Chapter 12

     In spite of his decision to heed Julian Luna's advice to stay away from him, Frank couldn't 
help thinking about what he had been told by the Kindred. He wanted to hear more. Frank was 
quite sure that Julian had not recounted his life's story to anybody else before. The policeman 
recalled Julian's voice, hesitant at first, but then it was as if a dam had been broken through, spilling 
forth the Prince's memories. The usually neutral accent of his precise speech had been replaced by 
the different dialects that Julian had acquired during his long existence. The old Creole decorated 
with many French expressions that Frank didn't understand and had to ask for translations. The 
posh British accent that would surface whenever Julian was upset. The long sentences, always 
correct, but sometimes difficult to follow. 
     Frank visited the Haven more often than he used to, hoping that he might run into the Prince 
again, but several weeks passed and there was no trace of Julian Luna. In the end Frank caught 
himself wishing that something might happen in the Kindred community that would force Julian to 
contact him. But all was quiet in the city of San Francisco.
     Well, Frank thought, he'll probably turn up out from nowhere, when I least expect him.
     A couple of months passed, and then Frank was summoned to a meeting in the mansion. He 
found to his dismay that Julian wasn't present, and Daedalus was leading the meeting. Frank had 
trouble concentrating on the discussion, and stayed after the others had left. Nobody had mentioned 
the Prince's absence. He confronted Daedalus as soon as they were alone.
     "Where is he?"
     "The Prince has other matters to attend to." Daedalus' voice was as neutral as Julian's could 
be.
     "Don't give me that crap!" Frank became aware of his own fear and it surprised him. 
"Something has happened to him!" He realized that he was shouting and tried to calm himself. "Tell 
me the truth," he pleaded.
     The Nosferatu's gaze lingered on the policeman's distraught face.
     "Why should you care?" Daedalus asked at last.
     "Oh, my God! He's dead!" Frank concluded.
     "Depending on how you look at it, you could say that I've been dead for a century and a 
half." 
     Frank turned and was faced by Julian Luna. The Kindred stood by the fireplace, watching 
Frank impassively. He nodded to Daedalus and the Nosferatu left. 
     The relief made Frank giddy. He crossed the room in a few strides and grabbed Julian's arm. 
     "You're alive!" he exclaimed. He felt the Kindred's muscles move under his fingers. "You're 
alive!" he repeated. "I thought?"
     "That is subject that might spark a long philosophical discussion," Julian responded smiling. 
"What made you think that I was dead?"
     Frank felt rather stupid.
     "I don't know." He didn't know what to say. "You weren't here and it scared me."
     "There was nothing that demanded my attention at this meeting. I don't want to exaggerate my 
importance, but had I been killed, you would have noticed. The whole city would have noticed."
     "I'm sorry, I made a fool of myself. I must have sounded like some melodramatic movie 
character."
     "Yes, you did. You were lucky that Lillie had already left. She would have laughed her head 
off." Julian was quiet for a moment. "I intended to talk to you after the meeting," he continued, 
turning towards a small side table. There was tray with an opened bottle of wine and two glasses. 
"Please, sit down. That is if you don't have some other pressing business to attend to."
     Frank sat in a chair by the fire. 
     There's nothing in the world that might tear me away right now, he thought.
     Julian poured the wine and reached into his pocket. 
     "I forgot to return your keys," he said. "I was thinking of giving them to Lillie, but thought 
better of it. She has a dirty imagination."
     "That she has," Frank concurred.
     "And who knows that better than you and I?" Julian commented with a soft laughter.
     "How did you two meet?" Frank asked.
     "She seduced me when I was in London. That was more than a century ago."
     "Did she?" Frank had trouble believing that.
     "She was the celebrated Toreador actress. I was just a refugee from America, a nobody. They 
thought that I was Jack the Ripper. My arrival in London coincided with his ravages among human 
women. Then we caught him and killed him. Jack is still a mystery to humans, but not to us. He 
was a Brujah gone mad. Something like that Nightstalker here in San Francisco, a few years back. 
You remember him?"
     "Of course I do!" Frank shuddered at the memory. "He almost strangled me. If you hadn't 
cut his head off?" 
     It had happened so swiftly. The mad Gangrel had wrestled the phosphorus gun from Frank, 
but it had not protected him from the Prince's wrath. Frank could hardly follow the Kindred's 
movements. It was the only time that Frank had seen Julian Luna kill somebody. He hoped that he 
would never have to see that again. He decided to change the subject.
     "You were telling me about Lillie," he reminded the Prince.
     Julian nodded.
     "I was summoned by the Prince of London, when I was still a suspect. I managed to prove my 
innocence, as Jack had killed his first two victims before I came to England. Lillie was present at 
that meeting."


London 1888

     "A good-looking Ventrue. That's a first." 
     It was the first thing that Julian heard Lillie say, the very first time he saw her. Her contempt-
filled whisper was as audible as if she had shouted. Then of course Lillie's stage whisper could be 
heard on the third balcony. Julian was supposed to hear and react. It was a test and he knew that. 
He had turned around, prepared say something equally derogatory and found himself staring, 
tongue-tied like an idiot. She was the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen. She was looking 
him over, a cold smile on her face, her eyes flashing white lightning. 
     "Thank you," he said, disregarding the tone of her voice, pretending that her remark was a 
compliment.
     They didn't speak again that evening, but Julian had trouble keeping his eyes from her, and 
the others noticed. They warned him, saying that Lillie would eat him for breakfast and use his 
bones as toothpicks. He had laughed at that. Years ago he would have felt apprehension, but by now 
he knew that the contempt of women often meant that they felt attraction. Especially when that 
contempt surfaced unprovoked, before he had made a pass at her. Yet there was something scary 
about her. Lillie reminded him of the Snow Queen from a fairy tale; an evil, beautiful witch who 
turned people into snowmen. His picture was apparently quite accurate. An older Ventrue friend 
told him to stay away from Lillie.
     "She's cold as ice," he said. "If you come too close she'll freeze your balls."
     But Julian had responded that ice would melt if heat were applied to it, and besides, if you hold 
something cold long enough it starts to burn you. He had laughed at that thought, well aware that 
his desire for Lillie was drawing him towards her like a moth is drawn towards the fire. He knew 
that Lillie was dangerous, and that danger beckoned to him as much as Lillie's beauty. He saw her 
perform and sent her flowers and gifts but didn?t try to meet her. To let her know that he was 
interested but keep his distance turned out to be the right approach. Lillie was bewildered. In the 
end she was the one who made the first step. She crashed a party that was given by the Ventrue 
Primogen for his clan. Lillie was the only Toreador who came, but nobody would dare to turn her 
away. She confronted Julian openly.
     "What is it you want?"
     "You," he had answered as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Lillie was stunned. 
She stared at him for a moment and then started to laugh. 
     "Are you ready for me, Ventrue?"
     "I won't know unless I try to find that out," Julian had responded quietly. "Are you ready for 
me, Toreador?" he challenged her.
     She had turned away and started walking towards the door, but as someone opened it for her, 
she looked back over her shoulder and beckoned. Julian followed her out as if drawn by an 
invisible chain, oblivious of the snickering giggles that chased him.
     The women had always been there. During the last thirty years there had been an endless 
parade of women, most of them mortal. Archon had raged and Daedalus had scorned, but they 
could not keep Julian away from the ladies, and nothing could keep away the ladies from Julian. 
But he had not loved any of them, and they had all been exchangeable. Not Lillie. For the first time 
in three decades lust prevented him from sleeping. He wanted Lillie. No one else would do.

     "So? tell me about the women," Frank said casually when Julian stopped talking. He wasn't 
particularly interested in Julian's love affairs, but he hoped that he could lure Julian into telling him 
something more about Lillie. But Julian looked at him frowning.
     "What about them?"
     Frank shrugged, pretending indifference.
     "You have a reputation nowadays. Has it always been like that?" he asked.
     "Reputation?" A green shimmer lightened Julian's eyes for a split second, then it was gone, 
and Frank smiled.
     "Don't tell me that you're not aware of the talk; 'Julian Luna, the resident Don Juan'. There 
has been a lot of gossip. I heard it long before I knew who you were, before I thought you were a 
mobster."
     "Oh, really?" The green light was back in the Prince's eyes, only this time it didn't disappear, 
and he sounded very British all of a sudden. 
     "Why does it upset you? I'd have thought that any man would enjoy being regarded as a 
ladies' man."
     It was Julian's turn to shrug.
     "I just can't see where this opinion came from." But he looked away, apparently not as 
unknowing as he pretended to be. "It's just gossip," he continued. "I'm not as irresistible as some 
believe me to be."
     "No, of course not." Frank was snickering.
     "Daedalus says that I could never resist a pretty face." Julian's voice became soft. "I guess 
it's true."
     "That's all, pretty faces?" Frank was teasing the Kindred. He knew now that he would get 
something out of Julian. All he had to do was to steer the conversation in the right direction. "Your 
wife died and you were Embraced. Then what?" he prodded.
     "I worked for Archon," Julian said.
     "No ladies?"
     "No ladies."
     "Are you sure?"
     "I'm quite sure."
     Frank raised an eyebrow in a doubtful expression.
     "For how long?" he asked.
     "A couple of years," Julian answered and was startled by Frank's outburst of laughter.
     "No ladies, huh?" the policeman managed to sputter at last, laughing even harder at Julian's 
surprised countenance. 
     "What's so funny?" Julian inquired, but Frank only shook his head.
     "So, what happened after 'a couple of years??" he was still laughing.
     "I got a slave."
     "WHAT?!!!" Frank was so shocked that he forgot to shut his mouth.
     "There's no need to shout, my hearing is excellent. Pick up your chin from the floor. Frank, 
this was before the Civil War and I was a child of my time. It isn't easy to unlearn old ways. My 
father owned several slaves when we lived in Louisiana. It was the same with women. I have been 
taught to pamper and protect them as the helpless, ignorant creatures they were. It took ages before 
I could regard women as equals. I still have trouble seeing them as dangerous, even when they are 
armed. It has cost me quite a few unpleasant injuries over the years."
     Frank felt a little ashamed. It was so easy to jump to conclusions.
     "I'm sorry," he said. "To me it's history. You lived it, I know that. But it's so difficult to 
imagine? I see you the way you are now, not on a horseback."
     It made Julian laugh.
     "I still ride better than I drive. I learnt to ride when I was a child. Driving on the other hand," 
he shook his head in mock despair, "let's change the subject."
     Frank jumped at the opportunity.
     "Alright, tell me about your slave."


