[Psst! The first review for GWB arrived yesterday!
“…The all new stories in this anthology will surprise you with their cleverness and their erotica. But they are more than erotic—they are sensitive and emotional and to me, at least, they fall into the category that I call literary erotica…” Read more]
Part of the fun for me with Girls Who Bite is “meeting” new authors throughout this whole process of selection, editing and then enjoying the fruits of our labors. Meet A.E. Grace… ~DD
I first met Madeline when I was twelve years old. It was at a charity book fair my mother had organised in the summer of 2003, a particularly humid year to be stumbling about a church hall with crates of second hand paperbacks, in what was a particularly overcrowded village.
Breezing by with an armful of hardback Stephen King’s, my mother had craned her neck and called, “Find Stella and see if she needs a hand or something, will you? You’re hanging about like an infant, Lil.’”
Lil’ was, as you might’ve guessed, short for Lilly; I’d never liked that name. A Lilly is a beautiful flower, and, like the frocks my mother had dressed me in as a pre-teen, the name never seemed to suit me.
The shortened version, Lil’, allowed me to assume a kind of non-gender specific status amongst my peers, and I liked the feel of it very much. It was something that would later aid me in ‘finding myself’, as people and teachers liked to call it, and made kissing Madeline as a teenager seem like less of an alien thing, despite what the other girls thought of it.
Fanning myself with one of the Kidson notebooks my mother liked so much, I waded through the wandering elderly church people, and found my mother’s friend Stella peeling cling-film off of various goodies she’d made for the occasion, the light pouring in from the bay window to form a halo-effect around her puff of auburn hair.
Crouched beneath the table, sucking on the oval-shaped remnants of a lollipop, was Madeline. My heart had given its first surge in the presence of a female, as I looked in awe at her long legs and tumbling red hair, approaching her with a slowing pace to allow myself more viewing time. Of course, subsequent to this, I had to think of something to say to her too; a nerve-racking task in itself.
Stella exhaled a gruff breath of air, and smoothed down the front of her blouse. Seeing me, she grinned and ushered me over with a flap of her delicate, manicured hands. “Lilly!” she beamed, pacing round to my side of the stall, blissfully unaware of the potentially fatal mistake she’d made addressing me by my full name.
“Been helping mum, have we?” Before I’d parted my lips to respond, she turned and called to Madeline, who unfolded her spider-like limbs and glided dutifully to stand by her mother. “This is my daughter, Maddy; you won’t have met her before. She’s back from boarding school,” Stella breathed, with an air of pride about her raspy, whispering voice.
Nodding to Madeline, I felt myself reddening from the neck up. She acknowledged me with her cat-like eyes, greeny-yellow in the haze of the spore filled hall. My own eyes were so fixed upon her face that I could count each freckle dotted about her nose.
She stood a good foot taller than I, and I remember the distancing remaining that way until we parted at seventeen years old, after what I now refer to as our “accident”.
Folding her thin arms, she said, “Fancy a walk? It’s bloody boring in here, ain’t it?” And, giddy at the knees and feeling as though my thundering heart would create an echo against the stony walls, I followed her into the glorious sunshine outside.
As I paced the concrete outside a greasy café, a full twenty years since we last spoke, my heart thundered once again in the fashion that Madeline had first laid claim to. The night was chilled and still, ominously lacking any police sirens or screams from streets further away. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a glistening Hip flask and took a glug. The blood, more popularly referred to as The Red Stuff on TV commercials, had remained salty and warm in the snug of my trouser leg.
I replayed the scene of our first meeting bitterly in my mind, aching not for the sight of Madeline, but for the golden sunlight that I was now deprived of, and the church of a town, our home town, that we had fled from after our accident occurred. I often wondered about our mothers, picturing them fretting in one another’s living rooms, calling the police stations, the hospitals; crying: Where have our daughters gone?
