I’d received a letter by the morning post.
The letter informed me that a young lady awaited my company at the Lathom Hotel on East Stark Street at 11 in the morning.
It was signed, Genevieve.
I’d only known one Genevieve, and that had been in 1798. She was not, as far as I knew, of my ilk and when she had left town at the turn of the century. To say that I was smitten with her would be an understatement. Over the centuries, I have enjoyed the company of a few women, but only a very few. The knowledge that I will outlive them all is a terrible weight and lends a bitterness to the sweetness of their company.
I put on my best suit of clothes, made sure the Colts were oiled and cleaned, and I was darkening the door of the Lathom Hotel at 10:55. My heart beat quick and hard against my chest, and my palms were damp with a nervousness I’d not felt in some time. I longed to see Genevieve, but I did not hold out too much hope.
This was Cross, after all, and the missing rarely came back the way they were.
I spoke with the concierge, and he led me to a private sitting room off the lobby.
When he opened the door, I stumbled to a stop.
There, not ten feet from me, sat Genevieve. A grand dog stood beside her, and the smile on her face when she saw me twisted my stomach into knots.
I managed to step into the room, and the concierge closed the door behind me.
“Duncan,” she whispered, rising to her feet. “It has been a long time, dear heart.”
“Too long,” I replied, voice hoarse. “How is it you are alive?”
Her smile faded. “I am neither alive nor dead, Duncan. Although I seem to be the former.”
She reached out a hand, and the dog growled.
“I will touch him!” she snapped, and the dog went silent.
I took her hand and found her flesh soft but cold.
“I have been like this since 1801,” she said as she guided me to the settee. “I have no hunger. No thirst. I do not sleep.”
“As am I. I have come for selfish reasons.”
“So did I,” I replied.
She smiled. “You are the only one who would not be repulsed by the chill in my flesh.”
I leaned forward and kissed her, her lips as sweet as roses.
The dog growled, and we ignored him.