I hugged my leather jacket around me tighter; this September evening seemed to be chillier than usual. My new hair was seriously getting on my nerves so I tied it up into a high bun; still, little pieces tickled my cheeks and ears with each gust.
A big giant of a man stood at the entrance of the jet runway. He didn't give me any trouble, just a nod and a small smile, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. I nodded back politely and continued to walk down the runway, where the small jet had landed. There were workers who took care in unloading the delicate cargo; my lover inside of a beautiful mahogany coffin; his name carved in script on the top.
"Everything go smooth?" I asked the pilot, who oversaw the process.
"An ideal flight, for sure." He said with a smile.
"Great." I replied, "Over here please, careful." I directed the workers over to the awaiting rented Escalade. They folded the seats down and fit the coffin inside perfectly, securing it with cables to prevent excessive movement. Maybe a hearse would have been more practical.
I hopped into the driver's seat and started the engine, laying back in my seat with a sigh as I finally got a chance to relax; if only for a few moments. From here, I had to go straight to my home in Englewood, New Jersey. It was only about a forty five minute drive from the private airport.
"I'm gonna need you to wake up, I can't show up at my mother's home with a coffin." I mumbled, adjusting my rear-view mirror as I drove off.
About thirty minutes into the ride I heard a knock from the back. "You've got me locked in here?" Bruno called.
"I didn't want...it," I couldn't bear to say what he was actually travelling in aloud, "...moving around and bumping you all over the place." I was still getting used to these quirks.
"Thanks for the consideration love; now...I'm kind of locked inside a coffin."
"I'm like, ten minutes from the house!" I said in exasperation.
"Yo seriously, pull over and get me out of here. I hate being in here, I only do this when I'm travelling or when I need to hide from the sun."
I sighed. "Fine." I pulled over to a gas station, I needed to put a few dollars in my tank anyway. I got out and opened the backseat, unhooking the cables. He slowly pushed the lid open and sat up, exhaling elaborately.
"You don't need to breathe." I noted at his overdramatics.
"I know; but that shit creeps me out. I feel like being buried alive like a human." He climbed out and closed the lid.
"I gotta get some gas, do you need anything?" I asked, before shaking my head, "Nevermind, that was a stupid question."
"You're full of nervous energy, I can feel it...you've got to relax babygirl." He consoled me. I guess I wasn't too good at trying to fake being alright when I so clearly wasn't. "Unless your fam is wielding wooden stakes and silver, I can handle anything they throw at me."
I wanted to believe him; but I couldn't, not yet. He was an optimistic thinker and usually I was, but my anxiety always got the best of me. I turned away from him. "I've got...to get some gas." I hurried into the station.
I walked to the back, opening a glass door to a cooler and grabbing a green tea. I grabbed a Twix bar and went up to the counter, digging through my pocket for my cash. "Can I have twenty on tank..." I trailed off when a bright, glossy magazine cover caught my eye.
I read the headline aloud inside of my mind:
- STAR Magazine Exclusive: Updated List of the Undead! Chris Brown and more! -
"What the-" I grabbed the magazine and furiously flipped through it.
"Ma'am?" The man behind the counter asked curiously. I ignored him and flipped until I found the article in question. There was a large list of the well known celebrities who had been dead and were found to be vampires...Michael Jackson, TuPac, Marilyn Monroe...
But Chris Brown was never dead!
- A source reports that it's not only the dead who are coming to life, but those who have the right connections are exchanging their own lives for immortal, eternal life...
I dropped the magazine and sprinted from the gas station out to the truck. I jumped inside and slammed the door, scrambling for my cell and dialing Robyn.
"Whoa whoa whoa what the hell is going on!?" Bruno asked, alarmed.
"It's Chris...Chris Brown, he's a vampire." I breathed. "Robyn's supposed to be reconciling with him in Barbados!"
Bruno's expression went serious within seconds. He knew what that meant.
I had only met Chris Brown on a few occasions and he seemed relatively easy to get along with. He did commit a horrible crime by brutally beating Robyn but I didn't believe in crucifying him for the rest of his life for one error. I just knew that he was in vast danger being a vampire in her presence; who knows what they would get into together, and what exactly triggered the powers of her witchcraft blood? If Chris died, surely it would put any other vampire on instant alert and if they target Robyn...
"Hello?" She answered, thank God.
"Robyn? Robyn!" I said frantically. "Where are you?"
"Why do you care?" She snarked in her thick accent.
"Look, I know you hate me for abandoning you but it was for your own good. I had to!" Bruno grasped my wrist, shaking his head for me not to continue. Surely I would verbally diarrhea all the details I wasn't supposed to at the rate I was going.
"For my own good? You abandoned me as a freak worried half to death about being on some vampire's hit list somewhere for your fucking boyfriend!"
"This has nothing to do with him! Leave him out of this!"
"Bitch he's the reason this all happened! When he was gone you were fine, just livin' life and we were hanging out, chill, everything was great. He comes and we get hit with all this supernatural bullshit and--"
"Whether he came back or not, vampires have always existed and were going to reveal themselves regardless!" I argued. "You're just jealous!"
I heard her snort, "Of what!? Your boyfriend?"
"Of my life Rih! You always have been! Ever since I came into the game people have been calling me your doppleganger but with actual talent! I produce my shit, I write my shit, and I turn out every fucking venue I go to...but all you do is scream and dutty wine on stage and take your clothes off! Now I have a boyfriend who loves me more than anything and you're upset because you're trying to climb back into the arms of someone who beat your ass because you can't find real love anywhere!"
I couldn't stop. The hateful low-blows were hitting worse than ever and for some reason I just felt adrenaline. "You don't love yourself Rih. Here I am, trying to save your fucking life...again!"