Mid-pace, I sensed a change in the atmosphere, a shift, and I knew Madeline had arrived. Moistening my lips with my thin, pointed tongue, I tasted her in every pore. Without having any mentor throughout my adjustment period for my condition, I’d come to recognise certain changes, and connections that occurred as a result of becoming – and I hated the word – a vampire.
Once you’ve mated with a fellow vampire, it seemed, the pair created a bond that allowed them to sense one another’s taste, or sent; I felt Madeline’s presence as if she were nestled in my mouth.
“Lil’?” She whispered. Her voice enveloped me like a velvet curtain, and I shuddered.
Biting my lip, I turned to face her, and ran an anxious hand through my crop of short, mousy brown hair. The sight of her, stood like a delicate porcelain doll, caused my breath to catch in my throat.
“I thought you weren’t coming,” I croaked eventually, clearing my throat. I pocketed my hands and scuffed my boot on the pavement, suddenly searching for something to look at; anything but her.
Even still, a glance was enough; she wore a silk bell-sleeved dress, the colour of coal, which stopped just short of her milky knees. A delicate line of cleavage peeked between the sweetheart-shaped cloth, appearing like the entwined necks of two swans. On her feet, she wore a pair of suede Mary-Jane’s in deep red.
“I was worried about the same thing,” she replied, smiling meekly. Her almond shaped eyes glistened in the darkness like shards of reflective glass. “I’m sorry I left it so late.”
I nodded, nervously tapping my foot. “Not to worry. Shall we go in?” I gestured to the door of the café, a curl of my hair falling irritably onto my forehead.
“Of course,” she said, stepping aside and allowing me to open the door for her, then striding in. I took the brief moment it took me to pull the door closed behind me, the little bell ringing, to calm my nerves. I breathed deeply and, wiping my clammy hands on my thighs, joined her at a nearby table.
The place was dead, barring a bearded man in a camouflage jacket, who sat in the far corner by the window nursing a steaming mug of tea. The hanging lights cast deep shadows over Madeline’s face, hardening her soft features.
The sound of a waitress clattering about in the kitchen was suffocated by the hiss of the coffee machine. I looked again at Madeline’s dress, and suddenly became overly aware of the dirty tiles, and torn linoleum floor.
“I’m sorry about the location,” I gushed, nervously scratching my head. “I just saw the 24hr sign and didn’t give it enough thought. We can find somewhere else, if you like?”
She shook her head of curls. “No, no, this is fine. Really.” she added, seeing my unconvinced face.
“Sorry,” I said. “I know it’s been a pretty long time, but I should’ve remembered you liked to dress up.”
Twenty years, it turned out, wasn’t all that much where a vampire was concerned. Sure, I’d done a lot in that time; met a few girls, travelled. But it wasn’t much, not really. Not when you consider the fact that you’ve got the whole of eternity to look forward to.
“Please, Lil’, I said its okay.”
A short blonde girl in a polka dot apron approached us then, clutching a little jotter pad – and abruptly pocketed it when she saw us for what we were. Our creamy white skin had an unmistakable glow, and, on seeing her bare, youthful neck, our fangs had extended of their own accord.
“You guys want red?” she asked, her voice cracking slightly.
“Yes, thanks,” I said, steering my eyes away from her collar, which seemed to quiver against the pulse of her neck. I glanced at Madeline, who was also gazing fixedly on the girl, unable to draw her eyes away. I reached for her hand and squeezed it.
“Any particular type?” asked the girl, whose badge revealed her name was Wendy.
I shook my head, not taking my eyes off Madeline for a moment, in case she lost control completely. I didn’t like to patronise her, but I’d no idea of her temperament – she had been a fierce human, and I dreaded to think how she could be now as a predator.
“Anything you have is fine,” I uttered quickly, and she disappeared into the kitchen.
Madeline giggled. “It never gets easier to resist, does it?”
A.E.Grace is a writer of horror and non-fiction, currently studying for a degree in Creative And Media Writing at Middlesex University, England. In her spare time she is a DVD and book reviewer, and enjoys reading both mainstream and genre fiction.