“Très bien,” he said at last with a prickle of pleasure. He did not offer further comment.
He listened in receptive silence to his companion’s observations. His eyes did not seek the images the boy was sketching with his words, but remained idle, cloudy and ineffable. If the sudden sorrow in his words enticed any emotion to stir in his chest, the vampire did not betray it. He remained wordless, dispassionate, his fingers curled loosely about the cane in his hand.
At the boy’s blunder, Tariq had made as though to catch him by instinct, but stopped just short of touching him, his hand poised in mid-air. That gesture turned into an offer and, should the invitation be accepted, he pulled him to his feet with easy strength. There was a glint of playful teasing in his countenance as he opened his mouth to speak but his nostrils flared like a wild animal’s and his mouth closed with a snap.
The smell of blood, darkly sweet and iron-dry, coiled enticingly in the cold air. The vampire’s body had stiffened as a corpse.
There was a moment, then, of perfect stillness. The black waters of the river sucked noisily at the bank. And the boy’s host moved.
The movement of his hand was grasping, as though he sought to curl his fingers around the neck still kissed with bruises, but this gesture was suppressed and the palm of his hand instead slipped down to Fabien’s sternum and pressed hard, forcing his spine to connect solidly with the wall. The pitted stone did not yield beneath his impact, nor of that of the vampire who was suddenly very, very close. His long fingers clutched the front of his shirt.
That mouth, concealing the teeth that had so recently torn into the throat of his departed friend, brushed softly against the boy’s lips. They were startlingly cool against his own warm mouth.
“Je veux t’embrasser,” the vampire breathed. His pupils had dilated and filled his eyes with flecks of silver. The scent of him was heady and resinous as though he slept on a bed of flowers with heavy heads crumbling to ash. His body pressed serpentine against his companion’s. “May I?”