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Title: "Vampire Moon"--Part Three (3/WIP)
A.J. McLean was in the lead not looking back as he headed over to Garden House, the bed and breakfast where they were staying in five of the ten available rooms.
Garden House was only two blocks off the heart of Duval Street--which was the most animated part of old Key West.
Together they headed toward Elizabeth Street to the stately dwelling that had been built in the mid-1800's and prided itself on being 'Hidden in Paradise.' That phrase was one they could all appreciate--being hidden was appealing to people who were so often on display in the public eye.
Nick Carter felt revived by lunch and was happy to once again be outside in the burning Florida sun. The day seemed fresh and the colors around him very bright. He loved the intimacy of this city of tropical delights.
Brian Littrell was walking close beside Nick, relating some joke Howie Dorough had told him the night before. In front of them they could see Howie and A.J. laughing as they reached the porch of Garden House and entered through the front door.
Nick knew Kevin Richardson must be behind them--but he didn't turn to look. He wanted to try and shake this feeling of paranoia about Kevin. His logical mind told him he was absolutely right to do so. But his primal self--his sixth sense--kept trying to shout a warning.
Nick joined Brian's laughter, though the punchline had been lost on him. What was the difference? He was with his best friend feeling the sunshine soaking through his shirt into his back, shoulders and neck. Nick felt wonderful--happy to be on a small vacation in 'paradise.'
Kevin suddenly passed them as Nick and Brian reached the porch. The older man moved swiftly inside the door and disappeared from view. Nick felt the top of his scalp tighten. Had Kevin just touched his face with tender fingers as he passed by? Or had Nick imagined it?
"You need to change," Brian said, his fingers poking at the stiff cloth under Nick's armpits. "You smell, dude."
Nick laughed. "Yeah, I do. I think I'll get a shower and wash my hair. It's not just the heat. It's the damned humidity."
Brian nodded. "Yeah. And whatever you were actually up to last night--you gonna tell me, or what?" The two men stood for a moment staring at one another.
Finally Nick broke the silence. "I wasn't out drinking or anything, Brian. Honest. I just wanted to walk. It's pretty here at night. Why don't we just let it go?" His voice held a small pleading note, and Nick's eye widened in 'puppy dog' fashion. This little 'trick' always seemed to work with Brian...
Brian seemed to consider, then gave Nick a small smile. "Sure. Whatever. I'm gonna call Leighanne while you shower. Then we can go have some fun."
Nick gave Brian a grateful look, grinning hugely. "I'll hurry. Howie said he had something he wanted us all to do today. Can't wait to find out what he was going on about."
They parted, and Nick hurried to his room and into his private bath. He couldn't wait to get out of his rumpled and sweaty clothes and into a shower. He knew he'd feel better when he was scrubbed clean and in fresh things. Maybe the nightmare of the previous night would recede--maybe it would even fade away. Nick certainly hoped so.
Nick dressed in clean cotton pants of pale yellow and a yellow tee under a large white shirt--he was barefooted and carrying sandals in his hand as he left his own room. Nick loved to go barefoot, but knew his feet would never stand the terrible heat of the harsh concrete sidewalks--or even the burning sand of the beaches. You didn't even go down to the ocean here without something for your feet.
Nick rapped on Brian's door and dropped his sandals to the floor, slipping them on. The door opened and Brian gestured him inside.
"What's up?" Nick asked as he moved inside. The entire house was wonderfully cooled by A/C, and the rooms were old-fashioned and pleasantly furnished. But unlike many B&Bs, they each had a private bathroom and cable TV. Pretty good for a place built back in the 1800's, Nick thought.
"Just looking for my damned watch," Brian said, moving back to the dresser and shifting through a pile of miscellaneous items. "It went missing again last night," Brian added.
"Gee, ya know... It's strange the way that happens. With our watches, I mean," Nick said, moving to the desk and starting to assist with the search.
Brian laughed. "Yeah. Now that you mention it, we always do seem to be misplacing a watch here and there. But we always find them again."
Nick moved a notepad and found Brian's watch beneath it. "Here it is," he said, brandishing it. Brian took it and put it on, grabbing a jacket before heading to the door.
Nick laughed. "I really don't think you'll need *that*, dude," he said, pointing at Brian's jacket.
