The song lyrics included in this chapter are from a beautiful song that I think everyone should listen to called "Center Of The Sun" by Conjure One. It matches the scene that follows those lyrics, you'll see when you get there.
Waking up in a room, surrounded by nothing but pitch-darkness, while your body aches, has got to be up there on my list of most alarming experiences. It wasn’t until I noticed the coolness of the arm that lay across my naked waist, that I realized where I was, what had happened, and what was going on.
“Babe.” I said quietly. No response. “Bruno…wake up.” I nudged him. Still no response. Quickly I pushed his arm off and got up, feeling my way around the room until I hit the lightswitch. The bright flouescent lighting burned my vision, and my focus blurred before locking into normalcy again. I rushed over to the bed and looked over his body, my heart racing. He lay there, not breathing, no clothes on, the white sheets resting at his waist. I shook him, and when he didn’t respond again, I shook him even harder.
“If this is a joke, it isn’t funny!” I yelled, beating on his back, tears coming to my eyes. I couldn’t understand what was going on, it was like another horrid nightmare. Had my blood poisoned him last night? I backed off the bed, covering my mouth as tears came down my cheeks. I turned from him and reached for my clothes from the night before, hurriedly putting my velour sweats back on. I kicked around for my matching jacket, but when I couldn’t find it, I just grabbed his white vneck and threw it over my head. I tripped over my feet as I tried to get out of the room, causing me to crash into the wall. I was such a wreck that I just started sobbing and shivering.
I heard a shuffle in the bed and in an instant, Bruno was holding me, trying to console me. I wasn’t listening, I was still caught in a battle in my mind, I was still in shock from seeing him in pure death…again.
“Roxanne! Roxanne what’s wrong!?” He asked, lifting my chin; but I shoved against him, kicking, sobbing. He grasped me tightly, using his vampiric strength no doubt, and cradled my head into his chest as he stroked my back. He kissed my forehead, and I slowly began to quiet myself.
“Y-You d-d-died.” I gasped, closing my eyes tight.
He continued to cradle me. “Whenever I rest, I die baby. Nothing wake me up from that. The only reason why I woke up now is because I’ve had your blood, so I can feel you emotions now. Whenever you feel real afraid, I can sense it and wake myself up to protect you. I’m sorry, I should’ve told you this before.”
I took a few breaths to steady my breathing and I peeled myself off of him. He wiped my tears and looked at the wetness on his fingers. “I can’t cry tears. For me, only blood comes out. I miss that….crying.”
I sniffled, “You never cried anyway, thought yourself too much of a man for that.” I said. This earned a smile from him as he pressed his hand against my face and pushed it away, just the way he used to when we’d play with each other back at the apartment. I grabbed his hand and shoved his face away and he tackled me to the floor, and we began to wrestle.
That is…until I felt a drip onto my cheek. I touched it and looked at my fingertips. There was blood. I looked back up to him to see a line of blood from his ear down to his jawline, where the drop had descended upon my face. “Your bleeding…”
“Shit.” He stood up, touching his ear and noticing the crimson liquid for himself. “That means I should be resting. I bleed when I'm up during the day.”
I stood up and grabbed a napkin out of my purse, wiping up the trail of blood and kissing his ear. “You should rest then. I need to get home.”
“I guess I should, huh? I wish I could spend days and nights with you babe.” He said, watching me as I gathered the rest of my belongings. I picked up my phone and saw I had several texts from Dave.
“I’m thankful you can spend sixty seconds with me.” I said, looking up at him with a modest smile. “I’m gone.”
He grabbed me around my waist and planted his lips against my own. “I love you.”
I didn’t want to pull away, so when he did, I moved a little closer, but remembered he needed rest. “I love you too.” I said, softly. I left the bedroom after my statement, I didn’t want to see his daytime “death”. I wanted to appreciate the animation he had now. I referred to it as “animation” because it wasn’t necessarily “life”.
My phone started buzzing wildly in my hand as I left his home.
“Hello?” I said, not paying any attention to the ID.