Napa Valley - 1858

     Julian had won her in a poker game. Usually he wasn't very good with cards and entered a 
game only when invited. Lacking inclination for hazard he would not lose or win much, he was 
never carried away by the desire to win. But this night he had been more successful than ever. The 
amount of gold on his side of the table rose steadily and the opponents dropped out of the game 
one by one. In the end there was only one left, a man of indeterminate age in Indian clothes. It was 
almost midnight when the trapper shrugged saying:
     "That was the last of my gold."
     Julian looked up at him and shrugged too. 
     "Then that was the last game."
     The man didn't rise from the table however, but looked at Julian and scratched his beard.
     "I've got something else to stake," he said at last, and Julian raised an eyebrow inquiringly. If 
the man wanted to throw in his horse, Julian wasn't interested. To make a horse accept Kindred was 
difficult and time consuming. Julian already had a horse that tolerated him and didn't need another 
one. "Just wait!" the man said and went out. 
     Julian decided to wait ten minutes and then leave if the man didn't return by then. The trapper 
came back before the time was up. He was dragging someone with him; a short, slim figure covered 
with grime. 
     "How much will you put against her?" the man asked. Julian looked the dirty girl over.
     "She's yours?"
     "Yeah. The Indians sold her to me for some knifes and whiskey," was the response.
     Why not? Julian shrugged. He could use a servant. 
     "How much do you want for her?" He was prepared to buy her. The trapper named a prize 
and after some bickering they agreed on half. But the man didn't want the money; he wanted to use 
the woman as a stake. Apparently he hoped to win and wanted to keep her. Julian accepted. A few 
minutes later he was a proud owner of what he thought was an Indian slave.
     He took her to Archon's mansion. She was apparently tired and weak, and Julian let his horse 
walk very slowly so that she could keep up with its pace. If she hadn't been so dirty, he would have 
let her ride with him, but he didn't want to touch her. It was almost dawn when they at last arrived, 
but Julian decided to get her cleaned before he would let her rest. She watched him with 
expressionless eyes while he heated some water and then poured it into a wooden tub. When he 
told her to get in she hesitated for only a second. He turned away and heard her as she took off her 
filthy clothes and climbed into the tub. She washed her hair several times but was unable to comb it 
with the brush that he had brought her; it was just too tangled. Julian found a pair of scissors and 
she nodded acceptance when he showed them to her. He cut her long hair just above her shoulders; 
what was left was easy to comb out. When the hair had fallen, exposing her back, Julian noticed 
several scars and welts on her back and buttocks. She had apparently been whipped many times. He 
gave her some food and for the first time he saw anything but indifference in her eyes. She was 
very thin and he realized that she had been kept on the brink of starvation for a long time. He gave 
her one of his old shirts and told her to get into his bed. She obeyed without looking at him. 
     "I'll get you some clothes tomorrow and find a place were you can sleep," he said. The last 
thing he saw as he walked out of his room was the look of surprise on her face. It made him smile. 
Julian was not interested in using her, and he would not sleep next to a human. Archon had warned 
him about that. A Kindred's apparent lifelessness while he slept would scare a mortal and might 
expose the Masquerade.
     Ailee was the quietest creature that Julian had ever encountered. She spoke only when 
addressed, her voice barely more than a whisper. Her English was adequate, but the heroic battle she 
was fighting with the grammar made Julian laugh sometimes. The intricacies of French grammar, so 
familiar to Julian Luna, made him wonder how anyone could find the English language difficult.
     She told him that her mother was Chinese. The Indians had kidnapped her more than twenty 
years ago. She didn't know where that had happened. The woman had been kept as a slave, and an 
Indian was Ailee's father; she didn't know who. Her mother had died a few years ago, and the 
Indians had sold her to the white man from whom Julian won her in that poker game. The Indians 
had never harmed her, but the white man had been mean. He didn't give her enough food and beat 
her quite often. When she became pregnant, he had kicked her in the belly until she lost her baby.
     Julian told her that she would be his servant. Her duties were to keep his things clean, and to 
make sure that there was always enough hot water for a bath when he came home, whenever that 
might be. He would pay her; she would have to provide her own food and clothing. He didn't tell 
Archon how she became his property, knowing that his Sire didn't approve of slavery.
     Archon accepted her presence without comment. There were other human servants on his 
property, but none of them lived in the mansion. The work she did for Julian didn't take much of 
her time, so she started cleaning the rest of the house as well. She cooked her own meals, and there 
was always food waiting for Julian. He never ate it of course, and after a few days she got mad and 
threw a piece of meat at him, shouting something in a language he didn't understand. He ducked 
reflexively, and the food splattered on the wall. When he turned to her, shouting back, she cowered 
and put her hands over her head in a protective gesture. Julian stopped in a mid-stride. Apparently, 
she expected him to hit her, and it stunned him. He had never hit a woman in his life and he found 
her fear was insulting. He scraped the meat off the wall and pressed it into Ailee's hand.
     "I don't eat here," he said. "You must have noticed that nobody but you eats in this house." 
He took hold of her shoulders and forced her to face him. "Don't try to feed me again. I eat in 
town, and so does everyone else here. Just make sure that you do what is required of you and there 
will be no trouble. And don't prepare more food than you can eat yourself." He shook her a little, 
just to make his point and, to his surprise, she started to laugh. He let go of her and turned to leave, 
but just as he was walking out of the kitchen, something hit his shoulder. When he looked, there 
was a small carrot rolling on the floor, and Ailee was aiming another in his direction. It came flying 
toward his face but he ducked out of the kitchen before it hit him. He heard her laugh, and couldn?t 
help laughing too.
     Her timidity dissipated after that incident. Within a couple of months she gained some weight; 
she looked healthier, and Julian noticed that she was a quite beautiful young woman. Every now and 
then she would throw a small object at him, a fruit or a nut, and was impressed that he always 
caught it in midair. Julian realized quite soon that she was trying to catch his attention, but she was a 
slave, and therefore off limits. It was a strange sort of morality on Julian's part: a gentleman does 
not take advantage of a slave; it's ill-mannered.
     Julian stayed in his brother's house longer than he had planned to, hoping that the winter 
storms would abate, but as there seemed to be no clearing, he decided to ride back anyway. Archon 
would be worried; Julian was supposed to be back the day before yesterday. It had been raining 
heavily for several days, and what passed for roads had turned into torrents of mud. His horse 
stumbled ever so often and cast its head back violently in an effort to regain its footing. Eventually, 
afraid that those casts would crush his face, Julian dismounted and walked the rest of the way to 
Archon's house, letting his horse trail him as best it could. He slipped and fell several times, and 
when he finally arrived, both he and the poor animal were covered with mud, presenting a picture 
beyond description. Julian washed the horse and poured several buckets of icy water over himself 
before he dared to enter the building. It was dark and quiet, but when he came to the kitchen, he 
found Ailee there, busy heating water. He sighed with relief. As she started filling the wooden tub, 
Julian tore his dirty clothes off and climbed into the hot water at once, but it took a long time before 
his teeth stopped chattering.
     "I help," Ailee said, disregarding the grammar as usual.
     He let her wash his hair, then allowed her to wash the rest of him. Realizing that he was falling 
asleep in the tub, he got out and started drying himself. As he turned, ready to go to his room, he 
was faced by an unexpected sight. Ailee was standing in front of him, barely a few feet away, naked. 
Julian blinked in surprise.
     She came towards him, and before he understood what she intended to do, her hands moved 
up his arms and she pressed her body against him. Julian took hold of her shoulders, intending to 
shove her away, but his inbred instinct, which prohibited the use of violence against a woman, made 
him slow and careful. She kissed his neck and he felt stiff nipples grease the skin on his chest. His 
body reacted even before his brain registered that sign of her lust. Instead of pushing her away, his 
arms locked around her and he lifted her, pressing her hard against him. Her arms and legs 
enclosed him, and they both gasped loudly as he thrust into her. The sudden rush of adrenaline 
made Julian's head swim and blurred his vision. His body was out of his mind's control and he 
cried out as he was hit by a violent release within seconds. A moment later he became aware of two 
things: he was still standing, holding Ailee tightly to his chest, her weight of no consequence, and he 
was still inside her, as hard and as excited as he had been before the orgasm. Only now he had a 
little better control of the situation. He laid her down on the kitchen table and started moving with 
slow, powerful thrusts. He felt her nails dig into his shoulders and her body arched against him.      
When she began to moan he silenced her with a kiss. 
     Julian was of course unable to keep it a secret for long. He sensed that Archon didn't like 
what was going on under his roof. There were no comments but the disapproving snorts were 
telling enough. Julian didn't care. For the first time since his wife's death he felt alive, almost 
happy. He was not in love with Ailee, but he liked her. She was a demanding mistress, full of 
mischief and crazy ideas. Mysterious and childishly open at the same time. Willing to experiment, 
untroubled by Christian hypocrisy or inhibitions, she taught Julian that there were many ways of 
making love. In spite of the fact that she was a slave, she was a lesson in freedom. 
     But Ailee was a mortal and Julian was Kindred. Once he was started, there was no way of 
stopping him. It was as if he were discovering a new world. Sometimes he would disappear for 
days on end, returning to the mansion at odd hours. The rumors reached Archon finally. Julian 
Luna was working his way through the scant female population of the valley, just as his Sire had 
predicted, and it was not appreciated. At least not by the men. 
     "I knew this would happen sooner or later," Archon complained to Daedalus. "One day he will 
be caught in the wrong bed, and we will have a posse on our heads. He's endangering the 
Masquerade."
     "Yes," the Nosferatu concurred, "but there's nothing we can do to stop him." 
     "Are you sure?" Archon inquired.
     "Can you refrain from feeding?" Daedalus retorted. 
     "It's not the same thing!"
     "To Julian it is." Daedalus knew what he was talking about. "Just look at him. Julian Luna has 
been put on this Earth for one reason only. That instinct has survived the Embrace, although he 
can't father children anymore. We have to accept him as he is, and we have to protect him."
     "And how do you propose we do that?" There was irony in Archon's voice. "Well, at least 
he's not like Stephen; he doesn't harm anybody. But he will harm himself." 
     Archon didn't care to admit that, but even he was aware of Julian's sex appeal. The poor 
women were defenseless. And so was Julian Luna.