Brian stopped and joined Nick's laughter, tossing the jacket down. "Don't know what I was thinking," Brian said. Nick snapped off lights as they left the room.
They finally ended up together on one of the sun decks, A.J. in outrageously baggy and bright attire and Howie in wispy thin pants and an open shirt. Kevin was newly dressed in deep gray slacks with a gray silk shirt--which somehow made his face seem even paler than usual to Nick. Brian wore shorts, one of his baseball caps and tank top. His muscled shoulders looked good, Nick thought.
"I wanna do that 'swim with the dolphins' thing," Howie was saying. "It sounds pretty cool."
Brian nodded. "Yeah--it sounds like fun. You've done it before--haven't you, Nick?"
Nick grinned and bobbed his head. "It's fantastic! They have these two different versions. One is where you just swim free--snorkel--with the dolphins. The other one you have a guide or whatever there and they make the dolphins do tricks and things. The free swim is more fun--but you have to be a good swimmer." Nick couldn't keep the enthusiasm out of his voice. He loved to snorkel and loved dolphins.
A.J. looked pointedly at Howie. "I don't think I wanna swim with any dolphins, man. I'd rather go out to the lagoon and lie around in one of those hammocks."
Their B&B had a lovely small lagoon/waterfall--and hammocks were all around the house for the relaxation of the guests who were staying in the house.
"So--don't go," Howie replied. "Nick and Brian and I will go."
Kevin stood quietly, his arms folded across his chest. Nick could see that he was amused by the discussion--but didn't seem interested in voicing an opinion either way.
"Why don't *you* come, too, Kev?" Nick asked him, letting their eyes lock.
Kevin just slowly shook his head. But he did offer Nick a secret smile.
Nick wasn't ready to concede. "It's loads of fun, Kevin. The dolphins are right there swimming with you. You can reach right out and touch them and everything." Nick's eyes turned dreamy as he continued. "I'd like to do the 'workshop' thingy they have someday. If you do that, then at the end they let you do an ocean swim with wild dolphins. That would be way cool."
Nick saw Kevin blink in surprise. "I didn't know you wanted to do that, Nick," Kevin said in a soft voice.
Nick nodded and smiled at Kevin. "Yeah. I think it would be great. Imagine swimming with 'em. The ones you usually swim with are tame and trained. But for the ocean swim you go out in a boat and join a school of wild dolphins. I figure that must be really something..."
"Well, it all sounds like fun to me," Brian drawled, giving Nick a small punch in the arm. "Let's do it."
Nick watched his friends. Howie was grinning and started in about the number they needed to call. A.J. looked skeptical and unconvinced. And Kevin seemed to be far off, thinking his own thoughts. But Brian was smiling his largest smile as he began to ask Nick questions about the swim.
Howie went off to find his cell phone. This was going to be a blast, Nick thought.
A.J. had compromised and gone along--as had Kevin. But the two men had only watched for a bit before disappearing together, while Howie, Brian and Nick enjoyed their dolphin encounter.
Afterwards they went back to Garden House to change again, everyone discussing places they could eat before leaving Key West.
"Maybe we could stay just one more night," Kevin suddenly suggested.
The other men looked at him with surprise. Kevin wasn't usually the one who would suggest prolonging a vacation. Howie was the first to recover from his surprise and chime in.
"Yeah! Why not? We could have dinner and maybe go to a bar afterwards and then hang out and stuff--like last night. It'd be fun!"
A.J. grinned and nodded. "I saw some really fine ladies at that bar last night. And--hey!--they told me about this 'Ghost Tour' they were gonna do tonight. Maybe we could do that, too!"
Brian began to bubble with similar enthusiasm and the three men chatted happily away. But Nick was stuck on three words that Howie had said--"like last night." Did Nick really *want* a repeat of last night? Or was it time to leave the Keys behind them?
Kevin placed a hand on Nick's arm, making him jump. "I want to give you a surprise, Nick. Tonight. Just go along--okay?"
Nick looked into Kevin's green eyes, warily. But all he saw was sunlight shining and sparkling there--and a sincere Kevin who wanted to offer something special to a friend. 'I wonder what it is?' Nick thought.