“Roxanne…where have you been?!” Dave’s frantic voice was on the other line. I squinted to make sure Paps weren’t anywhere in sight, and I then proceeded through the bushes in Bruno’s lavish backyard. “I’ve been texting you like crazy…Rich got your tour dates finalized and I got together some rehearsal times with Laurie Ann Gibson, she’s your choreographer for this leg of the tour and also–”
“Chill out, it’s not that serious.” I groaned, getting annoyed already by his tone and rapid speech pattern. Or maybe I was just becoming annoyed by having to slip through bush after bush, and tree after tree. It seemed so much easier when he did it last night…
“You can’t go disappearing like that…maybe four years ago, but not now. What am I supposed to tell your camp when they come looking for you?”
“Dave shut the fuck up already!” I snarled, getting my foot stuck in a bush. I shook it free, only to result in scratches up my calf. “Great. Just great.”
“I’m not liking this attitude, miss thing.” He shot.
I hung up on him…and twenty minutes of ducking and dodging later…I had arrived at my apartment complex.
“Roxanne!” I heard someone call. I turned around and a bright flash went off in my face.
“Ugh.” I moaned. Several more came out of seemingly nowhere. Boy, they sure were prompt.
“Roxanne…how’s Rupert?” More flashes went off as the photographers tried to provoke me.
“We aren’t together anymore.” I dug through my purse, looking desperately for my keys.
“Is it true that you two broke up because you got pregnant by Bruno?”
“How are you dealing with Bruno’s death?”
“Are you really an alcoholic?”
“Nice shirt, is it Taylor’s?”
“Roxanne are you dating Taylor Lautner?”
I finally found the keys and shoved through the door, closing it behind me and storming to the elevator.
“Look, you guys are gonna have to do something about those paparazzi outside the building. It’s a safety hazard.” I said to the Security officer, who nodded and promptly picked up his walkie talkie, paging other officers for backup. While he handled that, I made my way back into my apartment, only to find Dave…sitting at the kitchen counter typing endlessly onto his laptop.
“You aren’t getting rid of me that easy.”
I groaned. “Look, I just want to sleep.” I really did. I had been up the majority of the night and I caught about two hours of sleep max…if even that. Dave stood up and came over to me, grabbing both my arms to stop me from avoiding him.
“You’ve been acting strange lately. Now I know the difference between you just playing and when your serious…and Roxx, you're rarely serious about avoiding me. I feel like there’s something your not telling me.” He reached up to take my sunglasses off, and I didn’t even flinch. I refused, however, to look him in the eyes. His eyes drifted down my body, and his nostrils flared slightly. “Your wearing a man’s shirt…and you smell like cologne….oh God, your sleeping around.”
I snatched my arm away. “No I’m not sleeping around! Fuck you!” I bellowed, throwing my purse down and running back into my bedroom. I slammed the door shut and locked it. I ran over to my windows and shut my Eclipse curtains, blocking out sunlight. I kicked my shoes off, slipped my pants off…and laid down in my bed. I snuggled underneath the comforter, bringing the sleeves of the shirt up to my nose. I took a long sniff, closing my eyes and picturing him here, holding me as I rested. He always smelled so good, it was something else I loved about him. Even mixed with his natural musk, somehow his scent would come off as a woodsy mahogany cinnamon beachy smell. I remember, it would be right after his performances. I used to wait backstage and cheer him on, and I would always overhear girls talking about how they would die to lick to sweat off his body. I used to be those girls, and then I got the opportunity to do it…and well……..
All that glitters ain’t gold.
Still, he smelled good. His shirt soaked with sweat from playing his guitar, singing his lungs out and dancing around for a full set. I would fling my arms around his neck and kiss his lips, and he would complain about how gross he is and how he doesn’t want to mess me up…but I would tell him I didn’t mind, and I would kiss him some more. And then in the dressing room one thing would lead to another…..well, Bruno and I always had a very healthysexual appetite for one another.
There was a knock at my door.
“We need to talk.”
I sighed and shoved myself out of bed. I opened the door and Dave waltzed in, taking a seat on my bed. I followed him, crawling into my California King myself and snuggling underneath the covers yet again, watching as he sat patiently atop my mass of comforters. Suddenly, from behind his back he pulled out a napkin with drips of blood, a pair of keys, and a bottle of B-12 vitamins.
