Sunday, May 19, 2013

(#Twenty-eight: Glass House) Wuthering Nights by Summer Day: Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Chapter Twenty-eight
    The day after the infamous Grange dinner party, Heath decided to ring Annabelle. He asked her to come to dinner with him. Bored with the usual pattern: work, money, a feeding frenzy sated by the local blood bank - he needed a distraction. He’d been denying his true nature for too long, but there was very little alternative in polite society. Besides, Kate had moved on.
     He would do the same. 
     That evening, Annabel arrived at his office in her work clothes. She’d been promoted at the gallery to Publicity Officer and her expensive blue suit shimmered under the lights as Heath gave her a tour of the new company premises. Afterwards, they went to dinner. Every night the following week, they did the same.  
      Sometimes they met up in Soho near the gallery where Annabelle was working with a more experienced Art Historian. She hoped to manage the gallery one day and Heath was surprised at her entrepreneurial vision. Annabelle was delighted by Heath’s availability and newly amenable nature. He was like a new person, genuinely complementary of her work in the gallery, the place Kate one day planned to display some of her pictures.
    They’d been going out for about six weeks when they met for lunch in a popular restaurant with long glass windows overlooking the Thames. Annabelle had a frown as she scanned the lunch menu. Heath once preferred pubs but his new job came with an expense account that he felt obligated to use. Annabelle was very impressed with this, but barely ordered anything.
    ‘I’ll have the soup please,’ Annabelle said to the waiter who seemed unsure, as if it was his first day.
    ‘Typical,’ Heath thought, as he noticed Annabelle eating like a bird.
     After they’d eaten, Annabelle told him about her day and Heath pretended to be interested. He knew he’d have to try a little harder if he wanted to pass the six-week boyfriend stage with Annabelle.
     ‘Heath…did you hear me?’
     Miles away, Heath had tuned out and was staring through the window at the panoramic London views. This was not a good sign. He was wondering how he’d dis-entangle himself from the possibility of an actual relationship with this woman whom he’d thought of as a friend - at worst, a plan. Sensing this, Annabelle did something unusual. She shocked him.
     ‘Did you hear me Heath?’
     Annabelle burst into tears as she talked.
     Heath, sensing her need, couldn’t believe his good fortune. Though never very interested in problems of a female nature, he’d have to make an exception in this instance. The words “unexpected pregnancy” gave him a chance to play the hero, no questions asked and also to get back at the woman he loved. The circumstances were too good to resist. He could take the plan further than he’d initially intended.
     ‘I…I don’t know what to do,’ she gulped as she talked, irritating Heath who was nothing less than riveted by her out of character tale. It shouldn’t have surprised him; Annabelle was needy and unpredictable. She’d barely waited for him to pay for dinner the third time they’d dated before she’d arranged his seduction in a hotel room. He knew he’d become a person Kate disliked and he didn’t care. Perhaps his recently acquired egotism needed to be kept in check. The truth was he’d planned for days to spend the night with Annabelle. Still, he hadn’t encountered anything but enthusiasm from her. Annabelle was almost entirely predictable and her neediness for his love was no less than riveting to a man who, since Kate’s betrayal, was almost entirely devoid of emotion.
     He knew Kate would think less of him for having almost no feelings for Annabelle yet taking things further with her. Since Kate had abandoned him and married someone else, he felt she had no right to an opinion. He’d been out clubbing and fanging and going home with whomever, since he’d read Kate’s marriage notice in the paper years ago.
      Now Heath wanted to use and discard anything and everyone he encountered. Most of all, he wanted to make Kate and her family pay for their transgressions, for leaving him alone as a small child, for beating him and, in Kate’s case, for choosing someone else. Annabelle had needed little inducement from Heath to re-form a romantic attachment towards him that had never existed on his part. They had spent the night together after just one bottle of wine. Admittedly, she’d done most of the drinking. He had to give her some credit as she stared at him with her big, tearful eyes. The look of love on her face was implacable.
    That night was a distant memory to Heath and he’d purposely not phoned her the next day.
    After he’d impressed her with the cheap thrill of an exclusive hotel and his undivided attention, that one night with Annabelle had ended in the usual disappointment as he woke up beside her the next day. He did not need reminding that she was not Kate. Annabelle’s arm across his chest represented her neediness, not his. Heath had sat on the lounge chair opposite her after he’d dressed, resisting the urge to run off early and leave her lying there alone.
     That morning, a plan had begun to form. He’d left a respectable length of time between the first meeting and trying to impress her at Claridges. This was nothing less than Annabelle was used to, given her spoilt upbringing. He smiled inwardly as he realized she and Kate had at least one thing in common.
    She was connected to the only woman he’d ever loved and that connection would serve a higher purpose; revenge.