So, of course, Nick agreed. They decided on dinner at the Hard Rock Café and headed out together, A.J. talking up the 'Ghost Tour.' It was another perfect evening in paradise.
When they'd finished eating, A.J. had grabbed Howie's cell and gone off to call about the tour. Nick felt relieved by the fact that Kevin had eaten some of his dinner--even if it wasn't as much as the others had hungrily packed away.
As time passed, Nick realized that the experience of the night before was more and more like a bad dream. It no longer seemed real to him--and Kevin no longer seemed frightening. Kevin was just Kevin again--and the primal voice inside Nick was no longer screaming any warnings.
A.J. booked them for the 'Ghost Tour'--saying they'd be led around by lantern-light through Old Key West to see some of the supposedly haunted houses. Their guide was going to fill them in on the ghostly legends of the city.
Time passed while they shopped and stopped casually at a few bars. They finally took their purchases back to Garden House as the sky drew dark and the time was approaching for the start of their tour.
Nick wasn't as up for ghost stories as he usually would have been. He found himself almost dogging Brian as they started the tour. Howie was driving him crazy doing his 'Count Dracula' impersonation over and over again.
Their guide took them from place to place, telling tales of the Hard Rock Café ghost with the glowing yellow eyes and The Night Nurse who supposedly came to visitors and placed her hand on their brow to check for fever while taking their pulse. These eerie tales went on and on--and the tour guide was doing an excellent job of telling the stories in such a way that Nick felt the hair on the back of his neck standing on end.
They moved on through the darkness and suddenly Nick realized he had fallen behind the group. He glanced around frantically--looking for Brian. And then Kevin was at his shoulder and had placed a strong hand on his forearm.
"I want to give you that surprise now, Nick."
Nick looked into Kevin's eyes and quieted--though he could feel his heart pounding in his chest.
They walked along together--Kevin guiding Nick's steps.
The visions around them blurred and soon they were standing on a sandy beach next to the foamy ocean. The spot was quiet. Nick looked around him and didn't see a soul in sight. The smells of perfumed flowers and the sea wrapped around him. The moon and stars were glinting off the surface of the ocean mirror and inviting Nick to swim.
"Take off your clothes, Nick," Kevin said in a soft order.
Nick turned to stare into Kevin's eyes. He could feel the change in his friend. He wanted to ask, "When did this happen? When did you become this other man?" But he remained silent. Then he slipped out of his sandals and began to peel off his clothing, letting the clothes drop to the pebbly sand under his feet. He removed his watch, bent over and slipped it into the pocket of his slacks.
When he was down to his boxers he stopped. Kevin moved to face the ocean and Nick could see the muscles of Kevin's face and neck go taut as if with some tremendous pain.
Suddenly Nick heard a sound coming from the water. He stared seaward and saw the foam seeming to grow and crest in a huge swirling mass. Then Nick could make out forms swimming toward him. The foam was actually a school of dolphins. They were amazingly--unnaturally--close to shore.
"Go out to them," Kevin directed. "Take your swim. Then come back to me." There was a hint of exhaustion in Kevin's voice--and Nick watched as Kevin sank down to sit in the warm sand.
Then he turned and waded into the water. The cries of the dolphins beckoned him. He fell to his face and began to swim and they were suddenly all around him. He laughed with delight and reached out his hands to touch them and they played around him and treated him as if he were one of them.
Nick didn't know how long he swam with the dolphins. Time had lost meaning for him. But finally the school turned away and headed out to the deep sea, and Nick felt a tug drawing him reluctantly back to shore. But he knew he'd never forget the joy of this swim. It was a dream-come-true.
As he walked out of the ocean and back up the beach, Nick saw that Kevin was now standing and holding his discarded garments draped over one arm.
Nick went to him, water streaming from his body. He reached out and Kevin gave him his pants, which Nick quickly donned. He wiped the bottom of one foot on his opposite pant leg and slipped it into a sandal before doing the same with his other foot. Then Nick stood--still wet--clad only in the slacks that were clinging to his damp body.
Kevin suddenly tossed aside the other clothes and came to Nick, wrapping his arms around him. "I need... you know what I need." Kevin was holding himself back--watching Nick's face.
