Guinevere had just settled for the evening after coming home from the shop. Just as she sat at the chess table, her phone rang. Gunther’s name was splayed in the screen. She immediately answered.
“Hi.” She spoke first.
“Hey! How was the shop? I see Agnes and Cornelia stopped by?”
“Yeah. They sure did. How did you know?” Dummy, Cornelia probably told him
“The charge to my account from Le Fay’s in Forgotten Hollow. I hope whatever they bought was worth it.” He chuckled nervously.
“I’m sure you’ll like it. I can’t say what it is though…I wouldn’t want Cornelia to hate me for ruining the surprise.”
“Are you doing anything tonight?” His tone was more urgent.
“Nope. I was just going to play some chess and maybe hang out with your uncle if he’s awake. Did you have something in mind?” Guinevere picked up the queen piece and looked at it.
“How quick could you get to Oasis Springs and to a bar called The Desert Rose?”
“Half an hour maybe. I’d have to SimMap directions.” She set the chess piece down and stood. She made her way to the computer a few feet away and looked at the directions. “Yeah. About half an hour. How long will it take you to get there?”
“I’m already here. I had business in Oasis Springs, and this is my favorite bar.”
“Alright. I’ll leave now. See you in a bit.” Guinevere hung up and turned into a black mist. She rose into the sky and headed south, to Oasis Springs.
She arrived in less time than she thought – twenty minutes. Guinevere turned back into her human form while standing in the street, luckily there was no one around. It was still the early stages of dusk in Oasis Springs, compared to the darkness she left in Forgotten Hollow. Weird…they’re in the same timezone. She pulled her phone from her pocket, but stopped when she saw Gunther walking toward her.
“You look exhausted.” Was the first thing he said.
“Oh. Thanks. Just what every woman wants to hear.” Guinevere playfully slapped his shoulder with a mock pout.
“Ow! If that’s a light slap…I’d hate to be on the receiving end of a full force slap.” He rubbed his shoulder. Guinevere’s eyes grew in horror.
“I’m sorry! I-I underestimate my strength sometimes. Are you going to be okay?” He nodded and stepped closer before pulling her into an embrace.
“Yeah. I’ll be fine.” They remained like that for a moment, but to Guinevere it felt like time had slowed. This is wrong, right? A little too intimate for friends? Guinevere, reluctantly, was the first to pull away. It’s just lust, it’s just lust. We’re friends.
“I need a drink, let’s go.” Guinevere’s thirst was topped off, but she needed to get inside and away from being alone with Gunther.
Everything went back to normal for her as soon as she was in and sitting at the bar. Her clouded mind was cleared as she sipped on the Plasma Jane.
“Another vampire friendly place? Is this really your favorite bar, or did you just want to have a drink with me?” Guinevere couldn’t help but feel like there was something there. I can’t do anything about it if there is…too many things standing in the way.
“Both. Caleb used to live in Oasis Springs, so we would come here all the time. He and Lilith are the reason this place serves vampire friendly cocktails.” Gunther took a sip of his drink. “And I wanted to spend time with you. I had a rough day at work, and I thought you would have had a stressful day with the shop’s grand opening…so I figured we could both use a night out.”
“You thought right.” Guinevere had thought all flight about whether or not she should mention the light jealously Cornelia experienced. “Is Cornelia a jealous person?” She didn’t know how to go about telling him, so she thought just outright would be the best way.
“A little bit, why? Did she say something?” Gunther stirred his drink while he looked at his vampire companion.
“Not really. I just…have a sense for people. She asked about how we met, and when I told her about our little business lunch…I could feel the jealously.” Guinevere looked at her drink and sighed heavily.
“The thing is…Cornelia is a very insecure woman. She probably feels threatened by you because we have common interests. Hell, I have more in common with her sister, and she’s jealous about that. The only thing tying me to her currently is the fact that our fathers want this union to happen, so it will. Beyond that, I really don’t want anything to do with her.” There was a feeling of sadness and pity for Cornelia.
“Yeah…but shouldn’t you try to ease her insecurities and try to make it work? You’ll be stuck with her til either one of you die.” She took a drink and continued, “I mean, I don’t think Cornelia and I will ever be friends but I’m with her on this. If I were in her shoes, I would want my betrothed to put effort into it. She came into my shop to find something that would interest you. She’s making an effort to be interested in the things you are. And from what Agnes told me, Cornelia is terrified for vampires. So for her to come to Forgotten Hollow, into a shop run by a vampire – that shows me how much she wants to be a part of your life. You should embrace this, not many women are that devoted.”
“I never thought of it like that. I’m such an idiot.”
“No, you’re just blind.” Guinevere finished her drink and hopped off of the barstool.
