“He wants you to go see him. When are you going to stop avoiding him?” Janette leaned over the table where Nicolas was sitting. He was doing what he had been doing for the past twenty minutes: nursing his first drink. She stocked that awful inferior animal blood for him, the least he could do was drink it quickly before the smell permeated everywhere. She did not want to drive away clients or make those that stayed nauseous.
Nick looked up from his drink to Janette. He smiled at her. “I told you before, I have no intention of going to his place. The less amount of time we spend together, the better.”
Janette slid slowly into the seat opposite of him. She knew enough to not push too hard, but she was feeling the tension between Nicolas and LaCroix. It resonated through their link and she was picking up the echoes. She sighed. “You know what he wants. It is not too much to ask of you.”
“He can decorate his place however he sees fit. I don’t need to see it.” He paused. “And with LaCroix,” Nick softly added, “he wouldn’t listen to my opinion anyway.” He went back to looking at his drink. Though he had to admit to himself, LaCroix did have exceptional taste and was very passionate about the various arts; a passion Nick had also developed over time. Having lived through so many centuries and styles, their collection of art and appreciation for the arts had become quite eclectic. It was almost tempting to see what his sire had put together, or if he was trying something new. Almost. Barely almost. He looked at Janette again, still without touching his drink. “If he’s looking for decorating input, why don’t you send Alma over to him?”
Janette huffed. “Nicolas, he does not want Alma. LaCroix wants you. He wants someone old, who knows the old works, the old masters.”
Nick shook his head. “You’ve been with him longer than I have, and you get along better with him. You go to him.”
“Are you saying I am old? Don’t you know by now to never hint at a woman’s true age?” His smile mirrored her own. “He wants you, Nicolas,” Janette reiterated. “You know how it is: you and LaCroix have seen so much together; experienced so much together; you have matching styles.” She could unmistakably feel his irritation humming, though he had turned his head from her. “Ah,” she breathed, while she put her chin in her gloved hand and propped her elbow onto the table. “You do not like to be reminded that you and he are so much alike.”
“We are not alike,” Nick rumbled, looking back at her.
Arching an eyebrow, she removed her chin from her hand, held her hand out, and began ticking off her points with her fingers. “You are both strong-willed. You are both stubborn. You both believe the other is wrong. You both are highly passionate about your ideas. You both have fine tastes, in all things. Including in each other.” Nicolas put his hand over her fingers, stopping her counting.
“We aren’t that anymore.” Nick wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. He liked being free and having as little ties to LaCroix as possible. But at the same time, there was an empty part of him that did miss how they could be with each other. But lately, all they ever did was argue and fight over points Nick had no intention of changing his position on. It was probably best to sever as many connections as possible and keep it that way. Besides, he didn’t think his feelings could be reciprocated in LaCroix anymore, given their current history. That was burned away long ago. “We can’t be that anymore.”
Janette lowered her hand to the table and watched with regret when Nicolas withdrew his. She knew, somewhere deep down, he still loved LaCroix, even if he tried desperately to ignore it. She had experienced Nicolas’ love, and still did, enough to know that when he passionately shared himself, he never really severs that connection completely. With LaCroix, it became just one of the many desires and impulses Nicolas suppressed and tried to ignore in his quest to break all ties and be mortal again. She decided to not pursue that matter since it was apparent he did not like being reminded. “You know he does not like to be ignored. Say you will go to him.”
Nick finally lifted his drink and took a sip, trying to convince himself he didn’t miss the taste of human blood. He put his drink back down. He quickly thought about what Janette had said. “No.”
Janette put her hand on his, reestablishing their physical contact. “Why do you antagonize him so? Think of this as an olive branch from him.”
“Yeah, I think we all know how a long piece of wood can be used,” Nick quickly interjected.
“Think of it,” Janette said, ignoring his interruption, “as a small offering to smooth over some of your conflicts and come to a new equilibrium, a new balance. You and he are eternally bound to each other; that is not going to change. You could at least help make that relationship a little better. The arts have always brought both of you together amicably. You cannot deny that.”
Nick looked down at her hand, delicately placed on his, wishing the contact was with skin and not cloth. What Janette had said was true. He and LaCroix did have a lot of conflicts, and the arts had always been something they shared and agreed upon.
Janette saw him retreating into his memories and did not want him to remain there. She needed him to focus on the present and consider the future. “LaCroix rarely extends like this first. It is a consideration that he is giving you a choice to come to him. I suggest you go over and see what he wants from you.”
Nick leaned back in his chair, putting his right hand to his mouth, rubbing his fingers across his lips. He stared into nothingness.
She watched him. He always had that nervous habit when he was trying to contain something. “For me?” She watched Nicolas slowly blink, then bring his slate blue eyes up to her bright blue ones. Janette knew he would consider it.
“He has to ask me himself and give me his real reason.” He saw her look of shock and stopped her protestation that she did not want to be involved in this. “If he wants me, he needs to ask me, not get you to do it. And do not tell me,” Nick leaned forward, “that you are completely innocent in this set-up. I’ve been with you for a long time, Janette; I can tell when you are … highly involved.” He saw her slowly blink. Nick knew she would do it. “Tell him.”