Another Interview

“Louis Gets a Life”

Copyright © 1995, by

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and incidents in this work are fictitious or used fictitiously. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, products, or publications -- living, dead, or otherwise -- is intended nor should such be inferred.

WARNING: Mild profanity. Vampiric intimacy.
Proceed at your own risk.




LENGTH: 25,500 words.

ARCHIVE: Divisadero Street

INCLUDES: Louis, Lestat, and Daniel.

SEQUELS: Resurrection, Citadel of Grace.

APPENDICES: French glossary, About The Author, About The Story.


Revision History


REVISED: January 1996

REPOSTED: October 1997

Last Revision to Story: Thursday, January 18, 1996

First HTML Version: Sunday, October 11, 1998


“Now, what do you say we get started?” Daniel pushed a button on the tiny tape recorder and watched its reels begin turning. Assured it was operating properly, he sat back in his chair, pointing idly with a pencil.

“Well Louis, we’re back where we started. Same city. Same room. But much has changed since we first talked twenty years ago.”

“Perhaps,” Louis said, smiling from his chair on the opposite side of the little round oak table. He tipped his head, regarding Daniel warmly. “Or perhaps it is only our perception of the world that has changed. And what are the opinions of two immortals to the world, after all?”

“Well, that’s one big change, right there. When we met, I was not a vampire.” Daniel slapped a hand to his chest. “But now I have what you have.”

Louis sighed. “We can’t begin this way.”

“Come on, Louis! You asked me for this interview, remember?” Daniel shook his head and dropped his pencil. It clattered on the table before rolling up against the recorder. “And now my editor’s expecting it. I can’t believe I came back from Madrid for this!” He raked the ashen hair back off his forehead as he reached to snap off the recorder, to keep their argument private.

Louis grabbed Daniel’s hand and slammed it to the table.

The reels continued turning.

“What the hell are you doing?” Daniel asked, startled.

Louis leaned closer, his smile menacing. He squeezed Daniel’s hand. Hard.

“Shit!” Daniel grimaced, jumping to his feet, trying to pull his hand free. “Louis, stop! You’re crushing my hand!”

“You’ll live,” he snarled. “But let’s get this straight, Daniel. You do not have what I have. The Dark Gift, certainly. But my powers? Not even close.” His lips drew back, revealing his fanged teeth as he tightened his grip.

“Okay, okay!” Daniel conceded, pain eclipsing the confusion that furrowed his brow. “I’m pond scum compared to you, all right?”

Louis’s smile was instantly benign. “Not quite the vile picture I had in mind, but it will do, I suppose.” He sat back and was easing his grip on Daniel’s hand when he suddenly increased the pressure.

“What? What!” Daniel cried, as the hard, thin fingers again cut into his flesh.

“Well, I’ve decided you’re correct, Daniel,” Louis mused, calmly fascinated with the ashen-haired vampire’s discomfort. “There are some enormous differences between these interviews.” He glared at Daniel, pressing harder, causing the young vampire to twist back into his chair. “Or there will be if you want this one.”

“Whatever you want!”

“Agreed,” Louis said, satisfied. He shoved Daniel’s hand away disgustedly.

The force of Louis’s gesture sent Daniel tumbling backwards over his chair. The young vampire struggled to his feet and scrambled to escape through an open window, hurling himself into the darkness only to crash back to the floor of the small room.

Dazed, he stared up at the black wall looming before him, recognizing the muscular thighs encased in tight black leather, the broad shoulders draped in black silk, and the lustrous mop of blond curls. Laughing in resignation, he let his head fall back on the floor.

“Hello, Lestat.”

“Hi Daniel,” Lestat said, grinning amiably. “What’s shaking?”

“My teeth,” Daniel muttered, groaning as he sat upright. “Jeeze, you’re built like a house! Did you have to do that?”

Lestat’s blue-gray eyes sparkled as he pondered the question. “Yes,” he said matter-of-factly and reached down to yank the ashen-haired vampire to his feet, clapping him on the back.

“Thanks,” Daniel grumbled, rubbing his shoulder.

Lestat spread one arm wide, toward the toppled chair.

Daniel shook his head violently and stepped no closer. “No way! Louis’s off his nut! I’m not going near him.”

Lestat gazed on his fledgling pitifully. Louis sat quietly waiting, neatly composed in his heavy wool sweater and faded jeans, legs crossed and arms folded over his lap.

“Now, Daniel, you’ve hurt his feelings. He’s being a perfect gentleman.”

“Besides, Daniel,” Louis added, “I’m not the one you should be worried about.”

Daniel paled and turned wide-eyed to see the menace stretching Lestat’s smile as the yellow-haired vampire draped a powerful arm around his neck.

“You see, Daniel,” Lestat confided. “I finally figured it out. It took me more than ten years, but then, my blinding temper is legendary.” He shrugged as if accepting this deficiency and righted the fallen chair before roughly pushing Daniel down onto its seat.

Daniel’s violet eyes filled with terror.

Lestat hopped up and sat, legs crossed, on the worn table. He unfurled a finger towards Daniel. “Louis never spotted it because, being the modest soul that he is, he had never read his own book.” He leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. “Or what he thought was his book.”

Lestat leapt down, his energy uncontainable, and circled the table to stand behind his fledgling. He squeezed Louis’s shoulders affectionately.

Daniel dared a glance back at the open window.

Lestat shook his head and waved dismissively. “Don’t bother. Pointless, really.” He continued. “For Louis, the whole experience had been therapy and once told, he had no need ever to hear the story again.”

“Oh, God,” Daniel moaned.

Lestat leaned close to his fledgling’s ear. “He’s babbling already, Louis.” He came to crouch before Daniel and playfully mussed his hair. “Now stay with us, Daniel. You see, it finally struck me as odd that Louis never seemed to recognize the things that made me so angry with his book. Details didn’t register with him, though he lovingly endured my tirades.”

“The specifics were unimportant,” Louis said, giving his shoulders a shrug. “I felt responsible for speaking of things I had by then learned I knew little about.”

“But those were honest errors on his part,” Lestat explained to Daniel. “And, bless his heart, Louis has forgiven me my unfounded rages.” He slowly straightened, towering over Daniel’s slumping figure. “The only thing that made sense was if Louis had never heard what I’d read.”

“I didn’t do it,” Daniel said.

Lestat ignored him and grinned maliciously. “So I forced Louis to sit and listen as I read the parts that had caused me to compulsively shred copy after copy of that book.”

“I was shocked, to say the least,” Louis said.

“I had nothing to do with it. The editor did it!” Daniel protested.

Lestat grabbed him by the throat and hauled him up, high out of his chair, feet dangling off the floor. “That’s a crock and you know it!” His blue-gray eyes pulsed with anger, indifferent to Daniel’s struggling and his bared fangs. “Don’t forget I can read your thoughts, Daniel. Don’t ever think of lying to me again!”

“Lestat,” Louis coerced gently.

“Yes, of course. My sensible Louis,” Lestat said with a sigh, dropping Daniel back onto the chair. “I should still rip his deceptive heart out through his nose for the lies he told me to cover himself.”

“They wouldn’t publish the story the way you told it, Louis,” Daniel said hoarsely, clutching his throat. “They said it needed an ending, and I needed the money.” He buried his face in his hands.

“So you invented the meeting on Prytania Street,” Louis said, encouraging the full confession.

“Yes,” Daniel admitted. He glanced up at Lestat. “From what Louis told me, I was sure you were dead. I’m sorry, but I had no idea you were really there.”

Still quaking in rage, Lestat grabbed a handful of the ashen hair. “It’s Louis you should apologize to, worm! You let him take the heat for you for two decades!”

The young vampire’s eyes shifted to the black-haired figure. “I am sorry, Louis.”

Louis smiled kindly. “I know. But if you thought Lestat was dead, Daniel, why did you try to find him?”

“I didn’t! They added that, and other stuff, after I turned in the final manuscript. I only went to New Orleans to see all the places you spoke about. I had to see it for myself.” Daniel’s eyes clouded. “And then I found the pocketwatch.”

“Which you never returned,” Lestat sneered. “But lucky you, you ran into Armand.”

Daniel looked up at Lestat furiously. “Luck, hell! You know what he did to me, stringing me out for years. I was a complete basketcase by the time he condescended to make me one of you. I hated the bastard!”

“And yet you miss him,” Louis said softly.

“Of course! He was my maker, for God’s sake! I’ll miss him every night of my life.” A blood tear coursed down Daniel’s cheek. When he continued, his voice was agonized, his words slow and measured. “And I’ll love him and I’ll hate him. Every single night.” He bowed his head and his back shook.

Lestat knelt and gathered the young vampire into his arms, holding him gently. He smoothed the ashen hair until the sobbing subsided and then slipped Daniel his handkerchief.

Daniel slowly looked up, his expression puzzled. “Lestat? You’re being nice! What the hell happened to you?”

“A temporary condition, I assure you.” Amusement lighted Lestat’s face. “And that’s the story Louis has come to tell you. So dry your eyes, little one, that we may begin. Afterwards, Louis can pronounce some penance so you may feel good about yourself again.” He stood, squeezing Daniel’s shoulder gently.

“Penance?” Daniel asked, confused. “I haven’t been a practicing Catholic since I was a kid.”

Lestat tipped his head and regarded the young vampire sadly. “Louis’s not really a priest, Daniel.”

Louis shook his head and ignored his maker. “You won’t get a book out of this story, Daniel. But you should be able to sell it to some magazine.”

“And there are conditions,” Lestat quickly added. “Insist on approval of the final copy or it’s no deal. I checked and the sales of Louis’s book are still up there. So publishers will pay through the nose and give you anything you want, even for a short story. Did you get anything out of that idiotic movie?”

Louis laughed quietly. “It wasn’t that bad, Lestat.”

“You can say that! They didn’t make you out to be some ghoul for half the film!” He glared at the young vampire.

“I am sorry, Lestat,” Daniel said, suppressing a smile. He pulled his chair to the table. “I only received a flat fee for the screenrights. And that’s long gone. Royalties come in on the book, though.”

Lestat nodded. “Louis can help you invest it safely. Armand’s habits were too erratic to maintain.” He grinned. “And mine are almost as bad.”

“Another condition,” Louis said. “When I finally read the book, I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to read transcribed as it was, how much of the telling was lost. Prose this time, Daniel. Though not as casual as Lestat’s. No one would believe it was my story.” He winked at his maker.

“Amusing as always, Louis,” Lestat sneered. “Now can we get on with this, please?”

Daniel flipped open the machine’s cover and marked the tape’s position. He sat up straight, businesslike.

“Now let’s get started.”

Part One

The vampire did not pause or look both ways. There was no need. He crossed the street almost casually, with the assurance of knowing no vehicle was within striking distance.

Hands clasped lightly behind his back, he walked through the quiet urban neighborhood. Not the best he’d seen but far from the worst. There was a feeling of modest comfort here. Perhaps that was what had drawn him down this street. The lath and plaster houses on either side were old, he knew, by California standards. A smile played over his alabaster face, briefly lighting his dark green eyes. Old was a state of mind and California was a young land, younger even than his beloved New Orleans.

He slowed, letting his left hand touch the bark of a sequoia at the edge of a neatly manicured lawn. A young tree, only forty feet tall now. His gaze rose, absorbed in the lacework the branches cast against the moon’s light. The vampire could easily hear the somnambulant rustling, inaudible to human ears, of the birds and squirrels roosting in the upper branches.

A dog barked somewhere on the next block. He let his eyes fall to his hand, his nails like glass, reflective against the ruddy, cracked surface of the trunk. For a moment, he tried to savor the roughness of the tree as a human would feel it. Sadness instantly welled within him and he jerked his hand away from the tree. A mortal, were one awake to see, would have simply seen the hand disappear and rematerialize, held again behind the vampire’s back, so swiftly had he moved.

The sorrow hovered there, just outside his consciousness. A sadness he dreaded, a pain long guarded against. He had otherwise perfect detachment, he believed, from the human world. That mortal coil, as Lestat had often called it. Scornfully.

The vampire did not scorn humanity. He could not. All life was precious to him, though he could no longer be a part of that life. He had not sought to feel human in over a century.

It was safer to feel nothing.

His brow furrowed slightly and his eyes misted over, seeming to see only his own thoughts. Why now? And why think about Lestat? He gently shook his head. Futility. He looked at his boots. Black, as black as his hair, peeking out from under the long legs of his faded jeans. Willing his foot forward, he continued slowly down the street, breathing deeply of the overpowering perfume of night-blooming jasmine filling the beds of the next yard, letting the scent clear his thoughts. Jasmine was one of the few consolations given to the night in California. It was a land worshipping in the sunlight. It was as much a mystery to him as Lestat.

Again with Lestat!

The vampire climbed a porch and sank onto a swing, its chains well-oiled and silent. A shade among the shadows. He did not fear discovery by the inhabitants. His vampire ears heard their steady breathing farther away in the house and he knew they slept. It was late by their standards though the night was not half gone.

He closed his eyes and, resigned, allowed his maker’s face to fill his inner vision. Not the face as it was now, clouded by recent events, old scars still visible. Visible at least to the vampire, who was the cause of them, and deeper now that his maker had stopped feeding. Lestat’s skin had become even more translucent, shimmering like an opal, though it retained the darker hue of his burning in the Gobi desert, when he had tried, finally, to end his life.

Had he feelings, he would pity Lestat.

The vampire absently ran a finger along his brow. Do we all try to end this existence eventually? Armand had said it was common. He knew Lestat had tried, several times, but he himself had never been moved to attempt such an end. He clung to life, damned though he was, absorbing the beauty it offered and giving nothing back of himself. There seemed no end to his fascination. To his heart, beating on stolen blood, he knew it was wrong. Yet he continued, revealing his cowardice.

He knitted his arms across his chest, hugging himself and the heather-gray of his sweater, spun of virgin Highland wool. Soft and almost luxuriantly warm. It was a ludicrous thing to wear, here in California, in early June when the nights were already sultry. But he was, after all, a vampire and vampires were warm only for a brief time after feeding. He would not feed for hours yet, preferring still to let the hunger build until it was undeniable.

When he let Lestat’s face come to him at all, it was the face of two hundred years ago. Flush from an early kill, joyous after a night at the opera, his maker’s lustrous yellow hair flowing about his shoulders, curling like a swollen stream, his profile that of a young man. How Lestat would sing on those nights! How the vampire would be caught up by Lestat and twirled until he was dizzy and could do no more than laugh.

He smiled now, wistfully. The frivolity seemed so shallow to him then, and perhaps more so now that his maker had turned introspective. Lestat had been born a hunter, he knew, and had enjoyed the kill, though he killed no longer. He, on the other hand, had been raised to master his surroundings. It was unthinkable that the hunger that drove him, every night, to kill mastered him.

