Ms Pink takes my hand and pulls me into the bedroom. Then her hands are on my waist, tossing me onto the bed, leaving me to bounce on it as she shuts the door. Before I can sit up, Ms Pink is arched over me, her breath hitting me slow and steady, but hard.
“Truth. Humans and their quest for truth. In the first place, there is no truth. There is only real. Like this—” Ms Pink’s eyes are flashing pink in varying intensities and my mind blanks out when she kisses me—hard. Lips crash down on mine, almost cutting them against teeth, rubbing over them, taking and owning. When her lips leave, I and left gasping for breath, my chest heaving as though I had gone for a hundred metre sprint. “This is real.”
Ms Pink rises and gets off the bed, pacing around the bed as anger and frustration pour out from her in strong waves that press against my senses. “Questions. So many questions. These answers mean nothing. If you trust me, you don’t need answers to validate your stand. If you believe in me, you will not waver.” She turns and freezes me as I am sitting up with her eyes. “There’s something inside you. And you’re not strong enough to resist it. It feeds on your insecurities. It feeds on your doubts.” She comes back to me, pulling me to the edge of the bed by my shoulders. “Tell me. Are your feelings for me real?”
I stare deep into her eyes, pondering the question in my mind. Are my feelings for Ms Pink real? Of course they are. Why wouldn’t they be? But that’s doesn’t mean I don’t need to know what happened. “My feelings are real. But that is a separate issue. I still want to know.”
“Why does it still matter? Humans are impossible.” Ms Pink’s voice is rising, a departure from her usual dominant, controlled self. “This happened more than a hundred years ago.”
My voice rises as well. “If it doesn’t matter, why can’t you tell me? Why is it so difficult for you to tell me about your past? I want to know because it has made you who you are today. It is the reason why I have to deal with the way you are now.”
“If you don’t trust me, there is no point in talking.”
“I trust you!” I yell, as Ms Pink’s stubbornness gets on my nerves. “You keep saying I don’t believe in you but you don’t believe in me either!”
I stick out my chin. “If you believed in me, you wouldn’t have broken it off for sixty days!” I throw my weight into my fists and hit Ms Pink, my frustrations spilling over my hands.
Ms Pink captures my wrists before I can touch her and holds them over my head. “That’s not why I did it.”
“I don’t care why you did it! You said there is only real. And the only real I had for sixty days was a break up!”
“We are back together. Move on.”
I struggle against her hold even though I know I am physically no match for her. “I can’t move on. I’m only human. I’m not a vampire who has lived for a two hundred years and can compartmentalize all these things neatly. I’m only human and it’s all a mess in my head. I wanna know the truth! Give me the truth!”
“It was my fault! I was ambitious. I wanted to be powerful. Yoohuan died because I wanted to take over the world!”
“So it’s true. You wanted power. And you did horrible things to get it.”
Ms Pink looks me straight in the eye. “Yes. I did horrible things. I was an evil vampire. I still am.” She hauls me to my feet and holds me close. “Are you afraid of me? Do you regret everything now?”
“No.” I stand my ground, unflinching. “I just want to know. I want to know how you grew up. I want to know your happiness and sadness. I want to know everything.”
“Learning my past is like doing a history major in university. There’s almost three hundred years of it.”
“Just the salient points,” I correct myself. “Not everything is significant.”
The pink in Ms Pink’s eyes is dimming and my senses are not as hard pressed as they were a moment ago. Ms Pink is calming down. “Fine. Sit down.” I do as I am told but Ms Pink remains standing. “I will only say this once.”
“You know how my family died and what happened to me after that. Helene saved me from him. At first, she didn’t know who I was. I had been beaten beyond recognition.”
My heart flinches at the imagery of a young bloodied Pan Ni.
“I couldn’t tell her who I was either. I had lost my voice from screaming. Helene nursed me back to health with mimea and restored my appearance with time. One day, she recognised me. But I still couldn’t talk. I couldn’t tell her anything about my family.”
“Why couldn’t you talk?”
“Traumatised. My brain did not function properly for a long time. I was afraid of many sounds. I was afraid of making any sound.”
My heart might as well be sliced into half right now; the pain in my heart is so deep and sharp.
“Helene raised me as a human for twelve years. For eight of it, I could not talk. She kept me hidden in her castle until one day, I screamed.”
“Why did you scream?” I ask, half afraid to know the answer.
