Without You, by Golden Ceres
Marissa had just gotten engaged and was to get married in six months time before it happened. She and her fiance had been dating for almost four years. They had had difficult times and good ones as well. Their relationship was a strong one based on hard work and devotion. Or that was what Marissa had thought for a long time. She still had felt rather threatened when the stunningly beautiful woman had stared entranced at Ash during her old classmate's birthday party.
She should have known that something was wrong when she saw that Helena did not seem to have aged at all from the last time Marissa had seen her old friend, or that she was still married to and so over the top affectionate with the suspicious, too beautiful to be true man that had swept her of her feet in their senior year and had caused her to drop from the face of earth for weeks. Neither had she been very wary about all the impossibly beautiful golden eyed (surely contacts!) pale people in the party, that were conspicuously not enjoying the delicious refreshments and finger foods. Then Helena introduced her stand offish friend Camille to her and Ash. Camille had barely even glanced at Marissa and had murmured a quick but polite greeting.
Then she had started the same minimal social interaction on Ash, but had stopped short when taking a look at him and her breath had hitched. Ash for his part had looked surprised but flattered at the rapt attention. Helena had sworn out loud, her husband had sighed and the beautiful people had suddenly stilled. Marissa had felt a cold chill go down her spine. She barely heard the explanation that followed and demanded to Ash that they leave immediately, the outburst had been met with grave, disapproving expressions from the beautiful people (vampires). Camille had almost lunged in her direction before being intercepted by a pair of vampires and was dragged away struggling. It was so strange, full of impossible things and pamphlets of all things. Why should pamphlets and the existence of the supernatural be mentioned in the same sentence? Marissa would not spend another minute in the presence of such strangeness.
Ash had been very silent during the ride back. Not for the first time she had wished he was not so hard to read. In the week that followed he was rarely home. A month later he told her that they needed to talk. He had apparently gone to the closest vampire capital to pick up pamphlets and talk to the PR person. He had also met Camille a few times, chaperoned by the vampire warden in case Camille misbehaved and tried to turn him.
Ash was breaking up with her because he wanted to be a vampire and he thought that Camille needed him far more than Marissa did. The four years together meant nothing to the promise of immortal life and assured eternal love. Marissa watched him pack everything that was his and smile sadly with some guilt as he left his keys over the counter and was out of the door and out of her life. Once he was gone she broke down and cried for a long time. As Helena's husband had explained with one look Camille had fallen so deeply in love with Ash that nothing in existence could compare. Her slow and hard build love for him was insignificant in comparison. But it did not lessen the ache in her heart.
Ash always had trouble connecting to others. His old therapists thought it was because of his lonely childhood and emotionally distant parents. The 'therapies' did not work, he spend high school just being the lonely kid. College was almost the same; any relationships did not last long. All his girlfriends told him in tears that he needed to try harder and be warmer. Ash never understood what he was doing wrong as he went through the motions by the book.
Marissa was different; she never called it off by screaming that he was too cold. Ash always wondered why he could not love her, or why he had never truly loved anyone. Often he wondered if there was something wrong with him. Marissa was comfortable to be around even if he could not make himself to love her. Still they had a halfway decent relationship and Marissa did not seem bothered by his lack of declarations of love. He made sure do often do nice, romantic things for her. When he proposed it was mostly because after four years of dating it just felt the proper thing to do and he could not think of anyone better to spend his life with. And she loved him. Ash did not want to hurt someone that had affection for him.
He never thought he would have to choose between two women in love with him. On one side there was Marissa, who had been there for four years and was the first successful, lasting relationship that he had. On the other was Camille, the complete stranger who was chained to him by an unbreakable, absolute and eternal bond of love. Ash spoke with many vampires and arrived at the conclusion that Marissa could live without him and get over a break up. Camille could not.
It was very hard to break up with Marissa. They had spent the last four years together, and she was a wonderful woman. But he had to make a choice that would do the less harm. And that it would make it possible for him to truly feel love. It was hard to hurt Marissa and he thought to himself that the only saving grace was that they had not gotten married.
Camille always avoided meeting human men. She remembered the agony that her brother Terry had gone through when his then human mate had been extremely recalcitrant to accept him and consider turning herself. Luckily the capricious woman had then decided that she wanted to become a vampire after all. But it had been two years of torture for her brother. He even had to be put in the hiding place after he had failed the evaluation so he would not forcibly turn his mate.
Even after twenty years and two precious hybrid nieces Camille had yet to forgive Cara. She could not express her dislike openly. It would only antagonize her brother and endanger her relationships to her nieces. What she could do was to never place herself in the same position. She worked from home and only met with other vampires.
Her friend Helena always tried to get her to be more social and attend a few mixed occasions. In the last decades it was almost impossible to find a safe and solely vampire celebration. Any occasion was peppered with hybrids, humans in the know and sometimes humans not in the know. A recipe for disaster in Camille's opinion, but Helena was good at convincing people to go ahead with her ideas.
Camille mated on an attached man at the party. The month that followed was a nightmare. He might not want to be with her. She felt sorry for his fiancee but Marissa could live without him. And she could never love Ash as much as Camille did. Marissa would be able to forget Ash and met someone else and fall in love again. Why was everyone bothering so much about her feelings? Marissa could get herself turned and her love for Ash would fade that way, and she could find a mate of her own. And leave Camille's mate free. The love of a human was so flimsy compared to that of a vampire.
When things looked bleak Camille wondered often if it was possible to set herself on fire and not drop and roll on instinct. The emperor heard the thoughts and placed her on a suicide watch. Camille was determined to find a way around the constant surveillance. But then Ash came to her, telling Camille had he had chosen her; she could not contain her happiness.