Light Me Up
by Rebecca Royce
Light Me Up
Available from Silver Publishing
Download for Amazon Kindle
Ruth has been a vampire for sixty-five years after being assaulted by a vampire during World War II while her family hid from the Nazis. One night, she is drawn to a house where they are celebrating Hanukkah and the candles are burning in the window. There, she meets a man, Benjamin Fox, who is immune to her vampire charms. Ben is thirty-five years old and dying of a heart problem he's had since he was a child.
Together, they will form a friendship that could be so much more if either could allow it. But when Ben is about to succumb to his illness, Ruth must decide whether to give in to his wishes and make him a vampire too. She is, he's decided, his ultimate Hanukkah gift.
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Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
Her father had made them learn it both ways. He'd been so sure that someday they'd come to America. He'd told her stories, tons of them, about what their life would be like when they did. He wanted them to be able to pray in the language of the country he told them would be their home.
She didn't think of her family often, and when she did it was as if she remembered someone else's life. Her mother with her round, soft face and gentle voice had been the keeper of all the traditions in their lives. She made sure they got to synagogue on Saturday for services; she made sure they went again on Sundays to study. Even the women, she had told them, had things to learn.
Her brothers would make Bar Mitzvah, well, some of them would. The ones who had lived to be thirteen. The others had studied but never had their turn to perform the ceremony. At least, she didn't think they had. It was possible some of them survived the Holocaust, although it wasn't likely. She'd thought it best she not find out if they lived as she was technically not alive, and her undead arrival might cause them stress.
They'd been a big family. Five girls, six boys. She could no longer remember all of their names. One by one, they had slipped away into the oblivion where her mind put her human memories. So few coherent thoughts about those dead children remained. She was the oldest. Twenty-two when she'd had the blood drained from her body, replaced by the Vampire venom that had made her a creature of the night.
Her father, grey-haired, stooped over from sewing all day, was a tailor; a highly respected member of their community.
He had never gotten to the United States. His little Ruthie had, but not in any way her dead Papa could possibly have imagined.
The three children whose voices beckoned her from her darkness stood in front of the window of the house facing the night. Ruth hunted for blood on this block a lot. Beautiful colonial houses that had seen better days lined the quiet street. The neighborhood was called 'run down.' The elderly tended not to report aches and pains or strange bite marks they found on their bodies, dismissing most things as just being part of old age, which made it an ideal hunting ground for her.
All blood tasted the same to Ruth. It didn't matter if it came from a baby, a marathon runner, or a person on death's door. All she cared about was that she got to feed.
This particular house, the ones with the shutters she thought of as yellow, and even then that was a guess because she hadn't seen that shade in sixty-five years, was home to an old woman who seemed to reside by herself. Tonight, however, and maybe that was because of the holiday, it was filled with people. She could hear their heartbeats inside. At least four adults accompanied the three children who stood by the window.
Ruth looked up at the sky. Darkness had won its nightly battle with the sun, and once again the world around seemed dark and devoid of light. They'd said the prayer late. When she'd been a child, it had always been done at sunset. Apparently it was her lucky night. If they'd done it when they should have, she wouldn't have seen it. Being a Vampire meant staying hidden until complete darkness, unless you wanted to die.
So far Ruth had no interest in that.
She heard the cab approach seconds before any regular human ears would hear it. Ducking back into the shadows, she smelled the two humans —both male— inside the car. The driver, an older gentleman, took the money from his passenger, a man she would guess to be in his mid-thirties, and left him out on the curb.
He stood with his back to her, so she couldn't see his face. His posture, however, spoke volumes. His shoulders slumped, and his head hung low. As he stood facing the house, his back started to shake. A low sound caught her attention, and she slid forward.
The man sobbed on the side of the road. Each silent step she took gave her new pieces of information about him. First and foremost, there was something very wrong with his heart. At first it beat too fast, and then it skipped a beat, resuming its struggle again too slowly. There was no way he wasn't aware of it, and for a second Ruth wondered if he would expire as he stood there on the street.
As she crept closer, his heartbeat regulated itself sounding more normal although still off. She might expect this kind of thing from an older person, but the unknown male who still could be her dinner for the evening was only in his thirties. What a shame, she thought distantly, it was never nice to see a person cut down in their prime by human weakness.
Suddenly, the man ceased his crying and whirled around. Ruth stopped her approach and regarded him. How had he known she was there? She hadn't made a sound he would be able to hear.
Shrugging, she decided she didn't care. She'd wanted to see him, and she was going to. He wouldn't remember his encounter unless she wanted him to. Being a Vampire was convenient in that way.