The vampire stood quickly on the porch, tipping his head as he stretched. His hands reached up and untied the black ribbon holding his hair tight at the nape of his neck. He ran his fingers through the long waves of black and then shook his hair loose. Better.

Silently, he strode back to the sidewalk and moved quietly down the street. Thinking about Lestat was dangerous to him. And yet his maker had engulfed his thoughts in recent days. He knew the sorrow lurked, as it always had, biding its time and waiting for his resolve to weaken. But in this, he vowed again, in this he would never weaken.

The vampire filled his mind with the night’s sounds, lest he smile at his use of the word never. For to one who would live forever, how terribly human was the word. He drank in the night, hearing a nocturnal bird and seeing its form eclipse the stars momentarily as it winged its way across the gray sky. The clarity of the night was dimmed by the man-made illumination that arose from the city. The neighborhood was, thankfully, marred only by widely spaced streetlights and the yellow incandescence that guarded the occasional door.

The vampire halted abruptly, stepping close to a walnut tree and peering over the hedge that flanked its trunk. All were not asleep, it seemed. Merde! Had he been so absorbed in his own thoughts, that he’d passed into a mortal’s view without sensing her presence? No. The vampire had long ago forsaken his human walk on such solitary wanderings. She had not seen nor heard his approach. He could hear her heartbeat, relaxed, forcing the blood steadily through her veins. He ignored the hunger that rose at the musky smell of her, pulling his own veins taut, imploring him to feed. Too early yet.

Rarely did he watch humans anymore, no longer wishing, as he had for so many years, to rejoin their mortal world. The human heart meant nothing to him now. He watched her only with a vampire’s fascination. Completely detached.

She lay in the long grass, knees bent, toes moving almost imperceptibly among the blades, enticing the coolness to embrace her bare feet. One arm was crooked, under her head, while the other was extended in the grass toward the open door of the house. The vampire raised his eyes to the door and watched the interior light strobe lazily in shades of gray. She had left the television on when she’d escaped the heat of the house, feeling as he did the radiant warmth from where he stood.

He returned his attention to the woman stretched out before him as she slowly raised her extended hand to her lips and caused an orange glow to erupt over their moist surface. Enthralled by this ordinary magic, he realized she was smoking a cigarette. He tipped his head, his lips parted in a smile, to watch the cigarette’s arc as she gracefully flicked it high overhead. He watched her back arch as she ensured herself the glowing butt had landed well away from her and was extinguishing itself in the damp green.

She stretched out her long legs, unencumbered, fleeced gray shorts cinched about her waist, her arms bare beneath a black knitted shirt without sleeves.

The vampire enjoyed the roundness of her shape, a woman’s shape, though he knew the mortals around her probably considered her plain, preferring, as they did, their women to have the appearance of emaciated children. To him, she was beautiful, as were all humans. Myriad colors danced beneath her mortal, blood-filled skin, seemingly unable to contain her life.

He could make out her eyes in the darkness and to his astonishment, he recognized those blue-gray eyes. He stifled a gasp.

They were Lestat’s eyes!

He took a deep breath. Thankfully, she had none of Lestat’s hair else the illusion would be complete. Dark brown, warmer than his own, but of nearly identical length and bent. The woman could be their sister, so closely was she their median. Her nose matched his perfectly but she had his maker’s jaw, not so severely squared as his own. And her lips exactly mirrored the determined set of Lestat’s lips.

The vampire was startled to realize that he wanted her. Not to satisfy his hunger, which was nearly overwhelming. But to know her, to be close to her, as he had not felt since he had wanted Armand in the last century. He watched as she picked a green-husked walnut off the lawn, an early victim to the tirade of chattering squirrels, and gently tossed it in the air, catching it effortlessly. A tiny laugh escaped her lips. She seemed at home in the night, belonging to it as no mortal he’d met.

How he wanted her!

He clamped his eyes shut. No! Dear God, no! The sorrow closed about him suddenly, challenging the thin barriers he had long fought to maintain, forcing his eyes open to look upon her again.

The vampire was aghast to see the woman sitting upright, studying him. Her heartbeat had quickened, but not in the desperate pounding of fear. She was only surprised by his presence. And there was something more, something long forgotten.

He could not move, his feet rooted to the spot. She had seen him, the moon high enough now to reveal the luster of his skin, the fiend that he was, yet she did not turn away.

“Come,” she said softly, slowly opening the palm of her hand in a welcoming gesture. “I won’t harm you. Sit with me.” Her lips parted and a gentle smile filled her eyes.

The vampire moved, though he could not say how or why. His feet led him around the hedge until he was beside her, towering over her.

“Please,” she said, touching the grass.

He sat opposite her, not at her side as she’d indicated, and rested his arms on his crossed legs. This was madness! What power did she have to spellbind him in this fashion? He knew he should run from her as fast as his vampiric abilities could carry him.

He remained where he was.

“Louis?” she asked, carefully. “You are Louis, aren’t you?”

His gasp this time was audible, even to her mortal ears. She wasn’t guessing! Her question asked only for confirmation.

She smiled disarmingly, almost tenderly, and his pulse quickened.

“Yes,” Louis whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. “That is my name. How is it you know this?”

She shook her head. “I have no supernatural powers. You would know if I did, would you not?” She searched his green eyes boldly.

Her voice caressed him. Though he was certain it sounded rough and masculine to mortals, her lush alto was soothing and resonate to his ears.

Louis said nothing.

“I’ve read your book,” she explained. “And Lestat’s books. His description of you is impeccable. But surely you know that.”

“No,” he said.

“You’ve read his books?”

“Yes,” he admitted.

“But you don’t see yourself as he sees you. Of course not.” She looked at her hands in her lap, slightly embarrassed, as if she’d fallen for a malicious trick.

Louis took her hand, wanting her to feel wanted, startling her with the speed of his movement.

“I’m sorry,” he said, though he did not release her hand. “Don’t be frightened.” He hesitated. A smile formed on his lips as he turned her hand over in his, tracing the lines of her palm with his thumb. “I seem to have forgotten how to move in the presence of a lady.”

She seemed even more surprised by this. “You flatter me.”

“No,” he said, gently shaking his head.

She reached out with her free hand to stroke his hair and despite the warnings echoing through his mind he allowed it, relishing her touch as she laid her open palm against his pallid cheek, the warmth of her hand sending a shudder through his body.

How could she stand it, the cold, unyielding flesh against her tender skin? He felt a tear gather suddenly in his eye.

The woman instinctively caught it with the back of her knuckle and drew it toward her lips.

“No!” He caught her hand, knocking the teardrop free to fall harmlessly on the grass. “Don’t ever do that!”

Her eyes grew wide, shocked with the realization of what she’d almost done. “I didn’t even think of that. It would not have been enough, would it?”

“No,” he confided, yet he retained the urgency in his voice. “But it would have affected you, nonetheless. Please. Do not take that chance.”

“You have my word, Louis. Thank you.”

The intimacy of hearing her speak his name thrilled him. But confusion obscured his features.


“For caring,” she said, smiling.

Before he knew what she meant to do, she had gently freed her hands and, holding his shoulders, leaned over to tenderly kiss his cheek.

It was perhaps the most dangerous thing she’d done in her life. The scent of blood engulfed him. He felt the beating of her heart, the rhythm of her blood coursing through the vein only inches from his lips, from his lethal teeth. It would be the simplest matter to take her, to feel her heart beat as one with his in that terrible pounding.

“Lestat was right,” she whispered in his ear. “You are the most beguiling creature.”

A low moan escaped him and he pulled her away from him.

“Your hair,” she continued. “The longing in your eyes. You are beautiful, as he sees you.”

“No.” Louis shook his head as he again took her hand, slowly this time, turning it over and gently kissing her fingers. “I am a monster.”

“Are you?” She seemed amused. “Are you really?”

“Yes,” he said, returning her hand to her lap, his head bowed. Surely, she could not doubt that. She said she’d read his book. She knew what he was.

“Is a tiger a monster because he kills?”

“No. But he only does so to live, to protect himself.”

“And you? Do you not kill for the same reason? How can you be a monster when he is not?” She shifted onto her knees, sitting back on her feet.

“I was not born this way. I chose this life.”

She seemed to ponder that for a long moment. “Did you?”

“Yes!” Couldn’t she see the hideous thing that he was?

“Or did you simply choose not to die?”

Louis was dumbfounded. Didn’t she see his....

“Cowardice? Do you still believe, after so many years, after all you’ve seen, that you acted cowardly in choosing life?” She shook her head sadly. “Do you now look upon a boy of twenty-five and think him a man of rational thought? Or do you see the boy that he is? Inexperienced. Filled with fantastical notions.”

She held Louis’s hand between her own. He sat motionless, fearful to move, as she stroked his icy flesh, her fingertips tracing his luminous nails. Why was this mortal confusing him? His mind was suddenly in turmoil. And the sorrow he had held at bay for a century threatened him now, as it never had. He opened his mouth to speak, to say anything that would silence her words and force the sadness away.

But she covered his lips with one hand and entwined his fingers with the other, holding him fast.

“Can you not see that boy who was you, fighting for his life against weapons no mortal can be prepared to face, and choosing what God gave him to understand? To live!”

“Dear God!” he begged. “Don’t do this to me!”

“And why not?” she challenged. “Do you not deserve a confessor who will tell you the truth, for once in your long life?”

“You cannot know! What it means to live by killing!”

“Can I not? And how do you know I do not bear this guilt myself?” Her stare was fierce.

Pain, something Louis knew well, filled her face, seeming to crush her from within, though it did not consume her. Yet, she was all the more beautiful to him. His lips parted and he reached to stroke her cheek.

She shook him off, springing to her feet out of his comforting reach. “I too have chosen life for myself, though I was not in mortal danger of losing my own.” She pounded a fist into her chest. “I chose the death of another so my life would continue, unchanging.” She touched her temple as angry tears spilled down her cheek. “But I was a child myself, barely twenty, when I made that choice.”

He rose beside her, forgetting himself, torn by her anguish. He cupped her face in his hands and she allowed it.

“I had to forgive that child, Louis. As you must forgive the child you were.”

“But you do not need to go on killing,” he whispered.

She took a deep breath. “That will be harder to forgive, I cannot deny that. But you cannot change the past, or the choices you made in your youth. Only what goes before you is important. And you continue killing by choice.”

Louis’s brow furrowed. She seemed to understand so much. How could she not understand this simplest part of his existence? That he must feed!

She took a step back and held up her hands. “Wait! I need a cigarette.” She smiled and extended her hand to him. “Come with me, Louis. You’re getting cold and it’s warm inside.”

He took her hand eagerly, letting her lead him into the little house. When she had turned from closing the door behind them, she laughed, the sound pure and clear to Louis’s ears. He smiled at the music of it, though he had no idea why she laughed.

She saw his confusion and shrugged somewhat sheepishly, repeating, “‘You’re getting cold.’”

Louis laughed quietly. The irony was irresistible. How natural it seemed for her to understand. But she was correct, he hadn’t realized how chill the night had become. He rubbed his arms as he watched her walk to a large desk in one corner of the room. She lighted a cigarette, breathing its toxins deep into her lungs. She seemed to enjoy it.

She saw his gaze on her, held up the burning cylinder, and again shrugged. “Bad habit, I know.”

He smiled for her. “I know worse ones.” But something on her desk had caught his attention.

He had been mistaken earlier when he’d thought she’d left a television on when she’d gone outside. In the center of her desk sat a large metal and plastic box atop which glowed a monitor. It changed every few seconds, moving about the screen what looked like a photograph of a blond man sitting in a chair. It suddenly occurred to him the device was providing the only illumination in the house.

The woman noticed his interest and smiled. “You never saw the movie that was made of your book, did you?”

“No,” he replied, quietly fascinated.

She pointed to the screen. “That’s the actor who played you, though they dyed his hair dark for it. Look at this.” She nudged an oblong device on the desk and the picture went away, replaced by a larger photo of the same actor, now with dark hair. His morose face filled the screen. “I have a copy of the movie, if you’d like to see it.”

He shook his head. “No. Thank you, but no. Perhaps another time, if I may. This is your computer?”

“Yes, that’s my Macintosh.”

“Scottish?” Louis furrowed his brow.

She smiled. “It’s just a name.”

“Lestat has a computer, but it’s not like this.”

“If his books are correct, Lestat uses a computer that’s usually called a PC, though that’s not an entirely accurate name.”

Louis nodded. “Yes, that is what he calls it. His PC. For what do you use a computer?”

She shrugged. “It’s how I pay the mortgage. It allows me to work from home, at whatever hours I choose.” She laughed, the music of it filling Louis’s ears. “Which is usually all night.”

He straightened. “What is it you do on your computer?”

“I help other people use their computers. And I write a little.” She looked embarrassed.

Louis smiled, his eyes alight. “An aspiring artist?”

She snubbed out her cigarette. “Perhaps. But mostly I write instructions for people to follow. Technical manuals.” She started to walk through a doorway into a darkened room when she paused. “I’m going to get a cup of coffee. Is there anything I can get you?”

She was being polite, he knew. He did not eat or drink as a human, though he had occasionally chewed on a few things in a very unvampiric fashion. Armand had been appalled.

“A cup of coffee would be nice. In an earthen mug, if you have one.”

“To warm your hands?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

He smiled. “Yes.”

“I have something better for that.” She disappeared through the doorway.

Curious, he followed her into the dark kitchen. The fire was already heating the kettle.

He was surprised that she had not turned on the light. The glow from the open refrigerator seemed enough illumination for her. She emerged, triumphantly holding a round of bread as large as her fist and closing the refrigerator door. She opened what he recognized as a microwave oven, popped the bread inside, and set the timer. The machine hummed to life. He watched it as she spooned brown and white crystals into her mug, which was indeed ceramic.

She was busy pouring steaming water over the crystals when the microwave began beeping.

“Press the large button along the bottom. There’s a spring release, so you may need to press it harder than you’d imagine.”

Louis scanned the front of the machine and pushed the largest button. She was correct. He felt it begin to open and then catch again. He pushed it with slightly more force and the door popped open. He caught it and looked inside. Steam was rising from the bread. Its aroma vaguely reminded Louis of when he and Armand had lived in New York.

He stepped aside for the woman, forcing himself to ignore her sudden closeness. A strange prick of guilt struck him as he realized she seemed completely at ease with his presence.

Using a thick cloth napkin, she retrieved the bread and offered it to him. “It’s warmer than I can tolerate, I’m afraid. I don’t know if it will be too warm for you.”