     "What happened to her?" Frank's curiosity had been peaked. "Did you Embrace her? Is she 
still around?" 
     "No, she died." Julian sounded sad. "A stupid accident. She was bitten by a poisonous snake. 
She saved me from a painful but harmless experience, and she died."
     "What happened?"
     "I must have disturbed it somehow and it attacked me. I heard the hiss. Ailee grabbed it by the 
tail and yanked it away. The snake bit her and she died within minutes. The poor girl didn't know 
that snake poison has no effect on Kindred."
     "Does any poison?" Frank asked.
     "No." Julian smiled suddenly. "And don't come dragging in garlic. I can smell garlic on a 
person's breath several days after it had been consumed. It's offensive, that's all."
     "So all that stuff about garlic, crosses, silver bullets and stakes through the heart is just 
rubbish?" Frank inquired.
     "Of course." Julian?s gaze focused on the policeman's face. "I knew the one who invented 
that story."
     "You knew Bram Stoker?"
     "No, but I met the Toreador who made him write it." 
     "Lillie?" There was incredulity in Frank's voice, but Julian shook his head.
     "It was her Sire," he said.
     "Oh." Frank was silent for a moment. "Is there any truth in that story at all?"
     "The laws of physics apply to us just as they apply to you, but we do defy some of your laws 
of biology. We aren't invisible in mirrors. We don't sleep in coffins although we do seem rather 
lifeless when asleep. As you know, the sun can be a mortal danger to weakened Kindred. You saw 
what happened to Stevie and Alexandra. It killed Cameron too. The crosses? There are those 
among us who remember crucifixion as the means of execution. It's an unusually cruel way to kill 
anyone, human or Kindred. The garlic, as I told you before, it just smells bad. A stake through the 
heart immobilizes a Kindred, renders him helpless, but it's not lethal by itself. "Julian's voice 
became ironic. "We can be killed, but it's not as easy as killing a human. Is that what you're trying 
to find out? How to kill me?"
     "No!" Frank's face turned violently red. "I threatened you after Alexandra's death, I 
remember that. I hated you then, but not anymore. You're not a monster. For God's sake, man, you 
saved my life! Do you think that I'd forget that? Vampire or not?"
     "Don't say that," Julian interrupted him. "It's an insult."
     "Huh?"
     "We call each other vampire when we mean to offend."
     "But in Stoker's Dracula?" Frank started but was interrupted again.
     "Yes, I know. That Toreador had a weird sense of humor." Julian leaned closer to the fire, 
frowning. "It's the equivalent of primate, as if I called humans apes or Neanderthals."
     "I see." Frank nodded. "I won't use bad language again, I promise, but there's something I 
want to ask you. When I shot you, on Alexandra's balcony?" He wasn't looking at the Kindred. 
"You were obviously hurt?" He didn't know how to continue.
     "Daedalus removed the bullets. It was just as unpleasant as being shot. You see, the human 
poisons don't affect us, but neither do anesthetics." Julian Luna wasn't telling the whole truth. If 
there were a poison or a drug in the blood that a Kindred ingested, it would affect him. 
     "I'm sorry," Frank was really remorseful. "I've been meaning to apologize for that for quite 
some time." 
     Julian nodded acceptance.
     "I've been shot before. I'm not saying that I've got used to it, but it's no big deal. There are 
worse things that can happen. Daedalus has become an expert surgeon over the years. Usually, his 
comments are more painful than his ministrations. But it has to be done."
     "Why?"
     Julian chuckled softly.
     "If I carried around all the junk that I?ve been shot with, I'd be rather heavy by now. Not to 
mention the possibility that I would attract every magnet in the vicinity and wreck havoc with the 
metal detectors at the airports."
     Frank couldn't help laughing too. 
     "Anyway, I apologize," he said again. "What happened afterwards?"
     "Afterwards?" For once Julian had lost track of Frank's line of thought.
     "Your slave died. And?"
     "And all hell broke loose."
     "Why?"
     Julian made a grimace.
     "Archon didn't approve of my conduct. I guess I was rather unmanageable."
     "Women?" Frank didn't really need to ask, and Julian laughed.
     "Hey, how did you know?" His accent was suddenly pure Creole, and he made a helpless 
shrug as if he wanted to say 'the devil made me do it, I couldn't help myself'. "It had to end in 
disaster and it did. Archon nearly hit me; I came so close to breaking the Masquerade wide open." 
Julian held his fingers almost together. "So close," he repeated.
     "So you were banished from California and went to London. And you met Lillie." Frank was 
trying to steer Julian towards the subject that interested him.
     "Are you absolutely sure that you want me to tell you about Lillie?" Julian looked at Frank 
sideways. Seeing his evident embarrassment, Frank realized that Julian's question was aimed at 
discouraging him. 
     "Yes, I do." He laughed softly. "You can spare me the most intimate details."
     "It's not the 'intimate details' that are offensive to talk about."
     "Oh." The policeman tried to hide his smile. "Is it so difficult to talk about feelings, to admit 
that you loved her?"
     Julian frowned.
     "I never loved Lillie." His voice was a barely audible whisper. "There's something about 
Lillie, something almost repulsive. She's a calculating witch and at the same time the most 
miserable creature I know. She's damned."
     "What do you mean?"
     "Unrequited love."
     Frank waited for Julian to continue but the Kindred was silent. 
     "For you?" he asked at last although he already knew the answer. Julian nodded.
     "I can't remember another woman before Lillie that I wanted as much. And hated as much."



London - 1888

     Lillie made him stand in the middle of the room. She took her time turning on the lights, not 
looking at him once while she walked from lamp to lamp. At last, when all lights were burning 
brightly, she turned and faced him.
     "Take your clothes off!" she ordered, her voice cold as ice.
     For a brief moment Julian regretted having promised to obey her. But he didn't hesitate. He 
was naked within a minute. Standing there, in full illumination, he became painfully aware of his 
body under Lillie's scrutiny, his desire making him vulnerable.
     "But you are beautiful." Lillie?s voice had become low and throaty. She smiled for the first 
time. Slowly, she began taking off her gloves, tugging them off, one finger at a time. She let them 
fall to the floor and came closer. Her fingers touched Julian's chest, her nails drawing blood. Then 
her hand moved in a slow caress to his shoulder and slid along his arm until she took hold of his 
wrist.
     "Come," she whispered.
     She made him lie down on the bed and started turning on all lamps in the bedroom. Julian's 
eyes followed her every step but again she didn't look at him. Then she came to him and sat at his 
side.
     "Move up a little," she demanded and he slid towards the headboard of the bed. She took 
hold of his wrists and stretched his arms above his head. Her fingers closed over his and she made 
him grip the iron bars.
     "Hold on to these bars," she said. "No matter what happens you mustn't let go."
     "Are you going to bind me?" Julian asked wondering if there were anything strong enough to 
prevent him from breaking free.
     "That won't be necessary," Lillie responded. Her cold smile was back. "If you let go I'll 
throw you out."
     Julian tried to strain his neck, turning his head up and back, in order to see his hands.
     "I won't let go," he promised. Lillie nodded and suddenly bowed over him and kissed him on 
the mouth. Julian responded eagerly and there was an ominously cracking sound that emerged from 
the vicinity of the bed's headboard. Lillie broke the kiss.
     "If you break the bars," she said laughing, "I'll break something in you."
     Her grip was so sudden and hard that it made him gasp in pain. But he resisted the urge to let 
go of the bars and pull her hand away. Slowly, the squeezing hand relaxed and the pain subsided.
     "You're good," Lillie breathed in his ear. "Not many have passed that."
     "What are you trying to do?" Julian asked, his voice rather shaky.
     "I'm teaching you control," she answered.
     In the next moment she moved down his body and he felt her mouth take him in. He gasped 
again, but this time from pleasure, his back arching in ecstasy. He bit on his lower lip until it started 
bleeding, the pain preventing him from peaking immediately.
     Julian found out the hard way that compared to Lillie he was just an enthusiastic amateur. 
Lillie kissed the palm of his hand until his skin began to tingle, then sunk her teeth into his wrist, 
making him hiss in pain, and gulped so much blood that the loss made him light-headed. She 
allowed him to move with long, slow thrusts, her hand squeezing him painfully, the nails pricking 
the delicate skin threateningly whenever he tried to increase the tempo. She threw back her head, 
inviting him to feed. He found the vein in her neck and drank deep, restoring his strength. When a 
thin trickle escaped he followed it with his mouth until his lips found Lillie's breast, and his kiss 
became hot and demanding. As he felt her muscles contort, he started to move faster, and neither his 
own will nor Lillie's ripping claws could stop him anymore. The violent release made him scream, 
and he sagged in Lillie's embrace, shuddering uncontrollably and unable to support his own 
weight. The unbelievable mixture of pain and pleasure made his head spin; he had almost fainted. 
     Lillie simply threw him out when he was too exhausted to be of any use, as she said with 
contempt. He was also weakened by the loss of blood; she had taken more than she gave. Julian 
walked around in the city for hours, bewildered and dizzy although he had fed several times, 
wondering what was happening to him. It was a new experience. For the first time in his Kindred 
existence a woman had demanded more than he was able to endure. He felt revulsion and not so 
little fear. That he was physically stronger than Lillie didn't change the fact that she had been totally 
in charge, almost all the time. No woman had given him more pleasure before, or pain, or 
satisfaction. Fear didn't stop him from wanting more of that exquisite torture.
     Lillie was never available when he tried to contact her, but each time he was almost convinced 
that she didn't want him anymore, she would summon him, the way a queen would summon a 
subject. It was humiliating, but Julian never failed to come to her on the appointed time. They would 
make love, always the way Lillie wanted it, and Julian learned to keep up with her pace. Her blood 
always excited him beyond reason. But after a few months his male ego revolted. Using his 
superior strength, Julian forced Lillie to make love the way he wanted. She screamed angrily and 
ripped his flesh with her claws and teeth, but the more abusive she was, the more tender were 
Julian's kisses and caresses. She had given up in the end, allowing him to overcome her resistance, 
submitting to the overwhelming waves of pleasure. But when she saw his triumphant smile, it was 
Lillie's turn to know fear. 
     Julian's education had seemed more than adequate for the mid-nineteenth century, in 
California. But when he arrived in England, he learned immediately that compared to the 
sophisticated Ventrue of London he was barely literate. He might not have cared about that if it 
weren't for those long, idle, gray, sleepless days. Julian had arrived in London in the fall. He hated 
the city from the first moment. It was damp, cold, and unbelievably filthy, ridden by poverty and 
disease. The robust human population of California seemed to belong to another species. But 
London was full of bookshops and libraries, and besides, everybody who could afford it could 
study almost anything. In spite of his anger Archon had made sure that Julian would not end up in 
England empty-handed. Julian didn't lack intelligence, and now he was able to acquire an education 
that had not been available in America. He was fascinated by natural sciences and became an ardent 
student of astronomy and physics.
     Julian Luna became a curiosity in London. He had a strange name, strange accent and was 
quite wealthy. He made friends easily, and the women found him attractive, especially since he was 
considered Lillie's property. With time, Julian's dislike of London turned into admiration.
     He met other women, both human and Kindred. None of them could compete with his 
Toreador lover, but he was no longer as addicted to Lillie as he had been in the beginning of their 
liaison. He knew that Lillie was seeing other men as well, but they would end up in bed together 
whenever they met. Neither could stay away from the other for long. 
     Lillie spat in rage at her own reflection in the mirror. 
     "You should have known better," she hissed at her image. What she dreaded most in the entire 
world had happened; she had fallen in love with a man who didn't love her. He desired her of 
course, but that didn't impress Lillie Langtry. All men desired her. 
     How could I let it happen? Lillie's eyes flashed white lightning. She had seen the danger the 
first time she saw him, yet her desire had made her foolish. Now she would have to pay the price. 
Sometimes she imagined that she hated Julian Luna, but each time she saw him, her resentment 
would melt away. She wanted him more than she cared to admit, even to herself. But she would 
never tell him that she loved him, never!
     They became quite close friends over the years, traveling together in Europe, hunting together, 
enjoying life in all possible ways. Everybody welcomed them. Considered the most beautiful couple 
among the Kindred, they would be invited to every party and gathering, and many would try to 
imitate them. When they came to America, Lillie was no longer a celebrity. She had to disappear 
from the world of the living; her time had run out, and she found herself overshadowed by Julian 
Luna. It was evident that Archon had plans for Julian, but it would take some time before Julian 
would accept those plans.

