The building swayed beneath me, rocked by the wind that whipped the wisps of hair sticking from beneath my hat into a frenzy that stung the edges of my face.
“This is wreaking havoc with my hair,” I said, putting my eyes to the standing binoculars placed there for tourists. “But you were right, the view from here is beautiful!”
“You are beautiful,” he said, the words pulling my lips into a wider smile even as I looked through the binocs at the huge red ball over Times Square, a little more than a mile away.
“It hasn’t begun to drop yet,” I reported, turning to face him. He stood out from the rest of the small crowd on the Observation Deck, and not just because I loved him; he was handsome, and unbelievably sexy, in some undefined way, but he was also… different, somehow. It was subtle, but there, like the tiny differences that made a good wine great. I shivered, not just because of the cold.
“I know,” he said, low voice cutting through the wind and slight tourist chatter. “You can hear the crowd counting down, even from here.”
“You can, sure,” I teased. “But what about the rest of us?”
He laughed, deep in his chest.
“Everyone can. Usually. I just hear it a little… better. That’s all.”
He moved closer, the wind fluttering the open collar of his long coat. That was one difference, I realized, one that you could see, once you noticed it. Though his coat was belted at the waist it was open at the top, bearing his throat and upper chest to the wind that had everyone else up here bundled up and shivering. Hatless, his hair was pulled into an even greater frenzy than mine, though on him it looked good. Rather than unkempt and ragged, it made him look untamed, and free. Like a wild thing.
I know where the Wild Things Are, I thought, remembering my favorite book as a child. Had I somehow known that someday I would…
“Usually?” I reached out and took hold of his lapels, pulling him closer, incidentally using him to block the wind. I arched an eyebrow. “How often have you been up here for New Years Eve?”
His smile became a grin, flashing white in the observatory deck lights.
“I have been up here many times, just about every New Year’s Eve I could.”
He tilted his head up, leaning back to look straight up at the stars, so much closer here, eighty six stories above the ground.
“Even without the binoculars, the view from here is wonderful. I look up and see the great Vault of Heaven, I look down and think this must be what God sees as he looks down on his Creation. “
He looked down at me, his eyes suddenly intense and meeting mine, our lips so close I could feel his next words, his breath caressing my face in a way I found intoxicating, and my heart faltered for a beat or two.
“But I have never brought anyone here. Never had anyone to kiss when the ball dropped. Not until now.”
“Oh,” I said, then heard the breathy weakness in my own voice and got a hold of myself, forcing some strength back into my tone.
“Waxing a little poetic, are we?”
His eyes lost a little of their intensity, his lips quirking into what could only be called a smirk.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I can’t help it, sometimes. It comes from being older than I look.”
That made me laugh. Before I could respond, however, there was a faint but definite sound riding the wind.
He pulled me into a rough embrace, hip-to-hip, and I melted into him. He stared into my eyes from just inches away, so close his eyes were all I could see.
He leaned in, quickly, and I felt his breath upon my lips again, just for an instant. Then we were cheek-to-cheek, that same breath tickling my ear as he murmured to me.
I tried to nod, but couldn’t move. I managed a quick “Uh-huh.”
He pulled back to look into my eyes again, and the world did that funny trick of retreating into the background. The observation deck, the other people, the whole night just seemed to fade away, leaving just the two of us. I felt my heart beating in my ears as he leaned in.
“Are you sure?” he whispered.
“I am,” I whispered back.
“You are my first,” he said. “All this time, and you will be my first. Never to be forgotten. Ever.”
The countdown came back to me, carried on the wind.
“…three… two… one…”
“I love you,” I whispered.
His teeth sank into my neck. The pain was intense, but momentary, first numbness and then waves of pleasure radiating outward from the twin punctures in my flesh. I felt his lips moving on my skin, sealing around my wound, and he began to pull. The pleasure intensified, pull after pull as he drew on me faster and faster, until I felt myself weakening.
Then came the fear, but he had warned me of this and I clung to him, trusting in him, and suddenly his wrist was there, pressed to my lips. I bit down, hard. Savagely. For my life. Hot blood filled my mouth, and rather than being disgusted I found it sweet. It was his, and it filled me with his power, his strength, even as my own strength drained from me with my own blood.
Finally I fell, drained, but he caught me, held me up in his embrace.
Now I will be like him, I thought. Forever. But first…
In order to be reborn like him, my body had to die. As the first waves of pain hit, his voice came to me, whispered in my ear, even through my Death.
“I love you, too.”