“I had a nightmare.” Ms Pink closes her eyes, her lips pinched. “I screamed for help. Helene woke me up from it and I cried for the first time in eight years.”
Ms Pink’s experiences in the past are beyond painful. My insides feel hollow and the world is tilting the wrong way as I listen and try to picture an innocent girl going through life that is really no different than torture. This must be difficult for Ms Pink to recap, even if it has been almost three hundred years.
“After that, I could tell Helene everything. I don’t know how she did it but she got my castle back for me and restored all the properties that were under my family’s name. Four years later, I became a wealthy woman but it was difficult for me to manage my wealth without Helene’s help. I grew weaker and fell sick. I almost died so to save me, Helene turned me into a vampire.”
“Did you know she’s a vampire before that?”
“Yes. I lived with her for twelve years. I knew she isn’t human. When I became a vampire, the power changed me. I had been afraid of everything before but my vampiric power gave me arrogant confidence. The first thing I did was seek revenge. And I got it. Helene told me not to. But I tracked him down and killed him. That created many problems for Helene. And I was thought to be volatile. So to secure my status, I started a relationship with Praeson.”
A pang of unnecessary jealousy strikes me. “Did you love him?”
“I thought I loved him. But what I loved was his adoration. I loved the way he treated me like a princess. I would have given in to him and handed over my heart but I found the logbooks and discovered the anagram. I was young and inexperienced. Too impulsive. I broke up with him before I could develop a plan and that meant I could not exact revenge as easily.”
“You admit to being impulsive?”
Ms Pink glares at me. “I was as old as you during that time. That is why you do stupid things too. Maybe it is not your fault. I forget that sometimes.”
“I am not—”
“Shut up. I am not done talking. Since I could not take revenge immediately, I decided to increase my power and expand my wealth and influence—tools to ensure my revenge is successful. Helene was pleased with my change of mind. She wanted me to climb up to power. She wanted me to rule the world, or at least be a member of the Sovereign. To do that, I took claims. Over one hundred and fifty years, I took five claims and worked hard to increase my power. Until I met my sixth claim.”
Ms Pink nods, her eyes closed as though recalling a long ago memory. “She was beautiful.”
Whether it happened a hundred or thousand years ago, hearing Ms Pink talk about Yoohuan with feelings running deep is not something I enjoy but I hold my tongue and listen on.
“She made me consider giving up my plan for revenge. I slackened my efforts and spent all my time with her. I was a dribbling pool of vampiric waste for her.”
“What happened next?” I ask, having no desire to listen anymore to Ms Pink professing her love for somebody else.
Ms Pink looks at me. “I still wanted to take over the world. And Helene wanted it more than anything else. But the Greys did not want me lording over them. Using Yoohuan, they tried to trap me. They tried to stop me. Some of the Sovereigns joined in. Sesgo.” The bitterness is evident in her voice now. “I had been increasing my strength with Yoohuan’s help. She was a bait too, like I thought you were at first. I drank of her blood. Left my mark on her. In her. And Sesgo touched her. She got her hands on Yoohuan and with just one touch, drove her insane.” Ms Pink pauses as though to collect herself before continuing softly in a tone I have never heard before. “Yoohuan killed herself.”
This is a version of Ms Pink I have never seen before either. Are those tears in her eyes? Vampires are actually capable of crying? My first instinct is to give sad Ms Pink a comforting hug. Suddenly, she isn’t so invincible anymore. Suddenly, she needs me more.
“Helene wouldn’t resurrect her. Helene could do it but she refused.”
“Couldn’t you have done it?”
“My essence was already inside her body. We were experimenting with her immunity to my essence so I could not turn her. Her blood did not respond as it should have. After Yoohuan died, I couldn’t function. Helene came up with the hundred-year-cold-war drama to convince everyone we were weakened to give me time to recover but I took the cold war idea seriously. I did not want to talk to the one who refused to save Yoohuan. I imposed it on myself to show Helene I meant business.”
My heart goes out to Ms Pink entirely. Ancient she may be but her heart is still raw with hurt and trauma.
“Are you satisfied now?”
I’m feeling lightheaded from all the revelations but Ms Pink’s answers have cleared up many questions I’ve had for a long time. “Yes. I understand you a little more now and I am very satisfied.” Pressing my cheek against Ms Pink’s hair, I continue to hug her for a little longer. “Although I didn’t like hearing about Yoohuan,” I confess. “You loved her a lot. You loved her the most. Maybe you still love her now, even after a hundred years. She was your first love. I’m just jealous I won’t get to claim that part of you. I’m jealous that she is the person you love the most.”