     Julian drank the last of the wine in his glass and rose from the chair.
     "Frank," he said, "it's enough for tonight. I have to leave." Julian didn't tell the policeman that 
they were no longer alone. The Nosferatu's presence was only detectable to the Prince. Frank 
nodded and got up. 
     "Do you plan to disappear again for the next couple of months?" he asked. "It's like reading a 
book one chapter at a time; frustrating."
     "There isn't much left," Julian responded. "I'll come by your place sometime next week, or 
maybe the week after. I don't intend to disappear. At least not deliberately."
     Julian waited until the policeman was gone before calling Daedalus' name. He heard a soft 
rustle and turned towards the sound. The Nosferatu was standing by the fire, his calm face 
betraying nothing. As always, when faced by the Nosferatu, Julian felt apprehension.
     "Are you afraid that I'll tell him too much?" he asked. But Daedalus only shrugged.
     "You can't tell him what you don't know. Besides, apart from being human, he is one of us."
     Julian Luna looked at the Nosferatu in silence for a long time.
     "What is it that I don't know?" he inquired at last, and Daedalus shrugged again.
     "Julian, you're the Prince. You know what you need to know. We have our secrets just as you 
Ventrue have your own. That's how we all survive. Don't ask questions that can not be answered."
     Julian bowed his head.
     "Of course Daedalus." But there was disappointment in his voice and the Nosferatu heard it.
     "I have been at your side ever since you've been Embraced," Daedalus was hurt. "Have I ever 
disappointed you?"
     "No, no. You have always been loyal to me." There was a hint of desolation in the Prince's 
voice that made Daedalus wince.
     "Julian, what's wrong?"
     "I have never doubted your loyalty, Daedalus." Julian tried to keep his resentment i check. He 
faced the Nosferatu squarely. "Do you realize that you're the only being that I have ever feared?"
     Daedalus winced as if Julian had hit him in the face. His shocked expression told the Prince 
that he had really hurt the Nosferatu. 
     "Not now." Julian was trying desperately to repair the damage, not realizing that Daedalus 
wasn't really listening. "Not anymore. But after Archon had Embraced me, and you showed up?"


Napa Valley - 1858
     While Julian respected Archon, he was terrified of Daedalus. There shouldn't be anything 
strange about that; the Nosferatu could scare the fiercest Brujah out of his wits with one glance. But 
to Julian Daedalus was the living proof that he had left the humanity forever. That he had entered 
the realm of the cold-blooded; crossed the boundary of eternal hostility between day and night. Fear 
of reptiles, imbedded in human genes since the beginning of time, made Julian dread the Nosferatu 
instinctively. Julian Luna was one of the few Kindred who were able to keep some part of their 
humanity intact.
     Julian was always aware of Daedalus' watchful eyes. When Archon's despotic commands 
didn't work, Daedalus' soft-spoken allusions would always suffice. But what Julian perceived as 
contemptuous supervision was actually care. Fortunately, he didn't know how closely he was 
watched.
     Daedalus had abandoned the big canvas for a spell and painted a miniature portrait of Julian 
Luna from memory. It was perfect. The Nosferatu smiled in sadness. His paintings were displayed 
in museums all over the world; they were priceless, and his human name was prominent in every 
book about renaissance art. There was even a gallery in Florence, which was dedicated solely to his 
work. 
     Daedalus cast a glance in the mirror, and the timeless pain tore at his heart again.
     Why wasn't I Embraced by a Ventrue or a Toreador? 
     Behind the bald head, ugly ears and angular features he could almost see the beautiful, young 
man he had once been; celebrated, loved and adored. He looked again at the tiny picture of Julian in 
his hand. All the powers of the Nosferatu Clan that were at his disposal seemed suddenly to be of 
no value. 
     Beautiful and bright, Daedalus sighed. There's no justice in this world.
     Daedalus had been forced to leave his human life by sudden illness. He had been only thirty-
seven at that time. He remembered the date very well. It had also been his birthday; April the sixth. 
Death had been imminent, and there had been little choice. The Nosferatu wondered sometimes who 
had been buried in the tomb that bore his mortal name in Rome's Pantheon. The wonderful life of a 
celebrated artist had been taken from him overnight, and he entered the dark world of the most 
ancient and mysterious of the Kindred Clans. Daedalus forced himself not to look back. His mortal 
life and his mortal loves were long gone. But as he watched Julian Luna he couldn't help 
comparing the fate of the young Ventrue to his own. In contrast to Daedalus, Julian's human life 
had ended almost before it really started. What had been taken away from Daedalus when he 
became Kindred, would be given now to Julian. 
     Nobody understood Julian Luna's true nature better than the Nosferatu. As a mortal Daedalus 
had been what Julian was now; a slave of the demands of the flesh - what would be diagnosed as 
sex addiction in the 'enlightened' era of the later part of the twentieth century. Daedalus was almost 
free of his passions. But occasionally he would succumb to the old desires, devising means to hide 
his horrifying appearance. His indulgence of Julian's reckless behavior was in fact an 
understanding that the young Ventrue could no more stay away from women than he could abstain 
from feeding. Nothing would ever change that, and Julian had the advantage of being the most 
beautiful man that Daedalus had ever seen. The Nosferatu thought of his own mortal face, which he 
had put often enough in his paintings. He had been considered a handsome man in his days.
     Even I couldn't have competed with Julian Luna, he decided smiling. 
     But Julian had been born three centuries after Daedalus had given up his mortal existence and 
his human appearance. Julian was luckier than most; his face was unchanged by the Embrace. And 
now, subject to the Kindred powers, it wouldn't age either.
     Time passed and Daedalus watched over Julian Luna as if the Ventrue were his own creation. 
He made sure that Archon knew as little as possible about the worst of Julian's escapades. But the 
young Kindred was uncontrollable, and in the end he had gone too far.
     When Julian Luna returned from Europe almost twenty years later, he would no longer be 
intimidated by either Daedalus or Archon. But he had changed as well. He wasn't as wild as he had 
been earlier. Whatever else Lillie had done, her influence had made Julian more responsible and 
mature. He didn't change his ways, but was much more discrete. However, it took another decade 
before Julian came back to Archon and accepted his leadership without question. Eventually, Julian 
became Archon's most trusted associate. He was chosen Primogen of the Ventrue clan on the same 
day that president Kennedy was assassinated. Twenty-five years later, with Daedalus active help, 
Julian Luna succeeded Archon as the new Prince of the city of San Francisco. It was the first time 
that a Prince relinquished his title and stayed on after the transition of power.
     Julian's leadership was seldom challenged. He was a successful Prince, and it was well known 
that he enjoyed unconditional support of the Nosferatu Primogen. Although Daedalus knew that 
Julian didn't really need him anymore, he stayed at the Prince's side. 
     His Prince, whom he regarded as a reincarnation of his own humanity.
     Julian acquired the ability to sense Daedalus presence only recently, after the Nosferatu had 
offered the Prince his own blood, thus helping him to defeat Goth, the once banished Nosferatu 
Primogen. Aided by Daedalus' gift Julian was more powerful than ever, and his bond to the 
Nosferatu had become stronger. But Daedalus could no longer follow him around as he had done 
in the past, when Julian could not detect him. It was at Archon's request that Daedalus had kept 
vigil over Julian Luna from the very beginning. He had watched the young man's despair before he 
was Embraced, and held his protecting hand over the Kindred afterwards. He had kept Stephen at 
bay for more than a century, and had always been there whenever Julian needed him. He watched 
Julian fight and love, triumph and get hurt. Daedalus had stopped Archon's raised hand, preventing 
him from hitting Julian, the one offence that Julian would never forgive his Sire.
     Then it was Julian who had chased Goth out of San Francisco twenty years ago, heeding 
Daedalus' plea to save his Sire's life in spite of the final death sentence that Archon had declared.
     Julian Luna was everything that Daedalus was not. Far from being envious, Daedalus loved 
his Prince to the point of worship. Being told that he was feared by the only being that he admired, 
hurt Daedalus more than he could bear.
     "Do you want me to leave your City?" the Nosferatu asked, his whisper barely audible.
     "Daedalus!" Julian's shout was filled with despair. "Didn't you hear me? I was afraid of you, 
but not anymore. Don't do this to me! I'll not be able to go on without you. You must never leave 
me. I need you." He hid his face in his hands, stifling a sob. "Why am I losing everybody? What 
have I done?"
     The Nosferatu blinked in surprise at the sudden outburst, and his expression softened.
     "Julian," he was still whispering, knowing that the Prince would hear him anyway, "I'm sorry. 
I wouldn't have left even if you told me to. You'll have to kill me to get rid of me."
     Julian looked up at his friend.
     "I'd rather kill myself," he responded, and Daedalus heard the sincerity in the Prince's voice. 
     "That will not be necessary. If you ever decide that you need to die, I'll be honored to assist 
you," the Nosferatu Primogen said solemnly, and Julian realized that he had been offered the 
greatest sacrifice that Daedalus was capable of.
     "Thank you, Daedalus. I'll never forget that." He hesitated for a moment. "If you ever need 
me, I'll also be at your disposal."
     It was the right answer. Daedalus inclined his head in reverence and kissed Julian's hand. In 
the next instant he was gone.

