Until I wrote “La Caída” for Girls Who Bite, it never occurred to me that there had been vampires in the shadows of the stories I heard growing up. They may have been more violent than charming, and they may have gone by a different name, but they had always been there, the fodder not for fantasies, but for nightmares.
In some stories, the nagual is only out for blood. In others, she changes herself into a wolf or a dog or a bird at night. In others still, she slaughters and eats the inhabitants of any house where she is invited in. As unlikely of a starting place as she is for an erotic story, she’s pure desire and drive. Though her lust is for blood and not for sex, in the world of vampires, as the tradition shows, the two are close.
Every culture has their fairy stories, their vampires, their winged creatures, their stories of princes or princesses who fall in love with a common woman or man. Some see a man in the moon; others see a rabbit. In some traditions, the mermaid is a guardian figure, tragic and selfless; in others, she is vindictive.
The beautiful thing about literature is the chance to pass stories from culture to culture, family to family. The wonderful thing about erotica is that it centers on the universal language of desire and touch, so that even if a story shows us things we’ve never seen, that language gives us access; that desire is our key to a world we don’t yet know.
Excerpt from “La Caída”
I pulled the quilt from la caída’s shoulders, freezing when I saw the scrape on her shoulder, the one that had been against the ground. It glistened like liquid garnet, warm and alive, the blood of a living woman, not a dead man.
I caught myself biting my lip.
Even in the dim room, I saw the flicker of understanding in la caída’s face. “You’re a salt girl,” she said.
“We call you salt girls, because you want the salt in the blood.”
I swallowed to keep from crying. I wanted her warmth, and to run my tongue over that slick of blood so badly it was driving me to sobs. “I don’t know why. We’ve been this way for a hundred years. Maybe more.”
“Even we’re not told why things are the way they are.” She lowered her gaze, like shame was weighting it down. “Why we want what we want.”
I pulled a strip of cloth over her wound, both to help it heal and so I wouldn’t see it. I wanted to dampen the smell of iron, sweet as rain-made rust. “Why did you fall?” I asked.
A wry laugh stuck in the back of her throat. “Why do you think?”
“You wanted something.”
Two shallow breaths wavered in the back of her throat, one, then the other, before she grabbed me and kissed me, her desert-warm mouth searing my lips.
“Soft.” She buried her nose in my hair and dug the heels of her hands into my back. “You’re so soft.” Then she dropped her hands and pulled away. “I’m sorry.”
I stopped myself from grabbing her back. “I don’t understand.” I straightened my posture. “You fell because you wanted someone?”
“No.” She dropped her head, letting her hair shadow her face. “That’s the worst part. There was no one. I didn’t fall in love. I just wanted.”
I crawled on top of her, slowly pinning her down, and kissed her. She startled, but then gave her mouth to mine. I let my mouth wander down her neck toward her breasts, but it strayed, and her blood stained my lower lip. She arched her back to press her body into mine, but her blood heated my mouth, like hot sugar on its way to caramel, and I scrambled off her so quickly I fell from the bed. She grabbed my waist and pulled me back.
I licked my lip, blushing and guilty.