“Where did the man go?” Katherine asked, after we had left the building.
“He’s back there, counting his money. Did you get a satisfactory answer?” I asked. Making sure Katherine wasn’t looking, I wiped a spot of blood I missed from my hands with a paper towel. I threw it into a nearby trashcan. Katherine didn’t see any of the blood on it.
What the hell kind of vampire would I be if I let her see evidence of my nature?
“You’re the boss,” she said, entering the jeep.
I went to my side and climbed in.
As we drove to camp, the orange sky of a Tanzanian sunset covered the world in beauty. The many Boabab trees helped hide the ever falling sun, filtering its intense light in flashes to match our speed. Clouds were strewn across the sky, adding to the serene painting that became our lives, where giraffes reached high into the trees for food.
In that moment, the world seemed tranquil.
“So,” I said, “can I ask why you’re doing this?”
The jeep hit a bump on the rough Tanzanian road, bouncing lightly. Katherine looked over at me for a second before turning her gaze to the dirt road. “Long story short?”
“If that is how you’d wish to tell it.”
“Well, my brother died of AIDS,” Katherine said. She bit the skin on her lips. “Back then, they called it GRID. You know why?”
“Yeah. It’s sad to think people believed only gay people got it.”
“Yes, but it wasn’t true. My brother had a blood transfusion after getting in a car accident.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “Doctors and people treated him like he had the plague. They wouldn’t even touch him without biohazard suits on. When he finally returned home, his friends ostracized him. Some didn't even go to his funeral. When he died, they took his body for scientific research…"
She wiped away her tears and tried to smile with a lipless effort. “So here I am.”
“You have all the money you need, now. We’ll hire workers and scour the forest.”
“You’re already doing so much.”
I gave her a gentle smile. “I can never do enough.”
The Jeep shifted again, bouncing along the road. “But you haven’t told me why you’re helping me.”
I wanted to tell her I had fallen in love, the first moment I had seen her. She had a good soul – one I could see and smell. It was her purity and good nature that attracted me. There was a naivety that couldn’t be faked. I wanted to tell her it was to get to know her better, but she would probably push me away. “Business, Katherine,” I said, “There is a lot of money in a cure, and I believe you could be the one to find it.”