I knocked everything out of his hand. “How dare you go through my stuff!?”
I hadn’t realized I meant to throw that napkin away after I had wiped away the droplets of blood from the side of Bruno’s face. He didn’t have a trashcan in his bedroom. He had given me a spare set of keys to his home, and he called it “our” home…although I wasn’t too ready to move in with him in a house just yet. It all seemed to be too much too soon. And he told me I needed to take B-12 vitamins to keep my blood count healthy and normal. I hated vitamins, and I used to always voice my distaste for them…which was probably why Dave was suspicious.
“You mind explaining to me what’s going on?”
“You have no right to touch my shit. For your information, a bush scratched me and I wiped the blood away…I have keys to my cars and my apartment you dumbass, and I’m allowed to take vitamins!”
“Ok I might have believed you if you weren’t Roxanne. What were you doing in a bush? And this blood is brown, which means it ain’t fresh. Your apartment and car keys are on the same chain with a hello kitty stuffed doll hanging from it, and you hate vitamins…your mother can’t get you to take one if she paid you.”
I furrowed my brow. He knew me inside and out, and that threw me off. I wanted to tell him, I really did…but Bruno was so pressed about me not saying anything, and now that he was a vampire…I didn’t know if he would do something to me. It sounded wrong, the man I loved…I now feared the wrath of. But Bruno almost never got angry with me. The only times I remember him getting angry was when I kept interrupting him when he was at the studio, and when he found texts in my phone from my ex-boyfriend…Harry Potter movie star, Rupert Grint. Oh he was lividthen, he yelled at me…and put fear in me that nobody else had ever done before. When we argued, I immediately stopped talking whenever he would yell. Thank God those moments were few and far in between.
“Roxanne…what’s going on?”
“I’m just tired, okay?”
He sighed. “Look, I’m not gonna force you to tell me anything…but you know better than I do that holding things in doesn’t do you any good, and if this is about that ‘ghost’ from the other night–”
“He’s not a ghost! He’s a–” I paused, curling up tighter into the blankets, “He’s dead.”
“Dave, I’ve been up all night…please let me rest.” My voice croaked. I had been yelling too much, and that was never a good sign for a singer.
“Alright. But your dance rehearsal is tomorrow, alright? Five in the evening at The Studios on Rodeo Blvd. I’ll put the address in your GPS…which car are you driving?”
I waved my hand, “I don’t know…..the range rover.” I shrugged.
“Range it is.” Dave came over and hugged me, which I half-heartedly returned. “I’ll be keeping in touch with you tonight.”
“Yeah.” I replied. When I heard my bedroom door shut, followed by the front door, I knew I was finally alone. I closed my eyes, breathing in the scent of Bruno once more as I fell asleep.
Deep into my rest…I heard soft guitar being played. Assuming it was a dream, I turned over, snuggling back into the pillow, but in my half-consciousness, I heard it more distinctively. The fact that dream imagery no longer clouded my senses and I still heard the faint melody, I sat up and blinked my eyes. The only light provided in my bedroom was that of the city scape that pushed through the light-block efficiency of my curtains. I threw my comforter off of my body and opened my bedroom door, creeping out into the hallway, where I could hear the guitar better…and it was accompanied by a voice. I paused near the door to the old creative dance studio, which was the source of the music, and I closed my eyes and listened.
“It’s better if you don’t understand.
Cause you won’t know what it’s like until you try.
You know I…I’ll be waiting on the other–”
The music stopped abruptly, and there was a soft chuckle. “You can’t sneak up on a vampire.”
I sighed and stepped into the room. “No way, no how?”
He shook his head. “I can smell you before I hear you. You smell so good, you know that?”
I crinkled my nose, “Like a two piece and a biscuit good?” I didn’t feel too nice about my scent being appetizing for him.
He laughed, “Of course not!” He set his guitar aside and stood up. “Like your Givenchy perfume and cocoa butter lotion. Those scents may fade throughout the day to your nose, but to mine it’s permanently etched in your skin. I love it, it’s you.” He wrapped me in his embrace and kissed my forehead.
“I love the way you talk. You have such a way with words, you almost speak poetically.” I slipped my arms around his neck and rested my head against his chest.
