My skin and eyes remained sensitive to the sun’s strongest rays, but any discomfort was worth waking up beside Saul in the mornings, his face scrunching up in discomfort as the light pierced his eyelids. We had taken to cohabitating, opting to share his room, though perhaps that was too soon.
He had wanted to wait until after the wedding, to make it more “romantic,” but paying for the use of one motel room was far more cost-efficient than two. If we intended to eventually secure more permanent lodging of our own, it would be wise to conserve our funds.
Sharing a room also meant sharing a bed, something I didn’t mind in the least.
Saul had taken a vacation from work so that we might spend more time with one another, though he claimed it was to help me adjust to my new humanity. The motel had a pool, and we took advantage of its recent cleaning (apparently a rare occurrence) to go swimming, but only in the early mornings when the sun’s intensity was gentler.
I enjoyed seeing Saul in a swimsuit, as he appeared to enjoy the one I had picked out for myself. However, he expressed great disappointment the first morning, when I refused to immediately return to our room only for him to remove it.
He would learn to be patient, even if he didn’t have centuries to do so. I enjoyed the feel of water and muted sunlight on my bare skin almost as much as his company. Sometimes I forgot he had asked me to marry him or that I had accepted. Perhaps we should’ve begun to plan such a significant life event, but I was content to meet each day as it came. Planning would come soon enough.
“I used to be captain of my high school swim team, you know,” Saul said, scaling the steps leading to the top of the pool’s diving board. “Keep your eyes on me, Day–not that you can keep ’em off.” For some reason he had taken to calling me “Day,” which sounded almost indistinguishable from “die.” Oddly, I didn’t mind.
Although I was no expert on diving or swimming, I thought his form was excellent.
And then he was airborne. I hadn’t realized it was possible for a man his size to make himself so compact or spin so quickly through the air.
He made an appropriately large splash, though he didn’t surface right away. The longer he remained underwater, the more anxious I became. I wasn’t accustomed to anxiety. Breathing was slowly becoming second nature, but that only reminded me that Saul would need to breathe very, very soon.
And then I found myself following him into the pool.
His head burst through the water’s surface. “Every time,” he said. “You really think I’m gonna drown? I told you I was captain of the swim team. Figured that’d be enough to keep you from trying to rescue me for once.”
“Sometimes you forget to return the toilet seat to its proper position or your soiled undergarments to the appropriate receptacle,” I said. “Perhaps I fear you will forget how to swim upward, and I find myself acting accordingly.”
“They’re not soiled, Day. Lightly used, maybe.” He lowered himself into the water, though his nose remained above the water’s surface.
I moved backward through the water, using my hand to splash the back of his head. Though I lacked my former vampiric strength, I was pleased with the ferocity of those splashes.
“That’s how it’s gonna be, eh?”
Something tugged at the waistline of my swimsuit bottom.
“The other residents of the motel could see, in addition to countless passersby.”
“Guess they’d be in for a real treat.” He released his hold on my swimsuit to wrap his arms around me and pull me closer, our legs kicking in tandem. Relearning to swim under his tutelage had been easier than expected. “But I don’t like sharing.”
“Is that why you hoard the covers so fiercely?”
He let me go so that he could meet my eyes. “Nah. That’s so I can see you naked.”
“Saul.” But I was smiling. I smiled far more often now. And unlike Master Straud, Saul said my smiles were the most beautiful he had ever seen.
We played in the water until the sun rose higher in the sky, retreating to a nearby table that was sufficiently shaded by a wide umbrella. Perhaps these tables had been designed by vampires, or even ex-vampires. Saul had set out a small number of treats for me, as he discovered there were a great many foods I had never tried or had forgotten the taste of.
“Maybe we can go out for dinner tonight,” he said as I sat down. “Keep meaning to take you out for our first real date. Hell, dinner’s supposed to come before, uh…” He gestured vaguely. “Everything. Unless you’re not looking for anything serious, and this is serious.” An invisible question mark seemed to hang in the air.
I offered him what I hoped was a reassuring smile. “It is,” I agreed. “A marriage is a very serious, legally binding affair that requires a number of properly completed and filed documents.”
“So, you’ve been thinking about it,” he said slowly. “Hell, of course you have–you think about everything. The, uh, wedding part too?”
“I do not have a great number of guests I would choose to invite, so a modest ceremony and reception would suit my needs.”
“I don’t have much in the way of family either, aside from my kid brother. He should be the one getting married first.”
“I see no reason to rush, despite my shortened lifespan. If you wish for him to marry first, I am content to wait.”
“So, uh, you’re not too eager to get married…?” He moved to the seat beside me.
“It is not my most pressing concern. After my payments to Master Ravensbane, my extended stay in the city, and my vastly increased food bills, I’ve realized that I must attend to my finances.”
“Huh. You’re not planning to ever go back to work for the boss, are you? As a butler?”
“I have never held any other position, nor worked for any other employer.”
“But Daya…you can do so much more with your life. You don’t need that job–hell, you might not need any job at all. I could support you if you want, for however long you want. I mean, we might have to move out of the city to someplace cheaper, but…I’ll be your husband.”
“I have supported myself for centuries, Saul. I will not become a burden to you simply because I’ve chosen to become human.”
He sighed and shook his head. “You wouldn’t be a burden. You’d be my wife. I mean, do whatever you want–but what do you like to do? Other than, you know, butlering. Buttling. Whatever.”
I considered that. Did I truly enjoy my work as a butler? Certainly, I had taken pride in my work, or at least ensured it maintained strict standards. But I also knew that idleness of any kind wouldn’t suit me for sustained periods of time, no matter how little time I had less. “I don’t know,” I admitted.
He squeezed my hand until I smiled. “Well, you got plenty of time to figure it out. Not as much as you used to, sure, but plenty. There’s no strict timeline for anything, really.”
“That isn’t true,” I said.
“We have approximately eight months in which to make our most important life decisions, secure appropriate housing, and find adequate sources of income.”
He laughed. “Yeah? Why’s that?”
“Because,” I said, “I’m pregnant.”
My face had likely looked very different when I had discovered that particular news for myself.