EIGHT LIVES: MATCH MADE IN HELL #1



COMING SUMMER 2019

                               

ANSELM UM | ONE
                               
                               

There was a naked man in my living room.
He stood frozen in the middle of the room, between the black leather sofa that was worn by time and use, and the cherry coffee table that was cluttered with books, and seemed just as surprised to see me as I was to see him.
“Who the hell are you? What the hell are you doing here?!” I demanded. My voice echoed through the room, but he just stood there, staring at me like a deer in headlights.
The man blinked. He looked so . . . lost, so confused.
It wasn’t my problem.
Or maybe it was because he was standing ass naked in my living room, with everything hanging out, as though it was on display. His wide, blue eyes flickered around the room before settling on me again. His pale, pink lips parted, and he made a sound. It was this little soft peep of a noise that was so familiar and yet foreign at the same time.
How had he gotten through my front door? Better yet, why wasn’t he a bloody mess? Normally, the annoying creature I had shared my home with for the past hundred years would have already sliced an intruder into pieces by now but right now he was strangely absent. Usually, he was here to greet me in this very room when I returned home, especially when I held groceries, but there was no demanding whine or the soft flick of a tail against my leg.
I clenched my jaw. If this stranger had hurt Edmund, there would be hell to pay.
My immortal cat, as irritating as he could be sometimes, was my best friend. We’d been a pair since the beginning of the twentieth century and . . . in reality, he was all I had.
Everything changed but not Edmund. Nor me.
He was a cursed cat, once a young man in the prime of his life, and I was the vampire he called friend. We were a match made in Hell.
“Edmund,” I called, dropping the bags. The fresh fish and blood I bought cascaded to the floor. The packets slapped against the hardwood, some of them bursting open, but I didn’t care about the mess the blood would make, or the smell that would linger for days, I cared about my best friend. “Edmund?!”
The stranger turned, his sharp gaze following me though he was rooted to the spot.
I rushed through the living room, heading deeper into my home, knowing that if my heart still beat, it would be pounding against my chest like a sledgehammer.
Where was Edmund? Why wasn’t he answering?
Hunting through the rooms, I checked in all of Edmund’s favorite hiding spots—on top of the bookshelf, on my side of the bed, behind my pillow, in the perfect patch of moonlight that streamed through the bay windows in my office, but Edmund was nowhere to be found.
He was missing, gone, disappeared.
“Where is he?!” I demanded as I raged into the living room and caught the stranger by the throat. My fingers tightened as my anger—my fear—tainted the air, sending the thick stench of decay curling around us. The strange young man’s lips parted, opening and closing like a fish out of water as he grasped my wrist and fought for breath. “If you hurt him—” I couldn’t even finish the thought much less the sentence.
The very idea of not having Edmund, of being without him . . .
I shook the man impatiently. “Where is he?!” I bellowed, shaking the boy.
He appeared desperate as he clutched my wrist and tugged on my arm, attempting to remove my hold but my hold was absolute as my fingers tightened around his neck.
Panic danced across his face. His wide eyes shined, a familiar neon blue that . . . I knew.  
My lips parted, “Edmund?”
My hold loosened. It wasn’t possible. Edmund was . . .
The man I held by the neck trembled in my grasp, one minute a man and in the next, thick, black fur sprouted out of his transformed body.
“Y . . . You choked me,” he gasped as I bent, lifted him from the floor and gathered him close.
“You turned into a-a-a man!” I pulled him away from my chest, inspecting him as I did so.
How was this possible? He was cursed by a witch to live the rest of his life, or at least nine lives—eight now that he’d died once—as a cat. Right now, the fluffy, black thing I peered down at looked like my housecat but seconds ago . . .
“Holy shit,” he breathed, his familiar voice warm and bright and the same as it had been for the past century as he peered up at me. “I was human.”
He was human.
How had it happened?
Would it happen again?
