“The Hollows?” Potter asked, and I could feel his breath warm on my cheek as we lent against one another. “Tell me about that canyon,” I told him. “What did you call it? The Talles…” “Talles Varineris,” Potter cut in. “What do you want to know?” “What does it look like? I want to be able to picture it,” I told him, closing my eyes wishing that I was miles away from the cell that we sat imprisoned in.
Potter took a deep breath, as if recalling his memories hurt him in some way. “The canyon runs for miles,” he said, “like a crack in the centre of the Earth. Vampyrus have undertaken expeditions to try and find its start and its end, but none have ever returned. Some say that they fell in or went mad and got lost in the millions of gorges and tunnels that twist and turn through the Talles Varineris.”
“Why would they have gone mad?” I whispered, trying to picture the canyon in my mind’s eye. “It’s the light,” he whispered. “Light?” “If you stand right out on the very edge and look into the canyon, it’s like staring into the deepest abyss,” he explained. “But if stared hard enough and long enough you see a light – a bright orange glow. Some say that it shifts and moves – takes on shapes of the most incredible beauty. For those who have seen it say it’s like looking into the Earth’s soul.”
“Did you ever see this light,” I asked him, “when you went with your mother and father?” “No,” he said. “I didn’t want to look.” “Why not?” “The soul of any living thing is a private place,” he said. “a sacred thing, not to be inspected or understood.” To hear him speak like this shocked me. I’d always thought of Potter as being pretty one-dimensional – a wise guy with a smart mouth and nothing more. But now I wasn’t so sure and the secret fascination that I’d had for him was only made more curious.
“Tell me more,” I told him, the rise and fall of his chest next to me, making me feel calmer. “I don’t know what else there is to say,” he said. “I’m not very good with words – you know, describing things.” “But you have made it sound beautiful,” I said. Then resting his cheek against mine, he said, “I’ll take you there one day,” he said. “To The Hollows?” I asked. “And to the Talles Varineris canyon.” Pulling my head back, so that I could see him, I said with surprise, “You promise?” “I promise,” he said, looking into my eyes. Then leaning forward, he kissed me gently on the mouth. His kisses weren’t hungry and passionate as before, but soft – caring – which was unlike him. He kissed my face and neck and stroked my hair with his manacled hands.
Those feelings of guilt that I’d felt before didn’t rise to the surface. Instead, I just wanted to be held close, be loved, and be made safe. Now wasn’t the time to search my conscience or to reflect on what had been; all I could think of was now and how long it would be before they came for us. I was scared that I would never see Potter again.
So, closing my eyes, I kissed him back, and my kisses were frenzied and passionate. Looping my bound wrists over his head, I placed them at the back of his neck and pulled him towards me, smothering his face, neck and chest in kisses. He kissed me back, and using his shoulder, he gently pushed me down onto the floor. With butterflies swooping around inside my stomach, he fumbled with my clothes and loosened them. As I lay on my back, he pulled open my coat and the shirt beneath and kissed my flesh. His lips were warm against the flat of my tummy as he tugged at the button on my jeans. He pulled them off, then holding him close, I pulled Potter down on top of me.
With a passion so deep and raw, we made love in the shadows, the light from the torch on the other side of the cell, bathing our bodies in its warm glow. Was it right what we had done? I didn’t know and didn’t care. All I knew and understood in that time we shared together was how special it felt to be cared and loved for.
Breathless and covered in a fine sheen of sweat, we lay and held each other and I had an overwhelming urge to cry. It wasn’t sadness, though, but happiness. However, I knew that at any time now we would be separated and that sense of joy would be gone forever. So pressing myself up close next to him, I tried to cling onto those feelings for as long as possible.
“Sophie,” Potter said suddenly. “Sorry?” “You asked me who it was that had hurt me,” he whispered. Propping myself up, I looked down at him as he lay on the ground. “Who was Sophie?” I asked him. “A friend?” “She was more than that,” he said, without looking at me. “What happened?” I asked, wanting to know more about Potter and his life before we had met. I wanted to know what made him tick – what lay beneath that cocky and arrogant mask that he wore.“Not much, really,” he half-smiled, “that was the problem.” “Did you love this Sophie?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said and looked at me. “And did…did she love you?” I said, not knowing if I should have asked that. “I thought she did,” Potter started to explain. “I first met Sophie at college. She was studying music and I was studying…well I was messing about more than anything. College for me was just one long party, staggering from one drunken night to the next. But then I met Sophie and everything changed. She wasn’t like any of my other friends. She was gentle, kind, and a smile that would…” then looking at me he said, “I’m sorry, you don’t want to hear all this.”