     Frank went on with his life but made sure that he was always at home when he wasn't 
working nights. He was waiting for Julian to come, and he was no longer afraid of what might 
happen if and when the Kindred showed up. He was quite sure that Julian would never harm him or 
do anything improper. Frank was certain by now that apart from Daedalus he was the closest friend 
that Julian had. And Daedalus, although Kindred, was by far much more different from Julian Luna 
than Frank himself... a human. The bond between Julian and Daedalus was of different kind, and 
the gap between the Nosferatu and the Ventrue could never be breached completely. But Frank was 
also aware of the fact that if a conflict were to arise between the humans and Kindred, he and Julian 
Luna would find themselves on opposite sides of the fence. He hoped sincerely that it would never 
happen. He tried to imagine his own reaction if the Masquerade were broken, and the mortals 
started to hunt the creatures of the night. He knew with absolute certainty that he would do anything 
within his power to protect the Kindred. The Prince had protected him, and Frank would protect 
Julian at any cost if the necessity arose. He realized with incredulity that he had never cherished a 
friendship more than that of Julian's. As seldom as they met, the awareness of the Kindred's care 
had dissipated Frank's feeling of loneliness. 
     It was almost nine in the evening, and Frank's shift had just ended. Before leaving for home 
he stopped by his captain's desk. He wanted to discuss a messy case of homicide, which he hadn't 
been able to solve. He heard the phone ring but before he reached it Sonny had answered. Frank 
saw his partner's eyes widen in surprise. 
     "It's for you," Sonny said unnecessarily; it was Frank's phone. "Julian Luna."
     "Are you free this evening?" the Prince asked as soon as the policeman said his name. 
     "Yes, I am."
     "I'll come by your place in an hour if it's alright with you."
     "Please, do." Frank was painfully aware of Sonny's close scrutiny.
     "What are you two up to?" Sonny asked as soon as Frank put down the receiver.
     "Uh?" Frank's mind had gone blank. He knew though that he didn't want to tell his Kindred 
partner why Julian Luna had contacted him. Somehow it seemed inappropriate. 
     Is Julian endangering himself by confiding in me? he wondered. He put a finger to his lips 
and made a hushing sound.
     "It's a secret." He left Sonny staring after him in a stupefied silence.
     Frank looked at the shelves, trying to figure out what he should choose. He knew enough 
about wines to realize that the one Julian had served him was far beyond what he could afford. At 
last he bought two bottles that were almost too expensive.
     "You shouldn't have done that," was the first thing that Julian said, startling the policeman.     
"I'm sorry, I should have knocked. But I knew you were expecting me, and the door was 
unlocked." He had appeared out of nowhere, like a magician on a stage. 
     "Oh, you came through the door?"
     "Of course. I just moved too fast for you to see. I didn't mean to scare you."
     Frank smiled at that.
     "You'll have to do better than that if you want to scare me. But it is impressive."
     "I didn't do it to impress you. It's just the way we are. You move at your pace. If you don't 
need to adjust to someone who moves much more slowly, you never give it a thought, do you?" 
     "Yeah, you're right." Frank was still grinning. "You didn't want to impress me at all. You 
want some wine?" he nodded toward the bottle, and it was Julian's turn to smile.
     "Sure, and you're not trying to impress me either."
     Frank was amazed by how comfortable he felt in the Prince's company. They were chatting 
about different things and Julian gave the policeman an idea on how to solve the homicide he was 
assigned to.
     "You might make quite a detective," Frank commented. "If you're half as good as Sonny, 
you'd do alright."
     "I'm doing quite alright on my own." Julian pretended to be offended. "I have for quite some 
time."
     "I thought you had always worked for Archon. At least until you became the Prince of the 
City."
     "I did." Julian responded. "But not always."
     "Are you saying that you were actually able to tear yourself from your Sire's supervision and 
face the harsh world all by yourself." Frank was teasing the Kindred; the wine had made him a little 
wicked.
     "Oh, but I did make it on my own," Julian retorted. "In a way," he added smiling, "among 
humans."
     "What did you do?"
     "I'm not so sure that I want to tell you. Lillie still laughs at me." 
     "She does?" Frank would not be stopped. "Now, what could you have done that would make 
Lillie laugh."
     Julian was apparently hard pressed not to laugh himself.
     "I encroached on her territory," he actually giggled, and Frank stared.
     Lillie's territory? he wondered. Then it hit him.
     "Show business?"
     "Uhuh," Julian used Frank's favorite expression. "On one occasion I almost thought that 
Caitlin had found out."
     "How?"
     Julian recounted a conversation with Caitlin. It took place only a couple of months after they 
had become lovers.


     "Julian, do you tango?" Caitlin's question came out of the blue one evening when he had 
taken her out for a late dinner. Julian looked at her uncomprehending. There was no dancing in this 
restaurant.
     "I know the steps." He was bewildered. "Why do you ask?"
     She rummaged through her bag and came up with a small book, a paperback. She opened it 
before presenting it to him.
     "Here, look at the pictures," she was laughing, "it could be you. A little less muscle and a little 
more make-up. It could be you, ten years ago or so."
     Julian stared at the black and white photos, thanking silently the now forgotten make-up artist. 
He hated being reminded. Nevertheless, Lillie would remind him every now and then, pricking his 
ego whenever he became too pompous.
     "You've put that Toreador blood you got from me to good use there!" she would say.
     As his own veiled gaze stared back at him from the pages of the biography, he wished for the 
Nosferatu ability to disappear through the wall, or through the floor, in this particular moment. 
     "There is some resemblance," he admitted at last, trying hard not to show his embarrassment.
     On his return from Europe he had had trouble adapting to Archon's severe leadership. He had 
left San Francisco only a few months later, determined to prove that he could make it on his own. 
And he did, only to find out within a few years that he had chewed off more than he could swallow. 
It had been his first and only plunge into the cesspool of the American show business. Fortunately, 
he had been wise enough to use a false name, together with a phony accent and background story, 
placing his origin in Italy. He knew enough Italian by then to pull it off. The tangles of the film 
industry had almost strangled him. In the end, he had staged his own demise in 1926, vowing that 
he would never become a public figure again. 
     No, fame was for humans. He had done it for the money, and for fun, he had to admit that, at 
least to himself. But the enjoyment had turned bitter shortly. The human vampires lived in 
Hollywood. Still, when it came to tango, he knew more than just the steps.
     He returned the book to Caitlin. Those photos, more than seventy years old, altered in order to 
give the best picture, retouched; there was no trace of his scar, were no danger to Julian. But they 
made him feel ashamed.
     "Why this sudden interest in a film star who has been dead for seventy years?" he asked.
     "Somebody at the office thought he was your look-alike," Caitlin answered shrugging, "but 
now, when I compare," she looked at the pictures and then at him, "no, just superficial 
resemblance." She smiled. "You look much better."
     Julian repressed a shiver, smiling back at her flattery. No, those were the years he didn't want 
to remember. He had returned to San Francisco and to Archon, chastised and apologetic, glad that 
his Sire welcomed him back. He had kept out of the public eye for years afterwards, withstanding 
the chiding of other Kindred. Neither Archon nor Daedalus ever mentioned his failure, and in time 
his stunt seemed to be forgotten. Only Lillie reminded him sometimes, usually when she thought 
that he needed to remember his less fortunate inventions. After all, she could hardly whisper 
'Memento mori' in his ear. 
     He recalled the suggestive music, the dancing halls, the atmosphere of decadence and 
unbridled sexuality, the hypocrisy. The suffocating feeling of being caught in a smothering web of 
lies and falsehoods that seemed much more repulsive than the lie of his own existence. No, Julian 
would never go back to living among humans, the way he had done in the early twenties. One trial 
was enough. Even the Brujahs were easier to deal with. 
     His mind played the music again, and for a brief moment he missed the abandonment of the 
dance. His Kindred strength and endurance had enabled him to dance the nights away. Women had 
fought each other for a dance with him. Or more. He had never lacked partners. Or companions. Or 
blood.
     "Do you?" he asked Caitlin, but she had already forgotten her own question.
     "Do I what?" she inquired.
     "Tango?" he reminded her.
     She shook her head in negation.
     "Nowadays people dance to disco music, in case you haven't noticed," she pointed out. Her 
remark was justified. Julian avoided loud music, and the few times they had danced together, it had 
always been to soft, slow tunes.
     "I can teach you," he said disregarding her comment. "I'm not as good as he was, but I think 
you'd find me adequate."
     Caitlin's eyes brightened with amusement.
     "Julian, I'd love to tango with you," she said laughing, and he nodded quite seriously. 
     "Then we will."

