"Roses Of Smoke And Ash" the beginning to the upcoming novel Into The Night.
“So are you…”
“New money? No, I’m a blue blood.”
It is the best of times - lavish and luxurious 1923. From the rising city, with sky-scraping buildings to the fabulously wealthy suburbs where everyone races to for the weekends. One night, come May, when the New York weather is finally turning, Jameson sips whiskey, his future seemingly uncertain.
On that same night, Melrose is on the rooftop with curious strangers. Young and beautiful, new to the city, new to the Flapper lifestyle, so much of the world is at her fingertips. Winter turned to Spring and her life is seeming to fly by. This is truly the oddest of summers.
Jameson has been a vampire long enough to know how to live it up every chance he gets. Never staying in one place too long, he's never had any reason to stay anyway. But "April showers bring May flowers" and a beautiful rose blossoms in the courtyard of his country home. Mel looking and acting and calling to him like his long lost love - who are they to deny themselves? This romance may be one of the Jazz age but it lasts through generations….
INTO THE NIGHT
By Rosalie Thorne
“The night has a thousand eyes and the day but one.
Yet the light of the bright world dies with the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes and the heart but one.
Yet the light of the whole life dies when love is done.”
- Francis William Bourdillian
The Jazz Age, they were calling it. The Roaring Twenties! Where music and dance were fast and flirtatious. Though the globe partied day in and day out, this particular story lands in the bosom of New York… the city that never sleeps.
A time where the young and beautiful came to play with the rich and powerful creatures of the city. The most precious of all is the woman I love… Melrose.
An international student who came home to live with a friend after her studies concluded. But there was more to her than even she knew, only something I could know in my immortal life - she was more than a woman, she was the woman - my love reincarnate. Not just a star in the night sky, but the sun of my solar system.
And the woman I love... is dead.
New Year’s Eve brought rain, January brought snow through February and March. The frost even bit on Easter Sunday in April, with a horrendous negative five degrees. Finally, in May, warmth is making a come-back, the seasons reminding us all that summer is at our fingertips. There is a thought that a cold-blooded creature such as myself would be drawn to somewhere warmer, a lot of my brothers and sisters finding homes in the grand mansions of the south. But, it is easier for me to fight solar sickness when my body’s already frigid.
This moderately warm night is intensified by all the bodies - the music, the dancing, the smoking, the booze… another Friday night at the palace and there ain’t nothing else to do. The orchestra down by the pool is sending vibrations through every body and every soul, and even a dead thing like me can feel my heart thud in my chest. Hip against the balcony railing, glass in my hand sweating against my blazer, eyes closed, but ears open… the night has only begun.
The Great War had come and gone and the world is celebrating. Both the surface world of the humans and the underground nation of para-creatures. In all my years there has never been a better time to be alive. I am one of the few vampires that haven’t lost touch with the world above, diving headfirst into the ever-adapting culture. Even tonight, at the place I call my home, most of my guests are young humans using their quick time on this Earth to go against anything prude or profane.
There is a shift in temperature to my left and I open my eyes to see darling Darla. A mind-reading succubus who is never that far from me, my best friend through it all. I smile lazily at her, noticing a flush in her cheeks, “You’ve eaten early tonight.”
She adjusts her five-layer pearl bracelet on her wrist. “Well, it seems I just can’t help myself,” her laugh is deep and smile wide.
Succubi may not be truly immortal, (though is any para-creature really), so the devil compensated by allowing them to change their looks at will. Now one of the most famous silent-movie stars, Darla is living for this look. “A lady never kisses and tells, you know that.”
I lean in, elbow against elbow, “You’re not exactly a lady, are you?”
She laughs with me but shifts her weight against mine. “And you’re not a gentleman, Jameson.”
I nod and take a sip of my whiskey. “I never did claim to be one.” I lower my voice so only she can hear. “Kind of hard to be one without a soul, eh?”
She gives me a look and purses her ruby lips. “That’s an old wives tale and I know you don’t even believe it.”
I ease back and breath deep, looking over the party below. Apparently, because she can read my mind that means I have a soul. And to be fair, there is a huge difference between me and a proper demon…. Vampires have the curse of not really being alive but sure as hell not being dead. It can drive a pare-creature mad… not choosing to live, but unable to die - this beautifully disastrous existence that is one big purgatory.
Looking to Darla I gesture outward, “This is living?”
She gives a sad look she reserves only for me and sighs. “Maybe you should actually go down there… dance, mingle… meet someone? They’re not all boring and selfish.”
