Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

True Vampire Romance

We knew we were doomed the minute we met.

“Not with a ten foot pole!” I announced mentally, though I’m still not sure who or what was supposed to be listening.

Greg heard the word. “Doom, doom, doom,” played over and over in his head. He fought it by trying to find something—anything—about me he could reasonably object to.

I didn’t have to try quite so hard. He’d just recovered from some nasty bug and was about fifteen pounds below skinny. If all the jabbing bones and straggly goatee weren’t enough to put me off, there were the hard brown eyes peering at me like Dr. Frankenstein at the purple ray. No problem keeping my self-appointed distance.

We managed to delude ourselves like this for two months, despite the fact we couldn’t stop snarking, sniping and talking to each other. We couldn‘t help ourselves. We’d read most of the same books, seen many of the same movies and related to them in ways that left our friends scratching their heads.

We didn’t think Halloween would be any different. I dressed as Shakespeare’s Viola playing Cesario, knowing I looked gorgeous in black velvet. I wasn’t dressing for Greg, you understand. Not at all. I had even worn the costume for a date with someone else the night before.

Greg knew which party I was likely to attend, and he planned to take his time getting there. He didn’t intend to snub me, but he did intend to angle for different fish—someone less likely to catch him in the same net.

Instead he strode through the door of the townhouse, through the living room and half the dining room to plant himself in front of the chair where I sat, pointedly chatting with someone else. His cape flared behind him as he walked—a real floor-length opera cape properly lined in white satin. (Not red. Red is for wannabes.) His white tie and tails looked like it was tailored to his lean, broad-shouldered form. The goatee was gone, revealing a long, bony face full of interesting planes and angles.

Then I noticed something odd about his hairline. He had a widow’s peak. That wasn’t right. Greg didn’t have a widow’s peak. But Dracula did.

“I shaved it,” he admitted, carefully enunciating the “s“ around his fangs.. “Well, I shaved in half. That way I can change the part and it’s gone.”

That’s when I knew I was doomed too. He was sardonic, fiercely intelligent, sexy and…

A total goof.

It was the goofiness that did me in. Only a goof would shave in half a widow’s peak. That’s what made him happily-ever-after material. Looks change and fade. Intelligence can cut. Wit can burn. But goofiness is forever.

Greg and I have been together ever since. Ironically, given the way we got together, when I started writing fantasy I avoided writing about vampires. I read about them. I’ve seen all the movies, but I never wrote about them. There were so many good vampire stories on the market, and I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the conversation.

That changed a couple of months ago. Right now I’m working on not one, but two, very different vampire stories. One’s your standard much older, much more glamorous, heartbreakingly beautiful vamp with a secret sorrow. Yada Yada. It’s not that the story is the same-old. I don’t do “same old”. I write too slow to trap myself into writing anyone else’s kind of story. But the vampire fits the classic mold much more closely than most of my heroes. In a sense that’s part of his charm. He’s my doorway to the great vampire fairy tale of paranormal romance.

But his isn’t the story that rides me like some demon jockey. No, that’s reserved for the second story, the one where the vampire hero is only two or three years older than the very human, college freshman heroine who discovers him when he awakens, bewildered and hungry, after death has turned him. He is a goof. A very sexy goof, a very brilliant goof, but still a goof. The kind of guy you wind up taking home to your parents, because really, what else can you do?

And for the duration of the first draft, when the words are something only I will see, his name is Greg.

(Originally published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd., October 31, 2008)