     Frank stared at the Prince in disbelief. He jumped up and started tearing out the books from 
the shelf. At last he found the one he was looking for. It was a history of American cinema. He 
leafed through several chapters. There were some black and white photographs. He looked at them 
and then at Julian Luna. The policeman's eye, well trained in recognizing faces, searched for 
comparable details.
     "I'll be damned," he whispered under his breath. "I'll be damned."
     But Julian was just embarrassed. 
     "Frank," there was a hint of steel in his voice, "if you tell anybody about this, I'll turn 
Daedalus loose. My face has caused me enough trouble as it is."
     "Ouch, touchy, aren't we?" Frank commented, but he had heard the threat and it made him 
cautious. "I won't spill the beans, I promise. Did you teach her to tango?" 
     The look Julian gave him told Frank that he was still treading on slippery ground.
     "No, the opportunity never arose. We were both quite busy. Then..." He stopped suddenly.
     "Then she died," Frank continued the unfinished sentence relentlessly.
     Julian reacted as if he had been hit in the stomach. He cowered, his face contorting in pain and 
despair, and a single tear escaped from his eye. Frank watched its red trail on Julian's face with 
awe. 
     How could I ever think of him as a beast? He turned his eyes away in shame.
     "Julian," Frank didn't realize that he was whispering, "I've always felt responsible for her 
death. If she hadn't come to me..."
     "It wasn't your fault." Julian didn't let him finish. "None of it was your fault. The blame is 
solely mine. If I hadn't made her remember... if I hadn't fallen asleep... if..." A sob cut him short 
and he fell silent.
     Frank didn't want to disturb the Prince's grief. He knew that he should leave it be, but his pity 
was mingled with anger. Julian was absolutely right; he was responsible for Caitlin's death. 
     "Look, next time you fall in love, tell her the truth," Frank blurted out at last.
     "I won't!" Julian snapped back.
     "Why? Had Caitlin known the truth, she'd probably be still alive." Frank's brutal honesty was 
partially caused by his own guilt. But Julian shook his head vehemently.
     "I meant that I won't fall in love," Julian retorted.
     The policeman was silent for a moment. 
     "Yeah, right," he commented dryly at last, "and you won?t drink blood either."
     Julian Luna's beautiful face paled more than usual. The green light shimmered again in his 
haunted eyes. Bur after a moment his mouth began to quiver, and then he started to laugh.
     "Yeah, right," he repeated after Frank. He knew that the policeman was right. He's getting 
worse than Daedalus! 
     "You're worse than Daedalus," Julian said. But there was warmth in his voice, and Frank 
understood that the Prince appreciated his lack of respect. Frank would never kiss the Prince's 
hand, and that made them equals although they belonged to different species. 
     It felt good to have a friend.
 
 

Epilogue
 
 

     The phone rang as soon as I put down the receiver. I tore it up again.
     "Now what?!" I wasn't even trying to hide my irritation.
     There was a silence and I knew that the call wasn't from the lab.
     "I'd like to speak to Dr. Craine, Dr. Anne Craine." The soft baritone on the other end had 
hesitated before saying my name as if he had to read it.
     "Speaking," I said. 
     "My name is Jeffrey Morris, Dr. Morris," the voice became very professional. "I'm sorry, but 
I have to inform you that your son, James, has been involved in an accident."
     "Jeez..." I began, but Dr. Morris didn't let me start wailing.
     "He'll be quite all right," he said. "However, he's injured and I think you should come. He 
has tried to make us promise that we wouldn't tell you. Apparently, he wasn't where he was 
supposed to be."
     "Of course he wasn't. He was supposed to be at the summer school!" 
     Before I could start asking questions, the good doctor gave me the name and address of the 
hospital and hung up. Three minutes later I was in my car, trying to beat the afternoon traffic. Damn 
brat! I've had enough of unpleasant surprises during recent months. This was one thing I could do 
without. 
     Imagine, only six months ago I was quite happy. Well, maybe happy was too much to say, but 
I was content. I had finally got my Ph.D. in forensic medicine. I was promised a good job in L.A. 
My husband was no longer slapping me around, and my three kids were healthy. What else could a 
woman want. Okay, so the kids were becoming more and more unmanageable, I was about to give 
up my constant fight with the ten-pound overweight, and my sex life had dwindled down to nothing. 
Then, when the dust settled, and the ceremonies and the parties were over, my beloved husband of 
sixteen years came home one night and announced that he was leaving me! And off he went! That 
very night. 
     I cursed and cried and broke a few things. Then I got this crazy idea in my head that I should 
kill myself, just to spite him. Not to mention the fact that he would be stuck with three spoiled brats. 
That would be quite some revenge. So I called his sister and asked her to take care of my poor 
abandoned children for a week or so. She knew them all too well and tried to invent excuses, but I 
was hard as a stone.
     "Look," I said, "your brother has left me. I need time to organize things. Get a lawyer and 
stuff. You know."
     She had been through two divorces. She knew. 
     After I left the kids in her care, I returned home and started to organize my demise. I cleaned 
the house, and it stayed clean the day after because there was no one around to make a mess. I 
stayed in the bath for two hours and nobody yelled about breakfast or lost socks or shirts that 
weren't ironed. I dyed my hair a terrible orange and nobody laughed at me. I didn't cook one meal 
during the whole day, and when the evening came, I was able to watch whatever I wished on the TV. 
I went to bed before midnight for the first time in years, and just before I fell asleep, I realized that I 
was also happy for the first time in years. 
     I was a doctor of forensic medicine, probably the most competent person to commit suicide, 
and I knew that suicide was the last thing I was interested in. I was thirty-eight years old, and I was 
determined to start a new life. Left alone with three children, aged ten, eleven and fifteen, well, Jerry 
would pay through the nose. 
     He did.
     We never went to court. The house was sold, and I got most of the money. He was to pay for 
the children for years to come. I saw his new woman; she waited for him outside the lawyer's 
office. I wished her luck. I applied for a new job in San Francisco and moved there two months 
after the divorce papers were signed. By the time I was settling down in the new city, my hair was 
black and to my utter surprise, the surplus ten pounds were gone. It doesn't sound like much, but if 
you're five feet one, it shows. Life seemed to get better. Even the kids were somehow easier to 
handle, now that Jerry wasn't around to make everybody nervous with his outbursts.
     So why did Jimmy have to go and get himself involved in an accident. What sort of accident, 
by the way? Did he fall from a tree, was he hit by a truck? If he had tried to make the doctors keep 
his misfortune a secret, apparently, he had been doing something he wasn't supposed to.

     At last I found the hospital. It wasn't one of the big city hospitals, and as soon as I entered, I 
realized with dread that it wasn't the sort of hospital that my insurance would cover. Jimmy was in a 
room of his own, his head bandaged, his right leg in traction, a nurse at his side. He seemed quite 
happy otherwise, but he started to whimper as soon as he saw me. However, the cunning of an 
eleven-year-old was lost on me.
     He had been hit by a car, the doctor later told me. He had run into the street right in front of it; 
there was no way that the driver could avoid him. But he had been lucky. A broken leg, some 
cracked ribs, a concussion, no internal damage. I told Doctor Morris that I couldn't possibly afford 
this hospital. 
     His round, black face cracked in a smile that contained more than thirty-two teeth.
     "Oh, you don't have to worry about that, Dr. Craine," he said. "Mr. Luna has already paid for 
your son's care."
     "And who is Mr. Luna? A good fairy?"
     "Mr. Luna is the owner of the car. The car that hit your boy." 
     "What do you mean, the owner of the car?" I was getting upset, now that I knew that Jimmy 
would be all right. "Where was he when his car ran over my son?!"
     "In the back seat," the doctor said. "He's got a driver."
     "Oh," was all of my comment.
     There was a knock on the door and a man entered. 
     He looked at me, his brown eyes unwavering.
     "You're the boy's mother?" he asked and I nodded.
     "Anne Craine."
     He took my hand and bowed over it formally. His touch was very warm, although he didn't 
look feverish.
     "I'm Julian Luna," he said. "I'm very sorry about what has happened, but my driver had no 
chance. Fortunately, the car has very good brakes."
     "Uhum," I said. I was too busy staring at him. 
     Had I run into him in L.A., I wouldn't have been half as surprised. L.A. was brimming with 
movie stars. But here? He was positively the most beautiful man that I had ever seen in real life. It 
was breathtaking. The forensic expert woke up in me. Age determination was my specialty, and I 
saw immediately that this man was trying to look older than he really was. He wasn't underage, but 
everything in his appearance was straining towards the maturity he apparently didn't possess: the 
dark business suit, the somber tie, the way his hair was brushed back. But his skin blatantly gave 
him away. There was not one wrinkle around his eyes. I looked at his hand, which still held mine. It 
was a young man's hand. It didn't matter how mature he tried to look; there was no way he could 
fool me. He was still on the right side of thirty.
     He let go of my hand and I watched him shrink from my scrutiny. It made me cringe too and I 
felt my face turn hot.
     Damn! I thought. He must be quite used to the way women look at him.
     Still, I'm an adult mother of three kids, probably ten years older than he is, and here I am, 
staring with lust at the man whose car has mauled my son. 
     Hormones, begone! I shouted mentally.
     "I was told that you've paid for the hospital care of my son," I said, for want of anything else 
to say.
     He was very pale and seemed sad.
     "It was the least I could do," he responded.
     And then he was gone.
     I continued staring at the door that had closed behind him until Dr. Morris started to chuckle 
and my face turned even hotter. I turned back to Dr. Morris, and he winked at me and made a 
comical shrug.
     "He's gay!" I said. One finds comfort wherever one can.
     "No, he isn't," the good doctor retorted. "He's the most prized prey in this city," he added.           
"However, he has been out of circulation during the last few years. Some tragic love affair, she died 
and he has kept to himself ever since. The nurses almost dropped dead when he turned up here, 
carrying your son.
     "They did?" I was trying to make him talk more. He jumped at the opportunity.
     "Sure, Julian Luna used to be our resident Don Juan. With his looks, it's no wonder, but..." 
His voice trailed off.
     "But?" I prodded. There must be a flaw, of course.
     "He abused women."
     "Oh!" The bubble broke and I was no longer interested. The doctor saw my reaction.
     "Not in the way you think," he said. "He never harmed one as far as I know. They all just went 
more or less mad when he left them. Apparently, he's something unbelievable in bed, or so the tales 
go. I thought the ladies made it all up, but their stories were very consistent. Even the most spiteful 
admitted that he was the best lover they'd ever had. The funny thing is, that he's quite a serious 
businessman. Stinking rich too!"
     "Oh," I said. I was interested again.
 