“I can be romantic when I wanna be, and I can be a dumbass when I wanna be too. I just feel like you need to be appreciated a lot more than you are. This show business shit is tough and you’re in your prime…I want to be your support system.” He ran his hand back and forth across my shoulder-blades, and it soothed me, his touch.
“Do you miss it? The industry?” I asked quietly.
“I miss performing. I loved sharing my music with the world, with my awesome fans. But the industry? Nah. I can do without it, I still make money off of my businesses and what I’ve done with my career. Phil knows what I am. He thought it was kickass and agreed to still give me my cut of production and writing royalties. I still get in the studio and make music, just at night.” He explained. Bruno was extremely patient with answering my questions…but even when he was alive, he was patient with me. I could be a handful sometimes, and he understood and loved that about me. I still don’t know why.
I nodded, “That’s fair.”
He took my hand and led me to the door. “You remind me of the sunlight babe. When I hold you and I close my eyes…I’m at the center of the sun. So I want to take you somewhere tonight…just you and I. Is that alright?”
“You don’t even have to ask.” I smiled. “But um…I need to put on some–” Before I could finish my sentence, he had appeared with a pair of my jeans. I shook my head with a smile as I slipped into the comfortable jeans. “That’s gonna take some getting used to.”
“What happened to your leg?” He frowned, stopping me before I could put my right leg into the pants.
“I scratched myself up trying to James Bond my way through your damn bushes. I don’t know how we’re gonna make this ‘secret affair’ thing work.” I pulled the jeans up and fastened them. When he didn’t laugh at my joke, I looked up at him…only to see him in deep thought.
“We won’t have to be secret for much longer.” He said, opening the door and allowing me to step through first. Always a gentleman.
“What do you mean?” I asked, following him out into the hallway of my apartment complex.
He grabbed me up into his arms and vamped us down behind the building. I clung to him, my heart racing. “There are more vampires around than you’d think. They’re building a society, linked throughout the world…and there’s a kind of ‘government’ in our world, I guess you could call it. Anyway, the oldest ones, the leaders…they’re trying to reveal us to the living world.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” I asked, closing my eyes as he, without warning, began vamping through the trees and bushes effortlessly.
“No, it’s not. Religious groups are going to boycott and kill us, children will be heavily guarded…it’s gonna change a lot in this world…but who am I to argue? I’m only a baby to the undead world.” He shrugged, focusing ahead as he trekked on. I could tell the topic made him uneasy and tense, so I let it go. But my mind didn’t. I wondered how many people I saw at night were actual people. I wondered what else could be out there. I suddenly didn’t want to be caught dead alone without Bruno.
He set me down in the grass of a place that was unfamiliar to me. It looked like a park…but there were trees everywhere, far too many trees to be a normal park…but not enough to be a vast forest or anything. There were artistic sculptures scattered about, larger than life ones. Brightly colored, oddly shaped, abstract things.
“Where are we?” I asked, readjusting my clothing.
“I have no idea. I just came here one night when I was exploring other parts of Los Angeles, and I discovered this. It’s secluded and peaceful…I don’t think many people know about it.” He took my hand in his own, interlacing our fingers…and he brought me close to his body. “You hear that?” He raised his eyebrow, glancing up into the sky. I closed my eyes and listened, and I heard music.
“When I close my eyes…
I am at the center of the sun.
And I cannot be hurt,
By anything this wicked world has done.”
I opened my eyes, “Where is that coming from?” I looked around. There wasn’t anybody around, nor was there a building in site.
“If you knew the answer to everything, that would make things less interesting, now wouldn’t it?” He spun me back out and brought me close to him again and we began to dance to the music. We stepped in sync, always able to feel the other one’s movements out before they made them. That’s what this thing was Bruno and I had. Some people called what we had a “relationship”, but every moment we had together was more powerful than that. We were truly happy in each other’s company. I had gone my whole life searching for a best friend, someone I could share my secrets with and trust my heart with. I would have never guessed that person would be my soulmate too. When I lost him, I had lost my bestfriend. My laughter. My relief. The fact that he was also my lover didn’t ring in to me until far after everything else he was to me.
