Weekly Feature…Vampire Fiction Serial (Click to read week 12)
“Victoria.” My father wrapped his thick arms around me and hugged so tightly, I struggled to breathe.
Nervous laughter bubbled past my lips, and with one last crushing embrace, he released me. As I stepped back, I noticed the changes in him. Had he truly been gone so long?
My father had always been a large man, but as he stood before me, his clothes hung loosely from his almost thin frame. His once round face appeared gaunt and drawn, with dark circles rimming his blue eyes. I had never seen him look so frail.
“Father, are you well?” I asked cautiously.
Father’s eyes filled with unshed tears. He nodded, and with a shaky smile, he squeezed my hand. “Of course, I am. I’m so very happy to see you…” After a brief pause, he cleared his throat. “I have wonderful news.”
Something in his tone gave me pause.
“What news?” My eyebrows pinched together as I searched his eyes for an answer to the question I was afraid to ask. What had happened to him while he was gone?
My father looked over his shoulder at the large manse looming in the background. The sun was low in the sky, scattering eerie shadows across the roofline. I swear I saw him shudder. “Let’s get you inside first.”
As soon as we entered the house, my father disappeared. An older woman, a servant, showed me to my room where an elegant gown lay across the large bed waiting for me.
“You’ll need to dress in this for dinner,” she said. Her eyes never met mine, and she left without a backwards glance as soon as she gave me my instructions.
Another woman, this one much younger, appeared behind me. “I can assist you.” She spoke softly as she began undoing the buttons on my dress. “Don’t be afraid. Everyone is expected to dress for dinner.”
My reflection stared back at me from the gilded mirror. White silk clung to my body like a swirling cloud. As I turned to the side, it moved with me, brushing my skin in an almost scandalous fashion. I had never owned a dress like this one. And my hair, instead of piled high on my head in a proper style, spiraled into curls that spilled over my shoulders like dark water.
I couldn’t stop staring at the woman in the mirror. This couldn’t be me.
“You look lovely,” the slight woman said, but she wasn’t looking at me anymore. I followed her gaze out the window as the sun slipped behind a hill in the distance. “We should go down. You’ll be expected.”
I nodded, taking in my appearance one last time before following her through the door to the top of the stairs.
The young servant girl didn’t escort me down the stairs, instead I watched as she vanished behind a plain door with a fragile smile. I stared at the spot for a long moment, willing her to come back.
A clock chimed somewhere, drawing my attention to the glow of freshly lit candlelight below.
Carefully, I started my descent down the wide stairs, the silk gown shifting around my feet with each step I took. My eyes sought out a glimpse of my father, or even the older woman who had escorted me to my room, but I saw no one. It was as if the house was abandoned.
As I reached midway down, he stepped out of the shadows—hair the color of a raven, eyes as dark as coal—and he smiled at me with the whitest teeth I had ever in all my life seen.
“Victoria…I’m so happy to finally meet you.”
* * *
“Sebastian…what have you done?” I shrieked at him.
“I say let him burn a little around the edges. That’s what he gets for switching formulas like that.” Claude said.
“That is not an option. We are not letting Sebastian burn just because he was a total and complete ass for switching the formula.” My eyes locked with Sebastian’s long enough to catch a slight smile before the reality of his situation sunk in. He was angry, but he had no one but himself to blame.
Sebastian puffed out a breath. “I need my bag…it’s in the trunk of my car.”
“Is this really the right time to be picking out new clothes?” A quick glance at the skyline told me the sun would be clearing the trees any minute. “You need to get into my casket for the day.”
Sebastian shook his head. “Just get my bag.”
My panicked expression was mirrored in Claude’s eyes. He bolted out the door to the car and was back before I had a chance to say anything.
The bag Sebastian spoke of was a worn leather satchel he had been carrying around for several centuries. I recognized it immediately. Sebastian snatched the bag from Claude and quickly laid it out on the counter. My eyes popped wide as he opened the satchel, exposing several vials of cloudy liquid.
“What the hell is this?” Claude spun the bag around to examine the vials.
One corner of Sebastian’s mouth curved upward into a grin, but he didn’t respond. He grabbed a single vial from the safety of the bag and in one fluid motion it was uncorked and consumed.
I stared down at the row of glass tubes then back to Sebastian’s arrogant face. “You said the elixir had to be fresh.”
“Yes…I did say that didn’t I?” Sebastian face turned into an expressionless mask.
Claude suddenly exploded in a loud burst of laughter. “I must hand it to you. I have thoroughly underestimated how cunning you are. Machiavelli would be proud.”
Sebastian’s stony exterior cracked into a smug grin. “Please. Who do you think inspired The Prince?”
Claude leaned in to whisper in my ear. “He knew Machiavelli?”
I rolled my eyes at them both. “He’s such a show off.”
“An accomplished liar, you mean.” Claude said.
My thoughts traveled back several centuries to answer that question. Yes…yes he is an accomplished liar.
* * *
My father’s voice echoed in my memory. “We made a deal, Victoria. He has promised not to harm the family, if only you’ll agree to marry him. Please think of your sisters…your mother.”
“But what will become of me?” My eyes begged him to tell me.
Sebastian’s cold black eyes softened ever so slightly. He stepped close enough to twist a lock of my hair around his long fingers. “As my wife, you will never grow old…never die. I can give you the entire world…anything you ask for will be yours.”
* * *
I squeezed my eyes shut to force the memories to quiet. “All I wanted was for my family to be safe.”
Sebastian secured the clasp on his satchel and slung the strap over his shoulder before cupping my cheek in his hand. “Your family is still very safe, Victoria. In fact, I spoke with your father just a month ago in Paris.”
Until the next time…I’ll be writing week 14!