Silence. There was nothing but what I believed to be ocean waves crashing against the shore in the background; but she didn't speak for quite a bit. "I'm in Barbados. You stupid, worthless bitch."
I laid back against the seat, my eyes closed tight. "Fuck." I muttered. "Fuck, fuck, fuck." I closed my cell and opened my eyes, glancing over at Bruno who just wordlessly stared back at me. Blankfaced.
"I should drive." He finally said, getting out of the passenger's seat. I knew with his increased sense that he had to have heard her side of the conversation and she said some pretty hurtful things. I guess that was why I attacked her so harshly. I remember that night back in Italy when he confided in me, told me he didn't want to be what he was, he wanted to be accepted by people and loved the way he was before.
I only hoped he didn't think this was his fault. Destiny is destiny, and it'll play out no matter what decisions anyone could have made.
All this aside, I was already feeling sorry for myself. Ugh.
Bruno pulled up to my home; and it looked as though things hadn't changed much, if at all, since I left at the start of my career. The dogs were frolicking in the front yard, the door was open, music pouring out from inside. I saw my older sister's large truck was parked out front so she must be inside too.
"Hey buddy." Bruno kneeled down to the biggest of the four dogs; a Corgi Chow mix with a purple tongue, who came eagerly trotting up to him, showering him with kisses. "How old is he now?"
"Thirteen." I squatted down to flourish the other three with attention.
"He still looks so young...he got the coordinates to the fountain of youth or somethin?" Bruno asked, his joke lightening the tension between us a little.
"Maybe he's a vampire." I countered.
"Roxanne?" I heard my mother's voice and I looked up to see she had come outside. "You made it, look at you, I love your hair!"
I stood up and ran into her arms. Damn I had missed my mom. I didn't even realize it; I was always so busy. I even evaded her calls on purpose sometimes because she was so nagging sometimes but right now I felt like a child again. I felt safe. She smelled of her signature Calvin Klein Euphoria perfume and she had on one of her nice curly brown wigs; her makeup elaborate and beautiful.
She let me go and looked to Bruno, who quietly played with the dogs, leaving us to our little reunion. I looked up at her with silent, pleading eyes and she gave me a pat on my shoulder. "Hello Bruno, it's nice to see you again." She said.
"Nice to see you too Miss Mays." He replied politely, standing up.
To my surprise, my mother responded by putting her hands on her hips and saying; "You called me Mama Rox when you were alive, I don't see no reason why you've got to stop now."
He chuckled. "Alright...Mama Rox."
She turned around and headed inside and I sighed in relief. Bruno put his arm around my shoulders and we walked in. "Do you have Chris Brown's number?" I whispered as we walked.
"Yes I do; we'll take care of it in a bit. I promise." He assured me.
"Rox! Hey hey what's up!" My elder sister, Donna, came and greeted me with a huge hug. "How's it goin?"
"Good...great actually." I responded. Better if I didn't let on that I had some mind baggage right now.
"I've been seeing you all over the television, I still can't get used to it! My little sister, a pop star, who would've guessed?" She hugged me again before turning to Bruno; "And you..."
She grasped him tightly. I knew there would be no issues between my sister and him...she had always loved stories of Dracula, shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries, movies like Interview With A Vampire. She preferred the old school, horror tales of the bloodthirsty rather than the sexed up teenage versions. I used to cast aside her love of them, I guess I should have been paying closer attention all those years ago!
"You're cold!" She pulled back and smiled.
"Yeah it kinda...comes with the territory I guess." Bruno replied.
"Of course, of course. I know that all too well." She ran her fingers through her hair, making the neat dark black spiral curls a little less structured. "You takin' good care of my sister? You may be a vampire but I'll still kick your ass." She warned.
"I take excellent care of your sister, I promise you that." He wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed my cheek and I smiled warmly.
"Bruno dear, can I speak with you for a moment?" My mother called from the kitchen. I gave him a dubious look before allowing him to proceed.
"So little sis, how's LA?" Donna sat down on the couch and patted the empty space next to her. I accepted the invitation and sat alongside her.
"Busy, like always..."
Bruno Mars made sure to keep from falling into his habit of zipping from place to place in the blink of an eye. He even made sure to move his chest every now and again to make sure he was seen to be breathing, even if it wasn't necessary. He wanted to marry Roxanne someday very soon; he had to ask for her hand in marriage. He was old-fashioned that way. So he did everything in his power to impress her mother without having to glamour her.
No, that would be his very last, regretful resort.
Ruth Mays stood over a steaming pot of Blackberry Dumplings, mixing them slowly with her wooden spoon. She took it out and tapped it on the side of the pot, getting the excess juices off before setting it upon a nearby napkin. She turned to him, wiping her hands with the nearby hand towel.
"Now I'm not gonna have you show up in my home and act like nothing ever happened." She began.
Bruno nodded in agreement as she spoke. Almost like a puppy, a Golden Retriever pup.
"But I've learned to be accepting of all this madness in the world. When I was growin up down south, we didn't have vampires and homosexuals and all of that. I'm accepting everything because of how you treated my daughter when you were alive. You've earned your keep in this family; and I trust you and hold you in high regard, Peter." She narrowed her eyes as she spoke.
He wanted to cringe, but stayed stoic. "I appreciate that. I do. And I'm not any different--"
"Well, you are, let's be honest about this whole thing." She stopped him. "But I know my daughter is the last person you would ever hurt. She's the happiest she's ever been when she's around you; I want you to keep it that way, you understand me?"
Ruth relaxed herself and managed to smile. "Good." She began stirring the pot once again. Bruno turned to leave but stopped, glancing down at his new tattoo on his wrist...specifically 'Heart', which was always weighed higher than 'Mind'.
He turned around. "Mama Rox, I need to ask you a real important question."