Jörn Ekhardt awakened immediately at the sound of an intruder.
He was in his apartment, and he heard the footsteps with his heightened senses, coming down the hallway. Light steps— those of a woman. And he could already smell her perfume, a familiar scent, although he hadn’t seen her for many months. Elena.
Jörn had enough time to use the trick which Friedrich had taught him, ‘The Blush of Life’ his sire had called it. Elena was a journalist like himself, and had already gone off to cover the civil war in Russia when Jörn was made into a vampire. Although they wrote to each other frequently… well, he was part of the Masquerade now. Mortals could never know of their existence. He had both yearned for, and dreaded, Elena’s return, and, as the bedroom door swung open and they locked eyes, he felt some small part of himself suddenly wish it had been a vampire hunter instead. It would have been less terrifying than facing his fiancé at this moment.
“Jörn, darling, you’re home? Were you sleeping? It’s 3 in the afternoon!”
She went to windows and drew back the curtains.
“I called from the airport, but you didn’t answer… Umm, why are the Window boarded?”
“Long story. I’ll explain later. It’s good to see you.”
She flashed him a wicked smile, and leapt into the bed. Whatever they had to say to each other, whatever questions, could wait. For now it was enough to be together again. As they made love, Jörn resisted the pull of Daysleep, just as he resisted the bestial urge to tear open Elena’s throat and feast until nothing was left, long enough to finish.
He woke again, later, only this time to the smell of warm food.
“There was nothing in the cupboards,” she told him. “so I went and got us something to eat.".
Again, Jörn had used his vitae—the life-force carried in the blood—to give himself the warmth and pallor of the living, and it had left him hungry, though not for the anything on the plate she brought him. Still, he made a show of enjoying it.
“It’s so good to enjoy a proper German meal again.” She told him. “Those poor Russians… the famine there has brought so much suffering. Millions of people have died already, and the survivors… I met a boy there, only thirteen years old, who had murdered and eaten his own three year-old sister.”
“Mein Gott, that’s awful.”
“No, my dear, that’s Russia. You think things are bad here, but you have no idea. Anyway, that’s why I’ve come back.”
“To eat?” Jörn smirked
“No, I’m serious. The longer I stayed and the more I saw, I felt myself getting further and further from home, and from you.” Elena reached across the table, and squeezed his hand in hers.
“But enough about me!” she continued. “Let’s hear about you! What sorts of trouble have you been getting yourself into these last few months?”
Well, I’ve joined the ranks of the undead, he didn’t say.
“The paper’s got me working nights now. Actually, I’m working on a story about an assault on the leader of the Bayernbund by the leader of some new nationalist group. It was a pretty vicious attack, and symptomatic of the unrest here in Munich. Anyway, this Hitler troublemaker was sentenced last month, and I’m trying to get an interview.”
Jörn wiped at his mouth with a napkin. “Speaking of which, I have to check in with my editor and pick up any messages. It really can’t wait, but then I’ll take the rest of the night off. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.” He stood, and grabbed her by the waist. “Give me about an hour. Delicious meal, by the way.”
Moments later he was outside, retching, as his body rejected the food he’d just consumed, before slipping into the rain-slicked night in search of fresh blood.
When he did finally drop by the paper, there was a message from Friedrich. Jörn’s presence was formally requested for tomorrow evening at the Sendlinger Tor, one of the old fortress gates to the Old City. Jörn turned off the desk lamp, donned his fedora, and made his way back home.