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Winter Gifts

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As much as Annabelle loved him, Elliot Jones wasn’t good at being a vampire.

Oh, for sure he was a good vampire. Decades of living on blood from the butcher shop and local hospitals had made the transition from human to immortal easier than it could have been. Elliot was always a good study, and after fifty years of this life he knew their ways well.

Of course, that didn’t mean he was good at fitting the vampire image. Vehicles had become considerably more advanced, and yet he still insisted on riding his bike whenever at all possible. And for all that his eyesight was superior to just about any human, Elliot always found excuses to still wear his glasses.

If any real vampire Annabelle had met fit the classic stereotype, it was probably Christopher. Her heart always hurt when she thought of her brother, still silent in his long sleep. Someday, someday.

But until the day he awakened and rejoined them, Annabelle was more than content with her quiet life with Elliot. Sometimes they would travel for a specific purpose. Elliot still wrote constantly, and claimed that going to distant locales helped with inspiration. Or sometimes they would move to a city for a year or two, taking comfort in being a part of the anonymous, common masses of people. And sometimes they picked some little town in the middle of nowhere and just lived life (Or unlife. She never had put much thought into the distinction). Annabelle secretly liked those quiet times the best.

Many things had changed over time, but movies more or less stayed the same. Special effects of course had improved, but narrative arcs didn’t change that much. At the end of the day a horror movie was still a horror movie. Annabelle sometimes wondered if it was voyeuristic for her to enjoy movies about the supernatural to this extent. Or maybe it was that after all this time, she still loved watching Elliot as much as (or even more than) she loved watching movies. It didn’t matter how many times they had seen something with a very similar plot, Elliot still looked like a kid in a candy store every time they sat in front of the silver screen.

It was December, and they were exiting some theater’s midnight showing of the latest version of Dracula. This one was supposed to appeal to the hardcore horror fans, but she had a feeling it would appeal to the teenage girls as well. The actor they had playing Dracula was certainly dashing enough.

Elliot took her hand as they walked back to the car. The snow that had begun to lightly coat the roads when on their way to the theater now blanketed several inches. Maybe they would have a white Christmas after all. “It’s good that they stuck to the original story,” Elliot mused. “You could tell the writer actually read Bram Stoker.”

Annabelle chuckled, taking her husband’s arm. “You would know, dear, you mentored that kid.”

“He’s hardly a kid anymore. I think he turns 40 this year.”

Elliot grew silent, so Annabelle focused on the sound their feet made in the snow. She looked up at Elliot and gave him a smile. He returned it, but she could tell his thoughts were elsewhere.

If she had breath, it would have been still in her chest. Annbelle had been quietly scared of this moment for a long time. That eventually the glamour of being immortal would wear off, and Elliot would resent her for trapping him in this never ending night. That bitterness would ebb away the gentle quality she loved so much about him-

“I’m not very good at this, am I?”

Annabelle stopped. “In…what sense?”

Elliot shifted uncomfortably. “Being…you know…a vampire.”

Another couple passed them, most likely within earshot. After the incident with Brian Atley, paranoia had become instinctual. Her husband meant well, but sometimes she would have to gently chide him to be a bit more careful.

No such thoughts were on her mind now. She chose her next words carefully. “What do you mean?”

“Well…it’s just that I’m not scary.”

Forget what they said about vampires not having a heartbeat, Annabelle was positive a weight had just been lifted from her chest. A smile played across her lips. “Do you want to be scary, love?” She took his arm and they began walking again.

“Mmm…” Elliot seemed to be genuinely considering the question. “Maybe if it was for fun, like a joke. But I wouldn’t want to really scare anyone.” Elliot’s eyebrows had a somewhat comical position when he was deep in thought. Annabelle always found it endearing. “I’m not very dashing either.”

It was hard for her not to laugh. “Is there anyone you need to be dashing for?”

“Wha-no, no!” The look on his face held so much dismay that this time Annabelle did laugh. “I mean…” He smiled shyly and took her hand again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was three weeks until Christmas. Annabelle had thought she might get Elliot a book of poems, or maybe a nicely bound journal for his writing. But as she thought about their conversation over the next few days, she had a better idea.

Obviously it was a busy time of year. It took a lot of pleading with the lady who answered the phone at the small custom shop in Germany to ensure that the order would be finished on time. In the end it required paying for international next day shipping, but Annabelle didn’t mind.

They were creatures of the night, and as such they had made a tradition over the years of opening presents after midnight, right after the date changed over to the 25th. From her husband, Annabelle received a necklace and a collection of vintage horror comics. For all that Annabelle truly appreciated both gifts, the anticipation wouldn’t be over until Elliot opened his own gift.

She handed Elliot her parcel. “Merry Christmas,” she whispered. He kissed her on the forehead, and then focused on removing the wrapping paper while doing as little damage to the tape as possible. With the paper removed and set aside, Elliot opened the box carefully.

The material inside was black and soft. Without having to worry about warmth Annabelle had been able to give the designer liberty in what fabrics to use, and she had been quite pleased with the result. Elliot’s eyes were curious for a moment before the realization hit him. “You got me a cape.”

He got to his feet. The silver clasp was engraved with a rose, and it took a moment of fumbling before he was able to undo it and try the garment on.

Words tumbled from Annabelle’s mouth. “I know I always say we’re trying not to stand out, so it’s probably not very practical, but-“

With a roar Elliot leaped at her, grabbing her from behind. Annabelle shrieked in surprise, and then delight as her husband nibbled gently at her neck.

Elliot let a kiss linger at the base of her throat, and then pulled away. “So, do I look fearsome?” His glasses had come slightly askew, and he was grinning from ear to ear.

“Extremely, love.”