She cut through the crowd hovering around the foosball table to the jukebox. She flipped through the songs and picked a random one from the top twenty-five rock songs of the year, she started to dance. Guinevere was feeling mixed emotions from that conversation, and felt confused. I feel bad for them both…Cornelia for being stuck with a man that has no interest in her. And Gunther for being stuck with a woman he has no interest in. If I wasn’t friends with Gunther, would that change how I feel about the situation? Probably, but I am friends with him. I just want him to be happy… Her thoughts were interrupted by Gunther joining her.
“Is everything okay?” Guinevere nodded. She didn’t want to ruin the night, or their friendship.
“Yeah. I’ve just had a long day. I usually don’t stay up longer than twenty-four hours…but I’m going on two days, and I burned a lot of energy flying here. I have just enough to get back.” It wasn’t a complete lie, Guinevere did burn a lot of energy the last two days just preparing for the opening.
“Well, then let’s stop dancing and sit. There’s a bubble hookah out on the back deck if you’re interested.” Guinevere stopped dancing and nodded. She was starting to feel dead on her feet.
The bubble hookah had the standard bubblegum flavor, which was fine with Guinevere – they didn’t have the bubblegum flavor in the hookahs at home anymore.
“Bernard took this flavor out at home because Mimsy got super addicted to it. She’d be down there while Samuel and Yuki were trying to sleep, and it got to the point that Samuel had to finally tell my uncle about it. The bubbling would startle Yuki, and now I think she has a fear of the bubble hookahs.” A deep laugh erupted from Gunther – the kind of laugh from the depths of the stomach.
“I can’t imagine it. From the one portrait I’ve seen of Lady Von Haunt, she doesn’t seem like the type.” Guinevere coughed, bubbles blew out of her mouth and nose.
“Looks are very deceiving, dearest Gunther. My aunt has a very addictive personality. As far as I know, she’s been addicted to: gambling, Michelangelo – and I don’t mean his work, erotic novels, and the bubblegum flavor hookah.” Gunther’s laughter was full blown hysterics.
“M-M-mic-” He took a deep breath and tried again. “Michela-angelo? I n-ne-need that elaborated. P-p-please.”
“She was addicted to his plasma…and other things. She wanted to marry him, but she refused to turn him because then she couldn’t drink his plasma. He was under her spell for so long, and it was such a dark time for her. Luckily my great-grandfather fucked up and we had to go into hiding, so he could live his life without her influence. But, to this day, she claims he lived so long because of her taking care of him.”
“That’s a little depressing.” Gunther’s laughter had stopped in the middle of the story. “Do you have any addictions?” Guinevere inhaled while she thought. She exhaled and watched the bubbles float and pop on the ceiling.
“I’m addicted to tattoos, and I guess human plasma. It’s why I only drink it when I absolutely have to. Samuel is always good at stopping me from losing control.”
“It’s still weird to think of you drinking from my uncle.” Guinevere burst out in a fit of giggles.
“I guess so. He has no idea we’re friends…and I’m sure if I told him he would be more stubborn about leaving. I’ve offered many times, but he doesn’t want to leave. He doesn’t even offer an explanation.” They were silent. Guinevere listened to the bubbling from the hookah, the crickets and the ripples of water from the lake. She listened to the music and chattering from inside. She listening to Gunther’s breathing. It was bordering on anxious. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Want to go fishing? I brought fishing poles.” Guinevere was concerned by the sudden change in tone and topic, but went along with it.
Once they were set up, Gunther opened up. “What if he knows something about your father’s death and that’s why he’s not leaving…to ensure it doesn’t happen to you?” The fishing pole nearly fell out of Guinevere’s hands. She had never thought about that.
“If that’s the case, then what should I do? I can’t just go up to him and ask.” Gunther looked to her with concern.
“I don’t know. If there’s anything I know about my uncle, it’s that he’s an honorable man and that everything he does, he does for a reason.” This news sunk deep into Guinevere’s mind, she thought about it and she saw it. He stayed with vampires to finish his research. Surely he has enough research. Why stay, and why be so stubborn about it? If he does know something, I think I should find proof first.
“I’m going to find proof first, then ask him about it. I don’t want him to be put in danger. According to Death, there just may be proof in the shop.” This time Gunther almost dropped his fishing pole.
“Death? Like, hooded figure that reaps souls?” Guinevere nodded.
“He stopped by. No big deal. I was the only one that could see him anyway.” She could feel the early stages of dawn creeping up. She reeled in the fishing line and set it on the ground. “I should go. Thank you for the night out.” Gunther set his fishing pole down.
They embraced once more, this time he was the first to let go. “Sorry it wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped. New rule! No talking about betrotheds, or conspiracies of death. No stressful things.” Guinevere nodded in agreement.
“Agreed. The only time we talk about them is when we need to. Hey! My birthday is next month, we should go out for karaoke.”
“Oh dear no. My singing will scare you off forever.”
“We’ll see. I’ll text you when I get home.” She pulled him in for one last embrace before shifting into mist form and heading to the castle.