Nick gazed at him and then smiled. "Yeah. I know. Go ahead, Kev." He turned his face from Kevin's and tilted his head to expose his neck.
And then Kevin was fastened on him and drinking--sucking so hard and deep. Nick felt his erection rising and he reached out to pull Kevin closer, hugging him tightly.
The stars and the moon were dancing over head--and the ocean murmured a happy song nearby. Nick gave himself up to Kevin and Kevin drank with need. Calling the dolphins had drained him, Nick supposed.
Then Kevin was grinding his body against Nick--and Nick could feel Kevin's own erection pressing firmly into his leg. However different Kevin might be, he was certainly no Vampire Lestat--unable to enjoy the sexual pleasures of a normal man.
Kevin's sucking eased and was replaced by his pointed tongue gently lapping at the tender flesh of Nick's neck. Nick realized he could feel the large wounds closing--was sorry he hadn't watched to see Kevin's fangs (he did have fangs--didn't he?).
Suddenly Kevin was dropping back down to the sand, pulling Nick with him. They rolled together and their hands strayed up and down and their mouth came together with clashing teeth and probing tongues.
They focusing on the kissing then--their arms wrapping around one another. The sky was a vortex and Nick felt his orgasm wash over him and take his breath away. Then he felt Kevin shuddering in his arms and knew that he, too, had reached release.
They rested side by side on the sand.
"I don't care," Nick said finally. "I don't care what you are."
There was a pause. "I know," Kevin said very softly. "I didn't mean for that to happen last night, Nick. But I'm glad it did."
Nick reached over and kissed Kevin again, feeling an overwhelming longing toward his friend. "How?" he asked. "When?" His fingers reached out and played in Kevin's silky hair.
"I suddenly changed right before we became The Backstreet Boys. One day I was just like everyone else--and then in the night I... changed." Kevin's voice was matter-of-fact. "It was like reaching puberty or something. When your voice changes and you get hairy. No one *made* me this way. I just 'became'--like your body suddenly grows."
"Then it's not like the movies and books?" Nick was suddenly very curious.
Kevin gave a small laugh. "No. Well--not for me, anyway. I guess it might be different for different people. But you've seen me in the daytime, haven't you? And you've watched me sleep and eat. I'm not all that different from you, Nick."
Nick wished it were light enough to see Kevin's expression. Did being this way hurt his friend? Or did it maybe excite him? What was Kevin feeling right now?
"I've wondered if it's some genetic thing--passed down in the family. Or maybe a disease I caught. But it isn't like I can just go to a doctor and ask. I don't exactly want to be locked in a padded cell for the rest of my life."
"No." Nick considered. "But didn't you ever ask anyone else in your family?"
"My Dad was dead. I think I would have asked him. I wonder now if he tried to tell me about it years ago. Some of the more cryptic things he said when I was getting older."
"But," Nick paused, not wanting to bring Kevin needless pain. How should he ask? "If your Dad knew, then that would mean he was... well..."
Nick waited quietly for Kevin to answer.
"I think he might have been--like me. I'll never know now for sure. But it's not about being 'undead,' Nick. Not for me, anyway. And I guess you can still get sick--like Dad's cancer--and you can still die. I just don't know."
Nick imagined how hard it must be for Kevin--with no one to tell him what this was or what he should do.
"How did you figure it out in the first place?" he asked.
Kevin laughed. "Hunger. Need. I simply had to feed. I've never killed anyone by drinking, but I think I've come close. And then the powers started to show themselves."
Nick sat up, excited. "Like superpowers?"
Kevin reached out and pulled Nick back down beside him. "Not exactly. But I can do things with my mind. Amazing things, sometimes. It can be very draining, though. And I'm always having to use little tricks to get free time to feed. You have a strong mind, Nick. I should have been able to draw you under enough that you wouldn't have recalled what happened at all."
"Is that how it normally is? No one remembers what you do?"
Kevin cleared his throat. "I have to feed, Nick. Maybe not every night--but sooner or later I have to do it. I can't keep my strength--even normal strength--without the blood. But I've never used any of you before last night. I promised myself I wouldn't. I hope you don't decide someday that you're sorry I broke that promise."
Nick sighed deeply. "I won't, Kevin. I just feel so good. And I can help you--I'd like to make things easier."