     The jackals descended upon me as soon as I got out of the hospital, their point being that I 
could sue Mr. Luna for my boy's accident and walk away with a bundle of money. I chased them 
off. I wasn't a pauper, and making money of my son's misfortune didn't sound right. Besides, 
getting my hands on a piece of Mr. Luna's fortune wasn't what I had in mind. I'd rather get my 
hands on him.
     I visited Jimmy in the hospital every day. The room was filled with toys and candy that Julian 
Luna had sent. I hoped that he would come too, but he didn't.
     After about a week I got a letter from his lawyer. I was asked to contact him to discuss 
damages. Damages?! I called the number and asked what the hell it was all about. The lawyer asked 
very politely if I'd be satisfied with a check for a hundred thousand dollars. I was insulted.
     "Did I ask for any money?" I said. "Stuff it!" I regretted it the moment I put down the 
receiver. But then I decided that I should be proud of myself.
     Two days later, the mailman delivered a check for two hundred thousand dollars.
     Get real, my mind told me, take the money. You'll never get the man.
     The next day I did something I've never done before. I hacked into the police records. Hacked 
is an overstatement. Being a forensic expert, I had clearance to get into almost anything. I looked up 
Mr. Julian Luna. He was on record, all right. His very position connected him to several more or 
less shady things. However, he had never been charged with anything. There was one thing that 
startled me: his birth date. According to the police record he was thirty-six.
     Now, I'd have put my reputation on the line that he wasn't. Had I found him on my slab for 
identification, I'd have said at least ten years younger. So, who lied, the police record or Mr. Luna's 
skin?
     I forgot about the money, my injured son, even my own lust. Here was a mystery worth 
pursuing, and I wouldn't be who I was if I didn't pursue it. I did not become an expert in forensic 
medicine by accident. My curiosity had been awakened, and when I'm curious, I'm dangerous.
     I decided that Friday evening would be the right time to start my investigation. I dressed 
carefully: the suit I use when I give lectures at conferences, very little makeup. Very businesslike 
and very competent, I went to see Mr. Luna.
     It was late enough for all the business to have shut down for the weekend, but too early for the 
evening entertainment to start. If Julian Luna were in the city, he'd be at home. If he were out, I'd 
make an appointment, I decided.
     At first I thought that his house was under police surveillance, but then I quickly realized that 
the guards were his own. I told them my name and asked to see Mr. Luna. They demanded to see 
the contents of my briefcase, and I opened it, laughing. Then I was let in.
     I sat in a library: it was a beautiful room, but it surprised me that there was a fire blazing away 
in the fireplace. It was August, and the hottest summer one could imagine.
     I didn't have to wait long.
     When Julian Luna entered I was glad that I had chosen my yuppie outfit. He wore a dark suit 
and a tie, very businesslike too. He greeted me in the same way he did in the hospital, his hand still 
very hot, or was I imagining things? There was something European about him: his manners, the 
way he spoke. But the record stated that he was born right here, in California. Strange. The 
inconsistencies about him peaked my curiosity even more. And he still looked too young for his 
recorded age. I watched him carefully and he was aware of it; it made him uncomfortable, so I 
averted my eyes.
     "What can I do for you, Mrs. Craine?" he asked.
     I opened my briefcase and took out the check.
     "I believe that I've something here that belongs to you," I said giving him the check.
     He hesitated for a moment before taking it.
     "Why are you doing this?" His voice was no longer businesslike. He was genuinely surprised 
and I smiled in triumph.
     "I don't want your money," I said. I want you, my mind snickered.
     "The accident wasn't your fault, nor was it your driver's. I don't believe that you should pay 
for my son's stupidity," I continued.
     He smiled for the first time.
     "Still, it's your boy who has a broken leg and is hospitalized. I thought it would be a... Band-
Aid." He waved the check in front of me.
     I squared my shoulders.
     "Thank you very much!" I said. "I can manage quite well. What Jimmy needs is a good 
spanking, not a two hundred thousand dollar check."
     To my surprise there was a look of horror on his face.
     "Oh no!" he exclaimed, "you mustn't!"
     I laughed and he relaxed visibly.
     "You were joking, weren't you?"
     I nodded. My children did get an occasional swat now and then, but mostly their upbringing 
was conducted through endless discussions and some shouting.
     "Do you have other children?" he asked.
     "Two more," I said. "What about you?"
     He shook his head, the sadness was there again.
     "No... I have no children."
     Why did he hesitate? Doesn't he know for sure? I remembered Dr. Morris? comment - the 
resident Don Juan. Maybe he doesn't know for sure.
     But he seemed relaxed and I decided, it's now or never.
     "Have you eaten yet, Mr. Luna," I asked.
     He blinked and looked away, apparently embarrassed.
     The resident Don Juan, my ass! Say yes or no and be done with it, I thought. This question 
has just cost me two hundred thousand dollars!
     His gaze returned to me. I could almost hear the gears turn in his head. He gave me that look. 
It said here we go again, and it made me blush.
     Jeez, man! You've put my son in a hospital. The least you can do is to buy me dinner. Give a 
lady a chance. I don't look that bad.
     Then I saw him smile again. God Almighty, that smile could charm the gold out of Fort Knox!
     "I don't eat in the evening," he said, and I felt my heart sink, "but I'd love to see you eat, if 
you don't mind that?"
     I didn't mind at all.
     He took me to a restaurant, an expensive one. When we sat in his car I couldn't help 
wondering if it were the one that had hit Jimmy.
     "No," he said apparently reading my expression, "this is not the car, and it was another driver 
too."
     "You haven't sacked him, have you?" I asked.
     "Oh, no!" he shook his head. "As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Armand's quick reflexes, 
your son might have died. I'm afraid, it would've been much worse had I been driving. I seldom 
do. I don't like to drive at all."
     I stared at him. This was the first man I'd ever met who admitted that he wasn't the best driver 
in the universe. Beside my apparent desire, I was beginning to like him.
     We sat in the restaurant and he ordered food for me in perfect French. Hell, his French was 
better than mine, and I've spent three years at Sorbonne. But I didn't ask about it. I realized quite 
soon that in contrast to all the men I knew, he didn't want to talk about himself. So I didn't ask 
anything, concentrating on keeping the conversation light and answering his questions. I told him 
that I was divorced and quite happy about it, that I have lived in LA until recently, and that the 
divorce had left me rather well off. I was doing all right.
     "What is it you do?" he asked at last.
     "Forensic medicine," I said and I felt him recoil.
     It was so odd. He didn't bat an eye, not one muscle moved in his face, but the fear was there, 
almost palpable. People have reacted before when I revealed my profession, usually with revulsion. 
But fear? What was he afraid of?
     The easy atmosphere between us froze. He was unable to hide his feelings.
     "What's wrong?" I asked at last. He looked away.
     "I'm sorry," he said. "I've had some unfortunate dealings with the members of the medical 
profession."
     "Don't tell me you're afraid of needles," I was trying to joke. "Or better yet, you're afraid of 
the dentist."
     He laughed, but there was no mirth in his laugh.
     "Right and right," he said.
     He relaxed somewhat as the evening continued, but not entirely. He ate nothing but drank a 
bottle of red wine. I noticed that the alcohol had no influence on him whatsoever. In the end I 
thanked him for the meal and we left the restaurant. As the car was speeding towards my home I 
was wondering if that would be the end of the most expensive meal of my life. He walked with me 
to my door and I thanked him again for a lovely evening.
     "The pleasure was mine," he said dutifully and I decided that I wanted my two hundred 
thousands' worth.
     I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. His arms moved around me instinctively and 
he responded to the kiss, cautiously at first, but soon the kiss became more passionate. His mouth 
was hot and tasted of the wine he had drunk.
     "Don't hold my profession against me," I whispered when we broke off the kiss.
     "I won't," he murmured, "unless you use it against me."
     I didn't understand what he meant and I didn't care.
     We kissed again and our bodies pressed against each other. I felt the desire explode inside me 
so hard that it hurt. I knew he wanted me too. I turned in his arms, opened the door and dragged 
him inside.
     He hesitated for one second only.
     "Your children?" he asked.
     "Visiting their father." 
     I had chosen the weekend carefully. All the curiosity aside, I had used it to rationalize my 
behavior. I had set out from the start to seduce him, and now I was succeeding.
     He followed me to my bedroom.

     I heard my own screams.
     The excruciating slowness of his movements was exchanged by swift, frantic thrusts of 
passion. He had not hurt me but was still afraid that he might, the disparity of our sizes so apparent. 
I hate that. Just because I'm short doesn't mean that I'm frail.
     "I'll crush you if I do," he had whispered when I tried to pull him down, begging him to come 
close, wanting the nearness of his whole body. He wasn't a big man, neither very tall nor heavy, but 
compared to me he must have felt like a giant.
     He was holding my hands down, his grip on my wrists relentless, his body hunching over 
mine. I watched him. His face was no longer serene but it was still sad.
     I screamed out my pleasure, and he held me, motionless until I stopped shaking, then resumed 
his movements again, very slowly. I tried to lock my arms and legs around him, enticing him, but he 
still refused to lower himself onto my body. Only his movements became faster and faster. His 
eyes were closed, his head thrown back, his breathing uneven, but he didn't utter a sound. He let go 
of my hands and gripped my hips instead, lifting my body against his. His fingers made painful 
dents in my flesh and I whimpered, more for my own comfort than to complain. In that moment I 
was sure that he wouldn't notice if I shouted. But he heard my protests and the pressure diminished 
considerably. He held me close now, a supporting arm under may back, my weight apparently 
insignificant. We kissed and his touch sent new waves through me, and I screamed again.
     I have never screamed before.
     He got up when I was too tired to go on. I looked at my alarm clock. It was three a.m. 
     I wanted him to stay but he said that he had to go and I remembered the car outside my door, 
the driver and a guard sitting in it, waiting for almost five hours, and a wave of shame made me 
blush.
     "I can imagine what they'll say when you come out!"
     He smiled at me.
     "They won't say a thing," he said. "Not one word, at least not to me."
     He sat on the edge of the bed when he was dressed and hugged me.
     "Thank you," he whispered in my ear.
     "Thank you," I echoed.
     The night was absolutely worth two hundred thousand dollars, no doubt about it. Then I 
thought that I probably would not see him again and my arms locked around him.
     "Will you come back?" I asked and regretted it immediately as I felt him stiffen in my 
embrace.
     He let go of me and looked into my face.
     "Do you want me to?" he asked.
     "Yes," I said simply.
     "There is nothing I have to give but this," he said, his head nodding towards the bed.
     "It's all that I want," I answered, hoping that I wasn't lying.
     "Then I'll come back." With that he was gone.
     I was tired and sore and I couldn't sleep.
     The tales that Dr. Morris had heard, well, they were absolutely true. It was the best sex that I 
have ever had. A two-hundred-thousand-dollar fuck!
     Don't fall in love with him! I said to myself, or you'll get hurt.
     I knew that I could keep my heart locked away, but I also knew that my body would miss him 
forever once he was gone.
     I made myself a promise: I'd never ask him about anything, and I'd never ask him for 
anything.
     I woke up in a foul mood.
     In the bright light of day, I realized that I'd never see him again and it hurt more than the 
moment Jerry had told me that he wanted a divorce.
     Had I gone mad?!
     I spend one night with a guy and I go to pieces like that! I cried and broke a few things. It 
made me feel a little better. Then I dyed my hair red and went back to bed in the middle of the day. 
I'd survive this too.
     When I woke up again, it was mid-afternoon and I went to the hospital. Jimmy was scuttling 
around, his leg in plaster, stretched in front of him. It looked hilarious and we both laughed. He 
would be discharged in a few days.
     I was back home at six, looking forward to a dreary evening on my own. I tried hard to stop 
thinking about last night, but the only way to achieve that would be to knock myself unconscious. 
So I gave up, allowing the images and the feelings to sweep over me. It made me cry again.
     Shit! I said to myself. Find a new husband and forget the damn bastard!
     I decided to go out somewhere, meet people.
     The phone rang as I was rummaging through my wardrobe looking for a dress I particularly 
liked.
     "What?!" I roared.
     There was a short silence and I knew it wasn't from the lab, nor one of the kids in L.A. They 
are used to my shouting.
     "It's Julian Luna."
     My heart stopped beating for a few seconds and then made up for it with frantic fluttering.
     He'll give me a heart attack if nothing else, I thought wryly.
     "Oh, I'm sorry I shouted," I said. "I thought it was the lab."
     "I didn't mean to startle you," he said. "I was just thinking... You do need to eat every evening, 
don't you?"
     What a crazy thing to say! It made me laugh. Men!
     "Look," I said, "you don't have to feed me every time you want to fuck me. Just get yourself 
over here or let me come to you. I can pay for my own meals."
     He was silent again. I'd shocked him.
     "I hope, I haven't shocked you?" I said, and he laughed nervously.
     "As a matter of fact, you have," he answered. "Is it all right if I come at nine?"
     "Sure. Can you leave your guards behind? My neighbors might start wondering."
     "I'm afraid that's not possible," he laughed again, "but I'll ask them to be discrete."
     I spent the next two hours trying very hard to occupy myself, but everything I touched turned 
into a mess. I gave up in the end, put on a pair of bleached jeans and a T-shirt. I had spilled coffee 
on my best dress.
     The car stopped outside at exactly two minutes to nine. He didn't bring flowers or wine or 
anything that men usually bring women when they want sex. He must have figured out that I wasn't 
one who would accept hypocrisy. Good! At least he wasn't stupid.
     The moment I closed the door, he picked me up and carried me to the bedroom.
     No hi, no how have you been, no nice to see you again.
     It was just as well. I didn't want any niceties that would make me believe that he was interested 
in me as a person. I was a warm female body that attracted his sexual desire, there was nothing 
more to it.
     And don't you forget it! I told myself.
 