He held out his hand and when he nodded, she dropped the bread onto his bare palm. A smile spread over his face, setting his eyes ablaze.

“Exquisitely warm,” he murmured. “What sort of bread is it?”

She laughed. “A bagel. Jewish, from New York.”

“Ah! That’s why it smells familiar.”

She took a hurried sip of her coffee and saluted him with her mug. “That’s right. You lived in New York for a time. I’d forgotten.”

Louis’s smile was relaxed as he studied her. The dark room was too much to bear and he flicked on the overhead light, to see her completely. And so she might see him clearly.

She immediately squeezed her eyes shut, guarding them not against him, but from the fluorescent bulb. “Warn me before you do that!” she said, laughing. “My eyes are not young anymore and they need preparation.”

Louis cradled the bagel between his hands and his face became serious. “How old can you be? Twenty-seven? Thirty, at most?”

She laughed brightly. “Now you are flattering me. Bless you.” She shook her head. “No. I’m thirty-eight.”

He smiled. Yes, he had been flattering her. Her age was readily apparent to him, if to no one else. The occasional gray shimmering in her hair, the tiny lines at the corners of her mouth and her eyes, so blue in the light. And he could not remember the last time he had been blessed in that manner.

“You know, that’s something only hinted at in your books, yours and Lestat’s. You have a wonderful sense of humor, Louis.”

“Thank you,” he said softly, his eyes alight. “I don’t believe anyone has ever said that of me.”

She sipped her coffee, deep in thought. “You should enjoy your life more,” she said quietly. Her voice was strangely sad, not envious as Daniel’s had once been. She laughed and shook her head. “I’m sorry. I’m being presumptuous, of course.”

Louis flexed the fingers of one hand. They were as warm as they could be. Without feeding. He was very aware of her nearness and the fragrance of her over the spicy smells of the kitchen. The scent of her blood was heady, sweetly tormenting his hunger.

“Who are you?” he whispered, looking up, ensuring himself she had indeed heard. “Why are you being a friend to me?”

Her eyes twinkled. “Because you can still ask why.” She flicked off the light, took his arm, and led him back into the front room, sitting beside him on the divan. She picked up a book of matches and, quickly striking a flame, lighted a candle on the coffeetable. “Because when I read your story, I knew your pain. I recognized it.”

Louis watched the flame lengthen over the glowing wick and slowly smiled. “But you weren’t frightened of me.” He drew up one long leg so he might sit facing her.

She shrugged. “I knew who you were. Even half-hidden behind the walnut tree, I knew who you were before it struck me what you were. I knew, of course, but it took a moment to sink in that it wasn’t my imagination.” Her smile was warm. “And then you were sitting there, holding my hand.”

Setting the bagel on the table, he moved to take her hand again. She met his hand with hers, eagerly. Her cheeks flushed and she lowered her eyes, studying his long fingers.

Louis pressed her fingers gently to his lips, savoring the salty taste of her before lowering her hand and cupping it between both of his. He felt her eyes on him and he met her gaze. It was again there, that long-forgotten something he couldn’t bring himself to name, sparkling in her eyes. He slowly ran his hand down her face and she pressed her cheek against it, her lips parting as her eyes fell shut.

His entire world seemed reduced to this moment, this one night. Such intimacy, and the growing tightness around his heart that he could not turn away from.

“You have me at a disadvantage, chérie,” he said softly, lapsing into his native French. “Tell me about yourself.”

She ran her hand through her hair. “There’s little to tell, I’m afraid. I had a good home, loving parents. I did well in school and in college. I worked at the requisite dead-end jobs before becoming a contractor and working my own hours.” She drew in her breath. “At twenty, I had a brief liaison with a complete bastard and had an abortion rather than raise a child alone. And I tried to kill myself seven times in the next five years.”

She fell silent and Louis could see his own pain in her face. Old pain, scarred over. He longed to take it away from her, though he knew it was only a memory of pain. He could not hope to understand how much more the ache was in killing your own child, even unborn. He wanted to gather her into his arms and stroke her hair as she lay against his chest, but he did not trust himself.

Could he stop there? Already he knew he did not want to be without her. Ever. Could he do as Lestat had done to David, taking her against her will, condemning her to his routine of endless, mindless killing? She would surely feel his living pain then and share his loathing for her maker. He could not stand the thought of her hating him.

He rose quickly and moved to stand before the computer. He stared at the negative image of himself, the actor with the tanned face and blond hair, whose photo had resumed bouncing around the screen. His own thoughts frightened him and he shuddered. For the first time, he had considered breaking the vow he held most dear. Never to make another as himself. Never to condemn to death those upon whom that vampire must feed. How had he allowed this to go so far?

Safer to feel nothing!

But already he knew it was too late. Love was pushing the pain upon him, cutting through his foggy barriers, their flimsy protection dissipating, abandoning him.

Louis heard her shift on the divan, facing him. Without turning, he held his hand out to stop her from rising.

“Do not come near me. You are in danger now.” His head bowed and he continued in a whisper. “All I have held dear, everything I have ever loved, I have destroyed. I love you, chérie, but I am not human.” He sighed, tears filling his eyes. “I am a monster and I have just plotted your destruction.”

“You cannot destroy that which would not be destroyed, Louis. Hasn’t Lestat taught you that yet?”

Louis dug a handkerchief out of his pocket. He shook his head. “You read the books. Lestat taught me nothing.”

“You love him and he is not destroyed. Is that not lesson enough?” She sighed. “And you are wrong about not being human. You may not be mortal, but you are human. Lestat, Gabrielle, even Marius have forgotten their humanity yet you worship it as they cannot. It’s what Lestat loves most in you and understands least.”

“I feed on humanity. Nothing more.”

“You cannot ignore your hunger any more than the tiger, Louis. The meal is no less satisfying. You hunt as he hunts, taking your prey as it comes to you and taking no more than you need.” Frustration filled her voice. “This is not evil! It is your pure acceptance of your dual nature and you cannot be damned for that. Your vampire nature craves human blood. But you are human, and your human nature mourns the lives you take. You are stronger than the others because you remember you are human. And before anything else, Louis, humans are predators!”

She jumped to her feet angrily and, carrying her empty cup, moved to pass him and enter the kitchen.

The cup skittered across the carpet and thudded against a wall as Louis caught her, clutching her close and holding her fast in his arms. She did not struggle against him, even as he brought his face close to hers, his fanged teeth revealed behind his parted lips. The blind could surely see his hunger! Her eyes, so much like Lestat’s eyes, stayed fixed on his and he felt the pounding of her heart. But it was not fear.

“Would you kill me now, Louis? Take my life?” she breathed.

Louis let his lips trail across her cheek until his nose was entangled in the hair around her ear.

“You do not understand,” he whispered, pressing the length of her warm body to him, giving in to the desire that had been growing since he had first seen her eyes upon him. “I would have you with me always, my love. You see so clearly what I am, revealing for me what I refused to see, awakening what I thought was surely dead. You caress the anguish in my heart, and I will not lose this.” Louis shifted his grip, freeing one hand to touch her arm, her shoulder, and stroke the vein at her throat. Her pulse quickened under his delicate touch. “I cannot bear the thought of you growing old and dying. I am a monster, chérie, for I would have you share my hell before leaving you to that fate.” He grazed her ear with his lips, following its velvety curve, before tenderly, gingerly piercing her lobe.

A gasp escaped her as he coaxed the drops of blood from the tiny wound. The taste of her blood thrilled him, sending an ecstatic shudder resounding through his veins. He could hear her heartbeat faintly, as in the distance and he knew how easily it could be brought rushing toward him. He suddenly understood why Lestat had always prolonged the kill, loving his victims. The torment was exquisite! She slumped, almost imperceptibly, before he pulled her tighter against him. His lips kissed the wound dry.

“You feel it, chérie. But what you feel is only a beginning. There is more. So much more.” The rush of her blood, loud and so very near, was drawing him.

“Louis,” she said, without a hint of pleading. “You know I cannot turn you if you decide to do this thing. But will you risk my death, will you risk making me imperfectly if I refuse to drink deeply enough?”

He pulled back to face her, alarmed. “You would do this? Choose living madness rather than come to me?” To his surprise, she smiled.


“But I feel your love for me. You desire this as much as I do. Am I mistaken?” He loosened his hold on her but she remained in his arms.

“No, your senses serve you well. I would walk with you through eternity if you would have it so. I could not want for a better companion.”

Louis was perplexed. The idea that she would become as those things in eastern Europe sickened him. And yet, she wanted him as much as he wanted her.

“I do not understand.”

She took his hand. “As much as I crave never to leave your side, I would die rather than be made at your hand. I cannot become the killer that you are and still love you. You know this, Louis.” She turned her back to him, leaning heavily on the desk chair before continuing. “To be near you forever, yet never to know your touch would be more than I could bear.”

Louis wrapped his arms around her shoulders and drew her back close, a tear tumbling slowly down his cheek.

“There is another way,” she whispered, her voice trembling for the first time.

He spun her around, so quickly that, for an instant, he worried he might have injured her. “You said earlier, out on the lawn, that I continued killing by choice. What did you mean?”

She laid both hands against his chest, leaning on him. It seemed an effort for her to continue. “Do you know a vampire who no longer feeds nightly?”

“My God! Lestat!” Louis’s face lighted as he tipped his head back and closed his eyes, laughing quietly. “Of course! David does not feed every night. Why did I not see it?”

“Your regret blinded you.” Her voice became quieter. “I don’t think you dared consider it. Could you live knowing you did not need to feed, but felt the burning desire to kill nonetheless? Could you forgive yourself then, when you conceded to that desire because it was no less in your nature to do?” She stared into his eyes. “There is danger there, as well.”

Louis shook his head, confused. “But why do you say this, chérie? You said yourself you would not allow me to be your maker. You have not lived as a monster and I could never teach you to become one needlessly.”

She cupped his face in her hand and he pressed his cheek into it. “If I had this ability, do you think I could keep it from you? That which might give you peace as you’ve never known? As Lestat and Akasha fed from each other, so could we feed, until we were the same.”

Louis nodded. Lestat had for years offered Louis to drink of his blood. But always his maker spoke of making Louis more powerful and he had declined. The gifts Lestat had now were terrible. He shuddered.

“You’re remembering his other powers, aren’t you, Louis?” she asked. “Can they not be controlled?” Concern filled her face.

He paced the small room considering all he knew of Lestat’s powers. After several long moments, he turned quickly and scooped her up in his arms. She laughed in delight and he smiled as she draped her arms around his neck.

“Yes,” he said, smiling down at her sweet face. “I do not have Lestat’s temper.” Louis closed his eyes and felt the beating of her heart. “And neither do you, my love. If he can control them, so can we.” She was warm in his arms and the taste of her mortal blood lingered still on his lips. But he knew he would not complete what he had started, not while there was a chance to save her from his waking hell.

He hungered still, however, and he must feed soon. And there was something else.

Chérie, Lestat has sworn never to kill again.” Louis set her upon her feet. “And though he has offered his blood to me many times, he may deny me this thing because he will not kill.”

“Then you must accept what he offers and bring me to you after. I would loathe missing the chance to hear your thoughts, and you mine, to speak silently with you, but I cannot see life without you, my love.” A flush rose in her cheeks. “Louis.”

Louis tipped her face to meet his and kissed her quickly, happily. A mortal kiss.

She smiled and stepped to the computer, nudging the mouse to clear the screen. Her smile disappeared as she saw the time and whirled to face him. “You haven’t fed, have you?”

He furrowed his brow and smiled. “Yes, I have noticed that. Perhaps I should skip tonight.” The tight pulling on his veins, however, told him that was not possible, that he must feed before sleeping. “I must go for now, chérie.” He stroked her hair gently, drinking in her eyes.

“But is there time, Louis? To find what you need and get to your rest?”

“I’ll be fine. I will find something. If not, forgoing one night is not impossible. I have done it before.” He ran his finger down her nose that was so like his own. “And there are always rats.” He winked at her.

Louis could see her mind rushing forward and as she opened her mouth to speak, he laid a finger across her lips and let his expression grow serious.

“Do not offer it, my love. My thirst is too great.”

She nodded. “Then you must once again be Merciful Death.”

“Yes, chérie.” How differently she said it, Merciful Death, as if it were truly a kindness. There was none of the disdain that had always left him wanting to strangle Lestat.

Louis turned to leave but stopped at the door, his back to her. A new pain had welled within him, grasping at his heart, constricting his breath.

“I love you,” he whispered.

The silence was excruciating for several long seconds, until he heard her approach. His eyes closed, lips parting, and he felt her hands on his shoulders. When she turned him gently, he opened his eyes to find her moist gaze upon him. And he recognized what he had seen there earlier. The joy filled him as it never had.

“I love you, Louis,” she said, sliding her arms around his waist. “Hurry back to me.”

He searched her eyes carefully.

She slowly smiled. “I am under no spells, my love.”

“Such a thing has happened, chérie, from time to time.” Louis laughed quietly and wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. She felt perfect against him.

She held the door and then followed him onto the porch.

Louis kissed her hand once more and walked slowly to the sidewalk. He stopped when he was beside the walnut tree and, turning, saw her sit on the porch.

“You’re going to stay up to watch the dawn, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” she admitted.

“I probably would, as well.” He smiled, remembering something else. “Tell me your name.”

She returned his smile, tears filling her eyes. “But you already know my name. It’s the name you have given me, the name you have called me all night. How could I refuse such a gift?” She touched her fingers to her lips, raising her hand to wave him on his way.

Louis, with his perfect detachment, smiled.

“Good night, Chérie,” he said quietly.


Twenty minutes later, he was miles away, his flesh warm and ruddy from the kill. Leaning against a cinderblock wall near his hotel, he called, as only a vampire could. He repeated the silent appeal several times. He knew his maker could not hear him, but the others would and Lestat could hear his call through them. Louis concentrated on the hotel’s lighted sign, noticing every contour and color, creating a perfect image of it in his mind.

“Lestat! I need your help!”

Satisfied, he hurried off to his room.

“Louis...the most beguilingly human fiend.”
Lestat (TVL, p499, pb)

Part Two

Louis unlatched the lid of his chest from the inside and pushed it wide. Rising stiffly, he stretched his long legs. His wanderings had made it necessary to forsake traditional sleeping arrangements in favor of the modified steamer trunk. His coffin was relegated to being a permanent fixture in the townhouse in the Rue Royale, which was still his home.

Louis turned to retrieve his stack of sweaters from the bureau and discovered he was not alone. His pulse quickened.

“You look guilty, Louis.”