"Maybe. But it takes a lot out of you, too. Do you remember how weak and hungry you were today? And that was from only *one* time. Don't you feel weak now?"
Nick nodded into the darkness, wondering if Kevin saw better in this light than he did. "Yeah. I'm kinda puny. But I'll be okay."
Nick could see Kevin turning his head toward the ocean. He heard Kevin's loud sigh. "I shouldn't have let you know... I should have fought the urge to take you last night. To let you know. But it's so lonely sometimes. I haven't even told Kristin."
Kristin! Nick hadn't even given a thought to Kevin's wife. "But... How can she not know?"
"My will over her will. I worried about it for a long time. Why do you think I waited so many years to marry her? I didn't know if I could keep it from her. But why should she have to carry this burden day after day? And I couldn't help loving her and wanting her."
"Wouldn't this be easier if you just told your friends and family? Trusted them, Kev?"
Kevin sighed again. "Easier? For my family? My wife? My friends? Or do you mean easier for me?"
Kevin would always be Kevin--worrying about everyone else...
"But what about Brian? I'd think that he-"
Kevin grabbed one of Nick's arms and leaned into him. "Don't you understand, Nick? If this is a genetic thing... Damn it! I've debated with myself a million times whether it would help or hurt to tell Brian." Kevin dropped his hold and rolled on his back, tossing an arm over his eyes.
Genetic? As in if Kevin was a 'vampire'--had this 'thing'--then his cousin Brian might, too. Nick swallowed, wondering what possible answer he could offer Kevin.
"One day Brian may have to know. God help us all... I suppose I should tell him. But he might think it was some kind of evil--it might... I don't know. It might drive him away from me. Or give him doubts about himself. Vampires aren't exactly an image related with angels and heaven. I couldn't even answer him if he asked me if this is a curse or if I'm a devil."
Nick realized Kevin was expressing things to him that he'd never shared with another person in all this long time. It made Nick feel humble--and a little sad...
Kevin sat up cross-legged on the sand. "You should go back to them. I've made it so they won't know you were gone. I should have done that the last night, too. But I wasn't exactly myself."
"Go? What about you?" Nick pushed up to a sitting position and stared in Kevin's direction.
"I need to bathe in the moonlight. I don't know why, but it's good for me. The way having the sunlight is good for you."
"Then I'll wait for you," Nick said stubbornly.
Kevin suddenly laughed. "You certainly don't seem bothered by all this anymore. I thought you were pretty bugged today."
Nick grinned, wondering again if Kevin's eyes--his vampire eyes--could see his face. "Yeah, I was freaked out. It is a little freaky, Kevin."
Kevin leaned in and patted Nick's shoulder. "You've been remarkably brave about it. And I'm glad you don't think I'm a monster. Or a crazy man."
Nick leaned even closer and gave Kevin a small kiss on the cheek. "I guess I think you're the one who's brave, Kev. I wish I could really 'get' this whole thing better."
"I'm still learning about it--and about myself, Nick. Every day. And I have to continue to try and live a 'normal' life, besides. Whatever the hell that is."
They were quiet and the night seemed very peaceful.
"Go on now. I'll moon-bathe and come back later."
Nick was curious. "I wanna stay. Please let me."
Kevin began to disrobe. Nick could see him carefully folding and piling his clothes next to his shoes. Suddenly the beach seemed brighter--as if the moon had been switched up like auto highbeams. Kevin was standing completely naked and reaching his arms up high over his head, spinning in the light.
Then Kevin stretched out in the sand and threw his arms and legs in a wide spread-eagle--the sight captivated Nick. Kevin's body was exposed and beautiful. Nick wanted to kneel beside him and run his hands over Kevin in silent worship.
Instead, he stood silently watching as the light from the moonbeams seemed to play over Kevin's white skin--and enter his body in some unexplainable fashion.
Nick just sat quietly--watching the moon give power to his lover.
Lover? Was Kevin really his lover now? As Nick stared at Kevin's naked body lying in front of him, he realized that he truly hoped so. Regardless of Kristin or anyone else. Nick wanted to love Kevin and support and help him.
Nick Carter was in love with a vampire.
-end part three--back to top of page-