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by Leigh Ellwood
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance Gaylactic Spectrum Award Finalist
Description: Revised and expanded! Vampire Julian Van Wyck has enjoyed a successful incarnation as a modern-day musician, but his joys are overshadowed by his mortal wife's death. Having buried his wife, he is ready to join her. Only the loving intervention of his music partner, Dan Wilkinson, keeps him alive. Yet, it's not enough to keep Julian around in this time. The vampire decides a long sleep will help him forget his pain. Perhaps living in the future, removed from his wife's death, will allow him to continue living. Unfortunately, this decision does more harm than good. Can Julian undo this mistake and find happiness again?
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2007 2006
eBookwise Release Date: June 2007
36 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [106 KB]
Reading time: 64-89 min.
4 1/2 Hearts from The Romance Studio! "The passions that spark between Dan and Julian is like a thunderstorm--electrifying and blinding. If you are a fan of Ms. Ellwood or are just looking for a new exciting vampire tale to cozy-up to, then this story is for you! This reviewer recommends it. Get your copy of The Healing by Leigh Ellwood now!"--Janalee
"Dan, will you do something for me?"
Dan Wilkinson sat in Julian's favorite wing-backed chair, facing the fire with his head bent. The first thing Julian noticed about his friend tonight, as Dan straightened and craned his neck around the blue paisley fabric to acknowledge the question, was the raw puffiness of Dan's otherwise angular face. Dan's brown eyes, which Julian had always thought were set too deeply in his face, were rimmed red and glassy with unshed tears. Dan's unruly mop of dark hair frizzed atop his head and brushed his shoulders, having come loose from the elastic band that kept it secured in his trademark ponytail.
Dan looked a mess, and given the circumstances there was no reason to blame him. Julian was certain he looked no better, yet time and the day's events had prevented him from checking a mirror.
Gently Dan shook his head, unsmiling. "No," he answered after a momentary pause, "I won't do it."
Julian inched closer and took the matching chair opposite him--her chair. He cringed slightly as he sat, as if the lingering ghost of her touch was trying to envelop him, taunt him. Julian focused instead on the brandy snifter cradled in Dan's hands and the dark red liquid slanted inside, looking as though it would spill on Dan's crisp, pleated slacks.
"I won't do it," Dan repeated softly.
"Dan." Julian crossed his left ankle over his right knee. A clump of dirt was stuck to his heel. Cold, graveyard dirt, flecked with slim, green blades of grass. How did he miss that coming into the house? Julian shook his head and turned back to Dan. The thought of soiling his once pristine carpet was not a priority. Besides, so many other mourners had come trampling through the house today, smearing the mud of the dead into the floor with each quiet step.
Like it would matter in the morning, Julian knew. Cleaning the rugs was not priority.
"You don't even know what I'm going to ask," he chided Dan.
"Don't I, Julie?" Dan's expression was pained. He was known to everyone but Dan as Julian, yet at this moment Julian wished Dan had called him by his given name. Julie had always sounded affectionate coming from him, not at all feminine. Today, however, it carried a patronizing tone, and sounded mournful. Dan spoke as though today was the day of his own funeral, not Jessie's.
Julian sighed. So Dan did know.
"How long have we known each other, Julie?"
"Thirty years this November."
"Thirty years," Dan echoed. "More than half my life." As if to illustrate his point, Dan ran an absent hand through his hair. Several short strands of gray slid across his temple, concealing the microscopic wrinkles forming near his eyes. Laugh lines, Julian knew they were called. He and Dan had many occasions to laugh over the last three decades. There had been their friendship, and the success of their professional partnership. Right now, however, none of it seemed to matter without Jess around to continue sharing it with them, with him.
"The first time I saw you, strumming that guitar in the Common, in the middle of the night, I wanted to cry out, Dan. You looked so funny to me" Julian's smile was natural, for the memory was so vivid. "You had the longest hair of anybody I had ever seen. It nearly covered your entire face. Where I had been, when ... people didn't look like you or your friends."
This finally brought a smile from Dan, and he touched a finger to his reddened nose. "Almost being the operative word. It didn't conceal me completely, unfortunately. You could still see this thing."
"What was your nickname, what those other hippies called you? Something from a TV show."
"Cousin It." Dan set the snifter on the round occasional table between them and sank lower into the chair. He appeared hypnotized by the flames licking the mesh grating at their feet. "You came over and told me I wasn't holding fret bar correctly."
"And you called me a narc and told me to piss off," Julian laughed. The scene played like a television rerun in his mind--Dan in his patched jeans and cutoff Red Sox T-shirt. Julian had worn a three-piece suit and was toting an empty briefcase, trying to blend into Boston, and the twentieth century, after a very long sleep. Dan and his friends had an illegal campfire going. Smoke of every flavor perfumed the Common, tiny spots of red light guiding Julian toward a guaranteed second-hand high. That a police officer had not come over to put a stop to it seemed a minor miracle.
Dan nodded. "But you didn't. You stayed, and listened ... and suggested song lyrics." Those soulful, set back eyes pleaded with Julian. Keep talking. As though good memories could heal the pain. "And we formed a song writing partnership, made a record, and you told me your secret."
"Why does everything sound so simple in retrospect?" Julian felt the side of his face twitch in an involuntary smirk. "Where's the angst of the starving artist."
Dan shrugged. "Maybe there isn't enough time to rehash all of that. Besides, I like to think of the happier times, especially now."
Julian's smile faded. Dan was offering the condensed version of their history together. Months of acquaintance had passed before they formally agreed to collaborate on anything, and it took even longer to get a recording contract. Once achieved, though, they would make many albums. Gold records, platinum, multi-platinum ... and frankincense and myrrh for all Julian could keep track.
The Commoners were a legend now, not quite in the same strata as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but they were absorbed enough in the popular culture to be sampled by hip-hop artists and referenced on The Simpsons. In all his years of existence, in all his incarnations, Julian had enjoyed this one the most.
Until this point, anyway.
He knew, too, Dan exaggerated about how Julian came to reveal his true self--the telling of the "secret." It happened quite by accident during their first tour, when his need to feed outweighed the need for discretion. To make a long story short, Julian was caught in the act, offering a groupie his own "autograph" when Dan happened upon them backstage at a show. Julian had said nothing, he didn't have to. The bruise left on the already stoned young woman revealed more than words could ever do.
"I'm glad you never judged me," Julian told him.
"I'm glad you never drained me dry," he said.
They shared a laugh. This exchange was pure ritual, recited over years, like a Monty Python comedy skit.
"Dan," Julian said, serious now, "you know I love you. You know that."
"I do. I also know I can't do what you're about to ask me to do."
"What is that?" Julian arched an eyebrow.
"You want me to kill you."