Lestat lounged against the windowsill and Louis’s heart ached at the sight of him. Only the barest ember remained to fire his maker’s blue-gray eyes. His words were surly but his voice was seductive, as it had always been. His melancholy had not diminished this. How many times had Lestat waited for his fledgling to rise, pondering the deepening twilight he said he had hated as a mortal? How familiar this was!

Louis gave his shoulders a slow shrug. “Have you ever known me to look otherwise, Lestat?”

He placed his belongings in the trunk before sliding its bulk clear of the door, trying to calm his thundering heart. He felt Lestat’s gaze upon him, scrutinizing his every motion as he started to catch up his hair in a black ribbon, and he willed himself not to stiffen. He did not like being watched. Not at all.

Yet Lestat seemed to derive a certain pleasure from it, and it was a simple enough gift to give.

Sighing, Louis’s hand dropped onto the bureau before it slid off the laminated surface and into his pocket, depositing the ribbon that still played between his fingers. His hair cascaded over his shoulders as he turned. Lestat’s eyes rose to meet his.

“No,” his maker said, smiling languidly. “You have always been the most beautiful picture of sorrow.”

Louis crossed the room slowly, peering out the window at the lights of the city before mirroring Lestat’s stance. He was immediately lost in those blue-gray eyes, bottomless and ever-changing. There was hunger there, dormant, waiting to erupt into fits of rage or collapse in immeasurable joy. The uncertainty had always been intoxicating, yet he knew his maker would entertain neither. Lestat had been beyond reach since that demon raped his soul.

Anger. Pain. The enormity of it crushed his chest, knotting his throat. He willed it back. Just a little while longer, just a few moments.

“I’m glad you’ve come,” Louis whispered. He reached out and slowly ran his thin fingers along the collar and down the breast of Lestat’s shirt. Gently, he took his maker’s hand, unable to resist marveling in its icy surface. No mortal artist could recreate the opalescence he saw in its depths. He drew the fingers to his lips, pressing the marble-like flesh with a desire he’d always felt but rarely acknowledged.

Lestat seemed enraptured, his jaw slack, unable to take his gaze from Louis’s eyes as his hand was warmed against his fledgling’s breast.

“Tell me why you gave me the Dark Gift,” Louis said.

Shaking his head as if awakening from a deep contemplation, Lestat jerked his hand free. “You’re playing with me.”

“You know I cannot do that,” Louis said.

Sorrow. He swallowed it as he watched his maker circle the small room, wrestling with his skepticism. Lestat looked weary. Even his silk shirt seemed subdued, its creamy radiance tucked into pleated gray trowsers. Wool and conservative. Louis’s brow furrowed as his eyes sought out Lestat’s requisite leather jacket and was surprised to find, rather, a steel blue cashmere sweater thrown across the bed. Stylish and elegant, but very unlike Lestat. He tried to ignore the foreboding that suddenly filled him. Danger lurked. Fear for Lestat.

His maker sank into a chair and brushed a tendril of yellow hair off his face. “Why? Why do you want to hear this now?”

Louis shrugged. “I’m not certain,” he admitted. “You wrote of it in your autobiography and your other books of course, but you were angry with me then.” He lifted a straight-backed chair from the small writing desk and set it beside Lestat. Louis lowered himself onto its seat and crossed his long legs. “I can piece it together, but as you know, my powers of deduction are far from perfect.”

Lestat laughed cruelly. “You were wrong about me on almost all counts. You have never understood what the Dark Gift means to me.”

“I need to understand, Lestat,” Louis said quietly, urgently. “I have a feeling my life depends upon it.” He sighed deeply. “And perhaps yours does as well.” Sadness flooded over him suddenly. No, not yet! He squeezed his eyes shut to force it away.

This did not go unnoticed by his maker. Concern had replaced the skepticism on Lestat’s face as the blue-gray eyes searched his fledgling’s face.

“What is it, Louis? What has happened?” Lestat leaned forward and covered Louis’s hands with his.

The intimacy of hearing his name pass Lestat’s lips was more than he could bear. Lestat was still Lestat and such affection as he felt now from his maker had never come easily. His composure was crumbling rapidly and he had no power left with which to fight it.

For nearly a year Louis had wandered, forsaking his home rather than being of further irritation to his maker. The last story he’d told, of his ordeal with Memnoch, had shattered Lestat, leaving him desolate, haunting that orphanage along with the nameless spirits. Louis’s presence seemed to give no comfort and he’d fled New Orleans, returning as he always did to the anonymity of California.

But had he truly left to satisfy some imagined craving his maker might have had for solitude? Or had he simply escaped, running from the guilt he felt at having lured Lestat into chains? Or from his own emptiness as he watched Lestat slide into obscurity, dying before his very eyes?

He had never felt so alone.

Blood tears flooded his eyes. So many in the span of a day. Strange. He hadn’t shed a tear since telling Daniel of Claudia’s death. The tightness closed about his heart. He blinked and was amazed to see Lestat’s extended handkerchief. He hadn’t felt the hand slip away.

“Thank you,” he said, touching the linen to his eyes. He sighed deeply to quell his emotions. “I need you, Lestat. Something has changed inside me and I need your help to find some understanding of it.” He studied the crumpled handkerchief in his hands.

“Always so invincible, so imperturbable.” His maker’s voice was the merest hush. “Dear God! You feel pain again!”

The lump rose in his throat and he swallowed hard. “Yes.”

“Louis, you’re--”

“Lestat,” he blurted out, interrupting, resisting the seduction of his maker’s voice. He continued hurriedly, his words barely audible. “I can’t stand battling with you any longer. I cannot do it! You are too dear to me.”

He looked up from his lap. Lestat’s face was close and he was as extraordinary as the night he had revealed what Louis could become. His maker reached up and, with the back of his hand, brushed the black hair away from his face. Louis’s eyes closed at the touch.

“Louis,” Lestat murmured softly. “Don’t you know how beautiful you are to me? How enchanted you have always held me?”

Louis pressed the linen to his eyes, shaking his head. “I believed you wrote those words to hurt me, mocking me with affections you had never expressed, to repay me for the terrible things I said of you.”

Lestat breathed deeply. “Only in comparing you with Nicki. I knew that would hurt you. My reasons for giving you the Dark Gift were never so mundane.”

There was nothing condescending in his maker’s tone. Louis searched those blue-gray eyes and found them warm, tinged with red. He offered up Lestat’s own handkerchief and watched as those eyes were dried.

“Well, you had asked for it, Louis, and now you’ve finally seen me weep.” Lestat rose, unnerved yet smiling, and disappeared behind him.

Louis did not turn, did not intrude. But it was a precious moment, one of a handful, one he had scarcely dared dream possible again. As he absently stroked his brow, he felt an inner warmth pervading his spirit and he smiled. Lestat’s hand slid down over his shoulder and he reached up to clasp it, running his thumb idly over its smooth surface.

“I could never harm you, you know,” he said. “My deepest regrets have been for the pains I have allowed against you.”

“I know, Louis,” said his maker. “I know.”

“And I love you.”

Lestat’s other hand encircled his neck. He felt the moist press of lips behind his ear and he pulled Lestat close.

They held each other for what seemed like ages before Louis broke the spell.

“I must feed,” he said quietly. “I don’t want to wait tonight. Afterward, we can find a place to talk.”

“I’d like that.” His maker disengaged himself.

“Come with me?” Louis rose, faced Lestat, and smiled. “You may watch, if you like. I think I’d like that tonight.”

“Oh, Louis! You are full of surprises. You could make an old vampire thirst again.”

There was a hollowness in his maker’s words, but the familiarity of them made Louis’s smile grow. “You are but six years older than I, Lestat.”

“In human years, perhaps.” His maker laughed.

Louis became serious behind his smile. “Before anything else, I am human, my beloved. I can ignore my human nature no more than I can my vampire nature. You, more than any other vampire, know this to be true.”

Lestat stared blankly, his whisper awed. “Louis, you have changed.”


“You must tell me how this happened.”

“I will,” Louis said. He strode to the bed and retrieved the cashmere sweater, holding it out for Lestat. “Later. Now I want to feed.”

He stood patiently while his maker pulled the sweater over his silk shirt and adjusted the collar.

“That’s a stunning look, Lestat. The textures suit you.”

“Do you think so?” Lestat stepped to the mirror to retie his hair, but instead gazed up at his fledgling in the glass. He pulled the steel blue ribbon free and let it fall onto the bureau. He shook out his masses of yellow locks and left them hanging loose, just touching his shoulders.

Louis grinned despite himself and stepped up beside Lestat. “Now don’t we look the pair? At least you still have the tan to match that brilliant mane.”

“You know I wore this sweater for you, don’t you?”

Louis held the door for his maker. “I know.”


The man had just inserted his key in the car’s door when he looked up, sensing something amiss. Too late.

“Sleep,” Louis whispered as the skin of the man’s neck gave way beneath his fanged teeth and he began sucking nourishment. He drew hard, wave after wave of the rich blood flowing luxuriantly down his throat. The rhythm of the startled heart quickly slowed to match his, the pounding rising, filling his consciousness. Deeper he drank, urging that heart into his own, the warmth rushing ecstatically through his every vein. His knees threatened to buckle as the sensation rocked him, crashing over him, and he clasped his victim tighter. Then the dying heart skipped a beat and its rhythm quickly dropped off.

Louis drew deeply once more at the wound and pulled back before the heart stilled. He knicked his tongue, loosing a drop of his own blood. He licked the wound clean, his blood closing the punctured flesh. Quickly, he helped the corpse open the car door and then lifted it onto the driver’s seat, arranging the body as if it had suffered a sudden stroke.

Closing the door on the smell of rapid decay, Louis strode across the dark parking lot to where Lestat waited at the back of the pawn shop. He knew he should take better measures to conceal his victim’s body, but his focus was entirely on Lestat. He was surprised to find his maker’s back to him, his head bowed.

He laid his hand on Lestat’s shoulder. “You cannot even watch now?” he asked, gently.

His maker’s eyes met his. “No,” was all he said.

Louis nodded, though he understood nothing beyond the guilt Lestat felt. He was confused by the hunger evident in his maker’s eyes, contradicting himself. Again the foreboding pressed near.

“Come,” he said. “I know a peaceful place where we might talk uninterrupted. Can you take us there?”

Lestat laughed quietly, the sound as music to Louis’s ears, making him smile. “All you ever need do is ask.”

His maker took him tightly around the waist and they lifted swiftly into the air.


“What is this place?”

“Hakone Gardens,” Louis explained, unwrapping his arms from Lestat’s neck. “It’s modeled on a similar garden in Japan. They have its history posted, if you’d like to read it.”

His maker nodded absently, staring up at a trinity of redwoods that towered above a network of delicately constructed streams and ponds, a reproduction of a traditional Japanese home.

“There is an artist’s dormitory and a caretaker’s cottage down the hill,” Louis continued. “I’ve never known them to wander after dark, though.”

“Unfortunate. The moonlight plays so marvelously on the surfaces.”

Louis smiled, happy to see his maker’s interest. Lestat had always loved symmetry in art and Louis had hoped the garden would spark this reaction.

They meandered along the narrow trails, stopping to admire the twists and turns of the many maples, junipers, and pines. Louis led them under a long wisteria arbor running straight up the hillside. They climbed leisurely. The arbor opened onto a wooden platform edged with plank rails and benches and roofed with a lattice of beams. Another trail careened off to the left, up along the spine of this hill.

Louis heard a car wind through the canyon far below as he watched Lestat sit lightly on a rail, stretching out his long legs and leaning against a corner post.

“Very nice, Louis.” His maker sighed.

He smiled, pleased. He sat quietly, listening to the myriad other night creatures roaming the garden.

“Why did you tell Daniel your story?” Lestat’s voice was pitched so low that a mortal standing at the foot of the platform would not have heard.

“My God,” Louis gasped, matching his maker’s tone. “Do you never ask simple questions, Lestat?”

Lestat slowly smiled. “We are far from simple creatures.”

“Yes, that’s true,” Louis mused. “I suppose I talked to Daniel because I could not speak with you. As far as I knew, you were dead and gone. I had no reason to believe otherwise. I had heard nothing of you since the Théâtre des Vampires.”

A light seemed to fire his maker’s eyes briefly. “Go on, Louis.” Lestat’s voice seemed strained, distant.

Louis furrowed his brow. Lestat had never revealed what he had so desperately pleaded to say that long ago time in Paris. He sensed this was not the time to again press this question, and he was not sure this is what had sparked such a reaction anyway.

He crossed his legs, draping an arm over his knee. “Daniel’s offer was a chance to warn the mortal world.” Louis saw the corner of his maker’s lips curl. “No, don’t laugh, Lestat. I pick off my victims with utter disregard. They deserved a warning, to know that simply walking alone in the night was crime enough.” He sighed. “But ultimately, my reasons were selfish. I simply needed to speak of all that had happened.”

“Why not Armand?”

Louis shook his head. “Armand was as much my victim as any mortal, though with him I spared no cruelty. Year after year, I drained him, slowly killing him. He wasn’t real and, by the time he left me, neither was I. In him, I perfected my ruthlessness.”

“Do you miss him?”

“Yes, very much,” he said without hesitation.

Lestat nodded. “He was an innocent to the last.” His voice took on an edge. “And foolhardy. To the last.”

Louis murmured his assent. “Strangely näive. And so very beautiful.”

“Yes, he knew exactly how to make us love him. But he was never the beguiling creature you are.”

Louis blushed. Twice in a day he’d been described with that word. Beguiling. He saw his maker smiling at his discomfort.

“Do you enjoy embarrassing me, Lestat?” he asked, old animosities rising quickly.

“Yes, actually, I do. Little else in this world still holds as much pleasure. Your complete lack of vanity is irresistible.” He laughed.

“Well do try,” Louis growled.

“I’m afraid that’s impossible, bien-aimé.” He held up his hand to quiet any further protests. “No, you asked me to help you understand.”

“Perhaps I was hasty,” Louis said under his breath.

But Lestat already seemed far away, lost in whatever memories swam behind his eyes. When he continued, it was in a whisper.

“So I will tell you of the first time I saw you.” Lestat crossed his arms in his lap and bowed his head, seemingly calling upon some well of inner strength. He raised his eyes, studying his fledgling across the platform.

Louis was astounded to realize his maker was observing him as he had centuries earlier, with a cunning and vibrancy long missing from his eyes. The tightness clutched at his heart.

