The sun was shining bright outside, but Sangue’s parlor was shut off from it. Priceless antiques that would fade in the sunlight were stored in here. There was the vase that had once belonged to Louis the XVI. It was rare in that it had escaped the revolution unscathed. Sangue was particularly proud of it, but even it wasn’t the ultimate piece in his collection.
Esmerelda Alvarez was coming to tea. Sangue asked his cook to prepare something particularly tasty for the occasion. He was hoping to show off his collection. This was one of the rare occasions that he entertained during the day. Mostly, he threw extravagant balls. This room was always locked tight away from prying eyes and clumsy hands during those events. Sangue didn’t trust many people, especially not around his collection. Señora Alvarez was different. From the moment they’d first met, he’d been drawn to the stately widow.
He walked around the room one last time, making sure everything was just right. The candlelight was soft and gave his collection an eerie glow. Sangue didn’t mind the antiques coming into contact with moonlight, so he opened the drapes sometimes and admired them in the light of the full moon. He’d be sure to show Señora Alvarez that sometime. That time would come. Outwardly, Sangue was calm and collected, his exterior showed nothing of the turmoil within. Everything had to be perfect. His eyes surveyed the room and rested on the pinnacle of his collection, those boots. For the use they’d seen before being shelved, they were in surprisingly good condition. The craftmanship was exquisite. He hoped Sra. Alvarez would like them. The cutlass above them had been polished recently, so it glinted in the candlelight. Sangue thought for a moment about how the cutlass had been used once upon a time. He smiled. Sra. Alvarez might like to hear those stories as he showed off his collection.
Vincent knocked lightly at the door. “Come in.”
“Sig. Gustare, Sra. Alvarez is here. Should I show her in?”
“Yes, Vincent. Please do.”
Sangue took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Sra. Alvarez was just as enchanting now as she had been dancing. Her dark curls cascaded down her shoulders, past her bare neck and almost reaching the part of her bosom which her garments took care to display just enough of. He took her hand and noticed her pulse quicken as he did so. He smiled and gave the hand a gentle kiss. “Welcome to my parlor Sra. Alvarez.”
“Please. Call me Essie.” When Sangue lowered his eyes, Essie threw back her head and laughed. “No need to be embarrassed. What should I call you?”
“My given name is Sangue.”
“Don’t you have a nickname?”
“I’m afraid not.” Sangue’s posture was perfect, apart from that glance downward his demeanor did not betray anything. Essie was having a really difficult time reading him. She thought he had feelings for her. I mean, he invited her to his parlor. This was the one place everyone knew was off limits to the general public. She glanced about the room. It was oddly decorated. Certain items seemed to have significance, a vase here, a cutlass there, but it was the boots that really threw her. In a glass case, polished to perfection, was an exquisite pair of hand-crafted Italian leather boots. She couldn’t tell how old they were, they looked like new, but the style was something she’d only seen in paintings. She put it at the late 1600’s. She wondered if there were stories to go with each of these items. Perhaps the boots were an old family heirloom, maybe they all were. She resolved to get Sangue to talk about them.
“I see you’re admiring my collection.”
“Yes. It is quite… unique.”
Sangue nodded. Just then, Vincent entered with tea and two servings of blackberry cobbler. “But that can wait until after tea.”
“Cobbler? How did you know that was one of my favorite desserts?”
“Is it? I’m quite fond of cobbler as well. It is a special delicacy I don’t enjoy often enough.” Sangue’s eyes drifted to the boots. “Do you like the tea?”
“It is delicious.”
“Tea isn’t my favorite warm beverage. But it will suffice.” Sangue smiled. There was something about his smile. It wasn’t especially warm or friendly, but it was oddly calming. Essie felt at ease with him. The two chatted about mundane things until they’d finished tea. “Now then, shall I show you my collection?”
The moment Essie had been waiting for. She glanced from item to item, curiosity abounding. Sangue stopped in front of the vase. “As you may have heard, a lot of the valuables from the estate of Louis the XVI didn’t survive the revolution. That makes this vase one of the rarest collectibles in existence.”
“Where did you get it?”
“I have my channels. Sorry, I don’t want to divulge too much. Suffice it to say, I’ve had it for a while. Now this…” Sangue moved about the room talking about each of the items on display. Finally, he stopped in front of the boots. “I’m especially proud of these. They were handcrafted in 1698 for Bartholomew Roberts, also known as Black Bart. He was a pirate.” Sangue left out that the boots had never actually made it into Black Bart’s hands as the craftsman had mysteriously died the night after finishing them. They had been worn, just not by Black Bart. Sangue thought it was enough that the boots had been intended for a famous pirate in the first place. His mind drifted to the taste of cobbler. “And there you have it. What do you think?”
“I must say, it’s an impressive collection. What made you want to show it to me?”
“You’re special Señora… I mean Essie.” Sangue took her hand. He noticed her pulse quicken again. “I hope I’m not being too forward, but I’d love to have you for dinner sometime.”
