Ruby Red

By Meltha

Ten years had passed since she’d seen him. After a dozen places since China, she’d recently alighted in Switzerland. They’d never been to Switzerland, always moving near the edges of the Continent except for visits to the capitals. Growing up hearing the constantly crashing waves had gotten into his blood, she supposed, and he never felt satisfied far from that noise for long. Drusilla and Spike were still in Holland, the madcap wench delighted by the windmills’ circling arms and the tulip fields. Of course, wherever the fool took it into her head to stay, Spike stayed.

He always stayed.

Darla sat at the vanity in her beautifully appointed townhouse in Geneva. A lovely view of snow-capped mountains tinged pink as the sunset died reflected in the otherwise vacant looking glass. She allowed herself to breathe the crisp air deeply, relishing it. Her hands, like those of all vampire women, were skilled in applying cosmetics and arranging hair without the benefit of a mirror. Currently, she was settling the final hairpins into her elaborate pompadour, confident in its perfection as she saw it with her fingertips. She hesitated a moment, knowing the ornament would compliment her crimson silk dress she was wearing to the theatre tonight, then opened the pasteboard box beside her powder puff.

Inside rested the comb. She hadn’t worn it since the night before she had thrown Angelus out of their house in Romany, but once it had been a common sight. Carved of deep brown tortoise shell, the overlapping scrollwork looked Celtic in its intricacy, but it was the inlaid stones that had caught her eye when Angelus had lazily rolled over and taken it from under a pillow, placing it in her outstretched palm.

“So, you’ve finally stopped toying with that opera singer?” she’d asked with a smile.

“Aye,” he’d replied, stretching like a cat. “Her finest aria was the sound of her screaming. She was wearing this. Seemed a fitting present for ye: rubies. Ah, Darla, how I should like to see ye clothed in naught but glistening, blood- colored gems.”

She’d laughed at him and covered his mouth with hers, spending hours rewarding him for the rare present, which was obviously why he’d chosen to give it to her. She’d worn it often in those days.

But not since. Carrying it about with her and not wearing it was senseless. She should either destroy it in token of her hate for what her former lover had become or wear it as a mark of how little she cared for the past it represented. Annoyed at her hands, which had developed a tremor for no discernible reason, she took it out of the box, closing her fingers tightly around it. Smashing it into powder would be no trouble if she chose.

That night, as she watched the unwary playgoers more than the drama, she told herself the dress’s color just didn’t match the rubies in the comb sitting once more upon her vanity.