Chapter 2: Maria
Disclaimer: S. Meyer owns Twilight. Banner by Lady of Spain.
He continued advancing slowly, not wanting to alarm them. Just a few feet away now, he heard the woman in the middle say something he couldn’t understand, Que guapo. El muchacho es mio. Me encanta.
He recognized the language as Spanish.
“May I be some assistance to you fine ladies? he drawled.
He undoubtedly could, the woman thought. He was a major, so he was sure to have great experience in warfare. Being very young, he must have been very clever too. The man was certainly attractive, fair-haired, blue eyed, tall; sinewy, but not overly so. She took a shine to the dimple in his chin and cheeks. At first she had designed to drain him of his fluids, but now she wouldn’t mind experiencing his other fluids.
She hadn’t felt desire for a man since her husband died over a century ago, and she’d been occupied with wreaking revenge on the coven that took him ever since. Raising an army required all of her time, as the newborns were constantly fighting among themselves, and were veritably useless at the end of their first year of life. She would constantly have to enlist new recruits. It would be nice to have a partner responsible for training the newborns. With Jasper’s help, her army would be formidable indeed.
After the battles, she could take a respite from the war, and make love with him. She would willingly share her bed, and since she never slept, it could finally be of use.
Suddenly the idea of having this man at her side became overpowering. She would turn him tonight.
Jasper peeled away a glove. The brunette between the other two women seemed to be the spokesperson. He somehow felt it. Offering his hand to the lady, he bowed, addressing her, “Major Jasper Lamar Whitlock at your service, Ma’am.”
When he took her hand, it seemed strangely hard and cold. He kissed it gently and looked up at her. The moonlight was doing funny things to him; her eyes appeared to be a deep ruby red. Maybe she had some peculiar disease. He glanced quickly at her friends. Was it his imagination, or were their eyes the same color? How odd.
“So glad to meet your acquaintance, Major Whitlock. I am Maria Sandino Moreno. You may call me Ria.” She pointed to the blonde lady. “This is my friend, Lucy.” She turned her head to her other companion. “And this is Nettie.”
“Nice to meet y’all. My pleasure—now how may I help you? Have you lost your way?”
“Not at all, querido,” Maria purred. “Come closer so we may talk.”
Taking a step toward her, he felt her hand brush his hair away from his neck. Then she pulled down the stiff collar. He jerked his head back slightly, but she tugged on him, her fingers at his nape. What was she doing? Was this some strange Spanish custom? The two women beside her were quiet. They seemed to be enjoying whatever it was that Maria was attempting to do.
All at once, her lips pressed against the side of his throat. Was she going to kiss him? But then sharp teeth pierced his skin, and he tried to pry himself away from her grasp. She was a mere wisp of a woman, and yet he couldn’t break from her. Why couldn’t he tear himself away? He should be stronger than her—should be. Jasper struggled desperately to free himself, when a searing surge of pain began spreading through his veins. He was a human torch as the heat licked through him like fingers of flame, plunging on further and further, filling every capillary in his body.
He cried out in agony, “What have you done to me, Ria? I am on fire. Please help me. Get my rifle. Shoot me—for pity’s sake, please, someone shoot me!”
Maria drew her head back. “I am sorry, Major. It will only hurt for a little while, then you will be like us. I cannot let you go now. You will stay with me forever. Tu eres mio.”
Inexplicably, she lifted Jasper, and carried him as if he was a child while he screamed, writhing in pain. Lucy led Blaze, who trotted behind them. The horse was settled in a stable by the girl, beyond their small cottage, while Maria entered the house with her prize.
She laid him on the bed, and quickly undressed him, removing his boots, and clothing, then got down the laudanum from a nearby cabinet. She poured some into a small cup and lifting his head, urged him,” Drink this, it will ease the burning.”
Jasper downed it readily, and as promised the fire seemed to lessen.
He tossed and turned in agony for three full days, with Maria offering him laudanum every couple of hours. There was only a short interval while she left his side to feed. When she returned, she found Nettie lying in the bed with him, soothing him. In a jealous pique, Maria pulled her from the mattress and taking her outside, dismembered her. Then to be sure of no other competitors she made short work of Lucy also. The night was subsequently streaked with billows of purple smoke.
She kept a constant vigil from that time on, rocking him in her arms gently on occasion, or lying beside him, her low body temperature a welcome relief from the unbearable heat. She cooled his brow with her icy hands, smoothing them over his face and neck, and whispering words of comfort. She went so far as to wash him down in cold water from a basin. Jasper’s sense of modesty was all but gone, accepting the cooling baths to help extinguish the burning in his body.
When he thought the searing pain couldn’t get any worse, it accelerated, but then gradually diminished bit by bit, and finally it eased completely. He was exhausted during his fight against the consuming flames within him, but he never once slept, and even now felt no need to rest. His only need was this insistent thirst, this gnawing itch in his throat for something—but what?
Maria no longer seemed hard and cold to him, as she guided him from the bed to a upright mirror standing in the back of the room. Jasper was astounded by what he saw. Was this some sort of trick? His features were enhanced a hundred fold, his body perfect, the skin pale, and his eyes glowing red. He instinctively jumped back from his reflection in unbelief.
“Que guapo,” she murmured, repeating her first observation.
His crimson eyes questioned her silently.
She smiled, “Cara mia, can you not see? You are now one of us.”