Essie smiled. Sangue certainly was eccentric. “I’d love that too.” But Essie was hesitant to leave. “I could stay now, if that’s okay.”
Sangue ran his fingers up her arm and brushed the hair away from her neck. “I was hoping you’d say that.” Essie felt butterflies as he wrapped one arm around her waist, and she felt his breath hot on her neck. For someone who was as shy as he was typically, he certainly was being forward. Not that she minded. This was what she’d had in mind, she just didn’t expect it from him.
Afterward, Sangue looked at Essie’s limp form. How beautiful she was. He took her pearl necklace off and added it to his collection. The cobbler really had been delicious, but he might have a new favorite. He smiled. His one regret was that, thanks to Sra. Alvarez's impatience, he'd never gotten to show her the collectibles in the moonlight. Vincent collected Sra. Alvarez so Sangue could be alone. He always liked to rest after a good meal.
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Great build-up and twist. Everything is just a tiny bit off and you are dropping hints left and right, so that even a mystery novice like me can figure it out. Haven't read a vampire piece in a while and this was a good one. I really think you should consider making it into a longer piece- book? novella? It has all the elements that would make a great one.
Luckily for you I have begun to adapt this into a novella called Nightwalker. It's on kindle vella, told from a different perspective, check it out if you like.
Thanks for the info. Sounds interesting
Ha, great twist! His name was odd,as was his behaviour, but I chalked that up to "eccentric rich collector." But then I hit the line, "Tea isn’t my favorite warm beverage. But it will suffice." Then it clicked: a suspicion. His name is Sangue, he specifically noticed her pulse quicken, the moonlight (but never sunlight). As I read on, more pieces fell into place. The vase, for example. What special channels did he have? And the boots. How did he know the cobbler died the night of? Maybe he was well connected. Or... Just maybe... He had be...
Thanks for such a detailed and well thought out comment. If you liked this, I wrote three more sangue stories. I do love his double entendres and it is super fun writing him.
I love this story. We know something is off because of his reticence to tell the truth about his items. The part near the end that goes "How beautiful she was. He took her pearl necklace off and added it to his collection. The cobbler really had been delicious, but he might have a new favorite" is fabulous for several reasons. First, it tells us what happened to Sra. Alvarez. Second, we know where his collection comes from. Third, it brings the "cobbler" as his favorite dessert all the way around - that was fantastic! Thank you so much for s...
Thank you so much. Glad you liked it. If you want to see more of Sangue's adventures. I wrote three more Sangue stories. The Cutlass is next, then The Governess, and finally The Vase. I will probably write more if people keep liking them. They're fun to write and I kind of like exploring the characters. I might even make it into a book eventually. Not sure about that one yet, though.
How fun! It's a great idea to write about the same characters a few times.
Love the twist at the end. This makes me want to read more!
Then you're in luck. Three more of my stories this week are continuations of this series. The next one is the cutlass
Great story! The twist at the end was really unexpected and delightful, I feel like it gave Sangue a bit more depth. I hope you will keep this story going, I would love to see more of this character! I read one of your other comments where you talked about how you alluded to him being a vampire, I love that concept also, you could do a lot more with it in the future, hopefully. I also loved your writing style, it was well paced for this, and added a sort of mysterious flare. P.S. If you get a chance could you read my story and give me some f...
I will give your story a read when I get the chance. Glad you liked this one. I wrote three more stories with this character. The cutlass is number two. The governess is number three. And the vase is number 4.
Thanks, I look forward to hearing your feedback. I will be sure to look at your other stories with that character!
very interesting!! i've always loved stories about people who collect trophies in this way. your descriptions are lush and your characters are intriguing. very well done!
Thank you for reading. I'm debating entering this one into the contest. What do you think?
i say go for it if you want to!! no matter the outcome, you've written a lovely story. i can't wait to read your other pieces :)
I missed the hunger undertone completely. I thought he was infatuated with her. Is this just meant to be murder and theft? His collection is things he took from people? There's an undertone by the end of something almost supernatural. The descriptions made me think of the early books in the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles. I could see a few sequels to this where Sangue keeps going until he gets caught or has to flee, something like that. It felt a bit like a mix of the opulence from The Great Gatsby in a period drama and then the murderer's per...
Sangue is italian for blood and his last name means to taste. Also, I hinted that he was a vampire by the entertaining at night, the cobbler double entendre, his antiques suggest that he's been doing this for hundreds of years, and how he's always noticing her pulse. Also, a little additional thing. In the x files episode bad blood mulder says vampires are OCD about stuff, that's why he noticed the shoelaces. I tried to make sangue a little OCD about his collection too.
I thought the name meant blood but I've only heard it as Sanguin, I think that's French though. Very cool. You should continue this. A new piece for his collection every time.
Thank you. It was fun writing this. I think I might continue it.