“You’re correct that I wrote in anger and, yes, I wanted the words to sting. I wanted you to question their honesty. But you deserve to hear it told complete and unstained.” His lips twisted into a smile. “I make no promises, however. I don’t know if I can tell a story plainly.” His blue-gray eyes shifted, staring blindly down the arbor. “I’d arrived in New Orleans perhaps a month earlier, finding my father in those hideous rooms. I’d never felt strongly one way or the other for my father, not really. But the Revolution had robbed him of what little grip he’d had left on reality. And my anger at being banished by Marius, at least to my mind then, left me with little patience for my father’s few lucid moments.” Lestat sighed.

Louis wondered if his maker pictured his dead father in those terrible places that demon had shown him. He shuddered and rose slowly, crossing the platform to sit below Lestat’s railing, his maker’s eyes following his movement. Louis stretched his long legs along the bench and leaned against the same wide post.

Lestat’s hand rested upon Louis’s head and his strong fingers gently stroked his fledgling’s gleaming black hair. He continued quietly.

“I loathed being around him. After seeing to it that the maid I’d hired would indeed feed and clean him without stealing his pocket change, I fled into the night. Furious, I gorged myself to the point of sickness those first nights. But I grew tired of it and began stalking my victims, choosing carefully at twilight and hoping the scoundrel would commit some heinous act during the evening, something vile enough to be worthy of my wrath.”

“I must have been a terrible disappointment to you,” Louis said with a quiet laugh.

Lestat tipped his head to the night and listened as a rustling erupted and as quickly died away behind a thicket of heavenly bamboo. He smiled.

“No, you were a surprise, bien-aimé. As I stood opposite a brothel one evening, cataloging the patrons as they crossed the threshold, I caught sight of you ambling down the street. You seemed devoid of purpose or direction.” He laughed delightedly. “Your hair was a fright, so I didn’t become entranced with it until several nights later, and I supposed you were drunk, and probably had been for days. Yet you did not move as a drunkard.” Lestat shook his head in wonder. “I was struck by this first because you walked as one of us even then, and indeed I feared you were some fiend come to exact revenge upon me for disturbing Akasha’s peace.”

Louis struggled with his detachment. It was more difficult than he’d imagined to listen to himself described so frankly, yet his need to understand was greater.

“Unfortunately, you had meandered past before I’d had chance for more than a confirming glimpse of your fingernails, that you were no fiend. I had been too shocked by your perfect stature and nearly regal disregard for the rush of the filthy throngs to think of following you until you had disappeared. It did not stop me from scouring the area for you, however.”

He laughed quietly. “I didn’t feed that night, or the next while I searched. And I was even shorter with my father in my rush to get out of his rooms, God forgive me.”

“God, Lestat?” Louis repeated softly.

His maker sighed. “No, I’m no closer to understanding it, Louis. I wish I was. But I’ll tell you this.” He laughed. “I don’t want to die any time soon.” His eyes misted. “And I wish I remembered Heaven clearly. I try, probably far more often than I should, but it’s out of reach.”

Louis looked up at his maker and smiled. “I hope you get your wish. I think I should like to see that in your face.”

“Thank you, Louis.” His eyes lighted and he squeezed Louis’s shoulder. “We’re not damned, you know. If God Incarnate could invite my embrace, knowing what I am, how can we be damned simply by being what we are?” He let his arm encircle his fledgling’s neck. “Louis, I can feel it. His blood, alive inside me. Growing.” His eyes clouded, his voice all but inaudible. “It has become a sheer act of will that I do not succumb to it every waking moment.” He sighed.

Louis gently pulled Lestat onto his lap, cradling his broad shoulders with his arm. Not damned. The thought rolled through his mind, echoing quietly. Not damned. For several minutes, he could do no more than slowly rock his maker, smoothing the yellow curls.

“Please go on, Lestat.”

He felt his maker’s smile. “I do, don’t I? Where was I? Oh, yes! I couldn’t find you, yet I could think of nothing else. On the third night, I finally saw you again as you stumbled out of a cabaret, held aloft by a whore. I watched her perform her crude act before she rifled your pockets, stealing you blind, and then I followed you home.” He laughed cruelly. “Her I feasted upon that night. She had no appreciation for the beauty she had touched. You see, Louis, by then, I was hopelessly lost, decimated by the dark purity I’d seen in your eyes. You seemed to embody the goodness I had sought.”

Louis shook his head.

“Yes, I know you don’t see this in yourself,” Lestat said. “You are good, nevertheless. For two nights, I followed you from your townhouse, trying to read your thoughts. There were none, nothing discernible. Just a swirl of emotions. Self-loathing, fear of small places, and hatred for your brother. These things I could read from you, but little else.”

This startled Louis. “I didn’t hate Paul.”

“For giving up, for leaving you. Yes, you hated him. But your love for him was greater, far greater than the precious guilt you felt for speaking the innocent words that had crushed his unbalanced spirit. I even went out to Pointe du Lac.” He grinned and nudged his fledgling. “Not to catalog your wealth, mon petit, but to walk among your things, to see and feel as you did. Other than the beauty of the place, again I could get little sense of you.” He sighed. “The purity of your mind was a flame I could not disregard, were I inclined to do so, which I was not. It was more intoxicating than even your shimmering hair, your penetrating eyes, the perfect contours of your face.” He laughed, touching these features as he spoke. “Or your impertinent nose.”

Lestat ran a thumb across Louis’s full lower lip and then kissed him there, gently enfolding it between his own for a moment. The embrace sent an exquisite tingling shooting through Louis’s body and he leaned against his maker.

“I had fallen in love with you, Louis,” he whispered. “I couldn’t read your thoughts and the idea that I could bring you to me without losing anything excited me more than I can say. But it also angered me that I could envision myself mooning at your feet for all eternity. Me, smitten with a mortal!” He shook his head and sighed. “I could almost hear Armand laughing at me, Gabrielle’s disapproval. So I tried to kill you the following night, after trailing you from that tavern. To my horror, I could not do it. I left you there in the street, drained, and ran to the river, pacing furiously along the levee. My failure with Gabrielle and with Nicki could not overshadow the desire I felt for you. I had wanted them, but I needed you. Every vein in me ached for you. And so I decided to win your love.”

Louis smiled. “And you did, though I was loathe to admit it.” He stared out under the roof at the night sky. The gardens were on the very fringes of the Silicon Valley and the stars were brighter here. One of the pinpoints of light moved, becoming an airplane. “Why didn’t you tell me about Akasha and Marius?”

Lestat grinned maliciously. “Ask something you don’t already know, Louis. I’m secretive and I don’t play my trump card before the final bets are on the table. And we’re farther from death now than we ever were. I still haven’t told all I know. I’ve simply stopped talking about it.”

Louis stood slowly, lifting his maker, and setting him on the railing. It had been an idle question. This wasn’t really what he wanted to know. He wandered to the front of the platform, gazing over the terraces falling away to the pond below. He heard the frogs croaking there.

Lestat’s voice came quietly behind him. “I’ve done it again, haven’t I? I had no intention of being so unkind, Louis. The old Lestat slipped out.”

Louis smiled. “Wolfkiller,” he said.


Louis turned, crossing his arms and leaning against the rail.

“Wolfkiller,” he repeated. “No matter how pensive or animated or hostile your posture becomes, the true Lestat will always be Wolfkiller.”

It had become suddenly clear to him. His maker would forever be that twenty-year-old who knew only that he must protect his kinsmen against the lurking evil. Lestat would always be that young man seeing the enormity of the world for the first time. He would always question. He would always challenge. Nothing would ever change that for very long. And he knew, for the first time, without any doubts, that Lestat had made him out of this untamed love. His smile lighted his face.

“The name suits you. It is the essence of your nature.”

Louis watched, fascinated, as the corner of his maker’s mouth curled into a grin and fire sparked his tropical eyes.

“Yes,” Lestat said. “You understand.” He clapped his hands, let out a low whoop, and leapt down from his perch.

Louis laughed as his maker caught him around the waist and whirled him about the platform. Lestat’s laughter was music enough. The peals of bells. He had never relished Lestat’s gaiety as at that moment. It mattered not at all that the song changed from bar to bar. Or that he was dizzy beyond the point of standing when, breathless, they collapsed on the bench.

He arched his neck to judge the moon’s position and grinned. It was perfect. He hauled Lestat, protesting, back to his feet and dragged him, without much real effort, up the path that led from the arbor to the very top of the garden. He saw tiny creatures skitter away as they passed, but paid them little mind.

At the crest of the hill was a bench. He pushed his maker down onto it and then sat close beside him. The trinity of redwoods were spaced before them, off-center, and he could hear the stream falling away below.

“I chanced upon this a few nights ago,” he whispered in his maker’s ear. “Watch for it. You will know when it comes.”

Lestat must have caught his excitement for he sat motionless, his eyes searching the dark garden before them. The moon’s light did not penetrate the evergreen canopy over their heads, yet its rays highlighted every tree and shrub beyond.

Then Lestat gasped. Before them, the pond in the lowest reaches of the garden erupted in a flash of light, shimmering like a beam thrown suddenly into a mirror. Indeed, its entire surface seemed to reflect a thousandfold the moon’s silvery brilliance. Its multitude of false rapids and precisely engineered falls prevented the illusion from being simply an exquisite copy of that floating orb. The schools of koi, the floating lilies, and the induced currents all conspired to refract the light, magically creating a watery diamond field.

Louis’s tone was reverent. “I’m certain the original designer intended this, but for how long has it continued, season after season, unobserved?”

The moon proceeded on its trek across the sky and the unearthly display faded.

“Who else but a vampire could appreciate such loveliness?” he asked his maker.

Lestat seemed spellbound, staring into the night. His voice held a quiet urgency. “Louis, do you still regret being a vampire? If I could somehow take you back to that night, would you choose differently?”

Louis watched his maker’s unblinking gaze. He shook his head slowly. “No, Lestat. I have never regretted being a vampire.” He extended his hand toward the pond. “Such beauty as this few mortals ever know, and yet it is you who gave me the gift of this very moment. It was the brutality of the killing I regretted, and that we were separated as we were. There was so much I had wanted you to show me, to see with your eyes. The beauty of this sight was no less when I saw it alone. Yet it is increased because it exists in your eyes now.”

Lestat rose before him. “But Louis, we’ve shared an incredible bond. Greater than any others of our kind, perhaps.”

Louis nodded. “But it seems as if it could as easily have been even more so. That there was no reason under God for us to be eternally at odds.”

“I think I understand what you’re saying, Louis,” his maker said softly.

“Tell me one thing more, Lestat. Has it never disturbed you to fall instantly in love?”

“Is there ever another way?” Lestat asked. “Is not love always like a door thrown open before you? Can you stop your mind from remembering once your heart has seen the light within?”

Louis followed as his maker continued along the path, descending on the other side of the hill. They passed numerous camellias but he did not notice.

“It has never been otherwise for me,” Lestat continued. “God knows, I’ve fought it when it happens. But I have never simply grown to love someone. Either I’m spellbound or I give them no mind.”

He halted abruptly and Louis almost collided with him as he turned, his brow furrowed.

“Why do you ask?”

“It has happened to me,” Louis said, his voice the barest whisper. His eyes were fluid as he looked into Lestat’s. “Not since you revealed your nature to me have I felt this way.” The stunned look on his maker’s face was almost more than he could bear. “Ashes, Lestat. It’s all in ashes.”

He whirled away from his maker, rushing along the path only a short distance before leaning hastily against a fencepost, his head bowed. He waited for his maker to roar. Laughter or rage, it didn’t seem to matter. He knew it would come, but he did not want to face it.

Louis jumped when he felt the strong hands on his shoulders. He turned in surprise as Lestat engulfed him in his arms. Such strength and tenderness at once!

“Oh, Louis,” he whispered. It was all Lestat could say.

His maker stroked his hair and Louis found comfort against the hardness of that preternatural flesh as all the agonies of his immortal life flooded over him again. And he let them come. His arrogance about Lestat. His complacency with Claudia. His indifference to Armand. A thousand upon a thousand sins, undiminished by time.

And finally he wept, giving in to his bitter tears. Every gossamer wall was shredded as great sobs racked his soul. He clung to his maker, the guilt and pain and sorrow overwhelming him. Irrepressible. His happiness and joy, unleashed, filling his emptiness. Bursting. Laughter mixing with his tears as he crushed Lestat to him, lost in the golden forest of his hair, so soft against his face. So precious.

Lestat rocked him gently, holding him tight, murmuring softly in his ear yet saying nothing. He smoothed his fledgling’s hair until the sobbing abated. It was a long time before Louis could speak.

“The pain is terrible. How can you live with it?”

Lestat spoke quietly. “Would you choose differently if this was the very moment when I gave you the choice? Do your regrets overshadow your joys?”

Louis buried his face in cashmere. The softness was exquisite. Forsake this simple joy and choose mortal death? He knew, as he had always known.

“I would choose to live.” And it astonished him that this no longer seemed cowardly.

“As would I, bien-aimé,” Lestat whispered, squeezing him hard. “As would I.”

Louis enjoyed the crushing affection of his maker as he loved all life. It was the essence of his own nature to be eternally in love with living, and the myriad wonderful things that love encompassed. He saw it so clearly! His fascination with the endlessly changing parade of mortals had only slept. It was not dead, as he was not dead.

He dug his handkerchief out of his pocket, but a laugh escaped him when it was immediately snatched away, Lestat clucking his tongue as he gently dried his fledgling’s eyes. Louis laughed aloud as his maker, grinning impishly, abruptly tipped his chin up so he might clean the tear stains from his cheeks.

Such affection in his maker’s eyes! Fresh tears streamed down his face.

“You’re not helping, Louis,” Lestat chided quietly, yet there was amusement in his smile.

Louis firmly pressed his lips together and breathed deeply. “I’m afraid I’ve made a mess of your sweater as well.”

Lestat twisted his head and pulled the finely knitted fabric away from his shoulder. He swore under his breath when he saw the stain. And then he laughed.

“Probably serves me right, dressing for you.” He shook his head as he took Louis’s hand, giving it a quick squeeze. “Just get me to water before this sets.”

Louis led his maker down the path and through a bamboo gate. Around the last of the camellias and they were standing at the very tip of the lowest pond. Lestat crouched beside the water and laid Louis’s handkerchief over a half-submerged stone before pulling the sweater off his back. Louis knelt beside him and began squeezing water through the handkerchief as his maker dowsed the stain on his sweater.

“They all spoke with you, Lestat. Am I truly the only one of us never to have lain in the earth?” he asked.

Lestat nodded, inspecting the stain before dipping it again. “Of the ones I know who are old enough to feel it, you and Maharet alone among us never seemed to crave that rest.” He shrugged. “And Armand, I think, though that’s hardly relevant now.” He seemed satisfied that the stain was as clean as he was going to get it. “I have always envied the serenity I saw behind your sorrow, you know.” He laughed lightly, compressing the delicate knit in his powerful hand, the water streaming away. “Louis, the pure vampire.”