 
     During the following weeks I lived in a trance, savoring every moment we were together. I 
didn't neglect my kids nor my work, but I was with Julian several times every week and I was 
starting to look gaunt. I didn't sleep enough, either because he was there, preventing me from 
sleeping for hours on end, or, when he wasn't there, I'd just lie in my bed remembering every detail 
of our lovemaking and longing for more.
     I hoped that after some time my desire would subside and I'd start finding faults with him. 
But the only times we spent together were in bed, and I couldn't find any flaws there.
     There were some odd things though. For one thing, he was never tired. I'm a physician for 
God's sake! I know human physiology as any M.D. does. No normal human male can go on 
making love for hours on end like he did. He seemed to be able to start over and over again as many 
times as he wanted. A physiological miracle, but who was I to complain? I'd enjoy myself until I'd 
have enough. I learnt quite soon that if I told him that I couldn't take anymore, he'd finish within 
minutes and would not start again. I'm quite sure that it was an act of will on his part. I wanted to 
ask him if he ever became spent, but reminded myself of my own promise - don't ask about 
anything!
     I also noticed that he didn't want me to touch him. Oh, it was all right when I caressed him or 
kissed him, he enjoyed that very much. He'd allow me to hold him, but was very careful to keep my 
hands from his chest or back, sometimes by holding on to my wrists. It was very strange, but I let 
him, and I kept my mouth shut.
     Then one night, we were in the middle of a violent encounter, me on top and he wasn't so 
cautious anymore. He had closed his eyes and his whole body was convulsing on the verge of an 
orgasm. I lay down on his chest, his arms enclosed me, pressing my body hard against his. My 
cheek was against the left side of his chest and I felt his heart beat. There was something odd. In the 
throes of my own passion, it took me some time to realize that his heartbeat was too slow. 
Somewhere between fifty and sixty beats per minute, quite normal for a healthy male at rest, but for 
one who was about to peak, totally wrong. It should be at least doubled, even more. Then he went 
off, like an automatic weapon, the reflexive spasms of his orgasm shooting his hips against me. He 
held his breath - which was normal - and his heart stopped beating entirely, and that wasn't normal 
at all.
     It scared me. I counted the shudders of his release. Thirteen, if I hadn't missed something in 
the beginning. Point eight seconds between each contraction, that's a little more than ten seconds: 
add point four or five for each twitch, that's another five or six seconds. I heard his heart start 
beating again after another ten seconds. So, it hadn't beaten for almost thirty seconds. Strange 
indeed. Still, I kept my mouth shut.
     I understood now why he had been so scared in the restaurant when I told him that I was a 
doctor. He wasn't afraid of needles or dental drills; he was afraid of being found out.
     I knew with dreadful certainty that the moment he suspected that I'd noticed something, he 
would disappear from my life. So I pretended that I didn't see anything and he became more and 
more careless. Although we never spent a whole night together, he sometimes slept in my presence. 
He'd stop breathing then; his heart would beat about fifty times an hour, sometimes less; his body 
temperature would fall below that of the room. It was frightening.
     I might become a name in the annals medicine if I could make a scientific study of Julian 
Luna, but I'd rather keep my lover than have my name in some book about human freaks. I thought 
of the Elephant Man whose skeleton I'd seen in the library of the London Hospital and I wanted to 
tell Julian that his secret was safe with me, but I didn't dare to let him know that I knew. I got this 
feeling that there were two different men inside him: One was desperately trying to protect his 
secrets, the other didn't give a damn.
     Sometimes I wished I weren't a physician; I wished that I couldn't know, had no education, 
weren't aware at all of heart-rates, body temperature, breathing patterns; that I knew nothing about 
human physiology; that I could pretend that everything was as it should be, and that there was 
nothing strange about my lover.
     I made a half-hearted search on the Medline and came up with a few papers on lethargy. I 
disregarded the inconsistencies and repressed the details that wouldn't fit. It made it possible for 
me to live with the mystery.
     We met two or three times every week. He always came to my house late in the evening, 
sometimes past midnight. He stopped calling in advance, knowing that I'd always be there. I gave 
him a key, he could come whenever he wanted, and when he did, I always welcomed him.
     We'd make love for hours and then he'd leave. I had gotten used to what he could do in bed, 
almost believing that it was natural, but every now and then, the physician in me would awaken and I 
would start wondering about him.
     One night he came very late and stayed with me almost until dawn. Then, after he left, I 
retrieved some of the fluid he had left inside me and put it in a test tube. 
     I took the test-tube to my work. 
     One look in the microscope, and I knew why he never bothered with protection. There were no 
sperm in his semen, none at all. Next, I ran some other tests but there was nothing else interesting. 
The computer found two matches. There was the rape of Caitlin Byrne, his dead fiancée. Another 
was the battered police officer, Frank Kohanek. Apparently, Julian Luna's blood had been found on 
him after the assault, but my lover had never been connected with that crime. I wondered why.
     A few days later I went to see Frank Kohanek.

     He stared at my evidence and his face turned red in embarrassment.
     "I got into a fight with him a couple of years ago," he said. "He beat the hell out of me, but I 
managed to draw some blood from him too. That's all there was to it."
     "You didn't say that it was him. Why?" I asked.
     "I started the fight," he said, "and I didn't want to tell anybody that I have been squashed by... 
Julian Luna."
     "What did you fight about?"
     "A woman, what else!" he answered, making me laugh.
     "What happened afterwards? Did you make up?" I went on.
     "As matter of fact, we did," he said. "Julian is okay. It's not his fault that women fall like 
skittles for him," he added and then frowned. "He loved Caitlin, you know, he really did. They were 
afraid that he wouldn't survive her death. But somehow he did," he continued. "He's coming back 
to life, I've been told."
     "You know him well?" I prodded on. 
     "I know him." Frank answered.
     "Do me a favor," I said. "Don't tell him I asked about this, okay? I didn't mean to embarrass 
you or him."
     "Sure." Frank Kohanek nodded agreement.
     Apparently, the policeman kept his promise because Julian didn't disappear from my life, and 
I renewed my promise to myself to stop being nosy.
     However, we talked. In contrast to Julian, I wasn't inexhaustible. I needed rest now and then.
     "Give me a break," I'd say. "I need to get my heart-rate and my breath in order," and he would 
let me rest. We talked then, or mostly, I did. About everyday things: my work, films I've seen, 
books I've read; sometimes I even broke my own taboo and talked about the kids. Julian never 
volunteered any information about himself, and I never asked. He didn't ask me about my life, but 
he was curious about my work. At first it made me wary. I have a suspicious mind and I thought he 
wanted drugs. But soon I realized that he knew next to nothing about modern medicine and had no 
interest in that sort of chemistry. He wanted pure science and I was able to provide it. I told him 
about the inner workings of a living cell and it fascinated him. He was able to grasp the most 
intricate secrets of biochemistry and genetics. I was impressed.
     I watched him as he sat in bed, hunched over my neurology bible, trying to understand the 
maze of neurological pathways, repeating to himself the names of different signal substances and 
their effects. He wanted to learn all he could about human physiology, and I knew why. But I 
pretended that he was one of my students and did my best to answer any question he posed.
     We talked about the brain and then about emotions. In the end we talked about love. I tried to 
joke about it, blaming the hormones for the havoc of emotions that love caused. I expected him to 
say something scornful about love.
     "It?s a dreadful disease," he said quite seriously, making me shut up. I just stared at him.
     "What do you mean?" I asked after a moment.
     There was a painful expression on his face.
     "Last time it happened to me, it proved fatal." His voice was unsteady.
     "You... seem rather alive." I was bewildered. He looked away.
     "It killed Caitlin," his voice broke, "and I almost died."
     I touched his face - a gesture of comfort - but he turned away. 
     "Yes," I agreed meekly. "It does sound like a fatal case."


The End 

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