I swallowed as I turned and sat down on the sofa. Edmund hopped up onto the coffee table that sat beside it, then he faced me. My gaze drifted over him. He was as he had been for the last hundred years but . . . he had changed as well. He had been a flesh and blood man.
“You saw me, Anselm. I was human,” he said. “I told you I was a human!”
I never once doubted that he had been human before.
You were human…” I whispered, my mind a whirlwind of thoughts as my fingers gently brushed against his soft fur.
What did it mean? Was the effectiveness of the curse wearing off? Would he turn into a human again? If he did, would next time be for good? Would he begin to age?
My heart squeezed and I closed my eyes.
Was our time together finally coming to an end?
“Getting all worked up after seeing me naked, huh?” Edmund teased. “Told you I was hot.”
“You’re not my type,” I retorted, but . . . from what I had seen, from what I had paid attention to, at least, he was my type. He was tiny, with midnight black hair and the soft features I preferred in the men I took to my bed. They were the same men I often fed from, but he was a cat again so what did it matter?
“Whatever,” he retorted, his head tilted to the side. His bright eyes shone in the moonlight that shimmered through the glass windows that wrapped around us. “So, what does this mean? That I’m going to be human once every hundred years?”
“Bummer,” I muttered, but I was fine with him being a cat forever—just as the curse intended.
“Don’t sound so depressed, asshole!” he snapped, his eyes blazing like wildfire.   
“You’re not very good at sarcasm as a cat,” I noted.
“Maybe we should go to a Med-Witch?” he asked. “Clearly something crazy is going on.”
I shoved to my feet, moving swiftly towards the mess I had left by the door. The blood was washing across the stained wood, turning it into an accidental crime scene. My gaze flickered toward Edmund as he hopped down from the table and followed behind me. He paused before his paws slipped into the red, sticky liquid.
I gathered what could be salvaged, shoving it back into the grocery bags.
“Go if you want,” I eventually told him. He wasn’t my prisoner. He wasn’t even my pet. If he wanted to go see a Med-Witch, he could. I wouldn't stop him.
“Why are you not excited?” he whined, turning to follow me into the kitchen.
I dropped everything into the sink. The fish packages and blood bags that could be saved needed to be rinsed off and put away before they spoiled. The mess in the living room still needed to be cleaned up. And, on top of that, I had to worry about my cat abandoning me.
Edmund hopped onto the counter, his balance perfect. “I turned into a human, Anselm.”
“I know!” I shouted, shoving away from the sink, and marching towards the kitchen closet so I could get the mop. “Why?” I asked him—asked the universe, actually. Why did he have to become human? Why couldn’t he just remain a cat and stay with me? We had a good life together. I liked our life. Sure, it had its ups and its downs, but it was our life. We’d been living it just fine for the past hundred years. “What’s the point? So, you can leave, too?!”
“Why would I leave?” Edmund leaped off the counter, his claws sunk into my shoulder as he perched there. “I get to live here rent free, sleep all day, eat as much as I want, and hang out with my best friend. Do you really think I would leave you after a hundred years together? You think I would get my thumbs back and hitch a way out of town? I’m insulted.”
I sighed, my shoulders falling. Edmund’s claws dug into my flesh as his tail curled around my neck.
Would he really stay? I’d never known anyone who did.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he purred. “Cat, human, it doesn’t matter to me. Even if I use up all eight of my lives, my ghost is going to stick around to haunt you. You can’t get rid of me, vampire.”  He nuzzled my cheek, turning to run his nose against my jaw.
I pulled him off my shoulder and cradled him in my arms. He fell to his back, tipping his chin up as I stroked him. Maybe he would stay. Maybe he wouldn’t.
If he was turning into a human again, even briefly, we had no clue what else was in store for us. He could turn into a human, never become a cat again, and begin to age and wither away.
Eventually, given enough time, Edmund would die on me like everyone I have ever loved has.
What would I do then?

                               

COMING SUMMER 2019



Autumn Breeze

Autumn Breeze is a bestselling lgbt author. She has three published novels-Loving Anna, Grim Life and After The I Do: Meeting at the Fault Line #1.

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