Louis shook his head as he began wringing out the square of linen. “Akasha called me predatory.”

Lestat snorted. “Akasha was obsessive-compulsive.”

“You’re reading mortal psychology?”

He shrugged and shook out his sweater. “Was. It seemed the logical progression after all that demonology and drivel on religious symbolism I filled my head with.” He sighed. “Waste of time. It all contradicts itself after a few pages anyway.” He grinned. “But it does do wonders for the vocabulary.” He smoothed the cashmere. To all but a vampire, it appeared clean and dry. He pulled it back over his head, cringing as he adjusted the damp spot.

“She was right about me, though,” Louis said, draping the handkerchief over his hand and frowning. It was still noticeably wet. “I’m not discriminating in choosing my victims.”

“Here, let me do that,” Lestat said, taking the linen and crushing it in his hand. Water poured out. He shook his head. “That’s your purity, your complete acceptance of your vampire nature. Your utter lack of vanity protects you from the delusion that murdering murderers makes you a nice guy.” He grinned and, rising, handed Louis the handkerchief.

Louis smiled at his maker’s jest and stood, marveling at his handkerchief before stuffing the linen into his pocket. He slid his arm around Lestat’s waist as he led them back through the bamboo gate.

His maker slipped his arm around Louis’s waist, holding him loosely as they followed the path toward the farthest reaches of the garden. Soon, they were lost in a forest of bamboo, the stalks as big around as their arms and reaching seemingly to the heavens.

Lestat turned in circles. “This is worse than a topiary maze!”

A laugh escaped Louis’s lips. “Around the corner.” He pointed and his maker found the passage that led to a low retaining wall surrounding a sea of carefully raked pebbles. They sat cross-legged atop the wall.

Lestat gently patted his fledgling’s knee. “Now tell me how it happened.”

His maker composed himself to listen and for a moment, Louis could imagine Lestat in the attire of a Buddhist monk, spending eternity contemplating the little Zen garden. Strange image.

Louis described the previous night’s events, telling every detail. When he had finished, he sat quietly regarding the large granite stone that swam among the white pebbles. The stone appeared to breath and grow under his gaze.

Lestat finally spoke. “You ask a great thing of me.”


All the air seemed to leave his maker as he sighed.

“Wait here for me,” he instructed.

“Lestat, no!” Louis pleaded, but Lestat had already gone, taken to the air.


Louis stared furiously at the rock in the Zen garden and again fought the urge to tear it out of the earth and hurl it away from him. For nearly two hours, he’d paced and stared down the rock. Paced. And envisioned ripping the bamboo to shreds. And paced.

Something flashed behind him and he whipped around to confront it, expecting Lestat. He stopped short, unable to breathe, for his maker was not alone.

“Chérie?” he stammered, finding his voice and rushing to her. “Are you all right, Chérie? If he has harmed even one--”

“Relax, Louis,” Lestat said. “I have done nothing to her. See for yourself. Mon Dieu! But he worries too much!” He smiled and stepped safely back as Louis reached her, catching her up in his arms and turning her.

“Louis,” she whispered as she buried her face in his neck, kissing him. Louis smiled so contentedly he felt he would never stop, so close to bursting.

“Do you remember the pain now, Louis?” Lestat’s voice interrupted.

Louis looked at his maker, standing by the bamboo, and shook his head. “No,” he said, smiling. It was too wonderful having her in his arms.

“That is how you live with it, bien-aimé. And now you know how I feel every time I look upon you.” He approached them and laid his hand on Louis’s shoulder, squeezing it gently before he stroked Chérie’s warm, brown hair. “Ah, you are correct. She could be our sister.” His eyes flashed at Louis as he smiled. “She should be our sister.”

“How did you find her?” Louis asked, setting Chérie carefully on her feet.

“You forget how well you can pinpoint someone’s lair with your words, my friend.” Lestat raised an eyebrow, though Louis did not understand why. “I only needed to get close and then from her own thoughts I found her. For an hour, I sat in her walnut tree listening to her type on that pretty computer, watching her come into the yard and gaze at the stars.”

“I about died when you dropped out of that tree!” She laughed.

Lestat’s sharp glance left Louis no doubt in how differently the meeting would have gone for her if his maker had not received whatever it was he had wanted.

“You had nothing to fear from me, ma chère,” Lestat said. “I only wanted to meet the one who had finally enchanted the most beautiful of us all.”

Louis blushed.

His maker suddenly drew Louis into his arms. When he continued, his voice was so quiet Louis strained to hear his words. He was certain Chérie with her mortal ears could not hear.

“She loves you dearly, Louis. You are indeed fortunate. She does not want what we have. She wants you. That is what I needed to learn, and she alone could tell me this. Do you forgive me?”

Louis’s voice came low and to his maker’s ear only, his face pressed close among the yellow curls. “Of course, but you should have told me what you meant to do. I love you, Lestat, and I can understand your caution.”

Chérie watched, eyes damp and hands clasped to her lips, what to her was a silent display of affection.

Lestat whispered in his fledgling’s ear. “And I love you, Louis. My precious Louis.”

Louis’s eyes squeezed shut as his maker stroked his hair. Not in two hundred years had he ever heard those words cross Lestat’s lips, and hearing the words, he realized how very much he had always craved them. The tightness was crushing his heart and yet he smiled at the welcome pain.

Lestat pulled back. Blood tears stained his fledgling’s cheeks and his lips parted at the sight of them.

“You’re not starting that again, are you?” Lestat gently wiped the tears away, grinning lecherously as he sucked the blood from his hand.

Louis laughed quietly.

His maker invited Chérie to sit with him. But it was to Louis he spoke. “Are you certain this is what you want?”


“Then it shall be as you desire.” He smiled at Chérie kindly, smoothing her hair absently, but he continued speaking to Louis. “I’ve already spoken with her and she knows what she will become. But some of these things I need you to hear, Louis.”

He lowered himself beside them. What could Lestat possibly say that he didn’t already know?

His maker searched his face before continuing. “I do this for you, Louis. You know the others will not be pleased with this. But then, when have I ever tolerated anyone’s rules?” He grinned. “I will make her one of us because you love her. But only on the condition that you do not feed from her.”

Louis made to protest but Lestat held up a hand.

“I’ll not deny this is a gift I’ve longed to give you myself. That is part of it, certainly, but it is not for this reason alone. My blood is unlike that of any other vampire and it should not be diluted unnecessarily. You will come to me for that when it is time. Then it will not matter and you may feast upon each other to the end of time.” Lestat smiled at Chérie and pressed his lips to her fingers. “Chérie has read my books. She knows upon whom I have fed and understands. Do you also agree, Louis?”


“And she must come away with me.” He again held up his hand to silence his fledgling. “Chérie will have powers you’ll be unable to teach her to control. We will not go far or for very long, but these powers could be dangerous to you until she learns and I will not risk your safety, Louis. Do you understand?”

Louis narrowed his gaze. “Will you allow her to stare at your buttons forever if she so desires?”

His maker laughed and shook his head wearily. “Yes, Louis. For you, I will try to be patient. Do you agree then?”

“Yes,” Louis said, amusement in his eyes. “If you will find a way to endure the adoration, then yes, I agree.”

“Good.” Lestat’s smile faded. “Let me warn you, Louis, as I have her, that the need to kill may still be there at the beginning. Remember this is part of our nature. Do not judge her because of it. If David is any measure, it should quickly fade and very soon she will not need to hunt for long periods. Now explain to her how the Dark Trick will be worked on her.”

He stood abruptly and disappeared among the bamboo.

Chérie gasped, as if she’d been holding her breath. “He is beautiful, isn’t he?”

Louis murmured his agreement. “I can get lost for hours in his eyes. And his embrace is near to passion.” He smiled. “But you shall see, Chérie.” He searched her eyes and his smile broadened. “You love him already, don’t you?”

Her cheeks flushed deeply and she stared at her hands. “Yes, Louis.”

“You never need conceal this, my love.” He nodded when she turned her surprised gaze on him. “Love is different for us and I’m glad you love him as I do. You will be like his child, Chérie, and his blood will change you.”

“He will drink from me?”

“Yes. Do not fight him. Remember, you are not his victim and he does this out of love. Hold him tightly and keep your eyes wide open. See everything, my love, and hear everything. He will drain you to the very point of death and you will become too weak to move. Do not fear this. Just feel it all, for you will never feel it again. He will stop before your heart stops. Then you will drink from him.”

She shuddered and he smiled warmly, kissing her cheek. “Do not be concerned, my love. It will not be unpleasant and you will want it like nothing else. Drink as deeply and for as long as you can. Your powers will depend upon it. Do as he instructs. You may feel pain afterwards as the change begins. Do not worry and remember to feel everything. This only happens once.”

He gathered her into his arms, kissing her gently and stroking her hair, until Lestat returned and knelt beside them.

“Are you ready, Chérie?” he asked quietly. “Do you wish to be as we are?”

She gazed into Louis’s eyes, cradling his cheek in her hand, before turning to Lestat and smiling.

“Yes,” she said.

“Then take her, Louis.”


“Take her. You know what that moment is like and I will not steal it from you. She shall be made as Claudia was made. You will drain her to the point of death and I shall give her life again.”

Louis furrowed his brow, his eyes filled with concern.

“Don’t fret, bien-aimé. You won’t still her heart.” He studied the grass under his boots. “And in this way, neither shall I.”

He cannot kill! Louis knew he should not be surprised, but it had been his maker’s passion, the hunt, the kill. It must torment him. This was the foreboding he’d sensed earlier!

Louis’s attention was drawn by Chérie’s voice.

“Thank you,” she told Lestat and quickly embraced him.

“For Louis, I would do anything. Perhaps now he will believe me.” He smiled at the mortal woman in his arms, stroking her cheek tenderly. “You are a gift I give him, Chérie, but you will be my fledgling. Be kind when the time comes that you would curse me for what I do this night.”

Chérie smiled up at him, searching his blue-gray eyes. “I will never curse you, Lestat.” She pulled his face close, kissing his lips and then pressing her cheek to his.

Louis watched his maker, seeing the predatory look they all got glaze his eyes, so near to mortal blood.

Lestat laughed quietly. “I hope you’re correct, ma chère.” He released Chérie and she turned to Louis.

He slipped his arms around her, holding her firmly. “Remember all I told you, my love.”

Her arms encircled him and she nodded. “I love you, Louis.”

He kissed her mouth, her cheek, and nuzzled her neck, the vein stretching taut under her skin at his touch.

“I love you, Chérie,” he said, his lips against her flesh. Then his sharp teeth penetrated that thin, elastic barrier and he sighed as her blood gushed into his mouth. Pressing her body close, he was dimly aware of her, gasping and clutching his sweater, as the thick warmth crossed his tongue in wave after wave. Every hair tingled as he pressed his lips tighter around the wound, becoming an inseparable part of her, drawing the blood hard now. Plummeting down his throat, setting off shudders of ecstasy that spread throughout his preternatural flesh.

He heard the drum approaching, pounding its own rhythm, careening through the darkness of his being. Away it raced, to the second drum, which beat strong and steady. The drum that was his own beating heart.

Her blood rushed through every tiny vein in his body, scorching all it touched so that every surface felt the uncontrolled excitement so like the edge of passion. Engulfing him as their hearts beat together, the pounding deafening, thundering through his senses.

Her heart slowed and he drank deeper, willing her to stay with him. Live! He felt her body grow lifeless in his arms and he became suddenly aware of Lestat’s hands on his shoulders, not yet drawing him away. He released her immediately and sat back hard on the grass, gasping.

She lay crumpled yet peaceful, her breast rising only shallowly with her breathing. Not quite at the point of death but close enough that she was unable to move more than her eyes.

“What are you doing, Louis?” Lestat demanded. “You haven’t drained her!”

Louis saw the blood lust in his maker’s eyes, recognized it, and knew he was correct about the torment with which Lestat struggled.

“Finish it,” he said, desperately pulling on Lestat’s sleeve. “You must! You can’t deny your hunger, any more than I could.”

“No!” His maker shook his head violently, but Louis continued in earnest.

“Can I love you less than you have loved me? Do it! Make her your true fledgling. Take her life, Lestat! And then give that life back to her. Only then will you give me what I desire.”

Anguish filling his face, Lestat fastened onto her in a rush. A low moan escaped Chérie and a shudder crossed Lestat’s back as it was quickly done.

Crimson stained his maker’s mouth as he pulled back, Chérie at the very threshold of death. Louis embraced Lestat, crushing him in his arms and grasping a handful of yellow hair as his maker’s fangs sank into his neck, not yet satiated.

Louis’s lips parted, his eyes rolling back as the blood surged out of him. The ferocity of Lestat’s hunger startled him, the wild pulling on his veins excruciating. The hardness of his maker eased under his grip, pliant with blood. With her blood.

He groaned at the intimacy he’d not felt with his maker in over two centuries.

Lestat suddenly released him and Louis tumbled to the ground.

“Enough!” his maker gasped, hastening to raise his wrist to his mouth, tearing his own flesh. He leaned over Chérie and pressed the bloody wound to her lips as Louis took her head in his lap.

“Drink, Chérie,” Louis urged her quietly, picking bits of grass from her chocolate tresses. He met Lestat’s gaze when she remained motionless.

“Her heart beats still,” his maker assured him. He leaned close to whisper in her ear. “Drink and live forever with Louis.”

He heard Lestat gasp and saw fire light those hypnotic eyes as he felt a violent shudder jolt Chérie. He glanced down to see her lips move on the wound and her eyes open wide, staring at him. He smiled and stroked her hair gently.

“Drink, Chérie.”

She regained enough strength to clutch her maker’s wrist and her gaze shifted to Lestat.

Louis marveled as he watched their blue-gray eyes lock, maker and fledgling, Lestat’s in pain and hers in wonder. So alike!

The skin on Lestat’s face drew taut as she drained him. Yet he let her drink deeper as he paled. When his lids began drooping, he gently pulled his wrist free. Instantly, her maker fastened onto her again and she clutched at his back, his hair.

“It’s all right, Chérie,” Louis soothed. “You’re alive. Remember what I told you and see it all.”

Calm filled her eyes and he knew she was hearing his voice differently now, sorting out the sounds with her vampire ears. Hearing it as music, for the first time. He smiled.

Quickly, she was limp again in Lestat’s arms. Releasing her, he reopened his wrist and gave it to her. She drank from hunger now, her maker’s face twisting into a grimace. More quickly did she drain him, her appetite matching her maker’s. Deeper she drank, watching her maker, rapture in her eyes.