    Heath tried not to dislike her as she sat opposite him in the restaurant. She was attractive enough, nothing like her sister-in-law which really should have been a point in Annabelle’s favour. Kate, beautiful and goddess-like, was also disloyal - Heath would never forgive her. He found Annabelle emotionally needy and thus high-maintenance and even a little bit boring, but she also held the keys to The Grange, a property he wished to purchase.
    Heath was surprised when Annabelle spluttered out in sobs her baby news. He had been careful and made sure he looked empathetic as he sipped his blood orange juice mixed with Magenta.
    He’d learnt to control his desires to drain his lovers, especially the ones he liked and his specialist had warned him that there was a chance he could pro-create. If he did, his offspring would only have a small chance of inheriting his hybrid gene. A boy child would have a sixty percent chance of being a fully-fledged bloodsucker. A girl child would carry the gene but likely be human. Heath hoped for a girl. He’d never want a child to suffer the way he had. He had no idea how he would explain himself to Annabelle. He’d tried to tell her about his freakiness, but she refused to listen. When he was tempted to fang, her meek compliance repelled him, and he held back. She still held little appeal. To Heath, Annabelle was bloodless.
    All she said was, ‘I know you are different. Kate has warned me but I don’t care.’
    He knew it was his call - either way Annabelle would raise his child.
    ‘Annabelle, stop crying, there is no need for that,’ he said softly, feigning sympathy which Annabelle misinterpreted as empathy. (They should have been more careful. They’d been careful, or so he thought). He’d lately started to read the thoughts of people close to him. It was a habit he’d tried to control but as he tuned in to Annabelle all he could hear in her mind was, ‘please offer…please do the right thing…’
    Heath stared out the window, bored with the woes of human life. This news should have excited him, he was sure of it. Once, the prospect of creating a family would have been grounding, essential. But now, he just stared into the abyss of eternity, the cruelty of outliving those he raised and dared to love in return.
    Heath viewed the river and its many bridges, the skyline along the houses of parliament and thought what a wonderful city to behold. The bloodsuckers who’d come before him had told many stories about Edwardian England. Evenings were filled with tales of beautiful women, dark cobbled lanes, ruby carpeted theatre halls and eager street vendors. His ancestors drank brandy seated around log fires during their cold, mansion nights. And here was the chance to add his lineage.
     He realized he was in control and wasn’t proud of the fact that he’d made Annabelle feel beholden, when all along he’d wanted something beyond what was obvious to her. Marrying Annabelle would make Kate feel what he felt. The situation was meant to be. He looked towards the boats and the line of the shore that carried cargo and supported both ancient buildings and high rises. He wondered how far one of those boats could carry him if he kidnapped Kate and forced her to stay away from her poisonous family and all that was familiar until she was his, and only his, forever more. He thought about the time he’d gone to meet her in the glass house and wished they’d never parted.
     He paused before he spoke. In his fantasies, the only source of comfort to him was a reversal of betrayal.
    ‘Here, dry your tears,’ he said, handing Annabelle an unused handkerchief.
     Annabelle pressed it under her eyes.
    ‘I have a solution. Your child shall have a father, Annabelle. We’ll get married. I brought you here today to tell you…well, to ask you to marry me anyway. I’m not suggesting for a minute that this hasn’t surprised me, but we needn’t let it derail our lives…’
     Annabelle looked at him with a surprised expression on her face. She used an old-fashioned phrase, “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” when she announced her intentions to Kate later that evening, just as Heath imagined she would. He only wished he could have seen Kate’s face when Annabelle told Kate that Heath had asked her to marry him and that she’d said “yes”. Kate had guessed Heath was up to something but she also knew there was nothing she could do. She was married to Edmund now, she was having his child.
     Over breakfast a week later, Edmund raised the subject of Annabelle with his wife.
    ‘I feel as if I have lost a sister,’ Hunt said, as he read the finance news. ‘But never mind, she will come to her senses, eventually - and when she does I shall not be so forgiving. I think I shall re-structure the family trusts, make it harder for him to get his hands on her property… ’
     ‘Annabelle is pregnant,’ Kate said, her hand on her own expanding stomach.
     Hunt put down his newspaper, but delivered the calm, rational words Kate had come to expect from him.
     ‘Then I suppose it will be a while before we see her again.’

     The wedding was a lavish affair. The impending nuptials were announced in the most conservative broadsheet newspapers and covered in all the glossy magazines. Kate attended, of course, in a pink silk dress, fashionable and ruched at the shoulder. It was a close family affair and Hunt had told Kate she must attend. 
    Kate couldn’t describe how she felt, sitting in the reception as the young couple danced their first dance.  They looked amazing together - Annabelle so blonde and pretty like the sun, Heath so dark and handsome, like night.