At the ripe old age of three hundred, I got my very first girlfriend.
She was the prettiest human I ever saw. Prettier than any vampire too, though most of the female vampires I met didn’t look so good after getting into it with Bianca. (One vampire who rooted for this one couple in Bianca’s favorite novel to get together almost got her eyes gouged out, just because they weren’t destined to be together, at least according to Bianca.) Daya is a female vampire too, but she’s Daya, you know?
After date night, everything changed. Well, almost everything. I still spent a lot of time hiding from her in my coffin, but that was only after she kept wanting to play doctor like human friends do. I know there are lady doctors and all—I’m a lot more modern than Bianca—but I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to wear gloves when they examine you, you know? Maybe Penny forgot that part of the outfit at that costume shop Bianca takes her to all the time…
Her hands are so warm. The warmest.
I’m glad she didn’t get mad at me for wanting to wait until marriage for man-woman relations. But I’m a little sad she didn’t argue with me more, because I don’t know if I would’ve been able to keep saying no to her forever. And I couldn’t help but wonder (and dream) what it’d be like the first time I said yes. Would I accidentally slam the coffin lid on her fingers? Would I bite her soft squishy bits when I meant to kiss them? How would I even know what to do—or would I just make a mess like I always did?
Lysander didn’t even glare at us when we kissed anymore, or at least not after the first thirty seconds. He was always looking at Bianca for some reason instead. Maybe because she’s been sick on account of Penny’s father’s blood lately. Penny says it’s got nothing to do with her father and that I’m not the one who needs to be worrying about Bianca’s health, though.
Sometimes I wonder what my father was like, but only sometimes. Penny seems to ask about my parents more than I think about them, but I think that’s because her mother died and she hasn’t seen her father in a long time. Would my father be proud of how manly I’ve become, even if I haven’t achieved my comedy dreams yet? And I will achieve them, because then I can ask Penny to be my wife and watch her bear all my human-vampire hybrid babies.
A few nights after date night, Penny made this big apology to Bianca for stealing her gift cards, but Bianca only seemed a little sad instead of angry and took her shopping for new clothes instead. Not very typical Bianca, wasting a good opportunity to be furious at someone, you know? Afterward, she said the matter was settled and that she already bought a bunch more gift cards anyhow—and then Lysander started to look as queasy as Bianca did all the time now.
To be honest, I kind of missed Lysander keeping a watchful eye on us. Sometimes, I felt like I needed protection from Penny and her warm, warm hands. But it meant we could kiss each other for a really long time in my room. I’ve never kissed a girl in my room before. (Unless you count Count von Batstein dressed as Heloise Gardner and Drusilla Drakeclaw and…ha ha ha.)
“You didn’t say anything about my new clothes. Do you like them or what? Bianca tried to get me to wear a dress but I’d rather die.”
“I like everything you wear. Penny.” I liked when she didn’t wear anything at all the most, but if I told her that…I couldn’t tell her that.
She dropped her arms and stepped back, her hands moving behind her back where I couldn’t hold them. “You don’t think they’re too…girly?”
“You’re a girl. A woman. Penny.” I wanted to run my hand down her new skirt and feel the soft fabric, but then she’d just grab it and move it to one of her squishy bits, and then…it became harder to exercise manly restraint.
“But I’m not all fancy and frilly like Bianca, or sexy and stylish like Isla. You still remember the kind of crap I wore back when we met, right? You thought I was a boy.”
“Bianca’s my sister, remember?” I said. “And I don’t know Isla. But I know you, and I like you. Penny. A lot. The most.”
“What if I was a boy?”
“But you’re not. I saw your lady bits on date night. Penny.”
“Byron. I thought you weren’t looking.”
“I tried not to,” I whimpered.
“Did you like those, too?”
“They’re my favorite.”
For a small, weak human, Penny was really good at pushing me against the nearest available flat surface (in this case, a bench we dragged in from the street) and climbing on top of me. She must have a vampire ancestor. From before her dad got turned into a vampire, I mean. Sometimes when she kissed me, it took all my manly resolve to…hold back. You know? I’d never felt like this before, even with Count von Batstein. He never kissed me back with his wet bat tongue or slid his claws up my shirt…
“Byron. Your eyes are glowing.” She always liked pointing it out when that happened…
“I can’t help it.”
