Nicole stood with her back against the dry stone wall. She smiled and looked into Marshall’s onyx eyes where her own reflection stared back at her. Without a moment’s hesitation he clasped his pale hands around her tiny waist and lifted her up onto the rough stone ledge. The light breeze grazed her skin and carried with it the sound and salty flavour of the ocean. She leaned forward, twisting strands of his long dark hair around her fingers.
“What do you see when you look at me?” she asked, curious of Marshall’s perception of a simple mortal.
“Beauty and innocence, you are like a child to me.”
“I don’t mean physically. I mean when you look inside of me, inside my mind and my soul … what is it that you see?”
As he smiled, his icy teeth peeked through his pale lips. “I see life, vivacity, I see a warmth and passion that I’d long forgotten existed. You make me feel mortal again, which is something that I never dared hope for.” He lifted her chin and caught her eyes with his. “Please, would you tell me the colour of your eyes? I believe they must be blue or green because of their pretty pallor but I cannot discern their actual colour.”
“They’re blue, Marshall. Are you colour-blind?”
“Yes. Since my transformation I’ve led my life in black and white. The only colour I can clearly see is red.”
“Red? That doesn’t make sense.”
The vampire’s eyes narrowed and his gaze fell from Nicole, a look of shame dulled his expression.
“Oh,” she said as the reason behind his impairment became all too clear. “I’m sorry, Marshall, I think I still have a lot to learn about you.”
“I know you do and I have told you before that I will willingly give you the answers if you give me the questions.”
“And I have so many questions,” Nicole breathed as she glanced around the spellbinding courtyard, the lanterns adorning the tree gently swayed back and forth with the breeze. She spotted Marshall’s family and her gaze rested on his brothers “Why are you’re so different to your brothers?”
“The twins are not my true brothers, Nicole. They are my family but not my blood. Joshua and Joel are from Norway, their long blond hair and fair skin tell of their origins. I was born in Turkey, likewise my dark hair and eyes are testament to my nationality.”
“And what about Katya?” Nicole couldn’t hide her unease at Marshall’s closeness to this stunning being. “She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Tell me Marshall … do you love her?”
“Of course I love her, I always will, but as my sister and nothing more. Katya came from Hungary, she was chosen for this life for her appearance. Her long black hair, white skin and piercing eyes were her creator’s preference. All of the vampires he made look just like her.”
“She’s so beautiful, I can’t help wishing I looked like her.” Nicole instantly felt ashamed of her shallow words.
“She may be beautiful but that has always been Katya’s curse.”