Sitting at a late night café, pretending to sip a small cup of espresso, she let the memories of the night she had fled the château wash over her. The nightmare of seeing He Who Made Her had been too much, too terrifying. Despite all the help and kindness offered, she had vanished at sunset, fleeing both her past and her future. She had learned much since then, building on the lessons taught to her in her time with the older vampires. The only thing that kept her from returning now was shame, shame and that driving need to fill in the blanks in her memories.
Not all of them had returned, and some of those that did were harder than having no memory at all. She remembered laughing with friends in school, their matching uniforms all modified to an inch of school limits. She remembered beach vacations, and skiing, and teasing her stern-faced father. She remembered crying into the shoulder of her mother, and the way she always fixed all the world’s problems. Catching a fang on her lip, she tasted the blood in an act of self-soothing. She could not fix this problem.
She had discovered her old life almost by accident, stumbling across an old Missing Persons report while she was searching for some sign of He Who Made Her. Maricela Parisi. That was her name. Daughter of Eduardo Parisi, former ambassador to China, and Zhuang Cheok-Jin, the woman he had fallen in love with while he was there. Using an all-night internet café she had browsed through mountains of information on the couple, and herself. It was like looking at strangers. Intellectually she knew who they were, and who they were to her, but there was no real connection. Whomever she had been, that wasn’t who she was now. She had decided not to find them, to instead go elsewhere to conduct her search for the Castilian vampire who had turned her.
Gently placing the still full, though ice cold, demitasse on it’s saucer she rose, once more wrapping the gauzy silk scarf that hid her scars around her neck, and pulling the broad brimmed hat low. She looked like any number of tourists moving across Rue Crémieux, enjoying the beautiful sights and the cobblestone streets. She had not returned to France in two, maybe three years? Now her need for answers outweighed her shame. He Who Made Her taunted her in her dreams, showing her the atrocities he committed, demanding she return to him. She had kept fleeing until the dreams stopped, either he had been killed or she had managed to escape his mental reach.
She had met so many interesting vampires in her travels, finding them even when she was not looking. Dozens of names and faces. Luciens, Selenes, Eriks, and at least a dozen different Draculas. Some were dramatic and showy, and some surprisingly down to earth. She had been all over eastern and southern Asia, just experiencing what this unlife had to offer her. Despite how she came into the life, most vampires she met were more akin to Pavanne and Nicholas, and she had learned to accept what she was to a degree. She had mastered her beast, but there was still an aching emptiness within her, more painful than the Hunger that haunted her blood. Mariposa was lonely. Choosing not to seek out her former friends and family was the right choice, they were human and she was not, but it felt like closing the door on part of herself. A dozen times she had thought about returning to the château, of begging forgiveness, but she could not. She had called them family and then fled like a thief in the night, every bit the rabbit that she had been dubbed. Perhaps it was perverse, now that she knew her true name, to use the one that He Who Made Her had called her in her dreams, but Maricela was dead, and she had accepted that.
Moving through the crowds she picked her meal carefully, a coquettish tilt of her head and big brown bedroom eyes coaxing the man way from his companions and down a side street. She kissed him passionately, thanking him with her body for the sustenance he did not know he was about to give her, and when she kissed his neck, he barely felt the press of her teeth. She drank sparingly, for she had fed well the previous night on a murderer she had found evading the gendarmes. She preferred to dine lightly and more often, these days. Pulling away she felt the warmth of the blood flushing her cheeks, and she covered her mouth with one hand to hide the last traces of blood she licked away from her fangs.
Looking dazed, the tall man reached for her again, and she held him away with a single hand on his chest, his lust and blood loss preventing him from wondering at her strength. “I cannot, mi beddu, you overwhelm me and lead me astray.” She caught his gaze for a moment, her dark eyes mesmerizing as he looked crestfallen. “I have been too forward… but perhaps…?” She pressed another gentle kiss to his lips, and then fled, like any girl caught up in the romance of a foreign city night, allowing liberties beyond that she would normally consider. It was a kind charade, and she picked her victims carefully, and the parts of her that remembered the girl she had once been enjoyed the little play.
Opening her clutch she fixed her lipstick, and then pulled out the small business card she had acquired from a vampire in Chiang Mai, double checking the address. He said the woman was not kindred, but would be willing to help her track her problem, if he was even still out there. She moved quickly through the streets, finding herself at an unassuming door, and knocked three times. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end, and she quickly glanced over her shoulder. The feeling that she was being watched was suddenly very strong, and she narrowed her eyes, scanning the nearby shadows and rooftops.