“Once more, Chérie,” Lestat told her, freeing his arm, his eyes falling slowly shut as his mouth closed on her neck for the third time.

She gasped in pleasure and entangled her hands in his yellow curls, running the strands curiously between her fingers. Her lips parted as Lestat pressed her closer and Louis saw that her fledgling teeth had begun lengthening. He watched her skin pale, becoming, like theirs, the smooth texture of polished bone. Her warm brown hair glistened, lustrous with hints of gold and auburn.

Lestat drank deeper, hungrily, until her arms again hung lifeless. He drew back and licked the wound free of blood before offering himself to her, pressing her mouth to his throat. He whispered quietly, gently instructing her until she had made the gash herself, her fangs already sharp enough to tear his hardened flesh.

Louis watched, fascinated, as her pallor deepened further, becoming like marble as she gorged herself on her transmuted blood. Her eyes sparkled with Lestat’s fire, thirst upon thirst, feeding upon him.

Their maker’s gaze was swimming, his lips pulled back as she drained him, fangs revealed. He groaned and yet he let her go on drinking. Only when she clutched her stomach did Lestat pull himself free, collapsing breathless in the grass.

“Help her, Louis,” he gasped, slipping into unconsciousness, near to death himself.

Louis already had his arm around Chérie’s shoulders, supporting her as she sat. Lestat’s condition was alarming, his skin stretched tight, the bones visible, and his clothes loose about his shriveled form. It was far too close to how he had appeared after Claudia had finished with him, with her little knife.

But Lestat was breathing, slowly, evenly. And Louis felt Chérie’s eyes upon him.

Her hand reached out to touch his face but paused as she drew it back, turning her fingers to inspect her nails, which had become as transparent as glass.

Louis smiled and helped her slowly to her feet.

“Come, Chérie,” he whispered. “You are alive and becoming as we are. But your body is dying.”

She smiled, her eyes sparkling, touching his lips, his face, stroking his hair as he led her away, past the bamboo and into a stand of scrub oaks beside the little stream.

Eyes wide and lips parted, she stared up at the trees as if God had just created them.

“So many beautiful things to see now,” he said reverently. “And we shall see them all, my love. But remain here for a few moments as your mortal body dies.”

Chérie looked up at him quizzically. “Louis,” she began but halted, grinning in delight. She repeated his name several times, making him smile, as she became accustomed to her vampire’s voice.

“It hurts, Louis,” she said, touching her torso as a violent shudder passed through her.

He held her gently as the pains rocked her, soothing her when she seemed frightened. Finally, they began subsiding.

Her body would need purging and he knew she could still feel embarrassment.

“Your body is changing and it needs to rid itself of that which it no longer needs. Stay here,” he repeated, touching her alabaster cheek. “You will help your body. Do what you need to do. Remove your clothes and cleanse yourself in the water, if you like. You are safe here,” he assured her quietly. “You will feel it all. And you will live. Remember that, my love, that you are alive. Listen to the water singing to you if there is more pain. Stay here until it is over and then come to me.”

He squeezed her hand and left her, trailing her fingers through the little stream.

Lestat was lying prone on the grass, staring up at the stars. The moon still glowed, though it had sunk behind the western mountains. He lay next to his maker, on his side, head propped on one arm. Lestat had already regained much of his normal appearance. Louis shook his head in wonder and, with his free hand, broke off a blade of grass. He brought it to his lips, taking its green between his teeth and chewing it.

“That’s disgusting.” Lestat sighed.

Louis smiled broadly. “I have an image to maintain and would not want to disappoint you. Bourgeois planter, indeed.” He laughed silently and spat the bitter pulp into the dirt. “You scared me, Lestat. I’m only glad Chérie didn’t see you or she would have panicked, as David did.”

He plucked another blade of grass and ran it under his maker’s nose. Lestat grinned and swatted at it with some effort, curling his upper lip to stave off the assault. A giggle escaped him.

“Stop that, Louis! Before I have a real fit. We still have much to do. You haven’t provided for her, have you?”

Louis swore and dropped the blade. “No,” he admitted. “I didn’t know how quickly you’d come or if you’d even do this.”

Lestat’s smile was mischievous. “Well, I did. After listening to her for only a few minutes, I knew I would do this, for you both. I flew off at once and secreted a coffin roomy enough for two in her backyard.” His eyes twinkled. “And may you never doubt my affections again.”

Louis laughed aloud.

His maker’s smile faded. “It will be sad never to hear her thoughts again. She has the sweetest silent voice, Louis. You must try to hear it. Never stop trying to learn.”

Louis’s smile collapsed. He had been trying to hear her but could not. It had never been among his vampiric talents.

Lestat rolled to face him. “You will come to me won’t you, Louis? Drink from me again and grow stronger?”

“Yes, Lestat,” Louis said, shaking his head in astonishment. “This is the only one of your gifts that I crave, your telepathic voice. And the possibility of not feeding nightly is attractive, but that should not surprise you.”

His maker nodded. “Yes, there is peace there, Louis, though as you so cleverly guessed, the desire to feed doesn’t disappear. It had been more than a year since I last fed and the thirst had become unbearable in the last two months.”

“Strange how I have been able to think of almost nothing but you recently,” Louis mused.

“Perhaps,” Lestat allowed. “But we’ve always had the most peculiar bond. I would always know when you entered a room even though I couldn’t sense you through your thoughts or from your step, which is infuriatingly silent at times. And now I believe it’s your goodness, your purity.”

Louis smiled. “Not your infinite power?” he teased.

His maker snorted. “Couldn’t be me or I’d have had similar connections with David and Gabrielle. No, whatever it is, it comes from you, bien-aimé.

“Do you think drinking from you again would disrupt it?”

“For years, I feared it might,” Lestat whispered, his fingers lightly touching his fledgling’s cheek. “I worried if I made you stronger I would destroy the very thing that always drew me back to you, that human tenderness you never lost.” He shook his head sadly. “So I never pressed you to again drink. Now I’m certain it’s an innate gift you have, Louis, and I don’t believe it can be corrupted. Power should only enhance it. But you’ll have a chance to watch Chérie and see how she changes before you come to me.” His eyes shifted. “Should I check on her?”

Rolling to his feet, Louis shook his head. “Thank you, but no. I would like every moment possible with her. You’ll take her away after we rise?”

His maker nodded. “It’s safer that way.”

Louis knelt beside him. “Did it hurt when I told you of my love for her?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, it’s strange that I’m not envious of her and furious with you for your infidelity.” He laughed and pulled himself to his feet. “But no, Louis, I wasn’t hurt.”

He stood beside his maker, his smile relieved.

Lestat grinned. “I’m glad you finally wanted someone for yourself as much as I wanted you. For once, we seem to have found common ground. Now go, take care of her!”

Louis smiled and, bowing, turned to do as he was told. He almost fell over Chérie, grinning up at him. She jumped lightly out of his way and twirled happily.

“I could hear you,” she said. “Well, ‘feel you’ is more accurate, I guess.”

“Could you, Chérie?” her maker asked, eyes twinkling. “And how is it you were able to sneak up on us both?”

She appeared not to hear his question, her gaze rapt as she stared at his eyes, gingerly touching his tanned face, his lustrous blond hair.

Louis laughed.

“Shut up, Louis,” Lestat growled amiably. “I enjoy her touching me. And remember, you asked me to allow it. Now tell me how you did it, Chérie.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just wanted to find Louis and then I was beside him.”

Lestat nodded, smoothing her hair. “You have talent, ma chère. Let me teach you one thing quickly.”

“Flying?” she asked, her eyes alight.

Louis furrowed his brow. Taking to the air was perhaps the most disconcerting of their maker’s gifts and yet she seemed to actually relish the thought of it.

Lestat seemed puzzled by this as well.

Seeing their expressions, she smiled. “I was born in an age of space flight. I’ve long held dreams of flying unaided. It’s not uncommon among my contemporaries.”

“Hard to argue with that,” Louis observed.

Lestat nodded his agreement. “Let’s try something controlled, Chérie.” He pointed to a large fir tree with widely spaced branches a short distance away. “There. Follow me. Do as I do.”

Moving too fast to be seen, Lestat alighted halfway up the tree.

Chérie tipped her head thoughtfully and then she was beside him on the branch. Louis could hear their maker’s delight, but not what Lestat whispered in her ear. Her maker wrapped his arms around her waist and then they were streaking upward. Louis tilted his head, straining to see them against the stars. They plummeted once, but Lestat leaned close to her ear and they instantly rose together.

How utterly alien! He lost them among the stars, until they suddenly dropped toward the ground on either side of him. He tumbled over backwards to avoid being crushed under their feet.

“Having fun, you two?” he snarled as they giggled.

Lestat became serious. “I’ll need to take her away the moment we rise. She’s gaining her powers even faster than David.”

Louis glanced at Chérie.

“This also means she’ll probably learn as fast or faster, and it may only be for a night or so.” Their maker smiled. “But for now, we should get back to her house. Dawn is not far off.”

“How should we do this?” she asked.

“It’s probably best if Louis comes with me but that you hold his hand.” Lestat crooked a finger under her chin. “We don’t want you enamored with Mars, my dear.”

Louis held onto their maker’s waist as they lifted from the ground. Chérie rose beside him and clasped his fingers.


They dropped unobserved into her backyard. Lestat immediately pointed out the large cardboard box partially concealed against a honeysuckle-covered fence. He noticed Louis’s delight over the multitude of blossoms.

“There’s bougainvillea all along the back fence as well, just about to bloom.” He raised an eyebrow teasingly. “But no Queen’s Wreath.”

“I’m truly sorry, Lestat,” Chérie said. “I’m really an appalling gardener and don’t spend near enough time out here.”

“It’s all right, Chérie,” her maker assured her, jumping a cyclone fence that divided the yard. “We can bring up some cuttings from the townhouse.”

“Where’s he going?” Louis asked. Then he saw Lestat romping with a large canine. He stared at Chérie. “You have a dog?”

She laughed. “It’s a common practice, you know. I’ve raised Glennie from a pup.”

“He may not recognize you now.”

“She. Glennie is a Scottish deerhound.” She approached the enclosure cautiously, however, and Lestat brought the animal to the fence. After the requisite sniffing and tail wagging, it was apparent there would be no emotional separations. Chérie jumped the fence effortlessly and embraced the enormous dog.

“Come here, Louis. She won’t bite.”

He stared at the animal warily.

“Come on, Louis!” Lestat goaded. “If Mojo can tolerate you....”

“Mojo tried to rip my throat out that first night.” Louis crouched beside the fence, but out of reach should that long muzzle decide he made a tempting meal. The dog tipped her head this way and that, sizing him up through the fence before hanging her tongue out her mouth.

“Hold out the back of your hand to her,” Chérie encouraged.

He did and in went the tongue. Glennie seemed only curious however as she sniffed the proffered hand through the poles of the gate. Louis had to keep from jumping when the tongue suddenly darted out, leaving a damp trail across his flesh. His lips parted in a wondrous smile that seemed to match the dog’s own.

“You’re in, babe,” Chérie pronounced.

Louis inched closer and Glennie let him reach through the fence to run his hand down her wiry fur. His smile broadened.

“This is interesting, but dawn is coming.” Louis rose slowly to avoid startling the dog. As he turned to retrieve the large box, Chérie and their maker joined him.

Lestat cleared his throat. “I took the liberty of checking you out of that dreadful hotel, Louis.”

He spotted his trunk by the backdoor. “You were busy, weren’t you?”

“Not really,” Lestat said smugly, lifting the trunk easily. He waited for his fledglings to pass with the larger box before following them through the darkened garage.

“It seems so strange not to need the light,” Chérie said.

Louis smiled as they lowered the box and uncrated the coffin. She gasped when she saw its lacquered wooden surface.

Lestat laughed and shook his head. “Fledglings. How they love their coffins.” He paused dutifully for her kiss as he passed, carrying the trunk into the house.

“This may seem odd to you,” she confided to Louis, “but I’ve never actually seen a coffin, much less been this close to one.”

Louis took her in his arms, kissing her softly. “You shall be closer still, my love.”

Lestat stuck his head back out the door. “Children. Come along now.”

They laughed and carefully maneuvered the coffin through the house and into her bedroom. Lestat had already made room for it.

Chérie smiled. “Is he always this thoughtful?”

“Rarely,” Louis said, winking at Lestat, who entered and dumped a pile of sweaters on the bed.

“Vos guenilles, monsieur,” he sneered, leaving.

“Your what?” Chérie asked.

Louis blushed. “My rags.”

“Oh.” She stacked the sweaters neatly against the pillows. “You can rearrange anything you like. Make some room for your clothes, which I happen to like, thank you.” Her fingers lingered on his sweaters, momentarily entranced with their softness. Then she laughed. “And I think I’d better pick up a new Larousse. I get the feeling I’m going to need it desperately.”

“What’s a Larousse?”

“The publisher of a good French-English dictionary.”

“No need,” Lestat said, returning to drop the remainder of Louis’s clothes on the bed. “Not unless you can find one from the eighteenth century. Our French is a little old-fashioned, I’m afraid, though we’ve adopted a modern phrase here and there. But you’ll pick it up quickly, Chérie. I couldn’t read a word when I was Born to Darkness.”

Her eyes grew wide, a mild panic suddenly creeping into her gaze as the enormity of what he was saying seemed to descend upon her in full force. She clasped a hand to her mouth.

Without hesitation, Lestat gently took her hand and held her open palm against his cheek, allowing her to feel his solid flesh. Then he touched her in the same fashion, his hand open upon her cheek. And when he spoke, it was with a quiet tenderness that startled Louis.

“Do you see, my dear? We are real. We are standing here with you now, though we were born long ago.” Lestat smiled warmly as he gathered her into his arms, holding her close to his heart. “It will be difficult at first, but don’t let it upset you. Take comfort in knowing that understanding will come. In time.”

Louis watched in awe. Lestat loved her! And the despair that had clouded his maker’s face only hours earlier had utterly vanished. When had that happened, and when was the last time he’d seen such peace and radiance illuminate that beautiful face he knew so well? The realization of what he was witnessing struck him hard and he briefly squeezed his eyes shut, reveling in the happiness that flooded over him. Lestat was alive!

Chérie sighed deeply and wrapped her arms around her maker’s waist, her hands pressed against his back. “You are a comfort, Lestat. I can already understand why Louis loves you so.”

He laughed brightly. “I’m afraid I haven’t always been so kind to Louis.” He drew her away and playfully ran his finger down her nose. Then he was clapping his hands together like a governess. “Now get ready for your rest, you two. Toute de suite!” He quickly left them alone.