Her warm, warm hands…they were always exploring, especially when Lysander wasn’t looking. I had to catch her by the wrist to stop her from sneaking down my pants again.
“Don’t you like it?”
“I do, Penny. But…”
And then she was kissing me again. I was really lucky that I didn’t need to breathe.
“Sorry.” Whenever I got really excited, I got “bitey,” as Penny called it. I can’t help the huge size of my fangs…but Penny was always complimenting them anyway, maybe to make me feel better. She was really nice like that. Even though she says she’s never been with a vampire before, she keeps saying how she’s never seen fangs the size of mine. She says they’re very manly. The manliest.
She pulled her mouth away from mine and gasped for air. I liked when she did that. She looked like a really cute spotted fish. “You can touch me more. If you want.”
“Where? Penny.” She was looking at me like she wanted to eat me, and she wasn’t even the vampire in this relationship…
And then her shirt came off.
I’m not sure how that happened. Maybe a raccoon broke into the apartment and grabbed it with his sharp raccoon teeth before running away with it to keep all his little raccoon babies warm for the winter. But it wasn’t winter. Was it?
I was cold, but Penny almost made me feel warm…
“Penny.” I had to rip my hands off of her warm, Penny skin. “We can’t. Not until…”
“Byron. We’re just fooling around.”
“Is that all it is to you?” I didn’t mean to make it sound like an accusation, but I knew it did. “All we do is stay in my room making out like human friends…I mean, like boyfriend and girlfriend, yeah?”
She frowned. I didn’t like making her frown–I wanted to make her laugh. “What else are we supposed to do? You don’t wanna fu—have man-woman relations or whatever yet.”
I petted her shiny golden cheese-hair. “I don’t want our relationship to just revolve around my manliness, you know? I want…something special. Because you’re special to me. Penny.”
“Like…something with love and romance and closeness that involves more than warm hands down my pants as amazing as it feels and manliness and all the other stuff a human as special as you deserves.”
Now her expression was going to break my unbeating heart. I’d seen her look annoyed and angry and creeped out but not sad, I don’t think. “I dunno what all that crap even looks like.” Her bright blue gaze traveled downward from my face. “Well, except the last part.”
“Neither do I,” I admitted. “Except for the last part, thanks to Detective Saul Strider, Champion of Manliness.”
“You really don’t remember your parents?”
“No. I wish I did, sometimes. Bianca never talks about them…”
She slid off of my lap. It hurt. “Lysander says our mom and dad were madly in love or some dumb crap like that. I never met my mom—like I said, she died right after I was born. I remember my dad now, finally, but back when I was a kid he wasn’t…I dunno. Touchy-feely or whatever the hell, or even around much. And I don’t remember Lysander having a girlfriend back then either, and now…shit’s really weird with him. And Isla and Darius…I mean, they were with people sometimes, but they weren’t really with them, I guess. It was more like a distraction or a fun way to kill a couple hours, not something that was supposed to last forever.” I’d never heard Penny say so much at once, especially once we started kissing all the time.
“I want us to last forever. Penny.”
“We still barely know each other—you can’t know that yet. Byron. And you’re a vampire, and I’m not.”
“I thought you said you liked older men…and my giant fangs.”
“I like you. I guess. But you’re still a vampire, and forever for you is different from forever for me.”
“But that’s not what’s really bothering you, Penny.”
“Can’t we just keep making out or whatever? I’m tired of talking.”
“If that’s what you want…”
“God. You and your pukey puppy face. I wish I still thought you were just a creepy, weird wannabe comedian.” She looked up at me. “I mean, I still do, but now I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t know what the fuck I’m even doing.”
“Neither do I. Penny.”
“Yeah, but that’s your natural state.”
“But you don’t have to know everything, Penny. I’ll still like you even if you mess up. You like me, and I mess up all the time. …You like me, right?”
“I already said that I did.”
“But I wanted to hear it again…”
“Fine. I like you. Byron.” She smiled her tiny Penny smile. “A lot.”
“I guess. …Okay, yeah. The most.”
This time, I was the one who kissed her first.
I liked her too.