He lifted my arm and spun me like a doll on a wind up stand. When I stopped, he dipped me low to the ground…and just when I was swept up by how romantic he was being…he dropped me.
Yeah….so much for perfect.
“I hate you!” I yelled, laughing myself. I reached out to grab his leg, but he disappeared. “Ok, you are not allowed to use your powers when I’m trying to punish you!” I stood up and looked at my butt, noticing I had grass stains on my jeans. He reappeared.
“You have like…fifty thousand pairs of those same jeans!” He announced like it was no big deal.
“Fuck you!” I shoved him, and he allowed his body to take the blow and stumbled backwards. “I liked this pair in particular!”
“Aww, I’ll buy you a new pair.”
“Fuck off.” I stuck my tongue out. He flipped me off and rolled his eyes, and I ran after him, jumping on his back. He twirled me underneath the moonlight, in the more open part of the field. We laughed together as I held on tight, when suddenly my phone began ringing. Gently, he set me down and I answered it.
“Hello?” I asked, out of breath from our fiasco.
“Why aren’t you home?” It was Dave. Shit.
“Uhh…” My eyes widened as I looked at Bruno for an excuse, but he shook his head frantically and shrugged. He had no idea of what I could say. “I’m twenty one years old, I can do whatever the hell I want.”
“Yeah, don’t give me that. I feel like your falling apart Roxanne, seriously. I don’t know how much more of this I can take…you need your rest for rehearsal tomorrow.” He sounded tired, like he was really at the end of the rope with trying to mentally stabalize me.
“I’m gonna rest…it’s just–can I get a break?”
“This isn’t my job…my job is to be your assistant, not your mother. The last time you did all this…you were heavy into alcohol. I don’t want you to turn into Lindsay Lohan…your too good for that…but if this keeps going on…I’m gonna have to quit and turn you back over to your mother.” He struggled with admitting he was considering this decision. I could tell he didn’t want to say it, and it pained him.
“Just because I was one way before doesn’t mean you have to have me under the spotlight all the time David. Do I sound drunk?”
“No, but your sound destructive. You sound like your doing something you shouldn’t be doing, and I’ll be damned if you lose everything you’ve worked hard for.”
Bruno brought me close to him and kissed my ear, “Tell him your on your way.” He whispered. I looked up at him, shaking my head, but he refused, “I’m taking you home.” He mouthed, adamant about his decision.
“I’m coming home.” I said flatly, hanging up. “He gets on my last nerve…he acts like just because I was irresponsible once that I’m gonna make the same mistakes, I–”
“Shhh, hush hush hush Roxy.” Bruno quieted me, “I don’t like it when you get angry.” His voice was soft, distant.
I remembered that night my anger had cost his life, and I immediately went mute. “I’m sorry.” I said quietly. The music was still playing, the beautiful strings and synths illuminating the air around us.
“I hear violins.
I hear violins.”
The voice sang, the guitar going on a spanish-influenced solo in the background. “I’ll see you every night I can, alright? At least I’m still here.” He placed his arm behind my legs, and on cue, I released my weight into his powerful grasp.
“When I come back from this part of my tour…can we buy our home together?” I looked up at him, my expression hopeful.
He smiled, instantly lighting up my heart. “How about when you come back from your tour…we take a trip to Ibiza, get married, and then buy a home and break it in together, as Mr. & Mrs. Hernandez, how does that sound?”
I swear with the music, and the moment we were having, I could have been glowing. My skin felt like it could have been a thousand fireflies. “It sounds like I’m mexican.” I joked.
“Puerto Rican, excuse me!” He corrected me, faking to drop me, but catching me last minute. He kissed my lips, “Let me get you back to your apartment before your assistant goes ape-shit.”
“He didn’t used to be like this back in high school.” I sighed.
“I can see he’s concerned cause he cares about you. It makes me comfortable knowing there’s someone who’s there for you during the day, when I can’t be there.” He sped off, and the music slowly faded. The beautiful guitar, the strings, the deep timpani drums….all gone. Now I heard nothing but the wind whipping my ears and the crack of twigs underneath his feet as he ran nearly forty miles an hour. Fifteen minutes later, I was at my door, alone.