Carmilla schooled her emotions, mind racing as she stared at the cupcake. Laura had asked her out. Not on a date. Or a date. She wasn’t exactly clear on that.
As Laura stared at her expectantly, spinning slightly on her desk chair in the dark, Carmilla couldn’t help the reflexive small smile that crept across her face. She looked down to cover the action and said, “I think I might like that very much.”
Carmilla looked back up, meeting Laura’s eyes. There was one brief moment of something that Carmilla couldn’t quite identify. All she knew was that Laura’s had stared at her, as if surprised by her answer, and had taken a deep breath. For what, Carmilla couldn’t be sure.
Before she could label the experience, Laura bounded upward with an awkward smile on her face and raced back towards her bed. “Alright well, tomorrow then.” she said, cocooning herself in the sheets.
Carmilla’s gaze followed her, as though pulled on a string. “Yeah,” Carmilla said slowly, “tomorrow.”
Carmilla was in nothing but her underwear, every single item in her closet and everything from Betty’s wardrobe sprawled across her bed. She glared at the entirely unhelpful pile of clothes. There was absolutely nothing suitable for a not-a-date-but-maybe-a-date bonfire.
She grabbed a black see-through shirt and held it up to her body. Then, frowning, she chucked it back onto the bed. She could have sworn that it looked more than sexy two days ago when whats-her-face from that-one-class had been all over her. Now, she just felt clammy.
And her mouth was dry.
Probably a reaction to the thought of having to attend a social gathering with those lackwhits. The Zeta bros were many things but sophisticated, organized, or event planners were not on their list of special skills. They were more ‘acquire a keg and set things on fire’ people.
Still, Carmilla couldn’t just show up in just anything. She was Carmilla Karnstein. If she didn’t ooze sex appeal from every pore then someone might think she was going soft.
Carmilla grabbed her leather pants and shimmied into them. Turning, she examined her curve of her butt in the mirror, remembering the way that Laura’s eyes had darkened the last time Carmilla had worn them.
Not that Carmilla cared.
She gave a small strut for the mirror, adding a small sashay with her hips. She smiled, pleased at the result. That would have gotten her locked in her bedroom in 1698. Can’t have acceptable society doing that.
Now of course, small sashays were nothing compared to the bumping and grinding that ran rampant at parties in this century. Carmilla looked in the mirror and bucked her hips slightly, trying to imitate the motion and swaying to an invisible pulsing beat. Bodies smushed together in a sweating, heaving pit of noise and near sex.
Almost sinful. Demonic.
It should have been the perfect place for someone like her.
Instead she growled at her reflection, scowling as she tried to pull off the seemingly skill-less dry humping that today’s generation called dancing. She knew it looked good but the action never felt right. All spastic motion. The wrong kind of passion. No fluidity. No commitment. Just, ‘oh, I happened to run into you and since you’re here I might as well shove my genitalia into you.’
Carmilla let herself fall forward, face planting into Laura’s bed and groaning at herself.
She was a vampire in the 21st century and she need to get over the human who had lived in the 16th. The Countess with her shy smiles and beautiful dresses and corsets and waltzing and hope. There was no place for that here.
Carmilla’s hand went to her back pocket and fiddled with her cell phone. She should just text Laura and cancel. Something came up. She didn’t even have to be subtle about it. Finding a study buddy wouldn’t be tricky. Laura probably wouldn’t even care and Carmilla could embrace the best of the 21st century. Full on vampire. Pointless sex and see-through shirts.
And plumbing. Indoor plumbing was a beautiful thing.
She brought the phone up to her face to type the message, accidently bumping her fist into Laura’s yellow pillow in the process. The scent of vanilla and cinnamon hit her full in the face.
She smiled at the scent that was so remarkably Laura. Innocent and determination and a whole bundle of awkward. She’d been that once.
The 16th century human inside her poked at the vampire’s heartstrings, playing a tune long forgotten. A slow waltz. Face to face. Hand in hand. Gentle caresses.