Ms Pink holds me at arm’s length and imprisons my eyes with hers. “Stupid human. You are the person I love the most right now.”
A rush of adrenaline hits me as my heart thumps in my chest. “Me? But with Yoohuan you were, I quote ‘a dribbling pool of vampiric waste’, while with me, you’re very much who you are. I don’t affect you as much as she did.”
“How did you make it to university with the logic of a nine-year-old’s?”
“My logic makes perfect sense,” I defend myself with vehemence.
“I have lived for almost three centuries. I would not have survived this long if I kept making the same mistakes twice. No. I lost Yoohuan because I showed the world I couldn’t live without her. I will not make the same mistake with you. I will unclaim you. I will break up with you. I can stay away from you for sixty days. None of their terms will faze me. But none of their terms can stop me from loving you.”
“Ms Pink . . .”
“Until the day you are strong enough to resist them all. Until then, we will play their game. But mark my words, one day we are going to beat them at it.”
“Ms Pink . . .”
“Stupid human. Speak your mind.”
Tears are brimming in my eyes. “Ms Pink, I love you. I love you so much.”
The smile on Ms Pink’s face says it all. “Yes, I know.”
I have always read about time freezing in books and heard the phrase spoken in movies but never have I ever truly experienced it—until now. When all I can see is Ms Pink’s radiant pink eyes. When all I can smell is Ms Pink’s fresh floral scent. When all I can hear is Ms Pink’s deep breaths. When all I can feel is Ms Pink’s body flush against every inch of mine.
Melt. If I could melt, I would. I would melt into Ms Pink’s eyes. I would melt into her arms. Then, I am melting, into her lips. Her tongue does toe curling things inside my mouth and an involuntary whimper escapes. Ms Pink is pulling emotions out of me that I never knew I had. From deep within, a place where no one has ever explored. Only with Ms Pink. She is my first. So if I am not to be her first, I shall be her last. A promise I make with myself as my determination to love Ms Pink is renewed.
I am lifted into the air and transported to a place unknown but I do not care. Ms Pink travels at vampiric speed so by the time I open my eyes again, we are in the bathroom. There is lots of space to walk around in there; the shower cubicle is on the other side of the room from the bathtub. Ms Pink sets me down in the bathtub and slows down to a patience-testing snail’s pace as she unbuttons my shirt. Finally it is off and a quick reach behind frees me of my bra. I stand before her, topless and proud. Proud to be the object of her affections (how could I have doubted her?) and proud to be the sole possessor of her attention right now. After all, it isn’t just anyone who can attract the eyes of a three-centuries-old vampire who is likely to have seen countless beauties in her life time.
“Why are you smiling?”
I grin. “I’m happy.”
Ms Pink shakes her head as she divests me of my bottoms. “I will never understand the human need to know everything about their lover’s past.”
“You were a human for . . . what? Twenty three years?”
“I may have been human for twenty three years but most of it was torturous to me.”
I plant a kiss on Ms Pink’s lips before tugging her clothes to equalize our state of undress. “Put it behind you. You’re an almighty, all powerful vampire now. You can lord over stupid humans.”
“Stupid human,” Ms Pink corrects me. “Just you. And I am leaving it behind. It was you who demanded to be told of my past.”
I blush. Ms Pink is right. “I’m sorry but I really have to know. I don’t know why I need to know it so badly but I feel much better now that I do.” The sound of water hitting the bathtub thrills me. Or rather, it is the prospect of sharing the bath with Ms Pink that excites me. “Have you done this with any other claim or lover?”
I pout. “Can we do this in an unprecedented way?”
“Yes, we can.”
“Ah!” I shriek as I am held by my waist and turned upside down. “Ms Pink! What are you doing?”
“I’ve never taken a bath with any claim upside down like this. You will be the first.”
“It’s alright,” I say in a hurry. “Forget what I said. Please, turn me back up.” A spin later, I am back on my feet to face a laughing princess vampire. “Not funny.” One tug and I scoot into Ms Pink’s embrace, skin-on-skin. “Let’s forget about everyone and everything out there for a while,” I whisper. “I just want to spend some alone time with you. Uninterrupted.”
With that, we kiss and let our hands wander. It is going to be a long bath.