idea if he slept in a coffin and asking now would surely kill the mood.

“There is a strong price to be paid on the head of a rogue vampire. It would be unwise to harbor a

fugitive, Maya, I do not wish to bring you harm.”

“I trust that you won’t. I know you are not going to kill me,” I began.

“Maya, I kill no more. But there is a bounty for my fangs. I defied a direct order, and for that I

will pay.”

He looked grim. I have been put in danger by his confiding in me. This vampire trusts me I

discover through this revelation. He is in far greater danger than me. Someone wants to kill him,

or has been ordered to. How many people, er, vampires would be after him? Just how long did I

have left with him? I cannot pretend to try and understand how he feels.

“Please, stay. I feel like you are safer here with me. I know that’s silly,” I stepped into his

personal space again, “I want you here with me.”

“You know not what you ask of me.”

He stared at me intently, piercing me with his gaze. And then he kissed me. It was everything I

hoped for. The sensation was electric, yet a little awkward, and afterwards I felt all giddy.

He helped me cover my windows with heavy blankets. My apartment was now light-tight and

vampire safe. The last hour of night seemed to go on forever, and I wished it would. The vampire

and I lay in the same bed. He respected my underwear rule and held me close instead of trying to

pursue farther.

“Maya, I must sleep during the daytime hours. You would do well to sleep too.” He kissed my

forehead and sent sparks down my spine.

“I can’t possibly sleep! How am I supposed to after all you’ve said tonight? I’m like a kid on Christmas!”

I beamed and kissed him gently on the lips.

“I will let you sleep. If you hold me on your chest I might just fall asleep with you.”

He sat up in bed and looked at me, stunned. I have never seen this look on him before.

“I do not feel like a human anymore,” he said and he looked sad again.

 But he took off his shirt reluctantly, and bore a beautiful if not perfect chest. He was not overly

muscular or overly hairy (thank you!) and slightly pale for a Mexican, but not in an unflattering

way. I curled up under his arm and laid my head on his bare chest. I ran my fingertips up and

down, feeling his smooth skin. It felt like cold satin, delicate to the touch. I could not only hear

his heartbeat, but felt it pounding against my cheek. When he spoke quietly even, his voice

echoed through his chest.

“Thank you, Maya. You have brought me back. When I had given up on tribal life I thought I

had sealed my fate. I am forever in your debt for your hospitality, and eternally grateful for our

bond that we share.”

And in that moment, the sun fell in love with the moon. I fell in love with his soul. I wanted to

heal his longing, to be the answer he had been searching his long, long life for. My very own

prince of darkness.

 

As much as he needed me to awaken his senses, he invigorated some much needed life inside of

me and it was then I realized that I needed him too. His story of bravery and betrayal brought

clarity to his demeanor. He hated to kill. He hated himself for the lives he has stolen. He lingers

in this world, but he is not of this world. He is a demon, but above all he is a man.