Carmilla dropped her phone, letting the shiny plastic thump into Laura’s bright yellow pillow.
She bounded to her feet.
Screw the Zeta bonfire. Screw see-through shirts. Screw not-a-date. There were a hundred other girls and a hundred other lifetimes where she could be the meaningly less vampire drifting through a crowd with some girl on her arm.
For the girl who giggled and ate cookies. For the girl who asked to a party as nothing more than roommates. For the girl who said that she deserved better.
For that girl she could maybe risk letting the 16th Century human out for a night.
Carmilla took the pile of clothes and chucked them in a heap into the closet, slamming the door to prevent them from tumbling back out. She looked at the one remaining item that she’d left on the bed. So vintage it had somehow come back around.
The black corset.
She snatched it up and started tying up the laces. Not dissimilar to something she would have worn at her first ball. Granted she would have worn it with more clothes but the restricted breathing and immediate hourglass figure were immediately familiar.
Carmilla considered ditching the leather pants for something simpler, her mind briefly flashing back to swirling skirts. Then she looked back in the mirror and all she could see were Laura’s darkening eyes as the cupcake tried to look away and couldn’t quite make it.
She’d leave the pants on.
Carmilla grinned at her reflection, letting a smile creep out from between her lips into something that fully showed her teeth. Reaching up, she took her time with her hair. Tousled bedhead was fine when you were going for 21st century apathy but tonight demanded a more concentrated touch. She ran her hands through her hair, remembering how it had once fallen in waves so long she could nearly sit on it. Her maids had spent hours preparing it before each dance, twisting and curling it into a shimmering spiral.
Frowning, Carmilla dashed from the bedroom and barged into their neighbours room. Shamelessly stomping through the room, she ignored the two protesting girls, stole their curling iron, and returned.
40 minutes later, Carmilla was staring at a whole other version of herself. Almost. Something between the tousled bedhead and the lengthy waves. Between the fully covered corset dresses and the leather pants.
Something between the Countess and the vampire.
There was a ding from her cellphone. She scooped it up, smiling at Laura’s short message to make sure they were still on. Laura had bothered to check. Maybe. Just maybe. Laura cared.
With a quick check to ensure that Laura’s camera was, in fact, still off, Carmilla turned to the full length mirror. Then she let the grin out. She smiled at her reflection and tucked one foot behind the other, falling into the curtsey that her mama had spent hours teaching her. Carmilla held the position for a count of five and then spun out. Her arms drifted upward to the height of an invisible dance partner and she tried not to consider which girl would fit perfectly in her arms that particular height.
Instead, she snatched Laura’s pillow off the bed and let herself spin throughout the room with the smell of vanilla and cinnamon as a dance partner. Drifting between the beds with footwork that she could never quite forget and lightly humming a melody that history had long forgotten. She finished with a final twirl and a laugh on her lips. Feeling lighter than she could remember.
Carmilla hugged the pillow to her chest.
Looking up, she caught her own reflection. The smile on her face. She could almost picture a flush on her cheeks from the effort of dancing. A warmth in her stomach as her partner pressed close. Carmilla squeezed the pillow a little tighter and let the scent cover her again.
Perhaps being something in between wasn’t so bad.
Carmilla considered the rest of the evening. Surely Mother wouldn’t notice if she ‘borrowed’ a bottle of champagne from her private stash.
They were arguing around her but Carmilla couldn’t hear a word. The garlic was unpleasant but bearable. The ropes chafed but healed quickly enough. The duct tape prickled her lips but she didn’t need to breathe anyway.
She fought her own fangs.
It was the lingering pain inside that mattered. The lack of a beating heart. Carmilla could only feel the cold on her stomach where she had once imagined warmth.
They argued around her and the words faded away. All Carmilla could hear was the tone of victory in Laura’s voice. A hero victorious. Sidekicks at the ready. Valiant lover standing by.
She had been foolish to hope.
When they ripped off the duct tape it was easy to hide the pain under a snarl.