Suddenly full of life and luster she grabs my arm and starts pulling. “My date was talking to his sister and she was talking about her new roommate. This girl, all the way from Virginia, I guess. One of those southern debutantes, you know? Old money, really pretty. Anyways, the sister and this girl are best friends, right, and the girl - gosh I cannot remember her name, starts with an ‘M’, I think - she just arrived in the city a week ago. Come on then, yeah? Shouldn’t you welcome your brand new guest?”
Darla likes to think of herself as a match-maker. Darla likes to think she is in the business of love by nature. Darla gets a little manic after feeding. Darla has a hard time really understanding people because she focuses so much on their thoughts and not actions. This is not the first time Darla has tried to set me up with a woman. Not even the first time this evening.
However, I know well enough not to fight. If I at least introduce myself then Darla will get distracted yet again and flutter away like some hyper, sparkly butterfly. Down on the far lip of the pool, Darla reaches for the shoulder of her date. He turns quickly to show his sweet, young, handsome face looking like infinity on high. (Something I always commend her for, never going too far, always leaving her dates with a rose-colored existence.) She kisses one cheek, then the other, and asks “Where’s your sister and her friend?”
His eyes never leaving her face, it takes me a moment in this dazed state, “Ah… well, I do think they went for another drink.”
Darla nods and points to a brunette in a violet gown up the steps with her back to us. “That’s the sister.” My gaze shifts to the girls she is talking to, a lovely lady in emerald with hair the color of October. My best friend forces me a few steps in their direction, her date calling their name. It does not take too close of proximity for me to realize the friend of the human is a para-creature… a fae, by the looks of it. Bright hair, wide eyes, huge smile, petite frame… so full of energy, it is no wonder they are drawn together.
I pinch Darla.
“What?” she asks quickly.
Her chin shifts over her shoulder just as we come to greet them, “No, what?”
But it’s too late. The arms are up, the hugs being made, the kisses being cheeked. Within the speedy dialogue, I learn the fae’s name to be Margarette. As anticipated, the feeling is mutual, she gives me a once over and shifts all attention to the one who appreciates her. One moment, a second… a third, and I slowly ease away.
Without warning, there is a huge splash in the pool to my right. It seems a group of men jumped from the balcony, landing bluntly like a cannonball. Their heads raising to the air, their laughter contagious to everyone else in the water. I gander for a moment, thinking how nice it must be to have something so innocent bring happiness. Stepping carefully around the spilled water, my eyes lift from the now settling surface.
Bare feet lift as she sways from one side to the other, the pearl and white fringe of a rose dress drifting softly. A tiny wrist holds the end of a lit sparkler, moving the light in a loose figure eight. Golden pinned hair curled perfectly around her brow, surprisingly pulled into a bun hidden behind her ear. Ajoite eyes meet mine and there’s a story only we would know.
Rosalind was finally home.
My body moved before my mind could catch up. Bobbing and weaving through the crowd, I all but push strangers into the pool. Every few steps I catch a glimpse of my Rosalind, moving the same way she always did - with this ethereal air, a ballerina of the cosmos. Past the orchestra now, I can see her smile… the same huge, unabashed smile, (which is so refreshing in comparison to the typical Flapper pout). And I can smell her… raspberry on her lips, rose on her skin, amber on her pulse, jasmine in her hair - perfection, even down to her blood type.
My Rosalind, my love, my life, my wife. We had entered the underworld of para-creatures together… but as we lived like vampires, so did our bodies - imprisoned in this rapid continuum, which means her cancer lived… lived and lived until she died. Vampirism may have offered immortality, but it does not heal mortal wounds.
None of that matters now, however, now that she is back again. Eternal in a different way, mayhap, a soul reincarnate. Right here, right now, right at my fingertips -
I push through the last men between us only to find nothing.
Phantom heart palpitations in my chest, stale breath knocked out my lungs.
But I can feel her, the air around me warmed by her. I can smell her, even the scent of her sweat.
Turning on the spot, my eyes search with panic. There are too many people, there is too much movement. Everything now reeks of chaos, the music too loud, the people too close, the air too hot.
Rapid popping breaks through the music, followed by thunderclaps as the night sky is lit. The midnight fireworks are in full swing and only add to my rising anxiety. Feeling both ready to tear someone’s head off and as if I am to faint, I push myself through the on-lookers to the closest wall I can find. Hand and head against the cool brick, my eyes close and I give one last attempt to listen, to search the air for a laugh or a whisper. She may have died so many years ago but I can make it feel like it isn’t so, every memory set in stone.
But as the last sparkling stream fizzles to the lakes service, I have lost my love yet again.