Shaking my head, I said, “No, go on – I want to know. Was Sophie a Vampyrus?” “No, she was human,” he said, “and that was the problem.” “Why?” “Sophie didn’t know about me – what I truly was,” Potter said. “I thought I could keep it a secret. I knew that I was different, I’d always known that. As a kid, I had it drummed into me by my parents. When I told them that I wanted to go above ground, live amongst the humans, they tried to talk me out of it. They said that if humans ever discovered that I was different from them that they would want to experiment on me – keep me like an animal in a cage while they studied me. But I’d made up my mind to go. Most of my friends had left The Hollows and I wanted to find out what it was like above ground for myself. So I left my home and family behind. But I couldn’t cope with everything that humans had. I mean, they had everything! There was so much to see and do, to taste, hear, smell – I went into overdrive. Then I met Sophie and everything changed. I changed. Vampyrus women are beautiful – but human women are something else and she was. But it was more than that – for the first time in my life I saw past her beauty and fell in love with her. Call me stupid or naive, but I was all loved-up I guess, but I didn’t feel as if I could truly be myself with her. It was like I was holding something back – keeping a secret from her, and I was. So one winter’s night, as we lay next to one another on her bed, I revealed my true self to her,” he said.
“What did she say?” I asked him.
“Piss off, I think?”
“No, she never?” I gasped, not knowing if he were joking or not. I remembered how I’d felt when Luke had revealed himself to me back in my room at the Crescent Moon Inn.
“No she didn’t say ‘piss off’,” he half-smiled, “but it amounted to the same thing. I remember the look Sophie gave me as I turned to face her with my wings and fangs out. It wasn’t like in the books and the movies.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“She didn’t exactly throw herself at my feet, treat me like some kinda demigod, hang on my every word, and tell me that she couldn’t live without me. No, Sophie screamed so loud I thought she was gonna burst my eardrums. I could see the bewilderment and confusion in her eyes as she screamed, ‘Oh my god! I’ve been dating a freak!’ I mean that hurt, Kiera. It hurt like nothing ever had before. Sophie looked repulsed by me – sickened – but more than that, she looked scared of me. She told me to get as far away from her as possible and to never come back, and said that if I didn’t, she would tell her parents,” he explained.
“Why didn’t she go straight to her parents?” I asked him.
“Because she knew that they wouldn’t have believed her,” Potter said. “I mean, who would? Besides, she had really controlling parents – you know the sort – and they would have had her tested for smoking crack or sent her straight to see the shrink.”
“It must have been terrible for you,” I said, my voice soft as I stroked the fine v-shaped line of hair that ran from his chest and down the front of his rock-hard stomach.
“It was at the time,” Potter said. “I couldn’t risk staying in town just in case she told friends who might have believed her. So with my parents’ warning ringing in my ears, I left town and hitched my way across country. Each town I came across, I’d stay long enough to find a job some place and once I’d saved a little cash, I would move on again. I felt like Bruce-what’s-his-face from the Incredible Hulk.”
“His surname was Banner,” I smiled.
“Whatever,” he shrugged. “I couldn’t go back to The Hollows, I was too proud and I knew that my folks would only say ‘we told you so.’ Then one night, it had been snowing hard and blowing a gale, so I broke into this old warehouse, you know to keep warm. I was starving hungry and freezing cold. Anyway, I must have tripped some kind of alarm or something, because they sent this cop out to investigate. Desperate not to be arrested, I ripped off my coat, and releasing my wings, I flew away. But to my surprise he took off after me and it wasn’t long before the cop had hold of me and was dragging me back out of the sky and to the ground. And that’s how I met Sergeant Jim Murphy. Murphy, right from the start, treated me like a son, and got me enlisted into the police force. I nearly didn’t make it through initial training,” he said.