Chérie leaned over to Louis. “I knew that one.”

He smiled and then laughed quietly, shaking his head in wonder. He turned and finished straightening his clothes, setting aside fresh jeans, socks, and underwear, before he took her hands in his.

“He’s correct, my love. There’s less than an hour before dawn and I don’t keep Lestat’s hours. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll give you some privacy so you may change.”

Louis moved to leave but she stopped him as he neared the door, holding him fast against the wall with one hand. His hand flew to remove hers but it would not budge. His eyes blazed wide over her strength.

“Don’t be such a gentleman. I’m not exactly a blushing teenager, you know.” Chérie eased her pressure slightly, but he was no less immobilized. “Please don’t go, Louis.”

Lestat again approached the door but stopped short, giggling at the sight. “A woman after my own heart!”

She pointed her free hand at her maker, grinning and trying to appear menacing. “You’d better be serious if you come through that door again.”

Lestat held up both hands and obediently remained in the hall, his giggles multiplying. “Not tonight, I think. I just wanted to be certain it was all right with Louis if I made use of his chest.”


Merci, Louis. Bonne nuit, Chérie.” He could no longer contain his laughter as he pulled the door closed.

“Bonne nuit,” she echoed, sliding her arms around Louis.

He bent to kiss her hungrily, his desire for her cresting, greater than any he’d ever known. He enveloped her in his arms, pressing her hardened preternatural flesh tightly against him as his tongue slipped between her parted lips. He scratched its surface over her newborn fangs, lethal and sharp, and tasted his blood in her mouth, arousing him further as her mouth closed on the tiny source of blood. So intimate that she should know the taste of his blood now! When she would have done the same, her tongue sliding over the surface of his fangs, feeling their shape and length, he gently broke the embrace.

“No, Chérie. Not even a drop.” He kissed the tip of her nose. “We should change, before we fall unconscious where we stand. The heavy drapes will not keep out enough of the sun for us.”

Louis pulled off his sweater and chose another from the bed. Tugging it over his head, he saw her watching him. He sat on the bed and tried not to blush as he pulled off his boots and set them aside. As he removed his socks, he was surprised to realize he rather enjoyed the intimacy of her eyes on him. Yet, he felt the nearness of the dawn keenly. He quickly finished changing and rose.

“Come, Chérie. I have but a few minutes remaining.” Louis raised the coffin’s heavy lid, revealing a silk lining in the deepest blue. He smiled, pressing the fingers of one hand to his lips. “He knows me so well,” he murmured and then turned to see her slip an oversized tee-shirt into place. Her long legs were so very pale now, radiant. He sighed, scarcely believing that in only moments she would be stretched out beside him in the coffin.

A flush rose in her cheeks. “I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me quite like that, Louis,” she whispered. She pulled at her tee-shirt. “It’s what I always wear. Do you think it will be warm enough?”

“Probably not, but we shall keep each other warm.” He held out his hand and smiled.

Louis felt the trembling in her delicate fingers as he stepped into the coffin and then carefully guided her over its side. Her uneasiness gave way to fascination, however, as she watched him lay among its shimmering folds. He gently drew her down beside him, into his arms, and she nestled in against his shoulder, her legs intertwined with his. He smiled when her hand reached out to touch the silk before encircling his waist.

“It’s so soft, Louis! I could never have imagined how soft it is, lying like this.”

“Yes, my love. But get comfortable. Once sleep descends, you’ll remain as you are until nightfall.”

Chérie tipped her head up to gaze into his dark green eyes and he kissed her.

“Perfect,” she said, smiling contentedly.

Louis returned her smile as he reached up and firmly grasped the lid. She tensed briefly and he paused.

“I’m afraid there’s no way to prepare you for this, Chérie. Hold tight to me if it becomes disconcerting and listen to the beating of my heart.” Louis kissed her again when she nodded. “Remember, you’re alive, my love, and you will awaken at sunset.” He furrowed his brow and smiled playfully. “I, on the other hand, may appear ready never to wake again. But Lestat should be up when you rise, so don’t wait for me. You could expire from sheer boredom waiting for me to rise.”

She was laughing as he pulled the lid shut, but gasped nonetheless when the darkness became total. He held her close, stroking her silky hair until she relaxed.

“Never in my life have I been this happy, my love.” He felt his arms becoming motionless. She too was becoming still, pressed so exquisitely against him. “I love you, Chérie,” he said, closing his eyes.

“And I love y--”

But they were lost in Death’s sleep.

“How sublime friendship between Lestat and me.”
Louis (IWTV, p62, pb)


Louis paused, quietly searching the violet eyes of the vampire sitting perfectly still across the table.

“Please go on, Louis,” Daniel said.

He gave a slow shrug of his shoulders. “When I awoke, they had gone.”


“Yes.” Louis laughed silently. “But there was a note explaining how I was to feed Glennie.”

“But where had they gone?” Daniel twisted around in his chair to where Lestat lay sprawled on the floor, entranced with the telling.

Lestat noticed the young vampire’s inquisitive stare. “It’s not my story to tell, Daniel. It’s not about me.”

“Of course it is! You and Louis have stopped fighting!”

“You haven’t been listening. Again,” Louis chided. “It’s not about Lestat. It’s not even about me. Don’t you see?”

“No, I don’t see!”

Lestat grinned. “It will take more than tonight, Louis.”

“Yes, you were right,” Louis said, nodding. He smiled at Daniel’s confusion. “They were gone two nights. She learned everything Lestat could teach her.”

“And she spent hours just touching my hair,” Lestat quickly added, laughing in delight. “Impossible fledglings!”

“You don’t fool me, Lestat,” Louis said. “You crave the adoration.” He smiled and shook his head slowly. “And we give it, happily.”

“Are you happy, Louis? Finally?” Daniel asked in a whisper.

“Oh, yes. More so than I ever dared to imagine. I’m still the same vampire I was when we first met. But now I’m--” He furrowed his brow, then laughed quietly. “I’m more than I was then.”

Daniel nodded as he searched the eyes of the first vampire he’d ever known. His gaze took in the silky smooth surface of Louis’s skin, so very pale.

“You drank from Lestat again, didn’t you?”

Louis’s smile lighted his entire face. “Yes, about a month after they returned.”

Daniel glanced at Lestat, who was grinning smugly and clicking his glossy fingernails one by one. He turned his attention back to Louis.

“Did it change you? How you felt?”

“Yes. Physically, to be sure. But here.” He touched his chest. “There’s a yearning here like I’ve never known before. A longing for goodness.” He smiled at Lestat. “A gift from my maker.”

Daniel tapped the table lightly with his pencil. “And what about the other powers?”

Louis sighed. “I control the terrible ones, I try to enjoy flying, and I cherish every silent word I hear from Chérie.”

“You can finally read thoughts?” Daniel smiled warmly.

“Thank you, yes.”

Daniel grinned. “God, that’s great! I mean, that’s what I was thinking, how great that is for you.”

Louis smiled.

“So when can I meet her? Where is she?”

“Right here,” came a lush alto voice.

Louis and Lestat rose as she stepped down from the windowsill, a large paper-wrapped parcel under her arm. She was attired similarly to Louis, right down to the black boots, her long brown hair windblown. Daniel stood hastily.

“Did you find it, my love?” Louis asked, kissing her tenderly.

She nodded excitedly as he accepted the large bundle from her hands and set it on his chair. He carefully pulled open the paper and grinned. He lifted a black leather jacket and inspected its back, running his long fingers lovingly over the surface.

“Perfect, Chérie. Exquisite!” He promptly extended the jacket to his maker. “For you, the one thing I absolutely knew you wanted and did not have.”

Lestat held up the jacket, his eyes tinged red. “I can’t believe you found one!” He donned it quickly and did a model’s turn. It was emblazoned across the back, in shimmering gold.

The Vampire Lestat
U.S. Tour 1985

Louis found himself engulfed in leather and gasping for breath. He laughed and kissed Lestat’s cheek as his maker turned to catch up Chérie. Louis smiled as he watched them dance around the room.

“Thank you,” Lestat said breathlessly, putting her back on her feet. “I had given up hope of ever finding one. Merci.

Louis drew Chérie into his arms and held her close. She was shivering from being out in the San Francisco night.

“Now you’re cold, my love,” he said, kissing her nose.

She laughed and Daniel seemed entranced by the sound. He blushed when she noticed him staring at her.

“This is Daniel, Chérie,” Louis said.

“Daniel?” she said with awe in her voice. “You’re Daniel?”

The young vampire held out his hand for shaking but she enveloped him in a hug.

“I owe you so much,” she whispered in his ear.

Daniel’s eyes shifted, confused, as he held her lightly.

“Owe me? For what?”

“For writing his story.” Her voice faltered. “You, as much as they, gave me this life and his love. Thank you.”

Tears welled in his eyes and he looked pleadingly at Louis and Lestat. But they only stood, side by side, smiling contentedly. Daniel buried his face in her sweater and held her tightly as she stroked his hair.

“Time for his penance, I think,” Lestat said softly.

Louis nodded as he watched Chérie dry Daniel’s eyes.

“Parts of the book aren’t true,” he told her.

She smiled. “I know. We have a somewhat,” her eyes shifted pointedly to Lestat, “edited version at the house. Perhaps it’s time to insist on a new edition.”

Parfaitement! Très bien, Chérie,” Lestat said.

“Merci beaucoup, mon père.” She held the young vampire’s arm as she brought him before Louis. “Go easy on him, my love,” she pleaded.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible, Chérie,” Louis said, his voice heavy with regret. “Only a terrible penance will help him overcome the monstrous things he has done.”

Daniel’s eyes grew wide as Louis reached out and tenderly touched his cheek.

Louis sighed. “He must come live with us for a time.” He smiled affectionately. “Or forever, if he chooses.”

“What?” Daniel whispered. “That’s supposed to be terrible? Are you kidding?”

“No, little one,” Lestat said. “Your maker is gone and you need someone to guide you, to teach you what Armand did not. Louis and Chérie want to do this for you.”

Daniel staggered back for his chair and sat down hard.

Louis knelt beside him. “You have always been my fledgling, Daniel. Maybe not in blood, but here.” Louis laid his hand over the ashen-haired vampire’s heart. “Come. Say you will stay with us.”

Daniel began nodding before his mouth could form the word, a grin slowly blossoming over his face.

“Yes,” he finally said.

He reached across the table and, fumbling with the buttons, clicked off the recorder.


Louis de Pointe du Lac

San José, California

September 1995

“Louis’s indestructible humanity.”
Lestat (TVL, p504, pb)


Un Glossaire Français
A French Glossary

Following is a brief list of the French phrases used in this story. Only meanings relevant to the story are given.

Amusez-vous, amuse yourself (polite imperative)

Bien-aimé, beloved (m)

Bonne nuit, good night (bedtime)

Chérie, sweetheart, darling (f)

Lioncourt, short (brief span of time) lion

Ma chère, my dear (f)

Merci, thank you

Merci beaucoup, thank you very much

Merde, excrement

Mon Dieu, my God

Mon père, my father

Mon petit, my child (m)

Monsieur, sir, mister

Parfaitement, absolutely

Pointe du Lac, point (tip) of the lake

Toute de suite, immediately, at once (idiom)

Très bien, very good (morally)

Vos guenilles, your rags

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About the Author...

Sheri Richardson is an award-winning writer and an as-yet-unpublished novelist. Writing is the essence of her nature. She is also a long-time computer professional. A California native, until recently she lived in the Silicon Valley with her daughter. She currently has three manuscripts in development and seeks new representation.

Her speculative fiction focuses more on the mundane, on the day-to-day lives of the characters, taking a few days and filling in the myriad tiny joys and sorrows that make up a life. Or as Leo Kottke has said: Take a simple melody and drive it into the ground.

A fledgling devotee to vampiric fiction, Sheri is fiercely loyal to cher Louis in all things, but finds Lestat’s passion and humor almost irresistible. Almost.

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About the Story...

Another Interview started out as something I simply had to get on paper if I ever wanted to sleep again, Louis haunted me so. Just what would it take for him to reshape his beliefs? What could possibly change his perceptions so much that he would embrace his gifts and find real peace? These questions troubled me incessantly.

The name Louis chose for his love truly appalled me; I honestly hadn’t picked a name for her by the time he finally asked. But as it turned out, it became vital she not reveal her true name and there was no other choice than the name Louis had given her.

Another Interview remains a story of the struggle to be true to your nature, whatever sort of fiend you might be. Much of the story was also a crying out over the desolation left in the wake of Memnoch’s terrible passing.

Like other authors, I have drawn from my own world. The walnut tree stands in what was my front yard. In the back there was once a large and friendly dog, though he was neither mine nor a deerhound. Were you to walk down my street then, you would see the places Louis strolled, the sequoia, the swing, so long ago now it seems.

The Hakone Gardens (hah-koh-nee gahr-dehnz) are most especially real. Any visit to the Silicon Valley is incomplete without a pause in that particular corner of the Savage Garden. They are closed at night, however, so I’m uncertain if the illusion I painted truly occurs. Perhaps it does, but only for those with lustrous hair, radiant skin, and fierce eyes.

Another Interview and my two other Louis stories may be found in their entirety on Divisadero Street, Louis’s original homepage.

Comments on and discussion of the story are welcome and encouraged. Please use the link, below.

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Revision Details

Posted, August 1995 -- Uploaded to the A.B.A-R newsgroup.

Revised, January 1996 -- The original story contained several inaccuracies that needed correcting. And I took the opportunity to incorporate some of the suggestions I’d received, and to clean up the writing overall. The times I fell asleep at the keyboard were glaring, I’m afraid.

Perhaps more importantly, I had a better feel for these fine Créole gentlemen once the sequel, Resurrection, was completed, a much longer piece of spec fiction at over ninety-five thousand words, and I wanted to bring this story into line with what I’d learned.

Reposted, October 1997 -- Updated e-mail address and added Divisadero Street URL.

Converted to HTML, November 1998 -- Long overdue, non? I also got around to changing baritone to alto. Duh.

Updated the HTML, October 2006 -- Modernized the code, erradicated the frames, and also reverted bienaimé to the more common spelling, bien-aimé.

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[Respect that was once given freely, having been demanded, is irretrievably lost.]

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and incidents in this work are fictitious or used fictiously. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings, products, or publications -- living, dead, or otherwise -- is intended nor should such be inferred.

The story and all its trimmings are protected by U.S. and international copyright law. Posting or republication is prohibited without my express, written permission in advance. If you would like the story for your site feel free to contact me, using the link below. I cannot give permission for reproduction of this story in any for-profit collection on any media; t’was written for love, not money. I will entertain writing to spec, however.

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