“One of you?” He didn’t recognize his own voice. It was somehow different along with this new body.
“Chupa sangre. In English we are called vampires.” She walked up behind him, resting her hands on his broad shoulders. He flinched as she kissed his neck. “No, no. I will never hurt you again. I love you, my Jasper, and soon you will learn to love me.”
Taking his hand, she cooed, “Come now, I will show you how to hunt.”
Maria took Jasper to a battle ground—a human battle ground, and breezing in and out of the Union army ranks so fast, she captured a soldier. She snuck him away from the action, pierced the vital artery in his throat and drew his blood into her mouth, drinking greedily.
“Mira! That, my Jasper, is how it is done.”
At first, he didn’t imagine that he would be able to take a life in that manner, but Maria insisted; “Think of it as defeating your enemy without the use of your gun.”
They were his enemy, and by damn, the smell of the blood was so difficult to resist. He could feel the liquid venom pooling in his mouth.
Maria whispered, “Go, my sweet. You must feed. It is better for one of them to die quickly from your bite than to be used as a target for a cannon ball, no?”
Her twisted logic convinced him. He needed to quench his aching thirst, and this whole hunting process was ridiculously easy. And it continued to be that way, until the war was over and the human blood was not as plentiful.
It so happened, that he discovered quite by accident that he could control the emotions around him. Maria noticed, as they added to their militia day by day, that the fighting and chaos so prevalent among other newborn armies did not seem to be rampant among her own recruits. Whenever an altercation erupted, Jasper would appear and all would be calm again. He had a sixth sense when anger surfaced, and he would think to calm them—and it would just come about.
Months passed, and Jasper continued to prey upon the Union soldiers, and one day he happened upon the officer that killed his brother. In all other instances, he used his power to soothe his victims into a false sense of security, thereby killing them in a merciful manner. When he found Nathaniel’s murderer, however, it was a different story. He emanated terror in the officer’s direction, then threatened him with the soldier’s own gun, aiming it at his head. Biting him, he let his venom burn through the man’s blood vessels until his victim begged him for death. Then and only then, Jasper drank the officer’s life force and threw the drained carcass onto the killing field to rot.
With the Civil War ended, the ejercito de Moreno was now fighting for feeding rights. Her army ran roughshod over the opposing forces. They were no match for a disciplined, professional vampire killing machine. Major Whitlock was her lucky charm, his uncanny knack for influencing his recruits, endeared them to the major. They were willing to do anything for him and she schemed to keep it that way.
After the first few months of his transformation, Maria became more and more obsessed with him. Her prediction that he would love her did not come to pass, however. His very indifference fanned her flames of desire. If he didn’t love her, then lust would have to do. The boy was an innocent in the ways of lovemaking, and she would have her way with him. Maria always got her way. What did she care, as long as he gave her what she wanted—himself!
She watched in the fields one day, as he demonstrated combat maneuvers. His every movement was an opus of beauty. Jasper was like a jungle cat as he glided along in a lethal dance. She made up her mind—Maria would see to it that he dance with her that night.
She was always caressing his face, his throat, and running her fingers through his hair. He never outwardly put a stop to it, but neither did he succumb to her charms. It would be unseemly for a gentleman to do so.
Training was over for the day, and Jasper was sitting on the stable floor, picking a tune on his guitar when he heard Maria call him. She was inside the house, but his keen hearing caught her saying, “Cara mia, I believe I have dropped an earring while in the barn. Can you fetch it for me, por favor?”
Ever her dutiful servant, Jasper found it promptly and brought it into the bedroom. He sensed a feeling of passion about her as she stood before him, and it scared him. Maria had just finished bathing, clad in only a bath blanket. She made sure it was seductively draped to expose most of her breasts. He handed her the earring, and as she reached for it, the covering slipped down further along her body.
He averted his eyes, but not soon enough. Lord almighty, but she was a beautiful woman. Trembling slightly, desire slowly began to rise within him. “Forgive me, I didn’t mean to intrude on you like this.”
Like Joseph of old, he turned to get him out, but Potiphar’s wife was not a vampire as was Maria, and she caught more than his coat. His upper clothing was removed promptly and thrown aside, along with her bath blanket. He felt her naked breasts pressed against his back. What could he do? If he fled now, her whole army would be after him, and truthfully, could he resist her at this moment? After all he was still a man.
“I want you,” she moaned. “Come lie with me.”
“Ria,” he stammered, “my daddy always taught me to respect women. I can’t do what you ask. We are not married.”
Maria spun him around to face her. Laughing, she said, “We are not human anymore. What care we about the rules of what is proper between a man and a woman? I have wanted you that first day. Si, when my eyes beheld you, I knew you must be mine. You find me beautiful, no?”
Jasper struggled to keep his eyes focused on her face. “Yes, you are beautiful, Ria—the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.”
He’d never been in love before, let alone made love. This was all so new to him. Ashamed of his feelings—of wanting her—he tried to replace his amorous thoughts with those of war. His attempt didn’t stand a chance of success—Maria had one hand cupping the back of his head, her other sliding down his chest, while her lips were deliciously moving over his. His surrender was inevitable, and they quickly made a move to the bed.
Maria schooled him in the delights of the flesh. How she could make his body shudder in carnal ectasy! She kept him coming back for more; and he loved and resented her for it. Jasper was now held as an unwitting captive of the little she-devil.